New English Translation
Ahaz Receives a Sign
7 During[a] the reign of Ahaz son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah son of Remaliah of Israel marched up to Jerusalem to do battle, but they were unable to prevail against it.[b]
2 It was reported to the family[c] of David, “Syria has allied with[d] Ephraim.” They and their people were emotionally shaken, just as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.[e] 3 So the Lord told Isaiah, “Go out with your son Shear Jashub[f] and meet Ahaz at the end of the conduit of the upper pool that is located on the road to the field where they wash and dry cloth.[g] 4 Tell him, ‘Make sure you stay calm![h] Don’t be afraid. Don’t be intimidated[i] by these two stubs of smoking logs,[j] or by the raging anger of Rezin, Syria, and the son of Remaliah. 5 Syria has plotted with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah to bring about your demise.[k] 6 They say, “Let’s attack Judah, terrorize it, and conquer it.[l] Then we’ll set up the son of Tabeel as its king.”[m] 7 For this reason the Sovereign Lord says:
“‘It will not take place;
it will not happen.
8 For Syria’s leader is Damascus,
and the leader of Damascus is Rezin.
Within sixty-five years Ephraim will no longer exist as a nation.[n]
9 Ephraim’s leader is Samaria,
and Samaria’s leader is the son of Remaliah.
If your faith does not remain firm,
then you will not remain secure.’”[o]
10 The Lord again spoke to Ahaz: 11 “Ask for a confirming sign from the Lord your God. You can even ask for something miraculous.”[p] 12 But Ahaz responded, “I don’t want to ask; I don’t want to put the Lord to a test.”[q] 13 So Isaiah replied,[r] “Pay attention,[s] family[t] of David.[u] Do you consider it too insignificant to try the patience of men? Is that why you are also trying the patience of my God? 14 For this reason the Lord himself will give you a confirming sign.[v] Look, this[w] young woman[x] is about to conceive[y] and will give birth to a son. You, young woman, will name him[z] Immanuel.[aa] 15 He will eat sour milk[ab] and honey, which will help him know how[ac] to reject evil and choose what is right. 16 Here is why this will be so:[ad] Before the child knows how to reject evil and choose what is right, the land[ae] whose two kings you fear will be desolate.[af] 17 The Lord will bring on you, your people, and your father’s family a time[ag] unlike any since Ephraim departed from Judah—the king of Assyria!”[ah]
18 At that time[ai] the Lord will whistle for flies from the distant streams of Egypt and for bees from the land of Assyria.[aj] 19 All of them will come and make their home[ak] in the ravines between the cliffs and in the crevices of the cliffs, in all the thorn bushes, and in all the watering holes.[al] 20 At that time[am] the Lord will use a razor hired from the banks of the Euphrates River,[an] the king of Assyria, to shave the hair off the head and private parts;[ao] it will also shave off the beard. 21 At that time[ap] a man will keep alive a young cow from the herd and a couple of goats. 22 From the abundance of milk they produce,[aq] he will have sour milk for his meals. Indeed, everyone left in the heart of the land will eat sour milk and honey. 23 At that time[ar] every place where there had been 1,000 vines worth 1,000 silver shekels will be overrun[as] with thorns and briers. 24 With bow and arrow[at] people will hunt[au] there, for the whole land will be covered[av] with thorns and briers. 25 They will stay away from all the hills that were cultivated for fear of the thorns and briers.[aw] Cattle will graze there, and sheep will trample on them.[ax]
A Child is Born for a Sign
8 The Lord told me, “Take a large tablet[ay] and inscribe these words[az] on it with an ordinary stylus:[ba] ‘Maher Shalal Hash Baz.’[bb] 2 Then I will summon[bc] as my reliable witnesses Uriah the priest and Zechariah son of Jeberekiah.” 3 I then approached the prophetess for marital relations;[bd] she conceived and gave birth to a son. The Lord told me, “Name him Maher Shalal Hash Baz, 4 for before the child knows how to cry out ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria will be carried off by the king of Assyria.”[be]
5 The Lord spoke to me again: 6 “These people[bf] have rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah[bg] and melt in fear over Rezin and the son of Remaliah.[bh] 7 So look, the Lord[bi] is bringing up against them the turbulent and mighty waters of the Euphrates River[bj]—the king of Assyria and all his majestic power. It will reach flood stage and overflow its banks.[bk] 8 It will spill into Judah, flooding and engulfing, as it reaches to the necks of its victims. He will spread his wings out over your entire land,[bl] O Immanuel.”[bm]
9 You will be broken,[bn] O nations;
you will be shattered![bo]
Pay attention, all you distant lands of the earth.
Get ready for battle, and you will be shattered!
Get ready for battle, and you will be shattered![bp]
10 Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted.
Issue your orders, but they will not be executed![bq]
For God is with us![br]
The Lord Encourages Isaiah
12 “Do not say, ‘Conspiracy,’ every time these people say the word.[bu]
Don’t be afraid of what scares them; don’t be terrified.
13 You must recognize the authority of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.[bv]
He is the one you must respect;
he is the one you must fear.[bw]
14 He will become a sanctuary,[bx]
but a stone that makes a person trip,
and a rock that makes one stumble—
to the two houses of Israel.[by]
He will become[bz] a trap and a snare
to the residents of Jerusalem.
15 Many will stumble over the stone and the rock,[ca]
and will fall and be seriously injured,
and will be ensnared and captured.”
16 Tie up the scroll as legal evidence,[cb]
seal the official record of God’s instructions and give it to my followers.[cc]
17 I will wait patiently for the Lord,
who has rejected the family of Jacob;[cd]
I will wait for him.
18 Look, I and the sons whom the Lord has given me[ce] are reminders and object lessons[cf] in Israel, sent from the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, who lives on Mount Zion.
Darkness Turns to Light as an Ideal King Arrives
19 [cg] They will say to you, “Seek oracles at the pits used to conjure up underworld spirits, from the magicians who chirp and mutter incantations.[ch] Should people not seek oracles from their gods, by asking the dead about the destiny of the living?”[ci] 20 Then you must recall the Lord’s instructions and the prophetic testimony of what would happen.[cj] Certainly they say such things because their minds are spiritually darkened.[ck] 21 They will pass through the land[cl] destitute and starving. Their hunger will make them angry,[cm] and they will curse their king and their God[cn] as they look upward. 22 When one looks out over the land, he sees[co] distress and darkness, gloom[cp] and anxiety, darkness and people forced from the land.[cq] 9 1 (8:23)[cr] The gloom will be dispelled for those who were anxious.[cs]
In earlier times he[ct] humiliated
the land of Zebulun,
and the land of Naphtali;[cu]
but now he brings honor[cv]
to the way of the sea,
the region beyond the Jordan,
and Galilee of the nations.[cw]
2 (9:1) The people walking in darkness
see a bright light;[cx]
on those who live in a land of deep darkness.[cy]
3 You[cz] have enlarged the nation;
you give them great joy.[da]
They rejoice in your presence
as harvesters rejoice;
as warriors celebrate[db] when they divide up the plunder.
4 For their oppressive yoke
and the club that strikes their shoulders,
the cudgel the oppressor uses on them,[dc]
you have shattered, as in the day of Midian’s defeat.[dd]
5 Indeed every boot that marches and shakes the earth[de]
and every garment dragged through blood
is used as fuel for the fire.
6 For a child has been[df] born to us,
a son has been given to us.
He shoulders responsibility[dg]
and is called[dh]
Prince of Peace.[dl]
7 His dominion will be vast,[dm]
and he will bring immeasurable prosperity.[dn]
He will rule on David’s throne
and over David’s kingdom,[do]
establishing it[dp] and strengthening it
by promoting justice and fairness,[dq]
from this time forward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies[dr] will accomplish this.
God’s Judgment Intensifies
8 [ds] The Lord[dt] decreed judgment[du] on Jacob,
and it fell on Israel.[dv]
9 All the people were aware[dw] of it,
the people of Ephraim and those living in Samaria.[dx]
Yet with pride and an arrogant attitude, they said,[dy]
10 “The bricks have fallen,
but we will rebuild with chiseled stone;
the sycamore fig trees have been cut down,
but we will replace them with cedars.”[dz]
11 Then the Lord provoked[ea] their adversaries to attack them,[eb]
he stirred up[ec] their enemies—
12 Syria from the east,
and the Philistines from the west;
they gobbled up Israelite territory.[ed]
Despite all this, his anger does not subside,
and his hand is ready to strike again.[ee]
13 The people did not return to the one who struck them,
they did not seek reconciliation[ef] with the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
14 So the Lord cut off Israel’s head and tail,
both the shoots and stalk[eg] in one day.
15 The leaders and the highly respected people[eh] are the head,
the prophets who teach lies are the tail.
16 The leaders of this nation were misleading people,
and the people being led were destroyed.[ei]
17 So the Lord was not pleased[ej] with their young men,
he took no pity[ek] on their orphans and widows;
for the whole nation was godless[el] and did wicked things,[em]
every mouth was speaking disgraceful words.[en]
Despite all this, his anger does not subside,
and his hand is ready to strike again.[eo]
18 For[ep] evil burned like a fire,[eq]
it consumed thorns and briers;
it burned up the thickets of the forest,
and they went up in smoke.[er]
19 Because of the anger of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the land was scorched,[es]
and the people became fuel for the fire.[et]
People had no compassion on one another.[eu]
20 They devoured[ev] on the right, but were still hungry;
they ate on the left, but were not satisfied.
People even ate[ew] the flesh of their own arm![ex]
21 Manasseh fought against[ey] Ephraim,
and Ephraim against Manasseh;
together they fought against Judah.
Despite all this, his anger does not subside,
and his hand is ready to strike again.[ez]
- Isaiah 7:1 tn The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.
- Isaiah 7:1 tn Or perhaps, “but they were unable to attack it.” This statement sounds like a summary of the whole campaign. The following context explains why they were unable to defeat the southern kingdom. The parallel passage (2 Kgs 16:5; cf. Num 22:11; 1 Sam 17:9 for a similar construction) affirms that Syria and Israel besieged Ahaz. Consequently, the statement that “they were not able to battle against them” must refer to the inability to conquer Ahaz.
- Isaiah 7:2 tn Heb “house.” In this context the “house of David” includes King Ahaz, his family, and the royal court. See also Jer 21:12; Zech 12:7-8, 10, 12, for a similar use of the phrase.
- Isaiah 7:2 tn Heb “rests upon.” Most understand the verb as נוּחַ (nuakh, “rest”), but HALOT 685 s.v. II נחה proposes that this is a hapax legomenon which means “stand by.”
- Isaiah 7:2 tn Heb “and his heart shook and the heart of his people shook, like the shaking of the trees of the forest before the wind.” The singular pronoun “his” is collective, referring to the Davidic house/family. לֵבָב (levav, “heart”) here refers to the seat of the emotions.
- Isaiah 7:3 tn The name means “a remnant will return.” Perhaps in this context, where the Lord is trying to encourage Ahaz, the name suggests that only a few of the enemy invaders will return home; the rest will be defeated.
- Isaiah 7:3 tn Heb “the field of the washer”; traditionally “the fuller’s field” (so KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV); NIV “the Washerman’s Field.”
- Isaiah 7:4 tn Heb “guard yourself and be quiet,” but the two verbs should be coordinated.
- Isaiah 7:4 tn Heb “and let not your heart be weak”; ASV “neither let thy heart be faint.”
- Isaiah 7:4 sn The derogatory metaphor indicates that the power of Rezin and Pekah is ready to die out.
- Isaiah 7:5 tn This sentence opens with the conjunction יַעַן כִּי (yaʿan ki, “because”). Consequently some take vv. 5-6 with what precedes, as another reason why Ahaz might be tempted to fear (see v. 4). However, it is more likely that vv. 5-6 give the basis for the Lord’s announcement in vv. 7-9. The conjunction יַעַן כִּי here introduces the basis for judgment (as in 3:16; 8:6; 29:13), which is then followed by the formal announcement of judgment.
- Isaiah 7:6 tn Heb “and let us break it open for ourselves”; NASB “make for ourselves a breach in its walls”; NLT “fight our way into.”
- Isaiah 7:6 tn Heb “and we will make the son of Tabeel king in its midst.”sn The precise identity of this would-be puppet king is unknown. He may have been a Syrian official or the ruler of one of the small neighboring states. See Y. Aharoni, Land of the Bible, 370.
- Isaiah 7:8 tn Heb “Ephraim will be too shattered to be a nation”; NIV “to be a people.”sn This statement is problematic for several reasons. It seems to intrude stylistically, interrupting the symmetry of the immediately preceding and following lines. Furthermore, such a long-range prophecy lacks punch in the midst of the immediate crisis. After all, even if Israel were destroyed sometime within the next 65 years, a lot could still happen during that time, including the conquest of Judah and the demise of the Davidic family. Finally, the significance of the time frame is uncertain. Israel became an Assyrian province within the next 15 years and ceased to exist as a nation. For these reasons many regard the statement as a later insertion, but why a later editor would include the reference to “65 years” remains a mystery. Some try to relate the prophecy to the events alluded to in Ezra 4:2, 10, which refers to how the Assyrian kings Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal settled foreigners in former Israelite territory, perhaps around 670 b.c. However, even if the statement is referring to these events, it lacks rhetorical punch in its immediate context and has the earmarks of a later commentary that has been merged with the text in the process of transmission.
- Isaiah 7:9 tn Heb “if you do not believe, you will not endure.” The verb forms are second plural; the Lord here addresses the entire Davidic family and court. (Verse 4 was addressed to the king.) There is a wordplay in the Hebrew text, designed to draw attention to the alternatives set before the king (cf. 1:20). “Believe” (תַאֳמִינוּ, taʾaminu) is a Hiphil form of the verb אָמָן (ʾaman); “endure” (תֵאָמֵנוּ, teʾamenu) is a Niphal form of this same verb.
- Isaiah 7:11 tn Heb “Make it as deep as Sheol or make it high upwards.” These words suggest that Ahaz can feel free to go beyond the bounds of ordinary human experience.
- Isaiah 7:12 tn Ahaz uses the verb נָסַה (nasah, “test”) in its negative sense of “challenge, provoke.” However, this is false piety, a smokescreen designed to cover up his lack of faith in the Lord.
- Isaiah 7:13 tn Heb “and he said.” The subject is unexpressed, but the reference to “my God” at the end of the verse indicates the prophet is speaking.
- Isaiah 7:13 tn The verb is second plural in form, because the prophet addresses the whole family of David. He continues to use the plural in v. 14 (with one exception; see the notes on that verse), but then switches back to the second singular (addressing Ahaz specifically) in vv. 16-17.
- Isaiah 7:13 tn Heb “house.” See the note at v. 2.
- Isaiah 7:13 sn The address to the “house of David” is designed to remind Ahaz and his royal court of the protection promised to them through the Davidic covenant. The king’s refusal to claim God’s promise magnifies his lack of faith.
- Isaiah 7:14 tn The Hebrew term אוֹת (ʾot, “sign”) can refer to a miraculous event (see v. 11), but it does not carry this sense inherently. Elsewhere in Isaiah the word usually refers to a natural occurrence or an object/person vested with special significance (see 8:18; 19:20; 20:3; 37:30; 55:13; 66:19). Only in 38:7-8, 22 does it refer to a miraculous deed that involves suspending or overriding natural laws. The sign outlined in vv. 14-17 involves God’s providential control over events and their timing, but not necessarily miraculous intervention.
- Isaiah 7:14 tn Heb “the young woman.” The Hebrew article has been rendered as a demonstrative pronoun (“this”) in the translation to bring out its force. In addition, the syntactical sequence of הִנֵּה (hinneh) followed by the article followed by a noun always refers to something definite and present to the speaker and audience. It is very likely that Isaiah pointed to a woman who was present at the scene of the prophet’s interview with Ahaz. Isaiah had met him where the people wash clothes (7:3) and likely there were many women present at the scene. Isaiah’s address to the “house of David” and his use of second plural forms directly suggest other people were present, and his use of the second feminine singular verb form (“you will name”) later in the verse is best explained if addressed to a woman who is present.
- Isaiah 7:14 tn Traditionally, “virgin.” Because this verse from Isaiah is quoted in Matt 1:23 in connection with Jesus’ birth, the Isaiah passage has been regarded since the earliest Christian times as a prophecy of Christ’s virgin birth. Much debate has taken place over the best way to translate this Hebrew term, although ultimately one’s view of the doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ is unaffected. Though the Hebrew word used here (עַלְמָה, ʿalmah) can sometimes refer to a woman who is a virgin (Gen 24:43), it does not carry this meaning inherently. The word is simply the feminine form of the corresponding masculine noun עֶלֶם (ʿelem, “young man”; cf. 1 Sam 17:56; 20:22). The Aramaic and Ugaritic cognate terms are both used of women who are not virgins. The word seems to pertain to age, not sexual experience, and would normally be translated “young woman.” The LXX translator(s) who later translated the Book of Isaiah into Greek sometime between the second and first century b.c., however, rendered the Hebrew term by the more specific Greek word παρθένος (parthenos), which does mean “virgin” in a technical sense. This is the Greek term that also appears in the citation of Isa 7:14 in Matt 1:23. Therefore, regardless of the meaning of the term in the OT context, in the NT Matthew’s usage of the Greek term παρθένος clearly indicates that from his perspective a virgin birth has taken place.
- Isaiah 7:14 tn Elsewhere the adjective הָרָה (harah), when used predicatively, refers to a past pregnancy (from the narrator’s perspective, 1 Sam 4:19), to a present condition (Gen 16:11; 38:24; 2 Sam 11:5), and to a conception that is about to occur in the near future (Judg 13:5, 7). (There is some uncertainty about the interpretation of Judg 13:5, 7, however. See the notes to those verses.) In Isa 7:14 one could translate, “the young woman is pregnant.” In this case the woman is probably a member of the royal family. Another option, the one followed in the present translation, takes the adjective in an imminent future sense, “the young woman is about to conceive.” In this case the woman could be a member of the royal family, or, more likely, the prophetess with whom Isaiah has sexual relations shortly after this (see 8:3).
- Isaiah 7:14 tn Heb “and you will call his name.” The words “young woman” are supplied in the translation to clarify the identity of the addressee. The verb is normally taken as an archaic third feminine singular form here, and translated, “she will call.” However the form (קָרָאת, qaraʾt) is more naturally understood as second feminine singular, in which case the words would be addressed to the young woman mentioned just before this. In the three other occurrences of the third feminine singular perfect of I קָרָא (qaraʾ, “to call”), the form used is קָרְאָה (qarʾah; see Gen 29:35; 30:6; 1 Chr 4:9). A third feminine singular perfect קָרָאת does appear in Deut 31:29 and Jer 44:23, but the verb here is the homonym II קָרָא (“to meet, encounter”). The form קָרָאת (from I קָרָא, “to call”) appears in three other passages (Gen 16:11; Isa 60:18; Jer 3:4 [Qere]) and in each case is second feminine singular.
- Isaiah 7:14 sn The name Immanuel means “God [is] with us.”
- Isaiah 7:15 tn Or, perhaps “cream,” frequently, “curds” (NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT); KJV, ASV “butter”; CEV “yogurt.”
- Isaiah 7:15 tn Heb “for his knowing.” Traditionally the preposition has been translated in a temporal sense, “when he knows.” However, though the preposition ל (lamed) can sometimes have a temporal force, it never carries such a nuance in any of the 40 other passages where it is used with the infinitive construct of יָדַע (yadaʿ, “to know”). Most often the construction indicates purpose/result. This sense is preferable here. The following context indicates that sour milk and honey will epitomize the devastation that God’s judgment will bring upon the land. Cultivated crops will be gone, and the people will be forced to live off the milk produced by their goats and the honey they find in the thickets. As the child is forced to eat a steady diet of this sour milk and honey, he will be reminded of the consequences of sin and motivated to make correct moral decisions in order to avoid further outbreaks of divine discipline.
- Isaiah 7:16 tn Heb “for, because.” The particle introduces the entire following context (vv. 16-25), which explains why Immanuel will be an appropriate name for the child, why he will eat sour milk and honey, and why experiencing such a diet will contribute to his moral development.
- Isaiah 7:16 sn Since “two kings” are referred to later in the verse, the “land” must here refer to Syria-Israel.
- Isaiah 7:16 tn Heb “the land will be abandoned, which you fear because of its two kings.” After the verb קוּץ (quts, “loathe, dread”) the phrase מִפְּנֵי (mippeney, “from before”) introduces the cause of loathing/dread (see Gen 27:46; Exod 1:12; Num 22:3).
- Isaiah 7:17 tn Heb “days” (so KJV, NAB); NASB, NRSV “such days.”
- Isaiah 7:17 sn Initially the prophecy appears to be a message of salvation. Immanuel seems to have a positive ring to it, sour milk and honey elsewhere symbolize prosperity and blessing (see Deut 32:13-14; Job 20:17), verse 16 announces the defeat of Judah’s enemies, and verse 17a could be taken as predicting a return to the glorious days of David and Solomon. However, the message turns sour in verses 17b-25. God will be with his people in judgment, as well as salvation. The curds and honey will be signs of deprivation, not prosperity, the relief announced in verse 16 will be short-lived, and the new era will be characterized by unprecedented humiliation, not a return to glory. Because of Ahaz’s refusal to trust the Lord, potential blessing would be transformed into a curse, just as Isaiah turns an apparent prophecy of salvation into a message of judgment. Because the words “the king of Assyria” are rather awkwardly tacked on to the end of the sentence, some regard them as a later addition. However, the very awkwardness facilitates the prophet’s rhetorical strategy here, as he suddenly turns what sounds like a positive message into a judgment speech. Actually, “the king of Assyria,” stands in apposition to the earlier object “days,” and specifies who the main character of these coming “days” will be.
- Isaiah 7:18 tn Heb “in that day” (so KJV). The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.
- Isaiah 7:18 sn Swarming flies are irritating; bees are irritating and especially dangerous because of the pain they inflict with their sting (see Deut 1:44; Ps 118:12). The metaphors are well chosen, for the Assyrians (symbolized by the bees) were much more powerful and dangerous than the Egyptians (symbolized by the flies). Nevertheless both would put pressure on Judah, for Egypt wanted Judah as a buffer state against Assyrian aggression, while Assyrian wanted it as a base for operations against Egypt. Following the reference to sour milk and honey, the metaphor is especially apt, for flies are attracted to dairy products and bees can be found in the vicinity of honey.
- Isaiah 7:19 tn Heb “and shall rest” (so KJV, ASV); NASB, NIV, NRSV “and settle.”
- Isaiah 7:19 tn The meaning of this word (נַהֲלֹל, nahalol) is uncertain; some understand this as referring to another type of thorn bush. For bibliography, see HALOT 676 s.v. I *נַהֲלֹל.
- Isaiah 7:20 tn Heb “in that day” (so ASV, NASB); KJV “In the same day.”
- Isaiah 7:20 tn Heb “the river” (so KJV); NASB “the Euphrates.” The name of the river has been supplied in the present translation for clarity.
- Isaiah 7:20 tn Heb “the hair of the feet.” The translation assumes that the word “feet” is used here as a euphemism for the genitals. See BDB 920 s.v. רֶגֶל.
- Isaiah 7:21 tn Heb “in that day.” The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.
- Isaiah 7:22 tn The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated, see note on 2:2.
- Isaiah 7:23 tn Heb “in that day.” The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.
- Isaiah 7:23 tn Heb “will become” (so NASB); NAB “shall be turned to.”
- Isaiah 7:24 tn Heb “with arrows and a bow.” The more common English idiom is “bow[s] and arrow[s].”
- Isaiah 7:24 tn Heb “go” (so NAB, NIV, NRSV); TEV “go hunting.”
- Isaiah 7:24 tn Heb “will be” (so NASB, NRSV).
- Isaiah 7:25 tn Heb “and all the hills which were hoed with a hoe, you will not go there [for] fear of the thorns and briers.”
- Isaiah 7:25 tn Heb “and it will become a pasture for cattle and a trampling place for sheep.”sn At this point one is able to summarize the content of the “sign” (vv. 14-15) as follows: A young woman known to be present when Isaiah delivered this message to Ahaz (perhaps a member of the royal family or the prophetess mentioned in 8:3) would soon give birth to a boy whom the mother would name Immanuel, “God is with us.” Eventually Immanuel would be forced to eat sour milk and honey, which would enable him to make correct moral decisions. How would this situation come about and how would it constitute a sign? Before this situation developed, the Israelites and Syrians would be defeated. But then the Lord would usher in a period of time unlike any since the division of the kingdom almost 200 years before. The Assyrians would overrun the land, destroy the crops, and force the people to subsist on goats’ milk and honey. At that time, as the people saw Immanuel eating his sour milk and honey, the Davidic family would be forced to acknowledge that God was indeed with them. He was present with them in the Syrian-Israelite crisis, fully capable of rescuing them, but he was also present with them in judgment, disciplining them for their lack of trust. The moral of the story is quite clear: Failure to appropriate God’s promises by faith can turn potential blessing into disciplinary judgment.
- Isaiah 8:1 sn Probably made of metal, wood, or leather. See HALOT 193 s.v. גִּלָּיוֹן.
- Isaiah 8:1 tn Heb “write” (so KJV, ASV, NIV, NRSV).
- Isaiah 8:1 tn Heb “with the stylus of a man.” The significance of the qualifying genitive “a man” is uncertain. For various interpretations see J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:219, n. 1.
- Isaiah 8:1 tn Heb “quickly, [the] plunder; it hurries, [the] loot.” The first word (מַהֵר, maher) is either a Piel imperative (“hurry [to]”) or infinitive (“hurrying,” or “quickly”). The third word (חָשׁ, khash) is either a third masculine singular perfect or a masculine singular participle, in either case from the root חוּשׁ (khush, “hurry”). Perhaps it is best to translate, “One hastens to the plunder, one hurries to the loot.” In this case מַהֵר is understood as an infinitive functioning as a verb, the subject of חוּשׁ is taken as indefinite, and the two nouns are understood as adverbial accusatives. As we discover in v. 3, this is the name of the son to be born to Isaiah through the prophetess.
- Isaiah 8:2 tn The form in the text is a cohortative with prefixed vav (ו), suggesting that the Lord is announcing what he will do. Some prefer to change the verb to an imperative, “and summon as witnesses,” a reading that finds support from the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa. Another option is to point the prefixed conjunction as a vav consecutive and translate, “So I summoned as witnesses.” In this case Isaiah is recalling his response to the Lord’s commission. In any case, the reference to witnesses suggests that the name and the child who bears it will function as signs.
- Isaiah 8:3 tn The expression קָרַב אֶל (qarav ʾel) means “draw near to” or “approach,” but is also used as a euphemism for the intended purpose of sexual relations.
- Isaiah 8:4 sn The child’s name foreshadows what will happen to Judah’s enemies; when their defeat takes place, the child will be a reminder that God predicted the event and brought it to pass. As such the child will be a reminder of God’s protective presence with his people.
- Isaiah 8:6 tn The Hebrew text begins with “because.” In the Hebrew text vv. 6-7 are one long sentence, with v. 6 giving the reason for judgment and v. 7 formally announcing it.
- Isaiah 8:6 sn The phrase “waters of Shiloah” probably refers to a stream that originated at the Gihon Spring and supplied the city of Jerusalem with water. See J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:225. In this context these waters stand in contrast to the flood waters of Assyria and symbolize God’s presence and blessings.
- Isaiah 8:6 tn The precise meaning of v. 6 has been debated. The translation above assumes that “these people” are the residents of Judah and that מָשׂוֹשׂ (masos) is alternate form of מָסוֹס (masos, “despair, melt”; see HALOT 606 s.v. מסס). In this case vv. 7-8 in their entirety announce God’s disciplinary judgment on Judah. However, “these people” could refer to the Israelites and perhaps also the Syrians (cf v. 4). In this case מָשׂוֹשׂ probably means “joy.” One could translate, “and rejoice over Rezin and the son of Remaliah.” In this case v. 7a announces the judgment of Israel, with vv. 7b-8 then shifting the focus to the judgment of Judah.
- Isaiah 8:7 tn The Hebrew term translated “Lord” here is אֲדֹנָי (ʾadonay).
- Isaiah 8:7 tn Heb “the mighty and abundant waters of the river.” The referent of “the river” here, the Euphrates River, has been specified in the translation for clarity. As the immediately following words indicate, these waters symbolize the Assyrian king and his armies, which will, as it were, inundate the land.
- Isaiah 8:7 tn Heb “it will go up over all its stream beds and go over all its banks.”
- Isaiah 8:8 tn Heb “and the spreading out of his wings [will be over] the fullness of the breadth of your land.” The metaphor changes here from raging flood to predatory bird.
- Isaiah 8:8 sn The appearance of the name Immanuel (“God is with us”) is ironic at this point, for God is present with his people in judgment. Immanuel is addressed here as if he has already been born and will see the judgment occur. This makes excellent sense if his birth has just been recorded. There are several reasons for considering Immanuel and Maher Shalal Hash Baz one and the same. 8:3 is a birth account which could easily be understood as recording the fulfillment of the birth prophecy of 7:14. The presence of a formal record/witnesses (8:1-2) suggests a sign function for the child (cf. 7:14). As in 7:14-16, the removal of Judah’s enemies would take place before the child reached a specified age (cf. 8:4). Both 7:17-25 and 8:7-8 speak of an Assyrian invasion of Judah which would follow the defeat of Israel/Syria. The major objection to this view is the fact that different names appear, but such a phenomenon is not without parallel in the OT (cf. Gen 35:18). The name Immanuel may emphasize the basic fact of God’s presence, while the name Maher focuses on the specific nature of God’s involvement. In 7:14 the mother is viewed as naming the child, while in 8:3 Isaiah is instructed to give the child’s name, but one might again point to Gen 35:18 for a precedent. The sign of the child’s age appears to be different in 8:4 than in 7:15-16, but 7:15-16 pertains to the judgment on Judah, as well as the defeat of Israel/Syria (cf. vv. 17-25), while 8:4 deals only with the downfall of Israel/Syria. Some argue that the suffixed form “your land” in 8:8 points to a royal referent (a child of Ahaz or the Messiah), but usage elsewhere shows that the phrase does not need to be so restricted. While the suffix can refer to the king of a land (cf. Num 20:17; 21:22; Deut 2:27; Judg 11:17, 19; 2 Sam 24:13; 1 Kgs 11:22; Isa 14:20), it can also refer to one who is a native of a particular land (cf. Gen 12:1; 32:9; Jonah 1:8). (See also the use of “his land” in Isa 13:14 [where the suffix refers to a native of a land] and 37:7 [where it refers to a king].)
- Isaiah 8:9 tn The verb רֹעוּ (roʿu) is a Qal imperative, masculine plural from רָעַע (raʿaʿ, “break”). Elsewhere both transitive (Job 34:24; Ps 2:9; Jer 15:12) and intransitive (Prov 25:19; Jer 11:16) senses are attested for the Qal of this verb. Because no object appears here, the form is likely intransitive: “be broken.” In this case the imperative is rhetorical (like “be shattered” later in the verse) and equivalent to a prediction, “you will be broken.” On the rhetorical use of the imperative in general, see IBHS 572 §34.4c; GKC 324 §110.c.
- Isaiah 8:9 tn The imperatival form (Heb “be shattered”) is rhetorical and expresses the speaker’s firm conviction of the outcome of the nations’ attack. See the note on “be broken.”
- Isaiah 8:9 tn The initial imperative (“get ready for battle”) acknowledges the reality of the nations’ hostility; the concluding imperative (Heb “be shattered”) is rhetorical and expresses the speakers’ firm conviction of the outcome of the nations’ attack. (See the note on “be broken.”) One could paraphrase, “Okay, go ahead and prepare for battle since that’s what you want to do, but your actions will backfire and you’ll be shattered.” This rhetorical use of the imperatives is comparable to saying to a child who is bent on climbing a high tree, “Okay, go ahead, climb the tree and break your arm!” What this really means is: “Okay, go ahead and climb the tree since that’s what you really want to do, but your actions will backfire and you’ll break your arm.” The repetition of the statement in the final two lines of the verse gives the challenge the flavor of a taunt (ancient Israelite “trash talking,” as it were).
- Isaiah 8:10 tn Heb “speak a word, but it will not stand.”
- Isaiah 8:10 sn In these vv. 9-10 the tone shifts abruptly from judgment to hope. Hostile nations like Assyria may attack God’s people, but eventually they will be destroyed, for God is with his people, sometimes to punish, but ultimately to vindicate. In addition to being a reminder of God’s presence in the immediate crisis faced by Ahaz and Judah, Immanuel (whose name is echoed in this concluding statement) was a guarantee of the nation’s future greatness in fulfillment of God’s covenantal promises. Eventually God would deliver his people from the hostile nations (vv. 9-10) through another child, an ideal Davidic ruler who would embody God’s presence in a special way (see 9:6-7). Jesus the Messiah is the fulfillment of the Davidic ideal prophesied by Isaiah, the one whom Immanuel foreshadowed. Through the miracle of the incarnation he is literally “God with us.” Matthew realized this and applied Isaiah’s ancient prophecy of Immanuel’s birth to Jesus (Matt 1:22-23). The first Immanuel was a reminder to the people of God’s presence and a guarantee of a greater child to come who would manifest God’s presence in an even greater way. The second Immanuel is “God with us” in a heightened and infinitely superior sense. He “fulfills” Isaiah’s Immanuel prophecy by bringing the typology intended by God to realization and by filling out or completing the pattern designed by God. Of course, in the ultimate fulfillment of the type, the incarnate Immanuel’s mother must be a virgin, so Matthew uses a Greek term (παρθένος, parthenos), which carries that technical meaning (in contrast to the Hebrew word עַלְמָה [ʿalmah], which has the more general meaning “young woman”). Matthew draws similar analogies between NT and OT events in 2:15, 18. The linking of these passages by analogy is termed “fulfillment.” In 2:15 God calls Jesus, his perfect Son, out of Egypt, just as he did his son Israel in the days of Moses, an historical event referred to in Hos 11:1. In so doing he makes it clear that Jesus is the ideal Israel prophesied by Isaiah (see Isa 49:3), sent to restore wayward Israel (see Isa 49:5, cf. Matt 1:21). In 2:18 Herod’s slaughter of the infants is another illustration of the oppressive treatment of God’s people by foreign tyrants. Herod’s actions are analogous to those of the Assyrians, who deported the Israelites, causing the personified land to lament as inconsolably as a mother robbed of her little ones (Jer 31:15).
- Isaiah 8:11 tc The MT reads כ (kaf, “according to”), but many manuscripts read the more grammatical ב (bet, “with”).tn Heb “with strength of hand/power.”
- Isaiah 8:11 tc Heb “he warned me against (or “from”) walking in the way of these people, saying.” Some want to change the pointing of the suffix and thereby emend the Qal imperfect וְיִסְּרֵנִי (veyissereni, “he was warning me”) to the more common Piel perfect יִסְּרַנִי (yisserani, “he warned me”). Others follow the lead of the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa and read יְסִירֵנִי (yesireni, “he was turning me aside,” a Hiphil imperfect from סוּר, sur). None of these are expected syntax. When a perfect verb is followed by a vav plus imperfect (an uncommon construction), the latter represents a contrasting shift to the future (Ps 91:14; Mal 1:4) or a modal clause, such as a purpose (Isa 41:26; Job 23:3; 41:3; Song 6:1). Otherwise the vav plus imperfect is proposed to be a preterite, often with support from the versions (Isa 41:5; 42:6). While a simple vav plus perfect might be considered, it is more likely that the vav should be repointed and the form read as a preterite (and most likely as Piel since the only two Qal finite forms are both text critical issues).
- Isaiah 8:12 tn Heb “Do not say, ‘Conspiracy,’ regarding everything about which these people say, ‘Conspiracy.’” The verb translated “do not say” is second masculine plural, indicating that this exhortation is directed to Isaiah and other followers of the Lord (see v. 16).sn The background of this command is uncertain. Perhaps the “conspiracy” in view is the alliance between Israel and Syria. Some of the people may even have thought that individuals in Judah were plotting with Israel and Syria to overthrow the king.
- Isaiah 8:13 tn Heb “the Lord of Heaven’s Armies [traditionally, “the Lord of hosts”], him you must set apart.” The word order is emphatic, with the object being placed first.
- Isaiah 8:13 tn Heb “he is your [object of] fear; he is your [object of] terror.” The roots יָרֵא (yareʾ) and עָרַץ (ʿarats) are repeated from v. 12b.
- Isaiah 8:14 tn Because the metaphor of protection (“sanctuary”) does not fit the negative mood that follows in vv. 14b-15, some contend that מִקְדָּשׁ (miqdash, “sanctuary”) probably needs to be emended to an original מוֹקֵשׁ (moqesh, “snare”), a word that appears in the next line (cf. NAB and H. Wildberger, Isaiah, 1:355-56). If the MT reading is retained (as in the above translation), the fact that Yahweh is a sanctuary wraps up the point of v. 13 and stands in contrast to God’s treatment of those who rebel against him (the rest of v. 14).
- Isaiah 8:14 sn The two “houses” of Israel (= the patriarch Jacob) are the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah.
- Isaiah 8:14 tn These words are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. וְהָיָה (vehayah, “and he will be”) does double duty in the parallel structure of the verse.
- Isaiah 8:15 tn Heb “over them” (so NASB); NCV “over this rock.”
- Isaiah 8:16 tn Heb “tie up [the] testimony.” The “testimony” probably refers to the prophetic messages God has given him. When the prophecies are fulfilled, he will be able to produce this official, written record to confirm the authenticity of his ministry and to prove to the people that God is sovereign over events.
- Isaiah 8:16 tn Heb “seal [the] instruction among my followers.” The “instruction” probably refers to the prophet’s exhortations and warnings. When the people are judged for the sins, the prophet can produce these earlier messages and essentially say, “I told you so.” In this way he can authenticate his ministry and impress upon the people the reality of God’s authority over them.
- Isaiah 8:17 tn Heb “who hides his face from the house of Jacob.”
- Isaiah 8:18 sn This refers to Shear Jashub (7:3) and Maher Shalal Hash Baz (8:1, 3).
- Isaiah 8:18 tn Or “signs and portents” (NAB, NRSV). The names of all three individuals has symbolic value. Isaiah’s name (which meant “the Lord delivers”) was a reminder that the Lord was the nation’s only source of protection; Shear Jashub’s name was meant, at least originally, to encourage Ahaz (see the note at 7:3), and Maher Shalal Hash Baz’s name was a guarantee that God would defeat Israel and Syria (see the note at 8:4). The word מוֹפֶת (mofet, “portent”) can often refer to some miraculous event, but in 20:3 it is used, along with its synonym אוֹת (ʾot, “sign”) of Isaiah’s walking around half-naked as an object lesson of what would soon happen to the Egyptians.
- Isaiah 8:19 tn It is uncertain if the prophet or the Lord is speaking in vv. 19-22. If the latter, then vv. 19-22 resume the speech recorded in vv. 12-15, after the prophet’s response in vv. 16-18.
- Isaiah 8:19 tn Heb “inquire of the ritual pits and of the magicians who chirp and mutter.” The Hebrew word אוֹב (ʾov, “ritual pit”) refers to a pit used by a magician to conjure up underworld spirits. In 1 Sam 28:7 the witch of Endor is called a בַּעֲלַת אוֹב (baʿalat ʾov, “owner of a ritual pit”). See H. Hoffner, “Second Millennium Antecedents to the Hebrew ʾÔḆ,” JBL 86 (1967): 385-401.
- Isaiah 8:19 tn Heb “Should a nation not inquire of its gods on behalf of the living, (by inquiring) of the dead?” These words appear to be a continuation of the quotation begun in the first part of the verse. אֱלֹהָיו (ʾelohayv) may be translated “its gods” or “its God.” Some take the second half of the verse as the prophet’s (or the Lord’s) rebuke of the people who advise seeking oracles at the ritual pits, but in this case the words “the dead on behalf of the living” are difficult to explain.
- Isaiah 8:20 tn Heb “to [the] instruction and to [the] testimony.” The words “then you must recall” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. In the Hebrew text vv. 19-20a are one long sentence, reading literally, “When they say to you…, to the instruction and to the testimony.” On the identity of the “instruction” and “testimony” see the notes at v. 16.
- Isaiah 8:20 tn Heb “If they do not speak according to this word, [it is] because it has no light of dawn.” The literal translation suggests that “this word” refers to the instruction/testimony. However, it is likely that אִם לֹא (ʾim-loʾ) is asseverative here, as in 5:9. In this case “this word” refers to the quotation recorded in v. 19. For a discussion of the problem see J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 230, n. 9. The singular pronoun in the second half of the verse is collective, referring back to the nation (see v. 19b).
- Isaiah 8:21 tn Heb “he will pass through it.” The subject of the collective singular verb is the nation. (See the preceding note.) The immediately preceding context supplies no antecedent for “it” (a third feminine singular suffix in the Hebrew text); the suffix may refer to the land, which would be a reasonable referent with a verb of motion. Note also that אֶרֶץ (ʾerets, “land”) does appear at the beginning of the next verse.
- Isaiah 8:21 tn The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.
- Isaiah 8:21 tn Or “gods” (NAB, NRSV, CEV).
- Isaiah 8:22 tn Heb “and behold” (so KJV, ASV, NASB).
- Isaiah 8:22 tn The precise meaning of מְעוּף (meʿuf) is uncertain; the word occurs only here. See BDB 734 s.v. מָעוּף.
- Isaiah 8:22 tn Heb “and darkness, pushed.” The word מְנֻדָּח (menudakh) appears to be a Pual participle from נדח (“push”), but the Piel is unattested for this verb and the Pual occurs only here.
- Isaiah 9:1 sn In the Hebrew text (BHS) the chapter division comes one verse later than in the English Bible; 9:1 (8:23 HT). Thus 9:2-21 in the English Bible = 9:1-20 in the Hebrew text. Beginning with 10:1 the verse numbers in the English Bible and the Hebrew Bible are again the same.
- Isaiah 9:1 tn The Hebrew text reads, “Indeed there is no gloom for the one to whom there was anxiety for her.” The feminine singular pronominal suffix “her” must refer to the land (cf. vv. 22a, 23b). So one could translate, “Indeed there will be no gloom for the land which was anxious.” In this case the statement introduces the positive message to follow. Some assume an emendation of לֹא (loʾ, “no”) to לוֹ (lo, “to him”) and of לָהּ (lah, “to her”) to לוֹ (lo, “to him”), yielding this literal reading: “indeed there is gloom for him, for the one to whom there was anxiety for him.” In this case the statement concludes the preceding description of judgment.
- Isaiah 9:1 tn The Lord must be understood as the subject of the two verbs in this verse.
- Isaiah 9:1 sn The statement probably alludes to the Assyrian conquest of Israel in ca. 734-733 b.c., when Tiglath-Pileser III annexed much of Israel’s territory and reduced Samaria to a puppet state.
- Isaiah 9:1 tn Heb “Just as in earlier times he humiliated…, [in] the latter times he has brought honor.” The main verbs in vv. 1b-4 are Hebrew perfects. The prophet takes his rhetorical stance in the future age of restoration and describes future events as if they have already occurred. To capture the dramatic effect of the original text, the translation uses the English present or present perfect.
- Isaiah 9:1 sn These three geographical designations may refer to provinces established by the Assyrians in 734-733 b.c. The “way of the sea” is the province of Dor, along the Mediterranean coast, the “region beyond the Jordan” is the province of Gilead in Transjordan, and “Galilee of the nations” (a title that alludes to how the territory had been overrun by foreigners) is the province of Megiddo located west of the Sea of Galilee. See Y. Aharoni, Land of the Bible, 374.
- Isaiah 9:2 sn The darkness symbolizes judgment and its effects (see 8:22); the light represents deliverance and its effects, brought about by the emergence of a conquering Davidic king (see vv. 3-6).
- Isaiah 9:2 tn Traditionally צַלְמָוֶת (tsalmavet) has been interpreted as a compound noun, meaning “shadow of death” (so KJV, ASV, NIV), but usage indicates that the word, though it sometimes refers to death, means “darkness.” The term should probably be repointed as an abstract noun צַלְמוּת (tsalmut). See the note at Ps 23:4.
- Isaiah 9:3 sn The Lord is addressed directly in vv. 3-4.
- Isaiah 9:3 tc The Hebrew consonantal text reads “You multiply the nation, you do not make great the joy.” The particle לֹא (loʾ, “not”) is obviously incorrect; the marginal reading has לוֹ (lo, “to him”). In this case, one should translate, “You multiply the nation, you increase his (i.e., their) joy.” However, the parallelism is tighter if one emends הַגּוֹי לוֹ (haggoy lo, “the nation, to him”) to הַגִּילָה (haggilah, “the joy,” a noun attested in Isa 65:18), which corresponds to הַשִּׂמְחָה (hasimkhah, “the joy”) later in the verse (H. Wildberger, Isaiah, 1:386). As attractive as this reading is, it has no textual evidence supporting it. The MT reading (accepting the marginal reading “to him” for the negative particle “not”) affirms that Yahweh caused the nation to grow in population and increased their joy.
- Isaiah 9:3 tn Heb “as they are happy.” The word “warriors” is supplied in the translation to clarify the word picture. This last simile comes close to reality, for vv. 4-5 indicate that the people have won a great military victory over their oppressors.
- Isaiah 9:4 tn Heb “for the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the scepter of the oppressor against him.” The singular pronouns are collective, referring to the people. The oppressed nation is compared to an ox weighed down by a heavy yoke and an animal that is prodded and beaten.
- Isaiah 9:4 sn This alludes to Gideon’s victory over Midian (Judg 7-8), when the Lord delivered Israel from an oppressive foreign invader.
- Isaiah 9:5 tn Heb “Indeed every boot marching with shaking.” On the meaning of סְאוֹן (seʾon, “boot”) and the related denominative verb, both of which occur only here, see HALOT 738 s.v. סְאוֹן.
- Isaiah 9:6 tn The Hebrew perfect (translated “has been born” and “has been given”) is used here as the prophet takes a rhetorical stance in the future. See the note at 9:1.
- Isaiah 9:6 tn Heb “dominion has come to be on his shoulder.” In most occurrences, a burden is placed on the shoulder, but authority is also placed on the shoulder in Isa 22:22.
- Isaiah 9:6 tn Or “and dominion was on his shoulders, and he called his name.” The prefixed verbs with vav (ו) consecutive are used with the same rhetorical sense as the perfects in v. 6a. See the preceding note. There is great debate over the syntactical structure of the verse. No subject is indicated for the verb “he called.” If all the titles that follow are ones given to the king, then the subject of the verb must be indefinite, “one calls.” However, some have suggested that one to three of the titles that follow refer to God, not the king. For example, the traditional punctuation of the Hebrew text suggests the translation, “and the Wonderful Adviser, the Mighty God called his name, ‘Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’”
- Isaiah 9:6 tn Or “Extraordinary Strategist,” “a wonder of a counselor,” or “one who plans a miraculous thing” (HALOT 928 s.v. פֶּלֶא). Some have seen two titles here (“Wonderful” and “Counselor,” cf. KJV, ASV). However, the pattern of the following three titles (each contains two elements) and the use of the roots פָּלַא (palaʾ) and יָעַץ (yaʿats) together in Isa 25:1 (cf. כִּי עָשִׂיתָ פֶּלֶא עֵצוֹת מֵרָחוֹק אֱמוּנָה אֹמֶן) and 28:29 (cf. הִפְלִיא עֵצָה) suggest otherwise. The term יוֹעֵץ (yoʿets) could be taken as appositional (genitive or otherwise) of species (“a wonder, i.e., a wonder as a counselor,” cf. NAB “Wonder-Counselor”) or as a substantival participle for which פָּלַא provides the direct object (“one who counsels wonders”). יוֹעֵץ is used as a royal title elsewhere (cf. Mic 4:9). Here it probably refers to the king’s ability to devise military strategy, as suggested by the context (cf. vv. 3-4 and the following title אֵל גִּבּוֹר, ʾel gibbor). In Isa 11:2 (also a description of this king) עֵצָה (ʿetsah) is linked with גְּבוּרָה (gevurah, the latter being typically used of military might, cf. BDB 150 s.v.). Note also עֵצָה וּגְבוּרָה לַמִּלְחָמָה in Isa 36:5. פֶּלֶא (peleʾ) is typically used of God (cf. however Lam 1:9). Does this suggest the deity of the messianic ruler? The NT certainly teaches he is God, but did Isaiah necessarily have this in mind over 700 years before his birth? Since Isa 11:2 points out that this king will receive the spirit of the Lord, which will enable him to counsel, it is possible to argue that the king’s counsel is “extraordinary” because it finds its source in the divine spirit.
- Isaiah 9:6 tn גִּבּוֹר (gibbor) is probably an attributive adjective (“mighty God”), though one might translate “God is a warrior” or “God is mighty.” Scholars have interpreted this title in two ways. A number of them have argued that the title portrays the king as God’s representative on the battlefield, whom God empowers in a supernatural way (see J. H. Hayes and S. A. Irvine, Isaiah, 181-82). They contend that this sense seems more likely in the original context of the prophecy. They would suggest that having read the NT, we might in retrospect interpret this title as indicating the coming king’s deity, but it is unlikely that Isaiah or his audience would have understood the title in such a bold way. Ps 45:6 addresses the Davidic king as “God” because he ruled and fought as God’s representative on earth. Ancient Near Eastern art and literature picture gods training kings for battle, bestowing special weapons, and intervening in battle. According to Egyptian propaganda, the Hittites described Rameses II as follows: “No man is he who is among us, It is Seth great-of-strength, Baal in person; Not deeds of man are these his doings, They are of one who is unique” (See Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, 2:67). According to proponents of this view, Isa 9:6 probably envisions a similar kind of response when friends and foes alike look at the Davidic king in full battle regalia. When the king’s enemies oppose him on the battlefield, they are, as it were, fighting against God himself. The other option is to regard this title as a reference to God, confronting Isaiah’s readers with the divinity of this promised “child.” The use of this same title that clearly refers to God in a later passage (Isa 10:21) supports this interpretation. Other passages depict Yahweh as the great God and great warrior (Deut 10:17; Jer. 32:18). Although this connection of a child who is born with deity is unparalleled in any earlier biblical texts, Isaiah’s use of this title to make this connection represents Isaiah’s attempt (at God’s behest) to advance Israel in their understanding of the ideal Davidic king for whom they long.
- Isaiah 9:6 tn This title must not be taken in an anachronistic Trinitarian sense. (To do so would be theologically problematic, for the “Son” is the messianic king and is distinct in his person from God the “Father.”) Rather, in its original context the title pictures the king as the protector of his people. For a similar use of “father” see Isa 22:21 and Job 29:16. This figurative, idiomatic use of “father” is not limited to the Bible. In a Phoenician inscription (ca. 850-800 b.c.) the ruler Kilamuwa declares: “To some I was a father, to others I was a mother.” In another inscription (ca. 800 b.c.) the ruler Azitawadda boasts that the god Baal made him “a father and a mother” to his people. (See ANET 499-500.) The use of “everlasting” might suggest the deity of the king (as the one who has total control over eternity), but Isaiah and his audience may have understood the term as royal hyperbole emphasizing the king’s long reign or enduring dynasty (for examples of such hyperbolic language used of the Davidic king, see 1 Kgs 1:31; Pss 21:4-6; 61:6-7; 72:5, 17). The New Testament indicates that the hyperbolic language (as in the case of the title “Mighty God”) is literally realized in the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy, for Jesus will rule eternally.
- Isaiah 9:6 tn This title pictures the king as one who establishes a safe socio-economic environment for his people. It hardly depicts him as a meek individual, for he establishes peace through military strength (as the preceding context and the first two royal titles indicate). His people experience safety and prosperity because their invincible king destroys their enemies. See Pss 72 and 144 for parallels to these themes.
- Isaiah 9:7 tc The MT has לְםַרְבֵּה (lemarbeh, “to the abundance of”), where the first two letters לם were incorrectly duplicated from the end of the previous word (שָׁלוֹם, shalom) ending v. 6. Notice that the mem is in the form for ending words, i.e., ם not the expected מ. A few Hebrew mss, the LXX, Targum, and Vulgate reflect a text with רבה, “great is the dominion.”
- Isaiah 9:7 tn Heb “and to peace there will be no end” (KJV and ASV both similar). On the political and socio-economic sense of שָׁלוֹם (shalom) in this context, see the note at v. 6 on “Prince of Peace.”
- Isaiah 9:7 tn Heb “over the throne of David, and over his kingdom.” The referent of the pronoun “his” (i.e., David) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Isaiah 9:7 tn The pronoun “it” (both times in this line) refers back to “kingdom;” the noun and pronoun are both feminine.
- Isaiah 9:7 tn Heb “with/by justice and fairness”; ASV “with justice and with righteousness.”
- Isaiah 9:7 sn In this context the Lord’s “zeal” refers to his intense devotion to and love for his people which prompts him to vindicate them and to fulfill his promises to David and the nation.
- Isaiah 9:8 sn The following speech (9:8-10:4) assumes that God has already sent judgment (see v. 9), but it also announces that further judgment is around the corner (10:1-4). The speech seems to describe a series of past judgments on the northern kingdom which is ready to intensify further in the devastation announced in 10:1-4. It may have been written prior to the Assyrian conquest of the northern kingdom in 734-733 b.c., or sometime between that invasion and the downfall of Samaria in 722 b.c. The structure of the speech displays four panels, each of which ends with the refrain, “Through all this, his anger did not subside; his hand remained outstretched” (9:12b; 17b; 21b; 10:4b): Panel I: (A) Description of past judgment (9:8); (B) Description of the people’s attitude toward past judgment (9:9-10); (C) Description of past judgment (9:11-12a); (D) Refrain (9:12b); Panel II: (A) Description of the people’s attitude toward past judgment (9:13); (B) Description of past judgment (9:14-17a); (C) Refrain (9:17b); Panel III: (A) Description of past judgment (9:18-21a); (B) Refrain (9:21b); Panel IV: (A) Woe oracle announcing future judgment (10:1-4a); (B) Refrain (10:4b).
- Isaiah 9:8 tn The Hebrew term translated “Lord” here and in v. 17 is אֲדֹנָי (ʾadonay).
- Isaiah 9:8 tn Heb “sent a word” (so KJV, ASV, NRSV); NASB “sends a message.”
- Isaiah 9:8 tn The present translation assumes that this verse refers to judgment that had already fallen. Both verbs (perfects) are taken as indicating simple past; the vav (ו) on the second verb is understood as a simple vav conjunctive. Another option is to understand the verse as describing a future judgment (see 10:1-4). In this case the first verb is a perfect of certitude; the vav on the second verb is a vav consecutive.
- Isaiah 9:9 tn The translation assumes that vv. 9-10 describe the people’s response to a past judgment (v. 8). The perfect is understood as indicating simple past and the vav (ו) is taken as conjunctive. Another option is to take the vav on the perfect as consecutive and translate, “all the people will know.”
- Isaiah 9:9 tn Heb “and the people, all of them, knew; Ephraim and the residents of Samaria.”
- Isaiah 9:9 tn Heb “with pride and arrogance of heart, saying.”
- Isaiah 9:10 sn Though judgment (see v. 8) had taken away the prosperity they did have (symbolized by the bricks and sycamore fig trees), they arrogantly expected the future to bring even greater prosperity (symbolized by the chiseled stone and cedars).
- Isaiah 9:11 tn The translation assumes that the prefixed verb with vav (ו) consecutive continues the narrative of past judgment.
- Isaiah 9:11 tc The Hebrew text reads literally, “adversaries of Rezin against him [i.e., them].” The next verse describes how the Syrians (over whom Rezin ruled, see 7:1, 8) and the Philistines encroached on Israel’s territory. Since the Syrians and Israelites were allies by 735 b.c. (see 7:1), the hostilities described probably occurred earlier, while Israel was still pro-Assyrian. In this case one might understand the phrase צָרֵי רְצִין (tsare retsin, “adversaries of Rezin”) as meaning “adversaries sent from Rezin.” However, another option, the one chosen in the translation above, is to emend the phrase to צָרָיו (tsarayv, “his [i.e., their] adversaries”). This creates tighter parallelism with the next line (note “his [i.e., their] enemies”). The phrase in the Hebrew text may be explained as virtually dittographic.
- Isaiah 9:11 tn The prefixed verbal form is understood as a preterite, used, as is often the case in poetry, without vav consecutive. Note that prefixed forms with vav consecutive both precede (וַיְשַׂגֵּב, vayesaggev, “he provoked”) and follow in v. 12 (וַיֹּאכְלוּ, vayyoʾkhelu, “and they devoured”) this verb.
- Isaiah 9:12 tn Heb “and they devoured Israel with all the mouth”; NIV “with open mouth”; TLB “With bared fangs.”
- Isaiah 9:12 tn Heb “in all this his anger is not turned, and still his hand is outstretched.” One could translate in the past tense here (and in 9:17b and 21b), but the appearance of the refrain in 10:4b, where it follows a woe oracle prophesying a future judgment, suggests it is a dramatic portrait of the judge which did not change throughout this period of past judgment and will remain unchanged in the future. The English present tense is chosen to best reflect this dramatic mood. (See also 5:25b, where the refrain appears following a dramatic description of coming judgment.)
- Isaiah 9:13 tn This verse describes the people’s response to the judgment described in vv. 11-12. The perfects are understood as indicating simple past.
- Isaiah 9:14 sn The metaphor in this line is that of a reed being cut down.
- Isaiah 9:15 tn Heb “the elder and the one lifted up with respect to the face.” For another example of the Hebrew idiom, see 2 Kgs 5:1.
- Isaiah 9:16 tn Heb “and the ones being led were swallowed up.” Instead of taking מְבֻלָּעִים (mebullaʿim) from בָּלַע (balaʿ, “to swallow”), HALOT 134 s.v. בלע proposes a rare homonymic root בלע (“confuse”) here.
- Isaiah 9:17 tn The Qumran scroll 1QIsaa has לא יחמול (“he did not spare”) which is an obvious attempt to tighten the parallelism (note “he took no pity” in the next line). Instead of taking שָׂמַח (samakh) in one of its well attested senses (“rejoice over, be pleased with”), some propose, with support from Arabic, a rare homonymic root meaning “be merciful.”
- Isaiah 9:17 tn The translation understands the prefixed verbs יִשְׂמַח (yismakh) and יְרַחֵם (yerakhem) as preterites without vav (ו) consecutive. (See v. 11 and the note on “he stirred up.”)
- Isaiah 9:17 tn Or “defiled”; cf. ASV “profane”; NAB “profaned”; NIV “ungodly.”
- Isaiah 9:17 tn מֵרַע (meraʿ) is a Hiphil participle from רָעַע (raʿaʿ, “be evil”). The intransitive Hiphil has an exhibitive force here, indicating that they exhibited outwardly the evidence of an inward condition by committing evil deeds.
- Isaiah 9:17 tn Or “foolishness” (NASB), here in a moral-ethical sense.
- Isaiah 9:17 tn Heb “in all this his anger is not turned, and still his hand is outstretched.”sn See the note at 9:12.
- Isaiah 9:18 tn Or “Indeed” (cf. NIV “Surely”). The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.
- Isaiah 9:18 sn Evil was uncontrollable and destructive, and so can be compared to a forest fire.
- Isaiah 9:18 tn Heb “and they swirled [with] the rising of the smoke” (cf. NRSV).
- Isaiah 9:19 tn The precise meaning of the verb עְתַּם (ʿetam), which occurs only here, is uncertain, though the context strongly suggests that it means “burn, scorch.”
- Isaiah 9:19 sn The uncontrollable fire of the people’s wickedness (v. 18) is intensified by the fire of the Lord’s judgment (v. 19). God allows (or causes) their wickedness to become self-destructive as civil strife and civil war break out in the land.
- Isaiah 9:19 tn Heb “men were not showing compassion to their brothers.” The idiom “men to their brothers” is idiomatic for reciprocity. The prefixed verbal form is either a preterite without vav (ו) consecutive or an imperfect used in a customary sense, describing continual or repeated behavior in past time.
- Isaiah 9:20 tn Or “cut.” The verb גָּזַר (gazar) means “to cut.” If it is understood here, then one might paraphrase, “They slice off meat on the right.” However, HALOT 187 s.v. I גזר, proposes here a rare homonym meaning “to devour.”
- Isaiah 9:20 tn The prefixed verbal form is either a preterite without vav consecutive or an imperfect used in a customary sense, describing continual or repeated behavior in past time.
- Isaiah 9:20 tn Some suggest that זְרֹעוֹ (zeroʿo, “his arm”) be repointed זַרְעוֹ (zarʿo, “his offspring”). In either case, the metaphor is that of a desperately hungry man who resorts to an almost unthinkable act to satisfy his appetite. He eats everything he can find to his right, but still being unsatisfied, then turns to his left and eats everything he can find there. Still being desperate for food, he then resorts to eating his own flesh (or offspring, as this phrase is metaphorically understood by some English versions, e.g., NIV, NCV, TEV, NLT). The reality behind the metaphor is the political turmoil of the period, as the next verse explains. There was civil strife within the northern kingdom; even the descendants of Joseph were at each other’s throats. Then the northern kingdom turned on their southern brother, Judah.
- Isaiah 9:21 tn The words “fought against” are supplied in the translation both here and later in this verse for stylistic reasons.
- Isaiah 9:21 tn Heb “in all this his anger is not turned, and still his hand is outstretched” (KJV and ASV both similar); NIV “his hand is still upraised.”sn See the note at 9:12.