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Is this analysis of Isaiah 9:6 a legitimate one?

Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 9:15 am
by Ruminator
This brief article provides the following translation for Isaiah 9:6 that seems to take the name supplied by the verse as just "prince of peace" with the rest describing God, his Father as “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father” so you get something like this:

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.” ... pter-9.htm

Is this a legitimate analysis/translation of the verse?

Re: Is this analysis of Isaiah 9:6 a legitimate one?

Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 1:35 pm
by S_Walch
No, it most certainly is not. It is, in fact, completely wrong.

The traditional translation is spot on:

כי־ילד ילד־לנו בן נתן־לנו ותהי המשרה על־שכמו ויקרא שמו פלא יוֹעץ אל גבור אביעד שר־שלום
Because a child has been born to us; a son has been given to us; and the dominion shall be upon His shoulder, and His name is called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Re: Is this analysis of Isaiah 9:6 a legitimate one?

Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 2:47 pm
by Ruminator
Thanks, S. Can you please elaborate on why you say that? What is the most glaring concern? Thanks.

Re: Is this analysis of Isaiah 9:6 a legitimate one?

Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 6:49 pm
by S_Walch
Well let's start with this statement from the author of the website you've linked to:

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.

He is correct that שם here is singular, however exactly what are they envisioning with the word "name"? The Hebrew שם is used in multiple contexts for multiple meanings, and doesn't just refer to one singular "name" each and every time it's used.

Even in English, "name" has multiple applications (from
1. a word or a combination of words by which a person, place, or thing, a body or class, or any object of thought is designated, called, or known.
2. mere designation, as distinguished from fact:
3. an appellation, title, or epithet, applied descriptively, in honor, abuse, etc.

In Isaiah 9:6, שם could easily be translated as "title", or "designation", or "appellation". It doesn't have to be just for one thing, and one thing only.

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.”

If he is following the Masoretic vowel points to יקרא as יִקרָא, then yes, it is "active" (though Qal is the preferred term for "active" verbs in Hebrew).

However the Masoretic vowel points are the Masoretes own interpretation of the words in the Tanakh, and here, יקרא could also be pointed יִקּרֵא, which is the niphal form of the verb קרא, which has a passive meaning. So his accusation that "Trinitarian translations changed the verb, “called” into a passive voice" is incorrect - they didn't change anything, but have read the Hebrew a different, yet acceptable, way.

Even if we took the Masoretic vowel points as they are, the subject is easily not explicitly stated.

We have a parallel to this in Genesis 25:26:
ויקרא שמו יעקב
And his name was called 'Jacob

Again the Masoretes here pointed יקרא as a Qal rather than Niphal - yet Niphal works here as well, and as a Qal the subject is unidentified.

Also it has long been noted that Biblical Hebrew didn't have "tenses", so his appeal to the child apparently have being "already born" based on the Hebrew verb "tenses" is quite laughable. As is his appeal to the Septuagint which not only doesn't follow the traditional Hebrew, but also reads יקרא as passive rather than active.

His appeal to the DSS manuscript 1QIsaa (the Great Isaiah Scroll) is also wrong. There are no "past tense" verbs, so nothing in the text indicates "a child already in existence"; and though the manuscript reads the perfect קרא rather than the imperfect יקרא, it too is easily read passively rather than actively, so his statement that "[t]he word, “called” indicates that a subject named this child" is false.

It's these brazen matter-of-fact statements that aren't true that is the most "glaring concern". The chap clearly has an axe to grind.

Re: Is this analysis of Isaiah 9:6 a legitimate one?

Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 7:02 pm
by Ruminator
Okay, thanks for supplying your reasoning. It sounds as though the author may have overstated his case but he does seem to make a case that it might be so, no?

Re: Is this analysis of Isaiah 9:6 a legitimate one?

Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 7:18 pm
by S_Walch
No they don't. Nothing they say gives cause to think that there is a specific subject mentioned in the verse that does the "calling", if one wants to take they verb as being "active".

If they want to argue that a specific subject is stated, exactly how do they decide which designation applies to whom?

Is it the "Wonderful Counsellor" that names this child "Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace"; or is it the "Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God" that names this child "Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace"; or is it the "Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father", that names this child Prince of Peace"; or is it even the "Prince of Peace" that names this child, "Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father"?

There is nothing in the Hebrew that separates any of these from each other. It is therefore just one long title for this special child.

The author just doesn't like the simple implications of the verse, and has no case for his misreading of the text.

Re: Is this analysis of Isaiah 9:6 a legitimate one?

Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2018 7:36 pm
by Ruminator
Okay, I think I understand what you are saying.

Re: Is this analysis of Isaiah 9:6 a legitimate one?

Posted: Thu Dec 20, 2018 3:33 am
by Jemoh66
The JPS translators are certainly not trinitarian. Their translation supports the traditional view.
JPS 9:5 For a child is born unto us, A son is given unto us; And the government is upon his shoulder; And his name is called Pele-joez-el-gibbor-Abi-ad-sar-shalom;

Notice also they treat all the names as ONE name.

As for a more ancient Jewish source we have Jonathan Ben Uzziel's Targum:

TJBU 9:6 The prophet said to the house of David, For unto us a Child is bom, 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.

So It's a false premise that the traditional reading is a trinitarian one. The most ancient Jewish interpretation is that this child is Messiah and these so called names are attributed to him. Equally false is the premise that the expression וַיִּקְרָ֨א שְׁמֹ֜ו demands only one name. No different than in English. When someone asks me what is your name, I reply "Jonathan Mohler". In some languages the opposite holds true. In Swahili I would introduce myself by saying, kwa majina naitwa Jonathan Edward Mohler, By names I am called Jonathan Edward Mohler. There's no evidence that I'm aware of that this is the case in BH.

Re: Is this analysis of Isaiah 9:6 a legitimate one?

Posted: Thu Dec 20, 2018 6:05 am
by Ruminator
Thanks Jonathon.

For completeness I note that the LXX has:

Lexham English Septuagint Isaiah 9:6 *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.

Brannan, R., Penner, K. M., Loken, I., Aubrey, M., & Hoogendyk, I. (Eds.). (2012). The Lexham English Septuagint (Is 9:6). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.s

This site ( for the DSS has:

DSS Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born. To us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

However, when I look at the source there doesn't seem to be a source in the scrolls so I don't know where that quote is coming from. Masoretic?

Re: Is this analysis of Isaiah 9:6 a legitimate one?

Posted: Thu Dec 20, 2018 6:26 am
by Ruminator
I also note this note from the NET Bible:

15 tn The Hebrew perfect (translated “has been born” and “has been given”) is used here as the prophet takes a rhetorical stance in the future. See the note at 9:1.
16 tn Or “and dominion was on his shoulders and he called his name.” The prefixed verbs with vav (ו) consecutive are used with the same rhetorical sense as the perfects in v. 6a. See the preceding note. There is great debate over the syntactical structure of the verse. No subject is indicated for the verb “he called.” If all the titles that follow are ones given to the king, then the subject of the verb must be indefinite, “one calls.” However, some have suggested that one to three of the titles that follow 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.’ ”

Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Is 9:6). Biblical Studies Press.

In the absence of an explicit subject in this context wouldn't we assume a "divine passive" of sorts, that it is implied that God named him?