7:5 Syria has plotted with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah to bring about your demise. 1
7:8 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. 2
7:9 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.” 3
7:17 The Lord will bring on you, your people, and your father’s family a time 4 unlike any since Ephraim departed from Judah – the king of Assyria!” 5
1 tn This sentence opens with the conjunction יַעַן כִּי (ya’an 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.
2 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
3 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, ta’aminu) is a Hiphil form of the verb אָמָן (’aman); “endure” (תֵאָמֵנוּ, te’amenu) is a Niphal form of this same verb.
4 tn Heb “days” (so KJV, NAB); NASB, NRSV “such days.”
5 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.