Isaiah 7:22
And it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk that they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land.
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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.For the abundance of milk ... - On account, or by means of the great quantity of milk. This image also denotes that the land should be desolate, and abandoned by its inhabitants. Such a range would the cow and sheep have in the lands lying waste and uncultivated, that they would yield abundance of milk.

For butter and honey - This shall be the condition of all who are left in the land. Agriculture shall be abandoned, The land shall be desolate. The few remaining inhabitants shall be dependent on what a very few cows and sheep shah produce, and on the subsistence which may be derived from honey obtained from the rocks where bees would lodge. Perhaps, also, the swarms of bees would be increased, by the fact that the land would be forsaken, and that it would produce abundance of wild flowers for their subsistence. The general idea is plain, that the land would be desolate. Butter and honey, that is, butter mingled with honey, is a common article of food in the East; see the note at Isaiah 7:15. D'Arvieux being in the camp of an Arab prince who lived in much splendor, and who treated him with great regard, was entertained, he tells us, the first morning of his being there, with little loaves, honey, new-churned butter, and cream more delicate than any he ever saw, together with coffee. - "Voy. dans la Pal.," p. 24. And in another place, he assures us that one of the principal things with which the Arabs regale themselves at breakfast is cream, or new butter mingled with honey. - p. 197. The statement of the prophet here, that the poor of the land should eat butter and honey, is not inconsistent with this account of D'Arvieux, that it is regarded as an article of food with which even princes treat their guests, for the idea of the prophet is, that when the land should be desolate and comparatively uninhabited, the natural luxuriant growth of the soil would produce an abundance to furnish milk, and that honey would abound where the bees would be allowed to multiply, almost without limit; see Harmer's Obs., vol. ii. p. 55. Ed. Lond. 1808.

22. abundance—by reason of the wide range of land lying desolate over which the cows and sheep (including goats) may range.

butter—thick milk, or cream.

honey—(See on [696]Isa 7:15). Food of spontaneous growth will be the resource of the few inhabitants left. Honey shall be abundant as the bees will find the wild flowers abounding everywhere.

For the abundance of milk that they shall give; because they shall have excellent and large pastures, by reason of the great scarcity of cattle; whereas formerly their lands were ofttimes overstocked with cattle.

Butter and honey may be here mentioned, either,

1. As mean and vulgar food, being very common in those parts; which are opposed to that flesh and corn, and other excellent fruits of the earth, wherewith their land formerly abounded. Or,

2. As very good and pleasant food, which the poorer sort had formerly used to sell, to procure more necessary and cheaper food for themselves; but now the land should be so destitute of people, that there were none to whom they could sell them, and those few who did survive might freely eat all sorts of provisions. And it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk that they shall give,.... The cow and the two sheep, having large pastures, and few cattle to feed upon them, those few would give such abundance of milk, that the owner of them would make butter of it, and live upon it, having no occasion to eat milk; and there being few or none to sell it to:

he shall eat butter; the milk producing a sufficient quantity of it for himself and his family:

for butter and honey shall everyone eat that is left in the land: signifying that though they would be few, they would enjoy a plenty of such sort of food as their small flocks and herds would furnish them with, and the bees produce. The Targum and Jarchi interpret this of the righteous that shall be left in the land; but it is rather to be extended unto all, righteous and unrighteous.

And it shall come to pass, for the {x} abundance of milk that they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land.

(x) The number of men will be so small that a few beasts will be able to nourish all abundantly.

22. butter and honey become the staple food of the country; in normal circumstances they were only eaten as delicacies along with bread and flesh (Genesis 18:8; 2 Samuel 17:29). Immanuel is the representative of the young generation nourished on this frugal fare (Isaiah 7:15).Verse 22. - For the abundance of milk that they shall give. The small number of the cattle will allow of each having abundant pasture. Hence they will give an abundance of milk. He shall eat butter; rather, curds - the solid food most readily obtained from milk (comp. above, ver. 15). Curdled milk and wild honey should form the simple diet of the remnant left in the land. It is, of course, possible to understand this in a spiritual sense, of simple doctrine and gospel honey out of the flinty rock of the Law; but there is no reason to think that the prophet intended his words in any but the most literal sense. "For before the boy shall understand to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land will be desolate, of whose two kings thou art afraid. Jehovah will bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father's house, days such as have not come since the day when Ephraim broke away from Judah - the king of Asshur." The land of the two kings, Syria and Israel, was first of all laid waste by the Assyrians, whom Ahaz called to his assistance. Tiglath-pileser conquered Damascus and a portion of the kingdom of Israel, and led a large part of the inhabitants of the two countries into captivity (2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 16:9). Judah was then also laid waste by the Assyrians, as a punishment for having refused the help of Jehovah, and preferred the help of man. Days of adversity would come upon the royal house and people of Judah, such as ('asher, quales, as in Exodus 10:6) had not come upon them since the calamitous day (l'miyyōm, inde a die; in other places we find l'min-hayyom, Exodus 9:18; Deuteronomy 4:32; Deuteronomy 9:7, etc.) of the falling away of the ten tribes. The appeal to Asshur laid the foundation for the overthrow of the kingdom of Judah, quite as much as for that of the kingdom of Israel. Ahaz became the tributary vassal of the king of Assyria in consequence; and although Hezekiah was set free from Asshur through the miraculous assistance of Jehovah, what Nebuchadnezzar afterwards performed was only the accomplishment of the frustrated attempt of Sennacherib. It is with piercing force that the words "the king of Assyria" ('eth melek Asshur) are introduced at the close of the two verses. The particle 'eth is used frequently where an indefinite object is followed by the more precise and definite one (Genesis 6:10; Genesis 26:34). The point of the v. would be broken by eliminating the words as a gloss, as Knobel proposes. The very king to whom Ahaz had appealed in his terror, would bring Judah to the brink of destruction. The absence of any link of connection between Isaiah 7:16 and Isaiah 7:17 is also very effective. The hopes raised in the mind of Ahaz by Isaiah 7:16 are suddenly turned into bitter disappointment. In the face of such catastrophes as these, Isaiah predicts the birth of Immanuel. His eating only thickened milk and honey, at a time when he knew very well what was good and what was not, would arise from the desolation of the whole of the ancient territory of the Davidic kingdom that had preceded the riper years of his youth, when he would certainly have chosen other kinds of food, if they could possibly have been found. Consequently the birth of Immanuel apparently falls between the time then present and the Assyrian calamities, and his earliest childhood appears to run parallel to the Assyrian oppression. In any case, their consequences would be still felt at the time of his riper youth. In what way the truth of the prophecy was maintained notwithstanding, we shall see presently. What follows in Isaiah 7:18-25, is only a further expansion of Isaiah 7:17. The promising side of the "sign" remains in the background, because this was not for Ahaz. When Ewald expresses the opinion that a promising strophe has fallen out after Isaiah 7:17, he completely mistakes the circumstances under which the prophet uttered these predictions. In the presence of Ahaz he must keep silence as to the promises. But he pours out with all the greater fluency his threatening of judgment.
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