December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- 1 In the days of Ahaz, king of Judah, son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, Rezin, king of Aram, and Pekah, king of Israel, son of Remaliah, went up to attack Jerusalem, but they were not able to conquer it.
- When word came to the house of David that Aram was encamped in Ephraim, the heart of the king and heart of the people trembled, as the trees of the forest tremble in the wind.
- 2 Then the LORD said to Isaiah: Go out to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway of the fuller's field,
- and say to him: Take care you remain tranquil and do not fear; let not your courage fail before these two stumps of smoldering brands (the blazing anger of Rezin and the Arameans, and of the son of Remaliah),
- because of the mischief that Aram (Ephraim and the son of Remaliah) plots against you, saying,
- 3 "Let us go up and tear Judah asunder, make it our own by force, and appoint the son of Tabeel king there."
- Thus says the LORD: This shall not stand, it shall not be!
- Damascus is the capital of Aram, and Rezin the head of Damascus; Samaria is the capital of Ephraim, and Remaliah's son the head of Samaria.
- 4 But within sixty years and five, Ephraim shall be crushed, no longer a nation. Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm!
- Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz:
- 5 Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!
- 6 But Ahaz answered, "I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!"
- Then he said: Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary men, must you also weary my God?
- 7 Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.
- 8 He shall be living on curds and honey by the time he learns to reject the bad and choose the good.
- For before the child learns to reject the bad and choose the good, the land of those two kings whom you dread shall be deserted.
- The LORD shall bring upon you and your people and your father's house days worse than any since Ephraim seceded from Judah. (This means the king of Assyria.)
- On that day The LORD shall whistle for the fly that is in the farthest streams of Egypt, and for the bee in the land of Assyria.
- All of them shall come and settle in the steep ravines and in the rocky clefts, on all thornbushes and in all pastures.
- 9 On that day the LORD shall shave with the razor hired from across the River (with the king of Assyria) the head, and the hair between the legs. It shall also shave off the beard.
- On that day a man shall keep a heifer or a couple of sheep,
- and from their abundant yield of milk he shall live on curds; curds and honey shall be the food of all who remain in the land.
- On that day every place where there used to be a thousand vines, worth a thousand pieces of silver, shall be turned to briers and thorns.
- Men shall go there with bow and arrows; for all the country shall be briers and thorns.
- For fear of briers and thorns you shall not go upon any mountainside which used to be hoed with the mattock; they shall be grazing land for cattle and shall be trampled upon by sheep.
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1  Days of Ahaz: who ruled from 735 to 715 B.C. This attack against Jerusalem by the kings of Aram (Syria) and Israel was occasioned by Ahaz' refusal to enter with them into an anti-Assyrian alliance; cf 2 Kings 16.
2  Shear-jashub: this name means "a remnant will return."
3  Son of Tabeel: an adherent of Jerusalem's enemies. His appointment would interrupt the lawful succession from David.
4  Within sixty years and five: if the text is correct, its reference is unknown.
5  Deep . . . sky: an extraordinary or miraculous sign that would prove God's firm will to save the royal house of David from its oppressors.
6  Tempt the LORD: Ahaz expresses in this hypocritical way his preference for depending upon the might of Assyria rather than upon God.
7  The sign proposed by Isaiah was concerned with the preservation of Judah in the midst of distress (cf Isaiah 7:15, 17), but more especially with the fulfillment of God's earlier promise to David (2 Sam 7:12-16) in the coming of Immanuel (meaning, "With us is God") as the ideal king (cf Isaiah 9:5-6; 11:1-5). The Church has always followed St. Matthew in seeing the transcendent fulfillment of this verse in Christ and his Virgin Mother. The prophet need not have known the full force latent in his own words; and some Catholic writers have sought a preliminary and partial fulfillment in the conception and birth of the future King Hezekiah, whose mother, at the time Isaiah spoke, would have been a young, unmarried woman (Hebrew, almah). The Holy Spirit was preparing, however, for another Nativity which alone could fulfill the divinely given terms of Immanuel's mission, and in which the perpetual virginity of the Mother of God was to fulfill also the words of this prophecy in the integral sense intended by the divine Wisdom.
8  Curds and honey: the restricted diet of those who remain after devastation has changed the once fertile fields of Judah into grazing land; cf Isaiah 7:21-25.
9  God will use the Assyrians from across the River (the Euphrates) as his instrument (razor) to inflict disgrace and suffering upon his people.
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