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Isaiah’s Son a Sign of the Assyrian Invasion


Then the L ord said to me, Take a large tablet and write on it in common characters, “Belonging to Maher-shalal-hash-baz,” 2and have it attested for me by reliable witnesses, the priest Uriah and Zechariah son of Jeberechiah. 3And I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and bore a son. Then the L ord said to me, Name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz; 4for before the child knows how to call “My father” or “My mother,” the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away by the king of Assyria.

5 The L ord spoke to me again: 6Because this people has refused the waters of Shiloah that flow gently, and melt in fear before Rezin and the son of Remaliah; 7therefore, the Lord is bringing up against it the mighty flood waters of the River, the king of Assyria and all his glory; it will rise above all its channels and overflow all its banks; 8it will sweep on into Judah as a flood, and, pouring over, it will reach up to the neck; and its outspread wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel.



Band together, you peoples, and be dismayed;

listen, all you far countries;

gird yourselves and be dismayed;

gird yourselves and be dismayed!


Take counsel together, but it shall be brought to naught;

speak a word, but it will not stand,

for God is with us.

11 For the L ord spoke thus to me while his hand was strong upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: 12Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what it fears, or be in dread. 13But the L ord of hosts, him you shall regard as holy; let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. 14He will become a sanctuary, a stone one strikes against; for both houses of Israel he will become a rock one stumbles over—a trap and a snare for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15And many among them shall stumble; they shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.

Disciples of Isaiah

16 Bind up the testimony, seal the teaching among my disciples. 17I will wait for the L ord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him. 18See, I and the children whom the L ord has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the L ord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion. 19Now if people say to you, “Consult the ghosts and the familiar spirits that chirp and mutter; should not a people consult their gods, the dead on behalf of the living, 20for teaching and for instruction?” surely, those who speak like this will have no dawn! 21They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry; when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will curse their king and their gods. They will turn their faces upward, 22or they will look to the earth, but will see only distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish; and they will be thrust into thick darkness.

1. And Jehovah said to me. 117117     Moreover, the LORD said unto me. — Eng. Ver. This prophecy contains nothing new, but is a confirmation of the preceding one, in which Isaiah predicted the approaching desolation of the kingdom of Israel and Syria. He had foretold that both countries would be deprived of their kings, before the children who should soon afterwards be born could distinguish between good and evil, that is, before they were grown up. (Isaiah 7:16.) But because the wicked are not terrified by any threatenings, it was therefore necessary that this prediction should be repeated and demonstrated by some outward sign.

First, in order more effectually to arouse the nation, God commands that this prophecy be made publicly known by writing, that it may be understood by all. We have formerly said, 118118     See the Author’s Preface, page 32. that it was the custom of the Prophets, after having been enjoined to deliver any message to the people, to sum up in a few words the substance of what they had said, and to affix it to the gates of the temple; as may be learned from Habakkuk 2:2; for if that passage be compared with the present, the matter will be sufficiently obvious. But here something peculiar is expressed; for God does not merely command him to write the prophecy, but demands a great and large roll, in order that it may be read at a distance. The smaller the writing is, it is the more obscure, and can with greater difficulty be read. To the same purpose is what immediately follows, with the pen of a common man, 119119     With a man’s pen. — Eng. Ver. Our Author’s version is Write on it with a common pen, and his marginal reading is, or, with the pen of a man. — Ed. for אנש (enosh) denotes any man of ordinary rank; and the meaning is, that not even the most ignorant and uneducated persons may be unable to read the writing.

Make speed to spoil, hasten to the prey. 120120     Our translators have not translated these words, but have left them in the form of the original Hebrew, Maher-shalal-hash-baz. Their marginal reading is, “Heb. In making speed to the spoil he hasteneth the prey, or, make speed,” etc. “To the next word מהר, (maher,) the prefix ל (lamed) shews,” says Bishop Stock, “that it is an inscription; as in Ezekiel 37:16, Write on it להודה ולבני ישראל (lihudah velibne Israel) (τὸ) this inscription, Judah and the sons of Israel. Maher-shalal-hash-baz means, Hasteneth the spoil! soon cometh the prey.” — Ed This concise brevity is more emphatic than if he had made a long discourse; for any one could carry home four words, and perceive in them the swiftness of the wrath of God, and be truly and deeply affected by the judgment of God, as if it had been pointed out with the finger. In short, God determined that he should not waste words, because there was no time for controversy, but that he should represent the matter by an outward sign. The Prophets having so frequently, and without any good effect, threatened vengeance, he gave a striking exhibition of it by an example, that it might make a deeper impression on their minds, and be engraven on their memory. As often as these words מהר שלל הש בז (Maher-shalal-hash-baz) were mentioned, they would recall to their remembrance the destruction of Israel and Syria, and would make them more certain of it.

Isaiah having prophesied about the coming of Christ in the former chapter, (Isaiah 7:14,) many improperly explain this also as relating to the same subject, that, endued with heavenly power, he came to spoil the prince of this world, (John 12:31,) and therefore hastened to the prey. This ingenuity is pleasing enough, but cannot at all harmonize with the text; for the true and natural view of the context shows that in this passage the Prophet brings forward nothing that is new, but supports what he had formerly said.

2. And I took into me witnesses. The noun עדים, (gnedim,) and the verb אעיד, (agnid,) which the Prophet employs, are derived from the same root, and the allusion is elegant, as if we were to say, “I have called-to-witness witnesses.” 121121     The Latin language afforded to our Author an exceedingly successful imitation of the Hebrew phrase, “Contestatus sum testes.” It is readily acknowledged that the turn of expression adopted by the translator is much less felicitous; but it is hoped that it will aid the judgment, though it may fail to gratify the taste, of the English reader. — Ed. As this was a matter of great importance, he therefore took to himself witnesses, as is usually done on important occasions.

Faithful witnesses. He calls them faithful, that is, true and worthy of credit; and yet one of them was an ungodly and worthless apostate, who, wishing to flatter his king, erected an altar resembling the altar at Damascus, and openly defended ungodliness and unlawful modes of worship. Some commentators, I am aware, are of opinion that it was a different person; but a careful examination of the circumstances will convince any one, that this was the same Urijah, of whom the sacred history declares that he was slavishly devoted to the ungodliness and lawless desires of the king. (2 Kings 16:11.) As to those who think that it was a different person, because Isaiah here calls this man faithful, such an argument carries little weight; for the Prophet did not look at the man, but at the office which he held, and which rendered him a fit person for bearing testimony. Accordingly, he does not mean that he was a good and excellent man, but that his office gave him such influence that nobody could reject him, and that his testimony was, as they say, free from every objection.

Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah. I think that this prophecy was affixed to the gates of the temple, Uriah and Zechariah having been taken to be witnesses; for he does not speak of a vision, but of a command of God, which he actually obeyed, in order that these words, like a common proverb, might be repeated by every person.

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