The lady will have a son
Israel plots attack on Judah1The northern Jewish nation of Israel joined forces with Syria to attack the southern Jewish nation of Judah. Ahaz was a new king of Judah at the time. His dad was Jotham and his grandfather was Uzziah. Israel’s king was Pekah, son of Remaliah. His Syrian ally was King Rezin. Their siege ended in a stalemate. 2When Judah’s royal court got the news that Syria had joined forces with Israel, everyone shook with fear, including King Ahaz. They looked like trees in a windstorm. 3The LORD told Isaiah, “Go talk with Ahaz. Take your son with you, Shear-jashab. You can meet the king at the upper pool on the road to the Laundry. Go to the end of the aqueduct that feeds the pool. 4Tell the king not to be afraid of these two burned-out fireballs, Rezin with his Syrian forces along with Pekah, Remaliah’s son. 5Syrians and Israel have planned to hurt you. 6They plan to attack Judah, take Jerusalem, and install Tabeel’s son as the new king.
God: Don’t worry7So, this is what the LORD says about that:
"Not going to happen.
They will not invade you.
Damascus’s power lies in Rezin.
Sixty-five years from now
Israel will be decimated
And erased as a nation.
9Israel’s power rests in Samaria.
Samaria’s power lies in Remaliah’s son.
If you don’t stand tall on your faith,
You won’t stand at all.”
God’s sign: a son is born10Then the LORD sent this message to Ahaz: 11“Ask me to give you a sign to prove what I’ve said. Ask anything from the grave to high heaven.” 12Ahaz said, “I won’t do that. I don’t want to ask the LORD to take a test to prove himself.” 13Isaiah said, “Listen to me, your highness. Isn’t it enough that you exhaust the patience of your people? Do you have to do the same to my God? 14The LORD is going to give you a sign. The young woman here is going to have a baby son. She’ll name him Immanuel. 15By the time he’s eating honey and milk curds, he’ll know the difference between right and wrong. 16Before the child is old enough to do that, the land of the two kings you’re afraid of will be deserted.
God takes a razor to Judah17The LORD is going to let the King of Assyria hammer you and your people. Judah hasn’t experienced anything this painful since the civil war split Israel in two. 18The LORD is going to whistle in flies from the Nile River, calling Egypt’s army to Judah. He’ll whistle in the bees of Assyria, too. 19They’ll come and settle here. They’ll park themselves everywhere: on pastures, hillsides, valleys, caves, and even among the thorns. 20When that day comes, you’re going to get a shave and a haircut from the King of Assyria. God is going to use him like a razor. The king will humiliate you. When he’s done with you, you’ll feel like a nation with all its hair cut off: head, legs, and feet. Baldheaded, bald-legged, bald-footed. 21When that happens, some people will survive and get left behind. Each person might manage to keep a cow and a couple sheep alive. 22But they’ll have to survive on milk curds and honey. There will be plenty of both to go around because there won’t be many of you left. 23In those days, you’ll see what used to be a vineyard of a thousand vines worth a thousand silver coins—25 pounds. But it’ll be a briar patch—a worthless field of thorns. 24You might go there to hunt. Otherwise, it’s a worthless briar patch. 25You’ll want to avoid the rolling hills that farmers used to plow and plant. In the coming days, only cattle and sheep will venture there as they tramp through the land.
The story shows up in 2 Kings 16 and 2 Chronicles 28. Ahaz had just become king of Judah in 735 BC. That’s also when Israel, Syria, and the Philistines decided to build a coalition army to fight off the Assyrians, who were conquering nations so they could rob and tax them. Judah refused to join the coalition. So, Israel and Syria (then called Aram) decided to attack Judah and appoint a king willing to join the coalition. Isaiah told King Ahaz of Judah not to worry. But the king worried anyhow. He later went to Assyria’s king Tiglath-Pileser and asked for help. Mistake. Assyrians crushed the coalition, destroyed Damascus in 732 BC, and took a lot of Israel’s land. Judah survived, but only as a servant nation that had to pay taxes to Assyria.
King Ahaz ruled from about 735-715 BC, give or take a few years. Scholars debate it.
King Pekah reigned from about 740-720 BC or perhaps much less—just half a dozen years or so. He’s credited with reigning 20 years (2 Kings 15:27). But many scholars seem to take that as a round number and say he didn’t survive the Assyrian invasion. He became king after murdering the former king, Pekahiah (2 Kings 15:25).
King Rezin ruled Syria (Aram) from 740-733 BC. He led the plot to overthrow King Ahaz of Judah. That was in 735 BC. Two years later, Assyrian invaders captured his capital city of Damascus and then deported and executed him (2 Kings 16:9).
2 Kings 16:5.
Literally, “Ephraim,” a nickname for the northern Jewish nation. Ephraim was the dominate tribe in the northland, just as Judah was in the south. Also, the Syrians were known then as Arameans and their land was Aram.
Isaiah gave his son a hopeful symbolic name. It seems to refer to a small percentage of Jews who would survive the coming invasion and exile. His name means “some will return.”
This was apparently a place by the water where people came to wash their clothes.
Tabeel and his son aren’t mentioned in the story again and are otherwise unknown today.
Samaria was the capital of the northern Jewish nation of Israel, just as Jerusalem was the capital of the southern nation of Judah.
Literally, Sheol, a word Old Testament writers used to describe the place of the dead. It is a kind of underworld where the dead are cut off from the living—and from God—and there is no coming back.
The woman isn’t identified, and she’s described with a Hebrew word that can mean “young woman” or “virgin.” An anonymous New Testament writer quoted this passage and described the woman with a Greek word that means only “virgin” (Matthew 1:23). Scholars offer guesses about who this woman was: a bystander in the group, the wife of Isaiah, or a wife of the king. Some guess the mother may have been the daughter of one of Isaiah’s friends, Zechariah. His daughter was, princess Abijah, mother of King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:1-2). The New Testament writer who quoted this passage said the prophecy referred to Mary in the birth of Jesus. Many Old Testament scholars say this could have been a secondary meaning. But they insist that the initial message was for King Ahaz, and the woman Isaiah was talking about was there at the time—and was not Mary.
Immanuel means “God is with us.” The el in the name is the Hebrew word for God. The message in the name seems intended to remind the worried King Ahaz that God is protecting his people.
Children were about a year old when they were introduced to honey and milk curds. Curds are similar to cottage cheese, yogurt, or tofu, though all four go through different processes. Curds are made from the kind of lumps that we’ve seen develop when we leave the milk out too long.
In 930 BC, Israel split in two. This happened after King Solomon’s son and successor, Rehoboam, threatened to make life harder on the citizens than his dad had done. Solomon had taxed heavily, and he drafted people to work on government building projects like the Jerusalem Temple and his palace and walls for cities. See 1 Kings 12. The northern tribes, on the spot, succeeded from the southern tribes and took with them the name of Israel. The southern nation became Judah, using the name of the dominate southern tribe.
A thousand shekels. It weighs 11 kilograms.
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