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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Isaiah 7

 

 

Verse 1

Isaiah 7:1 And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, [that] Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.

Ver. 1. And it came to pass.] This is not a superfluous transition, as Augustine (a) maketh it, but importeth that the following discourse is no less to be regarded than the foregoing.

In the days of Ahaz.] That sturdy stigmatic, under whom Isaiah was as Elijah under Ahab; and for the comfort of the godly, prophesied them most sweetly concerning Christ and his kingdom.

The son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah.] For whose sake, say the Rabbis, this wretch was thus relieved.

King of Judah.] Titularis, sed non tutelaris, titled but not titled, as it was once said of Culperic, King of France, utpote qui Reip. defuit, non praefuit.

That Rezin the King of Syria.] He is first named as being generalissimo; see of him 2 Kings 15:37. He was King of Damascene and Coelesyria.

And Pekah King of Israel.] These two kings had each invaded Judah before with great success. [2 Chronicles 28:5; 2 Chronicles 28:8] And heartened thereby, now they join their forces, thinking to make a full conquest, but were as much deceived and disappointed as were the Pope and Spaniard here in 1588; and more than once in Ireland, where Don Aquila with his Spaniards being beaten out, said in open treaty, that when the devil upon the mount showed Christ all the kingdoms of the earth and the glory of them, he did not doubt but he left out Ireland and kept it for himself.

Went up.] But not in God’s name, Non Dei missu et nutu ut ante, sed proprio motu et ambitione.

But could not prevail against it.] Heb., Could not war - sc., with any good success. They came into the country like thunder and lightning, as duo fulmina belli, two thunderbolts of war, but went out like a snuff.


Verse 2

Isaiah 7:2 And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.

Ver. 2. And it was told the house of David,] i.e., the king and chief officers of the crown and court. Ill news flieth swift, and filleth all places.

Syria is confederate with Ephraim.] Though these two were oft at a deadly feud between themselves, yet they could combine for a mischief to God’s people. So could the Herodians and Pharisees, Herod and Pilate, &c. The devil, doubtless, had a design by these two champions of his to have utterly rooted out the house of David (as he sought also afterwards to do by Herod, Caligula, and others), and so to have prevented Christ’s being "made of the seed of Abraham according to the flesh"; [Romans 1:3] but that could not be.

And his heart was moved.] Concussum est et conquassatum, Impiety triumpheth in prosperity, trembleth in adversity. Tullus Hostilius, that godless King of Rome, set up Pavor and Pallor for gods to himself. Saul and Ahithophel in distress despaired and despatched themselves; so did Demosthenes, Cato, and other heathen sages, who were without God in the world, and therefore without comfort. Sin maketh men timorous, [Leviticus 26:36] but righteousness bold. [Proverbs 28:1 Psalms 27:1] The Spirit of power and of a sound mind are fitly set together. [2 Timothy 1:7]


Verse 3

Isaiah 7:3 Then said the LORD unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field;

Ver. 3. Then said the Lord unto Isaiah.] Wicked Ahaz shall have a prophet sent him with a promise, if it be but to leave him without excuse. There was also a godly party in the land, whose comfort was aimed at, and for whose sake Shearjashub was also taken along, as carrying comfort in this very name. Portendit enim omnes pios qui divini verbi satu generandi sunt salvos et incolumes fore, divinisque muneribus exornatos.

At the end of the conduit of the upper pool.] Where he is walking and talking about sending to Assyria for help. The place is pointed out for confirmation of the truth of the prophecy. So in the gospel the apostles are foretold where to fetch the ass, where to prepare the passover. This place was without the city, opposite the royal palace, the very same where afterwards Rabshakeh (the fugitive son of our prophet Isaiah, say the Rabbis, but without reason), railed upon the living God. This prophecy here and now delivered, might haply be some support to good Hezekiah under that trial. [2 Kings 18:13-37]

Of the fuller’s field.] Fullers must have store of water, and room enough for the dressing and drying of their clothes. Ministers are by an ancient called Fullones animarum, Fullers of men’s souls.


Verse 4

Isaiah 7:4 And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah.

Ver. 4. Take heed, and be quiet.] Cave et quiesce; or as others render it, Vide ut sileas, see that thou say nothing; fret not, faint not, send no message to the Assyrian, rest by faith upon the Lord of hosts, get a blessed Sabbath of spirit, a well composed frame of soul, for in quietness and confidence consisteth thy safety, as Isaiah 30:15.

Fear not, neither be fainthearted.] See on Isaiah 7:2.

For the two tails of these smoking firebrands.] By a most elegant metaphor, he nameth not one of these two potentates as not worth naming, but calleth them in contempt a couple of firebrands, such as would do mischief but cannot, because but smoking and not burning, and but the tails of smoking firebrands neither, such as are smoking their last, and shall shortly be utterly extinct. In a word, they have more pride than power, being a mere flash.


Verse 5

Isaiah 7:5 Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying,

Ver. 5. Because Syria, Ephraim, &c.] This was the fruit of their fury fuming out at their noses, [Isaiah 7:4] and proving like smoke, which the higher it riseth, the sooner it vanisheth; or like the bubbles blown up into the air by children, into whose eyes they soon fall back again. There is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against the Lord. {Proverbs 21:30] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 21:30"}


Verse 6

Isaiah 7:6 Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, [even] the son of Tabeal:

Ver. 6. Let us go up against Judah and vex it.] So they had done separately, and so they think much more to do jointly. Sed aliter Deo visum est. There is a council in heaven that dasheth the mould of all contrary counsels upon earth. {as Psalms 2:4}

And let us make a breach therein for us.] Or, Let us divide it, and share it between us, or set a king over it that may be a vassal to us both. Thus the Pope gave away England primo occupaturo, to him that should first take it in Henry VIII’s days; but he reckoned without his host, as they say.

Even the son of Tabeal.] A Syrian, likely, as Tabrimmon; [1 Kings 15:18] a good Rimmonite; [2 Kings 5:18] so Tabeal a good god. Rimmon was the Syrian’s god. The Chaldee expoundeth it, good, or right for us.


Verse 7

Isaiah 7:7 Thus saith the Lord GOD, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.

Ver. 7. It shall not stand.] The counsel of the Lord, that shall stand [Psalms 33:11] when the world’s wizards shall be taken in their own craftiness. [1 Corinthians 3:19]

It shall not be.] All their projects are dashed by a word. Video, rideo, saith he that sitteth in heaven, [Psalms 2:4] I look and laugh; and wherein they dealt proudly, I am above them. [Exodus 18:11]


Verse 8

Isaiah 7:8 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.

Ver. 8. For the head of Syria is Damascus.] Not Jerusalem, as they haply had contrived it; looking upon Jerusalem as a city fatally founded to bear rule, as one saith of Constantinople.

And the head of Damascus is Rezin.] Let him set his heart at rest, and not reach after the dominion of Judah; lest, falling from his high hopes, he lose that he hath already, and cry out with that ambitionist, Sic mea fata sequor.

And within threescore and five years,] sc., From the time that Amos foretold it, [Amos 5:27; Amos 7:8] that is, from the twenty-fourth year of Uzziah to the sixth of Hezekiah, whenas the ten tribes were carried away by Shalmaneser. [2 Kings 17:3-6] Thus Jerome out of Seder Olam. But I like better Piscator’s computation, which is thus within sixty-five years, that is, from the fourth year of Ahaz, now current, to the twenty-third of Manasseh, when Ephraim ceased indeed to be a people by the command of Esarhaddon, son of Sennacherib; whereof see Ezra 4:2.


Verse 9

Isaiah 7:9 And the head of Ephraim [is] Samaria, and the head of Samaria [is] Remaliah’s son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.

Ver 9. And the head of Samariah, Remaliah’s son.] In contempt he hath neither his name nor title of a king given him, but is fairly warned to keep within his bounds; he is not like to hold long that he hath. It is dangerous meddling with Jerusalem. [Zechariah 12:2-3; Zechariah 12:6]

If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.] Jehoshaphat said as much, [2 Chronicles 20:20] and our Saviour somewhat like. [John 8:20] Isaiah saw the king and people still fluctuating and trembling, notwithstanding the divine promise, and telleth them what to trust to; unless they will trust in God, they will never he soundly settled. Faith quelleth and killeth distrustful fear, and maketh a man walk about the world like a conquerer. There is an elegance here in the original that cannot be translated. (a)


Verse 10

Isaiah 7:10 Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying,

Ver. 10. Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz.] Wicked though he were, and under the power of unbelief, yet he shall see that be hath to do with a very gracious and longsuffering God, who, by a wonderful condescension, will needs give him a sign; Inauditum vero, dari signum incredulo. Christ would not so far gratify the unbelieving Pharisees, but calleth them an "evil and bastardly brood" for seeking a sign from heaven. [Matthew 12:39]


Verse 11

Isaiah 7:11 Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.

Ver. 11. Ask the sign of the Lord.] Not of any other God, to whom thou art addicted.

Thy God.] From whom thou hast deeply revolted; but of whom thou mightest upon thy return be graciously reaccepted.

Ask it either in the depth.] This was a fair offer to so foul a sinner; but all would not do - no, though he should have had a sight of heaven or of hell for a sign; and yet Bellarmine thinketh that one glimpse of hell were enough to work upon the most hard hearted sinner in the world, and to make him yield to anything.


Verse 12

Isaiah 7:12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.

Ver. 12. I will not ask.] All, lewd lowly! "I will not ask"; what a base answer was this of a bedlam Belialist! what a wretched entertainment of such an over bounding mercy! He doth upon the matter say, I will ask no asks; I will try no signs, I know a trick worth two off that; God shall for me keep his signs to himself; I crave no such courtesy at his hands; I can otherwise help myself, viz., by sending to the Assyrian. If the Lord could and would have helped, how happeth it that so lately no less than a hundred and twenty thousand of my subjects were cut off in one day by this Remaliah’s son, as you contemptuously call him?

Neither will I tempt the Lord.] Or, Neither will I make trial of the Lord, as in the former note. Ambrose was mistaken who thought that Ahaz refused to ask or try the Lord, out of modesty and humility; rather it was out of pervicacy, or, at best, hypocrisy. Hic descendamus in nostras conscientias, saith good Oecolampadius. Here let us each descend and dive into his own conscience, to see whether we also have not matched Ahaz in his madness, or at least wise coasted too near upon his unkind usage of the Lord, by rejecting his sweet offers of grace and motions of mercy, by slighting his holy sacraments, those signs and seals of the righteousness that is by faith. Adsit fides, et aberit periculum. Let faith be near then danger is absent.


Verse 13

Isaiah 7:13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; [Is it] a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?

Ver. 13. Hear ye now, O house of David.] But shamefully degenerate from your thrice worthy progenitors, and strangely forgetful of God’s promises for a perpetual succession; which if ye remembered and believed, ye would not be so causelessly terrified.

Is it a small thing for you.] How heartily angry is the prophet, how blessedly blown up in this case to so great dishonour done to God! We should be so too.

To weary men.] To vex and molest. The Septuagint have it, "to strive," or "wrestle (a) a fall with men." By men he meaneth himself and his fellow prophets, whom Ahaz and his courtiers slighted and misused. Let this comfort God’s faithful ministers under the world’s indignities and injuries. See Matthew 5:11-12.

But will ye weary, my God?] Whom I serve in my spirit, and now no more thy God (b) {as Isaiah 7:11} since thou hast refused to be ruled by him; and that after manifest conviction and greatest importunity to bring thee to a better temper.


Verse 14

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Ver. 14. Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign.] Give it you, ingratiis vestris, without your leave, of his own proffer. "If we believe not, yet God remaineth faithful." [2 Timothy 2:13 Romans 3:3] The house of David was as it were great with child with Christ and with God’s promises in him; therefore, to be sure, it could not be rooted out, as these two kings designed, before Christ were come into the world. Hence his wonderful conception and birth is made here a sign of his people’s safety here and salvation hereafter. And had Ahaz and his people believed this latter, they would not have much doubted of the former, but rather argued with St Paul, "Having given us his Son, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" [Romans 8:32]

A sign.] A singular sign - a sign both from above and from beneath; for he joined lumen suae aeternitatis limo tuae mortalitatis, (a) the light of his eternity to the mud of thy mortality, as a father hath it. [John 1:14 Philippians 2:6-7]

Behold.] A note of attention and admiration. One compareth it to the sounding of a trumpet before some notable proclamation; another to a hand in the margin pointing to some remarkable matter. So doth this Ecce to Christ’s incarnation as a thing in God’s decree and to his people’s faith already present.

A virgin.] Hagnalmah, that famous virgin, (b) so long since spoken of; [Genesis 3:15] that female glory, the Virgin Mary, with whom the angel spake concerning man’s salvation, [Matthew 1:18; Matthew 1:23 Luke 1:27; Luke 1:35] as the devil before had done with the first woman, concerning the means of his destruction. Of this virgin mother the sybils are said thus to have prophesied also: -

Virginis in corpus voluit dimittere caelo

Ipse Deus prolem, cure nuntiat Angelus almae

Matri, quae miseros contracta sorde levabit. ”

See more in Virgil’s 4th Eclog., and Aug. de Civ. Dei, lib. x. cap. 27. Some tell us that when this blessed virgin brought forth there was seen at Rome about the sun the likeness of a woman carrying a child in her arms, and a voice heard saying, Pan, the great God, is born into the world.

Shall conceive and bear a son.] Shiloh, the son of her secundine [Genesis 49:10] the true Melchizedek, as man without father, and as God without mother. [Hebrews 7:3 Luke 1:35] But how blank were the Jews when they saw the issue of their late Jewish virgin turned to a daughter! and how silly is that saying of theirs in their Tulmud; (c) For our sins, which are many, the coming of the Messiah is deferred. Jachiades, upon those words in Daniel 12:4, would have us believe that God sealed up the time of Christ’s coming, revealing it to Daniel only. But why take they not notice that the very time of Messiah the prince’s coming is set down by Daniel? [Daniel 9:24-27] and since that time is long since past, let them either condemn the prophet of vanity, or else confess with us that Christ is come already.

And shall call.] Or, Thou (virgin) shalt call, as having the right of nomination.

His name Immanuel.] That is, God with us. {as Matthew 1:23} {See Trapp on "Matthew 1:23"} Cuius nomen illius numen facile declarabit. Christ, indeed, was not called by this name Immanuel that we anywhere read of, as neither was Solomon by the name of Jedediah, [2 Samuel 12:25-26] unless it be Isaiah 8:8; but the import of this name is most truly affirmed and acknowledged to be fully made good in him.


Verse 15

Isaiah 7:15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.

Ver. 15. Butter and honey shall he eat,] i.e., He shall be fed with children’s meat, after the manner of other infants; for, as he shall take upon him our nature, so shall he also partake with us in our natural infirmities, feeding, as other children there did, on "butter and honey," (a) not able to discern good from evil, through want of judgment, till he came to be of discretion, [Luke 2:52 Deuteronomy 1:39] that he might be in all things like unto us, and that we might once come "unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ"; [Ephesians 4:13] that we might become "strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might"; able to "do all things through Christ, that strengtheneth us" [Philippians 4:7] Stumble not at his weakness, but gather assurance of his love who so sweetly joined his majesty to our meanness - his might to our weakness, abasing himself to the shape and state of a feeble, weak, and helpless child.


Verse 16

Isaiah 7:16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

Ver. 16. For before the child.] Hannagnar, this child Shear-jashub here present, [Isaiah 7:3] the proper sign of this present deliverance {as Isaiah 8:4-7} made so by occasion of the mention of Immanuel, that was to be born, many years after, of a virgin.

The land that thou abhorrest.] Or, By which thou art vexed. {as Isaiah 7:6} Confer Exodus 1:12, Numbers 22:3. So the Danes were abhorred by the English, the French by the Sicilians, as appeared by those bloody vespers.

Shall be left of both her kings.] Who shall be cut off by a seasonable vengeance. See this fulfilled [2 Kings 15:30; 2 Kings 16:9] within a year or two of this prophecy.


Verse 17

Isaiah 7:17 The LORD shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father’s house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; [even] the king of Assyria.

Ver. 17. The Lord shall bring upon thee, &c., ] sc., In case thou believe not. Thou and thine shall perish, notwithstanding this present deliverance. The Lord will "destroy thee after that he hath done thee good." {as Joshua 24:20} Et cuius verbis credere noluisti, eius verberibus fidem habebis. Thou shalt soon have enough of the Assyrian, in whom thou wilt needs trust, and not in me. Him thou shalt call in for help against others; but he, having taken a taste of so fertile a soil and wealthy a state, shall at length overrun all, like as afterwards also the old Gauls did Italy, and the Saracens the Greek empire.


Verse 18

Isaiah 7:18 And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the LORD shall hiss for the fly that [is] in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that [is] in the land of Assyria.

Ver. 18. The Lord will hiss for the fly, &c.] Out of Egypt and the confines. The people of which parts are fitly called flies, say expositors, for their numerosity, swiftness, stench, impudence, harsh language, ob vocis absonae stridorem. The country being hot, and lying low, aboundeth with flies aad gnats, such as proud Pharaoh was vexed with.

And for the bee that is in Assyria.] That country is full of woods, and so of bees, to which also the Assyrians are fitly compared, as for their numerousness, their military skill and comely marshalling of their forces; their golden armour, their industry and constance in battle; so for their force and fury especially. Virgil, speaking of bees, saith -

Illis ira modum superat, laesaeque venenum

Inspirant stimulis, et vitam in vulnere linquunt. ”

See the Babylonical fierceness and cruelty graphically described. {Jeremiah 51:34} It was so much the greater, because sent for and set on they were by God’s hiss or whistle.


Verse 19

Isaiah 7:19 And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes.

Ver. 19. And they shall come, and shall rest all of them.] As flies do upon flesh, and as bees upon trees. They shall seize all.

In the desolate valleys, &c.] Hereby is set forth, saith Calvin, that in no lurking place any of the Jews should be secreted or secured from their enemies, but that they shall range about and rage everywhere throughout the whole land. And, because all this is done at a "hiss," the backwardness of Christians is condemned, saith Musculus, who cannot by most earnest preaching of long continuance be brought to do as God requireth them.


Verse 20

Isaiah 7:20 In the same day shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired, [namely], by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard.

Ver. 20. In the same day shall the Lord shave.] Not shear, but shave, with a razor, to set forth the calamity of war, which wasteth and taketh away all, and maketh clean work, as we use to say: Nihil in toto regno intactum reliquit, sed omnia a summo ad imum expilavit Assyrius. The Assyrian is here called God’s razor, because his instrument, to shave as he pleaseth, though haply by exceeding his commission {as Zechariah 1:15} he might prove a "deceitful razor," {as Psalms 52:2} that, instead of shaving the hair, lanceth the flesh.

That is hired.] Whether by Ahaz himself, but for a better purpose, [2 Kings 16:7-8] not to harm, but to help, though it happened otherwise; or by God, who paid the Assyrian for his hire the lands of Israel and of Syria. See the like Ezekiel 29:18-19. Barbers use not their razors but for reward.

Beyond the river.] Euphrates, that ran between Syria and Assyria, but could not keep off the Assyrian destroyer.

The head, and the hair of the feet.] Elsewhere called "head and tail"; that is, high and low, prince and peasant.

And it shall also consume the beard.] (1.) The priests, [Psalms 133:2] as some sense it; or (2.) As others, all the comeliness and virility of the Jewish nation.


Verse 21

Isaiah 7:21 And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep;

Ver. 21. A man shall nourish two sheep.] He that was wont to say, Mille meae Siculis errant in montibus agnae, (a) shall now be reduced to so great penury as to be glad of two sheep, and have scarce a young heifer left for his necessary subsistence, who was wont to have many ploughs going. They shall not now, as heretofore, "join house to house, and land to land"; they shall not keep race horses, or hunting dogs, &c.


Verse 22

Isaiah 7:22 And it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk [that] they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land.

Ver. 22. For the abundance of milk.] Yielded him by his two cows, through the paucity of people, and plenty of grass.

He shall eat butter.] Eat his fill, since there are none to buy it from him; none to pull it out of his mouth.

For butter and honey shall every one eat.] Not delicacies and dainties, {as Isaiah 5:12} but mean fare, such as he can get; as wild honey, such as the Baptist fed on.


Verse 23

Isaiah 7:23 And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, it shall [even] be for briers and thorns.

Ver. 23. Where there were a thousand vines.] Which once were to the sensual Jews an occasion of drunkenness and forgetfulness of God. [Isaiah 5:11-12] A Lapide on Isaiah 5:2, telleth us that at Herbipolis in Germany there are abundance of vineyards, so that they have more wine there than water; and such huge wine vessels, that the vintners have doors in the sides of them whereby they enter, as Diogenes did into his tub, to make them clean and fit for their use.

Shall be briers and thorns.] Agri quondam vitibus consiti, erunt obsiti vepribus, et dumetis densissimis hirsuti.


Verse 24

Isaiah 7:24 With arrows and with bows shall [men] come thither; because all the land shall become briers and thorns.

Ver. 24. With arrows and with bows shall they come.] For their necessary defence against the wild beasts that haunt those desert places, propter densa ferarum lustra hominibus infesta. This was threatened. [Leviticus 26:22]


Verse 25

Isaiah 7:25 And [on] all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, there shall not come thither the fear of briers and thorns: but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle.

Ver. 24. And on all the hills that shall be digged, &c.] A good translation of a text is instead of a good commentary. Some very learned (a) render the words thus: And on the hills that had wont to be digged with mattock or spade, that no fear of brier or thorn might come thither, shall a place also be for sending in of oxen and the treading of lesser cattle; which shall range and graze freely, say they by way of gloss, after their wonted manner in those places, from whence they and their owners had formerly been ejected and excluded by the violent oppressions and undue enclosures of the richer and greater sort. [Isaiah 5:17]

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 7:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-7.html. 1865-1868.

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