Who is "the
Mighty God"? (Isaiah 9:6)
- June 2008)
to us a
child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his
shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isa
Who is the
child who bears this wonderful name, or names?
There can be no real question for any Christian that the final and
perfect fulfillment of this prophecy is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, to most orthodox Christians, there is no
question that the names "Mighty
God" and "Everlasting
Father" can apply to the baby Jesus. Of course, those who
know the truth of the Bible on this subject cannot accept such
designations at face value. So there must be explanation and
exposition, probably delving into the relevant Hebrew words and their
Hebrew scholars, who agree generally that the prophecy
(and still is) about a coming Messiah, do not believe:
- that Jesus was the child, or
- that the Messiah, if and when he does come, will be
literal sense "Mighty
God" and "Everlasting
As Christadelphians, we would disagree with them on
but nevertheless — since we do agree with them on
Point 2 —
we can find some real help in their suggested explanations of this
Following the Soncino Books of the Bible, it may be
the seeming series of names or titles may all be intended as simply one
name or title. An earlier example of such an elongated name is found in
the immediately preceding chapter of Isaiah: Maher-shalal-hashbaz (Isa
The Soncino commentary suggests that the names or name
Isaiah 9:6 might be read all in one, and only a bit longer than
Maher-shalal-hashbaz. A reasonable transliteration would be "Pele-ya’ats-gibbor-el-abi-ad-sar-shalom".
Longer, no doubt, but if we split it between the "el" ("god") and the "abi" ("father") we just
might manage, with practice, to say it all.
Furthermore, and still following the Soncino commentary,
may suggest that the name be translated:
counselor, the mighty God, IS the everlasting Father OF the prince of
Some of these same "names"
are combined elsewhere in Isaiah. For example, the LORD God is referred
to as "Wonderful/marvelous
(‘etsah’, derived from
‘ya’ats’)" (Isa 25:1;
Thus, when the whole "name"
is read in reference to another person, it should not be inferred that
the child — in this case, the Messiah — possesses
all these attributes, but rather that he is understood to act for the
Being, Yahweh Himself, who does possess these attributes.
In the same vein, the later Jewish Study Bible,
the Jewish Publication Society, adds the following:
names often consist of
sentences that describe God; thus the name Isaiah in Hebrew means
‘The LORD saves’; Hezekiah, ‘The LORD
strengthens’; in Akkadian, the name of the Babylonian king
Merodachbaladan (Isa 39:1) means ‘the god Marduk has provided
an heir.’ These names do not describe that person who holds
them but the god whom the parents worship. Similarly, the name given to
the child in this verse does not describe that child or attribute
divinity to him, contrary to classical Christian readings of the
Something like this might be useful in understanding,
explaining, what can often be a "wrested
Scripture", Isaiah 9:6.