Mahershalalhashbaz and Immanuel

Mahershalalhashbaz has a name that is quite a handful. Recently, my attention was brought to a claim that Mahershalalhashbaz was the one and only fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14, “… a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel … .” The claim that Mahershalalhashbaz is the one and only fulfillment is plainly mistaken, since Matthew’s gospel connects the prophecy to Jesus:

Matthew 1:22-23
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

One might ask why Mahershalalhashbaz is even brought into the matter. The reason is the following flow of the passage (keep in mind that the chapter divisions are not original):

Isaiah 7:10-8:4
(10) Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, (11) “Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.”

(12) But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.”

(13) And he said, “Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? (14) Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (15) Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. (16) For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings. (17) The LORD shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father’s house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria. (18) And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. (19) And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes. (20) In the same day shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired, namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard. (21) And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep; (22) And it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk that they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land. (23) And it shall come to pass in that day, that every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, it shall even be for briers and thorns. (24) With arrows and with bows shall men come thither; because all the land shall become briers and thorns. (25) And on all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, there shall not come thither the fear of briers and thorns: but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle.”

(8:1) Moreover the LORD said unto me, “Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man’s pen concerning Mahershalalhashbaz.”

(2) And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah. (3) And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son.

Then said the LORD to me, “Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz. (4) For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.

Notice that the child of the prophetess (or wife of the prophet) is described as being young at the critical point (“For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother”) and there are also two kingdoms (Damascus and Samaria) who are being conquered by Assyria.

This link suggests that Mahershalalhashbaz is a primary fulfillment of the prophecy, though not the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy. What’s interesting though, is that in being the primary fulfillment, Mahershalalhashbaz also serves as a type (i.e. foreshadow) of Christ.

I noticed this in a particularly striking way when reading Cyril of Alexandria’s commentary on Isaiah. In that commentary he practically ignores the historical person Mahershalalhashbaz. One reason is that apparently his version of the Old Testament in Greek did not transliterate the Hebrew name, Mahershalalhashbaz, but rather translated it. The English translation of the Greek translation that Cyril had was “Quickly plunder, rapidly pillage” which is similar to Strong’s proposed translation of “hasting (as he (the enemy) to the) booty, swift (to the) prey.”

It may be that Cyril was way off, and he himself views the passage as difficult, but he makes an interesting observation. The wise men from the east who came to Jesus brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Jesus received this booty, prey, or plunder at time when he was quite young, before he could speak.

I’m not totally convinced by Cyril’s explanation, as you can probably tell. Yet, it is an interesting idea. Those who are fond of the redemptive-historical hermeneutic should especially enjoy it.


7 Responses to “Mahershalalhashbaz and Immanuel”

  1. natamllc Says:

    Yes, I am enjoying it.It is for our time that we too, each of us who are lovers of Truth, should read the Scriptures for ourselves and by the Spirit of Grace and Mercy, receive with delight the Wisdom of Truth and know ourselves what one was intending. This is a gift. It is not a necessity.The only necessity of Scripture is to accept the Name above every name.And to reconcile to it.If one doesn't reconcile to it, one is clearly not of His Name.I would insert this insight of this sort of reasoning opened up here regarding the basis for it from Proverbs and these Words of the King so that with them we also might ponder all these matters the Prophets spoke and wrote for our learning and admonition upon whom the ends of the ages has come.See the place the Lord places the Church in these words?But first, Isaiah's words:::>Isa 52:10 The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. Isa 52:11 Depart, depart, go out from there; touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her; purify yourselves, you who bear the vessels of the LORD. Isa 52:12 For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight, for the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard. Isa 52:13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. Hear the "wisdom" of the Lord:::>Pro 8:22 "The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. Pro 8:23 Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. Pro 8:24 When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Pro 8:25 Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth, Pro 8:26 before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. Pro 8:27 When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, Pro 8:28 when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, Pro 8:29 when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, Pro 8:30 then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, Pro 8:31 rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man. Pro 8:32 "And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways. You began this this morning at Matthew 1:22. I would end it at Matthew 1:21:::>Mat 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Mat 1:19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. Mat 1:20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. Mat 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

  2. beowulf2k8 Says:

    How do you justify the idea of multiple fulfillments of one prophecy? By the theory that such a thing is possible, we could have another Messiah die and rise from the dead pretty soon! Its just asinine. Either Mahershalalhashaz is the one and only fulfillment, OR Jesus is the one and only fulfillment. You cannot have it both ways. Isaiah himself is clear that Mahershalalhashaz was the fulfillment, so I will agree with him on this. After all, every prophecy used in the first two chapters of Matthew is misused. Rachel weeping in Rama is clearly about exile not death (just read it). Micah's Bethlehem birth is about a warrior to defend Palestine against Assyrian incursion (just read it). "He shall be called a Nazarene" doesn't even exist in the OT (you can't read it). It is clear that the first two chapters of Matthew are Catholic mythology tacked onto the gospel and mangling the OT to masquerade as truth.

  3. beowulf2k8 Says:

    "The wise men from the east who came to Jesus brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Jesus received this booty, prey, or plunder at time when he was quite young, before he could speak."I've seen this too, but a gift is not prey. Nor are gold, frankincense, and myrrh from Damascus or Samaria so far as I know! And the two kings were long dead by this time. The spoils clearly are the possessions of the two kings, for Samaria and Damascus are only being used as figures of speech to refer to them, as today we might say the White House to refer to the President, or Moscow to refer to Putin. The spoils of Samaria and Damascus can be nothing else than the spoils of Rezin and Pekkah, and that puts the nail in the coffin of Cyril's dead interpretation.

  4. Turretinfan Says:

    B2k8,Multiple fulfillments of a prophecy may seem odd to you. But such is the way that God has operated. Jesus Christ is Immanuel, not Mahershalalhashbaz even if Mahershalalhashbaz was a primary fulfillment of the Isaiah 7 prophecy.-TurretinFan

  5. beowulf2k8 Says:

    Can you point to any other example of multiple fulfillment? I have never seen this concept used except to save this one reference in Isaiah 7. If I was a Jew, I'd take this asinine multiple fulfillment idea and run with it: "Sure Jesus was a Messiah, but he's just the typological fulfillment for the Bigger Better Messiah yet to come, who is who all these prophecies REALLY point to!" It just seems asinine. But if you can find a whole bunch of other examples, I may have to reconsider. Of course, if you can find a whole slew of examples for multiple fulfillment, it validates the methodology and clears the way for the Jews to use it.

  6. Turretinfan Says:

    B2k8:The method is not arbitrary. Other examples would be the promises to Abraham that were partly fulfilled in his fleshly descendants but ultimately fulfilled in all believers – and Jesus' own prophecies that were preliminarily fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem, but which will also be fulfilled in the end of times.-TurretinFan

  7. Jerub-El Says:

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