Isaiah 8

Listen to Isaiah 8

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]
2 And 2I will get reliable witnesses, 3Uriah 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, 4"Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz;
4 5for before the boy knows how to cry 'My father' or 'My mother,' the 6wealth of 7Damascus and the spoil of 8Samaria will be carried away before the king of Assyria."
5 The LORD spoke to me again:
6 "Because this people has refused the waters of 9Shiloah that flow gently, and rejoice over 10Rezin and the son of Remaliah,
7 therefore, behold, the Lord is bringing up against them 11the waters of 12the River, mighty and many, the king of Assyria and all his glory. And it 13will rise over all its channels and go over all its banks,
8 and it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass on, 14reaching even to the neck, and its 15outspread wings will fill the breadth of your land, 16O Immanuel."
9 Be broken,[c] you peoples, and 17be shattered;[d] give ear, all you far countries; strap on your armor and be shattered; strap on your armor and be shattered.
10 Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; speak a word, 18but it will not stand, for God 19is with us.[e]

Fear God, Wait for the Lord

11 For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and 20warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying:
12 "Do not call 21conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and 22do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread.
13 But the LORD of hosts, 23him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
14 And he will become a 24sanctuary and 25a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
15 And many 26shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken."
16 Bind up 27the testimony; 28seal the teaching[f] among my disciples.
17 I will 29wait for the LORD, who is 30hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him.
18 31Behold, I and 32the children whom the LORD has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.
19 And when they say to you, "Inquire of the 33mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter," should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of 34the dead on behalf of the living?
20 35To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no 36dawn.
21 They will pass through the land,[g] greatly distressed and hungry. And when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will speak contemptuously against[h] their king and their God, and turn their faces upward.
22 37And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into 38thick darkness.

Isaiah 8 Commentary

Chapter 8

Exhortations and warnings. (1-8) Comfort for those who fear God. (9-16) Afflictions to idolaters. (17-22)

Verses 1-8 The prophet is to write on a large roll, or on a metal tablet, words which meant, "Make speed to spoil, hasten to the prey:" pointing out that the Assyrian army should come with speed, and make great spoil. Very soon the riches of Damascus and of Samaria, cities then secure and formidable, shall be taken away by the king of Assyria. The prophet pleads with the promised Messiah, who should appear in that land in the fulness of time, and, therefore, as God, would preserve it in the mean time. As a gentle brook is an apt emblem of a mild government, so an overflowing torrent represents a conqueror and tyrant. The invader's success was also described by a bird of prey, stretching its wings over the whole land. Those who reject Christ, will find that what they call liberty is the basest slavery. But no enemy shall pluck the believer out of Emmanuel's hand, or deprive him of his heavenly inheritance.

Verses 9-16 The prophet challenges the enemies of the Jews. Their efforts would be vain, and themselves broken to pieces. It concerns us, in time of trouble, to watch against all such fears as put us upon crooked courses for our own security. The believing fear of God preserves against the disquieting fear of man. If we thought rightly of the greatness and glory of God, we should see all the power of our enemies restrained. The Lord, who will be a Sanctuary to those who trust in him, will be a Stone of stumbling, and a Rock of offence, to those who make the creature their fear and their hope. If the things of God be an offence to us, they will undo us. The apostle quotes this as to all who persisted in unbelief of the gospel of Christ, 1Pe. 2:8 . The crucified Emmanuel, who was and is a Stumbling-stone and Rock of offence to unbelieving Jews, is no less so to thousands who are called Christians. The preaching of the cross is foolishness in their esteem; his doctrines and precepts offend them.

Verses 17-22 The prophet foresaw that the Lord would hide his face; but he would look for his return in favour to them again. Though not miraculous signs, the children's names were memorials from God, suited to excite attention. The unbelieving Jews were prone to seek counsel in difficulties, from diviners of different descriptions, whose foolish and sinful ceremonies are alluded to. Would we know how we may seek to our God, and come to the knowledge of his mind? To the law and to the testimony; for there you will see what is good, and what the Lord requires. We must speak of the things of God in the words which the Holy Ghost teaches, and be ruled by them. To those that seek to familiar spirits, and regard not God's law and testimony, there shall be horror and misery. Those that go away from God, go out of the way of all good; for fretfulness is a sin that is its own punishment. They shall despair, and see no way of relief, when they curse God. And their fears will represent every thing as frightful. Those that shut their eyes against the light of God's word, will justly be left to darkness. All the miseries that ever were felt or witnessed on earth, are as nothing, compared with what will overwhelm those who leave the words of Christ, to follow delusions.

Cross References 38

  • 1. Isaiah 30:8
  • 2. [Isaiah 43:10]
  • 3. 2 Kgs. 16:10, 11, 15, 16
  • 4. [Hosea 1:4]
  • 5. [Isaiah 7:16]
  • 6. [Isaiah 7:16]
  • 7. See Isaiah 7:8, 9
  • 8. See Isaiah 7:8, 9
  • 9. [Nehemiah 3:15; John 9:7, 11]
  • 10. See Isaiah 7:1, 4
  • 11. [Isaiah 17:12, 13]
  • 12. See Isaiah 7:20
  • 13. [Jeremiah 46:8]
  • 14. Isaiah 30:28
  • 15. [Isaiah 36:1]
  • 16. Isaiah 7:14
  • 17. [Daniel 2:34, 35]
  • 18. Isaiah 7:7
  • 19. [ver. 8; Romans 8:31]
  • 20. [Ezekiel 2:8]
  • 21. [Isaiah 7:2]
  • 22. Cited 1 Peter 3:14, 15
  • 23. See Numbers 20:12
  • 24. Ezekiel 11:16
  • 25. Cited Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:8; [Isaiah 28:16]
  • 26. [Isaiah 28:13; Matthew 21:44; Luke 20:18]
  • 27. ver. 1, 2
  • 28. Daniel 12:4
  • 29. Psalms 27:14; Psalms 33:20; Habakkuk 2:3
  • 30. Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 54:8; Deuteronomy 31:17
  • 31. Cited Hebrews 2:13
  • 32. [Isaiah 7:3]
  • 33. Isaiah 19:3; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Kings 23:24; 2 Chronicles 33:6; See Leviticus 19:31
  • 34. [Psalms 106:28]; See 1 Samuel 28:11-14
  • 35. [Luke 16:29]
  • 36. [Isaiah 60:1]
  • 37. Isaiah 5:30
  • 38. Nahum 1:8

Footnotes 8

  • [a]. Hebrew with a man's stylus
  • [b]. Maher-shalal-hash-baz means The spoil speeds, the prey hastens
  • [c]. Or Be evil
  • [d]. Or dismayed
  • [e]. The Hebrew for God is with us is Immanuel
  • [f]. Or law; also verse 20
  • [g]. Hebrew it
  • [h]. Or speak contemptuously by

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains a confirmation of the sudden destruction of the kingdoms of Syria and Israel, by another sign; a threatening to those that gloried in the kings of those nations, with an invasion of their land by the Assyrian monarch; a sarcastic address to those that joined in confederacy against Judah; some directions and instructions to the people of God; and some prophecies concerning the Messiah, and the miserable estate of the Jews, that should reject him and his Gospel. The sign given is a son of the Prophet Isaiah, whom his wife conceived and bore, and whose name was written with a man's pen, Mahershalalhashbaz, of which there were witnesses, whose names are mentioned; and it is predicted, that before this child should have knowledge to call his father and mother, Damascus and Samaria, the chief cities of Syria and Israel, would be taken and spoiled by the king of Assyria, Isa 8:1-4 who would invade, the land of Israel, and even pass through the land of Judah, as a chastisement not only of the Israelites that rejoiced in Rezin and Remaliah's son, the kings of Syria and Israel; but also of those Jews who chose to be under them, or neglected the promise of God, and applied to Assyria for help, Isa 8:5-8 and then both the people of Israel and of Syria are addressed, in a sarcastic way, to associate and take counsel together, when they should be broke to pieces, and their counsel come to nought, Isa 8:9,10 and the prophet being instructed by the Lord how to behave among the people of the Jews, advises them not to join with them whose cry was a confederacy with Assyria, nor to be afraid of the two kings that were come up against them, but to sanctify the Lord of hosts, and trust in him, and make him the object of their fear and dread, Isa 8:11-13 which is enforced from the consideration of what the Lord, who is no other than the Messiah, would be, both to his own people, and to his enemies; to the one a sanctuary, and to the other a stone of stumbling, a rock of offence, a trap, and a snare, Isa 8:14,15 then follows an instruction to the prophet to take care of the Gospel of Christ, and communicate it to his disciples, Isa 8:16 upon which the prophet determines to keep waiting and looking for his coming, who at present was hidden from the people of God, Isa 8:17 wherefore the Messiah is introduced, as presenting himself and his children to the prophet's view, which would be for signs and wonders in Israel, gazed at and reproached, Isa 8:18 and then the folly and vanity of seeking counsel of the Scribes and Pharisees, when Christ should be come in the flesh, is exposed; whose Gospel should be attended to, and not those dark and blind guides, Isa 8:19,20 and the chapter is concluded with the wretched condition of the Jews that called Jesus accursed; they should pass through the land, and find no food; and look into it, and see nothing but darkness and misery, Isa 8:21,22.

Isaiah 8 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.