The book of Isaiah of the Old Testament of the Bible has preserved the
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with
child and will give birth to a son, and
will call him Immanuel. He will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to
reject the wrong and choose the right. But before the boy knows enough to reject
the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid
Almost every Christian commentator of the Bible has interpreted it in terms
of a prediction in favour of Jesus Christ (sws). Barton Payne has also recorded
it as such in his ‘Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy’.
For most of the Christians it is a matter of their faith to believe in its
predictive status because it has been quoted as such in the ‘Gospel’ according
In fact it is simply due to the misconception of the writer of the gospel and
misinterpretation of the commentators of the Bible on the basis of the wrong
translation of the Hebrew word ‘ALMAH’ as ‘VIRGIN’ by the translators of
Septuagint that it has been attached to Jesus Christ (sws); whereas it has
nothing to do with this theme. Seeing the word ‘VIRGIN’, they could not overcome
their crave to mould and exploit it in favour of Jesus Christ (sws) and came out
with all their proficiency of interpretation and hermeneutics and displayed
their wonderful skill to expound it in terms of a prediction in favour of Jesus
Christ (sws). In the following lines, the subject will be discussed under three
1. Historical Back-ground of the prophecy.
2. The word ‘VIRGIN’ and the whole story about it.
3. The word ‘IMMANUEL’ and its significance.
1. Historical Back-ground of the Prophecy
Isaiah was ‘The prophet to whom the canonical book of Isaiah is attributed.
(...). He lived in Jerusalem and his prophetic activity extended at least from
742 to 701 BC.’
‘He was married to a woman whom he calls prophetess (8:3) and they had at least
two sons: Shearjashub and Maher-shalal-Hashbaz. Their names are associated with
prophetic pronouncements (7:3; 8:3). He may also have had a third son, Immanuel,
who also bears a symbolic name. (...). Isaiah was a contemporary of the prophet
Micah and was preceded slightly by Amos and Hosea, who were active in the
Northern Kingdom of Israel. Isaiah prophesied in Judah during the reigns of
kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.’
Ahaz was the king of the Southern Kingdom, Judah, during 735-715 BC.
He inherited the throne of his father, Jotham,
when he was only twenty. At that time. the king of the Northern Kingdom of
Israel was Pekah,
son of Remaliah.
was ruled by Rezin.
Assyria was a sort of super power of the region at that time and its king was
Tiglath Pileser III.
After his successful campaigns in the North and East, he laid siege to and
eventually conquered Arpad, in N. Syria during ca. 742-40 BC. The effect of this
victory was far-reaching; and tributes came in from Tyre, Damascus, Cilicia,
Carchemish, etc. The king of Damascus Rezin became active to forge an alliance
of all the anti-Assyrian forces of the Levant.
Pekah of Israel joined the coalition readily.
The king of Damascus, Rezin, was among those who paid tribute to the Assyrian
king Tiglath-pileser III in 738 BC., but within three years Rezin had organized
an anti-Assyrian coalition consisting of Damascus, Tyre, Philistia, Israel, some
Arab tribes, and perhaps Edom.”
Pekah of Israel and Rezin of Damascus wished that Ahaz of Judah should also
join his hands with them in the coalition. Ahaz of Judah declined to join this
coalition. Perhaps having estimated the power of Assyria, he was afraid of it;
or, perhaps, because he had not remained faithful with Yahweh and had inclined
towards idolatry and pagonism. Pekah and Rezin decided to attack Judah to topple
the government of Ahaz and to plant the son of Tabeel (who was probably Ahaz’s
step-brother from some Aramaean princess) on the throne of Judah as a puppet
It was in connection with this crisis that the prophet Isaiah was sent to
Ahaz to assure him of God’s help in his struggle with Israel and the Syrians,
and evidently also to warn him against calling for foreign aid (Is 7). Ahaz,
however, did not appreciate this counsel and turned to Tiglath-pileser III of
Assyria for help, sending him a large gift of money taken from the treasures of
the Temple and palace. Tiglath-pileser responded by invading Israel and
besieging Damascus (2ki 16:5-9; 2Chr 28:6-21). Damascus was captured (in 732 BC)
and Rezin killed, and much territory of Israel was taken from Pekah and made
into an Assyrian province (see 2 Ki 15:29). It was probably with the connivance
of Tiglath-pileser that Pekah was assassinated by Hoshea, who usurped the throne
for himself and was confirmed in his office by the Assyrian king. While
Tiglath-pileser was at Damascus, Ahaz went up to meet him, apparently to pay
homage as a vassal along with the Syrians. He sent home a model of a foreign
altar that he had seen in Damascus, with an order to have a similar one built
for the Temple at Jerusalem. This was probably an Assyrian altar to be used to
worship Assyrian national gods. It replaced Solomon’s altar of burnt offerings
(2 Ki 16:10-16).”
At the refusal of Ahaz to join their Coalition, Damascus and Israel decided
to attack Judah. Ahaz of Judah being afraid of the coalition decided to seek
protection from Assyria through paying huge amounts as tribute to
Tiglath-pileser III. Isaiah did not like that Ahaz relinquish the liberty of
Judah to the pagan king of Assyria. As instructed by God, Isaiah called on Ahaz
along with his son, Shear-Jashub, and told him not to be afraid of Israel and
Damascus. The Bible records it as follows:
Now 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 to Jerusalem to make war against it, but could not prevail
2. And it was told to the house of David, saying, “Syria’s forces are
deployed in Ephraim.” So his heart and the heart of his people were moved as the
trees of the woods are moved with the wind.
3. Then the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-Jashub
your son, at the end of the aqueduct from the upper pool, on the highway to the
4. “And say to him: ‘Take heed, and be quiet; do not fear or be faint-hearted
for these two stubs
of smoking firebands, for the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria, and the son of
5. ‘Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah have plotted evil against
6. “Let us go up against Judah and trouble it, and let us make a gap in its
wall for ourselves, and set a king over them, the son of Tabel”--
7. ‘Thus says the Lord God: “It shall not stand, nor shall it come to pass.
8. For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin.
Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be broken, so that it will not be a
people. [stress added].
9. 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.” ’ ”
The following are the salient points of these verses:
a) The Alliance of Israel and Damascus designed an abortive
attempt against Judah.
b) As a first step for this invasion, the Syrian armies
assembled in Israel. The people and the king of Judah were frightened at it.
c) The Lord told Isaiah to take his son Shear-jashub with him to
meet Ahaz out side the city at the end of the water-supply pipe-line near the
water reservoir, which he was getting repaired in anticipation of the impending
invasion/siege. God also asked Isaiah to advise Ahaz not to be afraid of the
invasion of the coalition of Syria and Israel because their decline is already
in process and their nefarious designs against Judah are doomed to fail.
d) Within sixty five years the state of Israel will come to an
end and it will no more be a nation.
e) If Ahaz did not have faith, he will perish.
As a surety the Lord told Ahaz to ask for a sign. Ahaz declined and said that
he will not like to test the Lord. The Bible records the event in the following
10. Then the Lord spoke again to Ahaz, saying,
11. “Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; make it deep as Sheol or
high as heaven.”
12. But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!”
13. Then he said, “Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for
you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as
14. “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will
be with child and bear a son, and she will call his name Immanuel.
15. “He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil
and choose good.
16. “For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the
land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.
17. “The LORD will bring on you, on your people, and on your father’s house
such days as have never come since the day that Ephraim separated from Judah,
the king of Assyria.”
The story has also been recorded in 2Kings XVI:1-9 in the following words:
In the seventeenth year of Pekah, son of Remaliah, Ahaz son of Jotham king of
Judah became king. Ahaz was twenty years old when he came to the throne, and he
reigned in Jerusalem for sixteen years. He did not do what was right in the eyes
of the LORD his God like his forefather David, but followed in the footsteps of
the kings of Israel; he even passed his son through the fire, adopting the
abominable practice of the nations whom the LORD had depossessed in favour of
the Israelites. He slaughtered and burnt sacrifices at the hill-shrines and on
the hill-tops and under every spreading tree.
Then Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel attacked
Jerusalem and besieged Ahaz but could not bring him to battle. At that time the
king of Edom [the king of Edom: prob. rdg.; Heb. Rezin king of Aram.ù(under
foot-note ‘u’ of the book)] recovered Elath and drove the Judeans out of it; so
the Edomites entered the city and have occupied it to this day. Ahaz sent
messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria to say: ‘I am your servant and
your son. Come and save me from the king of Aram and from the king of Israel who
are attacking me.’ Ahaz took the silver and gold found in the house of the LORD
and in the treasuries of the royal palace and sent them to the king of Assyria
as a bribe. The king of Assyria listened to him; he advanced on Damascus,
captured it, deported its inhabitants to Kir and put Rezin to death.
As to the prediction: ‘Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be broken, so
that it will not be a people.’, it is by way of a consolation for Ahaz and his
people that they should ‘have no fear (...) because of these two stubs of
smoldering firebands,’. Taken as it is, it loses all significance, because ‘the
prediction was made about 734 B.C.,’
(or even, maybe, in 733); and if it was to be fulfilled in the time-span of 65
years, i.e. by 668 or 669 BC; it could be of no use for Ahaz, who died 18 or 19
years after it: in 715 B.C.
It could have been meaningful and consolatory for Ahaz only in case it could
spare him from the impending disaster. If it was to take place some 65 years
later, Ahaz could not have survived to celebrate it and Judah would have been
crushed to nothingness by the joint forces of the alliance long before the
predicted destruction of the two kingdoms. Moreover it is not in conformity with
the theme of the sign promised in the forthcoming verses 14-16. It is asserted
The virgin (...) will give birth to a son, and will call his name
Immanuel.(...). But before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose
the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.
This prediction, no doubt, could have been very much meaningful to Ahaz. The
boy’s being born and the boy’s being able to reject the wrong and choose the
right might not have taken more than 10-15 years in all; and it is to be noted
that the devastation of the two kingdoms was to be accomplished before it, when
the forthcoming child was still undergoing the stage of ‘boyhood’. To be more
exact, it had to be accomplished before 12 years, as The Wycliffe Bible
Commentary has asserted:
That is, when he attains the age of legal accountability (doubtless twelve
years of age [stress added] ). This would come out to 721, after the destructive
campaigns of Shalmanesser V and Sargon. Certainly by 721 Damascus was forsaken
(having been captured by Assyria in 732) and likewise Samaria (which fell in
The interpretation made by the Broadman Bible Commentary is very interesting
and it remarkably resolves the matter:
Ahaz was told specifically that before the child knew how to refuse the evil
and choose the good, that is, before he reached the age of moral responsibility
ù perhaps to be understood as 12 years of age ù the kings of Syria and Israel
would be put to flight. The prophecy was fulfilled in a most remarkable way, for
in 732 Tigleth-pileser III not only destroyed Damascus but also compelled
Samaria to surrender to him. [stress added].
Moreover, it is in complete conformity with the actual sequence of the
historical events of the time. Damascus had been conquered and its king Rezin
put to death by the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III (2Kings XVI:9) in 732
B.C., i.e. within one or two years of the prediction; while, at the same time,
Samaria was also compelled to surrender to him. The significance of the event
should carefully be appreciated; it should not be over-looked or
under-estimated. When the main instigator of the alliance (king Rezin of
Damascus) and his kingdom were exterminated; king Pekah of Israel should also
have lost all hope and courage and could have no more been ‘dreadful’ for king
Ahaz, being himself a vassal of Assyria. He would have found it difficult to
save his own land from Assyria, not to say of indulging himself in invading
Judah. Broadman Commentary’s approach seems to be genuine, when it explains the
point in the passage quoted above.
It was more literally and explicitly materialized not later than ten years of
it. The capital of Israel, Samaria, was besieged by Assyrian king Shalmaneser V
in 722 BC, the capture of which was claimed by his son, Sargon II. Deportation
of its inhabitants was carried out and foreigners were installed in their place
(2Kings XVII: 5). It means that within one or two years of the prediction, the
‘dreadfulness’ of the ‘two kings’ had come to an end; and within 11 (i.e. before
12) years of the prediction, it was conspicuously fulfilled in-toto. It should
be noted here that Isaiah uses the words ‘stubs of smoldering fire-bands’ for
the two kingdoms of Israel and Syria, which signifies that the beginning of the
end of those two kingdoms had long been operative and their final catastrophe
was at hand. They are ‘smoldering fire-bands’ means: they are like a piece or
stick of wood which is in the process of burning; but it is not burning with a
flame, it is merely smudging and burning slowly. Then the word ‘stub’ is again
very picturesque and allegorical. It is a short piece of something (e.g. a
pencil, a cigarette, or a stick of wood) left after the larger part of it has
been consumed or burnt out. Dummelow has well explained it:
RV ‘let not thine heart be faint because of these two tails of smoking
fire-bands.’ The prophet regards them as no more than expiring torches [stress
KJV uses the word ‘tail’ for this ‘stub’. Originally, in the Hebrew Bible,
the Hebrew word ‘zanab’ has been used for it. As a primary root the word ‘zanab’
means: ‘to curtail, i.e. cut off the rear’. Hence, figuratively (or, may be,
even literally) it means a [curtailed] tail.
Keeping in view the historical back-ground of the age: the fast-expanding and
overwhelming Assyrian empire; and the ever-declining small Near Eastern states;
the account of Isaiah in no case seems to be an exaggeration. If the destruction
of those two kingdoms was as far away as 65 years, it would signify:
(a) the words ‘stub of smoldering fire-bands’ are not in concordance with the
(b) They, in no way, carry any consolation or satisfaction for Ahaz, who was
facing the instant atmosphere of menace and threat from the alliance of the
That’s why the commentators of the Bible find it difficult to interpret the
verse in a satisfactory and convincing manner. The writer of the Seventh Day
Adventist Bible Commentary says:
The meaning of this prediction is uncertain. According to the chronology of
the kings followed tentatively in this commentary (see Vol. II, pp.77, 143,
749), the prediction was made about 734 B.C., and no chronology places the
accession of Ahaz earlier than 742. Yet by 722 Israel, the northern kingdom, had
come to its end with the fall of Samaria to the Assyrians. Some modern scholars
have concluded that the clause introduced by these words was inserted by a later
hand. (...). Assuming that the number 65 was in the original text of Isaiah, and
there is no conclusive reason for thinking that it was not, two possible
fulfilments have been suggested. Sixty-five years after 734, inclusive, would be
670, when Esarhaddon (681-669) reigned over Assyria. It is a fact that
Esarhaddon (and after him his successor Ashurbanipal, the Biblical Asnapper) had
certain Mesopotamian peoples transported to the former territory of the northern
kingdom (Ezra 4:2-10). This was long after Israel had come to its end as a
nation (723/22). The Assyrian policy of scattering subject peoples was designed
to obliterate old national identities and loyalties. So many Israelites of the
ten tribes were absorbed into the neighbouring populations that they have
frequently been referred to as ‘lost’ tribes. It is probable that some of them
later joined the captives from Judah and returned with them after the Exile, but
as individuals in a Jewish community that was the continuation of the old
kingdom of Judah, not of Israel.
Another interpretation has been suggested -- that the 65 years may have begun
about the time of the earthquake, during the reign of Uzziah or Jeroboam II.
This earthquake was the token of the Lord’s judgements upon Israel mentioned by
Amos. If so, Isaiah here merely refers to the fall of Samaria in 723/22. This is
possible, but not provable, because the exact date of the earthquake is not
known. Since no definite starting point of the 65 years is given, it is not
possible today -- nor is it necessary -- to determine the meaning of the
prediction. In all probability, a specific prophecy such as this was clear and
meaningful to the people in whose day it was given. Obviously, it was more
important for them to understand it than it is for us.
The salient features of the above passage are given below with some running
comments where necessary:
i) The meanings of the prediction are uncertain.
ii) The prediction was made about 734 BC.
iii) The northern kingdom of Israel had come to its end by 722 BC with the
fall of Samaria to the Assyrians.
iv) Some modern scholars have concluded that the clause (‘Within threescore
and five years’) was inserted by a later hand. They point to the fact that this
statement seems to interrupt the flow of thought between vs. 8 and 9. It would
be pertinent here to elaborate the observation of the worthy commentator and
provide the names and observations of some of such authorities who consider it a
later addition, or show serious reservations about its genuineness, or give it
in parenthesis: which shows that according to them the clause is not a genuine
one and is a later addition:
The New American Bible, 1991, p.788: ‘If [stress added] the text is correct,
its reference is unknown.’
The Holy Bible, R. S. V., Catholic Ed., 1966, p.694: in ( ).
New American Standard Bible, Reference Ed.,1977, p.864:in ( ).
The New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition for India, 1996, p.80: in
Christian Community Bible, na., p.523, has incorporated this theme in the
very text of the translation. Moreover, it has marked this piece of verse 8 as
‘8b’ and has placed it in between verse 9, bifurcating it into two pieces: ‘9a’
and ‘9b’. Its translation is: ‘Within five or six years now Ephraim will be
shattered and will no longer be a people.’
The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, 1994, p.235: “sixty-five years: Verse 9a
is a later addition [stress added] and probably refers to the settlement of a
foreign population in Samaria by Esarhaddon.’
The New Bible Commentary, 1953, p.569: ‘These words are regarded by some
commentators as a gloss by a later writer [stress added]: it is argued that the
prophets did not normally date their predictions in this precise way.’
The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, 1962, p.617: ‘Actually, Samaria fell within
eleven years (722 B.C.), and her population was deported beyond Assyria.’
A New Commentary on Holy Scripture, 1928, p.439: ‘The reference is obscure,
and the statement seems out of place here. [stress added]’
Peake’s Commentary on the Bible, 1967, p.495: ‘The sentence is not in accord
with the facts, and would, in any case, be cold comfort to Ahaz. Possibly it
should be read, ‘Yet six, nay five, years more...’ and placed after 9a’.
A Commentary on the Holy Bible, Dummelow, 1956, p.419: ‘On account of the
manner in which this prediction interrupts the parallelism, some modern scholars
regard it as an addition by a later editor.[stress added]’.
v) Assuming that the number 65 was in the original text of Isaiah, the worthy
commentator gives two justifications: (i) 65 years after the date of the
proclamation of the prophecy (in 734 BC.) would be 670 BC., when Esarhaddon
(681-669BC.) reigned over Assyria. He and his successor, Ashurbanipal had
transported certain Mesopotamian peoples to former Israel, long after its
extinction in 722 or 721 BC. (It is a far-fetched and worthless justification,
because the Israelites had already been transported from Israel to somewhere
even beyond Assyria in 722 or 721 BC after the fall of Samaria by the then
Assyrian king Shalmaneser V or Sargon; which shows that Israel was completely
destroyed in 722 BC. As far as Esarhaddon is concerned, he did not transport the
Israelites from Israel; he only transported certain Mesopotamian peoples to
former Israel, which does not mean that the destruction of Israel was
accomplished 65 years later by Esarhaddon.) (ii) The second justification: that
the 65 years may have begun about the time of the earthquake, during the reign
of Uzziah or Jeroboam II; is so baseless and vague that it needs no comment at
vi) Since no definite starting point of the 65 years is given, it is not
possible today to determine the meaning of the prediction. (It is obviously
incorrect and an abortive attempt on the part of the commentator to confuse the
matter. He had himself stated above that the prediction was made about 734 B.C.
(3rd line of the quotation from the commentator above)).
Matthew Henry has also offered some interesting interpretations about the
verses. While explaining verse 9, at one point, he notes:
Interpreters are much at a loss how to compute the sixty-five years within
which Ephraim shall cease to be a people; for the captivity of the ten tribes
was but eleven years after this: and some make it a mistake of the transcriber,
and think it should be read within six and five years, just eleven.
While explaining verse16, he brings forward quite a unique interpretation;
which curtails the period between the utterance and fulfilment of the prediction
to three or four years:
Here is another sign in particular of the speedy destruction of these potent
princes that were now a terror to Judah, v.16. ‘Before this child (so it should
be read), this child which I have now in my arms’ (he means not Immanuel, but
Shear-jashub his own son, whom he was ordered to take with him for a sign, v.3),
‘before this child shall know how to refuse the evil and choose the good’ (and
those who saw what his present stature and forwardness were would easily
conjecture how long that would be), ‘before this child be three or four years
older [from now], the land that thou abhorest, these confederate forces of
Israelites and Syrians, which thou hast such an enmity to and standest in such
dread of, shall be forsaken of both their kings, both Pekah and Rezin,’ who were
in so close an alliance that they seemed as if they were the kings but of one
kingdom. This was fully accomplished; for, within two or three years after this,
Hoshea conspired against Pekah, and slew him (2Kings xv.30), and, before that,
the king of Assyria took Damascus , and slew Rezin, 2Kings xvi. 9. Nay, there
was a present event, which happened immediately, and which this child carried
the prediction of in his name, which was a pledge and earnest of this further
event. Shear-jashub signifies The remnant shall return, which doubtless points
at the wonderful return of those 200,000 captives whom Pekah and Rezin had
carried away, who were brought back, not by might or power, but by the Spirit of
the Lord of hosts. Read the story, 2 Chron xxviii. 8-15. The prophetic naming of
this child having thus had its accomplishment, no doubt this, which was further
added concerning him, should have its accomplishment likewise that Syria and
Israel should be deprived of both their kings.
From all the above references and dissertations the following conclusions can
be safely arrived at without any strained contention:
a) The prophecy was pronounced by the prophet Isaiah to Ahaz,
king of the southern kingdom of Judah, more than seven hundred years prior to
the birth of Jesus.
b) At that time Ahaz was facing the threat of invasion by the
alliance of Syria and Israel to dethrone him and establish some Tabeel in his
place as their puppet.
c) Ahaz thought that he could not withstand the invasion and
decided to seek patronage from the then super power of the region,
Tiglath-pileser III, the pagan king of Assyria.
d) God did not like that Ahaz should relinquish the liberty of
the land and the people of Judah to a pagan king, who could otherwise do no harm
to Ahaz or Judah.
e) It was at this stage that the prophecy was addressed to Ahaz
by Isaiah as directed by the Lord Himself.
f) To all intents and contents, the prophecy was to console
and ensure Ahaz that the coalition could do him no harm, was nothing to be
afraid of, and was itself to be exterminated in the very near future -- within a
period of a few years; and before the very eyes of his.
g) The cycle of the fulfilment of the prophecy started
functioning within months, and Tiglath-pileser of Assyria, who was already
entangled with the members of the coalition (it may be noted here that the very
purpose of the formation of the coalition was to defend against the
fast-encroaching advancements of Assyria), began to occupy vast territories of
Syria and Israel; and within an year or two captured Syria; putting her king
Rezin to death. As to the king of Israel, Pekah son of Remaliah, his kingdom
became subject to the Assyrian invasion within months depriving him of most of
his territories leaving almost only the capital Samaria under his control. King
Pekah himself was assassinated by a conspiracy led by Hoshea, who succeeded
him, in c.732 BC. It can thus be appreciated that both the kings who plotted
against Judah were murdered and the alliance had been shattered and was no more
a threat for Ahaz, which becomes a partial fulfilment of the prophecy.
h) The prophecy was fulfilled in-toto within the time span of
eleven to twelve years with the fall of Jerusalem to Assyria in 722 BC.
i) Naturally, once fulfilled in letter and spirit, the
prophecy had nothing to do with any event to occur at any time or stage of the
history of man-kind.
j) The application of the prophecy to the birth of Jesus
Christ -- an event taking place seven and a quarter centuries after the complete
and perfect fulfilment of the prophecy -- is quite arbitrary, absurd and
That’s why a great number of the Christian authorities is also of the same
opinion, for example:
A New Commentary on Holy Scripture observes: ‘As delivered by Isaiah, its
only reference was to the immediate future [stress added], and amongst the Jews
it was never connected with the Messiah: see Gore, Dissertations, 289 f.’
Peakes Commentary records: ‘It is not a direct prediction of Christ, or even
of a scion of David’s line who would rule his people in justice and peace (...).
since the Christian affirms that this hope, and all the hope of Israel, found
its ultimate fulfillment in Christ, he may say that this prophecy too points
onward to him.’
The Seventh-day Adventist B. Commentary asserts: ‘the prediction here made
had an immediate application within the frame-work of the historical
circumstances set forth in the chapter. (stress added)’
The Broadman Bible Commentary has recorded its observations as follows: ‘A
particularly important rule to remember in exegesis is that no verse of
Scripture can be properly understood apart from its context (stress added). In
this case the context unquestionably demands that the promised child serve as a
sign to king Ahaz, thus ruling out the possibility that Isaiah was looking into
the far distant future. The birth and early childhood of Immanuel were related
to events that transpired in the later half of the eighth century B.C. The
specific events in question were the defeat of Israel and Syria (vv. 15-16) and
the invasion of Judah by the Assyrians (vv.17-25). To overlook these facts is to
miss the whole point of the passage (stress added).”
From the above discussion, it is to be concluded that the prophecy relates to
a specific historical background -- that of the latter half of the eighth
century BC -- and should be translated and interpreted accordingly.
(To be continued)