Isaiah 7 (2 Nephi 17)

Who has not heard of the famous words in this chapter?

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

But what about the two following verse?

“Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.  For behold the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.”

Victor L. Ludlow in Unlocking Isaiah writes,

Isaiah declares that a virgin will conceive and bear a son who will be called Immanuel.  It is important to note that this refers to two births:  a particular birth that would occur during Isaiah’s time as well as the well-recognized birth of the Savior several hundred years later . . . Isaiah prophesies that the child would be named Immanuel, meaning, “God is with us.”  This name given to the child of Isaiah’s time reveals the means by which Judah would be preserved.  God was truly “with” Judah when the powerful, wicked Syrians, Israelites, and Assyrians were defeated.  It is also a clear allusion to the Savior’s earthly ministry.  He was the God of creation, worshiped by the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets as the Lord, Yahweh (Jehovah), so when He would come to earth, he would literally be God dwelling “with” His people (127).

Here are a quick couple of questions while on the topic of Yahweh.  The 1QIsaa has YHWH instead of Adonai in Isaiah 7:14.  Would Victor make any distinction between Jehovah and Immanuel in the verse?  Would he see any distinction between Jehovah speaking (Isaiah 8:5) and Immanuel being addressed (Isaiah 8:8)?

Also, Victor defends the English translation of virgin in the Isaiah text.

Another LDS commentary, Understanding Isaiah, agrees with Victor:

The prophecy has a dual application, as shown by a close reading of Isaiah 7:10-16; 8:3-7; and Matthew 1:21 (72).


The Hebrew word ‘alemah (despite some arguments to the contrary) does indeed mean “virgin” (75). 

But notice this LDS lens on Isaiah 7:16,

The prophecy explains that before the child is able to make his own moral choices, or arrives at the age of accountability, which is eight years old (D&C 68:25), the kingdoms of Syria and Israel (Northern Kingdom) will be laid waste.  This prophecy was fulfilled within a few years, while Maher-shalal-hash-baz was still under the age of eight, when both Syria and Israel fell to Assyria (76).

In closing, a 2006 Christmas post on the blog, Urban Mormonism, now joined recently with Faith Promoting Rumor, questioned “Immanuel = Christ?”

In response to this post of several months ago, let me encourage several things.


1) Just because the NEB or the RSV translate ‘almah as young woman, does not make this conclusive that virgin is unacceptable for translation.  Let the full scriptural data be brought forth on bethulah and ‘almah.  Does the author realize that bethulah can be used in the context of marriage? 

2) Alongside of Isaiah 7, deal with the other “birth of a son” stories in both Isaiah 8 and 9. 

3)  Don’t rule out types.  Because if you don’t see a type in Isaiah 7, what do you do with Isaiah 8:18 and Hebrews 2?  There is discontinuity; but also without a doubt, continuity, between the Old and New Covenants.  (Of course, what I have trouble seeing is how the Lord’s hissing for the wicked, terrifying Gentile armies in Isaiah 5:26 can be a type for the Lord’s hissing to the house of Israel in 2 Nephi 29:2-3.)

4) Give the Spirit of God the freedom to expropriate an OT verse.  We know this is done when the Spirit guides the authors of the New Testament in the glorifying of Jesus Christ.  A type motif does not damage the historical context in ancient Isaiah chapters. 

5) If the author of “Immanuel = Christ?” believes in a date of 734 BC for the “geopolitical conflict”, how do the historical years of 732 B.C. for the deaths of Rezin and Pekah and the destruction of Samaria in 722 B.C. fit in?  Age 12 seems to fit nicely for Isaiah 7:16, age 2 for Isaiah 8:4.

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