Isaiah 7:9
And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son. If you will not believe, surely you shall not be established.
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(9) If ye will not believe . . .—The prophet reads the thoughts that were working in the king’s mind. He had no faith in these predictions terminating at a date which he was not likely to live to witness. By look, or possibly by words, he showed his incredulity, and Isaiah offers to meet it, in the consciousness of a Divine power that will not fail him. From Heaven to Hades, Ahaz may take his choice. The method of giving a sign by predicting something in the near future as a pledge for predictions that belong to a more remote time is specially characteristic of Isaiah. (Comp. Isaiah 37:30; Isaiah 38:7.) There is something significant in “the Lord thy God.” Ahaz, idolater as he was, had not formally abandoned the worship of Jehovah. The tone of authority in which Isaiah speaks may be either that belonging to his consciousness of his mission, or may imply some previous relation to the young king as a counsellor and teacher. (See Introduction.)

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.And the head of Ephraim - The capital city of Ephraim, or of Israel.

Is Samaria - This was long the capital of the kingdom of Israel. For a description of this city, see the notes at Isaiah 28:1. The meaning of the prophet is, that Samaria should continue to be the head of Ephraim; that is, Jerusalem should not be made its capital.

If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established - There is considerable variety in the interpretation of these words, though the general sense is evident. The Chaldee renders them, 'If ye will not believe the words of the prophet, ye shall not remain.' It is probable that Ahaz, who was greatly alarmed, and who trembled at the formidable power of Syria and Israel united, received the annunciation of the prophet with much distrust. He was anxious about the means of defense, but did not trust in the promise of God by the prophet. Isaiah, therefore, assures him, that if he did not believe him; if he did not put confidence in God, and his promises, he should not be protected from Syria and Ephraim. They would come and destroy his kingdom. 'You have no occasion,' is the language of the prophet, 'to fear. God has resolved to protect you, and no portion of your land shall be taken by your enemies. Nevertheless, in order that you may obtain deliverance, you must believe his promise, and put your confidence in him, and not in the aid of the Assyrians. If you do this, your mind shall be calm, peaceful, and happy. But if you do "not" do this; if you rely on the aid of Assyria, you shall be troubled, alarmed, unsuccessful, and bring ruin upon yourself and nation.' This, therefore, is an exhortation to confide solely in the promises of God, and is one of the instances constantly occurring in the Old Testament and the New, showing, that by faith or confidence in God only, can the mind he preserved calm when in the midst of dangers.

9. believe, … be established—There is a paronomasia, or play on the words, in the Hebrew: "if ye will not confide, ye shall not abide." Ahaz brought distress on himself by distrust in the Lord, and trust in Assyria. Is Samaria; or rather, shall be Samaria; and the sense is the same as in the foregoing verse, Samaria shall continue to be the chief city of the kingdom of Israel, and Pekah shall not conquer Jerusalem, as he hoped and designed to do.

Ye shall not be established; if you do not believe this and the other promises of God, but, in distrust of God, shall seek to the Assyrians for succour, to which I perceive you are inclined, instead of that deliverance and settlement which you expect, you shall be distressed and consumed thereby; the accomplishment of which threatening is recorded 2 Chronicles 28:20. And by this threatening he implies, that if they did rely upon God’s word and help, they should be established. Only he delivereth it in the form of a threatening, rather than of promise, partly because he foresaw that they would choose the worse part, and bring the judgment threatened upon themselves; and partly because this was most necessary for them, to affright them out of their present security and infidelity. And the head of Ephraim is Samaria,..... Samaria was the metropolis or chief city of Ephraim, or the ten tribes of Israel:

and the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son; Pekah, son of Remaliah, was king of Samaria, as of all Israel. The sense is, that, until the sixty five years were ended, there should be no enlargement of the kingdom of Israel; Judah should not be added to it; Samaria should continue, and not Jerusalem be the metropolis of it; and Pekah, during his life, should be king of Israel, but not of Judah.

If ye will not believe; the Targum adds,

"the words of the prophet;''

surely ye shall not be established, or remain (g); that is, in their own land, but should be carried captive, as they were after a time; or it is, "because ye are not true and firm"; in the faith of God, as Kimchi interprets it; or, "because ye are not confirmed" (h); that is, by a sign; wherefore it follows:

(g) "non permanebitis", V. L. Cocceius. (h) "Quod non confirmamini", Junius & Tremellius.

And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.
9. If ye will not believe (ta’ǎmînû) ye shall not be established (tç’âmçnû, 2 Samuel 7:16). One of Isaiah’s paronomasias; “gläubet ihr nicht, so bleibet ihr nicht” (Luther); “if ye will not have faith, ye shall not have staith” (G. A. Smith). Cf. 2 Chronicles 20:20. The words mark an epoch in the history of revelation; never before probably had the distinctively religious principle of faith been so plainly exhibited as the touchstone of character and of destiny (cf. Genesis 15:6; Habakkuk 2:4). Here as throughout Scripture faith means trust in the positive revelation of God, the faith required of Ahaz being whole-hearted acceptance of God’s word through Isaiah. The doctrine is one of the foundation truths of this prophet’s ministry (cf. Isaiah 28:16, Isaiah 30:15; and see Introd. p. lv.).Verse 9. - If ye will not believe, etc. Translate, If ye will not hold this faith fast, surely ye will not stand fast. Full faith in the promise of ver. 7 would have enabled Ahaz to dispense with all plans of earthly policy, and to "stand fast in the Lord," without calling in the aid of any "arm of flesh." Distrust of the promise would lead him to take steps which would not tend to "establish" him, but would make his position more insecure (see 2 Kings 16:7-18; 2 Chronicles 28:16, 20). In this season of terror Isaiah received the following divine instructions. "Then said Jehovah to Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou and Shear-jashub thy son, to the end of the aqueduct of the upper pool, to the road of the fuller's field." The fuller's field (sedēh cōbēs) was situated, as we may assume with Robinson, Schultz, and Thenius, against Williams, Krafft, etc., on the western side of the city, where there is still an "upper pool" of great antiquity (2 Chronicles 32:30). Near to this pool the fullers, i.e., the cleaners and thickeners of woollen fabrics, carried on their occupation (Cōbēs, from Câbas, related to Câbash, subigere, which bears the same relation to râchatz as πλύνειν to λούειν). Robinson and his companions saw some people washing clothes at the upper pool when they were there; and, for a considerable distance round, the surface of this favourite washing and bleaching place was covered with things spread out to bleach or dry. The road (mesillâh), which ran past this fuller's field, was the one which leads from the western gate to Joppa. King Ahaz was there, on the west of the city, and outside the fortifications - engaged, no doubt, in making provision for the probable event of Jerusalem being again besieged in a still more threatening manner. Jerusalem received its water supply from the upper Gihon pool, and there, according to Jehovah's directions, Isaiah was to go with his son and meet him. The two together were, as it were, a personified blessing and curse, presenting themselves to the king for him to make his own selection. For the name Sheâr-yâshub (which is erroneously accentuated with tiphchah munach instead of merchah tiphchah, as in Isaiah 10:22), i.e., the remnant is converted (Isaiah 10:21-22), was a kind of abbreviation of the divine answer given to the prophet in Isaiah 6:11-13, and was indeed at once threatening and promising, but in such a way that the curse stood in front and the grace behind. The prophetic name of Isaiah's son was intended to drive the king to Jehovah by force, through the threatening aspect it presented; and the prophetic announcement of Isaiah himself, whose name pointed to salvation, was to allure him to Jehovah with its promising tone.
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