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Verse 23

Matthew 1:23. Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth, &c. Some have unhappily supposed that this famous prophecy immediately related to the birth of a child of Isaiah’s in a natural way, and that it only referred to Christ in a secondary sense. But surely a son’s being born of one then a virgin, when she was married, was no such extraordinary event as to answer such a pompous introduction as we meet with in the viith of Isaiah. Had this been all, what need was there of these words, The Lord himself shall give you a sign? What need of that solemn notice, Behold! there being nothing new or strange in all this. Besides, the promise, A virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel, is made as a sign or miracle, to confirm the house of David in God’s promise made to him, respecting the perpetuity of his kingdom. But what sign or miracle could it be, that a woman should be with child after the ordinary manner? what wonder was there in this? As to Isaiah 7:16, Before the child (or, as it is in the Hebrew, this child,) shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings, it seems most reasonable to interpret it as referring to Shear-jashub, whom Isaiah was ordered to take in his hand for no other imaginable reason but that something remarkable was to be said of him. So that their deliverance from the two kings of Syria and Israel, before Isaiah’s son, (whom he had taken in his hand,) should be able to distinguish between good and evil, was to be considered by them as typical of a much greater deliverance by the Messiah, in due time to be born of a future virgin. See notes on Isaiah 7:11-16. Thus, according to the usual manner of the prophets, the people of God, in their present distress, are comforted with the promise of the Messiah hereafter to appear. They shall call his name That is, his name shall be called; a personal verb being put for an impersonal, as is frequently the case; or, as some copies read it, Thou shalt call, or, he shall be owned and accounted; Emmanuel, God with us God in our nature, by whose incarnation, God is united to our nature; and by whose mediation, God is reconciled to us and is present with us. The names of Christ, it must be observed, are of two kinds: 1st, proper and distinguishing, pointing out his person; 2dly, descriptive, either of his person or offices, such as there are many in Scripture, as David, the Branch, Wonderful, Counsellor. It is to be observed, that in the Scripture language, to be called, and to be, are the same thing. It is, therefore, no objection against the application of these words to Christ, that he did not bear the name Emmanuel, if he really was God with us, which is the import of it. And that he was, is sufficiently proved from his being entitled the mighty God by Isaiah, ch. Matthew 9:6. Now, he who is properly called El, God, and is also emmanu, with us, must infallibly be that Emmanuel, who is God with us.

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