Isaiah 8

 

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֵלַי קַח־לְךָ גִּלָּיוֹן גָּדוֹל וּכְתֹב עָלָיו בְּחֶרֶט אֱנוֹשׁ לְמַהֵר שָׁלָל חָשׁ בַּז׃   8:1

Isai. 8:1   And the Lord said to me, “Take for yourself a large tablet and inscribe on it with a common engraving tool concerning Maher-shalal-hash-baz.’”

The name Maher-shalal-hash-baz can mean “Swift is booty, speedy is prey,” a symbolic name given by the Lord,  referring to the destruction to come at the hand of the king of Assyria.

וְאָעִידָה לִּי עֵדִים נֶאֱמָנִים אֵת אוּרִיָּה הַכֹּהֵן וְאֶת־זְכַרְיָהוּ בֶּן יְבֶרֶכְיָהוּ׃   8:2

Isai. 8:2   And I took trusted witnesses to testify for me, namely Uriah, the priest, and Zechariah son of Jebe-rechiah,

וָאֶקְרַב אֶל־הַנְּבִיאָה וַתַּהַר וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֵלַי קְרָא שְׁמוֹ מַהֵר שָׁלָל חָשׁ בַּז׃   8:3

Isai. 8:3   and I came near to the prophetess and she conceived and bore a son.  Then the Lord said to me, “Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz.”

כִּי בְּטֶרֶם יֵדַע הַנַּעַר קְרֹא אָבִי וְאִמִּי יִשָּׂא אֶת־חֵיל דַּמֶּשֶׂק וְאֵת שְׁלַל שֹׁמְרוֹן לִפְנֵי מֶלֶךְ אַשּׁוּר׃   8:4

Isai. 8:4   “For before the child will know to call ‘My Father!’ or ‘My mother!’ he will carry away the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria before the king of Assyria.”

וַיֹּסֶף יְהוָה דַּבֵּר אֵלַי עוֹד לֵאמֹר׃   8:5

Isai. 8:5   And the Lord spoke yet further to me saying,

יַעַן כִּי מָאַס הָעָם הַזֶּה אֵת מֵי הַשִּׁלֹחַ הַהֹלְכִים לְאַט וּמְשׂוֹשׂ אֶת־רְצִין וּבֶן־רְמַלְיָהוּ׃   8:6

Isai. 8:6   “For the reason that this people has rejected the waters of Shiloah that move gently, and rejoices with Rezin and the son of Remaliah,

וְלָכֵן הִנֵּה אֲדֹנָי מַעֲלֶה עֲלֵיהֶם אֶת־מֵי הַנָּהָר הָעֲצוּמִים וְהָרַבִּים אֶת־מֶלֶךְ אַשּׁוּר וְאֶת־כָּל־כְּבוֹדוֹ וְעָלָה   8:7 עַל־כָּל־אֲפִיקָיו וְהָלַךְ עַל־כָּל־גְּדוֹתָיו׃

Isai. 8:7   so therefore behold, the Master is bringing up upon them the water of the mighty and abundant river, the king of Assyria, and all his weight.  And he shall come up over all his channels and run over his banks,

ווְחָלַף בִּיהוּדָה שָׁטַף וְעָבַר עַד־צַוָּאר יַגִּיעַ וְהָיָה מֻטּוֹת כְּנָפָיו מְלֹא רֹחַב־אַרְצְךָ עִמָּנוּ אֵל׃   8:8

Isai. 8:8   as he sweeps through Judah, washing away as he passes.  He will reach up to the neck, and the extent of his extremities will be filling the breadth of your land, Emanu-el.”

Now the meaning of the prophecy in Isai. 7:14 to 7:16 is made explicitly clear.  The name Emanu-el, which is taken to mean “God is with us,” is revealed here to apply literally and directly to Judah.  The prophecy is full of symbolism.  The prophetess bearing a son (v. 8:3) is now seen to represent the Lord “giving birth” to Judah.  And the phrase “’My Father’ or ‘My Mother’” (v. 8:4) is referring to God.  In other words Judah (and Israel) had never understood that God is Father and Mother to them.

רֹעוּ עַמִּים וָחֹתּוּ וְהַאֲזִינוּ כֹּל מֶרְחַקֵּי־אָרֶץ הִתְאַזְּרוּ וָחֹתּוּ הִתְאַזְּרוּ וָחֹתּוּ׃   8:9

Isai. 8:9   Do evil, O peoples, and be crushed.

                         And give ear, all distant of the land.

                  Gird yourself, yet be crushed.

                         Gird yourself, yet be crushed.

עֻצוּ עֵצָה וְתֻפָר דַּבְּרוּ דָבָר וְלֹא יָקוּם כִּי עִמָּנוּ אֵל׃   8:10

Isai. 8:10   Counsel together,

                            but it will come to nothing. 

                    Speak a word but it will not endure.

                            For God is with us.

Here you see the full significance of the name Emanu-el.

כִּי כֹה אָמַר יְהוָה אֵלַי כְּחֶזְקַת הַיָּד וְיִסְּרֵנִי מִלֶּכֶת בְּדֶרֶךְ הָעָם־הַזֶּה לֵאמֹר׃   8:11

Isai. 8:11   When the Lord spoke thus to me with strength of “hand,” then He reproved me from walking in the ways of this people saying,

לֹא־תֹאמְרוּן קֶשֶׁר לְכֹל אֲשֶׁר־יֹאמַר הָעָם הַזֶּה קָשֶׁר וְאֶת־מוֹרָאוֹ לֹא־תִירְאוּ וְלֹא תַעֲרִיצוּ׃  8:12

Isai. 8:12   “You shall not say ‘A conspiracy,’ to all that this people says is a conspiracy, and its fear you shall not fear, and you shall not dread.”

אֶת־יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת אֹתוֹ תַקְדִּישׁוּ וְהוּא מוֹרַאֲכֶם וְהוּא מַעֲרִצְכֶם׃   8:13

Isai. 8:13   The Lord of Hosts, Him you shall sanctify, and He shall be your fear, and He your dread.

וְהָיָה לְמִקְדָּשׁ וּלְאֶבֶן נֶגֶף וּלְצוּר מִכְשׁוֹל לִשְׁנֵי בָתֵּי יִשְׂרָאֵל לְפַח וּלְמוֹקֵשׁ לְיוֹשֵׁב יְרוּשָׁלִָם׃   8:14

Isai. 8:14   Then He will be for a Sanctuary, but for a Stone of stumbling and for a Rock of offense for the two houses of Israel, for a snare and for a hook for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

וְכָשְׁלוּ בָם רַבִּים וְנָפְלוּ וְנִשְׁבָּרוּ וְנוֹקְשׁוּ וְנִלְכָּדוּ׃   8:15

Isai. 8:15   And many among them will stumble and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.

צוֹר תְּעוּדָה חֲתוֹם תּוֹרָה בְּלִמֻּדָי׃   8:16

Isai. 8:16   “Bind up the testimony, seal the Torah among My disciples.”

וְחִכִּיתִי לַיהוָה הַמַּסְתִּיר פָּנָיו מִבֵּית יַעֲקֹב וְקִוֵּיתִי־לוֹ׃   8:17

Isai. 8:17   So I will wait for the Lord Who hides His “face” from the house of Jacob and I will look for Him.

הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי וְהַיְלָדִים אֲשֶׁר נָתַן־לִי יְהוָה לְאֹתוֹת וּלְמוֹפְתִים בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל מֵעִם יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת הַשֹּׁכֵן בְּהַר   8:18 צִיּוֹן׃

Isai. 8:18   Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given to me shall be for signs and for wonders from the Lord of hosts Who dwells on Mount Zion.

וְכִי־יֹאמְרוּ אֲלֵיכֶם דִּרְשׁוּ אֶל־הָאֹבוֹת וְאֶל־הַיִּדְּעֹנִים הַמְצַפְצְפִים וְהַמַּהְגִּים הֲלוֹא־עַם אֶל־אֱלֹהָיו   8:19 יִדְרֹשׁ בְּעַד הַחַיִּים אֶל־הַמֵּתִים׃

Isai. 8:19   And when they say to you, “Seek to ghosts and to familiar spirits (that are chirping and that are muttering),” should not a people seek to its God on behalf of the living?  To the dead?

לְתוֹרָה וְלִתְעוּדָה אִם־לֹא יֹאמְרוּ כַּדָּבָר הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר אֵין־לוֹ שָׁחַר׃   8:20

Isai. 8:20   To the Torah, and to the testimony!  If they would not say about this word that it is absurd!

The last three Hebrew words in this verse are generally translated literally as variations of they have no dawn or they are in the dark.  But the three words constitute an idiom meaning it is absurd.  I believe the proper translation (as an idiom) is more meaningful and illuminating.  And don’t many people say that about the Torah and the bible today?  Jews as well as atheists?  What a prophet Isaiah was!  Surely the spirit of the Lord was on him.

וְעָבַר בָּהּ נִקְשֶׁה וְרָעֵב וְהָיָה כִי־יִרְעַב וְהִתְקַצַּף וְקִלֵּל בְּמַלְכּוֹ וּבֵאלֹהָיו וּפָנָה לְמָעְלָה׃   8:21

Isai. 8:21   So He will bring over into it soreness and hunger, as it is when one is hungry that he becomes angry and will swear by his king and by his God and look upward.

וְאֶל־אֶרֶץ יַבִּיט וְהִנֵּה צָרָה וַחֲשֵׁכָה מְעוּף צוּקָה וַאֲפֵלָה מְנֻדָּח׃   8:22

Isai. 8:22   But he will look to the earth and behold affliction and misery, the gloom of anguish, and the darkness of banishment.

כִּי לֹא מוּעָף לַאֲשֶׁר מוּצָק לָהּ כָּעֵת הָרִאשׁוֹן הֵקַל אַרְצָה זְבֻלוּן וְאַרְצָה נַפְתָּלִי וְהָאַחֲרוֹן הִכְבִּיד   8:23

  דֶּרֶךְ הַיָּם עֵבֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן גְּלִיל הַגּוֹיִם׃

Isai. 8:23   Surely it is not obscure, for that is her anguish, like the former time the land of Zebulun was lightly afflicted, and the land of Naphtali, and afterward the circuit of nations beyond the Jordan was more grievously afflicted by way of the sea.

The phrase circuit of nations may be a reference to the other tribes of Israel east of the Jordan.  The phrase by way of the sea is less understandable.  It is said that in the time of the Crusaders a path from the Mediterranean to Damascus was called the way of the sea.  I doubt that this verse was intended to refer to that path.

 

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