Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. On 7:1. “Hierosolyma oppugnatur, etc. Jerusalem is assaulted but not conquered. The church is pressed but not oppressed.”—FOERSTER.
2. On 7:2. “Quando ecclesia, etc. When the Church is assaulted and Christ crucified over again in His elect, Rezin and Pekah, Herod and Pilate are wont to form alliance and enter into friendly relations. There are, so to speak, the foxes of Samson, joined indeed by the tails, but their heads are disconnected.”—FOERSTER.—“He that believes flees not (Isa. 28:16). ‘The righteous is bold as a lion’ (Prov. 28:1). Hypocrites and those that trust in works (work-saints) have neither reason nor faith. Therefore they cannot by any means quiet their heart. In prosperity they are, indeed, overweening, but in adversity they fall away (Jer. 17:9).” CRAMER.
3. On 7:9. (“If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.”) “Insignis sententia, etc. A striking sentiment that may be adapted generally to all temptation, because all earnest endeavor after anything, as you know, beguiles us in temptation. But only faith in the word of promise makes us abide and makes sure whatever we would execute. He warns Ahaz, therefore, as if he said: I now promise you by the word, it shall be that those two kings shall not hurt you. Believe this word! For if you do not, whatever you afterwards devise will deceive you: because all confidence is vain which is not supported by the word of God.”—LUTHER.
4. On 7:10–12. “Wicked Ahaz pretends to great sanctity in abstaining from asking a sign through fear of God. Thus hypocrites are most conscientious where there is no need for it: on the other hand, when they ought to be humble, they are the most insolent. But where God commands to be bold, one must be bold. For to be obedient to the word is not tempting God. That is rather tempting God when one proposes something without having the word for it. It is, indeed, the greatest virtue to rest only in the word, and desire nothing more. But where God would add something more than the word, then it must not be thought a virtue to reject it as superfluous. We must therefore exercise such a faith in the word of God that we will not despise the helps that are given in addition to it as aids to faith. For example the Lord offers us in the gospel all that is necessary to salvation. Why then Baptism and the LORD’S Supper? Are they to be treated as superfluous? By no means. For if one believes the word he will at the same time exhibit an entire obedience toward God. We ought therefore to learn to join the sign with the word, for no man has the power to sever the two.
But do you ask: is it permitted to ask God for a sign? We have an example of this in Gideon. Answer: Although Gideon was not told of God to ask a sign, yet he did it by the impulse of the Holy Spirit, and not according to his own fancy. We must not therefore abuse his example, and must be content with the sign that is offered by the LORD. But there are extraordinary signs or miracles, like that of the text, and ordinary ones like Baptism and the LORD’S Supper. Yet both have the same object and use. For as Gideon was strengthened by that miraculous event, so, too, are we strengthened by Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, although no miracle appears before our eyes.” HEIM and HOFFMANN after LUTHER. Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, also asked the Lord to show him the right wife for Isaac by means of a sign of His own choosing, (Gen. 24:14).
It ought to be said that this asking a sign (opening the Bible at a venture, or any other book) does not suit Christian perfection (Heb. 6:1). A Christian ought to be inwardly sensible of the divine will. He ought to content himself with the guarantees that God Himself offers. Only one must have open eyes and ears for them. This thing of demanding a sign, if it is not directly an effect of superstition (Matt. 12:39; 16:4; 1 Cor. 1:22), is certainly childish, and, because it easily leads to superstitious abuses, it is dangerous.
5. On 7:13. “Non caret, etc. That the Prophet calls God his God is not without a peculiar emphasis. In Zech. 2:12 it is said, that whoever touches the servants of God touches the pupil of God’s eye. Whoever opposes teacher and preacher will have to deal with God in heaven or with the Lord who has put them into office.”—FOERSTER.
6. On 7:14. “The name Immanuel is one of the most beautiful and richest in contents of all the Holy Scripture. ‘God with us’ comprises God’s entire plan of salvation with sinful humanity. In a narrower sense it means ‘God-man’ (Matth. 1:23), and points to the personal union of divinity and humanity, in the double nature of the Son of God become man. Jesus Christ was a God-with-us, however, in this, that for about 33 years He dwelt among us sinners (Jno. 1:11, 14). In a deeper and wider sense still He was such by the Immanuel’s work of the atonement (2 Cor. 5:19; 1 Tim. 2:3). He will also be such to every one that believes on Him by the work of regeneration and sanctification and the daily renewal of His holy and divine communion of the Spirit (Jno. 17:23, 26; 14:19, 20, 21, 23). He is such now by His high-priestly and royal administration and government for His whole Church (Matth. 28:20; Heb. 7:25). He will be snch in the present time of the Church in a still more glorious fashion (Jno. 10:16). The entire and complete meaning of the name Immanuel, however, will only come to light in the new earth, and in the heavenly Jerusalem (Rev. 21:3, 23; 22:5).”—WILH. FRIED. ROOS.
Isaiah 8:7. On Isa 8:5 sqq. “Like boastful swimmers despise small and quiet waters, and on the other hand, for the better display of their skill, boast of the great sea and master it, but often are lost in it,—thus, too, did the hypocrites that despised the small kingdom of Judah, and bragged much and great things of the power and splendor of the kingdom of Israel and of the Syrians; such hypocrites are still to be found now-a-days—such that bear in their eye the admiranda Romae, the splendor, riches, power, ceremonies and pomp of the Romish church, and thereupon ‘set their bushel by the bigger-heap.’ It is but the devil’s temptation over again: ‘I will give all this to thee.’ ”—CRAMER.—“Fons Siloa,” etc. “The fountain of Siloam, near the temple, daily reminded the Jews that Christ was coming.”—CALVIN on Jno. 9:7.
8. On 8:10. “When the great Superlatives sit in their council chambers and have determined everything, how it ought to be, and especially how they will extinguish the gospel, then God sends the angel Gabriel to them, who must look through the window and say: nothing will come of it.”—LUTHER.—“Christ, who is our Immanuel, is with us by His becoming man, for us by His office of Mediator, in us by the work of His sanctification, by us by His personal, gracious presence.”—CRAMER.
9. On 8:14, 15. Christ alone is set by God to be a stone by which we are raised up. That He is, however, an occasion of offence to many is because of their purpose, petulance and contempt (1 Pet. 2:8). Therefore we ought to fear lest we take offence at Him. For whoever falls on this stone will shatter to pieces (Matth. 21:44).” CRAMER.
10. On 8:16 sqq. He warns His disciples against heathenish superstition, and exhorts them to show respect themselves always to law and testimony. “They must not think that God must answer them by visions and signs, therefore He refers them to the written word, that they may not become altogether too spiritual, like those now-a-days who cry: spirit! spirit! … Christ says, Luke 16: They have Moses and the prophets, and again Jno. 5:39: Search the Scriptures. So Paul says, 2 Tim. 3:16: The Scripture is profitable for doctrine. So says Peter, 2 Pet. 1:9: We have a sure word of prophecy. It is the word that changes hearts and moves them. But revelations puff people up and make them insolent.” HEIM and HOFFMANN after LUTHER.
CHAP. 9–11. On Isa 9:1 sqq. (2). “Postrema pars, etc. The latter part of chap. 8 was νομικὴ καὶ ἀπειλητική (legal and threatening) so, on the other hand, the first and best part of chap. 9 is εὐαγγελικὴ καὶ παραμυθητική, (evangelical and comforting). Thus must ever law and gospel, preaching wrath and grace, words of reproof and words of comfort, a voice of alarm and a voice of peace follow one another in the church.” FOERSTER.
12. On 9:1 (2). Both in the Old Testament and New Testament Christ is often called light. Thus Isaiah calls Him “a light to the gentiles,” 42:6; 49:6. The same Prophet says: “Arise, shine (make thyself light), for thy light is come,” 60:1. And again Isa 9:19: “The Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light.” In the New Testament it is principally John that makes use of this expression: “The life was the light of men,” 1:4, “and the light shined in the darkness,” Isa 9:5. John was not that light, but bore testimony to the light, Isa 9:8. “That was the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” Isa 9:9. And further: “And this is the condemnation that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light,” 3:19. “I am the light of the world,” (8:12; 9:5; comp. 12:35; 36:46).
13. On 9:1 (2). The people that sit in darkness may be understood to comprise three grades. First, the inhabitants of Zebulon and Naphtali are called so (8:23), for the Prophet’s gaze is fixed first on that region lying in the extreme end of Palestine, which was neighbor to the heathen and mixed with them, and on this account was held in low esteem by the dwellers in Judah. The night that spreads over Israel in general is darkest there. But all Israel partakes of this night, therefore all Israel, too, may be understood, as among the people sitting in darkness. Finally, no one can deny that this night extends over the borders of Israel to the whole human race. For far as men dwell extends the night which Christ, as light of the world, came to dispel, Luke 1:76 sqq.
14. On 9:5 (6). Many lay stress on the notion “child,” inasmuch as they see in that the reason for the reign of peace spoken of afterwards. It is not said a man, a king, a giant is given to us. But this is erroneous. For the child does not remain a child. He becomes a man: and the six names that are ascribed to Him and also the things predicted of His kingdom apply to Him, not as a child, but as a man. That His birth as a child is made prominent, has its reason in this, that thereby His relation to human kind should be designated as an organic one. He does not enter into humanity as a man, i.e. as one whose origin was outside of it, but He was born from it, and especially from the race of David. He is Son of man and Son of David. He is a natural offshoot, but also the crowning bloom of both. Precisely because He was to be conceived, carried and born of a human mother, and indeed of a virgin, this prophecy belongs here as the completion and definition of the two prophetic pictures 7:10 sqq.; 8:1 sqq.—“He came down from heaven for the sake of us men, and for our bliss (1 Tim. 1:15; Luke 2:7). For our advantage: for He undertook not for the seed of angels, but for the seed of Abraham (Heb. 2:16). Not sold to us by God out of great love, but given (Rom. 5:15; Jno. 3:16). Therefore every one ought to make an application of the word ‘to us’ to himself, and to learn to say: this child was given to me, conceived for me, born to me.”—CRAMER.—“Cur oportuit, etc. Why did it become the Redeemer of human kind to be not merely man nor merely God, but God and man conjoined or θεάνθρωπον? Anselm replies briefly, indeed, but pithily: Deum qui posset, hominem, qui deberet.” FOERSTER.
15. On 9:5 (6). “You must not suppose here that He is to be named and called according to His person, as one usually calls another by his name; but these are names that one must preach, praise and celebrate on account of His act, works and office.” LUTHER.
16. On 9:6. “Verba pauca, etc. A few words, but to be esteemed great, not for their number but for their weight.” Augustine. “Admirabilis in, etc. Wonderful in birth, counsellor in what He preaches, God in working, strong in suffering, father of the world to come in resurrection, Prince of peace in bliss perpetual.” BERNARD of CLAIRVAUX. In reference to “a child is born,” and “a son is given,” JOH. COCCEIUS remarks in his Heb. Lex. s. v. יֶלֶד: “respectu, etc., in respect to His human nature He is said to be born, and in respect to His divine nature and eternal generation not indeed born, but given, as, Joh. 3:16, it reads God gave His only begotten Son.”
“In the application of this language all depends on the words is born to us, is given to us.” The angels are, in this matter, far from being as blessed as we are. They do not say: To us a Saviour is born this day, but; to you. As long as we do not regard Christ as ours, so long we shall have little joy in Him. But when we know Him as our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, as a gift that our heavenly Father designed for us, we will appropriate Him to ourselves in humble faith, and take possession of all His redeeming effects that He has acquired. For giving and taking go together. The Son is given to us; we must in faith receive Him.” J. J. RAMBACH, Betracht. über das Ev. Esaj., Halle, 1724.
On 9:6 (7). “The government is on His shoulders.” “It is further shown how Christ differs in this respect from worldly kings. They remove from themselves the burden of government and lay it on the shoulders of the privy counsellors. But He does not lay His dominion as a burden on any other; He needs no prime minister and vicegerent to help Him bear the burden of administration, but He bears all by the word of His power as He to whom all things are given of the Father. Therefore He says to the house of Jacob (46:3 sq.): Hearken unto me ye who were laid on my shoulders from your mothers’ womb. I will carry you to old age. I will do it, I will lift, and carry and deliver,—on the contrary the heathen must bear and lift up their idols, (46:1, 7).”—RAMBACH. “In the first place we must keep in mind His first name: He is called Wonderful. This name affects all the following.” “All is wonderful that belongs to this king: wonderfully does He counsel and comfort; wonderfully He helps to acquire and conquer, and all this in suffering and want of strength. (LUTHER, Jen. germ. Tom. III. Fol. 184 b.). ” “He uses weakness as a means of subduing all things to Himself. A wretched reed, a crown of thorns and an infamous cross, are the weapons of this almighty God, by means of which He achieves such great things. In the second place, He was a hero and conqueror in that just by death, He robbed him of his might who had the power of death, i.e., the devil (Heb. 2:14); in that He, like Samson, buried His enemies with Himself, yea, became poison to death itself, and a plague to hell (Hos. 13:14) and more gloriously resumed His life so freely laid down, which none of the greatest heroes can emulate.”—RAMBACH.
17. On 9:18 (19) sqq. True friendship can never exist among the wicked. For every one loves only himself. Therefore they are enemies one of another; and they are in any case friends to each other, only as long as it concerns making war on a third party.
ISA 10–18. On Isa 10:4. (Comp. the same expression in chap. 10). God’s quiver is well filled. If one arrow does not attain His object, He takes another, and so on, until the rights of God, and justice have conquered.
19. On 10:5–7. “God works through men in a threefold way. First, we all live, move and have our being in Him, in that all activity is an outflow of His power. Then, He uses the services of the wicked so that they mutually destroy each other, or He chastises His people by their hand. Of this sort the Prophet speaks here. In the third place, by governing His people by the Spirit of sanctification: and this takes place only in the elect.”—HEIM AND HOFFMANN.
20. On 10:5 sqq. “Ad hunc, etc. Such places are to be turned to uses of comfort. Although the objects of temptation vary and enemies differ, yet the effects are the same, and the same spirit works in the pious. We are therefore to learn not to regard the power of the enemy nor our own weakness, but to look steadily and simply into the word, that will assuredly establish our minds that they despair not, but expect help of God. For God will not subdue our enemies, either spiritual or corporal, by might and power, but by weakness, as says the text: my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9).—LUTHER.
21. On 10:15. “Efficacia agendi penes Deum est, homines ministerium tantum praebent. Quare nunc sibilo suo se illos evocaturum minabatur (cap. 5:26; 7:18); nunc instar sagenae sibi fore ad irretiendos, nunc mallei instar ad feriendos Israelitas. Sed praecipue tum declaravit, quod non sit otiosus in illis, dum Sennacherib securim vocat, quae ad secandum manu sua et destinata fuit et impacta. Non male alicubi Augustinus ita definit, quod ipsi peccant, eorum esse; quod peccando hoc vel illud agant, ex virtute Dei esse, tenebras prout visum est dividentis (De praedest Sanctt.).”—CALVIN Inst. II. 4, 4.
22. On 10:20–27. “In time of need one ought to look back to the earlier great deliverances of the children of God, as to the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, or later, from the hand of the Midianites. Israel shall again grow out of the yoke.”—DIEDRICH.
ISA 11–23. On Isa 11:4. “The staff of His mouth.” “Evidence that the kingdom of Christ will not be like an earthly kingdom, but consist in the power of the word and of the sacraments; not in leathern, golden or silver girdles, but in girdles of righteousness and faith.”—CRAMER.
24. On 11:10 sqq. If the Prophet honors the heathen in saying that they will come to Christ before Israel, he may be the more readily believed, when Isa 11:11 sqq., he gives the assurance that the return out of the first, the Egyptian exile, shall be succeeded by a return out of the second, the Assyrian exile, (taking this word in the wider sense of Isaiah). It is manifest that the return that took place under Zerubbabel and Ezra was only an imperfect beginning of that promised return. For according to our passage this second return can only take place after the Messiah has appeared. Farthermore, all Israelites that belong to “the remnant of Israel,” in whatever land they may dwell, shall take part in it. It will be, therefore, a universal, not a partial return. If now the Prophet paints this return too with the colors of the present (Isa 11:13 sqq.), still that is no reason for questioning the reality of the matter. Israel will certainly not disappear, but arise to view in the church of the new covenant. But if the nation is to be known among the nations as a whole, though no more as a hostile contrast, but in fraternal harmony, why then shall not the land, too, assume a like position among the lands? But the nation can neither assume its place among nations, nor the land its place among lands, if they are not both united: the people Israel in the land of their fathers.
25. On Isa. 11 “We may here recall briefly the older, so-called spiritual interpretation. Isa 11:1-5 were understood of Christ’s prophetic office that He exercised in the days of His flesh, then of the overthrow of the Roman Empire and of Antichrist, who was taken to be the Pope. But the most thorough-going of those old expositors must acknowledge, at Isa 11:4, that the Antichrist is not yet enough overthrown, and must be yet more overthrown. If such is the state of the case, then this interpretation is certainly false, for Isa 11:4 describes not a gradual judgment, but one accomplished at once. There have been many Antichrists, and among the Popes too, but the genuine Antichrist described 2 Thess. 2, is yet to be expected, and also the fulfillment of Isa 11:4 of our chapter. Thereby is proved at the same time that the peaceful state of things in the brute world and the return of the Jews to their native land are still things of the future, for they must happen in that period when the Antichristian world, and its head shall be judged by Christ. But then, too, the dwelling together of tame and wild beasts is not the entrance of the heathen into the church, to which they were heretofore hostile, and the return of the Jews is not the conversion of a small part of Israel that took place at Pentecost and after. The miracles and signs too, contained in Isa 11:15, 16 did not take place then. We see just here how one must do violence to the word if he will not take it as it stands. But if we take it as we have done, then the whole chapter belongs to the doctrine of hope (Hoffnungslehre) of the Scripture, and constitutes an important member of it. The LORD procures right and room for His church. He overthrows the world-kingdom, together with Antichrist. He makes of the remnant of Israel a congregation of believers filled with the Spirit, to whom He is near in an unusual way, and from it causes His knowledge to go out into all the world. He creates peace in the restless creatures, and shows us here in advance what more glorious things we may look for in the new earth. He presents to the world a church which, united in itself, unmolested by neighbors, stands under God’s mighty protection. All these facts are parts of a chain of hope that must be valuable and dear to our hearts. The light of this future illumines the obscurity of the present; the comfort of that day makes the heart fresh.” WEBER, der Prophet Jesaja, 1875.
CHAP. 12–26. On Isa 12:4 sq. “These will not be the works of the New Testament: sacrificing and slaying, and make pilgrimage to Jerusalem and to the Holy Sepulchre, but praising God and giving thanks, preaching and hearing, believing with the heart and confessing with the mouth. For to praise our God is good; such praise is pleasant and lovely” (Psalm 147:1). CRAMER.
27. On Chap. 12 “With these words conclude the prophetic discourses on Immanuel. Through what obscurity of history have we not had to go, until we came to the bright light of the kingdom of Christ! How Israel and the nations had to pass through the fire of judgment before the sun arises in Israel and the entire gentile world is illumined! It is the, same way that every Christian has to travel. In and through the fire we become blessed. Much must be burnt up in us, before we press to the full knowledge of God and of His Son, before we become entirely one with Him, entirely glad and joyful in Him. Israel was brought up and is still brought up for glory, and we too. O that our end too were such a psalm of praise as this psalm!” WEBER, Der Pr. Jes. 1875.
And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.I.—THE TWO CHIEF PROPHECIES CONCERNING THE BIRTH OF THE VIRGIN’S SON AND OF THE PROPHETS SON
I.—THE PROPHECY OF THE VIRGIN’S SON IMMANUEL
a) Isaiah and Ahaz at the conduit of the upper pool
1AND it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not 27prevail against it.
2And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria 28is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind. 3Then said the LORD unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and 29Shear-jashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the 30highway of the fuller’s field; and say unto him,
4Take heed, and be quiet;
Fear not, 31neither be faint hearted
32For the two tails of these smoking fire-brands,
For the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah.
5Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah,
Have 33taken evil counsel against thee, saying,
6Let us go up against Judah, and 34 35vex it,
And let us make a breach therein for us,
And set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal:
7Thus saith the 36LORD God,
It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.
8For the head of Syria is Damascus,
And the head of Damascus is Rezin;
And within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, 37that it be not a people.
9And the head of Ephraim is Samaria.
And the head of Samaria is Remaliah’s son.
38 39If ye will not believe, surely, ye shall not be established.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
CHAP. 7 Isa 7:1. עָלָה is used not only of motion towards a place that is conceived of as higher (e. g., 1 Kings 12:27 sqq.; 2 Kings 24:1, and יָרַד of the opposite, e. g. 1 Kings 22:2; 2 Kings 8:29) but also of any hostile proceeding, entering on a plan (1 Sam. 17:23, 25; Mich. 2:13; Neh. 2:2, etc).—יָכֹל changed 2 Kings 16:5 to יָכְלוּ comes from the preceding עָלָה, and from the additional idea, perhaps, that Rezin was the chief person.
Isa 7:2. נוּחַ is never used in the sense of niti, confidere. But it is used of swarms of birds, grasshoppers and flies, that settle down somewhere (Isa 7:19; Exod. 10:14; 2 Sam. 21:10). Such is its meaning here: the army of Syria has settled down like a swarm of grasshoppers on the spot where the army of Ephraim was encamped. Comp. 2 Sam. 17:12. On the fem. נָחָה after אֲרָם comp. 2 Sam. 8:5; 10:10; coll. 14:15, 18.
Isa 7:3. תְּעָלָה occurs again in Isaiah only 36:2. מִסְלָּה Isaiah used often beside here: 36:2; 11:16; 19:23; 33:8; 40:3; 49:11; 59:7; 62:10. כּוֹבֵם only here and 36:2, in Isaiah.
Isa 7:4. After הִשָּׁמֵר should follow properly a negative notion, whence the word always has after it the conjunctions פֶּן or אַל or the preposition מִן (as solitary exceptions, comp. Exod. 19:12; 23:13). Therefore a negation must be supplied out of the following השׁקט, “take heed of (unbelieving, thus sinful) disquietude, but rather be quiet.” The direct causative Hiphil הַשְׁקֵט has evidently the meaning that Ahaz must control his anxiety, quiet himself. The word occurs in Isaiah again 30:15; 32:17; 57:20, whereas the Niph. נִשְׁמַר occurs in Isaiah only here. יֵרַךְ Niph. of רָכַךְ; with the exception of Ps. 55:22, it always occurs in connection with לֵבָב or לֵב in the sense of becoming weak, timorous (Deut. 20:3; Jer. 51:46; 2 Ki. 22:19; Job 33:16); it does not occur again in Isa. Only once he uses the Pual 1:6. זָנָב (according to Isa. 9:13, 14; 19:15) “the tail, the end piece.” אוּד (found beside only Am. 4:11; Zech. 3:2) is the charred stick of wood that may have been used to stir the fire. עָשֵׁן “smoking,” only here in Isaiah, and Exodus 20:18. בחרי אף וגו, to understand the prefix בְּ to be of time–“while glowing” (DRECHSLER, DELITZSCH, KNOBEL, GESENIUS ) seems to me unsuitable. מִן marks the object of fear. בְּ following rather distributes the common notion “smoking firebrands” to the two so-named, as בְּ often stands after general expressions of number, (especially after כֹּל). Comp. Exod. 12:19, “whosoever eateth leaven shall be cut off בַּגֵּר וּבְאֶזְרַח הָאָֽרֶץ.” Gen. 7:21; 9:2,10. Comp. EWALD, § 217 sq. The LXX. translates singularly ὅταν γὰρ ὀργὴ τοῦ θυμοῦ μου γένηται, πάλιν ἰάσομαι. Καὶ ὁ υίὸς τοῦ Ἀρἀμ καὶ ὁ υιὸς τοῦ P̔ομελίου, etc. GESENIUS correctly conjectures that the translator instead of אפרצין reads ארפאכן, or rather ארפאובן.
Isa 7:6. הֵקִיץ is Hiph. from קָץ. The fundamental meaning is: “to experience a shaking, a shock.” From this are derived the meanings a) timere, “trembling, quaking,” (Isa 7:16, Exod. 1:12; Num. 22:3); b) taedere, fastidire. Disgust brings about a shock (comp. “es schüttelt mich”) which, when it is powerful, occasions vomiting (קוֹא) (comp. e.g. Gen. 27:46; Num.21:5); c) in the Hiphil: “to wake up;” for waking up is the effect of a shock that the sleeper experiences from without or within. In this sense, however, the Hiphil is evidently a direct causative, since it properly means “to make a shaking, a shaker.” Wherever else this Hiph. הקיץ occurs, except our verse, it means “to awake.” Our verse is therefore the only one where the word occurs as the causative of the notion קָץ = timere (verse 16). Many expositors therefore have hesitated to take the word in this sense. Thus FUERST (Concord., p. 988) would give our הֵקִיץ the meaning incidere, impungere, or abscindere, in that he combines it with קוֹץ “thorn,” or with קַיִץ tempus abscissionis, “harvest.” GESENIUS, (Thes. p. 1208) proposes to read נְצִיקֶנְָה coarctemus, urgeamus, (29:2, 7). However, as this Hiphil is in any case unusual, it seems better to take it in a sense that is suggested by something near at hand, Isa 7:16. The feminine suffix here and afterwards in נבקענה and בתוכה relates plainly to Judah as land. The meaning of the Hiph. הבקיע is not quite clear. The fundamental meaning of the word is: “to split.” It is used of splitting wood (Eccl. 10:9, coll. Gen. 22:3) of eggshells (Isa. 59:5) of the earth from which springs forth the fountain (Ps. 124:15) of the waters of the Red Sea (Ps. 78:13); it is said that a besieged city is split when it is taken, that is, a breach is made in its walls (2 Ki. 25:4; Jer. 39:2; 52:7; Ezek. 26:10). In the last-named sense it is used 2 Chr. 32:1, where it is said of Sennacherib: “He encamped against the fenced cities and thought לְבִקְעָם אֵלָיו,” where the constructio praegnans is important to the exposition of our passage. The word however is also used of a land. 2 Chron. 21:17 we read of the Philistines and Arabians: “they came up into Judah, וַיִבְקָעוּהָ, and carried away all the substance,” etc. Beside the present place, the Hiph. occurs only 2 Kings 3:26, where it is used of an intended breaking forth on the part of an enclosed army. According to all this, the use of the word for breaking through, forcing a fortified city, seems to me to settle the meaning. A land is forced, broken through, as well as a city, when the living wall that defends it, the defensive army is broken through. Thus the sense of our passage will be: let us break through it (the land of Judah) i. e., take it by breaking through the protecting army, and thereby take it to ourselves. There lies in the expression, beside the pregnant construction, at the same time a metonomy.
It is not known who “the son of Tabeal” was. טָב is the Hebrew טוֹכ (comp. טַבְרִמּוֹן 1 Kings 15:18); the ending אַל changed in the pause from אֵל, whereby, perhaps intentionally, arises the meaning “not good” (good for nothing). If the name was of Israelitish origin (comp. טוּבָיִּה) then likely that Tabeal or his son was a fugitive of Judea of note. The name is found again Ezra 4:7. On the Assyrian monuments of the time of Tiglath-Pileser is mentioned however an I-ti-bi’-i-lu, or Ti-bi’-i-lu, with the addition “mat A-ru-mu” i. e., from the land of Aram.
Isa 7:8 b. The position of these words is surprising. Why do they not stand after Isa 7:9 a? And how is the ו at the beginning of Isa 7:8 to be construed? Is it that paratactic Vav, that is determined only by the connection? And what is it that so determines it? Shall we regard it as causal, which were quite grammatical? (Comp. Gen. 24:50; Deut. 17:16; Ps. 7:10, etc. EWALD’S Gram., § 353 a; GESEN. § 155, 1 c). Or shall we, like CHRYSOSTOM and CALVIN, with whom THOLUCK agrees, take it in the sense of νῦν or. interea? Take one or the other and it is not satisfactory. It seems to me to answer best, to assume that the words are a sample of the oracle-like, lapidary style (Lapidarstils) and thence no grammatically correct construction is to be looked for. Did the words in question stand after 9 b, whither LOWTH has transposed them, then indeed the disposition of the sentence would be more correct, but the construction would be monotonous. ראשׁ occurring four times in succession would sound bad. By the interposition of Isa 7:8 b, this evil is avoided. Thus manifoldness is combined with equilibrium. And thus, without ignoring the difficulties, we will still recognize the possibility of the passage being genuine as it is, against which there is grammatically nothing to oppose (comp. THOLUCK, Die Propheten und ihre Weissagungen, and EWALD). Examples of the construction ובעוד שׁשׁים ו׳ Gen. 40:13,19; Josh. 1:11; 2 Sam. 12:22; Isa. 21:16; Jer. 28:3,11; Am. 4:7. יֵחַת is imp. Kal. from חָתַת fractus est. 30:31; 31:4; 51:6, etc.—מֵעַם = מִחְיוֹת עַם, comp. 17:1; 23:1; 62:10.
Isa 7:9. Niph. נֶֽאְמֲן is firmum, stabilem, perennem esse (22:23, 25; 33:16; 49:7; 55:3; 60:4). כִּי is pleonastic, but very expressive, and is to be treated as dependent on an ideal verbum dicendi (Num. 22:29, 33; Ps. 128:4).
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. And it came to pass——with the wind.—
Isa 7:1, 2. This war expedition of the united Syrians and Ephraimites is mentioned 2 Kings 15:37; 16:5 sq. and 2 Chr. 28:5 sq. Were one to follow the statement of 2 Kings 15:30, then Pekah did not at all live to see Ahaz. For there it reads: “And Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah, and smote him and slew him, and reigned in his stead in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah.” If Pekah was killed after Jotham’s death under Ahaz, it must any way read “in the first year of Ahaz.” But according to all other data, Pekah must undoubtedly have lived to see Ahaz. For 2 Kings 15:1 it reads that Ahaz became king in the seventeenth year of Pekah, who, according to 15:27, reigned twenty years. How otherwise could Pekah, according to Isa. 7:1, wage war against Ahaz? How could Tiglath-Pileser, according to 2 Kings 15:29, whom Ahaz summoned (2 Kings 16:7), in Pekah’s day, still occupy the region of Ephraim and carry the people away? But the statement of 2 Kings 15:30b proves itself false in other ways. For, Isa 7:32, 33, we read that Jotham became king in the second year of Pekah, and reigned sixteen years. Accordingly Jotham must have died in the eighteenth year of Pekah. Therefore Pekah survived Jotham, and not Jotham Pekah, as Isa 7:30 gives the impression. HITZIG (Gesch. d. Volkes Isr. I. p. 212) makes the original form of the statement to be: “And he killed him in the twentieth year of his reign, and became king in his stead;” but the following “of Jotham the son of Uzziah,” etc., are the superscription of Isa 7:32 sqq.
However this may be, the statement of Isa 7:30b is in any case incorrect. Therefore we have here a plain example of the corruption of the text, unless we assume an inexact or erroneous use of original sources.
Pekah not only survived Jotham, but he lived during three years of Ahaz, because, according to Isa 7:27, Pekah reigned twenty years, and in his seventeenth year Ahaz became king. Therefore in these three years must occur the events related in Isa. 7 and 8DRECHSLER says correctly, the spoiling of Ephraim, spoken of 2 Kings 15:29, presupposes the conception, birth, and learning to talk of “Hasten-spoil, Quick-prey” (Isa. 8:3 sqq.); consequently one must say that the attack of Rezin and Pekah must be located in the first half of the three years that the latter lived in common with Ahaz.
Rezin was the last king of independent Syria—for by his overthrow it became an Assyrian province. The founder of the kingdom of Syria of Damascus was Rezin (רְזוֹן), who, having run away from his lord Hadadeser, king of Syria of Zobah, gathered a horde of fighting men, and settled with them in Damascus (1 Kings 11:23 sqq.). From that period we find the Syrian power, hitherto divided into many small kingdoms, concentrated under the king of Damascus. Rezin is followed by Hezion (חֶזְיוֹן, if he is not identical with רְזוֹן as EWALD,Gesch. d. V. Isr. III. 151, and THENIUS, on 1 Kings 15:19, conjecture); he by his son Tabrimon, who, according to 1 Kings 15:19, appears to have made a league with Abijam the king of Judah, which Benhadad, son and successor of Tabrimon, renewed with king Asa; an un-theocratic proceeding, which, according to 2 Chr. 16:7, provoked the sharp censure of the prophet Hanani. We have, then, here the example of a league that a king of Judah made with the heathen king of Syria in order to war upon Baasha, king of Israel, to which in addition must be observed the grave fact that Benhadad at the very time was in league with Baasha, and consequently must have been solicited to break an existing alliance.
Thus the league between Pekah and Rezin against Ahaz appears as a retribution for the league that Asa had made with Benhadad against Baasha. That Benhadad, whom we may call Benhadad I., was suceeeded by Benhadad II., of whom we read that he combined thirty-two kings under his supreme command against Israel (1 Kings 20:1 sqq.). Benhadad II. was succeeded by Hazael, who murdered his master (1 Kings 19:15; 2 Kings 8:7 sqq.). Hazael was succeeded by Benhadad III., his son (2 Kings 13:24); finally Rezin succeeded him; his name possibly is identical with that of Rezin, the founder of the dynasty, as GESENIUS (Thesaur. p. 1307) and BAIHINGER (HERZOG’SReal-Encyclop. VII. p. 44) conjecture. The sounds ז and צ, as is well known, being nearly related (ds and ts; comp. צָעַקִ and צָהַר ,זָעַק, and עָלַץ ,זָהַר and צָעַר ,עָלַז and Aram. זְעַר, etc.). But if רְזוֹן and רָזוֹן (Prov. 14:28, where the word is parallel with מֶלֶךְ) and רֹזֵן (Judg. 5:3; Ps. 2:2, gravis, augustus, princeps, stand related in root and meaning, we would then see this kingdom of Damascus also begin and end with an Augustus.
Pekah, son of Remaliah, an otherwise unknown name, was שָׁלִישׁ of the king Pekahiah. LUTHER translates the word by Ritter = “knight,” but it means properly “chariot warrior,” because three always stood on a chariot (comp. Exod. 14:7: 15:4). It signifies a follower generally (2 Kings 10:25), as well as particularly a favored follower, on whose hand the king leaned (2 Kings 7:2, 17, 19). Pekah killed his master after a reign of two years (2 Kings 15:23 sqq.). Like all other rulers of the kingdom of Israel, “he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD,” Isa 7:28. Our passage is explained by the parallel passages, 2 Kings 16:5 sqq. and 2 Chron. 28:5 sqq.
The words of 2 Kings 16:5 sqq. correspond almost verbatim with Isa. 7:1. Such difference as there is indicates that the author of 2 Kings meant, not that Jerusalem itself, but only the king, was hard pressed,—meaning, of course, the king as representative of the land. Moreover that the author of 2 Kings drew from Isaiah, and not the reverse, appears to me beyond doubt. For 2 Kings is without doubt a much more recent book than Isaiah. At most, Isaiah could only have used one of the sources used by the writer of 2 Kings. But why need the Prophet look into the archives of the kingdom for a summary notice of an event of his own times, and known to all his contemporaries? Combining then the accounts of 2 Kings and 2 Chron. we obtain the following facts: 1, the hostile incursion of Rezin and Pekah into Judah; 2, a defeat of Ahaz by Rezin (2 Chr. 28:5); 3, a defeat of Ahaz by Pekah (Isa 7:6–15); 4, the taking of Elath by the Syrians (2 Kings 16:6); 5, an expedition of Rezin and Pekah against Jerusalem (Isa. 7:1), with which also the notice Isa. 7:2 of the fact that “Syria has settled upon Ephraim” has more or less connection.
The question arises: Is the expedition referred to in our passage identical with that related 2 Kings and 2 Chron.? or if not, did it occur before or after the latter? At the first glance, indeed, one is liable to regard Isa. 6:1 as a brief, summary notice of all the transactions of that war. But then it is surprising that this notice—with the promises that follow it in close connection—gives the impression that the war progressed in a way wholly favorable for Judah; whereas we know from the parallel passages that Judah suffered severe defeats and prodigious loss. Therefore we cannot take our verse as such a parallel and summary account. But it is impossible also that what our passage recounts preceded the defeats of which we have account in the parallel passage. For then the statements of our passages would equally disagree with the event. They would announce only good, whereas in reality great misfortunes occurred. We must therefore assume that our passage refers to an expedition that occurred after the events of 2 Kings 16:5 sqq., and 2 Isa 28:5 sqq.; and we must conceive of the matter as follows: Rezin and Pekah operated at first separately, as is expressly indicated, 2 Chr. 28:5. The former, likely, traversed the East of Judah’s territory and proceeded at once south toward Elath. But Pekah engaged in battle with Ahaz to the north of Jerusalem, with the bad result for Ahaz, related 2 Chr. 28:5b sqq. After these preliminary successes, Rezin and Pekah united their armies and marched against Jerusalem itself. This is the expedition of which our passage informs us, and this is the meaning of נחה Isa 7:2. The expedition, however, did not succeed. For Ahaz had applied to the King of Assyria, and the news that the latter was in motion in response to the request of Ahaz, moved the allied kings to hasten home into their countries. Thus is explained why Isaiah 7:1 speaks only of an intended war against the city of Jerusalem, and why the author of 2 Kings who mistook our passage for a general notice, and used it as such, resorted to the alterations we have noticed (viz., the omission of “against it,” and “they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him” 2 Kings 16:5). This is essentially the view of CASPARI too (in the Universitäts-Programm über den syrisch-ephraimitischen Krieg, Christiani, 1849), with which DELITZSCH agrees (in his review of the foregoing writing in REUTER’SReport., April, 1851, reprinted in his commentary).
In regard to Isa 7:1b, a double matter is to be noticed: 1. that it does not say “he could not take it, or make a conquest of it” or the like; but he could not make war upon it. That must plainly mean that Rezin and Pekah could not find even time to begin the siege. 2. The clause “he could not,” etc., must be construed as anticipation of the result, which the Prophet, after the well-known Hebrew manner of writing history, joins on to the account of the beginning. What follows then Isa 7:2, and after, is thus, as to time, to be thought of as coming between Isa 7:1a and b.
To the house of David.
Isa 7:2. This expression (found again in Isaiah only, Isa 7:13 and 22:22) can, indeed, mean the race of David, (comp. 1 Sam. 20:16; 1 Kings 12:16, 20, 26, etc.); and Isa 7:13 the plural שִׁמְעוּ, “hear ye,” seems really to commend this meaning. But the singular suffix in לְבָבוֹ and עַמּוֹ “his heart,” “his people,” proves that the meaning is not just the same. Therefore it seems to me that “house of David” here means the palace, the royal residence. There was the seat of government, the king’s cabinet; thither was the intelligence brought. It is as when one says: it was told the cabinet of St. James, or the Sublime Porte. Of course the expression involves reference to the living possessor of the government building, and the governing power, the king. Hence the language proceeds with pronouns (suffixes) in the singular.
2. Then said the Lord—the son of Remaliah.
Isa 7:3 and 4. The Prophet receives command to go and meet the king, who had gone out, and thus whose return was to be looked for. But he must not go alone, but in company with his son, Shear-jashub. The son is no where else mentioned. The name signifies the chief contents of all prophecy, according to its two aspects. In the notion שְׁאָרShear, is indicated the entire fulness of the divine judgments, that the Prophets had to announce: whereas יָשׁוּבJashub opens up the glorious prospect of the final deliverance. [The name means a remnant may return.—TR.] Comp. 1:8, 9; 4:3; 6:13; 10:20 sqq. (especially Isa 7:21 where the words שְׁאָר יָשׁוּב expressly recur). We have shown in commenting on Jer. 3 sqq.; 31:16–22 what an important part the notion שׁוּב “to return,” plays in Jeremiah’s prophecy. The significance of Shear-jashub’s name, however, makes us notice, too, that the Prophet himself bears a significant name. יְשַׁעְיָהוּ means “salvation of Jehovah.” And that the proclamation of salvation, comfort is the chief contents of His prophecies Israel has long known, and acknowledged. An old rabbinical saying, quoted by ABARB. reads בפר יאעיהו כלוּ נהמתא comp. Introduction. Threatening and consolation therefore go to meet Ahaz embodied in the persons of Isaiah and his son, yet so that consolation predominates, as also the words that Isaiah has to speak are for the most part consolatory. Had Israel only been susceptible of this consolation!
The locality where Isaiah was to meet the king is mentioned 36:2, and in the same words. There, Rabshakeh, the envoy of Sennacherib, according to that passage, held his interview with the men that Hezekiah sent out to him. It must, therefore, have been an open, roomy spot, suited for conferences. According to the researches of ROBINSON, against which the results of KRAFFT, WILLIAMS and HITZIG prove not to be tenable, (comp. ARNOLD in HERZOG’SR. Encycl. XVIII. p. 632 sq.), the upper-pool is identical with the Birket-el Mamilla, which in the west of Jerusalem his in the basin that forms the beginning of the Vale of Hinnom, about 2100 feet from the Jaffa Gate. Moreover this pool is identical with “the old pool” mentioned 22:11. Hezekiah, when he saw that Sennacherib was coming (2 Chr. 32:2 sqq.), stopped up the fountains outside of the city, and conducted the water of the fountain of Gihon and that of the upper-pool in a new conduit between the two walls (22:11 coll.2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chr. 32:30), in contrast with which it was that the upper-pool was called the older. The fuller’s field, the place where the fullers washed, fulled and dried their stuffs, must have been in the neighborhood of a pool. Now JOSEPHUS (Bell. Jud. V. 4, 2) speaks of a μνῆμα γναφέως, “fuller’s monument,” that must have had its position north of the city. For this reason many (WILLIAMS, KRAFFT, HITZIG) look for the fuller’s field in the neighborhood of the fuller’s monument. But fuller’s field and fuller’s monument need not necessarily be near one another. For the latter does not necessarily concern the place of the fullers as such, but may have been erected on that spot to a fuller or by a fuller for any particular reason unknown to us. And anyway the existence of a pool in ancient times north of Jerusalem cannot be proved. Therefore the fuller’s field lay probably in the neighborhood of the upper-pool west of the city.
Ahaz had probably a similar end in view at the upper pool to Hezehiah’s, according to 2 Chr. 32:2 sqq. It was to deprive the enemy of all fountains, brooks and pools, and yet preserve them for the use of the city. The end was obtained by covering them over above and conducting them into the city. Perhaps in this respect Ahaz did preparatory work for Hezekiah (comp. ARNOLD,l. c.). The Prophet warned the king against sinning through unbelieving despondency. The expression “fear not, neither be fainthearted,” is here and Jer. 51:46, borrowed from Deut. 20:3, where it is said to the people how they must conduct themselves when they stand opposed in fight to superior forces of the enemy. The expression occurs only in the three places named. Why Ahaz should not fear is expressed in this, that the enemy that threatened him are compared to quenched firebrands and stumps of torches. Two firebrands are mentioned in the first clause, and yet the idea is distributed over three bearers, Rezin, Syria and the son of Remaliah. We see that the Prophet takes prince and people as one; and here he names the two halves of the whole, as instantly afterwards Isa 7:5, Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, bat the second time he does not mention Rezin at all, but only opposes Syria to Ephraim and its king. There appears to me to lie in this an expression of contempt for Rezin, who first is named in connection with his nation and the second time, not at all, so that he plainly appears as a secondary person. On the other hand contempt was expressed for Pekah by calling him only the son of Remaliah. But what is the son of Remaliah, a man utterly unknown, opposed to the son of David!
3. Because Syria—shall not be established.
Isa 7:5-9. The conclusion of the premise “because Syria, etc., have taken evil counsel,” etc., begins Isa 7:7, “thus saith the LORD.” The evil counsel is set forth Isa 7:6. “It shall not come to pass,” says literally, what is expressed figuratively by לִא תקום = it shall not stand. For there underlies the latter expression the figure of a prostrate body that attains to standing, therefore gets to its feet and to life. Comp. 14:24; 28:18; 46:10; Prov. 19:21. Had this promise been given at the first beginning of the Syro-Ephraimite war, it would have found no complete, corresponding fulfilment. For, as shown above, the counsel did not remain quite unaccomplished. Precisely the הַכְקִעַ (Isa 7:6), “the forcing a breach,” succeeded, according to 2 Chr. 28:5. Hence we must, in accordance too with נָחָה Isa 7:2, assume, that Isaiah addressed this prophecy to Ahaz after the beginning of the second act of that war.
For the head of Syria,etc.
Isa 7:8. These words are very difficult. Especially has the second clause of Isa 7:8, given great offense both by its contents and by its position. Many expositors therefore attempt, either to alter the text, or to reject the words וכעוד to מעם as a gloss. These, in some instances very ingenious, attempts may be found recapitulated in GESENIUS. The Prophet had said, Isa 7:6, that Syria and Ephraim had the purpose of making the son of Tabeal king in Judah. That shall not come to pass, says Isa 7:7. This assertion is established by the double statement Isa 7:8 and 9. The latter consist of two members each, of which the first corresponds to the third, and the second to the fourth. The first and third member are constructed in pyramidal form: Syria, Damascus, Rezin,—Ephraim, Samaria, Pekah. But the third member is quite conformed to the first in reference to what is affirmed of the subjects. Thus it says: the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin. And likewise; the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Pekah. Saying that Damascus had dominion over Syria and Rezin over Damascus, accurately designates the limits of the power of Rezin and Damascus. They may command within these limits and no more. Therefore they have not the power to set a king over Judah according to their pleasure. Moreover, if Damascus is head of Syria and Rezin the head of Damascus, the question arises, too: what sort of a head is it? Is it a strong, mighty head to which no other is equal, that is therefore safe in its sphere of power, and unassailable in it? This question must be negatived. For how can it be said of Damascus, the great, beautiful, and rich city, but still the profane and heathen city, that she enjoys the privilege of being unassailable; that she is able under all circumstances to protect and maintain her dominion? And what of Rezin? Is he an elect? Can his name give a guaranty of the permanence of the region he rules? Not at all. Quite otherwise is it in Judah, where Jerusalem, the city of God, stands opposed to the city of Damascus, and the theocratic king of David’s line to the profane, heathen ruler. Behind Jerusalem and the house of David, stands the Lord as the true head in chief of Israel. What is then the head of Syria, and Damascus compared with the head of Judah and Jerusalem? Thus is explained why Judah has nothing to fear from Rezin and Syria. But of Ephraim Isa 7:9, the same thing is affirmed. Plainly the Prophet would intimate that Pekah and Samaria, too, have only a sphere of power limited to Ephraim, and that Samaria is not to be brought into comparison with Jerusalem, nor the son of Remaliah with the son of David, that consequently, Ephraim is essentially the same as the heathen nation Syria, and just as little to be dreaded by Judah. Thus the meaning of Isa 7:8a, and 9a, as also their relation to one another is perfectly clear. But what of the two other members Isa 7:8b, 9b? If we had only to do with 9b, it would be an easy affair; for it contains a very appropriate conclusion to 8a, 9a. It is, if I may so speak, double-edged. Judah is not to appropriate unconditionally the comfort of the promise given to it. Only if it believes and obeys its Lord, need it have nothing to fear from Syria and Ephraim. But if it does not believe in the Lord, it shall itself fall to pieces as the others. It cannot be said that anything essential would be wanting if Isa 7:8b were not there. Neither can it be said, that in that case an essential member would be abstracted from the outward structure. For 8a and 9a correspond; but 9b is the one conclusion that corresponds to both these members in common. Only if 9b, were wanting, would there be an essential member missing. For then it would appear strange that 9a, should have no conclusion like 8a, and an appropriate termination to the whole address would be wanting. But even if 8b appear unnecessary in the context, that is not saying that it is generally out of place. Many have affirmed this, because it contradicts Isa 7:16, because it does not suit the cheering character of the address, and because the Prophets anyway never have such exact figures. As regards the relation to Isa 7:16, it was long ago pointed out that to the desertion of the land, that was the consequence of the Syro-Ephraimite war (2 Kings 15:29), in fact to the deportation by Salmanassar, not sixty-five years, but a much less number of years elapsed. Hence, after the example of PISCATOR, JACOB CAPPELLUS and others, USHER (Ann. V. T., at the year 3,327) proposed to take as the concluding point of the sixty-five years, the planting of Assyrian subjects in the deserted region of Ephraim (2 Kings 17:24) which, according to Ezr. 4:2, took place under Esar-haddon. This fact, which indeed may be regarded as the sealing of the doom of Ephraim in regard to its existence as a state, must coincide with the time of Manasseh, and can with the carrying away this king, which according to the assumption of the Jewish chronology in Seder Olam. p. 67, took place in the twenty-second year of his reign. This would of course bring out the sixty-five years.
14 years of Ahaz.
29 years of Hezekiah.
22 years of Manasseh.
This reckoning, indeed, rests on no sure data, but it is still possible, and we can meanwhile quiet ourselves and say: if the Prophet meant the sixty-five years so, there exists no contradiction of Isa 7:16, and תעזב, shall be forsaken, is not to be taken in an absolute sense. And the comfort that Ahaz was to find in the ruin of Ephraim that was to happen only after sixty-five years, was this, that he could say: a city devoted to remediless ruin, even though not in a very short time, is not to be feared. But as for the exact data of figures, THOLUCK (D. Proph. u. ihre Weiss., 1861, p. 116 sqq.), has proved the existence of such in the Old Testament (16:14; 20:3; 21:16; 38:5; comp. Ezk. 4:5 sqq.; etc.). Whatever may be thought of the reason of the matter, the fact itself cannot be denied; and I do not comprehend how DIESTEL (in KNOBEL’SKomm. 4 Aufl. p. 66) can contend against this reality, on which everything here depends.
In order that Judah may partake of the blessing of this promise, it must itself fulfil a condition; the condition especially on which depends the blessed fulfilment of all promises: it must believe. If it believes not, which, alas, was the actual case, then it will not continue to exist itself.
[J. A. ALEXANDER on Isa 7:4. The comparison of Rezin and Pekah to the tails or ends of firebrands, instead of firebrands themselves, is not a mere expression of contempt, nor a mere intimation of their approaching late, as BARNES and HENDERSON explain it, but a distinct allusion to the evil which they had already done, and which should never be repeated. If the emphasis were only on the use of the word tails, the tail of anything else would have been qually appropriate. The smoking remnant of a firebrand implies a previous flame, if not a conflagration. This confirms the conclusion before drawn, that Judah had already been ravaged.
Pekah being termed simply the son of Remaliah, is supposed by some to be intended to express contempt for him, though the difference may after all, be accidental, or have only a rhythmical design. The patronymic, like our English surname, can be used contemptuously only when it indicates ignoble origin, in which sense it may be applied to Pekah, who was a usurper
On Isa 7:5. The suppression of Pekah’s proper name in this clause, and of Rezin’s altogether in the first, has given rise to various far-fetched explanations, though it seems in fact, to show that the use of names in the whole passage is rather euphonic or rhythmical than significant.
On Isa 7:9. Another rendering equally natural to that of Luther (viz.: if ye believe not, then ye abide not) is; “if ye do not believe (it is) because ye are not to be established.”]
Heb. resteth on Ephraim.
That is, The remnant shall return.
Heb. let not thy heart be tender.
Before these two smoking torch-ends.
the Lord Jehovah.
Heb. from a people.
Or, Do ye not believe? it is because ye are not stable.
If ye believe not, then ye continue not.
Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying,b) Isaiah in the bosom of the royal family giving a sign by announcing the Virgin’s Son Immanuel
10 40 MOREOVER the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying,
11 Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God;
41Ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.
12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD; 13And he said,
Hear ye now, O house of David;
Is it a small thing for you to weary men,
But will ye weary my God also?
14 Therefore the LORD himself shall give you a sign;
Behold, a virgin 42shall conceive, and bear a son,
And 43shall call his name Immanuel.
15 Butter and honey shall he eat,
That he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.
16 For before the child shall know
To refuse the evil, and choose the good,
The land that thou abhorrest
Shall be forsaken of both her kings.44
17 The LORD shall bring upon thee,
And upon thy people, and upon thy father’s house,
Days that have not come,
From the day that Ephraim departed from Judah;
Even the king of Assyria.
18 And it shall come to pass in that day,
That the LORD shall hiss
For the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt,
And for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.
19 And they shall come, and shall rest all of them
In the 45desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks,
And upon all thorns, and upon all 4647bushes.
20 In the same day shall the LORD shave 48with a razor that is hired,
Namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria,
The head, and the hair of the feet:
And it shall also consume the beard.
21 And it shall come to pass in that day,
That a man shall 49nourish a young cow, and two sheep;
22 And it shall come to pass,
For the abundance of milk that 50they shall give he shall eat butter:
For butter and honey shall every one eat
That is left 51in the land.
23 And it shall come to pass in that day,
That every place 52shall be,
Where then were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings,
It shall even be for briers and thorns.
24 With arrows and with bows shall men come thither;
Because all the land shall become briars and thorns.
25 And on all hills that shall be digged with the mattock,
Then shall not come thither 53the fear of briers and thorns:
But it shall be for the sending forth of oxen,
And for the treading of lesser cattle.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
On Isa 7:10. וַיוֹסֶף ו׳ occurs again in Isaiah only 8:5.
On Isa 7:11. The words העמק ונו׳ admit of several explanations. But that must be excluded at once which reading שְׁאָלָֽה (with the tone on the ultima) takes the word as substantive. For “request” is שְׁאֵלָה, and there is no reason for assuming that the Masorets punctuated falsely. The explanation is very old that takes שְׁאָֽלָה as a pausal form for שְׁאלָה (Gen. 37:35; 42:38; 44:29, 31; Num. 16:30, 33; Ezek. 31:15 sqq.). The LXX. VULG., PESCH., ARAB, have it, and it commends itself in point of sense very much. For when it says. “Descending deep into hell, or mounting up to the height,” both members correspond admirably both in respect to sense and to sound. But this construction is dubious. For the examples cited by EWALD § 93, a, 3, rest all of them on this, that an existing or possible form with a may be chosen in pause for the form with o in accordance with the law of variation. For there is no such thing as an o changed into a in pause. We must therefore take שְׁאָֽלָה as imperative (comp. רְנָֽזָה 32:11; שְׁמָֽעָהְ סְלָֽחה Dan. 9:19; סְעָֽדָה 1 Kings 13:7. Then הַֽעֲמֵק (29:15; 30:33; 31:6) הַנְכֵּהּ (Ps. 113:5) are inffabs. with a gerund sense: “going deep ask or mounting up high.”
On Isa 7:12. ולא־אנסה a paratactic construction.
On Isa 7:13. The construction המעט מכם means originally “is it from you out (from your point of view) a little?” The כִּי has a causal sense: because ye insult my God. One sees that to insult men is a small matter, an unsatisfying indulgence to your haughtiness. Comp. Num. 16:9; Job 15:11; Ezek. 34:18.
On Isa 7:14. Regarding עַלְמָה it may be considered settled that directly and properly it can never signify a married woman. It may, perchance, be used of a young married woman, whose youth or youthful looks one would especially emphasize, like Ruth (2:5, 6) as a young wife is called נַֽעֲרָה. But in point of fact no such form of expression occurs in the Old Testament. On the other hand a virgin, as such, (as virgo illibata) is never called עלמה. For the proper term for virgin is בּתְוּלהָ (Gen. 24:16; Lev. 21:3, 13, 14; Deut. 22:14, 19, 20; Jud. 19:24; 2 Sam. 13:2, 18) and virginity is בְּתוּלִים (Deut. 22:15, 17; Judg. 11:37 sq.; Ezek. 23:3, 8). עַלְמָה is fem. of עֶלֶם (1 Sam. 17:56; 20:22) and has nothing to do with עָלַם “to conceal.” עֶלֶם, however, is from a root עָלַם, kindred to עוּל (trans. sugere, potare, intr. redundare, succulentum, vegetum esse). The latter עָלַם occurs in Hebrew only in the words עֲלֻמִים ,עַלְמָה , עֶלֶם (œtas juvenilis of women Isa. 54:4, of men Ps. 89:46; Job 20:11; 33:25) more common in the dialects, where it has the meaning of “becoming fat, thick, strong, mature, manly.” עלמה occurs (not to count the musical term עֲלָמוֹת Ps. 46:1; 1 Chron. 15:20) six times: Gen. 24:43; Exod. 2:8; Prov. 30:19; Ps. 68:26; Song of Sol. 1:3; 6:8. In none of these passages can it be proved to have the sense of virgo illibata or conjux. Especially from Song of Sol. it appears that the third class of the occupants of Solomon’s harem comprised the עֲלָמוֹת. Was virginity characteristic of them? Prov. 30:19 is difficult. According to all the foregoing it seems to me certain that every בְּתוֹּלָה is indeed a עַלְמָה, but not every עַלְמָה a בְּתוּלָה. As עֲלוּמִים is the time of youth generally, and may be used of men as well as of women, (בִּתוּלִים could not be said of men) then עלמה is the young woman, still fresh, young and unmarried, without regard to whether still a virgin in the exact sense.—הנה הע׳ הרה, that these words may be read: “behold, the virgin is pregnant,” is owned by every one. The expression occurs twice beside. Gen. 16:11 the angel says to Hagar, who was already pregnant: הנָּךְ הָרָה וְיֹלַדְתְּ בֵּן וְקָרָאת שְׁמוֹ יִשְׁמָעֵאל. This passage has, moreover, so much resemblance to ours that we must suppose that it was in the Prophet’s mind. Judg. 13:5, 7, it is at least very probable, considering Isa 7:12, that the wife of Manoah was already pregnant. The form קָרָאת in the original passage, Gen. 16:16, is 2 pers. fem. In our passage it may also be 3 pers. fem. For this form is still to be found Gen. 33:11; Exod. 5:16 (?); Leviticus 25:21; 26:34; Deut. 31:29; Jer. 13:19; 44:23; 2 Kings 9:37 (K’thib); Ps. 118:23. It is seen that the form occurs most frequently in the Pentateuch, while Jer. 44:23 is a verbatim quotation from Deut. 31:29; and 2 Kings 9:37, there exists likely an error of the pen, thus leaving only two instances not in the Pentateuch beside our verse. The form occurs nowhere else in Isaiah.
On Isa 7:15. That לדעתו is not: “until his knowing,” appears from this, that, the Prophet would in that case say that from his birth on to the years of discretion the boy would be nourished with butter and honey, and then no longer. Thereby, too, the prospect of a brief period of desolation for the land would be held out, which plainly is not the meaning of the Prophet. For Isaiah had in mind the periods of exile, both the Assyrian and the Babylonian, and neither comprises in itself and in the Prophet’s representation so short a period. That the latter is so is seen in the way he expresses himself (Isa 7:17 sq.) on the occasion and extent of the desolation. Therefore לדעתו means: “to the time of his knowing; or about the time.” Comp. לָאוֹר ,לָבֹּקֶר לְעֵת עֶרֶב ,ְלָעֶרֶב, Ps. 30:6: Job 24:14; Gen. 3:8; 8:14; 49:27, etc.—המאה is “thick milk,” lac spissum, (comp. Gen. 18:8; Judg. 5:25; Prov. 30:33).
On Isa 7:16. That the Prophet says האדמה and not האדץ, has for its reason doubtless that he would designate Syria and the territory of the Ten Tribes by one word. But the two together did not constitute an ארץ, but a land complex in a physical sense.—On קָץ comp. at Isa 7:6.
On Isa 7:17. The form of expression אשׁר לא באו is like Exod. 10:6; 34:10; Dan. 9:12. The construction למיום ונו is like Jer. 7:7, 25; 25:11. All that follows depends as one notion on the distributive לְ. Without לְ Exod. 10:6.
On Isa 7:18. והיה ביום ההוא, this formula occurs Isa 7:21, 23; 10:20, 27; 11:10, 1; 17:4; 22:20; 23:15; 24:21; 27:13, and not again. In this formula יום does not designate only a day in the ordinary sense, but, according to circumstances, an undetermined period, like we use the word “period.”—זבוב only here in Isaiah.—יְאֹר is an Egyptian word (comp. on 19:6) which, however, has become naturalized in Hebrew. It is partly appellative, and as such means “ditches” (Exod. 8:1; Isa. 33:21) and rivers (Nah. 3:8; Dan. 12:5); partly a proper name, and as such means the Nile (19:7, 8; 23:10). The יארי מערים (comp. 19:6; 37:25; 2 Kings 19:24) are the canals of the Nile (Exod. 8:1).
On Isa 7:19. בּתּוֹת is ἅπ. λεγ. If it is kindred to בָּתה (5:6) which is most probable, it means abscissum praeruptum, the steep side of a wady.—נָקִיק (found beside only Jer. 13:4; 16:16) is, as appears plain from Jer. 13:4, “the cleft.”—נַֽעֲצוּץ (again only 55:13) is “the thornbush; נַֽהֲלֹל (from נֵהַל Exod. 15:13; Isa. 40:11; 49:10; 51:18, “to lead to pasture”) pascuum, the pasture, grazing ground.
On Isa 7:20. נִּלַּח and תער only here in Isaiah. שׂכירה subs. abstractum (conductio), but may be also fem. of שָׂכִיר (conductus, “hired”) occurs nowhere else. This razor is to be had נהר ּבעברי נהר without article, like Mich. 7:12, and Jer. 2:18 (which passage, more over, looks back to ours), is the Euphrates. The עברי are the two sides of the Euphrates; for עֶבֶר alone may mean the territory on the hither side as well as the further side (comp. Josh. 24:2, 3, 14, 15; 2 Sam. 10:16; 1 Chr. 19:16, with 2 Kings 5:4; Ezra 8:36; Neh. 2:7, 9; 3:7), and עַבָרִים are the sides generally: Exod. 32:15; 1 Kings 5:4; Jer. 58:28; 49:32.—שׁער רנלים is euphemistic, like Deut. 28:57; Isa. 36:12 K’ri. Comp. Jud. 3:24; 1 Sam. 24:4. תסכּה proves that the Prophet uses תער as fem., which usually is masc. Thereby the adjective construction of שׁכירה is confirmed as the correct one. Regarding the usus loquendi, comp. 13:15; 29:1; 30:1.
On Isa 7:21. שׁתי צאן, because female sheep, yielding milk are meant. He does not kill them, but lets them live, raises them. חיה is “to make live.” This does not occur only when something dead, or non-existent, is called into life: but also when something living, but on the point of dying, is let live; therefore “preserves alive.” Comp. 38:1; Gen. 7:3; 2 Sam. 12:3; 1 Kings 18:5, etc.
On Isa 7:23. On שׁמיר ושׁית see on 5:6.
On Isa 7:25. Both the verb נֶעְדַּר and the substantive מַעְדִּר occur only in Isaiah, viz., here and 5:6.—מִשְׁלָח is a place where cattle are allowed to roam free (comp. 32:20). The expression belongs to Deuteronomy, where only, except here, it is found; Deut. 12:7; 15:10; 13:21; 28:8, 20.—מִרְמָס see on 5:5.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. Moreover the Lord—tempt the Lord, Isa 7:10–12. When Isaiah says: “Moreover the LORD spake,” he puts himself quite in the background. He gives prominence only to the proper author of the address, as Isa 7:3, he reports only the words of Jehovah to himself, and passes over the performance that was his, a man’s work, as a matter of course. Though Ahaz was a backslider, the divine love on its part does not let him go. The LORD says still to him: I am thy God. De jure. He is so, though de facto so no longer. Because Jehovah still loves Ahaz, He seeks to reclaim him, coming to him half way, and holding out His hand in order to make return as easy for him as possible. That is, the LORD demands no unconditional faith from Ahaz, but He permits him to attach his faith to any condition that he will. If Jehovah fulfils the condition, then that is security, or the sign, that Jehovah deserves to be believed, that He is therefore the God He gives Himself out to be.
There is no other instance of submitting to a man’s choice what the sign shall be. It may be fearlessly said that for Isaiah to propose to Ahaz the choice of a miraculous sign is itself a sign. It is a pledge that he serves the true, living, and almighty God; that therefore there is such a God, who not only can do miracles, but who, under circumstances, will do them. Had Isaiah offered Ahaz this choice without possessing the power to perform what he promised, he would have been either a deceiver or a crazed enthusiast. In the name of science, rationalistic expositors may be challenged to prove that Isaiah was a deceiver or an enthusiast. In any case the Prophet leaves it to Ahaz, from what part of the universe he will have a miracle.
The reply of Ahaz is hypocritical. He acts as if he still believed in Jehovah, and as if he declined the proposal only through fear, lest he should have the appearance of tempting God (Deut. 5:16). But he had already his own plans. He had already resolved to oppose to the gods and kings of Syria and Ephraim, not Jehovah, the God of Judah, but the gods and the king of Assyria.
[Isa 7:11. “Ask it in the depth,” etc. There may be an historical relation between this expression and Deut. 30:11–14, and Jno. 4:11–13, and Rom. 10:6–8, and comp. Ps. 139:6–10, that makes them useful for mutual interpretation. Τὴν ἃβυσσν, Rom. 10:7, seems to show that Paul combines the language of Deuteronomy and Isaiah, and also to favor the LXX. and VULG. in reading our passage as if שְׁאֹלָה were meant.—TR.].
2. And he said—Immanuel, Isa 7:13, 14. It seems to me that this form of address, joined to the “moreover the LORD spake,” Isa 7:10, intimates that the Prophet spoke these words, not on the spot mentioned Isa 7:3, but in the house of David, i. e., in the royal palace, and before the royal family, and that the contents of his address concerned very nearly the house of David as a family, (not merely as representative of the government). הלאה, to weary,” corresponds exactly to the French ennuyer, which means primarily the discomfort one experiences from anything that lasts too long, and then any sort of discomfort. Without doubt Ahaz had often enough made trial of human patience. But “to weary men” seems to point to the fact that in Ahaz’s refusal lay an insult to the Prophet. For this refusal might be regarded as indirectly repelling an insane presumption on the part of Isaiah. Still, doubtless, the insult to his God is the chief matter to the Prophet. Notice that by “my God” here, he in a measure retracts the “thy God” of Isa 7:10. By this one word he lets Ahaz know that by his unbelief he has excluded himself from a part in the LORD. Full of this displeasure, the Prophet declares to the house of David: Because ye will have no sign, one shall be given to you. The sign must therefore be one that Ahaz could observe, and every meaning that ignores this, must from the outstart be regarded as mistaken. It is further clear that the sign which Ahaz must accept against his will must be of a character unpleasant to him. The whole connection shows this clearly. The unbelief, the desertion, the hypocrisy of Ahaz must be punished. Had he accepted the offer of the LORD, he might at will have chosen a sign from any sphere. But because he insolently declined the offer, he must put up with a sign that will appear in a very delicate quarter, and consist in a fact very unpleasant for him. Consider in addition that the Prophet, as we learned above, spoke these words in the royal palace, and before the royal family, and we obtain an important threefold canon for the exposition of the passage: the sign must have been for Ahaz, 1) recognized; 2) unpleasant, punishing; 3) of concern to his whole family.
Behold the virgin,etc.—“Behold” has great emphasis. “It stands here as if the Prophet raised his hand, signed to all the world that they should be still and give heed to this the chiefest miracle of which he would now preach.” (FOERSTER).—On העלמה see Text. and Gr. Who is “the virgin” here? To whom does the definite article point? We must at the outset exclude all those exposisions according to which the Alma = “virgin” is a purely ideal person, whether belonging to the present or the future. What sort of a sign for Ahaz could it be, if the Prophet in spirit saw in the remote future a virgin that bore the Messiah; even if, by means of an ideal anticipation, the wonderful child, which formed, as it were, the soul of the people’s life, is construed as representative of the contemporaries of Ahaz (HENGSTENBERG)? It is no better when, by a figurative construction the Alma is made to mean Israel, out of which a people of salvation shall arise, which, after it has endured the consequences of the present ignorance, shall know to prefer the good to the bad (v. HOFMANN). It is the same with the explanation of W. SCHULTZProf, in Breslau, Stud. and Krit., 1861, Heft. IV.) who by comprehending under the Alma or virgin the Messiah and His mother, and all their typical forerunners, understands by this person “the quiet ones of the land, who needed not the king nor his co-operation.” The canon we have set up as imperative, is equally violated by KUEPER (Die Proph. d. A. B. übersichtle dargestellt, Leipzig, 1870, p. 216): he admits that Alma does not necessarily mean a pure virgin, yet he lays especial emphasis on the virginity of the mother, because it may be inferred from the name Immanuel, which proves the piety of the mother; and he sees precisely in this virginity the threat against Ahaz, because it follows that Immanuel is to be born without co-operation of a man of the race of David. For it is impossible that Ahaz could infer this virginity thus from the words of the Prophet. Beside, there is nothing threatening in the promise that the Messiah shall be born as the Son of God in the sense of Luke 1:35, without co-operation of a man, of the race of David; it is rather the highest honor. The latest attempt at exposition, too, by ED. ENGELHARDT (Zeitschr. f. Luth. Theol. and K. 1872 Heft. IV.), does not satisfy. “The house of David cannot be destroyed before the promised deliver comes forth from it. The mother is therefore, yet to appear that bears Him, and this mother, determined by the word of the Prophecy, it is that the Prophet means here “(l. c. page 627).” How is it to be proved that העלמה was a standing expression for the mother of the Messiah? What, moreover, was there punitive in this? What in the text says that the house of David would be destroyed after the birth of the Messiah’s mother? Moreover, how is this conceivable? To express what ENGELHARDT fancies is the meaning of the Prophet, the words must read: the Alma has not yet borne. What sort of a sign, would that be?
Others adopt an ideal construction in the sense that they regard the birth of a son from the Alma, at the time indicated, as an idea, a possibility, without reference to its realization (“were a virgin to conceive this instant a boy as an emblem of his native land, the mother would name her babe like the land at that time must say: God was with us,” EICHHORN, comp. J. D. MICHAELIS, PAULUS, STAEHELIN,etc.). The arbitrariness of this exposition is manifest; the Prophet does not speak hypothetically, but quite categorically. This sign, too, would be neither observable, nor threatening.
Others find the key to the exposition (ROSENMUELLER, EWALD, BERTHEAU), in the supposition that Isaiah saw the Messiah Himself in the child to be born, and that consequently we have before us, an erroneous hope and an unfulfilled Prophecy. But it is incredible that the Prophet, accompanied as he was by his son Shearjashub, could have expected in so short a period the fulfilment of the Prophecy contained in his name. The people must first become a remnant. Comp., the Prophet’s inquiry 6:10 and the reply Isa 7:11. If the Alma does call her son Immanuel, he is not necessarily therefore really Immanuel. It may mean only that he signifies the Immanuel. And so, too, 8:8, the land of Immanuel is not the land of the present, but of the future Immanuel, who only is the true LORD and Master of the land. In 8:10 where עִמָּנוּ אֵל is written separately as two words, can at most only a play on the name Immanuel be recognized. Moreover if Isaiah saw in the boy Immanuel the Messiah himself, then must certainly his mother be the legitimate wife of a member of the family of David. But it is incredible that עַלְמָה alone without any qualification, can mean married women.
The ancient Jewish explanation, according to which the Alma was the mother of Hezekiah, that Abi. daughter of Zachariah (2 Kings 18:2), was shown by JEROME even to be impossible, inasmuch as Hezekiah at the time Isaiah spoke these words was already 12 years old. The later Jewish explanation ranks among its supporters FAUSTUS SOCINUS, JOH. CRELLIUS, (Socinian), GROTIUS, (who in his Dever. religionis Christ. still presented the orthodox view, but afterwards went over to CRELLIUS’ views), JOH. LUDWIG VON WOLZOGEN (Socinian), JOHN ERNST. FABER (in the Anm. zu Harmar’s Beobachtungen über den Orient, etc., I. S. 281), [Put DR. BARNES here: only that he includes a reference to Messiah, according to Matth. 1:22.—TR.] GESENIUS, HITZIG, HEUDEWERK, KNOBEL,etc. According to this view the Alma is the wife of the Prophet himself, either the mother of Shear-jashub, or a younger one, at that time only betrothed to him. But this is wrecked on the impossibility of referring העלמה to the wife or the betrothed of the Prophet without any nearer designation and without the faintest hint of her being present. Beside, how should the family of the Prophet happen to have the Immanuel born in it? Were the promises to David to be transferred to Isaiah? KIMCHI and ABARBANEL modify this view by saying that by the ALMA must be understood the wife of Ahaz. But then, instead of something bad, the Prophet would rather have announced something joyful. Others again understand by the Alma any virgin, not more particularly specified, that was present at the place of interview, and to whom the Prophet pointed with the finger.
For my part I believe, that in expounding our passage, it is an exegete’s duty to leave out of view at first Matt. 1:23. We have only to ask: What, according to the words and context, did Isaiah in that moment wish to say, and actually say? How far his word spoken then was a prophecy, and with what justice Matt. 1:18 regards the fact recounted there as the fulfilment of this prophecy will appear from inquiry that must be made afterwards. Bearing in mind then the canon proposed above, and we obtain the meaning: Behold the (i. e. this) virgin (i. e. this yet unmarried daughter of the royal house) is pregnant, etc. After the indignant words of the Prophet, Isa 7:14a, that roll up like dark clouds, we must look for a sign that strikes the house of David like thunder and lightning. Doubtless Ahaz was not the only guilty person. While Joshua (24:15) had said: “I and my house will serve the Lord,” Ahaz had said the contrary. If not, why did the Prophet, instead of addressing himself to the king with such emphasis, address the whole house? And did what was said 3:16 sq. about the luxury of the daughters of Zion have no application to the women in the household of Ahaz? Therefore the whole house must with terror endure the shame of one of the princesses who was present being pointed out as pregnant. That is the bold manner of the prophets of Jehovah—a manner that is no respecter of persons—the “sackcloth roughness” of men that know that they have Almighty God for their support. Thus, for example, Jeremiah said to king Jehoiakim that he should be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem, Jer. 22:19.
As regards the sense, it remains essentially the game whether קרתא is translated “thou wilt call” or “she will call.” For in any case the word is spoken in presence of the Alma. She herself takes note of what the Prophet announces in regard to the name to be given. Whether she is spoken to or spoken of, remains immaterial. If God, with no expression of disapproval, says “she will call him Immanuel,” is not that as much as to say: “she shall so call him?” She would hardly have thought of that name herself. It was not a usual name. It is found only here in the Old Testament. It was a beautiful name, rich in consolation. The Lord would have spoken quite differently if the name had given Him displeasure. That such was not the case, we see from 8:8,10 very decidedly. If often occurs in Scripture that mothers give names to their children: Gen. 4:25; 19:37 sq.; 29:32; 30:6, 8, 11, 13, 18, 20, 24; 35:18; 1 Sam. 1:20. Often the name is determined by divine command: Gen. 16:11; 17:19; Hos. 1:4, 6, 9; 1 Chron. 22:9; Matt. 1:21. Here, now, grave doubts arise. Is it conceivable that God has made a fallen woman the type of the θεοτόκος, and an illegitimate child the type of the Son of God become man? The objections to our view, founded on the piety of the Alma (see above), disappear when we refer back the giving of the name to the announcement of the divine will. For if the Alma does not name the child Immanuel self-prompted, she gives no proof of fearing God and faith in God. She did only what she could not have omitted to do without defying the divine will. But how is it conceivable that God should make such a child the bearer and symbol of His holy purpose of salvation, a child to which clung the reproach of illegitimate birth, that was therefore the fruit and the continual monument of sin, whose mother, in fact, in some circumstances, might have incurred the penalty of stoning, according to Deut. 22:21? How can this fruit of sin bear the holy name of Immanuel? Does this not involve the dangerous inference that God does not take strict account of sin? that in some cases He does not mind using it as means and instrument for His plans? To this I would reply as follows. The Prophet is extremely sparing in portraying the historical background of his prophecies. He indicates only what is indispensable. It is just this scantiness that makes our passage so difficult, and all effort’s at expounding it suffer alike from this. For there is not a single one against which it may not be objected that one explanatory statement or other is necessary to its complete establishment. It seems to me that the presence of the article in ”the Alma” is easiest explained if, in the circle to which the Prophet addressed, there was only one person present that could be designated as Alma. In every language in such a case a more exact pronominal definition may be dispensed with. Besides, in Hebrew, the article in some cases has decidedly a demonstrative meaning, and can be used δεικτικῶς (comp. הַיּוֹה ,הַשָּׁנָה ,הַפַּעַם הַלַּיְלָה,).
The Prophet, as the servant of Jehovah, might come to the king unannounced. Though hated by the king, the king still dreaded him, and, according to Isa 7:12, Ahaz did not venture to express his unbelief openly, but only under the mask of reverence. Assuredly Nathan did not first request an audience and permission to deliver a message of Jehovah’s to the king (2 Sam. 24:11 sq.). And thus we may assume that the Prophet came to the palace at a time when the king was not surrounded by officers of state—at least not by these alone, but also by his family. And in the circle into which Isaiah stepped in the discharge of his prophetic disciplinary office there must have been one—but only one—daughter of the royal house who was indeed unmarried, but no longer a virgin. More than this we do not know. The Prophet writes no more than he said, perhaps out of compassion, or perhaps to avoid making the person in question the object of honors she did not deserve (possibly of idolatrous worship in after days). By revealing this secret to the dismay of the family, the Prophet had of course given a sign, a pledge of the credibility of what was promised Isa 7:7. For whoever knew that secret of the past and present could know also the secret things of the future. And the king could at once ascertain the verity of the sign that was given. Of course he might take measures to defeat the prophecy and render its accomplishment impossible. But what good would that do? The chief thing, that there was a boy in the body of the (supposed) virgin, he could not undo, and this boy was called, and was de jure, and indeed de jure divino, Immanuel, even though the king (or his mother) gave him no name at all, or another name. [See addenda of TR. pp. 127, 128.]
But how shall we account for so unholy a transaction being made the type of the holiest transaction of history? Here we must consider the relation of our passage to Matt. 1:23. The sacred history narrates that Mary, before Joseph took her home, was found with child, and that Joseph had resolved not to denounce her, but to leave her privately (Matt. 1:18 sq.). Ought it to surprise us if this part of the history of the fulfilment should be prefigured, too, in the period of the prophecy? But why just so and then? If that event, that the mother of the Lord was to be found pregnant before marriage, was to be prefigured, could it be done otherwise than that there should happen to a virgin in a natural way and in sinful fashion what happened to Mary in a supernatural way and without sin? Sinful generation occurs in the list of the ancestors of Jesus more than once. Compare only the genealogy in Matthew that calls especial attention to these cases by naming the mother concerned. Remember Judah and Tamar. And not to mention Rahab and Ruth, there is Solomon, born of David and the wife of Uriah. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me,” Ps. 51:7, applies to the whole genealogy, and, apart from the birth, we must apply to every individual of it the words: “there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Ps. 14:3; Rom. 3:10 sq.). Let one call to mind the sins of Jacob, a David, a Solomon, and one must say it depends on circumstances which was the more unworthy vessel, they or this unfortunate virgin. In short, we here stumble on secrets of divine sovereignty that we cannot fathom. The day shall declare it (1 Cor. 3:13).
Moreover Immanuel is only a transitory apparition. He is named only here and chap. 8. It is a single though significant point, that is visible above the horizon once and then disappears again. Therefore it is also to be noted that spite of Matt. 1:23, and that the words of the angel Luke 1:31 remind us of our text and of Gen. 16:11, Mary still did not receive command to call her son Immauel. Had our passage the significance that is attributed to it; were it a direct prophecy of the birth of Jesus from a virgin, then properly the name that the son of Mary was to bear was already settled, and one can’t comprehend why the angel (Luke 1:31) gives another name. But Immanuel is not Himself and immediately Jesus. He is only a type, like many others. And, indeed, as a son of a virgin, He is a type of that reproach of antenuptial conception which the Saviour of the world had to bear as a part of the general reproach that was meted out to Him, and which He has now-a-days to bear still. This is a point that prophecy might not pass in silence, and yet could touch only lightly.
But by his name he points to the faithfulness of God that will not forsake His people, even when they have become a בֶּן־זְנוּנִים, and have signalized their desertion of Him by the alliance with the secular power. And this faithfulness is itself a pledge in turn of that which had determined on the most glorious visitation of the people (Luke 1:78) in the person of the God-man, precisely for that time when the nation would lose the last remnant of its independence in the embrace of the secular powder. All the features must not be pressed; which is the case with Isa 7:15 sqq. especially. The prophetic word hovers freely over present and future, combining both, yet leaving both their peculiarities. It was God’s providence that Isaiah should select these words that at the same time fitted so wonderfully the event narrated Matth. 1:18 sqq., to whom the tongue of an Isaiah was just as subservient as that of a Caiaphas (Jno. 11:51).
3. Butter and honey—the King of Assyria.
Isa 7:15-17. Butter and honey is by no means a mean food. That appears from Deut. 32:13, 14; Job 20:17, where the words rather mean a very noble food. Comp. 2 Sam. 17:29. Nor do they appear in any passage of the Old Testament, as children’s food. Rather from Isa 7:21 sqq. it appears that butter and honey represent natural food in contrast with that procured by art. For butter comes immediately from milk, and honey, too, may be had ready from bees in a form that men can enjoy. And as Palestine had and still has many wild bees, on account of which it is called a land “flowing with milk and honey” (comp. Exod. 3:8, 17, sqq. and the characteristic passage 1 Sam. 14:25 sqq.; Jud. 14:8), therefore we may suppose that wild honey (Matth. 3:4) is especially meant here. Therefore the boy shall eat butter and honey on to the time when he shall know evil and good (anni discretionis). If the ability to distinguish good and evil is employed as marking a period of time, it can only be in a moral sense. For even the smallest child distinguishes in a physical sense what tastes bad and what good. Moreover the expression reminds one of Gen. 2:9, 17; 3:5, 22; comp. Deut. 1:39. Naturally the land must be deserted before the boy knows how to distinguish between good and evil, in order that at the time when this happens, his food may be reduced to butter and honey.
The two kings of the land are Rezin and Pekah. It may be seen from Isa 7:2 how great was the dread of these
experienced by Ahaz.
The Lord shall bring,etc.—It is to be noticed here, first of all, that the Prophet adds these words roughly and directly, without any particle connecting them with what goes before. This mode of expression is explained by the fact that the Prophet contemplates the transactions of Isa 7:17 as immediately behind those of Isa 7:16. From his point of view he sees no interval between them. That is not the same as saying that there is no interval between. Prophecy sees all as if in one plane, that in the fulfilment is drawn apart in successive planes. Hence one may say: Isaiah prophesies here the Assyrian and Babylonish exile. For the desolation that (Isa 7:16) is to befall Ephraim happened by the carrying away of the Ten Tribes (comp. 2 Kings 17:6, 23 sqq.). But what the Prophet predicts Isa 7:17 sqq. was fulfilled by the captivity of Judah more than 120 years later. Accordingly, the relation of the prophecy to the fulfilment takes the following shape. Our prophecy must have happened in the beginning of the reign of Ahaz, consequently about the year B. C. 743. The first devastation and partial desolation of the territory of Ephraim by the Assyrians, i. e., by Tiglath-Pileser, happened already in the time of Pekah (2 Kings 15:29), who died B. C. 739. The boy, that was to be born according to Isa 7:14, in fact did not live to see any period of the desolation of his native land, nor did he use butter and honey in the manner designated. This form of expression is traceable solely to contemplation of events together that in reality are far apart. For Judah succumbed to such a devastation not till 130 years later. But if we may assume that a child awakes. to moral consciousness in its third or fourth year, and is consequently to be regarded as a personality, capable of distinguishing between good and evil, then that child was alive to see the first inroad of the Assyrians into the territory of Ephraim (and Syria according to 2 Kings 16:9) and consequently the beginning of the fulfilment of our prophecy. But did it live to see the beginning, then the Prophet might regard it as one that had lived through the entire fulfilment, because, as remarked before, he does not distinguish successive plains of fulfilment. And he has good reason for this. For as all consequences are contained in the principle, so in the first-fruits of fulfilment are contained the rest of the degrees of fulfilment. For him, who has an eye open to divine realities, all these degrees are ideally contained, but just on that account divinely and really contained in the degree that is the first-fruits. For divine ideas bear the pledge of their reality in themselves. Therefore where a complex of divine ideas is realized even in its beginnings, there the whole is become real for Him who contemplates things with an eye divinely illuminated. Thus Jeremiah regards the world-dominion of Nebuchadnezzar, the subjection of all nations under his power, and the seventy years of Judah’s exile as realized practically by the battle at Carchemish, although, to human eyes, Nebuchadnezzar during several years did nothing to extend his kingdom on one side or other. Comp. my remarks on Jer. 25:11. So, too, the Lord says Matth. 24:34; Luke 21:32, “This generation shall not pass away till all this be fulfilled.” He could, with entire justice, say that the generation then living would live to see the last judgment because they would witness the beginning of it, the destruction of Jerusalem. Comp. VAN OOSTERZEE on Luke 21:32.
It is seen from the foregoing that, regarding the passage in the light of its fulfilment, we understand “the king of Assyria” Isa 7:17, to include the king of Babylon. But Isaiah could speak here only of the king of Assyria. For in the foreground of his tableau of the future he saw only the king of Assyria. He did not know, or did not need to intimate that the king of Babylon stood behind the former as continuer and accomplisher. The Assyrian king, this would-be-helper and protector, for whose sake Ahaz has so impiously contemned the support of Jehovah (see on Isa 7:12), just he must be designated as the instrument of the judgment that was to burst in on unbelieving Judah and its equally unbelieving royal house. Thus it appears how impossible it is to treat the words “the king of Assyria” as a gloss, like KNOBEL and DIESTEL do. If the words were not there, there would be no hint as to who was to be the instrument of the judgment predicted Isa 7:16, 17. The words connect very well with “days” in apposition as being explanatory—for it is just as easy to say “bring days on a people” as “bring a king upon any one.”
4. And it shall come to pass——treading lesser cattle.
Isa 7:18-25. These verses connect very closely with Isa 7:17, as its amplification. This happens as follows: that in a section underlying which is a duality, there is described first, the means and instruments of the desolation, second the consequences of the desolation. The means and instruments are characterized in a two fold image. First, the destroyer is compared to flies and bees, second, to a razor. The flies mean Egypt, the bees Assyria. But both images merge into one, into that of the razor, and Assyria appears as the razor, by which we are to understand not Assyria alone, but also Babylon. The consequences of the desolation, again, are portrayed under a double figure, or rather by the presentation of two examples. The first example: a man has nothing of his cattle left but a little cow (young cow). But he feeds on thick milk, for, in consequence of the superabundance of food for stock, the remnant of the inhabitants will feed on butter and honey. The second example is itself again divided in two: a.) a vineyard once well cultivated, planted with noble vines, is so over-grown with thorns and thistles, that no one ventures into it without bow and arrow; b.) all the once cultivated heights are so overgrown with thorns and thistles, that they are only fit for the pasture of cattle.
Will hiss,etc.—Jehovah’s might and sovereignty will reveal itself here in the most glorious manner. He only needs to whistle (comp. on 5:26; Zech. 10:8), and the flies of Egypt and the bees of Assyria come obedient to His call. That Egypt was a land abounding in flies may be supposed from the warmth of its climate and the frequent overflows with their slimy sediment. Comp. Exod. 8:12 sqq. If the flies at the extreme ends of the canals (see crit. note on ׳אר) are called, those that are nearer would not stay away. The expression then means that all the Egyptian flies, even the farthest off, shall come on.—The Assyrians are compared to the bee as noble, martial, strong, dangerous. Assyria had many bees. Comp. KNOBELin loc. Therefore the entire land, to the steep, rocky ravines and cliffs of the brooks, and to the prickly thorn hedges and the trampled cattle pastures will be covered (נָחוּ comp. a Isa 7:2) with the swarms of flies and bees. Thus, extensively and intensively, an entire devastation of the land is predicted. The same appears by the second figure Isa 7:20. Ahaz, at a great price, had hired the Assyrian king as an ally against Syria and Ephraim. For this purpose he had not only sacrificed great treasures but also the independence of his land. For he had caused it to be said to Tiglath-Pileser: “I am thy servant and thy son, come up and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria and out of the hand of the king of Israel.” 2 Kings 16:7. For this purpose he sent the Assyrian the gold and silver that was in the house of Jehovah and in the house of the king. The definite article in תערחשׂכירה, “the hired razor,” was both historically justified and comprehensible to Ahaz, who must have felt the reproach that lay in the expression. Thou hast hired a razor to shave others, says Isaiah to him, but this razor will shave thee. In Lev. 14:8 sq. the shaving off all the hair on the body is prescribed as a part of the purification to be observed by one recovered from leprosy. Perhaps the Prophet would intimate that this devastation was also an act of purification, by which the nation was to be purified from the leprosy of sin, that therefore the punishment is intended for the improvement of those that would accept the chastisement (Prov. 8:10; 19:20). The shaving bald evidently signifies the entire devastation and emptying of the land in every quarter and with regard to men, cattle and every other possession.
In Isa 7:21–25, the degree and extent of the devastation is portrayed by two illustrative figures. The first example shows that instead of skilful cultivation, the grass shall grow rank. A man rescues from his stock a heifer, the Prophet supposes, (comp. 15:5; Jer. 48:34; Deut. 21:3; 1 Sam. 16:2) and two sheep. Because there is no regular cultivation, grass grows in every field. Therefore there is abundant pasture for the few cattle. Beside, the wild bees produce honey in abundance. Thus honey and butter are the food of that man and of all the remnant of the inhabitants still in the land. The second example presents a still greater degree of uncultivated wildness; the whole land growing rank with thorns and thistles. And this greatest wildness appears in a double gradation: first, every place for growing wine appears covered with thorns and thistles (Isa 7:23, 24), and then the same is affirmed of all the hills. It is hard to find a distinction here, because wine grows on the hills, or mountains, too. It seems to me that the Prophet carries out completely in this last member the duality which, as was remarked, rules in the whole section. Everything is double. Already in Isa 7:18 we have flies and bees, meaning Egypt and Assyria; ravines and clefts of the rock; thorn-hedges and pastures. Only Isa 7:20 neglects the rule, because the Prophet would designate the two enemies in an unity. But Isa 7:21 and on, this rule of duality is carried out, and at the close becomes emphatic. We observe two degrees of growing wild. In the first appear: one man and the entire remnant of the inhabitants, cattle and sheep, butter and honey. The second degree, subdivides in two again, in which appears to me to lie the emphasis, and both are characterized by the double notions of thorn and thistle, arrow and bow, a seeding place for cattle, and a trampling place for sheep. The thousand vines and thousand shekels recall Song of Sol. 8:11. In Syria at the present time the vineyards are still taxed according to the number of the vines; a good vine at one Piaster = about four cents. Therefore, the price of one shekel = to about 25 cents is high. The construction of Isa 7:23 betrays a certain luxuriance and rankness. The first or the last יִהְיֶה “shall be” is certainly an excess. Perhaps the Prophet would thereby express by word painting the rank growth of the weeds. Will one go into the property with bow and arrow in order to hunt, or to protect himself? I believe, with GESENIUS, both. He that goes in will need his weapons for protection; he that would hunt needs only to go into the nearest vineyard. The protecting fence is gone; beasts wild and tame, penetrate into it. The vineyards of Israel are now a copy of what Israel itself as the vineyard of Jehovah had become (Isa 7:5).
[J. A. ALEXANDER on 7:14–16. “The two interpretations that appear to me the most plausible, and the least beset with difficulties are those of LOWTH and VITRINGA, with which last HENGSTENBERG’S is essentially identical. Either the Prophet, while he foretells the birth of Christ, foretells that of another child, during whose infancy the promised deliverance shall be experienced; or else he makes the infancy of Christ Himself, whether seen as still remote or not, the sign and measure of that same deliverance. While some diversity of judgment ought to be expected and allowed in relation to this secondary question, there is no ground, grammatical, historical or logical, for doubt as to the main point, that the church in all ages has been right in regarding this passage as a signal, and explicit prediction of the miraculous conception and nativity of Christ.” On הָעַלְמָה, “the Alma.” “It is enough for us to know that a virgin or unmarried woman is designated here as distinctly as she could be by a single word. That the word means simply a young woman, whether married or unmarried, a virgin or a mother, is a subterfuge invented by the later Greek translators, who, as Justin Martyr tells us, read νεα̈νις, instead of the old version παρθένος, which had its rise before the prophecy became a subject of dispute between Jews and Christians. The use of the word in this connection makes it, to say the least, extremely probable that the event foretold is something more than a birth in the ordinary course of nature.”
“To account for the Alma by a second marriage of Ahaz, or of Isaiah, or by the presence of a pregnant woman, or the Prophet’s pointing at her,” “may be justly charged with gratuitously assuming facts of which we have no evidence, and which are not necessary to the interpretation of the passage.” “A further objection is, that though they may afford a sign in one of the senses of the word, viz.: that of an emblem or symbol, they do not afford such a sign as the context would lead us to expect. It seems very improbable, after the offer to Ahaz, which he rejected, that the sign bestowed (unasked) would be merely a thing of every-day occurrence, or at most the application of a symbolical name. This presumption is strengthened by the solemnity with which the Prophet speaks of the predicted birth, not as a usual and natural event, but as something which excites his own astonishment, as he beholds it in prophetic vision.”
This last objection applies equally to the Author’s theory of the Alma being an unmarried princess detected in pregnancy. In addition to all the other assumptions of this theory, which are greater than those of any other, it must be assumed that the pregnancy was at a stage that could be kept secret from the scrutiny that ever characterized the regime of the women’s apartments in an oriental family. Otherwise it would be no sign in the Author’s sense.
The Author’s threefold canon has its foundation in what are obviously conjectures. Whether the sign was to be such as Ahaz was to test, because he would see it accomplished, depended precisely on the sign itself. It might be a sign like that to Moses Exod. 3:12, which could only be fulfilled after other events predicted, with which it was associated as a sign, had come to pass. Comp. Isa. 37:30. It may have been like those signs given by Christ to unbelievers in His day, that were not meant to induce belief in those that asked, but were the refusal of a sign to them. (vid.Jno. 2:18–22; Mat. 12:38–40). If it was such a sign, then the Author’s first canon is an error. Whether the sign was meant for the whole royal family, according to this third canon, depends wholly on the “house of David” having the meaning he gives it. Yet that meaning has no other foundation than the conjecture that Isaiah had intruded on the private, domestic retirement of Ahaz. The second canon, viz.: that the sign in its form must be punitive, is only an assumption. The contrary is as easily assumed.
The connection of the words Isa 7:10–16 with the Isa 7:9b is very close. The belief there challenged is, by a second message, brought to the test. Ahaz does not stand the test. He does not believe, or he would joyfully avail himself of the offered sign, as Hezekiah did later 2 Kings 20:8 sq. Thereupon Isaiah proceeds to denounce the consequences already threatened Isa 7:9b, that must follow unbelief. But first, as to unbelieving Saul was announced the man after God’s own heart that was to be raised up in his place, so to Ahaz is announced, in a clearer light than ever before, the promised “seed of the woman” who would deliver Israel. But before that would come to pass, the two kingdoms of which Israel was composed, Judah as well as Ephraim must suffer desolation. Thus the prophecy of Immanuel relates to Christ alone, as J. H. MICHAELIS and others suppose (vid. J. A. ALEX,in loc.); and Isa 7:16 is (with HENDERSON) to be understood of Canaan and its two kingdoms, Ephraim and Judah. This view encounters fewer difficulties than any other, while such as it does encounter are felt as much by any other. On the other hand it is much in favor of this view, that there is then in Isa 7:17 simply a continuation and amplification of the theme begun in Isa 7:16, and no such abruptness as the Author, with most expositors, finds in what Isa 7:17 announces.
The chief difficulty is that in כִּי בְּטֶרֶם יֵדַע הַנַּעַר the כִּי must be given the force of “but” (UMBREIT). Yet כִּי may have its usual sense “for,” and assign the reason why an Immanuel, that knows good and evil, shall be needed. For before such a one comes, those that call good evil and evil good (vid.5:20), etc., shall have brought the inheritance of Jehovah to that extremity, by their unbelief, where only such a deliverer can save.—TR.
On Isa 7:18. “Assyria and Egypt are named as the two great rival powers, who disturbed the peace of Western Asia, and to whom the land of Israel was both a place, and a subject of contention. The bee cannot of itself denote an army, nor is the reference exclusively to actual invasion, but to annoying and oppressive occupation of the country by civil and military agents of these foreign powers. It was not merely attacked, but infested by flies and bees of Egypt and Assyria. Fly is understood as a generic term, including gnats, mosquitoes, etc., by HENDERSON, and bee as including wasps and hornets, by HITZIG and UMBREIT.”
On Isa 7:20. “The rabbinical interpretation of שׂער רנלים is a poor conceit, the adoption of which by GESENIUS [and NAEGELSBACH—TR.], if nothing worse, says but little for the taste and the “æsthetic feeling” which so often sits in judgment on the language of the Prophet. The true sense is no doubt the one expressed by EWALD (von oben bis unten) [from head to foot] and before him by CLERICUS. ”J. A. ALEX.]
Heb. and the LORD added to speak.
Or, make thy petition deep.
Or, thou, O Virgin, shalt call.
kings that thou fearest.
brooks of the ravines.
Or, commendable trees.
with the hired razor beyond the river.
shall raise of cattle a calf.
Heb. in the midst of the land.
where are a thousand, etc., shall be, etc.
for fear of.