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ISAIAH 9:1-7: THE GOD-CHILD IS BORN!

The following is taken from The Moody Handbook of Messianic Prophecies: Studies and Expositions of the Messiah in the Old Testament, eds. Michael Rydelnik & Edwin Blum, published by Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 2019, pp. 831-843. All emphasis will be mine.

Isaiah 9:1-7

The Deity of Messiah

EDWARD E. HINDSON

The messianic trajectory of the prophet Isaiah extends from the prediction of the birth of Immanuel (7:14) to the divine child (9:6) and culminates in the future Davidic King (11:16). Taken as a unit, the Immanuel prophecies (7–12) paint a picture of the coming messianic king. His birth is unique (7:14); His character is majestic (9:6); His land is threatened (8:8); and His triumph is assured (11:4).

The Assyrian invasion described in chap. 8 of Isaiah serves as a connection between the prediction of the birth of the virgin’s son in chap. 7 and his royal description in chap. 9. Robert Culver warns, “Too many expositors have sought to explain one portion of the prophecy without the other.”1 In Isa 7:14 there is a glimpse of a forthcoming miraculous conception that will guarantee the perpetuity of the Davidic and messianic line. Now in 9:1-6 there is a further clarification that provides a more definite picture of the nature of the one who is coming.2

The opening verse of chap. 9 promises a future blessing to the people of “Galilee of the Gentiles” among the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali. These were the most remote regions of Israel and were the most subject to heathen influences and attack (because of their location on a major road/trade route). This often-despised district and its mixed population would be the first to see the light of the good news of God’s grace. Importantly, the NT clearly affirms this as occurring during Jesus’ Galilean ministry, which He launched in Capernaum (Mt 4:13-16). While the NT does not directly quote Isa 9:6-7, Matthew’s quotation of 9:1-2, in relation to Jesus indicates that he viewed the entire passage as referring to Jesus. J. A. Alexander responded to this matter by pointing out that the essential aspects of Isa 9:6-7 are quoted in Gabriel’s announcement of the child’s birth to Mary (Lk 1:32-34).3

HISTORICAL SETTING

Commentators disagree over the exact dating of the prophecies in Isa 9–11. The immediate context would seem to place this section in the time of the Syro-Ephraimite War (734–732 BC) in which Israel and Syria were threatening to attack Judah (chap. 7). However, the reference (10:9) to the route the Assyrian army is pictured as traveling (Calno, Charchemish, Hamath, Arpad, Samaria, Damascus) suggests the invasion by Tiglath-Pileser III around 734 BC.4

The overall literary unity is structured around the birth of the promised child in light of the gloom of potential invasion from the north. Gary Smith writes, “The first paragraph in this section introduces a future righteous Davidic king who will bring a period of light and peace to God’s people.”5 The peace and justice of his reign contrast to the pride and oppression of Judah’s enemies.

Critical scholars generally limit the historical influence of Isa 9–11 to either the birth or the ascension of Hezekiah as the potential deliverer.6 By contrast, many conservative scholars prefer viewing the child king as an exclusive prophecy of the birth of the Messiah.7 In between, Gordon Johnston prefers both options, suggesting that Isaiah initially spoke of Hezekiah but left his prophecy “open” to refer ultimately to a future Davidic Messiah.8

INTERPRETIVE PRESUPPOSITIONS

Johnston views the “messianic trajectories” in Isaiah as three dynastic oracles (9:1-7; 11:1-9; 11:10-16), followed by the Ideal Servant passages (42:1-9; 49:1-13; 50:4-11; 52:13–53:12). 9 He bypasses 7:14 altogether and says little about 61:1-3 having any direct messianic significance.10 His general approach to the “messianic trajectories” accommodates nonmessianic interpretations of these passages, while suggesting a supposed “linguistic openness” that allows for a final fulfillment in the Messiah. He views this interpretive approach as “both/and,” rather than “either/or.” He clearly implies that Isaiah expected to see an imminent deliverance of the northern tribes “in his own day.” When this failed to materialize, Johnston assumes that Isaiah’s initial promise simply became what he calls a “broader generic prediction” that can be applied to the future Messiah as its final fulfillment.11

Unlike the double fulfillment view which some take on 7:14, Johnston prefers an interpretive concept of no immediate fulfillment/later fulfillment view of the prophecies of chaps. 9–11. In other words, he clearly admits Isaiah was mistaken in his supposed assumption that these prophecies were about Hezekiah. When the king failed to live up to the prophet’s expectations, Isaiah simply left his prophecy “open” to other possibilities, leading to what Johnston calls a “typological escalation.”12 While some interpreters may appreciate Johnston’s ultimate aim, his view should be rejected because the attempt to fix the prophet’s miscalculation of an imminent fulfillment actually weakens, rather than strengthens, the messianic view of these passages. Moreover, it makes unnecessary concessions to the nonmessianic approach to these prophecies.13 Since Jesus said Abraham rejoiced to “see [His] day” (Jn 8:56), how much more so Isaiah (Lk 4:17-21)! More critical interpretations of Isa 9:1-6 typically view the passage as the king’s accession rather than his actual birth. They place the historical context in the time of the Assyrian threat and focus the promised hope on a Davidic ruler, preferably Hezekiah.14 This approach views the redaction of this section in a hagiographic manner in which Hezekiah is viewed as having the ultimate qualities described in the fourfold title of the child king following the pattern of Egyptian royal tutelaries.15 In the Egyptian pattern the fourfold names describe the king as the embodiment of deity, contain his throne name, and then add his personal name (e.g., Thutmose, Ramesses). However, in the fourfold title in Isa 9:6, no personal name is given, indicating that Isaiah was not basing his prediction on Egyptian throne announcements nor limiting his expectation to Hezekiah.

Although Johnston assumes that Isaiah’s oracle most likely was given at the time of Hezekiah’s enthronement, he goes on to suggest that the prophecy finds its fullest expression in the eschatological Messiah.16 This approach is not unlike Brevard Childs’s opinion, which also recognizes the “predominantly eschatological movement of the oracle.”17 However, Childs warns against “historicizing assumptions,” which overlook the larger literary context of the passage. In his opinion, “it is a major misunderstanding of this passage to politicize its message and derive the oracle from an enthusiasm over the accession of one of Judah’s kings.”18 In this regard, Oswalt observes that 9:6 is not a coronation hymn but a birth announcement of the nal, eschatological King, the Messiah. As such, he sees what he calls “a remarkable congruence with the Immanuel prophecy,” adding “surely this child (also described in 11:1-5) is presented as the ultimate fulllment of the Immanuel sign.”19

EXEGETICAL CONSIDERATIONS

The “gift child” of chap. 9 further elucidates the description of the promised royal child. His miraculous birth (chap. 7) and magnificent land (chap. 8) will survive the coming threat because “God is with us” (8:10). That Isaiah identies the land of Judah with the promise of Immanuel indicates His royal authority over the land. The failure of Judah’s human kings typifies the failure of the nation as a whole. As a result, God will bring both judgment to the faithless and hope to the faithful. The source of this hope is God’s gracious intention to bring a ruler to the throne who will perpetuate David’s dynasty forever. Leupold observes, “This leads to the conclusion that the Immanuel of 7:14 and the child of 9:6 are identical.”20

PROCLAMATION OF DELIVERANCE (9:1)

The first verse of chap. 9 introduces a promise of deliverance for the northern tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali in Galilee. The verse serves as a transitional bridge from the end of chap. 8 to the promise in chap. 9. 21 Johnston notes, “Whereas he (Isaiah) portrayed judgment on the northern kingdom in 8:16-22 as a time of gloom, the coming deliverance in 9:1-2 would be seen as a light shining over a dark land.”22 Thus, a time of gloom and darkness (punishment) would be followed by a time of joy and light (deliverance).

Galilee was threatened by Tiglath-Pileser III who ruled Assyria from 745 to 727 BC. His troops invaded Galilee in 734–732 BC and later destroyed Samaria, the northern capital, in 722 BC, thus bringing an end to the northern kingdom. Despite this, Isaiah foresaw a time of restoration coming for Galilee in the distant future. Johnston assumes that Isaiah “expected to see an aspect of deliverance in his own day.” However, such a deliverance never came in the prophet’s own time, leaving Johnston to suggest a “broader generic prediction” because of the “linguistic openness” in which the original promise was written. 23 While this may appear to some to provide a solution to the prophet’s miscalculation (presumably basing his hopes for the future on Hezekiah), it leaves in doubt the matter of Isaiah’s original intent.

It is clear that 9:2-5 predicts a glorious future victory for the people of Galilee. Nevertheless, the prophet gives no time indicator as to when this will be fulfilled. Oswalt notes, “all these events are manifestly in the future from the prophet’s point of view, yet the verbs are all in the perfect tense.”24 These verbs are viewed as prophetic perfects by which the prophet sees and speaks of future events as though they have already occurred.25 Such grammatical usage indicates the prophet’s certainty in the fulllment of his predictions. Therefore, it seems best to leave the matter of what Isaiah really foresaw to be determined in light of its actual fulfillment.26

Concerning the location of the fulfillment, Ray Ortlund writes, “God came to his people first where they had suffered the most, and from that place he launched salvation for the world.”27 A careful reading of Isa 7–12 reveals the prophet’s focus on the significant role of the child who is coming. He is the Davidic son called Immanuel (7:14), the promised king (9:6), and the anointed Branch from the line of Jesse (11:1-5). The progressive nature of this revelation paints an unfolding portrait of the king who is coming in the distant future. Brevard Childs adds, “The description of his reign makes it absolutely clear that his role is messianic.”28

Provision of Victory (9:2-5)

The royal birth announcement begins at v. 2 and builds anticipation that culminates in the arrival of the royal son (v. 6). The darkness of the northern area was spiritual, moral, social, and political. It affected every aspect of life in the northern kingdom and would soon result in its utter collapse. Yet, Isaiah boldly proclaimed a future triumph as the light of God would begin to shine in this dark land (v. 2).29

With the coming of the light of God’s presence, there immediately follows the joy of God’s provision. The people will rejoice as they would at the sight of a harvest of plenty or the spoils of victory (v. 3). Triumph over Israel’s enemies is assured as in the days of Gideon’s victory over the Midianites (Jdg 6–7). Also illustrative of this victory would be Israel’s ultimate triumph over the enemy’s yoke, staff, and rod (v. 4).30 Even the boots and cloaks of warfare will be burned as peace prevails in a new kingdom of righteousness (v. 5). Thus, Oswalt asks, “Who is this person through whom God intends to bring war to an end and establish true freedom upon the earth?”31 He points out that the text clearly identifies him as a royal ruler, who is both human and divine.

Promise of the Child (9:6-7) Michael Rydelnik and James Spencer note, “The joys described in vv. 1-5 are grounded in the birth of a child within the Davidic line.”32 This passage provides a further identification of both Immanuel’s human birth and divine origin. Again, the emphasis in the passage, as in 7:14, falls on the Child whom the prophet speaks of as if He were already born.33

The perfect tense of the verbs emphasizes the actual historicity of this birth. It is an actual event in a definite time and place. The promise of eternal sovereignty had already been connected to David’s throne since the divine declaration in 2Sm 7:8-17. Also, the messianic concept of the One who is both the son of David and the Son of God (Ps 2:7; 110:1) was not new at this time. Victor Buksbazen observes that Jewish commentators did not dispute the messianic nature of this prophecy until recent times. He states, “The ancient (first century BC) Aramaic Targum Jonathan paraphrases this passage:

And there was called His name from of old, Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God,34

The four titles of the child’s name are obviously significant. Oswalt notes, “The titles underscore the ultimate deity of this child-deliverer.”35 Others have attempted to view this as one lengthy name, but normal Hebrew accentuation does not support this.36 Such a lengthy personal name is unparalleled in Scripture. Also the use of the disjunctive accent telisha at the head of the name would not give the type of separation required for this.37 Young supports the concept of four names by which “a remarkable symmetry is obtained.”38 He affirms that each doublet emphasizes the child’s humanity and His deity. Thus:

Pele Yoetz, El Gibbor, Avi AD, Sar Shalom

Others see the four titles based upon a formal Egyptian tutelary, expressing four theophoric royal titles as part of the royal enthronement ritual in typical Near Eastern practice.39 However, there is no clear indication that a Hebrew king ever used such a title. Rather, Hebrew titles form a series of descriptive epithets which are stylistically closer to Ugaritic literature than to specialized tutelary of the pharaohs.40 Isaiah gives no personal name to his ideal king. Rather, his four titles are actually descriptions of his person. Thus, it is obvious that he does not have Hezekiah in mind but a greater king who is yet to come in the future.

Wonderful Counselor (pele’ yoetz)

The initial description of the child is that He is a wonder, meaning “extraordinary.” Motyer notes that pele’ is used 15 times of extraordinary acts of God.41 He suggests, “to designate the child as pele’ makes him out of the ordinary, one who is something of a ‘miracle.’”42 Young adds, “Isaiah begins by using the abstract for the concrete, ‘wonder’ for ‘wonderful’ … Not merely is the Messiah wonderful but He is Himself a wonder through and through … To designate the Child with the word pele’ is to make the clearest attestation to His deity.”43

Second, the Child is called “counselor” (yoetz) because of the spirit of counsel that He possesses (11:2). With this amazing quality He will provide wisdom, counsel, and guidance for the people of God. He will not depend on human counselors, as did Hezekiah and the other kings of Judah. Delitzsch suggests that to apply this designation to Hezekiah is a disgrace in light of his eventual shortcomings.44 These two words are also used together of the Lord of Hosts Himself, who is “wonderful in counsel” (Isa 28:29 ESV).

Mighty God (’el gibbor)

The deity of the coming king is accentuated by the designation el, the common Hebrew term for God. Delitzsch insists, “There is no reason why we should take El in this name of the Messiah in any other sense than Immanu-El; not to mention the fact that El in Isa is always a name of God.”45 Motyer adds, “when we find a construction identical with Isa 9:6 (el with a following adjective or noun), el is never adjectival but is always the ruling noun … There is no evidence supporting an adjectival use of el in Isa 9:6.”46

The term gibbor (“mighty”) is often used of God (Dt 10:17; Ps 24:8; Jer 20:11; Zph 3:17). Although it can also refer to “warriors” or “heroes” (Ezk 32:21), linking gibbor with el clearly indicates that Isaiah intended to describe this wondrous child as deity. Isaiah uses the same exact title of the Lord Himself in 10:20-21 (cf. also Dt 10:17; Jer 32:18). Goldingay observes that “the recurrence of the phrase rendered ‘Mighty God’ (’el gibbor) in 10:21 with definite reference to Yahweh makes it harder to accept that here the phrase means ‘God-like warrior.’”47 Thus, attempts to limit this title to a mere human “hero” seem to betray the expositor’s proclivity to reject the deity of the Messiah in general or that it was specifically revealed in the OT. Taken in the normal grammatical sense, ’el gibbor means “God, the mighty One.” It is similar to ’el shaddai (“God almighty”) or ’el olam (“God the eternal”).48

Everlasting Father (abi ad)

Kings were often depicted in the ancient world as “fathers” to their people. However, this person’s fatherhood is described as being “eternal.” The word ’ad signifies perpetuity or duration and is used by Isaiah to describe the “high and lofty one” (57:15 NLT). Delitzsch notes, “The word ‘Father’ [abi] designates a quality of the Messiah with respect to His people. He acts toward them like a father.”49 This describes His relationship to His children as a “fatherly king.” As such, “father” does not eliminate the possibility that this describes the one who is also called “son” in this prediction. Thus, the newborn son will be the eternal One who is eternally a father to His people.

Notwithstanding the above, there is an alternative way of translating these two words. Gary Smith correctly notes that the expression may also be translated as a genitive phrase (“father of eternity”).50 This translation indicates that the newborn son is actually the author or creator of time, clearly an attribute of deity. Hence, Rydelnik and Spencer state, “The child born here is not to be confused with the Father in the Triune Godhead. Rather, the Son of God is the creator of time, the author of eternity.”51 In either case, “everlasting” is a term that refers to God or God’s promises (2Sm 7:16), not to mere human beings. Kaiser comments, “Thus the one who will arrive later is one who has been here from the beginning of time and more!52

Prince of Peace (sar shalom)

The promised child will be both a peaceful prince and one who reigns in peace.53 Oswalt emphasizes, “It is appropriate that this title should come as the last in the series, for it is the climactic one (cf. 32:17).”54 The messianic goal of world peace is clearly emphasized throughout Isaiah’s prophecies (53:5; 57:19; 66:12). The Messiah is the only one who will come as the triumphant warrior and ensure lasting peace (63:1-6).

The divine child is the only one who can bring the reality of world peace. No human leader of any kind has ever been able to give such assurance. Delitzsch said this promised One will prove “Himself to be what He is not only called, but actually is.”55 Young adds, “Inasmuch as the peace to be established is eternal, it is clear that this peace includes more than a temporary cessation of hostilities among the nations.”56 The NT amplifies the messianic rule to include a literal earthly millennial kingdom in which Jesus the Messiah rules the entire world (Rev 20:4).

Having described the coming King by His titles, Isaiah concludes with the triumphal observations of v. 7, which describe the quality and extent of His reign. Smith notes four characteristics of the messianic rule: (1) peace will increase, (2) the ruler will sit on David’s throne, (3) He will rule based on principles of justice and righteousness, and (4) He will reign forever. Thus, he concludes, “These descriptive parameters, titles, time frame, and interlocking references to the Davidic promise rule out any attempt to identify this son with Ahaz, Hezekiah, or Josiah.”57

Collectively, vv. 6-7 promised hope to the Davidic dynasty, rather than to any contemporary king. Despite the constant threats of war, God would preserve the Davidic and messianic lines. Kaiser observes, “The throne he occupies will be ‘[David’s] throne’ (2Sa 7:16), and he will rule over David’s ‘kingdom’ (v. 7c; 2Sa 7:13, 16). Thus, everything promised to David will be fulfilled in this coming scion of David.”58 This is the prophet’s message of hope to the people of Judah during the dark days of the reign of Ahaz. God will protect the Davidic line in spite of the failure of the current Davidic king. Thus, the prophetic revelation connects the promise of Immanuel (7:14) to the Divine Child (9:6-7). Rydelnik and Spencer affirm that this promised kingdom will not be the “outworking of a king with human wisdom and power. The child will rule with the wisdom, power, and peace of God.”59 No longer is the identity of Immanuel obscure as in 7:14; now in 9:6-7 we know His human birth, divine nature, Davidic throne, the extent of His reign, and the peaceful character of His rule.

INNERTEXTUAL INTERPRETATION

The prophecy of the Divine Child is set within the context of Isaiah’s predictions of a coming king. Expositors of all types (both critical and conservative) have connected the child in chap. 7 with the one in chap. 9. Christopher Seitz states, “there are good grounds for interpreting the closing royal oracle as an integral part of the much wider tradition complex, now located in 7:1–9:7. It is fitting that the final oracle speaks of the birth of the child who was only promised in 7:14, yet whose maturation and reign were to figure in such important ways in days to come.”60

Within the book of Isa are several allusions that connect with the prophecy in 9:1-7. For instance, the entire book emphasizes the significance of names: “Mighty One of Israel” (1:24), “LORD of Hosts” (6:5), Shear-jashub (7:3), Immanuel (7:14), Maher-shalal-hash-baz (8:3), “Holy One of Israel” (10:20), “stump of Jesse” (11:1), Ariel (29:1), “Redeemer” (44:6), Cyrus (44:28), Zion (52:1), “My Servant” (52:13), Hephzibah (62:4), and Beulah (62:4).

“Mighty God” (’el gibbor) is the title given to the Lord Himself in 10:21-22. Motyer suggests, “Isaiah means us to take seriously the el component of this name as of Immanuel.”61 “Everlasting Father” is reflected in God’s care for His people (Isa 63:16; 64:8). Isaiah uses “eternity” (ad) more than any of the prophets (26:4; 30:8; 57:15; 64:9; 65:18). “Prince of Peace” forecasts the future reign of the Messiah where all creation is at peace (65:17-25).

Isaiah’s prophecies shine as a beacon of hope both in his time and throughout the ages. The promises the Lord made to the Davidic dynasty would indeed be fulfilled by the birth of a child who would be both the son of David and the son of God. Rydelnik claims, “The point of Isa 9:1-7 was to alert the house of David that the virgin-born King for whom they were to look would only come after a long period of darkness. Nevertheless, He would indeed come possessing a divine nature, to establish a righteous and eternal kingdom.”62 God’s promise of peace and justice would be fulfilled in the coming of a future messianic king for the “zeal of the LORD of Hosts will accomplish this” (9:7).

INTERTEXTUAL INTERPRETATION63

Gary Yates defines intertextuality as: “how biblical texts echo, allude to, quote, reapply, or even reconfigure other canonical passages for various rhetorical and theological purposes.”64 In this regard, Isaiah’s picture of the coming messianic king is painted against the backdrop of various passages in the Hebrew Bible. The “enlarging” or “multiplying” of the nation (9:3) is a Solomonic motif that pictures the true Davidic successor as the new Solomon (1Kg 4:20) with resultant shouts of joy and rejoicing. Motyer suggests “in your presence” speaks of “entrance and acceptance in the Lord’s presence (cf. Ex 23:15, 17; Dt 12:7; 14:26), the fulfillment of all that the old feasts anticipated.”65 The contrasting experiences of harvest and plunder express joy. Motyer adds, “Harvest belongs to the sphere of nature, plunder to the sphere of history.”66 There are two historical biblical references in 9:4-5. First, is the exodus motif that recalls their deliverance from Egypt (Ex 3:7-8) wherein the “yoke” (Lv 26:13) and burdens of “forced labor” (Ex 2:11) were lifted by divine intervention. Second, is the reference to Gideon’s victory over Midian (Jdg 6–8), which involved the miraculous deliverance of Zebulun and Asher (Jdg 6:35). Every “trampling boot” of the invading warriors will be burned with fire (v. 5), a concept picked up in Ezekiel’s prophecy of the defeat of Gog and Magog and the burning of the military hardware (Ezk 39:9).

The theme of the kingdom of God runs throughout the Hebrew Scriptures (Ps 72:4; 103:13; Prv 3:12; 2Kg 23:2; 1Chr 23–27; 28:5; Jer 33:15).67 Thus, Eugene Merrill writes, “only David could adequately serve as a prototype of the messianic King.”68 Moses had clearly predicted and sanctioned the idea of kingship generations earlier (Dt 17:14-20; 33:1-5) and the Hebrew Scriptures depict God as a righteous king, protector, and divine warrior who rules with wisdom and justice (Ps 145:11-13). Eventually the figure of the Messiah (“anointed one”) came to refer to an ideal son of David (2Sm 22:51) who was central to Israel’s eschatological hope for the future (Dan 9:25-26).69

The child born destined to become God’s ideal king is far more than a human ruler. He is in fact the “mighty God” who will come to rule the kingdom of God on earth. He is Immanuel (“God with us”), and Isaiah can say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” (40:9 ESV). Thus, Jesus would begin His earthly ministry announcing, “the kingdom of God has come near” (Mk 1:15). When Pilate later asked, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world” (Jn 18:37 ESV). At His return to earth, the Scripture declares Him to be “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev 19:16).

  1. Robert Culver, “Were the Old Testament Prophecies Really Prophetic?” in Can I Trust My Bible?(Chicago: Moody Press, 1963), 104. He states that, “In context it is most difficult to prove that the virgin’s son has any connection at all with Mary’s babe unless one continues to the final verses of the prophecy.”
  2. E. W. Hengstenberg, Christology of the Old Testament(Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1970), 172. He both discusses and rejects the idea that 9:6 could possibly refer to Hezekiah with “such senseless flattery” (182) since he never in any way ruled over the northern tribes of Galilee (9:1-2). He also clearly rejects the suggestion of Gesenius that the prophecy could refer to both Hezekiah immediately and to the Messiah ultimately. He states unequivocally “that no analogous example can be produced, where a prophet had connected his hopes of the Messiah with a definite person, by whom they were not realized” (183).
  3. J. A. Alexander, Commentary on the Prophecies of Isaiah(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970), 207. Gabriel promised the child born to Mary would be “great … Son of the Most High … (rule on) the throne of his father David” and “reign over the house of Jacob forever” (Lk 1:32-34).
  4. See J. A. Irvine, Isaiah, Ahaz, and the Assyrian Crisis(Atlanta: Scholar Press, 1990), 274–79.
  5. Gary V. Smith, Isaiah 1–39, New American Commentary(Nashville: B&H, 2007), 235.
  6. Cf. Joseph Blenkinsop, Isaiah: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries(New York: Doubleday, 2000), 245–251; G. von Rad, “The Royal Ritual in Judah,” in The Problem of the Hexateuch and Other Essays(New York: Macmillan, 1966), 222–31.
  7. Cf. J. Alec Motyer, Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1999), 88–105; John Oswalt, Isaiah 1–39, New International Commentary on the Old Testament(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 242–48.
  8. Herbert Bateman, Darrell Bock, and Gordon Johnston, Jesus the Messiah(Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2012), 133–47. The material on Isaiah is attributed to Johnston, Jesus the Messiah, 7.
  9. Ibid. Johnston’s treatment of Isaiah attempts to defend a final messianic application of these selective passages while suggesting they had no original messianic intent. Rather, he sees the three dynastic oracles as initially applying to Hezekiah and rejects them as “exclusive direct prophecies” about the Messiah (133).
  10. Johnston clearly rejects the direct prophetic fulfillment view of these passages as expressed by Motyer, Isaiah, 98–105; Walter C. Kaiser Jr., The Messiah in the Old Testament(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995) 162–164; Oswalt, Isaiah, 242–48; Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), 322–346, all of whom he references.
  11. Johnston, Jesus the Messiah, 136.; cf. also John Goldingay, Isaiah, New International Biblical Commentary(Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2001), 70. He acknowledges that the promises “picture what any king should be … yet … go far beyond what any king ever achieved.” Therefore, “they are messianic.”
  12. Ibid., 145.
  13. See J. Lindblom, A Study of the Immanuel Section in Isaiah(Lund: Gleerup, 1958), 4. His comments are typical of critical scholars. He argues that the original collections of Isaiah’s prophetic utterances were orally transmitted with little interest in their actual historical situation and were not preserved in chronological order in their original form. Thus, the Immanuel prophecy (Isa 7–11) is viewed as an interregnum, which Lindblom refers to as “a period of happiness” under a series of “ideal Davids,” falling between Judah’s initial deliverance and the coming Assyrian catastrophe (39). Therefore, he viewed Hezekiah as the royal prince of Isa 9:6, despite the chronological problem in 2Kg 18. He concludes that the ideal king of the entire section (7–11) is not at all the Messiah in a proper sense but only an idealized figure in a “relative sense” (57).
  14. R. E. Clements, Isaiah 1-39, New Century Bible Commentary(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), 104–105; cf. also C. R. Seitz, Isaiah 1–39, Interpretation(Louisville: John Knox Press, 1993), 86–87. Seitz connects the promise of Immanuel in 7:14 to the royal child in 9:6 but views both passages as speaking of Hezekiah; cf. also, von Rad, “Royal Ritual,” 206–225. Calvin, by contrast, repudiates the idea that 9:6 could refer to Hezekiah because he had already been born years earlier. See John Calvin, Isaiah (Grand Rapids: Associated Publishers & Authors, nd), 138.
  15. See Johnston, Jesus the Messiah, 141; and K. A. Kitchen, Ancient Orient and Old Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1966), 109.
  16. Johnston, Jesus the Messiah, 138. 17. Brevard Childs, Isaiah, Old Testament Library (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), 80.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Oswalt, Isaiah, 247. He also believes that Isaiah has an eschatological figure in mind who will not just be a king among kings in Israel but will be the final king (248).
  19. H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Isaiah, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1968), 1:80.
  20. Isaiah 9:1 appears in most English translations, whereas the same verse is 8:23 in the Masoretic Text. In the one case it serves to introduce the promise in chap. 9. In the other case, it serves to conclude the prediction of chap. 8. In either case, it serves as a bridge between the two chapters. See Oswalt, Isaiah, 242.
  21. Johnston, Jesus the Messiah, 134; cf. Oswalt, 240, who observes that Isaiah’s concern for the fate of northern Israel indicates that he was concerned for the future of all Israel, not just Judah. Oswalt writes, “All Israel was involved in rebellion against God (8:14), and all Israel would participate in the redemption and restoration.”
  22. Johnston, Jesus the Messiah, 136; cf. also P. Wegner, An Examination of Expectations in Isaiah 1-35(Lewiston, NY: Mellen Biblical Press, 1992), 425.
  23. Oswalt, Isaiah, 242.
  24. E. Kautzsch, ed., Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963), 312–313. The perfect tense (perfectum propheticumwas used by the prophets to describe future events as though they had already occurred, indicating the certainty of their fulllment.
  25. While many have pointed out possible Assyrian loan words in vv. 3-5 (e.g., “yoke” and “boot”), this does not in itself mean that Isaiah limited his prediction of deliverance to the time of the Assyrian invasion. Virtually all similar prophecies are written within the culture of the time in which they were given (cf. Mic 5:2). Matthew (4:12-16) clearly views the reference to the light shining in Galilee as being fulfilled in Jesus’ Galilean ministry and not before.
  26. Ray Ortlund, God Saves Sinners(Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2005), 97. For more detailed comments see Grant Osborne, Matthew, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 141–145.
  27. Childs, Isaiah, 81. 29. Light is used throughout Scripture to illustrate the illumination of truth that comes from God Himself (cf. Isa 42:16; 60:1-3; Job 29:3; Pss 43:3; 119:30).
  28. These were the instruments of Assyria’s oppression in 10:24-27. Oswalt, Isaiah, 244, suggests, “Here Isaiah looks off to a day when One mightier than the Assyrians of this world will break those yokes to pieces.”
  29. Oswalt, Isaiah, 244.
  30. Michael Rydelnik and James Spencer, “Isaiah” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago: Moody Press, 2014), 1024.
  31. See Edward J. Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:329, for a lengthy discussion of the grammatical structure of this passage and its significance in regard to interpreting the child’s identity.
  32. Victor Buksbazen, The Prophet Isaiah: A Commentary(Bellmawr, NJ: Friends of Israel, 2008), 163–164. Cf. also J. Stenning, The Targum of Isaiah(London: Oxford University Press, 1949), 62.
  33. Oswalt, Isaiah, 246.
  34. J. Klausner, Messianic Ideal in Israel(New York: Macmillan, 1955), 64. He reads the name as “wonderful in counsel is God the Mighty, the Everlasting Father, the Ruler of peace.” Dillmann earlier remarked that this would be an “unparalleled monstrosity.”August Dillmann, Das Prophet Jesaja (Leipzig: Hirzel, 1890), 251. Nevertheless, most contemporary Jewish scholars view this as the name of the royal child. A. Berlin and M. Z. Brettler state, “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 this messianic text.” The Jewish Study Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 802.
  35. The telishain pele is the smallest of all disjunctive accents. For the best discussion of the use of accents in this passage see Franz Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Prophecies of Isaiah(1877; repr., Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965), 1:250.
  36. Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:333. Cf. also Michael Rydelnik, The Messianic Hope(Nashville: B&H, 2010), 43–44. He notes the accentuation in the Masoretic Text may deliberately disconnect the two doublets to negate the idea of the deity of the child which is clearly affirmed by the Greek translation in Lk 1:32-33.
  37. Johnston, Jesus the Messiah, 140. He notes that the Egyptian tutelary bestowed on their kings at their coronation involved four titles given to the king on the day of his enthronement, plus a fifth title (personal name) having been previously given at his birth. G. von Rad, “Das judaische königsritual,” inTheologische Literaturzeitung, 72 (1942), 215–216 argued that such a dependence on the Egyptian tutelary reflects an Egyptian influence on the Israelite concept of kingship.
  38. For a scholarly criticism on the idea that Hebrew kingship was based upon the Egyptian model, see Kitchen, Ancient Orient and Old Testament, 106–111.
  39. Motyer, Isaiah, 104. He suggests the term is also used of the Angel of the Lord in Jdg 13:18, regarding His name and Manoah’s recognition of the incident as a theophany (Jdg 13:22).
  40. Ibid.
  41. Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:334. He explains that the root is used to describe the miracles God performed in Egypt (Ps 78:12).
  42. Delitzsch, Prophecies of Isaiah, 1:251. He argues that 7:14 and 9:6 are deliberately connected to paint the prophet’s picture of the coming king. He points out that both the designation “Immanuel” and the four titles in 9:6 were descriptions of the Coming One and not His personal names.
  43. Ibid., 1:252. He points out that El gibborwas a traditional name of God appearing in Dt 10:17; Jer 32:18; Neh 9:32; Ps 24:8.
  44. Motyer, Isaiah, 105. He adds, “Nothing justifies ‘god like’ … in the modern sense of ‘remarkable.’”
  45. Goldingay, 73. He acknowledges that in isolation the four terms might appear to be descriptors of a hoped-for king but that the parallel reference in 10:21 clearly indicates a divine king.
  46. See W. Baker and E. Carpenter, Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), 2045; and R. Laird Harris, ed. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament(Chicago: Moody Press, 1980), 2:907.
  47. Delitzsch, Prophecies of Isaiah, 1:338. He adds, “The quality of fatherhood is defined by the word eternity. The Messiah is an eternal Father.”
  48. Smith, Isaiah 1–39, 1:241.
  49. Rydelnik and Spencer, 1024.
  50. Walter C. Kaiser Jr., The Messiah in the Old Testament(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 164.
  51. Johnston, Jesus the Messiah, 145–146, to the contrary, suggests this ruler will bring peace “by defeating the foreign army occupying the land” as the “human coregent of God’s rule on earth.” Since this did not actually occur, Johnston jumps ahead to suggest “these four titles should be seen as climactically prophetic of the Messiah.” He indicates the initial historical contextualization was “conventional royal hyperbole,” which was originally true of the human Davidic King (presumably Hezekiah) and only literally true of the eschatological Messiah as a result of “escalated realization.”
  52. Oswalt, Isaiah, 248.
  53. Delitzsch, Prophecies of Isaiah, 1:253.
  54. Young, Book of Isaiah, 1:339.
  55. Smith, Isaiah 1–39, 1:242.
  56. Kaiser, Messiah in the Old Testament, 164.
  57. Rydelnik and Spencer, “Isaiah,” 1025.
  58. Seitz, Isaiah 1–39, 87. He admits whether Immanuel is the prophet’s son or a royal son, his birth is a hopeful sign of deliverance both from the SyroEphraimite threat and the Assyrian assault. Nevertheless, he definitely connects the prediction in chap. 7 with chap. 9.
  59. Motyer, Isaiah, 102. He also notes that David called his son Solomon (Heb., Shlomoh, “man of peace”).
  60. Rydelnik, The Messianic Hope, 159.
  61. The term “intertextuality” was coined by Julia Kristeva, Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art(Oxford: Blackwell, 1980), 66. Her approach to intertextuality suggests that the meaning of the text is both “inside” and “outside” the text itself. Secular approaches combine Saussurean linguistics, Bakhtinian dialogism and the sociology of knowledge suggesting that literary texts are the product of the wider culture in which they are produced. Intertextuality within biblical studies has come to express a complex network of references to other texts, both biblical and nonbiblical. Cf. G. Aichele and G. A. Phillips, “Introduction: Exegesis, Eisegesis, Intergesis,” Semeia 69/70 (1996), 7–18; T. K. Beal, “Ideology and Intertextuality,” in D. N. Flewell, Reading Between Texts: Intertextuality and the Hebrew Bible (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1992), 27–39.
  62. Gary Yates, “‘The Weeping Prophet’ and ‘Pouting Prophet’ in Dialogue: Intertextual Connections Between Jeremiah and Jonah,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society59 (June 2016): 223. 65. Motyer, Isaiah, 101.
  63. Ibid. Motyer points out that the gathering of plunder pictures the fruits of victory.
  64. On the Israelite concept of kingship cf. J. D. Douglas, ed., New Bible Dictionary(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962), 692–693; W. A. Elwell, ed., Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible(Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988), 2:1264–1269.
  65. Eugene Merrill, Kingdom of Priests(Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987), 209. He develops the theme of the kingdom throughout his survey of the history of Israel in the OT.
  66. See the discussion of kingdom oracles by Andreas Köstenberger and Richard Patterson, Invitation to Biblical Interpretation(Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2011), 327–328.

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