Adam Clarke's Bible Commentary--9
Verses 8, 9. For the head of Syria, &c.] "Though the head of Syria be Damascus, And the head of Damascus Retsin; Yet within threescore and five years Ephraim shall be broken, that he be no more a people: And the head of Ephraim be Samaria; And the head of Samaria Remaliah's son.
"Here are six lines, or three distichs, the order of which seems to have been disturbed by a transposition, occasioned by three of the lines beginning with the same word arw verosh, "and the head," which three lines ought not to have been separated by any other line intervening; but a copyist, having written the first of them, and casting his eye on the third, might easily proceed to write after the first line beginning with arw verosh, that which ought to have followed the third line beginning with arw verosh. Then finding his mistake, to preserve the beauty of his copy, added at the end the distich which should have been in the middle; making that the second distich, which ought to have been the third. For the order as it now stands is preposterous: the destruction of Ephraim is denounced, and then their grandeur is set forth; whereas naturally the representation of the grandeur of Ephraim should precede that of their destruction. And the destruction of Ephraim has no coherence with the grandeur of Syria, simply as such, which it now follows: but it naturally and properly follows the grandeur of Ephraim, joined to that of Syria their ally.
"The arrangement then of the whole sentence seems originally to have been thus:- Though the head of Syria be Damascus, And the head of Damascus Retsin And the head of Ephraim be Samaria; And the head of Samaria Remaliah's son: Yet within threescore and five years Ephraim shall be broken that he be no more a people." DR. JUBB.
Threescore and five years] It was sixty-five years from the beginning of the reign of Ahaz, when this prophecy was delivered, to the total depopulation of the kingdom of Israel by Esarhaddon, who carried away the remains of the ten tribes which had been left by Tiglath-pileser, and Shalmaneser, and who planted the country with new inhabitants. That the country was not wholly stripped of its inhabitants by Shalmaneser appears from many passages of the history of Josiah, where Israelites are mentioned as still remaining there,2 Chron. xxxiv. 6, 7, 33; xxxv. 18; 2 Kings xxiii. 19, 20. This seems to be the best explanation of the chronological difficulty in this place, which has much embarrassed the commentators: see Usserii Annal. v. T. ad an. 3327, and Sir i. Newton, Chronol. p. 283.
"That the last deportation of Israel by Esarhaddon was in the sixty-fifth year after the second of Ahaz, is probable for the following reasons: The Jews, in Seder Olam Rabba, and the Talmudists, in D. Kimchi on Ezek. iv., say that Manasseh king of Judah was carried to Babylon by the king of Assyria's captains,2 Chron. xxxiii. 11, in the twenty-second year of his reign; that is, before Christ 676, according to Dr. Blair's tables. And they are probably right in this. It could not be much earlier; as the king of Assyria was not king of Babylon till 680, ibid. As Esarhaddon was then in the neighbourhood of Samaria, it is highly probable that he did then carry away the last remains of Israel, and brought those strangers thither who mention him as their founder, Ezra iv. 2. But this year is just the sixty-fifth from the second of Ahaz, which was 740 before Christ. Now the carrying away the remains of Israel, who, till then, though their kingdom was destroyed forty-five years before, and though small in number, might yet keep up some form of being a people, by living according to their own laws, entirely put an end to the people of Israel, as a people separate from all others: for from this time they never returned to their own country in a body, but were confounded with the people of Judah in the captivity; and the whole people, the ten tribes included, were called Jews."-DR. JUBB.
Two MSS. have twenty-five instead of sixty-five; and two others omit the word five, reading only sixty.
If ye will not believe "If ye believe not"] "This clause is very much illustrated by considering the captivity of Manasseh as happening at the same time with this predicted final ruin of Ephraim as a people. The near connection of the two facts makes the prediction of the one naturally to cohere with the prediction of the other. And the words are well suited to this event in the history of the people of Judah: 'If ye believe not, ye shall not be established;' that is, unless ye believe this prophecy of the destruction of Israel, ye Jews also, as well as the people of Israel, shall not remain established as a kingdom and people; ye also shall be visited with punishment at the same time: as our saviour told the Jews in his time, 'Unless ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish;' intimating their destruction by the Romans; to which also, as well as to the captivity of Manasseh, and to the Babylonish captivity, the views of the prophet might here extend. The close connection of this threat to the Jews with the prophecy of the destruction of Israel, is another strong proof that the order of the preceding lines above proposed is right."-DR. JUBB.
"If ye believe not in me."-The exhortation of Jehoshaphat,2 Chron. xx. 20, to his people, when God had promised to them, by the prophet Jahaziel, victory over the Moabites and Ammonites, is very like this both in sense and expression, and seems to be delivered in verse: "Hear me, O Judah; and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in JEHOVAH your God, and ye shall be established: Believe his prophets, and ye shall prosper." Where both the sense and construction render very probable a conjecture of Archbishop Secker on this place; that instead of yk ki, we should read yb bi. "If ye will not believe in me, ye shall not be established." So likewise Dr. Durell. The Chaldee has, "If ye will not believe in the words of the prophet;" which seems to be a paraphrase of the reading here proposed. In favour of which it may be farther observed that in one MS. yk ki is upon a rasure; and another for the last al lo reads alw velo, which would properly follow yb bi, but could not follow yk ki.
Some translate thus, and paraphrase thus: If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established. Or, If ye do not give credit, it is because ye are unfaithful. Ye have not been faithful to the grace already given: therefore ye are now incapable of crediting my promises.
Matthew Henry Commentary
Ahaz threatened by Israel and Syria; and is assured their attack woul be in vain. (Is. 7:1-9) God gives a sure sign by the promise of the long-expected Messiah. (Is. 7:10-16) The folly and sin of seeking relief from Assyria are reproved. (Is. 7:17-25)
Is. 7:1-9 Ungodly men are often punished by others as bad a 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 his their friend. The prophet must teach them to despise their enemies, in faith and dependence on God. Ahaz, in fear, called them two powerfu princes. No, says the prophet, they are but tails of smokin firebrands, burnt out already. The two kingdoms of Syria and Israe 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 mos formidable, is made the ground of their defeat; because they have take evil counsel against thee; which is an offence to God. God scorns the scorners, and gives his word that the attempt should not succeed. Ma purposes, but God disposes. It was folly for those to be trying to rui their neighbours, who were themselves near to ruin. Isaiah must urg the Jews to rely on the assurances given them. Faith is absolutel necessary to quiet and compose the mind in trials.
Is. 7:10-16 Secret disaffection to God is often disguised with the colour of respect to him; and those who are resolved that they will no trust God, yet pretend they will not tempt him. The prophet reprove Ahaz and his court, for the little value they had for Divin revelation. Nothing is more grievous to God than distrust, but the unbelief of man shall not make the promise of God of no effect; the Lord himself shall give a sign. How great soever your distress an danger, of you the Messiah is to be born, and you cannot be destroye while that blessing is in you. It shall be brought to pass in glorious manner; and the strongest consolations in time of trouble ar derived from Christ, our relation to him, our interest in him, ou expectations of him and from him. He would grow up like other children by the use of the diet of those countries; but he would, unlike othe children, uniformly refuse the evil and choose the good. And althoug his birth would be by the power of the Holy Ghost, yet he should not be fed with angels' food. Then follows a sign of the speedy destruction of the princes, now a terror to Judah. "Before this child," so it may be read; "this child which I have now in my arms," (Shear-jashub, the prophet's own son, Is. 7:3,) shall be three or four years older, thes enemies' forces shall be forsaken of both their kings. The prophecy i so solemn, the sign is so marked, as given by God himself after Aha rejected the offer, that it must have raised hopes far beyond what the present occasion suggested. And, if the prospect of the coming of the Divine Saviour was a never-failing support to the hopes of ancien believers, what cause have we to be thankful that the Word was mad flesh! May we trust in and love Him, and copy his example.
Is. 7:17-25 Let those who will not believe the promises of God, expec to hear the alarms of his threatenings; for who can resist or escap his judgments? The Lord shall sweep all away; and whomsoever he employ 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, whic 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 n fruit grow on thee henceforth for ever __________________________________________________________________
Original Hebrew וראשׁ 7218 אפרים 669 שׁמרון 8111 וראשׁ 7218 שׁמרון 8111 בן 1121 רמליהו 7425 אם 518 לא 3808 תאמינו 539 כי 3588 לא 3808 תאמנו׃ 539