Isaiah 8:3
And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the LORD to me, Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz.
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(3) I . . . the prophetess . . .—The word may have been given by courtesy to a prophet’s wife as such. Elsewhere, however, as in the case of Deborah (Judges 4:4) and Huldah (2Chronicles 34:22), it implies prophetic gifts. Possibly, therefore, we may think of the prophet and his wife as having been drawn together by united thoughts and counsels, in contrast with the celibate life of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 16:2), the miseries of Hosea’s marriage (Hosea 1, 2), and the sudden bereavement of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 24:16-18). We may, perhaps, trace, on this view, the wife’s hand in the toilet inventory of Isaiah 3:16-24.

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.Then said the Lord ... - The name thus given was to be emblematic of a particular event - that Assyria would soon take away the spoil of Damascus and Samaria. It is not remarkable that the name Immanuel should also be given to the same child, as signifying the presence and protection of God in defending the nation from the invaders; see the notes at Isaiah 7:14-15. Calvin thinks that all this passed in a vision before the prophet; but it has every mark of being a literal narrative of the birth of a son to Isaiah; and without this supposition, it is impossible to understand the account contained here. 3. prophetess—perhaps the same as the "virgin" (Isa 7:14), in the interim married as Isaiah's second wife: this is in the primary and temporary sense. Immanuel is even in this sense distinct from Maher-shalal-hash-baz. Thus nineteen months at least intervene from the prophecy (Isa 7:14), nine before the birth of Immanuel, and ten from that time to the birth of Maher-shalal-hash-baz: adding eleven or twelve months before the latter could cry, "Father" (Isa 8:4), we have about three years in all, agreeing with Isa 7:15, 16. I went unto, Heb. I came near to her. A modest expression of the conjugal act.

The prophetess; so called, partly as she was the prophet’s wife, wives being frequently denominated from their husbands’ titles, as the wives of mayor, or doctor, &c, are commonly called mayoress, doctoress, &c.; and partly because she did concur with the prophet to the procreation of this prophetical child.

And I went unto the prophetess,.... His wife, so called; not because she prophesied, but because she was the wife of a prophet; and besides, the birth of her son later mentioned, and his name, had in them the nature of a prophecy. The phrase of going unto her is an euphemism, a modest way of expressing the conjugal debt:

and she conceived and bare a son; which Jarchi would have the same with Immanuel in Isaiah 7:14 but this is a later prophecy, and a distinct one from that; and not only the names of the children are different, but the mothers also; the one a virgin, the other the prophet's wife.

Then said the Lord to me, call his name Mahershalalhashbaz: of the signification of this name; see Gill on Isaiah 8:1. Kimchi thinks that his name did not consist of these four words, only of two of them; and that he was sometimes called "Mahershalal", and sometimes "Hashbaz": both signifying the same thing. Some think that all this was done only in a vision, and not in reality, to declare and confirm what follows; though by that it seems rather to be a real fact.

And I went to the {d} prophetess; and she conceived, and bore a son. Then said the LORD to me, Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz.

(d) Meaning, to his wife and this was done in a vision.

3. the prophetess] Isaiah’s wife is so called, not because she herself possessed the prophetic gift, but because the husband’s designation is transferred by courtesy to the wife;—as a German might have said “die Frau Prophetin.”

Verse 3. - The prophetess. It is not necessary to suppose that the wife of Isaiah must have uttered prophecies because she is called "the prophetess." Titles were given in the East to the wives, daughters, etc., of officials, which merely reflected the dignity of their husbands, fathers, etc. Even Miriam seems to be called a "prophetess" (Exodus 15:20) from her close relationship to Moses, rather than from any supernatural power that she had. In the Mishna, a priest's wife or daughter is called "priestess" (Cheyne). Call his name. There is no reason for doubting that the name was actually given. Other Israelites had such names as Jushab-hosed (1 Chronicles 3:20), Haah-ashtari (1 Chronicles 4:6), Romamti-ezer (1 Chronicles 25:4), Machnadebai (Ezra 10:40), and the like. Assyrian names were even longer; e.g., As-shur-bel-nisi-su, Asshur-kinat-ili-kain, etc. In ordinary parlance, names of this type were commonly shortened, "Shalman-eser' becoming "Shalmau" (Hosea 10:14), "Sennacherib Jareb" (Hosea 10:6), and the like. Isaiah 8:3But something occurred in the meantime whereby the place of the lifeless table was taken by a more eloquent and living one. "And I drew near to the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son: and Jehovah said to me, Call his name In-speed-spoil-booty-hastens (Maher-shalal-hash-baz): for before the boy shall know how to cry, My father, and my mother, they will carry away the riches of Damascus, and the spoil of Samaria, before the king of Asshur." To his son Shear-yashub, in whose name the law of the history of Israel, as revealed to the prophet on the occasion of his call (Isaiah 6:1-13), viz., the restoration of only a remnant of the whole nation, had been formulated, there was now added a second son, to whom the inscription upon the table was given as a name (with a small abbreviation, and if the Lamed is the particle of dedication, a necessary one). He was therefore the symbol of the approaching chastisement of Syria and the kingdom of the ten tribes. Before the boy had learned to stammer out the name of father and mother, they would carry away (yissâ, not the third pers. fut. niphal, which is yinnâsē, but kal with a latent, indefinite subject hannōsē': Ges. 137, 3) the treasures of Damascus and the trophies (i.e., the spoil taken from the flying or murdered foe) of Samaria before the king of Asshur, who would therefore leave the territory of the two capitals as a conqueror. It is true that Tiglath-pileser only conquered Damascus, and not Samaria; but he took from Pekah, the king of Samaria, the land beyond the Jordan, and a portion of the land on this side. The trophies, which he took thence to Assyria, were no less the spoil of Samaria than if he had conquered Samaria itself (which Shalmanassar did twenty years afterwards). The birth of Mahershalal took place about three-quarters of a year later than the preparation of the table (as the verb vâ'ekrab is an aorist and not a pluperfect); and the time appointed, from the birth of the boy till the chastisement of the allied kingdoms, was about a year. Now, as the Syro-Ephraimitish war did not commence later than the first year of the reign of Ahaz, i.e., the year 743, and the chastisement by Tiglath-pileser occurred in the lifetime of the allies, whereas Pekah was assassinated in the year 739, the interval between the commencement of the war and the chastisement of the allies cannot have been more than three years; so that the preparation of the table must not be assigned to a much later period than the interview with Ahaz. The inscription upon the table, which was adopted as the name of the child, was not a purely consolatory prophecy, since the prophet had predicted, a short time before, that the same Asshur which devastated the two covenant lands would lay Judah waste as well. It was simply a practical proof of the omniscience and omnipotence of God, by which the history of the future was directed and controlled. The prophet had, in fact, the mournful vocation to harden. Hence the enigmatical character of his words and doings in relation to both kings and nation. Jehovah foreknew the consequences which would follow the appeal to Asshur for help, as regarded both Syria and Israel. This knowledge he committed to writing in the presence of witnesses. When this should be fulfilled, it would be all over with the rejoicing of the king and people at their self-secured deliverance.

But Isaiah was not merely within the broader circle of an incorrigible nation ripe for judgment. He did not stand alone; but was encircled by a small band of believing disciples, who wanted consolation, and were worthy of it. It was to them that the more promising obverse of the prophecy of Immanuel belonged. Mahershalal could not comfort them; for they knew that when Asshur had done with Damascus and Samaria, the troubles of Judah would not be over, but would only then be really about to commence. To be the shelter of the faithful in the terrible judicial era of the imperial power, which was then commencing, was the great purpose of the prediction of Immanuel; and to bring out and expand the consolatory character of that prophecy for the benefit of believers, was the design of the addresses which follow.

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