Isaiah – Chapter 8

The Bible – Old Testament



Chapter 8


1 The LORD said to me: Take a large cylinder-seal, and inscribe on it in ordinary letters: «Belonging to Maher-shalal-hash-baz.»


2 And I took reliable witnesses, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah, son of Jeberechiah.


3 Then I went to the prophetess and she conceived and bore a son. The LORD said to me: Name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz,


for before the child knows how to call his father or mother by name, the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be carried off by the king of Assyria.


Again the LORD spoke to me:


4 Because this people has rejected the waters of Shiloah that flow gently, And melts with fear before the loftiness of Rezin and Remaliah’s son,


Therefore the LORD raises against them the waters of the River, great and mighty (the king of Assyria and all his power). It shall rise above all its channels, and overflow all its banks;


It shall pass into Judah, and flood it all throughout: up to the neck it shall reach; It shall spread its wings the full width of your land, Immanuel!


Know, O peoples, and be appalled! Give ear, all you distant lands! Arm, but be crushed! Arm, but be crushed!


5 Form a plan, and it shall be thwarted; make a resolve, and it shall not be carried out, for «With us is God!»


For thus said the LORD to me, taking hold of me and warning me not to walk in the way of this people:


Call not alliance what this people calls alliance, and fear not, nor stand in awe of what they fear.


But with the LORD of hosts make your alliance –  for him be your fear and your awe.


Yet he shall be a snare, an obstacle and a stumbling stone to both the houses of Israel, A trap and a snare to those who dwell in Jerusalem;


And many among them shall stumble and fall, broken, snared, and captured.


6 The record is to be folded and the sealed instruction kept among my disciples.


For I will trust in the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob; yes, I will wait for him.


7 Look at me and the children whom the Lord has given me: we are signs and portents in Israel from the LORD of hosts who dwells on Mount Zion.


8 And when they say to you, «Inquire of mediums and fortune-tellers (who chirp and mutter!); should not a people inquire of their gods, apply to the dead on behalf of the living?» – 


then this document will furnish its instruction. That kind of thing they will surely say.




First he degraded the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; 10 but in the end he has glorified the seaward road, the land West of the Jordan, the District of the Gentiles. Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness; for there is no gloom where but now there was distress.


1 [1] Ordinary letters: easily read by all. Maher-shalal-hash-baz: a symbolic name to be given to another son of Isaiah (v 3); it means «quick spoils; speedy plunder,» and describes what the Assyrians will do.

2 [2] Reliable witnesses: who would testify that Isaiah had indeed prophesied the future destruction. Uriah the priest: cf ⇒ 2 Kings 16:10.

3 [3] The prophetess: wife of Isaiah.

4 [6-8] This people: Judah. Waters of Shiloah: the stream that flows into the pool of Shiloah in Jerusalem, its slow current symbolizing the silent, divine protection which Judah has rejected. God will therefore summon the mighty Assyrian army, symbolized by the River (Euphrates), to devastate Judah, which, however, will not be entirely destroyed, because it is the land of Immanuel.

5 [10] The plan of Israel’s enemies will be thwarted because, as the name «Immanuel» signifies, With us is God.

6 [16] Kept among my disciples: for preservation and transmission.

7 [18] Signs: Isaiah and his sons had symbolic names.

8 [19] Chirp and mutter: a mocking reference to the sounds uttered by necromancers, as if the dead were speaking; all such practices were forbidden.

9 [21,22] These verses have been transposed and placed within ⇒ Isaiah 14:25 which affords the context in which they can be understood.

10 [23] (23)Zebulun . . . Naphtali: northern Palestine, which was first to be attacked by the Assyrians; God, however, redeems it, as he redeems all his people. Seaward road: from Damascus, across southern Galilee to the Mediterranean Sea. District of the Gentiles: northern Galilee, inhabited by pagans; cf ⇒ Joshua 20:7; ⇒ Isaiah 9:1; ⇒ Matthew 4:15-16 refers to this, since Jesus began his public mission in Galilee.