In Isaiah 9 (which is quoted by Nephi in 2 Nephi 19), the prophet Isaiah provides a long name for the Messiah. Most of the time, names are not translated. For example, the name Immanuel, which means “God is with us,” is left untranslated in the King James Version of the Bible. However, the name given in Isaiah 9 is translated into English. Here is the name in the original Hebrew:
(פֶּלֶא יֹועֵץ אֵל גִּבֹּור אֲבִיעַד שַׂר־שָׁלֹֽום)
The King James translators (and the Book of Mormon) render this as a series of names, separated by commas:
To understand the meaning of this name, we need to understand the context. In the prior chapter, Isaiah prophesies that the Assyrian empire will destroy the kingdoms of Israel and Syria. This invading force, which he compares with a mighty river, will “overflow and go over” into the kingdom of Judah. It will “reach even to the neck,” the capital city of Jerusalem (Isaiah 8:7-8, 2 Nephi 18:7-8).
But he begins chapter 9 with a message of hope: After enduring this oppressive darkness, the people will see “a great light.” An amazing leader will be born who will establish order and peace:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called:
- Pele – Wonderful – The One who performs miracles. This is the same word Isaiah uses when he prophesies that, in the last days, God will do a marvelous work and a wonder (Isaiah 29:14).
- Joez – Counselor – One who is capable of giving good advice and guidance. One translation of the Bible translates this word as “strategist.” (See https://biblehub.com/isaiah/9-6.htm.)
- El-Gibbor – Mighty God – This is no ordinary leader. This is the Lord of the Universe, with all of the power that He possesses.
- Abi-Ad – Everlasting Father – He not only governs with great power, but we can have confidence that He will do so forever.
- Sar-Shalom – Prince of Peace – The word sar is translated in other passages as “captain” or “commander.” The word shalom has rich meaning in the Old Testament, and refers not only to a lack of conflict between people but also to prosperity and calmness for each individual. (See “Shalom: Peace in Hebrew,” by Dr. Aviezer Ravitzky, on myjewishlearning.com.) A “prince of peace” is a leader who establishes safety, prosperity, and joy for everyone.
Who wouldn’t want a leader like that? Particularly after enduring humiliation and abuse at the hands of brutal conquerors, wouldn’t the children of Israel be relieved and grateful for a leader who is wise, who works miracles on behalf of His people, and who can be counted on to do so forever?
Today, I will be grateful for the Savior’s leadership. I will remember that He gives good advice, that He is powerful, that He will always be there, and that He brings peace and happiness to those He leads.