The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Isaiah 8

Isa 8:1

LARGE SCROLL: A placard for public witness.

WRITE ON IT: Other allusions to writing: Isa 8:16; 29:11,18; 30:8; 34:16; Jer 32:14; 36:4; Hab 2:2,3.

MAHER-SHALAL-HASH-BAZ: "Speed-spoil-haste-prey": a name of both comfort (v 4: retribution on Syria and Israel) and warning (vv 7,8: the same thing could happen to Judah).

Isa 8:2

URIAH: In 2Ki 16:10-16 he appears in an unfavorable light, as he complies without complaint with certain undesirable changes in the temple worship at the request of Ahaz.

ZECHARIAH SON OF JEBEREKIAH: Almost certainly Ahaz's father-in-law and grandfather of Hezekiah (2Ch 29:1), and prob a wholesome influence on his grandson

Isa 8:3

Figure of mother and children in Isaiah: Isa 8:3,4; 11:8; 26:17,18; 28:9; 45:10,11; 46:3,4; 49:15,20-23; 54:1; 60:16; 66:11-13.

PROPHETESS: Others were Deborah (Jdg 4:4) and Huldah (2Ch 34:22). Where are her prophecies? Poss Isa 5 ("beloved" is masc); Isa 40 (Isa 40:9 is fem: "she who brings good news"); and numerous refs in Isa 40-66 to women and marriage and children.

Isa 8:4

THE WEALTH OF DAMASCUS: The first Assyrian devastation of Syria ended Rezin's reign (2Ki 16:9).

THE PLUNDER OF SAMARIA: Not recorded in Scripture; however, must have occurred at about the same time. The complete overthrow of both kingdoms was finally accomplished by Shalmaneser V (2Ki 17:6; 18:9,10).

Isa 8:6

THIS PEOPLE HAS REJECTED...: Rejected what? Both the offer of a sign to Ahaz (Isa 7:11), and the solemn Maher-shalal... warning (Isa 8:4). Cp Isa 30:12. Literally rejected were the sweet waters of the conduit for the Gihon Spring and Virgin's Fountain -- begun in Ahaz's reign but not completed? (Cp Joh 9:7: the blind man did not refuse these waters!)

Through the sacred page flow two very different streams. The raging torrent, the seasonal river overflowing its banks, is used by Isaiah as a figure for the advancing Assyrians (Isa 8:7,8). The waters thereof roar and are troubled; proud billows and lashing waves, lofty as hills, sweep aside mountains in their path (Psa 46:3). But in their tumultuous course the wild waters come at last against the immovable height of Zion (Psa 125:1): "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed" (Job 38:11). For here, beneath Zion's hill, flows another stream which is the secret of her survival. It is not harsh and overpowering; its waters go softly (Isa 8:6) through the rock-hewn channels of Hezekiah's conduit (2Ki 20:20) into the pool of Siloam (John 9:7). It brings life to thirsty watchmen on Zion's walls. In its silent, unerring course it symbolizes the sure and certain purposes of God. Its whispering waters speak in a still, small voice of the blessings of faith in God. This is the river of life, the streams whereof make glad the city of God, the holy places of the tabernacles of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; God shall help her; the Lord of Hosts is with us -- here is the promise of Immanuel again (Psa 46:4,5,11). Let us drink of this stream; its quiet waters will restore our souls and bring us inward peace in the midst of stormy trials.

Isa 8:7

THE MIGHTY FLOODWATERS OF THE RIVER: The chaotic waters are perhaps intended to conjure up the picture -- familiar in Canaanite and Babylonian mythology -- of the god's (ie, in this case, Yahweh's) primordial victory over Leviathan the "god" of the sea: see Lesson, Leviathan -- esp "OT History".

Isa 8:8

REACHING UP TO THE NECK: But not over the "head" (Jerusalem)!

ITS OUTSTRETCHED WINGS: An allusion to the "cherubim" which were an essential part of Assyrian religion: winged ox-lions, with human faces (borrowed from Israel? or handed down from the days of Noah?).

WILL COVER THE BREADTH OF YOUR LAND, O IMMANUEL: A stark and vulgar contrast to the overshadowing protection of the cherubim-wings of Yahweh.

O IMMANUEL: Yet the mention of Immanuel makes clear that the Assyrian would have no right to be there. "The Land is mine" (Lev 25:23)! (So the prophecy about Immanuel must have had an immediate fulfillment, in Hezekiah!)

Isa 8:9

RAISE THE WAR CRY: Or "associate yourselves" (AV), like the enemies of God in Psa 2.

NATIONS: Usual word for Israel: so may ref the Northern Kingdom.

DISTANT LANDS: Thus ref Syria.

BE SHATTERED: Like a potter's vessel: Psa 2:9; Rev 2:26,27.

Isa 8:12

CONSPIRACY: "Confederacy" (AV) or "treaty" (NIV mg). Some in Judah wanted to confederate with Syria and Israel against Assyria. Others wanted to confederate with Assyria. Still others were thinking of joining with Egypt (Isa 19:1; 30:2; cp 2Co 6:14-18). All such alliances with the Gentile nations were sin. Yet men like Isaiah were considered traitors for saying so (cp Jer 26:8-19).

Isa 8:14

SANCTUARY: Christ = tabernacle among men (Joh 1:14). God was in Christ (2Co 5:19-21; Rom 8:3).

A STONE THAT CAUSES MEN TO STUMBLE: The original "foundation stone" was the altar-rock of Zion -- which was probably the site where Abraham prepared to offer Isaac (Gen 22: cp v 9 there with Psa 118:27), and which was probably also the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite on mount Moriah (2Sa 24:18-25). The wicked Ahaz, infected with a zest for the worship of foreign gods, removed the altar of burnt-offering from its prominent place atop this foundation stone, and "hid" it away in a corner of the Temple enclosure (2Ki 16:14). Yet whilst the true altar might be set aside, there was no way to shift the massive outcropping of rock on which it had stood (it is still there today, in the center of the Dome of the Rock). Thus, in Ahaz's day it remained -- quite literally -- a "stone of stumbling" (Isa 8:14,15) for priests walking across the temple court, and a "rock of offence" in a spiritual sense.

It was only when Hezekiah came into full control of the kingdom that he could remedy this sacrilege, and restore the Temple worship to its rightful setting. And so the "stone" rejected by the new "builders" of Judah became, once again, a precious stone and a sure foundation for the true worship of the Lord (Isa. 28:16).

It is easy, then, to see how this foundation stone symbolized Hezekiah himself (and his faith in the Lord), upon which all true worship in Judah depended. While sick unto death, he had been "set aside" by other would-be "builders" and rulers, but when miraculously healed he would stand forth again as the chief prince of his people. (See further on WBS 111-116.)

(NT) Christ is the "stone" which cannot be hidden or removed, and over which men "stumble" (cp Rom 9:32 with Isa 8:14 and Isa 26:8; also see 1Pe 2:6-8; Psa 118:22.

A ROCK THAT MAKES THEM FALL: The God of Israel = a Rock: Isa 10:26; 26:4; 30:29).

Isa 8:18

I AND THE CHILDREN... WE ARE SIGNS: This refers to Shear-jashub (7:3) and Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (8:1,3). Or, "signs and portents." The names of all three individuals has symbolic value. Isaiah's name (which meant "the LORD delivers") was a reminder that the LORD was the nation's only source of protection; Shear-jashub's name (Isa 7:3) was meant, at least originally, to encourage Ahaz, and Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz's name (Isa 8:1,3,4) was a guarantee that God would defeat Israel and Syria.

Isa 8:19

// Exo 22:18; Lev 20:6,26; Deu 18:9-12.

Isa 8:20

"If they speak not according to this word, there will be for them no morning." This translation, following the AV mg, emphasizes that, for such as the prophet here describes, there will indeed be no "dawn" (Isa 26:19; Psa 110:3), or no resurrection.

Isa 8:21

Vv 21,22: "The judgment brought by God's instrument, the conquering Assyrian, would leave the people roughly handled and desperately hungry through the famine of war. And in their anger with themselves for deserving such a fate they would curse their weak useless king Ahaz and the pagan god he had sought to exalt. More than this, they would curse the brutal Assyrian king and the foreign god he sought to vindicate against Jehovah. the wretched people would look up to heaven in mute despair and look also to their ravaged Land (Isa 5:30) and find no answer to their clamant needs. Instead, only harrowing perplexity (sw Luk 21:25) and gloom (as in Joel 2:2) as multitudes of captives were driven away into captivity (cp Deu 30:1,4)" (WIsa 163,164).

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