For a child has been born to us…

“For a child has been born to us,
A son has been given us.
And authority has settled upon his shoulders.
He has been named
‘The Mighty God is planning grace;
The Eternal Father, a peaceable ruler’ –
In token of abundant authority
And of peace without limit
Upon David’s throne and kingdom,
That it may be firmly established
In justice and in equity
Now and evermore.
The zeal of the Lord of Hosts
Shall bring it to pass.”
Isaiah 9:5-6 JPS Tanakh (1985)

Commentary: “The Mighty God … ruler”: This long sentence is the throne name of the royal child. Semitic names often consist of of sentences that describe God; thus the name Isaiah in Hebrew means “The Lord saves”; Hezekiah, “The Lord strengthens”; in Akkadian, the name of the Babylonian king Merodach-baladan (Isa. 39:1) means “the god Marduk has provided an heir.” These names do not describe that person who holds them but the god whom the parents worship. Similarly, 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 verse.

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