_)OTH_'s to Ahaz and Hezekiah: A comparison and contrast

Dan Wagner Dan.Wagner at datastream.net
Thu Feb 1 23:27:06 EST 2001


_)OTH_ to Ahaz in Isa. 7:1-14 vs. _)OTH_ to Hezekiah in Isa. 38:1-8 

COMPARISON:
# Both kings had an international crisis--threat from Aram/Israel and from
Assyria, respectively.
# Both kings were promised a confirmatory sign.
# Both kings were promised and received/witnessed a (more-or-less immediate)
divine intervention in the political arena.
# The sign (a birth, and a sundial moving) was distinct from the
international intervention/protection in both contexts.
# The sign *itself* was also supernatural/extraordinary in both cases
(anything "deep as Sheol or high as the heights" for Ahaz (7:11); the
sundial going *backwards* for Hezekiah).

CONTRAST:
# Hezekiah had a personal crisis (sickness, 38:1); Ahaz did not. (this might
be incidental?)
# Hezekiah had faith in God to deliver (38:3); Ahaz did not (7:9, 12-13).
# Hezekiah accepted the sign; Ahaz rejected it (7:12).
# The sign to Hezekiah was _LeKA_ (to you, 2MS, v. 7); in Isa. 7:14 it
suddenly shifted to become _LAKEM_ (2MP), i.e., to the Davidic house rather
than the individual king of that moment.
# The text indicates Hezekiah *personally* witnessed the sign; it happened
in his time (38:8b). The text is silent regarding the sign's fulfillment in
the Ahaz context; there is no evidence that he ever witnessed it.

The text indicates to Ahaz that "if you do not stand firm in faith, you will
not be left standing" (7:9) my translation is of an obvious play on words in
Hebrew going from Hiphil to Niphal, contrasting Ahaz's lack of faith with
his consequent lack of receiving what is reserved for those who do believe.
It should be no surprise if Ahaz did not personally witness the sign. It
seems that the signs are somewhat personal in both passages; the
international intervention was much broader. 

On the basis of this analysis and other points i've made, i conclude that
the birth was intended by Isaiah to be miraculous (therefore of one who was
still a virgin), but that it was not necessarily immediate. The language
(vocab/syntax) does not *demand* that it would be immediate, and the context
indicates that it was not.

Now, we don't necessarily need to argue about who this was, or even if it
was fulfilled. That is for another discussion list. One's faith/religious
system and worldview--be it agnostic, Jewish, atheist, neo-orthodox,
Christian, or otherwise--should not require one, a priori, to reject the
fact that Isaiah's wording *intend* a virgin birth (who it was and whether
it happened is another issue). 

I want to post a reply concerning the context that follows Isa. 7:14 later,
but for now ... if i have erred thus far, please show me!

Dan Wagner



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