Symbolic name found in Is 7.14; 8.8 (and see 8.10) meaning "God with us" (Heb 'immānû-’ēl ). St. Matthew interprets it in a messianic sense and applies it directly to Christ (Mt 1.22). Although exegetes generally agree that Is 7.14 is rightly understood to be a messianic text, they are not wholly in accord in explaining it. Formerly it was widely held that the sign promised to Ahaz, King of Juda, in this passage referred to the virgin birth of Christ and that the sign in question was a miracle in the strict sense of the word. A more critical study of the problem, however, indicates that such an interpretation of the text in the Book of isaiah is inaccurate. The sign offered to Achaz was intended to assist him to make a practical decision, i.e., to put his trust in the Lord rather than in Assyria on the occasion of the Syro-Ephraimitic invasion; but the birth of a child 700 years later could hardly be expected to help him. Further, the fact that Christ was miraculously born of a virgin can hardly be used to prove anything to a skeptic, for this is something not open to human observation but is rather an object of faith. Aside from this, the text does not clearly speak of a virgin birth, for the technical Hebrew term for virgin (b etûlâ ) is not used here, but a more general term (‘almâ ) that means maiden or young woman. Finally, the child is associated with the contemporary scene (7.15–16). Thus, modern interpreters understand the "sign" more in accord with the sense that word (Heb 'ôt ) usually has in the Old Testament, i.e., a meaningful, effective indication of God's intervention. Yet, the import of the promise is messianic, for it probably refers to the birth of Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, who would continue the Davidic line, which was the vehicle of God's messianic promises (see messianism; david) at a time when its existence was severely threatened (see Is 7.2–6). The ultimate meaning of the promise, even for Isaiah, would be fulfilled only when the expected messianic deliverance had been realized, and so the oracle continued to look to the future, to the coming of the Son of David par excellence. The Septuagint translators rendered ‘almâ by παρθένος, the technical Greek term for virgin, as an indication that they expected the messiah to have a marvelous birth, and Matthew knew that this did, in fact, come to pass in the birth of Jesus Christ.
Bibliography: Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, tr. and adap. by l. hartman (New York 1963) 655–657. h. junker, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. m. buchberger, 10 v. (Freiburg 1930–38) 3:847–848. e. jenni, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 7 v. (3d ed. Tübingen 1957–65) 3:677–678. j. coppens, "La Prophétie de la ‘Almah, Is 7.14–17," Ephemerides theologicae Lovanienses 28 (Bruges 1952) 648–678. "La Prophétie d'Emmanuel," L'Attente du Messie, ed. l. cerfaux et al. (Paris 1954) 39–50. f. l. moriarty, "The Emmanuel Prophecies," The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 19 (Washington 1957) 226–233.
[m. j. cantley]
Emmanuel, an entity who speaks through channel Pat Rode-gast, emerged in the early 1980s as a being of golden light. Once he was comfortable with Emmanuel's presence, Rodegast worked with Emmanuel regularly, and some of the material from the channeling sessions were published in 1985 as Emmanuel's Book: A Manual for Living Comfortably in the Cosmos.
Emmanuel emphasizes a message of humans coming into a new relationship with God as co-creators. Separation from God had served a purpose and was now coming to an end. The clarity and simplicity with which Emmanuel spoke attracted popular New Age teacher Baba Ram Dass (Richard Alpert ), who backed Rodegast in her channeling activity and wrote the introduction to Emmanuel's Book. He was convinced of Emmanuel's reality because of the perceived differences between Rodegast and her channeled entity.
Rodegast, Pat, and Judith Stanton. Emmanuel's Book: A Manual for Living Comfortably in the Cosmos. New York: Some Friends of Emmanuel, 1985.