We now read Isaiah 7:15-20
v15: Curds (literally: butter) and honey he shall eat: This has a connection to the verse found in Ex 3:8. G-d considered the land of Israel as a land “flowing with milk and honey”. Honey is mentioned in this verse, but instead of milk the word ‘butter’ or ‘curds’ is used. Butter is richer than milk. An infant would not be given butter as a baby (it would get milk), but, as he matured, butter would be introduced into his diet. Another application to the use of the word ‘butter’ rather than ‘milk’ is that milk becomes butter after churning it for a long period of time. This verse is alluding to a change that is going to take place over a period of time. A maturing process is going to happen.
- Know to refuse the evil and choose the good: This again speaks about a change, a maturing. A very young infant does not know evil from good, and he cannot choose or make a decision to do either. However, as he matures, he can make these decisions.
v16: (Youth): The word used here is a word that refers to a youth or to an adolescent. It is not the Hebrew word for a child or an infant. Time has passed, and now the child/infant is being referred to as a youth/adolescent.
Note: In Isaiah 8:3-4 a child was also born to Isaiah. This was not in fulfilment of this verse, but it was a confirmation that this prophecy was going to happen.
- The land: Referring to the land of Judah.
- Forsaken: Abandoned
- Both her kings: Speaking about the confederacy between Northern Israel and Syria.
Note: ‘Dread’: There are two ways to interpret this word as it is not clear within this context. Either Ahaz dreaded or hated the land of Israel (which is why he ruled it the way that he did), or it is referring to the kings who were dreaded.
v17: The L-rd will bring the king of Assyria upon you: Ahaz did not need to fear the Syria/Israel confederacy. G-d was going to allow Assyria (modern day Iraq and parts of Turkey, Iran, Kuwait and Syria) to take the Northern kingdom into captivity (722BC) but, at the same time, Assyria was also going to bring much suffering upon the Southern kingdom.
- Days that have not come since the day: Referring to a unique time in the Southern kingdom’s history. Assyria tried to lay siege to Jerusalem around 701 BC (in the days of King Hezekiah) but their mission was aborted (we will study more on this in Isaiah 36 and 37). Although Assyria brought destruction to many cities in Judah, their king was not successful in bringing a fall to Judah.
v18: In that day: This phrase is going to repeat itself in the next few verses. Usually this is an expression that refers to the day of G-d’s Judgment. In this chapter we have read about the birth of Messiah – a prophecy given at least 700 years before His birth (confirmed in the short-term by the birth of Isaiah’s son). Similarly, although this prophecy was given more than 2700 years ago, most scholars believe that it has implications for our future – and for that final Judgment Day. This passage teaches us how to be faithful in the last days. It teaches us how to trust G-d.
Note: Although this prophecy has long term implications it also had a short-term fulfilment in the days of King Josiah – a couple of generations after this prophecy was given [see 2 Chronicles 35:20-22 – G-d summoned Necho (‘the fly’ – G-d’s vessel/provision to defend Judah at the time of Josiah) from Egypt to fight for Him against Assyria (‘the bee’) around 609BC].
- The rivers of Egypt: Referring to the Nile River
v19: Desolate valleys: Literally: riverbeds. This is a place that is full of water in the winter, but dry in the summer (In Israel it rains in winter and is dry and hot in summer).
- Clefts: Holes in the rocks.
Note: The armies are going to come and camp out in the land of Israel. They are going to gather for a large battle that will take place specifically in Judah (Zech 12:3-9, Zech 14:1-4). They have done this in the past, but they will do it again in the future.
v20: L-rd: Adonai. The Master.
- The River: Referring to the Euphrates River
- Shave … the head … the hair of the legs and …the beard: The king of Assyria (who this verse is referring to – from this region near the Euphrates) is going to be shamed. Some commentators say that the head refers to the king himself, the legs refer to his armies and the beard speaks about his empire. All of these are going to be defeated and put to shame.
Note 1: What G-d is doing here is teaching the people about His ability to defeat their enemies. G-d is able to bring deliverance and victory. He is able to bring salvation for His people – for all those who trust in Him.
Note 2: G-d judged Assyria and brought victory to Judah. In the same way we should expect that in the last days G-d is once again going to bring victory – not only for His New Covenant people, but (as a fulfilment of His promises) for His Old Covenant people.