Isaiah 7

 

וַיְהִי בִּימֵי אָחָז בֶּן־יוֹתָם בֶּן־עֻזִּיָּהוּ מֶלֶךְ יְהוּדָה עָלָה רְצִין מֶלֶךְ־אֲרָם וּפֶקַח בֶּן־רְמַלְיָהוּ מֶלֶךְ־יִשְׂרָאֵל   7:1 יְרוּשָׁלִַם לַמִּלְחָמָה עָלֶיהָ וְלֹא יָכֹל לְהִלָּחֵם עָלֶיהָ׃

Isai. 7:1   And it was in the days of Ahaz son of Jotham son of Uzziah, king of Judah, Rezin, king of Aram, went up with Pekah son of Remaliah, king of Israel, to Jerusalem to make war against it, but he was not able to prevail against it.

As we shall see, the last clause of this verse is an introductory summary to much of what transpires in this chapter.

וַיֻּגַּד לְבֵית דָּוִד לֵאמֹר נָחָה אֲרָם עַל־אֶפְרָיִם וַיָּנַע לְבָבוֹ וּלְבַב עַמּוֹ כְּנוֹעַ עֲצֵי־יַעַר מִפְּנֵי־רוּחַ׃   7:2

Isai. 7:2   And it was reported to the house of David saying, “Aram is a confederate to Ephraim.” And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, like the fluttering of the trees of the forest before a wind.

The pronoun his may refer to the evil king Ahaz (the house of David) or to someone in the royal court.  Rashi, the great Torah commentator of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, proposed that the name was not written here because of the king’s evil ways.

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־יְשַׁעְיָהוּ צֵא־נָא לִקְרַאת אָחָז אַתָּה וּשְׁאָר יָשׁוּב בְּנֶךָ אֶל־קְצֵה תְּעָלַת הַבְּרֵכָה   7:3 הָעֶלְיוֹנָה אֶל־מְסִלַּת שְׂדֵה כוֹבֵס׃

Isai. 7:3   And the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go forth now to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub, your son, to the end of the conduit of the upper pool, to the viaduct of the washing field,

The name Shear-jashub means a remnant shall return.  Not mentioned elsewhere in the bible, it is a very appropriate and symbolic name for the son of Isaiah.

וְאָמַרְתָּ אֵלָיו הִשָּׁמֵר וְהַשְׁקֵט אַל־תִּירָא וּלְבָבְךָ אַל־יֵרַךְ מִשְּׁנֵי זַנְבוֹת הָאוּדִים הָעֲשֵׁנִים הָאֵלֶּה   7:4 בָּחֳרִי־אַף רְצִין וַאֲרָם וּבֶן־רְמַלְיָהוּ׃

Isai. 7:4   and you shall say to him, ‘Take heed and be quiet; do not be afraid and let not your heart be made faint by these two tails of smoking brands with intensity of anger, Rezin with Aram, and the son of Remaliah.’”

יַעַן כִּי־יָעַץ עָלֶיךָ אֲרָם רָעָה אֶפְרַיִם וּבֶן־רְמַלְיָהוּ לֵאמֹר׃   7:5

Isai. 7:5   “’For the reason that Aram advised Ephraim and the son of Remaliah evil against you saying,

נַעֲלֶה בִיהוּדָה וּנְקִיצֶנָּה וְנַבְקִעֶנָּה אֵלֵינוּ וְנַמְלִיךְ מֶלֶךְ בְּתוֹכָהּ אֵת בֶּן־טָבְאַל׃   7:6

Isai. 7:6   ‘Let us go up against Judah and vex it and we will cut it up for ourselves, and we will set up the son of Tabeel as king in its midst,’

כֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה לֹא תָקוּם וְלֹא תִהְיֶה׃   7:7

Isai. 7:7   thus says the Lord, God:

                  ‘It will not be upheld

                           and it will not come to pass.’

כִּי רֹאשׁ אֲרָם דַּמֶּשֶׂק וְרֹאשׁ דַּמֶּשֶׂק רְצִין וּבְעוֹד שִׁשִּׁים וְחָמֵשׁ שָׁנָה יֵחַת אֶפְרַיִם מֵעָם׃   7:8

Isai. 7:8   ‘For Damascus is the head of Aram,

                          and Rezin is the head of Damascus,

                 and yet within sixty-five years

                          Ephraim shall be broken from being a people.’

This must refer to the fall of Samaria (see next verse), which occurred about sixty-five years after the middle of Ahaz’s reign.                                                                                                            [Return to Jere. 31:8]

וְרֹאשׁ אֶפְרַיִם שֹׁמְרוֹן וְרֹאשׁ שֹׁמְרוֹן בֶּן־רְמַלְיָהוּ אִם לֹא תַאֲמִינוּ כִּי לֹא תֵאָמֵנוּ׃   7:9

Isai. 7:9   And Samaria is the head of Ephraim,

                          and the son of Remaliah is the head of Samaria.

                  If you will not have faith,

                          surely you will not be established.’”

The last two English lines cannot be addressing Ahaz.  The two pronouns you are plural.  I suspect the words are either addressing all in the house of David or they are a general observation of the Lord’s wisdom addressed to anyone reading them.

וַיּוֹסֶף יְהוָה דַּבֵּר אֶל־אָחָז לֵאמֹר׃   7:10

Isai. 7:10   And the Lord spoke further to Ahaz saying,

שְׁאַל־לְךָ אוֹת מֵעִם יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ הַעְמֵק שְׁאָלָה אוֹ הַגְבֵּהַּ לְמָעְלָה׃   7:11

Isai. 7:11   “Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord, your God.  Ask it of the deep or of the heights above.”

וַיֹּאמֶר אָחָז לֹא־אֶשְׁאַל וְלֹא־אֲנַסֶּה אֶת־יְהוָה׃   7:12

Isai. 7:12   But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not try the Lord.”

וַיֹּאמֶר שִׁמְעוּ־נָא בֵּית דָּוִד הַמְעַט מִכֶּם הַלְאוֹת אֲנָשִׁים כִּי תַלְאוּ גַּם אֶת־אֱלֹהָי׃   7:13

Isai. 7:13   And he said, “Hear now, house of David, is it too trifling for you, wearying men, that you would weary as well my God?”

I’m fairly certain that the pronoun he in this verse refers to Isaiah, not to Ahaz.  Otherwise, why would he be speaking to the house of David (Ahaz is the head of the house of David)?  This question is in response to Ahaz refusing to ask for a sign.  Apparently, God has inspired Isaiah to give him a sign.  See the next verse.

לָכֵן יִתֵּן אֲדֹנָי הוּא לָכֶם אוֹת הִנֵּה הָעַלְמָה הָרָה וְיֹלֶדֶת בֵּן וְקָרָאת שְׁמוֹ עִמָּנוּ אֵל׃   7:14

Isai. 7:14   “For this, the Lord Himself will provide a sign for you.  Behold, the damsel has conceived and bears a son and she shall call his name Emanu-el.”

חֶמְאָה וּדְבַשׁ יֹאכֵל לְדַעְתּוֹ מָאוֹס בָּרָע וּבָחוֹר בַּטּוֹב׃   7:15

Isai. 7:15   “He shall eat curd and honey for his knowledge of rejecting evil and choosing good.”

כִּי בְּטֶרֶם יֵדַע הַנַּעַר מָאֹס בָּרָע וּבָחֹר בַּטּוֹב תֵּעָזֵב הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה קָץ מִפְּנֵי שְׁנֵי מְלָכֶיהָ׃   7:16

Isai. 7:16   “But before the child will know of rejecting evil and choosing good, the land that you are loathing shall be forsaken from before its two kings.”

These three verses, 7:14 to 7:16, comprising the sign the Lord is giving to Ahaz, are believed by Christians to be a prophecy about Jesus.  Taken out of context, it would appear to be so.  However, in context, it cannot possibly be such a prophecy.  These verses refer to something that is to happen in the life of Ahaz, as is more obviously described in the next verse.  Ahaz lived some 700 years before the birth of Jesus.  What transpires in the next chapter strongly supports this interpretation and decidedly opposes the Christian interpretation.  Moreover, the last four verses of this chapter offer a more likely explanation of the mysterious sign described in these three verses.

יָבִיא יְהוָה עָלֶיךָ וְעַל־עַמְּךָ וְעַל־בֵּית אָבִיךָ יָמִים אֲשֶׁר לֹא־בָאוּ לְמִיּוֹם סוּר־אֶפְרַיִם מֵעַל יְהוּדָה אֵת   7:17 מֶלֶךְ אַשּׁוּר׃

Isai. 7:17   “The Lord shall bring upon you and upon your people and upon the house of your fathers days that have not come since the time Ephraim turned away the king of Assyria from Judah.”

וְהָיָה בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא יִשְׁרֹק יְהוָה לַזְּבוּב אֲשֶׁר בִּקְצֵה יְאֹרֵי מִצְרָיִם וְלַדְּבוֹרָה אֲשֶׁר בְּאֶרֶץ אַשּׁוּר׃   7:18

Isai. 7:18   “And it shall be in that day,

                             the Lord shall hiss

                    for the flies that are on the shores

                             of the rivers of Egypt

                    and for the bees that are in the land of Assyria.”

The flies and bees are a metaphor for those who will come and conquer the northern kingdom

וּבָאוּ וְנָחוּ כֻלָּם בְּנַחֲלֵי הַבַּתּוֹת וּבִנְקִיקֵי הַסְּלָעִים וּבְכֹל הַנַּעֲצוּצִים וּבְכֹל הַנַּהֲלֹלִים׃   7:19

Isai. 7:19   “And all of them shall come

                              and land in the desolate valleys

                    and in the holes of rocks

                              and on all the thorns

                    and on all the brambles.”

בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא יְגַלַּח אֲדֹנָי בְּתַעַר הַשְּׂכִירָה בְּעֶבְרֵי נָהָר בְּמֶלֶךְ אַשּׁוּר אֶת־הָרֹאשׁ וְשַׂעַר הָרַגְלָיִם וְגַם   7:20 אֶת־הַזָּקָן תִּסְפֶּה׃

Isai. 7:20   “On that day the Master shall shave, with a razor hired on the other side of the River, with the king of Assyria, the head with the hair of the feet.  And then you shall scrape the beard.”

Along with the insects of the previous two verses, this is an additional metaphorical description of the destruction of the land.  The razor, having come from the other side of the River (Euphrates), is meant to be extra sharp.

וְהָיָה בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא יְחַיֶּה־אִישׁ עֶגְלַת בָּקָר וּשְׁתֵּי־צֹאן׃   7:21

Isai. 7:21   “And it shall be on that day, a man shall restore a heifer of a cow and two sheep.”

Once more, Isaiah employs a bit of symbolism to describe what little will be left in the land.

וְהָיָה מֵרֹב עֲשׂוֹת חָלָב יֹאכַל חֶמְאָה כִּי־חֶמְאָה וּדְבַשׁ יֹאכֵל כָּל־הַנּוֹתָר בְּקֶרֶב הָאָרֶץ׃   7:22

Isai. 7:22   “And it shall be, from the abundance of the production of milk, he shall eat curd, for everyone who is left in the midst of the land shall eat curd and honey.”

Here and in the remaining verses we have the explanation for vss. 7:14 to 7:16.  The damsel is Israel (the northern kingdom), the son who is born to her is the remnant of Ephraim.  It eats what is left in the land -- the curd from the cow’s milk and the honey from the “bees.”  Finally the next three verses describe the forsaken land.  The two kings are presumably the last king of Israel, Hoshea, and  the last king of Judah, Zedekiah (see the next chapter).  The first part of this prophecy happened in the midst of Ahaz’s reign.  Ahaz was king from approximately 732 B.C.E. to approximately 716.  The fall of Samaria occurred in about 723.  The rest of of it happened about 135 years later (the fall of Jerusalem).

וְהָיָה בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא יִהְיֶה כָל23.־מָקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יִהְיֶה־שָּׁם אֶלֶף גֶּפֶן בְּאֶלֶף כָּסֶף לַשָּׁמִיר וְלַשַּׁיִת יִהְיֶה׃   7:23

Isai. 7:23   “And it shall be on that day, every place where there would have been a thousand vines at a thousand pieces of silver, for briers and thorns it shall become.”

בַּחִצִּים וּבַקֶּשֶׁת יָבוֹא שָׁמָּה כִּי־שָׁמִיר וָשַׁיִת תִּהְיֶה כָל־הָאָרֶץ׃   7:24

Isai. 7:24   “One shall come there with arrows and with bow, for all the land shall become briers and thorns.”

וְכֹל הֶהָרִים אֲשֶׁר בַּמַּעְדֵּר יֵעָדֵרוּן לֹא־תָבוֹא שָׁמָּה יִרְאַת שָׁמִיר וָשָׁיִת וְהָיָה לְמִשְׁלַח שׁוֹר וּלְמִרְמַס   7:25 שֶׂה׃

Isai. 7:25   “And every one of the hills that they might have dug with a hoe, you will not go there, fearing the brier and the thorn, so it shall be for the sending forth of oxen and for the treading of sheep.”

 

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