Isaiah 7:20-22 Razor Close Shave

Isaiah 7:20 In that day the Lord will shave with a razor, hired from regions beyond the Euphrates (that is, with the king of Assyria), the head and the hair of the legs; and it will also remove the beard.

God is using the King of Assyria as an instrument. Here is some background as to how Jewish culture viewed a razor, shaving, hair, and a beard. Presentation of hair was important to the Jewish people. During this time, hair was worn long by men and women. People would curl their hair for effect. Baldness was considered humiliating or embarrassing. Bald people were made fun of or insulted. (Holman Bible Dictionary).

The beard was considered an ornament.  The beard was not shaved but trimmed. Size and fullness of beard were symbols of respectability and trustworthiness. The beard was an object of an oath with blessings or shame stated (New Unger’s Bible Dictionary).

The bodies of people were completely shaved from head to toe including the beard. The phrase “hair of the legs” is interesting. Some have interpreted this to be idiomatic language for pubic hair. The idea was total humiliation.

Figurative language is used in verse 20. The “razor” is likely the future king Sennacherib. Judah was flattened in 701 BC. According to the records of Sennacherib, forty-six cities were destroyed in Judah.  Approximately 200,000 people were captured and taken from the land (Wycliffe Bible Commentary).

Isaiah 7:21 Now in that day a man may keep alive a heifer and a pair of sheep;

Each person has limited livestock at this time, three animals. A heifer is a young cow that has not produced off spring. There is no mention of a bull. This could make reproduction and growth of populations difficult.

Isaiah 7:22 and because of the abundance of the milk produced he will eat curds, for everyone that is left within the land will eat curds and honey.

If a person was alive and survived, people will live off of these animals. There is no other food source. The lack of vegetation and crops will be discussed in the next verses.

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