Old Testament Week 19: Isaiah 7–12

1) Introduction. a) [SLIDE 2] Review schedule change. b) This is our second of five weeks studying the writings of Isaiah. This week we’ll be considering Isaiah’s prophecies given to the people of Judah in 734 B.C. c) At this time, the kingdom of Judah was being threatened militarily by her northern neighbors. Isaiah’s oracles told the king of Judah how the Lord would preserve his people. d) [SLIDE 3] The material in this week’s lesson can be divided up in five major sections: i) The Immanuel child (Isaiah 7–8). ii) A new age and a new ruler (Isaiah 9:1–7). iii) Judgment on Israel from Assyria (Isaiah 9:8–10:4). iv) Judgment against a proud Assyria (Isaiah 10:5–32). v) The future peaceful kingdom and the heir of David’s throne (Isaiah 10:33–12:6). 2) Isaiah’s counsel to King Ahaz (Isaiah 7–8). a) Historical background. i) [SLIDE 4] As we’ve discussed several times now, the great world power during Isaiah’s time was Assyria. ii) Assyria had been in decline for nearly a century, during which time Israel and Judah experienced great prosperity.1 iii) [SLIDE 5] A coup in 745 B.C. put Tiglath-Pileser III on the Assyrian throne.2 He turned the Assyrian army into an invincible fighting machine and reduced the whole civilized world into a single empire. His reign is considered the beginning of the NeoAssyrian Empire. iv) Tiglath-Pileser defeated and subjected to tribute the Babylonians, the Medes, and the Hittites. He then directed his armies west into Syria and Phoenicia. King Uzziah of Judah had been an ally of Syria, so he was compelled by Tiglath-Pileser to pay yearly tribute. v) [SLIDE 6] Israel and Syria entered into an alliance to throw off the Assyrians. They tried to persuade Judah to join them, but when King Jotham of Judah refused, they attacked him (2 Kings 15:37). (1) [6.1] This conflict is called the Syro-Ephraimite War; it took place from 736 to 732 B.C.

1 Amos and Hosea condemned the pride and wickedness that resulted from Israel’s materialism. See notes to lesson 17 (http://bit.ly/ldsarcot17n). 2 The name ―Tiglath-Pileser‖ was a throne-name given to the usurper Pulu on his ascension to the throne. It means ―my trust is the son of Esharra‖. Esharra (also known as Ishara or Ishtar) was the Hittite goddess of the oath, and also the goddess of love.

© 2014, Mike Parker

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For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class

Old Testament: Isaiah 7–12

Week 19, Page 2

(2) King Jotham of Judah died in the middle of this war. He was succeeded by the wicked King Ahaz. The armies of Syria and Israel attacked and besieged Jerusalem (2 Kings 16:1–5; Isaiah 7:1). (3) It’s at this time that Isaiah appeared on the scene. b) [SLIDE 7] Isaiah’s counsel to Ahaz (Isaiah 7:3–9). i) The Lord told Isaiah to take his son, Shear-jashub, to go meet Ahaz. (1) Like Hosea,3 Isaiah gave his sons names that were intended to serve as prophetic promises. (2) Shear-jashub’s name means ―a remnant will return,‖ which probably was meant as a sign to Ahaz that only a few of the enemy invaders would return home; the rest would be defeated. ii) Isaiah told Ahaz not to be afraid of Syria and Israel4 because they were like ―two tails of…smoking firebrands‖ (7:4): Two stumps of smoldering logs that used to burn, but whose power had almost died out. (1) He prophesied that within 65 years Israel (Ephraim) would no longer exist as a nation (7:8), and he encouraged Ahaz to stand fast and have faith that the Lord would deliver Judah (7:9). c) As proof of this, Isaiah offered Ahaz the sign of the Immanuel child (Isaiah 7:10–17). i) Isaiah challenged Ahaz to go ahead and ask for a sign that this prophecy would be fulfilled (Isaiah 7:10–13). (1) And he told the king to ask for a big sign, something ―as deep as Sheol [the underground world of the spirits of the dead] or high as heaven [the sky]‖ (NRSV 7:11). (2) But Ahaz declined. He claimed that he didn’t want to challenge or provoke (KJV ―tempt‖) the Lord (7:12). But this was false piety, a smokescreen to cover up his lack of faith. ii) [SLIDE 8] Isaiah told Ahaz that the Lord was going to give him a sign anyway: A child would be born whose very name—Immanuel—would remind Ahaz that ―God [is] with us.‖
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Therefore the LORD himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive,5 and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. 16For 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. 17The LORD shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and
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Therefore the LORD himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. 15He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted. 17The LORD will bring on you and on your people

See Hosea 1:2–9. The ―son of Remaliah‖ in Isaiah 7:4 is a reference to King Pekah of Israel; see 7:1. 5 The Hebrew adjective (harah) can refer to a past pregnancy (e.g., 1 Samuel 4:19), a current pregnancy (Genesis 16:11; 38:24; 2 Samuel 11:5), and to a pregnancy that is about to occur in the near future (Judges 13:5, 7). Some Bible translations translate Isaiah 7:14 as a reference to a current pregnancy (NRSV, HCSB footnote). This is important for understanding the prophecy, as will be discussed below.
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© 2014, Mike Parker

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For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class

Old Testament: Isaiah 7–12

Week 19, Page 3

upon thy father's house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria. (KJV Isaiah 7:14–17)

and on your ancestral house such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah—the king of Assyria. (NRSV Isaiah 7:14–17)

(1) Verse 14 is one of the best-known passages in Isaiah because it is quoted in Matthew’s Gospel in connection with the miraculous conception of Jesus Christ. Matthew interpreted Isaiah’s prophecy as being fulfilled in the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:22–23). (2) However, there are some significant problems with Matthew’s use of Isaiah. If you read Isaiah 7 in context, there’s no way that it can apply to Jesus’ birth, which was over 700 years after Isaiah delivered his oracle to Ahaz.6 (a) Isaiah’s prophecy indicates that the child would eat curds (KJV ―butter‖) and honey (7:15), choice foods that would be difficult to obtain during a military siege. This indicates that, by the time the child was weaned—between two and three years old—Syria and Israel would be defeated and Judah would again be a choice land. (i) The prophecy was given in 734 B.C., and that is precisely what happened: Assyria stepped in and crushed the rebellion in 732, only two years later. (b) The prophecy also promised that, before the child would reach the age of accountability—age twelve by Jewish reckoning—the kings of both Israel and Syria would be completely overthrown by Assyria (7:16). (i) This also happened: Syria was overthrown in 732 and Israel in 721. If the child was born in 733, he would have been twelve years old in 721. (c) So the promised child has to be someone born very soon after the prophecy was given. (3) There are also problems with Matthew’s use of the word ―virgin‖ to describe the Immanuel child’s mother. (a) The Hebrew word in Isaiah 7:14 is ‫’( צלמה‬almah), which simply means ―young woman.‖7 There is no word for ―virgin‖ in the technical sense in Hebrew.8 (b) However, there is a word for it in Greek: παρθένος (parthenos).9

6 The following analysis of the Immanuel child prophecy is based on the overwhelming scholarly understanding of Isaiah 7. Even the most theologically conservative scholars accept that the prophecy cannot be only about Jesus’ birth, and they accept an immediate fulfillment in Isaiah’s time. See, for example, Donald W. Parry, Jay A. Parry, Tina M. Peterson, Understanding Isaiah (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1998), 72–74, 80–82. One Christian response to the Isaiah/Matthew problem has been to claim that it is a ―dual prophecy‖: One that has immediate fulfillment but also a later, second fulfillment to which he was also intentionally referring. However, the problems with this explanation are significant: To begin with, the idea of ―dual prophecy‖ is entirely contrived and has no basis in scripture; it was a theory created after the fact to solve a theological problem. Secondly, if this prophecy has a dual fulfillment, how many other prophecies have them? Is there some sort of ―control mechanism‖ that accurately tells us when a prophecy is dualistic and when it isn’t? Finally, if Isaiah 7:14 is a dual prophecy, how did Jesus’ birth fulfill the promises in verses 15–18? When did Jesus eat curds and honey? Which two lands were forsaken by both their kings before he reached maturity? And what army was raised up by God to eliminate these two kings? Rather than having a dual fulfillment, it seems more likely that Matthew used Isaiah 7:14 in a context that Isaiah did not intend. 7 ’almah is the female form of the corresponding Hebrew masculine noun ‫’( צלמה‬elem), ―young man.‖ Virtually no one argues that ’almah means ―virgin‖ in Hebrew; one exception is J. Alec Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary (Downer’s Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity, 1993), 84–85, with Parry, et al, Understanding Isaiah, following him. 8 The closest equivalent is ‫( בתולה‬bethulah), ―a young woman of marriageable age,‖ but for this word to mean virgin, the Hebrew author would additionally state that ―no man had known her‖ (as in Genesis 24:16; Judges 21:12).

© 2014, Mike Parker

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For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class

Old Testament: Isaiah 7–12

Week 19, Page 4

(i) Matthew was reading from the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament.10 The translators of the Septuagint translated ’almah as parthenos, leading Matthew, and all other Christians who followed him, to conclude that Isaiah’s prophecy was about Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus.11 (c) But if Matthew—either wittingly or unwittingly—changed Isaiah’s prophecy of the Immanuel Child and gave it a new context and a new meaning, then he is in good company, because lots of prophets have done the same thing with Isaiah and other scriptural writings. (i) Paul’s interpretations of Old Testament passages in his epistles don’t usually line up with their original meaning, and Nephi ―did liken all scriptures‖ (including Isaiah) unto himself and his people (1 Nephi 19:23– 24), giving them unique interpretations that applied to his posterity. (ii) And, as we’re going to see in this lesson and upcoming lessons, Joseph Smith did exactly the same thing as Matthew, Paul, and Nephi: He gave the words of Isaiah and other Biblical prophets a latter-day context that had meaning and importance to Mormons. iii) In the remainder of chapter 7, Isaiah compared the Assyrian army to a swarm of bees that that would cover the land and humiliate the inhabitants (7:18–20), and that they will leave the remaining people in poverty (7:21–25). d) So if the Immanuel child wasn’t Jesus, then who was he? i) [SLIDE 9] Isaiah didn’t explicitly tell us. However, it seems likely that the prophecy was fulfilled by the birth of Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (Isaiah 8:1–4). (1) Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz was the son of Isaiah and his wife, a woman known only as ―the prophetess‖ (8:3).12 (2) His birth date fits into the prophetic timeline announced by Isaiah. (3) His name means ―[one] hastens [to the] spoil; [one] hurries [to the] plunder,‖ a foreshadowing of Assyria’s destruction of Syria and Israel and taking their people and wealth back to the Assyrian homeland. (4) Connected to the oracle of Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz is the use of the name Immanuel (8:8) and the Lord’s warning to Judah that an alliance with Assyria will not stand, because ―God is with us‖ (Isaiah 8:10).

9 The English world for ―virgin‖ comes from the Latin phrase virgo intacta, ―intact maiden,‖ referring to a virginal woman’s unbroken hymen. 10 The Septuagint was translated by Greek-speaking Jewish scholars working in Egypt during the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. By the time of Christ, most written documents were produced in Greek, so the writers of the books of the New Testament (including Paul and the authors of the Gospels) both read their and wrote their own books in Greek. 11 Matthew’s translation of Isaiah 7:14 also influenced the King James translators to use the word ―virgin‖ in this and other Old Testament passages where ’almah appears. See Genesis 24:43; Song of Solomon 1:3; 6:8; cf. Exodus 2:8 and Proverbs 30:19 (―maid‖); Psalms 68:25 (―damsels‖). 12 Five women in the Old Testament are referred to as prophetesses: Miriam, sister of Aaron and Moses (Exodus 15:20); Deborah, judge of Israel (Judges 4:4); Huldah, who lived during the reign of King Josiah and predicted the destruction of Jerusalem (2 Kings 22:14–20; 2 Chronicles 34:22–28); the wife of Isaiah (Isaiah 8:3); and Noadiah, who tried to discourage Nehemiah from rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls (Nehemiah 6:14).

© 2014, Mike Parker

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For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class

Old Testament: Isaiah 7–12

Week 19, Page 5

e) The Lord then counseled Isaiah not to follow the popular political ideas of the people of Judah, or to buy into their conspiracy theories, but to fear the Lord instead. The Lord promised that he, the Lord himself, would become a stumbling-block and a snare to both houses of Israel. (Isaiah 8:11–15.) i) The people would turn to necromancers and magicians, but would ultimately be left in the dark, where they would ―curse their king and their God‖ (Isaiah 8:16–22). f) [SLIDE 10] The conclusion to the event. i) Ahaz ignored the advice of Isaiah to trust in Jehovah for deliverance, and instead took the gold and silver from the temple and used it to bribe Tiglath-Pileser into destroying and occupying the Syrian capital, Damascus (2 Kings 16:8–9). ii) The Assyrians subjugated Syria and Israel, and made Judah a vassal state. iii) Ahaz built a pagan altar in the Jerusalem Temple that was an exact copy of the one in Damascus (2 Kings 16:10–18). 3) A new age and a new ruler (Isaiah 9:1–7). a) Confronted with the wicked King Ahaz, Isaiah prophesied of a coming time when Israel would have a righteous king on the throne of David permanently. b) [SLIDE 11] This is the first of Isaiah’s many Messianic prophecies.
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The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. 3 Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not13 increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. 4 For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.14
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The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.
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You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder.
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For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire.

For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.

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13 The inclusion of the article (lo), ―not,‖ is incorrect here. JST Isaiah 9:3, 2 Nephi 19:3, and all modern Bible translations omit it. 14 This alludes to Gideon’s victory over Midian (Judges 7–8), when the Lord delivered Israel from an oppressive foreign invader.

© 2014, Mike Parker

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For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class
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Old Testament: Isaiah 7–12
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Week 19, Page 6

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
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For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (KJV Isaiah 9:2–7)

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His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onwards and for evermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (NRSV Isaiah 9:2–7)

c) Isiah prophesied that the people who were once lost in darkness (8:22) would now walk in the light (9:2). d) In his prophecy the Messiah is portrayed as a great military leader who would enlarge Israel’s borders (9:3), throw off the nations that oppressed her (9:4), and observe Israel’s victory by burning the clothing and equipment of the enemy soldiers (9:5).15 e) This Messiah would be a child born to Israel who would have the authority of the king upon his shoulders (9:6). f) He has four name/titles (9:6): i) ―Wonderful Counsellor.‖ (Note there should not be a comma between the two words.) This probably refers to his abilities as a military strategist (described in the previous three verses). ii) ―Mighty God‖ describes both the Messiah’s divine nature and his authority.16 iii) ―Everlasting Father‖ is not meant in a Trinitarian sense (the Son is not the Father), but as an idiom for the king as a protector of his people. (1) Elsewhere in scripture, the Son is described as an ―adoptive father‖ in a covenant sense (Mosiah 5:7) and as a creator (Mosiah 3:8). iv) ―The Prince of Peace‖ pictures the king as one who establishes peace within and among nations through military strength (as the preceding verses and the first two titles in 9:6 indicate). g) Finally, the Messiah’s kingdom will be a permanent one, not one held by a mortal who dies and then turns it over to another (9:7). 4) [SLIDE 12] Judgment on Israel from Assyria (Isaiah 9:8–10:4). a) These verses describe Assyria as a tool the Lord used to afflict the wicked and immoral northern kingdom of Israel.
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Compare Joshua 7:23–26; 11:6, 9; Psalm 46:9; Ezekiel 39:9–10. In Psalm 45:6 the Davidic king is referred to as ―God.‖ http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

© 2014, Mike Parker

Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class

Old Testament: Isaiah 7–12

Week 19, Page 7

i) The leaders of Israel mislead the people (9:16), and the people themselves had no compassion (9:19) and robbed the poor, widows, and orphans (10:2). b) This oracle is in four parts (9:8–12; 9:13–17; 9:18–21; 10:1–4). i) Each part ends with a description of destruction upon the people for their wickedness. Despite the horrible things that were going to happen to them, the Lord’s ―anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still‖ (9:12, 17, 21; cf. 5:25; 10:4). (1) The imagery here is not one of a loving hand reaching out to comfort,17 but a hand extended in the air, ready to strike. 5) [SLIDE 13] Judgment against a proud Assyria (Isaiah 10:5–32). a) This section is a poem in the form of a ―woe-saying‖ about Assyria. i) In the previous section we read how Assyria was like a tool in the Lord’s hands that he used to inflict punishment on wicked and unrepentant Israel and Judah. ii) In this section Isaiah prophesied that Assyria would go beyond the use God intended for it, and that it would be punished for this. (1) The oracle presents a boastful king of Assyria who listed all the great cities he had conquered, and then promised to do to Jerusalem what he did to Samaria, the capital city of Israel (10:8–11). (2) But when Assyria would come to threaten Jerusalem, the Lord promised that he would ―punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria‖ (10:12). (3) Returning to the theme of Assyria as a tool, the Lord rhetorically asked if the tool is greater than the one who uses it (10:15), and said he would destroy the Assyrians (10:16–19). (4) Only at that point would the people of Judah finally realize that Isaiah was right: They shouldn’t have relied on Assyria to protect from them Syria and Israel; they should have relied on the Lord. Even at that point only a remnant would return to worshipping him. (10:20–21.) (5) This prophecy ends with a wonderful visual of the King of Assyria marching as far south as Nob, a town only 3 or 4 miles northeast of Jerusalem, and then stopping and shaking his fist at Jerusalem in impotent rage (10:28–32). b) [SLIDE 14] Everything Isaiah prophesied came to pass. i) Tiglath-Pileser III died in 727, and was succeeded by Shalmaneser V. ii) King Hoshea of Israel suspended paying tribute to Assyria, and allied himself with Egypt in 725. This led Shalmaneser to besiege Samaria, the capital city of Israel, for three years (2 Kings 17:5). iii) When Shalmaneser died suddenly in 722, the throne was seized by Sargon II, the commander-in-chief of the army, who then quickly took Samaria, carrying its people away into captivity (2 Kings 17:1–6, 24; 18:7, 9).

17 The Book of Mormon uses a similar phrase ―I shall lengthen out mine arm‖ to refer to God’s mercy and compassion (2 Nephi 28:32). Elder Jeffrey R. Holland interpreted Isaiah and Nephi1’s phrase together in a positive context in his address ―Prophets in the Land Again,‖ General Conference, October 2006 (https://www.lds.org/generalconference/2006/10/prophets-in-the-land-again).

© 2014, Mike Parker

http://bit.ly/ldsarc

For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class

Old Testament: Isaiah 7–12

Week 19, Page 8

iv) Sargon also overran Judah and besieged Jerusalem, as Isaiah foretold, but did not capture it. In 721 Babylon revolted against the rule of the Assyrians, and Sargon was forced to turn his attention away from Judah to deal with the troubles in the east. Judah was spared, although it remained a vassal state to Assyria. 6) [SLIDE 15] The future peaceful kingdom and the heir of David’s throne (Isaiah 10:33– 12:6). a) Isaiah’s prophecy of the destruction of Assyria and the return of the people to worshipping the Lord segued into another Messianic prophecy. b) This next prophecy builds on the one we read back at the beginning of chapter 9: It foretells a time when there will not only be peace and justice among mankind, but even the very nature of animals will be different. i) This is the period Christians know as the millennium: the thousand-year reign of Christ, the King of Israel.18 c) Like some other passages in Isaiah, this one doesn’t start at the beginning of a chapter. It actually begins in 10:33. d) Isaiah began the prophesy by foretelling that Israel and Judah would be cut down in size, just as someone cuts down or cuts back a forest (10:33–34). After this, all that would be left of the people of Israel would be a stump (KJV ―stem‖), referred to by the name of Jesse, the father of David. But from that stump would grow a new shoot (KJV ―rod‖), which represents the Messiah (11:1). i) This is a theme that Isaiah continuously repeated: The Lord would destroy all but a small remnant of Israel, but even though that remnant would appear to be dead, new life would spring from it, just as new shoots come out from what appears to be a dead stump. e) The prophecy describes the conditions the people will enjoy under the Messianic reign:
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And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD:19

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A shoot will grow out of Jesse’s root stock, a bud will sprout from his roots.

2

The Lord’s spirit will rest on him— a spirit that gives extraordinary wisdom, a spirit that provides the ability to execute plans, 3 a spirit that produces absolute loyalty to the Lord.

18 The concept of a millennial (1,000-year) reign isn’t found in Isaiah. It comes from later apocryphal literature, and is first found in the New Testament book of Revelation (20:1–6). It also occurs in the book of 2 Enoch (also known as Slavonic Enoch) which was written about the same time as Revelation, late in the 1st century A.D. (2 Enoch 33:1; http://www.sacredtexts.com/bib/fbe/fbe140.htm). The 1,000-year reign of Christ also appears in modern revelation (D&C 29:11; 88:110; Moses 7:64–65). 19 The first half of verse 3 belongs at the end of verse 2, and the second half of verse 3 belongs at the beginning of verse 4.

© 2014, Mike Parker

http://bit.ly/ldsarc

For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class

Old Testament: Isaiah 7–12

Week 19, Page 9

and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. 6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;20 and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’21 den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. (KJV Isaiah 11:1–9)

He will not judge by mere appearances, or make decisions on the basis of hearsay. 4 He will treat the poor fairly, and make right decisions for the downtrodden of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and order the wicked to be executed.

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Justice will be like a belt around his waist, integrity will be like a belt around his hips. 6 A wolf will reside with a lamb, and a leopard will lie down with a young goat; an ox and a young lion will graze together, as a small child leads them along.
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A cow and a bear will graze together, their young will lie down together. A lion, like an ox, will eat straw. 8 A baby will play over the hole of a snake; over the nest of a serpent an infant will put his hand. 9 They will no longer injure or destroy on my entire royal mountain. For there will be universal submission to the Lord’s sovereignty, just as the waters completely cover the sea. (NET Isaiah 11:1–9)

i) Unlike the mortal, fallible kings throughout Israel and Judah’s history, the Messianic king will reign with perfect justice, not judging by what his eyes see or his ears hear, but with righteousness and equity (11:3–4). ii) The categories of ―predator‖ and ―prey‖ will no longer exist. Humans and their livestock will have nothing fear from animals that formerly preyed upon them.

A ―kid‖ refers to a young goat. A cockatrice was a mythical creature widely accepted to existed by people living between the 14th and 17th centuries A.D. It resembled a large rooster with a lizard-like tail. The King James translators (working in the early 17th century) rendered ‫( צפעוני‬tsepha’) as ―cockatrice‖ here, as well as in Isaiah 14:29; 59:5; and Jeremiah 8:17. It should be translated ―poisonous serpent‖ or ―adder.‖
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© 2014, Mike Parker

http://bit.ly/ldsarc

For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class

Old Testament: Isaiah 7–12

Week 19, Page 10

f) In the second half of this prophecy Isaiah described how the Messiah will gather the scattered children of Israel to their homeland:
10And

in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. 11And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. 12And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. 13The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim. (KJV Isaiah 11:10–13)

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At that time a root from Jesse will stand like a signal flag for the nations. Nations will look to him for guidance, and his residence will be majestic. 11 At that time the sovereign master will again lift his hand to reclaim the remnant of his people from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and the seacoasts.

12

He will lift a signal flag for the nations; he will gather Israel’s dispersed people and assemble Judah’s scattered people from the four corners of the earth. 13Ephraim’s jealousy will end, and Judah’s hostility will be eliminated. Ephraim will no longer be jealous of Judah, and Judah will no longer be hostile toward Ephraim. (NET Isaiah 11:10–13)

i) In this part of the prophecy, Isaiah referred to the Davidic Messiah as a ―root of Jesse,‖ or possibly a ―root from Jesse‖ (11:10). ii) The Messiah will set up an ensign22—a signal flag or banner around which an army or navy rallies—to restore Israel a second time to her promised land (the first time being the Exodus). iii) When this happens, the jealousy and hostility between the northern kingdom of Israel (Ephraim) and the southern kingdom of Judah will end. iv) Continuing on we learn that, at that day, the people will praise the Lord because the Holy One of Israel dwells among them (12:1–6). g) When the angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith in September 1823, he quoted several passages of scripture. Among them was ―the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, saying that it was about to be fulfilled‖ (Joseph Smith—History 1:40). i) Since the time Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received the keys of the gathering of Israel at the Kirtland Temple, one of the primary purposes of the Church has been to gather scattered Israel. (1) In fact this was recently reaffirmed when the Church revised its ―threefold mission‖ to a four-point ―statement of purpose‖: ―Preach the gospel‖ was changed to ―gather Israel.‖23

22 A note on pronunciation: An ensign, or signal flag, is pronounced en-sign (as is also the title of the Church’s official magazine, which employs this symbol). An ensign, the lowest rank of officer in the navy, is pronounced en-sun. 23 Handbook 2: Administering the Church (2010), 2.2: ―The Purpose of the Church‖ (p. 9) (http://www.lds.org/handbook/handbook-2-administering-the-church/priesthood-principles#22).

© 2014, Mike Parker

http://bit.ly/ldsarc

For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class

Old Testament: Isaiah 7–12

Week 19, Page 11

h) In 1838 Joseph Smith received a revelation that gave a fresh interpretation of Isaiah 11 as it applies to the rise of the restored Church. i) This revealed interpretation provides a modern understanding of Isaiah’s prophecy, one that Isaiah didn’t intend and that the New Testament church didn’t follow,24 but that applies uniquely to us in the latter days. ii) This revelation is found in Doctrine and Covenants 113:1–6. iii) [SLIDE 16] The following table lists the symbols, what Isaiah meant by them, and how Joseph Smith’s revelation reinterpreted them:
Symbol Stem of Jesse (a stump or root stock)
Isaiah 11:1; D&C 113:1–2

Isaiah’s original meaning

Joseph Smith’s revealed reinterpretation

Scattered Israel

Christ

Rod
Isaiah 11:1, 4; D&C 113:3–4

The Davidic king or Messiah (Christ) The Davidic king or Messiah (Christ)

Christ’s servant (Joseph Smith)25 One who holds the keys and is an ensign (Joseph Smith)

Root of Jesse
Isaiah 11:10; D&C 113:5–6

(1) In Isaiah’s prophecy, the Messiah is a descendant of David who is Israel’s heir and an ensign to gather his people. The Messiah is a rod, or shoot, that comes out of the (supposedly) dead stump of Israel and restores her to her former glory, just as a new tree can grow from a stump that has been cut to the ground. (2) In the context of modern revelation, Joseph Smith can be considered a shoot that comes out of the stem of Jesse. Christ is the trunk of the tree, and Joseph, his servant in the last days, is an offshoot who will help accomplish the gathering of Israel and prepare the way for the coming of Christ. iv) Both interpretations are legitimate; which one you use depends on the context in which you apply it. It’s not unlike Isaiah’s vision of the millennial temple that we discussed last week (Isaiah 2:1–5): Isaiah had in mind the restored temple in Jerusalem, but his prophecy can be applied in a modern context to refer to the Salt Lake Temple. v) It’s also not unlike Matthew’s use of Isaiah 7:14 as a prophecy of Christ’s birth: Isaiah had a completely different child in mind, but that doesn’t mean Matthew couldn’t reinterpret the revelation for a context appropriate to New Testament time and circumstances. vi) This is all part of what Nephi called ―liken[ing] all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning‖ (1 Nephi 19:23).

Paul identified Christ as the ―root of Jesse‖ (Romans 15:7–12). Joseph Smith is not identified by name in D&C 113:4 and 6, but the context leads inevitably to him being the servant spoken of.
24 25

© 2014, Mike Parker

http://bit.ly/ldsarc

For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

Hurricane Utah Adult Religion Class

Old Testament: Isaiah 7–12

Week 19, Page 12

7) [SLIDE 17] The ―take-home message‖ from this section of Isaiah: a) ―God [is] with us.‖ We should reject the world’s convenient and popular opinions and trust in the Lord to protect us. b) God’s Messiah (Christ) was born, died, and was resurrected, just as the prophets foretold. c) The Messiah is coming again to gather Israel and establish God’s eternal kingdom. i) The preparation for this began with the restoration of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith. 8) [SLIDE 18] Remember, there will be no class next week or the week after. In three weeks: a) Isaiah 13–39. b) Also read 2 Kings 17–20.

© 2014, Mike Parker

http://bit.ly/ldsarc

For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

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