Isaiah 7

Chapter 7[a]

The Coming of Immanuel.[b] 1 During the period when Ahaz, the son of Jotham and the grandson of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah of Israel, the son of Remaliah, went forth to conquer Jerusalem, but they were unable to mount an attack against it. 2 When the house of David was informed that Aram had pitched camp in Ephraim, the heart of King Ahaz and the hearts of his people began to tremble just as trees of the forest shake in the wind.

3 Then the Lord said to Isaiah: Go forth with your son Shear-jashub[c] to meet Ahaz at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the road to the Fuller’s Field, 4 and say to him, Pay close attention to me. Remain calm and be unafraid. Do not let your courage fail because of these two smoldering stumps of firewood. Do not yield to the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and the son of Remaliah, 5 or become fearful because Aram, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah have been plotting against you and saying, 6 “Let us go forth and attack Judah. Let us tear it apart, force it to surrender to us, and appoint the son of Tabeel[d] there as king.”

7 Therefore, thus says the Lord God:

This will not happen,
either now or ever.
8 For the head of Aram is Damascus
and the head of Damascus is Rezin.
The head of Ephraim is Samaria,
and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah.
9 Within sixty-five years
Ephraim will no longer be a people.
If you do not stand firm in your faith
you will not stand firm at all.

10 [e]Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying:

11 Ask the Lord, your God for a sign;
let it be as deep as the netherworld
or as high as the heavens.

12 But Ahaz replied, “I will not ask. I will not put the Lord to the test.” 13 Then Isaiah said:

Listen, O house of David!
Are you not satisfied to try the patience of men?
Must you also try the patience of my God?
14 Therefore, you will be given this sign
by the Lord himself:
The virgin will be with child,
and she will give birth to a son,
and she will name him Immanuel.
15 He will feed on curds and honey
by the time he learns to reject the bad
and choose the good.
16 Before that child has learned
to reject the bad and choose the good,
deserted will be the lands
of those two kings whom you dread.
17 The Lord will inflict on you,
and on your people and your father’s house,
days far worse than any that have been seen
since Ephraim[f] broke away from Judah—
you will become subjects of the king of Assyria.
18 When that day arrives,
the Lord will summon flies from the distant streams of Egypt
and bees from the land of Assyria.
19 They will all come forth and settle
in the steep ravines and in the clefts of the rocks,
on all the thornbushes and in all the pastures.
20 On that day the Lord will shave
with a razor hired from across the river[g]
(with the king of Assyria)
the head and the hair between the legs
as well as the beard.
21 When that day comes,
each man will keep a young cow and two sheep,
22 and because of the abundant milk they give
he will subsist on curds.
For all those who are left in the land
will eat curds and honey.
23 On that day,
wherever there used to be a thousand vines
worth a thousand pieces of silver,
that area will then be covered
with brambles and thornbushes.
24 Men will go there with bows and arrows,
for the entire country will be covered
by briers and thorns.
25 For fear of briers and thorns
you will not venture upon any hills
that used to be hoed with a hoe.
They will become a place for cattle to graze
and where sheep may tread.

Footnotes

  1. Isaiah 7:1 The “Book of Immanuel” records the major interventions of Isaiah in the politics of the kingdom of Judah, especially from 734–732 B.C., that is, at the time of the Syro-Ephraimite war which was on the point of dragging the throne of David down to destruction (see 2 Ki 16:5). In this period of uncertainty, a promise kindles a light: a boy child will be born and named Immanuel, that is, “God with us.” For Christians, this promise finds its complete fulfillment in the coming of Jesus. Some later oracles have been inserted into the Book of Immanuel.
  2. Isaiah 7:1 Assyrian expansion roused concern throughout the Near East, while the kingdom of Israel plotted to free themselves from the Assyrian yoke. Their intention was to bring the king of Jerusalem into this affair, by force if necessary. The undertaking was a dangerous one and could cost this king his throne and put an end to the house of David. The king of Judah, in order to escape from the pressure of his neighbors, was going to put himself under the protection of mighty Assyria and was ready to become its vassal. But Isaiah stood up to him: the king must trust in God alone.
  3. Isaiah 7:3 Shear-jashub: a symbolic name, signifying “a remnant will return” (see Isa 10:20-22). The pool was south of Jerusalem.
  4. Isaiah 7:6 Tabeel: a region across the Jordan. The two kings want to put someone not of Davidic descent on the throne of Judah.
  5. Isaiah 7:10 King Ahaz hesitates and does not know what to do with a sign from heaven. In God’s name Isaiah announces a solemn promise: a virgin will bear a son; his name, “God with us,” signifies salvation. The child’s nourishment recalls the great days of nomadic life and of the Exodus, the ideal period when Israel was poor and close to God. It foretells, along with a hereditary ruler, a different age, and a different Messiah, expectation of whom will never be erased from the Hebrew heart. Later on, the Greek tradition will specify that the “young woman” who is to give birth is a virgin (v. 14). Matthew and the Christian tradition will see this prediction as completely fulfilled in the coming of Jesus, the true Immanuel, born of the Virgin Mary by a supernatural intervention (Mt 1:23).
  6. Isaiah 7:17 Ephraim: though but one region, it stands here for the entire northern kingdom. The division of the two kingdoms went back to 931 B.C.
  7. Isaiah 7:20 The river is the Euphrates. Prisoners were shaved to disfigure and shame them.

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