Isaiah 7:4
And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah.
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(4) Take heed, and be quiet . . .—The prophet meets the fears of the king by words of comfort. The right temper for such a time was one of calm courage, waiting on the Lord (Isaiah 30:15).

Neither be fainthearted.—Literally, let not thine heart be soft.

For the two tails of these smoking fire brands.—The two powers that Ahaz dreaded were, in the prophet’s eyes, but as the stumps of two smoking torches. Their flame was nearly out. It would soon be extinguished.

The son of Remaliah.—There is a touch of scorn in the omission of the king’s name. So men spoke scornfully of Saul as “the son of Kish” (1Samuel 10:11), and Saul himself of David as “the son of Jesse” (1Samuel 20:30). It pointed out the fact that Pekah was after all but an upstart adventurer, who had made his way to the throne by rebellion and murder.

Isaiah 7:4. Say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet — Settle thy mind by the belief of that joyful message which I am now to deliver to thee from the Lord; Fear not for the two tails, &c. — These two kings and their forces, which, though they seem to threaten utter destruction, yet shall not be able to do much mischief, being not whole fire-brands, but only small pieces or ends of them, taken out of the fire, in which there is more smoke than fire: and the fire will be speedily extinguished. They have more of show and terror than of strength, their power being much wasted and almost consumed. He terms the king of Israel, the son of Remaliah, by way of contempt, intimating that he was unworthy of the name of king, his father being an obscure person, and he having got into the throne by usurpation, and the murder of his master Pekahiah, 2 Kings 15:25.

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.Take heed - Hebrew 'Keep thyself;' that is, from fear.

Neither be fainthearted - Hebrew, 'Let not thy heart be tender;' that is, let it not be easily moved; be strong, fearless.

For the tails ... - There is much beauty and force in this comparison. The "design" of Isaiah is to diminish the fear of Ahaz. Instead, therefore, of calling them "firebrands" - burning and setting on fire everything in their way - he calls them the "tails, that is, the ends," or remains of firebrand - almost consumed themselves, and harmless. And instead of saying that they were "burning and blazing," he says that they were merely "smoking" - the half-burned, decaying remains of what might have been once formidable. The prophet also is just about to announce their approaching destruction by the Assyrians; see Isaiah 7:8. He, therefore, speaks of them as already almost extinguished, and incapable of doing extensive injury.

Son of Remaliah - Pekah, Isaiah 7:1. 'It is by way of contempt that the king of Israel is not called by his own name. The Hebrews and Arabians, when they wish to speak reproachfully of anyone, omit his proper name and call him merely the son of this or that, especially when his father is but little known or respected. So Saul names David, in contempt, the son of Jesse; 1 Samuel 20:27, 1 Samuel 20:31.' - "Hengstenberg."

4. Take heed, &c.—that is, See that thou be quiet (not seeking Assyrian aid in a fit of panic).

tails—mere ends of firebrands, almost consumed themselves (about soon to fall before the Assyrians, Isa 7:8), therefore harmless.

smoking—as about to go out; not blazing.

son of Remaliah—Pekah, a usurper (2Ki 15:25). The Easterners express contempt by designating one, not by his own name, but by his father's, especially when the father is but little known (1Sa 20:27, 31).

Take heed, and be quiet; see that thou be quiet, abandon thy fears, and settle thy mind by the belief of that joyful message and promise which I am now to deliver thee from the Lord.

Smoking fire-brands; they are not whole firebrands burning in the fire, but small pieces or ends of them, taken out of the fire, in which there is more smoke than fire, and the fire will be speedily extinguished. They have more of show and terror than of strength.

The son of Remaliah; Pekah king of Israel, Isaiah 7:1, whom here, and in the next verse, he calls only

the son of Remaliah, to intimate that he was unworthy of the name of king, as having got that title and power by usurpation, and the murder of his master and king Pekahiah, 2 Kings 15:25.

And say unto him, take heed, and be quiet,.... Or "keep" thyself, not within the city, and from fighting with his enemies, but from unbelief, fear, and dread; or, as the Septuagint version, "keep" thyself, "that thou mayest be quiet" (a); be easy, still, and silent, and see the salvation of God: the Jewish writers interpret the first word of resting and settling, as wine upon the lees: see Jeremiah 48:11,

fear not; this explains the former:

neither be fainthearted; or "let thy heart soft" (b), and melt like wax, through dread and diffidence:

for the two tails of these smoking firebrands: meaning the two kings of Syria and Israel: and so the Targum,

"for these two kings, who are as smoking firebrands;''

a metaphor used to express the weakness of these princes, their vain wrath and impotent fury, and the short continuance of it; they being like to firebrands wholly burnt and consumed to the end; a small part remaining, which could not be laid hold upon to light fires or burn with, and that only smoking, and the smoke just ready to vanish.

For the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah; this shows who are meant by the two firebrands, Rezin king of Syria, and Pekah king of Israel; and what by the smoke of them, their fierce anger; which, though it seemed to threaten with utter destruction, in the opinion of Ahaz and his court, was only like the smoke of a firebrand burnt to the end, weak and vanishing.

(a) Sept.; "observa ut sis quieto animo", Vatablus. (b) "ne mollescas", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

And say to him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking {f} firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah.

(f) Which have but a little smoke and will quickly be quenched.

4. The message to Ahaz begins with an exhortation to composure and presence of mind (cf. ch. Isaiah 30:15). The prophet does not deprecate reasonable forethought for the safety of the city, but only the excessive alarm which might drive the court into a false and dangerous policy.

Take heed, and be quiet] The first verb might be subordinate to the second: “See that thou keep calm.” But it is better to take them independently: “ut et exterius contineat sese, et intus pacato sit animo” (Calvin).

the two tails … firebrands] Render, with R.V. these two tails of smoking firebrands. This enterprise is but the last flicker of two expiring torches. Syria and Israel have both suffered severely from the Assyrians and their national independence will speedily be extinguished. Fire is the emblem of war (ch. Isaiah 42:25).

the son of Remaliah] Pekah was a usurper, a novus homo, and Isaiah never condescends to utter his name. Cf. Isaiah 7:5; Isaiah 7:9.

Verse 4. - Take heed, and be quiet; or, see that thou keep quiet; i.e. "be not disturbed; do not resort to strange and extreme measures; in quietness and confidence should be your strength" (see Isaiah 30:15). The two tails of these smoking firebrands. Rezin and Pekah are called "two tails," or "two stumps of smoking firebrands," as persons who had been dangerous, but whose power of doing harm was on the polar of departing from them. They could not now kindle a flame; they could only "smoke." The son of Remaliah. Pekah seems to be called "Remaliah's son" in contempt (comp. vers. 5, 9), Remaliah having been a man of no distinction (2 Kings 15:25). Isaiah 7:4No means were left untried. "And say unto him, Take heed, and keep quiet; and let not thy heart become soft from these two smoking firebrand-stumps: at the fierce anger of Rezin, and Aram, and the son of Remaliah." The imperative השּׁמר (not pointed השּׁמר, as is the case when it is to be connected more closely with what follows, and taken in the sense of cave ne, or even cave ut) warned the king against acting for himself, in estrangement from God; and the imperative hashkēt exhorted him to courageous calmness, secured by confidence in God; or, as Calvin expresses it, exhorted him "to restrain himself outwardly, and keep his mind calm within." The explanation given by Jewish expositors to the word hisshamēr, viz., conside super faeces tuas (Luzzatto: vivi riposato), according to Jeremiah 48:11; Zephaniah 1:12, yields a sense which hardly suits the exhortation. The object of terror, at which and before which the king's heart was not to despair, is introduced first of all with Min and then with Beth, as in Jeremiah 51:46. The two allies are designated at once as what they were in the sight of God, who sees through the true nature and future condition. They were two tails, i.e., nothing but the fag-ends, of wooden pokers (lit. stirrers, i.e., fire-stirrers), which would not blaze any more, but only continue smoking. They would burn and light no more, though their smoke might make the eyes smart still. Along with Rezin, and to avoid honouring him with the title of king, Aram (Syria) is especially mentioned; whilst Pekah is called Ben-Remaliah, to recall to mind his low birth, and the absence of any promise in the case of his house.

The ya‛an 'asher ("because") which follows (as in Ezekiel 12:12) does not belong to Isaiah 7:4 (as might appear from the sethume that comes afterwards), in the sense of "do not be afraid because," etc., but is to be understood as introducing the reason for the judicial sentence in Isaiah 7:7.

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