The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Isaiah 9

Isa 9:1

THERE WILL BE NO MORE GLOOM FOR THOSE WHO WERE IN DISTRESS: A picture of Jerusalem (fem in Heb), apprehensive of invasion and yet coming through unscathed. (This first phrase of Isa 9:1 actually belongs at the end of Isa 8:22.)

Poss context: "Isaiah, in disfavor at the court of Ahaz, because of his strong opposition to fashionable idolatries (2Ki 16:11-17; Isa 8:9) and wrong-headed political alliances (Isa 8:12), was hunted out of Judah and took refuge in Galilee (Isa 8:16,17). Thither he spread abroad his prophetic message of a new era of godliness and prosperity, which the new king (Hezekiah) would bring in in due time" (WGos 111).

IN THE PAST HE HUMBLED THE LAND OF ZEBULUN AND THE LAND OF NAPHTALI: The overrunning of the Northern Kingdom in the first of the Assyrian inroads under Tiglath-pileser III.

ZEBULUN... NAPHTALI: "Rejoice, O Zebulun": Deu 33:18-23; cp Psa 68:27,28; Act 2:7. This land also witnessed the deliverances of God in the days of Deborah and Barak (Jdg 4;5).

BUT IN THE FUTURE HE WILL HONOR GALILEE: The spiritual renewal and re-unfication of the 12 tribes in the days of Hezekiah (2Ch 30:11).

(NT): As cited in Mat 4:14-16, these regions of Galilee were honored to witness the great miracles and to hear the wonderful words of Jesus.

BY THE WAY OF THE SEA: The sea of Galilee, or Chinnereth (Num 34:11; Deu 3:17; Joh 6:1; Mar 6:53).

ALONG THE JORDAN: Or "beyond Jordan", ie Perea, Gilead, Bashan.

Isa 9:2

THE PEOPLE WALKING IN DARKNESS... LIVING IN THE LAND OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH: Those who were dragged away into captivity by the Assyrians (// Psa 107:10). The Northern Kingdom, having been ravaged by Sennacherib, is being prepared to hear the glorious message of Isaiah and Hezekiah.

DARKNESS: The reason for affliction: darkness, or ignorance of God's will.

HAVE SEEN A GREAT LIGHT... A LIGHT HAS DAWNED: The shining forth of the Shekinah Glory in the destruction of Sennacherib's host, and the liberation of the captives.

(NT) Cited by Zechariah the priest and father of John the Baptist in his psalm of praise: Luk 1:78,79. More generally, Jesus as the Light from God in Joh 1:4,5,9; 8:12; 9:5 -- as foretold in Isa 42:6; 49:9.

Isa 9:3

Vv 3-5: The destruction of Sennacherib's army, bringing joy to the nation, and "multiplying" them through the return of the captives carried away earlier by the Assyrians (WGos 112); cp Isa 26:15; 49:19; 54:2,3.

AS PEOPLE REJOICE AT THE HARVEST: The deliverance from Sennacherib came at Passover (Isa 30:29; 31:5; 26:20,21), and the captives came home to a phenomenal harvest inaugurating a year of Jubilee freedom (2Ki 19:29,30; Isa 61:1,2; cp Psa 126; Isa 25:6).

DIVIDING THE PLUNDER: Isaiah has another picture of the plundering of the stricken Assyrian camp by the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Isa 33:4,23.

Isa 9:4

MIDIAN'S DEFEAT: The slaughter of Midian at the rock Oreb (Isa 10:26); fall of Oreb, Zeeb, and Zalmunnah: Jdg 6-8. Gideon's battles typify the victories of Christ. Cp Psa 83:9.

YOKE: As in Isa 10:24-27; 14:25; cp Nah 1:13.

ROD: As in Isa 10:5.

Isa 9:5

EVERY WARRIOR'S BOOT: Only here in OT. "Apparently the Heb has borrowed an Assyrian word to describe the jackboots of Sennacherib's soldiers. These are plainly shown in more than one Assyrian bas-relief. In this respect also these international bullies of ancient days were the prototypes of Hitler's storm troopers" (WIsa 166).

DESTINED FOR BURNING... FUEL FOR THE FIRE: The divine fire which destroyed Sennacherib's army: Isa 37:36; 30:30,31; 31:9; Psa 46:9; 76:3. "The nation of Israel will be multiplied, and its joy increased only when the yoke and staff and rod of all oppressors have been broken, only when the clever contrivances and brutalities of modern war have all been consigned by the Prince of Peace to burning and fuel of fire" (WIsa 167).

Isa 9:6

Vv 6,7: Primary fulfillment to Hezekiah: already born (note present tenses). Cp //s to Isa 22 -- a Hezekiah prophecy: "government, father, shoulder, David, throne" (Isa 22:21-23).

THE GOVERNMENT WILL BE ON HIS SHOULDERS: The government of Israel is here symbolized by one of its emblems: the royal robe fastened at the shoulder. In Jdg 16:3,4: Samson possesses the gate of his enemy Dagon, carrying it on his shoulders to Hebron. [The gate, especially of one's enemies, also symbolizes governmental power (Rth 4:1, and other refs].

When we come to the New Testament, reference to the royal shoulder suggests the shoulder of Jesus, that bore the cross (John 19:17).

WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, MIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE OF PEACE: This is probably intended to be all one name, like Mahershalalhashbaz (Isa 8:1). Following the Soncino Bible, this could be read: "Pele-joez-gibbor-el-abi-ad-sar-shalom" = (perhaps) "The wonderful counselor, the mighty God, IS the everlasting Father OF the prince of peace". (Some of these same "names" are combined elsewhere: in Isa 28:29; 25:1, for examples, about God Himself.)

However, if it be insisted that every phrase be applied, separately, to some human being, then -- first of all -- it may be applied to Hezekiah (he is the initial fulfillment of the "child" in Isa 7:14, and the "little child" in Isa 11), and then secondarily (though, of course, most importantly) to Jesus...

COUNSELOR: Used by Micah in Virgin Birth prophecy (Mic 4:9). "Counsel" refers to the personal fellowship between God and His Son: Psa 16:7; Mar 1:35; Joh 6:15; 5:19,20; 8:28; 12:49; 14:10. True counsel, wisdom, only from God: Jer 10:23; Job 12:13; Isa 40:12-14; 11:2-4. Christ brought God's counsel (Deu 18:15-18), as "one having authority" (Mat 7:29). See also 1Co 1:30; Col 2:3; Zec 6:12.

MIGHTY GOD: "El Gibbor" = "mighty hero" (Moffatt). The Father has given His own Name to His Son as well (Phi 2:9; cp Psa 45:3,6; Heb 1:8). In general Scriptural terminology, one who acts on behalf of God may be called "God": (a) angels: Gen 16:13; 18:13; Exo 23:20,21; Hos 12:3,5; (b) men: Exo 22:28; 22:6; 21:8 (elohim); Psa 138:1; Joh 10:34 (cit Psa 82:1,6); (c) the Messiah: Isa 8:13,14; 61:1,6; 64:4; 65:16; Zec 12:10; Mal 3:1; Joh 20:28; Heb 1:8.

EVERLASTING FATHER: In Hebrew idiom, "father" may signify "master, leader, teacher" (ie, Isa 22:21; Gen 45:8; 2Ki 5:13; Jdg 18:19; Gen 4:20,21). So, literally, this phrase may mean "father of the age to come" (LXX).

PRINCE OF PEACE: As was Melchizedek (Gen 14; Heb 7). "The peace" -- or the "prince who brings peace" -- "when the Assyrian comes into the Land" (Mic 5:5) -- about Hezekiah first, before it is about Jesus. Cp the angels' testimony at the announcement of Jesus' birth: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth PEACE to men on whom his favor rests" (Luk 2:14).

See Lesson, "Little child" in Isa.

Isa 9:7

DAVID'S THRONE: Eze 37:25; Luk 1:32,33.

THE ZEAL OF THE LORD ALMIGHTY WILL ACCOMPLISH THIS: Same phrase used in Isa 37:32 re destruction of Sennacherib's host.

Isa 9:8

Vv 8-21: "A prophecy spoken by Isaiah personally against the Northern Kingdom -- supporting the theory that Isaiah fled north for refuge from the hostility of Ahaz. The Manasseh-Ephraim refs in v 21 support this idea, as does the picture (in vv 9-12) of Israel fighting against enemies to the north and south" (WIsa 169).

Isa 9:10

A spirit of arrogant self-confidence in Israel, entirely out of keeping with their current situation. Also, seemingly, a failure to rely on the God of Israel at all (v 13).

Isa 9:11

Rezin, king of Syria, paid tribute to Assyria for a time. Later, he joined Pekah of Israel (Isa 8:6) against Judah, and thus angered Yahweh (Isa 8:4). Rezin took Elath from Judah. Ahaz paid Tiglath-pileser to defeat Rezin (2Ki 16:6-9).

Isa 9:12

ARAMEANS FROM THE EAST: After Rezin's death, the Syrians were forced to aid Assyria by fighting against their former ally, Israel. Cp Amo 1:3.

Isa 9:13

"These men of northern Israel neither gave due honour to Jehovah nor were they willing to consider that the piling up of 'misfortune' against them was His work" (WIsa 170).

Isa 9:14

HEAD AND TAIL: Cp v 15: the leading men of wide experience in politics and the false prophets teaching religious lies (Isa 29:10; Jer 14:14; Hab 2:18).

PALM BRANCH AND REED: The high and the lowly all together.

Isa 9:16

THOSE WHO GUIDE THIS PEOPLE MISLEAD THEM: Jeroboam (1Ki 12:26-30), Nadab (1Ki 15:26), Baasha (1Ki 15:34), Jehu (2Ki 10:29,31), and others besides.

Isa 9:17

EVERY MOUTH SPEAKS VILENESS: A word specifically used of sexual perversions: Gen 34:7; Deu 22:21; Jdg 19:23,24; 20:6,10; etc.

Isa 9:18

WICKEDNESS BURNS: Either (1) it was Israel's wickedness which kindled the "fire" of judgment, or (2) metonymy: the "fire" is the punishment for their wickedness!

THE FORESTS: In these days the two main forests (which have long since disappeared) were in Ephraim (Jos 17:15) and Manasseh (2Sa 18:6,8 -- east of Jordan).

BRIERS AND THORNS: Base and vile men (2Sa 23:6; Isa 33:12; Heb 6:8), who are destroyed to make way for better things.

Isa 9:20

EACH WILL FEED ON THE FLESH OF HIS OWN OFFSPRING: As, gruesomely, in Deu 28:53. Or, "they eat every man the flesh of his neighbour".

Isa 9:21

"It was a period when all sense of moral decency and social responsibility had disintegrated. It was a chaotic era such as the twentieth century has already achieved in modern Israel, where there has come about an unhappy fragmentation in politics, economics, and religion, and an exacerbation of social spirit such as would dismay utterly the idealism of the early Zionists. Both then and now the best comfort is in Isaiah's superbly eloquent promise of a Prince of Peace sitting on David's throne (vv 6,7). But modern Israel wants none of it" (WIsa 172).

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