Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
The first seven verses of the ninth chapter belong to this section. The
eighth chapter continues the subject of the seventh chapter, but at a
later period (compare
with Isa 7:16);
implying that the interval till the accomplishment is shorter now than
then. The tone of
Isa 8:17, 21, 22,
expresses calamity more immediate and afflictive than
Isa 7:4, 15, 22.
1. great--suitable, for letters large enough to be read by all.
roll--rather, tablet of wood, metal, or stone
sometimes coated with wax, upon which characters were traced with a
pointed instrument, or iron stylus; skins and papyrus were also used
man's pen--that is, in ordinary characters which the humblest can
Hebrew, enosh means a "common man," is contrasted with the
Not in hieroglyphics. The object was that, after the event, all might
see that it had been predicted by Isaiah.
concerning--the title and subject of the prophecy.
Maher-shalal-hash-baz--"They (that is, the Assyrians) hasten to the
spoil (namely, to spoil Syria and Samaria), they speed to the prey"
[GESENIUS]. Otherwise, "The spoil (that is, spoiler)
hastens, the rapine
speeds forward" [MAURER].
2. I took--rather, "The Lord said to me, that I should take," &c.
Uriah--an accomplice of Ahaz in idolatry, and therefore a witness
not likely to assist the prophet of God in getting up a
prophecy after the event
The witnesses were in order that when the event should come, they might
testify that the tablet containing the prophecy had been inscribed with
it at the time that it professed.
3. prophetess--perhaps the same as the "virgin"
in the interim married as Isaiah's second wife: this is in the primary
and temporary sense. Immanuel is even in this sense distinct from
Maher-shalal-hash-baz. Thus nineteen months at least intervene from the
nine before the birth of Immanuel, and ten from that time to the birth
of Maher-shalal-hash-baz: adding eleven or twelve months before
the latter could cry, "Father"
we have about three years in all, agreeing with
Isa 7:15, 16.
4. before, &c.--within a year.
6. waters of Shiloah . . . softly--Their source is on
the southeast of Zion and east of Jerusalem. It means "sent," the water
being sent through an aqueduct
Figurative for the mild, though now weak, sway of the house of David;
in the highest sense Shiloah expresses the benignant sway of Jehovah in
the theocracy, administered through David. Contrast to the violent
Euphrates, "the river" that typifies Assyria
"This people" refers both to Israel, which preferred an alliance
with Rezin of Syria to one with the kings of Judah, and to
Judah, a party in which seems to have favored the pretentions of
the son of Tabeal against David's line
also to Judah's desire to seek an Assyrian alliance is included in the
shows that both nations are meant; both alike rejected the divine
Shiloah. Not "My people," as elsewhere, when God expresses
favor, but "this people"
7. therefore--for the reason given in
the Assyrian flood, which is first to overflood Syria and Samaria,
shall rise high enough to reach rebel Judah also
the river--Euphrates swollen in spring by the melting of the snow of
the Armenian mountains (compare
all his glory--Eastern kings travel with a gorgeous retinue.
channels--natural and artificial in the level region, Mesopotamia.
8. pass through--The flood shall not stop at Syria and Samaria, but
shall penetrate into Judea.
the neck--When the waters reach to the neck, a man is near drowning;
still the head is not said to be overflowed. Jerusalem, elevated on
hills, is the head. The danger shall be so imminent as to reach near it
at Sennacherib's invasion in Hezekiah's reign; but it shall be spared
wings--the extreme bands of the Assyrian armies, fulfilled
(Isa 36:1; 37:25).
thy land, O Immanuel--Though temporarily applied to Isaiah's son, in
the full sense this is applicable only to Messiah, that Judea is
His, was, and still is, a pledge that, however sorely overwhelmed,
it shall be saved at last; the "head" is safe even now, waiting for the
times of restoration
at the same time these words imply that, notwithstanding the temporary
deliverance from Syria and Israel, implied in "Immanuel," the greatest
calamities are to follow to Judah.
9. Associate yourselves--rather, "Raise tumults," or, Rage, that is,
Do your worst [MAURER],
referring perhaps to the attack of Rezin and
Pekah on Jerusalem.
and . . . be broken in pieces--rather, "yet ye shall be thrown into
consternation." Imperative in the Hebrew, according to the idiom
whereby the second of two imperatives implies the future, namely, the
consequence of the action contained in the first (so
The name "Immanuel" in
suggests the thought of the ultimate safety of Immanuel's land,
both from its present two invaders, and even from the Assyrians,
notwithstanding the grievous flood, wherewith the previous verses
foretell they shall deluge it. The succession of the house of David
cannot be set aside in Judah, for Immanuel Messiah is to be born in it
as heir of David, of whom Isaiah's son is but a type
(Isa 9:4, 6).
give ear . . . far countries--witness the discomfiture of Judah's
enemies. The prophecy probably looks on also to the final conspiracy
of Antichrist and his supporters against the Heir of David's throne in
the latter days and their utter overthrow [HORSLEY].
gird yourselves . . . gird yourselves--The repetition expresses
vehemently the certainty of their being thrown into consternation
(not as English Version, "broken in pieces").
10. the word--of command, for the assault of Jerusalem.
God is with us--"Immanuel" implies this
11. with a strong hand--or else, "when He grasped me with His hand"
MAURER, as English Version,
"with the impetus of His
hand," that is, the felt impulse of His inspiration in my mind
Eze 1:3; 3:14, 22; 37:1).
way of . . . people--their distrust of Jehovah, and the panic which
led them and Ahab to seek Assyrian aid.
12-16. The words of Jehovah.
confederacy--rather, a conspiracy; an appropriate term for the
unnatural combination of Israel with Syrian foreigners against
Judea and the theocracy, to which the former was bound by ties of blood
and hereditary religion [MAURER].
to all . . . say--rather, of all which this people calleth a
conspiracy [G. V. SMITH].
their fear--namely, object of fear: the hostile conspiracy.
be afraid--rather [MAURER],
"nor make others to be afraid."
13. Sanctify--Honor His holy name by regarding Him as your
only hope of safety
him . . . fear--"fear" lest you provoke His wrath by your fear of
man and distrust of Him.
14. sanctuary--inviolable asylum, like the altar of the temple
(1Ki 1:50; 2:28;
namely, to those who fear and trust in Him.
but . . . offence--that is, a rock over which they
should fall to their hurt; namely those who would not believe.
both . . . houses--Israel and Judah. Here again the prophecy expands
beyond the temporary application in Ahaz' time. The very stone,
Immanuel, which would have been a sanctuary on belief, becomes a
fatal stumbling-block through unbelief. Jesus Christ refers to this
15, 18, 30, 31, 37;
gin--trap, in which birds are unexpectedly caught
So at the destruction of Jerusalem under Titus.
15. stumble . . . taken--images from the means used in
taking wild animals.
16. Bind up . . . seal--What Isaiah had before briefly
noted by inscribing Maher-shalal-hash-baz in a tablet,
fixed up in some public place, he afterwards wrote out more in detail
in a parchment roll
this he is now to seal up, not merely in order that nothing may
be added to, or taken from it, as being complete, but to imply that it
relates to distant events, and is therefore to be a sealed and
not understood testimony
(Isa 6:9, 10),
except in part among God's "disciples," that is, those who "sanctify
the Lord" by obedient trust
Subsequent revelations would afterwards clear up what now was dark. So
the Apocalypse explains what in Daniel was left unexplained (compare
Da 8:26; 12:9).
"The words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end";
"Seal not the sayings of the prophecy . . . for the
time is at hand" (compare
Re 5:1, 5, 9),
testimony--attested by Uriah and Zechariah
law--the revelation just given, having the force of a law.
disciples--not as MAURER, Uriah and Zechariah
Joh 7:17; 15:15).
17. I--Whatever the rest of the nation may do, I will
look to Jehovah alone.
that hideth . . . face--though He seems now to
withdraw His countenance from Judah (the then
representative of "the house of Jacob"). Let us wait and trust
in, though we cannot see, Him
(Isa 50:10; 54:8;
Lu 2:25, 38).
18. I and the children--Isaiah means "salvation of Jehovah"; His
children's names, also
(Isa 7:3, 14; 8:3),
were "signs" suggestive of the coming and final deliverance.
wonders--that is, symbols of the future
"Behold I . . . me" is quoted in
to prove the manhood of the Messiah. This is the main and
ultimate fulfilment of the prophecy; its temporary
meaning is applied to Ahaz' time. Isaiah typically, in
Isa 8:17, 18,
personates Messiah, who is at once "Father" and "Son," Isaiah
and Immanuel, "Child" and "Mighty God," and is therefore called
here a "wonder," as in
"Wonderful." Hence in
believers are called His "children"; but in
Isa 8:11, 12,
His "brethren." On "the Lord hath given me," see
Joh 6:37, 39; 10:29; 17:12.
which dwelleth in . . . Zion--and will therefore
19. Seek unto--Consult in your national difficulties.
them . . . familiar spirits--necromancers, spirit charmers. So Saul,
when he had forsaken God
&c.), consulted the witch of En-dor in his difficulties. These follow
in the wake of idolatry, which prevailed under Ahaz
(2Ki 16:3, 4, 10).
He copied the soothsaying as he did the idolatrous "altar" of Damascus
which forbids it,
wizards--men claiming supernatural knowledge; from the old English, "to wit," that is, know.
peep--rather "chirp faintly," as young birds do; this sound was
generally ascribed to departed spirits; by ventriloquism the soothsayers
caused a low sound to proceed as from a grave, or dead person. Hence the
Septuagint renders the Hebrew for "necromancers" here
should not, &c.--The answer which Isaiah recommends to be given to
those advising to have recourse to necromancers.
for the living, &c.--"should one, for the safety of the living,
seek unto (consult) the dead?" [GESENIUS].
LOWTH renders it,
"In place of (consulting) the living, should one consult the dead?"
20. To the law, &c.--the revelation of God by His prophet
to which he directs them to refer those who would advise necromancy.
if they speak not . . . it is because--English Version understands
"they" as the necromancers. But the Hebrew rendered "because" is
not this but "who"; and "if not," ought rather to be "shall they not";
or, truly they shall speak according to this word, who have no
morning light (so the Hebrew, that is, prosperity after the
night of sorrows) dawning on them [MAURER
and G. V. SMITH]. They who
are in the dark night of trial, without a dawn of hope, shall surely say
so, Do not seek, as we did, to necromancy, but to the law," &c.
The law perhaps includes here the law of Moses, which was the
"Magna Charta" on which prophetism commented [KITTO].
21, 22. More detailed description of the despair, which they shall
fall into, who sought necromancy instead of God;
implies that too late they shall see how much better it would
have been for them to have sought "to the law," &c.
But now they are given over to despair. Therefore, while seeing the
truth of God, they only "curse their King and God"; foreshadowing the
future, like conduct of those belonging to the "kingdom of the beast,"
when they shall be visited with divine plagues
through it--namely, the land.
hardly bestead--oppressed with anxiety.
hungry--a more grievous famine than the temporary one in Ahaz' time,
owing to Assyria; then there was some food, but none now
(Isa 7:15, 22;
Le 26:3-5, 14-16, 20).
their king . . . God--Jehovah, King of the Jews
(Ps 5:2; 68:24).
look upward . . . unto the earth--Whether they look up to heaven, or
down towards the land of Judea, nothing but despair shall present
dimness of anguish--darkness of distress
driven to darkness--rather, "thick darkness"
Driven onward, as by a sweeping storm. The Jewish rejection of "their
King and God," Messiah, was followed by all these awful calamities.