Isaiah 8:1

The Coming Assyrian Invasion

1 Then the LORD said to me, "Take a large tablet 1and write on it in common characters,[a]'Belonging to Maher-shalal-hash-baz.'[b]

Isaiah 8:1 Meaning and Commentary

Isaiah 8:1

Moreover the Lord said unto me
This is another prophecy, confirming the same thing that was promised in the preceding chapter ( Isaiah 7:1-25 ) ; namely, safety to the Jews from the two kings of Syria and Israel, which combined against them: take thee a great roll;
or volume, a writing book, a roll of parchment, in which form the ancients used to write, ( Psalms 40:7 ) . The Targum renders it, a "table"; a writing table, such an one as Zacharias called for, ( Luke 1:63 ) and this was to be a "great" or large one, because much was to be written in it; or what was to be written was to be written in large letters: and write in it with a man's pen;
such as men usually write with; and in such a style and language as may be easily understood by men, even though unlearned; and so clearly and plainly, that he that runs may read; and so the Targum,

``write in it a clear writing;''
very plain, and explicit, and legible: concerning Mahershalalhashbaz;
a son of the prophet Isaiah, so called, ( Isaiah 8:3 ) whose name was very significant, and was given him on purpose to express the sudden destruction of the enemies of Judah. The Targum renders it,
``hasten to seize the prey, and to take away the spoil.''
Some translate it, "in hastening the prey, the spoiler hastens"; perhaps it may be better rendered, "hasten to the spoil, hasten to the prey"; as if the words were spoken to the Assyrian monarch, to hasten to the spoil of Damascus and Samaria; and the repetition of the same thing in different words may have respect to the spoils of both, see ( Isaiah 8:4 ) and for the greater confirmation of the thing. Gussetius has a very peculiar fancy about the sense of this text; he observes that (jrx) , rendered a "pen", signifies some hollow vessel, in which things were put; and supposes that it here designs a man's chest, or some such thing, in which garments might be laid up and reserved: and (Nwylg) , is the singular of a word used in ( Isaiah 3:23 ) , for some sort of luxurious garments wore by women; so that, upon the whole, the reading and sense of the words are, that the prophet is bid to take a large garment of the above sort, and write upon it, putting it into the chest. This for Mahershalalhashbaz; signifying it was to lie there till this child was born; and intimating hereby, that the women, far from battle, would be spoiled of their soft and precious garments, as well as the men be slain in war F13, though this is more tolerable than the fancy of Huetius F14, that the whole is an euphemism, in modest terms, expressing the prophet's coition with his wife.

F13 Vid. Comment. Ebr. p. 286.
F14 Demonstr. Evangel. prop. 7. parag. 15. p. 352.

Isaiah 8:1 In-Context

1 Then the LORD said to me, "Take a large tablet and write on it in common characters,'Belonging to Maher-shalal-hash-baz.'
2 And I will get reliable witnesses, Uriah the priest and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah, to attest for me."
3 And I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and bore a son. Then the LORD said to me, "Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz;
4 for before the boy knows how to cry 'My father' or 'My mother,' the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away before the king of Assyria."
5 The LORD spoke to me again:

Cross References 1

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Hebrew with a man's stylus
  • [b]. Maher-shalal-hash-baz means The spoil speeds, the prey hastens
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.