Most Bibles render Isaiah 7:8 as reading:
‘And in sixty-five years Ephraim’s kingdom will be destroyed by these people.’
However, the Bible also tells us that the ten-tribe Kingdom of IsraEl (which was ruled by the Tribe of Ephraim) was destroyed just fifteen years after Aram’s King Rezin and IsraEl’s King Pekah had planned an attack against Judah.
So is this a transcription error, or is there another explanation?
According to several commentators;
This sixty-five-year period is how long it took before the last residents of Samaria were removed and relocated by the Assyrians, which happened about fifty years after the reign of IsraEl’s last king in Samaria and during the reign of Judah’s King Manasseh. However, we recently received the following explanation as it will be soon published in the book, ‘Cracking the Number of the Beast,’ by Ricardo K Almeida (Twitter@ricardokal):
‘Rezin was killed by the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser during the reign of Ahaz, who was the king that heard the above prophecy from Isaiah and whose reign lasted just 16 years.
Actually, Ahaz became Tiglath’s subject in exchange for this service.
Ephraim ceased to be a nation after Samaria was destroyed in the 7th year of Hezekiah, the successor of Ahaz, and most of Israel’s population was taken into exile.
‘Understand that this prophecy is in the context of the prophecy about Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14-16 NET), which reads:
‘For this reason, the sovereign master himself will give you a confirming sign.
Look, this young woman is about to conceive and will give birth to a son.
You, young woman, will name him Immanuel.
He will eat sour milk and honey, which will help him know how to reject evil and choose what is right.
Here is why this will be so:
Before the child knows how to reject evil and choose what is right, the land whose two kings you fear will be desolate.
‘A child becomes accountable before the Law of God when he or she is 12 or 13 years old.
Before that, a child doesn’t know how to ‘reject evil and choose what is right.’
So, what the prophecy is saying is that:
Before 12 years are completed, ‘the land whose two kings you fear will be desolate.’
‘Tiglath-Pileser desolated Syria and killed king Rezin before the death of Ahaz.
Then Samaria’s siege began on the 4th year of Hezekiah, Ahaz’s successor.
Also, Israel continued to be inhabited more than 90 years after the death of Ahaz (see 2 Chronicles 34:33, 35:16-19). So, desolate and stop being a nation was a political, not a demographic assertion.
Its complete desolation, which would be witnessed by passersby that would be amazed by it, would only happen after the fall of Jerusalem and deportation of both Israel and Judah to Babylonian lands, about 150 years in the future. So the prophecy about 65 years is wrong and inconsistent, unless the original text was unintentionally modified.
‘What appears to be the case, is that the original text actually read, 6 and 5, a tricky expression used by God to convey the information that Rezin would be killed in 6 years, and then Samaria would be sieged in 5 more years. So 6+5 = 11 years, appears to be speaking of the times before a child learns how to reject evil and becomes accountable before the Law of God.
‘Likewise, the form 6 and 5 resembles 6 and 9, 15 years.
In Hebrew number format, 6 and 9 is used to express 15 instead of 10 and 5, because the corresponding letters are short forms of the name of God (topic ‘Key exceptions’ in the Wikipedia article ‘Hebrew numerals‘). The beginning of the expression, 6 and would create the expectation of a 9 on the reader.
That could be a cryptic way of conveying a triple meaning – the death of Rezin in 6 years, the siege of Samaria in 5 more years, and the desolation of Israel (Ephraim) in 15 years…
Thus, 4 years beyond 11 years, and the siege lasted 3 years.
It’s reasonable to suppose the deportation of the people took part of the next year to be accomplished, which completes 15 years.
‘Notice that Sixty and five in Isaiah 7:8 is in text, not number format, even in the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (the complete one that is published online). The numbers 6 and 60, when written as six and sixty in Hebrew are very similar. Sixty and five/Six and five could be easily mistaken, because the 6 and 5 construction is unusual.
A careless reader could easily understand 65.
‘The same information is conveyed in two different ways, as in the age of a child, 11 years old, and 6 and 5. The mistake is easily made, and easily corrected.’