There probably isn't a more controversial chapter in the Old Testament and perhaps the entire Bible than this one, most notably due to the translation of the Hebrew word for "virgin" in verse 14. And this matter is even more significant for Christians, especially Catholics who read the New Testament gospel of Matthew about the Virgin Mary's "Immaculate" conception. Context is everything and it seems that this prophesy had a more immediate concern than pertaining to an event that was to take place around seven centuries or so later.
Isaiah 7: 1-7, 8b, 9b
Now it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel went up to Jerusalem to make war against it, but could not prevail against it. And it was told to the house of David, saying, "Syria's forces are deployed in Ephraim." So his [king Ahaz] heart and the heart of his people were moved as the trees of the woods are moved with the wind [they became fainthearted, fearful, anxious and distressed]. Then the LORD said to Isaiah, "Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-Jashub [a remnant shall return] your son, at the end of the aqueduct from the upper pool on the highway to the Fuller's Field, and say to him, "Take heed, and be quiet, do not fear or be fainthearted for these two stubs of smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezim and Syria, and the son of Remaliah. 'Because Syria, Ephraim [Israel], and the son of Remaliah [Pekah] have plotted evil against you, saying, "Let us go against Judah and trouble it [cause a sickening dread in their midst], and let us make a gap in its wall for ourselves, and set a king over them, the son of Tabel"-'thus says the LORD God: "It shall not stand, nor shall it come to pass. . . Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be broken [shattered], so that it will not be a people. . . If you will not believe, surely you will not be established [continue as a kingdom].
2 Chronicles 28: 1-6
Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king [over Judah], and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. He did not please the LORD as his forefather David had done, but conducted himself like the kings of Israel and even made molten idols of the Baals. Moreover, he offered sacrifice in the Valley of Ben-hinnom, and immolated (burned) his sons by fire according to the abominable practice of the nations which the LORD had cleared out before the Israelites. He offered sacrifice and incense on the high places, on hills, and under every leafy [green??] tree. Therefore the LORD, his God, delivered him into the power of the king of Aram. . . He was also delivered into the power of the king of Israel, Pekah, the son of Remaliah, slew one hundred and twenty-thousand of Judah in a single day, all of them valiant men, because they had abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers.
NOTE: More can be read about the faithless king Ahaz (Cp. 2 Chronicles 28: 16-25) but his encounter with Pekah king of Israel happened on another occasion or this apparent slaughter happened with the assistance of the Syrian forces under king Rezim, but how can that be since God promised king Ahaz that, "it shall not come to pass?" How God could spare the defeat of such a pathetic ruler is quite inexplicable, to say the least.
Isaiah 7: 10-14, 16-17a
Moreover the LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying, "Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above." But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!" Then he [King Ahaz or Isaiah the prophet??] said, "Hear now, O House of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God (Cp. 2 Chronicles 28: 5a??) also? "Therefore the LORD Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin [Heb. betulah or almah??] shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel (God with us). For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land [Israel] that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings [Pekah and Rezim]. The LORD will bring the king of Assyria upon you and
your people and your father's house. . ."
COMMENTARY: The "sign" of a virgin giving birth to a Son who is to be called 'Immanuel' was revealed to king Ahaz that during His early years [infancy] the king of Assyria will come and drive out king Pekah and king Rezim from the land of Ephraim [Israel]; no longer posing a threat to him from their impending alliance and plans to distress the people of Judah and Jerusalem. Interestingly, this prophesy in Isaiah 7: 14 is only mentioned in MATTHEW'S Gospel (Cp. Matthew 1: 18-23) where the Son is to be named Jesus [Yeshua] and not Immanuel. It must be remembered that quotations or reference notes may not necessarily be inspired even when the text or passage in the Scriptural record is believed to be.
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December 31, 2010
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