Isaiah 7:1
And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.
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(1) It came to pass in the days of Ahaz.—The whole reign of Jotham comes between Isaiah 6, 7. On Isaiah’s life during that period, see Introduction. The work of the prophet now carries him into the main current of history, as recorded in 2 Kings 15, 16; 2 Chronicles 28, and in Assyrian inscriptions. The facts to be borne in mind are—(1) that the kingdom of Israel under Menahem had already become tributary to Assyria (2Kings 15:19-20); (2) that the object of the alliance between Pekah, a bold and ambitious usurper, and Rezin, was to organise a resistance against Assyria, such as that in which Uzziah had taken part (Schrader, Keil-Inschriften, pp. 395-421, quoted by Cheyne), that first Jotham (2Kings 15:37), and then Ahaz, apparently refused to join the confederacy, and that the object of the attack of the allied kings was either to force Ahaz to join, or else to depose him, bring the dynasty of David to a close, and set a follower of their own, probably a Syrian, on the throne of Judah.

But could not prevail against it.—The words obviously refer to a special stage in the campaign. The king of Syria seems to have been the leading spirit of the confederacy. 2Chronicles 28:5-15 represents Judah as having sustained a great and almost overwhelming defeat. Jerusalem, however, though besieged (2Kings 16:5) was not absolutely taken (2Kings 16:5); 2Kings 16:6 records the capture of the port of Elath, on the Gulf of Akaba, by Rezin.

(1) We may deal with it as though the Gospel of St. Matthew had never been written, as though the facts which it records had no place in the history of mankind. From this point of view we get what seems at first a comparatively simple exposition. The prophet offers a sign to the faithless king, and the sign is this: he points to some young bride in either sense of that word, and says that she shall conceive and bear a son. The fulfilment of that prediction in a matter which lay outside the range of human knowledge was to be the sign for Ahaz and his court, and she should give that son a name which would rebuke the faithlessness of the king. Immanuel, “God with us,” would be a nomen et omen, witnessing, not of an incarnate Deity, but of His living and abiding presence. Who was the mother of the child on this theory we have no data for deciding. As the two other children of the prophet bore, like Hosea’s (Isaiah 7:3; Isaiah 8:3), mysterious and prophetic names, the most probable conjecture seems to be that it was Isaiah’s own wife, still young, and, as it were, still a bride, or possibly a second wife whom he had married, or was about to marry, after the death of his first. Other guesses have pointed to one of the women of the harem of Ahaz who may have been with him when Isaiah spoke. The hypothesis of some critics that such a one became the mother of Hezekiah, and that he was the Immanuel of the prophet’s thoughts, breaks down under the test of dates. Hezekiah, at the time the prophecy was uttered, was a boy of at least nine years of age (2Kings 16:2; 2Kings 18:2). Of this child so born Isaiah predicts that he shall grow up in a time of suffering and privation (Isaiah 7:15), and that before he has attained to manhood the confederacy of Rezin and Remaliah shall come to a disastrous end. So far all is at least coherent. Immanuel, as a person, stands on the same level as Shear-jashub, representing a great idea to which Isaiah again appeals in Isaiah 8:8; Isaiah 8:10, but not identified with the Christ, or even with any expectations of the Christ. On the other hand, there are phenomena in Isaiah’s prophetic work at large which this explanation does not adequately include. The land of Israel at least appears to be described as in some peculiar sense the land of Immanuel (Isaiah 8:10). Isaiah is clearly expecting, even in the first volume that bears his name, not to speak of Isaiah 40-66, the arrival, at some undefined point in the future, of one whose nature, work and character, shall be represented by the marvellous series of names of Isaiah 9:6, in whom the spirit of Jehovah, the fear of Jehovah, shall dwell in their fulness—who shall be of the stem of Jesse, and whose reign shall be as the realised ideal of a golden age (Isaiah 11:1-10). That expectation connects itself with a like prophecy, associated as this is with the childbirth of a travailing woman, in Micah 5:3-5. In what relation, we ask, did Immanuel stand to these confessedly Messianic predictions?

Isaiah 7:1. And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz — Of whose idolatries and abominable wickedness the reader will find a particular account, 2 Chronicles 28:1-4. Rezin and Pekah went up toward Jerusalem — “The confederacy of these two kings against the kingdom of Judah was formed in the time of Jotham; and perhaps the effects of it were felt in the latter part of his reign. See 2 Kings 15:37. However, in the very beginning of the reign of Ahaz, they jointly invaded Judah with a powerful army, and threatened to destroy, or to dethrone the house of David. The king and royal family being in the utmost consternation on receiving advices of their designs, Isaiah is sent to them to support and comfort them in their present distress, by assuring them that God would make good his promises to David and his house. This makes the subject of this and the following chapter, and the beginning of the ninth.” But could not prevail against it — That is, against Jerusalem. But yet they carried away a multitude of captives out of Judea, slew a vast number of the people, and Rezin restored Elah to his own dominions. See notes on 2 Kings 16:5, and on 2 Chronicles 28:5-6.

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.In the days of Ahaz - Ahaz began to reign about 738 years before Christ. By a comparison of 2 Kings 16:5, ..., with 2 Chronicles 28:5, etc., it will be seen that Judea was twice invaded by Rezin and Pekah in the reign of Ahaz; see the Analysis of the chapter.

That Rezin ... - This confederacy was formed in the time of Jotham; 2 Kings 15:37. But it was not carried into execution during his reign. It is evident from this place, that it was executed in the early part of the reign of Ahaz; probably in the first or second year of his reign.

Syria - - ארם 'ărâm, so called from Aram Genesis 10:22-23, a son of Shem, and who populated its chief provinces. It comprehended the country lying between the Euphrates east, the Mediterranean west, Cilicia north, and Phenicia, Judea, and Arabia south; see the notes at Isaiah 17:1-14. Syria of the two rivers is Mesopotamia. Syria of Damascus, so called because Damascus was its capital, extended eastward along Mount Libanus, but its limits varied according to the power of the princes of Damascus. After the reign of the Seleucidae, Syria came to denote the kingdom or region of which Antioch was the capital. Here it denotes the Syria lying around Damascus, and of which Damascus was the capital. - "Calmet."

King of Israel - Of the ten tribes, called the kingdom of Israel, or Samaria; Note, Isaiah 1:1.

Went up - Jerusalem was situated on hills, and on the highest part of the land. But it is possible that this language is derived from the fact that it was the capital. The language is used even when the region from which the traveler comes does not lie lower than the city. Thus it is not uncommon to speak of "going up" to London, Paris, etc.

Could not prevail - Hebrew, 'Could not fight against it,' that is, with happy result, or with success. He was not able to take it. That the allied kings really besieged Ahaz, is evident from 2 Kings 16:5 : They 'came up to Jerusalem to war, and they besieged Ahaz, but they could not overcome him.' The reason why they could not take Jerusalem was, probably, not only because it was a strong place and well defended, but because there was intelligence that their own dominions were threatened with an invasion by the Assyrians, and they could not protract their siege of Jerusalem long enough to take it.


Isa 7:1-9:7. Prediction of the Ill Success of the Syro- Israelitish Invasion of Judah—Ahaz's Alliance with Assyria, and Its Fatal Results to Judea—Yet the Certainty of Final Preservation and of the Coming of Messiah.

In the Assyrian inscriptions the name of Rezin, king of Damascus, is found among the tributaries of Tiglath-pileser, of whose reign the annals of seventeen years have been deciphered. For the historical facts in this chapter, compare 2Ki 15:37-16:9. Rezin of Syria and Pekah of Israel, as confederates, advanced against Jerusalem. In the first campaign they "smote Ahaz with a great slaughter" (2Ch 28:5). Their object was probably to unite the three kingdoms against Assyria. Egypt seems to have favored the plan, so as to interpose these confederate kingdoms between her own frontier and Assyria (compare Isa 7:18, "Egypt"; and 2Ki 17:4, Hoshea's league with Egypt). Rezin and Pekah may have perceived Ahaz' inclination towards Assyria rather than towards their own confederacy; this and the old feud between Israel and Judah (1Ki 12:16) occasioned their invasion of Judah. Ahaz, at the second inroad of his enemies (compare 2Ch 28:1-26 and 2Ki 15:37, with Isa 16:5), smarting under his former defeat, applied to Tiglath-pileser, in spite of Isaiah's warning in this chapter, that he should rather rely on God; that king accordingly attacked Damascus, and slew Rezin (2Ki 16:9); and probably it was at the same time that he carried away part of Israel captive (2Ki 15:29), unless there were two assaults on Pekah—that in 2Ki 15:29, the earlier, and that in which Tiglath helped Ahaz subsequently [G. V. Smith]. Ahaz was saved at the sacrifice of Judah's independence and the payment of a large tribute, which continued till the overthrow of Sennacherib under Hezekiah (Isa 37:37; 2Ki 16:8, 17, 18; 2Ch 28:20). Ahaz' reign began about 741 B.C., and Pekah was slain in 738 [Winer].

1. Ahaz—In the first years of his reign the design of the two kings against Judah was carried out, which was formed in Jotham's reign (2Ki 15:37).

Syria—Hebrew, Aram (Ge 10:22, 23), originally the whole region between the Euphrates and Mediterranean, including Assyria, of which Syria is an abbreviation; here the region round Damascus, and along Mount Libanus.

Jerusalem—An actual siege of it took place, but was foiled (2Ki 16:5).Ahaz, afraid of Rezin and Pekah, is comforted by Isaiah Isaiah 7:1-9; refusing to choose a sign, Christ is promised for one, Isaiah 7:10-16: his judgment should come by Assyria, Isaiah 7:17-25.

In the days of Ahaz, a most wicked king; yet no prophecies are more comfortable than those which were delivered in his time; God so ordering it, partly for the encouragement of the faithful that lived under his tyrannical and impious reign; and partly to manifest the riches and freeness of his grace, in conferring such favours upon a most worthless generation.

To war against it; which they attempted before in Jotham’s reign, 2 Kings 15:37, but now more seriously undertook, though without success, as is noted here, and 2 Kings 16:5.

And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah king of Judah,.... Here begins a new prophecy under the reign of another king; who, though a wicked king, had religious ancestors; and who are mentioned, not, as the Jewish writers (u) generally say, because it was owing to their worthiness that the enemies of Ahaz could not prevail against him; but because it was under these kings the prophet had prophesied: what is contained in the first five chapters were delivered in the times of Uzziah; and the vision in the sixth was in the times of Jotham, in the beginning of his reign; and what is said here, and in some following chapters, was in the time of Ahaz; so that this is mentioned to fix and carry on the date of the prophecy:

that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah, the son of Remaliah king of Israel, went up towards Jerusalem to war against it; at the latter end of Jotham's reign, and the beginning of Ahaz's; these two separately came up against Judah, and greatly distressed and afflicted the kingdom, slew many, and carried others captive, 2 Kings 15:37 but afterwards, in the third (w) or fourth (x) year of Ahaz, as it is said, they joined together to besiege Jerusalem, which this refers to, 2 Kings 16:5,

but could not prevail against it; or "he could not"; that is, according to Aben Ezra, the king of Israel, Pekah, the son of Remaliah; but, according to Kimchi, it was Rezin king of Syria, who, he says, was the principal in the war, and brought Pekah along with him; but it may very well be understood of them both, since in 2 Kings 16:5, the plural number is used; "and they could not"; and so the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Oriental versions here.

(u) Jarchi & Kimchi in loc. & Yalkut Simeoni, ex Bereshit Rabba, sect. 63. fol. 54. 4. (w) Yalkut Simeoni in loc. (x) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 23. p. 85. Jarchi in ver. 14.

And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, {a} went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.

(a) That is, the second time: for in the first battle Ahaz was overcome.

1. The genealogy of Ahaz seems unnecessary for the contemporaries of Isaiah, although it might be given to connect the passage with ch. Isaiah 6:1. The latter part of the verse closely resembles 2 Kings 16:5; and it is not improbable that the data were supplied by an editor from the historical book, in order to make the circumstances intelligible to later generations of readers. Originally the introduction may have run: “And in the days of Ahaz it was reported to the house of David,” &c.

to war against it, but could not prevail against it] lit. to fight against it but were unable to fight against it. From 2 Kings 16:5 we learn that the city was blockaded. It was the object of the allies to take it by assault, but in this they were baffled, either by reason of the strength of the place, or because they were compelled to raise the siege. “Fight” means “fight at close quarters” as 2 Samuel 11:20 compared with Isaiah 7:1.

Verses 1-9. - THE PROPHECY GIVEN TO AHAZ AT THE TIME OF THE SYRO-ISRAELITISH WAR. The Syro-Israelitish war is touched on both in Kings and Chronicles. In Kings the alliance between Rezin and Pekah is distinctly declared, as also the fact that they conjointly besieged Jerusalem (2 Kings 16:5). From Chronicles we learn that, before the siege, Ahaz was twice defeated with great loss, once by the Syrians (2 Chronicles 28:5), and once by the Israelites (2 Chronicles 28:6). He was probably, therefore, reduced to great straits at the time when Isaiah received directions to seek an interview with him, and communicate to him a comforting message from Jehovah. Verse 1. - In the days of Ahaz. The reign of Ahaz covered, probably, the space between B.C. 743 and in B.C. 727. The march on Jerusalem appears to have fallen somewhat late in his reign (about B.C. 733). Rezin the King of Syria. Rezin is mentioned as King of Damascus by Tiglath-Pfieser II. in several of his inscriptions. In one, which seems to belong to B.C. 732 or 731, he states that he defeated Rezin and slew him. Pekah the son of Remaliah (see 2 Kings 15:25). Pekah had been an officer under Pekahiah, the son and successor of Menahem; but had revolted, put Pekahiah to death in his palace, and seized the crown. It is probable that he and Rezin were anxious to form a confederacy for the purpose of resisting the advance of the Assyrian power, and, distrusting Ahaz, desired to place on the throne of Judah a person on whom they could thoroughly depend (see ver. 6). It was not their design to conquer the Jewish kingdom, but only to change the sovereign. Toward Jerusalem; rather, to Jerusalem. The allies reached the city and commenced the siege (2 Kings 16:5). Could not prevail against it; literally, prevailed not in fighting against it. Isaiah 7:1As the following prophecies could not be understood apart from the historical circumstances to which they refer, the prophet commences with a historical announcement."It came to pass, in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah (Uziyhu), king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Aramaea, and Pekah (Pekach) the son of Remaliah (Remalyhu), king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, and (he) could not make war upon it." We have the same words, with only slight variations, in the history of the reign of Ahaz in 2 Kings 16:5. That the author of the book of Kings copied them from the book of Isaiah, will be very apparent when we come to examine the historical chapters (36-39) in their relation to the parallel sections of the book of Kings. In the passage before us, the want of independence on the part of the author of the book of Kings is confirmed by the fact that he not only repeats, but also interprets, the words of Isaiah. Instead of saying, "And (he) could not make war upon it," he says, "And they besieged Ahaz, and could not make war." The singular yâcol (he could) of Isaiah is changed into the simpler plural, whilst the statement that the two allies could not assault or storm Jerusalem (which must be the meaning of nilcham ‛al in the passage before us), is more clearly defined by the additional information that they did besiege Ahaz, but to no purpose (tzur ‛al, the usual expression for obsidione claudere; cf., Deuteronomy 20:19). The statement that "they besieged Ahaz" cannot merely signify that "they attempted to besiege him," although nothing further is known about this siege. But happily we have two accounts of the Syro-Ephraimitish war (2 Kings 16 and 2 Chronicles 28). The two historical books complete one another. The book of Kings relates that the invasion of Judah by the two allies commenced at the end of Jotham's reign (2 Kings 15:37); and in addition to the statement taken from Isaiah 7:1, it also mentions that Rezin conquered the seaport town of Elath, which then belonged to the kingdom of Judah; whilst the Chronicles notice the fact that Rezin brought a number of Judaean captives to Damascus, and that Pekah conquered Ahaz in a bloody and destructive battle. Indisputable as the credibility of these events may be, it is nevertheless very difficult to connect them together, either substantially or chronologically, in a certain and reliable manner, as Caspari has attempted to do in his monograph on the Syro-Ephraimitish war (1849). We may refer here to our own manner of dovetailing the historical accounts of Ahaz and the Syro-Ephraimitish war in the introduction to the present work (p. 23ff.). If we could assume that יכל (not יכלוּ) was the authentic reading, and that the failure of the attempt to take Jerusalem, which is mentioned here, was occasioned by the strength of the city itself, and not by the intervention of Assyria - so that Isaiah 7:1 did not contain such an anticipation as we have supposed, although summary anticipations of this kind were customary with biblical historians, and more especially with Isaiah - the course of events might be arranged in the following manner, viz., that whilst Rezin was on his way to Elath, Pekah resolved to attack Jerusalem, but failed in his attempt; but that Rezin was more successful in his expedition, which was a much easier one, and after the conquest of Elath united his forces with those of his allies.
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