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Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD. 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? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. - Isaiah 7:10-14 - KJV

In verse 3 of this chapter Isaiah is sent by the Lord to Ahaz to say things to him (v.4). In verse 10 the Lord speaks to Ahaz, presumably through Isaiah. In verse 13 we see "And he said" but it is unclear if this is Ahaz or Isaiah speaking for the Lord.

If it is the Lord (through Isaiah), then Ahaz (representing the House of David) is being chastised for not asking for a sign. If it is Ahaz, then the House of David is being chastised because they often ask for signs. Nevertheless God gives a sign.

Who is the referent of "And he said" in Isaiah 7:13?

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    which Bible are you using, please? Aug 10, 2022 at 18:56
  • Sorry to go sideways and how can anyone take part in a discussion which ignores the different translations in Mike's Question and Ray's Answer? Why is it not clear that at least one is rendered worthless by that difference? I have no idea which is better, or whether either is correct. I'm just asking how both can co-exist? What language is so vague that “Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?” could mean anything like “Is it not enough for you to treat men as helpless that you also treat my God as helpless?” Aug 10, 2022 at 19:08
  • @RobbieGoodwin It's KJV. Thanks for pointing this out. I have edited. Aug 11, 2022 at 11:44
  • @RobbieGoodwin I actually think that ancient Hebrew is pretty famously vague and difficult at times. KJV translates the same word in Genesis 19:11 as wearied themselves. I think your question in the comment above would make an excellent stand alone question on this site. I encourage you to ask it and look forward to the answers you might receive. Aug 11, 2022 at 11:47
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    Thanks for KJV and the stand-alone suggestion and while I am interested in which translation might be better, I'd have to learn several languages for that. My interest here was limited to the fact that the difference renders at least one version clearly wrong. I hadn't noticed how pervasive such errors are until I looked up Exodus 22:18 for information about witches in ancient literature and in 39 different Bibles found 21 variants, some as wildly different as here. Though only by a tad, that's to say more than half the translations are questionable! Aug 11, 2022 at 14:14

4 Answers 4

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וַיֹּאמֶר שִׁמְעוּ נָא בֵּית דָּוִד הַמְעַט מִכֶּם הַלְאוֹת אֲנָשִׁים כִּי

The KJV correctly translates the "he said" of the Hebrew, nor are there any special grammatical clues to distinguish which 'he', nevertheless there is no ambiguity as the text reads

"And he said, 'Hear [emphatic "ye"/"now"] House of David..' "

and so it would not be Ahab speaking, as he is the representative of the House of David - the royal line - and therefore he is the one being addressed in the quote, so the speaker is Isaiah, the one speaking with the representative of the House of David.

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The Jewish Publication Society's 1985 Hebrew Bible has:

וַיֹּאמֶר שִׁמְעוּ־נָ֖א בֵּית דָּוִ֑ד הַמְעַ֤ט מִכֶּם֙ הַלְא֣וֹת אֲנָשִׁים כִּי תַלְא֖וּ גַּם אֶת־אֱלֹהָֽי׃

“Listen, House of David,” [Isaiah] retorted, “is it not enough for you to treat men as helpless that you also treat my God as helpless?
[By insisting on soliciting the aid of Assyria (see 2 Kings 16.7 ff.; cf. below, v. 20). “Treat as helpless” follows the translation of Saadia; cf. Gen. 19.11.]
Isaiah 7:13

Clearly, Judaism interprets "he" as "Isaiah".

This seems like the obviously correct interpretation, as Isaiah tells Ahaz to ask for a sign, Ahaz refuses to ask, and then Isaiah tells Ahaz that he's going to get a sign anyway.


In 1 Chronicles 17, God made a covenant with David.
In particular:

And I will establish him in My house and in My kingdom forever; and his throne shall be established forever.

Ahaz, King of Judah, doesn't have enough faith in his own people to defend themselves, and then by refusing to ask for a sign indicating that Isaiah is prophesying truly, he demonstrates that he doesn't have enough faith in God's promise to David either.

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  • What could putting Isaiah in bracketed italics possibly mean, but that the JPS was not sure? Correct me and while I see no real rules, is is not true that in cases like this either brackets or italics - let alone both together - generally indicate an editorial assumption, perhaps justified logically but not supported by the original text, even if apparently required in translation? Aug 10, 2022 at 19:04
  • @RobbieGoodwin, the original text has "he". This translation put it as "Isaiah" to avoid confusion. (I've just added a brief explanation to my answer.) Aug 10, 2022 at 19:13
  • Thanks and that seems not just to perpetuate but to magnify the problem. When the original text has "he" how did that translation come put it as "Isaiah"? 1985 might not be too long ago to ask, and how could not have been obvious to anyone involved that a change like that might create at least as much confusion as it avoided? Isn't your "This seems like the obviously correct interpretation…" a perfect example of my editorial assumption, perhaps justified logically but not supported by the original text, even if apparently required in translation? Aug 10, 2022 at 19:22
  • @RobbieGoodwin, the brackets are used to let the reader know that the word wasn't in the original (and to avoid appearing to have deceitfully altered the original). The King James Version uses italics to indicate words that the translators supplied. For instance, in 7:13 in the question, "Is it a small thing" has "Is it" in italics to indicate that those words didn't appear in the original Hebrew. Most translations don't bother to indicate such things. Aug 10, 2022 at 19:43
  • Exactly. Did you realise you were restating the problem, not justifying or even explaining it? Aug 10, 2022 at 19:48
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For the many who hold to the plenary verbal inspiration of scripture, one might appeal to:

Matthew 1:22-23 NASB95

22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US."

But considering the original context, it seems incredible that Ahaz would have so directly contradicted the esteemed prophet Isaiah, and to be held up as a paragon of faith-based leadership, since it was he who made the disastrous compromises with the Assyrians that resulted in their being made vassals.

Nor does it make any sense for Isaiah to speak of Ahaz's refusal to ask for a sign as "wearying" bravado, and then for the scriptures to accept a "contradictory offer" to the prophet, saying that the LORD would provide a specific sign. The King doesn't get to show the prophet how to do prophet work.

What was so wearisome to Isaiah? It was Ahaz's hypocritical lip service and feigned faith. It was Isaiah that indeed gave the prophecy. Prophets take such signs seriously:

2 Kings 13:15-20 NASB95

15 Elisha said to him, "Take a bow and arrows." So he took a bow and arrows. 16 Then he said to the king of Israel, "Put your hand on the bow." And he put his hand on it, then Elisha laid his hands on the king's hands. 17 He said, "Open the window toward the east," and he opened it. Then Elisha said, "Shoot!" And he shot. And he said, "The LORD'S arrow of victory, even the arrow of victory over Aram; for you will defeat the Arameans at Aphek until you have destroyed them." 18 Then he said, "Take the arrows," and he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, "Strike the ground," and he struck it three times and stopped. 19 So the man of God was angry with him and said, "You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it. But now you shall strike Aram only three times." 20 Elisha died, and they buried him. Now the bands of the Moabites would invade the land in the spring of the year.

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  • In what world was Ahaz held up as a paragon of faith-based leadership? His father was a good king but Azaz was rotten. Oct 12, 2023 at 13:26
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    That was my point, precisely. Ahaz is not trumping Isaiah, but rather aggravating him with his feigned "too holy to ask for a sign" schtick.
    – Ruminator
    Oct 12, 2023 at 13:35
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The point of view in the Book of Isaiah seems to start with a third person view point then go to a first person in chapter 5, then third again in 7 and back to first in 8. So in 7:13, “he” is more likely to be Isaiah.

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