Isaiah 8:9
Associate yourselves, O you people, and you shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all you of far countries: gird yourselves, and you shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and you shall be broken in pieces.
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(9) Associate yourselves, O ye people . . .—Better, O ye peoples. The words are not limited to the confederacy of Syria and Ephraim, but are, as it were, a challenge to all the peoples of the earth, far and near. No plan against the Divine kingdom, of which the earthly kingdom of the house of David was, for the time, the representative, shall prosper. The prophet falls back once more on the abiding promise of the name Immanuel (“with us is God”).

Isaiah 8:9-10. Associate yourselves, O ye people — O ye Syrians and Israelites; and ye shall be broken in pieces — Your attempts against the house of David, and kingdom of Judah, will be fruitless, yea, will issue in your own ruin. And give ear, all ye of far countries — Immanuel’s name inspires the prophet with new courage, and makes him send a challenge to all God’s enemies, and foretel their certain downfall. He is, indeed, wrapt, as it were, into an ecstasy, upon considering the land as belonging to Immanuel, and foreseeing the future interposition of God for its protection. Gird yourselves — With armour: prepare for war; and ye shall be broken in pieces — He repeats it again for the greater assurance of the thing, and the comfort of God’s people. Take counsel together — Against the Lord, and against his anointed, Psalm 2:2; and it shall come to naught — All your counsels shall be defeated, and your designs rendered abortive. Speak the word — Not only fix, but declare your purpose, and make your boast of it; and it shall not stand — Still you shall fail of accomplishing what you so ardently desire; for God is with us — The Almighty and only true God fighteth for us and against you. This address of the prophet, to the confederate nations, is most elegant and spirited; and the foundation of his confidence is finely expressed in this last clause, in which he himself interprets the name Immanuel before given to the Messiah.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.Associate yourselves - In the previous verses the prophet had seen the Assyrian coming up on the land like an overwhelming flood. He looked upon the danger, and his mind was turned to the pledge of safety which God had given. The name Immanuel, and the promise connected with the giving of that name Isaiah 7:16, reminded him of the perfect safety of the nation, for it was a pledge that God was with them; see Isaiah 8:10. In view of this pledge of the protection of God, this verse is a spirited apostrophe to the mighty host that was about to invade the land. Though confederated and vast, yet they could not prevail. They should be scattered, much as they might be prepared for victory, for God had given a pledge that he would defend his people.

Associate - There has been much variety among interpreters about the meaning of the Original word used here. It may mean "to be terrified, to be alarmed," as well as to associate or become confederate. The Vulgate and Chaldee render it, 'Be assembled, or congregated.' The Septuagint, 'Know, ye nations,' etc. The Syriac, 'Tremble, ye people,' etc. Still the notion of associating, confederating, or entering into an alliance, suits the connection better; answers to the parallelism in the latter part of the verse, and is equally consonant with the original.

O ye people - Ye people of Assyria. This is an apostrophe to the mighty multitudes that were to come up upon the land from that country.

And ye shall be broken in pieces - That is, though the confederacy be mighty, yet shall not prevail. It shall not accomplish that which you purpose - the entire destruction of the land of Judah.

Give ear, all ye of far countries - That should be particularly engaged in the confederacy - Assyria, and the kingdoms allied with it.

Gird yourselves - As if for war; that is, prepare yourselves thoroughly for conquest; see the note at Isaiah 5:27. The repetition of this shows the excited and agitated state of the prophet's mind. It is a strong, emphatic mode of expression - denoting that they should be certainly broken in pieces, notwithstanding the strength of their confederacy.

9. Associate yourselves—rather, "Raise tumults," or, Rage, that is, Do your worst [Maurer], referring perhaps to the attack of Rezin and Pekah on Jerusalem.

and … be broken in pieces—rather, "yet ye shall be thrown into consternation." Imperative in the Hebrew, according to the idiom whereby the second of two imperatives implies the future, namely, the consequence of the action contained in the first (so Isa 6:9). The name "Immanuel" in Isa 8:8 (compare Isa 8:10) suggests the thought of the ultimate safety of Immanuel's land, both from its present two invaders, and even from the Assyrians, notwithstanding the grievous flood, wherewith the previous verses foretell they shall deluge it. The succession of the house of David cannot be set aside in Judah, for Immanuel Messiah is to be born in it as heir of David, of whom Isaiah's son is but a type (Isa 9:4, 6).

give ear … far countries—witness the discomfiture of Judah's enemies. The prophecy probably looks on also to the final conspiracy of Antichrist and his supporters against the Heir of David's throne in the latter days and their utter overthrow [Horsley].

gird yourselves … gird yourselves—The repetition expresses vehemently the certainty of their being thrown into consternation (not as English Version, "broken in pieces").

O ye people; Syrians and Israelites. Immanuel’s name inspireth the prophet with new courage, and makes him send a challenge to all God’s enemies, and foretell their certain downfall.

Ye of far countries; whosoever you be, whether far or near, who do or shall conspire against Immanuel’s land.

Gird yourselves with sword and belt; prepare yourselves for war.

Ye shall be broken in pieces: this is repeated for the greater assurance of the thing, and the comfort of God’s people, who are apt to despond upon such occasions. Associate yourselves, O ye people,.... Both of Syria and Israel, whose two kings were confederate against Judah:

and ye shall be broken in pieces; as the kingdom of Syria was by Tilgathpilneser quickly after this, 2 Kings 16:9 and the kingdom of Ephraim or Israel by Shalmaneser, 2 Kings 17:6,

and give ear, all ye of far countries; the Assyrians, and the nations that belonged to them, who were more remote from Judea:

gird yourselves; for a long and tedious march, and for war; it may signify the putting on of their whole armour; for, as Pausanius (s) says, the ancients used to call putting on of armour, girding:

and ye shall be broken in pieces: as the Assyrian army was, which came up against Jerusalem in Hezekiah's time, 2 Kings 19:35,

gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; this is repeated for confirmation sake, to denote the certainty of it.

(s) Boeotica sive, l. 9. p. 567.

Associate yourselves, O ye {l} people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces.

(l) That is, you who are enemies to the Church, as the Assyrians, Egyptians, Syrians etc.

9. Associate yourselves] Rather: Be exasperated. A.V. follows the Targum and Vulgate, whose translation is based on a wrong grammatical analysis of the word (the root being râ‘a‘, not râ‘âh).

and ye shall be broken in pieces] Lit.: and be dismayed,—a consecutive imperative (Davidson, Synt. § 64), forming the apodosis of a conditional sentence.

gird yourselves] for battle against the cause of Jehovah.

9, 10. The challenge of faith to the combined nations of the world. Cf. Psalm 2:1-6.Verse 9. - Associate yourselves. It is impossible to obtain this meaning from the existing Hebrew text, which must be translated, "Be ahoy," or "Rage" ("Make an uproar," Revised Version). The prophet passes from the consideration of the opposition offered to Jehovah by Israel, Syria, and Assyria, to a general consideration of all the nations of the earth. He challenges them to the combat against Jehovah, and confidently predicts their defeat. O ye people; rather, O ye peoples (compare the corresponding expression in the next clause, "All ye of far countries"). But 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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