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reject the second given as the sign, the Lord. And if it breathes a design there being not any more, yea rather to punish, it is in perfect harmony much less reason why he should ad- with what is said in the 9th verse, mit the latter than confide in the " If ye will not believe, surely ye former. But when, in confirmation shall not be established.” So in the of any thing predicted, another event 13th verse, if he continued perverse, which at the time appears very impro- and would not hearken nor believe bable, is foretold and is seen actually the Lord, he would weary out the to take place according to all the patience not only of men but of God circumstances of the prophecy, proof also, and would then meet with that is given of the ability of the person punishment which is predicted in the predicting to foresee; the attention of close of the chapter. There seems the person to whom the prediction is no reason to suppose that it breathed addressed is arrested, and strong, irre- only a design to punish, except consistible evidence is set before him that ditionally, on the ground of Abaz the other event foretold will assuredly persisting in his unbelief and sin. come to pass.
This is the usual mode of the divine II. In order to escape the charge dispensations. of absurdity arising out of the former 1. But it seems that forcible objecsupposition of Dr. Kennicott's, Dr. tions may be made against this whole Blayney proposes, while he still re- method of interpreting these prophefers this prophecy to Christ, a new
cies. The connexion and scope of mode of interpreting the sign given the context seem to oppose it. The to Ahaz. The prediction contained Lord continuing still to speak unto in the 14th and 15th verses according Ahaz, calls on him to ask for a sign. to Dr. B. is not the sign of the event Now a sign of what can we suppose foretold in the 17th to the 25th verses, that Ahaz would imagine was meant, but is the event of the accomplish- and would the connexion lead us to ment of which his latter prophecy, expect? If one had not read or and that contained in the 16th verse, heard of this prophecy being applied are the sign. The sign therefore, to Christ, would one from what is cannot be given to confirm Ahaz in here said by the prophet, have ever the belief of what is said in the 7th, been persuaded that the sign here 8th and 9th verses, but to confirm spoken of, referred to an event in the Judaites of that time, and the which Ahaz was intimately concerned, Jews of all succeeding ages, in the and which was foretold in order to belief and expectation of the Messias. confirm him in the belief of another
In vindication of this interpretation event to which he as a wicked man Dr. B. says, (Sermon, p. 6,)“ It can and an idolater would pay no regard, hardly be supposed that God who was and in which, as it would not happen justly offended at the impious distrust till several hundred years after his of Ahaz, would make any fresh effort death, he could feel no interest ? Do to conquer his fears, or soothe him not these things appear so clearly with further hopes of deliverance.” manifest, “ that it would require no But is not the whole history of the small degree of artifice and perverseJewish nation, and of the divine dis- ness to give them any other applicapensations to mankind, a proof that tion"? Blayney's Sermon, page 9, God does act towards sinners with Every one, froin attentively perusing such patience, long-suffering and mer- this chapter, and unaffected by any cy? Then, why can it be hardly hypothesis, would immediately say, supposed that he should act thus in that the sign must be a sign of the the present instance towards a king event which had been foretold, and of of the royal race of David, especially the truth of the prediction of which if, in addressing the king, we suppose it was evidently the design of the him to address the people at large? Lord, by the mouth of the prophet,
Dr. B. proceeds: "The reproof that, to convince the king. followed upon his refusal of the sign 2. This method of understanding offered him, instead of comfort, it, is abundantly confirmed by all breathes only a design to punish.” parallel passages in which signs of True, here is a reproof and remon- any thing predicted are asked for, or strance with him for his contempt of are granted; while the method followed by Dr. B. in his interpretation, take place first, and would be a cone is directly the reverse of all similar firmation that that mentioned first facts. He may perhaps, be confi- would next take place in due time, dently challenged to produce an in- and after these, in the course of stance in which any thing is said events, would follow that inentioned about a sign till after the prophecy last ; though it might be at some has been delivered, of which the sign distance of time, yet it would come promised is a confirmation. For bre- to pass as assuredly as the others. vity's sake let the reader refer to The meaning of the first and last Genesis ix. 8-17, xii. 2, 3, xiii. of these three prophecies is sufficiently 14—17, compared with xv. through- clear, and their fulfilment obvious. out. Exodus iii. 12; Judges vi. 17, The difference of opinion and sup21, 22, 36—40; 1 Samuel ii. 34 ; posed difficulty of interpretation, lie | Kings xiii. 3, 5, 6; Isaialı xxxviii. in the second in the order of predic7, 8, 22, compared with 2 Kings xx. tions, but first in that of fulfilment. 8, 9; Jer. xliv. 29, 30. To these This we shall now proceed particumay be added the prophecy given by larly to explain, obviate objections our Saviour in Mattheiv xxiv. 3—24; which may be raised against it, and Luke xxi. 7–3), to which Dr. B. shew the prophecy accomplished in indeed, refers and calls our attention. the event. With this latter article Again, in Isaiah xxxvii., after the pre- will be connected the fulfilment of diction of an event, we have a sign the first prediction but second accomgiven in the circumstances of time, plished event. After this we may very similar with the one in question. refer briefly to the history and ful. The event had been foretold in the filment of the third prediction. preceding verses. Verse 30, “ And I. We are to explain this prophecy this shall be a sign unto thee,” &c. according to what appears to be the In about three or four years after the most consistent and just method of prediction, the sign by which it is interpretation. As far as the begincontirined, as in the present instance, ning of the 14th verse has been "alis accomplished. Thus “ though at- ready explained. The prophet then tempts have been made to dispossess proceeds,
a virgin shall us of such authority by representing conceive, and shall hear a son, and things otherwise, the blaze of truth shall call his name Immanuel.” It has shone superior to any fallacious is asked, who is this person here misrepresentations. Here, therefore, called a virgin? The reply is, it is I shall leave things as they stand, the prophetess spoken of in the 3rd since from an attempt to explain fur- verse of the following chapter; and ther what is sufficiently clear al- the child spoken of in this prophecy ready, seldom any thing arises but is that which in chapter viii. is called perplexity, darkness and error.” Ser- Maher-shalal-hash-baz.
The reason mon, pp. 2, 9.
of applying the prophecy to these is From what has been said it appears the coincidence betiveen vii. 16 and clear, and may be justly concluded, viii. 4. Before the child, mentioned that the sign spoken of in the 11th vii. 16, shall know to refuse the evil verse, must be in confirmation of the and choose the good, the land which prediction delivered in verses 7–9; Ahaz abhorred (that is Syria, of which that the child whose birth is foretold Damascus was the head, and Ephraim, in the 14th verse, and that spoken of of which Samaria was the head) shall in the 16th verse, must be the same be left desolate of both her kings, child, and therefore cannot be Shear- Rezin and Pekah. Before the child, jashuh, but must be some child that mentioned viii. 4, shall have knowwould be shortly conceived, and in ledge to cry my father and my modue time afterwards born. It is also ther, the riches of Damascus and the plain that three prophecies of different spoil of Sainaria shall be taken away events are delivered in this chapter. before the king of Assyria. The first, in verses 7–9; the se
And still farther does this appear cond, in verses 14-16; the third, confirmed by the close connexion in verses 17 to the end of the chapter, there is between what is related in of a long train of events. Of these, the last chapter and at the beginning that mentioned second would shortly of this. Isaiah was commanded to
go to Ahaz, and deliver him a mes- manifests the propriety of his so doing. sage from the Lord. Again the pro- To what particularly he took them as phet delivers another message from witnesses, whether of the truth of the Lord to the king. After he had what the Lord had said unto him, or thus spoken by the prophet to the of his going in unto the prophetess, king, he now, viii. 1, speaks to the or of both, is not declared. In the prophet himself.
• Moreover the general we may naturally and justly Lord said unto me." As though suppose it to have been that they he had said, after having, spoken to should be witnesses of the prediction, the king as just related, the Lord by having it regularly written on a spoke to me also, “ Take thee a roll, and attested by them; and then great roll, and write in it with a afterwards of the truth of its fulfilman's pen concerning. Maher-shalal- ment, when the prophecy should be hash-baz.” But what he was to write accomplished, which was to be a sign concerning him, Isaiah bas not in- unto Abaz. On this supposition that formed us. From what follows it they were to be witnesses to Ahaz of may be presumed that he was then the message from the Lord, and of the going to do what God had commanded conception and birth of Maler-shalalhim. He took unto him faithful wit- hash-baz, who was appointed to be nesses to record, Urijah the priest, the promised sign to the king, there and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah. appears a great propriety in the proAnd, after taking these to witness, phet's taking them. For Urijah was he went in unto the prophetess, and the priest to Ahaz, see 2 Kings xvi. she conceived, and bare a son. 10–16; and Zechariah, we may con
By this it seems to be intimated clude, was some eminent person in that Isaiah was the father of the his day, even the father-in-law of king child to be born, this being in Hebrew Abaz himself. He is mentioned 2 the modest expression for the con- Kings xviii. 2, where his daughter jugal act. The same word is used said to be the mother of Hezekiah, with a similar signification in Genesis who was Ahaz's son. Zechariah was, xx. 4, in speaking of Abimelech therefore, the father of Abi, the wife taking Sarah the wife of Abraham. of Ahaz. These, then, as it was obWhen it is said that Abimelech had served, were very suitable persons to not come near her, it is not to be be witnesses to Ahaz of the accomsupposed that it was meant that he plishment of the prediction which was had not been in her company, nor to be the sign promised him. conversed with her, for this undoubt- Upon the supposition that Mahercdly he had done. Yet, fortunately, shalal-hash-baz was Isaiah's son, and he had not come near her to lie with the child appointed as a sign unto her. A word of similar import is Ahaz, we see the force and reason of oftentimes made use of to express the saying of the prophet, ch. viii. 18: modestly the same idea. What is Behold, I and the children, whom afterwards added seems to confirm thou has given me, are for signs in the supposition that Isaiah was the Israel.” And does not what the profather of the child. For on the birth phet says, in ver. 8, confirm this supof the child the Lord said unto Isaiah, position? After having spoken of the call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz. birth of this his son, how natural for But why should be be commanded him, when speaking of the land of thus to call the child, if it had not Judah, to call it the land of this rebeen his? Would he not rather in markable child, “thy land, O Immathat case have been commanded to nuel !” because it was born and would go to the father or mother of the dwell in that land. How natural, I child, and in the name of the Lord say, such an apostrophe! And what have bid them to call it by that name? could have been better adapted to or it would have been expressed pass- shew us that the different names, Imively, his name shall be called, as is manuel, Maher.shalal-hash-baz, pointdone in other instances.
ed out one and the saine child ? When this interpretation is consi- It also appears from the interpredered minutely, it gives us the reason tation now given, that the essence or of his taking, as witnesses, the persons principal point of the sign did not who are there specially named, and consist in the birth of the child. The circumstances relating to that are this name the prophetess may have mentioned merely to designate the called him at first, till the Lord, after child intended; the son of the prophet his birth, speaking again to Isaiali
, Isaiah and of the prophetess, who called him by the name which was might still be a young woman, if the then specified, a name signifying, as predicted child were even not her first in the margin of the Bible, making child. Nor is there any thing to op- speed to the spoil, he hasteneth to the pose this latter supposition, for Shcar- prey; implying in how short a time jashub might be his son by another the king of Assyria would come and wife, who was now dead, and the pro- carry away the riches of Damascus phet might then be about to marry, if and the spoil of Samaria. he had not just then betrothed, this 2. Another objection may be urged other wife; and he might even have from the mother being called a virgin. possibly taken Urijah the priest, and But this does by no means imply that Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah to she had not known man till after the be witnesses of this his marriage with birth of this child. It may justly be the prophetess. The particular cir- said of a female conceiving her first cumstance which constitutes the sign child, that a virgin shall conceive. But to Ahaz, is that mentioned ch. vii. the Hebrew terin here used, 78'20, ver. 16, and ch. viii. ver. 4, the death does not necessarily signify one who of the two kings and the desolation of still retains her virginity. It may sig. their countries taking place before this nify merely a young woman. Agreeaparticular child should know to cry bly to this observation, the Septuagint my father and my mother, or to refuse translate this word sometimes by tagthe evil and to choose the good. θενος, and more frequently by νεανις.
II. The objections which may be llagoevos, is acknowledged, is the urged against this interpretation are Greek word which properly signifies next to be considered.
a pure, undefiled virgin. But years 1. The difference of the names of cannot be made to signify more than this child may be objected by some. a young woman, corresponding with In ch. vii. ver. 14, he is called Im- vegyias, a young man, and YE&VIC KOS, manuel ; in ch. viii. ver. 4, Maher- the diminutive of the other and the shalal-hash-baz. The same difficulty proper term for a youth. will occur in applying ch. vii. ver. 14, But it may be objected that the to Jesus Christ, for the name Imma- Septuagint, in the present passage nuel occurs only thrice in the Old and under discussion, translate by raposvos, New Testament-Isa. vii. 14, viii. 8, à virgin, and, therefore, we should and in Matt. i. 23, which is a quota- understand the term in the strict tion of the former text. In the second
sense. It may, however, be replied, passage, it seems to refer, as shewn the old fable of Aristeas is now too above, to the child who should be the well exploded by Hody and others for sign to Ahaz, and of whose birth men, it to obtain credit in the present day. tion was made in ch. viii. ver. 3, and We no longer consider those translawhom the prophet seems to apostro- tors as inspired men, and, therefore, phize in the 8th verse, as hath been are not bound to look on every letter already stated.
of their version as infallibly just; Besides, it was not uncommon notwithstanding in some cases it may among the Jews for the same person elucidate, and in others its authority to have two different names ; espe- may determine the extent of meaning cially when the sacred name of God which particular words will bear. For occurred in one of them. The child, this latter purpose its authority is in such a case, was generally called now produced, while we reject its guiby the other name, that they might dance in the specific instance in quesavoid mentioning lightly and frequent- tion, for the reasons alleged above, ly the name of the Most High. This why the context requires an explana. was the case in the present instance. tion that does not admit or need such But again, in ch. vii. ver. 14, it is not a version. said that the child should be called
3. But this leads us to another obImmanuel, nor was any direction given jection. Though the authors of the to name him so; but only that his Septuagint Version were not inspired, mother would call him so. And by the Evangelist Matthew was, according to the notions generally received, mitted, why should we not give credit (which points I mean not now to dis- to, and acknowledge the authority of, cuss,) and he quotes this prophecy as ancient heathen oracles, which, in some applied to Christ, and by the virgin ambiguous, similar manner, could and supposes that the Virgin Mary, the actually did foretell future events ? mother of our Lord, is intended. Still Than thus to expose our holy religion there is not any sufficient evidence ad- to contempt, and weaken one of the duced to set aside the interpretation very strong proofs of its divinity and given. Matthew, even if inspired, and truth in the fulfilment of prophecy, it this part genuine, might quote it not would be better even to suppose a as a direct prophecy of the birth of sacred historian mistaken in his appliChrist; but allusively, as a saying cation of prophecies ; for inspiration which might be applied to him with to guard him from the misapplication propriety, though the prophecy did of these is by no means necessary to not at all refer to him. He was the enable hiin to write authentic history. first child of his mother, and he was This, however, is not supposed in the Immanuel, for in him it was mani- interpretation we have just now given. fested, or he was a sign, that God
III. The fulfilment of the prophecy was with us mankind, and would by in the event, is what was next propohim deliver us. Agreeably to this the sed to be considered and pointed out. Greek of St. Matthew might be ren- 1. The accomplishinent of the fordered, “ All this was done; in which mer part of the prophecy, delivered as was accomplished what the Lord had a sign unto Ahaz, has been already spoken by the mouth of the prophet,” shewn in the birth of Maher-sbalal&c.; that is, these are events similar hash-baz. Of the other part, the land to those spoken of from the Lord, by of Syria and Ephraim being left desothe mouth of the prophet, &c. The late of both her kings before this child Greek particle, 'Iya, when taken ad- knew to refuse the evil and choose the verbially, signifies ubi, where, in which, good, a more particular consideration by which. "In a similar way we might is required. translate and interpret several other It is necessary to refer to notes of such passages, in this Evangelist par- time given in the history of these ticularly. Thus, ch. ii. ver. 15, is transactions. Before Ahaz came to quoted from Hosea xi. 1; where the the throne, even in the time of Jotham words of the propbet evidently refer his father, Pekah and Rezin were to the calling of the children of Israel making preparations for war against out of Egypt, in the time and by the Judah and Jerusalem. Abaz came to hand of Moses. And again, ch. ii. the throne at twenty years of age. vers. 17, 18, is quoted from Jeremiah Two or three verses after mentioning xxxi. 15; where the words evidently this, without giving any intermediate refer to the desolation of Judah at the note of time, in 2 Kings xvi. 5, it is time of the captivity to Babylon. said, “ Then Rezin and Pekah came
But it may be asked, Would it not up to war against Jerusalem.” It be more consistent with the words of may hence be justly inferred, that this the Evangelist, and the general seope was very soon after Ahaz was seated of prophecy, to understand these pre- on the throne; most probably in the dictions as referring to more than one first year of his reign. In Isa. vii. 2, distinct, definite event, as pointing we are informed, when Abaz heard of out two similar events happening at the confederacy of Syria and Ephraim, different and distant times? By no his heart was moved. Upon this the means. It would introduce such con- prophet commanded to go to him, fusion and uncertainty into the pro- as related in the following verses. phecies, as very nearly resembles the Probably, then, Isaiah might speak to double-meaning answers of the ancient Ahaz, before Rezin and Pekah were heathen oracles. This opens a wide actually come up against him, even door to the cavils and objections of while they were on the march, if not infidelity, against which all true Chris- even previously to their setting out on tians should particularly guard them- it. If this be supposed then can there selves and their sacred writings. If he no appearance of wishing to favour this confusion and uncertainty be 'ad- the prophecy, as the event must, in