Isaiah: Chapters 8 & 9 | The Wolfe Notes

Welcome, Family! We're spending 2024 with the prophet Isaiah. While we claim no expertise, we're excited to sit with you as we both learn at the feet of Jesus. Each month, we offer a calendar that outlines daily exercises (adapted from Jenn Wilkin's Women of the Word Bible study process) to progress through Isaiah. Download February's calendar to begin with us and witness what we uncovered in our weekly "Wolfe Note" postings.

A tree in a field with a sunset in the background. Text overlay quotes Isaiah 8:17


  1. Different Versions Noting and clarifying differences between ERV & DRA.
  2. Annotation My thoughts, connections, clarifications, and questions.
  3. Research How Isaiah's children are signs and wonders.
  4. Summary An approximately twenty word overview of the chapter.
  5. Memorize Why I chose Isaiah 8:17.
  6. Cross References Of Isaiah 8:17.
  7. Respond Based on reflections on God's character and myself.

Different Versions

I read Chapters 8 and 9 in the Easy-to-Read Version ERV and the Douay-Rheims DRA Edition . The ERV is a thought-for-thought translation and the DRA is a word-for-word translation.

Major differences I noticed (*My thoughts alone are in italics and designated with an asterisk.):
  • "You will be defeated." (ERV) vs. "and be overcome" (DRA). 8:9. Other versions: be dismayed; be crushed; be broken in pieces. The Hebrew word is chathath meaning "to be shattered or dismayed." *The meaning is the same just modern vs. archaic.
  • "The Lord said, 'Write this agreement. Tie it up and seal it so that it cannot be changed. Give these teachings to my followers for safekeeping." (ERV) vs. "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples." (DRA). 8:16. *Several added phrases in the ERV imply intent and missing actions from other versions.
  • "there is no future for you." (ERV) vs. "they shall not have the morning light." (DRA). 8:20. Other versions: "it is because there is no light in them" KJV; "this is because the truth hasn't dawned on them" ISV; and "but they will never see the dawn." CEB. The Hebrew word shachar means dawn. Cambridge states that "the original is so obscure that no great confidence can be placed in any translation" and Ellicott, tying it to other scriptures, offers, "when they look above and around, [they] see nothing but darkness." *More poetic in DRA; direct in ERV. It seems like there are two different ways to interpret this verse: either those who don't follow the laws and testimony have no future (ERV, CEB) or do not see the truth (KJV, ISV). DRA could be interpreted either way. My current interpretation: Anyone who does not speak directly from this law and this testimony is lost.
  • "When the enemy comes" (ERV) vs. "And they shall pass by it" (DRA). 8:21. Other versions: "And they [who consult mediums and wizards] shall pass through the land" AMPC; "My people will be led away" TLB; "they try one thing after another" MSG. In Hebrew abar: alienate, meaning to pass over, through, or by. *The subject is not given in Hebrew so interpreters provide their own based on context. ERV is the only one to replace "they" with "the enemy". Although, if they is unbelievers, or those who seek other beliefs, in a way it is the enemy. But the confusion comes in the rest of the verse when ERV translates it as one person and other versions as a plurality. Overall, I think the meaning is that because they are lost, they face hardships and emptiness which cause them anger. In response, they blame higher powers - both on earth and in heaven.
  • "you will make the people happy." (ERV) vs. "and hast not increased the joy." (DRA).  9:3. *Every other version agrees with the ERV. I believe this is a misprint in the DRA.
  • "The Lord gave a command against Jacob and someone in Israel fell." (ERV) vs. "The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel." (DRA). 9:8. Other versions: "The Lord sent a plague against Jacob, and it will fall on Israel;" ISV; "The Lord has pronounced judgment on the kingdom of Israel, on the descendants of Jacob." GNT; "The Lord has dispatched a word against Jacob; it will come down hard on Israel." VOICE. *The ERV comes off harsher than the DRA, and I think that's the correct connotation especially in the context of the next verse which talks of Ephraim and Samaria knowing it and reacting pridefully to it.
  • "the branch and the stalk." (ERV) vs. "him that bendeth down, and him that holdeth back" (DRA). 9:14. Other versions: "leaves and branches" CEV; "palm branch and reed" CSB; "leaders of Israel and lying prophets" TLB. In Hebrew: kippah (branch, frond - of a palm tree) agmon (a rush, bulrush). Ellicott and Pulpit note it means the highest and the lowest of men.
*Conclusions: The ERV often adds phrases to promote comprehension that are absent in other translations. The formatting of ERV aids reading by highlighting poetic elements. DRA loses some understanding with older language and awkward phrasing, but offers poetic phrasing that is absent in the ERV. 


Notes on my process*Denotes my thoughts alone. ! Denotes a connection. Researched quick answers are in italics. *Indicates a topic with more extensive notes under the research heading.
  1. Assyrian War Prophecy (8:1-8:8)
    1. God directs Isaiah to transcribe a message for Maher Shalal Hash Baz (8:1)
      1. Is this his actual name, "There will soon be looting and stealing", or a warning? Got Questions says it was both, a name and a warning. Furthermore, the document that Isaiah wrote containing his son's name "symbolized a property deed transferring the wealth of Damascus and Israel to the king of Assyria". The document also gave Israel a time frame for deliverance: before he reached the age of two. Finally, because the document was written before the boy's conception, this is another great reminder to us that God plans our lives out. WE ARE NOT ACCIDENTS.
    2. Witnesses watch Isaiah record his message (8:2)
    3. Isaiah's wife becomes pregnant and God directs them to call the boy by the name given in the first verse, Maher Shalal Hash Baz. (8:3)
    4. While the boy is still young, God will give all the wealth of Damascus (Syria) and Samaria (Israel) to Assyria because they refuse peace as I intended, preferring kings I did not choose. (8:4-6)
      1. ? Does Shiloah mean peace, especially contrasting slow moving waters with flash flood? (8:6). While Shiloah was an actual place, according to Pulpit, the metaphor here is meant to contrast Jehovah's rule as peaceful with Assyrian's fast-paced, destructive conquest.
    5. So, Assyria will come quickly, powerfully, and effectively - almost killing Judah. (8:7-8)
  2. Promise of Deliverance (8:8-10)
    1. But God will conquer your enemies. (8:8-10)
      1. Does Immanuel here mean Jesus? 
        1. Ellicott suggests it is Isaiah's reminder that the sign, his son, is growing and coming to the foretold age where deliverance will come. He uses the term, Immanuel, here to give the people hope, even though destruction is imminent. 
        2. Pulpit concludes that surely Isaiah refers to God here because he "could not speak of the land as belonging to his own infant son".
        3. *Regardless, the purpose of the term is to give the people hope.
      2. ! Not in man's strength but in God's strength for only His plans are established (Proverbs 19:21)
  3. Who to Fear (8:11-8:15)
    1. Listen to God, not to people. Don't let people scare you. (8:11-12)
      1. Warned or prevented from following the ways of the people? Most versions translate it as a warning, instruction, or discipline, though the CSB does say to keep me. *This makes sense knowing that God allows free will. He does not prevent evil from happening, but wants us to choose Him in the face of evil. So here, God strongly appealed to Isaiah to not follow the people. But, if Isaiah chose to ignore God, God would not prevent Isaiah from following them.
    2. You should only fear and respect God. If you don't, He is a stone that trips you, a trap that ensnares you. (8:13-15)
      1. ? Does this passage speak of the God-shaped hole, where all humans know they lack God and often seek to fill that emptiness with other things - things that make you stumble, things that ensnare? 
      2. ? How is God a trap, a stumbling block? (v14-15) Ellicott illustrates the temple with a stone that forms the threshold. If you attempt entering with obscured faith, you would stumble but with faith you find safety. When you trip, you may be bruised until a helper comes to release you from your trap. They may be bruised, but not ground to dust, may stumble, so they can rise again. Matthew 21:44; Luke 2:34; Romans 11:11. *Actually a verse of hope, you fall so you can be corrected and rise to the truth where you will be kept safe if you learn to trust. But verse 15 prophecies that many will not learn to trust Him.
      3. ! He will keep you safe, if you trust in Him. (v14)
  4. To God's Followers (8:16-9:10)
    1. God instructs Isaiah to write an agreement, seal it, and distribute it to His followers to guard, which encourages them to wait on Him and trust that He will save, even though He has turned on those who surround them. (8:16-17)
      1. ! Hebrews 10:16 ERV: "This is the agreement I will make with my people in the future, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts. I will write my laws in their minds." and Jeremiah 31:33 ERV..."I will be their God, and they will be my people."
      2. ! Luke 2:19 KJV: "But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart."
      3. ? What exactly was the testimony that was bound and sealed? Pulpit posits the testimony are the revealed prediction and the instruction is found in Isaiah 7:4-9: stay calm, have no fear and do not be fainthearted...what they plan will not stand, and 8:11-13: "do not walk in the way of this people"...fear and dread God, regard only Him as holy.
    2. God's followers are used as signs for the people of Israel (8:18)
      1. In what way are God's children signs? *R
    3. Others seek advice from the dead instead of the living. But you, trust what He says. If you don't, when hard times come, you will see only darkness, abandonment, and no hope for the future. (8:19-22)
      1. ! We cannot expect dead people to act alive! (From the sermon "Gospel Controversy: The Basics" by Grant Agler. At about 19:00.)
      2. ! Only God's word endures. I Peter 1:25
      3. ! Darkness, abandonment, hopelessness, sounds like hell. 2 Thessalonians 1:9
    4. Land that once was considered unimportant will shine in radiance and prosper joyfully. Burn your uniform for there will be no more war! (9:1-5)
      1. ? In what ways were Naphtali and Zebulon deemed unimportant and how was it later honored? Does this have to do with God's truth reaching the Gentiles? Ellicott explains the purpose is to show a contrast between the future and the past. Zebulun and Naphtali had indeed faced devastation (2 Kings 15:29) but later will host a glorious scene. In Isaiah's day, the scene unfolded as wanderer's from truth returned to Jehovah and the house of David (2 Chronicles 30:11-13). Christians tie this verse to Jesus of Nazareth, in the tribe of Zebulun, who preached in Galilee - the region here described, shedding radiant truth amid deep darkness. (Matthew 4:12-17)
      2. ! So like God to make the first last and the last first! Matthew 20:16
    5. After Jesus is born, His power will grow and with judgment and justice He will reign eternally because God loves His people so much! (9:6-7)
      1. ? If this was a prophecy regarding Isaiah's son, why is the future tense used here? Commentators agree this prophecy is about the Jesus the Messiah.
      2. ! For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
  5. Discipline (9:8-9:21)
    1. God's discipline proved true and the people who witnessed it learned from it (9:8)
    2. Yet, they continue relying on their own strength. Believing they just need to build and plant better. (9:9-10)
    3. God rallies troops to fight against them. They are surrounded and are being attacked from both sides (9:11-12)
    4. But God is not finished. (9:12)
      1. ! The idea of God's arm being raised or stretched out brings to mind the fight in the wilderness where Moses had to keep his arms raised. Every time they fell, the Israelites would start losing. (Exodus 17:11-13)
    5. They refuse to repent so God takes away their leadership and false prophets. (9:13-14)
    6. Because they follow wrong teaching and lie, God is angry with the men and withholds mercy from the widows and orphans. (9:15-17)
      1. They follow their hearts but will learn they are wrong. 
      2. ! God being angry with young men and withholding mercy from widows and orphans is in direct contradiction with how He instructs us to do well in Isaiah 1:16-17.
    7. But, God is not finished. (9:17) 
    8. The evil started small, but spread quickly until everything burned. (9:18-19)
    9. People cared only about finding their own fulfillment, grasping at anything within reach, but nothing satisfied them. (9:20)
    10. People turned on each other, then together, turned on Judah. (9:21)
    11. But God is not finished. (9:22)


*Thoughts that are mine alone are marked with an asterisk and italicized.
How are Isaiah's children signs and wonders to the Israelites?

From Bible Hub commentaries:

  • Multiple Meanings of Isaiah's Children
    • Literally, his children were given names that foretold what would come to Israel (Ellicott):
      • Shear-Jashub meaning "a remnant shall return" which gave hope for the believing Israelites that they would not all be wiped out.
      • Maher-shalel-hash-baz meaning "Speed-plunder and Haste Spoil" which described what was to come upon the Israelites.
      • Isaiah's own name means "Salvation of Jehovah" which reminds the Israelites where to look to be saved.
      • Immanuel, though not a child of Isaiah was foretold by Isaiah, meaning "God with us", helped the Israelites hold on to strength in this truth.
    • Spiritually, Isaiah's children were followers of his ministry. 
      • As Elisha called Elijah "father" when he watched him be carried away (2 Kings 2:12). - Poole
      • It is those who were willing to hear and obey the word of God (Isaiah 1:19-20)
  • Jesus Speaks (Gill)
    • These were actually the words of Christ, as echoed in Hebrews 2:13: "And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me."
      • After Isaiah declares his intent to wait Jesus reveals His children, or spiritual offspring, that were given by God who he redeemed to receive adoption.
    • The signs and wonders are actually Jesus. His name is Wonderful (Isaiah 9:6) and so His children are used for signs and wonders. Like Joshua's fellows who men wondered at (Zechariah 3:8).
      • His children wonder at themselves, that such sinful and unworthy creatures are given such grace.
      • The angels wonder that they are chosen, redeemed, called
      • Christ wonders at His grace in them.
      • The world wonders at them as gullible, foolish, and reproachful spectacles.
    • Jesus notes the children are given Him by the Lord of Hosts, who:
      • Gave us Christ.
      • Holds all happenings according to His determination, will, and pleasure - including the children given to Him.
      • Is for us, leading armies of angels on our behalf.
      • Dwells within us and will never leave us.
*Conclusions: Similar to the Immanuel prophecy, the signs and wonders here mentioned can have a literal, here and now, interpretation - in Isaiah's children - as well as a spiritual, is and always will be, interpretation - in the children of God.


Children serve as signs and wonders, reminding us to fear only God and know safety; otherwise you'll know His anger.


I chose to memorize Isaiah 8:17:
And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.

...because this is my promise, my motivation, my faith. This verse reminds me that no matter the storm around me, no matter how far away You seem, that my promise is to wait on You while looking for evidence of Your presence, Your love, Your deliverance, because I know it is there.

Cross References

*Thoughts that are mine alone are marked with an asterisk and italicized.

To Isaiah 8:17

...that hath hidden His face from the house of Jacob...

*We are sinful, and God cannot dwell where sin is, so, He hides His face:

  • Job 13:24 ERV: God, why do you avoid me and treat me like your enemy?
  • Isaiah 59:2 KJV: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
...and I will look for Him.

*But, He gives us His only child so that we will not always be separated:

  • Hebrews 2:11-15 (Paraphrased) Because we are sanctified in Christ, we are one. Now, it does not shame Him to call us brothers. He promises to declare God's name to us and sing God praises in the midst of us. And again, Jesus will put His trust in God. And again, Behold it's Jesus and the children God gave Him. For as much as the children were flesh and blood, so Jesus also took flesh and blood upon himself that through death He could destroy Satan who used the power of death to enslave His children through fear.
    •  Hebrews 2:13 echoes Isaiah 8:17-18. And I will wait (and again I will put my trust in God...and again)...Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me (Behold, I and the children which God hath given me.)
    • *Strong support for Gill's interpretation, that Jesus was actually the one speaking in Isaiah, or it could be that Jesus quotes Isaiah to remind followers that He is the one they've been waiting for.
  • Hebrews 9:28 ERV. So Christ was offered as a sacrifice one time to take away the sins of many people. And he will come a second time, but not to offer himself for sin. He will come the second time to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
And I will wait upon the Lord...

*When we finally experience the fullness of His presence, we are satisfied. We found what we've been waiting for and know there is more to come.

  • Isaiah 25:9 ERV: At that time people will say, "Here is our God! He is the one we have been waiting for. He has come to save us. We have been waiting for our LORD. So we will rejoice and be happy when he saves us.


  1. God is omniscient. I don't even know what I think I know (Jeremiah 17:9 and Proverbs 28:26). I can decide to trust what God says unquestioningly and value it beyond what I think or feel.
  2. God is omnipotent. My power, and mankind's power, is nothing compared to His. I will reject fear of anything but God. I will reject persuasions that lead me from God. I will look for Him - His truth, His love, His movement - in every situation.
  3. God is omnipresent. I leave Him. I leave others. I will wait on Him. I will trust that even when it feels like His face is hidden from me, that He is faithful. He will finish the work He's started in me. I can show I trust Him by going to Him first with my doubts, my fears, my decisions, and my heart.

In Closing

In You, Father, I have no reason to fear; Your love covers me. I will wait on You in every circumstance; You are faithful. I will look for you in every moment; You are with me.

Learning with You,

Ready for Isaiah 10?

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