Isaiah 7:17
The LORD shall bring on you, and on your people, and on your father's house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) The Lord shall bring upon thee . . .—The prophet’s language shows that he reads the secret thoughts of the king’s heart. He was bent on calling in the help of the king of Assyria. Isaiah warns him (reserving the name of the king, with all the emphasis of suddenness, for the close of his sentence) that by so doing he is bringing on himself a more formidable invasion than that of Syria and Ephraim, worse than any that had been known since the separation of the two kingdoms (we note the use of the event as a chronological era), than that of Shishak under Rehoboam (2Chronicles 12:2), or Zerah (2Chronicles 14:9), or of Baasha under Asa (2Chronicles 16:1), or of the Moabites and Ammonites under Jehoshaphat (2Chronicles 20:1), or of the Philistines and Arabians under Jehoram (2Chronicles 21:16). So in 2Chronicles 28:19-20, we read that “the Lord brought Judah low and made it naked,” that “Tilgath-pilneser, king of Assyria, came unto Ahaz and distressed him,” and this was but the precursor of the great invasions under Sargon and Sennacherib.

Isaiah 7:17. The Lord shall bring upon thee — But although God will deliver you at this time, for his own name’s sake, yet he will remember and requite your wickedness, and hath a dreadful judgment in store for you. And upon thy people, and thy father’s house — Upon thy subjects, and upon thy sons and successors, the kings of Judah: the accomplishment of which threatening is recorded in their history. Part of the Assyrian storm fell in Ahaz’s reign, 2 Chronicles 28:20; and he began to reap the bitter fruit of his confiding in the king of Assyria, rather than in the Lord of hosts. Days that have not come — Namely, evil days, or calamities; from the day that Ephraim departed, &c. — When the ten tribes revolted from thy father’s house, and set up another opposite kingdom. The king of Assyria might well be called their plague or calamity, as he is called the rod of God’s anger, Isaiah 10:5.7:17-25 Let those who will not believe the promises of God, expect to hear the alarms of his threatenings; for who can resist or escape his judgments? The Lord shall sweep all away; and whomsoever he employs in any service for him, he will pay. All speaks a sad change of the face of that pleasant land. But what melancholy change is there, which sin will not make with a people? Agriculture would cease. Sorrows of every kind will come upon all who neglect the great salvation. If we remain unfruitful under the means of grace, the Lord will say, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth for ever.The Lord shall bring ... - The prophet having assured Ahaz that his kingdom should be free from the invasion that then threatened it, proceeds, however, to state to him that it would be endangered from another source.

Thy father's house - The royal family - the princes and nobles.

Days that have not come - Times of calamity that have not been equalled.

From the day that Ephraim departed from Judah - From the time of the separation of the ten tribes from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

Even the king of Assyria - This was done in the following manner. Though the siege which Rezin and Pekah had undertaken was not at this time successful, yet they returned the year after with stronger forces, and with counsels better concerted, and again besieged the city. This was in consequence of the continued and increasing wickedness of Ahaz; 2 Chronicles 28:1-5. In this expedition, a great multitude were taken captives, and carried to Damascus; 2 Chronicles 28:5. Pekah at this time also killed 120,000 of the Jews in one day 2 Chronicles 28:6; and Zichri, a valiant man of Ephraim, killed Maaseiah the son of Ahaz. At this time, also, Pekah took no less than 200,000 of the kingdom of Judah, proposing to take them to Samaria, but was prevented by the influence of the prophet Oded; 2 Chronicles 28:8-15. In this calamity, Ahaz stripped the temple of its treasures and ornaments, and sent them to Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria, to induce him to come and defend him from the united arms of Syria and Ephraim. The consequence was, as might have been foreseen, that the king of Assyria took occasion, from this, to bring increasing calamities upon the kingdom of Ahaz. He first, indeed, killed Rezin, and took Damascus; 2 Kings 16:7.

Having subdued the kingdoms of Damascus and Ephraim, Tiglath-pileser became a more formidable enemy to Ahaz than both of them. His object was not to aid Ahaz, but to distress him 2 Chronicles 28:20; and his coming professedly and at the request of Ahaz, to his help, was a more formidable calamity than the threatened invasion of both Rezin and Pekah. God has power to punish a wicked nation in his own way. When they seek human aid, he can make this a scourge. He has kings and nations under his control; and though a wicked prince may seek earthly alliance, yet it is easy for God to allow such allies to indulge their ambition and love of rapine, and make them the very instruments of punishing the nation which they were called to defend. It should be observed that this phrase, 'even the king of Assyria,' is by many critics thought to be spurious, or a marginal reading, or gloss, that has by some means crept into the text. The ground of this opinion is, that it does not harmonize entirely with the following verse, where "Egypt" is mentioned as well as Assyria, and that it does not agree with the poetical form of the passage.

Isa 7:17-25. Fatal Consequences of Ahaz' Assyrian Policy.

Though temporary deliverance (Isa 7:16; 8:4) was to be given then, and final deliverance through Messiah, sore punishment shall follow the former. After subduing Syria and Israel, the Assyrians shall encounter Egypt (2Ki 23:29), and Judah shall be the battlefield of both (Isa 7:18), and be made tributary to that very Assyria (2Ch 28:20; 2Ki 16:7, 8) now about to be called in as an ally (Isa 39:1-6). Egypt, too, should prove a fatal ally (Isa 36:6; 31:1, &c.).

The Lord shall bring; but although God will deliver you at this time for his own name’s sake, yet he will remember and requite all your present and following wickedness, and hath a dreadful judgment in store for you.

Upon thee; for part of this Assyrian storm fell in Ahaz’s reign, 2 Chronicles 28:20.

Upon thy father’s house; upon thy sons and successors, the kings of Judah; the accomplishment whereof is recorded in their history.

Days, to wit, evil days, by a synecdoche; or calamities; for days are oft put for the events which happen in them, and especially for judgments or tribulations, as Job 18:20 Psalm 137:7 Isaiah 9:4 Obadiah 1:12.

The day that Ephraim departed from Judah; when ten tribes revolted from thy father’s house, and set up another opposite kingdom.

Even the king of Assyria; who may well be called their plague or calamity, as he is called the rod of God’s anger, Isaiah 10:5. Or, with (as this Hebrew particle oft signifies) the king, &c.; or, by the king, &c. And king is here put for kings, as Daniel 2:37 8:21. The Lord shall bring upon thee,.... These words are directed to Ahaz; and show, that though he and his kingdom would be safe from the two kings that conspired against him, yet evils should come upon him from another quarter, even from the Assyrians he sent to for help, and in whom he trusted; in which the Lord himself would have a hand, and permit them in his providence, in order to chastise him for his unbelief, stubbornness, and ingratitude in refusing the sign offered him, and for his other sins; and the calamities threatened began in his time; and therefore it is said, "upon thee"; for Tilgathpilneser, king of Assyria, to whom he sent for help, instead of helping and strengthening him, distressed him, 2 Chronicles 28:20,

and upon thy people, and upon thy father's house; so in the reign of his son Hezekiah, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, invaded the land of Judah, took all its fenced cities, excepting Jerusalem, and came up even to that, 2 Kings 18:13 and in the times of Zedekiah, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came up against Jerusalem, and destroyed it, and carried the people of Judah captive, 2 Kings 25:1 and these are the evil days, the days of affliction and adversity, here threatened:

days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah: meaning the revolt of the ten tribes from the house of David, in the times of Rehoboam, 1 Kings 12:16 which was a day of great adversity, a great affliction to the house of Judah; and there had been several evil days since, and that very lately; as when the king of Syria came into the land, and carried away great multitudes captives to Damascus; and when Pekah, king of Israel, slew in Judah, on one day, a hundred and twenty thousand valiant men, and carried captive two hundred thousand women, sons and daughters, with a great spoil, 2 Chronicles 28:5 and yet these were not to be compared with the calamitous times yet to come:

even the king of Assyria; or "with the king of Assyria", as the Vulgate Latin version renders it; rather the meaning is, that those days of trouble should come by the king of Assyria (i), as they did. The Septuagint version renders it, "from the day that Ephraim took away from Judah the king of the Assyrians"; and the Syriac and Arabic versions, just the reverse, "from the day that the king of the Assyrians", or "Assyria, carried away Ephraim from Judea"; neither of them right.

(i) "per regem Assyriae", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; and which is preferred by Noldius, Ebr. Concord. Part. p. 120, No. 616.

The LORD shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father's house, days that have not come, from the day that {p} Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of {q} Assyria.

(p) Since the time that the twelve tribes rebelled under Rehoboam.

(q) In whom you have put your trust.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verses 17-25. - THE DANGER TO JUDAH FROM ASSYRIA. The perversity of Ahaz, already rebuked in ver. 13, is further punished by a threat, that upon him, and upon his people, and upon his father's house, shall come shortly a dire calamity. The very power whose aid he is himself bent on invoking shall be the scourge to chastise both king and people (vers. 17-20). The land shall be made bare as by a razor (ver. 20). Cultivation shall cease; its scant inhabitants will support themselves by keeping a few cows and sheep (ver. 21), and will nourish themselves on dairy produce, and the honey that the wild bees produce (ver. 22). Briers and thorns will come up everywhere; wild beasts will increase; cattle will browse on the hills that were once carefully cultivated to their summits (vers. 23-25). Verse 17. - The Lord shall bring upon thee, etc. The transition from promises to threatenings is abrupt, and calculated to impress any one who was to any extent impressible. But Ahaz seems not to have had "ears to hear." From the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; i.e. from the time of the revolt under Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:16-24) - an evil day, which rankled in the mind of all true Judaeans. Even the King of Assyria. The construction is awkward, since "the King of Assyria' cannot well stand in apposition with "days." Hence many take the words for a gloss that has been accidentally intruded into the text (Lowth, Gesenius, Hitzig, Knobel, Cheyne). Others, however, see in the grammatical anomaly a grace of composition. Thus spake Isaiah, and Jehovah through him, to the king of Judah. Whether he replied, or what reply he made, we are not informed. He was probably silent, because he carried a secret in his heart which afforded him more consolation than the words of the prophet. The invisible help of Jehovah, and the remote prospect of the fall of Ephraim, were not enough for him. His trust was in Asshur, with whose help he would have far greater superiority over the kingdom of Israel, than Israel had over the kingdom of Judah through the help of Damascene Syria. The pious, theocratic policy of the prophet did not come in time. He therefore let the enthusiast talk on, and had his own thoughts about the matter. Nevertheless the grace of God did not give up the unhappy son of David for lost. "And Jehovah continued speaking to Ahaz as follows: Ask thee a sign of Jehovah thy God, going deep down into Hades, or high up to the height above." Jehovah continued: what a deep and firm consciousness of the identity of the word of Jehovah and the word of the prophet is expressed in these words! According to a very marvellous interchange of idioms (Communicatio idiomatum) which runs through the prophetic books of the Old Testament, at one time the prophet speaks as if he were Jehovah, and at another, as in the case before us, Jehovah speaks as if He were the prophet. Ahaz was to ask for a sign from Jehovah his God. Jehovah did not scorn to call Himself the God of this son of David, who had so hardened his heart. Possibly the holy love with which the expression "thy God" burned, might kindle a flame in his dark heart; or possibly he might think of the covenant promises and covenant duties which the words "thy God" recalled to his mind. From this, his God, he was to ask for a sign. A sign ('oth, from 'uth, to make an incision or dent) was something, some occurrence, or some action, which served as a pledge of the divine certainty of something else. This was secured sometimes by visible miracles performed at once (Exodus 4:8-9), or by appointed symbols of future events (Isaiah 8:18; Isaiah 20:3); sometimes by predicted occurrences, which, whether miraculous or natural, could not possibly be foreseen by human capacities, and therefore, if they actually took place, were a proof either retrospectively of the divine causality of other events (Exodus 3:12), or prospectively of their divine certainty (Isaiah 37:30; Jeremiah 44:29-30). The thing to be confirmed on the present occasion was what the prophet had just predicted in so definite a manner, viz., the maintenance of Judah with its monarchy, and the failure of the wicked enterprise of the two allied kingdoms. If this was to be attested to Ahaz in such a way as to demolish his unbelief, it could only be effected by a miraculous sign. And just as Hezekiah asked for a sign when Isaiah foretold his recovery, and promised him the prolongation of his life for fifteen years, and the prophet gave him the sign he asked, by causing the shadow upon the royal sun-dial to go backwards instead of forwards (chapter 38); so here Isaiah meets Ahaz with the offer of such a supernatural sign, and offers him the choice of heaven, earth, and Hades as the scene of the miracle.

העמּק and הגבּהּ are either in the infinitive absolute or in the imperative; and שאלה is either the imperative שׁאל with the He of challenge, which is written in this form in half pause instead of שׁאלה (for the two similar forms with pashtah and zakeph, vid., Daniel 9:19), "Only ask, going deep down, or ascending to the height," without there being any reason for reading שׁאלה with the tone upon the last syllable, as Hupfeld proposes, in the sense of profundam fac (or faciendo) precationem (i.e., go deep down with thy petition); or else it is the pausal subordinate form for שׁאלה, which is quite allowable in itself (cf., yechpâtz, the constant form in pause for yachpōtz, and other examples, Genesis 43:14; Genesis 49:3, Genesis 49:27), and is apparently preferred here on account of its consonance with למעלה (Ewald, 93, 3). We follow the Targum, with the Sept., Syr., and Vulgate, in giving the preference to the latter of the two possibilities. It answers to the antithesis; and if we had the words before us without points, this would be the first to suggest itself. Accordingly the words would read, Go deep down (in thy desire) to Hades, or go high up to the height; or more probably, taking העמק and הגבה in the sense of gerundives, "Going deep down to Hades, or (או from אוה, like vel from velle equals si velis, malis) going high up to the height." This offer of the prophet to perform any kind of miracle, either in the world above or in the lower world, has thrown rationalistic commentators into very great perplexity. The prophet, says Hitzig, was playing a very dangerous game here; and if Ahaz had closed with his offer, Jehovah would probably have left him in the lurch. And Meier observes, that "it can never have entered the mind of an Isaiah to perform an actual miracle:" probably because no miracles were ever performed by Gthe, to whose high poetic consecration Meier compares the consecration of the prophet as described in Isaiah 6:1-13. Knobel answers the question, "What kind of sign from heaven would Isaiah have given in case it had been asked for?" by saying, "Probably a very simple matter." But even granting that an extraordinary heavenly phenomenon could be a "simple matter," it was open to king Ahaz not to be so moderate in his demands upon the venturesome prophet, as Knobel with his magnanimity might possibly have been. Dazzled by the glory of the Old Testament prophecy, a rationalistic exegesis falls prostrate upon the ground; and it is with such frivolous, coarse, and common words as these that it tries to escape from its difficulties. It cannot acknowledge the miraculous power of the prophet, because it believes in no miracles at all. But Ahaz had no doubt about his miraculous power, though he would not be constrained by any miracle to renounce his own plans and believe in Jehovah. "But Ahaz replied, I dare not ask, and dare not tempt Jehovah." What a pious sound this has! And yet his self-hardening reached its culminating point in these well-sounding words. He hid himself hypocritically under the mask of Deuteronomy 6:16, to avoid being disturbed in his Assyrian policy, and was infatuated enough to designate the acceptance of what Jehovah Himself had offered as tempting God. He studiously brought down upon himself the fate denounced in Isaiah 6:1-13, and indeed not upon himself only, but upon all Judah as well. For after a few years the forces of Asshur would stand upon the same fuller's field (Isaiah 36:2) and demand the surrender of Jerusalem. In that very hour, in which Isaiah was standing before Ahaz, the fate of Jerusalem was decided for more than two thousand years.

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