Isaiah 7:20
(20) Shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired.--Better, "with the razor." The words find a parallel in the "made him naked" of 2Chronicles 28:19. The term "hired" applies to the tribute which Ahaz was about to pay to Tilgath-pilneser. He thought that he was securing an ally: he was but hiring a razor (there is, perhaps, the implied thought that the razor is in other hands than his) that should sweep away all the signs of strength, and leave him an open shame and scorn to all who looked on him. (2Samuel 10:4). From head to foot, not sparing even the beard, to maltreat which was the last extreme of Oriental outrage, he and his kingdom should be laid bare and naked to his enemies. Possibly there may be an allusive reference (Kay) to Leviticus 14:9. The nation, leprous in its guilt (Isaiah 1:6), needs the treatment which was prescribed for the leper.

(21:22) A man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep . . .--Better, two ewes. Not only should cultivation cease, but the flocks and herds that had before been counted by hundreds or thousands should be counted now by units, two ewes and a heifer for a man's whole stock, and yet (we note the prophet's irony once more in the use of the word "abundance") even that should be enough for a population reduced in proportion. There should be "milk and honey" for the scattered remnant. They should have that, and nothing but that, to eat, ad nauseam usque. The words are grouped together with a grim irony as reminding men of the proverbial words of praise which spoke of Canaan as "a land of milk and honey" (Exodus 3:17).

Verse 20. - Shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired; rather, with the hired razor; i.e. the razor that Ahaz will have hired (2 Kings 16:8). The metaphor well expresses the stripping of the land bare by plunder and exaction (comp. Ezekiel 5:1, 12, and 2 Chronicles 28:19-21). God would use Tiglath-Pileser as his instrument to distress Ahaz. By them beyond the river; or, in the parts beyond the river (comp. 1 Chronicles 19:16). "The river" is undoubtedly the Euphrates, and they who dwell beyond it the Assyrians. By the King of Assyria. Once more a gloss is suspected, as in ver. 17. The meaning would certainly be sufficiently plain without the clause. The head... the hair of the feet... the beard. These three represent all the hair on any part of the body. Judah is to be completely stripped.

7:17-25 Let those who will not believe the promises of God, expect to hear the alarms of his threatenings; for who can resist or escape his judgments? The Lord shall sweep all away; and whomsoever he employs in any service for him, he will pay. All speaks a sad change of the face of that pleasant land. But what melancholy change is there, which sin will not make with a people? Agriculture would cease. Sorrows of every kind will come upon all who neglect the great salvation. If we remain unfruitful under the means of grace, the Lord will say, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth for ever.In the same day shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired,.... Meaning the Assyrian monarch, whom he would use as an instrument in his hand to spoil and cut off the people of the Jews; who is compared to a "razor" for sharpness; and for the thorough work, and utter ruin and destruction, he should be the means of; and called a "hired" one, either in reference to the present Ahaz sent to the king of Assyria, by which he prevailed upon him to come and help him against the kings of Syria and Israel, 2 Kings 16:7 or to a reward given by the Lord to Nebuchadnezzar for the service in which he employed him, see Ezekiel 29:18,

namely, by them beyond the river; not Nile, but Euphrates; even the Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Babylonians, who lived on the other side that river; which, with what follows, explains the simile of the razor:

by the king of Assyria; who ruled over those beyond the river:

the head, and the hair of the feet; and it shall also consume the beard; signifying that as a razor cuts off the hair entirely where it is applied, and leaves nothing behind, whether of the head, beard, or feet, or privy parts, which are meant by the latter; so the king of Assyria should carry all clean off captive out of the land of Judea; king, princes, nobles, and common people; those of the highest, and of the middling, and of the lowest class. The Targum is,

"in that time the Lord shall slay them as one is slain by a sharp sword, by clubs, and by saws, by those beyond the river, and by the king of Assyria; the king, and his army, and even his rulers, together shall he destroy.''

So Jarchi explains it. Several of the Jewish writers, as Aben Ezra, Abarbinel, and Kimchi (k), explain this of the Angel of the Lord destroying Sennacherib's army, when before Jerusalem, in Hezekiah's time; so the latter interprets it: "the head"; the heads of his armies: "the hair of the feet"; the multitude of the people: "the beard"; the king, who died, not in the camp, but was killed by his sons in his own land; but this is not a prophecy of the destruction of the Assyrian army, but of the Jewish people by it; and the whole denotes the mean and low condition, the state of slavery and bondage, the Jews should be brought into; of which the shaving of the hair is the symbol; it was usual to shave the head and hair of such as were taken captive, as a sign of reproach and servitude; see 2 Samuel 10:4 (l).

(k) Vid. T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 95. 2. and 96. 1.((l) Vid. Lydium de re militari, l. 6. c. 6. p. 238, 239. & Noldium, No. 937.

Isaiah 7:19
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