The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66

Isaiah 7

Isa 7:1

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" (WIsa 142).

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.

Isa 7:2

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 28:5...).

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).

Isa 7:3

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 37:31).

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 the sun.

Isa 7:4

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 5:24; 33:14).

BECAUSE OF THE FIERCE ANGER...: Alternate rendering: "For when my fierce anger is over, I will heal again" (LXX).

Isa 7:6

Isaiah also reveals to Ahaz all the secret counsels of his enemies -- but tells him that their plans will not succeed.

Isa 7:7

IT WILL NOT TAKE PLACE, IT WILL NOT HAPPEN: But Judah will be safe from the depredations of Syria and Israel: God has guaranteed it!

Isa 7:8

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.

Isa 7:11

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.

Isa 7:12

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 to Isaiah!

Isa 7:13

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!

Isa 7:14

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 20:4.

See Lesson, "Little child" in Isa.

Isa 7:15

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 "Hezekiah"?).

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).

Isa 7:16

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.

Isa 7:18

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).

Isa 7:20

RAZOR... THE KING OF ASSYRIA: So thoroughly will these "bees" (v 18) gather their "honey" (plunder) that Judah will be like a man shaved bald!

Isa 7:22

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!

Isa 7:23

A THOUSAND VINES... ONLY BRIERS AND THORNS: The "vineyard" of the LORD (Isa 5) has been reduced to this!

Previous Index Next