The “Hired Razor”—The Real Threat
DURING the course of human history the unexpected has often happened. In a few short years nations that once filled others with dread have themselves become powerless. Such events of the past would have been hard to predict. Jehovah God, however, has at times, through his prophets, revealed beforehand the way things would work out. Today the fulfillments of many of these prophecies are a matter of historical record and serve to strengthen our faith that still other prophecies will surely be fulfilled.
The amazing thing about Bible prophecies is that they may point to events that appear to be completely contrary to existing trends. A remarkable illustration of this is the word of Jehovah directed to Judean King Ahaz through the prophet Isaiah. At that particular time, in the eighth century B.C.E., the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel formed an alliance with Syria. This Syro-Israelite combine was determined to depose the Judean king, replacing him with a man not of the royal line of David. (Isa. 7:1, 2, 6) Yet, through the prophet Isaiah, the divine revelation came that this would fail and that the real threat would come from another direction.—Isa. 7:7-9, 17.
In the book of Isaiah we read: “By means of a hired razor in the region of the River [Euphrates], even by means of the king of Assyria, Jehovah will shave the head and the hair of the feet, and it will sweep away even the beard itself.” (Isa. 7:20) Lacking faith in Jehovah’s word through Isaiah, Ahaz appealed to Assyria for help against the Syro-Israelite alliance. He did not believe that the king of Assyria, acting like a razor, would bring ruin to the kingdom of Judah, shaving off all its hair as of a man stripped naked.
The devastation that the Assyrians would cause in the land of Judah would even affect the people’s diet. Isaiah’s prophecy continues: “It must occur in that day that an individual will preserve alive a young cow of the herd and two sheep. And it must occur that, due to the abundance of the producing of milk, he will eat butter; because butter and honey are what everyone left remaining in the midst of the land will eat. . . . And all the mountains that used to be cleared of troublesome plants with a hoe—you will not come there for fear of thornbushes and weeds; and it will certainly become a place for letting bulls loose and a trampling ground of sheep.”—Isa. 7:21, 22, 25.
As a result of the Assyrian invasion, formerly cultivated land would become choked with thornbushes and weeds. The remaining population would, therefore, have to depend for food largely upon dairy products and wild honey. Since there would be ample pasturage in view of the devastation, the animals that had been preserved alive would produce abundantly for the greatly reduced population.
Additionally, wild animals would take up dwelling in former vineyards. Evidently with reference to a need for protection from such, the prophecy of Isaiah states: “It must occur in that day that every place where there used to be a thousand vines, worth a thousand pieces of silver, will come to be—for the thornbushes and for the weeds it will come to be. With arrows and the bow he will come there, because all the land will become mere thornbushes and weeds.” (Isa. 7:23, 24) Yes, a person would have to be prepared to defend himself with bow and arrows against wild beasts that might be lurking in the desolated vineyards.
Did the Assyrians share in bringing the land of Judah to a state of ruin? Yes, during the reign of Ahaz’ son Hezekiah, the Assyrian monarch Sennacherib invaded Judah, capturing one fortified city after another. (Isa. 36:1) His extant annals report: “As to Hezekiah, the Jew, he did not submit to my yoke, I laid siege to 46 of his strong cities, walled forts and to the countless small villages in their vicinity, and conquered (them) . . . I drove out (of them) 200,150 people, young and old, male and female, horses, mules, donkeys, camels, big and small cattle beyond counting.” (Ancient Near Eastern Texts, edited by J. B. Pritchard, p. 288) While Sennacherib’s statement may be exaggerated, we nevertheless get a glimpse of a devastation that fits the prophetic word.
The prophecy about the “hired razor” is but one of many contained in the Holy Scriptures. It, along with the others, provides strong evidence that the Bible’s message is not of human origin but is inspired of God. So we should pay attention to it. This can result in the best way of life now and holds promise of life everlasting in a righteous new order of God’s making.—2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:3-5.