A Son of Isaiah. 1The LORD said to me: Take a large tablet, and inscribe on it with an ordinary stylus,* “belonging to Maher-shalal-hash-baz,”a 2and call reliable witnesses* for me, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah, son of Jeberechiah.
3Then I went to the prophetess and she conceived and bore a son. The LORD said to me: Name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz, 4for before the child learns to say, “My father, my mother,” the wealth of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria shall be carried off by the king of Assyria.
The Choice: The Lord or Assyria. 5Again the LORD spoke to me:
6Because this people* has rejected
the waters of Shiloah that flow gently,
And melts with fear at the display of Rezin and Remaliah’s son,
7Therefore the Lord is bringing up against them
the waters of the River, great and mighty,
the king of Assyria and all his glory.
It shall rise above all its channels,
and overflow all its banks.
8It shall roll on into Judah,
it shall rage and pass on—
up to the neck it shall reach.b
But his outspread wings will fill
the width of your land, Emmanuel!
9Band together, O peoples, but be shattered!
Give ear, all you distant lands!
Arm yourselves, but be shattered! Arm yourselves, but be shattered!
10Form a plan, it shall be thwarted;
make a resolve, it shall not be carried out,
Disciples of Isaiah. 11For thus said the LORD—his hand strong upon me—warning me not to walk in the way of this people:
12* Do not call conspiracy what this people calls conspiracy,
nor fear what they fear, nor feel dread.
13But conspire with the LORD of hosts;
he shall be your fear, he shall be your dread.d
14He shall be a snare,
a stone for injury,
A rock for stumbling
to both the houses of Israel,
A trap and a snare
to those who dwell in Jerusalem;e
15And many among them shall stumble;
fallen and broken;
snared and captured.f
16Bind up my testimony, seal the instruction with my disciples.* 17I will trust in the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob; yes, I will wait for him. 18Here am I and the children whom the LORD has given me: we are signs* and portents in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.g
19And when they say to you, “Inquire of ghosts and soothsayers who chirp and mutter;* h should not a people inquire of their gods, consulting the dead on behalf of the living, 20for instruction and testimony?” Surely, those who speak like this are the ones for whom there is no dawn.*
21He will pass through it hard-pressed and hungry,
and when hungry, shall become enraged,
and curse king and gods.
He will look upward,
22and will gaze at the earth,
But will see only distress and darkness,
murky, without light.*
The Promise of Salvation Under a New Davidic King.* 23There is no gloom where there had been distress. Where once he degraded the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, now he has glorified the way of the Sea, the land across the Jordan, Galilee of the Nations.*
* [8:1] Ordinary stylus: lit., “stylus of men.” Maher-shalal-hash-baz: a symbolic name to be given to another son of Isaiah (v. 3); it means “quick spoils; speedy plunder,” and describes what the Assyrians will do to Syria and Israel.
* [8:2] Reliable witnesses: who would testify that Isaiah had indeed prophesied the future destruction. Uriah the priest: cf. 2 Kgs 16:10.
* [8:6–8] This people: Judah. Waters of Shiloah: the stream that flows from the Gihon spring into the pool of Shiloah in Jerusalem and provides a sure supply in time of siege; here it symbolizes the divine protection which Judah has rejected by seeking Assyrian support, symbolized by “the River” (i.e., the Euphrates). Ultimately Assyrian power will devastate Judah. His outspread wings: the Lord’s wings, a recurring symbol for divine protection (Ps 17:8; 36:8; 57:2; 61:5; 91:4; Ru 2:12). Some understand the image to refer to the sides of the flooding river, but this use of the Hebrew word for “wings” is unparalleled elsewhere in classical Hebrew.
* [8:10] The plan of Israel’s enemies will be thwarted because, as the name “Emmanuel” signifies, “with us is God.”
* [8:12–14] Because Isaiah and his followers resisted the official policy of seeking help from Assyria they were labeled “conspirators”; Isaiah uses the term to express what is really the case, cooperating with the Lord.
* [8:16] Bind…seal…with my disciples: because the prophet’s message was not well received at the time, he wanted to preserve it until the future had vindicated him as God’s true prophet (cf. 30:8–9).
* [8:18] Signs: in the meantime, while awaiting the vindication of his message, Isaiah and his children with their symbolic names stood as a reminder of God’s message to Israel.
* [8:19] Chirp and mutter: a mocking reference to necromancers.
* [8:20] Surely…no dawn: reliance on necromancy brings futility.
* [8:22] Oppressive gloom…without light: the meaning of the Hebrew here is quite uncertain.
* [8:23–9:6] The meaning of 8:23 is somewhat uncertain, for example, whether the expressions translated “once” and “now” refer to times or to individuals, and also whether the verbs speak of degrading and glorifying the territories. If this traditional translation is correct, the passage would seem to promise the former Northern Kingdom of Israel deliverance from the Assyrians and might relate to Hezekiah’s program of trying to reincorporate the northern territories into the kingdom of Judah and thus restore the boundaries of the country as it was under David.
* [8:23] The territories mentioned in this verse are those which the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III took from Israel and incorporated into the Assyrian provincial system as a result of the Syro-Ephraimite War of 735–732 B.C. (2 Kgs 15:29). Zebulun…Naphtali: regions of the former Northern Kingdom of Israel. The way of the Sea: the area along the Mediterranean coast south of Mount Carmel which became the Assyrian province of Dor. Land across the Jordan: the province of Gilead east of the Jordan. Galilee of the Nations: the territory north of Mount Carmel which was incorporated in the Assyrian province of Megiddo. Galilee apparently had a large non-Israelite population. Mt 4:15–16 cites this verse in the context of the beginning of Jesus’ public mission in Galilee.
d. [8:13] Is 29:23; 1 Pt 3:14–15.
e. [8:14] Lk 2:34; Rom 9:32–33; 1 Pt 2:7–8.
g. [8:18] Is 2:2–5; 4:5; 11:9; 14:32; 28:16; 31:9; 33:5.