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Isaiah 8:1–4 The Immanuel Prophecy: First Fulfillment
The sign provided to Ahaz was first fulfilled with the union of Isaiah and his wife and the birth of their son Maher-shalal-hash-baz (see comments about 7:10–16). At least nine months would have passed since the conditions of the sign were given to Ahaz, for the text makes it clear that Isaiah “drew close to the prophetess” (8:3) after the pronouncement of the sign. Similar language found in 7:14–16 and 8:2–4 suggests that 8:2–4 is the first and immediate fulfillment of the Immanuel prophecy.
Maher-shalal-hash-baz. A prophetic name in Hebrew, which translates into these four words: speed, spoil, hasten, plunder. The name prophesies of the swiftness (speed/hasten) in which Assyria would conquer Damascus (Aram) and Samaria (the Northern Kingdom) and spoil/plunder these countries of their goods and wealth. Verse 4 explains, “The riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be taken away by the king of Assyria.”
The writing of the name Maher-shalal-hash-baz on the great tablet and the testimony of the two faithful witnesses made the prophecy and fulfillment of the sign to Ahaz public knowledge, showing that the Lord had indeed fulfilled His word.
I drew close to the prophetess. The prophecy of Isaiah’s wife, who is called “the prophetess,” was twofold: her bringing forth her son Maher-shalal-hash-baz prophesied the impending invasion of Assyria, and her partial fulfillment of the Immanuel prophecy (see 7:10–16) anticipated Mary’s bearing Jesus Christ (distant fulfillment).
In the very near future, Assyria would indeed conquer Damascus and Samaria, as Isaiah prophesies this subjugation would occur “before the child will know to cry, ‘My father and my mother!’” meaning before the baby Maher-shalal-hash-baz can utter the words father or mother.
Isaiah 8:5–10 Rejecting the LORD, Who Is the Waters of Shiloah
In Isaiah 8:5–9:2, the prophet Isaiah presents three images that prophesy of Jesus Christ—water, temple, and light. Jesus, through implication, is compared to the waters of Shiloah (8:5–10), He is a Temple to the righteous (8:11–15), and He is our “great light” (8:16–9:2).
Lord spoke unto me. The Lord is the source of Isaiah’s words.
waters of Shiloah . . . waters of the river. Isaiah’s prophecy deals with two waters, the soft, rolling waters of Shiloah, located near Jerusalem’s temple mount, and the waters of the Euphrates, a great river that sometimes floods out of control. The waters of Shiloah symbolize Jesus, who is “the fountain of living waters” (Jeremiah 2:13; 17:13; Psalm 36:8–9; see also Ether 12:28), and the “waters of the river” is none other than the “king of Assyria” (8:7) and his destructive armies. Inasmuch as the inhabitants of Judah had rejected Jesus, or the waters of Shiloah, the Lord set upon them the king of Assyria, who, like the strong and mighty waters of the river, would cover the entire land with its destruction. Other prophets have similarly likened armies to great rivers and floods that “cover the earth” and “destroy the city and the inhabitants thereof” (Jeremiah 46:8; 47:2; Amos 8:8; Daniel 9:26).
Rezin and Remaliah’s son. Rezin was the king of Aram, and Pekah, the son of Remaliah, was the king of Israel (7:1–9).
even the king of Assyria. Verse 7 explicitly states that the “waters of the river” symbolize Assyria’s king. it will come up over all its streambed/go over all its banks. The king and his army will flood Israel (an most of Judah) and destroy it.
it will reach the neck/it will stretch out its wings. The Assyrians will “reach the neck,” or the upper boundaries of the land; or, “neck” may refer to Jerusalem, the “head” city of Judah; the Assyrian armies will “stretch out [their] wings,” like a bird of prey, to destroy the breadth and width of the land. Immanuel. The name Immanuel (Hebrew “God is with us”), mentioned twice in Isaiah 8 (8:8, 10), is a refrain. It serves to remind the reader of the sign provided to King Ahaz (7:14–16). More importantly, Immanuel is the name of Jesus Christ (see Matthew 1:21–23), who brings spiritual salvation to Israel. In the end, the world’s nations and alliances fail because the power of Immanuel exceeds theirs.
DSS Isaiah lacks the repeated line, but the repeated words encompass the second line of the parallelism, with the repetition signifying a rhetorical way to emphasize the idea being presented.
band together/gird yourselves/counsel together. The Lord addresses “O peoples” and “all distant parts of the earth” and forewarns them that if they “band together” (make temporal alliances), the peoples will be broken; if they “gird themselves” (seek protection from temporal weapons), the people will be broken; if they “counsel together” (make war plans and prepare for temporal deliverance), their plans “will come to nothing.”
Isaiah 8:11–15 The LORD Is a Temple to the Righteous
Isaiah prophesies that the Lord “will be a Temple” to those who fear Him and “regard Him with awe.” Other prophets, too, have taught that the Lord is a temple (see Ezekiel 11:16; Revelation 21:22). And Jesus Christ told the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” What did Jesus mean? He was speaking of “the temple of his body” (John 2:18, 20), which would be resurrected three days after His death.
grasping of the hand. A special expression that pertains to the Lord and His prophets (see also Isaiah 42:6; 45:1; 1 Kings 18:46; Ezekiel 3:14; 8:1).
conspiracy. The conspiracy may refer to the enemies of Judah who had hoped to install a puppet ruler (the son of Tabeal) on the throne of Ahaz (7:6); or, it may refer to Ahaz’s conspiracy with Assyria (2 Kings 16).
He is your fear. “He,” referring to the Lord, “is your fear.” The Israelites should not fear the Assyrian empire’s temporal might and power; instead they should place their attention and fear on the Lord, who possesses everlasting might. To fear the Lord is to honor, revere, trust, and obey Him.
He will be a Temple. To the righteous, the Lord is a Temple, possessing everything which a temple has—a place of holiness, a place of revelation, a place where covenants are made, because God is a covenant maker. stone of stumbling/rock of offense. To the righteous, the Lord is the elect and precious chief cornerstone (Psalm 118:22; Ephesians 2:20) of the temple, “upon which they might build and have safe foundation” (Jacob 4:15), but unto “them which stumble at the word,” Jesus is “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense” (1 Peter 2:6–8; see also Romans 9:33; 1 Corinthians 1:23). “Many,” states Isaiah, will “stumble” and “fall” because of the stone of stumbling. both the houses of Israel. The northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. trap/snare. Symbolically, the Lord lays a snare for the wicked and the unrepentant. He catches them in their sins and eventually He will cast them, still entrapped, into hell.
Isaiah 8:16–22 Sealing the Testimony and the Law
The Lord commands His prophet Isaiah to “bind up the testimony” and to “seal the law.” This divine commandment has been revealed anew in our dispensation to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Isaiah teaches us that he and his children are “signs,” or symbols, to the house of Israel. Isaiah also instructs the people of the world “who are walking in darkness” and “dwelling in . . . the shadow of death” that they “have seen a great light.” That light is Jesus Christ. Bracketed words are from JST, 2 Nephi 18:19–20; 19:1.
Bind up the testimony, seal the law. Tie up and seal a scroll (or book), which contains God’s law and prophets’ words and testimonies. There is a divine pattern: God’s prophets warn peoples and nations to repent, then the prophets “bind up the testimony” and “seal the law,” and then come God’s judgments. The same pattern exists in the Latter-days (Doctrine and Covenants 88:84; 109:38, 46; 133:72).
hides His face. This idiom indicates that the Spirit of the Lord has been withdrawn (8:20–22; see also Ezekiel 39:29) and God’s blessings have been removed from the house of Jacob. On the one hand, God hides His face from those who demonstrate a lack of faith and practice evil (Deuteronomy 31:17–18; 32:20; Micah 3:4); on the other hand, God shows His face to those who are pure in heart (Matthew 5:8; Doctrine and Covenants 93:1). I will hope for Him. Jacob testified, “We had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us” (Jacob 4:4).
I and the children . . . are for signs and for wonders. Isaiah and his family were symbols to the house of Israel (7:3; 8:2–4). The name Isaiah, “Jehovah is Salvation,” prophesies of Jesus Christ and of the salvation that comes through His Atonement. The name Maher-shalal-hash-baz (Hebrew “speed,” “spoil,” “hasten,” “plunder”) speaks of the disaster that would come upon the Israelites when the Assyrians would “speedily” conquer them and “plunder” their possessions. The name Shear-jashub (Hebrew “a remnant shall return”), refers to the period of the Restoration of the gospel, when “a remnant of Israel will return” to their lands of promise.
mediums and spiritists. These two expressions, often used together (Leviticus 19:31; Deuteronomy 18:11; 2 Kings 21:6), refer to those who seek truth through false means or wish to learn about the future by communicating with spirits. Such will be cut off (Leviticus 20:6). whisper and mutter. Mediums and spiritists whisper and mutter; contrast this with God’s prophets who speak clearly and intelligibly. To the law and to the testimony. Isaiah pronounces a sacred oath by the testimony of God’s law and the prophets (8:16, 20). Isaiah puts forth dawn, not light (compare KJV and other translations). Dawn expresses the beginning of light (as in light coming in the morning).
These verses present the status of the wicked (those who do not “seek unto their God,” verse 19); they will be “distressed,” “hungry” (spiritually and perhaps physically), and “enraged”; they will “curse” their false gods and look for help “upward” and downward “to the earth”; and they will experience “distress and darkness, uttermost anguish” and “they will be thrust into darkness.”
no more gloom. After describing the state of the wicked (see verses 21–22), Isaiah transitions with the words “there will be no more gloom for those who were in anguish.” “Anguish” recalls “uttermost anguish” in verse 22. Why no more gloom? Because people who walk in darkness will see a “great light” (see 9:2)—Jesus Christ.
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