This prophecy is one, which is extremely well known within Christendom, or more accurately, it is very often quoted and preached on by Pastors and preachers in the mainstream Christian churches. For example, I have attended Christmas Day services where this was the main Scripture quoted and discussed.
One of these occasions some years ago led me to write to the Pastor of a large Pentecostal church here in Brisbane, and try to share with him my understanding of the many ways in which he was mis-interpreting this passage.
Now, in looking back over what I wrote, while I still believe I was pointing him in the right direction, I now believe that if I had better understood this passage in Hebrew, I would have been much more able to show him how very far his understanding was from the truth. I am fairly sure though, that I would still not have influenced him in any significant way to change his cherished Hellenistic doctrines and lens through which he read this passage.
Here though is the utterly remarkable way in which the Hebrew of this passage can be fairly and accurately translated into English that sheds an amazing light on what this passage was really revealing.
Let me first share his translation and then try to explain how this comes about and what it means:
“… For unto use a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be on his shoulders.
A Wonder, a Counselor, Mighty G-d, my Father in perpetuity, shall call him … “Prince of Peace”’
– translation by Uriel ben Mordechai
There are many Christian ‘Hebrew scholars’ who have translated this phrase differently, but very few of those ‘Hebrew scholars’ have been native speakers of Hebrew like Uriel.
As Uriel points out in much detail, his translation is much closer to how a native Hebrew speaker who knows his/her Tanakh would pronounce it, in particular because they would know how to read the ‘nikud’ (a system of diacritical signs used to represent vowels and distinguish between alternative pronunciations and determine the intended grammatical structure).
Many Hebrew versions of the text also have ‘cantillation marks’ (a system of marks to help with chanting the text which are very much like todays commas and colons, but which dates back to the time of Ezra – circa 510 BCE). This clearly establish where breaks occur in the text and thus establishes that the first 4 ‘nicknames’ belong to the ‘caller’ and only the last nickname, ‘Prince of Peace’ belongs to the one being ‘called’ by the ‘caller’.
Further evidence that these first four nicknames; Wonder, Counselor, Mighty G-d and ‘my Father in perpetuity’ all are labels/names for the Creator and King of the Universe; the God of Israel, is seen in these verses from the Tanakh, where each of this ‘nicknames’ are applied to the Almighty:
פֶּ֫לֶא – ‘Peleh’, a noun meaning a ‘Wonder’ – see Ex 15:11 “Who is like you, Adonai, among the gods? Awesome in praise, doing a wonder (peleh)?”
יוֹעֵץ (Yo-etz) – a noun meaning ‘a counselor’ – see Psalm 16:7 “I will bless Adonai, my counselor.”
(el Gibor גִּבּוֹר אֵל – Hebrew back to front sorry) – meaning ‘mighty or powerful God’ – see Deut 10:17 “For the LORD your God, He is God of gods, and Lord of lords, the great God (Ha’El – הָאֵל), the mighty (ha-Gibor הַגִּבֹּר), and the awful, who regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.”
אֲבִי-עַד – (Avi-ad) – meaning ‘my Father for eternity’ or ‘my Father for perpetuity’ – see 1 Chronicles 29:10b “…Blessed be Thou, O L-RD, the God of Israel our father for eternity”
So we can see that al these ‘nicknames’ have been used elsewhere in the Tanakh to refer to the Almighty. It is true that ‘El Gibor’ can also refer to great leaders of men, but in the grammatical structure of this verse, Uriel shows very clearly, that here it is referring to YHWH Himself.
Lastly שַׂר-שָׁלוֹם (sar Shalom) refers to a Prince or Ruler of peace (see Psalms 2 for example). In could well be that Isaiah had Hezekiah in mind when he penned this, but we can also see how this verse may apply to the end-times Mashiach when he comes to rule the Earth and bring the Peace of God to this world.
This is all articulated in great detail in ‘If: The End of the Messianic Lie’ – get it at http://above-and-beyond-ltd.com/store/books/if.html
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Greetings! Very helpful guidance on this article! It’s the small changes
that make the biggest changes. Thanks a lot for