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Whose Child Is This? Reflections on the Speaking Voice in Isaiah 9:5*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 June 2011

J. J. M. Roberts
Princeton Theological Seminary


In his 1947 article, “Das judäische Königsritual,” Gerhard von Rad argued that the Judean enthronement ritual was heavily dependent on the corresponding Egyptian ritual. He argued persuasively that the of Ps 2:7, the of 2 Kgs 11:12, and the of Ps 89:40 were all simply different designations of the same reality, the Judean counterpart of the Egyptian nḫb.t, the royal protocol that the deity writes and presents to the new king along with the crown at the time of the latter's coronation. The Egyptian protocol contained the five names of the new pharaoh's titulary and the legitimation of his rule by the deity's acknowledgment of the king as the deity's child. Von Rad argued that both of these elements also appeared in the Judean ritual. Ps 2:7 quotes from the protocol marking Yahweh's legitimation of the new Davidic king as God's son, while Isa 9:5 reflects the king's divine sonship as well as his five-fold royal titulary.

Research Article
Copyright © President and Fellows of Harvard College 1997

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1 Rad, Gerhard von, “Das judaische Konigsritual,ThLZ 72/4 (1947) 211–16.Google Scholar

2 Ibid., 213-15.

3 Ibid., 216.

4 Alt, Albrecht, “Jesaja 8, 23–9,6Google Scholar . Befreiungsmacht und Kronungstag,” in Baumgartner, Walter, ed., Festschrift Alfred Bertholet zum 80. Geburtstag gewidmet (Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1950) 2949Google Scholar ; reprinted in Alt, Albrecht, Kleine Schriften zur Geschichte des Volkes Israel (3 vols.; Munich: C. H. Beck'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1953) 2. 206–25Google Scholar.

5 , Alt, “Befreiungsmacht und Kronungstag,” 4445Google Scholar (= idem, Kleine Schriften, 2. 221-22).

6 Rad, Von, “Das judäische Königsritual,” 214Google Scholar ; , Alt, “Befreiungsmacht und Kronungstag,” 4243Google Scholar (= idem, Kleine Schriften, 2. 218-19).

7 This understanding of Ps 2:7 appears already in Gunkel, Hermann, Ausgewählte Psalmen übersetzt und erklärt (3d ed.; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1911) 1314Google Scholar.

8 Hans-Joachim Kraus, “Jesaja 9, 5-6 (6-7),” in Eichholz, Georg, ed., Herr, tue Meine Lippen auf: Eine Predigthilfe, 5 (Wuppertal: Muller, 1961) 4353Google Scholar ; Lescow, Theodor, “Das Geburtsmotiv in den messianischen Weissagungen bei Jesaja und Micha,” ZAW 79 (1967) 172207Google Scholar ; Vieweger, Dieter, ‘“Das Volk, das durch das Dunkel zieht…”; Neue Uberlegungen zu Jes (8, 23aβb) 9, 1-6,” BZ n.s. 36/1 (1992) 7786Google Scholar ; and Wegner, Paul D., “A Re-Examination of Isaiah IX 1-6,” VT 42 (1992) 103–12Google Scholar.

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12 Carlson, R. A., “The Anti-Assyrian Character of the Oracle in Is. IX 1-6,” VT 24 (1974) 130–35.Google Scholar

13 , Wegner, “A Re-examination,” 105.Google Scholar

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15 Ibid., 133.

16 Ibid., 133.

17 Ibid., 134.

18 Ibid., 134.

19 Paul, Shalom M., “Adoption Formulae: A Study of Cuneiform and Biblical Legal Clauses,” Maarav 2/2 (1979-1980) 173–85.Google Scholar

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24 Interestingly, he refused to attach much weight to Kohler's attempt to find such support in the formulaic language of Ps 2:7 (“you are my son, today I have begotten you”) and Hos 2:1 (“you are not my people”) since the dependency of these expressions on the Old Babylonian outlook was by no means obvious. Ibid., 79, n. 42.

25 Author's adaptation of Meeks, Theophile J. translation in ANET (3d ed.; 1969) 173.Google Scholar

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27 Ibid., no. 10.10-11, no. 11.8-9.

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30 a-nu-um-ma TUR-am la-ba-ar-na [aq-bji-a-ak-ku-nu-śi-im śu-ii li-il-ta-śa-ab-mi LUGAL ru [al-/si-śu-ma DUMU(?)-am. Ibid., Text A I, 2-4.

31 [a-nu-um-ma 'mu-ur-śi-li DUMU-ri u śu-wa-a-tu lu-ii ti-da-a u] śu-wa-a-tu [śu-śi-ba]. The restoration is based on the parallel Hittite lines. Ibid., Text A, I 37-38.

32 , Tigay, “Adoption,” 300.Google Scholar

33 , Weinfeld, “Covenant of Grant,” 184203Google Scholar ; idem , Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic School (Oxford: Clarendon, 1972) 7781Google Scholar.

34 , Weinfeld, “Covenant of Grant,” 191.Google Scholar

35 Ibid., 191, n. 59.

36 Alt, Albrecht, “Bemerkungen zu den Verwaltungs- und Rechtsurkunden von Ugarit und Alalach,” WO 3 (1964) 1417.Google Scholar

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39 There is a debate among contemporary Hittite scholars whether the name Mattiwaza should be read as Kurtiwaza or Sattiwaza, but that debate is irrelevant for my argument, and to avoid introducing unnecessary confusion I have kept without prejudice the older reading that Weinfeld followed. See Laroche, Emmanuel, Les noms des Hittites (Etudes Linguistiques IV; Paris: Libraire C. Klincksieck, 1966) 117Google Scholar ; Kammenhuber, Annelies, Die Arier im Vorderorient (Heidelberg: Carl Winter/Univeritatsverlag, 1968) 8184Google Scholar ; Kestemont, Guy, Diplomatique et droit international en Asie occidentale (1600–1200 av. J.C.) (Publications de l'lnstitut Orientaliste de Louvain 9; Louvain-La-Neuve: Universite Catholique de Louvain, Institut Orientaliste, 1974) 92 n. 15Google Scholar.

40 , Weinfeld, “Covenant of Grant,” 191.Google Scholar

41 Weidner, Ernst F., Politische Dokumente aus Kleinasien: Die Staatsvertrage in akkadischer Sprache aus dem Archiv von Boghazkoi (Boghazkdi-Studien, 8; Leipzig: Hinrichs'sche Buchhandlung, 1923) 137Google Scholar (=no. 1), 37-57 (=no. 2).

42 , Weidner, Politische Dokumente, 53 (11.35-39).Google Scholar

43 Ibid., 19 (11.56-60).

44 , Weinfeld, “Covenant of Grant,” 192.Google Scholar

45 Seux, M. J., Épithétes royales Akkadiennes et Sumeriennes (Paris: Letouzey et Ané, 1967) 159, n. 28.Google Scholar

46 , Paul, “Adoption Formulae,” 178.Google Scholar

47 Exod 4:22-23.

48 , Tigay, “Adoption,” 300.Google Scholar

49 Ibid., 300. Tigay suggests this as a possibility for Jer 3:19; 31:8; and Hosea 11:1.

50 ARE 2. 75-100, 334.

51 Ibid., 3. 12-19 ; Gardiner, Alan H., “The Coronation of King Haremhab,” JEA 39 (1953) 1331Google Scholar.

52 ARE, 2. 409.

53 Leprohon, Ronald J., “Royal Ideology and State Administration in Pharaonic Egypt,” in Sasson, Jack, ed., Civilizations of the Ancient Near East (4 vols.; New York: Scribner's, 1995) I. 275.Google Scholar

54 ARE, 2. 89.

55 , Gardiner, “Coronation of King Haremhab,” 14.Google Scholar

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