Isaiah – Chapter 8


By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

G-d told Isaiah to take a large scroll and to write on it in plain script to hasten spoils and quicken booty (which really is the same thing twice, in different words). Uriah the Kohein (priest) and Zechariah the prophet were called as witnesses.

Isaiah and his wife had a son, possibly the one foretold in the previous chapter, and G-d told Isaiah to name him Mahershalalchashbaz (or “hasten spoils, quicken booty,” as on the scroll). G-d said that even before the child is old enough to call for his parents, the king of Assyria would carry off the wealth of Damascus and Samaria. G-d continued that, since the people of Judah would follow a rebellion (against King Chizkiyahu), preferring the ways of other nations’ kings, then G-d will let them fall into the hands of Assyria, whom He compared to a rushing river overflowing its banks. Assyria (the “river”) will reach up to the “neck” of Judah and the army, compared to wings, will spread out over the land. Even though they will be united, the enemy forces will ultimately be broken apart. Their plot will not succeed because G-d is with us. (“G-d is with us” = “Immanuel,” as in the previous chapter.)

The prophet continues that G-d warned him not to join the rebellion, not following a majority to do evil, not fearing what they fear or ascribing any power to them; only G-d should Isaiah fear and He is Isaiah’s strength. The rebellion will be a sign of what is to come for those who lead others astray.

G-d told Isaiah to seal the Torah in His students; Isaiah would wait for G-d, Who sometimes “hides” from Israel. When people say to turn instead to sorcerers, we should answer, “Isn’t this a nation that follows G-d?” (Don’t listen to them when they try and persuade you to do otherwise!)

Those who join the rebellions will suffer hunger and troubles, and will curse the king and their idols. They will look throughout the land, but only find darkness and oppression. However, those who do the oppressing – Assyria – will not tire. The first exile we got off (relatively) easy – only the Tribes of Zebulon and Naftali were exiled. The second wave would remove the two-and-a-half Tribes in Transjordan, but the third wave would be the harshest, exiling the rest of the Ten Tribes.

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