Isaiah 8

1 AND Jehovah said unto me, Take unto thee a large roll, and write on it with a man’s pen, MAHER-SHALAL-HASH-BAZ; [that is, Hasten to the spoil, take quickly the prey.]

VERSE 1. Maher-shalal-hash-baz.- That by “names,” in Scripture, are signified things, and that they involve an infinity of meaning, see above, Chap. iv. 1, Exposition.

2 And I called unto me for a testimony faithful witnesses, Uriah, the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.

Verse 2. Uriah, the priest.-That “priests,” and the priestly office, signify the Lord as to Good, and His work of salvation; and that “kings” represented the Lord as to Truth, and His divine royalty, see above, Chap. i. 1, Exposition.

3 And I approached unto the prophetess: and she conceived, and bare a son. And Jehovah said unto me, Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz: –

4 For before the child shall know to pronounce: My father; and my mother, the riches of Damascus shall be borne away, and the spoil of Samaria, before the king of Assyria.

5 And Jehovah spake also unto me again, saying,

Verse 3. And she conceived, and bare a son.-“Conceptions” and “births,” when mentioned in the Word, signify regeneration, or the new birth, without which no man can enter into the kiugdom of God.” (John iii. 3, 5.) An idea of the necessity of regeneration, and of the process by which it is effected, is involved in the following general propositions :-I. That unless a man be born again, and as it were created anew, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God, n.573-576. II. That new generation or creation is effected of the Lord alone by charity and faith, as two mediums, while man cooperates, n. 576-579. III. That inasmuch as all are redeemed, all may be regenerated, everyone according to his state, n. 579-583. IV. That the work of regeneration resembles that of man’s conception, of his being carried in the womb, being born, and educated, n. 583-587. V. That the first act of new generation is called reformation, which act is of the understanding; and that the second act is called regeneration, which act is of the will, and thence of the understanding, n. 587-591. VI. That the internal man is first to be reformed, and by this the external, and that man is thus regenerated, n. 591-596. VII. That whilst this is effecting, combat arises between the internal and external man, and in this case he who conquers rules over the other, n. 596-601. VIII. That the regenerate man has a new will and a new understanding, n. 601-607. IX. That the regenerate man is in communion with the angels of heaven, and the unregenerate man is in communion with the spirits of hell. n. 607-611. X. That so far as man is regenerated, so far sins are removed, and that this removal is what is meant, by the remission of sins, n.611-615. XI. That there can be no regeneration without free-will in spiritual things, n.615-618. XII. That there can be no regeneration without truths, by which faith is formed, and with which charity conjoins itself. T. C. R. 518-621. Bee.also H.D.N.J. 173-187.
[To “bear a son” signifies, when predicated of the prophet’s wife, to bring forth the genuine doctrine of the church. Thus the “male child” born of the woman, in the Apocalypse; (chap. xii.) signifies the doctrine of the New Jerusalem which was given from the Lord out of heaven, by means of His Word. A.E. 711. See this demonstrated in n. 710 of the same work.]

6 Because this people refuse the waters of Shiloah which flow softly, and rejoice in Retzin and the son of Remaliah;

Verse 6. By the “waters” of the lake or fish-pool of Siloam, or Shiloah, are signified the truths of the Word, for all things were significative, even to the waters in Jerusalem. By “washing” in these waters, (John ix.. 11.) is signified to purify the mind from fallacies which in themselves are falsities. Hence it may be manifest what is meant by the Lord commanding the blind man whom He healed to “go and wash in the pool of Siloam.” For all the miracles and actions of the Lord, when He was in the world, signified divine, celestial, and spiritual things, that is, such things as are of heaven and the church, and this by reason that they are divine, and the Divine or the Lord always operates in ultimates by flrst principles, and thus in fulness. Ultimates are such things in the world as appear before the eyes; hence it is that the Lord spake; and that the Word is written by such things in nature as correspond A.E. 475.
[Thus to “refuse or reject the waters of Shiloah” is to reject the truths of the Word; hence It was that the calamities described in the following verses came upon the people of Judah.]
“Waters flowing softly” signify things spiritual; and the “waters strong and many, which carne up even to the neck,” denote falses destroying the church. A.C. 790.

7 Therefore, behold, the Lord [Adonai] bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, the strong and the many; even the king of Assyria and all his glory: and it shall rise over all its channels, and it shall go over all its banks:

8 And shall pass through Judah, and shall overflow and go over, even to the neck shall it reach: and the spreadings of his wings shall be over the full breadth of Thy land, O Immanuel !

Verse 7. By “Ashur, and the king thereof,” in the Word is signified the rational principle, in the .present case, perverted; hence by his river, which was Euphrates, is understood ratiocination, and by the “waters of the river” are understood falses confirmed by ratiocinations. These, therefore, are signified by the “waters of the river, strong and many,” which are called “strong” from cupidity, and “many” from falsity; the abundance of falses from evil destroying the truths of good in the church is signified by the “waters of the river coming up over all his channels and over all his banks,” also by “going through Judah and overflowing;” by “Judah” is signified the church where the Word is. A. E. 518. See also 569.
Verse 8. And shall pass through Judah, and shall overflow, &c.–Here also the “king of Ashur” signifies ratiocination from falses against truths; “he shall go through Judah, he shall overflow and go over,” signifies that he will destroy the good of the church; to “overflow” is predicated of falses, because they are signified by “waters;” “even to the neck” signifies that so there shall no more be any communication of good and truth; and “the spreadings out or movements of his wings shall be over the full breadth of Thy land, O Immanuel,” signifles that falses shall be against all the truths of the church of the Lord. That the “breadth of the land” signifies the truths of the church, may be seen in the work concerning Heaven and Hell, n. 197; and hence in an opposite sense it signifies falses, wherefore “the spreadings or movements of his wings” signifies ratiocinations from falses against truths. “Fulness” signifies all; thus the “fulness of the breadth of the land” signifies all the truths of the church. A.E. 304.
“Wings” denote reasonings, whence come falses; the “fulness of breadth” denotes that it was full of falses or things contrary to truth. A.C. 1613.

9 Associate yourselves, O ye peoples, and ye shall be broken to pieces; and, give ear, all ye of distant lands: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken to pieces; gird yourselves, and we shall be broken to pieces.

10 Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us [Immanuel].

Verses 9, 10. That those represented by “Assyria” would unite and take counsel together how they might extinguish the doctrine of a true faith, but still their counsel would be vain, and they themselves would be in the greatest terror, as formerly, so at the present time, for their acts [and counsels] will be vain, because God is with us, that is, Immanuel [or the Lord in His Humanity]. Concerning Whom, see above, Chap. vii. 14, Exposition. (Swedenborg’s Notes on Isaiah, P: 17.)

11 For thus said Jehovah unto me, with a strong hand, and instructed me, not to walk in the way of this people, saying,

12 Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy: and fear ye not [the object of] their fear; neither shall ye dread.

Verses 11, 12. These words signify that the doctrine of Truth is confirmed, because it is the Truth, first, that they (the Lord’s people whom the prophet addresses) “should not walk in the way of this people,” nor say, “A confederacy” [with Assyria], nor should they consociate themselves with any others than with the Lord Himself, and thus should not conspire with others, as with idolators, against Him, as “this people” have done; who conspired, as Ahaz and others did, because they feared them [the AssyriansJ, believing that their idols, or the gods of the nations, could do all things; but that the God of Israel alone, (verse 13.) that is, the Lord, who is Jehovah, “should be their fear,” or the Object of their fear. (Swedenborg’s Notes on Isaiah, P: 17.)

13 Jehovah of Hosts Himself shall ye sanctify; and He shall be [the Object of] your fear, and He your dread.

Verse 13. Jehovah of Hosts Himself shall ye sanctify, and He shall be [the Object of] your fear, and He your dread.-Where “fear” is mentioned for the spiritual man, and” dread” for the natural man. That the spiritual man may not be in such fear as is that of the natural man, it is sometimes said, “fear not,” as in lsaiah,-” Fear not, O Jacob and Israel, for I have redeemed thee, calling thee by name; thou art Mine.” (xliii. 1.) And in Luke,-” Fear not, little flock; for it hath pleased your Father to give you the kingdom.” (xii. 32.) A. E. 696.

14 And He shall be [unto you] for a Sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to the two houses of Israel; for a snare and for a trap to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Verse 14. He shall be a stone of stumblinq and a rock of offence, &c. Where the subject treated of is concerning the Lord. A “stone of stumbling and rock of offence” denotes being offended; a “trap and a snare” mean destruction, viz., of those who oppose and attempt to destroy the truths and goods of faith in the Lord, by falses which favour the loves of self and of the world: for all the proud are not only scandalized or offended, but are also ensnared by this, that the Divine [Being] has appeared in a human form, and on this occasion not in royal majesty, but in a despised appearance. From these considerations it is now evident, that by the expression, “shall be for a snare,” is signified the enticement and deception of evils, and the destruction thence derived. A. C. 9348.
The Lord’s divine or essential Human is what excites enmity; that this would be an “offence” and a “scandal,” is declared throughout the Word. A. C. 3488. [Hence the Lord says-” Blessed is he who is not offended in Me.” Luke vii. 23.]
A snare and a trap.-” Snares “derive their signification from the enticement and deceit of evils; which enticement and deceit proceed from this ground, that all evils originate in self-love and the love of the world, and these loves are connate with man, the consequence of which is, that man derives from them the delight of his life at its earliest birth, yea, derives from them his life; wherefore those loves, like the latent currents of a river, continually draw the thoughts and will of man from the Lord to himself, and from heaven to the world, thus from the truths and goods of faith to falsities and evils. Reasonings grounded in the fallacies of the senses, in this case, have a powerful, influence; and this also is the reason why the literal sense of the Word is perversely explained and applied. Those are the things which, ill the spiritual sense of the Word, are meant by snares, pit-falls, nets, and gins; also, by frauds and deceits. A. C. 9348.

15 And many among them shall stumble, and shall fall, and be broken; and shall be ensnared, and taken.

Verse 15. To “stumble” denotes to be scandalized or offended, and hence from truths to slide into falses; to “fall and to be broken” denotes to be dissipated. A. C. 9163.

16 Bind up the Testimony, seal the Law, for My disciples.

Verse 16. The precepts of the Decalogue were called a “Testimony,” because they had relation to a covenant, thus to conjunction between the Lord and man, “which conjunction cannot exist unless man keeps those precepts, not only in the external form, but also in the internal; wherefore it is good confirmed by truth, and truth derived from good, which is signified by “testimony.” This being the case, the tables were also called “tables of the covenant,” and the ark, the “ark of the’ covenant.” Hence, then, it is evident “what is signified in the Word by ” testimony” in a genuine sense, as in Isaiah viii. 16. A..C. 4197.
Seal the Law, &c.-In the Word there is frequent mention made of the “Law,” and it may be expedient to shew what is meant by it in its confined sense, what in a more extensive sense, and what in a sense most extensive. In a confined sense, the Decalogue is meant by the “Law;” in a more extensive sense, it is used to mean the statutes given by Moses to the children of Israel; and in a sense most extensive, it means the whole Word. That by the “Law,” in a confined sense, the Decalogue is meant, is well known; but that in a more extensive sense,the statutes ‘given by Moses to the children of Israel are meant by the “Law;” is evident from the particular statutes in Leviticus being so called; as, for instance-” This is the law of the sacrifice of peace-offerings.” (vii. 11.) “This is the law of the trespass-offering.” (vii. 1.) Yea, the whole book of Moses is called the” Law;” (Deut. xxxi. 9, ] 1, 12, 26.) as also in the New Testament. (Luke ii. 22; xxiv. 44; John i. 45; vii. 23; viii. 5; and in other places.) That these statutes were meant by “the works of the Law,” mentioned by Paul, where he says; that “man is justified without the works of the law, (Rom. iii. 28.) is very evident from what follows those words, and also from his words to Peter, whom he blames for Judaizing, “where he says three times in one verse, that “no man is justified by the works of the law;” (Gal. ii. 16.) That by the “Law,” in its most extensive sense, is rneant the whole Word, is plain from these passages: Jesus said, (John x. 34.) “Is it not written in your law, Ye are gods? This is written in Psalm lxxxii, 6. “The people answered Him, We have heard out of the law; that Christ abideth for ever.” (John xii. 34.) This is written, Psalm lxxxix, 29; cx. 4; Dan, vii. 14. “That the “Word might be fullfilled which is written in their law, They hated Me without a Muse.” (John xv. 25.) This is written, Psalm xxxv. 19. In these passages the whole Sacred Scripture is meant by the ” Law,” as may be seen in many places in the Psalms of David. T. C.R. 288.

17 And I will wait for Jehovah, who hideth His faces from the house of Jacob; and I will look for Him,

Verse 17. The “faces of Jehovah,” or the Lord, signify the Divine Love, and all the Good in heaven and the church thence derived; “hiding the faces,” where it is predicated of Jehovah or the Lord, signifies to leave man in his proprium or selfhood, and thence in the evils and falses which flow from his proprium; for man viewed in himself is nothing but evil, and the false thence derived, and is withheld from those principles by the Lord that he may be in good, which is effected by an elevation from his proprium. It is said that Jehovah, that is, the Lord, “hideth His faces” on account of iniquity and sin, and that He is entreated “not to hide His faces,” when, nevertheless, He never hides or withdraws His Divine Good and Divine Truth, which are signified by His “faces,” for He is Love itself, and Mercy itself, and desires the salvation of all, wherefore He is present with all and with everyone, even with those who are in iniquities and sins, and by his presence upholds them in the liberty of receiving Him, that is, of receiving Truth and Good from Him, whence they also do receive, if frorn liberty they desire it. A. E. 412.

18 Behold, I, and the children whom Jehovah hath given me, are for signs and for wonders in Israel from Jehovah of Hosts, who dwelleth in Mount Zion.

Verse 18. For signs and for wonders in Israel.-By a “sign” is understood that which declares, testifies, and persuades concerning a thing inquired after; but by a “miracle,” or wonder, is understood that which excites, strikes, and induces astonishment. Thus a “sign” moves the understanding and faith, and a “miracle” the will and its affection; for the will and its affection is what is excited, is stricken, and amazed, and the understanding and its faith is what is persuaded, what a declaration is made to, and what admits of testification. A. E. 706.
Jehovah of Hosts, who dwelleth in Mount Zion.-“Jehovah of Hosts,” see Chap. i. 9,. Exposition. “Mount Zion,” see Chap. ii. 2, Exposition.

19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits and unto wizards, to them that chirp and that mutter: [then say ye] Should not a people seek unto their God? should they seek, instead

Verses 19,20. And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them: that have familiar spirits and unto wizards, &c.-It is believed by many that man may be taught of the Lord by spirits speaking with him; but they who believe this, and are willing to believe it, do not know that it is connected with danger to their souls. Man, so long as he lives in the world, is, as to his spirit, in the midst of spirits, and yet spirits do not know that they are with. man, nor does man know that he is with spirits. The reason is, because they are conjoined as to affections of the will immediately, and as to thoughts of the understanding mediately; for man thinks naturally, but spirits think spiritually; and natural and spiritual thought do not otherwise make one than by correspondences; a union by correspondences causes that one does not know anything concerning the other. But as soon as spirits begin to speak with man, they come out of their spiritual state into the natural state of man, and in this case they know that they are with man, and conjoin themselves with the thoughts of his affection, and from those thoughts speak with him. They cannot enter into anything else, for similar affection and consequent thoughts conjoin all, and dissimilar separate. It is owing to this circumstance that the speaking spirit is in the same principles with the man to whom he speaks, whether they be true or false, and likewise that he excites them, and by his affection conjoined to the man’s affection strongly confirms them. Hence it is evident that, none other than similar spirits speak with man, or manifestly operate upon him, for manifest operation coincides with speech; hence it is that no other than enthusiastic spirits speak with enthusiasts; also, that no other than Quaker spirits operate upon Quakers, and Moravian spirits upon Moravians; the case would be the same with Arians, and with Socinians. All spirits speaking with man, are no other than such as have been men in the world, and were then of such a quality: that this is the case, as been given me to know by repeated experience. And what is ridiculous, when man believes that the Holy Spirit speaks with him, or operates upon him, the spirit also believes that he is the Holy Spirit;. this is common with enthusiastic spirits. From these considerations it is evident to what danger man is exposed, who speaks with spirits, or who mainifestly feels their operation. Man is ignorant of the quality of his own affection, whether it be good or evil, and with what other beings it is conjoined, and if he is in the conceit of his own intelligence, his attendant spirits favour every thought which is thence derived. In like manner if any one is disposed to favour particular principles, enkindled by a certain fire, which has place with those who are not in truths from genuine affection; when a spirit from similar affection favours man’s thoughts or principles, then one leads the other, as the blind lead the blind, until both fall into the pit. The Pythonics, or those had “familiar spirits,” formerly were those of this description, and lIkewise the magicians in Egypt and in Babel, who by reason of discourse with spirits, and of the operation of spirits felt manifestly in themselves, were called wise. But by this the worship of God was converted into the worship of demons, and the church perished: wherefore such communications were forbidden the sons of Israel under penalty of death. (See Deut. xviii. 9-14; Isaiah viii. 19, 20.) It is otherwise with those whom the Lord leads, and He leads those who love truths, and will them from HImself; all such are enlightened when they read the Word, for the Lord is in the Word, and speaks with every one according to his comprehension. If these hear speech from spirits, which also they do occasionally, they are not taught, but are led, and this so providently, that the man is still left to himself, since, as was before said, every man is led of the Lord by affections, and thinks from them as from himself In freedom; if this was not the case, man would not be capable of reformatlon, neither could he be enlightened. But men are enlightened varlously, every one according to the quality of his affection and consequent IntellIgence. They who are in the spiritual affection of truth, are elevated into the light of heaven, so as to perceIve the Illustration. A. E. 1182, 1183.

Verses 19-·22. Should not a people seek unto their God? &c. If they seek not the Lord, “no dawning light will be to any of them,” that is, they will not have any light of Truth, which shines forth as the morning light, thus they will not have heaven, for the aurora or morning light is the time in which the kingdom of God Messiah [the Lord) will come. They who do not seek the Lord, and the things which belong to Him, will be destitute of all things spiritual and celestial, because they will have no faith. This destitution and dearth is descrIbed by being “famished” and “thirsty” which will come upon them at the time of death, and in the last time [of the church], The consequence is, that they will be “angry,” like those who are deprived of heaven, and they, from their false principle, will “curse their king,” that is, the Lord Himself, and at the same time they will “curse their gods,” whoever they are. Thus they will “look up towards heaven;” and as they will receive no help from thence, they will “look to the earth,” or to inferior things, that they may be consoled thereby, and that they may thereby be taught; but they will only find “distress and darkness.” For unless inferior things be regarded from superior things; there is nothing but anxiety, or “affliction and darkness” [in them]; for, affliction and darkness will be together, thus so conjoined as though they were one; wherefore it is said, “darkened by anxiety, and driven or impelled by thick darkness.” (Swedenhorg’s Notes on Isaiah, p.19.)

20 To the Law and to the Testimony [let them seek]; if they will not speak according to this Word, there shall be no dawning light to them.

21 But he shall pass through the land, distressed and famished: and it shall be, when he is famished; and angry with himself, he shall curse his king and his gods, and shall look upward.

Verse 20. No dawning light to them.—The “dawning light,” or the aurora, signifies the conjunction of natural Good with celestial-spiritual Good, or with the Divine Good of Truth. This state of conjunction is effected by temptations, hence Jacob “wrestled with the man until the morning dawn” or the aurora, appeared, when the wrestling ceased. (Gen. xxxii, 26.) For when the conjunction between the internal and the external man takes place, then is the “morning dawn” or aurora to man, for he then enters into a spiritual or heavenly state; then also the” light,” as of the aurora; appears to him, if he is ill such a state as to be able to perceive it; otherwise his intellectual principle is enlightened as when he awakes out of sleep early in the morning, when the dawn first enlightens and begins the day. A.C. 4284.
Verses 21, 22. And it shall be, when he is famished, and angry with himself, he shall curse the king and his gods, and shall look upward; and to the earth shall he look, &c. The subject here treated of is concerning those who are in falses from a defect of the knowledges of Truth and Good, and concerning their indignation in consequence thereof. That defect or want is described by “their looking upwards, and to the earth, and lo! affliction and thick darkness;” to “look upwards, and to the earth,” is to look everywhere for Goods and Truths, “and lo! affliction and thick darkness,”, denoting that they are not anywhere to be found, but mere falses–dense falsity being understood by “thick darkness.” Their indignation in consequence thereof is understood by “when he shall be famished and angry, and shall curse his king and his gods;” to be “hungry or famished” denotes a desire to know: “king” signifies their false [principle}; “gods” the falses of worship thence derived; and to “curse” means to detest. A. E. 386.

22 And to the earth shall he look, and to affliction and darkness; he shall be darkened with distress, and driven by thick darkness.

Verse 22. And lo! affliction and darkness; he shall be darkened with distress, and driven by thick darkness.–In the Word throughout mention is made of “darkness,” and also at the same time of “thick darkness; and in such passages “darkness” is predicated of the false, and “thick darkness” of evil together with the false. “Darkness” also signifies ignorance of Truth, such as prevails amongst the nations or Gentiles; and “thick darkness;” the ignorance of Good. A.C. 7711.

Author: Emanuel Swedenborg [Compiled by J. H. Smithson 1860]