Isaiah 8:7
Now therefore, behold, the Lord brings up on them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) The waters of the river . . .—“The river” is, as elsewhere (Joshua 24:2; Joshua 24:14), the Euphrates; here used (1) as the symbol of the Assyrian monarchy, as Shiloah had been of that of Judah, and (2) of the Assyrian armies that were to pour down like that river in the time of its inundations. The “channels” and “banksdescribe the intended course of that army as invading Syria and Israel; but it was to overflow those banks and sweep over Judah. In the former case, the kingdoms were to be utterly submerged as by the violence of the current. In Judah, it was to reach only “to the neck,” i.e., was not to work out so utter a destruction. Jeremiah (Jeremiah 47:2) reproduces the image.

Isaiah 8:7-8. Now, therefore — Because the Israelites and their army, combined with the Syrians, despise the weak state of the Jews, and the kingdom of David, now brought very low, and having no such defence as can be compared to a great river, but only one that resembles a small brook that glides gently along; behold, the Lord bringeth upon them the waters of the river — Of Euphrates, often called the river, for its eminent greatness; whereby he understands the Assyrian forces, as the next words explain the metaphor, which should overwhelm the whole kingdom of Israel under Tiglath-pileser and Shalmaneser; the king of Assyria and all his glory — His numerous and puissant army, in which he gloried, Isaiah 10:8. He shall come up over all his channels — This great river shall overflow its own proper channels: that is, this great monarch shall not keep within his own proper bounds, but invade and overrun the whole land of Syria and Israel, as an overflowing river does the neighbouring meadows. As multitudes of people are often spoken of in Scripture under the emblem of great waters, so an invading army is very fitly represented by the inundation of a rapid river, which carries all before it, and leaves the ground waste and desolate. And he shall pass through Judah — Having overrun the land of Israel he shall invade the land of Judah, as Sennacherib did a few years after the conquest of Samaria by Shalmaneser; see 2 Kings 18:9; 2 Kings 18:13. And he shall reach even to the neck — So that they shall be in great danger of being destroyed. He persists in the metaphor of a river swelling so high as to reach to a man’s neck, and be ready to overwhelm him. Such was the danger of Judah’s land when Sennacherib took all the fenced cities of Judah, (2 Kings 18:13,) and sent his army against the capital city of Jerusalem. The stretching out of his wings — Of his forces, or of the wings of his army, as they anciently were, and still are, called. Shall fill the breadth of thy land — Of the land of Judah, so called, because the Messiah, who is called Immanuel, (Isaiah 7:14,) should certainly be born, and live, and die there. And this is added emphatically for the consolation of God’s people, to assure them, that notwithstanding this dreadful scourge, yet God would make a difference between Israel and Judah; and whereas Israel should be so broken by the Assyrian, that they should not be a people, Judah should be restored, for the sake of the Messiah, to be the place of his birth and ministry, according to Genesis 49:10.8:1-8 The prophet is to write on a large roll, or on a metal tablet, words which meant, Make speed to spoil, hasten to the prey: pointing out that the Assyrian army should come with speed, and make great spoil. Very soon the riches of Damascus and of Samaria, cities then secure and formidable, shall be taken away by the king of Assyria. The prophet pleads with the promised Messiah, who should appear in that land in the fulness of time, and, therefore, as God, would preserve it in the mean time. As a gentle brook is an apt emblem of a mild government, so an overflowing torrent represents a conqueror and tyrant. The invader's success was also described by a bird of prey, stretching its wings over the whole land. Those who reject Christ, will find that what they call liberty is the basest slavery. But no enemy shall pluck the believer out of Emmanuel's hand, or deprive him of his heavenly inheritance.The waters of the river - By the river, in the Scripture, is commonly meant the river Euphrates, as being, by way of eminence, the largest river with which they were acquainted; and also as being that distinguished by the fact that Abraham had lived beyond it, and crossed it; see the note at Isaiah 7:20. In this verse the image is kept up which was commenced in Isaiah 8:6. The Jews rejected the gentle waters of Siloah, and sought the alliance of a foreign king, whose kingdom stretched along, and extended beyond the Euphrates. It was natural, therefore, to compare the invasion of the land to the overflowing of mighty waters that would sweep everything away. A similar comparison is found in Juvenal, who, in describing the introduction of Eastern customs into Rome, represents the Orontes as flowing into the Tiber: Jampridem Syrus in Tiberim defluxit Orontes. The comparison of an invading army with an overflowing stream, or an inundation, is not uncommon; see Lucan's Phars. vi. 272. Hor. Car. iv. 14, 15ff.

Strong and many - Violent waves, and numerous. It means that a mighty host would come up upon the land.

Even the king of Assyria - It has been supposed by many that this is a gloss, or explanation, which has crept into the text. There is no doubt that it expresses the true sense of the passage, but it is remarkable that Isaiah himself should furnish a literal explanation in the midst of a figurative description.

And all his glory - Eastern kings marched in the midst of vast splendor. They moved with all the magnificence of the court, and were attended usually with their princes and nobles; with a splendid retinue; and with all the insignia of royalty. Such was the case with Xerxes when he invaded Greece; and such, too, with Darius, and with most of the Oriental conquerors.

And he shall come up ... - The figure of overflowing waters is here retained. To understand this, it is necessary to remark, that the Euphrates annually overflows its banks to a very considerable extent. It rises in the mountains of Armenia, and, flowing for a considerable distance in a region where the mountains are covered with snow, it falls into the level region of Mesopotamia or Syria, and flows through that region, almost parallel with the Tigris, toward the Persian Gulf. From its banks, vast numbers of canals were made, as in Egypt, to receive the water, and to render the country fertile. By the melting of the snows in Armenia, in the summer, the stream becomes greatly enlarged, and overflows vast portions of the adjacent country in a manner similar to the Nile. Usually the river is not very large. Otho says, that on the 12th of March, when he crossed the Euphrates, it was not more than 200 paces in width, but in its height, it extends 500 or 600 paces into the plains on the right. Thevenot observes, that near to Bir, the Euphrates seemed no larger than the Seine at Paris, but was very large when it was swollen. At Babylon, it is said to be about four hundred feet in breadth. That it overflows its banks, is abundantly attested by ancient as well as modern travelers; see Rosenmuller and Gesenius on this verse.

Its channels - This word means either brooks, or valleys, or canals, or channels of a river. The Euphrates flowed through a level region, and it is not improbable that it had at various times made for itself many channels. Besides this, there were many canals cut in various directions to convey its waters to the gardens, farms, etc. All these the prophet says would be full - and the water would extend even far beyond them.

7. therefore—for the reason given in Isa 8:6, the Assyrian flood, which is first to overflood Syria and Samaria, shall rise high enough to reach rebel Judah also (Isa 8:8).

the river—Euphrates swollen in spring by the melting of the snow of the Armenian mountains (compare Isa 8:6; Isa 7:20).

all his glory—Eastern kings travel with a gorgeous retinue.

channels—natural and artificial in the level region, Mesopotamia.

Therefore; because they despise the opposition which they have from Shiloah and Jerusalem, they shall have a more potent enemy.

Upon them; upon Israel. See on the foregoing verse. Of the river of Euphrates, oft called

the river, for its eminent greatness; whereby he understands the Assyrian forces, as the next words explain the metaphor.

All his glory; his numerous and puissant army, in which he gloried. See Isaiah 10:8.

He shall come up over all his channels; this great river shall overflow its own proper channels. The meaning is, This great monarch shall enlarge his dominions, and add the lands of Syria and Israel to them. Some render the words, he shall come up with all his channels or streams; for the Hebrew particle all sometimes signifies with, as Job 38:30. But it seems hard to understand the same particle one way in this clause, and another in the last clause. Besides, the last clause favours the former interpretation, the same thing being repeated in it, as is usual in the sacred writings. Or this may be understood of the channels and banks of the people or land of Israel. The enemy being represented under the metaphor of a river breaking in upon their land, may fitly be said to overflow all their channels and banks, to wit, all places, both low and high, so that nothing shall be able to withstand his fury. Now therefore the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many,.... Alluding to the river Euphrates, which ran by Babylon, which was a large river, full of water, and had a rapid torrent, and so is opposed to Shiloah and its waters; and these waters are explained as follows:

even the king of Assyria, and all his glory; his army, which was his glory, in which he gloried, and by which he got himself honour and glory. It is usual for mighty kings, kingdoms, and armies, to be signified by such waters, for their multitude and strength; see Revelation 17:1,

and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks; that is, either of the land of Ephraim or Israel, and overflow the borders thereof, run over all the whole land, and possess its fortified towns and cities. The Targum is,

"therefore behold the Lord shall bring, and cause to ascend upon them, the army of the people, who are many, as the waters of a river, strong and mighty, the king of Assyria, and his army; and he shall come up upon all his rivers, and shall go upon all his banks;''

or rather "its own" (r) channels and banks, as it may be rendered; and so denotes, that the king of Assyria, and his army, should pass the Euphrates, and come out of their own land, and subdue the adjacent kingdoms and territories, and particularly the land of Judah, as follows.

(r) "omnes alvcos suos----ripas suas", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius.

Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of {h} the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all its channels, and go over all its banks:

(h) That is, the Assyrians who dwell beyond Euphrates.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. Now therefore] lit. “and therefore,” introducing the apodosis; a combination not found elsewhere.

bringeth up upon them] Not North Israel, but Judah, “this people.”

the waters of the river] The Euphrates, explained in the next clause as a symbol of the Assyrian power. The figure of the verse is based on the fact that in summer the Euphrates overflows its banks,—an obvious emblem of the aggressive policy of the great world-power.Verse 7. - The waters of the river, strong and many. "The river" is, of course, the Euphrates, as in Isaiah 7:20. In its lower course the Euphrates often overflows its banks, and inundates the adjacent districts, causing vast damage to crops, and some-limes threatening to break down the walls of cities (Loftus, 'Chaldea and Susiana,' p. 7). It is scarcely likely, however, that Isaiah had any acquaintance with this fact. His experience would probably have been limited to the "swellings of Jordan" (Jeremiah 12:5; comp. Joshua 3:15). All his glory (comp. Isaiah 10:12, 16, 18, etc.). He shall come up over all his channels. A graphic description of the swelling of rivers in the East. These, when they are low, contract their waters from the many channels, in which they ordinarily flow, into some one or two, leaving the others dry. The first effect of a flood is to fill all the channels, after which it may proceed further and overflow the banks. In the midst of the Syro-Ephraimitish war, which was not yet at an end, Isaiah received instructions from God to perform a singular prophetic action. "Then Jehovah said to me, Take a large slab, and write upon it with common strokes, 'In Speed Spoil, Booty hastens;' and I will take to me trustworthy witnesses, Uriyah the priest, and Zecharyahu the son of Yeberechyahu." The slab or table (cf., Isaiah 3:23, where the same word is used to signify a metal mirror) was to be large, to produce the impression of a monument; and the writing upon it was to be "a man's pen" (Cheret 'enōsh), i.e., written in the vulgar, and, so to speak, popular character, consisting of inartistic strokes that could be easily read (vid., Revelation 13:18; Revelation 21:17). Philip d'Aquin, in his Lexicon, adopts the explanation, "Enosh-writing, i.e., hieroglyphic writing, so called because it was first introduced in the time of Enosh." Luzzatto renders it, a lettere cubitali; but the reading for this would be b'cheret ammath 'ish. The only true rendering is stylo vulgari (see Ges. Thes. s.v. 'enosh). The words to be written are introduced with Lamed, to indicate dedication (as in Ezekiel 37:16), or the object to which the inscription was dedicated or applied, as if it read, "A table devoted to 'Spoil very quickly, booty hastens;' " unless, indeed, l'mahēr is to be taken as a fut. instans, as it is by Luzzatto - after Genesis 15:12; Joshua 2:5; Habakkuk 1:17 - in the sense of acceleratura sunt spolia, or (what the position of the words might more naturally suggest) with mahēr in a transitive sense, as in the construction לבערּ היה, and others, accelerationi spolia, i.e., they are ready for hastening. Most of the commentators have confused the matter here by taking the words as a proper name (Ewald, 288, c), which they were not at first, though they became so afterwards. At first they were an oracular announcement of the immediate future, accelerant spolia, festinat praeda (spoil is quick, booty hastens). Spoil; booty; but who would the vanquished be? Jehovah knew, and His prophet knew, although not initiated into the policy of Ahaz. But their knowledge was studiously veiled in enigmas. For the writing was not to disclose anything to the people. It was simply to serve as a public record of the fact, that the course of events was one that Jehovah had foreseen and indicated beforehand. And when what was written upon the table should afterwards take place, they would know that it was the fulfilment of what had already been written, and therefore was an event pre-determined by God. For this reason Jehovah took to Himself witnesses. There is no necessity to read ואעידה (and I had it witnessed), as Knobel and others do; nor והעידה (and have it witnessed), as the Sept., Targum, Syriac, and Hitzig do. Jehovah said what He would do; and the prophet knew, without requiring to be told, that it was to be accomplished instrumentally through him. Uriah was no doubt the priest (Urijah), who afterwards placed himself at the service of Ahaz to gratify his heathenish desires (2 Kings 16:10.). Zechariah ben Yeberechyahu (Berechiah) was of course not the prophet of the times after the captivity, but possibly the Asaphite mentioned in 2 Chronicles 29:13. He is not further known to us. In good editions, ben is not followed by makkeph, but marked with mercha, according to the Masora at Genesis 30:19. These two men were reliable witnesses, being persons of great distinction, and their testimony would weigh with the people. When the time should arrive that the history of their own times solved the riddle of this inscription, these two men were to tell the people how long ago the prophet had written that down in his prophetic capacity.
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