Ask Norm!

By Norman S. Edwards

From SVM -Winter/Spring 2017

December 1, 2016

Dear Norm:

I have a statement with a follow-up question that maybe you can address in an up-coming “Ask Norm!” in SVM. In Isaiah 9:6 where multiple titles are prophetically attributed to Yahushua ha’ Mashiach (Jesus the Christ), one of these titles has been erroneously translated in almost every translation that I’ve personally read as “…everlasting Father.” In the original Hebrew, it is dc-yba Abi-Ad. In Hebrew grammar, whenever you place a “yod” suffix to a known, the word becomes possessive. Consult Strong’s #H-21 and Mathew 27:46 for example. In this instance, the Hebrew word for “Father”, ba or Ab has a “yod” suffix thus rendering it literally “My father is everlasting”. Yet, translators across the board have either completely missed it, or purposely mistranslated it. (Consider Jeremiah 8:8).

I’ve written several other Sabbath keeping ministries with this statement/question to no avail. I trust you will look into this and so my questions for you would be:

  1. Can you see it?
  2. Do you agree with me?
  3. If you’ve answered “yes” to the first two questions, in what way does this revelation affect your interpretation and theology of this specific passage of scripture?

One again, I personally thank you for your insight, consideration and service in this matter.

In Mashiyach Yahusha,

Mr. John Joseph Adkins #235577 Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility

1727 W Bluewater Hwy Ionia, MI 48846

John Joseph Adkins

Dear Mr. John Adkins,

I will cite Isaiah 9:6 for our reader’s convenience:

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.

 I believe I see why you wanted to research this. All of those titles are easily understood for “God the Son” except “Everlasting Father”. How can Jesus be both the “Father” and the “Son”? Well, a short answer is that many middle-aged men are both fathers and sons at the same time. Jesus is the son of God the Father, but in a certain sense, we are His children as He died that we might have eternal life. Even Paul identifies himself as a spiritual father of those he taught (1 Corinthians 4:15).

We also have to realize that every verse of the Bible cannot explain everything about everything. This verse is the relationship between Christ and humankind, not about the relationship between the Father and Son. To be concerned about some kind of competition for power between the Father and Christ is foolish (John 10:30, 14:9, 28).

Even so, your linguistic study has merit. Bible Works shows this to be the only place in Scripture where this exact form appears—so we must look at similar words for clues to meaning. Yes, other examples of Abi followed by another word are translated “father is…”. Indeed, your translation of “My Father is everlasting” would fit this pattern, though I do not see any word implying “My”. Even so, I am not an expert in the ancient Hebrew Language. Languages often follow rules, but there are sometimes that they do not. For example, the English preposition “in” generally means “inside” and “on” means “on top of”. Yet we “get in” a car or truck, but we “get on” a bus, train or plane. No rule explains it—one just has to know. Unfortunately, I do not know exactly what Isaiah intended by “Abi Ad”.

Other Bible translations help. The new Century Version and the Expanded Bible say “Father   Who Lives Forever”. The Orthodox Jewish Bible has “Avi Ad (Possessor of Eternity)”—which is not exactly what you are saying, but very sensible for this context. The 1599 Geneva Bible says “everlasting Father” in the text, but has a footnote: “the author of eternity”. The English translation of the Greek Septuagint is different enough that the problem doesn’t exist:

For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, whose government is upon his shoulder: and his name is called the Messenger of great counsel: for I will bring peace upon the princes, and health to him (Isaiah 9:6, LXE).

In conclusion, I agree that your translation is possible, but it does not change my theology much. I have been given the task of living by faith by the power of the Holy Spirit on a daily basis. I will be judged and rewarded based upon that. I see no place in Scripture where I will be judged on being able to explain the exact relationship of the Father and Son, or all of their names and titles.  I will continue to pray and study daily, strive to love my neighbor as myself, lead my family, write articles and serve in our homeless ministry no matter which translation for this verse is correct.

Certainly, those who are Bible Teachers—and both of us have taken on this role—should do the best they can to understand the truth of the Scriptures and teach them accurately. I appreciate your study here and I now could much better help somebody who was concerned that Jesus was being called a “Father” when he is elsewhere portrayed as the “Son”.

Thank you for your letter. Keep on studying and becoming a blessing to others.

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