Isaiah 9:5,6 in Context

"For unto us a child is born"
By Rabbi Shlomo Nachman © 11. 03, 2014 (most recent update 11.27, 2019)

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This Christian "proof text" is a good example of how false doctrines are formed. Ignoring the context of Isaiah 9 Christians say these two verses are a messianic prophecy about Jesus. When we read the context however there is no indication of that at all. It is a case of people creating a dogma first and then seeking to justify it with a verse rather than studying the Scripture to determine its truth.

Isaiah 9:1 The people who walked in darkness, have seen a great light; those who dwell in the land of the shadow of death, light shone upon them.
From this verse we first determine the context. As Rashi notes:
The people who walked in darkness:
The inhabitants of Jerusalem, who were darkened by their concern [of falling into the hands] of Sennacherib. Compare with what Hezekiah said (infra 7: 3), "This day is a day of distress, debate, and blasphemy."

have seen a great light:
with Sennacherib's downfall.

This establishes the context. The "valley of the shadow of death" references David's prayer at Psalm 23:4 ("Even when I walk in the valley of darkness, I will fear no evil for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff-they comfort me."). These verses are discussing events that occurred well before the birth of Jesus/Y'shua. Context is vital when interpreting Scripture.

Now lets consider verse 3.

9:3 For, the yoke of his burden and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of the one who oppressed him have You broken, as on the day of Midian.

This "yoke" was a burden to Hezekiah. He 'bent his shoulder' for this heavy burden to pay harsh tribute, and the rod with which he had oppressed Hezekiah but this burden was broken.

Now we can understand verses five and six correctly. As Rashi explains:

Although Ahaz is wicked, his son [i.e. Hezekiah], who was born to him many years ago [nine years prior to his assuming the throne] to be our king in his stead, shall be a righteous man, and the authority of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His yoke shall be on his shoulder, for he shall engage in the Torah and observe the commandments, and he shall bend his shoulder to bear the burden of the Holy One, blessed be He.
Hezekiah then is clearly "the son who was born to us."

Now we are ready to understand verse 5.

9:5 For a child [i.e. Hezekiah] has been born to us, a son given to us, and the authority is upon his shoulder, and the wondrous adviser, the mighty G-d, the everlasting Father, called his name, "the prince of peace."

Who is this "child?" In context it can only be Hezekiah. HaShem advised the king and Hezekiah wisely heeded His counsel. For this reason G-d referred to Hezekiah as a "prince of Peace." HaShem is the King of Peace and He says that Hezekiah, like a faithful son of a king, is the prince of peace.

Of this Rashi informs us:

To him [i.e. Hezekiah] who increased the authority:
To whom will He call this name? To the king who increases the authority of the Holy One, blessed be He, upon himself, to fear Him.

This then is the expression of Hezekiah's Davidic governance. David's throne was re-established after Ahaz, and Hezekiah is a king of such majesty that HaShem praises him.

9:6 To him [i.e. Hezekiah] who increases the authority, and for peace without end, on David's throne and on his kingdom, to establish it and to support it with justice and with righteousness; from now and to eternity, the zeal of the Lord of Hosts shall accomplish this.
Again Rashi has this insight:
... On the throne of the kingdom of David shall this peace be justice and righteousness that Hezekiah performed.
[Hezekiah] increased the authority upon his shoulder, and what reward will He [G-d] pay him? Behold, his peace shall have no end or any limit.

Note that the text says "from now and to eternity" What does this mean? Christians, claiming this is referring to Jesus, have a serious problem here. Jesus/Yeshua died on the stake (i.e. a Stauros: a single beam, not a cross according to the scripture) and whatever authority he arguably wielded, which was none according to the Gospels considering that the Romans easily killed him, ended. One may argue that his authority is in the heavens, but this is a very earth centric prophecy of human rule.

So how does this apply to Hezekiah?

Rashi:

The eternity of Hezekiah, viz. all his days. And so we find that Hannah said concerning Samuel (I Sam. 1:22): "and abide there forever."

Hezekiah was successful all his days as the prophet said. He died from natural causes at the age of 54 in c. 687 BCE.

Conversely, Jesus lived five hundred years after this text was fulfilled. The text clearly says that this leader would establish his reign then "with justice and with righteousness; from now and to eternity..." How could his reign have begun hundreds of years before his birth?

Christians therefore have two problem here:

  • 1. How does "from now forward" fit when he was not even born for 500 years?
  • 2. Israel, the government being referred to, was not an independent nation during Jesus' life. It was a Roman occupied territory.
    It was ruled by Rome not the line of David. Jesus was never the melech or "king of the Jews," not even for a short period. The idea that he was, was mocked by the Romans (Mark 15:18).
    Moreover, 30 years after his execution the vast majority of Jews were either slaughtered or exiled by Rome. Israel did not have self governance again until 1948.
    There is simply no way to rectify these fact with this prophecy.
Given these two facts of history, these two verses can not possibly be speaking of Jesus/Yeshua.

Likewise, reading on past verses 5 and 6 the context still has us in the period of Hezekiah, long before Jesus' birth.

Isaiah 9:5,6 is therefore clearly not a Messianic prophecy and has no possible reference to Jesus/Yeshua.

Thus far no one has fulfilled the real Messianic prophecies as I demonstrate HERE

One day HaMashiach ben David will come! May we merit that day be soon! Until then we continue to wait.

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