Isaiah 9:5; The Bethlehem Star. Five or four points?
I recently received a question concerning the translation of Isaiah 9:5. Roughly it boils down to the statement that “the Star of Bethlehem should have five points, representing the head, two legs and two arms of a man, for He will be called Immanuel, God with us”. The NIV makes this interpretation impossible, since it combines the first two points into one!
KJV: “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 Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. “
NIV: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. “
Looking at the Hebrew grammar, we find that “wonderful” (peh’-leh) is a pronoun describing “counselor” (yaw-ats’) and therefore not a separate attribute.
Not only do most modern translations render these attributes in this way, but even the “Complete Jewish Bible” (Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc. Clarksville, Maryland USA; Jerusalem, Israel), translated by David H. Stern, has the same rendering: “Wonder of a Counselor, Mighty God, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace”.
The main problem with this reasoning however, is that one would try to force a translation to fit into a certain plan or dogma. Our reasoning should be the other way round. We should test our dogmas to the correct grammatical translation. The idea of a five pointed star of Bethlehem could be pretty, but it is not supported by either the plain grammatical facts of the sentence, or by any theological fact, and should therefore be discarded.
Even when we look at these attributes, all have to do with what this Child would do for his followers. If we take “wonderful” as a separate attribute, it does not fit into the scheme, but together with Counselor, makes perfect sense.
It is extremely important that we should derive understanding our doctrine from Scripture, and not bend or alter Scripture to fit or prove our doctrine!