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Isaiah 7

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
War Against Jerusalem Isaiah Sent to King Ahaz Isaiah and The Syro Ephraimite War
(7:1:-8:15)
A Message for King Ahaz Isaiah Intervenes
7:1-2 7:1-2 7:1-2 7:1 7:1-2
      7:2  
7:3-9 7:3-9 7:3-9 7:3-6 7:3-9
  (7b-9) (7b-9) 7:7-9a (7b-9)
      7:9b  
The Child Immanuel The Immanuel Prophecy Sign of Immanuel The Sign of Immanuel Isaiah Intervenes Again
7:10-17 7:10-17 7:10-17 7:10-11 7:10-12
(11)
      7:12  
      7:13-16 (13b-17)
      7:17 Prediction of An Invasion
7:18-20 7:18-22 7:18-19 7:18-19 7:18-25
  (18-19)     (18-25)
  (20) 7:20 7:20  
7:21-22 (21-22) 7:21-22 7:21-22  
7:23-25 7:23-25 7:23-25 7:23-25  
  (23-24)      
  (25)      

 

READING CYCLE THREE (see introduction)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

BACKGROUND STUDY

A. This literary unit (chapters 7-12) is often called "Immanuel's Book" because the constant theme is the marvelous child of the new age that will be born to deliver and restore the people of God.

 

B. The setting of this passage is the historical events involved in the Syro-Ephraimate war about 735-733 b.c. and the invasion of Syria and Palestine by Assyria under Tiglath-Pileser III (also called Pul, cf. II Kgs. 15:19).

1. chapters 7-10:4 are dated around 735 b.c. (days of Tiglath-Pileser III, 745-729 b.c.)

2. chapters 10:5-34 are dated around 701 b.c. (days of Sennacherib, 705-681 b.c.)

3. chapters 11:1-12:26 foreshadows the Messianic Age.

 

C. This entire section deals with children as symbols of historical events

1. Isaiah's first child (Shear-Jashub), 7:3

2. the child as a sign to Ahaz, 7:14-16

3. Isaiah's second child (Maher-shalal-hash-baz), 8:1,3

4. The Messiah as a child, 7:14; 9:6-7, 11:1-5

5. The children of the new age, 11:6-9

 

D. Read the following parallel historical accounts

1. chapter 7-10:4 read II Kings 16 and II Chronicles 28

2. chapter 10:5-34 read II Kings 18:17-20:11 and II Chronicles 32:9-24

 

E. There is a contrast between the lack of faith shown by King Ahaz and the faith shown by his son, King Hezekiah (cf. 37:14-20,30). Remember that the main character in Scripture is God! He wants to be with His people (i.e., Immanuel) but their faith/trust is crucial!

 

WORD PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED)TEXT: 7:1-2
1Now it came about in the days of Ahaz, the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Aram and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but could not conquer it. 2When it was reported to the house of David, saying, "The Arameans have camped in Ephraim," his heart and the hearts of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake with the wind.

7:1 "in the days of Ahaz" Ahaz reigned from 735-715 b.c. The setting of this chapter is the invasion of Judah by both Syria and Israel because Judah would not participate in their military coalition against Assyria.

▣ "Pekah" He was the usurper of the throne (i.e., dates of his reign, Bright, 737-732; Young, 736-730; NIV Study Bible, 752-732) of the Northern Ten Tribes. See Chart of "Kings of the Divided Monarchy" in Appendix Four, #3.

7:2 "it was reported to the house of David" This refers to a report given to the entire royal family or the report was made public at court.

NASB"has camped in"
NKJV"are deployed in"
NRSV"had allied it with"
TEV"were already in"
NJB"has halted in"
LXX"has conspired with"
Peshitta"is confederate with"
REB"had made an alliance with"

The verb (BDB 628, KB 679, Qal perfect) means "rest." In this context it means establish a permanent camp in the midst of. This implies Syria was the stronger, dominate one of the political alliance.

Notice this same verb is used in v. 19 to describe a large invading army.

▣ "his heart and the hearts of his people" This could refer to the royal family or the inhabitants of Jerusalem who had heard the report.

▣ "shook as the trees of the forest shake with the wind" There is a repetition of the verb "totter," or "stagger" (BDB 631, KB 681, Qal imperative and Qal infinitive construct). Usually intensity is expressed by an imperfect verb and an infinitive absolute, but here it is the repetition of the verb and infinitive in a similar form.

Judah and her leadership were afraid. They did not have a trusting confidence in YHWH's presence or promises!

NASB (UPDATED)TEXT: 7:3-9
3Then the Lord said to Isaiah, "Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway to the fuller's field, 4and say to him, 'Take care and be calm, have no fear and do not be fainthearted because of these two stubs of smoldering firebrands, on account of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and the son of Remaliah.
5Because Aram, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has planned evil against you, saying, 6"Let us go up against Judah and terrorize it, and make for ourselves a breach in its walls and set up the son of Tabeel as king in the midst of it," 7thus says the Lord God: "It shall not stand nor shall it come to pass. 8For the head of Aram is Damascus and the head of Damascus is Rezin (now within another 65 years Ephraim will be shattered, so that it is no longer a people), 9and the head of Ephraim is Samaria and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you will not believe, you surely shall not last."'"

7:3 "Isaiah" His name is a combination of two nouns, "salvation" and "YHWH." To assert the understood or implied meaning, a verb must be assumed, "YHWH is salvation," "YHWH brings salvation," etc.

▣ "Shear-jashub" This is Isaiah's first son. His name means "a remnant shall return" of chapter 10:20-23. The very fact that Isaiah is told to take his son to meet the king shows that his name had relevance to the subject of the meeting. It could refer to

1. only a small part of the invading army will survive to return home

2. only a small part of faithless Judah will survive. Isaiah uses the concept of "a faithful remnant" often. See Special Topic at 1:9.

 

"at the end of the conduit of the upper pool" This relates to the Gihon spring which supplies Jerusalem with water during sieges. This spring was also used in the coronation of the kings of Judah. Ahaz was checking the preparations for a siege. He was checking his resources!

7:4-9 This is YHWH's message to Ahaz through Isaiah. The first part addresses Ahaz.

1. take care, BDB 1036, KB 1581, Niphal imperative

2. be calm, BDB 1052, KB 1641, Hiphil imperative

3. have no fear, BDB 431, KB 432, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

4. do not be fainthearted, BDB 939, KB 1236, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

The cause of Ahaz's fear was the invasion plans of Syria and Israel (v. 5).

YHWH characterizes the thoughts of the Syro-Ephraimite coalition (v. 6).

1. let us go up against Judah, BDB 748, KB 828, Qal imperfect used in a cohortative sense

2. cause it a sickening dread (NASB margin), BDB 880, KB 1089, Hiphil imperfect used in a cohortative sense

3. make for ourselves a breach in its walls, BDB 131, KB 149, Hiphil imperfect used in a cohortative sense

4. set up the son of Tabeel as king, BDB 573, KB 590, Hiphil imperfect used in a cohortative sense

YHWH describes His plans in v. 7.

1. it shall not stand, BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal imperfect

2. nor shall it come to pass, BDB 224, KB 243, Qal imperfect

YHWH is in control of history, not human armies, whether Syria/Israel or Assyria. However, there is a requirement on behalf of Judah's leadership-they must believe/trust YHWH's word (v. 9)!

1. believe, BDB 52, KB 63, Hiphil imperfect, plural (royal court and leadership, cf. vv. 13,14)

2. shall not last (lit. "be confirmed"), BDB 52, KB 63, Niphal imperfect, plural

This same play on the meaning of ןמא is found in II Chr. 20:20. This same verb is used in II Sam. 7:16 in relation to the permanence of the Davidic kingship. In a covenant relationship YHWH chooses not to act if His covenant partners refuse to believe/trust in Him (cf. 30:15). See Special Topic on "Believe" at 22:25.

▣ "these two stubs of smoldering firebrands" The two invaders are depicted as soon-to-be "has-beens." Syria (i.e., Damascus) fell to the Assyrians in 732 b.c. and Israel (i.e., Samaria) fell in 722 b.c. The number (65 years) found in v. 8 is difficult to reconcile with our current historical information about this period of history.

7:6

NASB"make. . .a breach in its walls"
NKJV"make a gap in its walls"
NRSV"conquer it"
NJB"destroy it"
Peshitta"make a breach in it"
REB"break her spirit"

This verb (BDB 131, KB 149, Hiphil imperfect used in a cohortative sense) basically means "to break open" or "to break through"(cf. II Kgs. 3:26).

The name "Tabeel" (BDB 370) is an Assyrian name. There are two known uses: (1) a tribe of people in Gilead or (2) the name of a king of Tyre (To-ba-il, LXX Tabeel, also known by Ethba'al); however, the MT adds vowels to the name and changes it to "Tabeal," which in Hebrew means "good-for-nothing." The changing of names was common in the OT to show the author's view of the character of the person. However, in context this refers to an unknown Assyrian supporter within Judah.

7:7 "thus says the Lord God, 'It shall not stand nor shall it come to pass'" This is one of several verses in this context that teaches God's control and sovereignty over all nations and all history (cf. vv. 17, 18 & 20). Also note 8:10 and 28:18.

7:8 "(now within another 65 years)" This time element is difficult to understand. It may relate to Esarhaddon completing the deportation and resettlement of the land of Israel (cf. II Kings 17:24; Ezra 4:2). This could be a good example of (1) the ambiguity of predictive prophecy in the OT; (2) a later scribe updating the text of Isaiah with an editorial comment; or (3) both.

The NIV expresses Isaiah's word play as "If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all."

7:9 "If you will not believe" See Special Topic: Believe, Trust, Faith, and Faithfulness in the OT at 22:25.

NASB (UPDATED)TEXT: 7:10-17
10Then the Lord spoke again to Ahaz, saying, 11"Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God; make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven." 12But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord!" 13Then he said, "Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well? 14Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. 15He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. 16For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken. 17The Lord will bring on you, on your people, and on your father's house such days as have never come since the day that Ephraim separated from Judah, the king of Assyria."

7:11 There are two ways to understand the Hebrew text of v. 11.

1. two uses of the verb "ask" (BDB 981, KB 1371, Qal imperative), cf. NKJV, Peshitta

2. one use of the verb (שׁאלה) and one used of the word Sheol (שׁאלה BDB 982), cf. NASB, Vulgate, TEV, NJB, REB (LXX has "depth")

The UBS Preliminary Report on the Hebrew Text has given two "asks" (imperatives) a "B" rating (i.e., some doubt). Both fit the immediate context. Here again the exact wording is unsure, but the meaning of the verse is clear. This is true of the vast majority of these kinds of textual problems. Remember, the central idea of the stanza (or paragraph), not the details, is the key to a proper understanding of God's revelation to us. The desire to know more, more than others, is not from God!

Amazingly, God is willing to help His fainthearted servant believe in His word. He gives signs to His covenant people (cf. 37:30; 38:7,8; 55:13). This kind of physical confirmation is not available or promised to all believers (cf. Matt. 12:38-39; 16:1,4; Mark 8:11-12; 13:4; Luke 11:16,29; John 2:18; 4:48; 6:30; I Cor. 1:22). Signs and/or miracles can often be satanic tricks (cf. Matt. 7:21-22; 24:24; Mark 13:22)!

▣ "from the Lord your God" It is interesting to note the play between "your God" vs. "My God." However, many OT persons of faith use the term "your God" in conversations with others. It is an idiom with no theological intent.

▣ "make it as deep as Sheol or as high as heaven" The Prophet is asserting that Ahaz can ask for any sign on the earth, under the earth, or in the sky above to verify God's truthfulness. God is willing to clearly reveal His will to Ahaz.

For a discussion of Sheol see Special Topic: Where Are the Dead? at 5:14.

7:12 "But Ahaz said, 'I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord'" This sounds like a worthy statement because God's people are told not to "test" (BDB 650, KB 702) God (cf. Exod. 17:2,7; Num. 14:22; Deut. 6:16; Ps. 78:18,41,56; 95:9; 106:14). However, the motive of this king is that he has already made up his mind to consult with Assyria, not with God, for help. It was not respect for God. God Himself gave the Davidic king this opportunity to confirm his trust in His word, protection, and provision, but he would not!

7:13 "Listen now" This verb (BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperative, plural) is used so often in Isaiah, but only here in "Immanuel's book" (i.e., chapters 7-12). God wants to be heard and obeyed!

▣ "house of David" In this context this phrase, which could be corporate, is referring to Ahaz as a representative of Davidic kingship (cf. II Samuel 7).

▣ "Is it too slight a thing" This is a Hebrew idiom (BDB 589, cf. Num. 16:13; Josh. 22:17; Ezek. 16:20; 34:18). The people were treating God and His revealed will (the Mosaic law) as a small thing, an unimportant thing.

▣ "try the patience" This verb (BDB 521, KB 512) is used twice.

1. once referring to humans (Hiphil infinitive construct)

2. once referring to God (Hiphil imperfect)

Ahaz has not performed his duties as YHWH's representative (cf.. II Sam. 7) among the people well!

7:14 "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign" This sign (BDB 16) must initially apply to Ahaz's day (esp. vv. 15-16)!

"virgin" The Hebrew term here is almah (BDB 761). This term is used for a young woman of marriageable age (cf. Gen. 43:24; Exod. 2:8; Pro. 30:19). It designates a woman who is sexually mature. There is another Hebrew term for virgin, bethulah (BDB 143), which is used by Isaiah in 23:4, 12; 37:22; 47:1; 62:5. The Septuagint translates this verse with the Greek term "virgin." These terms are semantically overlapping and all of the young girls in Israeli culture were considered to be virgins. However, I do not believe in two virgin births, but one. There was a normal conception in Ahaz's day as a sign and a ("the," MT) virgin conception in Jesus' day (cf. Matt. 1:18-23; Luke 1:26-38). This is a multi-fulfillment prophecy!

I think the reason that the NT does not emphasize this more (only appears in the two birth narratives [i.e., Matt. 1:23; Luke 1:31,34] and never in a sermon in Acts or an Epistle by any Apostle) is because of the possible misunderstanding of Greco-Roman religion where the cohabitation of gods and humans, resulting in offspring, was common.

To try to base a doctrine of sin as transmitted through male sperm and, therefore, show the reason for a virgin birth is, in my opinion, folly! In reality it is similar to the barren wives of the Patriarchs having children only at God's instigation. God is in control of the Messiah! An even greater truth is revealed in the NT where the Messiah is presented clearly as incarnated Deity (i.e., John 1:1; 5:18; 10:33; 14:9-11; Phil. 2:6)! Thus the need for a virgin birth!

NASB"will be with child and bear a son"
NKJV, Peshitta"shall conceive and bear a son"
NRSV"is with child and shall bear a son"
TEV"who is pregnant will have a son"
NJB, REB"is with child and will give birth to a son"
LXX"shall be with child and bear a son"

The adjective (BDB 248) usually denotes someone who is already pregnant, but there is some ambiguity, as is obvious from the versions.

This must refer to some lady in Isaiah's day; whether it was the king's wife (i.e., birth of Hezekiah), the prophet's wife, or a young woman at court is uncertain, but Hezekiah (Ahaz's son) fits the Davidic context best.

▣ "Immanuel" This name (BDB 769) means "God with us" (cf. 8:8,10). In Isaiah's day many children were named with names involving Deity. The name of the child is the sign, not his unique birth! These people were not expecting a supernatural, virgin born, incarnate Deity, supernatural child! This is not an OT truth, but a NT progressive revelation truth!

7:15-16 These verses are parallels (three repeated verbals). This parallelism is characteristic of Hebrew literary style (both in a literary unit, and on a paragraph and verse level).

7:15 "He will eat curds and honey" There are two theories as to the meaning of the phrase: this means either he will come at a time of great abundance (i.e., Exod. 3:8), or just the opposite, that he will come at a time of great scarcity (cf. vv. 21-22).

"at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good" This seems to refer to

1. the "age of accountability" (i.e., the results of religious training)

2. that he will be a young child who knows what is forbidden or appropriate. In later Jewish life this would normally be around thirteen years of age(i.e., Bar-Mitzvah). However, 8:4 implies much earlier!

 

7:16 "the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken" This refers to the defeat and exile of Syria (cf. Amos 1:3-5) and Israel (cf. 17:3) by Assyria. The capital of Israel, Samaria, fell to Assyria in 722 b.c. after an extended siege. The vast majority of these tribes never returned to Canaan, but were absorbed by the populations where they were exiled (i.e., Media).

7:17 "The Lord will bring on you" This is a good example that every historical crisis in the nation of Israel was controlled by YHWH for His purposes.

NASB (UPDATED)TEXT: 7:18-19
18In that day the Lord will whistle for the fly that is in the remotest part of the rivers of Egypt and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. 19They will all come and settle on the steep ravines, on the ledges of the cliffs, on all the thorn bushes and on all the watering places.

7:18 "In that day" "That day" is the day of the Lord's fulfillment of His promises (cf. vv. 18,20,21, 23). It can refer to a near future time (fall of Syria and Israel, cf. v. 16) or an end-time, eschatological setting (i.e., Messianic age, age of the true one virgin birth).

▣ "whistle" See note at 5:26.

▣ "Egypt" God's people were still caught in the power struggle between the empires of the Fertile Crescent and the Nile River. Egypt is referred to in Hosea 7:11; 8:13; 9:3, 6; 11:5, 11; 12:1.

7:19 "on the ledges of the cliffs, on all the thorn bushes and on all the watering places" This is a series of metaphors to describe the large invading army that will occupy even the remotest regions of the Promised Land.

NASB (UPDATED)TEXT: 7:20
20In that day the Lord will shave with a razor, hired from regions beyond the Euphrates (that is, with the king of Assyria), the head and the hair of the legs; and it will also remove the beard.

7:20 "In that day the Lord will shave with a razor" This seems to refer to Ahaz's sending tribute to hire Assyria to help her out, II Kings 16:7-9. The head and the beard being shaved was a sign of shame and mourning (cf. II Sam. 10:4-5; I Chr. 19:4; Jer. 48:37).

The phrase "the hair of the legs" seems to relate to the pubic hair of the young men (cf. 6:2; Jdgs. 3:24; I Sam. 24:3), which would denote shame.

The Hebrew term "feet" (BDB 919) in several places can refer to

1. male genitalia, Exod. 4:25; Judg. 3:24; Ruth 3:4,7; I Sam. 24:3

2. female genitalia, Deut. 28:57; Ezek. 16:25

3. even angelic creatures, Seraphim, Isa. 6:2; Cherubim, Ezek. 1:23

In Isaiah 36:12 urine is called "water of feet" (NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 1048).

NASB (UPDATED)TEXT: 7:21-22
21Now in that day a man may keep alive a heifer and a pair of sheep; 22and because of the abundance of the milk produced he will eat curds, for everyone that is left within the land will eat curds and honey.

7:21 There is much discussion of whether this refers to prosperity or scarcity just like v. 15.

NASB (UPDATED)TEXT: 7:23-25
23And it will come about in that day, that every place where there used to be a thousand vines, valued at a thousand shekels of silver, will become briars and thorns. 24People will come there with bows and arrows because all the land will be briars and thorns. 25As for all the hills which used to be cultivated with the hoe, you will not go there for fear of briars and thorns; but they will become a place for pasturing oxen and for sheep to trample.

7:24-25 This refers to the large number of wild beasts that will occupy the Promised Land because of the absence of people (both of which relate to the covenant curses of Deuteronomy 28).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Were the Jewish people expecting the Messiah to be God incarnate?

2. Is Isaiah 7:14 predicting a virgin birth in Ahaz's day?

3. Why are the names of children so significant in these chapters?