a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

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.

8. And crossing over into Judah The verb חלפ, (chalaph,) which sometimes signifies to pass through, here means to attack and cut off: that is, it will not only water Judea, but will overflow it, so as utterly to drown it; for it will spread far and wide on every part. He adds —

Even to the neck. The comparison is taken from a man who, entering a river, dips into it gradually, till the water reaches to the neck. In this manner shall Judea be overflowed by that rapid river, that is, by the Assyrian, till he be plunged up to the neck. He means Jerusalem, which was the metropolis of the country; and when the Assyrian came to it, Judea was at no great distance from destruction.

The breadth of thy land. That is, in all directions; for he pursues his metaphor in his prophecy, and shows how violent the Assyrian will be, and enlarges the representation of his strength and violence by the same comparison; that is, by comparing him to an impetuous river, which bursting through its barriers and overflowing its banks, spreads far and wide, and overturns and destroys everything by its violence. He proceeds in his discourse against the Jews, as he had begun to do in the two former verses; for, having foretold the destruction of the Israelites and Syrians, he likewise threatens that the Jews, in their turn, shall be punished for their unbelief.

To understand this better, Isaiah’s highly beautiful and closely connected discourse must be examined. First, he turned aside to address others; for Ahaz was unworthy of being addressed. The Lord will give you a sign; which was declared in the former chapter. Next, he adds the manner of preserving Jerusalem, by the sudden changes which should take place in Syria and Samaria. This was confirmed, in the beginning of this chapter, both by a commandment and by a vision. He now comes to the Jews themselves, that they may not hope to escape without being punished, or be too highly elated by the destruction of their enemies; for he declares that for them also a reward is prepared, and that they, too, will be punished for their wickedness and treachery, because they despised the Lord, and would not rest satisfied with his promises, and signs, and acts of kindness largely and bountifully offered.

O Immanuel. It may be asked, Why does the Prophet direct his discourse to Christ, instead of simply calling the land “God’s holy land?” For there can be no doubt that by the name Immanuel he means Christ. It might be thought that this expression was used in order to express the disgrace more strongly; for, since Judea not only was set apart to God, but in the person of the Mediator had God as the guardian of its safety, it was disgraceful that it should be destroyed by a heathen king. But I rather think that the Prophet added this name, in order to hold out to good men some remnant of hope, and to comfort them in so great a calamity; for, when the country was wasted and cruelly torn, they might have lost courage. He therefore means, that that desolation would not prevent the coming of the Redeemer, of whom he had formerly spoken. As if he had said, “Nevertheless, the land shall be thine, O Immanuel; in it shalt thou have thy residence and abode.” This was, therefore, added instead of a consolation, in order to intimate that the land, though torn and wasted, belongs to God and not to men. The sudden change too a direct address (ἀποστροφὴ) is emphatic; for in this way the Prophet solemnly declares his belief in redemption, that the Lord may set a limit to the frightful calamities.

VIEWNAME is study