Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The King of Isaiah 9

"The poem is full of royal and Davidic themes but is significantly different from the royal psalms which were used as coronation odes for the actual kings of is a born king (6; cf. Mt. 2:2), actually divine. In him everything that was envisaged is embodied; he is the eschaton....The emphasis falls not on what the child will do when grown up but on the mere fact of his birth. In his coming all that results from his coming is at once secured....The decisions of a king make or break a kingdom and a kingdom designed to be everlasting demands a wisdom like that of the everlasting God. In this case, like God because he is God, the Mighty God (el gibbor), the title given to the Lord himself in 10:21...Father is not current in the Old Testament as a title of the kings. Used of the Lord, it points to his concern for the helpless (Ps. 68:5<6>), care or discipline of his people (Ps. 103:13; Pr. 3:12; Is. 63:16; 64:8<7>) and their loyal, reverential response to him (Je. 3:4, 19; Mal. 1:6)....As eternal/'of eternity', he receives 'such an epithet [as] could, of course, be applied to Yahweh alone'....To designate the child as pele [wonderful] makes him 'out of the ordinary', one who is something of a 'miracle'. Isaiah's use of the noun in 25:1 and the verb in 28:29 of the Lord's 'counsel' suggests that he would not resist the notion of deity in 9:6<5>, specially when it is contextually linked with Mighty God (el-gibbor)....Whenever we find a construction identical with Isaiah 9:6<5> (el with a following adjective or noun), el is never adjectival but is always the ruling noun, more closely defined by the additional word....Isaiah cannot have been unaware that el-gibbor would be understood in its plain meaning. He puts the matter beyond equivocation by using the identical title of the Lord himself in 10:21." (J. Alec Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah [Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1993], pp. 99, 101-102, 104-105)

"The titles underscore the ultimate deity of this child-deliverer. Although some commentators have expended a great deal of energy attempting to make these titles appear normal, they are not. Perhaps the primary way in which this is attempted is by reference to the Egyptian throne-names (cf. Wildberger). It was customary to give five throne-names to an Egyptian king upon his coronation....On this basis some suggest that the same practice was followed for the equally human kings of Israel. However, several factors tell against this equation. First, there are not five names here [in Isaiah 9] but four, and only emendation can produce a fifth. Second, this is not a coronation hymn but a birth announcement. Third, the Egyptians believed their kings were gods and the names express that belief. But the Hebrews did not believe this. They denied that the king was anything more than the representative of God. To be sure, throne-names were probably used in Israel (cf. 2 K. 23:24; 24:17), but there is no evidence that they were of the Egyptian sort." (John Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1-39 [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1986], p. 246)

"No Israelite or Judean king was ever identified as 'Mighty God.' Clearly the person being referred to here is the promised Messiah, who will reign over God's people with a kind of justice and righteousness that no mere human descendant of David ever achieved. Furthermore, the government and the social and personal integration ('peace,' Heb. salom) he will produce will be eternal (9:7). This is not Hezekiah or any other merely human son of David." (John Oswalt, The NIV Application Commentary: Isaiah [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003], pp. 160-161)

"Given the prevalence of divine kings in parts of the ancient Near East (De Vaux, Israel, 111; even Akenaton in 'The Amarna Letters,' 483-90 in ANET, passim), one sin to which Israel’s and Judah’s rulers had not succumbed (De Vaux, Israel, 113), one may question whether Isaiah would have risked implying that God would be Israel’s ultimate Davidic king if that was not what he meant…Tg. Isa. 9:6 [a Jewish commentary on Isaiah 9:6] deliberately alters the grammar to distinguish the Davidic king from the Mighty God." (Craig Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Vol. 1 [Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2003], n. 135 on p. 295)