What did Jesus really say?

by Misha'al Abdullah Al-Kadhi

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ISNET Homepage | MEDIA Homepage | Program Kerja | Koleksi | Anggota What about "Unto us a child is born"?

"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 God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

Isaiah 9:6

When someone reads this verse of Isaiah they immediately see a clear prophesy of God coming to earth in the form on a human child. Is this not what the verse says? Does it not say that Jesus shall be the "incarnation" of God on earth? Actually, it does not. Let us study it together.

Firstly, it is important when applying a prophesy to someone to not selectively pick and choose catch phrases from the prophesy and disregard the rest. In this prophesy we find that the very first stipulation presented for this person is that he shall carry the government upon his shoulders.* However, as is popular knowledge, Jesus (pbuh) never in his whole lifetime ever formed a government nor became a head of state. In fact we find him saying in the Bible quite explicitly:

  1. John 18:36 "Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."
  2. Matthew 22:21 "Then saith he (Jesus) unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's."

So according to the Bible, Jesus never tried to establish a government nor to challenge the authority of the pagan emperor Caesar over himself and his followers. Now, if someone were to go the extra mile and to make the case that Jesus commands a "spiritual" government in the hereafter, then we need to know whether the hereafter shall be a place of governments, kings, laws and regulations?

Secondly, when we study the words "mighty God" carefully, we notice an interesting fact. For some reason, the words used are not "Almighty God" but rather "mighty God." Naturally, this makes one curious as to what the original Hebrew text actually says. So we decide to study it.

The word for "Almighty" as applied exclusively to God in the OT is the Hebrew word "Shadday" {shad-dah'-ee}. However, this is not the word used in this verse. The actual word used in this verse is the Hebrew word "Gibbowr" meaning "mighty" and not "The Almighty." Now, although to us such a difference might seem subtle and insignificant, still, to the Jews, the difference was quite pronounced. Let me elaborate.

In the famous Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary by James Strong the word "gibbowr" or short "gibbowr" {ghib-bore'}, is translated as; warrior, tyrant:-champion, chief, excel, giant, man, mighty (man, one), strong (man), valiant man. On the other hand the word "Shadday" {shad-dah'-ee}, is translated as, the Almighty:-Almighty.

The word translated as "God" here is the Hebrew word "El" {ale} which in addition to it's use to refer to God Almighty in the Bible is also used to refer to mighty men, to demons, to angels, and to idols. As we have already seen in the previous section, it was a common practice in the Bible to use the word "god" to convey an air of authority or power. Some of the examples presented were:

"I have said, Ye (the Jews) are gods; and all of you are children of the most High"

Psalms 82:6

and "And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh"

Exodus 7:1

as well as "the god of this world (the Devil) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not."

2 Corinthians 4:4

When reading such verses we begin to understand the reason why Isaiah 9:6 refers to a "mighty god" and not an "Almighty God." If the author did indeed mean to convey that this person would be the "incarnation" of God Almighty who would come down to earth in the form of a human being in order to walk among us and die on the cross, then why did this author chose to "water down" his statement by only referring to him with the generic term used for humans, demons, idols, and angels, and not the specific term reserved for God Almighty alone?

And finally, we study the term "everlasting father." In the Bible, the term "everlasting" or "forever" is often used as a figurative term and does not necessarily convey its literal sense, for example,

  1. "and my servant David [shall be] their prince forever." Ezekiel 37:25.
  2. and "The king shall joy in thy strength, O LORD ... He asked life of thee, [and] thou gavest [it] him, [even] length of days for ever and ever." Psalm 21:1-4


The same goes for the use of the term "father". It does not necessarily mean; "the Heavenly Father" (God), or the biological father. Let us read for example:

  1. Joseph is called a father to Pharaoh. Genesis 45:8,
  2. and Job is called the father of the needy. Job 29:16.


So, just as king David shall be an "everlasting prince" so too shall this person be called an "everlasting father." This is the language of the Jews. This is how it was meant to be understood. We can not simply interpret a verses in a vacuum of the culture, customs, and verbal constructs of the people who wrote them. We must always be careful when "translating" such verses to make sure that we translate them as they were intended by the author and as his people had come to understand them.

I am sure that the people of this age would be quite upset if one of them were to write to their closest friend "you are an angel and a prince" and then centuries later a Japanese speaking person were to say: "See? The author has just born witness that his friend is a divine creature with wings that came down to earth and became royalty. He says so very clearly right here!"

Well is all of this only my own personal attempt to pervert the verses and manipulate their meanings? Far from it. Many Christian scholars have known and recognized the true meaning of this verse and translated it into English accordingly, however, their translations were not met with a whole lot of enthusiasm and thus, they did not receive the same degree of publicity as has such translations as the King James Version. For example, Mr. J. M. Powis Smith in "The Complete Bible, an American Translation," quotes this same verse as follows:

"For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; And the government will be upon his shoulder; And his name will be called 'Wonderful counselor is God Almighty, Father forever, Prince of peace'"

"The Complete Bible, an American Translation," Isaiah 9:6

And again, if we were to read the translation of another Christian, for example Dr. James Moffatt, we would find that in his translation "The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments" the verse reads:

"For a child has been born to us, a child has been given to us; the royal dignity he wears, and this the title he bears - 'A wonder of a counselor, a divine hero, a father for all time, a peaceful prince'"

"The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments" Isaiah 9:6

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