"The Earth belongs to HaShem and the Fullness Thereof."
Looking at Isaiah 7:14 in Context
By Jagannatha Prakash © 1991
According to Christians, Matthew 1:23 explicitly refers to this section of Isaiah and foretells the conception and birth of Master Yeshua of Nazareth to Mary, an unmarried teenage virgin. They see in this solid evidence that Master Yeshua was the Messiah. Here we'll consider these verses in context in order to determine what is being taught. First, Matthew's account:
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
In this study, we will consider whether or not this is an accurate reference to the Isaiah passage. Ordinarily when studying such questions we begin with the text in the Tanakh in order to determine its meaning, and then address the New Testament reference. In this case however we begin with the New Testament in order to keep the question clearly in mind as we go through the verses in Holy Writ.
In order to understand the context of the verse in Isaiah we will begin at the beginning of the chapter.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
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.
The situation looks hopeless to Ahaz and the House of David, his people. According to the New JPS (see below for the 1917 JPS) the armies approached "but they were not able to attack it." In either case, when Ahaz learned that Aram's alliance with Ephraim had been achieved they were very worried! They were outnumbered and their enemies were approaching. There seemed to be no hope. However, HaShem provided them hope! He ordered his prophet Isaiah to meet with King Ahaz and assure him that he and his people, the House of David, would survive. The prophet told Ahaz that the thing he feared "will not take place" In order to build Ahaz's faith, in the next few verses HaShem explains how things will go with the various peoples involved:
2 And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.
3 Then said HaShem unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field;
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.
5 Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying,
6 Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal:
7 Thus saith the Lord HaShem, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.
8 For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people.
It was vital that Ahaz and his followers have faith in HaShem. It was in the mind of God to save them and preserve the House of David among them, however they needed to have faith and to rely on God's protection. Yet both Ahaz and his people continued to doubt. This was very important and so HaShem offered Ahaz a remarkable boon:
9 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.
10 Moreover HaShem spake again unto Ahaz, saying,
Notice here the reason Ahaz was offered a sign. He could ask for any sign that would bolster his faith in God's protection, for both himself and his people. The purpose of the sign was to rally the morale of the people involved, to satisfy their doubts at that time and to give them courage. And yet for reasons not made clear in the text, Ahaz refused to ask for a sign when prompted by HaShem's spokesman! His given reason sounds good at first listen, very pious, but I believe the real reason he refused to ask was because Ahaz was a coward! If HaShem gave Ahaz the proof, then Ahaz would have to act upon it! One cannot trick the HaShem however:
11 Ask thee a sign of HaShem thy Elohiym; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.
12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt HaShem.
You have no faith, Isaiah charges. Not only do you try my patience, but HaShem's as well! OK then, the Lord will give you a sign so that you will stand firm before your enemies!
Who was this sign for? This is very important! Re-read the section if you need to: "... Therefore Adonai [the Lord] himself shall give you a sign..." Was this sign given for people living 800 plus years in Ahaz's future? Did it have anything at all to do with the coming of the promised Shiloh? No, clearly it was for Ahaz and the House of David, so that they would stand against the enemies of HaShem. This sign was for the Jews huddled there in fear and indecision waiting for Ahaz to lead them.
Some Bible teachers have argued that since the text says the sign is for the House of David, "Hear now, you house of David," it is for the House of David for all times. But notice verse 2, "Now the house of David was told..." The House of David HaShem is clearly speaking to, through His Prophet, are the followers of Ahaz present at that time and place and fearful of their enemies.
"Therefore..." Because of something... Because of what? Because these people were afraid to do their duty to HaShem. "Therefore, HaShem himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." HaShem will give "you," Ahaz and your followers, a sign that He is with you.
Is this sign a virgin conception? The word translated as virgin is "almah." Any Hebrew dictionary will tell you that this word does not mean "virgin," it means "maiden" or "girl." That's all it means. Strong's number for it is 5959 (Hebrew), look it up! Had Isaiah been inspired to say this was a virgin, he would have called her a "bethuwlah" (Strong's 1330), the word he uses for "virgin" every other time (as does Jeremiah and others). The passage therefore should read, as it does in the JPS:
13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?
14 Therefore Adonai [the Lord] himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.
16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.
17 HaShem shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father's house, days that have not come from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria.
"Therefore the L-rd Himself shall give you a sign: behold, the young woman shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Or as in the 1917 KJP:
"Assuredly, my L-rd will give you a sign of His own accord! Look, the young woman is with child and about to give birth to a son. Let her name him Immanuel."
In context, there is no way the verse is referring to a girl giving birth to a child 800 years or so in the future! What kind of sign is that? "I know you are all afraid these two kings are going to attack you, but here's a sign: 800 years from now a girl is going to have a baby!" I don't know about you, but that wouldn't help me much!
Its worth noting that when Mary's son was born 800 years later, she named him Yeshua (Hebrew for the Greek Jesus), not Immanuel. Yeshua, "Yah shua" means "YHVH Saves" while Immanuel, which is a proper name, means, "God is with us." IF this was indeed a prophecy concerning the child, his mother misnamed him!
How and why such biblically inaccurate teachings came about is discussed in some detail in my study entitled The Noahide Nazarene Way.
In context it is clear: Isaiah is telling Ahaz, if you wont ask for a sign and stand willingly, then God will give you one! See that pregnant girl over there? By the time her son (note that HaShem foretold the child's gender) is old enough to choose right from wrong the kings you fear will be done for! Now that's a sign that would help! As a reminder to Ahaz and his follower that HaShem cares for them, the child was named "God is with us" (Immanuel)! We continue with the text:
18 And it shall come to pass in that day, that HaShem shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.
If one wishes to 'rightly divide the Word of Truth' as we are commanded, it is absolutely essential to examine the context of the verses in order to discover and preserve the original intent of the authors. Without doing this, any verse in the Bible can be a proof text for anything one wishes to teach.
19 And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes.
20 In the same day shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired, namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard.
21 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep;
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.
23 And it shall come to pass in that day, that every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, it shall even be for briers and thorns.
24 With arrows and with bows shall men come thither; because all the land shall become briers and thorns.
25 And on all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, there shall not come thither the fear of briers and thorns: but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle.
See Below for the JPS Translation of Isaiah 7
This has been a basic summary of our Noahide Nazarene beliefs concerning Isaiah chapter seven. More information is available in the other articles on this web site and this article may be updated from time to time.
Do be aware that no official body speaks for Noahide Nazarenes (or for Noahides in general). Each of us must prayerfully study to show ourselves approved unto HaShem.
Yisheyah 6 in the 1917 JPS
(JEWISH PUBLICATION SOCIETY BIBLE).
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 Aram, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to war against it; but could not prevail against it.
And it was told the house of David, saying: 'Aram is confederate with Ephraim.' And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the forest are moved with the wind.
Then said HaShem unto Isaiah: 'Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shear-jashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, in the highway of the fullers' field;
and say unto him: Keep calm, and be quiet; fear not, neither let thy heart be faint, because of these two tails of smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram, and of the son of Remaliah.
Because Aram hath counselled evil against thee, Ephraim also, and the son of Remaliah, saying:
Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set up a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeel;
thus saith the L-rd GOD: it shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.
For the head of Aram is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people;
And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son. If ye will not have faith, surely ye shall not be established.'
And HaShem spoke again unto Ahaz, saying:
'Ask thee a sign of HaShem thy G-d: ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.'
But Ahaz said: 'I will not ask, neither will I try HaShem.'
And he said: 'Hear ye now, O house of David: Is it a small thing for you to weary men, that ye will weary my G-d also?
Therefore the L-rd Himself shall give you a sign: behold, the young woman shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Curd and honey shall he eat, when he knoweth to refuse the evil, and choose the good.
Yea, before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land whose two kings thou hast a horror of shall be forsaken.
HaShem shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father's house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria.'
And it shall come to pass in that day, that HaShem shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.
And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the rugged valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all brambles.
In that day shall the L-rd shave with a razor that is hired in the parts beyond the River, even with the king of Assyria, the head and the hair of the feet; and it shall also sweep away the beard.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall rear a young cow, and two sheep;
and it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk that they shall give, he shall eat curd; for curd and honey shall every one eat that is left in the midst of the land.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that every place, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, shall even be for briers and thorns.
With arrows and with bow shall one come thither; because all the land shall become briers and thorns.
And all the hills that were digged with the mattock, thou shalt not come thither for fear of briers and thorns, but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of sheep.