Isaiah 8:12
Say you not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear you their fear, nor be afraid.
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(12) Say ye not, A confederacy . . .—The words have been very differently interpreted. (1) The confederacy has been thought to be that between Syria or Ephraim, which had at first filled the people with terror, and then had seemed so powerful that men had been willing to join it (Isaiah 7:2; Isaiah 8:6). (2) Translating the word as conspiracy as in 2Kings 17:4—it was the word used by Athaliah when she cried, “Treason, treason!” (2Chronicles 23:13)—interpreters have seen in it the cry of the Assyrian alliance party against the prophet and his followers, whom they accused of conspiracy against their country, such as was afterwards imputed to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 37:14). (3) Others, following a conjectural amendment of the text, have read, “Ye shall not call everything a holy thing which this people calleth a holy thing,” and find in the words a protest against the idolatrous reverence for that which has no real holiness, analogous to the warning against soothsayers or diviners in Isaiah 8:19; or possibly an allusion to such an object of worship as the brazen serpent, which Hezekiah had destroyed by Isaiah’s advice (2Kings 18:4). Of these, (2) seems the most in harmony with the sequence of facts and thoughts.

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.Say ye not - Do not join in their purposes of forming a confederacy. Do not unite with the king and the people of Judah in their alarms about the threatened invasion by the kings of Syria and Samaria, and in their purpose to form an alliance with the king of Assyria. The reason why they should not do this, he states in Isaiah 8:13, where he exhorts the nation to put confidence in the Lord rather than in man. There has been, however, great diversity in the interpretation of this passage. The Septuagint renders the word קשׁר qesher, 'confederacy,' by the word σκληρόν sklēron - 'Everything which this people say, is hard.' The Syriac, 'Do not say, rebellion,' etc. The Chaldee understands the word in the same sense. Lowth proposes to change the word קשׁר qesher, into קדשׁ qâdôsh, because Dr. Seeker possessed one manuscript in which this reading was found; and he translates the passage:

'Say ye not it is holy,

Of everything of which this people shall say it is holy.'

That is, 'call not their idols holy; nor fear ye the object of their fear; that is, the gods of the idolaters.' But it is plain that this does not suit the connection of the passage, since the prophet is not reproving them for their idolatry, but is discoursing of the alliance between the kings of Syria and Samaria. Besides, the authority of one manuscript, without the concurrence of any ancient version, is not a sufficient authority for changing the Hebrew text. Most commentators have understood this word 'confederacy' as referring to the alliance between the kings of Syria and Samaria; as if the prophet had said, 'Do not join in the cry so common and almost universal in the nation, "There is a confederacy between those two kingdoms; there is an alliance formed which endangers our liberty" - a cry that produces alarm and trepidation in the nation.' Thus Rosenmuller and Gesenius explain it.

Aben Ezra, and Kimchi, however. understand it of a conspiracy, which they suppose was formed in the kingdom of Ahaz, against him and the house of David; and that the prophet warns the people against joining in such a conspiracy. But of the existence of such a conspiracy there is no evidence. Had there been such a conspiracy, it is not probable that it would have been so well known as to make it a proper subject of public denunciation. Conspiracies are usually secret and concealed. I regard this, however, as a caution to the prophet not to join in the prevailing demand for an alliance with the king of Assyria. Ahaz trembled before the united armies of Syria and Samaria. He sought, therefore, foreign assistance - the assistance of the king of Assyria. It is probable that in this he was encouraged by the leaders of the people, and that this would be a popular measure with the mass of the nation. Yet it implied distrust of God (note, Isaiah 8:6); and, therefore, the prophet was directed not to unite with them in seeking this 'confederacy,' or alliance, but to oppose it. The word translated 'confederacy,' קשׁר qesher is derived from the verb קשׁר qâshar, "to bind, to fetter;" to enter into a conspiracy. It usually refers to a conspiracy, but it may mean a combination or alliance of any kind. Or, if it here means a conspiracy, a union between Ahaz and the Assyrians may be regarded as a species of conspiracy, as it was an unnatural alliance; a species of combination against the natural and proper government of Judah - the theocracy.

Neither fear ye their fear - Do not partake of their alarm at the invasion of the land by the united armies of Syria and Samaria. Rather put confidence in God, and believe that he is able to save you; compare 1 Peter 3:13-15.

12-16. The words of Jehovah.

confederacy—rather, a conspiracy; an appropriate term for the unnatural combination of Israel with Syrian foreigners against Judea and the theocracy, to which the former was bound by ties of blood and hereditary religion [Maurer].

to all … say—rather, of all which this people calleth a conspiracy [G. V. Smith].

their fear—namely, object of fear: the hostile conspiracy.

be afraid—rather [Maurer], "nor make others to be afraid."

Say ye not, thou, Isaiah, and thine and my children, A confederacy; do not approve of or consent to this wicked design of making a confederacy with the king of Assyria.

Their fear; that thing which they fear, that if they do not call in the Assyrian succours, they shall certainly be destroyed by those two potent kings united against them, and that God either cannot or will not deliver them. Say ye not, a confederacy,.... With the king of Assyria, or any other; do not cry it up as a right thing, and express pleasure and satisfaction in it, and encourage others to come into it, and vote for it, and declare an approbation of it; or a "rebellion", as the Targum, that is, against Ahaz; and so deliver up the kingdom of the house of David into the hands of its enemies:

to all them to whom this people shall say, a confederacy: who either were for entering into an alliance with the Assyrian monarch, and sending for him to help; or were for joining with their enemies, to the subversion of the present government. Jarchi interprets this of Shebna the Scribe, and his company; who, as he suggests, conspired against Hezekiah, and secretly made an agreement with Sennacherib king of Assyria; but the former sense is best:

neither fear their fear, nor be afraid: let not the same fear possess you as does them, on account of Syria and Israel combining together against Judah; nor be afraid of their two kings, as they were; since there was nothing to fear from them; it being impossible that the kingdom of Judah should fail until Shiloh came, or Immanuel was born of a virgin in it; nor does it become the people of God, and especially his prophets and ministers, to be afraid of men; since the fear of men brings a snare. See 1 Peter 3:14.

Say ye not, A {n} confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye {o} their fear, nor be afraid.

(n) Consent not you who are godly to the league and friendship that this people seek with strangers and idolaters.

(o) Meaning, that they should not fear the thing that they who have no hope in God feared.

12. A confederacy] Strictly: A conspiracy (R.V.). But the word “conspiracy” does not necessarily imply (as some have thought) treason within the state. It may be used (as the verb is in Nehemiah 4:2) of an external coalition threatening the integrity of the commonwealth. On the whole this seems to give the best sense here. The “conspiracy” is the Syro-Ephraimitish alliance, which Isaiah and his adherents are warned not to treat as a serious danger. Another explanation is that Isaiah and his party were suspected of treasonable complicity in the designs of the allies (cf. Jeremiah 37:13); but did they need a supernatural revelation to tell them that that charge was false? The word has also been supposed to allude to the spirit of preternatural suspicion that was abroad, causing every man to suspect his neighbour of being a traitor. But Isaiah is little likely to have been disturbed by this.

neither fear ye their fear] i.e. “fear not what they fear,” but fear Jehovah alone (Isaiah 8:13).Verse 12. - Say ye not. The transition from the singular to the plural is noticeable. It implies that Isaiah did not stand alone, but had followers - a "little flock," it may be - but still enough to give him the support of sympathy (comp. ver. 16). A confederacy; rather, treason, or conspiracy (see 2 Samuel 15:12; 1 Kings 16:20; 2 Kings 11:12; 2 Kings 12:20; Jeremiah 11:9; Ezekiel 22:25, etc.). The command is, not to call a course of conduct treasonable simply because the people generally so call it. Jeremiah was charged with treason for preaching the hopelessness of offering resistance to Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 20:1; Jeremiah 26:8-11). Those who opposed an Assyrian alliance were probably now taxed with treason. To all them to whom; rather, everything which. Translate the entire clause thus: Call ye not conspiracy everything which this people shall call conspiracy. Neither fear ye their fear. They feared man (Isaiah 7:2). Isaiah and his disciples are commanded to fear no one but God. 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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