A son is born, a change is coming
Light will break through the darkness1There’s coming a day when the land that suffered so much will be happy again. No more sadness. The northern tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali were humiliated. But they’re going to be honored someday. So will the whole territory of Galilee, where non-Israelites live, too. Honored land will stretch from the Way of the Sea, a trail alongside the Mediterranean coast in the west. And it will extend past the Jordan River in the east, where other nations live.
People who live in darkness
Are going to see an incredible light.
They live their lives in a dark place.
But the light will find its way to them.
You nourished your people on joy.
They celebrate like it’s payday at harvest,
Like they’re sharing treasure won in war.
5All the boots that kicked us
All the uniforms that marched against us
Are burning in a fire to comfort us.
6A child is born.
We have a son.
He’ll be in charge now.
His name is Wonderful Advisor,
King of Peace.
7He’ll bring to David’s dynasty
He’ll rule the kingdom
With justice and goodness
Now and forever.
The great LORD wants this.
The LORD will eagerly make it happen.
God against cocky Israel8The LORD sent a message condemning the northern Jewish nation of Israel.
People in Israel got the message.
Ephraim’s tribe. Samaria, too.
But proud and cocky they said,
We’ll rebuild better, with chiseled stone.
So what. Sycamore trees got cut down.
We’ll plant cedar forests.”
God raises an army against Israel11
So, the LORD rallied Israel’s enemies,
Turning Assyrians against them.
Philistines would attack from the west.
They open their big mouths and feed on Israel.
Even after all of this, the LORD is still angry.
He’s still in attack mode.
13The people didn’t change their minds.
They didn’t apologize to the one who had to punish them.
They didn’t go looking for the great LORD.
14So, the LORD will cut them down to size.
Head to tail, they’ll lose it all.
High and noble palm branches,
Low and common reeds—
All gone in a day.
15Heads. Those are leaders and officials.
Tails. Lying prophets.
16Leaders are misleaders.
And their followers are misled,
Taken down a dead-end trail,
Mislead to their death.
17The LORD isn’t okay with this.
He’s not happy with young folks.
He’ll show no mercy to orphans and widows.
Everyone stinks of the sins they committed.
Every mouth is full of trash.
The LORD is still angry,
Still on the attack.
Evil consumes Israel like a fire18
Evil is a destructive fire,
Starting small in briars and thornbushes.
Yet it grows to consume entire forests,
Swallowing them into clouds of smoke.
His anger will blacken this land in ash.
But people will fuel the fire.
Everyone will feel the flames.
20Starving, they’ll scout for food on the right.
Starving, they’ll scout on the left.
Starving, they’ll find food
In the corpses of their family.
21Manasseh’s tribe will feed on Ephraim.
Emphraim’s tribe will feed on them.
Together, they will feed on Judah.
Yet, the LORD is still angry,
Still on the attack.
Perhaps a reference to Gideon’s army defeating Midian raiders who came to the Jezreel Valley at harvesttime to steal Israel’s crops. This sprawling valley was and still is the breadbasket of the region, with wonderfully productive farmland. Gideon’s story is in Judges 7.
Many Christians and Jews say they see in this a reference to a coming messiah—a king descended from David who will bring peace to the land. Christian Bibles usually call this ruler the Prince of Peace and point to Jesus as fulfillment of the prophecy. The Hebrew word for “Prince” is sar, which has a wagonload of possible interpretations, including: ruler, commander, governor, captain—generally, someone who’s some kind of boss. Jews call this child the ruler whose name honors “the Mighty God, and the Eternal Father, a peaceable ruler.” Christians usually teach that the ruler is the divine Son of God. Jews usually teach that this passage doesn’t say anything about a divine ruler. They say the long name is simply the official throne name of a king’s son. Jews sometimes embedded God’s name into the name of a child or a city. The practice is called “theophory.” Theo is Greek for “god” or “divine.” Phoros means “contains,” as in phosphorus containing a poisonous element called phosphate. The name of the prophet Ezekiel is embedded with the name el, which means “God” in Hebrew. Ezekiel’s full name means “strong God” or “God strengthens.” The point Jewish scholars make is that just because a person’s name refers to God doesn’t mean that person is God. Instead, it’s a name intended to honor God. Christians counter that Jesus was both a man of peace, the Son of God, and a king of kings whose kingdom will never end. Which resembles the king Isaiah described.
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, seceded 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.
This reads like Israelites reacting to an Assyrian invasion, either predicted or reported as a past event. Assyrians would eventually erase Israel from the political map in 722 BC, leaving the world wondering whatever happed to the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel. But Assyria’s intrusion started some 20 years earlier, in about 740 BC. Assyrian King Pul took many Israelites captive and exiled them (1 Chronicles 5:26). Both invasions likely took place on Isaiah’s watch. He lived in comparative safety in Jerusalem in the southern Jewish nation of Judah.
The text more literally says the LORD stirred up Rezin’s enemies. Rezin was the Syrian ruler in Damascus. But he controlled Israel as a puppet nation, with its capital in Samaria. Rezin was building a coalition army to fight off the Assyrian empire, which was expanding its tax base throughout what is now the Middle East. Rezin’s enemy was Assyria (Isaiah 7).
Ephraim and Manasseh were the two leading tribes in the northern Jewish nation of Israel, with its capital in Samaria. As Assyrians increased their demands on Israel for more wealth in the form of taxes or tribute, the tribes turned on each other, perhaps fighting how much each tribe needed to pay Assyria. Eventually, they turned on the southern Jewish nation of Judah, with its capital in Jerusalem. King Pekah did this, as reported in 7:1.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.