Isaiah 8:11
For the LORD spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) For the Lord spake thus to me.—We enter on a new section, separated, probably, by a short interval of time, but dealing with the same subject. In the “strong hand” we have an anthropomorphic phrase, implying a specially high degree of the intensity of inspiration (1Kings 18:46; 2Kings 3:15; Ezekiel 1:3; Ezekiel 3:14; Ezekiel 3:22; Ezekiel 8:1; Ezekiel 37:1). Something had occurred which brought the prophet into a state like that of St. Paul in Acts 17:16; Acts 18:5. Indignation and zeal were roused to their highest point, and were able to resist all human pressure from without. The result was a lesson which was to be specially impressed on the disciples who gathered round the prophet.

Isaiah 8:11-12. For the Lord spake thus unto me — Here the prophet teaches the people by his own example, as one immediately taught by God, with what dispositions they should receive all the attempts of their enemies, to subvert the kingdom of God in their land, even to the time of the Messiah, of whose manifestation this instruction contains a repeated prophecy for the consolation of the pious, together with a denunciation of the most grievous judgments, spiritual and temporal, upon the impious, incredulous, and profane. See Vitringa. With a strong hand — With a vehement and more than ordinary inspiration. The Chaldee renders it, In the strength of prophecy; perhaps it refers to those ecstasies into which the prophets were frequently wrapt. That I should not walk in the way of this people — Of the generality of the people of Judah; whose imminent danger and calamity he foretold, (Isaiah 8:8,) giving them, however, full assurance that God would deliver them out of it, Isaiah 8:9-10. Say ye not, A confederacy, &c. — You, my people, be not associated with them in the confederacies which they are projecting: do not join with those that, for the securing of themselves, are for making a league with the Assyrians, through unbelief, and distrust of God and their cause: do not come into any such confederacy. Neither fear ye their fear — Be not afraid of the confederacy with which they frighten themselves and one another, namely, that between Syria and Ephraim; or that thing which they fear, that, if they do not call in the Assyrian succours, they shall be destroyed by those two potent kings. Thus, when sinful confederacies are formed against God’s church and people by their enemies, they should guard against sinful fears of such confederacies.8:9-16 The prophet challenges the enemies of the Jews. Their efforts would be vain, and themselves broken to pieces. It concerns us, in time of trouble, to watch against all such fears as put us upon crooked courses for our own security. The believing fear of God preserves against the disquieting fear of man. If we thought rightly of the greatness and glory of God, we should see all the power of our enemies restrained. The Lord, who will be a Sanctuary to those who trust in him, will be a Stone of stumbling, and a Rock of offence, to those who make the creature their fear and their hope. If the things of God be an offence to us, they will undo us. The apostle quotes this as to all who persisted in unbelief of the gospel of Christ, 1Pe 2:8. The crucified Emmanuel, who was and is a Stumbling-stone and Rock of offence to unbelieving Jews, is no less so to thousands who are called Christians. The preaching of the cross is foolishness in their esteem; his doctrines and precepts offend them.For the Lord spake thus - Spake that which immediately follows in the next verse. Warned him not to Unite in the alliance with foreign kingdoms which the nation was about forming.

With a strong hand - Margin, 'With strength of hand.' That is, when the hand of God urged me. A strong prophetic impulse is often represented as being produced by God's laying his hand on the prophet; or by his being thus, as it were, urged or impelled to it; Ezekiel 3:14 : 'The hand of Jehovah was strong upon me;' 2 Kings 3:15 : 'And it came to pass, that when the minstrel played, the hand of the Lord came upon him;' Jeremiah 20:7 : 'O Lord, thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed;' see also Ecclesiastes 2:24; 1 Kings 18:46; 2 Kings 3:15; Ezekiel 33:22; Ezekiel 40:1; compare the Introduction, section 7. 11. (3.) The meaning is, that the prophet was strongly, and almost irresistibly, urged by the divine influence, to say what he was about to say.

That I should not walk ... - That I should not approve, and fall in with the design of Ahaz, and of the nation, in calling in the aid of the Assyrian armies.

11. with a strong hand—or else, "when He grasped me with His hand" [Horsley]. Maurer, as English Version, "with the impetus of His hand," that is, the felt impulse of His inspiration in my mind (Jer 15:17; Eze 1:3; 3:14, 22; 37:1).

way of … people—their distrust of Jehovah, and the panic which led them and Ahab to seek Assyrian aid.

With a strong hand; with a vehement and more than ordinary inspiration, strongly imprinting it in my mind. Of this people; of the generality of the people of Judah; whose eminent danger and calamity he foretells, Isaiah 8:8, but withal gives them full assurance that God would deliver them out of it, Isaiah 8:9,10; which he doth to aggravate the present sin of Ahaz and his people, in forsaking God, and seeking to the king of Assyria for help, as they did, 2 Kings 16:6-8. For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand,.... In the strength of prophecy, as the Targum explains it; and so all the Jews' interpreters understand it of prophecy, as in Ezekiel 1:3, or, "the Lord spake thus to me, when he took (me) by the hand" (t); as parents or masters take hold of the hands of children, while they are advising and instructing them, as expressive of their great affection for them; and when they would retain them with them, or restrain them from doing amiss:

and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people: or join with them in desiring and seeking for the help of the king of Assyria, against Rezin and Remaliah's son; or in being willing to surrender up into their hands:

saying; as follows:

(t) "apprehensione manus", Piscator; "cum manu me apprehenderit", Tigurine version.

For the LORD spoke thus to me {m} with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying,

(m) To encourage me that I should not shrink for the infidelity of this people, and so neglect my office.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. with a strong hand] Better: while the Hand (of Jehovah) grasped (me), (an infinitive construction). The phrase (cf. Ezekiel 3:14) refers to a prophetic trance, in which the true view of the aspects and issue of the situation was borne in upon Isaiah’s mind with irresistible force. His mind was as it were fixed in one direction, and he was henceforth proof against the disturbing influences of social opinion around him.

and instructed me … walk] Or, to warn me against walking. Grammatically, the clause is a continuation, not of the main sentence (“and Jehovah spake, &c.”), but of the infinitive construction, which is here resolved into the Imperfect (Qal). the way of this people] the prevailing emotions, thoughts and resolves of the hour.

11–15. Isaiah was able to stand alone against the nation during this crisis, because he knew that his thoughts were controlled by a Power not his own.Verses 11-16. - THE GROUNDS OF ISAIAH'S CONFIDENCE. Having declared his absolute confidence, not only that the attack of Pekah and Rezin will fail (vers. 1-4), but that Assyria also (ver. 8), nay, that all the nations of the earth (ver. 9) will fail, and bring destruction upon themselves, if they "devise devices" against God's true people, the prophet explains the ground of his confidence by relating a special "instruction" which he had received from God some time previously, he had been bidden to separate himself from the mass of his countrymen in thought and feeling, and to cling only to Jehovah, who would "be for a Sanctuary" (ver. 14) to his own, but "for a Stone of stumbling and a Rock of offence" to all others. Verse 11. - For the Lord. Mr. Cheyne regards this passage as "a short oracle, complete in itself," and entirely unconnected with what has preceded. But the initial ki, "for," is in that case inexplicable. Spake thus to me with a strong hand; literally, with strength of hand - i.e. laying a strong grasp upon him; and, as it were, constraining him to attend (comp. Ezekiel 1:3; Ezekiel 3:14, 22, etc.). That I should not walk in the way of this people. Isaiah was bidden not to "follow a multitude to evil" (Exodus 23:2). It was not merely idolatry against which he was warned, but the whole spirit and tone of the society of his day. He was not to entertain their suspicions, or to hope their hopes, or to fear their fears. He was to take a line of his own, to fear God and him only; then God would be "for a Sanctuary" to him. The heading or introduction, "And Jehovah proceeded still further to speak to me, as follows," extends to all the following addresses as far as Isaiah 12:1-6. They all finish with consolation. But consolation presupposes the need of consolation. Consequently, even in this instance the prophet is obliged to commence with a threatening of judgment. "Forasmuch as this people despiseth the waters of Siloah that go softly, and regardeth as a delight the alliance with Rezin and the son of Remalyahu, therefore, behold! the Lord of all bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, the mighty and the great, the king of Asshur and all his military power; and he riseth over all his channels, and goeth over all his banks." The Siloah had its name (Shiloach, or, according to the reading of this passage contained in very good MSS, Shilloach), ab emittendo, either in an infinitive sense, "shooting forth," or in a participial sense, with a passive colouring, emissus, sent forth, spirted out (vid., John 9:7; and on the variations in meaning of this substantive form, Concord. p. 1349, s.). Josephus places the fountain and pool of Siloah at the opening of the Tyropoeon, on the south-eastern side of the ancient city, where we still find it at the present day (vid., Jos. Wars of the Jews, v. 4, 1; also Robinson, Pal. i. 504). The clear little brook - a pleasant sight to the eye as it issues from the ravine which runs between the south-western slope of Moriah and the south-eastern slope of Mount Zion

(Note: It is with perfect propriety, therefore, that Jerome sometimes speaks in the fons Siloe as flowing ad radices Montis Zion, and at other times as flowing in radicibus Montis Moria.)

(V. Schulbert, Reise, ii. 573) - is used here as a symbol of the Davidic monarchy enthroned upon Zion, which had the promise of God, who was enthroned upon Moriah, in contrast with the imperial or world kingdom, which is compared to the overflowing waters of the Euphrates. The reproach of despising the waters of Siloah applied to Judah as well as Ephraim: to the former because it trusted in Asshur, and despised the less tangible but more certain help which the house of David, if it were but believing, had to expect from the God of promise; to the latter, because it had entered into alliance with Aram to overthrow the house of David; and yet the house of David, although degenerate and deformed, was the divinely appointed source of that salvation, which is ever realized through quiet, secret ways. The second reproach applied more especially to Ephraim. The 'eth is not to be taken as the sign of the accusative, for sūs never occurs with the accusative of the object (not even in Isaiah 35:1), and could not well be so used. It is to be construed as a preposition in the sense of "and (or because) delight (is felt) with (i.e., in) the alliance with Rezin and Pekah." (On the constructive before a preposition, see Ges. 116, 1: sūs 'ēth, like râtzâh ‛im.) Luzzatto compares, for the construction, Genesis 41:43, v'nâthōn; but only the inf. abs. is used in this way as a continuation of the finite verb (see Ges. 131, 4, a). Moreover, משׂושׂ is not an Aramaic infinitive, but a substantive used in such a way as to retain the power of the verb (like מסּע in Numbers 10:2, and מספר in Numbers 23:10, unless, indeed, the reading here should be ספר מי). The substantive clause is preferred to the verbal clause ושׂשׂ, for the sake of the antithetical consonance of משׂושׂס with מאס. It is also quite in accordance with Hebrew syntax, that an address which commences with כי יען should here lose itself in the second sentence "in the twilight," as Ewald expresses it (351, c), of a substantive clause. Knobel and others suppose the reproof to relate to dissatisfied Judaeans, who were secretly favourable to the enterprise of the two allied kings. But there is no further evidence that there were such persons; and Isaiah 8:8 is opposed to this interpretation. The overflowing of the Assyrian forces would fall first of all upon Ephraim. The threat of punishment is introduced with ולכן, the Vav being the sign of sequence (Ewald, 348, b). The words "the king of Asshur" are the prophet's own gloss, as in Isaiah 7:17, Isaiah 7:20.

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