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the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 7

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.

Ahaz. In the first years of his reign the design of the two kings against Judah was carried out, which was formed in Jotham's reign (2 Kings 15:37).

Syria - Hebrew, Aram (Genesis 10:22-23), originally the whole region between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean, including Assyria, of which Syria is an abbreviation; here the region round Damascus, and along mount Libanus.

Jerusalem. An actual siege of it took place, but was foiled (2 Kings 16:5).

Verse 2

And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.

And it was told the house of David (Ahaz and his household), saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim - is encamped upon the territory of Ephraim (Maurer); or better, as Rezin was encamped against Jerusalem, 'is supported by' (Lowth) Ephraim, whose land lay between Syria and Judah. The Septuagint, Chaldaic, Syriac, and Arabic give much the same sense as the English version. Literally, 'rests upon Ephraim' [ naachaah (H5117), from nuwach, akin to chaanah, to confide] The mention of "David" alludes, in sad contrast with the present, to the time when David made Syria subject to him (2 Samuel 8:6).

Ephraim - the ten tribes.

And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind

- a simultaneous agitation and alarm.

Verse 3

Then said the LORD unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field;

Go forth now to meet Ahaz - Go forth out of the city, to the place where Ahaz was superintending the works for defense, and the cutting off of the water supply from the enemy, and the securing of it to the city. So Isaiah 22:9; 2 Chronicles 32:4.

Shear-jashub - i:e., a remnant shall return (Isaiah 6:13). His very name (cf. 5:14; 8:3) was a standing memorial to Ahaz and the Jews that the nation should not, notwithstanding the general calamity (Isaiah 7:17-25; Isaiah 8:6-8), be utterly destroyed, (Isaiah 10:1-34; Isaiah 21:1-17; Isaiah 32:1-20).

At the end of the conduit of the upper pool - an aqueduct from the pool or reservoir for the supply of the city. At the foot of Zion was fount Shiloah (Isaiah 8:6; Nehemiah 3:15; John 9:7), called also (Gihon, on the west of Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 32:30, "Hezekiak also stopped the upper water-course of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David "). Two pools were supplied from it, the Upper, or Old (Isaiah 22:11), or King's (Nehemiah 2:14), and the Lower (Isaiah 22:9), which received he superfluous waters of the upper. The upper pool is still to be seen, about 700 yards from the Jaffa gate. The highway leading to the fuller's field, which was in a position near water, for the purposes of washing, previous to drying and bleaching the cloth, was probably alongside the aqueduct.

Verse 4

And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah.

Take heed, and be quiet; fear not - i:e., see that thou be quiet (not seeking Assyrian aid in a fit of panic).

Neither be faint-hearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands - mere ends of firebrands almost consumed themselves (about soon to fall before the Assyrians, Isaiah 7:8), therefore harmless.

Smoking - as about to go out; not blazing.

The son of Remaliah - Pekah, an usurper, having killed Pekahiah, the preceding king (2 Kings 15:25). The Easterns express contempt by designating one, not by his own name, but by the father's, especially when the father is but little known (1 Samuel 20:27; 1 Samuel 20:31).

Verse 5

Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 6

Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal:

Let us go up against Judah, and vex it - throw it into consternation (Gesenius) [nªqiytsenaah, from quwts (H6972), to affect with weariness]. Let us weary it out with a long siege (Mercer). So the same verb means in Proverbs 3:11.

Let us make a breach - rather, cleave it asunder. The Hebrew verb baaqa` (H1234), to divide in two. Their scheme was to divide a large portion of the territory between themselves, and set up a vassal-king of their own over the rest. Son of Tabeal - unknown; a Syrian sounding name, perhaps favoured by a party in Jerusalem (Isaiah 8:6; Isaiah 8:9; Isaiah 8:12).

Verse 7

Thus saith the Lord GOD, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.

It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass - (Isaiah 8:10; Proverbs 21:30.)

Verse 8

For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people.

The head of Syria (is) Damascus, and the head of Damascus (is) Rezin - i:e., in both Syria and Israel the capital shall remain as it is: they shall not conquer Judah, but each shall possess only his own dominions.

Within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people. As these words break the symmetry of the parallelism in this verse, either they ought to be place, after "Remaliah's son," in Isaiah 7:9, or else they refer to some older prophecy of Isaiah, or of Amos (as the Jewish writers represent), parenthetically; to which, in Isaiah 7:9 the words "If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established" correspond in parallelism. One deportation of Israel happened within one or two years from this time, under Tiglath-pileser (2 Kings 15:29). Another, in the reign of Hoshea, under Shalmaneser (2 Kings 17:1-6), was about 20 years after. But the final one, which utterly 'broke' up Israel so as to be "not a people," accompanied by colonization of Samaria with foreigners, was under Esarhaddon, who carried away Manasseh, king of Judah, also, in the 22nd year of his reign, 65 years from the utterance of this prophecy (cf. Ezra 4:2-3; Ezra 4:10, with 2 Kings 17:24; 2 Chronicles 33:11) (Usher). The event, though so far off, was enough to assure the people of Judah that as God, the Head of the theocracy, would ultimately interpose to destroy the enemies of His people, so they might rely on Him now.

Verse 9

And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.

If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established. There is a paronomasia, or play on the words in the, Hebrew, 'If ye, will not confide, ye shall not abide' - ta'ªmiynuw (H539), tee'aameenuw (H539). Ahaz brought distress on himself by distrust in the Lord, and trust in Assyria.

Verse 10

Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 11

Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.

Ask thee a sign of (literally, from with-Hebrew, mee`im (H5973 ); Chaldaic, from the face of) the Lord thy God - since thou dost not credit the prophet's words.

A sign - a miraculous token, to assure thee that God will fulfill His promise of saving Jerusalem (Isaiah 37:30; Isaiah 38:7-8). 'Signs,' i:e., miraculous facts then present or near at hand, as pledges for the more distant future, are frequent in Isaiah.

Ask it either in the depth - literally, make deep, ask it; i:e., go to the depth of the earth or of Hades (Vulgate), or, mount high for it (literally, make high). So in Matthew 16:1. Signs in heaven are contrasted with the signs on earth and below it (raising the dead) which Jesus Christ had performed (cf. Romans 10:6-7). He offers Ahaz the widest limits within which to make his choice.

Verse 12

But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.

I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord - hypocritical pretext of keeping the law (Deuteronomy 6:16). "Tempt,"

i.e., put God to the proof, as in Matthew 4:7, by seeking His miraculous interposition without warrant. But here there was the warrant of the prophet of God: to have asked a sign when thus offered would not have been a tempting, but a trusting of God. Not to ask a sign when God offered one, in order to elicit faith from him, was tempting, in addition to distrusting Him. Ahaz' true reason for declining was his resolve not to do God's will, but to negotiate with Assyria, and persevere in his idolatry (2 Kings 16:7-8; 2 Kings 3:4; 2 Kings 3:10). Men often excuse their distrust in God, and trust in their own devices, by professed reverence for God. Ahaz may have fancied that though Yahweh was the God of Judea, and could work a sign there, that was no proof that the local god of Syria might not be more powerful. Such was the common pagan notion (Isaiah 10:10-11; Isaiah 36:18-20)).

Verse 13

And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?

Hear ye now, O house of David; (is it) a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Is it not enough for you? (Numbers 16:9.) The allusion to "David" is in order to contrast his trust, in God with his degenerate descendant Ahaz' distrust.

Weary - try the patience of.

Men - the prophets. Isaiah as yet had given no outward proof that he was from God; but now God has offered a sign, which Ahaz publicly rejects. The sin is therefore now not, merely against "men," but openly against "God." Isaiah's manner therefore changes from mildness to bold reproof.

Verse 14

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign - since thou wilt not ask a sign, nay, rejectest the offer of one.

You - for the sake of the house of believing "David" (God remembering His everlasting covenant with David), not for unbelieving Ahaz sake. God had guaranteed the perpetuity of David's throne in the person of Messiah, David's seed (2 Samuel 7:16: cf. Ethan's psalm, Psalms 89:35-37; Psalms 132:11). Ahaz should have believed in God's promise, which made it impossible that the scheme of the two invading kings to set aside David's line of succession should succeed.

Behold - arresting attention to the extraordinary prophecy.

A virgin - from a root, to lie hid, virgins being closely kept from men's gaze in their parents' custody in the East The Hebrew [ haa`almaah (H5959)] and the Septuagint here, and Greek [ hee (G3588) parthenos (G3933)], Matthew 1:23, have the article, the virgin, some definite one known to the speaker and his hearers; primarily, the woman, then a virgin, about immediately to become the prophet's second wife, and to bear a child, whose attainment of the age of discrimination (about three years) should be preceded by the deliverance of Judah from its two invaders. The term ha'mah denotes a girl of marriageable age, but not married, and therefore a virgin by implication. Bethulah is the term more directly expressing virginity of a bride or betrothed wife (Joel 1:8). Its fullest significancy is realized in "the woman" (Genesis 3:15) whose 'seed should bruise the serpent's head,' and deliver captive man (Jeremiah 31:21-22, "O virgin of Israel, turn again ... for the Lord hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man;" Micah 5:3, "Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth"). Language is selected such as, while partially applicable to the immediate event, receives its fullest and most appropriate and exhaustive accomplishment in Messianic events.

The New Testament application of such prophecies is not a strained 'accommodation;' rather the temporary fulfillment is an adaptation of the far-reaching prophecy to the present passing event, which foreshadows typically the great central end of prophecy, Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:10). Evidently the wording is such as to apply more fully to Jesus Christ than to the prophet's son. "Virgin" applies in its simplest sense, to the Virgin Mary, rather than to the prophetess, who ceased to be a virgin when she "conceived." "Immanuel," God with us (John 1:14; Revelation 21:3), cannot in a strict sense apply to Isaiah's son, but only to Him who is presently called expressly (Isaiah 9:6), 'the Child, the Son, Wonderful (cf. Isaiah 8:18), the mighty God.' The inspired authority of Matthew 1:23 decides the Messianic reference; for it cannot be a mere 'accommodation' of Scripture, since the Evangelist saith, "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of, the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin," etc. Local and temporary features (as Isaiah 7:15-16) are added in every type: otherwise it would be no type, but the thing itself. There are resemblances to the great antitype sufficient to be recognized by those who seek them-dissimilarities enough to confound those who do not desire to discover them.

Shall conceive, and bear (Hebrew, is with child, and beareth) a son, and shall call his name Immanuel, -

i.e., she shall. So the Chaldaic, margin, and Septuagint, thou, O Virgin, shalt call. [But then the shªwa (ª) would be written under the Hebrew letter tau (t). The Hebrew verb is feminine in termination.] Mothers often named their children (Genesis 4:1; Genesis 4:25; Genesis 19:37; Genesis 29:32). In Matthew 1:23 the expression is strikingly changed into "they shall call." When the prophecy received its full accomplishment, no longer is the name Immanuel restricted to the prophetess' view of His character in its partial fulfillment in her son: all shall then call or regard Him as peculiarly and mostly fitly characterized by the descriptive name "Immanuel" (1 Timothy 3:16, "God was manifest in the flesh:" Colossians 2:9).

His name - not mere appellation, which neither Isaiah's son nor Jesus Christ bore literally; but what describes His manifested attributes; His character (so Isaiah 9:6). The name, in its proper destination, was not arbitrary, but characteristic of the individual. Sin destroyed the faculty of perceiving the internal being; hence, the severance now between the name and the character: in the case of Jesus Christ, and many in Scripture, the Holy Spirit has supplied this want (Olshausen).

Verse 15

Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.

Butter (Hebrew: chem'aah (H2529)) - rather, Curdled milk, the acid of which is grateful in the heat of the East (Job 20:17).

And honey shall he eat - i:e., he shall be fed with the usual food of children in the East. The invasion by these two kings, though it cause distress, shall not prevent his having the ordinary nourishment of children up to the time of the invasion ceasing. Honey is abundant in Palestine (Judges 14:8; 1 Samuel 14:25; Matthew 3:4). Physicians directed that the first food given to a child should be honey, the next milk (Barnabas Epistle). Horsley takes this as implying the real humanity of the Immanuel, Jesus Christ, about to be fed as other infants (Luke 2:52). But Isaiah 7:15-16 refer mainly to the typical child of the prophetess. Isaiah 7:22 shows that, besides the fitness of milk and honey for children, a state of distress of the inhabitants is also implied, when, by reason of the invaders, milk and honey, things produced spontaneously, shall be the only abundant articles or food.

That he may know - rather (Hebrew, lªda`ªtow (H3045)), with Chaldaic, until He shall know. So the Hebrew preposition lª- is used in 2 Samuel 13:2.

To refuse the evil, and choose the good. At about three years of age moral consciousness begins (cf. Isaiah 8:4; Deuteronomy 1:39; Jonah 4:11).

Verse 16

For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

For before the child shall know to refuse the evil (Hebrew, in respect to the evil), and choose the good

(Hebrew, in respect to the good). The alarm as to the foe, and the distress as to food (Isaiah 7:14-15) shall last only until the child grows to know good and evil: for, etc.

The land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings - rather desolate shall be the land, before the face of whose two kings thou art alarmed (DeDieu and Gesenius).

The land - namely, Syria and Samaria regarded as one, just two years after this prophecy, lost both the kings, as it foretells. Hoshea, the son of Elah, conspired against Pekah, and slew him. Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria, killed Rezin (2 Kings 15:30; 2 Kings 16:9). Horsley takes it, 'the land (Judah and Samaria) of (the former of) which thou art the plague (literally, thorn; Hebrew, qaats (H6973) or qowts) shall be forsaken,' etc: a prediction thus that Judah and Israel (appropriately regarded as one "land") should cease to be kingdoms (Luke 2:1; Genesis 49:10) before Immanuel came. But the term of three years, defined by the interval from the typical child's birth to his conscious ability to know good said evil, marks rather the time of Judah's comparative distress, until it should be completely delivered by the death of the two invading kings. The Hebrew, too, [ qaats (H6973),] hardly bears the meaning thorn [ qowts (H6975)].

Though temporary deliverance (Isaiah 7:16; Isaiah 8:4) was to be given then, and final deliverance through Messiah, sore punishment shall follow the former. After subduing Syria and Israel, the Assyrians shall encounter Egypt (2 Kings 23:29), and Judah shall be the battle- field of both (Isaiah 7:18), and be made tributary to that very Assyria (2 Kings 16:7-8), now about to be called in by Ahaz the king of Judah as an ally. Compare 2 Chronicles 28:20, "Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came unto him, and distressed him, but strengthened him not." Egypt, too, should prove a fatal ally, (Isaiah 36:6; Isaiah 31:1, etc.)

Verse 17

The LORD shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father's house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 18

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.

The Lord shall hiss-whistle to bring bees to settle (note, Isaiah 5:26).

For the fly - found in numbers about the arms of the Nile, and the canals from it (Isaiah 19:5-7; Isaiah 23:3), here called "rivers." Hence, arose the plaque of flies (Exodus 8:21). Figurative for numerous and troublesome foes from the remotest parts of Egypt-e.g., Pharaoh-necho, who slew King Josiah at Megiddo, when the latter went against him, because the Egyptian king was going up against the King of Assyria (2 Kings 23:29-30).

And for the bee (Deuteronomy 1:44; Psalms 118:12) - as numerous in Assyria as the fly in marshy Egypt. Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, and Nebuchadnezzar fulfilled this prediction.

Verse 19

And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes.

They ... shall rest - image of flies and bees kept up.

All of them in the desolate valleys - the enemy shall overspread the land everywhere, even in "desolate valleys."

And upon all thorns, and upon all bushes - wild, contrasted with "bushes" which were valued and objects of care (see margin, nahaloliym (H5285) 'commendable trees:' could be from haalal (H1984), to praise). So Chaldaic, 'houses of praise.' There shall be no place of escape; for the enemy shall come down upon the houses of the poor, as well as the places of the great.

Verse 20

In the same day shall the Lord shave with a rasor that is hired, namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard.

In the same day shall the Lord shave with a razor. The Assyrians are to be God's instrument of devastating Judea, just as a razor sweeps away all hair before it (Isaiah 10:5; Isaiah 10:20).

Hired - alluding to Ahaz' hiring (2 Kings 16:7-8) Tiglath, pileser against Syria and Israel. Compare Ezekiel 5:1. etc.; 29:19,20.

(Namely), by them beyond the river - namely, the Euphrates, the eastern boundary of Jewish geographical knowledge (Psalms 72:8); the river which Abram crossed. Gesenius translates, 'with a razor hired in the parts beyond the river.'

The head ... feet - the whole body, including the most honoured parts.

It shall also consume the beard. To cut the "beard" is the greatest indignity to an Eastern (Isaiah 50:6; 2 Samuel 10:4-5; Ezekiel 5:1).

Verse 21

And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep;

In that day ... a man shall nourish - i:e., own.

A young cow - a heifer giving milk.

And two sheep - a few sheep, or she-goats yielding milk. Agriculture shall cease, and the land become one great pasturage.

Verse 22

And it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk that they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land.

For the abundance of milk (that) they shall give - by reason of the wide range of land lying desolate over which the cows and sheep (including goats) may range.

That he shall eat butter - thick milk, or cream.

Honey - (note, Isaiah 7:15.) Food of spontaneous growth will be the resource of the few inhabitants left. Honey shall be abundant, as the bees will find the wild flowers abounding everywhere.

Verse 23

And it shall come to pass in that day, that every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, it shall even be for briers and thorns.

Where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, it shall (even) be for briers and thorns - where up to that time there was so valuable a vineyard as to have in it 1,000 vines, worth a silverling (shekel, about 2s. 3d.; a large price) each, there shall be only briers (Song of Solomon 8:11). Vineyards are estimated by the number of the vines and the goodness of the kind of vine. Judea admits of a high state of cultivation, and requires it in order to be productive: its present barrenness is due to neglect.

Verse 24

With arrows and with bows shall men come thither; because all the land shall become briers and thorns.

With arrows and with bows shall (men) come there. It shall become a vast hunting-ground, abounding in wild beasts (cf. Jeremiah 49:19).

Verse 25

And on all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, there shall not come thither the fear of briers and thorns: but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle.

And (on) all hills that shall be - rather, that were once. Digged - in order to plant and rear vines (Isaiah 5:6).

There shall not come there the fear of (namely, those who fear) briers and thorns - i:e., none shall come who fear thorns, seeing that thorns shall abound on all sides (Maurer). Otherwise, 'thou shalt not come for fear of briers and thorns.

But it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle - only cattle shall be able to penetrate the briers ground.

Lesser cattle - sheep and goats. However, the English version of the whole verse gives a good sense. Men in time of invasion take refuge in the hills (Jeremiah 3:23). On them, therefore, alone there should be no fear of thorns coming, but they should be fit pasture whereon to send forth oxen and lesser cattle. This implies a wretched state, when the plains shall be deserted through fear, and the hills alone be cultivated by the few who escape. So Calvin. Grotius explains it, there should be no thorn hedges to prevent the cattle going in and treading down the hill-sides, where once there were fenced, vineyards. I prefer the English version in Calvin's explanation. Compare Isaiah 7:23-24, which contain the antithesis, "all the land shall become briers and thorns," whereas on "all the hills there shall not come briers and thorns." The "thorns" cannot well mean a thorn hedge, but must mean a sign of desolation in this verse, as in the two former verses.

Remarks: When the enemies of the Lord's people conspire together for their destruction, the counsel of the wicked "shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass." The ungodly persecutors, in their "fierce anger" are but as 'tails of smoking firebrands.' So far shall they be from consuming the saints, as they attempt, that they shall themselves be consumed, and go out in utter darkness. The duty of God's servants in times of trial is, not to give way to 'fear and faint-heartedness,' but in 'quiet' self-possession to believe in the promises of the Lord: so shall they "be established." Trust in man, and distrust toward God, are the great hindrances to our peace of mind and to our solid security. God, with exceeding long-suffering, holds out incentives to stimulate faith, as He offered a sign to Ahaz, who was slow to believe His goodness. He saith to us also, "Ask, and it shall be given you." It is not humility, but carnality and unbelief, which cause men to be so slow in accepting so gracious an offer. Ahaz refused the offer of God, saying, "I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord." Yet presently afterward this same man had no scruple to use Yahweh's brazen altar to divine with, and to substitute for the altar of God, in the worship of God, an altar formed from an idolatrous pattern which he had seen at Damascus. What vile hypocrisy it is to make the letter of some Scripture passage the pretext for flagrantly violating its spirit, and to mask our perverse self-will, crooked devices, unbelief, and will-worship, with the plea of sanctimonious regard for the honour of God.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 7". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/isaiah-7.html. 1871-8.
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