Why is Jesus associated with 'El' while others with theophoric names none are attributed to be 'El'? How is Immanuel linguistically different in comparison to other theophoric names?

Names similar to Immanuel:

  • Immanuel - God is with us
  • Jekuthiel - God will support
  • Ezekiel - God will strenthen

Why is Immanuel not judged the same as other names with 'El'?

If it was to be taken literal then why wasn't it:

"And he was Immanuel"

But rather it was

"and they shall call his name Emmanuel".

Paraphrase of Isaiah 7:14 -

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him 'God is with us' (Emmanuel)


I find your question a tad confusing. The best interpretation I can think of to answer is a more broader question of interpreting Isaiah 7:14, and more specifically the usage of the name Emmanuel.

The name is mentioned five times in the Bible, of which four in Isaiah (6:1,7:10,8:8) and once in Matthew 1:23, directly quoting Isaiah 7:14.

The only time Emmanuel is used to denote Christ (and God for that matter, but specifically Christ) is in Isaiah 7:14 (excluding its citation of course). Due to this Christ is rarely called Emmanuel, and when He is it can be taken as a direct reference to this passage.

As you know, Emmanuel means God with us, and taken in the context of birth it denotes a physical, rather than metaphysical or spiritual, presence. As most of Isaiah, this part prophecies the coming of the Messiah.

It is interesting to look at Isaiah 7:13 where he says the people are trying the patience of God or "tiring" Him, which to me sounds as though Isaiah is stating the reason for God's Incarnation is the mischief of man. Which we today know is correct.

Regarding the context of Isaiah 7:14:

It is found early on in the first of three parts of the book, Proto-Isaiah ch. 1-39 (apart from Deutero-Isaiah & Triot-Isaiah), of which part 3: Prophecies of foreign peoples, which is most confidently attributed to Isaiah the Prophet.

Isaiah was a member of a respectable aristocratic family and most likely a priest. He was called to the prophetic service and worked as a court counselor at the time of Ahaz and Ezekiel, that is at the time of political turmoil in Palestine and in the East (740-700 BC).

Source: Appendix to the Bible by Bonaventura Duda and Jerko Fućak. Translated by me from Croatian

Ahaz didn't follow the advice of Isaiah and asked for the help of the Assyrian king when the Syrian king Resin and Israeli king Pekah declared war on him for declining to join their alliance. The Assyrians conquered Damask and Samaria, crumbling Syria and the Israeli Kingdom.

Ahaz was succeeded by Ezekiel. He is most probably the prince of peace and Emmanuel that Isaiah proclaims as a sign to Ahaz (7:14)

Source: Appendix to the Bible by Bonaventura Duda and Jerko Fućak. Translated by me from Croatian

Here is also part of the explanation dedicated to the passage by Bonaventura Duda:

It is not entirely clear of what consists the sign promised to Ahab (op.a. Ahaz). It is a prevalent opinion that it is refering to the soon birth of Ahaz's son Ezekiel who will continue to be king in Israel ... However, the solemnity of the proclamation, and then the symbolic name of a new king (Immanu-El meaning God with us) along with the characteristics given to this new king, indicate that the prophecy surpasses (transcends) a particular human person and leads one to think it is about either the fate of whole of Israle or, furthermore, about one ideal king - the Messiah. That is how the whole of Christian tradition and New Testament understood this prophecy.


I hope I understood your question, and if I didn't you learned something anyway, as this took a lot of time to write :D

Cheers, Dominik

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  • Thank you for answering. For clarification purposes the question would be: Is El in Immanuel referencing to Jesus? And what is evidence to support that? To say that All-Knowing, All-Capable God was incarnated is a very grave thing. Was this preached by Jesus? Or do you say something about which you do not possess knowledge of? Have you reasoned whether 'God (is) with us' is a message that Indeed El is with us (in support or in presence in a way that He is present), which very well falls into context with Isaiah and Ahaz? What is evidence that Jesus is meant by El(God)? – Idris Atmani Jun 27 '19 at 21:35
  • As fra Duda said, it is not entirely clear, but Matthew did interpret it as such and it is my opinion that, in light of the Old Testament foretelling Christ's coming, Emmanuel is denoting Jesus. Jesus did preach that He was the son of man and son of God, both fully human and fully divine. Evidence is Matthew 1:23 and the OT context. – Glorius Jun 28 '19 at 7:25
  • Did Jesus preach he was fully divine (El)? Does being son of man and son of God inherently make him incarnation of God? The question is why is suddenly El in theophoric names associated with the namebearer while traditionally it is not. When his name is just like those that came before him your evidence for incarnation is lacking. This is why the question arises: What is proof that El in Immanuel is directly referencing to Jesus? Similarly like Ishmael: Is it the namebearer referenced to be El because he is hearing? Or is it The Almighty God? Mathew 4 shows the truth of the religion of Jesus. – Idris Atmani Jun 28 '19 at 11:24
  • These are more general and actually really well-known questions about Christianity, but here goes anyway. Jesus did preach He was fully divine, He is one of the three divine persons all being God. Hebrew is a very limited language and that could be why Emmanuel means God with us instead of, say, God accompanies It's not such a wild inconsistency to warrant an elaborate explanation. Of course my evidence is lacking, I will not prove Jesus is Emmanuel because I can't. I have provided you everything I know and to me it is enough. IDK how Matthew 4 proves Christianity, but whatever. – Glorius Jun 28 '19 at 11:42
  • Mathew 4 shows who is to be taken as worship. Who is the Lord God Almighty and who is his servant. To worship The Lord God only. To do His Will not the will of oneself. This is the true religion. Now we are going off topic however you have to see that these doctrines are innovated after Jesus has preached. Distortion and misguidance of the words that came from Jesus. Similarly like the name Immanuel. Mathew 7:21 – Idris Atmani Jun 28 '19 at 14:20

A "name" (Heb. shem) in Biblical Hebrew (if not still some modern Semitic languages like Arabic or Syriac) had much less to do with the letters or form of the name—the word—and much more to do with its meaning with regard to the person. Namely, the name functioned to designate the identity of the person, rather than, in English and other European-style languages, being a mere form without meaning (or having no real connection to the person's identity or background as peculiar to them specifically).

The fact that Matthew, who cites the angel saying He is to be given the name of Jesus (Heb. Yeshua), cites this prophecy, only proves this general truth about the Hebrew language. In citing the prophecy that "They shall call his name Immanuel," He intends to convey nothing more and nothing less than that the birth (all things things came to pass"—the birth narrative; Mt. 1:22-23) of Jesus constituted the fulfillment: God is born among us. As the Old Testament frequently predicts elsewhere:


Malachi 3:1 Behold I send my angel, and he shall prepare the way before my face. And presently the Lord, whom you seek, even the angel of the testament, whom you desire, shall come to his temple. Behold he cometh, saith the Lord of hosts.

Which Jesus applied to Himself directly, as being the Lord speaking here:

Matthew 11:10 For this is he [i.e. John the Baptist] of whom it is written: Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.

Cf. Zech 2:10.

Matthew goes on proving the divinity of Christ, by citing Micah 5:

Matthew 2:1-6 When Jesus therefore was born in Bethlehem of Judah, in the days of king Herod, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem. 2 Saying, Where is he that is born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to adore him. 3 And king Herod hearing this, was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And assembling together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where Christ should be born. 5 But they said to him: In Bethlehem of Juda. For so it is written by the prophet:

 And thou Bethlehem the land of Juda art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come forth the captain that shall rule my people Israel.

This prophecy went farther, and said:

...whose going forth is from times past: even from the days of eternity.

But citations to Jews went so far as to serve the immediate context: the rest of the context was familiar and assumed by the hearers or readers.

As to the word "virgin" (since it seems to always creep into the discussion), the word almah doesn't only mean "young woman," as later writers claim, but comes from the etymological root elem meaning to "conceal" or "hide" (as in what virgin women or girls were before marriage), and refers to a woman unknown by—and kept from—man, hence the prophetical value of an almah conceiving, as being a "sign" or miracle. It is, in fact, a better word than betulah (sexually unknown), as betulah could mean "a new mother," whereas "almah" cannot, but means a woman conceiving who is currently not known by man (i.e. which implies an unmarried woman without explicit context like Matthew 1 or Luke 1:34, where a virginal marriage is indicated, but which marriage nonetheless has children: the end of marriage).

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