The prophet Isaiah (Mt 4:14-4:16)

“Thus,

What had been spoken

Through the prophet Isaiah

Might be fulfilled.

‘The land of Zebulun,

The land of Naphtali,

On the road by the sea,

Across the Jordan,

Galilee of the Gentiles!

The people

Who sat in darkness

Have seen a great light.

Light has dawned

For those who sat

In the region,

In the shadow of death.’”

 

ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος

Γῆ Ζαβουλὼν καὶ γῆ Νεφθαλείμ, ὁδὸν θαλάσσης, πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου, Γαλιλαία τῶν ἐθνῶν,

ὁ λαὸς ὁ καθήμενος ἐν σκοτίᾳ φῶς εἶδεν μέγα, καὶ τοῖς καθημένοις ἐν χώρᾳ καὶ σκιᾷ θανάτου φῶς ἀνέτειλεν αὐτοῖς.

 

Matthew was unique in using this citation from Isaiah, chapter 9:1-5, where Isaiah was describing a defeat of the northern territories of Zebulun and Naphtali (Γῆ Ζαβουλὼν καὶ γῆ Νεφθαλείμ), near the Syrian border in the 8th century BCE. They were on the road near the sea, across the Jordan (ὁδὸν θαλάσσης, πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου). Thus, this area became known as the Galilee of the gentles or the other nations or non-Jewish people (Γαλιλαία τῶν ἐθνῶν). Matthew used Isaiah, even though at the time of Jesus, there were a lot of Jewish people in Galilee. Using Isaiah, Matthew said that these people were sitting in darkness (ὁ λαὸς ὁ καθήμενος ἐν σκοτίᾳ), but the good news was that a great light would come to them (φῶς εἶδεν μέγα) to shine on their darkness. This dawning light (φῶς ἀνέτειλεν αὐτοῖς) would save those who were sitting in the shadowy land of death (καὶ τοῖς καθημένοις ἐν χώρᾳ καὶ σκιᾷ θανάτου). Matthew saw that this as a fulfillment of the prophetic words of Isaiah (ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος). This saying from Isaiah preceded his saying about a child being born.

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