Isaiah 7:8 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Isaiah 7:8, NIV: for the head of Aram is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is only Rezin. Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be too shattered to be a people.

Isaiah 7:8, ESV: For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin. And within sixty-five years Ephraim will be shattered from being a people.

Isaiah 7:8, KJV: For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people.

Isaiah 7:8, NASB: For the head of Aram is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin (now within another sixty-five years Ephraim will be broken to pieces, so that it is no longer a people),

Isaiah 7:8, NLT: for Syria is no stronger than its capital, Damascus, and Damascus is no stronger than its king, Rezin. As for Israel, within sixty-five years it will be crushed and completely destroyed.

Isaiah 7:8, CSB: The chief city of Aram is Damascus, the chief of Damascus is Rezin (within sixty-five years Ephraim will be too shattered to be a people),

What does Isaiah 7:8 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Isaiah is reporting a prophecy from the Lord to Ahaz (Isaiah 7:4). God does not want Ahaz to be afraid about the attacking armies of Syria and Israel. These are armies are coming to lay siege to Jerusalem (Isaiah 7:1). He wants Ahaz to calm himself and be careful about what he does next. In short, the Lord wants Ahaz to trust Him. The prophecy began with the promise from the Lord that the kings of Syria and Israel will not succeed in removing him from his throne. The Lord tells him how it will not come to be (Isaiah 7:7).

Now the Lord tells Ahaz what will happen instead. The first two pieces of information Isaiah writes about are not new to his readers. He is stating the name of the capitol and the king of Syria while referring to both as "the head." Then, strangely, Isaiah says that within 65 years, Ephraim will no longer be a people. Ephraim refers to the northern ten tribes of Israel. This is strange for two reasons. First, the flow of the poem seemed to be about Syria and then suddenly is a prophecy about the obliteration of Ephraim.

It is also strange because Isaiah wrote this in about 735 BC. Ephraim, also known as Israel, was fully conquered and her people deported in 721 BC, only thirteen or so years later. In BC, which means "Before Christ," the years decrease moving towards zero in a countdown. AD stands for "Anno Domini," a Latin phrase for "in the year of the Lord," referring to time after the birth of Jesus.

Why then does Isaiah say the destruction of Ephraim will happen in 65 years? Scholars suggest that although the vast majority of Israel's northern kingdom was killed or deported, a few survived as stragglers in the land. Then, in around 670 BC, the kings of Assyria moved captured people from other nations into Israel to further remove any national identity from the nation. These foreigners intermarried with the remaining Israelites to create what was later known as the Samaritan race. At that point, the northern nation of Israel, also known as Ephraim, fully ceased to exist.