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Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Here: the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, whom she will call Immanuel. He will eat cream and honey until he learns to reject evil and choose good. Because a child was born for us, a child was given to us. On his shoulders is the principality / domain and his name will be: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Forever Father, Prince of Peace. Great will be his principality and the endless peace on the throne of David and his kingdom, which he comes to consolidate and strengthen with law and justice, now and forever. This will do the zeal of the Lord of hosts. (Is 7,14-15. 9,5-6)

The Lord himself will give a sign

This prophecy about the birth of a child from a virgin dates back to the 8th century BC. C. The prophecy is given by YHWH himself against the will of the king, who does not believe in the word of the Lord, as he trusts in himself and in his logic. Faced with the strength of the enemy kings, King Aḥaz remains bewildered, frightened: “His heart and the heart of his people stirred, as the trees of the forest stir in the wind” (Is 7: 2). But God sends his prophet to reassure the king about the attack of the enemies: «This will not happen and it will not be! […] But if you do not believe, you will not remain steadfast ». The Lord also offers the king a sign, confirming his word: “Ask for yourself a sign from the Lord, your God, from the depths of hell or from above”. The answer, apparently respectful, hides all the malice of the king: «I will not ask. I don’t want to tempt the Lord ». Despite the king’s disbelief, YHWH gives a sign equally, to indicate that his project is going ahead with or without human support.

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, whom she will call Immanuel

The prophet does not speak of “a woman” or “a wife”, but says “the virgin”, with the article, hā ālmā ͪ (הָעַלְמָ֗ה), which, literally, indicates the young woman of marriageable age, therefore, a virgin, as confirmed by the LXX, which translates with parthenos (παρθένος), a word also used as a counterpart of bǝṯûlā ͪ (בְּתוּלָה), that is, Virgin, (the virgin daughter of Zion, Is 37:22), and of na͑ărā (נַעֲרָה), which means virgin never touched by man (Gn 24,12; Gdc 21,12), virgin to be married (1 Kings 1,2), virgin maid (Gn 24,61). Peshitta also translates Heb. alma ͪ with bǝtûltāʾ (בתולתא). In Ex 2: 8, the young sister of Moses is called alma ͪ . In Dt 22,23, bǝṯûlā ͪ e na͑ărā are used interchangeably, rendered by the Targum respectively with ͑decided ͪ (עֻולֵימְתָא) e bǝṯûltā ͪ (בְתֻולתָא). In the Song, the girls in love with the bridegroom – each hoping to become his wife – are indicated by the word ͑ălāmôṯ (עֲלָמ֥וֹת), plural of ͑ālmā ͪ . The choice of this term in Isaiah’s prophecy, therefore, indicates an extraordinary birth, which will come from the virgin par excellence, she who will conceive and give birth to “God with us”, ͑immune (עִמָּ֥נוּ אֵֽל), that is, the one who has to give birth (Mi 5,2), since always in God’s plan.

The reference to the infant’s food, cream (became. curdled milk, that is, a kind of yogurt) and honey, recalls the abundant and luxuriant land, promised by God to Israel (Ex 3: 8), which will enter those who put into practice the commandments of Sinai (Dt 6: 3) . Milk and honey would indicate, therefore, the abundance that will be poured out on the people, the gift of YHWH, as described further on: «For the abundance of milk they will make, cream will be eaten; every survivor in the midst of this earth will eat cream and honey “(Is 7:22). In Qumran’s version, we read: “His name will be Immanuel.” The name in Hebrew indicates the deeper reality of the person. Saying “will be called” is equivalent to “will be”. Hence the name “God with us” indicates a real reality, that is, the presence of God in the midst of his people: the Shekhinah, “the divine presence of God in the world”. This baby will be Shekhinah, that is, the Word made flesh who “pitches his tent among us” (Jn 1:14). And who is the virgin? Matthew the Evangelist, in this regard, has no doubt: it is Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, the one who generates through the work of the Holy Spirit (Mt 1:23). Luke the evangelist also implicitly refers to the prophecy of Isaiah, indicating its full realization in Mary: “Behold, you will conceive and give birth to a son and you will call him Jesus” (Lk 1:31), for which Jesus is Emmanuel.

Because a child was born for us, a child was given to us.

The birth of Emmanuel is presented here as a royal birth, a gift from above, which comes from YHWH. The expression “a son has been given to us” is a divine passive, which means “God has given us a son”. Who is this son? Concerning the Messiah, the Scripture says:

You are my son, today I have generated you. (Ps 2.7)

In the splendor of the saints, from a womb, before morning I generated you. (LXX Ps 110, 3)

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Forever Father, Prince of Peace.

The four titles bestowed on this son: wonderful advisor, mighty God, forever father, prince of peace, confirm his divine birth, tracing the Egyptian protocols, which gave the king new names on the day of his enthronement. The word adviser, yô ͑ēṣ, is often found in Scripture, especially in the wisdom books (Pr 11.14; 12.20; 15.22), but here we speak of a counselor marvelous. The titles Mighty god, Gl gibbôr, which also appears in Is 10,21, e Father forever they are divine titles; while the title of principe, wound (שַׂר), means governor, military leader, but also designates the princes of the sanctuary or princes of God (שָׂרֵ֣י הָאֱלֹהִ֔ים), that is, those who officiated in the Temple. The government of the Messiah will therefore consist in establishing a kingdom where all will know and love the Law of God, which will be written in everyone’s heart:

Great will be his principality.

Literally, the TM says that its domain, its principality will be to abundance, ləmarbēh. This word begins with the letter mem finale (ם), said mem closed, instead of with the mem initial (מ), which, on the other hand, is open. According to the Talmud, such irregularities would offer a hidden teaching, esoteric, (that is, the secrets of the Torah handed down from master to disciple), on the mystery of the manifestation of the Messiah, of which the mem final (ם) is symbol.

The open Mem and the closed Mem [denotano] open teaching [Ma’amar] and closed teaching [esoterico][1].

The mem closed (ם) therefore indicates a mystery linked to the advent of the Messiah, of Emmanuel, who will be born of a virgin, but also symbolizes the womb, a closed, virginal womb. According to the rabbinic tradition, in fact, the mem (מם) symbolizes water, māʹyim (מים), and, therefore, the womb full of water.

What is the mem? Do not read mem but māʹyim (water). For just as water is wet, so the womb is always wet[2].

And the endless peace on David’s throne and his kingdom, which he comes to consolidate and strengthen with law and justice, now and forever.

Isaiah’s prophecy here is linked to an even more ancient prophecy, that of the prophet Nathan (11th century BC):

When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, then I will raise up after you your descendant who will come out of you, and I will establish his kingdom. I will be his father and he will be my son. Your house and your kingdom will last forever in my presence, your throne will be firm forever. (2 Sam 7,12.14.16)

Emmanuel is, therefore, the descendant of David, the Messiah born of the Virgin, embroidered in the secret of her womb like a prodigy, who will come to consolidate and strengthen the kingdom established with David, bringing an eternal peace without borders.

[1] Tractate Shabbath, Folio 104A, in Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, Soncino Babylonian Talmud, The Soncino Press London, 1947.

[2] Sefer ha Bahir, 85.


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