Isa 7:1-9:7. Prediction of
the Ill Success of the Syro- Israelitish Invasion of
Judah—Ahaz's Alliance with
Assyria, and Its Fatal Results to Judea—Yet the Certainty of Final Preservation and of the Coming
In the Assyrian inscriptions the name of Rezin, king
of Damascus, is found among the tributaries of Tiglath-pileser, of
whose reign the annals of seventeen years have been deciphered. For the
historical facts in this chapter, compare 2Ki
15:37-16:9. Rezin of Syria
and Pekah of Israel, as confederates, advanced against Jerusalem. In
the first campaign they "smote Ahaz with a great slaughter" (2Ch 28:5). Their object was probably to
unite the three kingdoms against Assyria. Egypt seems to have favored
the plan, so as to interpose these confederate kingdoms between her own
frontier and Assyria (compare Isa 7:18, "Egypt"; and 2Ki 17:4, Hoshea's league with Egypt). Rezin and
Pekah may have perceived Ahaz' inclination towards Assyria rather than
towards their own confederacy; this and the old feud between Israel and
12:16) occasioned their
invasion of Judah. Ahaz, at the second inroad of his enemies
(compare 2Ch 28:1-26 and 2Ki 15:37, with Isa 16:5), smarting under his former
defeat, applied to Tiglath-pileser, in spite of Isaiah's warning in
this chapter, that he should rather rely on God; that king accordingly
attacked Damascus, and slew Rezin (2Ki 16:9); and probably it was at the same time
that he carried away part of Israel captive (2Ki 15:29), unless there were two assaults
on Pekah—that in 2Ki 15:29,
the earlier, and that in which Tiglath helped Ahaz subsequently [G. V.
Smith]. Ahaz was saved at the sacrifice
of Judah's independence and the payment of a large tribute, which
continued till the overthrow of Sennacherib under Hezekiah (Isa 37:37; 2Ki 16:8, 17, 18; 2Ch 28:20). Ahaz' reign began about 741 B.C., and Pekah was slain in 738 [Winer].
1. 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 (2Ki 15:37).
Syria—Hebrew, Aram (Ge 10:22,
23), originally the whole
region between the Euphrates and 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 (2Ki 16:5).
2. is confederate with—rather, 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 mention of "David" alludes, in sad contrast with the
present, to the time when David made Syria subject to him (2Sa 8:6).
Ephraim—the ten tribes.
as … trees of … wood—a
3. 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 securing it to the
city. So Isa 22:9; 2Ch 32:4.
Shearjashub—that is, A remnant shall
6:13). His very name (compare
7:14; Isa 8:3) was a standing
memorial to Ahaz and the Jews that the nation should not,
notwithstanding the general calamity (Isa 7:17-25; Isa 8:6-8), be utterly destroyed (Isa 10:21,
conduit—an aqueduct from the pool or
reservoir for the supply of the city. At the foot of Zion was Fount
Siloah (Isa 8:6; Ne 3:15; Joh 9:7), called also Gihon, on the west of
Jerusalem (2Ch 32:30).
Two pools were supplied from it, the Upper, or Old (Isa 22:11), or King's (Ne 2:14), and the Lower (Isa 22:9), which received the superfluous waters
of the upper. The upper pool is still to be seen, about seven hundred
yards from the Jaffa gate. The highway leading to the fullers' field,
which was in a position near water for the purposes of washing,
previous to drying and bleaching, the cloth, was probably alongside the
4. Take heed, &c.—that is, See
that thou be quiet (not seeking Assyrian aid in a fit of
tails—mere ends of firebrands,
almost consumed themselves (about soon to fall before the Assyrians,
Isa 7:8), therefore harmless.
smoking—as about to go out; not
son of Remaliah—Pekah, a usurper
15:25). The Easterners
express contempt by designating one, not by his own name, but by his
father's, especially when the father is but little known (1Sa 20:27, 31).
6. vex—rather, "throw into
make a breach—rather, "cleave it
asunder." Their scheme was to divide a large portion of the territory
between themselves, and set up a vassal king of their own over the
son of Tabeal—unknown; a
Syrian-sounding name, perhaps favored by a party in Jerusalem (Isa 3:6, 9,
7. (Isa 8:10; Pr 21:30).
8. head—that is, 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.
threescore and five … not a
people—As these words break the symmetry of the parallelism
in this verse, either they ought to be placed after "Remaliah's son,"
7:9, or else they refer to
some older prophecy of Isaiah, or of Amos (as the Jewish writers
represent), parenthetically; to which, in Isa 7:8, the words, "If ye will not believe
… not be established," correspond in parallelism. One
deportation of Israel happened within one or two years from this time,
under Tiglath-pileser (2Ki 15:29).
Another in the reign of Hoshea, under Shalmaneser (2Ki 17:1-6), was about twenty years after.
But the final one which utterly "broke" up Israel so as to be "not a
people," accompanied by a colonization of Samaria with foreigners, was
under Esar-haddon, who carried away Manasseh, king of Judah, also, in
the twenty-second year of his reign, sixty-five years from the
utterance of this prophecy (compare Ezr 4:2, 3, 10,
with 2Ki 17:24; 2Ch 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.
9. believe, … be established—There
is a paronomasia, or play on the words, in the Hebrew: "if ye
will not confide, ye shall not abide." Ahaz brought
distress on himself by distrust in the Lord, and trust in Assyria.
11. Ask thee—since thou dost not credit
the prophet's words.
sign—a miraculous token to assure thee
that God will fulfil His promise of saving Jerusalem (Isa 37:30;
38:7, 8). "Signs," facts then
present or near at hand as pledges for the more distant future, are
frequent in Isaiah.
ask … in …
depth—literally, "Make deep … ask it," that is, Go to
the depth of the earth or of Hades [Vulgate and Lowth], or, Mount high for it (literally,
"Make high"). So in Mt 16:1.
Signs in heaven are contrasted with the signs on earth and below
it (raising the dead) which Jesus Christ had wrought (compare Ro 10:6, 7). He offers Ahaz the widest limits
within which to make his choice.
12. neither … tempt—hypocritical
pretext of keeping the law (De 6:16);
"tempt," that is, put God to the proof, as in Mt 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 of God. Ahaz' true reason for declining was his resolve
not to do God's will, but to negotiate with Assyria, and persevere in
his idolatry (2Ki 16:7, 8, 3, 4, 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 Jehovah 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 heathen notion (Isa
10:10, 11; 36:18-20).
13. Is it a small thing?—Is it not
enough for you (Nu 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—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.
14. himself—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.
Behold—arresting attention to the
virgin—from a root, "to lie hid,"
virgins being closely kept from men's gaze in their parents' custody in
the East. The Hebrew, and the Septuagint here, and
Greek (Mt 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 second wife, and 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; its fullest
significancy is realized in "the woman" (Ge 3:15), whose seed should bruise the serpent's
head and deliver captive man (Jer 31:22; Mic 5:3). Language is selected such as, while
partially applicable to the immediate event, receives its
fullest, most appropriate, and exhaustive accomplishment in
Messianic events. The New Testament application of such prophecies is
not a strained "accommodation"; rather the temporary fulfilment of an
adaptation of the far-reaching prophecy to the present passing event,
which foreshadows typically the great central end of prophecy, Jesus
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 (Joh 1:14; Re
21:3), cannot in a strict
sense apply to Isaiah's son, but only to Him who is presently called
expressly (Isa 9:6), "the
Child, the Son, Wonderful (compare Isa 8:18), the mighty God." Local and
temporary features (as in Isa 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
call—that is, "she shall," or
as Margin, "thou, O Virgin, shalt call;" mothers often
named their children (Ge 4:1, 25; 19:37; 29:32). In Mt 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, as in its partial
fulfilment in her son; all shall then call (that is, not
literally), or regard Him as peculiarly and most fitly
characterized by the descriptive name, "Immanuel" (1Ti 3:16; Col
name—not mere appellation, which
neither Isaiah's son nor Jesus Christ bore literally; but what
describes His manifested attributes; His character (so Isa 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 Ghost has supplied this want
15. Butter—rather, curdled milk, the
acid of which is grateful in the heat of the East (Job 20:17).
honey—abundant in Palestine (Jud 14:8; 1Sa 14:25; Mt 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 (Lu 2:52). Isa 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 of food [Maurer].
that he may know—rather, until He
evil … choose … good—At
about three years of age moral consciousness begins (compare Isa 8:4; De 1:39; Jon 4:11).
16. For—The deliverance implied in the
name "Immanuel," and the cessation of distress as to food (Isa 7:14, 15), shall last only till the child
grows to know good and evil;
for … the land that … abhorrest
… forsaken of … kings—rather, desolate shall be
the land, before whose two kings thou art alarmed [Hengstenberg and Gesenius].
the land—namely, Syria and Samaria
regarded as one (2Ki 16:9; 15:30), just two years after this
prophecy, as it foretells. Horsley takes
it, "The land (Judah and Samaria) of (the former of) which thou art the
plague (literally, 'thorn') shall be forsaken," &c.; a prediction
thus, that Judah and Israel (appropriately regarded as one
"land") should cease to be kingdoms (Lu 2:1; Ge 49:10) before Immanuel came.
Isa 7:17-25. Fatal
Consequences of Ahaz' Assyrian Policy.
Though temporary deliverance (Isa 7:16; 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
23:29), and Judah shall be
the battlefield of both (Isa 7:18),
and be made tributary to that very Assyria (2Ch 28:20;
2Ki 16:7, 8) now about to be
called in as an ally (Isa 39:1-6). Egypt, too, should prove a fatal ally
(Isa 36:6; 31:1, &c.).
18. hiss—whistle, to bring bees to
settle (see on Isa 5:26).
fly—found in numbers about the arms of
the Nile and the canals from it (Isa 19:5-7; 23:3), here called "rivers." Hence arose the
plague of flies (Ex 8:21).
Figurative, for numerous and troublesome foes from the
remotest parts of Egypt, for example, Pharaoh-nechoh.
bee—(De 1:44; Ps 118:12). As numerous in Assyria as the fly in
marshy Egypt. Sennacherib, Esar-haddon, and Nebuchadnezzar fulfilled
19. rest—image of flies and bees kept
up. The enemy shall overspread the land everywhere, even in
thorns—wild, contrasted with "bushes,"
which were valued and objects of care (see Margin).
20. razor—The Assyrians are to be God's
instrument of devastating Judea, just as a razor sweeps away all
hair before it (Isa 10:5; Eze 29:19, 20).
hired—alluding to Ahaz' hiring (2Ki 16:7,
8) Tiglath-pileser against
Syria and Israel; namely,
by them beyond the river—namely, the
Euphrates; the eastern boundary of Jewish geographical knowledge (Ps 72:8); the river which Abram crossed;
the Nile also may be included (Isa 7:18) [G. V.
Smith]. Gesenius translates,
"With a razor hired in the parts beyond the river."
head … feet—the whole
body, including the most honored parts. To cut the "beard" is the
greatest indignity to an Easterner (Isa 50:6; 2Sa 10:4, 5;
Isa 7:21-25. The Coming
Desolate State of the Land Owing to the Assyrians and
21. nourish—that is, own.
young cow—a heifer giving milk.
Agriculture shall cease, and the land become one great
22. abundance—by reason of the wide
range of land lying desolate over which the cows and sheep (including
goats) may range.
butter—thick milk, or
honey—(See on Isa
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.
23. where there were, &c.—where up
to that time there was so valuable a vineyard as to have in it a 1000
vines, worth a silverling (shekel, about 2s. 3d.;
a large price) each, there shall be only briers (So 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.
24. It shall become a vast hunting ground,
abounding in wild beasts (compare Jer 49:19).
25. shall be—rather, "were once."
digged—in order to plant and rear
there shall not come—that is, none
shall come who fear thorns, seeing that thorns shall abound on all
sides [Maurer]. Otherwise, "Thou shalt
not come for fear of thorns" [Gesenius]. Only cattle shall be able to penetrate
the briery ground.
lesser cattle—sheep and goats.