Isaiah 7:3
Then said the LORD to Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, you, and Shearjashub your son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Go forth now to meet Ahaz . . .At this crisis the prophet, already recognised as such, and gathering his disciples round him (Isaiah 8:16), is told to deliver a message to the king. He finds him halting between two opinions. He is making a show of resistance, but in reality he is not depending either on the protection of Jehovah, or the courage of his people, but on a plan of his own. Why should he not continue to pay tribute to Assyria, as Uzziah and Menahem (2Kings 15:19) had done, and write to Tiglath-pileser to attack the territories of the invading kings, as he actually did at a later stage in the war (2Kings 15:29)?

Thou and Shear-jashub thy son.—Assuming Isaiah 6 to give the first revelation of the idea of the “remnant,” it would follow that the birth of the son whose name (Remnant returns—the return being both literal and spiritual—i.e., “is converted”), embodied a prophecy, must have followed on that revelation, and he was probably, therefore, at the time a stripling of sixteen or eighteen. It may be noted that Isaiah had in the history of Hosea 1, 2 the example of a prophet who, as his children were born, gave them names which were terribly or hopefully significant. Each child was, as it were, a sign and portent (Isaiah 8:18). The fact that the mother of his children was herself a prophetess (Isaiah 8:3), sharing his hopes and fears, gives a yet deeper interest to the fact.

At the end of the conduit . . .—The king was apparently superintending the defensive operations of the siege, probably cutting off the supply of water outside the walls, as Hezekiah afterwards did (2Chronicles 32:3-4). The “upper pool” has been identified with the Upper Gihon pool (Birket-el-Mamilla) or the “dragon’s well” of Nehemiah 2:13. A lower pool meets us in Isaiah 22:9. The “fuller’s field” was near En-rogelim (Isaiah 36:2; 2Samuel 17:17).

Isaiah 7:3. Then said the Lord unto Isaiah — This fifth discourse, delivered as immediately from the Lord, which extends from hence to the end of chap. 12., is of a very mixed and various argument. It may be divided into five parts: the first contained in this chapter; the second from Isaiah 8:1, to Isaiah 9:7; the third from Isaiah 9:7, to Isaiah 10:5; the fourth from Isaiah 10:5, to the end of that chapter; and the fifth is contained in the eleventh and twelfth chapters. The first part of this prophecy, which foretells the invasion of Judea by the Ephraimites, the Syrians, and Assyrians, contains a kind of introduction to the subsequent prophecies in this discourse. Its design is two-fold; first, to comfort the pious in Jerusalem, amidst this great calamity which threatened their nation, and to testify the singular providence of God toward the house of David, which he had hitherto preserved, and would continue to preserve till the completion of his great design: and, secondly, to upbraid the folly and ingratitude of Ahaz. See Vitringa. Go forth now to meet Ahaz — Here we have an eminent instance of God’s preventing mercy toward one who neither inquired of him, nor sought his help. Thus God is often found of those who seek him not: much more will he be found of those who seek him diligently! And Shear-jashub thy son — Whose very name, signifying, A remnant shall return, carried in it a sign and pledge of the promised deliverance. At the end of the conduit — Whither he probably went to take care about the waters which thence were brought into the city, to secure them to himself, or keep them from the enemy, as Hezekiah afterward did, 2 Chronicles 32:3-4.7:1-9 Ungodly men are often punished by others as bad as themselves. Being in great distress and confusion, the Jews gave up all for lost. They had made God their enemy, and knew not how to make him their friend. The prophet must teach them to despise their enemies, in faith and dependence on God. Ahaz, in fear, called them two powerful princes. No, says the prophet, they are but tails of smoking firebrands, burnt out already. The two kingdoms of Syria and Israel were nearly expiring. While God has work for the firebrands of the earth, they consume all before them; but when their work is fulfilled, they will be extinguished in smoke. That which Ahaz thought most formidable, is made the ground of their defeat; because they have taken evil counsel against thee; which is an offence to God. God scorns the scorners, and gives his word that the attempt should not succeed. Man purposes, but God disposes. It was folly for those to be trying to ruin their neighbours, who were themselves near to ruin. Isaiah must urge the Jews to rely on the assurances given them. Faith is absolutely necessary to quiet and compose the mind in trials.Then said the Lord - In regard to the purposes for which Isaiah was sent to meet Ahaz, and the reason why this place was selected, see the Analysis of the chapter.

Thou and Shear-ashub - The meaning of the name "Shear-jashub" is, 'the remnant shall return.' The names which Isaiah gave to his sons were significant or emblematic of some important events which were to occur to the Jews. They were for "signs" to the people, and had been given in order to keep before the nation the great truth that God was their protector, and that however much they might suffer or be punished, yet the nation would not be totally destroyed until the great Deliverer should come; see the note at Isaiah 7:14, and Isaiah 8:3, note. Why this name was given to this son, or on what occasion, is not certainly known. It is probable, however, that was with reference to the future calamities and captivity of the Jews, denoting that a part of the people would return to the land of their fathers: compare Isaiah 10:21-22. The name was a remembrancer given by him as a prophet, perhaps, some time before this, that the nation was not to be wholly annihilated - a truth which Isaiah everywhere keeps before them in his prophecies; compare the note at Isaiah 6:13. "Why" Shear-jashub accompanied Isaiah now is not recorded. It might be as a pledge to Ahaz of the purpose of the Lord, that the people should not be destroyed. Ahaz may have been apprized of the reason why the name was given, and his presence might serve to mitigate his fears.

At the end of the conduit - A "conduit" is a pipe, or other conductor of water. The water flowed from a fountain, but was conducted to different receptacles for the supply of the city.

Of the upper pool - Or the upper receptacle, or pond. Robinson ("Bib. Researches," i. p. 483) and Pococke ("Descr. of the East," ii. pp. 25, 26) suppose that the upper and lower pools referred to by Isaiah, were on the west side of the city, the ruins of which now remain. The upper pool is now commonly called by the monks "Gihon," and by the natives "Birket el Mamilla." It lies in the basin forming the head of the valley of Hinnom or Gihon, about seven hundred yards west-northwest from the Yafa gate, on the west of Jerusalem. The sides of this pool are built of hewn stones laid in cement, with steps at the corners by which to descend into it. The bottom is level. The dimensions are as follows:

Length (in Eng. Feet) from east to west 316 Breadth at the west end 200 Breadth at the east end 218 Depth at each end 18

There is no water-course, or other visible means, by which water is now brought into this reservoir, but it is probable that it was filled in the rainy seasons by the waters which flowed from the higher ground round about. From this upper pool a part of the water was conveyed into the city to the pool of Hezekiah, lying within the walls, and situated some distance to the northeastward of the Yafa gate. 'Hezekiah stopped the upper watercourse of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David;' 2 Chronicles 32:30; compare the notes at Isaiah 22:9. This upper pool had a trench or 'conduit,' and a considerable part of the waters were allowed to flow through this to the lower pool. The 'lower pool' is mentioned in the Old Testament only once, and that by Isaiah Isa 22:9, and there without any hint of its locality. There is now a large lower pool on the western side of Jerusalem, which is not improbably the one intended, and which stands in contrast with the one mentioned here. This pool is called by the Arabs "Birket es-Sultan." There is, at present, no other pool in the vicinity of Jerusalem to which the description in Isaiah can be well applied. This reservoir is situated in the valley of Hinnom or Gihon, southward from the Yafa gate. Its northern end is nearly upon a line with the southern wall of the city. The pool was formed by throwing strong walls across the bottom of the valley, between which the earth was wholly removed. A road crosses on the causeway at the southern end. The following are the measurements of this pool:

Length (in Eng. Feet) along the middle 592. Breadth at the north end 245 Breadth at the south end 275 Depth at north end 85 Depth at south end 42

This reservoir was probably filled from the rains, and from the superfluous waters of the upper pool. It is now in ruins. The water from this pool would flow off into the valley of Hinnom, and thence, into the valley of Jehoshaphat or Kedron, or subsequently into the pool of Hezekiah, situated "within" the city; see the notes at Isaiah 22:9, Isaiah 22:11. Why Ahaz was at that place, the prophet does not say. It is possible he was examining it, to see whether the fountain could be stopped up, or the water diverted so that it could not be used by the enemy, and so that they could be prevented from maintaining a protracted siege; compare 2 Chronicles 32:4. It is probable that the king had gone to this place attended by many of his counselors, and as this was the main source of the supply of water to the city, a multitude would be there, and Isaiah could have an opportunity not only to deliver his message to Ahaz and his court, but in the presence of a considerable concourse of people, and might thus inspire confidence among the alarmed and dejected inhabitants of the city.

In the highway of the fuller's field - In the place occupied as a situation on which to spread, or suspend cloth that was bleached, or dyed. This situation would be chosen because much water was needed in bleaching or dyeing cloth. The name 'highway' denotes the public path, or road that led to this field. Probably, on one side of this highway was the aqueduct, and on the other the fuller's field. Of the fuller's field, Eusebius and Jerome merely say that it was shown in their day in the suburbs of the city. - "Onom." art. "Ager Fullonis."

3. Go forth—out of the city, to the place where Ahaz was superintending the works for defense and the cutting off of the water supply from the enemy, and securing it to the city. So Isa 22:9; 2Ch 32:4.

Shearjashub—that is, A remnant shall return (Isa 6:13). His very name (compare Isa 7:14; Isa 8:3) was a standing memorial to Ahaz and the Jews that the nation should not, notwithstanding the general calamity (Isa 7:17-25; Isa 8:6-8), be utterly destroyed (Isa 10:21, 22).

conduit—an aqueduct from the pool or reservoir for the supply of the city. At the foot of Zion was Fount Siloah (Isa 8:6; Ne 3:15; Joh 9:7), called also Gihon, on the west of Jerusalem (2Ch 32:30). Two pools were supplied from it, the Upper, or Old (Isa 22:11), or King's (Ne 2:14), and the Lower (Isa 22:9), which received the superfluous waters of the upper. The upper pool is still to be seen, about seven hundred yards from the Jaffa gate. The highway leading to the fullers' field, which was in a position near water for the purposes of washing, previous to drying and bleaching, the cloth, was probably alongside the aqueduct.

Go forth now to meet Ahaz, though he do not seek nor send to thee, as he ought. This is an eminent instance of preventing mercy.

Shear-jashub; whose very name carried in it a sign and pledge of the promised deliverance.

At the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field; whither he probably went to take care about the waters, which thence were brought into the city, either to secure them to himself, or to keep them from the enemy, as Hezekiah afterward did, 2 Chronicles 32:3,4. Then said the Lord unto Isaiah,.... The prophet, the inspired penman of these prophecies, that go by his name; what follows, the Lord said unto him in vision, or by an articulate voice, or by an impulse on his mind:

go forth now to meet Ahaz; the prophet was in the city of Jerusalem, and Ahaz was without, as appears by the place after mentioned, where he was to meet him; perhaps Ahaz was at his country house, which, upon the news brought him of the designs of his enemies, he leaves, and betakes himself to Jerusalem, his metropolis, and fortified city, where he might be more safe; or he had been out to reconnoitre the passes about Jerusalem, and give orders and directions for the strengthening and keeping of them:

thou, and Shearjashub thy son: whose name signifies "the remnant shall return", and who was taken with the prophet, to suggest either that the remnant that were left of the former devastations by those two kings ought to return to the Lord by repentance; or that though the people of Judah should hereafter be carried captive by the Assyrians, yet a remnant should return again. The Targum interprets this not of Isaiah's natural son, but of his disciples; paraphrasing it thus,

"thou, and the rest of thy disciples, who have not sinned, and are turned from sin:''

at the end of the conduit of the upper pool; for there was an upper pool and a lower one; see Isaiah 22:9 this was outside the city, and is the same place where Rabshakeh afterwards stood, and delivered his blasphemous and terrifying speech, 2 Kings 18:17,

in the highway of the fuller's field; where they washed and dried their garments, and whitened them; the pool, conduit, and field, being fit for their purpose.

Then said the LORD to Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and {e} Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field;

(e) That is to say, the rest will return which name Isaiah gave his son, to signify that the rest of the people would return out of their captivity.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. The prophet is instructed to meet Ahaz at a certain point outside the city, taking his son with him for a sign to the king.

Shear-jashub] “Remnant-shall-turn,” i.e. “turn to Jehovah,” not “return from exile” (ch. Isaiah 10:22). How much the name meant to Ahaz we cannot tell; nor is it clear whether the boy was present to have the incident impressed on his own memory, or to recall to the king’s mind some earlier prophecy of Isaiah in which the name was explained. The latter seems more probable. In any case the name embodies a fundamental idea of Isaiah’s ministry (see on ch. Isaiah 6:13), and if it conveyed any significance to Ahaz at this time it was a prediction at once of judgment and hope: a remnant shall turn; but only a remnant!

at the end of the conduit … field] On the same spot the Rabshakeh stood 34 years later and delivered Sennacherib’s insulting message to Hezekiah. It seems therefore to have been within earshot of the wall (ch. Isaiah 36:2, cf. Isaiah 7:11; 2 Kings 18:17; 2 Kings 18:26). On what side of the city it is to be sought is as yet a matter of conjecture. (1) The “upper pool” is by many identified with the Birket el-Mamilla (about half a mile to the west of the city), from which a canal leads to reservoirs within the walls. In this case it would be difficult to explain the expression “go out to the end of the conduit,” and besides the distance from the wall is too great. (2) Tradition fixes the site of the Assyrian camp on the north of the city, and here an ancient aqueduct (older than Herod’s temple) has been discovered which pierces the wall to the east of the Damascus gate, and discharges into a large reservoir in the northern quarter of the city. If this reservoir be the “upper pool” the end of its conduit would be the northern extremity of the canal mentioned. (3) A third suggestion is that the “upper pool” like the “lower pool” (ch. Isaiah 22:9) was in the south of the city and inside the wall. It has been identified with a recently-discovered pool near the present pool of Siloam, and a conduit has also been excavated which carried its surplus water outside the wall, to where the “fuller’s field” is thought to have been. Ahaz was at this anxious moment devoting his personal attention to the water supply of his capital. Operations were apparently in progress either for filling the reservoirs and cisterns within the city, or for stopping the sources that would be accessible to the enemy. In the historic sieges of Jerusalem the assailants always suffered more from scarcity of water than the defenders; and it is not impossible that the precautions taken on this occasion were the reason why the allies “were not able to fight against it.”Verse 3. - Thou, and Shear-Jashub thy son. The name Shear-Jashub, "a remnant shall return," may have been given to Isaiah's son by revelation, as Ewald thinks it was; or Isaiah may have given it to testify his faith both in the threats and in the promises of which he had been made the mouth-piece. The command to take him with him on the present occasion was probably given on account of his name, that the attention of Ahaz might be called to it. The conduit of the upper pool is mentioned also in 2 Kings 18:17. It was probably a subterranean duct which brought water into the city from the high ground outside the Damascus gate. Ahaz may have visited it in order to see that it was made available for his own use, but not for the enemy's (comp. 2 Chronicles 32:3, 4, 30; Isaiah 22:9, 11). This is confirmed by the words in which his commission is expressed, and the substance of the message. "He said, Go, and tell this people, Hear on, and understand not; and look on, but perceive not. Make ye the heart of this people greasy, and their ears heavy, and their eyes sticky; that they may not see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and their heart understand, and they be converted, and one heal them." "This people" points back to the people of unclean lips, among whom Isaiah had complained of dwelling, and whom the Lord would not call "my people." It was to go to this people and preach to them, and therefore to be the prophet of this people, that he was called. But how mournful does the divine commission sound! It was the terrible opposite of that seraphic mission, which the prophet had experienced in himself. The seraph had absolved Isaiah by the burning coal, that he as prophet might not absolve, but harden his people by his word. They were to hear and see, and that continually as the gerundives imply (Ges. 131, 3, b; Ewald, 280, b), by having the prophet's preaching actu directo constantly before them; but not to their salvation. The two prohibitory expressions, "understand not" and "perceive not," show what the result of the prophet's preaching was to be, according to the judicial will of God. And the imperatives in v. 10 are not to be understood as simply instructing the prophet to tell the people what God had determined to do; for the fact that "prophets are often said to do what they announce as about to happen," in proof of which Jeremiah 1:10 is sometimes quoted (cf., Jeremiah 31:28; Hosea 6:5; Ezekiel 43:3), has its truth not in a rhetorical figure, but in the very nature of the divine word. The prophet was the organ of the word of God, and the word of God was the expression of the will of God, and the will of God is a divine act that has not yet become historical. For this reason a prophet might very well be said to perform what he announced as about to happen: God was the Causa efficiens principalis, the word was the Causa media, and the prophet the Causa ministerialis. This is the force of the three imperatives; they are three figurative expressions of the idea of hardening. The first, hishmin, signifies to make fat (pinguem), i.e., without susceptibility or feeling for the operations of divine grace (Psalm 119:70); the second, hicbı̄d, to make heavy, more especially heavy or dull of hearing (Isaiah 59:1); the third, השׁע or השׁע (whence the imperative השׁע or השׁע), to smear thickly, or paste over, i.e., to put upon a person what is usually the result of weak eyes, which become firmly closed by the hardening of the adhesive substance secreted in the night. The three future clauses, with "lest" (pen), point back to these three imperatives in inverse order: their spiritual sight, spiritual hearing, and spiritual feeling were to be taken away, their eyes becoming blind, and their ears deaf, and their hearts being covered over with the grease of insensibility.

Under the influence of these futures the two preterites לו ורפא שׁב affirm what might have been the result if this hardening had not taken place, but what would never take place now. The expression ל רפא is used in every other instance in a transitive sense, "to heal a person or a disease," and never in the sense of becoming well or being healed; but in the present instance it acquires a passive sense from the so-called impersonal construction (Ges. 137, 3), "and one heal it," i.e., "and it be healed:" and it is in accordance with this sense that it is paraphrased in Mark 4:12, whereas in the three other passages in which the words are quoted in the New Testament (viz., Matthew, John, and Acts) the Septuagint rendering is adopted, "and I should heal them" (God Himself being taken as the subject). The commission which the prophet received, reads as though it were quite irreconcilable with the fact that God, as the Good, can only will what is good. But our earlier doctrinarians have suggested the true solution, when they affirm that God does not harden men positive aut effective, since His true will and direct work are man's salvation, but occasionaliter et eventualiter, since the offers and displays of salvation which man receives necessarily serve to fill up the measure of his sins, and judicialiter so far as it is the judicial will of God, that what was originally ordained for men's salvation should result after all in judgment, in the case of any man upon whom grace has ceased to work, because all its ways and means have been completely exhausted. It is not only the loving will of God which is good, but also the wrathful will into which His loving will changes, when determinately and obstinately resisted. There is a self-hardening in evil, which renders a man thoroughly incorrigible, and which, regarded as the fruit of his moral behaviour, is no less a judicial punishment inflicted by God, than self-induced guilt on the part of man. The two are bound up in one another, inasmuch as sin from its very nature bears its own punishment, which consists in the wrath of God excited by sin. For just as in all the good that men do, the active principle is the love of God; so in all the harm that they do, the active principle is the wrath of God. An evil act in itself is the result of self-determination proceeding from a man's own will; but evil, regarded as the mischief in which evil acting quickly issues, is the result of the inherent wrath of God, which is the obverse of His inherent love; and when a man hardens himself in evil, it is the inward working of God's peremptory wrath. To this wrath Israel had delivered itself up through its continued obstinacy in sinning. And consequently the Lord now proceeded to shut the door of repentance against His people. Nevertheless He directed the prophet to preach repentance, because the judgment of hardness suspended over the people as a whole did not preclude the possibility of the salvation of individuals.

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