Gill's explanation of Isaiah 7:14

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The text of Isaiah 7:14 is:

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

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign.

The Lord himself shall give you a sign, whether they would ask one or not. "Ask it either in the depth, or in the height above," verse 11. A sign both in heaven and earth, namely, the promised Messiah; who being the Lord from heaven, would take flesh of a virgin on earth; and who as man, being buried in the heart of the earth, would be raised from thence, and ascend up into heaven. His birth, though it was to be many years after, was a sign of present deliverance to Judah from the confederacy of the two kings of Syria and Israel. It also was a sign of future safety, since it was not possible that this kingdom should cease to be one until the Messiah was come, who was to spring from Judah, and be of the house of David. Wherefore by how much the longer off was his birth, by so much the longer was their safety.

Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son.

This son is not to be understood of Hezekiah, the son of Ahaz, by his wife, as some Jewish writers interpret it. Jarchi refutes interpretation, by observing that Hezekiah was nine years old when his father began to reign. Since this being was, as he says, the fourth year of his reign, he must be at this time thirteen years of age. In like manner, Aben Ezra and Kimchi object to it. Besides, his mother could not be called a "virgin". For the same reason it cannot be understood of any other son of his either by his wife, as Kimchi thinks, or by some young woman. Moreover, no other son of his was ever lord of Judea, as this Immanuel is represented to be, in Isaiah 8:8, "the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel." Nor can it be interpreted of Isaiah's wife and son, as Aben Ezra and Jarchi think. Since the prophet could never call her a "virgin", who had bore him children, one of which was now with him. Nor indeed could he call her a "young woman", but rather "the prophetess", as in Isaiah 8:3, "and I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son." Nor was any son of his king of Judah, as this appears to be, in the place before cited. But the Messiah is here meant, who was to be born of a pure virgin. The word here used signifies a pure virgin in all places where it is mentioned, as Genesis 24:43 Exodus 2:8 Psalms 68:25 Songs 1:3 and 6:8.

Genesis 24:43. Behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass, that when the virgin cometh forth to draw water, and I say to her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water of thy pitcher to drink.

Exodus 2:8. And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child's mother.

Psalms 68:25. The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after; among them were the damsels playing with timbrels.

Songs 1:3. Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.

Songs 6:8. There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number.

And even in Proverbs 30:19 does it signify a pure virgin.

Proverbs 30:19. The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.

This is the instance the Jews give of the word being used of a woman corrupted. But they are wrong since it does not appear that the maid in this verse, and the adulterous woman in the next, are one and the same person. If they were, she might, though vitiated, be called a maid or virgin, from her own profession of herself, or as she appeared to others who knew her not, or as she was antecedent to her defilement. This is no unusual thing in Scripture, see Deuteronomy 22:28

Deuteronomy 22:28. If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;

To this may be added, that not only the Evangelist Matthew renders the word by parqenoV , "a virgin"; but the Septuagint interpreters, who were Jews, so rendered the word hundreds of years before him. And this best agrees with the Hebrew word, which comes from the root alam, which signifies to "hide" or "cover". For virgins are covered and unknown to men. In the eastern country virgins were usually kept recluse, and were shut up from the public company and conversation of men. And now this was the sign that was to be given, and a miraculous one it was, that the Messiah should be born of a pure and incorrupt virgin. Therefore a "behold" is prefixed to it, as a note of admiration. And what else could be this sign or wonder? Not surely that a young married woman, either Ahaz's or Isaiah's wife, should be with child, which is nothing surprising, and of which there are repeated instances every day. Nor was it that the young woman was unfit for conception at the time of the prophecy, which was the fancy of some, as Jarchi reports, since no such intimation is given either in the text or context. Nor did it lie in this, that it was a male child, and not a female, which was predicted, as R. Saadiah Gaon, in Aben Ezra, would have it. For the sign or wonder does not lie in the truth of the prophet's prediction, but in the greatness of the thing predicted. Besides, the verification of this would not have given the prophet much credit, nor Ahaz and the house of David much comfort, since this might have been ascribed rather to a happy conjecture than to a spirit of prophecy. Much less can the wonder be, that this child should eat butter and honey, as soon as it was born, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi suggest. Since nothing is more natural to, and common with young children, than to take down any kind of liquids which are sweet and pleasant.

And shall call his name Immanuel

This name Immanuel is, by interpretation, "God with us", Matthew 1:23

Matthew 1:23. Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Hence does it appear that the Messiah is truly God, as well as truly man. The name is expressive of the union of the two natures, human and divine, in him; of his office as Mediator. This Mediator, being both God and man, is a middle person between both; of his converse with men on earth, and of his spiritual presence with his people. See John 1:14 and 1 Timothy 3:16.

John 1:14. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

1 Timothy 3:16. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.


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