|Isaiah 8:1 Then the LORD said to me, "Take for yourself a large tablet and write on it in ordinary letters: "Swift is the booty, speedy is the prey".: (Take: Jer 36:2,28,32) (write: Isa 30:8 Job 19:23,24 Hab 2:2,3) (Ordinary letters: Rev 13:18 21:17, Maher-shalal-hash-baz)
To help keep this chapter in context observe the preceding table and the following outline adapted from Talk Thru the Bible which summarizes the first section of Isaiah dealing primarily with prophecies concerning the Kingdom of Judah…
Fruchtenbaum has commented that…
CHAPTERS 7–12 of Isaiah constitute a single unit, sometimes referred to as “The Book of Immanuel” because the name “Immanuel” appears three times in the Hebrew text (Isaiah 7:14; 8:8,10) (Ed: Isa 8:10 = "God with us" transliterated "immanu'el"). (Messianic Christology: A study of Old Testament prophecy concerning the first coming of the Messiah. Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries)
Then - When? After prophesying of the desolation that was to befall Judah and Jerusalem (Isa 8:17-25). Remember that Isaiah 8 is a continuation of the prophecy in Isaiah 7 (and in fact continues through Isaiah 9:7), where God reassured Ahaz that Judah would not be defeated by the Aram-Ephraim alliance. But God wants to make sure His people get this message clearly and so He repeats the message with an object lesson in the form of Isaiah's son, Maher-shalal-hash-baz. It should be emphasized that while God does assure Judah she would not be defeated by the Assyrians, this promise did not relieve Judah of considerable suffering at the hands of the invading Assyrian forces. In the OT we see that God would often use enemies of Israel to chastise His chosen people (cp Hab 1:6 referring to the Babylonians He would send to Judah).
The LORD - Remember that in the NASB, when "Lord" is in all caps (LORD) in the text, it signifies the underlying Hebrew name is Jehovah.
Take a large tablet (not a parchment roll but more like a slab) - Only rarely is a prophet commanded to actually write out a message (cp Hab 2:2, 3 for another example). Clearly this is a message Jehovah wanted to be fully visible so that it could be read and understood by all.
In ordinary letters - The idea is write on the great tablet with a man's (i.e. an ordinary) stylus, in common characters, intelligible to all. The Amplified has "a graving tool and in ordinary characters [which the humblest man can read.]" The Jerusalem Bible has "ordinary writing," NEB has "common writing," and NAB has "ordinary letters," the NIV "ordinary pen.
Swift is the booty, speedy is the prey ("The spoil speeds, the prey hastes", "Speeding to the Plunder, Hurrying to the Spoil", 'Quick-pickings-Easy-prey' = J. B. Phillips) - This message is repeated as the name of Isaiah's son, Maher-shalal-hash-baz in Isaiah 8:3. This name written out for all to see would signify the rapid advance of the Assyrian forces and the imminent fall of Damascus and Samaria before the Assyrians. An Egyptian name of the Eighteenth Dynasty similarly means "Hasten, Seize Booty."
HISTORICAL CONTEXT: A Timeline of Isaiah
I will take to Myself faithful witnesses for testimony - The presence of two witnesses indicates that this prophecy had the force of a legal document. He names two witnesses in keeping with the Lord's own requirement in Deuteronomy…
Uriah the priest - He was a priest during the reign of King Ahaz. Uriah means "the LORD is my light" and King Ahaz's request he built an idolatrous (Assyrian) altar like one the king had seen at Damascus when he met with Assyrian King Tiglath-pileser. King Ahaz offered sacrifices on this idolatrous altar and moved the divinely prescribed bronze altar. (Read 2Ki 16:10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16). In the present context, Uriah (assuming this is the same Uriah) is taken as one of the two faithful witnesses concerning the matter of Maher-shalal-hash-baz.
Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah - Zechariah is the name of up to 28 different persons in Scripture but is not the famous prophet whose book is included in the "Minor Prophets" of the Bible. This Zechariah may be the same one who followed God and who taught King Uzziah to honor God which resulted in Uzziah succeeding (see 2Chr 26:5). Zechariah was a witness of Isaiah's prophecy against Syria and Ephraim (Recorded in Isaiah 7).
Jeberechiah means "Yah (Jehovah) blesses".
Isaiah 8:3 So I approached the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. Then the LORD said to me, "Name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz;: (prophetess: Jdg 4:4 2Ki 22:14)( Ho 1:3-9)(Isa 7:13,14, Maher-shalal-hash-baz, Isa 8:1)
Approached (07126) (qarab) conveys the basic sense of coming very near, which could simply be spatially near but also (as used euphemistically in this present passage) mean in proximity intimately, specifically in sexual relations (Ge 20:4, Dt 22:14).
The Prophetess (05031) (nebiy'ah/nebiah) describes a woman who speaks or proclaims the message of God. In the present context it could signify that she was the wife of a prophet, but in a sense she does fulfill the role of a prophet by giving birth to a son whose very name conveys a prophetic message.
There are a number of prophetesses in the Bible including Miriam (Ex 15:1-19, 20), Deborah (Jdg 4:4, 5, 6-note), Huldah (2Ki 22:14-20, 2Chr 34:22-29), Noadiah (Neh 6:14 = false prophetess), Anna (Lk 2:36, 37, 38), and Philip's four daughters (Acts 21:8, 9).
Nebiy'ah/nebiah - 6x in the OT - Ex 15:20; Jdg 4:4; 2Ki 22:14; 2Chr 34:22; Neh 6:14; Isa 8:3
Then the LORD said - Remember that names in Scripture were usually filled with meaning. It is almost like this son would be a "walking sermon" or message from God even as was Isaiah's first son whose name meant a "remnant will return."
Isaiah 8:4 for before the boy knows how to cry out 'My father' or 'My mother,' the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away before the king of Assyria.: (before: Isa 7:15,16 Dt 1:39 Jon 4:11 Ro 9:11)(Wealth of Damascus: Isa 10:6-14 17:3 2Ki 15:29 16:9 17:3,5,6)
For - Always be alert for this little preposition at the beginning of sentences, where it most often functions as a term of explanation. Then take a moment and ask "What (why, when, etc) is being explained?" In the present context, Isaiah is explaining why Jehovah has given his son such a long name, Maher-shalal-hash-baz.
Before the boy knows how to cry out 'My father' or 'My mother' - The prophecy conveyed by the birth of Isaiah's would be just a few years so that within probably 2 years (or even less) the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III would plunder Damascus (circa 732BC).
map of Assyria which incorporates Damascus and Samaria).
Will be carried away before the king of Assyria - The Assyrian's practiced deportation of their defeated enemies as an impediment to local uprisings against their rule. The actual fulfillment of this prophecy occurred in 732BC for Damascus and 722BC for Israel.
Isaiah 7:10 records almost the same statement but there Jehovah spoke to King Ahaz. The same divine voice in Isa 7:10 and Isa 8:5 but different hearts and so different responses.
Isaiah 8:6 Inasmuch as these people have rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah and rejoice in Rezin and the son of Remaliah: (1Ki 7:16 2Ch 13:8-18)(Shiloah: Ne 3:15 Jn 9:7)(Jer 2:13,18 18:14)(rejoice: Isa 7:1,2,6 Jdg 9:16-20)
These peoples - The Northern Kingdom of Ephraim (Israel). Young also feels this speaks of the Southern Kingdom of Judah who had despised the LORD and turned to Assyria for help.
Rejected (despised) - The rejection of the gently flowing waters was actually a rejection of God Himself as the context shows. So in a sense the metaphor stands for God Himself and contrasts with the raging Euphrates river mentioned in Isaiah 8:7.
The image of the Lord’s satisfying waters is found often in Scripture: Ps 46:4; Jer 2:13–19; Ezekiel 47; Jn 4:1-15, Jn 7:37, 38, 39; Rev 22:1.
The gently flowing waters of Shiloah present an apt picture of the spiritual refreshing found in Messiah (Isaiah 8:5-8; 33:21; 41:18; 48:18; 66:12).
I've got peace like a river,
The gently flowing waters of picture) which symbolized divine protection and help (cp Jesus' charge to wash in the pool of Siloam and receive sight - Jn 9:7, 11). Because Judah had refused God's help (healing?), she would experience (figuratively) the flood of waters of the mighty Euphrates in the form of the mighty and destructive forces of the Assyrians (Isa 8:7).
Rezin - King of Aram.
The son of Remaliah - Pekah king of Ephraim (Israel). As in Isaiah 7, the writer does not refer to him by his name Pekah, possibly because he was a usurper who does not deserve the title he holds (but that is somewhat speculative).
Isaiah 8:7 Now therefore, behold, the Lord is about to bring on them the strong and abundant waters of the Euphrates, even the king of Assyria and all his glory; and it will rise up over all its channels and go over all its banks.: (Lord: Isa 17:12,13 28:17 59:19 Ge 6:17 Dt 28:49-52 Jer 46:7,8 Da 9:26 Da 11:10,22 Am 8:8 9:5 Na 1:8 Lk 6:48 Rev 12:15,16 17:15)(strong: Ezr 4:10 Ps 72:8)(king: Isa 7:1-6,17 10:8-14 Eze 31:3-18)
Now therefore - Term of conclusion - In view of the fact that Judah had rejected Jehovah's help and protection choosing to seek help from a pagan nation Assyria, God would now act. Instead of the gentle flowing waters, Judah's rejection would reap a raging torrent (Assyria)! Beloved, we must not read over this too quickly and think to ourselves "How could Judah be so hard hearted, so foolish?" Judah is a picture of our fallen flesh which (like Judah) rejects the help and protection of God and far too often seeks the world's ways. But we always do so at our own peril (and I am referring to believers), for we too will reap the reward of God's hand of righteous discipline in our life! Do not be deceived when you sin, thinking that you will get away with it. You never get away with sin against God. And if we persist and refuse to confess and repent, we may reap a raging river like Judah! (cp Gal 6:7-note, Gal 6:8-note, Heb 12:5,6-note, He 12:7, 8-note, He 12:9, 10-note, He 12:11-note)
Behold (02009) (hinneh) is an interjection (= a word in speaking or writing, thrown in between words connected in construction, to express some emotion or passion) often seeks to grab the reader's attention and says something like - Look! Pay attention! Don't miss this next point! Hinneh draws attention to an important fact or action that follows and in a sense demands our attention. W E Vine adds that Behold is notable that when behold (hinneh) is used in Isaiah, it always introduces something relating to future circumstances. (Uses of hinneh in Isaiah - Isa 3:1; 5:7, 26, 30; 6:7f; 7:14; 8:7, 18, 22; 10:33; 12:2; 13:9, 17; 17:1, 14; 19:1; 20:6; 21:9; 22:17; 24:1; 25:9; 26:21; 28:2, 16; 29:8, 14; 30:27; 34:5; 35:4; 36:6; 37:7, 11, 36; 38:5, 8, 17; 39:6; 40:9f; 41:15, 27; 42:9; 43:19; 47:14; 48:7, 10; 49:12, 22; 51:22; 52:6, 13; 54:11; 58:9; 59:9; 60:2; 62:11; 65:1, 6, 13f, 17f; 66:12, 15)
Strong and abundant waters of the Euphrates - First note the clear play on words - rejection of the gentle flowing waters of Shiloah, will reap a torrent of waters from the mighty Euphrates River (cp Hos 8:7 - you always sow more than you reap!)
Obviously strong and abundant waters is a figure of speech and a powerful one indeed, for if you have ever been caught in rushing, swirling waters (I have and almost drowned), you know the power of flowing water (cp hydroelectric power!). (Click map of Assyria - the river nearest to Israel is the Euphrates. Observe in the legend the striking expansion of the boundaries that occurred the years 824BC and 671BC. For context the events in Isaiah 8 are prophesied between 735-732BC - How do we know? See comments on Isaiah 8:4. Observe that Judah is not green but yellow - while the Northern Kingdom whose capital was Samaria was eventually defeated by Assyria, the Assyrian advances on Judah did not result in her defeat - Why? God's protective hand was on Judah. He would eventually use Nebuchadnezzar as His servant [Jer 25:9, 27:6, 43:10] to defeat and demolish Judah and Jerusalem in 586BC. Beloved if God is in control of kingdoms rising and falling, what is there in your life which you think is beyond His control? And remember His timing is not necessarily your timing!)
Isaiah 8:8 Then it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass through, It will reach even to the neck and the spread of its wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel: (pass: Isa 10:28-32 22:1-7 28:14-22 29:1-9 36:1-37:38)(reach: Isa 30:28)(spread: Eze 17:3) (Immanuel: Isa 7:14 Mt 1:23 Isa 28:20)
WHEN TROUBLE COMES REMEMBER IMMANUEL - GOD IS WITH US!
Then - This time phrase (expressions of time) usually marks succession, in this case it describes the Assyrian invasion of Judah (circa 701BC) after the defeat of the Northern Kingdom in 722BC.
Then it will sweep on into Judah - In 701 B.C. Sennacherib invaded Judah (2Ki 18:13-19:37), and only Jerusalem escaped.
It will reach even to the neck - The Assyrian invading "tide" would sweep, and cover the land of Judah but would go no higher than the neck. Thus Judah would be spared from being "drowned" (defeated and destroyed) by the Assyrian waters which did engulf and destroy Judah's sister Israel (Ephraim).
The spread of its wings will fill the breadth of your land - As a great bird of prey spreading its wings over its victim, so too would Assyria spread throughout the land of Israel (cp Isaiah 7:19-note)
O Immanuel - God with us. In context Isaiah is speaking of the land of Judah which belongs to God. God was indeed still with Judah (even though she had been rebellious and unfaithful) and He would not allow Assyria to defeat them. The fact is that THE LAND, the land of Israel (Judah), did not actually belong to either Judah or King Ahaz, but to the coming Messiah, Immanuel! He came the first time and was rejected. Rejection will not be an "option" when He comes the second time as King of kings and Lord of lords!
Is not God's provision of a historical "salvation" of of Judah (A LAND) by Immanuel not a foreshadowing of the greater salvation provided for the Jews (A LIFE) through the first advent of Immanuel Christ Jesus?
Constable adds that…
Isaiah 8:9 Be broken, O peoples, and be shattered; and give ear, all remote places of the earth. Gird yourselves, yet be shattered; Gird yourselves, yet be shattered.: (Be broken: Isa 7:1,2 54:15 Jer 46:9-11 Eze 38:9-23 Joe 3:9-14 Mic 4:11-13 Zec 14:1-3 Rev 17:12-14 20:8,9)(and give ear: Isa 14:5,6 28:13 Ps 37:14,15 Pr 11:21) (gird: Isa 37:36 1Ki 20:11) (Note all verbs in red are imperatives/commands)
Note that Isaiah 8:9, 10 there is a shift in the prophecy from judgment to one of hope for Judah. The commands in both verses are spoken not to Judah but to the Assyrians (as if they were present to hear). Yes, Assyria would be allowed to invade Judah but would eventually be destroyed.
Be broken… be shattered - These commands are also prophecy. The NET Bible Note gives a helpful explanation…
Isaiah 8:10 Devise a plan, but it will be thwarted. State a proposal, but it will not stand, for God is with us.: (Devise: Isa 7:5-7 2Sa 15:31 17:4,23 Job 5:12 Ps 2:1,2 33:10,11 46:1,7 Ps 83:3-18 Pr 21:30 La 3:37 Na 1:9-12 Ac 5:38,39) (for God: Isa 7:14 9:6 41:10 Dt 20:1 Joshua 1:5 2Ch 13:12 33:7,8 Ps 46:7,11 Mt 1:23 28:20 Ro 8:13,31 1Jn 4:4)
Devise a plan (take counsel) - Devise your strategy Assyria. Call your councils of war. Form a plan to take Judah.
It will be thwarted (06565) (parar) means to break (a treaty, etc Ge 17:14, Lev 26:15), to be broken (Jer 33:21, Zech 11:11), to thwart, frustrate, foil, cause to fail (2Sa 15:34, 17:14, Ezra 4:5, Ne 4:9 Job 5:12; 15:4; 40:8; Ps 33:10; 85:5; 89:34]; Pr 15:22; Isa 14:27; 44:25) or to be thwarted as in the present passage.
State a proposal (more literally "Speak a word") -
For - Observe that this is a term of explanation. Isaiah explains why Judah is Immanuel's land and, therefore, cannot be conquered except as Immanuel permits.
God is with us - The literal Hebrew is Emmanu-El, which is emphatic and says something like "With us, God"! In other words this name emphasizes God's presence and in this case His protection (at least until 586BC when Judah fell to Babylon). However, in one sense God is always with Israel because of His immutable, unconditional covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, a covenant which will finally be fulfilled to the believing Jewish remnant in the last of the last days (see comments on the "remnant" in the previous chapter).
As noted earlier Fruchtenbaum feels that Isaiah 7-12…
Gene Brooks writes…
The NET Bible Note explains that…
Immanuel - Since that first Christmas day 2,000 years ago, the assurance that God is with His people has taken on new meaning. Before Jesus was born, the Israelites were assured that even in judgment they could have hope because God was with them (Isaiah 8:8,10). Yet they didn’t know God as fully as we can today.
We have a great advantage because through reading the New Testament we can see the glory of God “in the face of Jesus Christ” (2Corinthians 4:6). And we can sense His presence in all situations of life because He is made real to us by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:10-16).
When I need to be reassured that God is with me, I think about Jesus as He is revealed in the New Testament. I recall how He took little children in His arms and blessed them (Matthew 19:13-15). Then I think of His crucifixion, which reminds me of all He endured to be my Savior (Matthew 27:27-54). Finally, I reflect on His promise, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
The birth of Jesus gave new significance to the name Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). Because He lived among us, died for us, and sent His Spirit to indwell us, we can rejoice!
Isaiah 8:11 For thus the LORD spoke to me with mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying,: (Mighty power: Jer 20:7,9 Eze 3:14 Ac 4:20) (instructed: Ps 32:8 Pr 1:15 Jer 15:19 Eze 2:6, 7, 8)
For thus the LORD spoke to me - Jehovah spoke to Isaiah His prophet. (See Oswald Chambers - How Could Someone Be So Ignorant!)
Mighty power - Literally strength of hand (cp Jehovah's strong hand on His prophet Ezekiel - Ezek 3:14).
Not to walk in the way of this people - The call to follow Jehovah has always been a radical call! Isaiah is strongly admonished to in essence be in the midst of the people but not be of the people. In other words, Isaiah was to resist any temptation to follow the prevalent pattern of belief and behavior of the people of Judah. This divine word to Isaiah reminds one of the words of Jesus prayer for His flock in John 17…
Isaiah 8:12 "You are not to say, 'It is a conspiracy!' In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, and you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it.: (conspiracy: Isa 7:2-6 51:12,13 2Ki 16:5-7) (Not to fear: Isa 7:4 57:9-11 Ps 53:5 Mt 28:2-5 Lk 12:4,5 21:9 1Pe 3:14,15)
You are not to say - While this encouragement is directed primarily to Isaiah, the verb is second masculine plural indicating that it would also to apply to all who are likeminded (with Isaiah), presumably the same ones referred to as "my disciples" in Isa 8:16).
You are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it - Don't fear what men fear and in Isaiah 8:13 the charge is to fear God. The writer of Proverbs said that…
Luke reminds us that the fear of God takes precedence over every other fear…
Isaiah 8:13 It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread.: (Regard as holy: Isa 26:3,4 Lev 10:3 Nu 20:12,13 27:14 Ro 4:20) (He shall be: Ge 31:53 Ps 76:7 Mal 2:5 Mt 10:28 Lk 12:5 Rev 15:4)
This word of comfort as well as warning to the professing followers of God in Isaiah's day, was applied by the Peter to believers who might suffer for the sake of righteousness. (See 1Pe 3:14,15-note).
The LORD of hosts - See study Jehovah Sabaoth, LORD of hosts
Regard as holy (06942) (qadash) means to set apart for a specific use by some agency. To consecrate, separate, set apart a person or thing from all common or secular purposes to some religious use. Everything consecrated to God was separated from all profane use. In the present context clearly God is Holy so we can't make Him more holy. But the charge is to think of Him as holy, remembering that the way one thinks affects (or at least should affect) the way one behaves! If we regard Jehovah as holy, we will seek to live in a holy or set apart way even as He is holy (cp 1Pe 1:15, 16-note).
The Septuagint uses the verb hagiazo from hagios [word study] which means to set apart for God, to sanctify, to make a person or thing (in the OT altars, days, priests, etc were set apart) the opposite of koinos, which means profane or common.
THE FEAR OF GOD CONQUERS EVERY FEAR
He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread - As alluded to in the previous passage, if you fear God, you have nothing to fear from man, for the Omnipotent Almighty God of the universe is for you (Ro 8:31-note)
A W Tozer…
Spurgeon comments on the meaning of "Sanctify the LORD of hosts"…
Don't They Believe in God? - During the chaos of a big city riot, a television news video showed a man pointing at looters who were racing in and out of the stores. The man cried in anguish, “This is stealing! Don’t these people have any morals? Don’t they believe in God?”
The prophet Isaiah made a similar point. The Israelites had done the unthinkable—they had fallen into the immoralities of their pagan neighbors. In addition, they had made a treaty with Assyria rather than relying on the Lord to protect them against their enemies (2Ki 16:1-9).
Isaiah said they were worried about the wrong things. Instead of fearing their enemies, they should have been thinking about the Lord (Isa. 8:12, 13). The Lord promised that He would be a sanctuary for those who put their trust in Him. But to those who rejected His offer, He would be “a stone of stumbling” and a hunter’s snare (Isa 8:14).
We who profess faith in Christ need to make sure God is the one we fear. Whenever we join others in their sins or behave as if we are afraid of offending them, those who observe us will ask, “Don’t they believe in God?”
Our challenge is to fear the Lord above everyone else, and to show it by what we do and say. (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Healthy Fear - In June 6, 1944, five thousand ships departed England for the Normandy coast and the greatest invasion of World War II. From this military event comes the story of the skipper who lectured his crew on fear, and said, "Fear is a very healthy thing."
Isaiah 8:14 Then He shall become a Sanctuary; but to both the houses of Israel, a Stone to strike and a Rock to stumble over, and a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem: (shall be: Isa 26:20 Ps 46:1,2 Pr 18:10 Eze 11:16) (stone: Isa 28:16 Lk 2:34 Ro 9:32,33 11:9-11,35 1Pe 2:8) (snare: Ps 11:6 69:22 Mt 13:57 Lk 21:35)
Then - In context this seems to function as a term of conclusion. If they fulfill the charge in Isaiah 8:13, Jehovah would be their sanctuary.
He shall become a Sanctuary - Who is He? Christ Jesus it is He. He will be the Sanctuary when He returns to dwell among His people. This word emphasizes God's holiness as well as His protection in the storm (cp Pr 18:10-note). Ponder the numerous, striking metaphors used to describe Messiah. Is He your Sanctuary or is He the Stone over which you will stumble into the Lake of fire? May God grant all who read these solemn, weighty passages the grace to see and receive Messiah as their Sanctuary, the protection from the wrath to come (1Th 1:10-note). Amen.
The Septuagint (Lxx) translates miqdash with the noun hagiasma which means a space set aside for devotion.
Sanctuary (04720) (miqdash from qadash = set apart from profane or common use - see preceding verse) refers to a consecrated (set apart) place, especially the holy place, the tabernacle. In context miqdash refers to the place that God dwells in His holiness.
Miqdash - 71x in OT - Ex 15:17; 25:8; Lev 12:4; 16:33; 19:30; 20:3; 21:12, 23; 26:2, 31; Num 3:38; 10:21; 18:1, 29; 19:20; Josh 24:26; 1Chr 22:19; 28:10; 2Chr 20:8; 26:18; 29:21; 30:8; 36:17; Neh 10:39; Ps 68:35; 73:17; 74:7; 78:69; 96:6; Isa 8:14; 16:12; 60:13; 63:18; Jer 17:12; 51:51; Lam 1:10; 2:7, 20; Ezek 5:11; 8:6; 9:6; 11:16; 21:2; 23:38f; 24:21; 25:3; 28:18; 37:26, 28; 43:21; 44:1, 5, 7ff, 11, 15f; 45:3f, 18; 47:12; 48:8, 10, 21; Dan 8:11; 9:17; 11:31; Amos 7:9, 13
But (contrast) to both the houses of Israel - Isaiah 7 and 8 have been related primarily to the Southern Kingdom of Judah, but now he expands the following prophecy to pertain to both Israel and Judah. Why the contrast? What is being contrasted? Isaiah 8:13 has just described treating God as holy and having a reverential fear of Him, both of which are markers of genuine faith and in context describe the "effects" of one who has genuine faith in the Messiah. In contrast Isaiah now describes Jews who refuse to believe in Messiah, the Sanctuary, the Stone, the Rock. So Immanuel, the Messiah, became to the Jews and still is a stone of stumbling until the veil is removed from their heart. (cp 2Cor 3:14,15, 16-note).
A Stone to strike (KJV = stone of stumbling, stone of offense) - The "Stone" is Christ (Lxx = lithos = stone or piece of a rock, used figuratively in NT of Christ = Mt 21:42).
Messiah will be like a rock of refuge for the people (Isa 8:14; 17:10; 26:4; 28:16).
See related resources:
Strike (KJV = stumbling) (05063) (negeph) can describe a plague (any great natural evil or calamity) (Ex 12:13; 30:12; Nu 8:19; 17:11,12; Jos 22:17) or much less commonly describes the action of falling usually caused by an object, in the present passage referring figuratively to stumbling over the Messiah.
The Septuagint translates negeph with the noun proskomma (from prós = to, against + kopto = cut, strike) which can describe literal or figurative stumbling. It is something a person trips over. Thus proskomma can be an obstacle in the way which if one strikes his foot against he stumbles or falls or figuratively it can describe that over which a soul stumbles i.e. by which is caused to sin or which causes an occasion of apostasy. It is also used figuratively, to describe a cause of falling or an occasion of sinning (Ro 14:13, 20; 1Cor. 8:9; Septuagint: Ex 23:33; 34:12).
Negeph - 7x in the OT - Ex 12:13; 30:12; Nu 8:19; 16:46, 47; Josh 22:17; Isa 8:14
In summary a Stone that causes Jews from both Israel and Judah to stumble is Jesus Christ Who Paul refers to in Romans 9 as he explains what will happen to Jews who fail to believe in Messiah (Read Romans 9, 10, 11 which describes God's plan for Israel).
Peter quotes from Isaiah 8:14, 15 writing that Christ is
Writing to the Corinthians Paul said…
Snare (06341) (pach/pah) refers to a literal bird trap to ensnare, confine and control birds (Amos 3:5, Pr 7:23, Eccl 9:12). Most OT uses are figurative and refer to that which brings sudden danger and/or which entangles in difficulties. (Jos 23:13; Job 22:10; Ps 69:23; 91:3; 119:110; 140:6; 141:9; 142:4; Pr 22:5; Isa 24:17, 18; Jer 18:22; 48:43, 44; Hos 5:1; 9:8) The implication is that it is able to snare someone because it is deceptively attractive (eg, a woman who is not your wife - Pr 7:23).
Pach/pah - 25x in OT - Ex 39:3; Nu 16:38; Josh 23:13; Job 18:9; 22:10; Ps 11:6; 69:22; 91:3; 119:110; 124:7; 140:5; 141:9; 142:3; Pr 7:23; 22:5; Eccl 9:12; Isa 8:14; 24:17, 18; Jer 18:22; 48:43, 44; Hos 5:1; 9:8; Amos 3:5
Trap (04170) (moqesh) strictly speaking is the lure or bait that is placed in a fowler's (bird catcher's) net or a hunter's trap. The lure comes then to refer to the trap itself. Moqesh is sometimes used literally (Amos 3:5 = bait, Job 40:24). Other uses are figurative and describe entrapment that results in one being captured and/or controlled (this figurative sense composes the majority of the OT uses below).
Moqesh - 27x in the OT - Ex 10:7; 23:33; 34:12; Dt 7:16; Josh 23:13; Jdg 2:3; 8:27; 1Sa 18:21; 2Sa 22:6; Job 34:30; 40:24; Ps 18:5; 64:5; 69:22; 106:36; 140:5; 141:9; Pr 12:13; 13:14; 14:27; 18:7; 20:25; 22:25; 29:6, 25; Isa 8:14; Amos 3:5
Many - This refers to Jews who fail to believe in the Rock, the Messiah. They will stumble over the Stone instead of being safe in His Sanctuary.
Note that five verbs are used to describe their destruction.
Stumble (03782) (kashal) means to stagger, totter, falter - stumbling in and out of control (Lev 26:37). Literally kashal describes physically falling. Figuratively kashal speaks of falling in the sense of failing or falling into ruin (Ps 64:8, 2Chr 25:8, Isa. 3:8; Hos. 14:1)
Swanson - 1. (qal) stumble, falter, stagger, i.e., make a motion of falling or stumbling in an out of control manner (Lev 26:37), note: often referring to a weak, wounded, failing person; (nif) stumbled (1Sa 2:4); (hif) cause to fall (Pr 4:16); 2. (nif) be brought down, i.e., be in a state of destruction or ruin (Pr 24:16; Da 11:41); (hif) overthrow, bring to ruin (2Ch 25:8); (hof) be overthrown (Jer 18:23); 3. (qal) have a downfall, fail, have no success, i.e., a lack of obtaining a desireable state (Hos 14:2[EB 1]); (hif) cause to stumble (Jer 18:15); 4. (qal) fail, i.e., to have a condition or state cease, implying a defeat (Ps 31:10)
Vine - kashal (כָּשַׁל, 3782), “to stumble, stagger, totter, be thrown down.” As in biblical Hebrew, this word is used in modern Hebrew in the sense of “to stumble, fail.” It occurs in the text of the Hebrew Old Testament approximately 60 times, the first time being in Lev. 26:37: “And they shall fall one upon another…” This use illustrates the basic idea that one “stumbles” because of something or over something. Heavy physical burdens cause one “to stagger”: “… The children fell under the [loads of] wood” (Lam. 5:13). This word is often used figuratively to describe the consequences of divine judgment on sin: “Behold, I will lay stumbling blocks before this people, and the fathers and the sons together shall fall upon them …” (Jer. 6:21). Babylon, too, will know God’s judgment: “And the most proud shall stumble and fall …” (Jer. 50:32). When the psalmist says: “My knees totter from my fasting” (Ps. 109:24, NAB), he means: “My knees are weak” (as translated by KJV, NASB, RSV, JB, NEB, TEV).
NAS Usage: bring you down(1), bring down(1), brought down(1), cast down(1), downfall(1), fail(1), failed(1), failing(1), fall(4), fall down(1), feeble(3), feeble*(1), overthrown(1), stumble(26), stumble badly(1), stumbled(12), stumbles(2), tottering(1), weak(1).
Kashal - 58v- Lev 26:37; 1Sa 2:4; 2 Chr 25:8; 28:15, 23; Neh 4:10; Job 4:4; Ps 9:3; 27:2; 31:10; 64:8; 105:37; 107:12; 109:24; Pr 4:12, 16, 19; 24:16f; Isa 3:8; 5:27; 8:15; 28:13; 31:3; 35:3; 40:30; 59:10, 14; 63:13; Jer 6:15, 21; 8:12; 18:15, 23; 20:11; 31:9; 46:6, 12, 16; 50:32; Lam 1:14; 5:13; Ezek 33:12; 36:15; Dan 11:14, 19, 33ff, 41; Hos 4:5; 5:5; 14:1, 9; Nah 2:5; 3:3; Zech 12:8; Mal 2:8. Some representative uses…
Jesus said - And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me. (Mt 11:6)
Over them - What/who is them? In context it refers to the metaphors of the Stone and the Rock.
Snared (03369)(yaqosh) refers to setting a trap for the purpose of catching prey. It is often used used in a metaphorical sense of the entrapment of people, of catching one in an undesirable situation. (Isa 28:13; Jer 50:24) A snare allures one from the safe path and results in his destruction. Saul tried to ruin David with his daughter Michal (1Sa 18:21). Moses was considered a snare to Egypt (Ex 10:7). Gold ensnares, as does the "god" (idol) covered by the gold! This warning principle applies to all of us! (Dt 7:25).As the trapper snares the unwary animal, so souls can be ensnared by sin (Ps 124:7-note, Ps 141:9-note = a great prayer for all God's saints to pray frequently!) Pride makes one susceptible to snares (Jer 50:24, cf Jer 50:31, 32)
Some of the uses of yaqosh are translates in the Lxx with the word pagis which describes anything that catches and holds fast, such as a snare, a trap, a noose, and like the OT uses is used metaphorically in the NT of a false sense of security that leads to a sudden and unexpected judgment (Ro 11:9) or as a deceitful method or trick of the devil for gaining control (1Ti 3.7) or generally of any allurement to wrongdoing, anything that entices, attempts or attracts us (1Ti 6:9 is a prime example!)
Webster says a snare is a device for trapping birds or small animals, esp a flexible loop that is drawn tight around the prey. Anything that traps or entangles someone or something unawares. To catch or trap by trickery. 1828 Webster adds "An instrument for catching animals, particularly fowls, by the leg. It consists of a cord or string with slip-knots, in which the leg is entangled. A snare is not a net. Any thing by which one is entangled and brought into trouble."
Swanson - (qal) control, formally, lay a bird snare, set a trap as a figure for capture and so control and rule another, or be controlled by another (Ps 124:7; 141:9; Jer 50:24); (nif) be ensnared, be trapped (Dt 7:25; Pr 6:2; Isa 8:15; 28:13+); (pual) (Eccl 9:12+),
NAS Usage: ensnared(1), set(1), set a snare(1), snared(4), trapper(1).
Yaqosh - 8v in the OT -
Caught (captured) (03920) (lakad) means to capture, seize, catch, as in a net, trap or pit (Ps 9:15). Literally and figuratively, the latter sense poignantly illustrated in Pr 5:22 where Solomon notes that the wicked is captured with the cords of his own sins (Josh 6:20, cf 1Sa 14:41-42). Captured (defeated) cities (Dt 2:34, 35; 3:4, Jericho = Josh 6:20; Jdg 1:8, 12-13, 18). Speaks of tribes providentially "taken" to discern who committed the sin that caused Israel to loose the battle at Ai (Josh 7:14-16) To be "immoveable, frozen, i.e., make a collection or mass hard and immoveable, as an extension of capturing or binding up and object (Job 38:30)" (Swanson) Used in Job 41:17 of Leviathan's strong scales that "clasp (lakad; Lxx = sunecho/synecho = held together) each other and cannot be separated."
In the present verse lakad serves as a figure of divine judgment. The Messiah, the Stone of Stumbling (Isa 8:14), will cause many to be captured and suffer the pangs of eternal torment because they rejected God's only Son and the only solution for man's sin!
Walter Kaiser - Most of the 121 uses of lākad deal with men capturing or seizing towns, men, spoils, and even a kingdom (1Sa 14:47). It is used figuratively of the entrapment of men who are caught in snares of all sorts laid by their enemies (Jer 5:26; 18:22; Ps 35:8). In Pr 5:22 the wicked is captured with the cords of his own sins. Likewise, in Ps 9:15 the heathen are seized in the very net which they hid to capture others. They are captured by their pride, haughtiness, and the words of their lips (Ps 59:12; Pr 6:2; 11:6). This word also serves as a figure of divine judgment. The Stone of Stumbling will cause many to stumble, fall, be broken, be ensnared, and be captured (Isa 8:15). When God shakes the foundations of the earth, just prior to the Millennium (“many days” of Isa 24:22), the ungodly shall be seized in the trap (Isa 24:18) as were those who drunkenly mocked the prophet’s message (Isa 28:13). When God moves in judgment, husband and wives (Jer 6:11), scribes and wise men (Jer 8:9) along with Moab (Jer 48:7, 44) will be included. Others are ensnared by a woman (Eccl 7:26) or are caught in the “cords of affliction” (Job 36:8).
Waltke - Lakad is used more often in warfare for capturing territory from an enemy (cf. Nu 21:32; 32:39, 41, 42; Pr 16:32) or from a person (Jer. 48:7), but the parallel and with the cords (ûbehablê) shows that it has its less frequent use in capturing an animal in a trap (Job 36:8; Ps. 9:6; 35:8; Pr. 6:2; Ec 7:26; Isa 8:5; Jer. 18:22; 48:44; Amos 3:5). (Waltke, B. K. The Book of Proverbs)
In Pr 5:22 Solomon warns (and sadly failed to heed his own warning - see 1Ki 11:1-11) of the power of sin ('avon) to capture and the power of sin (chattat/chattath) to hold - "His own iniquities ('avon) will capture (Heb - lakad = catch in a net, trap or pit, figuratively of entrapment of men caught in snares laid by enemies as in Jer 5:26; 18:22; Ps 35:8; Lxx translates lakad in Pr 5:22 with verb agreuo used in " hunting or fishing = to take, catch; figuratively of taking advantage of someone in an unguarded moment, seeking to catch them in a mistake, try to get them to make a wrong statement as in Mk 12.13) the wicked, and he will be held (Heb = tamak = basic idea = "grasping securely"!) with the cords of his sin (chattat/chattath)."
NAS Usage: capture(9), captured(57), captures(4), captures at all(1), catch(2), caught(12), clasp(1), imprisoned(1), seized(1), take(6), taken(13), taken captive(2), takes(3), took(8).
Lakad - 113v - Nu 21:32; 32:39, 41f; Deut 2:34, 35; 3:4; Josh 6:20; 7:14-16; 8:19, 21; 10:1, 28, 32, 35, 37, 39, 42; 11:10, 12, 17; 15:16f; 19:47; Jdg 1:8, 12-13, 18; 3:28; Jdg 7:24-25; 8:12, 14; 9:45, 50; 12:5; 15:4; 1Sa 10:20-21; 14:41-42, 47; 2Sa 5:7; 8:4; 12:26-28; 1Kgs 9:16; 16:18; 2Kgs 12:17; 17:6; 18:10; 1Chr 11:5; 18:4; 2Chr 12:4; 13:19; 15:8; 17:2; 22:9; 28:18; 32:18; 33:11; Neh 9:25; Job 5:13; 36:8; 38:30; 41:17; Ps 9:15; 35:8; 59:12; Pr 5:22; 6:2; 11:6; 16:32; Eccl 7:26; Isa 8:15; 20:1; 24:18; 28:13; Jer 5:26; 6:11; 8:9; 18:22; 32:3, 24, 28; 34:22; 37:8; 38:3, 28; 39:1; 48:1, 7, 41, 44; 50:2, 9, 24; 51:31, 41, 56; Lam 4:20; Dan 11:15, 18; Amos 3:4f; Hab 1:10; Zech 14:2.
Here are some representative uses…
Isaiah 8:16 Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples: (Bind up: Isa 29:11 Da 12:4) (testimony: Isa 8:20 Dt 4:45 2Ki 11:12 Jn 3:32,33 Heb 3:5 1Jn 5:9-12 Rev 19:10) (seal: Da 9:24 Rev 5:1,5 10:4) (among: Isa 54:13 Ps 25:14 Pr 8:8,9 Da 12:9,10 Mt 13:11 Mk 4:10,11,34 Mk 10:10 1Co 2:14 Rev 2:17)
This verse is difficult to interpret and one needs to be careful to not be too dogmatic. Oswalt writes that one interpretation says that Isaiah's "oracles were sealed up and committed to his disciples to be published at some later date when events would have vindicated him and them." In light of the fact that the law and the testimony together could denote the general revelation of the Word of God (cp Dt. 4:44, 45; 1Ki 2:3; Neh 9:34; Ps 19:8) another possible interpretation is that Isaiah is
Bind up the testimony - Note the two successive commands. In context we see most of God's people rejected his message, but this would be a way of preserving the message. Motyer adds that
Tsarar may refer to anything which is confining and in the context of Isa 8:16 it means to bind up, to tie or wrap up so as to safeguard from tampering (cf binding up in Pr 26:8, Ex 12:34, Joshua 9:4). This action refers most likely to the scribes binding the document into a sealed scroll for safekeeping. In Hos 13:12, tsarar figuratively depicts the record of Israel's sins being written down and permanently bound in a sealed scroll for safekeeping, thus assuring the that their sin would be retained.
Figuratively tsarar means to oppress or harass and thus to be hostile or be an adversary or enemy, the best known use being Ps 23:5 "in the presence of my enemies (tsarar)." (Ex 23:22; Nu 10:9; 25:17-18 Esther 3:10; 8:1; 9:10, 24; Ps 6:7; 7:4, 6; 8:2; 10:5; 23:5; 31:11; 42:10; 69:19; 74:4, 23; 129:1-2; 143:12; Isa 11:13; Amos 5:12).
Figuratively tsarar also means to feel hard pressed and thus to be distressed (13/36 uses), troubled, oppressed, cramped, anxious or worried. In contrast, that which is wide-open or broad gives a picture of freedom and/or deliverance. In Job 20:22 the idea is to be in narrow straits, to be in a bind, connoting the idea of pressure, stress or trouble.
To "bind up" a city is to besiege it (Dt 28:52, two uses, first use in Lxx extribo = to cause removal by irritation, to rub out, the second use in Lxx = thlipsis = press upon, make narrow, cause something to be constricted - the following passages translate tsarar in the Lxx with thlipsis - De 28:52; Jdg 10:9; 1Sa 28:15; 30:6; 2Sa 13:2; 1Kgs 8:37; 2Chr 6:28; 22; 33:12; Neh 9:27; Job 20:22; Ps 31:9; 69:17; La 1:20).
NAS Usage: afflicted(1), besiege(3), besieges(1), bind(1), binds(1), bound(3), bring distress(1), cause them distress(1), cramped(2), distress(6), distressed(6), frustrated(1), impeded(1), mended(1), oppressed(1), shortened(1), shut(1), small(1), trouble(1), wrapped(1), wraps(2).
Tsarar means to keep out, shut out a person (2Sa 20:3).
Tsarar indicates something being cramped, shortened, cut back as in Job 18:7, where the trouble has hemmed him in, so that he cannot walk with full, vigorous steps as he had before.
John Hartley - ārar may refer to anything which is narrow or confining. A place may become too small for people to inhabit when they increase in number (2Kgs 6:1; Isa 49:19f.). Isaiah speaks of a blanket too narrow to wrap oneself (Isa 28:20). It also refers to being restricted (2Sa 20:3), and it may signify “to hamper something” (Pr 4:12). ārar means “to bind up” or “to tie.” It is used for binding a stone in a sling (Pr 26:8), tying a kneading trough to a mantle (Ex 12:34), or mending an old torn wine skin (Josh 9:4, Pual). God is said to bind up the water in thick clouds (Job 26:8; cf. Hos 4:19). Hosea describes the sin of Ephraim as bound up; i.e. it was kept in store for the time of judgment (Hos 13:12). Since the people reject his message, Isaiah exhorts his disciples to preserve his teaching among themselves saying, “Bind up the testimony, seal the teaching among my disciples” (Hos 8:16). It further is used for preserving one’s life (1Sa 25:29); “the life of my Lord will be bound in the bundle of the living.” It also may refer to the strong emotional response that one experiences when pressed externally by enemies or internally by wrong decisions or passions; e.g. Jacob’s confrontation with Esau (Ge 32:7). Israel was frequently placed in sore distress by her enemies during the period of the Judges (Jdg 2:15; 10:9). Even a great leader may be distressed by reaction to controversial decisions (cf. 1Sa 30:6). One can be obsessed with a passion and be so bound up emotionally that he becomes ill; e.g. (Amnon’s distorted desire for his sister (2Sa 13:2). One curse for violating the covenant states that enemies will besiege Israel’s towns (Dt 28:52). Similarly God brings distress on any who have sinned (Zeph 1:17; Jer 10:18). Some under such distress become more faithless, as did Ahaz (2Chr 28:22), while others humble themselves and seek Yahweh, as did Manasseh (2Chr 33:12; cf. Dt 4:30f.).
Tsarar - 36v - Ge 32:7; Ex 12:34; Deut 28:52; Josh 9:4; Jdg 2:15; 10:9; 11:7; 1 Sam 25:29; 28:15; 30:6; 2 Sam 1:26; 13:2; 20:3; 1Kgs 8:37; 1Chr 21:13; 2Chr 6:28; 28:20, 22; 33:12; Neh 9:27; Job 18:7; 20:22; 26:8; Ps 31:9; 69:17; Pr 4:12; 26:8; 30:4; Isa 8:16; 28:20; 49:19; Jer 10:18; Lam 1:20; Hos 4:19; 13:12; Zeph 1:17
The testimony (08584) (teudah) means attestation or testimony. A testimony is a solemn declaration or affirmation made for the purpose of establishing or proving some fact, in context referring to the prophecies given to Isaiah.
NET Bible Note - The "testimony" probably refers to the prophetic messages God has given him. When the prophecies are fulfilled, he will be able to produce this official, written record to confirm the authenticity of his ministry and to prove to the people that God is sovereign over events.
Seal (this is a command in Hebrew) (02856)(chatham/hatam) describes the action of signing a document and then placing a personal seal on it (1Ki 21:8, Jer 32:10, 44). It can describe the act of sealing something to make it secure, the most likely meaning in this present passage (cp Da 9:24, 12:4, Dt 32:34 [in sense of lock or store away with respect to goods or property], Isa 29:11, Jer 32:11, 14). In the present passage the meaning could include the nuance of to attest as final and therefore guard from addition. Chatham/hatam can mean to stop or hinder (Job 9:7, 37:7).
It is interesting that the related Aramaic verb chatham (02857) is used in Daniel 6:17-note when King Darius sealed up the mouth of the lion's den with his own signet ring (see also Seal) as a guarantee that Daniel would have no way of escape (As an aside, isn't that when God's presence and power are most evident in our lives -- when we have "no way of escape" and can only run into the Strong Tower of the Name of Jehovah, Pr 18:10-note?) (cf seal in Mt 27:66)
The placing of a seal on a document was equivalent to the modern use of signatures (Neh 10:1). Kings' seals were used on letters to give them the status of royal decrees (1Ki 21:8; Esther 3:12-note, Esther 8:8, 10-note)
In Job 14:17 he says "my transgression is sealed up in a bag."
In Song 4:12 "a spring sealed up" refers to the virginal state of Solomon's beloved.
A divine vision is "sealed up" in Isa 29:11 and signifies the termination of (finishing of) the prophecy in Da 9:24-note. Dwight Pentecost says "The verb hatam has the idea of sealing up. Here the thought is sealing something up with a view to punishment (cf. Dt. 32:34; Job 14:17). This emphasized that Israel’s sin which had gone unpunished would be punished—in or through Jesus Christ, her substitute, who would bear the sins of the world on the cross. Then at Christ’s second coming he will remove Israel’s sin (Ezek 37:23; Ro. 11:20–27)."
Daniel 12:4, 9-note speak of that which is certain to happen but is reserved for a later time (thus sealed = "settled and sure"), coming to pass only after a passage of time.
Esther 8:8, 10(note) refers to sealing with a royal decree and in Jer 32:10-11 to the sealing of the title deed to the land.
The Septuagint (Lxx) translates chatham with the verb sphragizo (see word study) in Isaiah 8:16 and in the following passages - Dt 32:34; 1Ki 21:8; Neh 10:1; Esther 8:8, 10-note; Job 14:17; 24:16; Song 4:12; Isa 29:11; Jer 32:10, 11, 44; Da 9:24-note; Da 12:4, 9-note
NAS Usage: obstructs(1), seal(6), sealed(15), seals(2), sets a seal(1), shut(1).
Chatham/hatam - 24v - Lev 15:3; Deut 32:34; 1Kgs 21:8; Neh 9:38; 10:1; Esther 3:12-note; Esther 8:8, 10-note; Job 9:7; 14:17; 24:16; 33:16; 37:7; Song 4:12; Isa 8:16; 29:11; Jer 32:10, 11, 14, 44; Ezek 28:12; Da 9:24-note; Da 12:4, 9-note
The law (the instruction) (08451) (torah) means law (written code - Neh 8:2), instruction, teaching (as information imparted to a student - Ps 78:1, 1:8), direction, custom or manner (that is the usual way of doing something - 2Sa 7:19). Something which should/must be done (Ex 12:49, Lev 6:2).
NET Bible Note -The instruction (law) probably refers to the prophet's exhortations and warnings. When the people are judged for the sins, the prophet can produce these earlier messages and essentially say, "I told you so." In this way he can authenticate his ministry and impress upon the people the reality of God's authority over them. (Note: Not everyone agrees this is the accurate interpretation.)
My - The natural question is to whom does "my" refer, the prophet or Jehovah. If it refers to Isaiah the verse would read almost like a prayer that God preserve what Isaiah has taught his disciples. Others favor that the My refers to God and that He is essentially claiming the disciples as His remnant who have the privilege of possessing His testimony and law.
Disciples (03928) (limmud) means the taught ones, and in context those who follow the teaching of the law and the testimony.
Limmud - 5v in the OT - Isa 8:16 Isa 50:4 Isa 54:13 Jer 2:24Jer 13:23
Isaiah 8:17 And I will wait for the LORD Who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob. I will even look eagerly for Him.: (I will: Isa 25:9 26:8 33:2 64:4 Ge 49:18 Ps 27:14 33:20 37:34 39:7 40:1 Ps 130:5 La 3:25,26 Ho 12:6 Mic 7:7 Hab 2:3 1Th 1:10 2Th 3:5 Heb 10:36-39 ) (Hiding: Isa 54:8 59:2 64:7 Dt 31:17,18 32:20 Eze 39:23,24 Mic 3:4) (I will look: Isa 50:10 Lk 2:38 Heb 9:28)
And - connects to the previous difficult to interpret passage. Guzik offers this thought…
I will wait (02442) (chakah/hakah) to tarry, to delay action, but figuratively means to hope for something, most often something good (Ps 33:20; Isa 8:17; Hab 2:3; Zeph 3:8, Da 12:12).
NAS Usage: long(2), longs(1), wait(7), waited(1), waiting(1), waits(3).
Edwin Yamauchi - The book of Daniel closes with a blessing for those who would wait for the fulfillment of the prophecies (Dan 12:12). Habakkuk 2:3 urges believers to wait for the vision though it tarries. The Lord declares, “Wait for me” (Zeph 3:8). The expressions “to wait for the Lord” in Isa 8:17 and “to wait for him” in Isa 64:4 [H 3], connote an attitude of earnest expectation and confident hope.
Baker - It indicates delaying an action (2 Kgs. 7:9; 9:3; Job 32:4). It refers to longing or hoping for something to happen (Job 3:21), such as death or, in a good sense, for the Lord to act (Ps. 33:20; Isa. 8:17; Hab. 2:3; Zeph. 3:8); or to resurrect (Dan. 12:12). But it means to wait in order to accomplish one’s purpose, good or bad (Hos. 6:9).
Swanson - wait for, i.e., continue to be in a certain state until an expected event, implying a desire to see the event occur (Isa 30:18); (piel) lie in wait (2Ki 7:9; 9:3; Job 3:21; 32:4; Ps 33:20; 106:13; Isa 8:17; 30:18a; 64:4; Da 12:12; Hos 6:9; Hab 2:3; Zep 3:8+)
Lxx translates chakah in Isa 8:17 with meno meaning to abide, remaining in place, tarrying, keeping on with some context implying expecting someone (Acts 20:5).
Chakah - 13v - 2 Kgs 7:9; 9:3; Job 3:21 (Lxx = omeiromai = long for someone, 1Th 2:8); Job 32:4 (Lxx = hupomeno); Ps 33:20 (Lxx = hupomeno); Ps 106:13(Lxx = hupomeno); Isa 8:17; Isa 30:18 (chakah used 2x; Lxx = meno = abide and emmeno = to persevere); Isa 64:4 (Lxx = hupomeno); Dan 12:12 (Lxx = hupomeno); Hos 6:9; Hab 2:3 (Lxx = hupomeno); Zeph 3:8 (Lxx = hupomeno), a command in Hebrew and Greek - aorist imperative)
To wait for Jehovah conveys far more than our English word means when we speak of waiting for the plane to take off. To the contrary the idea of the Hebrew verb chakah affects one's attitude so that there is not just a passive waiting but that this individual has an attitude of earnest expectation and confident hope.
Guzik agrees adding that…
Isaiah mentions waiting for Jehovah again near the end of his prophecy…
Daniel closes with blessing for those who wait for the fulfillment of the prophecies
The LORD Who is hiding His face - Clearly this is reflects divine disfavor to those in the house of Jacob (Israel) who refuse to trust Jehovah. Jehovah hiding His face is the antithesis of the great Aaronic blessing which declares…
The NLT paraphrase of Isaiah 8:17 conveys the sense…
I will even look eagerly for Him - Isaiah is looking for his Redeemer. God's saints throughout the ages, both Old and New Testament, have always had a fervent, vital, active longing and watching and waiting for their Redeemer.
Wait and look eagerly together picture Isaiah's expectant faith in Jehovah. So in face of a soon coming judgment, Isaiah (and his disciples) chooses to fix his gaze on Jehovah, a good pattern for all God's children to emulate. This is especially needful as we move inexorably toward the last of the last days and as we (if you are in America) see the power and the prestige of our great nation under God slowly ebbing as it continues to reject the good hand of the Almighty.
Isaiah was like the renowned preacher G Campbell Morgan who said…
Look eagerly (06960) (qavah - see word study) has the root idea of to wait or look for with eager expectation (hope and confidence), look for patiently, to be confident (to trust). For a good picture of the meaning see Job 7:2 (think about Rev 22:12-note). The Lxx translates qavah in this passage with the peitho which conveys the sense of having confidence or trust in this case, Jehovah. ("I trust in Him" in the perfect tense which conveys a permanent trust).
Related resources on Hope:
Isaiah 8:18 Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, Who dwells on Mount Zion.: (I and the: Isa 8:3 7:3,16 53:10 Ps 22:30 Heb 2:13,14) (signs: Ps 71:7 Eze 14:8 Zec 3:8 Lk 2:34 1Co 4:9-13 Heb 10:33) (Who: Isa 12:6 14:32 24:23 1Ch 23:25 Ps 9:11 Zec 8:3 Heb 12:22)
LOOK AT US! LISTEN TO US!
Behold (Isa 7:14, 8:7, 8:22) - This word commands attention. Isaiah is calling the people of Judah to listen carefully to the his message. Isaiah is presenting his witness and words (and his sons) as lights in the midst of impending, imminent doom and darkness. The interjection behold is a warning cry as it were. Isaiah's name and his son's names are to be heard and heeded! Have you ever felt like Isaiah? Your changed life (2Cor 5:17-note) is a clear "sign and wonder" to those around you and yet they are not able to see or hear this supernatural sign from the LORD! You are the "message" to the unbelieving world around you. Is your message bold, clear and unwavering?
Spurgeon on "behold" (in English) - “Behold” is a word of wonder; it is intended to excite admiration. Wherever you see it hung out in Scripture, it is like an ancient sign-board, signifying that there are rich wares within, or like the hands which solid readers have observed in the margin of the older Puritanic books, drawing attention to something particularly worthy of observation.
I and the children whom the LORD has given me are for signs - Referring to Shear-jashub ("A remnant will return") (Isa 7:3) and Maher-shalal-hash-baz (Speed to the spoil, hurry to the plunder) (Isa 8:3). Remember that the purpose of signs is to point the way and these signs were ultimately to direct the Jews to their Messiah. And even Isaiah's name conveyed the clear message to the Jews that "Salvation is of the LORD." In addition we see Isaiah personally take the role of a sign/wonder in Isaiah 20:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
Young references John Calvin explaining that
Signs (0226)('oth) means a signal, a mark a miracle and is used to describe amazing events such as God bringing Israel out of Egypt (Ex 4:8, 9, Nu 14:22) or a sign serving to authenticate the message as from God (1Sa 2:34, 10:7, 9) in contrast to the signs from false prophets (Dt 13:1, 2). King Hezekiah received a sign from Jehovah that the He would add fifteen years to his life (Isa 38:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8; Gideon - Jdg 6:17-note)
Wonders (04159) (mopet) are events which are given by God in order to arrest one's attention. Mopet is a portent which is something that foreshadows a coming event, something that indicates a future event, especially a momentous or calamitous one.
Mopet - 35v in the OT - Ex 4:21; 7:3, 9; 11:9f; Deut 4:34; 6:22; 7:19; 13:1f; 26:8; 28:46; 29:3; 34:11; 1Kgs 13:3, 5; 1Chr 16:12; 2Chr 32:24, 31; Neh 9:10; Ps 71:7; 78:43; 105:5, 27; 135:9; Isa 8:18; 20:3; Jer 32:20, 21; Ezek 12:6, 11; 24:24, 27; Joel 2:30; Zech 3:8
Oswalt comments on the phrase "I and the children" that…
David Guzik draws a great point of application from this passage reminding us that as followers of Christ…
From Jehovah - In other words Isaiah is saying these signs and wonders are not something he has concocted but are received from the very presence of the great I Am. Thus they are worthy of our full attention. In addition the fact that these signs/wonders are from the LORD undergirds the prophet's own faith in the face of the coming storm. Beloved, a storm is coming. Are you going into the presence of Jehovah, bowing down and in humility receiving His trustworthy Word of Life that by it your faith might be strengthened for the future fray?
The LORD of hosts - See study of Jehovah Sabaoth, LORD of hosts (of armies). The people of Isaiah's day were eager to consult inadequate and dead sources (next verse) about the future, while ignoring the living God. Unbelieving Judah had living among them the signs of their own fate and faithlessness, but they choose to ignore/reject them. Is this not similar to what many unbelievers do today - they have a believing spouse or relative or co-worker as a "sign" in their very midst and yet they refuse to hear and heed his or her testimony, instead rejecting their words of warning and of hope which is found in Christ and seek for other lesser gods (money, success, false religions, etc) who are no gods at all!
Who dwells on Mount Zion - Who? Christ Jesus. He promises to dwell in Zion (Jerusalem) forever and ever amen.
Young comments that…
A number of OT passages refer to the LORD dwelling in Zion…
Isaiah 8:19 When they say to you, "Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter," should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?: (Consult: Isa 19:3 Lev 20:6 Dt 18:11 1Sa 28:8 1Ch 10:13 2Ch 33:6) (Mutter: Isa 29:4) (Should: 1Sa 28:16 2Ki 1:3 2Pe 2:1) (the living: Ps 106:28 Jer 10:10 1Th 1:9)
ABSENCE OF FAITH INCREASE IN SUPERSTITION
When they say to you - They refers to unbelieving Jews who try to pressure the "disciples" (true believers) to turn from the Truth and to Lies. Isaiah is forewarning the disciples that they will be confronted by "popular religion" and superstitions. Beloved, things have not changed much, for if you take an orthodox stand, you can be assured that before long you will be exposed to various winds of doctrine (mysticism, churches subtlety drifting from sound doctrine, e.g., 2Ti 4:3,4-note, Ep 4:12, 13-note, Ep 4:14-note, Ep 4:15, 16-note) and the only way to withstand these constant doctrinal winds is to stand firm on truth (cp Titus 1:9-note) in full dependence on God's Spirit and strengthening grace (cp 1Pe 5:12-note)
Mediums (0178) (ob) describes a necromancer who supposedly conjure the spirits of the dead for purposes of revealing the future or influencing the course of events.
Ob - 15v in the OT - Lev 19:31; 20:6, 27; Dt 18:11; 1Sa 28:3, 7, 9; 2Ki 21:6; 23:24; 1Chr 10:13; 2Chr 33:6; Job 32:19 (different meaning here = wineskin!); Isa 8:19; 19:3; 29:4
Spiritists (03049) (yiddeoni) are those who contact dead spirits in search of information.
Yiddeoni - 11v in the OT - Lev 19:31; 20:6, 27; Dt 18:11; 1 Sam 28:3, 9; 2Ki 21:6; 23:24; 2Chr 33:6; Isa 8:19; 19:3
Whisper (KJV = peep) (06850) (sapap) means to speak in low-volume, muttering tones, as a figurative extension of the chirping sound a bird makes and thus is used again by Isaiah (Isa 10:14) to describe the sound of birds, a figurative description of those who had been conquered by the Assyrians.
These mediums and spiritists "chirp" like birds!
Sapap - 4v in OT - Isa 8:19 Isa 10:14 Isa 29:4 Isa 38:14 (twitter)
Mutter (01897) (hagah) strictly speaking it means to utter any dull, confused sound and hence it is employed of inward utterance, of the words a man speaks to himself; and also of giving open and loud expression to the thoughts. The meaning of hagah is a low sound, characteristic of the moaning of a dove (Isa 38:14; 59:11). Most of the OT uses refer to the positive, profitable discipline of Biblical Meditation (E.g., see first use = Joshua 1:8-note), but as used here by Isaiah hagah refers to wizards, necromancers, etc, who made strange noises when they practiced their occult techniques.
Brenton's English translation of the Greek Septuagint of Isaiah 8:19 is interesting…
Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter - Who are they? As alluded to above, they refers to Isaiah's audience in Judah who lacked the trust in God which the prophet possessed and who therefore stumbled over Immanuel, the Stone, the Rock. In their fear of pending doom they were forced to seek answers to their concerns and doubts from the mediums and the spiritists." Someone has well said that when a society turns from faith in the true God, there is often a "revival" of superstition in proportion to the loss of faith. Does this not describe America in the 21st century? Beloved, if one refuses the Holy Spirit of Christ, he opens himself to the unholy "world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places!" (Ep 6:12-note)
A NATION SHOULD SEEK GOD NOT SPIRITS
Should not people consult their God? - Rhetorical question. Clearly calls for an affirmative answer. The living God speaks through His living Word and it is He alone we should consult (cp Isa 44:6, 45:5, 6, 7, Isa 43:10, 11, 12, 13). Who do you consult when you experience adversity and/or affliction? Isaiah tells us who to consult in the next passage -- go to the law and the testimony!
Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? - How tragic and utterly foolish is such a godless process (cf. 1Sa 28:6, 7, 8)! This temptation is ever before us, especially in times of national or personal sorrow. The effect of these practices is to forget God and to deny His very existence! How tragic when men want to hear muttering and chirping from the darkness in place of a clear "thus saith the LORD" in the light!
W A Criswell comments that…
Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn: (the law: Isa 8:16 Lk 10:26 16:29-31 Jn 5:39,46,47 Ac 17:11 Gal 3:8-29 Gal 4:21,22 2Ti 3:15-17 2Pe 1:19) (it is: Isa 30:8-11 Ps 19:7,8 119:130 Jer 8:9 Mic 3:6 Mt 6:23 22:29 Mk 7:7-9 Ro 1:22 2Pe 1:9) (dawn: Heb. morning, Pr 4:18 Ho 6:3 Mal 4:2 2Pe 1:19)
BACK TO THE BIBLE
To the law and to the testimony - In Psalm 19:7 we see this same combination which in that context refers to the Word of God. God's Word is the plumbline by which all of men's opinions are to be judged.
NET Bible translation…
The law reveals God's will for man, what He requires of him. The testimony reveals God's will, bearing witness that what is stated or written is from God.
They (and we) were not to go to mediums and spiritists but to the written Word of God which provides all the counsel and guidance one will never need for life and godliness (cp 2Pe 1:3-note). God's Word is the only absolute and absolutely trustworthy standard for our short time here on earth! Returning back to the Bible (the Truth) assures counters the false predictions (the Lie) obtained by consulting the dead. When you find yourself in a difficult situation, do you run to horoscopes, fortune tellers, etc, are do you run to the Word of God allowing it to renew your mind and guide your thinking. (cp Ro 12:2-note).
Leupold comments on the law and the testimony that…
It is because they have no dawn - Isaiah is explaining why they do not speak according to God's Word (this is the great need today even among "Bible believing" Christians - to order their thinking according to God's Word - cp Ro 12:2-note). As Vine says these people without dawn "abide in perpetual darkness". Those who do not speak according to "thus saith the LORD" are those who have no light of salvation and thus are spiritually dead in unbelief and the darkness of their trespasses and sins. They possess no spiritual light (cp Jer 23:16)
John explains how such individuals respond to the True Light…
This verse introduces the theme of divine light, which is important later in the passage. The true source of light is God's word, for God is Himself light (Isa 10:17; cp 1Jn 1:5).
Isaiah was a man who had God’s light, and he was not afraid to let it shine.
Six Marks of a False Prophet - Any one of the Bible’s six marks of false prophets is sufficient identification:
Isaiah 8:21 They will pass through the land hard-pressed and famished, and it will turn out that when they are hungry, they will be enraged and curse their king and their God as they face upward.: (through: Isa 8:7,8) (hard pressed: Isa 9:20 Dt 28:33,34,53-57 2Ki 25:3 Jer 14:18 52:6 La 4:4,5,9,10) (Will be enraged: Pr 19:3) (curse: Ex 22:28 2Ki 6:33 Job 1:11 2:5,9 Rev 9:20,21 16:9-11)
FORSAKE THE LORD
They - Those who did not speak according to this Word, those who refused to believe Isaiah's prophecy and ultimately who failed to believe in the Rock of their Salvation, the Messiah.
They will pass through the land - Literally they will traverse the land of Judah but it will not be an easy journey as Isaiah explains.
Hard-pressed (07185)(qasha/qashah) is a work that apparently arose from an agricultural milieu and emphasizes the subjective effect exerted by an overly heavy yoke. Their passage through the land would be cruel, oppressive and hard to bear just as if they were wearing a heavy yoke!
The other nuance of qasha/qashah is that of the rebellious resistance of oxen to the yoke, an apt description of stubborn and stiff-necked individuals (Ex 32:9KJV ~ making of a golden calf, cp Dt 10:16, Jdg 2:19 2Ki 17:14; Neh 9:16).
FAMINE FOLLOWED BY FRETTING
Famished (07456) (ra'eb) means to be hungry, intensely starved, exhausted from want of proper sustenance. While this may speak primarily of physical food, there is no doubt that these rejecters of the law and the testimony were experiencing serious spiritual malnourishment of their souls.
Will be enraged and curse - When they should repent and return to their Maker, they become angry and curse Him! Famine "feeds" fretting which leads to anger in one's heart which manifests itself in vile, evil words (Mt 12:34 15:19).
Solomon describes a heart which rages against Jehovah…
They… curse their king and their God - These individuals have become in effect "spiritually insane." God Who would/could be their rightful help (See Jehovah Ezer: The LORD our Helper) is intentionally rejected and reviled! That's what happens when one turns from the Truth of God's Word and from the Living God to the false gods and lying counselors of this dark, godless world! (cp the deceivers who themselves become progressively more deceived 2Ti 3:13-note, see also the retributive effect of those who actively turn away from the truth - they are left in a state in which they are spiritually open to be turned aside to myths! 2Ti 4:3,4-note)
They face upward - Apparently toward heaven, the abode of God. They know where He lives, but they don't want any part of His Person or His plan for their life! And so they are enraged when they begin to reap the fruit of the evil seeds they have sown. And they blame God not themselves for they are spiritually blind to the fact that they themselves are ultimately to blame for their hard pressed, famished state! Their attitude and actions are but a foreshadowing of those who dwell on earth (Earth Dwellers = a specific name for unbelievers in the Revelation) in the days of of the final outpouring of God's holy and righteous wrath…
Earlier Isaiah had stated those who rejected God would receive no light…
Isaiah 8:22 Then they will look to the earth, and behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and they will be driven away into darkness: (look Isa 5:30 9:1 2Ch 15:5,6 Jer 13:16 30:6,7 Am 5:18-20 Zep 1:14,15 Mt 8:12 24:29 Lk 21:25,26 Jude 1:13) (driven away into darkness: Job 18:18 Pr 14:32 Jer 23:12 Mt 22:13)
Then they will look to the earth - After looking up and cursing God they turn to terra firma but still find no help and no hope! The distress is unrelieved. They have had light in the form of signs and wonders, but they have rejected the light God graciously gave.
Behold - An interjection which says in essence "Pay attention to what I am going to say!". "Listen up!"
Gloom (04588) (ma'up) describes a dejection of spirits as a figurative extension of physical darkness and thus a sense of sullenness, of despondence, of sadness or of discouragement. Gloom in English describes a partial or total darkness, a cloudiness or heaviness of mind; melancholy; sullenness. Baker says ma'up "pictures a place of distress overhung with the gloom of anxiety and despair" (Baker. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament)
Anguish (06695)(tsoq) refers to distress, oppression, trouble, a state of hardship. (Pr 1:27 = anguish = Isa 30:6). The English definition of anguish is a state of extreme pain, distress, anxiety, this word suggesting a torturing grief or dread.
Distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish - They look for light which is the only thing that can dispel their darkness and gloom. But they look in vain, for they have willfully turned away from and against the Holy One of Israel, Who Alone is the Light of the world (Jn 8:12, 9:5 cp Jn 1:4, 5, 9, 12:35, 36, 46, 3:21, 2Ti 1:10-note, Isa 9:2, Malachi 4:2).
They will be driven away into darkness - They refuse the living light so they reap the only alternative perpetual darkness. Isaiah's words are a sad shadow of their eternal destiny described by Jesus Himself stating that…
Young comments that…
Oswalt rightly leads us from this gloom and doom passage to the light and hope of the following verses in Isaiah 9 commenting that…