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ISAIAH
The Gospel To Israel
Book 1

LESSON  FOUR
Isaiah 6:1-7:25

 

Isaiah 6:1
From the Tanakh
(1) In the year that King Uzziah died, I beheld my Lord seated on a high and lofty throne; and the skirts of His Robe filled the Temple.

From the NKJV

(1) In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.

The time of  the occurrence here described - "the year that king Uzziah (Uzîyahu) died,"  was of importance to the prophet.  The statement itself,  in the naked form in which it is here introduced,  is much more emphatic than if  it commenced with  "it came to pass" (vay'hi).
It was the year of Uzziah's death,  not the first year of  Jotham's reign.
That is to say,  Uzziah was still reigning,  although his death was near at hand.
If this is the sense in which the words are to be understood,  then,  even if  the chapter before us contains an account of  Isaiah's first call,  the heading to chapter 1,  which dates the ministry of  the prophet from the time of  Uzziah,  is quite correct,  inasmuch as,  although his public ministry under Uzziah was very short,  this is properly to be included,  not only on account of its own importance,  but as inaugurating a new ear (lit. "An epoch-making beginning").

But is it not stated in 2 Chron 26:22,  that Isaiah wrote a historical work embracing the whole of  Uzziah's reign?  Unquestionably;  but it by no means follows from this,  that he commenced his ministry long before the death of  Uzziah.

2 Chron 26:22-23
Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, from first to last, the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz wrote.     (NKJV)

If Isaiah received his call in the year that Uzziah died, this historical work contained a retrospective view of the life and times of  Uzziah,  the close of  which coincided with the call of  the prophetic author,  which made a deep incision into the history of Israel.

Uzziah reigned fifty-two years (809 BC - 758 BC).
This lengthened period was just the same to the kingdom of  Judah as the shorter age of  Solomon to that of  all Israel, viz.,  a time of  vigorous and prosperous peace,  in which the nation was completely overwhelmed with manifestations of  divine love.
But the riches of  divine goodness had no more influence upon it,  than the troubles through which it had passed before.  And now the eventful change took place in the relation between Israel and Jehovah,  of which Isaiah was chosen to be the instrument before and above all other prophets.

The year in which all this occurred was the year of  Uzziah's death.
It was in this year that:

Israel as a people was given up to hardness of  heart
Israel as a kingdom was given up to devastation and annihilation by the imperial power of the world

How significant a fact,  as Jerome observes in connection with this passage,  that

the year of Uzziah's death - should be the year in which Romulus was born
and that it was only a short time after the death of  Uzziah (viz., 754 BC according to Varro's chronology)  that Rome itself was founded!
The national glory of  Israel died out with king Uzziah.

Isaiah saw

and that not when asleep and dreaming;  but God gave him,  when awakean insight into the invisible world,
by opening an inner sense for the super sensuous,  whilst the action of the outer senses was suspended,  and by condensing the super sensuous into a sensuous form,  on account of the composite nature of  man and the limits of his present state.

Isaiah is here carried up into heaven

for although in other instances it was undoubtedly the earthly temple which was presented to a prophet's view in an ecstatic vision (Amos 9:1; Ezek 8:3; 10:4-5; cf., Acts 22:17), yet here, as the description which follows clearly proves, the "high and exalted throne"

But John,  in his Gospel,  is bold enough to say that it was Jesus whose glory Isaiah saw (John 12:41).  And truly so,  for the incarnation of God is the truth embodied in all the scriptural anthropomorphisms,  and the name of  Jesus is the manifested mystery of  the name Jehovah.

John 12:37-41
But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him,  that the word of  Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke:
"Lord, who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?"
Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:
 "He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts,
Lest they should see with their eyes,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them."
These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.     (NKJV)

Keil & Delitzsch offer:
The heavenly temple is that super-terrestrial place,  which Jehovah transforms into heaven and a temple,  by manifesting Himself  there to angels and saints.  But whilst He manifests His glory there,  He is obliged also to veil it,  because created beings are unable to bear it.  But that which veils His glory is no less splendid,  than that portion of it which is revealed.  And this was the truth embodied for Isaiah in the long robe and train.  He saw the Lord, and what more he saw was the all-filling robe of the indescribable One.  As far as the eye of the seer could look at first, this splendid robe covered the ground. There was consequently no room for any one to stand. And the vision of the seraphim is in accordance with this.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

Isaiah 6:2
From the Tanakh From the Targum
(2)  Seraphs stood in attendance on Him. Each of them had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his legs, and with
two he would fly.
Not see, not be seen, ministering

From the NKJV

(2)  Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
Seraphs (seraphims) burning ones
Celestial beings named but unexplained.
It was the name used of  the serpents (Num. 21:6) because of the burning effect produced by them.

Numbers 21:6
So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people     (NKJV)

The seraphim with six wings and one face differ from the cherubim with four wings (in the temple only two) and four faces (Ezek 1:5-12); but in Rev 4:8 the four living creatures (zooa) have each six wings.
(From Fausset's Bible Dictionary, Electronic Database Copyright (c) 1998 by Biblesoft)

What they looked like

Seraphim Isaiah 6:2 Each one had six wings
with two he covered his face
with two he covered his feet
with two he flew
Cherubim
Living Creatures
Ezekiel 1:5-12 They had the likeness of a man
Each one had four faces
The face of a man
The face of a lion on the right side
The face of an ox on the left side
The face of an eagle
Their legs were straight
The soles of their feet were like the soles of calves' feet
They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze
The hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides Each of the four had faces and wings
Their wings touched one another
Their wings stretched upward
Two wings of each one touched one another
Two covered their bodies.
Their appearance was like burning coals of fire
Like the appearance of torches
The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning
They ran back and forth, in appearance like a flash of lightning
The creatures did not turn when they went, but each one went straight forward
Living Creatures Revelations 4:8 Each having six wings
Were full of eyes around and within
They do not rest day or night

What Isaiah meant by this standing above,  may be inferred from the use that the seraphim are said to have made of  their wings.

With two of  their six wings he saw them fly.
Thus they stood flying - they hovered or soared,  as both the earth and stars are said to stand,  although suspended in space.
The seraphim would not indeed tower above the head of  Him that sat upon the throne, but they hovered above the robe belonging to Him with which the hall was filled.
Sustained by two extended wings, and covering their faces with two other wings in their awe at the divine glory.
They covered their feet with two others, in their consciousness of the depth at which the creature stands below the Holiest of all,  just as the cherubim are described as veiling their bodies in Ezek 1:11.
This is the only passage in the Scriptures in which the seraphim are mentioned.

According to the orthodox view,  which originated with Dionysius the Areopagite,  they stand at the head of the nine choirs of angels,  the first rank consisting of  seraphim,  cherubim, and throni.
And this is not without support,  if we compare

the cherubim mentioned in Ezekiel,  which carried the chariot of  the divine throne;
whereas here the seraphim are said to surround the seat on which the Lord was enthroned.
In any case,  the seraphim and cherubim were heavenly beings of  different kinds;  and there is no weight in the attempts made by Hendewerk and Stickel to prove that they are one and the same.  And certainly the name seraphim does not signify merely spirits as such,  but even,  if not the highest of all,  yet a distinct order from the rest;  for the Scriptures really teach that there are gradations in rank in the hierarchy of  heaven.
Nor were they mere symbols or fanciful images,  as Hävernick imagines,  but real spiritual beings,  which visibly appeared to the prophet,  and that in a form corresponding to their own super sensuous being,  and to the design of  the whole transaction. While these seraphim hovered above on both sides of  Him that sat upon the throne,  and therefore formed two opposite choirs,  each ranged in a semicircle,  they presented an anthem of  worship to Him that sat upon the throne.

Isaiah 6:3
From the Tanakh From the Targum
(3)  And one would call to the other, Holy in the highest heavens, the house of his Shekinah, holy upon earth
“Holy, holy, holy!   The Lord of Hosts! The work of his might, holy for endless ages is the Lord of hosts
His presence fills all the earth!” Filled with thick darkness.

From the NKJV

(3)  And one cried to another and said:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!"

The meaning is not that they all lifted up their voice in concert at one and the same time,  but that there was a continuous and unbroken antiphonal song.  One set commenced,  and the others responded,  either repeating the  "Holy, holy, holy,"  or following with  "filling the whole earth is His glory."

What they said

Seraphim Isaiah 6:2 "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
The whole earth is full of  His glory!"
Cherubim Ezekiel 1:5-12 No spoken words - but - the noise of their wings -
Was like the noise of many waters
Was like the voice of the Almighty
Was a tumult like the noise of an army
Living Creatures Revelations 4:8 "Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!"

Isaiah heard this antiphonal or  "hypophonal"  song of the seraphim,  not merely that he might know that the uninterrupted worship of  God was their blessed employment,  but because it was with this doxology as with the doxologies of  the Apocalypse,  it had a certain historical significance in common with the whole scene.

God is in Himself the Holy One (kâdoosh), i.e.,
the separate One,
beyond or above the world,
true light,
spotless purity,
the perfect One.
His glory (câbod) is His manifested holiness, as Oetinger and Bengel express it,  just as,  on the other hand,  His holiness is His veiled or hidden glory.

The design of  all the work of  God is that His holiness should become universally manifest,  or,  what is the same thing,

that His glory should become the fullness of the whole earth
(Isa 11:9; Num 14:21; Hab 2:14).
This design of  the work of God stands before God as eternally present;  and the seraphim also have it ever before them in its ultimate completion,  as the theme of their song of praise.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

Numbers 14:21
But truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.    (NKJV)

Isaiah 11:9
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.    (NKJV)

Habakkuk 2:14
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.    (NKJV)

But Isaiah was a man living in the very midst of  the history that was moving on towards this goal;  and the cry of  the seraphim,  in the precise form in which it reached him,  showed him to what it would eventually come on earth,  while the heavenly shapes that were made visible to him helped him to understand the nature of  that divine glory with which the earth was to be filled.

The whole of  the book of Isaiah contains traces of  the impression made by this ecstatic vision.
The favorite name of  God in the mouth of the prophet viz., "the Holy One of  Israel" (kedosh Yisrael),  is the echo of this seraphic sanctus; and the fact that this name already occurs with such marked preference on the part of  the prophet in the addresses contained in Isaiah 1:2-4:5,  supports the view that Isaiah is here describing his own first call.

All the prophecies of  Isaiah carry this name of  God as their stamp.
It occurs twenty-nine times (including Isa 10:17; 43:15; 49:7), viz.,  twelve times in ch. 1-39,  and seventeen times in ch. 40-66.  As Luzzatto has well observed,  "the prophet, as if with a presentiment that the authenticity of  the second part of his book would be disputed,  has stamped both parts with this name of  God,  'the Holy One of Israel,'  as if with his own seal."
and twice in Jeremiah (Jer 50:29; 51:5),  and that not without an allusion to Isaiah.
It forms an essential part of  Isaiah's distinctive prophetic signature.

Isaiah 6:4
From the Tanakh
(4)  The doorposts would shake at the sound of the one who called, and the House kept filling with smoke.

From the NKJV

(4)  And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.
From the Tanakh
(4)  The doorposts would shake at the sound of the one who called, and the House kept filling with smoke.

When Isaiah heard this,  he stood entranced at the farthest possible distance from Him that sat upon the throne,  namely,  under the door of  the heavenly palace or temple.
What he still further felt and saw,  he proceeds to relate in verse 4.
The building was seized with reverential awe throughout its whole extent,  and in its deepest foundations:  for in the blessed state beyond, nothing stands immoveable or unsusceptible in relation to the spirits there; but all things form, as it were, the accidental of their free personality, yielding to their impressions, and voluntarily following them in all their emotions.
The house was also "filled with smoke."
Many compare this with the similar occurrence in connection with the dedication of  Solomon's temple
(1 Kings 8:10).

1 Kings 8:10-11
And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD,  so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud;  for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.    (NKJV)

Isaiah 6:5
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(5)  I cried,  “Who is me; I am lost! I am pricked to the heart; I have transgressed;
For I am a man of unclean lips   I am a man deserving of rebuke,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;   That is polluted with transgressions:
Yet my own eyes have beheld the King Lord of Hosts.”   The glory of the Shekinin his mouth was the speech, which he had received from him

From the NKJV

(5)  So I said:  "Woe is me, for I am undone!  Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."

The seer,  who was at first overwhelmed and intoxicated by the majestic sight,  now recovers his
self-consciousness.

That a man cannot see God without dying is true in itself, and was an Old Testament conviction throughout (Ex 33:20, etc.).  The infinite distance between the creature and the Creator is sufficient of  itself to produce a prostrating effect,  which even the seraphim could not resist without veiling their faces.
Isaiah therefore regarded himself as lost  (nidmeethi, like o'loola, perii,  denoting the fact which,  although not outwardly completed,  is yet effected so far as a man's own consciousness is concerned),  and all the more because he himself was of  unclean lips,  and he was also a member of a nation of unclean lips.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

Exodus 33:20-21
But He said, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live."     (NKJV)

The essence of  true conviction is

a concern for what I am,
not for what I have done or not done.

Isaiah 6:6,7
From the Tanakh From the Targum
(6)  Then one of the seraphs flew over to me with a live
coal, which he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.
 
(7)  He touched it to my lips and declared, He placed it in my mouth
“Now that this has touched your lips,
Your guilt shall depart and your sin be purged away.”
 

From the NKJV

(6)  Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar.  (7)  And he touched my mouth with it, and said:
"Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged."

The unholiness of  his own person was doubled,  in consequence of  the closeness of  the natural connection,  by the unholiness of  the nation to which he belonged.

He designates this unholiness as uncleanness of  lips,

because he found himself  transported into the midst of  choirs of  beings who were praising the Lord with pure lips.

He calls the King Jehovah,

because,  although he had not seen Jehovah face to face,
he had seen the throne,
he had seen the all-filling robe,
he had seen the seraphim who surrounded and did homage to Him that sat upon the throne;
and therefore,  as he had seen the heavenly King in His revealed majesty,  he describes the scene according to the impression that he had received.
But to stand here in front of  Jehovah of  hosts,  the exalted King,  to whom everything does homage,  and to be obliged to remain mute in the consciousness of  deep uncleanness,  excited within him the annihilating anguish of self-condemnation.  And this is expressed in the confession made by the contrite seer.

This confession was followed by the forgiveness of  his sins,  of  which he received an attestation through a heavenly sacrament,  and which was conveyed to him through the medium of  a seraphic absolution.

One of  the beings hovering round the Lord (there were, therefore, a large and indefinite number) flew to the altar of incense - the heavenly original of  the altar of  incense in the earthly temple,  which was reckoned as belonging to the Most Holy Place - and

took from this altar a ritzpâh, i.e., either a red-hot stone,  or,  according to the prevailing tradition,  a red-hot coal  (vid. râtzeeph - râshaph,  to scatter sparks,  sparkle,  or glow).
With a pair of  tongs,  because even a seraph's hand cannot touch the vessels consecrated to God,  or the sacrifices that belong to Him.
With this red-hot coal he flew to Isaiah, and having touched his mouth with it, i.e.,  that member of  his body of  whose uncleanness he had more especially complained  (cf., Jeremiah 1:9,  where the prophet's mouth is touched by Jehovah's hand,  and made eloquent in consequence).
He assured him of  the forgiveness of his sins, which coincided with the application of  this sacramental sign.

All sinful uncleanness was burned away from the prophet's mouth.
The seraph,  therefore,  did here what his name denotes:  he burned up or burned away (comburit).

He did this,  however,  not by virtue of  his own fiery nature,

but by means of the divine fire that he had taken from the heavenly altar.

As the smoke which filled the house came from the altar,  and arose in consequence of  the adoration offered to the Lord by the seraphim,  not only must the incense-offering upon the altar and this adoration be closely connected;  but the fire,  which revealed itself in the smoke and consumed the incense-offering,  and which must necessarily have been divine because of its expiatory power,  was an effect of  the love of  God with which He reciprocated the offerings of  the seraphim. A fiery look from God, and that a fiery look of  pure love as the seraphim were sinless,  had kindled the sacrifice.

The Seraphim vehicles and media of  the fire of divine love Isaiah 6:6,7 a seraph takes the fire of  love from the altar
 
As the vehicles and media of  the love that destroys sin,
with its light side towards the world
The Cherubim vehicles and media of  the fire of  divine wrath Ezekiel 10:6,7 a cherub takes the fire of  wrath from the throne-chariot.
 
As the vehicles and media of  the wrath that destroys sinners,
with its fiery side turned towards the world
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

Isaiah 6:8
From the Tanakh
(8)  Then I heard the voice of my Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I;
send me.”

From the NKJV

(8)  Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:  "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?"
Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."

When Isaiah had been thus absolved,  the true object of  the heavenly scene was made apparent.

The plural  "for us"  (lânu).
The plural is no doubt used here with reference to the seraphim,  who formed,  together with the Lord,  one deliberative council,  as in 1 Kings 22:19-22;  just as, from their very nature as  "sons of God" (b'nee Hâ-elohim),  they made one family with God their Creator  (vid. Eph 3:15),  all linked so closely together that they themselves could be called Elohim, like God their Creator, just as in 1 Cor 12:12 the church of believers is called Christos, like Christ its head.

1 Kings 22:19-23
Then Micaiah said,  "Therefore hear the word of the LORD:  I saw the LORD sitting on His throne,  and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left. And the LORD said, 'Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?' So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner.  Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, 'I will persuade him.'  The LORD said to him, 'In what way?' So he said, 'I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.' And the LORD said, 'You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.'     (NKJV)

Ephesians 3:14-15
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.     (NKJV)

1 Corinthians 12:12-14
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free — and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.  For in fact the body is not one member but many.     (NKJV)

The task for which the right man was sought was not merely divine,  but heavenly in the broadest sense:

for it is not only a matter in which God Himself is interested, that the earth should become full of the glory of God,
but this is also an object of solicitude to the spirits that minister unto Him.

Isaiah,  whose anxiety to serve the Lord was no longer suppressed by the consciousness of his own sinfulness,  no sooner heard the voice of  the Lord,  than he exclaimed,  in holy self-consciousness, 
"Behold me here;  send me."

It is by no means a probable thing,  that he had already acted as a messenger of God,  or held the office of prophet.  For if  the joy,  with which he offered himself  here as the messenger of God,  was the direct consequence of  the forgiveness of sins, of  which he had received the seal;  the consciousness of  his own personal sinfulness,  and his membership in a sinful nation,  would certainly have prevented him thereto from coming forward to denounce judgment upon that nation.

And as the prophetic office as such rested upon an extraordinary call from God,  it may fairly be assumed,  that when Isaiah relates so extraordinary a call as this,  he is describing the sealing of  his prophetic office,  and therefore his own first call.

Isaiah 6:9 & 10
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(9)  And He said, “Go, say to that people:  ‘Hear, indeed, but do not understand;  see, indeed, but do not grasp.’    
(10)  Dull that people’s mind, For the heart of this people has
become gross,
Heart of people fat,
Stop its ears, Their ears are dull of hearing, Their ears heavy,
And seal its eyes – And their eyes have they closed; Stop up their eyes;
Lest, seeing with its eyes
And hearing with its ears,
   
It also grasp with its mind, Understand with their heart,  
And repent and save itself.” And be converted, and I should
heal them.
It be forgiven them.

From the NKJV

(9)  And He said, "Go, and tell this people:
'Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.'
(10)  "Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed."

Hear ye indeed.  Hebrew  “a hearing,  hear ye.”   Figure of Speech, for emphasis.

This prophecy is of  the deepest import in Israel’s history.
Written down seven times (Matt. 13:14, Mark 4:12, Luke 8:10, John 12:40, Acts 28:26,27, Rom. 11:8).

Solemnly quoted in three great dispensational crises -

1. By Christ (Matt. 13:14) As coming from Jehovah
on the day a council was held  “to destroy Him”
2. By Christ (John 12:40,41) As coming from Messiah
after counsel taken to  “put Him to death”
3. By Paul (Acts 28:25-27) As coming from the Holy Ghost
after a whole day’s conference,  they “believed not”

Matthew 13:14
And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive.

Mark 4:12
So that  'Seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them.'

Luke 8:10
And He said, "To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that  'Seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.'

John 12:39-41
Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:  "He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them."  These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.

Acts 28:26,27
"The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers,  saying, 'Go to this people and say:
'Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you will see, and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull.  Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them."'

Romans 11:8
Just as it is written: "God has given them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear, to this very day."

The words in which his commission is expressed,  and the substance of  the message confirm this.

"This people"  points back to the people of  unclean lips,  among whom Isaiah had complained of dwelling,  and whom the Lord would not call  "my people."  It was to go to this people and preach to them,  and therefore to be the prophet of  this people,  that he was called.

But how mournful does the divine commission sound!
It was the terrible opposite of  that seraphic mission,  which the prophet had experienced in himself.  The seraph had absolved Isaiah by the burning coal,  that he as prophet might not absolve,  but harden his people by his word.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

The two prohibitory expressions,  "understand not"  and  "perceive not,"  show what the result of  the prophet's preaching was to be.
And the imperatives in verse 10 are not to be understood as simply instructing the prophet to tell the people what God had determined to do;  for the fact that  "prophets are often said to do what they announce as about to happen,"  has its truth not in a rhetorical figure,  but in the very nature of the divine word.

The prophet was the Organ of  the Word of God
and the word of  God was the Expression of  the Will of God,
and the will of  God  was a Divine Act that had not yet become historical.

The three future clauses,  with  "lest"  (pen),  point back to these three imperatives in inverse order:

Spiritual Sight Their eyes becoming blind
Spiritual Hearing Their ears becoming deaf
Spiritual Feeling Their hearts being covered over with the grease of  insensibility

"And one heal it," i.e., "and it be healed:"
and it is in accordance with this sense that it is paraphrased in Mark 4:12,
whereas in the three other passages in which the words are quoted in the New Testament
(viz., Matthew, John, and Acts) the Septuagint rendering is adopted,  "and I should heal them"
(God Himself  being taken as the subject).
The commission that the prophet received reads as though it were quite irreconcilable with the fact that God,  as the Good,  can only will what is good.

There is a self-hardening in evil,  which renders a man thoroughly incorrigible,  and which,  regarded as the fruit of  his moral behavior,  is no less a judicial punishment inflicted by God,  than self-induced guilt on the part of man.

The two are bound up in one another,  inasmuch as sin from its very nature bears its own punishment,  which consists in the wrath of  God excited by sin.

For just as in all the good that men do -  the active principle is the love of  God
So in all the harm that they do -  the active principle is the wrath of God

An evil act in itself  is the result of  self-determination proceeding from a man's own will;
but evil,  regarded as the mischief in which evil acting quickly issues,  is the result of the inherent wrath of  God,  which is the obverse of  His inherent love;  and when a man hardens himself in evil, it is the inward working of God's peremptory wrath.  To this wrath Israel had delivered itself up through its continued obstinacy in sinning.

And consequently the Lord now proceeded to shut the door of  repentance against His people.
Nevertheless He directed the prophet to preach repentance,  because the judgment of  hardness suspended over the people as a whole did not preclude the possibility of  the salvation of  individuals.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

Apparently the Jews constantly refuse to learn from history, even from the history of the Bible about which Nachmanides (Jewish sage) teaches:  “The actions of the patriarchs is a foreshadowing of the happenings to their descendants.”
(Beware of  the interlopers by Shlomo Riskin Jerusalem Post Oct. 18, 2002)

Note the Figure of Speech Epanodos, which is the repetition of the same word or words in an inverse order, the sense being unchanged.

Heart Make the heart of this people dull
Ears And their ears heavy
Eyes And shut their eyes
Eyes Lest they see with their eyes
Ears And hear with their ears
Heart And understand with their heart

ISAIAH  SENT  TO  KING  AHAZ

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Isaiah 6:11-13
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(11)  I asked, “How long, my Lord?” And He replied:
“Till towns lie waste without inhabitants
   
And houses without people, Without men Without men
And the ground lies waste and
desolate –
   
(12)  For the Lord will banish the population – After this God shall remove the men
far of
 
And deserted sites are many They that are left upon the land Desolation becomes great
In the midst of the land. Shall be multiplied.  
(13)  But while a tenth part yet remains in it, it shall repent. It shall be ravaged It shall be for a spoil, So the exiles of  Israel shall be gathered together,  and shall return to their land;
like the Terebinths and the oak, of which stumps are left even
when
A turpentine tree, for a holy seed is their plant.
They are felled: its stump shall be a
holy seed.”
An acorn when it falls out of its husk.  

From the NKJV

(11)  Then I said, "Lord, how long?"
And He answered:  "Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant, the houses are without a man, the land is utterly desolate,  (12)  the LORD has removed men far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
(13)  But yet a tenth will be in it, and will return and be for consuming, as a terebinth tree or as an oak, whose stump remains when it is cut down.  So the holy seed shall be its stump."

Isaiah heard with sighing,  and yet with obedience,  in what the mission to whom he had so cheerfully offered himself was to consist.

He inquired how long this service of  hardening and this state of  hardness were to continue - a question forced from him by his sympathy with the nation to which he himself belonged (cf., Ex 32:9-14), and one which was warranted by the certainty that God,  who is ever true to His promises,  could not cast off  Israel as a people for ever.  The answer follows in verses. 11-13.  The answer is intentionally commenced.
(The expression only occurs again in Gen 28:15 ),  which,  even without dropping the conditional force of  ‘im  signified that the hardening judgment would only come to an end when the condition had been fulfilled, that towns, houses, and the soil of  the land of  Israel and its environs had been made desolate,  in fact,  utterly and universally desolate,  as the three definitions (without inhabitant, without man, wilderness) affirm.

Exodus 32:9-14
And the LORD said to Moses, "I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people!  Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation."  Then Moses pleaded with the LORD his God, and said: "LORD, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?  Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, 'He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth'? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people.  Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, 'I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'"  So the LORD relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.     (NKJV)

Genesis 28:15
15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you."     (NKJV)

The expression  richak  (put far away)  is a general and enigmatical description of  exile or captivity;  the literal term  gâlâh   has been already used in Isa 5:13.  Instead of a national term being used,  we find here simply the general expression  "men"  (eth-hâ'âdâm)  the consequence of depopulation, viz., the entire absence of men, being expressed in connection with the depopulation itself.

Up to the words  "given up to destruction,"  the announcement is a threatening one;
but from this point to  "remains"  a consolatory prospect begins to dawn;
and in the last three words this brighter prospect,  like a distant streak of light,  bounds the horizon of  the gloomy prophecy.

It shall happen as with the Terebinths and oak.
These trees were selected as illustrations,  not only because they were so near akin to evergreens, and produced a similar impression,  or because there were so many associations connected with them in the olden times of Israel's history;  but also because they formed such fitting symbols of Israel,  on account of their peculiar facility for springing up again from the root (like the beech and nut, for example),  even when they had been completely felled.

The tree was not yet entirely destroyed;  the root-stump could shoot out and put forth branches again.
And this would take place:

The root-stump of the oak or Terebinths, which was a symbol of Israel, was "a holy seed."
The root-stump was the remnant that had survived the judgment.
This remnant would become a seed,  out of which a new Israel would spring up after the old had been destroyed.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

This law of  a blessing sunk in the depths of  the curse actually inflicted,  still prevails in the history of the Jews. The way of salvation is open to all.
Individuals find it, and give us a presentiment of  what might be and is to be;  but the great mass are hopelessly lost,  and only when they have been swept away will a holy seed,  saved by the covenant-keeping God,  grow up into a new and holy Israel,  which,  according to Isa 27:6,  will fill the earth with its fruits,  or,  as the apostle expresses it in Rom 11:12,  become  "the riches of the Gentiles."

Isaiah 27:6
Those who come He shall cause to take root in Jacob;  Israel shall blossom and bud,  and fill the face of the world with fruit.     (NKJV)

Romans 11:12
Now if their fall is riches for the world,  and their failure riches for the Gentiles,  how much more their fullness!     (NKJV)

For the prophet,  in the very first address,  after pointing out to the nation as a whole the gracious pathway of  justification and sanctification,  takes the turn indicated in Isaiah 6:11-13,  in full consciousness that all is in vain.  And the theme of  the second address is,

that it will be only after the overthrow of  the false glory of  Israel that the true glory promised can possibly be realized,
and that after the destruction of  the great body of  the people only a small remnant will live to see this realization.

The parable with which the third begins,  rests upon the supposition that the measure of  the nation's iniquity is full;  and the threatening of  judgment introduced by this parable agrees substantially,  and in part verbally,  with the divine answer received by the prophet to his question  "How long?"

On every side,  therefore,  the opinion is confirmed, that in chapter 6 Isaiah describes his own consecration to the prophetic office.
The addresses in chapters 2-4 and 5,  which belong to the time of  Uzziah and Jotham,  do not fall earlier than the year of  Uzziah's death,  from which point the whole of  Jotham's sixteen years' reign lay open before them.


THE  IMMANUEL  PROPHECY

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CONSOLATION OF IMMANUEL IN THE MIDST OF THE ASSYRIAN OPPRESSIONS
CHAPTERS  7-12


(7:1-9) Alliance Syria and Israel Particular "It shall not stand"
(7:10-8:8) Divine Intervention THE  VIRGIN'S  SON
(8:9-10) Alliance   General "It shall be brought to nothing"
(8:11-9:7) Divine Intervention IMMANUEL
(9:8-10:32) Alliance   Jehovah's "I will punish"
(10:32-12:6) Divine Intervention THE  SON  OF  DAVID

Divine Sign of the Virgin's Wondrous Son
Chapter 7

Isaiah 7:1
From the Tanakh From the  LXX
(1) In the reign of Ahaz son of Jotham son of Uzziah, king of Judah, And it came to pass
King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah son of Remaliah of Israel marched
Upon Jerusalem to attack it; but they were not able to attack it.
 

From the NKJV

(1) Now it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to make war against it, but could not prevail against it.

2 Kings 16:5
Then Rezin king of  Syria and Pekah the son of  Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to Jerusalem to make war; and they besieged Ahaz but could not overcome him.    (NKJV)

2 Chronicles 28:5-6
Therefore the LORD his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria. They defeated him, and carried away a great multitude of them as captives, and brought them to Damascus. Then he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who defeated him with a great slaughter.  For Pekah the son of Remaliah killed one hundred and twenty thousand in Judah in one day, all valiant men, because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers.    (NKJV)

As the following prophecies could not be understood apart from the historical circumstances to which they refer,  the prophet commences with a historical announcement.
We have the same words,  with only slight variations,  in the history of the reign of Ahaz in 2 Kings 16:5.
That the author of  the book of Kings copied them from the book of  Isaiah will be very apparent when we come to examine the historical chapters (36-39) in their relation to the parallel sections of the book of Kings. In the passage before us,  the want of  independence on the part of  the author of  the book of  Kings is confirmed by the fact that he not only repeats,  but also interprets,  the words of  Isaiah.
Instead of saying,  "And (he) could not make war upon it,"  he says,  "And they besieged Ahaz,  and could not make war."
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

But happily we have two accounts of  the Syro-Ephraimitish war (2 Kings 16 and 2 Chron 28).
The two historical books complete one another.

The book of  Kings Relates that the invasion of  Judah by the two allies commenced at the end of Jotham's reign (2 Kings 15:37);  and in addition to the statement taken from Isa 7:1,  it also mentions that Rezin conquered the seaport town of  Elath,  which then belonged to the kingdom of  Judah.
The book of  Chronicles Relates the fact that Rezin brought a number of  Judaean captives to Damascus,  and that Pekah conquered Ahaz in a bloody and destructive battle.

The course of  events might be arranged in the following manner:

While Rezin was on his way to Elath,
Pekah resolved to attack Jerusalem,
but failed in his attempt;
Rezin was more successful in his expedition,
which was a much easier one,
and after the conquest of Elath
united his forces with those of  his allies.

Isaiah 7:2
From the Tanakh
(2)  Now, when it was reported to the House of David that Aram had allied itself with Ephraim, their hearts and the hearts of their people trembled as trees of the forest sway before a wind.

From the NKJV

(2)  And it was told to the house of David, saying, "Syria's forces are deployed in Ephraim." So his heart and the heart of his people were moved as the trees of the woods are moved with the wind.

Ephraim
The leading tribe put by Figure of  Speech  (Synecdoche - of Part),  for the rest of the ten tribes.
Sometimes called  “Samaria.

The expression  nuach 'al  (settled down upon)  is explained in 2 Samuel 17:12 by the figurative simile  (and we will fall on him as the dew falls on the ground);  there it denotes a hostile invasion,  here the arrival of  one army to the support of  another.

Ephraim (feminine,  like the names of countries,  and of  the people that are regarded as included in their respective countries)  is used as the name of  the leading tribe of  Israel,  to signify the whole kingdom;  here it denotes the whole military force of  Israel.

Following the combination mentioned above,  we find that the allies now prepared for a second united expedition against Jerusalem.  In the meantime,  Jerusalem was in the condition described in Isaiah 1:7-9 - like a besieged city,  in the midst of enemies plundering and burning on every side.

Elath had fallen,  as Rezin's timely return clearly showed;  and in the prospect of  his approaching junction with the allied army,  it was quite natural,  from a human point of  view,  that the court and people of  Jerusalem should tremble like aspen leaves.

Isaiah 7:3
From the Tanakh
(3)  But the Lord said To Isaiah,  “Go out with your son Shear-jashub a to meet Ahaz at the end.  Of the conduit of the Upper Pool, by the road of the Fuller’s Field.

From the NKJV

(3)  Then the LORD said to Isaiah, "Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-Jashub your son, at the end of the aqueduct from the upper pool, on the highway to the Fuller's Field,

In this season of  terror Isaiah received the divine instructions.

The fuller's field  (sedeeh coobees)  was situated on the western side of  the city,  where there is still an "upper pool"  of great antiquity.
Near to this pool the fullers - the cleaners and thickeners of woolen fabrics - carried on their occupation.  Robinson and his companions saw some people washing clothes at the upper pool when they were there;  and,  for a considerable distance round,  the surface of  this favorite washing and bleaching place was covered with things spread out to bleach or dry.

The road  (mesillâh),  which ran past this fuller's field,  was the one that leads from the western gate to Joppa.
King Ahaz was there,  on the west of the city,  and outside the fortifications-engaged,  no doubt,  in making provision for the probable event of  Jerusalem being again besieged in a still more threatening manner.

Jerusalem received its water supply from the upper Sihon pool (also referred to as Gihon pool),  and there,  according to Jehovah's directions,  Isaiah was to go with his son and meet Ahaz.  The two together were,  as it were,  a personified blessing and curse,  presenting themselves to the king for him to make his own selection.  For the name Shear-Jashub ( Sheâr-yâshub  -  a remnant will return - OT:7610) was a kind of  abbreviation of  the divine answer given to the prophet in ch. 6:11-13,  and was indeed at once threatening and promising,  but in such a way that the curse stood in front and the grace behind.

The prophetic name of  Isaiah's son was intended to drive the king to Jehovah by force,  through the threatening aspect it presented;  and the prophetic announcement of  Isaiah himself,  whose name pointed to salvation,  was to allure him to Jehovah with its promising tone.

Isaiah 7:4
From the Tanakh
(4)  And Say to him: Be firm and be calm. Do not be afraid and do not lose heart on account of those two smoking stubs of firebrands, on account of the raging of Rezin and his Aramaeans and the son of Remaliah

From the NKJV

(4)  and say to him: 'Take heed, and be quiet; do not fear or be fainthearted for these two stubs of smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria, and the son of Remaliah.

No means were left untried.
The imperative as is the case when it is to be connected more closely with what follows,  and taken in the sense warned the king against acting for himself,  in estrangement from God;  and exhorted him to courageous calmness,  secured by confidence in God;  or,  as Calvin expresses it,  exhorted him  "to restrain himself outwardly, and keep his mind calm within."

The two allies are designated at once as what they were in the sight of  God,  who sees through the true nature and future condition.  They were two tails - nothing but the fag ends,  of wooden pokers
(lit. stirrersfire-stirrers),  which would not blaze any more,  but only continue smoking.

They would burn and light no more,  though their smoke might make the eyes smart still.  Along with Rezin,  and to avoid honoring him with the title of  king,  Aram (Syria) is especially mentioned; while Pekah is called Ben-Remaliah,  to recall minding his low birth,  and the absence of any promise in the case of  his house.

Isaiah 7:5 - 7
From the Tanakh From the  LXX
(5)  Because I will heal again.
The Arameans-with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah-have plotted
against you, saying, 
 
(6)  ‘we will march against Judah and invade and conquer it, and
we will set up as king in it the son of Tabeel,’
Turn away to our side,
(7)  thus said my
Lord God:  It shall not succeed,
It shall not come to pass.
 

From the NKJV

(5)  Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah have plotted evil against you, saying,  (6)  "Let us go up against Judah and trouble it, and let us make a gap in its wall for ourselves, and set a king over them, the son of Tabel" — (7)  thus says the Lord GOD:
"It shall not stand,
Nor shall it come to pass.

The inference drawn that at the time when Isaiah said this,  Judaea was not yet heathen or conquered is at any rate not conclusive.  The promise given to Ahaz was founded upon the wicked design,  with which the war had been commenced.  How far the allies had already gone towards this last goal,  the overthrow of  the Davidic sovereignty,  it does not say.  But we know from 2 Kings 15:37 (In those days the LORD began to send Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah against Judah.) that the invasion had begun before Ahaz ascended the throne;  and we may see from verse 16 of  Isaiah's prophecy,  that the  "terrifying"  had actually taken place;  so that the  "conquering" (hibkia', i.e., splitting, forcing of  the passes and fortifications)  must also have been a thing belonging to the past.

History says nothing about a successful resistance on the part of  Judah in this particular war. Only Jerusalem had not yet fallen,  and,  as the expression  "king in the midst of it"  shows,  it is to this that the term  "Judah"  especially refers;  just as in Isaiah 23:13  Asshur is to be understood as signifying Nineveh.
There they determined to enthrone a man named Tâb'ęl (vid. Ezra 4:7; it is written Tâb'al herel)  in pause - a name resembling the Syrian name Tab-rimmon).

Isaiah 7:8,9
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(8)  For the chief city of Aram is Damascus,  and the chief of
Damascus is Rezin;
Within sixty and five years the kingdom of Ephraim will cease  
(9)  The chief city of Ephraim is
Samaria, and the chief of Samaria is
the son of Remaliah.
Believe not, neither understand.  
And in another sixty-five years,   The house of Israel shall cease to be a kingdom:
Ephraim shall be shattered as a
people
Cease from being a people.  
If you will not believe, for you cannot be trusted …”   Neither will ye at all understand

From the NKJV

(8)  For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin.  Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be broken, so that it will not be a people.
(9)  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.

(probable date, 735 BC)
Ahaz inspected the city's water supply in preparation for the siege that was to come.
God revealed to the prophet the precise thoughts running through the king's mind,  and bade him go to meet Ahaz,  taking along young Shear-Jashub.
Without prior mention of the king's unrenounced sins,  God,  through Isaiah,  first conveyed to him a promise of  practical deliverance, treating him with kindness altogether undeserved.

(probable date, 669 BC)
Within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken in pieces. That is, by 669 BC (reckoning from 735).

Actually,  Samaria fell within eleven years  (722 BC),  and her population was deported beyond Assyria.
But the settling of  non-Israelite colonists by the government apparently did not take place on a large scale until the reign of Ashurbanipal  ( 669-626) -  a fact alluded to in Ezra 4:10 where the immigrants refer to the king of Assyria as Asnapper (or Osnapper).  With this foreign influx,  the Northern Kingdom was truly "broken in pieces"  ethnically,  and the sparse native Israelites still left in the land were submerged.

A threat to Pekah is implied here,  though not made explicit.
Note that the Jews (ye) had to receive and rest upon this divine promise if  they were to be established, i.e., derive practical benefit from this judgment visited upon the northern allies.  Their failure to do so led to the worsening of their plight as they became subject to Assyria.
(from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1962 by Moody Press)

Isaiah 7:10 - 12
From the Tanakh From the Targum
(10)  The Lord spoke further to Ahaz:
(11)  “Ask for a sign from the Lord your God,
 
anywhere down to Sheol or up to the sky.”  (12)  But
Ahaz replied, “I will not ask, and I will not test the Lord.”
On the earth

From the NKJV

(10)  Moreover the LORD spoke again to Ahaz, saying,  (11)  "Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above."
(12)  But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!"

Jehovah continued:  what a deep and firm consciousness of  the identity of the word of  Jehovah and the word of  the prophet is expressed in these words! 

Ahaz was to ask for a sign from Jehovah his God.  Jehovah did not scorn to call Himself  the God of  this son of  David,  who had so hardened his heart.  Possibly the holy love with which the expression  "thy God"  burned,  might kindle a flame in his dark heart;  or possibly he might think of  the covenant promises and covenant duties which the words  "thy God"  recalled to his mind.
From this,  his God,  he was to ask for a sign.  A sign ('oth, from 'uthto make an incision or dent)  was something,  some occurrence,  or some action,  which served as a pledge of  the divine certainty of  something else.

This was secured by:

Visible Miracles performed at once (Exodus 4:8-9)
"Then it will be, if they do not believe you, nor heed the message of the first sign, that they may believe the message of the latter sign.  And it shall be, if they do not believe even these two signs, or listen to your voice, that you shall take water from the river and pour it on the dry land. The water which you take from the river will become blood on the dry land."
Appointed Symbols of future events (Isaiah 20:3)
Then the LORD said, "Just as My servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and a wonder against Egypt and Ethiopia,  so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians as prisoners and the Ethiopians as captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.
Predicted Occurrences (Exodus 3:12)
So He said, "I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain."
Prospectively of their divine certainty (Jeremiah 44:29-30)
And this shall be a sign to you,' says the LORD, 'that I will punish you in this place, that you may know that My words will surely stand against you for adversity.'
"Thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will give Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies and into the hand of those who seek his life, as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, his enemy who sought his life.'"

The thing to be confirmed on the present occasion was what the prophet had just predicted in so definite a manner -

the maintenance of  Judah with its monarchy,  and
the failure of  the wicked enterprise of  the two allied kingdoms.
If this was to be attested to Ahaz in such a way as to demolish his unbelief,  a miraculous sign could only affect it.  And just as Hezekiah asked for a sign when Isaiah foretold his recovery,  and promised him the prolongation of  his life for fifteen years,  and the prophet gave him the sign he asked,  by causing the shadow upon the royal sun-dial to go backwards instead of  forwards (ch. 38);  so here Isaiah meets Ahaz with the offer of  such a supernatural sign,  and offers him the choice of heaven,  earth,  and Hades as the scene of  the miracle.

He studiously brought down upon himself the fate denounced in chapter 6,  and indeed

not upon himself only,  but upon all Judah as well.
For after a few years the forces of  Asshur would stand upon the same fuller's field (Isaiah 36:2) and demand the surrender of  Jerusalem.

In that very hour,  in which Isaiah was standing before Ahaz,  the fate of Jerusalem was decided for more than two thousand years.

Isaiah 7:13
From the Tanakh
(13)  “Listen, House of David,”  [Isaiah] retorted, “is it not enough for you to treat men as helpless that you also treat my God as helpless?

From the NKJV

(13)  Then he said, "Hear now, O house of  David!  Is it a small thing for you to weary men,  but will you weary my God also?

The prophet might have ceased speaking now;  but in accordance with the command in chapter 6 he was obliged to speak,  even though his word should be a savor of death unto death.

"He spoke"   Who spoke?
According to verse 10 the speaker was Jehovah;  yet what follows is given as the word of  the prophet.

The word of  the prophet was the Word of God
The prophet himself was the Organ of  God
We say this because of 2 Peter 1:21:
For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.    (NKJV)

The words were addressed to the "house of David,"  i.e.,  to Ahaz,  including all the members of  the royal family.  Ahaz himself was not yet thirty years old.

Isaiah 7:14 & 15
From the Tanakh From the  LXX
(14)  Assuredly, my Lord will give you a sign of His own accord! Look, the young woman is with child and about to give birth to a son. Let her name him Immanuel.  (15)  (By the time he learns to reject the bad and choose the good, people will be feeding on curds and honey.) A virgin shall conceive

From the NKJV

(14)  Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.  (15)  Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good.

The child who was to be born was the Messiah,  and not a new Israel;  that is to say,  that he was no other than that  "wonderful"  heir of the throne of  David,  whose birth is hailed with joy in chapter 9,  where even commentators like Knobel are obliged to admit that the Messiah is meant.

It was the Messiah whom the prophet saw

here as about to be born
chapter 9 as actually born
chapter 11 as reigning
An indivisible triad of consolatory images in three distinct states,  interwoven with the three stages into which the future history of  the nation unfolded itself in the prophet's view.

If,  therefore,  his eye was directed towards the Abijah mentioned,  he must have regarded her as the future mother of  the Messiah,  and her son as the future Messiah.  Now it is no doubt true,  that in the course of  the sacred history Messianic expectations were often associated with individuals who did not answer to them,  so that the Messianic prospect was moved further into the future;  and it is not only possible,  but even probable,  and according to many indications an actual fact,  that the believing portion of  the nation did concentrate their Messianic wishes and hopes for a long time upon Hezekiah;  but even if  Isaiah's prophecy may have evoked such human conjectures and expectations,  through the measure of  time which it laid down,  it would not be a prophecy at all,  if it rested upon no better foundation than this,  which would be the case if  Isaiah had a particular maiden of  his own day in his mind at the time.

A nameless maiden of  low rank,  whom God had singled out and now showed to the prophet in the mirror of  His counsel,  would give birth to the divine deliverer of  His people in the midst of  the approaching tribulations,  which was a sufficient intimation that He who was to be the pledge of  Judah's continuance would not arrive without the present degenerate house of  David,  which had brought Judah to the brink of  ruin,  being altogether set aside.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

The Lord 'Adonaay Adonai

A virgin - This word properly means a girl, maiden, virgin, a young woman who is unmarried, and who is of marriageable age.

Immanuel `Imaanuw-'eel God with us

Matthew (Matt 1:23) uses this name as properly expressing the rank of the Messiah.

Matthew 1:22-23
So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:  "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,"  which is translated, "God with us."     (NKJV)

Isaiah 7:16 & 17
From the Tanakh From the  LXX
(16)  For before the lad knows to reject the bad and choose the good, the
ground whose two kings you dread shall be abandoned.
(17)  The Lord will cause to come upon you and your people and your
Ancestral house such days as never have come since Ephraim turned away From Judah – that selfsame king of Assyria!
He refuses evil, to choose the good

From the NKJV

(16)  For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings.   (17)  The LORD will bring the king of Assyria upon you and your people and your father's house — days that have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah."

The land of  the two kings - Syria and Israel - was first of  all laid waste by the Assyrians,  whom Ahaz called to his assistance.

Tiglath-pileser Tiglath-pileser conquered Damascus and a portion of the kingdom of Israel, and led a large part of  the inhabitants of the two countries into captivity.
The Assyrians The Assyrians then also laid Judah waste, as a punishment for having refused the help of  Jehovah, and preferred the help of man.

The appeal to Asshur laid the foundation for the overthrow of  the kingdom of  Judah,  quite as much as for that of  the kingdom of Israel.  Ahaz became the tributary vassal of  the king of Assyria in consequence;  and although Hezekiah was set free from Asshur through the miraculous assistance of  Jehovah,  what Nebuchadnezzar afterwards performed was only the accomplishment of  the frustrated attempt of  Sennacherib.  It is with piercing force that the words  "the king of Assyria"  ('eth melek Asshur)  are introduced at the close of  the two verses.  The particle 'eth  is used frequently where an indefinite object is followed by the more precise and definite one.  The very king,  to whom Ahaz had appealed in his terror,  would bring Judah to the brink of  destruction.

The hopes raised in the mind of Ahaz by verse 16 are suddenly turned into bitter disappointment.
In the face of such catastrophes as these,  Isaiah predicts the birth of  Immanuel.
His eating only thickened milk and honey,  at a time when he knew very well what was good and what was not,  would arise from the desolation of  the whole of  the ancient territory of  the Davidic kingdom that had preceded the riper years of  his youth,  when he would certainly have chosen other kinds of  food,  if they could possibly have been found.
Consequently the birth of  Immanuel apparently falls between the time then present and the Assyrian calamities,  and his earliest childhood appears to run parallel to the Assyrian oppression.  In any case,  their consequences would be still felt at the time of  his riper youth.

What follows in verses 18-25,  is only a further expansion of verse 17.  The promising side of the "sign"  remains in the background,  because this was not for Ahaz.  In the presence of  Ahaz he must keep silence as to the promises.  But he pours out with all the greater fluency his threatening of  judgment.

The Lord will bring - The prophet having assured Ahaz that his kingdom should be free from the invasion that then threatened it, proceeds, however, to state to him that it would be endangered from another source.

Your father's house - The royal family-the princes and nobles.

Days that have not come - Times of calamity that have not been equaled.

Since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah - From the time of the separation of the ten tribes from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

This was done in the following manner.  Though the siege which Rezin and Pekah had undertaken was not at this time successful, yet they returned the year after with stronger forces, and with counsels better concerted, and again besieged the city.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Isaiah 7:18 & 19
From the Tanakh From the Targum
(18)  “In that day, the Lord will whistle to the flies at the ends of the Call to a people of massed armies, mighty
Water channels of Egypt and to the bees in the land of Assyria;
 (19)  and they shall all come and alight in the rugged wades,
Armies strong as bees
 and in the clefts of the rocks, and in all the thorn brakes,
and in all the watering places.
The fine houses

From the NKJV

(18)  And it shall come to pass in that day that the LORD will whistle for the fly that is in the farthest part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.
(19)  They will come, and all of them will rest in the desolate valleys and in the clefts of the rocks, and on all thorns and in all pastures.

The prophet has already stated,  in Isaiah 5:26,  that Jehovah would hiss for distant nations;  and how he is able to describe them by name.

The Egyptian nation with its vast and unparalleled numbers,  is compared to the swarming fly
The Assyrian nation with its love of  war and conquest, to the stinging bee that is so hard to keep off

The end of  the Nile-arms of  Egypt,  from a Palestinian point of view,  was the extreme corner of the land. The military force of  Egypt would march out of  the whole compass of  the land,  and meet the Assyrian force in the Holy Land;  and both together would cover the land in such a way that the valleys of  steep precipitous heights (nachalee habbattoth),  and clefts of  the rocks (nekikee hasselâ'im),  and all the
thorn-hedges (nâ'azuuziim) and pastures (nahalolim, from niheel, to lead to pasture),  would be covered with these swarms.

Isaiah 7:20
From the Tanakh From the Targum
(20)  “In that day, my Lord will cut away with the razor that is hired Slay by their means
Beyond the Euphrates – with the king of Assyria the hair of the head Rulers and armies
And the hair of the legs, and it shall clip off the beard as well.  

From the NKJV

(20)  In the same day the Lord will shave with a hired razor, with those from beyond the River, with the king of Assyria, the head and the hair of the legs, and will also remove the beard.

The nation of  Judah is regarded here,  as in Isaiah 1:6,  as a man strip naked,  and not only with all the hair of  his head and feet shaved off,

but what was regarded as the most shameful of  all - with the hair of  his beard shaved off as well.

To this end the Almighty would make use of  a razor,  which is more distinctly defined as hired on the shore of the Euphrates (and still more precisely as the king of Asshur)

"The thing for hire:"  which indicates an emphatic advance from the indefinite to the more definite;  in the sense of  "with a razor,  namely,  that which was standing ready to be hired in the lands on both sides of  the Euphrates,  the king of Assyria."  In  hasseciirâh  (the thing for hire)  there was involved the bitterest sarcasm for Ahaz. The Lord, to shave Judah most thoroughly, and in the most disgraceful manner, hired the sharp knife, which it had hired for the deliverance of Judah. Thus shaved, Judah would be a depopulated and desert land, in which men would no longer live by growing corn and vines, or by trade and commerce, but by grazing alone.

This is an allusion to the custom of hiring soldiers, or employing mercenary armies. The meaning here is that God would employ the Assyrians as his instruments,  to effect his purposes,  as though they were hired and paid by the plunder and spoil of the nation.

In the same day  - The idea in this verse is the same as in the preceding, though presented in a different form.  The meaning is, that  God would bring upon them this punishment,  but that he would make use of  the Assyrian as an  "instrument"  by which to do it.

Shave - The act of shaving off  the hair denotes punishment or disgrace; compare 2 Sam 10:4: 'Hanun took David's servants, and shaved off one half of their beards;'.

With a razor - Using them as an instrument.  God here claims the power of  directing them,  and regards them as employed by him.

Beyond the river - The river Euphrates.
The Euphrates is usually meant in the Scriptures where  'the river'  is mentioned without specifying the name.  This was the river which Abraham had passed;  and this,  perhaps,  was,  for a long time,  the eastern boundary of their geographical knowledge.

Remove the beard - This was esteemed particularly disgraceful among the Jews.
No higher insult can be offered than to treat the beard with indignity.
The meaning is here, that God would employ the Assyrian as his instrument to lay waste the land.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Isaiah 7:21 & 22
From the Tanakh From the  LXX From the Targum
(21)  And in that day, each man shall save alive a heifer of the herd and two animals The hairs of the feet  
Of the flock.  (22)  (And he shall obtain so much milk that he shall eat curds.)   All the righteous
Thus everyone who is left in the land shall feed on curds and honey. Eat butter and honey.  

From the NKJV

(21)  It shall be in that day that a man will keep alive a young cow and two sheep;  (22)   so it shall be, from the abundance of milk they give, that he will eat curds; for curds and honey everyone will eat who is left in the land.

The former prosperity would be reduced to the most miserable housekeeping.
One man would keep a mulch cow and two head of sheep (or goats) alive with the greatest care,  the strongest and finest full-grown cattle having fallen into the hands of  the foe.  But this would be quite enough,  for there would be only a few men left in the land;  and as all the land would be pasture,  the small number of  animals would yield milk in abundance.  Bread and wine would be unattainable.

Whoever had escaped the Assyrian razor,  would eat thickened milk and honey,  that and nothing but that,  without variation,  ad nauseam. The reason for this would be,  that the hills,  which at other times were full of vines and corn-fields,  would be overgrown with briers.

Isaiah 7:23 - 25
From the Tanakh
(23)  “For in that day, every spot where there could stand a thousand vines worth a thousand shekels of silver shall become a wilderness of thorn bush and thistle.  (24)  One will have to go there with bow and arrows, l for the
Country shall be all thorn bushes and thistles.  (25)  But the perils of thorn bush and thistle shall not spread to any of the hills and could only be tilled with a hoe; and here cattle shall be let loose, and sheep and goats shall tramp about.”

From the NKJV

(23)  It shall happen in that day, that wherever there could be a thousand vines worth a thousand shekels of silver, it will be for briers and thorns.   (24)   With arrows and bows men will come there, because all the land will become briers and thorns.   (25)  And to any hill which could be dug with the hoe, you will not go there for fear of briers and thorns; but it will become a range for oxen and a place for sheep to roam.

A thousand shekels of  silver - recall to mind Song of  Solomon 8:11 (Everyone was to bring for its fruit a thousand silver coins.),  though there it is the value of  the yearly produce,  whereas here the thousand shekels are the value of  a  thousand vines,  the sign of  a peculiarly valuable piece of a vineyard.

This ends Isaiah's address to king Ahaz.
He does not expressly say when Immanuel is to be born,  but only what will take place before he has reached the riper age of  boyhood - namely,

first the devastation of  Israel and Syria
and then the devastation of Judah itself,  by the Assyrians.

From the fact that the prophet says no more than this,  we may see that his spirit and his tongue were under the direction of  the Spirit of  God,  who does not descend within the historical and temporal range of vision,  without at the same time remaining exalted above it.

On the other hand,  however,  we may see from what he says,  that the prophecy has its human side as well.
When Isaiah speaks of  Immanuel as eating thickened milk and honey,  like all who survived the Assyrian troubles in the Holy Land;  he evidently looks upon and thinks of  the childhood of  Immanuel as connected with the time of the Assyrian calamities.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

For the things which the prophet saw in combination were essentially connected,  even though chronologically separated.

When, for example,  Isaiah saw Asshur only,  standing out as the imperial kingdom;
this was so far true, that the four imperial kingdoms from the Babylonian to the Roman were really nothing more than the full development of the commencement made in Assyria.
And when he spoke of the son of the virgin as growing up in the midst of the Assyrian oppressions;
this also was so far true,  that Jesus was really born at a time when the Holy Land,  deprived of its previous abundance,  was under the dominion of  the imperial power,  and in a condition whose primary cause was to be traced to the unbelief of Ahaz.

He was in the midst of  it in a pre-existent presence,  moving on towards the covenant goal.
The fact that the house and nation of  David did not perish in the Assyrian calamities was actually to be attributed,  as chapter 8 presupposes,  to His real though not His bodily presence.
In this way the apparent discrepancy between the prophecy and the history of  the fulfillment may be solved.

The prophecy,  as will be more fully confirmed as we proceed,  is directly Messianic.
It is a divine prophecy within human limits.
(From Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)


LESSON  4  FROM  THE  AMPLIFIED  VERSION

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Isaiah 6:1-7:25 - from the Amplified Version

6:1   IN THE year that King Uzziah died, [in a vision] I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and the skirts of His train filled the [most holy part of the] temple. [John 12:41.]
(2)   Above Him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two [each] covered his [own] face, and with two [each] covered his feet, and with two [each] flew.
(3)   And one cried to another and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!
(4)   And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
(5)   Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone and ruined, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!
(6)   Then flew one of the seraphim [heavenly beings] to me, having a live coal in his hand which he had taken with tongs from off the altar;
(7)   And with it he touched my mouth and said, Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity and guilt are taken away, and your sin is completely atoned for and forgiven.
(8)   Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send? And who will go for Us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
(9)   And He said, Go and tell this people, Hear and hear continually, but understand not; and see and see continually, but do not apprehend with your mind.
(10)  Make the heart of this people fat; and make their ears heavy and shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and turn again and be healed.
(11)  Then said I, Lord, how long? And He answered, Until cities lie waste without inhabitant and houses without man, and the land is utterly desolate,
(12)  And the Lord removes [His] people far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
(13)  And though a tenth [of the people] remain in the land, it will be for their destruction [eaten up and burned] like a terebinth tree or like an oak whose stump and substance remain when they are felled or have cast their leaves. The holy seed [the elect remnant] is the stump and substance [of Israel].

7:1   IN THE days of Ahaz son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel went up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but they could not conquer it.
(2)  And the house of David [Judah] was told, Syria is allied with Ephraim [Israel]. And the heart [of Ahaz] and the hearts of his people trembled and shook, as the trees of the forest tremble and shake with the wind.
(3)   Then said the Lord to Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Judah 's King Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub [a remnant shall return], at the end of the aqueduct or canal of the Upper Pool on the highway to the Fuller's Field;
(4 )  And say to him, Take heed and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted because of these two stumps of smoking firebrands--at the fierce anger of [the Syrian King] Rezin and Syria and of the son of Remaliah [Pekah, usurper of the throne of Israel].
(5)   Because Syria, Ephraim [Israel], and the son of Remaliah have purposed evil against you [Judah], saying,
(6)   Let us go up against Judah and harass and terrify it; and let us cleave it asunder [each of us taking a portion], and set a [vassal] king in the midst of it, namely the son of Tabeel,
(7)   Thus says the Lord God: It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.
(8)   For the head [the capital] of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is [King] Rezin. Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be broken to pieces so that it will no longer be a people.
(9)   And the head (the capital) of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son [Pekah]. If you will not believe and trust and rely [on God and on the words of God's prophet instead of Assyria], surely you will not be established nor will you remain.
(10)  Moreover, the Lord spoke again to King Ahaz, saying,
(11)  Ask for yourself a sign (a token or proof) of the Lord your God [one that will convince you that God has spoken and will keep His word]; ask it either in the depth below or in the height above [let it be as deep as Sheol or as high as heaven].
(12)  But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord.
(13)  And [Isaiah] said, Hear then, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary and try the patience of men, but will you weary and try the patience of my God also?
(14)  Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, the young woman who is unmarried and a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [God with us]. [Isa 9:6; Jer 31:22; Mic 5:3-5; Matt ,23.]
(15)  Butter and curds and wild honey shall he eat when he knows [enough] to refuse the evil and choose the good.
(16)  For before the child shall know [enough] to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land [Canaan] whose two kings you abhor and of whom you are in sickening dread shall be forsaken [both Ephraim and Syria]. [Isa 7:2.]
(17)  The Lord shall bring upon you and upon your people and upon your father's house such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim [the ten northern tribes] departed from Judah--even the king of Assyria.
(18)  And in that day the Lord shall whistle for the fly [the numerous and troublesome foe] that is in the whole extent of the canal country of  Egypt and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.
(19)  And these [enemies like flies and bees] shall come and shall rest all of them in the desolate and rugged valleys and deep ravines and in the clefts of the rocks, and on all the thornbushes and on all the pastures.
(20)  In the same day [will the people of Judah be utterly stripped of belongings], the Lord will shave with the razor that is hired from the parts beyond the River [Euphrates]--even with the king of Assyria--[that razor will shave] the head and the hair of the legs, and it shall also consume the beard [leaving Judah with open shame and scorn]. [2 Kings 16:7,8; 18:13-16.]
(21)  And [because of the desolation brought on by the invaders] in that day, a man will [be so poor that he will] keep alive only a young milk cow and two sheep.
(22)  And because of the abundance of milk that they will give, he will eat butter and curds, for [only] butter and curds and [wild] honey [no vegetables] shall everyone eat who is left in the land [these products provided from the extensive pastures and the plentiful wild flowers upon which the bees depend].
(23)  And in that day, in every place where there used to be a thousand vines worth a thousand silver shekels, there will be briers and thorns.
(24)  With arrows and with bows shall a man come [to hunt] there, because all the land will be briers and thorns.
(25)  And as for all the hills that were formerly cultivated with mattock and hoe, you will not go there for fear of briers and thorns; but they will become a place where oxen are let loose to pasture and where sheep tread.

 

(End of  Lesson 4)


  

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