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Isaiah 8:4-10

Context
8:4 for before the child knows how to cry out, ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria 1  will be carried off by the king of Assyria.” 2 

8:5 The Lord spoke to me again: 8:6 “These people 3  have rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah 4  and melt in fear over Rezin and the son of Remaliah. 5  8:7 So look, the sovereign master 6  is bringing up against them the turbulent and mighty waters of the Euphrates River 7  – the king of Assyria and all his majestic power. It will reach flood stage and overflow its banks. 8  8:8 It will spill into Judah, flooding and engulfing, as it reaches to the necks of its victims. He will spread his wings out over your entire land, 9  O Immanuel.” 10 

8:9 You will be broken, 11  O nations;

you will be shattered! 12 

Pay attention, all you distant lands of the earth!

Get ready for battle, and you will be shattered!

Get ready for battle, and you will be shattered! 13 

8:10 Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted!

Issue your orders, but they will not be executed! 14 

For God is with us! 15 

1 map For location see Map2 B1; Map4 D3; Map5 E2; Map6 A4; Map7 C1.

2 sn The child’s name foreshadows what will happen to Judah’s enemies; when their defeat takes place, the child will be a reminder that God predicted the event and brought it to pass. As such the child will be a reminder of God’s protective presence with his people.

3 tn The Hebrew text begins with “because.” In the Hebrew text vv. 6-7 are one long sentence, with v. 6 giving the reason for judgment and v. 7 formally announcing it.

4 sn The phrase “waters of Shiloah” probably refers to a stream that originated at the Gihon Spring and supplied the city of Jerusalem with water. See J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:225. In this context these waters stand in contrast to the flood waters of Assyria and symbolize God’s presence and blessings.

5 tn The precise meaning of v. 6 has been debated. The translation above assumes that “these people” are the residents of Judah and that מָשׂוֹשׂ (masos) is alternate form of מָסוֹס (masos, “despair, melt”; see HALOT 606 s.v. מסס). In this case vv. 7-8 in their entirety announce God’s disciplinary judgment on Judah. However, “these people” could refer to the Israelites and perhaps also the Syrians (cf v. 4). In this case מָשׂוֹשׂ probably means “joy.” One could translate, “and rejoice over Rezin and the son of Remaliah.” In this case v. 7a announces the judgment of Israel, with vv. 7b-8 then shifting the focus to the judgment of Judah.

6 tn The Hebrew term translated “sovereign master” here is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay).

7 tn Heb “the mighty and abundant waters of the river.” The referent of “the river” here, the Euphrates River, has been specified in the translation for clarity. As the immediately following words indicate, these waters symbolize the Assyrian king and his armies which will, as it were, inundate the land.

8 tn Heb “it will go up over all its stream beds and go over all its banks.”

9 tn Heb “and the spreading out of his wings [will be over] the fullness of the breadth of your land.” The metaphor changes here from raging flood to predatory bird.

10 sn The appearance of the name Immanuel (“God is with us”) is ironic at this point, for God is present with his people in judgment. Immanuel is addressed here as if he has already been born and will see the judgment occur. This makes excellent sense if his birth has just been recorded. There are several reasons for considering Immanuel and Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz one and the same. 8:3 is a birth account which could easily be understood as recording the fulfillment of the birth prophecy of 7:14. The presence of a formal record/witnesses (8:1-2) suggests a sign function for the child (cf. 7:14). As in 7:14-16, the removal of Judah’s enemies would take place before the child reached a specified age (cf. 8:4). Both 7:17-25 and 8:7-8 speak of an Assyrian invasion of Judah which would follow the defeat of Israel/Syria. The major objection to this view is the fact that different names appear, but such a phenomenon is not without parallel in the OT (cf. Gen 35:18). The name Immanuel may emphasize the basic fact of God’s presence, while the name Maher focuses on the specific nature of God’s involvement. In 7:14 the mother is viewed as naming the child, while in 8:3 Isaiah is instructed to give the child’s name, but one might again point to Gen 35:18 for a precedent. The sign child’s age appears to be different in 8:4 than in 7:15-16, but 7:15-16 pertains to the judgment on Judah, as well as the defeat of Israel/Syria (cf. vv. 17-25), while 8:4 deals only with the downfall of Israel/Syria. Some argue that the suffixed form “your land” in 8:8 points to a royal referent (a child of Ahaz or the Messiah), but usage elsewhere shows that the phrase does not need to be so restricted. While the suffix can refer to the king of a land (cf. Num 20:17; 21:22; Deut 2:27; Judg 11:17, 19; 2 Sam 24:13; 1 Kgs 11:22; Isa 14:20), it can also refer to one who is a native of a particular land (cf. Gen 12:1; 32:9; Jonah 1:8). (See also the use of “his land” in Isa 13:14 [where the suffix refers to a native of a land] and 37:7 [where it refers to a king].)

11 tn The verb רֹעוּ (rou) is a Qal imperative, masculine plural from רָעַע (raa’, “break”). Elsewhere both transitive (Job 34:24; Ps 2:9; Jer 15:12) and intransitive (Prov 25:19; Jer 11:16) senses are attested for the Qal of this verb. Because no object appears here, the form is likely intransitive: “be broken.” In this case the imperative is rhetorical (like “be shattered” later in the verse) and equivalent to a prediction, “you will be broken.” On the rhetorical use of the imperative in general, see IBHS 572 §34.4c; GKC 324 §110.c.

12 tn The imperatival form (Heb “be shattered”) is rhetorical and expresses the speaker’s firm conviction of the outcome of the nations’ attack. See the note on “be broken.”

13 tn The initial imperative (“get ready for battle”) acknowledges the reality of the nations’ hostility; the concluding imperative (Heb “be shattered”) is rhetorical and expresses the speakers’ firm conviction of the outcome of the nations’ attack. (See the note on “be broken.”) One could paraphrase, “Okay, go ahead and prepare for battle since that’s what you want to do, but your actions will backfire and you’ll be shattered.” This rhetorical use of the imperatives is comparable to saying to a child who is bent on climbing a high tree, “Okay, go ahead, climb the tree and break your arm!” What this really means is: “Okay, go ahead and climb the tree since that’s what you really want to do, but your actions will backfire and you’ll break your arm.” The repetition of the statement in the final two lines of the verse gives the challenge the flavor of a taunt (ancient Israelite “trash talking,” as it were).

14 tn Heb “speak a word, but it will not stand.”

15 sn In these vv. 9-10 the tone shifts abruptly from judgment to hope. Hostile nations like Assyria may attack God’s people, but eventually they will be destroyed, for God is with his people, sometimes to punish, but ultimately to vindicate. In addition to being a reminder of God’s presence in the immediate crisis faced by Ahaz and Judah, Immanuel (whose name is echoed in this concluding statement) was a guarantee of the nation’s future greatness in fulfillment of God’s covenantal promises. Eventually God would deliver his people from the hostile nations (vv. 9-10) through another child, an ideal Davidic ruler who would embody God’s presence in a special way (see 9:6-7). Jesus the Messiah is the fulfillment of the Davidic ideal prophesied by Isaiah, the one whom Immanuel foreshadowed. Through the miracle of the incarnation he is literally “God with us.” Matthew realized this and applied Isaiah’s ancient prophecy of Immanuel’s birth to Jesus (Matt 1:22-23). The first Immanuel was a reminder to the people of God’s presence and a guarantee of a greater child to come who would manifest God’s presence in an even greater way. The second Immanuel is “God with us” in a heightened and infinitely superior sense. He “fulfills” Isaiah’s Immanuel prophecy by bringing the typology intended by God to realization and by filling out or completing the pattern designed by God. Of course, in the ultimate fulfillment of the type, the incarnate Immanuel’s mother must be a virgin, so Matthew uses a Greek term (παρθένος, parqenos), which carries that technical meaning (in contrast to the Hebrew word עַלְמָה [’almah], which has the more general meaning “young woman”). Matthew draws similar analogies between NT and OT events in 2:15, 18. The linking of these passages by analogy is termed “fulfillment.” In 2:15 God calls Jesus, his perfect Son, out of Egypt, just as he did his son Israel in the days of Moses, an historical event referred to in Hos 11:1. In so doing he makes it clear that Jesus is the ideal Israel prophesied by Isaiah (see Isa 49:3), sent to restore wayward Israel (see Isa 49:5, cf. Matt 1:21). In 2:18 Herod’s slaughter of the infants is another illustration of the oppressive treatment of God’s people by foreign tyrants. Herod’s actions are analogous to those of the Assyrians, who deported the Israelites, causing the personified land to lament as inconsolably as a mother robbed of her little ones (Jer 31:15).



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