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Isaiah 8:1 Yahweh said to me, Take a large tablet, and write on it with a man’s pen, ‘For Maher Shalal Hash Baz’- "A man's pen" in Hebrew could imply 'in hieroglyphics' [see Keil & Delitszch's commentary], clearly understood visually by men (a requirement for all such prophetic work- see Hab. 2:2; 1 Cor. 14:19). It could be that Isaiah is told to draw this on a plaque for all to see, and then when his wife has a child he is told to use this name to name the child. He was told to write on it "Mahershalalhashbaz", not to write 'concerning' or 'about' his future son [as the AV incorrectly states]. It could also be that God was telling Isaiah to give his book of prophecies, or at least the prophecies in these chapters, a title on the scroll. The fact Isaiah's son had the same name would have made him a kind of 'word made flesh', a living reminder of his father's work. As we know from the example of Zacharias naming John the Baptist, a father would write his newborn son's name on a tablet. So he is naming the child before the child was even conceived (:3). His children were signs (see on Is. 7:3; 8:18), at least in their names. This naming of a new child follows right after the prediction that a young woman (Isaiah's wife) was to have a son, 'Emmanuel', and before he was a few years old, Judah would have been desolated and a righteous remnant emerge (see on Is. 7:15-25). It could be that this new child is that same child; but the name is changed, because the potential scenario changed; see on Is. 7:15.

Isaiah 8:2 and I will take for Myself faithful witnesses to testify: Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah-
Presumably, to testify that he had named this child with this name before it was born; and that he somehow foreknew that it would be a male. Isaiah's knowledge of this would confirm the suggestion made on :1, that this was the 'Emmanuel' child of Is. 7:14 but renamed. We note that despite the general apostasy of the leadership alluded to in Isaiah's prophecies so far, there were at least two other faithful men. However, Uriah is mentioned as being ordered to construct an altar to foreign gods in the temple (2 Kings 16:10,11). Yet here he is considered by Isaiah to be a "faithful witness". It could be a different Uriah; or perhaps he lost his faith, or regained it- it's hard to work out when exactly Isaiah is speaking, before or after the time of 2 Kings 16:10.

Isaiah 8:3 I went to the prophetess, and she conceived, and bore a son. Then Yahweh said to me, Call his name ‘Maher Shalal Hash Baz’-
Mahershalalhashbaz means 'Speed the spoil, hasten the prey'. The idea is that whilst Judah refused to repent, they were hastening the threatened judgments upon them; they were as the prey running towards the approaching Assyrian hunter, who was speeding towards them. There is a gap between God's threatened judgments and His fulfilment of them, but that gap can be reduced [or extended] by human behaviour. Things can be hastened or delayed; and Judah's impenitence was hastening the fulfilment (cp. Is. 60:22). God therefore said in this context that He was hastening the fulfilment of His word (Jer. 1:12). We can hasten the coming of the day of God (2 Pet. 3:12), for the elects sake the days shall be shortened, the bridegroom delays, yet the days of Amorite iniquity must still be 'filled up' to the required level before judgment comes... These kinds of verses show that some factors hasten the coming of judgment, others slow it down and delay it. The actual coming of the Lord Jesus will not be on some date which was arbitrarily predetermined, but rather on a day which is the result of some huge equation, considering and correctly weighting every factor in a way which only a Divine being could do.

Isaiah 8:4 For before the child knows how to say, ‘My father’, and, ‘My mother’, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away by the king of Assyria-
Judah saw Ephraim's spoil going into captivity, and yet Judah had spoiled innocent people but not been spoiled in return (Is. 33:1). Such was God's grace to them. The idea is that the wealth of both Damascus (Ez. 27:18) and Samaria would be carried away around the same time, and Assyrian inscriptions testify to this.

Isaiah 8:5 Yahweh spoke to me yet again, saying-
"Yet again" reflects how the people had refused the offers of repentance and forgiveness so far made.

Isaiah 8:6 Because this people have refused the waters of Shiloah that go softly-
The small brook within Jerusalem which Hezekiah used to give water to the faithful remnant within Jerusalem during the Assyrian siege. The New Testament "pool of Siloam" is the Greek name for the pool of Shiloah. The water was "soft", it was an apparently insignificant stream, but represented the spiritual water given in Christ (Jn. 4:10). Ps. 46:4,5 refer to the stream as symbolic of how "God is within" Jerusalem- just as Emmanuel means 'God is with us'. The reference is to the offer made in Is. 7:3, when Isaiah met Ahaz "At the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway of the fuller’s field"The washer or fuller uses the same word for 'washing' as used in the context of cleansing from sin (Ps. 51:2,7; Jer. 2:2; 4:14; Mal. 3:2). The suggestion was that they could repent and be cleansed of their sin; but they refused these waters which represented forgiveness (Is. 8:6).

And rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah’s son- Yet we have just read in Is. 7:1,2 and will do again in Is. 8:12 that Ahaz and Judah were terrified at the prospect of being invaded by Rezin of Syria and Pekah of Israel, who had come up and besieged Jerusalem. How did they now "rejoice" in them? LXX has "... but wills to have Rassin, and the son of Romelias to be king over you". GNB offers "... and tremble before King Rezin and King Pekah". But if we stick with the Masoretic text, we can conclude that it is the ten tribes of Israel who are being spoken about in this verse. They had been offered the waters of Shiloah, the chance of cleansing in Jerusalem and Judah, but had refused it; and so they were to be destroyed by the Assyrians (:7); and that invasion of Israel was to "sweep onward into Judah" (Is. 8:8). Israel's refusal of the call to repentance, and subsequent judgment for this by the Assyrians, was to be an example to Judah; just as the judgment of others, both in Biblical history and our own contemporary experience, is to be a warning to us, to which we respond.

Isaiah 8:7 now therefore, behold, the Lord brings upon them the mighty flood waters of the River Euphrates: the king of Assyria and all his glory. It will come up over all its channels, and go over all its banks-
The Assyrian invader is described as having wings and "glory" (Is. 8:7,8), both of which are terms associated with the Angel-cherubim, seeing that they were ultimately behind the invasion. All that happens on earth is somehow a reflection of, and is reflected in, the situation in the court of Heaven. This verse speaks of the Assyrian invasion of the ten tribes; see on :6. Hence "brings upon them".

Isaiah 8:8 It will sweep onward into Judah-
The envisaged prophetic scenario was that the invasion and destruction of the ten tribes by Assyria would be at the same time as the invasion of Judah by Assyria, part of the same campaign, sweeping onward to them. This is also envisaged in Is. 17:3. Indeed according to Is. 10:7, "it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off not a few nations" at that same time. But this isn't what happened. The prophecies offer various potential scenarios, which could be ameliorated, changed, hastened, intensified, delayed or cancelled because of God's extreme sensitivity to human repentance. This is why it's impossible to use Bible prophecies to construct a chronology of latter day events; there are so many variables. Not least the repentance of Israel, the work of the faithful ecclesia in preaching the Gospel to the world and prayer for the Lord's coming- quite apart from the Divine pity which is at the core of His character.

It will overflow and pass through; it will reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of its wings will fill the breadth of your land, Immanuel- The waters of Euphrates were to rise until only the head of Judah, i.e. Jerusalem, was left uncaptured by the Assyrian invasion. Yet this is the very figure which the Messianic Ps. 69:1 uses in a prediction of Christ's crucifixion. There He was the One, the sufficient remnant, which enabled our salvation- just as Isaiah and Emmanuel had been in Isaiah's time. This means that the prophecy was rescheduled and reapplied. As noted earlier on this verse, the potential prophetic scenario didn't happen in Isaiah's time as it might have done. The "Immanuel" Messianic figure was to be in the land when Judah was invaded and swamped by the same Assyrian campaign which destroyed the ten tribes; and that didn't happen, at the time. So it was rescheduled and reapplied. For the essence of God's word shall always come true.

Isaiah 8:9 Make an uproar, you peoples, and be broken in pieces! Listen, all you from far countries: dress for battle, and be shattered! Dress for battle, and be shattered!-
All plans and schemes to resist the Assyrian invasion, trying to form power blocs against them, would fail. Resistance was futile; only the God who was with Judah (:10) could save. This was a tacit appeal for Israel and the surrounding nations to accept Judah's God. This is consistently the prophetic vision; that the surrounding nations would repent and join together as part of a revived Kingdom of God based in Judah.

Isaiah 8:10 Take counsel together, and it will be brought to nothing; speak the word, and it will not stand: for God is with us-
Circumstances repeat in our experiences, so that we might learn, and see the same Divine hand at work. Because this very phrase is used of how the fleshly plans of Israel and Syria also did not stand (Is. 7:7). There is the same Divine hallmark in all His operations. The only salvation from the Assyrians was to be "Immanuel", God with us. But this prophetic scenario didn't completely come to pass; see on :8.

Isaiah 8:11 For Yahweh spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying-
see on 1 Tim. 4:1. The strength of the Divine hand upon Isaiah was because he was clearly tempted to be caught up in the spirit of panic which was in the society of Judah.

Isaiah 8:12 Don’t say, ‘A conspiracy!’ concerning all about which this people say, ‘A conspiracy!’ neither fear what they fear, nor be terrorized-
They considered that the conspiracy or alliance between Syria and Israel was too powerful for them to resist. So everyone was talking about this "conspiracy"; but the faithful were not to be caught up in the latest paranoia of a faithless society. And that again is a lesson for us.

The Hebrew yare means both fear / dread, and also reverence / worship. It is used for literal fear in Is. 8:12,13: instead of fearing the invaders, worshipping their fears, Israel were to be fearing God. Knowing the enveloping mercy of God should lead to a real fear of a God so gracious (Ps. 5:7). However, obedience to God's commands would lead to a fear of Yahweh's glorious and fearful name (Dt. 28:58); not the other way round, whereby fear of God leads to obedience. God's character is not just partly severe, partly gracious. His grace and His judgment of sin are wonderfully interconnected within His character.

Isaiah 8:13 Yahweh of Armies is who you must respect as holy. He is the one you must fear; He is the one you must dread-
The heavenly armies of Angels were to be believed in, rather than the armies of their enemies. Fear, respect and dread here all effectively imply 'believe in'; for we believe in that which we fear. The fear of Yahweh's judgment is because of sin; it is our sin and its associated judgment which we should fear, more than any human threat to our existence. And if the fear of condemnation is now removed from us, then we can live boldly and confidently in this world, whatever we face in secular life.

The idea is that God's true people should not share the fears of the unbelieving world [of death, financial collapse etc.] but rather fear God. These verses are quoted and applied to us all in 1 Pet. 3:14,15. The idea of not fearing what men fear but rather fearing God is also in Lk. 12:4,5 and Is. 51:12,13. God being a rock of security for His people (:14) is applied to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1 Pet. 2:8- as if to say that we are indeed in the same situation, tempted to fear the world's fear when all hearts are failing for fear, but our rock is the fact that the Lord Jesus died and rose for us and is coming again for our salvation.

Isaiah 8:14 He will be a sanctuary for both houses of Israel-
The allusion is how the sanctuary was perceived as a place of asylum (Ex. 21:14; 1 Kings 1:50; 2:28,30). The implication was that Yahweh Himself would be this safe place. In the immediate context, the reference is to how the faithful from both Israel and Judah, "both houses of Israel", fled for refuge from the Assyrians into Jerusalem. The unity of God's people was to be achieved by their joint experience of their desperation, their realization of their sin, repentance and forgiveness. These are the things which bind people together rather than on paper agreements. But the greater reference is to how God in His Son will be for the salvation of all Israel. 

But He will be a trap and a snare for the inhabitants of Jerusalem- This didn't happen in Isaiah's day, in that the inhabitants of Jerusalem were spared; this judgment was ameliorated by the repentance and intercession of the remnant. But it did come true later in  the Babylonian and Roman invasions; those who remained inhabiting Jerusalem did so in disobedience to the prophetic calls to leave the city, and so were consumed within it. They remained in the city because they believed that the Egyptians (with whom they had made a covenant) would break the Babylonian siege; and so again was fulfilled the warning that covenants with the Gentiles would be a snare to them ( s.w. Ex. 34:12). And yet it is the idols of the nations which are repeatedly described as "a trap and a snare" for Israel; ""Yahweh" became that trap and snare because they worshipped those idols in the name of Yahweh worship. The day of the Lord will be a snare to the unsuspecting worldling, who will suddenly find that the Lord has come and destroyed him (Is. 8:14; 24:17,18; Jer. 50:24; Lk. 21:35). Yet the materialistic believer falls into the snare of riches here and now. Surely the point is that our attitude to riches is a preview of the judgment; the materialistic believer has condemned himself, right now.

Isaiah 8:15 Many will stumble over it, fall, be broken, be snared, and be captured-
"Many" implies a remnant who would not stumble. I suggested on :14 that it was covenants with surrounding nations and accepting their gods which were the "trap and snare" for Israel and Judah in Isaiah's time. But like all things in the prophetic word, these things became reapplied to the things of the Lord Jesus, so that "Whosoever shall fall on this stone (Christ) shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder" (Mt. 21:44). There is an unmistakable allusion here to the stone destroying the image, the Kingdoms of men, in Dan. 2:44. The choice we have is to fall upon Christ and break our bones, to get up and stumble on with our natural self broken in every bone; or to be ground to powder by the Lord at His return, to share the judgments of this surrounding evil world. Yet strangely (at first sight) the figure of stumbling on the stone of Christ often describes the person who stumbles at His word,  who rejects it (Is. 8:14,15; Rom. 9:33; 1 Pet. 2:7,8). In other words, through our spiritual failures we come to break ourselves, we become a community of broken men and women; broken in that we have broken our inner soul in conformity to God's will. As Simeon cuddled that beautiful, innocent baby Jesus, he foresaw all this: "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again (resurrection) of many in Israel... that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (Lk. 2:34). If we are to share His resurrection, if we are to experience such newness of life in this life, we must fall upon Him, really feel the cutting edge of His word. We must be broken now; or be broken and ground to powder at the judgment.

Isaiah 8:16 Wrap up the testimony. Seal the law among My disciples-
This could be Isaiah's prayer to God for his disciples rather than God's command to Isaiah. A possible translation of Is. 8:16 is: “I will bind up the testimony, and seal the instruction by my disciples” [suggested by Dr. Martin Hengel]. The context is Isaiah speaking about his disciples in the school of the prophets he ran, and praying to God for them. "The testimony" may be that which was legally testified to in Is. 8:2. God was now hiding His face from the people (:17) and they were to be left without clear revelation from Him (Is. 6:9,10), and they would not have access to His word (see on :19). The sealing of the book in Daniel likewise means that understanding would be hidden. But Isaiah prays that the word of truth would remain amongst his disciples and immediate family (:18).

The implication could be that the disciples of Divine teaching are actually the seal or credibility of the instruction / testimony which the Gospel contains. Valid converts are therefore a sign of the validity of the preacher, and are therefore a qualification for eldership. The respect afforded to such converters / leaders should, however, be qualified by their meeting of the standards Paul lays down: e.g. their own natural children should be well led by them. The integrity and manner of life of those who converted us is what inspires us to carry on. Thus Paul urges Timothy to “continue” because he knew “of what persons” he had been taught them (2 Tim. 3:14 RVmg.).

Isaiah 8:17 I will wait for Yahweh, who hides His face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for Him-
The emphasis is upon "I". Yahweh would be hidden from the majority, but Isaiah and his family (:18) represented the remnant from whom He had not hidden His face, and who could look for Him and find Him whereas the majority could not (:21).

Isaiah 8:18 Behold, I and the children whom Yahweh has given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from Yahweh of Armies-
The children could have been Isaiah's disciples. But the reference is more naturally to the children of sign, Immanuel and Mahershalalhashbaz, and to Shearjashub his other son (Is. 7:3), which means 'a remnant will return', whose name was used as an appeal for repentance in Is. 7:3; 10:21. The 'return' in mind is, I suggest, a spiritual return to God. That son was a "sign" to Judah and in a way, a witness to the mission and message of his father Isaiah. Just as Isaiah's son 'Immanuel' is alluded to in the statement in Is. 8:10 that "God is with us", so the idea of ''Shearjashub' is in Is.  10:21,22: "A remnant shall return... to the mighty God". And practically, this found its outworking in Hezekiah's appeal to all Israel to 'return' unto Yahweh (2 Chron. 30:6). Those who responded came to live in Jerusalem (2 Chron. 30:10,11)- and thus the promised "sanctuary" was created there. For many in the rest of the land died at the hands of the Assyrians; only those with Isaiah in Jerusalem were preserved. Because they sanctified Yahweh, He was a sanctuary for them (Is. 8:14). This preservation of the remnant in Jerusalem is a theme of Isaiah- it is alluded to in Is. 26:20 which speaks of coming into a place of refuge until the Assyrian invasion was passed: "Come, My people, enter into your rooms, and shut your doors behind you. Hide yourself for a little moment, until the indignation is past". Likewise Mahershalalhashbaz was a sign in that his name spoke of the coming judgment which Isaiah preached. The words forming his name are found in Is. 10:2,6 where we read of how Judah were to be prey and spoil for the Assyrian invaders. Emmanuel too was a sign, alluded to by Isaiah in Is. 8:10. He was a sign that God is with us. Trinitarians need to note that the child was not "God with us" but the sign that God is with us. 2 Chron. 32:7,8 shows how Hezekiah grasped the point, when he twice assures Judah that God is with us and they need not fear Assyria. This means that Isaiah and his wife (a "prophetess") and his three sons were perhaps the faithful remnant in Jerusalem alluded to in chapter 1, for whose sakes Jerusalem was spared. A faithful couple with three sons recalls the situation with Noah, for whose sake the 'earth' was spared total destruction, and this would explain the many allusions to the judgment of the flood in Isaiah. Here in chapter 8, the Assyrian invasion is explicitly likened to flood waters, and Is. 54:9 puts it all in so many words: "This is like the days of Noah to me: as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, and will not rebuke you".

The voice of the prophets didn't go entirely unheeded. A tiny minority responded. Isaiah had his school of disciples, referred to in Isaiah 8. The books of the prophets were presumably written up (under inspiration) by their disciples, and the biographical sections added by them. So the very existence of the books of the prophets itself indicates they had some converts who hung on and valued their every word. And yet despite this, the prophets felt lonely men, despite the converts they made- Micah felt like a tree left alone, naked and bare at the end of Summer (Mic. 7:1). Jeremiah “sat alone” (Jer. 15:17). Not only was their perspective on human sinfulness so very different to that of their audience. They preached a message which was counter-cultural and attacked the very bases of the assumptions which lay at the core of individual and social life in Israel. They appeared to back Israel’s enemies. Their message was therefore rejected.

Heb. 2:13 applies Isaiah's words here to Jesus, making Isaiah a clear type of Christ, the faithful one by reason of whom Judah were spared from total destruction, as Isaiah 1 began by emphasizing.

Who dwells in Mount Zion- see on Gen. 33:5. There are references in Isaiah to the Lord-Angel- coming out of His dwelling place in the temple to punish the Assyrians; the sacrifices and prayers made "before the Lord" in the temple were thus made in the presence of this Angel. Such phrases as "The Lord of Hosts (Angels) which dwelleth in Mount Zion" (Is. 8:18) are common. Solomon's dedication of the temple emphasized the fact that God's Name dwelt there-which was carried by the Angel (Ex. 23:20,21), and that His eyes (Angels) were present in the house. Thus a literal Angel dwelt in the temple- see on Ps. 78:60.

Isaiah 8:19 When they tell you, Consult with those who have familiar spirits and with the wizards, who chirp and who mutter: shouldn’t a people consult with their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?-
God was going to hide His face from them (:17), and like Saul when he had no revelation from God nor response to prayer, they would turn to the occult. We see here, as we do in Saul's huge efforts to get to the witch at Endor, the strength of the religious element within man. There is a desire for connection with the unseen, the supernatural and the Divine. There is therefore a hole in the human heart which only the true God can fill. But when He has been rejected, people still wish to turn to other forms of the supernatural. This is why atheism is but bravado; there is a nagging desire for connection with that beyond ourselves, arising from an innate dissatisfaction with our position and condition.

Isaiah 8:20 Turn to the law and to the testimony! If they don’t speak according to this word-
That which Isaiah taught to his sons and school of prophets (:16), which was no doubt challenged by the false prophets. There were clearly some in opposition to Isaiah, false claiming to speak prophecy from God, but which was in opposition to the testimony which Isaiah had perhaps literally written down and sealed (:16). Jewish tradition says that Isaiah was sawn in two by Hezekiah's son Manasseh.

Surely there is no light in them- Keil: "they are a people for whom no morning dawns", perhaps hinting that they have no hope of resurrection to eternity in the Messianic Kingdom; or that the Messianic dawn which was potentially possible at the time didn't happen. Hence Luther:  “If they do not say this, they will not have the morning dawn”. Instead :22 says they will be sent out into the darkness of rejection.

Isaiah 8:21 They will pass through it, very distressed and hungry; and it will happen that when they are hungry, they will worry, and curse by their king and by their God. They will turn their faces upward-
They would look up to God, only to look back down to the anguished earth (:22). Only Isaiah and his disciples would be able to look upward and find God: "I will wait for Yahweh, who hides His face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for Him" (:17). The emphasis there is upon "I". Yahweh would be hidden from the majority, but Isaiah and his family (:18) represented the remnant from whom He had not hidden His face, and who could look for Him and find Him whereas the majority could not. That faithful minority would find food in the desolated land (see on Is. 7:22), but the majority would not; they would curse God and their king (Ahaz, in the initial possible scenario). This didn't happen as was potentially threatened; but it will come finally true in the last days for those condemned. See on :22.

Isaiah 8:22 and look to the earth, and see distress, darkness, and the gloom of anguish. They will be driven into thick darkness
- The scenario envisaged didn't fully happen at Isaiah's time. Judah were saved from condemnation by grace, and the Assyrians were destroyed. But this language of condemnation will still come true, for it is quoted by the Lord Jesus about the final judgment and condemnation in darkness of the unfaithful within Israel (Mt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30). Likewise distress upon the earth / land and hearts failing with anguish is applied by the Lord to the situation there in the last days, due to the Jews refusing to believe in Him (Lk. 21:23,26)