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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Isa. 9:6 "Mighty God, Eternal Father"

Isa. 9:6 

(From the RDB Files)

"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 Counsellor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."
All Christians, I believe, accept this son as being the Christ.  Some will tell you that since the meaning of this symbolic name includes the words "Mighty God, Eternal Father," then Jesus is  the Mighty God and the Eternal Father."

But there are at least two other ways this personal name has been interpreted by reputable Bible scholars. (1) The titles found within the name (e.g., "Mighty God") are intended in their secondary, subordinate senses.  (2) The titles within the name are meant to praise God the Father, not the Messiah.

First, there is the possibility that the words (or titles) found in the literal meaning of the name apply directly to the Messiah all right but in a subordinate sense.  In other words, Christ is "a mighty god" in the same sense that God's angels were called "gods" and the judges of Israel were called "gods" by God himself (also by Jesus - John 10:34, 35), and Moses was called "a god" by Jehovah himself.  This is the interpretation of Is. 9:6 by the WT Society at this time (1986).

Yes, men and angels were called gods (elohim - Hebrew; theos - Greek) in a proper, but subordinate, sense by Jehovah and his inspired Bible writers.  Although they were given this elevated title in a proper sense (not false gods), it was obviously with the clear understanding that it in no way implied a comparison with the Most High, Only True God.  (A bank employee calling his boss, the head of the bank, "the president" would certainly not imply an equality of position, power, etc. with "The President" [of the USA].)
The word "god" as understood by those who used that term simply meant a "mighty one" - see Young's Concordance.  In fact the word "Mighty" as found at Is. 9:6 (Gibbor in the original Hebrew) is also applied to the angels at Ps. 103:20 (see a modern concordance such as the New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible).  It is interesting that the  ancient translation of the Old Testament that Jesus frequently quoted, the Septuagint Version, renders Is. 9:6: "and his [the Messiah's] name is called the Angel [aggeloV, messenger] of Great Counsel."   

The very early (ca. 160 A.D.) Christian Justin Martyr quoted Is. 9:6 also as "The Angel of mighty counsel" - "Dialogue With Trypho," ch. LXXVI.

So, just as "Lord" was applied to anyone in authority: angels, masters over servants, husbands, etc., so, too, could "god" be applied to anyone (good or bad) who was considered a "mighty person."  Of course only one person could be called the "Most High God," or the "Only True God," or the "Almighty God"!  [See the sidebar: "God and gods"]

In the same way, "Eternal Father" could mean that the Messiah is one who has been given eternal life and through him God has brought eternal life to many others.  (We might make the comparison that the Heavenly Father has brought men to life in this world through their earthly fathers.)  This would be intended in a clearly subordinate sense and not to take anything away from the ultimate honor, glory, worship, etc. due the Most High God and Father in heaven - Jehovah.

At any rate, even trinitarians do not confuse the two separate persons of the Father and the Son.  They do not say the Son is the Father.  They say the Father and the Son are two separate individual persons who are equally "God"!

Therefore, since we obviously cannot take "Eternal Father" in the literal sense to mean that Jesus is the Father,   we cannot take the rest of that same name (esp. `Mighty God') in its literal highest sense and say that Jesus is Mighty God, etc., either.

In addition to the distinct possibility of the use of the secondary subordinate meanings of the titles such as "God/god" as explained by Bible language scholars, we can see by the actual renderings of some trinitarian Bible translators at Is. 9:6 that they believe such subordinate meanings were intended by the inspired Bible writer.

Instead of "Mighty God," Dr. James Moffatt translated this part of Is. 9:6 as "a divine hero;" Byington has "Divine Champion;" The New English Bible has "In Battle Godlike;" The Catholic New American Bible (1970 and 1991 revision) renders it "God-Hero;" and the REB says "Mighty Hero."  Even that most-respected of Biblical Hebrew language experts, Gesenius, translated it "mighty hero" - p. 45, Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon.

Also, The NIV Study Bible, in a f.n. for Ps 45:6, tells us:

"In this psalm, which praises the king and especially extols his `splendor and majesty' (v. 3), it is not unthinkable that he was called `god' as a title of honor [cf.  Isa 9:6]."  (Bracketed information included in original footnote.  Emphasis is mine)
In addition, Rotherham has rendered "Eternal Father" as "father of progress," and the New English Bible translates it: "father of a wide realm."

The above-mentioned Bible translations by trinitarian scholars which apply the words in the name at Is. 9:6 in a subordinate sense directly to Jesus clearly show that they do not believe this scripture implies an equality with Jehovah the Father.

But, some may ask, if ‘a mighty god’ were intended in this name, why is “God” given a capital ‘G’ in most translations of this name?

The answer is that in English translations of names we often find the major words within a name (or title) are capitalized. This is similar to the way book titles, names of buildings, ships, etc. are written in English. ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ ‘The World Trade Center,’ ‘The Empire State Building,’ ‘Allure of the Seas’ (cruise ship), etc., are modern examples.

And second, another way competent Bible scholars have interpreted the meaning of this name is with the understanding that it (as with many, if not most, of the other Israelites' personal names) does not apply directly to the Messiah (as we have already seen with "Elijah," "Abijah," etc.) but is, instead, a statement praising the Father, Jehovah God.
Personal names in the ancient Hebrew and Greek are often somewhat cryptic to us today.  The English Bible translator must fill in the missing minor words (especially in names composed of two or more Hebrew words) such as "my," "is," "of," etc. in whatever way he thinks best in order to make sense for us today in English.

For instance, two of the best Bible concordances (Young's and Strong's) and a popular trinitarian Bible dictionary (Today's Dictionary of the Bible) differ greatly on the exact meaning of many Biblical personal names because of those "minor" words which must be added to bring out the intended meaning.
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, for example, says the name "Elimelech" (which is literally just "God King") means "God of (the) King."  Young's Analytical Concordance says it means "God is King."  Today's Dictionary of the Bible says it means " God his king" -  p. 206, Bethany House Publ., 1982.  And an online meaning is given as “My God is the King.” - 

And, “God is my King.” - .

I haven’t found any scholar/translator who says the name of Elimelech should be translated with its literal meaning of “God King.”

  Those missing minor words that the translator must supply at his own discretion can often make a vital difference!  - For example, the footnote for Gen. 17:5 in The NIV Study Bible: The name 'Abram' "means `Exalted Father,' probably in reference to God (i.e., `[God is] Exalted Father')."- Brackets in original.

This is why another name the Messiah is to be called by at Jer. 23:6 is rendered, `The LORD [YHWH] is Our Righteousness' in the following Bibles: RSV; NRSV; NEB; NJB;  JPS (Margolis, ed.); Tanakh; Byington; AT; and  ASV (footnote).  Of course other translations render it more literally by calling the Messiah "The LORD [YHWH] Our Righteousness" to help support a `Jesus is God' doctrine. Some of these (such as the NASB) actually render the very same name at Jer. 33:16 as "The LORD [or Jehovah] is Our Righteousness"! - [bracketed information is mine].

(Unfortunately for "Jesus is Jehovah" advocates, the very same name given to the Messiah at Jer. 23:16 is given to a city at Jer. 33:16.)

But perhaps most instructive of all is the name given to the prophet’s child in Isaiah 8:3 shortly before his giving the name found in Is. 9:6.

Is. 8:3
Maher-shalal-hash-baz: Literally, “spoil speeds prey hastes” or “swift booty speedy prey.” Translated by various Bible scholars as: “In making speed to the spoil he hasteneth the prey” - - “swift [is] booty, speedy [is] prey” - - “the spoil speeded, the prey hasteth” - - “Speeding for spoil, hastening for plunder” - - “There will soon be looting and stealing”- - “Speeding is the spoil, Hastening is the prey” - - “The Looting Will Come Quickly; the Prey Will Be Easy” - - “Take sway the spoils with speed, quickly take the prey” - - “Swift is the booty, speedy is the prey” - - “Swift the Spoils of War and Speedy Comes the Attacker” - - “Make haste to plunder! Hurry to the spoil!” - - “Make haste to the spoil; fall upon the prey.”

And John Gill wrote:

“‘hasten to seize the prey, and to take away the spoil.’ Some translate it, ‘in hastening the prey, the spoiler hastens’; perhaps it may be better rendered, ‘hasten to the spoil, hasten to the prey.’”

Therefore, the personal name at Is. 9:6 has been honestly translated as:

"And his name is called: Wonderful in counsel is God the Mighty, the everlasting Father, the Ruler of peace" - The Holy Scriptures, JPS Version (Margolis, ed.) to show that it is intended to praise the God of the Messiah who performs great things through the Messiah. 

‘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 [IS] The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.’ The two letter word ‘is,’ is usually not stated in Hebrew. Rather, the ‘is’ is understood.” - 

The Leeser Bible also translates it:

“Wonderful, counsellor of the mighty God, of the everlasting Father, the prince of peace” 

Also, An American Translation (by trinitarians Smith and Goodspeed) says:
"Wonderful counselor is God almighty, Father forever, Prince of peace." 

From the Is. 9:6 footnote in the trinity-supporting NET Bible:

".... some have suggested that one to three of the titles that follow ['called'] refer to God, not the king. For example, the traditional punctuation of the Hebrew text suggests the translation, 'and the Extraordinary Strategist, the Mighty God calls his name, "Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."'" 


‘Wonderful in counsel is God the mighty, the Everlasting Father, the Ruler of Peace’ (Hertz 1968).

Of course it could also be honestly translated: "Wonderful Counselor and Mighty God is the Eternal Father of the Prince of Peace."
And the Tanakh by the JPS, 1985, translates it:

[a]"The Mighty God is planning grace;
[b] The Eternal Father [is] a peaceable ruler."
This latter translation seems particularly appropriate since it is in the form of a parallelism.  Not only was the previous symbolic personal name introduced by Isaiah at Is. 8:1 a  parallelism ("Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz" means  [a]"quick to the plunder;   [b] swift to the spoil" - NIV footnote) but the very introduction to this Messianic name at Is. 9:6 is itself a parallelism: [a]"For unto us a child is born;  [b] unto us a son is given."  It would, therefore, be appropriate to find that this name, too, was in the form of a parallelism as translated by the Tanakh above.

So it is clear, even to a number of trinitarian scholars, that Is. 9:6 does not imply that Jesus is Jehovah God.




Anonymous said...


Here's an interesting reference for Isaiah 9:6. It comes from Eusebius of Caesarea of the late third early fourth Century. He show's some variant readings of the Septuagint available in his time. Most likely from Origen's Hexapala:

1.) Some variant copies of the LXX
2.) 2nd/3rd Century Version then current among the Hebrews
3.) Aquilla
4.) Symmachus
5.) Theodotion

Hope you appreciate them for what they are! You might want to add them to your list above, maybe?

Just more ammo against the trinitarians.

A caution: he does call Jesus a god in his writings but not in a trinitarian sense. So don't be alarmed at some of his statements. He was living during the apostacy. Remember to the English translator has a lot to do with how the text appears to us, if you know what I mean.

Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica. Tr. W.J. Ferrar (1920) -- BOOK 7: CHAPTER 1 (b) From Isaiah.



Matt13weedhacker said...


First of all for comparison, here's the MODERN critical text of the Septuagint that has come down to us of Isaiah 9:6,7:

[Modern Text of the Greek OT: Septuagint with Diacritics]: “...[Isaiah 9:6] ὅτι παιδίον ἐγεννήθη ἡμῖν υἱὸς καὶ ἐδόθη ἡμῖν οὗ ἡ ἀρχὴ ἐγενήθη ἐπὶ τοῦ ὤμου αὐτοῦ καὶ καλεῖται τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ μεγάλης βουλῆς ἄγγελος ἐγὼ γὰρ ἄξω εἰρήνην ἐπὶ τοὺς ἄρχοντας εἰρήνην καὶ ὑγίειαν αὐτῷ [Isaiah 9:7] μεγάλη ἡ ἀρχὴ αὐτοῦ καὶ τῆς εἰρήνης αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν ὅριον ἐπὶ τὸν θρόνον δαυιδ καὶ τὴν βασιλείαν αὐτοῦ κατορθῶσαι αὐτὴν καὶ ἀντιλαβέσθαι αὐτῆς ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ ἐν κρίματι ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν καὶ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα χρόνον ὁ ζῆλος κυρίου σαβαωθ ποιήσει ταῦτα...”

Matt13weedhacker said...


First he states about the original LXX text of the 3rd Century B.C.E.

Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica. Tr. W.J. Ferrar (1920) -- Book 7 CHAPTER 1 (b) From Isaiah: “...His Name is said to be, according to the Septuagint, “Angel of Great Counsel”...”

[Quotation by Eusebius of 3rd Century B.C. LXX Greek text]: “...καὶ τούτῳ γοῦν ὄνομα εἶναι λέγεται κατὰ μὲν τοὺς ἑβδομήκοντα «μεγάλης βουλῆς ἄγγελος»,...”

Matt13weedhacker said...


Second he notes SOME COPIES have the following reading:

Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica. Tr. W.J. Ferrar (1920) -- Book 7 CHAPTER 1 (b) From Isaiah: “...and as some of the copies have, "Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Potentate, Prince of Peace, Father of the World to Come."...”

[Some LXX MSS (2nd - 3rd Century) Septuagint]: “...καὶ ὥς τινα τῶν ἀντιγράφων ἔχει, «θαυμαστὸς σύμβουλος, θεὸς ἰσχυρός, ἐξουσιαστής, ἄρχων εἰρήνης, πατὴρ τοῦ μέλλοντος αἰῶνος»,...”

[Some LXX MSS (2nd - 3rd Century) Eusebius Demonstratio Evangelica Latin Version]: “...Et vocatur nomen ejus magni consilii angelus admirabilis consiliarius Deus fortis potentiam habens principes pacis pater futuri saeculi...”

Notice the Greek θεὸς ἰσχυρός for "mighty god" just like John 1:1 is articless. It could be translated: "a strong god" with a small (g).

Ok, next is where it really gets interesting!

Matt13weedhacker said...


Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica. Tr. W.J. Ferrar (1920) -- Book 7 CHAPTER 1 (b) From Isaiah: “...In the Hebrew, as Aquila says: "For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and a measure was upon his shoulders. And his name was called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty, Powerful, Father, even Prince of Peace, and of his peace there is no end."

[(2nd - 3rd Century) Hebrew, Aquila]: 7.1.136 κατὰ δὲ τὸ Ἑβραϊκόν, ὡς ὁ μὲν Ἀκύλας φησίν· «ὅτι παιδίον ἐγεννήθη ἡμῖν, υἱὸς ἐδόθη ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐγένετο μέτρον ἐπ' ὤμου αὐτοῦ. καὶ ἐκάλεσεν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ θαυμαστὸς σύμβουλος, ἰσχυρός, δυνατός, πατὴρ ἔτι, ἄρχων εἰρήνης, καὶ τῆς εἰρήνης αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν πέρας»,


Matt13weedhacker said...


He quote Aquilla again and notes also the then current LXX version amoung the Jews or Hebrews:

Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica. Tr. W.J. Ferrar (1920) -- Book 7 CHAPTER 1 (b) From Isaiah: “...But who can this be who, in Aquila's version and those even now current among the Hebrews, is "begotten among men, and become a child, Wonderful and Strong, Counsellor, Powerful, and Father, yea even Prince of peace, Whose peace, he says, will never end?"

[(2nd - 3rd Century) Then Current Hebrew, Aquila Greek]: 7.1.139 τίς δ' ἂν οὖν γένοιτο κατὰ μὲν τὸν Ἀκύλαν καὶ τὰς εἰσέτι νῦν φερομένας παρ' Ἑβραίοις μαρτυρίας ἐν ἀνθρώποις γεννώμενος, καὶ «παιδίον» γινόμενος, «θαυμαστὸς σύμβουλος» καὶ «ἰσχυρός», «δυνατός», καὶ «πατὴρ ἔτι», καὶ «ἄρχων εἰρήνης», ἧς εἰρήνης οὔποτέ φησιν ἔσεσθαι τέλος,

Interesting again don't you think?

Matt13weedhacker said...


Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica. Tr. W.J. Ferrar (1920) -- Book 7 CHAPTER 1 (b) From Isaiah: “...And as Symmachus: "For a youth is given to us, a son is given us; and his instructions shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Miraculous, Counselling, Strong, Powerful, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace, and of his (b) peace there is no end."

[Symmachus LXX Greek]: 7.1.137 ὡς δὲ ὁ Σύμμαχος· «νεανίας γὰρ ἐδόθη ἡμῖν, υἱὸς ἐδόθη ἡμῖν. καὶ ἔσται ἡ παιδεία αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τοῦ ὤμου αὐτοῦ, καὶ κληθήσεται τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ παραδοξασμός, βουλευτικός, ἰσχυρός, δυνατός, πατὴρ αἰῶνος, ἄρχων εἰρήνης, καὶ τῆς εἰρήνης αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν πέρας».

He gives a variant reading of Symmachus a little bit lower down:

Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica. Tr. W.J. Ferrar (1920) -- Book 7 CHAPTER 1 (b) From Isaiah: “...or in that of Symmachus, "Miraculous, Counselling, Strong, Powerful, Eternal Father, Prince of peace, and that endless and infinite"...”

Symmachus LXX Variant Greek: “...κατὰ δὲ τὸν Σύμμαχον «παραδοξασμός, βουλευτικός, ἰσχυρός, δυνατός, πατὴρ αἰῶνος, ἄρχων εἰρήνης», καὶ ταύτης ἀπείρου καὶ ἀτελευτήτου,...”

Matt13weedhacker said...


Finally he gives Theodotion's reading:

Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica. Tr. W.J. Ferrar (1920) -- Book 7 CHAPTER 1 (b) From Isaiah: “...or in Theodotion's "Counselling wonderfully, Strong, Powerful, Father, Prince of peace, for increasing instruction, of Whose peace there is no end."...”

[Theodotion's LXX Greek]: “...καὶ κατὰ Θεοδοτίωνα «θαυμαστῶς βουλεύων, ἰσχυρός, δυνάστης, πατήρ, ἄρχων εἰρήνης, τῷ πληθύνειν τὴν παιδείαν, οὗ τῆς εἰρήνης οὐκ ἔστιν πέρας»;

Isn't it amazing how all these early versions interpreted the Hebrew el gibbor?

Yet you never here anything about these variant's in modern bibles whatsoever!

Matt13weedhacker said...

To summarize:

Eusebius who had access to Origen's Hexapala gives these readings for the Heb., ( אֵ֣ל גִּבֹּ֔ור ) el gibbor in the LXX Versions of his time:

1. μεγάλης βουλῆς ἄγγελος = Original LXX
2. θεὸς ἰσχυρός = Some Copies LXX = Minority
3. ἰσχυρός, δυνατός = Aquila
4. ἰσχυρός, δυνατός = Authorised Heb., LXX
5. ἰσχυρός, δυνατός = Symmachus
6. ἰσχυρός, δυνάστης = Theodotion
7. μεγάλης βουλῆς ἄγγελος = Received LXX

W.J. Ferrar (1920) English Translation:

1. Angel of Great Counsel
2. Mighty God
3. Mighty, Powerful
4. Strong, ... Powerful
5. Strong, Powerful
6. Strong, Powerful
7. Angel of Great Counsel

Interesting that here in Isa 9:6 the original 3rd Century B.C.E. LXX and Psa 8:6 Heb., (el) and (elohim) words for "god/God" are interpreted as "Angel/Angels"!

And Jesus is here called an "Angel"

Matt13weedhacker said...

Eusebius of Caesarea: Demonstratio Evangelica has a lot of other various LXX readings on a lot of other scriptures to do with the trinity.

Worth reading if only for that.

I hope you have found this info on Isa 9:6 interesting.

ForJah said...

I'm doing research on this translation and I can't find the word father in the Hebrew. Can someone tell me why it's not translated...the everlasting one instead of everlasting Father?

Elijah Daniels said...

It appears that 'everlasting Father' is a compound word: abiad.

ab or abi is 'father' in Hebrew and ad means 'everlasting.'