The Meaning of Emmanuel

Throughout Advent we have been praying and singing ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel.’ This term for Jesus comes from the Old Testament, when the prophet Isaiah said:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; the young woman, pregnant and about to bear a son, shall name him Emmanuel. – Isaiah 7:14

But, you may be wondering, Mary didn’t name Him Emmanuel, she named Him Jesus. In Joseph’s dream, the angel directed him to name the child Jesus and he was obedient. So why did Isaiah say that the child will be called Emmanuel?

Fr. Richard Simon recently discussed the meaning of Emmanuel on Father Simon Says™and explained why the name Jesus shows one aspect of how He was Emmanuel, or ‘God with us.’ Fr. Simon said:

“The name Emmanuel means ‘God with us.’ And for that reason, because He was God with us, Our Lord was called Jesus. Now, very interestingly I believe, St. Clement of Alexandria was an Egyptian bishop less than two centuries after the death and resurrection of the Lord, and he said that He was called generally by the shorter name.

He was Yeshua, which is Hebrew for ‘The Lord saves.’ But the short form is Yesh, just like Joshua becomes Josh. It might sound blasphemous to you, but it isn’t because that’s the point of it, that things like, “At the name of Josh every knee must bend.” or “There is no name other than the name of Josh by which men can be saved.”

This is about the very simplicity of the Lord. He is God with us. Not God among us, to lord it over us, but God with us. And that’s what the word Emmanuel means, the very simplicity of His name. I personally think that’s a beautiful thing.”

Listen to the full reflection below:

Father Simon Says airs weekdays at 2:00 p.m. Eastern/11:00 a.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio® and the Relevant Radio App.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.