Immanuel or Emmanuel or Imanu'el (Hebrew עִמָּנוּאֵל "God [is] with us" consists of two Hebrew words: אֵל (’El, meaning 'God') and עִמָּנוּ (ʻImmānū, meaning 'with us'); Standard Hebrew ʻImmanuʼel, Tiberian Hebrew ʻImmānûʼēl). It is a theophoric name used in the Bible in Isaiah 7:14 and Isaiah 8:8. It appears once in the Christian New Testament: in Matthew's quotation of Isaiah 7:14.
Christian belief holds that the Emmanuel is the Messiah foretold in the other prophecies of Isaiah. In Isaiah 8:8, Canaan is called the land of Emmanuel, though in other passage it is termed the land or the inheritance of God, so that Emmanuel and God are identified. Again, in the Hebrew text of Isaiah 8:9-10, the Prophet predicts the futility of all the enemies' schemes against Canaan, because of Emmanuel. The characteristics of the child Emmanuel as described in 9:6-7, are viewed by Christians as indicating his Messianic mission, and the eleventh chapter pictures the Messianic blessings which the child Emmanuel will bring upon the earth. Moreover, The Gospel of Matthew (1:23) expressly identifies the Emmanuel with Jesus the Messiah, and Christian tradition has constantly taught the same doctrine. A number of the Church Fathers, such as St Irenaeus, Lactantius, St Epiphanius, St John Chrysostom, and Theodoret, regarded the name "Emmanuel" not merely as a pledge of Divine assistance, but also as an expression of the mystery of the Incarnation by virtue of which the Messiah will be "God with us".
Christians hold that Emmanuel as described in Isaiah cannot be an ideal or metaphorical person, and cannot be identified with the regenerate people of Israel, nor with religious faith, for "he shall eat butter and honey." It is thought that both the text and the context indicates that the Prophet does not refer to a child in general, but points to an individual.
Christians and Jews alike differ amongst themselves that the name Emmanuel refers to a son of either Isaiah, Ahaz, or Hezekiah. As well there are those who believe that Immanuel cannot be Jesus either, for 3 reasons, the first being the angels who spoke to Mary did not say he would be called Immanuel, secondly he was named Jesus (Yeshua) by his parents, and finally because in Isaiah 9:6 it is said that "...His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." However, it is clear that Matthew believed Jesus Christ to be the ultimate fulfillment of such prophecy as "God with us" or "Immanuel."
In the Nativity of Jesus
- In Matthew "an angel of the Lord" appears to Mary's betrothed husband Joseph in a dream and tells him: "she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins". The text continues with the comment: "All this happened to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 'Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel, which being interpreted is God with us'".. Some 5-6th century manuscripts of the Gospel according to Matthew read "Isaiah the prophet" instead of merely "the prophet" (e.g. D), but this does not have the support of other important witnesses (see Nestle26).
Rather than using the Masoretic text which forms the basis of most modern Christian Old Testament translations, Matthew's quotation is taken from the Septuagint. The verb кαλεω caleò ("I call") is used by both Isaiah and Gabriel; but whilst the former employs the third person plural (they shall call), the latter has the second person singular you shall call. Gabriel himself therefore is not applying Isaiah's prophecy to Joseph, but his purpose is to invite him to assume legal paternity of the son to be born of Mary by naming him. It is the following comment that explains Mary's conception by the Holy Spirit, Joseph's vocation as the child's legal father, and the child's own vocation as the Saviour of his people as indicated by the name Jesus, in the light of Isaiah's prophecy that henceforth "God is with us".
Scholars have other concerns with Matthew's reference to Isaiah; for instance, they argue that it is much more likely that Isaiah is referring to the far more immediate future, particularly as the text can be considered to be past tense—implying that the savior in question was already conceived when Isaiah was writing. Matthew also appears to have adjusted the meaning slightly, but in a significant way—although Matthew uses the Greek term parthenos, usually translated virgin, Isaiah uses the Hebrew word almah, which more accurately translates as young woman.
The purpose of the quotation is better understood by looking at the context in which it is used in Isaiah. Isaiah is in the process of promising that God can save Israel from the immediate threat of the Assyrians, but that if the Jews continue to sin, the Assyrian empire will be the instrument of God's vengeance. Hence, in the eyes of scholars such as Carter, Matthew is using the situation as an allegory for the time in which he was writing; if followed, Immanuel would lead to salvation from the Roman empire, but if rebuffed, Rome will be the instrument of punishment against the Jewish people.
Judaism understands the passages in Isaiah literally as referring to a child born during the reign of king Ahaz to whom the prophecy was made and does not consider the verses to be connected with the Messiah. Opinions differ as to whether this is a son of Isaiah or Ahaz and in the latter case whether he is identical to Hezekiah who ruled after Ahaz. According to Rashi's reckoning Hezekiah would have been 9 years old at the time. Rashi interprets the verse as referring to a son of Isaiah.
- Emmanuel College, Cambridge
- Emanuel School
- Emmanuel School of Religion
- Gott mit uns
- Immanuel College
- Isaiah 7:14
- List of names referring to El
- List of synagogues named Emanu-El