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Isaiah 7:1 It happened 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 to Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it- The way Jerusalem survived a siege was to encourage them in Hezekiah's time that with God's help they could likewise survive the Assyrian siege. It seems Syria and Israel were trying to form a power bloc against Assyria, and were doing so with Egypt's help- for this in turn would be a buffer for them against Assyria. Yet soon afterwards Judah were prostituting themselves to Syria and Egypt for help against Assyria. They became caught up in desperate politics, prostituting themselves to these nations and accepting their gods- rather than trust in Yahweh alone.

Isaiah 7:2 It was told the house of David, saying, Syria is allied with Ephraim! His heart trembled, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the forest tremble with the wind-
James 1:6 uses this language and applies it to Christians who lack solid faith; but who like Judah turn to desperate politics to try to save them from situations rather than to their God. The house of David were the royal family, but they are spoken of in the singular, as the trembling heart of their king represented all of them. We note again that the people and the leadership are parallel. The masses were not punished for the unspirituality of their leadership; hence heavens and earth were addressed together at the start of the prophecy (Is. 1:2). The whole land was to tremble under judgment when it came (Is. 24:20 s.w. "tremble"); but judgment was but the articulation of the state of their faithless hearts. They were judged for the state of their hearts. Spiritual mindedness is of paramount significance to God.

Isaiah 7:3 Then Yahweh said to Isaiah, Go out now to meet Ahaz, you, and Shearjashub your son-
"Shearjashub" means "a remnant shall return" (see on Is. 10:21).
As is made explicit in :14 and Is. 8:18, Isaiah's children were 'signs'. The message of Shearjashub was that a remnant would repent / return; and Isaiah is asking Ahab to be part of that remnant, and to repent of his faithless attitude.   

At the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway of the fuller’s field- The washer or fuller uses the same word for 'washing' as used in the context of cleansing from sin (Ps. 51:2,7; Jer. 2:2; 4:14; Mal. 3:2). The suggestion was that they could repent and be cleansed of their sin; but they refused these waters which represented forgiveness (Is. 8:6). This location was signifcant, because it was there that Rabshakeh came with his demand for Jerusalem to surrender in Is. 36:2. Hezekiah was intended to recall how Ahaz had been faced with Isaiah at that same spot; and the call was to repent, to be washed, to become the remnant which would triumph. Circumstances repeat in our lives and between our lives and those of others; in this case, the experience of Ahaz repeated in the life of his son Hezekiah. And we are intended to join the dots and learn the lesson.

Isaiah 7:4 Tell him, ‘Be careful-
The word is translated 'a watchman' later in Isaiah. He was to not fear but to watch- for Yahweh's deliverance.

And keep calm- It was in repentance that Judah would find "quietness", s.w. "calm" (Is. 30:15; 32:17). As noted on :3, Ahaz is being called upon to repent.

Don’t be afraid, neither let your heart be faint- The Lord may be quoting from here when He urges His people to not let their heart be troubled (Jn. 14:1). The scenarios at the time of the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions didn't fully come about, and so they were applied to a new Israel.

Because of these two tails of smoking torches, for the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria, and of the son of Remaliah- The idea is that they were smoking and not burning torches, and would soon fizzle out; both Israel and Syria would be overrun by Assyria. Isaiah will not mention the name "Pekah" perhaps because he was a usurper who murdered the previous king (2 Kings 15:25). LXX "for when my fierce anger is over, I will heal again".

Isaiah 7:5 Because Syria, Ephraim and the son of Remaliah have plotted evil against you, saying-
It is possible that the planned invasion was thwarted because there was some repentance in Judah. But the prophetic word in essence was reapplied and rescheduled; for Assyria "plotted evil against" Judah (s.w. Nah. 1:11). Judah were intended to learn from how this previous plotting of evil had been foiled by Yahweh. Circumstances repeat in our experiences, so that we might learn, and see the same Divine hand at work.

Isaiah 7:6 Let’s go up against Judah and tear it apart-
The idea is of making a breach in a city wall, as was to happen under the Babylonians (2 Kings 25:4; Jer. 39:2).

And let’s divide it among ourselves, and set up a king in its midst, even the son of Tabeel- Tabeel is a Syrian name; this was the puppet king they had in mind.

Isaiah 7:7 This is what the Lord Yahweh says: It shall not stand, neither shall it happen-
As suggested on :6, this may have been due to some repentance on the part of a minority in Judah. Circumstances repeat in our experiences, so that we might learn, and see the same Divine hand at work. Because this very phrase is used of how Judah are warned not to make plans according to the flesh, because they would not stand nor happen (Is. 8:10; 28:18). They should have learnt from how the fleshly plans of Israel and Syria did not stand.

Isaiah 7:8 For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin-
The idea may be that their 'heads' were but human, not Divine.

And within sixty-five years Ephraim shall be broken in pieces, so that it shall not be a people- One wonders why  the ten tribe Kingdom was to cease being a people within 65 years of Isaiah’s prophecy; yet we note that Ahaz was told in the same context: “If ye [the two tribe Kingdom of Judah] will not believe, surely ye shall not be established” (Is. 7:8,9). Was the prophetic outline of events in Isaiah 7 not conditional upon the faith of Ahaz and the wide reaching repentance of Judah? The demise of Israel happened 15 years later, but perhaps it was somehow possible that it would have been delayed, up to a maximum of ["within"] 65 years, depending on human response?  But 65 years from when Isaiah was prophesying would bring us to about BC 670, when Esarhaddon implemented his policy of bringing foreigners to live in the territory of the ten tribes (Ezra 4:2,10). This was the final breaking in pieces of Ephraim. The immediate destruction of Ephraim and Syria was to be within just a few years (see on :15,16).

Isaiah 7:9 and the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah’s son. If you will not believe, surely you shall not be established’-
"If you do not stand firm... you shall not be made firm" is a classic example of how God will confirm us in the spiritual path we wish to take. But LXX has "but if ye believe not, neither will ye at all understand", as if understanding in the sense of true relationship with God is predicated upon faith. Misunderstanding of God, in whatever form, therefore usually has a basis in lack of faith; it's not mere intellectual error in interpretation, but rooted in the moral issues connected with lack of faith.

Isaiah 7:10 Yahweh spoke again to Ahaz, saying-
The "again" suggests Ahaz had not responded to the call for repentance and faith made in :3,4.

Isaiah 7:11 Ask a sign of Yahweh your God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above-
God wanted Ahaz to believe and repent, and Ahaz's refusal didn't mean God just turned away from him; He now gives him the opportunity to ask for concrete evidence upon which to base his faith. Such is God's eagerness for even wicked men like Ahaz to eblieve and repent.

Isaiah 7:12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt Yahweh-
As explained on :11, God was giving Ahaz yet another chance to properly believe in Him and repent. His refusal to engage with this offer was therefore sinful, but he masks it in fake humility.
We can appear to be humble, and by doing so actually express our pride. Ahaz is one of many Biblical examples of this kind of false humility. He refused to ask a sign of Yahweh, when invited to, lest he be like apostate Israel in the wilderness, and tempt Yahweh (Is. 7:12 cp. Dt. 6:16). But this was actually a 'wearying' of God, and so he was given a sign relating to his condemnation (Is. 7:12,13).

Isaiah 7:13 He said, Listen now, house of David. Is it not enough for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of My God also?-
"My God" suggests this is Isaiah talking. But the context is of God speaking directly (:10). This was how intertwined were God and His prophet; the process of inspiration worked through this. Isaiah's patience was tested ["the patience of men"], and therefore so was that of God. As noted on Is. 1:14, God was already "wearied" [s.w. "to try the patience"] of Israel.

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin will conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel-
We could read this as a sign of judgment because Ahaz refused to repent; see on :13. But we could also see God's purpose in Christ as being His attempt to almost force through His saving purpose with Judah. Already in this chapter, Ahaz had twice refused the invitations to repent and believe (:3,12). And so God responds by giving His Son, rather like how in the parable of the wicked husbandmen, the rejection of the prophets is responded to by God sending His own Son. In the immediate context, Isaiah was to have another son, and his children were all children of sign to Judah (see on :3; Is. 8:18). This son could perhaps have been the Messiah figure, but presumably he failed to live up to it; or as suggested on Is. 8:1, this plan was changed by God and the child renamed. And so it came to fulfilment in the Lord Jesus. This explains the ambiguity of the word "virgin", which can mean just a young woman (Isaiah's wife, in the first instance), or refer (as LXX) to a literal virgin who was to conceive without the involvement of a man. This would also explain the ambiguity caused by the verbs "to conceive" and "bear" being participles- ambiguous as to whether they refer to the present or the future.

Seeing it refers primarily to Isaiah's wife, we may wonder why it is quoted of the virgin conception of Mary in the New Testament. But the New Testament sometimes seems to quote the Old Testament without strict attention to the context- at least, so far as human Bible scholarship can discern. And rabbinic targums use the text likewise. The early chapters of Matthew contain at least three examples of  quotations whose context just cannot fit the application given: Mt. 2:14,15 cp. Hos. 11:1; Mt. 2:17,18 cp. Jer. 31:15; Mt. 1:23 cp. Is. 7:14. Much Christian material about Israel shows how they have returned to the land, rebuilt the ruined cities, made the desert blossom etc., as fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies in Jeremiah etc. The context of these prophecies often doesn’t fit a return to the land by Jews in the 20th century; but on the other hand, the correspondence between these prophecies and recent history is so remarkable that it can’t be just coincidence. So again we are led to conclude that a few words here and there within a prophecy can sometimes have a fulfilment outside that which the context seems to require.

Isaiah 7:15 He shall eat curds and honey when he knows to refuse the evil, and choose the good-
Curds and honey could be seen as representing the blessings of obedience to the covenant, which would be enjoyed by the repentant remnant after the desolation of Judah (:22). This time of blessing on Judah was intended to come in just a few years, before the child came to an age of moral responsibility. This implies very small children cannot choose between good and evil. Or as
LXX "Butter and honey shall he eat, before he knows either to prefer evil or choose the good". The prophetic potential was that Assyria would invade Judah as well as Israel and take them both into captivity in the time of Ahaz, within a few years (Is. 8:3,4); and the remnant left in the land would, along with this child, eat curds and honey as the land again became fruitful for them. But Assyria didn't destroy Judah, they weren't taken into captivity, and generally didn't repent. The scenario didn't work out. God factored in the repentance of a tiny remnant and their intercession for Jerusalem; and also the fact that generally, there wasn't going to be repentance in Judah. And so this potential scenario was disallowed. See on Is. 8:1.


Isaiah 7:16 For before the child knows to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land whose two kings you abhor shall be forsaken-
There is an ambiguity in the text, as to whether the land of Judah was to be forsaken as Ahaz feared; or whether the lands of Syria and Israel would be. Hence
LXX "and the land shall be forsaken which thou art afraid of because of the two kings". The next verse in any case warns that judgment is going to come upon Judah at the hands of the Assyrians. The ambiguity may be because the outcome depended upon the repentance of Judah; and God protected them from the Israel-Syria invasion because there was some repentance. And likewise, in the end, from the full intended force of the Assyrian invasion (see on :17).

Isaiah 7:17 Yahweh will bring on you, on your people and on your father’s house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah-
God said that the division was the greatest tragedy to come upon His people (Is. 7:17). The way the new garment of Ahijah was torn up to symbolize the division, reflects the utter waste (1 Kings 11:29). For an outer cloak was a garment a man could wear for life; to have a new one was something significant.

Even the king of Assyria- But the Assyrians did not attack in the time of Ahaz, and Jerusalem and the royal family was preserved when they did attack later. As noted on :15,16, this was presumably because there was a modicum of repentance, at least amongst a remnant.

Isaiah 7:18 It will happen in that day that Yahweh will whistle 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-
As explained on :15, The prophetic potential was that Assyria from the north would invade Judah as well as Israel and take them both into captivity in the time of Ahaz, within a few years (Is. 8:3,4), with Egypt attacking from the south; and the remnant left in the land would, along with this child, eat curds and honey as the land again became fruitful for them (:22).

Isaiah 7:19 They shall come, and shall all rest in the desolate valleys, in the clefts of the rocks, on all thorn hedges, and on all pastures-
This hiding in the rocks is the language of condemnation of Is. 2:19; but now we learn that even hidden there, they would be attacked by the Assyrians and Egyptians, who like bees and tiny stinging insects would still penetrate to  those hidden in clefts of the rock. But it seems many of them were saved from this by grace, and by the repentance of a remnant. See on :15,16,18. Later Isaiah applies it to the judged exiles in Babylon (Is. 42:22); but with the good news that even from that humbled, condemned position- they could be exalted and returned to the restored Kingdom.

Isaiah 7:20 In that day the Lord will shave with a razor that is hired in the parts beyond the River Euphrates, even with the king of Assyria, the head and the hair of the feet; and it shall also consume the beard-
This sounds like the shaving of a leprous man that he might be accepted back into fellowship with God. As explained on Is. 6:5, Judah were leprous, as Isaiah had felt himself to be, and had not allowed themselves to be cleansed by the vision of Yahweh's glory. So the Assyrian invasion was intended to do this for them, to bring them to fellowship with God.

Isaiah 7:21 It shall happen in that day that a man shall keep alive a young cow, and two sheep-
The scenario was that the Assyrian invasion would lead to the desolation of the land; but something would be 'kept alive'. And that young cow would produce so much milk that curds would be made from it (:22). The idea was that the remnant in the land would repent and begin to experience the kingdom blessings. But this scenario didn't come about. God factored in the repentance of a tiny remnant and their intercession for Jerusalem; and also the fact that generally, there wasn't going to be repentance in Judah. And so this potential scenario was disallowed.

Isaiah 7:22 and it shall happen, that because of the abundance of milk which they shall give he shall eat curds: for everyone will eat curds and honey who is left in the midst of the land-
"The midst of the land" may refer to salvation in Jerusalem. See on :21.

Isaiah 7:23 It will happen in that day that every place where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silver shekels, shall be for briers and thorns-
This and the similar prophecy of desolation in Is. 5:6 didn't happen at the Assyrian invasion; it was reapplied to the situation after the Babylonian invasion, when the land was intended to rest (Lev. 26:34,43) until Judah repented. But even that program didn't work out, and so the Lord's parable of the vineyard explained that therefore the vineyard was given to a new Israel. Briers and thorns is an allusion to the curse upon the garden of Eden- another reason for understanding Eden as eretz Israel, from whom likewise Israel were to be exiled to the east. Yet "briers and thorns" is a term used by Isaiah about the aggressive, thorny nature of Judah (Is. 9:18; 10:17). Their whole land was to become like them; and so their judgment was but an extension of their own behaviour.

Isaiah 7:24 People will go there with arrows and with bow, because all the land will be briers and thorns-
The land of Judah was not overrun by thorns and left desolate because of the mass destruction of its population by the Assyrians. As explained on :15, the possible scenario didn't happen. These people who remained were intended to be the righteous remnant.


Isaiah 7:25 All the hills that were cultivated with the hoe, you shall not come there for fear of briers and thorns; but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of sheep
- The LXX suggests that from the once desolate land covered with thorns, there would come pasture at the restoration: "And every mountain shall be certainly ploughed: there shall no fear come thither: for there shall be from among the barren ground and thorns that whereon cattle shall feed and oxen shall tread". These people who remained were intended to be the righteous remnant.