Immanuel (עמנואל) – This is a Christmas special in our series on Hebrew names! In Isaiah 7:14 we read: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
This final part of the name is ‘el’ which means ‘God’. The Hebrew preposition ‘im’ corresponds to the English preposition ‘with’. The Hebrew suffix ‘anu’ means ‘us’. Literally the meaning of Immanuel is thus ‘with us God’ – in English ‘God with us’.
Immanuel (sometimes Emmanuel) is the attributen given to the promised messiah – ‘God with us’. Curiously this is what the angel says to Joseph in the Gospel of Matthew: “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” And this is Matthew’s commentary: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel””. (Matt. 1:21-23)
So…is it Jesus or Immanuel?! Well, his name was Jesus (/Joshua which deserves a post of its own very soon!), but being identified as ‘Immanuel’ speaks volumes as to his identity (as does ‘Jesus’ for that matter!). “God with us”!
It is of this Immanuel, this ‘God with us’ that John writes: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
What a marvellous message of Christmas! What good news! God with us.
Biblical references for ‘Immanuel’: Is. 7:14; 8:8; Matt. 1:23