King Ahaz

The opening verse of Isaiah 7 refers to the campaign of Syria (Aram) and northern Israel (Ephraim, “the northern kingdom”) against Judah during the reign of Ahaz. The campaign in question took place between 735 and 733 B.C.E. (see 2 Kings 16) and is known as the Syro-Ephraimite war. Syria and Israel had already been paying tribute to Assyria since 738 B.C.E. but had now decided to revolt by withholding payment. Judah had refused to join the alliance. As yet Ahaz had no quarrel with Assyria, and in any case hopes of success were remote. Israel and Syria then attempted to overthrow Ahaz and replace him with a king more amenable to their wishes. Continue reading

A Sign Fulfilled

This coming Sunday is the 4th Sunday of Advent and includes the traditional gospel passage from Matthew in which we encounter the “annunciation” of Jesus’ birth to Joseph. In yesterday’s post we considered the scriptural context, especially Matthew’s extensive references to the Old Testament passages and imagery presented in the genealogy. Today we want to consider Matthew’s use of Isaiah 7:14 which happens to be part of the first reading on this same Sunday: Continue reading