Isaiah and the sign of Immanuel (Isa 7:13-7:16)

“Then Isaiah said.

‘Hear then!

O house of David!

Is it too little for you to weary mortals?

Do you weary my God also?

Therefore Yahweh himself

Will give you a sign.

Look!

The virgin young woman

Is with child.

She shall bear a son.

You shall name him Immanuel.

God is with us.

He shall eat curds.

He shall eat honey,

By the time

He knows how to refuse the evil

And choose the good.

Before the child knows

How to refuse the evil,

Before the child knows

How to choose the good,

The land before whose two kings

You are in dread

Will be deserted.”

This time it is Isaiah who is speaking to King Ahaz and the whole house of David, not Yahweh. They should not weary each other or God. Yahweh was going to give them a sign. The young woman, who is presumed to be a virgin, will have a child. He will be called Immanuel that means God is with us. Quite often Christians have used this passage as a prophecy about the birth of Jesus. However, the context seems to indicate that King Ahaz will have a son to carry on his royal name. That son of Ahaz will be the great holy King Hezekiah who ruled Judah from 716-687 BCE. This young child would do good and refuse evil by the time he was able to eat the basic foods of curds and honey. Even before he learns how to choose good over evil, the 2 invading countries of these 2 kings will lay desolate and deserted.

Self discipline (Prov 30:32-30:33)

“If you have been foolish,

Exalting yourself,

Put your hand on your mouth.

If you have been devising evil,

Put your hand on your mouth.

Pressing milk produces curds.

Pressing the nose produces blood.

Pressing anger produces strife.”

This numerical interlude ends with a warning about being foolish without self discipline. If you tried to exalt yourself, put a hand to your mouth to stop talking. If you have been devising evil, put a hand to your mouth so that evil does not come out of your mouth. Pressing or suppressing things may have evil consequences. If you press milk you end up with curds. If you press your nose, it will bleed. If you press your anger, it will produce strife.

The fate of the wicked (Job 20:12-20:19)

“Though wickedness is sweet in their mouth,

Though they hide it under their tongues,

Though they are loath to let it go,

Though they hold it in their mouth,

Yet their food is turned in their stomachs.

It is the venom of asps within them.

They swallow down riches.

They vomit them up again.

God casts them out of their bellies.

They will suck the poison of asps.

The tongue of a viper will kill them.

They will not look on the rivers,

The streams flowing with honey and curds.

They will give back the fruit of their toil.

They will not swallow it down.

From the profit of their trading

They will get no enjoyment.

They have crushed and abandoned the poor.

They have seized a house

That they did not build.”

There is a further explanation of the wicked ones. They try to hide their wickedness. However it turns in their stomachs. Poisonous snakes or asps are within them. They swallow wealth and then vomit it out. What a metaphor! They will die from the poison of the snakes that they suck on. They will not see the rivers with honey and curds. They will give back the fruit of the land and not eat it. They will not enjoy their trading profits. They have crushed the poor and seized houses that they did not build. This is a vivid description of greedy people who do not care about others, the wicked ones.