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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Isaiah 8

 

 

Verses 1-22

1. Take, etc.] read 'Take thee a great tablet, and write upon it with the pen of a man, Maher-shalal-hash-baz.' A man's pen] i.e. such as a common man would use for writing in large characters that all might, undertsand the words. Maher-shalal-hash-baz] i.e. 'The spoil speedeth, the prey hasteth.' The inscription intimated the speedy spoliation of Syria and Israel (Isaiah 8:4).

2. And I took] RV 'And I will take,' the speaker being Jehovah as in Isaiah 8:1. Witnesses] who would be able when the fulfilment came to testify that the prophecy had been delivered.

3. The prophetess] i.e. the prophet's wife. Call his name] see on Isaiah 7:3.

4. This prophecy was fulfilled, Damascus being captured by the Assyrians in 732 b.c., and Samaria ten years later: cp. Isaiah 10:9.

6. This people] i.e. the Ten Tribes (ref erred to as 'this people' again in Isaiah 9:16), who refused the mild rule of the House of David, and, having set up their own king, have allied themselves with Rezin. The waters of Shiloah] The gently-flowing stream that issued from Zion near the sanctuary (Psalms 46:4) symbolises the divinely-appointed government of the House of David, and is contrasted in the next v. with the wide flood of Euphrates, symbolising the devastating power of Assyria, which within a short period overthrew the kingdoms of Israel and Syria (2 Kings 16:9; 2 Kings 18:9-10), as Isaiah repeatedly foretold: cp. Isaiah 7:8, Isaiah 7:16.

7. The river] i.e. as elsewhere, the Euphrates (Joshua 24:2); denoted in RV by a capital R.

8. Pass through] RV 'sweep onward into.' To the neck] The head, therefore, will escape. So Isaiah regularly indicates the preservation of a remnant in the judgments that are coming upon the nation. The stretching out, etc.] The image is suddenly changed from that of a devastating flood to that of a bird of prey swooping with wings outspread.

O Immanuel] The country thus threatened is the land to which the divine pledge has been given and embodied in the child Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14-16). At the thought the prophet is filled with confidence in the protection of Jehovah; hence the triumphant strain of defiance in which he addresses the invaders in the w. that follow.

9, 10. Alliances formed against God's people must end in disaster and hostile purposes must fail, for 'God is with us.'

9. People] RV 'peoples.' Gird yourselves] i.e. for warfare.

10. God is with us] alluding to the significance of the name Immanuel (Isaiah 8:8, cp. Isaiah 7:14).

11, 12. The prophet has been divinely warned not to show the unreasoning fear of the Syro-Ephraimite alliance which the men of Judah exhibit.

11. With a strong hand] In Heb. phraseology the coming of prophetic inspiration is spoken of anthropomorphically as seizure by the hand of Jehovah (2 Kings 3:15; Ezekiel 1:3; Ezekiel 3:22; Ezekiel 8:1; Ezekiel 37:1).

12. A confederacy] alluding to the alliance between Israel and Syria, which caused so much fear in Judah (Isaiah 7:2). The same word is, however, elsewhere rendered 'conspiracy' or 'treason' (2 Kings 17:4; 2 Chronicles 23:13): so RV 'conspiracy' here. In that case the allusion would be to the cry of 'Conspiracy!' which, as some suppose, was raised against Isaiah and his followers by those in Judah who opposed the line of policy he advocated, and favoured Ahaz's project of alliance with Assyria. Similarly, the political opponents of Jeremiah attempted to discredit his teaching by accusing him of treachery against his country (Jeremiah 37:13).

13. The meaning is, 'recognise Jehovah in His true character as the all-holy One' (so He had revealed Himself to the prophet, Isaiah 6:3), 'and stand in awe of Him accordingly.'

14. Sanctuary] The secondary meaning of 'refuge' is here the prominent one (1 Kings 1:50; 1 Kings 2:28).

Both the houses] i.e. the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel. Every revelation of God puts men on their trial and sifts them: to those who accept it in faith and turn to Him it means deliverance, but those who reject it bring judgment on themselves. This was seen in God's revelation of Himself in Christ; to those who accepted Him He gave power to become sons of God (John 1:12). He came to save the world (John 12:47); yet it may also be said that for judgment He came into the world (John 9:39), because those who received Him not brought judgment on themselves, and found Him to be a rock of offence. Thus Isaiah's words are quoted in NT. with a Christian application (Matthew 21:44; Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:7-8).

15. Many among them shall stumble] RV 'many shall stumble thereon.'

16. Bind up] i.e. tie up the parchment roll on which the prophet's teaching has been written, and lay it aside to be consulted later.

The testimony] i.e. the inspired admonition which the prophet has just delivered. The law] not referring to the written law of God, but used in the wide sense of 'instruction' or 'teaching' (RM): the inspired teaching given by the prophet himself (cp. Isaiah 1:10; Isaiah 5:24; Isaiah 30:9), which he commits to writing and delivers to his disciples.

18. The ground of the confidence just expressed. The prophet and his children are by their names Isaiah (salvation of Jehovah), Shear-jashub (a remnant shall return, Isaiah 7:3), and Maher-shalal-hash-baz (Isaiah 8:3), pledges of a brighter future in fulfilment of the prophet's words. Wonders] i.e. omens: cp. Ezekiel 12:6, Ezekiel 12:11; Ezekiel 24:24, Ezekiel 24:27; Zechariah 3:8. This v. is quoted in NT., Hebrews 2:13, without regard to its original context, but the writer simply uses it there that he may express in scriptural terms the truth of the community of nature between Christ and His people.

19. Seek unto] i.e. with a view of consulting as an oracle, despairing of other help. Familiar spirits] The forms of necromancy referred to are forbidden in Deuteronomy 18:11, and the nature of the practices reprobated is well illustrated by the famous example of the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:7.) Peep] i.e. 'chirp' (RV) as a bird (Isaiah 10:14); referring to the thin and feeble voice of ghosts from Sheol (Isaiah 29:4). For the living to the dead] RV 'on behalf of the living should they seek unto the dead?'

20. The law.. the testimony] i.e. Isaiah's own teaching, which, by his direction, had been written down and carefully preserved (Isaiah 8:16).

If they speak not, etc.] The meaning seems to be, 'If they speak not according to this word' (viz. 'to the law and to the testimony') 'surely there is no morning for them' (RV): i.e. the only hope of a brighter dawn lies in being guided by Isaiah's teaching. But another rendering is possible, 'Surely according to this word shall they speak for whom there is no morning' (RM), i.e. they will recognise too late the value of the principles inculcated by Isaiah.

21. Curse their king, etc.] RV 'curse by their king and by their God.' The expression is the same as in 1 Samuel 17:43.

22. Dimness, etc.] RV 'gloom of anguish; and into thick darkness they shall be driven away.' Note the close connexion with Isaiah 9, where a brighter future is predicted.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 8:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/isaiah-8.html. 1909.

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Saturday, May 25th, 2019
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