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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

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(Heb. Immanuel', עַמָּנוּאֵל, sometimes separately עַמָּנוּ אֵל , God with us, as it is interpreted Matthew 1:23, where it is written Εμμανουήλ, as in the Sept.. and Anglicized "Emmanuel;" the Sept. however, in Isaiah 8:8. translates it μεθ᾿ ἡμῶν θεός; Vulg. Enmmanuel), a figurative name prescribed through the prophet for a child that should be born as a sign to Ahaz of the speedy downfall of Syria (B.C. cir. 739; see 2 Kings 16:9) and violent interregnum of the kingdom of Israel (B.C. 737-728; see 2 Kings 15:30; comp. 17:1), before the infant should become capable of distinguishing between wholesome and improper kinds of food. The name occurs only in the celebrated verse of Isaiah (vii, 14), "Behold, a [rather the] virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel," and in another passage of the same prophet (Isaiah 8:8), where the ravaging army of the Assyrians is described as ere long to "fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel," i.e. Judaea, with evident allusion to the former declaration. (See AHAZ).

In the name itself there is no difficulty; but the verse, as a whole, has been variously interpreted. From the manner in which the word God, and even Jehovah, is used in the composition of Hebrew names, there is no such peculiarity in that of Immanuel as in itself requires us to understand that he who bore it must be in fact God. Indeed, it is used as a proper name among the Jews at this day. This high sense has, however, been assigned to it in consequence of the application of the whole verse, by the evangelist Matthew (Matthew 1:23), to our divine Savior. Even if this reference did not exist, the history of the Nativity would irresistibly lead us to the conclusion that the verse-whatever may have been its intermediate signification-had an ultimate reference to Christ. (See ISAIAH).

The state of opinion on this point has been thus concisely summed up by Dr. Henderson in his note on the text: "This verse has long been a subject of dispute between Jews and professedly Christian writers, and among the latter mutually. While the former reject its application to the Messiah altogether-the earlier Rabbins explaining it of the queen of Ahaz and the birth of his son Hezekiah, and the later, as Kimchi and Abarbanel, of the prophet's own wife - the great body of Christian interpreters have held it to be directly and exclusively a prophecy of our Savior, and have considered themselves fully borne out by the inspired testimony of the evangelist Matthew. Others, however, have departed from this construction of the passage, and have invented or adopted various hypotheses in support of such dissent. Grotius, Faber, Isenbiehl, Hezel, Bolten, Fritzsche, Pluschke, Gesenius, and Hitzig, suppose either the then present or a future wife of Isaiah to be the, almah [rendered virgin'], referred to. Eichhorn, Paulus, Hensler, and Ammon are of opinion that the prophet had nothing more in view than an ideal virgin, and that both she and her son are merely imaginary personages, introduced for the purpose of prophetic illustration. Bauer, Cube, Steudel, and some others, think that the prophet pointed to a young woman in the presence of-the king and his courtiers. A fourth class, among whom are Richard Simon, Lowth, Koppe, Dathe, Williams, Vou Meyer, Olshausen, and Dr. J. Pye Smith, admit the hypothesis of a double sense (q.v.): one, in which the words apply primarily to some female living in the time of the prophet, and her giving birth to a son according to the ordinary laws of nature; or, as Dathe holds, to some virgin, who at that time should miraculously conceive; and the other, in which they received a secondary and plenary fulfillment in the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus Christ." (See the monographs enumerated by Volbeding, Index, p. 14; and Furst, Bib. Jud. 2, 60; also Hengstenberg, Christol. des A. T. 2, 69, and the commentators in general; compare the Stud. u. Krif. 1830, 3:538.) This last seems to us the only consistent interpretation. That the child to be so designated was one soon to be born and already spoken of is clear from the entire context and drift of the prophecy. It can be no other than the Maher-shalal-hash-baz (q.v.), the offspring of the prophet's own marriage with the virgin prophetess, who thus became an eminent type of the Messiah's mother (Isaiah 8:18). (See VIRGIN).

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Immanuel'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​i/immanuel.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
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