Isaiah 8 - Outline of Isaiah (Book Notes menu page)
I.B.2. Messianic deliverance foreshadowed, 8:1 - 9:7
1. Moreover the LORD said unto me, Take thee a great roll,
and write in it with a man's pen concerning Mahershalalhashbaz.
2 And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record,
Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.
write... concerning...- Isaiah was to record his second son's name,
prior to his conception, in order to show that the name given to his son, before his birth, held prophetic significance. (Left to chance, the baby could have been a girl.)
faithful witnesses to record... - Two witnesses signed the document.
Uriah was a priest who cooperated with Ahaz in promoting false worship in Jerusalem (2Kin 16:10,11). There is no other mention of this Zechariah (although the name was very common). No doubt, he was another priest or a high ranking official. Ahaz could hardly dismiss the event, that followed, as an after thought of Isaiah.
3 And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son.
Then said the LORD to me, Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz.
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
{ie., by} the king of Assyria.
Mahershalalhashbaz - meaning: "Haste to the spoil; Speed to the prey."
The prophetic significance was that within a very short time, perhaps about two years, Assyria would defeat Syria and the northern kingdom of Israel. This prophecy was fulfilled in 732 BC (about 11 years prior to the Assyrian captivity of Samaria) when Tiglath-pilesar, king of Assyria captured Damascus and pillaged some of Samaria's treasure (2Kin 16:7-11).
5 The LORD spake also unto me again, saying,
6 Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly,
and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son;
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:
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.
this people...(v.6) - Some interpreters think this refers to the people of Samaria and Damascus,
seeing the passage as explanatory of the judgment which fell upon them (especially upon the northern kingdom of Israel), because they had turned against Jerusalem (where the waters of Shiloah are located) in order to follow Rezin and Pekah. However, in v.8, Judah is identified as the people who were about to taste judgment.
forasmuch as {they}... rejoice {ie., exult} in Rezin and Remaliah's son -
Judah would exult over the defeat of these enemy kings (foretold in v.4). But they refused to acknowledge the source of their victory.
this people... refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly -
Shiloah (ie., the pool of Siloam) is the reservoir into which water flowed through the conduit from the Gihon Spring. It is symbolic of the Lord's faithful provision for the house of David (as discussed in the Notes at Isa 7:3-6). The Lord would deliver a similar message, through Jeremiah, about 100 years later (in Jer 2:12,13, about 85 years after the spring water was redirected to this pool via Hezekiah's rock hewn tunnel).
    The pool of Siloam is mentioned (by name) in only three places in scripture (v.6; Neh 3:15; and Joh 9:6-11). In the latter passage, where the One sent from the Father opened the eyes of the blind, we are told that Siloam means 'Sent' (cp. Joh 7:28,29). The Lord Jesus Christ is the reservoir of Blessing sent from the Most High through the line of David (cp. Joh 7:37-39; also see the Book Notes at John 7:37-39). Yet, sadly, His people continue to reject Him, and put their confidence in untrustworthy men.
... therefore, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river... (v.7,8) -
ie, of the great Euphrates, which flowed through the land of the Assyrians. The king of Assyria and his army (in whom Judah had trusted for deliverance from Israel and Syria) would overflow the land of Judah, which would be unable to contain or divert him. (Almost 100 years later, Jeremiah would refer to the Babylonians as an overflowing flood from the Euphrates, prior to the destruction of Jerusalem. Jer 47:2)
shall reach even unto the neck - On this occasion, the Assyrians would overtake everything,
except Jerusalem and its king. Therefore, the 'head' of Judah would be spared (cp. Isa 7:8,9). But because Judah was worthy of judgment, the enemy would have free reign in the land.
the stretching out of his wings shall fill thy land, O Immanuel.-
Do you hear the grief in these words? It is Immanuel's land. He still grieves over His unbelieving people (Mat 23:37-39).
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.
10 Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought;
speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God [is] with us
{HB= Immanu-el}.
associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces...-
This admonition is directed toward Judah, warning them that they should put their confidence in Immanuel ('the God who is with us'), rather than in alliances with fickle nations. Such alliances will end in bitter disappointment and destruction.
give ear all ye of far countries... - These lines address gentile nations
and look beyond the Assyrian invasion to the Tribulation period, and the invasion of an association of far countries, which will be destroyed by Immanuel at His second coming. cp. Zech 14:1-3; Rev 16:12-16; 19:11-21
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,
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.
13 Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself;
and [let] him [be] your fear, and [let] him [be] your dread.
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.
15 And many among them shall stumble, and fall,
and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.
16. Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.
17 And I will wait upon the LORD,
that hideth his face from the house of Jacob,
and I will look for him.
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.
the Lord spake... to me... instructed me... that I should not walk...-
In v.11-16, the Lord gives instruction to Isaiah and others who were trusting Him. They were not to be swayed or intimidated by their peers, who accused them of...
confederacy {HB= gesher, conspiracy, treason} - cp. this word in 2Sam 15:12; 2Kin 15:30; 17:4
This charge was raised against Isaiah because his message (eg., v.9,10) was perceived as opposition to king Ahaz and his alliance with Assyria. Isaiah's 'conspiracy' was that he rejected the 'confederacy' in which the king and most of the people were placing their hopes.
    The word used for 'confederate' in Isa 7:2, is HB= nuwach, rest. There, Syria and Samaria were 'at rest' with each other, having laid aside their differences to focus on Judah, their common enemy. In 7:19, this word describes 'the rest' of Judah's enemies in her land, after they had subdued her.
    Isaiah, and those who were likeminded, were not to fear those who were discomfited by God's Word, rather, they were to...
sanctify the LORD of hosts himself... let him be your fear and... dread.-
They were to determine in themselves to trust the LORD fully. cp. Num 20:12; Mat 10:28; Rev 15:4
he shall be for a sanctuary - Those who trust Him find, in Him, true peace and security.
cp. Isa 2:10; 26:20; Psa 46:1,2; Prov 18:10
but for a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel...-
Neither the northern nor the southern kingdom of Israel was trusting in the LORD. Having refused to build upon their Rock, they would find themselves broken by Him. cp. Deu 32:4,15,18,30,31,37; Psa 18:31; Isa 28:16; 1Pet 2:7,8
    Immanuel, who is the sanctuary for believers, is a stumbling block to unbelievers. cp. Mat 21:42-44; Luk 2:34; Rom 9:31-33
bind up the testimony... seal the law among my disciples {ie., my learned ones}...-
God's Word would be a closed book to unbelievers (even Israel's scholars). cp. Isa 6:9-12; 29:11-14
Yet, it is understood and precious to believers, who learn of Him. cp. v.20; 1Cor 2:14-16
I will wait... I will look for him. - cp. Psa 130:5-7; Luk 2:25,26,38; Heb 9:28
I and the children... are for signs... in Israel -
Isaiah and his sons were indicators of the truth of God's Word before their people.
Their names proclaimed the message:
  • Isaiah: "Jehovah is Salvation" - It is He in whom the people should trust.
  • Mahershalalhashbaz: "Haste to the spoil; Speed to the prey." -
    It is the LORD who delivered you from Samaria and Syria. It is the LORD who will deliver you into the hands of Assyria (and to the subsequent captivities).
  • Shear-jashub: "A remnant shall return." -
    It is the LORD who keeps His covenant with Israel. He will fulfill His promise to restore a remnant to their land, in the Day of the LORD.
Verse 18 is quoted in Heb 2:13-15 regarding the greater sign of Christ and His spiritual children:
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?
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.
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.
22 And they shall look unto the earth;
and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish;
and [they shall be] driven to darkness.
there is no light in them... trouble, darkness... driven to darkness -
Those who turn from the light of God's Word, to seek wisdom from the demonic powers of darkness, will experience the result of their error: darkness that grows ever darker. cp. Lev 20:27; Deu 18:9-12; Joh 3:19,20; 2Cor 11:13-15; 2The 2:8-12; 1Tim 4:1
for the living to the dead? (v.19) - This phrase depends on the preceding verb.
Consider these alternate readings:
  • 'On behalf of the living (should they seek) unto the dead?' [ASV]
  • '(Should they consult) the dead on behalf of the living?' [NASB].
The question underlines the foolishness of occult practices, such as using spirit mediums ('them that have familiar spirits') to contact and obtain help from dead people. eg. 1Sam 28:8
they {ie., the children of Israel} shall pass through it {ie., Immanuel's land}... (v.21,22)-
  • ...hardly bestead - ie., in great difficulty and hunger.
  • ...fret themselves - ie., angry with each other.
  • ...curse {ie., making light of, considering of little account} their king and their God.-
    It will seem to them that neither can deliver them from their sorrows.
  • ...they shall look...- They will look everywhere for relief...
    upward, downward, and to the ends of the earth...
    But they will find compounded troubles, and no one to help, for in their blindness, they rejected the light of God's Word and it's confirming signs. cp. v.20; Luk 16:29-31; Joh 5:39-47
[This section continues into the next chapter.]

Click here to continue the study in Isaiah 9
Return to Isaiah - MENU page.

Limited permission is granted to copy & distribute these notes from

Go to The Book opening page.