For the head of Syria [is] Damascus
Damascus was the metropolis of Syria, the chief city in it, where the king had his palace, and kept his court; of which (See Gill on Genesis 15:2) (See Gill on Acts 9:2): and the head of Damascus [is] Rezin;
he was king of it, as of all Syria; the meaning is, that Syria, of which Damascus was the principal city, was the only country that Rezin should govern, his dominion should not be enlarged; and Ahaz, king of Judah, might assure himself that Rezin should never possess his kingdom, or be able to depose him, and set up another; and as for Ephraim or Israel, the ten tribes, they should be so far from succeeding in such a design against him, that it should befall them as follows: and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that
it be not a people;
which is by some reckoned, not from the time of this prophecy, that being in the third or fourth year of Ahaz, who reigned in all but sixteen years; and in the ninth of Hosea king of Israel, and in the sixth of Hezekiah king of Judah, Samaria was taken, and Israel carried captive into Assyria, ( 2 Kings 17:6 ) ( 18:1 ) which was but about eighteen or nineteen years from this time: some think indeed the time was shortened, because of their sins; but this does not appear, nor is it probable: and others think that it designs any time within that term; but the true meaning undoubtedly is, as the Targum renders it,
``at the end of sixty and five years, the kingdom of the house of Israel shall cease.''This is commonly reckoned by the Jewish writers F4 from the prophecy of Amos, who prophesied two years before the earthquake in Uzziah's time, concerning the captivity both of Syria and Israel, ( Amos 1:1 Amos 1:5 ) ( Amos 7:11 Amos 7:17 ) which account may be carried either through the kings of Judah or of Israel; Jarchi goes the former way, reckoning thus,
``the prophecy of Amos was two years before Uzziah was smitten with the leprosy, according to ( Amos 1:1 ) . Uzziah was a leper twenty five years, lo, twenty seven. Jotham reigned sixteen years, Ahaz sixteen, and Hezekiah six; as it is said, "in the sixth year of Hezekiah (that is, the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel) Samaria was taken", ( 2 Kings 18:10 ) lo, sixty five years.''So Abarbinel; but Kimchi goes another way, which comes to the same, reckoning thus,
``the prophecy of Amos, according to computation, was in the seventeenth year of Jeroboam, son of Joash, king of Israel, how is it? Jeroboam reigned forty one years, Menahem ten, so there are fifty one; Pekahiah the son of Menahem two, so fifty three; and Pekah twenty, so seventy three; and Hoshea the son of Elah nine, and then Israel were carried captive, so there are eighty two: take out of them seventeen (the years of Jeroboam before the prophecy), and there remain sixty five, the number intended; for we do not reckon the six months of Zechariah, and the month of Shallum.''Cocceius reckons from the death of Jeroboam, who died in the forty first year of his reign, and in the fifteenth of Uzziah, so that there remained thirty seven years of Uzziah; in the twentieth of Jotham, that is, in the fourth after his death, Hoshea son of Elah was made king, this was the twelfth of Ahaz, ( 2 Kings 15:30 ) ( 17:1 ) and in the ninth of Hoshea, Samaria was taken, and Israel carried captive. But Junius and Tremellius are of a different mind from either of these, and think the prophecy wholly respects time to come; they observe, that
``Isaiah in these words first shows, that the kingdom of Syria should be immediately cut off, and the king should die, which at furthest must needs happen four years after; so (say they) we may suppose that these things were said by the prophet in the first year of Ahaz; thence, from the destruction of the Syrians, to the full carrying captive of the Israelites, or from the time of this prophecy, sixty five years must have run out; for although the kingdom of Israel was abolished in the sixth year of Hezekiah, yet Israel did not immediately cease to be a people when only some part of it was carried away; but they entirely ceased to be a people when new colonies were introduced by Esarhaddon, the son of Sennacherib, and all the Israelites were forced into bondage, which the Samaritans explain, ( Ezra 4:2 ) wherefore so we fix the series of the times, from the fourth year of Ahaz, in which the kingdom of Syria fell, unto the end, are eleven years, Hezekiah reigned twenty nine years, so the last translation of the Israelites was in the twenty fifth year of Manasseh's reign; but if you begin from the time of the prophecy; the thing will fall upon the twenty first or twenty second of Manasseh's reign; at which time perhaps, as some say, Manasseh was carried captive into Babylon.''And of this mind was the learned Dr. Prideaux F5, who observes, that in the twenty second year of Manasseh, Esarhaddon prepared a great army, and marched into the parts of Syria and Palestine, and again added them to the Assyrian empire; and adds,
``and then was accomplished the prophecy which was spoken by Isaiah in the first year of Ahaz against Samaria, that within threescore and five years Ephraim should be absolutely broken, so as from thenceforth to be no more a people; for this year being exactly sixty five years from the first of Ahaz, Esarhaddon, after he had settled all affairs in Syria, marched into the land of Israel, and there taking captive all those who were the remains of the former captivity (excepting only some few, who escaped his hands, and continued still in the land), carried them away into Babylon and Assyria; and then, to prevent the land becoming desolate, he brought others from Babylon, and from Cutha, and from Havah, and Hamath, and Sephervaim, to dwell in the cities of Samaria in their stead; and so the ten tribes of Israel, which had separated from the house of David, were brought to a full and utter destruction, and never after recovered themselves again.''And this seems to be the true accomplishment of this prophecy; though the sense of the Jewish writers is followed by many, and preferred by Noldius; so that there is no need with Grotius and Vitringa to suppose a corruption of the text. Gussetius F6 fancies that (Myvv) signifies twice six, that is, twelve; as (Myrve) twice ten, or twenty; and so five, added to twelve, makes seventeen; and from the fourth of Ahaz, to the taking of Samaria, was about seventeen years.
F4 Seder Olam Rabba, c. 28. p. 85. Aben Ezra in loc.
F5 Connection par, 1. B. 1. p. 30. Bishop Usher, Annal. Vet. Test. A. M. 3327.
F6 Comment Ebr. p. 892.