What did Jesus really say?

by Misha'al Abdullah Al-Kadhi

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6.9: A rod out of the stem of Jesse

"And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;"

Isaiah 11:1-2

Once again, we have here a verse which has been popularly interpreted to apply to Jesus, and once again it must be stated that although all Muslims believe in Jesus and in the prophesies of him in the OT, still, this specific prophesy does not apply to him, why?

To understand this prophesy we need to study the verses carefully. These verses tell us that the rod (branch) which shall grow out of the stem (trunk) of "Jesse" shall be filled by God with wisdom, understanding, council, might, knowledge, and the fear of God. In other words, he shall be a statesman, a prophet and a judge. The obvious question that springs to mind is: Who was "Jesse"? In the Encyclopedia Biblica we read that Jesse is a contraction of Ishmael, or:

"Jesse, for Ishmael… The changes which proper names undergo in the mouths of small children account for a large number of these particular abbreviations - who could guess, to take modern examples, that Bob and Dick arose out of Robert and Richard? … such forms as in ai were particularly common in later times … and many more in the Talmud, which also exhibits various other kinds of abbreviation"

Encyclopaedia Biblica, Rev. T. K. Cheyne D.Litt D.D., J. Sutherland Black M.A. LL.D., Vol. 3, under "Names," p. 3292, item 52

Now, the reason why these biblical scholars have said this may not be readily apparent to us simply by reading the English rendition of these two words, however, when these Christian scholars went back and looked at the original Hebrew words, that is when they realized it's true meaning. Although a complete understanding of why this is true would require a knowledge of the Hebrew language, still, it is possible at least phonetically to see this even in the English language. Let us have a look.

In Hebrew, the word Ishmael is written as Yishma'e'l. It is pronounced {yish-maw-ale'}.

Similarly, in Hebrew, the word Jesse is written as Yishay. It is pronounced {yee-shah'-ee}, or in Aramaic it is 'Iyshay and pronounced {ee-shah'-ee}.

Thus, we begin to see, even in our phonetic Hebrew rendition, how these Christian Biblical scholars came to recognize that just as "Dick" is a contraction of "Richard," and "Bob" is a contraction of "Robert," similarly, by studying the Hebrew words themselves, they found that {yee-shah'-ee} is indeed a contraction of {yish-maw-ale'}.

Isn't it amazing that we have been told this not by Muslims, but by Christian scholars? Which Muslim "Moor" stood over these Christian scholars with a drawn sword and forced them to come to this realization? Out of the thousands upon thousands of Hebrew names in the Bible, what drove these Christians to recognize that Jesse is derived from Ishmael and not, for example, from Judah, or Isaac, or Shem, or any of these other thousands upon thousands of Hebrew names? The odds against it are astronomical if what the Qur'an said was false. Yet here we have it in black and white. Isn't it amazing how with every passing day the most learned among Christians scholars are drawing closer and closer to Islam?

It is further interesting to note the following words of the authors of this same "Encyclopaedia Biblica": They say: "In many cases the contraction is such as to render the discovery of the original form impossible." … hmm.

The only "branch" from the stem of Ishmael who was a statesman, a prophet and a judge was prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The reason many people interpret this verse to apply to Jesus (pbuh) is because he is claimed to be of the lineage of king David, and Jesse was the name of the father of king David. However, why would this prophesy tie the coming prophet to the father of David who was for all practical purposes a completely unknown figure in the Bible? It would be much more logical to follow the much more popular trend found elsewhere in the Bible of associating Jesus with king David himself who was both a king and a prophet and a much more popular figure in the Bible and much better known to anyone who reads it. In other words, what is so direly special about king David's father that this prophesy had to completely bypass the legendary prophet king David himself in order to apply itself to his unknown father? The answer is that it was not meant to apply to the father of king David but to a descendant of Ishmael the son of prophet Abraham.

It is further important to remember that insisting on tying prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) to a human lineage descendant from king David shall ultimately result in a complete nullification of the religion known today as "Christianity." This is because if Jesus is the descendant of king David then he has a human father and his father is not God.

Some attempts have been made to insist that Jesus was the physical Son of God and at the same time apply spiritual contradictory human lineages to him such as Matthew 1 and Luke 3 so that he can be the physical son of both David and God. This, even though the Bible is quite explicit that the lineage must be a "physical" and not a "spiritual" lineage. We find this stipulation spelled out quite clearly in the Bible in:

  1. Acts 2:30 "Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;" and
  2. Romans 1:3 "Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;"

Therefore, the only way that Jesus (pbuh) could be the physical Son of God and also be the physical son of king David "according to the flesh" is if his lineage from kind David passes through his (human) mother Mary (pbuh). However, if we were to read the two contradictory lineages found in Matthew 1 and Luke 3 we would find that both attempt to make his lineage pass through a human father. In one it is "Joseph the son of Jacob" and in the other is "Joseph the son of Heli." Such practices can only hurt the message of Jesus (pbuh) rather than helping it.

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