Isaiah 9: The Prince of Peace
What is “peace”? Is it the absence of family strife, political infighting, battles or war? All of these concepts are manifestations in the external world of action. These are merely a reflection of the inner world, the mental, emotional and spiritual battles waged within the individual and collective soul of humanity. If all weapons were removed, people would substitute stones for weapons of war. Nevertheless, the human soul cries out for peace.
In 2020, the pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts reported that prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications jumped 34.1%, antidepressants spiked 18.6% and medication for insomnia increased 14.8% . Moreover, scientists warned about ‘deaths of despair’, due to drugs, alcohol abuse and suicide, with estimates ranging from 27,644 to 154,037 deaths .
Before COVID hit the world, scientific research revealed a dangerous epidemic, not of a virus or bacteria, but of loneliness. “Loneliness and social isolation can be as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”
One thing the world desperately needs is peace, true peace, not a false external pacifism. Not a band-aid precariously slapped onto the wounds of the spirit, but an inner peace that radiates from the deepest core of the soul, outward to the physical body, into our homes, communities, states, countries eclipsing war and hatred in the entire world.
In the Bible, the English word “peace” renders the Hebrew word Shalom.
Shalom means much more than “peace”. It is related to the word shleimut, which is the concept of wholeness, completeness. It connotes the idea that in one’s complete being, in every aspect of life, there is complete harmony, balance, filled to the fullness lacking nothing.
Where can we find peace like this? The first place one would think to look is the world of religion. Yet, if any word could accurately describe religion over the millennia, it certainly is not shalom. From arguments between brothers, friends and colleagues to physical battles, massacres and Inquisitions, religion does not look like the source of peace.
Why is this the case? How can faithful believers treat each other with such disdain and hatred? Do they not know that this creates difficulties for many unbelievers to connect to their Creator?
Bringing this question down to a mere theological level, when Christian missionaries and Jewish anti-missionaries argue, one thing is obvious: Both sides are having two different conversations while speaking with each other. The entire argument may be in English, but they are speaking two different languages.
The Christian side of the equation usually does not know Hebrew, Jewish hermeneutic methods  or the Mesorah, the Jewish tradition.
The anti-missionary camp is usually aware of this, and confines the ensuing debate to the parameters of Sola Scriptura. The Christian happily agrees with these boundaries, as they have not been educated that there is no such thing as Sola Scriptura. It does not exist, and is unbiblical. No conclusion is ever reached and the argument continues to recycle ad infinitum. This pattern characterizes most of the arguments between Jews and Christians.
In the process, anti-missionaries misrepresent the full story. They either do this out of ignorance, not knowing what Judaism actually says, or they know and intentionally conceal the full picture. Either way, it does not speak well of their methods or education.
The antidote for these arguments, to bring true shalom, is TRUTH. Truth is not relative. Objective truth actually exists. Rambam says,
ושמע האמת ממי שאמרו
“One must accept the truth from whoever it comes.” 
One must be willing to see the truth through unbiased eyes, regardless of whether or not it agrees with their preconceived notions. Truth must be founded on righteousness, justice and mercy.
In order to achieve this, every faithful believer must approach these questions of interpretation not as an argument, but as a discussion. One classic argument between Jews and Christians surrounds the famous prophecy in Isaiah 9:5.
In Jewish editions, the passage in question begins in verse 5, and in Christian editions, it begins in verse 6. Let us look at the passage line by line:
Verse 5 (6):
כִּי־יֶ֣לֶד יֻלַּד־לָ֗נוּ בֵּ֚ן נִתַּן־לָ֔נוּ
Ki yeled yulad lanu ben nitan lanu
For unto us a child has been born, a son has been given to us
וַתְּהִ֥י הַמִּשְׂרָ֖ה עַל־שִׁכְמ֑וֹ
Vat’hi ha’misrah al shichmo
And the government is upon his shoulders
וַיִּקְרָ֨א שְׁמ֜וֹ פֶּ֠לֶא יוֹעֵץ֙ אל גִּבּ֔וֹר אֲבִי־עַ֖ד שַׂר־שָׁלֽוֹם׃
Vayiqra shmo Pele, Yoetz, El Gibbor, Avi-Ad, Sar Shalom
And his name was called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
Verse 6 (7):
לְםָרְבֵּ֨ה הַמִּשְׂרָ֜ה וּלְשָׁל֣וֹם אֵֽין־קֵ֗ץ
l’marbeh ha’misrah ul’shalom ein qetz
And the increase of his government and peace without end
עַל־כִּסֵּ֤א דָוִד֙ וְעַל־מַמְלַכְתּ֔וֹ לְהָכִ֤ין אֹתָהּ֙ וּֽלְסַעֲדָ֔הּ
al kisseh David v’al mamlachto l’hachin otah ul’sa’adah
Upon the throne of David and his kingdom will be firmly established
בְּמִשְׁפָּ֖ט וּבִצְדָקָ֑ה מֵעַתָּה֙ וְעַד־עוֹלָ֔ם
b’mishpat uvitz’daqah mei’atah v’ad olam
in judgment, and righteousness from now until eternity
קִנְאַ֛ת יְהֹוָ֥ה צְבָא֖וֹת תַּעֲשֶׂה־זֹּֽאת׃
qinat HaShem Tzva’ot Ta’aseh Zot
The Zeal of HaShem Tzeva’ot will accomplish this.
A couple of questions may be asked:
- Is this passage translated properly?
- Is it past tense or future tense?
- To whom does the passage refer?
- Why is the letter mem of the word l’marbeh (to the increase) in verse 7 closed?
- Is this a Messianic Prophecy?
- Does the New Testament apply Isaiah 9 to Yeshua of Nazareth?
The Eight Names
To whom do the names Pele Yoetz, El Gibbor, Avi Ad, Sar Shalom belong? Rashi, R’ Shlomo Yitzhaki (1040 – 1105 CE) follows Targum Yonatan by projecting the names onto HaShem rather than the newborn child,
ויקרא שמו. הקב”ה שהוא מפליא עצה וקל גבור ואבי עד, קרא שמו של חזקיהו שר שלום כי שלום ואמת יהיה בימיו
“and…called his name The Holy One, blessed be He, Who gives wondrous counsel, is a mighty God and an everlasting Father, called Hezekiah’s name, “the prince of peace,” since peace and truth will be in his days.”
Rashi on Isaiah 9:5, translated by I.W. Slotki, Soncino Press, cited at Sefaria.org
The Talmud portrays the names as belonging to the child,
(שיש לו שמונה שמות חזקיה דכתיב (ישעיהו ט, ה
כי ילד יולד לנו בן ניתן לנו ותהי המשרה על שכמו ויקרא שמו פלא יועץ אל גבור אבי עד שר שלום
“The eight names of Hezekiah are as it is written: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government is upon his shoulder; and his name is called Pele, Joez, El Gibbor, Abi Ad, Sar Shalom” (Isaiah 9:5).”
Sanhedrin 94a, The William Davidson Talmud, Sefaria.org
The Ibn Ezra concurs with the Talmud,
“According to some, these expressions are names of God, and the following שר שלום (Sar Shalom), the name of the child. I think that all these words are names of the child; he is called פלא (Pele) wonder, because God did wonders in his days; יועץ (Yoetz) counseling; this is distinctly said of Hezekiah (comp. 2 Chr. 30:2); אל גבור (El Gibbor) Mighty chief; for Hezekiah was powerful; אבי עד (Avi Ad) The father of perpetuity, because the reign of the house of David was prolonged through his merits: עַד (Ad) has here the same meaning as in 58:15. שר שלום (Sar Shalom) Prince of peace because peace was established in his days; comp. 2 Chron. 32:22.”
Ibn Ezra on Isaiah 9:5, translated by M. Friedlander, Sefaria.org
In truth, we must learn the principle:
אֵלּוּ וָאֵלּוּ דִּבְרֵי אֱלֹקים חַיִּים
Eilu va’eilu Divrei Elokim Chayyim
’Both these and those are the words of the living God.’
The verses apply to both HaShem AND to the son. It is not either-or, but both-and. This principle is illustrated in the Midrash Rabbah, where HaShem, the king Messiah, and Jerusalem are all called by the name of HaShem:
“What is the name of the king Messiah? R’ Aba bar Kahana said: the Lord is his name, “…and this is his name that he shall be called, ‘The Lord is our righteousness.” (Yirmiyahu 23:6) For R’ Levi said: it is good for a city that its name be the same as its king, and that the name of the king be the same as its God. It is good for a city that its name be the same as its king, as it is written “…and the name of the city from that day will be ‘The Lord is There.’ (Ezekiel 48:35).”
Lamentations Rabbah 1:51, Sefaria.org
Past Tense Prophecy?
Is this passage translated appropriately? R’ Tovia Singer charges,
“The problem is that that text had been mistranslated by your Bible…in order to make them appear Christological, in fact, all those verbs are all in the past tense talking about a child who had already been born, that child was a great man, there is only one person in the Bible who is called the ‘mighty god’. Who is that person (there’s only one)? Hezekiah. Not Jesus…The Christian Bible changed it to the future to make it look like a future Messianic prophecy.”
R’ Tovia Singer
Contrary to the anti-missionary claim, Hezekiah does not mean “Mighty God”. Hezekiah is a combination of two words, Chazak (Strength) and Yah (God’s name), as in Halleluyah. The name means ‘Yah is my Strength.’ Now the name Hezekiah could be parallel to El Gibbor, but these are completely different words. But let’s examine different translations in regard to the claim of past tense – future tense issue:
“A child has been born” (Past)
BBE, LEB, MSG, NCV, NRSV, YLT
“A child is born” (Present)
JPS (1917), ASV, CEB, CJB, DBY, ESV, GNT, HNV, JUB, KJV, NIV, RHE, RSV, TMB, WBT, WEB, WYC
“A child will be born” (Future)
CSB, GW, NASB, NIrV
Along with the 1917 JPS, most Christian translations apparently render the passage in the present (“is born”), a few in the future (“will be born”), and some in the past (“has been born”). The conspiracy theory that translators have a nefarious plot to “paint Jesus into the Tanakh” breaks down upon examination. This is a translator’s choice as they seek to make the text understandable to their target audience. Nevertheless, one should not rely upon a translation, which is almost always interpretive. We must go straight to the Hebrew original. The Artscroll commentary on Isaiah explains,
“Isaiah cannot be referring to a child or son that will be born at a later time because the prophecy clearly states יֻלַד, has been born, and נִתַן, has been given. Both are in the past tense, clearly indicating that whomever the prophet was referring to had already been born.”
The Prophets: Isaiah, Milstein Edition, Mesorah Publications, ltd., pg. 78
It is important to note that the Artscroll commentary here is referring to the peshat, the simple level of interpretation. Like almost all anti-missionary logic, this “past tense only argument” is an oversimplification. Treating something as strictly past, present or future tense in Hebrew is not entirely accurate. Hebrew is made up of perfect (complete) and imperfect (incomplete) tenses. The definition of a perfect (qatal) verb is as follows:
“Generally designates a completed action or a situation that is viewed as a single event. Perfects are generally translated as simple pasts “He ran” or as past perfects “He has run”, but they may also be translated as presents or futures. The meaning of the perfect therefore has more to do with how an action took place than with when it took place. The perfect is most often treated as a past because it is easier to think of a past event as complete than it is to think of a present or future one as complete.” 
The prophets sometimes speak in what is sometimes called the “prophetic perfect tense,” as the prophet sees a vision of events as if they have already happened, even though they have not yet occurred. The Radak, R’ David Kimchi (1160 – 1235 CE), explains this in his commentary on Psalm 3:5,
“And He answered me: a past (tense) in place of a future, equivalent to “and He will answer me” and there are many similar cases…And in the greater part of prophecy this is found, that the speaker uses a past tense in place of a future; for it is as though the thing had already happened when it has been spoken in the Holy Spirit.”
Radak on Psalm 3:5, Sefaria.org
This explains why some Christian translators chose to translate the verbs in a “future” tense. Interestingly, the counter-missionaries also failed to mention that the verbs in verse 7 are in the imperfect tense (i.e. “future”) tense:
“…the Zeal of HaShem Tzeva’ot
(תַּעֲשֶׂה, ta’aseh) will accomplish this.”
If this was something that could have only occurred in the past, why does it say that it will, in the future, be accomplished? Another example may be found in Numbers 24,
“I see him, but not now, I behold him, but not near; a Star has proceeded (דָּרַךְ, perfect tense) from Jacob, and a Scepter has risen from Israel, and has smitten corners of Moab, and has destroyed all sons of Seth.”
This is a well-known messianic prophecy, and is interpreted as such in multiple sources. Even Chabad.org translates דָּרַ֨ךְ כּוֹכָ֜ב (darak kochav) as “A star has gone forth from Jacob.” Are we to conclude that this prophecy has already been fulfilled because the verbs are in the perfect tense? Certainly not. This is why most translations render דָּרַךְ in the future tense. As the Radak said, when a prophet sees a vision, he sees it as if the action has been completed, even though it is still to come.
So, to whom does this prophecy refer? Many sources apply Isaiah 9:5(6) to Hezekiah, including the Talmud, Sanhedrin 94a, as cited above. This interpretation can also be found in the commentaries of Torah giants such as Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Metzudat David, and Radak among others. Does that settle the question, case closed? And how could such giants apply this verse to Hezekiah, when the text says that his kingdom will have “no end” (ein qetz)?
Like always, there is more to the story.
R’ Hillel makes a curious statement in the Talmud that will provide a key for us to unlock this secret: Isaiah 9:5 refers to BOTH Hezekiah and Messiah:
“R. Hillel said: ‘There shall be no Messiah for Israel, because they have already enjoyed him in the days of Hezekiah.’ R. Joseph said: ‘May God forgive him [for saying so]. Now, when did Hezekiah flourish? During the first Temple. Yet Zechariah, prophesying in the days of the second, proclaimed, ‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, shout, O daughter of Jerusalem, behold, your king comes to you! He is just, and having salvation, lowly, and riding upon a donkey, and upon a colt the foal of a donkey.”
Sanhedrin 99a, Soncino Press Edition
What does R’ Hillel mean that Hezekiah was the Messiah? From where did he deduce such an idea? To find the answer we must dive beneath the surface of the letter mem.
The Closed Mem
The letter mem מ itself has two forms, the mem p’tucha (open mem) and the mem stumah (closed mem), also called a mem sofit (final mem). When the letter is used at the beginning or middle of a word, it is written in its open form. If it is at the end of the word, the closed mem is used.
The open mem refers to that which is openly revealed and known, and the closed mem refers to the concealed, that which is secret, as the Talmud says,
מֵ״ם פְּתוּחָה, מֵ״ם סְתוּמָה
מַאֲמָר פָּתוּחַ, מַאֲמָר סָתוּם
“The open mem and closed mem indicate that the Torah contains an open statement, understood by all, and an esoteric statement.”
Shabbat 104a, William Davidson Talmud, Sefaria.org
R’ Michael Munk writes,
“As described above, the open מ describes the open aspect of the Torah, and the closed ם denotes the concealed…According to the Zohar, for example, the מ stands allegorically both for משה Moses and for משיח, the Messiah, who represent these two aspects of the Torah. Mem stands for Moses because he started to reveal the infinite Torah on a level that man could perceive. Not everything was transmitted by Moses, however. The concealed will be revealed by the Messiah…This is the allusion of the מם, which stands openly for משה and concealed for משיח (Osios R’ Yitzchok).”
The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet, R’ Michael L. Munk, Artscroll Mesorah Series, pgs. 146-147
The words “of the increase” in Isaiah 9:6 (7) render the Hebrew לםרבה, l’marbeh. Violating normal practice, it contains a closed mem (ם) within the middle of the word. Why is it written like this? The Talmud explains:
“The Holy One, blessed be He, wished to appoint Hezekiah as the Messiah, and Sennacherib as Gog and Magog; whereupon the Attribute of Justice said before the Holy One, blessed be He: ‘Sovereign of the Universe! If You did not make David the Messiah, who uttered so many hymns and psalms before You, will You appoint Hezekiah as such, who did not sing hymns to You in spite of all these miracles which You wrought for him?’ Therefore [the mem] was closed. Straightway the earth exclaimed ‘Sovereign of the Universe! Let me utter song before You instead of this righteous man [Hezekiah], and make him the Messiah.’ So it broke into song before Him, as it is written, ‘From the uttermost part of the earth we heard songs, even glory to the righteous.’ Then the Prince of the Universe said to Him: ‘Sovereign of the Universe! It [the earth] has fulfilled Your desire [for songs of praise] on behalf of this righteous man.’ But a heavenly Voice cried out, ‘It is my secret. It is my secret.’”
Sanhedrin 94a, Soncino Press Edition
The meaning is that Hezekiah was such a righteous king, he was a prototype of the Mashiach. He was the Messiah of his generation. However, he did not sing songs to HaShem, as David his father did. Therefore, the letter mem in l’marbeh of Isaiah 9 closed, meaning that the window for opportunity for redemption closed because Hezekiah did not merit to be the Messiah. The Ramban, R’ Moshe ben Nachman (1194 – 1270 CE), explains,
“This is a strange text. Yet, as I have delved into it, I have seen that it confirms many things. Thus, you will find that the Sages of blessed memory always explain that the Scriptural texts that are said with reference to Chizkiyah apply to the future. With regard to these [Scriptural texts, the Sages] always employ the expression, “The Holy One, blessed be He, shall at a future time, [etc.]” They also said, “Rabbi Yosi HaGalili says that the name of the Messiah will also be Peace, for it is said, ‘avi-ad sar-shalom’, everlasting father, ruler of peace. . . the condition [required] for [achieving the redemption in the days of] Chizkiyah was voided, and all those rewards and consolations remained for King Messiah, who will arise from [Chizkiyah’s] descendants.”
Ramban, The Book of Redemption, the Second Gate, Writings of the Ramban, Shilo Publishing House, pg. 660
Therefore, what applies to Hezekiah applies to the Messiah. This principle also applies to David HaMelech, Shlomo HaMelech and other Messianic figures. Everything in Isaiah 9 DOES apply to the future birth and reign of the King Messiah.
There is a well-known principle that history repeats itself. In other words, Jewish history is Jewish prophecy. As Kohelet, Ecclesiastes says,
“That which has been is that which shall be, and that which has been done is that which shall be done, and there is no new thing under the sun.”
“For the increase of the realm and for peace without end….” Our Sages have taught that the closed letter mem which normally appears only at the end of a word, but here appears in the middle of the word l’marbeh, is an allusion to Mashiach…”
Shmais.com, Living with Moshiach #1131
The book of Isaiah is filled with messianic prophecies. The Rabbis and Jewish sources interpret the following chapters and verses from Isaiah as connecting to the Messiah or the Messianic Era:
Isaiah 1:25-26, 2:4, 4:2, 4:4-6, 6:13, 7:21, 8:14, 9:5-6, 10:27, 11, 12:3, 14:2, 14:29, 16:1, 18:5, 21:11-12, 23:8, 23:15, 24:23, 25:8-9, 26:19, 27:10, 27:13, 28:5, 28:16, 30:18-19, 30:25-26, 32:14, 32:20, 35:1, 35:5-6, 35:10, 40:1-3, 40:5, 40:10, 41:27, 42:1, 43:10, 45:22, 49:8-10, 49:12-14, 49:21, 49:23, 49:26, 51:12, 51:17, 52:3, 52:7, 52:8, 52:12-13, 53, 54:11, 54:13, 55:12, 56:7, 56:12, 57:14, 57:16, 59:15, 59:17, 59:19-20, 60:1, 60:2-4, 60:7-8, 60:10, 60:19, 60:21-22, 61:1, 61:5, 61:9, 61:10, 62:10, 63:2, 63:4, 65:17, 65:19, 65:25, 66:7, 66:22
This should be a stunning, eye opening fact. Nearly every chapter in the book of Isaiah contains allusions to the Messiah and the Messianic Kingdom. While rooted in history, all of the prophets speak about the Messianic Era and the immediate time preceding his coming. This is in accordance with what we have explained, that history is cyclical, like a repeating pattern at different scales, a mathematical fractal.
Each iteration raises the bar of intensity, and elevates the level to its final expression, the ultimate fulfillment on the largest scale. This destroys the argument that the prophet only spoke about the past or the events immediately pertinent to his era. This past vs. present simplistic view is not how prophecy works. It is not how history works.
If all of these passages are indeed Messianic, what sources apply Isaiah 9:5 to the Messiah? Targum Yonatan says,
אֲמַר נְבִיָא לְבֵית דָוִד אֲרֵי רָבֵי אִיתְיְלִיד לָנָא בַּר אִתְיְהַב לָנָא וְקַבֵל אוֹרַיְתָא עֲלוֹהִי לְמַטְרָהּ וְאִתְקְרֵי שְׁמֵיהּ מִן קֳדָם מַפְלִיא עֵצָה אֱלָהָא גִבָּרָא קַיָם לְעַלְמַיָא מְשִׁיחָא דִשְׁלָמָא יַסְגֵי עֲלָנָא בְּיוֹמוֹהִי:
“The prophet said to the house of David, For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and he has taken the law upon himself to keep it. His name is called from before Him who is wonderful in counsel, the mighty God who lives to eternity — the Messiah whose peace shall be great upon us in his days.”
Targum Yonatan on Isaiah 9:5, Sefaria.org
As referenced by the Ramban above, the third-generation Tanna, R’ Yosi the Galilean, said:
רבי יוסי הגלילי אומר אף שמו של משיח נקרא שלום: שנאמר (ישעיהו ט׳:ה׳) אבי עד שר שלום…רבי יוסי הגלילי אומר גדול הוא השלום שבשעה שמלך המשיח נגלה לישראל אין פותח אלא בשלום. שנאמר (ישעיהו נ״ב:ז׳) מה נאוו על ההרים רגלי מבשר משמיע שלום.
“R. Jose the Galilean said: Even the name of the Messiah is called ‘peace’, [as it is stated,] “And his name is called…Abi-ad-sar-shalom”…Great is peace, seeing that when king Messiah will reveal himself to Israel, his first message will be peace, as it is stated, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger of good tidings, that announces peace.”
Tractate Derekh Eretz Zuta, Section on Peace, 11,13 The William Davidson Talmud, Sefaria.org
The Midrash Rabbah explicitly identifies Isaiah 9 as speaking of Mashiach,
עַד עַכְשָׁו יֵשׁ לִי לְהַעֲמִיד מֶלֶךְ הַמָּשִׁיחַ, שֶׁכָּתוּב בּוֹ (ישעיה ט, ה): כִּי יֶלֶד יֻלַד לָנוּ
“I have yet to raise up the King Messiah, of whom it is written, ‘For a child is born to us’ (Isaiah 9:5).”
Deuteronomy Rabbah 1:20, Soncino Press Edition
Around 1173 CE, the Rambam, R’ Moshe ben Maimon (1135 to 1204 CE), wrote a letter to the Yemenite community addressing the topic of the Messiah. In Yemen, a false Messiah had arisen and the Jewish community needed instruction regarding the topic. in his אגרת תימן Iggeret Teiman, the Letter to Yemen,
ונחה עליו רוח ה’ רוח חכמה ובינה רוח עצה וגבורה רוח דעת ויראת ה’ והיה צדק אזור מתניו והאמונה אזור חלציו וקרא לו הקב”ה שש שמות שאמרו (שם ט’ ה’) כי ילד יולד לנו בן נתן לנו ותהי המשרה על שכמו ויקרא שמו פלא יועץ אל גבור אבי ער שר שלום וזה שקראו אל על דרך ההפלגה להודיע שגדולתו מעולה ממעלת כל אדם.
“The Spirit of the L-rd shall rest upon him.” (11:2). “And Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins.” (11:5). Six appellations were divinely conferred upon him as the following passage indicates: “For a child is born unto us, and a son is given unto us, and the government is upon his shoulder, and he is called Pele, Yoetz, el, Gibbor, Abiad, Sar-Shalom.” (Isaiah 9:5). [And in another verse alluding to the Messiah culminates in the following manner, “You are my son, this day have I begotten you.” (Psalm 2:7)]. All these statements demonstrate the pre-eminence of the Messiah.”
Rambam, Iggeret Teiman, 13, translated by Boaz Cohen, Sefaria.org
The aggadic midrash Pesikta Rabbati (c. 845 CE) comments,
“. . . it is also written of a scion of Judah (trans. note: Hezekiah, who was of the Tribe of Judah, and the Messiah, who will spring from the same Tribe) And his name is called “Wonderful in counsel is God the Mighty (El Gibbor) (Isa. 9:5)”
Pesikta Rabbati, Piska 46.3, translated by William Braude, Vol. II, Yale University Press, pg. 793
R’ William G. Braude (1907 – 1988 CE) highlighted the connection between Messiah and Hezekiah in the translator’s notes above. We know that most Christian missionaries are ignorant of these sources, and the cyclical nature of history and messianic prophecy. With that said, we are forced to ask the question of the anti-missionaries:
- Do anti-missionaries not know these sources?
- Or do they know these sources, and prefer not to say?
If it is the first option, then, like the missionaries, they are ignorant of what Judaism actually says.
If it is the second option, then they are being deceptive, and placing a stumbling block before the blind in order to advance their agenda. Which is it?
Yeshua of Nazareth
Anti-missionaries also attempt to argue that the New Testament does not apply Isaiah 9:5(6) to Yeshua, because they did not see this passage as applicable to him. This argument fails on multiple accounts. First, it is a logical fallacy, an argumentum ex silentio, an argument from silence. Secondly, the New Testament DOES apply Isaiah, chapter 9 to the Messiah,
“And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zebulun and Naftali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, ‘The land of Zebulun, and the land of Naftali, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sat in darkness saw great light, and to them who sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. From that time Yeshua began to preach, and to say, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Matthew 4:17, citing Isaiah 9:1
This is a well known method of interpretation that when a passage is cited the entire section should be read. Moreover, many early believers applied Isaiah 9:5(6) to Yeshua.
In the book of Nehemiah another unusual mem appears,
“I went out by night by the valley gate, even toward the jackal’s well, and to the dung gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down (הַמְ פֹרוצִים), and its gates were consumed with fire.”
The word הַמְ פְּרוּצִים (ham’prutzim) should be written הֵם פְּרוּצִים (heim prutzim). The mem should be closed at the end of the word heim, but it is broken open, indicating that the walls of Jerusalem were breached open by her enemies. Shmais.com comments,
“…if that which is closed is opened…so that the mem of l’marbeh becomes open, then the open letter mem appearing at the end of the word ham in the phrase chomos Yerushalayim asher heim portzim – ‘the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down,’ will be closed on all sides.”
Living with Moshiach #1131, Shmais.com
Isaiah 58 speaks of this repair of the breach,
“Those who shall be of you shall build the old waste places. You shall raise up the foundations of many generations, and you shall be called The Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Paths to dwell in.”
In order words, the King Messiah will rebuild and restore Jerusalem as the everlasting capital of Israel and the world. Thus, the one who opens the Closed Mem will close the Open Mem. This means he will merit to fulfill Isaiah 9, and all of the other prophecies, and it will not be closed to him. He will build and repair that which has been broken down. The Ben Ish Chai, R’ Yosef Hayyim of Baghdad (1832 – 1909 CE) comments,
“The word דלת, “door” is also spelled-out letter dalet. The two Temple gates, or doors, that stuck together allude to the two dalets that stuck together to form the end mem which appears unexpectedly in the middle of לםרבה, lemarbeh, describing the sovereignty of the Messiah (Isaiah 9:6). At last King Solomon said, “Remember the good deeds of David your servant.” Then the Temple doors opened, alluding to the opening of the end mem of לםרבה to form the two dalets of דוד “David” … When the mem of opens, the Davidic Messiah will reign…”
Ben Ish Chai, Ben Yehoyada, Days of Peace, Yeshivat Ahavat Shalom Publications, pg. 133
Moreover, this is not merely a physical action of building walls, but of repairing souls, as the Ben Ish Chai continues,
“The two dalets of that come from diagonally cutting the closed mem of לםרבה, lemarbeh, come to rectify the sin of Adam and Eve…”
Ben Ish Chai, Od Yosef Chai, Days of Peace, Yeshivat Ahavat Shalom Publications, pg. 134
To accomplish this, he must not only rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, but rebuild the broken walls of the human soul, poisoned by the serpent’s venomous counsel, restoring true shalom between God and Man. The Messianic Era is characterized by peace,
“And He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war any more.”
Isaiah 2:4, Sefaria.org
It is not enough, however, to merely remove weaponry, as people would substitute stones and rocks as the instruments of war and murder. The true tikkun (repair) must be done in the soul. HaShem accomplishes this by slaying the yetzer hara, the evil inclination. When the yetzer hara is killed, sin is removed from the equation. When sin is removed, death will be destroyed. When death is destroyed, the door to the Olam Haba, the World to Come, opens. According to Yeshua, this is not something we must wait for. It is available now.
“The Kingdom of God does not come with observation; neither will they say, ‘Look, here!’ or, ‘Look, there!’ for behold, the Kingdom of God is within you.”
Rebbe Nachman echoes this concept,
“It is not the righteous people who dwell in Gan Eden. It is Gan Eden that dwells within them… Seek not a Gan Eden which lies somewhere out there, in the beyond – your Gan Eden lies deep within you.”
The Inner Temple, R’ Yehoshua Starret, paraphrasing Likutey Moharan I, 191
This Gan Eden, the Kingdom of God, is here now. This was opened by HaShem through His Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, who says,
שָׁלוֹם אַנִּיחן לָכֶם אֶת־שְׁלוֹמִי אֶתֵּן לָכֶם לֹא כַּאֲשֶׁר יִתֵּן הָעוֹלָם אָנֹכִי נֹתֵן לָכֶם
אַל־יִבָּהֵל לְבַבְכֶם וְאַל־יֵחָת׃
“Shalom I leave with you, my shalom I give to you, not as the world gives, do I give to you.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
- Anti-Anxiety medication prescriptions have spiked 34% during the coronavirus pandemic. MarketWatch, published May 26, 2020.
- The same number of people could die from ‘deaths of despair’ as have already died in the U.S. from coronavirus, new study finds, MarketWatch, published May 10, 2020. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-same-number-of-people-could-die-from-deaths-of-despair-as-have-already-died-in-the-us-from-coronavirus-new-study-finds-2020-05-08?mod=article_inline
- The “Loneliness Epidemic”, Human Resources and Services Administration, https://www.hrsa.gov/enews/past-issues/2019/january-17/loneliness-epidemic
- Such as the 7 laws of Hillel, 13 laws of Ishmael, PaRDeS, etc.
- Contrary to popular opinion, Sola Scriptura does not exist because we all must interpret the written word, hence we must rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).
- Rambam, Eight Chapters, Introduction to Pirkei Avot
- BlueLetterBible.org, Definition of “Perfect (qatal)”
- Berakhot 34b
- The inclusion of the Psalm 2:7 reference appears in some, not all, Hebrew editions of Iggeret Teiman.
For Further Study
We include these passages for further research only.
- An unusual Kabbalistic text, highlighted by the eminent Jewish scholar Isaiah Tishby, says,
“Now the remembrance [in its ordinary sense] is a hidden reference to the beginnings of conception and the months of pregnancy with the Messiah, when Yesod remembers Rachel and visits and impregnates her, and when that holy seed is absorbed, which reveals light in the world in body and soul here below while the spirit of the Messiah, with regard to whose body here below it was said: “The spirit of wisdom will rest upon him’ etc., is still hidden in the womb of Ima, in the hidden meaning of the closed mem in lemarbeh hamisrah [‘of the increase of government…’], until there takes place there the nine months’ gestation alluded to in the tikunim (Zohar Chadash 5d)…and then she ‘like a woman with child, when she is near her time, will cry out, writhing in pains’.”
MS Jerusalem 1466, fo 215, cited in Messianic Mysticism, Isaiah Tishby, The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, pgs. 267-268
- The text continues, as cited by Tishby,
“This is the mystery of the Kingdom (The Sefirah Malchut). That is the mystery of the closed letter mem, when He will send him — that is the meaning of the words Lekh Lekha (Gen. 12:1), (the Hebrew letters Lamed-Kaf — Lamed Kof form the words, Get you out). The word (Lamed Kof) is doubled to indicate this great mystery, the nature of the descent of the Messiah.”
Messianic Mysticism, Isaiah Tishby, The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, pgs. 267-268
- The Tzemach Tzedek comments:
“Our Sages teach that when an unborn infant is in his mother’s womb, ‘his mouth is closed and his navel is open, …and as soon as he encounters the air of the world, that which is closed opens and that which is open closes.’ Now, exile is likened to pregnancy and the Redemption is likened to birth; as it is written, ‘For Zion has been in labor, and has given birth to her children.’ At the time of birth, then, which is the Redemption, ‘that which is closed opens’ – an allusion to the [currently] closed letter mem of l’marbeh [in the verse which foretells the imminent rule of Mashiach], and ‘that which is open closes’ – an allusion to the [currently] open letter mem of ham [in the verse which speaks of the still-breached walls of Jerusalem].”
Or HaTorah – Nach, pg. 184 cited in Living with Moshiach #1131, Shmais.com
- The Zohar says,
“He makes peace in His heights”. We learn that Michael, the Prince of the Right Side of Hashem, water and hail. And Gabriel, the Prince of His Left, Fire. The Prince of Peace is between them, deciding. That is why it is written “He makes peace in His heights”.
Zohar 1:16a, Sefaria.org
- “It is written: Wonderful – supernal Wisdom, which is wondrous and concealed from all, as is written: If a matter is too wondrous for you (Deuteronomy 17:8). Counselor – supernal river flowing forth and never ceasing, counseling all and watering all. El, God – Abraham, as has been established, האל הגדול (HaEl HaGadol) (Deuteronomy 10:17). הגבור, Gibbor, Mighty – Isaac, as is written: the mighty. Eternal Father, Jacob, who grasps this side and that side, attaining perfection. Prince of Peace – Righteous One, who is peace of the world, peace of the house, peace of Matronita.”
Zohar 3:31a, Tsav, translated by Daniel C. Matt, Pritzker Edition, Volume 7, pgs. 179-180
- “…from the depth of all, as it is written: For You have done (pele), wonders, as is written: He has been named pele, Wonder (Isaiah 9:5).”
Zohar 3:31a, Tsav, translated by Daniel C. Matt, Pritzker Edition, Volume 7, pgs. 179-180
- “The word (pele), wonders, alludes to the deepest source, Keter. . . The verse in Isaiah 9 provides the throne name of the Davidic king: He has been named: (pele yo’ets), Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
Pritzker Edition Zohar commentary, Volume 7, pg. 207