Isaiah 7 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Isaiah 7 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 And 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 toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.

2 And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.

3 Then said the LORD unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shear-jashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field;

4 And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah.

5 Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying,

6 Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal:

7 Thus saith the Lord GOD, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.

(7:3-7) God told Isaiah to tell Ahaz, the King of Judah, not to be concerned about Rezin (the king of Syria) or Pekah (the king of Israel). But according to 2 Chr.28:5-6 "God delivered him [Ahaz] into the hand of the king of Syria; and they smote him, and carried away a great multitude of them captives, and brought them to Damascus. And he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter."
The author of the SAB compares two different dates. What is described in this chapter happened in the spring of 742 BC, see 2 Kg. 15:37. Ahaz had just become king and almost immediately got both Rezin and Pekah before the gates of Jerusalem. At this point Isaiah promises the king God's deliverance. And so it happened, both kings returned home empty handed. After this deliverance, Ahaz did not serve the Lord, but setup Baal worship and burnt his children in the fire, 2 Chr. 28:2-4. So the next year, the spring of 741 BC, Rezin and Pekah were back and they took Jerusalem as described in 2 Chr. 28:5.

8 For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people.

9 And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah’s son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.

10 Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying,

11 Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.

12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.

13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?

14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

The King James Version mistranslates the Hebrew word "almah", which means "young woman" as "virgin". (The Hebrew word, "bethulah", means "virgin".) In addition, the young woman referred to in this verse was living at the time of the prophecy. And Jesus, of course, was called Jesus -- and is not called Emmanuel in any verse in the New Testament.
Isaiah asks us here to behold a sign. Behold means “to observe; look at; see.” It used in the imperative for the purpose of calling attention. So according to the author of the SAB Isaiah asks us here to behold the sign —let the drums roll— that a woman who had intercourse would get pregnant. Something akin to: “To prove that I'm right, I'll give you a sign: the sun shall come up tomorrow.”
Such signs would evoke yawns. No, a sign worthy to behold would be when a virgin would get pregnant!
So now on to the word “almah” which in direct contradiction of what the author of the SAB tells us means “a girl of marriable age who is a virgin.” The word occurs 7 times in the Bible and there is no instance where it can be proven that this word designates a young woman who is not a virgin. And the opposite is true, the word “bethulah” does not clearly mean a virgin, see for example Joel 1:8:

Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.

The author of the SAB also claims that it would refer to a woman living at that time. This is taken from some Jewish writers, though refuted by other Jewish writers, who claim for example that it would be Hezekiah's wife. But Hezekiah was thirteen years old when Isaiah spoke this word. But all the details on this are as usual treated by John Gill.
Next the name Immanuel. This name means “God with us” or “with us is God.” A fitting name for him who became us and took on our flesh, to become man as well as God. The name Immanuel isn't in the New Testament the author of the SAB asserts us. Perhaps he has a copy of the Bible without Matthew 1:23.

15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.

If Is.7:14 refers to Jesus, then he must have been a vegetarian. So I guess we should be too. What should we eat?
As far as I know, the Bible doesn't tell us if Jesus was a vegetarian. There is nothing wrong with being a vegetarian. Only after the Flood gave God permission to eat meat, Gen. 9:3. But on the particulars, John Gill comments that butter and honey were in particular food for kids:

this does not design the end of his eating butter and honey, as if that was in order to gain such knowledge, which have no such use and tendency; but the time until which he should live on such food; namely, until he was grown up, or come to years of discretion, when he could distinguish between good and evil

So if such a diet was particular for kids, it does not mean we should follow that as the author of the SAB has it. But on what we may eat, see also Acts 10:10.

16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

17 The LORD shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father’s house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria.

18 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.

"The Lord shall hiss for the fly ... and for the bee."
With the flies are meant:

the Egyptians, so called because their country abounded with flies; and because of the multitude of their armies, and the swiftness of their march;

With the bees are meant:

the Assyrian army, so called because the country abounded with bees; and because of the number of their armies, their military order and discipline, and their hurtful and mischievous nature.

With hissing is meant:

hissing or whistling for them denotes the ease with which this should be done, and with what swiftness and readiness those numerous and powerful armies should come; and the allusion is to the calling of bees out of their hives into the fields, and from thence into their hives again, by tinkling of brass, or by some musical sound, in one way or another.

19 And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes.

20 In the same day shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired, namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard.

God will shave men's feet, where "feet" and "hair" are biblical euphemisms for males sexual organs and pubic hair, respectively.
I wish the bar for foul language was this low. Hellevision would be unrecognisable if broadcasters started to use the Biblical euphemisms.

21 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep;

22 And it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk that they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land.

23 And it shall come to pass in that day, that every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, it shall even be for briers and thorns.

24 With arrows and with bows shall men come thither; because all the land shall become briers and thorns.

25 And on all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, there shall not come thither the fear of briers and thorns: but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle.