Ten Christian Prooftexts:
The misuse of Hebrew Scriptures
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty Gd, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Etrnl of hosts will perform this.
Christians see the above verses from Isaiah 9 to be speaking of Jesus, who came into the world as a child. However, after having read the above quotation, a few questions should come to mind.
When did Jesus ever run any government?
When was Jesus ever called a Wonderful Counselor, or a Mighty Gd, or an Everlasting Father, or a Prince of Peace? Jesus was never called by any of these names anywhere in the Christians' New Testament and not at all in his own lifetime.
Christians always seem to misunderstand this quotation. This is because they do not understand Hebrew, nor do they understand names, nor do they understand Hebrew names.
First, let us understand names. In most languages, every name has a meaning. The name 'Anthony' means 'priceless' and the name 'Alexander' means 'protector.' If we were to give a child the first and middle names of Anthony Alexander, would that mean that we are saying that this child is a 'priceless protector?' Would we call out to them, 'Hey, Priceless Protector, how are you?' Of course not.
Hebrew names sometimes say something about Gd. The name Michael means 'who is like Gd.' The name Elihu means 'my Gd is He,' or 'He is my Gd.' The name Immanuel means 'Gd is with us,' just to give a few examples. If someone has the name, Elihu, (again, meaning 'He is my Gd') would that mean that the human being known as Elihu is Gd? These names say something about Gd, even though they are the names of ordinary human beings. A better translation to the verse in question might be:
...and his name will be called, 'A wonderful counselor is the mighty Gd, an everlasting father is the ruler of peace.'
This means that there are really only two Hebrew names in the verse, which are given to a human being and not to a divine being, even though the names make a statement about Gd. Those names, like Anthony Alexander in our example above, would be 'Pele Yoetz El Gibor Avi Ad Sar Shalom.' The way it is written in the original Hebrew, the names would be hyphenated as 'Pele-Yoetz-El-Gibor' and 'Avi-Ad-Sar-Shalom.' Lengthy names like these were not uncommon in the Bible, and in Isaiah specifically. For example, in Isaiah 8:3, we find the name, 'Maher-shalal-chash-baz,' which means 'the spoil speeds, the prey hastens.'
But let us suppose that this verse really did contain four names. How well would they apply to Jesus? Is this a case where at first the description of the person described in Isaiah 9:6-7 sounds like the story of Jesus, but, on closer examination, it isn't?
In the Christian's New Testament we find two stories about Jesus that certainly do not describe him as a Wonderful Counselor:
Another of the disciples said to him, 'Lord, let me first go and bury my father.' But Jesus said to him, 'Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.' [Matthew 8:21]
What kind of 'Wonderful Counselor' would tell a man who had recently lost his beloved father not to see to his father's funeral?
When he had said this, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, 'Is that how you answer the high priest?' Jesus answered him, 'If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?' [John 18:22-23]
Everyone is familiar with the quotation from Jesus, 'Do not resist one who is evil, but if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.' [Matthew 5:39] In the quotation above from John 18, Jesus does not turn his other cheek to the one who struck him, but rebukes him instead. One who says one thing but does another is called a hypocrite, and how can a hypocrite be a 'Wonderful Counselor?'
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?' that is, 'My Gd, My Gd, why hast thou forsaken me?' [Matthew 27:46]
If Jesus were the 'Mighty Gd,' why would he have to call upon another as Gd in order to save him? How can Gd forsake himself? This also denies the very idea of a trinity, and shows how Jesus does not fit the description of the Isaiah 9 quotation.
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, Gd: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. [Matthew 19:16-17]
In the above verses, Jesus distinguishes between himself and Gd. How could he have been the 'Mighty Gd,' if he himself made a distinction between himself and Gd? If Jesus knew that only Gd is good, and that he should not be called good, then Jesus knew that Jesus was not Gd.
In the trinity, Jesus is the son, and not the Father. He cannot be both at the same time. As a matter of fact, Jesus himself showed that he was not the Father, and claimed not to have the same will, or the same knowledge as the Father.
And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, 'My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.' [Matthew 26:39]
Jesus calls the One to whom he prayed his Father, so how can Jesus be 'the Everlasting Father,' if he called another his Father? How could Jesus be the Father if the will of Jesus is not the same as the will of the Father? This denies the very idea of the trinity.
But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. [Mark 13:32]
In the above verse, Jesus claims there is something that he does not know, but that only the Father knows. So how can Jesus, 'the son,' also be the Father if their knowledge is not the same?
Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my Gd, and your Gd. [John 20:17]
How can the Father ascend to Himself? In the above verse, Jesus not only distinguishes between himself and his Father, but he also makes it sound as though the relationship that he has with Gd, 'The Father,' is exactly the same relationship that all people have with Gd, who is, in fact, the Father of all.
'Prince of Peace'
First of all, this is a mistranslation. The words in the original Hebrew are, 'sar shalom.' The word 'sar' does not mean 'prince,' it means 'ruler.' Now, one might say that a 'prince' is a 'ruler.' However, the reason why the Christians choose the word 'prince' instead of the word 'ruler' in Christian translations is that the word 'prince' makes one think that the original verse is speaking of a 'son of the king,' which in the Christian mind alludes to Jesus whom they believe to have been the son of Gd, the King. However, the word is 'ruler,' and not 'prince.' 'Prince' in Hebrew is 'nasee' and not 'sar.' The Christian translators intentionally chose the English word 'prince' to lead the reader into thinking about Jesus.
In the Christian's New Testament, we also find a quotation which certainly does not show Jesus to have been a 'ruler' or even a 'prince of peace.'
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. [Matthew 10:34-36]
How could anyone who said such a thing be considered a prince or ruler of peace? How could anyone who said such a thing have been the Messiah? We know that the true Messiah will bring an everlasting peace and, along with Elijah the Prophet, will bring families closer to each other and not further apart (see Isaiah 2:4, Micah 4:1-4, and Malachi 4:5).
I have already stated that Christians rarely include verse 7 when they quote Isaiah chapter 9. The reason is that in verse 7 it states, 'Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end.' Perhaps they do not quote verse 7 because Jesus never brought peace to the world, nor did he ever intend to, as the above quotation from Matthew 10:34-36 shows.
Jesus was also a violent man, and neither a 'Prince of Peace,' nor even a 'Ruler of Peace.' There are other verses in the Christian's New Testament that indicate this. Here are two more:
But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me. [Luke 19:27]
The verse above comes at the end of a parable that Jesus told, of a man that leaves his land to go to be anointed as the King. When he comes back to his land, he says the above verse. Every single Christian commentator claims that Jesus was referring to himself as the man who left his land to be anointed King, and so in his own parable, Jesus is saying the above, asking that those who do not wish to have him reign over them be murdered in front of him.
In the verse, below, Jesus tells his followers to go and buy a sword.
And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. [Luke 22:35]
We have shown from quotations from the Christian's New Testament that Jesus was not a 'Wonderful Counselor, Jesus was not a 'Mighty Gd,' Jesus was not an 'Everlasting Father,' nor was Jesus a 'Prince of Peace' or even a 'Ruler of Peace,' in spite of how Christians wish to interpret the original verses from Isaiah 9:6-7.
So, according to the Jewish interpretation, who is Isaiah 9:6-7 speaking about?
According to Judaism, the answer is in the names chosen. The name 'Hezekiah' which in Hebrew is 'Chizkiyah' comes from the words 'chazak' and 'Ya.' 'Chazak' means 'strong' or 'mighty' and 'Ya' is the shortened name for Gd used as a suffix. Many might recognize the Ya' in the word, 'halleluyah' which means,'praise Gd.' Judaism believes that Isaiah 9:6-7 refers to Hezekiah, who reigned for almost 30 years. The name Hezekiah, Chizkiyah, is the same name in meaning, as one finds in the verses from Isaiah 9:6-7, a 'Mighty Gd.'
Questions? Email Rabbi Stuart Federow