The fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah (Mt 1:22-1:23)

“All this took place

To fulfil

What had been spoken

By the Lord

Through the prophet.

‘Look!

The virgin young woman

Shall conceive.

She shall bear a son.

They shall name him

Emmanuel.’

This translated means.

‘God with us.’”

 

Τοῦτο δὲ ὅλον γέγονεν ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ Κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος

Ἰδοὺ ἡ παρθένος ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξει καὶ τέξεται υἱόν, καὶ καλέσουσιν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἐμμανουήλ, ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον Μεθ’ ἡμῶν ὁ Θεός.

 

This dream with the angelic message took place (Τοῦτο δὲ ὅλον γέγονεν), so that the prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 7, would be fulfilled (πληρωθῇ). Matthew said that these were the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet (τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ Κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος), without explicitly naming Isaiah. When you look at the context of this saying in Isaiah, he was talking to King Ahaz and the whole house of David. He said that Yahweh was going to give them a sign that a young woman, who is presumed to be a virgin, would have a child. This child would be called Emmanuel that meant “God is with us.” Christians have used this passage as a prophecy about the virgin birth of Jesus, as here in Matthew. However, the original context in Isaiah seems to indicate that King Ahaz would have a son to carry on his royal name. That son of Ahaz turned out to be the great holy King Hezekiah who ruled Judah from 716-687 BCE. A key to understanding this interpretation of Isaiah is the Greek word ἡ παρθένος. Does this mean a young woman or a virgin? The assumption was that all young women who were not married were virgins, without explicitly saying that this Greek word meant virgin. This young virgin girl had a child in her womb (ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξει). She was going to have a son (καὶ τέξεται υἱόν). They were going to name this son Emmanuel (καλέσουσιν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἐμμανουήλ,). Matthew seems to imply that this Hebrew word Emmanuel needed to be translated (ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον) into Greek for his readers. Thus, he explained that it meant “God is with us.” This actually was in the original Isaiah statement, but Isaiah never used the word translated (μεθερμηνευόμενον). Thus, God will be with us in the person of Jesus, the Savior, Emmanuel. There is no mention of an anointed one or Christ here.

Title (Mic 1:1-1:1)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to Micah

Of Moresheth,

In the days of Jotham,

Ahaz,

Hezekiah,

Kings of Judah.

He saw things

Concerning Samaria

As well as Jerusalem.”

In typical prophetic fashion, the word of Yahweh came to Micah.  Instead of listing his father, this work mentions where he was from, the town of Moresheth, a small town southwest of Jerusalem.  He prophesized during the reigns of the southern kings of Judah, King Jotham (740-736 BCE), King Ahaz (736-716 BCE), and King Hezekiah (716-687 BCE), after the time of Isaiah and right in the middle of the exile of the northern kingdom of Israel.  His prophecies were about Samaria and Jerusalem, the cities and their surrounding areas.  This was a pretty straight forward title with enough information about the prophet Micah.

The title of Hosea (Hos 1:1-1:1)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to Hosea,

The son of Beeri.

This was in the days

Of King Uzziah,

Of King Jotham,

Of King Ahaz,

Of King Hezekiah,

Kings of Judah.

This was in the days

Of King Jeroboam.

The son of Joash,

The king of Israel.”

Hosea was a prophet during the last days of the kingdom of Israel in the 8th century BCE. He also was the earliest Israelite written prophet that we know of. This work of Hosea is considered the first of the 12 minor prophets. In a classic prophetic phrase, the word of Yahweh came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, who may have been a prophet himself. At that time, the kings of Judah were King Uzziah (781-740 BCE), King Jotham (740-736 BCE), King Ahaz (736-716 BCE), and King Hezekiah (716-687 BCE), spanning nearly 100 years. Meanwhile, the king of Israel mentioned here was only King Jeroboam II (783-743 BCE), the son of King Joash (798-783 BCE). That would eliminate all the Judean kings after King Uzziah. The last 4 kings of Israel were King Menahem, (743-738 BCE), King Pekahiah (738-737 BCE), King Pekah (737-732 BCE), and King Hoshea (732-724 BCE), but they were not mentioned here.

The sign of the sundial (Isa 38:7-38:8)

“Isaiah said.

‘This is the sign to you

From Yahweh.

Yahweh will do this thing

That he has promised.

See!

I will make the shadow

Cast by the declining sun

On the dial of Ahaz

Turn back ten steps.’

So the sun turned back

On the dial

The ten steps

By which it had declined.”

This passage seems out of place here, since the healing of King Hezekiah is at the end of this chapter. This backwards moving of the sundial is the sign that Isaiah was to give to King Hezekiah. Instead of Isaiah crying out, this is an abbreviated version of what appeared to 2 Kings, chapter 20, with just the simple statement of Isaiah. This sundial had been installed by King Hezekiah’s father, King Ahaz (736-716 BCE). Since moving forward would not be difficult and was normal. However, if the shadow moved backward, that would be a strange. Thus the sundial moved back 10 intervals, indicating that the sun had moved backwards, which would have been miraculous. If they only knew that the earth was moving and not the sun, they would have been even more astonished.

Warning for the Philistines (Isa 14:28-14:31)

“In the year that King Ahaz died

This oracle came.

‘Do not rejoice!

All you Philistines!

The rod that struck you is broken.

From the snake’s root

Will come forth an adder.

Its fruit will be a flying fiery serpent.

The firstborn of the poor will graze.

The needy will lie down in safety.

But I will make your root

Die of famine.

Your remnant,

I will kill.

Wail!

O gate!

Cry!

O city!

Melt in fear!

O Philistia!

All of you!

Smoke comes out of the north.

There is no straggler in his ranks.’”

Next Isaiah turned to the coastal Philistines. This oracle has a specific time frame, the year that King Ahaz died, which would have been about 716 BCE. The Philistines had been a common enemy of the Israelites, especially during the time of King Saul and King David in 1 Samuel and I Chronicles. The Philistine southwestern coastal 5 cities had been captured by the Assyrians. Thus with the destruction of Assyria, they should be free. However, another foe from the north would come to attack them. Yahweh reminded them that a small adder snake can come from the fallen snake like a fiery flying serpent. Although it will seem okay because there will be food to eat and the needy will be safe, Yahweh was going to send them a famine to kill those left over. The Philistines would cry and wail. They would melt with fear because a great army from the north was coming. The Philistines actually seemed to disappear after the Assyrian takeover.

Oracle about the Shiloh River and the Euphrates River (Isa 8:5-8:8)

“Yahweh spoke to me again.

‘Because this people have refused                 

The waters of Shiloh

That flow gently,

They melt in fear

Before King Rezin

With the son of Remaliah.

Therefore Yahweh is

Bringing up against them

The mighty flood waters of the river,

The king of Assyria

With all his glory.

It will rise above all its channels.

It will overflow all its banks.

It will sweep on into Judah,

As a flood pouring over it.

It will reach up to the neck.

Its outspread wings

Will fill the breadth of your land.’”

Again Yahweh spoke directly to Isaiah. The Israelites had refused the gentle waters of the Shiloh River that flowed into Jerusalem from Shiloh in the Ephraim territory. They were afraid of the attack from King Rezin of Syria and the son of Remaliah, King Pekah of Samaria. Thus Yahweh, the Lord, had to bring in a substitute to fight from the mighty flood waters of the great river, the Euphrates River. The king of Assyria with all his glory represented this mighty Euphrates River. King Ahaz had made a treaty with him. Thus this powerful river would rise above its channels and banks. It would even sweep into Judah with its flooding waters that would reach up to the neck. This river will spread its wings until it filled up the whole land. Here was the double edged sword. King Ahaz invited the King of Assyria for protection against the northern invaders, but he wanted something in return for that protection that might be Judah itself.

Birth of a son to Isaiah (Isa 8:1-8:4)

“Then Yahweh said to me.

‘Take a large tablet.

Write on it

In common characters,

‘Belonging to Maher-shalal-hash-baz.’

‘The spoil speeds.

The prey hastens.’

Have it attested for me

By reliable witnesses,

The priest Uriah,

And Zechariah

Son of Jeberechiah.’

I went to the prophetess.

She conceived.

She bore a son.

Then Yahweh said to me.

‘Name him

Maher-shalal-hash-baz.

Before the child knows how to cry

‘My father’ or

‘My mother,’

The wealth of Damascus

With the spoil of Samaria

Will be carried away

By the king of Assyria.’”

Once again, we have a conversation between Yahweh and Isaiah directly. Yahweh told him to write down on a large wooden tablet, the letters Maher-shalal-hash-bar, which means spoil spreads and prey hastens. Then Isaiah had to go to the priest Uriah, mentioned in 2 Kings, chapter 16, as well as Zechariah, probably the father of the wife of Ahaz, to have it attested. Next he went to the prophetess, probably his wife, who then conceived and bore a son that was to be named after the word on the large tablet. Before this boy would be able to utter the words father or mother, the wealth of Damascus in Syria and the spoils of Samaria in Ephraim would be carried away by the king of Assyria. This alliance of King Ahaz of Judah with the King of Assyria can also be found in 2 Kings, chapter 16. Thus the name of the child was really talking about what was about to happen to Syria and Ephraim.