Isaiah 7:10
Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying,
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Isaiah 7:10-12. The Lord spake again unto Ahaz — Namely, by Isaiah. “From hence to Isaiah 7:16, we have the confirmation of the promise, by a sign to Ahaz, in the name of God; in which we have, first, the prophet’s address to Ahaz, exhorting him, by the divine command, to ask whatever sign he would, with the reply of Ahaz, Isaiah 7:10-12 : and, secondly, a declaration of God’s good pleasure to give an illustrious sign, which he offers rather to the true believers than to a hypocritical and incredulous king, Isaiah 7:13-16.” Through the strong and forcible objections which some learned men have made against applying the prophecy contained in these verses to Christ, in its primary sense, Huetius, Grotius, and some other commentators, have been led to suppose that it immediately related to the birth of a child in a natural way, and that it only refers in a secondary sense to the birth of Christ. Thus Bishop Lowth observes, “The obvious, literal meaning of the prophecy, not excluding a higher secondary sense, is this: ‘That, within the time that a young woman, now a virgin, should conceive, and bring forth a child, and that child should arrive at such an age as to distinguish between good and evil, that is, within a few years,

(compare Isaiah 8:4,) the enemies of Judah should be destroyed.’” But, surely, as Dr. Doddridge observes, on Matthew 1:23, “A son’s being born of one, then a virgin, when she was married, was no such miraculous event as to answer such a pompous introduction” as we have here. Of this the reader may easily judge by attending to the prophet’s words, and a short and easy paraphrase upon them. Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God — A sign is a miracle wrought for the confirmation of some message, promise, or doctrine delivered from God. “Some unusual or extraordinary effect, production, or phenomenon, which could not be explained from natural causes, but only from the omnipotence of the Ruler of the universe; which, moreover, signified that God was present, and ratified the word, or declaration, for which the sign was given.” See Exodus 4:8; Jdg 6:17; Isaiah 38:22. Ask it either in the depth, or in the height above — Demand some prodigy to be wrought, either in earth or heaven, at thy pleasure. By speaking thus, the prophet signified that “all nature was subject to the power and control of that God, whom he calls the God of Ahaz, as being the God of his fathers, and in order to admonish him wherein to place his confidence.” But Ahaz said, I will not ask — This refusal did not proceed from faith in God and true humility, but rather from his contempt of God, and disregard of his word, as is sufficiently evident from the history of his life. He probably feared lest, if such a sign should be given as he did not choose, he should be compelled to desist from his purpose of calling in the aid of Assyria, which he could not well have called in after Jehovah had given a sign to the contrary. Besides, he did not dare to commit himself to that divine favour and providence, which he had heretofore so proudly despised; preferring to it the protection of other and false deities. See Vitringa. Neither will I tempt the Lord — By distrusting his providence, or asking a sign, as if I questioned the truth of his word. But this was deep hypocrisy, as appears by the prophet’s answer.

7:10-16 Secret disaffection to God is often disguised with the colour of respect to him; and those who are resolved that they will not trust God, yet pretend they will not tempt him. The prophet reproved Ahaz and his court, for the little value they had for Divine revelation. Nothing is more grievous to God than distrust, but the unbelief of man shall not make the promise of God of no effect; the Lord himself shall give a sign. How great soever your distress and danger, of you the Messiah is to be born, and you cannot be destroyed while that blessing is in you. It shall be brought to pass in a glorious manner; and the strongest consolations in time of trouble are derived from Christ, our relation to him, our interest in him, our expectations of him and from him. He would grow up like other children, by the use of the diet of those countries; but he would, unlike other children, uniformly refuse the evil and choose the good. And although his birth would be by the power of the Holy Ghost, yet he should not be fed with angels' food. Then follows a sign of the speedy destruction of the princes, now a terror to Judah. Before this child, so it may be read; this child which I have now in my arms, (Shear-jashub, the prophet's own son, ver. 3,) shall be three or four years older, these enemies' forces shall be forsaken of both their kings. The prophecy is so solemn, the sign is so marked, as given by God himself after Ahaz rejected the offer, that it must have raised hopes far beyond what the present occasion suggested. And, if the prospect of the coming of the Divine Saviour was a never-failing support to the hopes of ancient believers, what cause have we to be thankful that the Word was made flesh! May we trust in and love Him, and copy his example.And the head of Ephraim - The capital city of Ephraim, or of Israel.

Is Samaria - This was long the capital of the kingdom of Israel. For a description of this city, see the notes at Isaiah 28:1. The meaning of the prophet is, that Samaria should continue to be the head of Ephraim; that is, Jerusalem should not be made its capital.

If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established - There is considerable variety in the interpretation of these words, though the general sense is evident. The Chaldee renders them, 'If ye will not believe the words of the prophet, ye shall not remain.' It is probable that Ahaz, who was greatly alarmed, and who trembled at the formidable power of Syria and Israel united, received the annunciation of the prophet with much distrust. He was anxious about the means of defense, but did not trust in the promise of God by the prophet. Isaiah, therefore, assures him, that if he did not believe him; if he did not put confidence in God, and his promises, he should not be protected from Syria and Ephraim. They would come and destroy his kingdom. 'You have no occasion,' is the language of the prophet, 'to fear. God has resolved to protect you, and no portion of your land shall be taken by your enemies. Nevertheless, in order that you may obtain deliverance, you must believe his promise, and put your confidence in him, and not in the aid of the Assyrians. If you do this, your mind shall be calm, peaceful, and happy. But if you do "not" do this; if you rely on the aid of Assyria, you shall be troubled, alarmed, unsuccessful, and bring ruin upon yourself and nation.' This, therefore, is an exhortation to confide solely in the promises of God, and is one of the instances constantly occurring in the Old Testament and the New, showing, that by faith or confidence in God only, can the mind he preserved calm when in the midst of dangers.

9. believe, … be established—There is a paronomasia, or play on the words, in the Hebrew: "if ye will not confide, ye shall not abide." Ahaz brought distress on himself by distrust in the Lord, and trust in Assyria. No text from Poole on this verse.

Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz,.... By the prophet Isaiah:

saying; as follows:

Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying,
10. Moreover the Lord spake again] Better, And Jehovah spake further. The expression does not of itself imply that this second communication followed immediately on the first, but that is certainly the most natural supposition.

10–12. Isaiah’s last ineffectual effort to bring Ahaz to the attitude of faith. A sign is offered and refused.

Verses 10-16. - THE SIGN OF IMMANUEL. The supposition that there was a considerable interval between ver. 9 and ver. 10 (Cheyne) is quite gratuitous. Nothing in the text marks any such interval. God had sent Ahaz one message by his prophet (vers. 4-9). It had apparently been received in silence, at any rate without acknowledgment. The faith had seemed to be lacking which should have embraced with gladness the promise given (see the last clause of ver. 9). God, however, will give the unhappy monarch another chance. And so he scuds him a second message, the offer of a sign which should make belief in the first message easier to him (ver. 11). Ahaz proudly rejects this offer (ver. 12). Then the sign of "Immanuel" is given - not to Ahaz individually, but to the whole "house of David," and through them to the entire Jewish people. "A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, whose name shall be called Immanuel; and before this child shall have grown to the age of moral discernment, God's people will have been delivered, and their enemies made a desolation" (vers. 14-16). The exact bearing of the "sign" will be best discussed in the comment upon ver. 14. Verse 10. - The Lord spake again unto Ahaz. As before (vers. 3, 4) by the mouth of his prophet. Isaiah 7:10Thus spake Isaiah, and Jehovah through him, to the king of Judah. Whether he replied, or what reply he made, we are not informed. He was probably silent, because he carried a secret in his heart which afforded him more consolation than the words of the prophet. The invisible help of Jehovah, and the remote prospect of the fall of Ephraim, were not enough for him. His trust was in Asshur, with whose help he would have far greater superiority over the kingdom of Israel, than Israel had over the kingdom of Judah through the help of Damascene Syria. The pious, theocratic policy of the prophet did not come in time. He therefore let the enthusiast talk on, and had his own thoughts about the matter. Nevertheless the grace of God did not give up the unhappy son of David for lost. "And Jehovah continued speaking to Ahaz as follows: Ask thee a sign of Jehovah thy God, going deep down into Hades, or high up to the height above." 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! According to a very marvellous interchange of idioms (Communicatio idiomatum) which runs through the prophetic books of the Old Testament, at one time the prophet speaks as if he were Jehovah, and at another, as in the case before us, Jehovah speaks as if He were the prophet. 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 'uth, to 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 sometimes by visible miracles performed at once (Exodus 4:8-9), or by appointed symbols of future events (Isaiah 8:18; Isaiah 20:3); sometimes by predicted occurrences, which, whether miraculous or natural, could not possibly be foreseen by human capacities, and therefore, if they actually took place, were a proof either retrospectively of the divine causality of other events (Exodus 3:12), or prospectively of their divine certainty (Isaiah 37:30; Jeremiah 44:29-30). The thing to be confirmed on the present occasion was what the prophet had just predicted in so definite a manner, viz., 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, it could only be effected by a miraculous sign. 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 (chapter 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.

העמּק and הגבּהּ are either in the infinitive absolute or in the imperative; and שאלה is either the imperative שׁאל with the He of challenge, which is written in this form in half pause instead of שׁאלה (for the two similar forms with pashtah and zakeph, vid., Daniel 9:19), "Only ask, going deep down, or ascending to the height," without there being any reason for reading שׁאלה with the tone upon the last syllable, as Hupfeld proposes, in the sense of profundam fac (or faciendo) precationem (i.e., go deep down with thy petition); or else it is the pausal subordinate form for שׁאלה, which is quite allowable in itself (cf., yechpâtz, the constant form in pause for yachpōtz, and other examples, Genesis 43:14; Genesis 49:3, Genesis 49:27), and is apparently preferred here on account of its consonance with למעלה (Ewald, 93, 3). We follow the Targum, with the Sept., Syr., and Vulgate, in giving the preference to the latter of the two possibilities. It answers to the antithesis; and if we had the words before us without points, this would be the first to suggest itself. Accordingly the words would read, Go deep down (in thy desire) to Hades, or go high up to the height; or more probably, taking העמק and הגבה in the sense of gerundives, "Going deep down to Hades, or (או from אוה, like vel from velle equals si velis, malis) going high up to the height." This offer of the prophet to perform any kind of miracle, either in the world above or in the lower world, has thrown rationalistic commentators into very great perplexity. The prophet, says Hitzig, was playing a very dangerous game here; and if Ahaz had closed with his offer, Jehovah would probably have left him in the lurch. And Meier observes, that "it can never have entered the mind of an Isaiah to perform an actual miracle:" probably because no miracles were ever performed by Gthe, to whose high poetic consecration Meier compares the consecration of the prophet as described in Isaiah 6:1-13. Knobel answers the question, "What kind of sign from heaven would Isaiah have given in case it had been asked for?" by saying, "Probably a very simple matter." But even granting that an extraordinary heavenly phenomenon could be a "simple matter," it was open to king Ahaz not to be so moderate in his demands upon the venturesome prophet, as Knobel with his magnanimity might possibly have been. Dazzled by the glory of the Old Testament prophecy, a rationalistic exegesis falls prostrate upon the ground; and it is with such frivolous, coarse, and common words as these that it tries to escape from its difficulties. It cannot acknowledge the miraculous power of the prophet, because it believes in no miracles at all. But Ahaz had no doubt about his miraculous power, though he would not be constrained by any miracle to renounce his own plans and believe in Jehovah. "But Ahaz replied, I dare not ask, and dare not tempt Jehovah." What a pious sound this has! And yet his self-hardening reached its culminating point in these well-sounding words. He hid himself hypocritically under the mask of Deuteronomy 6:16, to avoid being disturbed in his Assyrian policy, and was infatuated enough to designate the acceptance of what Jehovah Himself had offered as tempting God. He studiously brought down upon himself the fate denounced in Isaiah 6:1-13, 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.

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