Isaiah 8:6
Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son;
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTeedTTBWESTSK
(6) Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah . . .—Grammatically, the words “this people” might seem to refer to Judah, and suggest the thought that the tyranny of Ahaz had made him so unpopular that his subjects welcomed the invaders. On this view Ahaz sought the alliance with Tiglath-pilneser as against his own subjects no less than against Syria or Ephraim. He was as a Ferdinand of Naples falling back on Austria to protect him against Garibaldi and Victor Emmanuel. What line was the prophet to take? Was he to take the side of the king, or that of his rebellious subjects who were ready to sacrifice their independence? As it is, he sides with neither, and has a warning for each. Each is running blindly into destruction. The prophet could hardly have blamed the people of Syria and Israel for following their own kings; but it was for him a strange and monstrous thing that Judah should follow their example. We must remember, too, that in spite of the weakness and wickedness of Ahaz, the prophet’s hopes rested on the house of David (Isaiah 11:1), and that Hezekiah was already old enough to justify that hope. The “waters of Shiloah that go softly,” issuing from the slope between Moriah and Zion, “fast by the oracles of God” (Psalm 46:4; John 9:7), presenting so striking a contrast to the great rivers, Nile, Euphrates, Hiddekel (Tigris), on which stood the capitals of great empires, or even to the Abana and Pharpar of Syria, and the Jordan of Ephraim, were a natural symbol of the ideal polity and religion of Judah. (Comp. Ezekiel 47:1-5.) In acting as they did the people were practically apostatising as much as “that king Ahaz” of 2Chronicles 28:22.



Isaiah 8:6 - Isaiah 8:7

The kingdom of Judah was threatened with a great danger in an alliance between Israel and Damascus. The cowardly King Ahaz, instead of listening to Isaiah’s strong assurances and relying on the help of God, made what he thought a master-stroke of policy in invoking the help of the formidable Assyrian power. That ambitious military monarchy was eager to find an excuse for meddling in the politics of Syria, and nothing loath, marched an army down on the backs of the invaders, which very soon compelled them to hasten to Judah in order to defend their own land. But, as is always the case, the help invoked was his ruin. Like all conquering powers, once having got its foot inside the door, Assyria soon followed bodily. First Damascus and Israel were ravaged and subdued, and then Judah. That kingdom only purchased the privilege of being devoured last. Like the Spaniards in Mexico, the Saxons in England, the English in a hundred Indian territories, the allies that came to help remained to conquer, and Judah fell, as we all know.

This is the simple original application of these words. They are a declaration that in seeking for help from others Judah was forsaking God, and that the helper would become ruler, and the ruler an oppressive tyrant.

The waters of Shiloah that go softly stand as an emblem of the Davidic monarchy as God meant it to be, and, since that monarchy was itself a prophecy, they therefore represent the kingdom of God or the Messianic King. The ‘waters strong and many’ are those of the Euphrates, which swells and overflows and carries havoc, and are taken as the emblem of the wasting sweep of the Assyrian king, whose capital stood on its banks.

But while thus there is a plain piece of political history in the words, they are also the statement of general principles which apply to every individual soul and its relations to the kingdom, the gentle kingdom, of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

I. The Gentle Kingdom.

That little brooklet slipping quietly along; what a striking image of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ!

It suggests the character of the King, the ‘meek and lowly in heart.’ It suggests the manner of His rule as wielded in gentleness and exercising no compulsion but that of love. It suggests the blessed results of His reign under the image of the fertility, freshness, and beauty which spring up wherever ‘the river cometh.’ That kingdom we are all summoned to enter.

II. The Rejection of the Kingdom.

Strange and awful fact that men do turn away from it and Him.

In what does rejection consist?

In not trusting in His power to help and deliver.

In seeking help from other sources. This rejection is often unconscious on the part of men who are guilty of it.

III. The Allies who are preferred to the gentle King.

The crowd of worldly things.

What is to be noticed is that at first the preference seems to answer and be all right.

IV. The Allies becoming Tyrants.

The swift Euphrates in spate. That is what the rejecters have chosen for themselves. Better to have lived by Shiloah than to have built their houses by the side of such a raging stream. Mark how this is a divine retribution indeed, but a natural process too.

{a} If Christ does not rule us, a mob of tyrants will.

Our own passions. Our own evil habits. The fascinating sins around us.

{b} They soon cease to seem helpers, and become tyrants.

How quickly the pleasure of sin disappears-like some bird that loses its gay plumage as it grows old.

How stern becomes the necessity to obey; how great the difficulty of breaking off evil habits! So a man becomes the slave of his own lusts, of his indulged tastes, which rise above all restraints and carry away all before them, like the Euphrates in flood. Fertility is turned to barrenness; a foul deposit of mud overlays the soil; houses on the sand are washed away; corpses float on the tawny wave. The soul that rejects Christ’s gentle sway is harried and laid waste by a mob of base-born tyrants. We have to make our choice-either Christ or these; either a service which is freedom, or an apparent freedom which is slavery; either a worship which exalts, or a worship which embrutes. ‘If the Son make you free, ye shall be free indeed.’

‘There is a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God.’ It is peaceful to pitch our tents beside its calm flow, whereon shall go no hostile fleets, and whence we shall but pass to the city above, in the midst of the street whereof the ‘river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeds out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.’

Isaiah 8:6. Forasmuch as this people — The people of Israel, of whom he last spake, and who are the chief subject of this whole prophecy; and who did rejoice, not only in their own king Pekah, but also in the assistance of so powerful an ally as Rezin was; refuseth — Or, rather, despiseth, as the word מאסmore properly, and most frequently, signifies; the waters of Shiloah that go softly — That small and contemptible brook which ran gently (as little rivers generally do) by Jerusalem, and which is here opposed to the great rivers of Tigris and Euphrates, by which the Assyrian empire was fortified. By these waters of Shiloah, he intends the munitions and strength of the Jews, including the kingdom of David, and the divine protection and promise engaged to support it, all which their enemies despised. And, as the people of Judah, from a consideration of their own weakness, and a distrust of God’s promises, applied for assistance to the Assyrians, they also might properly be said to despise or refuse these waters of Shiloah, although they could not be said to rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah’s son. Here, therefore, the prophet assigns the reason which moved God to punish both the Ephraimites and the Jews by the Assyrians. They disbelieved his word, distrusted his protection, and confided in an arm of flesh, and therefore the Lord chastised them.

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.Forasmuch as this people - There has been a considerable difference of opinion among interpreters respecting the 'people' to whom the prophet here refers. Some have supposed that it refers to the kingdom of Judah alone; others to a party in that kingdom; and others to the kingdom of Judah in connection with the ten tribes, or the kingdom of Israel also. The latter is probably the correct interpretation. The prophet reproves the whole nation of the Jews for despising the mild and gentle reign of the family of David, and for seeking the aid of foreign nations; the ten tribes as seeking an alliance with Rezin and Pekah; and the kingdom of Judah as seeking an alliance with the king of Assyria. It was characteristic of the nation - both of the ten tribes, and of the tribe of Judah - that they forsook the defense which they had in themselves. and sought foreign alliances. Hence, God says, that he will bring upon them the judgments which they deserve. That there is a joint reference to both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, is apparent from Isaiah 8:14. It cannot refer to the kingdom of Judah alone, for it could not be brought as an accusation against them, that they took pleasure in Rezin. In the opinion that it refers to the kingdoms of Israel and of Judah - to the whole Jewish people, Vitringa, Lowth, and Hengstenberg concur.

The waters of Shiloah that go softly - That flow gently. The name Siloah, or Siloam, is found only three times in the Scriptures as applied to waters; once in this place, where it is spoken of a running water; once as a pool in Nehemiah - השׁלח ברכה berêkah hashelach - Isaiah 3:15, and again as a pool, in the account of the miracle of healing the man who was born blind; John 9:7, John 9:11. Siloam is on the east side of the city of Jerusalem, to the southeast of the site of the temple, and its waters flow into the valley of Jehoshaphat. The name means sent, or sending, from שׁלח shâlach to send, and was probably given to it because the waters were sent or made to pass through a subterranean passage or aqueduct.

At present, it properly consists of two receptacles or reservoirs, the waters from one of which flow into the other. The first, or upper one, is now called the 'Fountain of the Virgin,' from a tradition that it was here that the Virgin Mary resorted before her purification, in order to wash her child's linen. This fountain is on the west side of the valley of Jehoshaphat, and is about 1550 feet from the southeast corner of the city wall. The cavity of this fountain is wholly excavated in the solid rock. To enter it there is at first a descent of sixteen steps, to a level place or platform of twelve feet in diameter, and then another descent of ten steps to the water, making the whole depth twenty-five feet. The basin here is about fifteen feet long by five or six wide, and the height six or eight feet. There is some reason to suppose that this is supplied by a fountain lying under the mosque of Omar, on the site of the temple of Solomon. From this fountain the water is conducted by a subterranean passage, in a direction a little to the west of south to what is properly called the fountain of Siloam. This passage runs under the extremity of mount Ophel; is cut entirely from the solid rock, and is found by measurement to be 1750 feet in length.

At the lower part it is from ten to fifteen feet in height by two in breadth; but in the middle so low, that it can be passed only by creeping on the hands and knees. The passage is partly fiilled up with sand. From this aqueduct the water is conveyed into the pool of Siloam, situated near where the Tyropeon, or 'valley of cheesemongers,' opens into the valley of Jehoshaphat. This reservoir is fifty-three feet long, eighteen feet broad, and nineteen feet deep, though now there is usually no water remaining within it. From this reservoir the water flows off into the vale below, furnishing water for the gardens which are constructed in terraces on the side of the valley. The water in both these fountains is the same. It is sweet, and slightly brackish, but not disagreeable. It is the common water now used by the inhabitants of the neighboring village of Kefr Selwane - or the straggling village of Siloam. For a full description of this fountain, see Robinson's Bib. Researches, vol. i. pp. 493-514. This fountain was probably formerly included within the walls, and furnished a part of the supply of water to the city.

The meaning of this passage is this. The waters of Siloam denote the reign of Yahweh, as manifesting itself in the administration of the family of David - a mild, gentle, and munificent reign, beautifully represented by the unfailing and gently flowing waters on which the happiness of Jerusalem so much depended. That reign a large part of the nation - the ten tribes - had rejected, and had set up a separate kingdom, and had sought the aid of the king of Damascus. The remainder - the kingdom of Judah - were in like manner now disposed to reject the aid of Yahweh, and sought an alliance with the king of Assyria - beautifully represented here by the river Euphrates. The waters of Siloam - a gentle, small sweetly-flowing stream, represented the government of Yahweh. The waters of the Euphrates - violent, rapid, impetuous, and overflowing, represented the government of Assyria. The one they despised; the other they sought and admired. The power of the kingdom of David was then feeble and decayed. That of the Assyrian monarch was vigorous, mighty, vast. They despised the one, and sought the alliance of the other.

And rejoice - That is, they confide in, and feel that in their protection riley are safe.

In Rezin - King of Syria.

And Remaliah's son - Pekah, king of Samaria; Isaiah 7:1. The crime here mentioned was unique to the kingdom of Israel; showing that the prophet, in part at least, had reference to them.

6. waters of Shiloah … softly—Their source is on the southeast of Zion and east of Jerusalem. It means "sent," the water being sent through an aqueduct (Joh 9:7). Figurative for the mild, though now weak, sway of the house of David; in the highest sense Shiloah expresses the benignant sway of Jehovah in the theocracy, administered through David. Contrast to the violent Euphrates, "the river" that typifies Assyria (Isa 8:7; Re 17:15). "This people" refers both to Israel, which preferred an alliance with Rezin of Syria to one with the kings of Judah, and to Judah, a party in which seems to have favored the pretentions of the son of Tabeal against David's line (Isa 7:6); also to Judah's desire to seek an Assyrian alliance is included in the censure (compare Isa 7:17). Isa 8:14 shows that both nations are meant; both alike rejected the divine Shiloah. Not "My people," as elsewhere, when God expresses favor, but "this people" (Isa 6:9). This people; either,

1. The people of Judah, which are supposed to have grown weary of their present government, and out of distrust of God’s protection designed to revolt from God, and from the house of David, and to put themselves under the power and protection of the kings of Syria and Israel. But there are no footsteps of any such design or practice of that people. And the following clause of rejoicing in Bezin, &c. cannot with any colour be ascribed to the Jews, whom at this time they sought to destroy. Or rather,

2. The people of Israel, of whom he last spake, Isaiah 8:4, and who are the chief subject of this whole prophecy, contained in this and the foregoing chapter; and who did rejoice not only in their own king Pekah, but also in the assistance of go powerful an ally as Rezin was.

Refuseth; or rather, despiseth, as the word properly and most frequently signifies.

The waters of Shiloah; that small and contemptible river or brook which ran by that city, which is here secretly opposed to the great rivers of Tigris and Euphrates, by which the Assyrian empire was fortified. Hereby he understands the munitions and strength of the Jews, which their enemies derided and contemned.

That go softly; gently, as little rivers do.

Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah, that go softly,.... The same with Siloam, John 9:7 and so it is called in the Septuagint version here; and the word here used signifies "sent", as it is there interpreted. Jarchi says it is a fountain, whose name was Gihon and Shiloah; see 1 Kings 1:33 concerning which Jerom yet writes,

"Siloam is a fountain at the foot of Mount Sion, which does not send forth water continually, but on certain times and days; and comes through the hollow places of the earth, and caves of a hard rock, with a great noise; of which we especially cannot doubt, who dwell in this province.''

This was a small current of water, which moved softly and slowly, and not with a rapid motion, as some rivers do; to which the kingdom of the house of David is compared, because of its easy and gentle government; as the Targum, which paraphrases the words thus,

"because this people loathed the kingdom of the house of David which ruled them quietly, as the waters of Shiloah which flow softly;''

or because of the weakness of it in the days of Ahaz, it had not strength to oppose their enemies, as Kimchi suggests; now the ten tribes despised the house of David, and departed from it, and continued in their revolt, and had that government in contempt, as well as the religion of it. Jerusalem, the temple, and the worship of God in it, may be meant by the waters of Shiloah; it being usual to name places by the rivers that are near them.

And rejoice in Rezin, and in Remaliah's son: in Rezin king of Syria; and in Pekah, the son of Remaliah, king of Israel. Perhaps respect may be had to later times, to the times of the Messiah, when the Jews would despise his government, and reject him as King; though he is the Prince of peace, and his government the most quiet and peaceable one, and he the Shiloah, the sent of God, and declare they had no other king but Caesar.

Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of {g} Shiloah that flow gently, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son;

(g) Which was a fountain at the foot of mount Zion, out of which ran a small river through the city: meaning, that they of Judah distrusting their own power which was small desired such power and riches as they saw in Syria and Israel.

6. the waters of Shiloah] According to Delitzsch the older and correct pronunciation is Shillôaḥ. The pool of Siloam (Nehemiah 3:15; John 9:7, now called ‘Ain Silwân) was situated on the south-west side of the Temple Mount, at the lower end of the Tyropœon valley. From a very ancient time it has been connected, by a rock-hewn tunnel, with an intermittent spring (St Mary’s well) on the opposite (eastern) side of the hill, outside the wall. If this work had been executed before Isaiah’s day there could be no reasonable doubt that it is referred to here. The name (from a verb meaning “send” John 9:7) suggests an artificial channel, and the expression “that go softly” exactly describes the flow of the water along the easy gradient of the tunnel. Its execution, however, is very generally assigned to Hezekiah, on the ground of 2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:30; Sir 48:17. Whether this or some still more ancient aqueduct be intended, the point of the metaphor is that the waters, flowing “fast by the oracle of God,” are a type (not of the Davidic dynasty, but) of the silent unobtrusive presence and majesty of Jehovah, who “dwells in mount Zion” (Isaiah 8:18 : cf. Psalm 46:4).

and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah’s son] If the text and translation be right, we must assume either (a) that “this people” does not refer to Judah, but to Ephraim or Ephraim and Syria together; or (b) that the people of Judah were secretly disaffected towards the house of David and sympathised with the design of the allied kings. But (a) “this people” most naturally means those who had refused the waters of Shiloah, the people amongst whom the prophet was living (as in Isaiah 8:11-12), i.e. the inhabitants of Judah; while (b) is a supposition not probable in itself, and at variance with Isaiah 7:2, Isaiah 8:12. We might retain the present text and translate “rejoice with Rezin, &c.,” i.e. rejoice in the same kind of things as Rezin, &c. rejoice in; but this is extremely forced. The most likely explanation is that there has been a confusion between two words of similar sound; and that what the prophet really wrote was not “rejoice in” but “faint before” (mṣôṣ instead of msôs). This presents itself as the easiest solution, although it may possibly require a change of the following preposition (perhaps mippnê instead of ’çth). Render, therefore, and faint before Rezin, &c. (cf. Isaiah 8:12 and ch. Isaiah 7:2).

Verse 6. - Forasmuch as this people. It is a question which people is intended, Judah or Israel. Ewald supposes Judah, and draws the conclusion that there was a strong party in Jerusalem which favored "the son of Tabeal." Dr. Kay does the same, but understands the charge against Judah to be, not that it sympathized with Rezin, but that it fell into the same sins. Other commentators suggest that Israel is the people intended (as in Isaiah 9:16), the sense being carried on from ver. 4, where the word "Samaria" is suggestive of the Israelite people. Refuseth the waters of Shiloah. The "pool of Siloah" (Nehemiah 3:15) was the tank or reservoir at the southwestern foot of Ophel, which is supplied with water by a narrow conduit cut through the limestone rock for a distance of 1750 feet from the "Pool of the Virgin" on the opposite side of Ophel, in the Kedron valley. This pool itself is fed from reservoirs under the temple area, which have not yet been fully explored. It is probable that Isaiah uses the expression "waters of Shiloah" in a general sense for the streams, springs, reservoirs, conduits, which supplied the temple, and were connected with its service. "Refusing the waters of Shiloah" would then be, without any violent metaphor, refusing the temple service and worship, which was exactly what the Israelites had done from the time of Jeroboam. That go softly. In contrast with the "waters of the river, strong and many," of the next verse. They who refused the mild and gentle government of Jehovah should experience the impetuous and torrent-like rush of the Assyrian armies. Rejoice in Rezin; rather, rejoice with Rezin; i.e. sympathize with him, rejoice when he rejoices. Isaiah 8:6The 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.

Isaiah 8:6 Interlinear
Isaiah 8:6 Parallel Texts

Isaiah 8:6 NIV
Isaiah 8:6 NLT
Isaiah 8:6 ESV
Isaiah 8:6 NASB
Isaiah 8:6 KJV

Isaiah 8:6 Bible Apps
Isaiah 8:6 Parallel
Isaiah 8:6 Biblia Paralela
Isaiah 8:6 Chinese Bible
Isaiah 8:6 French Bible
Isaiah 8:6 German Bible

Bible Hub

Isaiah 8:5
Top of Page
Top of Page