Introduction

Note: Please see the video above or keep reading.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6, ESV).

Many use Isaiah 9:6 as a Trinitarian proof text. It assigns the titles “mighty God” and “everlasting Father” to Jesus. Few Christians know that most verses used to teach the doctrine of the Trinity are based on questionable translations. On the surface, this verse appears to be a remarkable trinitarian proof text. But a closer examination uncovers a mistranslation.

There are two primary interpretations for the identity of this child. Most Christians believe this child is Jesus Christ. Some Trinitarians, Biblical Unitarians, and non-Christian Jews, etc. believe that this child was King Hezekiah or possibly another king.

A Summary of this Writing

Isaiah 9:6 should be interpreted within the context of verses 1-7. All popular Trinitarian translations use future verbs tenses not found in Hebrew manuscripts to dress up Isaiah 9:6 into a prophecy of Jesus. 

The Hebrew word for“name,” וְ (“and his name shall be called”) is singular which indicates that this child has one name, not four distinct names as found in Trinitarian translations. When the word “name” in the singular form is examined in other passages, with rare exceptions, it identifies one name, not multiple names.

The Hebrew word for “called” (“his name shall be called“) is in the active voice. This means that the subject performs this action. The only possible subject in this verse who could have named this child is “God.” But Trinitarian translations changed the verb, “called” into a passive voice.

The New Testament does not teach that Isaiah 9:6 is a fulfillment of any prophecy. None of the titles mentioned in this verse, (“wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace”) are applied to Jesus in the Bible.

Two ancient sources provide an interpretation of Isaiah 9:6 that is consistent with  Hebrew grammar rules. The child was already born, had a government on his shoulders, and he was called one, singular non-divine name.

Please continue reading for supporting elements to these conclusions.

The Context Examined

A fundamental rule of biblical interpretation is to consider the context of a passage. The exegetical form of biblical interpretation seeks to understand the meaning intended by the original author, as understood by the original audience. Isaiah 9:6 cannot be interpreted correctly divorced from the context. 

The book, Toward an Exegetical Theology: Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching, states,  “Good exegetical procedure dictates that the details be viewed in light of the total context. . . . If the exegete falters here, much of what follows will be wasted time and effort” (Kaiser, W. C., Jr., 1981, 69).

Sadly, few Christians know that Isaiah 9:1-7 contains verses that are all contextually linked. They should be understood as one unit. Even though technically, the context spills over from the previous chapter. 

For example, Isaiah 9:6 begins with the word “for” (“For a child is born”). This points to the preceding verses. If we back up one or two verses, they also begin with the word “for,” which connects related verses.

It can be difficult for us to step outside our cultural setting and consider the context. But a contextual examination establishes a relationship between the preceding context and the royal birth announcement of verse 6.

The first sentence of chapter 9 —“But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish,” should be at the end of chapter 8 as found in Hebrew Bibles.

Beginning in 9:1b, there is a transition from “gloom” to hope. “In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations” (1:1b). 

In contrast to the “gloom and doom” of the previous verses in chapter 8, there is a transition, signaled by the word “but.” 

The passage continues, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone” (9:2).

The ESV correctly used past tense verbs. The dark nation of Israel saw a great light. What was this light? Because the context of the verses to follow is of one or more military victories, this should be incorporated into our understanding. 

Before we continue, Matthew 4:13-16 indicates that Jesus fulfilled a prophecy from Isaiah 9:1-2. To save time, we won’t cover this prophecy which is unrelated to Isaiah 9:6. But if you have doubts, please read it

Verse 3, “You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.”

The phrase, “You have multiplied the nation” is regarding enlarged borders after successful military campaigns. This is also found in Isaiah 26:15. The phrase, “as they are glad when they divide the spoil,” depicts joy and celebration after winning a battle.

Verse 4, “For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian” (9:4).

The theme of victory in battle continues. The oppressive yoke of one or more kings was broken. This victory is compared to a previous battle that took place in Midian described in Judges 7-8. 

The account of Israel’s joyful triumph over their enemy continues: “For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire” (9:5). 

Because verses 4, 5, and 6 begin with with the word “for,” these conjunctions connect related sentences. The Davidic king announced in verse 6 is involved in Israel’s victory over their enemies.

Now that we have covered verses 1-5, it is important to remember that the context leading up to Isaiah 9:6 is of jubilant victory celebrations. Israel’s borders were enlarged. Yoke of bandages were broken, etc.

Before we examine verse 6, which Jewish king lived during Isaiah’s ministry (who wrote this passage) and experienced multiple military victories? It was king Hezekiah. The Bible says, “And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done” (2 Kings 18:3). Verse 5 says, “ He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him” (v. 5). And verse 7-8 continues, “And the Lord was with him; wherever he went out, he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and would not serve him. He struck down the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city” (2 Kings 18:7-8).

Based on the context, the victories described in verses 2-5 are not descriptive of Jesus Christ. Verse 6 contains past tense verbs to enthusiastically announce the birth of a king in existence related to these military conquests. 

An Exegetical Examination

It’s time to place the identity of this child under the exegetical microscope. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.” In some translations, this sentence is a serious mistranslation. The verbs “born” and “given” are in the past tense in Hebrew. In fact, they are in a perfect tense which indicates completed actions.

Most translations use present tense verbs, “is born,” and “is given.” While technically, the English historical present describes past actions in the present, in the interest of translating God’s Word as accurate as possible, the underlying manuscripts should be mirrored. Consequently, this verse should read, “was born” and “was given.” 

Some translations use future tenses in Isaiah 9:6a which is a serious mistranslation. The NASB (1995) says, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us.” Such translations of this verse are a forgery. 

Those who have a high regard for God’s inspired word should be outraged to discover that Bible translators purposefully changed God’s Word to conform to their Trinitarian presuppositions.

In Mark 7:7, Jesus accused the religious leaders who had corrupted the theological framework of ordinary Jews of, “thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down” (Mark 7:13b).

Christians today sometimes forget that Bibles are translations created by Trinitarian scholars. Bible translations don’t supersede thousands of underlying manuscripts. Since all credible manuscripts have past tense verbs here, translators should be faithful, except in rare cases where it is grammatically impossible to retain the same meaning. 

Verbs Tenses Examined Using Logos Bible Software

The book, The prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary, admits, “9:1–7 is couched in past tenses” (Motyer, J. A., 1996, 98).

The book, Moses and the Prophets: An Essay toward a Fair and Useful Statement of Some of the Positions of Modern Biblical Criticism, writes, “Occasional instances of what some have called the “prophetic perfect,” as in Isa. 5:13; 9:1–7, are no real parallels. Their immediate context clearly prevents misapprehension” (Terry, M. S.,1901, 122).

Some Trinitarians admit that the verbs in Isaiah 9:6 are in the past tense in Hebrew, but claim they are “prophetic perfects.” That is, they describe future events that are so certain to happen, the author used past tenses.

I don’t deny that a few passages in the Old Testament may contain past tenses describing future events. Nevertheless, translations should be faithful to manuscripts and accurately translate inspired verb tenses. 

With past tenses and historical presents as necessary, the verse reads, “For unto us a child was born, to us a son was given; and the government is/was upon his shoulder, and his name is/was called …”

Using Logos Bible Software, a word search can be performed on the word “born” with the same Hebrew tagging. It is pual (passive voice), perfect tense (past completed action), third person, masculine, and singular. A search of this word in the Old Testament with the same morphology will inform us how the word “born” is translated in other passages. Is it past, present, or future? This can inform us if Isaiah 9:6 describes a birth that already took place or was future.

A search produces 16 hits. All these verbs are translated as past tenses with three historical presents. Remember, historical presents describe past events using a present tense. The past tenses are “was born” (2 times), “were born” (8 times), “has been born” (1 time), “was descended” (1 time), “one was born” (1 time), and “is born” (3 times). Not one use is in the future tense.

The next verb in the sentence is the word, “given” (“for to us a child is born, to us a son is given”). A search of this word with the same morphology produces 14 hits. Once again, past tenses dominate the landscape. Here are the returns. It is “given” (1 time), “there was given” (1 time), “had been given” (1 time), “was committed” (1 time), “issued (1 time), “is set” (2 time), “is given” (1 time), “shall be given” (1 time), “was given” (2 times), “is raised” (1 time), “it is given” (1 time), “was spread” (1 time).

To be transparent, one word is conjugated into a future tense in Isaiah 35:2. It is, “shall be given.” While the word “given’ is in the past tense, it is qualified into the future tense by the words, “shall be” because of other grammatical features in this verse. In contrast, Isaiah 9:1-6 (again) contains all past tense verbs.

Because of past, completed actions, the birth of the child happened hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus Christ.

The verse continues, “and the government shall be upon his shoulder.” Because the verb, “be” is in the past tense in Hebrew, the future tenses in the ESV and other Bibles are a purposeful mistranslation.

A search for this word returns 86 hits. They are all past tenses with a few historical presents that describe past events. So why does Isaiah 9:6 in all major Trinitarian translations include future tenses? Trinitarian translators framed this verse into a prophecy of Jesus. Their Trinitarian partisanship is undeniable.

The fourth and last verb in the sentence is the word, “called.” This word with the same conjugation is found 208 times. The only future tense I could find is Isaiah 9:6!

The Word “Name” Is Singular, Not Plural

Hebrew words contain tagging which aids in sentence assembly. While these word elements are not absolute, they are rarely ignored. 

The Hebrew word “name,” וְ (“and his name shall be called”) is singular which indicates that this child has one name. Trinitarian translations assign at least four names to the child.

A search for the word name “name” in the same plural form, results in 723 hits. The results identify singular names, with at least one exception in Genesis 48:16.

The prophet Isaiah under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit could have used the plural form of the word, “name” (names) for multiple names. A search for the plural form of the word “name” returns 79 hits of plural names.

Some may object and offer Isaiah 7:14. In this verse, the child is called the singular name, “Emmanuel.” This word means, “God is with us.”” But the child is called one singular name.

Another objection may come from Isaiah 8:3. This child is assigned a singular name composed of multiple words. Surely this is a victory for Trinitarians. But the meaning of this name is spelled out in the ESV and other translations. The ESV says, “The spoil speeds, the prey hastens.” This child was not assigned five different names: “the,” “spoil,” “speeds,” “the,” “prey,” “hastens.” He was called one singular name with four Hebrew words, communicating one thought.

The Hebrew Word “Called” is in the Active voice

In Hebrew, the verb “called” (קרא) is in the active voice. This means with rare exceptions, the word “called” has a subject of one or more words. A subject informs who named this child. This word literally means “and he called.”

The only person available in the verse that could have named this child is God. Within this sentence, the word, “God” as a subject is identified with multiple words:

God = [“the wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father”]

Please observe the distinction between the passive voice (Trinitarian translation) and the active voice: 

Passive: “will be called” (does not inform who named this child).

Active Voice: the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, called His name “Prince of Peace” (The subject of the verb is identified).

Is the translation with God as the subject new? Absolutely Not. We will cover two ancient translations (the Septuagint and the Targum), which follow closely the underlying morphological tagging and the context.

A search of the word “called” with the same morphology yields 208 hits. Over and over, with few exceptions, the verb has a subject identified.

Of the 208 results, I found 14 (Genesis 25:26, 38:29, 38:30, Numbers 11:3, 11:34, 21:3, Joshua 5:9, Judges 1:17, 6:32, 15:17, 2 Samuel 2:16, 6:8, 2 Kings 18:4, 1 Chronicles 13:11) from the ESV that were exceptions. That is, they are passive. So based on this, approximately 93% of the time, an identifiable subject performed the action. Of these 14 rare exceptions, some translations didn’t agree with the ESV and translated them as active.

Summary:

Here is a summary with the Hebrew grammatical considerations that shape this verse. The child was already born and had a government on his shoulders. He is called one singular name, and the One who named this child is God Himself. Here is a Jewish translation that transmits these grammatical features:

“For a child has been born to us, a son given to us, and the authority is upon his shoulder, and the wondrous adviser, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, called his name, “the prince of peace.” https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/15940/jewish/Chapter-9.htm

Brief Summary

Here is a summary with the Hebrew grammatical considerations that shape this verse. The child was already born and had a government on his shoulders. He is called one singular name, and the One who named this child is God Himself. Here is a Jewish translation that transmits these grammatical features:

“For a child has been born to us, a son given to us, and the authority is upon his shoulder, and the wondrous adviser, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, called his name, “the prince of peace.” https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/15940/jewish/Chapter-9.htm

Jesus is Not the Wonderful Counselor

The verse continues, “and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor.” Is Jesus called, “wonderful counselor” in the Bible? Absolutely not. One might object that while Jesus is not called this title in the Bible, this does not prove that He never was called this title. But because Jesus was unborn, this title is inapplicable.

Jesus is not “Mighty God”

The verse continues, “and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God.”

From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible makes pointed distinctions between the identity of God the Father (Yahweh) and Jesus Christ. 

While there are unity and communion between God and His Son, they remain separate entities. Two persons that differ cannot be equal without violating self-evident, God-given rules of logic. We are made in God’s image as separate persons. 

It should be noted that the title “mighty God” in this verse is not “almighty God.” If Jesus is “mighty God” as Trinitarians believe, there should be biblical confirmation. A search for the title “mighty God” in the ESV results in two hits. Both uses are assigned exclusively to the Father. 

To save time, I won’t cover these verses. The verses are Isaiah 10:20-21 and Jeremiah 32:18.

It’s contradictory to apply the title “mighty God” to Jesus because He is consistently subordinate to His Father. Jesus was promoted to the position of Lord (Daniel 7:13-14, Acts 2:33, 36; Hebrews 1:9; 2:9; Philippians 2:9-11) because He did not have this position. He submits to the sovereignty of His greater Father. Jesus said, “…I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28b). In the book of Relation, after His ascension, Jesus called His Father, “my God” (3:2, 3:12,  etc.). Paul and Peter are both quoted as saying, “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:3, 1 Peter 1:3). Because Jesus has a God, He is not “mighty God.”

For additional verses that teach that the Father is greater, please see John 10:29, Romans 6:10, 1 Corinthians 3:23, 11:3, 15:24-28, Ephesians 4:6, etc.

Jesus is not the Everlasting Father

The verse continues, “and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father.”

The Trinitarian book, Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know, states, “Because God is three distinct persons, the Father is not the Son or the Holy Spirit, the Son is not the Father or the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father or the Son’ (Grudem, Wayne, Kindle Locations 460-461, 2005).

The book, Trinity, says, “the Persons are distinct: The Father is not the Son. The Son is not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not the Father” (Kindle Locations 48-49, Rose Publishing, 1999).

Jesus is not the Father: “I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father” (John 16:28).

According to John 1:29, Jesus is the “Lamb of God,” which means He is not, “God the Lamb.” The Father did not come to earth, but sent His Son, who represented His Father perfectly. It is important to not blur the inspired distinctions that exist between God and His Son. 

While popular Trinitarian translations contain, “everlasting father” this title is misapplied to the unborn Jesus. Jesus said, “ And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven” (Matthew 23:9

Prince of Peace?

The last title is “Prince of peace.” A better translation of the word, “prince” (ESV) is “ruler.” A survey of this word in the Old Testament indicates that this word usually describes a ruler or government official. Trinitarians ignore that the context describes a king who had a government on his shoulder that would increase (9:7).

Isaiah 9:7

7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this” (Isaiah 9:7).

The examination of this verse will be light. This limited scope does not mean the verse is unimportant. 

Isaiah 9:7 has translation variants. The ESV communicates that there will be no end to both “[a] the increase of his government and “[b] of peace.” But this “end” is limited to peace in the following translations:

-Holman Christian Standard Bible

-Lexham Septuagint

-The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible

-New American Standard (1995)

Where it says, “Of the increase of his government,” is a reference to the government held by the child in the previous verse. In contrast, Jesus never had a government and said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jn 18:36a).

The phrase, “throne of David,” limits this king to the bloodline of David. 

God had previously made a covenant with David: “12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body” (2 Samuel 7:12). The word “offspring” is plural and includes Davidic kings. 

The verse continues, “and I will establish his kingdom 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Sa 7:12–13). Now it switches to singular pronouns with the words “his,” and “He.” The ultimate culmination of the Davidic monarchy [k] in Jesus Christ.

Translations are consistent that the promises are guaranteed because “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” If Jesus was God incarnate, it would be unnecessary for the Father to guarantee these actions.

The Masoretic Text Translation of Isaiah 9:6

Most Bibles in existence today use the Masoretic Text. Isaiah 9:6 is based on this Text. The dispute over Isaiah 9:6 is not over the Masoretic text, but the translation of it.

The Septuagint Translation of Isaiah 9:6

The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Old Testament. This collection of manuscripts were likely composed around 200-300 years before the birth of Christ. Because Alexander the Great conquered the known world and hellenized it with Greek, some Jews by the time of Christ may of no longer been fluent in Hebrew. The Greek Septuagint brought the Hebrew Bible to Greek-speaking Jews. Jesus quoted often from the Septuagint and it was the Old Testament used by the New Testament church until around the 1500’s.

Because the Septuagint was translated from Hebrew to Greek before the time of Christ, there was no pressure from Trinitarians or Biblical Unitarians, etc., to favor a particular theological disposition. Because this translation took place before the time of Christ, they most certainly had a better grasp of the Hebrew language. 

Here is Isaiah 9:6 from the Lexham English Septuagint (2012). Please notice how past tense verbs and historical presents identify a child who already existed:

“6 Because a child was born to us; a son was given to us whose leadership came upon his shoulder; and his name is called “Messenger of the Great Council,” for I will bring peace upon the rulers and health to him” (Isaiah 9:6).

The second half of this verse further invalidates Trinitarian translations. The singular name, “Messenger of the Great Council” discredits the Trinitarian plural names, “wonderful counselor, mighty God, and everlasting Father.” While the word, “called” is passive (“is called”), the verse hints that the subject who performed these actions is God: “for I will bring peace upon the rulers and health to him.”

The Dead Sea Scrolls Translation of Isaiah 9:6

The Dead Sea Scrolls is a collection of manuscripts discovered in caves in Israel in the mid-1900’s. According to Wikipedia, the Isaiah scroll (1QISA) (one of the manuscripts found), dates from around 356-103 BCE and 150-100 BCE. The consensus among most scholars is that this scroll dates before the time of Christ. 

Because the Isaiah scroll is written in Hebrew, this allows a side by side comparison with the Hebrew Masoretic text.

Some years back, theologian Jeff A. Benner pointed out some differences between them. I have not found the differences significant enough to cover. If you are interested in a side-by-side comparison which he makes, you can follow this link.

The Dead Sea Scroll’s rendering of Isaiah 9:6 is a close match to the Masoretic Text. The Dead Sea Scrolls contains past tense verbs for a child already in existence. The word, “name” continues to be singular for one name. The word, “called” indicates that a subject named this child. 

The Targum and Isaiah 9:6

“The prophet said to the House of David that a boy was born to us, a son was given to us; and he accepted upon himself to keep the Torah, and his name is called in the presence of the Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God Who Lives Forever, “The Messiah in Whose Days Peace Will Increase Upon Us” (The Targum Isaiah, Bruce D. Chilton, 21, 1987).

The Targum is a Jewish Bible and collection of ancient Rabbinic paraphrases and commentaries on the Old Testament. They are written in Aramaic and may date from the 1-3 century. They are loose paraphrases, allegories, and commentaries.

The Targum contains Isaiah 9:6 in a book called, Jonathan to the Prophets by Jonathan Ben Uzziel. Because the translation of this verse is so devastating, some Trinitarians have purposefully mistranslated it.

In 1871, Trinitarian C W. H. Pauli published a translation called, Jonathan to the Prophets, Isaiah into English. His erroneous interpretation of Isaiah 9:6, reads, “The prophet said to the house of David, For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and He has taken the law upon Himself to keep it. His name is called from eternity, Wonderful, The Mighty God, who liveth to eternity, The Messiah, whose peace shall be great upon us in His days” (Rev. C. W. H. Pauli, 1871).

Because this mistranslation assigned divine names to Jesus consistent with Trinitarian Bibles, it has been cited as proof for the Trinity for over 100 years. Because most Trinitarians are so confident in their theology, few investigate it’s authenticity. 

Some Trinitarians know that this translation is problematic and are more careful. For example, the book, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, states, “Three, if not four, different renderings of the Targum on Is. 9:6 are possible” Edersheim, A. (1896).

Most Trinitarians are more honest. One theologian writes, “Similarly, Isa 9:6 [MT 5] is changed in the Targum so as to remove the divine titles from the Messiah . . . In light of this rendition, it could be fairly said that the Targums reflect a point of view which would be unreceptive to the idea of the incarnation, thus hostile to claims of deity by any man, including Jesus of Nazareth. Ronning, J. L. (2007). The Targum of Isaiah and the Johannine Literature. Westminster Theological Journal, 69 (2), 272.

Another source, The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: Matthew–Luke (2003), makes some compelling admissions: 

“The Aramaic understands the passage as a prophetic oracle that applies to the “house of David.” However, the exalted titles ‘Wonderful Counselor’ and ‘Mighty God’ (‘Father’ drops out, leaving behind ‘everlasting’ or ‘existing forever’) are understood to refer to God, not to the Messiah. That is the significance of the insertion of ‘before.’ In other words, the Messiah will not be called ‘Mighty God,’ he will be called ‘The Messiah in whose days peace will increase upon us’ before or in the presence of God Almighty, the Wonderful Counselor, who exists forever.’” (C. A. Evans & C. A. Bubeck, Eds.) (First Edition, p. 90).

Another credible author admits, Kimchi and others, on the basis of the Targum’s rendering of this text, consider all of the titles but one as names of God. They think that the subject of the active verb is God and that Prince of Peace is the only Messianic title” Scipione, G. (1973). The Wonderful Counselor, the Other Counselor, and Christian Counseling. Westminster Theological Journal, 36 (2), 176.

The Targum complements the Septuagint. The child was already in existence and had one name. The Father is the “Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God Who Lives Forever.”

Some Trinitarians point out that the child is called, “the Messiah.” But this translation does not state that the Messiah is God. God is the one who named Him.

A problem with the word, “Messiah” in the Targum is that it is an insertion. This word is not found in the Masoretic Text, the Septuagint, or the Dead Sea Scrolls. The word “Messiah” may have been added because of Messianic overtones present in the next verse.

King Hezekiah or Jesus?

Because the evidence is compelling that the child already existed, the question becomes, which Davidic king? Because the child born in Isaiah 9:6 was a historical event and not prophetic, his identity can be narrowed to a contemporary of Isaiah.  

God had previously promised David that kings would come in his bloodline:  “And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body” (Ge 35:11).

King Hezekiah took power and reigned during Isaiah’s prophetic ministry. Because King Hezekiah was in the bloodline of king David, he is Dividic and is mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:10).

Here is a description of king Hezekiah from the book, 1 & 2 Kings:

“Thus Hezekiah was not merely one in a line of kings, as these verses go on to emphasize. In at least one respect, the way in which he trusted in the Lord (v. 5), there was no one like him among all the kings of Judah” (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds., p. 253) 

  1. Victorious King (9: 2-5).

Isaiah 9:2-5, which we covered, described one or more joyful military victory celebration. Isaiah 9:4-5, connects a Davidic king with these triumphs. The book, 1 & 2 Kings, describes king Hezekiah: 

“The consequence of this religious faithfulness was that Hezekiah’s military exploits paralleled David’s in a way that was not true of any of the rest of his descendants. Only of David and Hezekiah among the Davidic kings is it said that the Lord was with him…”

Because king Hezekiah was an accomplished commander and Davidic King, he is a probable match. 

2. Past tense, child born

Because verb tenses limit to an existing king during Isaiah’s ministry, this child should be Hezekiah. 

3. Past tense, Government rule

Because kings taxed their citizens and Hezekiah ruled Judah, he undeniably had a government.  

7. Prince of Peace

Because I believe that God named this child, let’s move to the name “ruler” or
“Prince of Peace.”

Because the Davidic king described in Isaiah 9:6 successfully defeated one or more of Israel’s enemies (vs. 2-5), this ushered in a time of peace. Therefore, the name “Prince of Peace or Ruler of the Peace” is consistent with the preceding context (vs. 2-5) and applies well to King Hezekiah.

And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “For there shall be peace and truth in my days” (Isaiah 39:8).

8. Increase of Government

In verse six, the child would have a government. This government would grow.

Because Israel’s border increased under king Hezekiah, his government increased.

9. On the Throne of David

Because this king would reign on David’s throne, king Hezekiah is a probable match.

Conclusion

When the manuscript evidence is considered as a whole (Masoretic text, Septuagint, Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Targum, etc.), including the context of verse 1-5, and the grammatical features embedded within the Hebrew language, they unanimously testify that Isaiah 9:6 is a mistranslation. This child was already born, was assigned one singular name, and the One who named this child is the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father.” 

Trinitarian scholars rarely discuss the avalanche of corroborating evidence that Isaiah 9:6 is a serious mistranslation. Because the translation of Isaiah 9:6 is so problematic, it is frequently cited by non-believing Jews and Muslims to reject Christianity and their Trinitarian God. 

3 Comments

  1. Steven D Miller

    A very well written and organized argument.
    2 questions:

    Isaiah 9:6-7 is the end of one prophecy that begins at 7:1. Ahaz is king. Hezekiah is a little boy. The government had not already come upon his shoulder. So how could Isa 9:6 refer to Hezekiah?

    You say that “given” in Isa 35:2 should be translated future. Why is that.

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi brother Steve,

      Thanks for commenting. I will send you a separate email that includes a picture of a timeline from Logos Bible Software that shows the prophet Isaiah was alive during the reign of King Ahaz, the victory of Hezekiah over the Philistines, and about half of the reign of King Hezekiah. While this timeline is not inspired, it is assembled based on biblical data. The account of Isaiah 9:1-6 (likely King Hezekiah), is not written as prophecy, but with past tenses, which corresponds with Isaiah being alive during this period.

      For Isaiah 35:2, biblical Hebrew does not have verb tenses like the English language. Nevertheless, information can be harvested from Hebrew verbs to translate them into receptor languages that use tenses. All the translations that I researched, use a future tense “shall be given” (etc.), while the word “given” (נִתַּן־) is in the Hebrew perfect tense (qatal). This is because of other verbs in the sentence and for the verse to make sense.

      May God bless your study as you follow His Son!

      Reply
  2. Jake Wilson

    Hi Darrell,

    No need for you to reply to the following.

    Again, an excellent article on ISA 9:6 – thanks very much for all the work you have put into this. I had just started myself to check its translation and was checking the main context (ISA 7-10; ISA 36-39; 2 KIN 18-20; 2 CHR 29-32). But then I found your article which saved me quite some work 🙂

    I don’t know if it’s worthwhile to discus this at all, but IMO Hezekiah perfectly foreshadows the Messiah because a) Isaiah is reaching forth towards the Messianic Kingdom, just like Gabriel said that Jesus would “reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” (LK 1:33, cf. ISA 9:7), b) because during that millennial dispensation will be indeed peace (except for the final Gog/Magog battle), and c) because Jesus reconciled both man with God as well as man with man (i.e. those who accept His offer).

    First, Hezekiah renews the covenant and reconciles Israel (Judah) with God (2 CHR 29:10, 24), and then he strives do accomplish reconciliation between Ephraim and Judah (N.B. “apostate Ephraim” is a type for “Gentiles” in the Bible).

    In other words, Hezekiah pursued the ministry of reconciliation and foreshadows both the making of the New Covenant with Israel and its extension to the Gentiles.

    The trinitarian translation is really bad (in fact, evil), but the Jewish notion of limiting the passage to Hezekiah is not correct either IMO. As so many other passages in the Bible show: there are literal historic fulfillments, but they don’t fully exhaust the prophecy.

    Regarding ISA 7:14, the Hebrew Shem Tov Version of Matthew says: “All this was to COMPLETE what was written by the prophet…”. It doesn’t say FULFILL as if the prophecy was fulfilled for the first time when Jesus was born – it was COMPLETED, i.e. the prophecy was exhausted.

    In other words, a young woman did conceive in Isaiah’s day, and there was literally a son born with the name Immanuel – that child did exist at that time (unless it’s figurative, see further below). BUT the same verse has a twofold meaning and also foreshadows Messiah’s birth.

    Again, the trinitarians claim ISA 7:14 refers exclusively to the Messiah (who is allegedly “God in the flesh with us” = a twisted interpretation), while the Jews assert it only refers to the historic Immanuel.

    Considering that Jerusalem is called a VIRGIN (e.g. ISA 37:22), and that “God was with Judah” thanks to Hezekiah, and that Judah is called Immanuel’s land (ISA 8:8), – one could even conclude that “Immanuel” is simply another name for “Hezekiah”.

    Be that as it may, important is the twofold meaning of such and similar verses – the type is found in the Tanakh and the respective antitype is found in the B’rit Hadashah.

    Shalom,

    Jake
    PS: “Mighty God” (el gibbor) is also found in ISA 10:21 where it does mean God the Father. Thus, it cannot refer to Hezekiah – it is indeed a title of the name-giver, viz. of God the everlasting Father.

    Reply

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