Background: "An inscription of Tiglath-pileser mentions both
Menahem of Samaria and Rezin of Damascus as paying tribute to Assyria. So
evidently at the time of the prophecy, whilst the Assyrian king was busy with
fighting to the north and east of his capital, these two vassals rebelled and
set about forcing Judah to join an anti-Nineveh confederacy... Verse 6 shows
that they were determined to have a nominee of their own ruling in Jerusalem"
WHEN: Lit "it came to pass" (AV): Sig a time of trouble
which ends in blessing: Gen 14:1; Rth 1:1; Jer 1:3; Est 1:1; 2Sa 21:1.
AHAZ: A wicked ruler (2Ki 16:3-5; 2Ch 28:23), who set
up idolatrous worship and heathen altars, and desecrated the holy places of God.
The "Book of Immanuel" (Isa 7-12) begins with an idolatrous king on throne in
Jerusalem, and ends with the "Holy One" enthroned on Zion.
THE HOUSE OF DAVID: A term expressing the far-reaching
import of the words of Isaiah: ie, not just for Ahaz, but for his whole family,
and for generations to come.
ARAM: Syria sought to wrest Elath, on the gulf, from
Judah (2KI 16:6).
EPHRAIM: At the same time, Israel invaded from the
north, right up the walls of Jerusalem, and then retired (2Ch
THE HEARTS OF AHAZ AND HIS PEOPLE WERE SHAKEN...: A
panicky halting between alternative policies: (1) join the confederacy and fight
against Assyria, or (2) resist these Syrians and Israelites, because God is with
us, or (3) buy Assyrian aid by sending more tribute to Nineveh: this last was
the policy which had been followed to this point, and which had been denounced
by Hosea (Hos 5:13; 8:8,10; 10:5-7).
YOUR SON: An implied rebuke the wicked king, who had
burned his own son in the fires (2Ki 16:3).
SHEAR-JASHUB: Sig "a remnant will return", whose name
testified to the unhappy fact of a nation astray from God, with only a remnant
remaining faithful (Isa 6:13; 10:21)... but also to the promise that a remnant
WOULD return from the soon-coming captivity of the Assyrian (Isa
UPPER POOL: Perhaps the "Virgin's Fountain" (Joh 5:2n).
Was Ahaz inspecting some piece of engineering to cover and protect the Gihon
spring, in the event of attack (the sort of thing later completed by Hezekiah)?
WASHERMAN'S FIELD: The place where new cloth was
repeatedly washed in the waters of the spring and then laid out for drying in
Vv 4-6: An assurance given entirely in the spirit of the
commandment (Deu 20:3,4), that in time of battle the army be encouraged by a
priestly exhortation to faithful dependence on God (cp Isa 30:15; 57:20).
TWO SMOLDERING STUBS OF FIREWOOD: A contemptuous
phrase: two burned-out torches! What a ct to the devouring fire of Yahweh (Isa
BECAUSE OF THE FIERCE ANGER...: Alternate rendering:
"For when my fierce anger is over, I will heal again" (LXX).
Isaiah also reveals to Ahaz all the secret counsels of his
enemies -- but tells him that their plans will not succeed.
IT WILL NOT TAKE PLACE, IT WILL NOT HAPPEN: But Judah
will be safe from the depredations of Syria and Israel: God has guaranteed
SIXTY-FIVE YEARS: Too long a period to have any
immediate impact. One suggestion, by a slight change: "six, even five years" --
perhaps six years for Israel, and 5 years for Syria. (This shorter time span
corresponds well with vv 14,16.) By then, the rising tide of Assyrian aggression
will have swamped them both.
ASK THE LORD: A daring challenge from a prophet who is
absolutely sure of himself!
A SIGN... DEPTHS... HEIGHTS: Blessings of heaven (ie
Gen 49:25) in the birth of a special son (cp Pro 30:4). Blessings from sheol, in
life from the dead, resurrection, etc (as ref Hezekiah in Isa 38:10). Blessings
of the Messiah.
I WILL NOT ASK: Ahaz was already committed to buying
the cynical aid of Tiglath-pileser (2Ki 16:7,8). Besides, he could not let the
king of Assyria find out (as he would eventually) that he, Ahaz, was listening
YOU HOUSE OF DAVID: Implying that the promises to David
re his "house" (2Sa 7) should have been the trust of Ahaz! But they were not,
and so the promise was not for Ahaz at all, but for the family of which he was
(an unworthy) part! In its immediate fulfillment, "Immanuel/Hezekiah" would do
Ahaz no good; it would, however, benefit the "house of David". And in its final
and complete fulfillment, "Immanuel/Jesus" would come long after Ahaz had died,
and would be for the whole "house of David" in ages to come!
VIRGIN: "Virgin" in AV, NIV. "Young woman" in NEB.
Other OT prophecies of "virgin birth": Isa 41:9; 43:1; 44:2,24; 45:4; 46:3;
49:1; Psa 22:9,10; 71:6: 89:26,27; 110:1,3; 132:11; Gen 3:15; Mic 5:2; 2 Sam
7:14; Gen 49:25; Jer 31:22; Pro 30:4. Also, type of Isaac's birth. Also, cp v
11: a "sign" in the height, depth, etc is idiomatic for a "sign" about the
Messiah (Gen 49:25; Pro 30:4; Isa 45:8; Psa 85:11; etc). The first express
prophecy in the OT is Gen 3:15, the seed of the woman (but not the man) who
would destroy the power of sin symbolized by the serpent. And the first express
fulfillment of prophecy in the NT is Mat 1:23. How was this prophecy of Isaiah
to be fulfilled? Over the centuries this has become a Jewish controversy, and
even a Christian controversy, as witnessed by some modern versions that
translate the Heb "alma" or the Gr "parthenos" by "young woman" or the like,
instead of "virgin". Of one thing there can be no doubt: no matter what the best
translation of the original words, both Matthew and Luke agree that Mary had had
no relations with any man when Jesus was conceived. God has clearly shown how
Isaiah's prophecy was fulfilled despite whatever minor arguments may revolve
around the precise words used.
The Heb "alma" and its related words are derived from a root
sig to cover or conceal. One common suggestion is that it refers to the practice
of keeping unmarried girls in seclusion in their parents' homes. This
explanation would favor virginity as the meaning of alma, but would not prove it
absolutely. However, a more meaningful aspect comes into view when the antonym
is considered; it means "to uncover". "To uncover the nakedness" (so translated,
lit, by the KJV) of another is a Heb euphemism for having sexual intercourse
(Lev 20:11,17-21). So one who is "covered" -- an alma -- is then specifically
one who has not engaged in sexual intercourse.
IMMANUEL: Not "God-with-us", as in "HE is God!" But
rather "God is with us", as a promise of God's protection. See such promises as
Gen 28:15; Exo 33:16; Jos 1:9; Jdg 6:13; 1Ki 8:57; 2Ki 18:7; 2Ch 32:8; Deu
Vv 15,16: Even though v 14 is plainly a prophecy of the birth
of Jesus, it just as plainly has a practically immediate fulfillment! The child
to be born will be Hezekiah: see how Isa 9:6,7 and Isa 11:1... suit his person
and reign also. (Cp similar prophecy of birth of special child in Mic 5:2...) It
may be assumed that, alongside Ahaz, there was standing there Abijah, the
daughter (or grand-daughter) of Zechariah the High Priest (2Ch 29:1; 24:20), the
young virgin whom Ahaz would shortly marry; after their marriage, she would
conceive and bear a special son (named "Immanuel", then changed later to
HE WILL EAT CURDS AND HONEY: "He will feed on rich
stores of covenant blessings" (WK). Cp Isa 55:2; 1Pe 2:2. As re Christ, the
copying out of the LM as a child (Deu 17:18).
THE TWO KINGS YOU DREAD: Two possibilities: (1) Rezin
and Pekah (v 4), or (2) the kings of Assyria and Egypt (vv 17,18). Re Christ:
Herod the Great and Archelaus both die shortly after Christ is born.
FLIES FROM... EGYPT... BEES FROM... ASSYRIA: "Swarming
flies are irritating; bees are irritating and esp dangerous because of the pain
they inflict with their sting (Deu 1:44; Psa 118:12). The metaphors are well
chosen, for the Assyrians (symbolized by the bees) were much more powerful and
dangerous than the Egyptians (symbolized by the flies). Nevertheless both would
put pressure on Judah, for Egypt wanted Judah as a buffer state against Assyrian
aggression, while Assyria wanted it as a base for operations against Egypt.
Following the ref to sour milk and honey (v 15), the metaphor is esp apt, for
flies are attracted to dairy products and bees can be found in the vicinity of
honey" (NET notes).
RAZOR... THE KING OF ASSYRIA: So thoroughly will these
"bees" (v 18) gather their "honey" (plunder) that Judah will be like a man
ABUNDANCE: Due to misguided policy of Ahaz, the
Assyrians would bring such destruction that yogurt and wild honey would be only
food available. "Abundance" may be read sarcastically (Baly 84).
ALL WHO REMAIN IN THE LAND: Or poss a promise of
prosperity, but with a sinister twist: "all who remain" (cp Isa 1:8; 4:3; 6:12)
implies great loss of life, so that only a remnant remain where previously there
had been a great population!
A THOUSAND VINES... ONLY BRIERS AND THORNS: The
"vineyard" of the LORD (Isa 5) has been reduced to this!