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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Isaiah 8

 

 

Verse 1

Isaiah 8:1 Moreover the LORD said unto me, Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man’s pen concerning Mahershalalhashbaz.

Ver. 1. Take thee a great roll.] Or, Volume; so called either because it was rolled up together like the web upon the pin; or, as others, because it revealeth that unto us which otherwise we knew not. Blasphemous was that jeer of the Jews who called the evangel or gospel Aven gillaion, a volume of vanity. And no better was that of Bishop Bonner’s chaplain, who called the Bible, that blessed book, in scorn, his "little pretty God’s book." This one small piece of it is here styled grande volumen, a great roll, for the fulness of the matter in fewness of words.

And write in it with a man’s pen.] That is, plainly and clearly, (a) that when it shall be fastened to the gate of the temple, or some way else be exposed to public view, "he that runneth may read it," [Habakkuk 2:2] and he that readeth may understand it. And not be so written as that was, [Daniel 5:5; Daniel 5:7] which none could read and unriddle but the prophet himself. Nor be, as Aristotle’s Acroamatics, published and yet unpublished. (b)

Concerning Maher-shalal-hash-baz.] Make speed to the spoil, hasten the prey; words whereby God calleth the King of Assyria out of his country to take the spoil speedily of Syria and Samaria; both which groaned for his coming, and hanged for his mowing. This was afterwards given for a name to Isaiah’s newly born babe, viz., at his circumcision; and that before two sufficient witnesses, who might attest both the child’s name and the reason of it, which the prophet likely told them. Such another compound name was Shear-jashub, [Isaiah 7:3] Zorobabel, Hagio-Christophorites, &c, and among us Keep-Sabbath, Hope-still, &c.


Verse 2

Isaiah 8:2 And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.

Ver. 2. And I took unto me faithful witnesses.] So they might be, and yet not godly men; as Galba and our Richard III were said to be bad men, but yet good princes. Some think that this Uriah was the same with him that brought in the altar of Damascus. He had been better perhaps, but at last revolted; as did Demas, of whom Dorotheus saith that he became a priest in an idol temple at Thessalonica; and Damascen, who turned Mohammedan, as some write. Zechariah, the other witness, was a man of great eminence, as being grandfather, by the mother’s side, to good Hezekiah.


Verse 3

Isaiah 8:3 And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the LORD to me, Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz.

Ver. 3. And I went unto the prophetess.] Prophets’ wives were anciently called prophetesses; like as bishops’ wives, saith A Lapide the Jesuit, were also called bishopesses, presbyters’ wives, presbyteresses, deacons’ wives, deaconesses. Jesuits have still their Jesuitesses, as majors their majoresses, &c.

Maher-shalal-hash-baz,] q.d., Make haste, come away to so rich a booty, to the rifling and ruinating of these two potent and opulent kingdoms. God hereby seemeth to speak of the Assyrian, as Cicero once did his friend, Si dormis, expergiscere: si stas, ingredere: si ingrederis, curre: si curtis, advola, &c. and at the calling of this child by his name, the prediction was remembered, and the thing ascertained.


Verse 4

Isaiah 8:4 For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.

Ver. 4. For before the child, &c.] That is, within a year or two; for it was an extraordinary thing that is reported of Maximilian the Emperor, that he was eight years old at least ere he spake anything, but afterwards he became a fluent and elegant speaker.

The riches of Damascus.] Riches do many times change their masters, and kingdoms are oft turned upside down, when they fall to persecuting the people of God especially, as did these Syrians and Israelites.

Before the king of Assyria.] Spoils taken from the enemy were and are usually carried in triumph before the conqueror.


Verse 5

Isaiah 8:5 The LORD spake also unto me again, saying,

Ver. 5. The Lord spake also unto me again, saying.] Heb., And the Lord further added to speak unto me. Here the Israelites, apart from the Syrians, are specially threatened with destruction, because they abandoned their brethren, the two other tribes, and trusted to confederacies and aids of foreign princes.


Verse 6

Isaiah 8:6 Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah’s son;

Ver. 6. Forasmuch as this people.] The ten revolted tribes, not worth the naming. {see Isaiah 7:6}

Refuse the waters of Shiloah.] Slight and contemn the small means and strength of the Church: Humilem et obscurum stature regni Zionis.

That run softly] At the foot of Mount Zion, creeping and crooking, slowly and slyly; called therefore, as some think, the dragon’s well. [Nehemiah 2:13] Caesar (a) saith the like of the river Araris, probably Sone; and the poet Claudian of the Nile,

Lene fluit Nilus, sed cunctis amnibus extat

Utilior, nullas coafessus murmure vires. ”

And rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah’s son.] "Rejoice in a thing of nought," as Amos’s expression is in Amos 6:13. The Hebrew here hath it thus: And joy is to Rezin, &c.; that is, the Syrians and Israelites both are much cheered up to see that Judah is at so great an under, and so easy to be overcome, as they think.

{a} De Bell. Gall., lib. i.


Verse 7

Isaiah 8:7 Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, [even] the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks:

Ver. 7. Wow therefore behold the Lord bringeth.] They that slighted still running Shiloah, shall have the waters of Euphrates, strong and many, to overwhelm and swallow them up. God loveth to retaliate.

Even the king of Assyria and all his glory,] i.e., His armies and forces, wherein he glorieth. See Isaiah 10:8; Isaiah 36:9.

And he shall.] Or, It shall, viz., the river Euphrates, whose exundation is here graphically described, and thereby depainted to the life; (a) the practice of tyrants in overrunning whole countries as by a deluge, as did the Assyrian of old, and as doth the great Turk at this day.


Verse 8

Isaiah 8:8 And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach [even] to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.

Ver. 8. And he shall pass through Judah.] After Israel subdued; but yet with a difference, {as Isaiah 27:7-8} for the Israelites and Syrians were utterly drowned with this proud flood, but the Jews were only drenched. It "reached but to the neck," their head was ever above water; and that because Immanuel, better than any Christopher, bore them up.

And the stretching out of his wings.] That is, of his immense forces; the Assyrian, by another allegory, being here compared to an eagle, which covereth her whole prey with her wings.

Shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.] Shall surely, unless thou, O Lord Christ (who art king of this country by a specialty), shalt please to prevent it. Learn we likewise in all our straits or ailments to run to our Immanuel, and implore his help, remembering that he is God with us, he is a man amidst us, cum Patre dator, inter nos petitor, as Augustine hath it; he gives with the Father, he prays with the suitor; he will deliver and defend his subjects and suppliants.


Verse 9

Isaiah 8:9 Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces.

Ver. 9. Associate yourselves, O ye people.] In confidence of her king Immanuel’s succour (help) and support, the Church thus holily insulteth over her most active enemies, foretelling their utter subversion. "The virgin daughter of Zion" doth the like, [Isaiah 37:22] as binding upon her invincible champion Immanuel, [Isaiah 8:2-3] whose very name here putteth spirits into her, and maketh her take ‘heart of grace,’ as they say. Basil biddeth the Christians in time of persecution boldly bespeak their adversaries in these words, though somewhat otherwise rendered by the Septuagint, by mistake of a letter. If again ye prevail, ye shall yet again be vanquished. And truly of the Church it may be foretold better than of Troy -

Victa tamen vinces, eversaque Troia resurges:

Obruet hostiles illa ruina domes. ”

- Ovid, Fast.

Gird yourselves and ye shall be broken in pieces.] "Ye shall," "ye shall," without fail, though ye little believe it. It shall be done (as is therefore here so often threatened), as sure as the coat is on your back, or the heart in your belly.


Verse 10

Isaiah 8:10 Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God [is] with us.

Ver. 10. Take counsel together.] Do so if you will; but when all is done, the counsel of the Lord shall stand, and you shall consult nothing better than shame to yourselves.

Speak a word.] All these expressions serve to set forth the bitter hatred borne by these wicked ones against God’s poor people, whom they sought by all means to mischieve, but could not.

For God is with us.] Heb., Immanuel. That sweet name was to the godly party mel in ore, melos in aure, iubilum in corde, honey in the mouth, song in the ear, a joyful shout in the heart, and hence so oft recited; these heavenly birds, having got such a note, record it over and over.


Verse 11

Isaiah 8:11 For the LORD spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying,

Ver. 11. For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand.] That is, with his Spirit accompanying his word, and setting it home to my heart, that so I might speak from the heart to the heart. Some render it, taking me by the hand, (a) fidelis paedagogi instar, like a loving and faithful schoolmaster, and thereby pulling me back that I should not walk in the common road.

That I should not walk in the way of this people.] Not howl with those wolves, not tune my fiddle to the bass of the times, not follow a multitude to do evil, but rather to keep a constant countermotion to the many, and rather to go right alone than not at all. Cassianus (b) gives very good counsel, Vive ut pauci, ut cum paucis inveniri merearis in regno Dei, Live thou as but few else do, that with those few thou mayest be found in God’s kingdom. Now, none can do thus but only they to whom the Lord both speaketh, and layeth hold also upon their hand that they be not "led away with the error of the wicked." [2 Peter 3:17]


Verse 12

Isaiah 8:12 Say ye not, A confederacy, to all [them to] whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.

Ver. 12. Say ye not a confederacy.] A confederacy, a confederacy - scil., between Syria and Samaria - is made against us; this was vox populi, voice of the people, all the talk in those days, and everybody’s mouth was full of it, and heart afraid of it. But say ye not so, comply not, consent not; chime not in with the spirits and speeches of other men. Away with all such despairing language. For help against which,


Verse 13

Isaiah 8:13 Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and [let] him [be] your fear, and [let] him [be] your dread.

Ver. 13. Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself.] Even your sweetest Immanuel; non sanctificatur autem nisi in eam credatar; sanctify him, I say, by believing in your hearts and confessing with your mouths, [Romans 10:9] and walking "as becometh the gospel, … in nothing terrified by your adversaries." [Philippians 1:27-28]

And let him be your fear.] That is, the object of your fear, {as Genesis 31:53 Psalms 76:11} where God is called "Fear" by an appellative proper. So the Chaldee paraphrase frequently calleth God Dechilah. The Greeks call him Yεος, of Dεος, fear. Bernard saith well, God is to be feared as a Lord, honoured as a Father, loved as a spouse. This fear of God is a sovereign remedy against the fear of the creature, and is therefore here and elsewhere opposed to it. Surely, as one fire driveth out another, and as Moses’ serpent swallowed up the sorcerers’ serpents, so here.


Verse 14

Isaiah 8:14 And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Ver. 14. And he shall be for a sanctuary.] In quo serventur, et in lapidem, in quo firmiter stent pit: impii vero impingant, ruant et conterantur, a sanctuary of safety, a stone of stability, though to the wicked he prove otherwise - even a stone of offence to stumble them, and a snare to take them in for their hurt. Christ, as he is Piorum rupes, a rock of refuge to the godly; so he is reorum scopulas, a rock of revenge to dash in pieces the impenitent, as Valerius Maximus once said the tribunal of Lucius Cassius was. This was chiefly fulfilled in the time of the gospel. See Romans 9:23, 1 Peter 2:6, Matthew 21:42, Acts 4:11.

But for a stone of stumbling.] Petra perditionis, to all that refuse to be ruled by him and to rely upon him; with these froward ones he will show himself froward. [Psalms 18:26]


Verse 15

Isaiah 8:15 And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.

Ver. 15. And many among them shall stumble and fall.] So may God’s elect, but not so as to be broken, because they cannot fall below a supporting hand of God. [Psalms 37:24] Utter prolapsion cannot possibly befall them.

And be broken, and snared, and taken.] The Septuagint here add of their own, And men shall be taken that are in a supposed safety, living as if they were out of the reach of God’s rod.


Verse 16

Isaiah 8:16 Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.

Ver. 16. Bind up the testimony, seal the law, &c.] Et lateat, et lucent. let it both be hidden and be conspicuous. Let thy doctrine, saith God here to the prophet, contained in that great roll, [Isaiah 8:1] or otherwise published (concerning Immanuel especially), be concealed from these profane scoffers, but imparted to my disciples that "sit down at my feet to receive my word." [Deuteronomy 33:3] Those Jews in Christ’s time had the testimony, that is, the gospel preached to them; but they were woefully blinded; so that when the Messiah, to whom all their odd signs so well agreed, was among them, they could by no means own him and receive him. [Matthew 2:5 John 1:11] That Italian translation of the New Testament which the Jews lately had, is, for their abuse of it, called in and taken from them. Pope Gregory IX caused their Talmud, wherein Christian religion is so much blasted, to be burned; and the like did Julius III about the year 1553.

Seal the law among my disciples.] Such as have been θεοδιδακτοι, "taught of God," taught "as the truth is in Jesus." [Ephesians 4:20-21] Seal the law, that "perfect law of liberty," the gospel, for such, for their behoof and support in these calamitous times.


Verse 17

Isaiah 8:17 And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.

Ver. 17. And I will wait upon the Lord.] I will patiently and peaceably submit to his holy will in the exercise of mine office, hoping that I shall be acknowledged and approved of him, though men reject me, and are for their obstinace deservedly rejected of God.

And I will look for him.] As it were with outstretched neck. Difficile opus et arduum! Difficult and arduous work! Good men find it more easy to bear evil than to wait till the promised good be enjoyed. [Hebrews 10:36]


Verse 18

Isaiah 8:18 Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me [are] for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.

Ver. 18. Behold, I and the children whom the Lord.] That is, my disciples and converts, who have the same conflict with me. [Philippians 1:30]

Are for signs and for wonders.] Hissed and hooted at as so many monsters by the mad world, even beside itself in point of salvation; and accounting the saints, as the Spaniards were wont to say of the Portuguese, Pocos et focos, few and foolish; and as the Turks count all fools to be saints, so the most count all saints to be fools. These shall one day cry, Nos insensati. We are fools.


Verse 19

Isaiah 8:19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?

Ver. 19. And when they shall say unto you.] The prophet’s wholesome advice to his disciples. God had hid his face and withdrawn his favour from this people; therefore they would help themselves as they could, by doing as Saul did when forsaken of God, by running to witches and wizards, resolving with her in the poet -

Flectere si nequo superos, Acheronta movebo.

That peep and that mutter.] Utter their predictions in broken and low language, grunting or grumbling them out in dark and doubtful expressions, as distrusting their own art.

Should not a people seek unto their God?] See Jeremiah 2:11, Micah 4:5. Our God is a rewarder of all that diligently seek him, or that "seek him out" [Hebrews 11:6] - viz., when he hath withdrawn himself and hid his face. {as Isaiah 8:17}

For the living to the dead,] q.d., Is that handsome? is it agreeable to right reason? O stultam commutationem! vocat nos Deus vivus, et nos recurrimus ad mortuos. (a)


Verse 20

Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, [it is] because [there is] no light in them.

Ver. 20. To the law and to the testimonies.] Lo, this is the way, walk in it, for the commandment is a lamp, and the law is light. [Proverbs 6:23] They have Moses and the prophets; [Luke 16:29] these must be the men of our counsel, [Psalms 119:24] even these lively and life giving oracles, [Acts 7:38] not dead idols or damned necromancers.

There is no light in them.] Either of truth or of comfort. Good expressions such kind of creatures may use, it may be; but si magicae, Deus non vult tales; si piae non per tales: their false lights serve but to light them into utter darkness. Happy was Oecolampadius, an excellent commentator upon this prophet, who made good the splendour of his own name, when (beside the light he lent to "the law and testimonies") he could lay his hand on his breast when he lay dying of the plague, and say, Here’s plenty of light got from the Scripture.


Verse 21

Isaiah 8:21 And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward.

Ver. 21. And they shall pass through it.] To and again, as uncertain of their way, and even at their wit’s end.

When they shall be hungry.] Cum esurierit et efferbuerit, as a pot boiling casteth up scum.

And curse their king.] Ahaz, say some; Zedekiah, say others.

And their God.] As those Antichristians. [Revelation 16:9] The Chinese whip their gods when they please them not.

And look upward.] As the hunger bitten wolf howls against heaven.


Verse 22

Isaiah 8:22 And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and [they shall be] driven to darkness.

Ver. 22. Trouble and darkness, &c.] A huge heap of words all to one sense; to set forth their deepest distress without all hope of help.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 8:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-8.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 26th, 2019
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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