The Prince of Peace – Who Is He?
Popularly appearing in cards, posters, songs and media during the Christmas season is a Bible passage from Isaiah. Foretold is a male child who will become a King whose kingdom will last forever and he will be called the “Prince of Peace” – who is he?
Is 9:6-7 “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever…”
Hebrew text in English reads Sar Shalowm, the first word Sar meaning “prince.” The masculine noun Shalowm, commonly recognized as the Jewish greeting Shalom, means “peace;” its root word meaning “to be safe…figuratively, to be completed.” Translated as “called” or “name” is the Hebrew text word qara’, the same Hebrew word used in the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy where the future boy child is to be called “Immanuel.”
Two Rabbi sage contributors to the Jewish Babylonian Talmud discuss the identity of the “Prince of Peace.” Rabbi Jehoshua declared:
“The name of the Holy One, blessed be He, is also “peace” (Shalom), as it is written: “And called it Adonay-shalom.””
Quoting from Judges 6:24, the Rabbi referred to the place named Y@hovah shalowm, “the LORD is Peace.” Gideon, famed Hebrew judge, military leader and prophet, named the place where he had met an angelic messenger and spoke to the LORD.
Rabbi Jose the Galilean expanded on Jehoshua’s statement quoting from Isaiah 9:5(6) unambiguously saying the name of the Messiah is “peace…’the prince of peace’”:
“The name of the Messiah is also “peace” (Shalom), as it is written: “The prince of peace.””
Going into more detail, the Galilean alluded to Isaiah 52:7 and Deuteronomy 20:10 prophecies that the Messiah will be known for his great characteristic of peace:
“When the Messiah shall come to Israel, he will begin with peace, as it is written: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger of good tidings, that publisheth peace, that announceth tidings of happiness, that publisheth salvation, that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth.” He also said: Great is peace, because even wars are waged for the sake of peace…”
Jumping back in, Rabbi Jehoshua, referring to Isaiah 26:3, said the “Holy One” would use peace to uphold righteous because of their trust in him:
“In the future the Holy One, blessed be He, will uphold the righteous with peace, as it is written [Is. xxvi. 3]: “The confiding mind wilt thou keep in perfect peace; because he trusteth in thee.””
The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary translation (chapter 9 begins one verse earlier) is significantly different. It says, “the wondrous adviser, the mighty God” will call the son “the prince of peace.”
IS 9:5-6 “For a child has been born to us, a son given to us, and the authority is upon his shoulder, and the wondrous adviser, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, called his name, ‘the prince of peace.’ To him who increases the authority, and for peace without end, on David’s throne and on his kingdom, to establish it and to support it with justice and with righteousness; from now and to eternity…” – Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary
Renowned Jewish sage Rabbi Rashi’s commentary disagreed with the Talmud contributors, instead saying the prophecy refers to King Hezekiah, a descendant of King David. Rashi hedged acknowledging it is possible “Prince of Peace” could also be a name for the “Holy One”:
“…it is possible to say that “Prince of Peace,” too, is one of the names of the Holy One, blessed be He, and this calling of a name is not actually a name but an expression of (var. for the purpose of) greatness and authority…On the throne of the kingdom of David shall this peace be justice and righteousness that Hezekiah performed.”
“He [Hezekiah] increased the authority upon his shoulder, and what reward will He [God] pay him? Behold, his peace shall have no end or any limit.” – Rabbi Rashi
Christian Old Testament Bible content is based on the Septuagint LXX c. 285-247 BC.According to Josephus, Pharaoh Ptolemy Philadelphius of Egypt commanded the translation of the Hebrew Bible text into a complete Greek translation. Performed by 72 Jewish scholars, it explains the Roman numeral “LXX.”
Tanakh, the Jewish Scriptures, is based on two surviving Hebrew Masoretic (MT) texts. The oldest is the Aleppo Codex dated to 925AD, partially destroyed by a fire. The oldest complete Masoretic text is the Leningrad Codex dated to 1008-10AD. Modern Tanakh translations have a dependency on the Leningrad manuscript to fill in the missing content.
Menachem Cohen, Professor of Bible and Director of the Miqraot Gedolot HaKeter Project (Great Scriptures) at Bar-Ilan University of Israel, explained the Masoretic Text lacked the benefit of a side-by-side comparison to the original “witnessing” Hebrew text. The MT, Cohen stated, began diverging from the 1250-year older Septuagint translation at some point before the Roman’s destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 AD.
Qumran scroll discoveries began in 1948 and among the finds was a crown jewel, a complete Hebrew text scroll of Isaiah known as the “The Great Isaiah Scroll.” Isaiah’s book was originally written around 700 BC and the Great Isaiah Scroll is dated to between 200-100 BC. The Scroll provides the “side-by-side” text translation opportunity.
Great Isaiah Scroll 9:6-7:
[Line] 23…Because a child shall be born to us and a son is given to us and the government shall be upon
[Line] 24. his shoulders and he shall be called wonderful, counsellor, mighty God, everlasting father the prince of peace. (6) Of the increase
[Line] 25. of his government [&waw&} and his peace there shall be no end. upon the throne of David and over his kingdom to order it and to establish it
[Line] 26. in judgement and in righteousness from and until eternity, The zeal of YHWH of Hosts will perform this.
Christian Bible translations foretell the future child of Isaiah 9:-6-7 will be called “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Babylonian Talmud Rabbi’s interpreted the verses saying the “Prince of Peace” is the Messiah; however, the Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary says it is not a Messiah prophecy. Which is it? If the verses are a Messiah prophecy, was Jesus of Nazareth the fulfillment that prophecy?
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