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Saturday, September 23rd, 2023
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 7

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-25

Isaiah 7:1 . In the days of Ahaz, the second or the third year of his reign. Chapters 5. and 6. are therefore out of place.

Isaiah 7:6 . Let us go up against Judah and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal. The rabbins make him to be a relative of the reigning family in Samaria. They gave away David’s throne before they had conquered it!

Isaiah 7:8 . The head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin. But Jerusalem now had the Lord for her head. Within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken. Of the accomplishment of this prophecy, no doubt is entertained. The difficulty lies in the dates. Our old English annotations read, within six and five years; that is, within eleven years. But this liberty does not agree with the Hebrew mode of writing. Dr. Lightfoot dates the sixty five years from the twenty third of Uzziah, in which year, he thinks, Isaiah began to prophesy. The opinion more generally received is, that Isaiah speaks of the second and full deportation of the ten tribes. The first was by Shalmaneser, who took Samaria in the ninth year of Hoshea, 2 Kings 18:8; and in the twenty fourth of Ahaz. The second and total carrying away was about sixty five years afterwards, when Ezarhaddon, whose captain took Manasseh when he cowardly fled to the thorns, and brought him to Babylon, which empire was probably then in league with the Assyrian. Thus Ephraim was “broken,” and denationalized.

Isaiah 7:9 . If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established. I speak to you by the Word of the Lord. I speak with the sign of my son in my hand. If ye will not believe, if ye fight with the allied kings in unbelief and despair, you will utterly be routed, and your country ruined.

Isaiah 7:14 . Behold, a virgin shall conceive. Hebrews עלמה alma, halmah. The LXX, παρθενος , a virgin. The Chaldaic and the targums of Onkelos and of Jonathan have virgin, or damsel that has not known a man. The same Hebrew word is given to Rebekah, Genesis 24:43; “when the virgin comes to draw water.” So Psalms 68:25. “The virgins playing with timbrels,” who followed David, playing before the ark. The name of the Son that the virgin should bear, Immanuel, God with us, is equally striking. The Holy Ghost, foreseeing what opposition would be made by unbelievers, has also described the kingdom of the virgin’s Son: Isaiah 8:8. The king of Assyria “shall fill the breadth of thy land, oh Immanuel.” The whole therefore of David’s land, overrun by the Assyrians, was the land of this Immanuel.

Now, as this text was a glorious pillar in favour of the divine and human geniture of Christ, it might easily be conceived that the Jews would do all in their power to set aside its force. Accordingly we find Justin Martyr, in his dialogues with Trypho the Jew, accusing them of falsifying both the Hebrew text and the Greek version, by translating alma, Νεανισκη , “a young woman” shall conceive and bear a son, namely, the wife of king Ahaz! Truly a lost case. Why say behold? What is more common than for a young wife to have a child? We know not that Ahaz had any son, except king Hezekiah, who was already born; and of an unborn and unknown prince, why should all western Asia be called, Thy land, oh Immanuel? The Jew is completely bewildered here; he can find no such king, no such kingdom. This argument in strengthened by reference to Amos 2:7, where a young woman that had known a man is called παιδικη .

Isaiah 7:15 . Butter and honey shall he eat. The food of children in Judea was rich milk, sweetened with honey, as in most other nations. This designates the divine wisdom and knowledge which were in Christ, for he had meat to eat which the world knew nothing of.

Isaiah 7:16 . Before the child shall know. Meaning now Shear-jashub, whom he then held by the hand; even before he shall know to refuse evil and choose good, the land shall be desolate, by whose two kings thou art distressed. Ahaz had hired Tiglath-Pileser, the Lord’s sharp razor, who invaded Damascus and slew Rezin, 2 Kings 16:9; and previous to that time Hoshea had slain Pekah. 2 Kings 15:30. By these means Ahaz obtained some repose, but he utterly impoverished his country, and taught the Assyrians the way to Egypt, and all western Asia.

“In Dr. Blair’s tables of chronology we read, that the last deportation of the ten tribes was by Esarhaddon, who carried away the remains of the ten tribes which had been left by Tiglath-Pileser, and who planted the country with new inhabitants. Ezra 4:2. This happened in the sixty fifth year from the second year of Ahaz, as is probable for the following reasons. In the Hebrew book, Seder ôlam, and the talmudists in David Kimchi, on Ezekiel 4:0., say that Manasseh was carried to Babylon by the captains of the king of Assyria in the twenty second year of his reign; that is, before Christ six hundred and seventy six years.” 2 Chronicles 33:11. Dr. Jubb.

Isaiah 7:17-25 . The Lord shall bring upon thee the king of Assyria. The Messiah’s birth being foretold, and the glory of the church secured in him, the casting away of Israel is next denounced, and in figures which paralyse the heart. As a prelude to the tragedy, the Lord would hiss for the fly of Egypt, Pharaoh Necho, who should dispose of David’s throne at pleasure. Next, the bee beyond the Euphrates should sting them. The king of Assyria, the hired razor, should shave the venerable and silver locks of Judah, figures of most humiliating and piercing grief. Or as Habakkuk understood our prophet, the invaders should devour the figtree, and consume the vine; and cut off all the flocks from the fields, and the herds from the stalls. The scattered families that should be left, would have the country to themselves; their one cow, and two sheep, should yield a plentiful supply, because of the paucity of men. Oh Zion, wherewith shalt thou be comforted!


The idolaters in Judah had surely shot out the tongue, and rejoiced for two years, before Judah was covered with a cloud, and left bleeding and weeping. But the help of men and nations in the day of trouble is in the Lord; yea, the wicked Ahaz was helped and saved because of the remnant which the Lord had left in the land. When good Uzziah died, the Lord discovered himself high enthroned in his sanctuary; and now when apostate Ephraim and the cruel Syrian leagued against his church, he sent Isaiah to predict the safety of his people, and the destruction of both their foes. Hence we see the never-ceasing care of providence over the church, and fresh grounds for reposing unlimited confidence in the Lord.

The circumstances of this prophecy, which Isaiah delivered to Ahaz, tend very much to the credit of revelation and the help of faith. He foretold the speedy destruction of the two misguided kings, and the total annihilation of Ephraim in a period which many of them should live to see. He limited the death of the two kings by the arrival of his son at an age to distinguish good from evil, by living on substantial food; for God will not expose too much the secrets of his counsel, by always fixing the exact dates, when he would make the fall of those men a sure omen of the fall of their kingdoms. How greatly infatuated are those who meddle with God and his people. He connected the singular emancipation of Judah, now greatly weakened by preseding wars, with the redemption of the world by the Messiah. Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, who shall redeem us from sin and Satan, death and hell. Matthew 1:10. The birth of this Son should be a sign or miracle, like the sign of the prophet Jonah. He should be the woman’s seed, heavenly in his origin, and immaculate in his conception. He shall be as his name, “Immanuel,” God with us. God manifested in the flesh. The beloved Son of the Father. The Son, who is over all, God blessed for ever. The Son of God himself, sent into the world. Romans 8:3. The great God, and our Lord Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever.

How condescending is the Lord, to help the weakness of our faith. Behold he pledges himself by the death of Pekah and Rezin, and by the fall of Ephraim, that the Messiah’s kingdom shall rise, and shall break in pieces all who shall dare to conspire against it. Here wavering Judah had a double sign, that they might believe the Lord, and be established. Yea, every vestige of the desolations of the ten tribes, and the fruits of their apostasy, announced the approach and everlasting glory of the Messiah’s kingdom.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Isaiah 7". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/isaiah-7.html. 1835.
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