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Isaiah 78: The Sign of the Immanuel Child

One of the most famous passages in Isaiah is the prophecy of a child whose name would be called Immanuel, or God [is] with us (Isaiah 7:14). This prophecy was given by Isaiah to Ahaz, king of Judah, in 734 B.C. as a sign that the Assyrian army would destroy both Syria and Israel, the two nations that were then attacking Judah. Isaiah promised that this deliverance would come before the child had grown to maturity (Isaiah 7:16). The prophecy is famous because it appears in Matthews Gospel in connection with the miraculous conception of Jesus Christ. Mary, a virgin, conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 1:18, 20; Luke 1:35; cf. 1 Nephi 11:19) and bore a child who was the Son of God. Matthew quoted Isaiah 7:14 and indicated that Jesus birth was the fulfillment of Isaiahs prophecy (Matthew 1:2223). There are some significant difficulties with Matthews use of Isaiah, most notably how a prophecy that wouldnt be fulfilled for over 700 years could be a personal sign to King Ahaz. There is also a problem in translating the Hebrew word almah (which simply means young woman) into the Greek word parthenos (which means virgin in the technical sense of woman who has never had sexual intercourse). Although the text of Isaiah 7 doesnt explicitly state who the Immanuel child is, it seems likely that Isaiahs prophecy was fulfilled in the birth of his own son, Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (Isaiah 8:14). This child could be considered a type or prefiguration of the Christ child. The following table lists the elements in Isaiahs prophecy, how it was fulfilled by the birth of his son, and how those same elements were re-applied to Jesus Christ: Jesus Christ Mary, a virgin. Greek: (parthenos). (Luke 1:27) A son. (Matthew 1:21; Luke 2:7) Jesus. Greek: , Jehovah saves/ delivers. (Matthew 1:25; Luke 2:21)

Sign The mother

Isaiahs prophesy A young woman. Hebrew: ( almah). (Isaiah 7:14) A son. (Isaiah 7:14) Immanuel. Hebrew: , God [is] with us. (Isaiah 7:14)

Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz Isaiahs wife,the prophetess. (Isaiah 8:3) A son. (Isaiah 8:3) Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. Hebrew: , [one] hastens [to the] spoil; [one] hurries [to the] plunder. (Isaiah 8:1, 3) The Lord. (Isaiah 8:3) Before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother. (Isaiah 8:4)

The childs gender The childs name

Source of the childs name When the sign would be fulfilled

The Lord. (Isaiah 7:14; lit. Hebrew: you will call his name) Before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, i.e., before he became an adult; age 12 by Jewish reckoning.* (Isaiah 7:16) The land that thou abhorrest [Israel and Syria] shall be forsaken of both her kings by bringing the king of Assyria down on them. (Isaiah 7:1617) The Lord shall bring upon theethe king of Assyria. (Isaiah 7:17)

The angel Gabriel. (Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:31) n/a

How the sign would be fulfilled

The riches of Damascus [capital of Syria] and the spoil of Samaria [capital of Israel] shall be taken away before the king of Assyria. (Isaiah 8:4) The Lord bringeth up upon themthe king of Assyria. Isaiah 8:7


Who will fulfill the sign



The sign was given in 734 B.C. If the Immanuel child was born in late 734 or in 733, he would have turned 12 years old in 722 or 721. Assyria overran Israel and deported her people in 721 B.C., giving further support to the claim that Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz was the prophesied child.