Isaiah 8 Commentary

Isaiah’s son a sign for the people (8:1-10)

God then gives a second sign to guarantee the defeat of Israel and Syria. The sign of Immanuel had been given to the royal household, but this sign is given to the people. Another child is to be born, this one to Isaiah and his wife. The name of the child, Maher-shalal-hash-baz (meaning ‘the spoil hastens, the plunder comes quickly’; cf. GNB: Quick Loot, Fast Plunder), is announced publicly in advance so that the birth of the child will give added assurance to the people that God’s promises come true. The significance of the sign is that within a year or so of the child’s birth, Judah’s enemies (Israel and Syria) will be defeated and their goods seized by the conqueror (8:1-4).

The people of Judah, however, are unmoved; they still refuse to believe. They reject the help of God (likened to the waters of the gently flowing canal of Shiloah in Jerusalem), and prefer instead the help of Assyria (likened to the waters of the mighty river Euphrates). This river will not only destroy Israel and Syria, but will overflow into Judah, the land of Immanuel, almost drowning the people (5-8).

Then, turning to address Israel and Syria, Isaiah tells them that their plans for the conquest of Judah will not succeed. They have no chance of victory, because Judah is the land of Immanuel – ‘God with us’ (9-10).

Judah rejects Isaiah’s preaching (8:11-22)

Once again God reminds Isaiah to trust in him alone. Isaiah is not to follow Ahaz and the people, whether in fearing the Israelite-Syrian alliance or in trusting in Judah’s alliance with Assyria (11-12). God should be the means of Judah’s safety; but if the people do not trust in him they will find that he is the means of their destruction (13-15).

When neither the king nor the people heed the messages he brings them from God, Isaiah ceases his public preaching for a time. He concentrates instead on building up the faith of the few who believe God and who will be preserved through the coming judgment. They will guard and preserve the teaching that God has delivered to his people through Isaiah (16-17; cf. 6:13).

This reminds Isaiah of the truth of the signs that God gave to Judah through him and his sons. The elder son, Shearjashub (meaning ‘a remnant shall return’), speaks of judgment on Judah from which only the faithful few will be saved. The younger son, Maher-shalal-hash-baz (meaning ‘the spoil hastens, the


plunder comes quickly’), suggests that Assyria will invade and plunder not only Israel and Syria, but also Judah (18; cf. 7:3; 8:1-4). Nothing but terrifying judgment awaits a people who have turned from God and his teaching to practise witchcraft and spiritism (19-22).

Privacy Policy