Project Genesis

Basics of Judaism

The Messiah

Divine Messiah?

If the Messiah is not divine, then why is the name of God applied to him in Isaiah 9:5-6 —the Messiah is referred to as a mighty god?

Throughout the prophets we see names being bestowed upon a child or person that are representative of a concept, or designed to convey a message. While Hosea is the perfect example of this concept, we also see it in Isaiah. Most poignantly, we see it in Isaiah 7:3, 7:14 and 8:3. This is not a problem, as we can read the passages in context and understand their meaning. The problem actually comes in when we rely on an English translation of the text in order to form a doctrine. Not only is this not wise, it causes grave error.

If you read Isaiah 9:5-6 in the Hebrew text, you get a distinctly different understanding than when you read an English translation in a Christian bible. Read correctly, the text is as follows:

For a child has been born to us, a son has been given to us; and the government is upon his shoulder; and his name is called, “A wonderful counselor is the mighty God,” “The everlasting father,” “The ruler of peace,” that the government may be increased, and of peace there be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it through justice and through righteousness from henceforth, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts does perform this.

The implication of this statement is that this particular king is going to bring glory to God. Without writing an entire book on the subject, Rabbinic authorities and historians alike have said that this passage was about king Hezekiah.

Two last comments. First of all, you must remember that the Hebrew Scriptures are riddled with names of people that speak of the attributes of God. My son Daniel’s name means that God is my Judge, or it could be translated judge of God, but that does not mean that he was born in Judgment, or that he is judging God—its just a name, a name that points to a specific attribute of God.

Additionally, the concept that God would send a savior that is both human and divine comes straight out of pagan tradition. Judaism has never had this concept, whereas the Greek and Roman religions have had concepts such as these since long before Jesus came on the scene.

There is no precedent or logical reason to understand that this scripture is talking about the messiah being divine.

Best wishes,

Rabbi Azriel Schreiber

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