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A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Isaiah 7-9

Kuruvilla Thomas
Bangalore
Published on 1 January 2020




Isaiah 7-9 Timeline
Fig. 1


Introduction

This study treats Isaiah 7-9 as a "Functional Chiasmus" in order to arrive at a coherent reconfiguration of the text. Text that is arranged in the form of a functional chiasmus must be rearranged based on certain logical principles to be correctly interpreted. A functional chiasmus is a new concept; see definition here [1]. This study also contains an exegesis of the rearranged text. If you wish to skip the technicalities of a chiastic parse, you may read starting from Part 4 of the Discussion section, which has the reconfigured text.

Isaiah 7:14-9:7 is an important reconstruction, because it is one of the few passages in the Bible that are explicitly designated as sealed - as in Daniel 8 & 12. It also contains some of the key prophecies about the coming Messiah, especially 7:14b "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.". This prophecy has been intensely studied, partly because of accusations by some that this verse, which is quoted in Matthew 1:23, has been taken out of context. Through this chiastic reconfiguration, we will place this and other verses about the Messiah in a coherent context.


Notes:
We will use the term "Judahite" to refer to the Israelites living in and around Jerusalem in the 1st century who primarily were of the tribe of Judah; We will try to avoid the term "Jew" to avoid the confusion it introduces.


Discussion

1. Presuppositions

We treat vs 7:14a, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:", as indicating the start of the prophecy that ends at 9:7.

We base our parse of Isaiah 7:14b - 9:7 on the assumption that it refers to 3 periods:

  1. The Exile of the Northern Kingdom of Israel to the time of the Exile of Judah (circa 730BC-600BC).
  2. The Birth of Christ to The First Jewish–Roman War (c. 4BC-74AD).
  3. Christ's Millennial Reign (circa 2000AD).

2. Parsing the chiasmus

We will use the NIV Bible for this parse.

Parsing this chiasmus involves dividing portions of the text into three categories as above. We will call the period of the Exile of Israel Period 1, the birth of Christ to the time of the Roman war Period 2 and Christ's millennial reign Period 3. As a general rule, for passages about Jesus, we mostly let the quote in the New Testament determine the extent of the sub-unit - any passage not quoted in the New Testament, we treat as not about his First Coming.


Categorizing Isaiah 7:14b - 9:7

Ch 7:14b belongs to Period 2. The Messiah will be born of a virgin.

Ch 7:15 - Ch 8:8 - belong to Period 1. Assyrians defeat Samaria and Jerusalem.

Ch 8 Vs 9-10 appear to belong to Period 3. This passage could apply to any attempt at war during Christ's millennial reign.

Ch 8 Vs 11-13 belongs to Period 1. A warning to fear God and not man.

Ch 8 Vs 14-15 belong to Period 2. Jesus will be a stumbling block to some. Those who do not believe in him will be killed in the Roman attack on Jerusalem.

Ch 8 Vs 16-22 belong to Period 1. Concluding comments for Period 1. Do not consult mediums.

Ch 9 Vs 1-2 belong to Period 2. "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light" - Christ's message spreads.

Ch 9 Vs 3-7 belong to Period 3. Christ's millennial reign begins.


Original text

We color-code the chiastic units of the original text (NIV) below for easy visual identification using: red for Period 1, blue for Period 2 and green for Period 3.


Isaiah 7 14b The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
15 He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, 16 for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.
...
(Verses 17-24 omitted)
...
25 As for all the hills once cultivated by the hoe, you will no longer go there for fear of the briers and thorns; they will become places where cattle are turned loose and where sheep run.



Isaiah 8 The Lord said to me, “Take a large scroll and write on it with an ordinary pen: Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz.” 2 So I called in Uriah the priest and Zechariah son of Jeberekiah as reliable witnesses for me. 3 Then I made love to the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. And the Lord said to me, “Name him Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. 4 For before the boy knows how to say ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria will be carried off by the king of Assyria.”
5 The Lord spoke to me again:
6 “Because this people has rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah and rejoices over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, 7 therefore the Lord is about to bring against them the mighty floodwaters of the Euphrates— the king of Assyria with all his pomp. It will overflow all its channels, run over all its banks 8 and sweep on into Judah, swirling over it, passing through it and reaching up to the neck. Its outspread wings will cover the breadth of your land, Immanuel! ”


9 Raise the war cry, you nations, and be shattered! Listen, all you distant lands. Prepare for battle, and be shattered! Prepare for battle, and be shattered! 10 Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted; propose your plan, but it will not stand, for God is with us.

11 This is what the Lord says to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people:
12 “Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. 13 The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread.

14 He will be a holy place; for both Israel and Judah he will be a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare. 15 Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured.”

16 Bind up this testimony of warning and seal up God’s instruction among my disciples. 17 I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my trust in him.
18 Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion.
19 When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20 Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. 21 Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. 22 Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.


Isaiah 9 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—
2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. 4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. 5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.



3. Building the reconfigured text

From this parse, it appears that Isaiah 7:14b - 8:15 forms a Functional chiasmus as below:

A1   Ch 7 Vs 14b Period 2. Birth of Christ.
  B1   Ch 7 Vs 15 - Ch 8 vs 8 Period 1. Assyrians defeat Samaria and Jerusalem.
    X   Ch 8 Vs 9-10 Period 3. Attacks thwarted during Christ's millennial reign.
  B2   Ch 8 Vs 11-13 Period 1. Fear God and not the conspiracies of men.
A2   Ch 8 Vs 14-15 Period 2. Christ is a stone. Roman defeat of Jerusalem.


We now reconstruct the phrases in the right order based on the chiastic structure above and based on the ordering rules of a functional chiasmus [1].

We lead with central pivot point 'X'. The corresponding subunits (For example; subunit A1 corresponds to A2) are placed contiguously to form units (For example, A1,A2 is a unit ) so that we get a list of such units.


The sequence selected for rearrangement is:

X  [A1,A2]  [B1,B2]        (1)

We have the following sequence when we include verses 8:16-9:7:
X         - Period 3
[A1,A2] - Period 2
[B1,B2] - Period 1
Ch 8 Vs 16-22 - Period 1. Concluding comments about consulting mediums.
Ch 9 Vs 1-2 - Period 2. The people have seen a great light...
Ch 9 Vs 3-7 - Period 3. Christ's millennial reign.


We still have text for the periods in a non-contiguous form. We can treat this as a doubly applied functional chiasmus as below.


M1   X   Period 3
  N1   [A1,A2] Period 2
   XX   [B1,B2], Ch 8 Vs 16-22 Period 1
  N2   Ch 9 Vs 1-2 Period 2
M2   Ch 9 Vs 3-7 Period 3

The sequence selected for rearrangement is:
XX  [M1,M2]  [N1,N2]        (2)


Translating this sequence (2) into the subunits of the first chiasmus, we get:

[B1,B2], Ch 8 Vs 16-22,  [[X], Ch 9 Vs 3-7]   [[A1,A2], Ch 9 Vs 1-2]        (3)

Further translating (3) into verse numbers, we get:

[Ch 7 Vs 15 - Ch 8 vs 8, Ch 8 Vs 11-13], Ch 8 Vs 16-22,  [[Ch 8 Vs 9-10], Ch 9 Vs 3-7]   [[Ch 7 Vs 14b, Ch 8 Vs 14-15],Ch 9 Vs 1-2]        (4)

We arrive at the reconfigured passage in the next section by rearranging the verses so they are in sequence (4).



4. Isaiah 7:14-9:7 Reconfigured

The Exile of the Northern Kingdom of Israel to the Exile of Judah (circa 730BC-600BC).(Ch 7 Vs 15 - Ch 8 vs 8, Ch 8 Vs 11-13, Ch 8 Vs 16-22)

Chapter 7 15 He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, 16 for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.
...
(Verses 17-24 omitted)
...
25 As for all the hills once cultivated by the hoe, you will no longer go there for fear of the briers and thorns; they will become places where cattle are turned loose and where sheep run.


Chapter 8 1 The Lord said to me, “Take a large scroll and write on it with an ordinary pen: Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz.” 2 So I called in Uriah the priest and Zechariah son of Jeberekiah as reliable witnesses for me. 3 Then I made love to the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. And the Lord said to me, “Name him Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. 4 For before the boy knows how to say ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria will be carried off by the king of Assyria.”
5 The Lord spoke to me again:
6 “Because this people has rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah and rejoices over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, 7 therefore the Lord is about to bring against them the mighty floodwaters of the Euphrates— the king of Assyria with all his pomp. It will overflow all its channels, run over all its banks 8 and sweep on into Judah, swirling over it, passing through it and reaching up to the neck. Its outspread wings will cover the breadth of your land, Immanuel! ”


11 This is what the Lord says to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people:
12 “Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. 13 The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread.


16 Bind up this testimony of warning and seal up God’s instruction among my disciples. 17 I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my trust in him.
18 Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion.
19 When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20 Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. 21 Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. 22 Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.


Christ's Millennial Reign (circa 2000AD) (Ch 8 Vs 9-10, Ch 9 Vs 3-7 )
Chapter 8 9 Raise the war cry, you nations, and be shattered! Listen, all you distant lands. Prepare for battle, and be shattered! Prepare for battle, and be shattered! 10 Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted; propose your plan, but it will not stand, for God is with us.

Chapter 9 3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. 4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. 5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

The Birth of Christ to The First Jewish–Roman War (c. 4BC-74AD).(Ch 7 Vs 14b, Ch 8 Vs 14-15, Ch 9 Vs 1-2)
Chapter 7 14b The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Chapter 8 14 He will be a holy place; for both Israel and Judah he will be a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare. 15 Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured.”

Chapter 9 1 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—
2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.




5. An exegesis of the reconfigured text.

The passage has been split into 3 sections as above for analysis.

5.1 The Exile of the Northern Kingdom of Israel to the Exile of Judah (circa 730BC-600BC).(Ch 7 Vs 15 - Ch 8 vs 8, Ch 8 Vs 11-13, Ch 8 Vs 16-22)

Chapter 7 14a Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:

We include Isaiah 7:14a here though it falls outside the chiasmus because it indicates the start of the prophecy. There is much more in this prophecy than the 'sign' to Ahaz and the Judahites regarding their immediate concerns; the prophecy contains several significant predictions that will take place well into the future.



The structure of Isaiah 7:15-8:8: Isaiah 7:15-25 consist of two prophecies: the exile of Samaria (7:15,16), and the exile of Judah (7:17-25). These prophecies are repeated, with a few additional details, in Isaiah 8:1-8 : the exile of Samaria (8:1-4), and the exile of Judah (8:5-8). This parallel construction of repeated narratives is a rhetorical device that is often used in the Bible.


Chapter 7 15 He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, 16 for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.”

A boy born to the prophet will be eating "curds and honey" by the time he is about 2 years old because Samaria and Damascus will be defeated and their people will be taken captive. This prophecy came true circa 732BC when Tiglath-Pileser III, Monarch of Assyria, defeated Aram and the Northern kingdom of Israel and deported their populations.

(It appears that "curds and honey" was suitable produce for sparsely populated, uncultivated regions because of an abundance land for grazing (see Isaiah 7:25); the produce of a depleted Samaria was presumably sold in Judea and Jerusalem. It may be that "curds and honey" is a sweetened milk product with the sugar acting as a preservative. Also, we deduce from Isaiah 8:4 that the age of "choosing right from wrong" is around the time the child learns to talk, which is about 2 years old.)


Chapter 7 17 The Lord will bring on you and on your people and on the house of your father a time unlike any since Ephraim broke away from Judah—he will bring the king of Assyria.”
18 In that day the Lord will whistle for flies from the Nile delta in Egypt and for bees from the land of Assyria. 19 They will all come and settle in the steep ravines and in the crevices in the rocks, on all the thornbushes and at all the water holes. 20 In that day the Lord will use a razor hired from beyond the Euphrates River—the king of Assyria—to shave your head and private parts, and to cut off your beard also.

The Judahites will face a tribulation they have not faced since they were separated from the Northern kingdom - slavery. The giant armies of Egypt and Assyria will attack Judah. God will use the king of Assyria to devastate the region and take the people captive into humiliating slavery.

These prophecies were fulfilled around 130 years later. In 609BC, Necho II of Egypt, during a campaign against the Babylonians, defeated Josiah, King of Judah, at Megiddo and turned Judah into a vassal state. Nebuchadnezzar then defeated the Egyptians and began a campaign against Jerusalem c. 597BC that culminated in the destruction of the temple and city, and the exile of the Judahites to Babylon circa 587BC.
( Although this passage foretells an Assyrian attack, we believe it refers to this Babylonian attack because the Bible sometimes uses the names interchangeably, probably because both empires are based out of the same region, Mesopotamia. Also, this exile took place just a few years after Babylonians defeated the Assyrians to take control of the Mesopotamian region. )




Chapter 7 21 In that day, a person will keep alive a young cow and two goats. 22 And because of the abundance of the milk they give, there will be curds to eat. All who remain in the land will eat curds and honey. 23 In that day, in every place where there were a thousand vines worth a thousand silver shekels, there will be only briers and thorns. 24 Hunters will go there with bow and arrow, for the land will be covered with briers and thorns. 25 As for all the hills once cultivated by the hoe, you will no longer go there for fear of the briers and thorns; they will become places where cattle are turned loose and where sheep run.

With the Northern Tribes and now Judah exiled, very few people remained in this devastated land because the people had forsaken their God.




Chapter 8 1 The Lord said to me, “Take a large scroll and write on it with an ordinary pen: Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz.” 2 So I called in Uriah the priest and Zechariah son of Jeberekiah as reliable witnesses for me. 3 Then I made love to the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. And the Lord said to me, “Name him Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. 4 For before the boy knows how to say ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria will be carried off by the king of Assyria.”

In Isaiah 8:1-8, the prophet repeats what he had said before in Isaiah 7:15-25. We believe that this passage was part of the prophecy and not a break in the prophecy to record what really happened.

The prophet will make a clear, official record of his son's name, presumably as public proof that God's prophecy is fulfilled. By the time the boy can speak, Samaria and Damascus will be sacked. Both parts of the boys name, Maher-Shalal and Hash-Baz, mean "hasten to the spoil", the repetition presumably serving to intensify the urgency (as in "Hurry, come quickly!"). Note the overt mention of the act of intercourse, usually unnecessary and omitted, as though to aver that this was not a virgin birth and also note that the boy was not called Immanuel; this serves as a validation of this parse - Isaiah 7:14b is about the Messiah and not this prophet's son.



Chapter 8 5 The Lord spoke to me again:
6 “Because this people has rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah and rejoices over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, 7 therefore the Lord is about to bring against them the mighty floodwaters of the Euphrates— the king of Assyria with all his pomp. It will overflow all its channels, run over all its banks 8 and sweep on into Judah, swirling over it, passing through it and reaching up to the neck. Its outspread wings will cover the breadth of your land, Immanuel!

We believe that the "gently flowing waters of Shiloah" that provides life sustaining water to Jerusalem represents the God who gave Judah the city; by extension, Rezin and the son of Remaliah, in this passage, represent the gods of Damascus and The Northern Tribes of Israel. The reason for the brutal exile was that the people of Judah were unfaithful to their God. (Note that in 7:3 God told Isaiah to meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, a part of the Shiloah water system. Also, in John 9:1–11, Jesus cured the blind man with the waters of Siloam.)

Floods are sometimes used in the Bible to represent a mighty army as we have seen in our parse of Daniel 9 [2]. This passage predicts the assault on Judah and Jerusalem("the neck") by the Babylonians circa 600 BC. Isaiah took his son, Shear-Jashub (which means "A remnant will return"), with him to make this prophecy as a sign that God's anger against the Israelites will not be permanent because a portion of the Israelites will return. The passage is addressed to the coming Messiah, Immanuel, who will preach to the remnant of Judahites that returns.



Chapter 8 11 This is what the Lord says to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people:
12 “Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. 13 The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread.

The prophet is strongly advised to trust and fear God instead of fearing this alliance of mere humans, Rezin and the son of Remaliah. that plans to attack Jerusalem. (The contemptuous allusion to Pekah as "the son of Remaliah" may be a slur to indicate that he was a usurper who did not belong to the royal line.)



Chapter 8 16 Bind up this testimony of warning and seal up God’s instruction among my disciples.

The "seal" may allude to the complex chiastic structure of this prophecy which obfuscates its real meaning.



Chapter 8 17 I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my trust in him.
18 Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion.

God has forsaken his own people for worshipping other gods but the prophet dedicates himself and his children to the God of Zion.



Chapter 8 19 When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20 Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. 21 Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. 22 Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.

This section concludes with a admonishment to seek Gods instruction instead of consulting occultists - an abomination to God. A number of the problems that Judah faced occurred because the king and people were given bad advice by mediums - the prophets of pagan gods; as a result, they suffered greatly.



5.2 Christ's Millennial Reign (circa 2000AD) (Ch 8 Vs 9-10, Ch 9 Vs 3-7 )

Chapter 8 9 Raise the war cry, you nations, and be shattered! Listen, all you distant lands. Prepare for battle, and be shattered! Prepare for battle, and be shattered! 10 Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted; propose your plan, but it will not stand, for God is with us.

Most of the wars at the time of the millennial reign seem to end with Christ prevailing without a real, physical battle. This passage probably refers to one of the battles at the start of Christ's reign.



Chapter 9 3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. 4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. 5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.

The reconstituted Israel will be a larger nation because faithful Christians will be drafted in. Satan and his Beast system, "their oppressor", will be miraculously defeated as in the time of Gideon. The complete victory of Christ over Satan ushers in an era of peace on earth.



Chapter 9 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

Christ, or more probably a representative, will be be a human ruler on David's throne - the ruler of the new Israel. He will be a great source of wisdom and knowledge from God. Even though he is only ruler over Israel, because of Israel's hegemony during the millennial reign, he will, in effect, rule the world, so maintaining peace on earth.



5.3 The Birth of Christ to The First Jewish–Roman War (c. 4BC-74AD).(Ch 7 Vs 14b, Ch 8 Vs 14-15, Ch 9 Vs 1-2)

Chapter 7 14b The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

With this reconstruction, we place this important verse about the virgin birth in the right context.



Chapter 8 14 He will be a holy place; for both Israel and Judah he will be a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare. 15 Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured.”

The Messiah will be a refuge to those who believe in him. The people of Jerusalem who heed his warning to flee to the mountains will be saved but those who do not believe will be killed ("fall and be broken") or captured during the Roman attack on Jerusalem in 70 AD. This symbolism of Jesus as a stone, is often used in the New Testament, as in 1 Peter 2:7,8 and Matthew 8:42,44.



Chapter 9 1 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan

The Messiah will be from the region in Galilee close to the Sea of Galilee which was allocated originally to the tribes of Zebulun and Naphthali. These areas were forsaken by God when the Israelites chose to worship other gods; the mongrel population was a mix of pagan foreigners ("nations") and a small remnant of the Northern Tribes; so, at the time of Jesus, this was a despised place (“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” John 1:46).



Chapter 9 2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

The people of Judah, who were oppressed and led astray by the the ruling class of Pharisees, will see a great light, the Gospel from Jesus.

Note that this unit is itself in the form of a regular chiasmus; the pivot point alludes to the fall of Jerusalem (8:14,15) and the sub-units are about the first coming of Christ(7:14b and 9:1,2)



Conclusion

This paper is a chiastic reconstruction of the text which shows that the passage contains three interwoven prophetic passages. The first period in this reconstruction is about the separation and exile of the people of Israel and the last section is about their return to the glorious united Israel under Christ. Once again, the First Jewish-Roman war is mentioned; this serves as another validation of the parse. Interestingly, the first three sub-units of this parse end with either "Immanuel" or "God is with us", so that the phrase or name appears once in each period.

There have been a variety of interpretations of this difficult passage because of its complex chiastic structure, but we hope that this reconstruction makes its meaning clear. The passage contains three verses, 7:14b, 8:14 and 9:1-2, that are quoted in the New Testament as prophecies about the Messiah.



References

[1] A Definition of Functional Chiasmus
[2] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of "The 70 Weeks Of Daniel"










Related pages

Daniel 9
Mark 13
Luke 21
Luke 17:22-37
Functional Chiasmus