Isaiah 8:1-22

Submitted by admin on Fri, 2011-10-14 18:31.

Posted in | printer-friendly version »

8:1. Masoretic Text: And YHWH said to me, Take for yourself a large tablet and write on it with a man’s stylus, “For Maher-shalal-hash-baz.”

Septuagint: And the Lord said to me, Take for yourself a large new scroll and write on it with a man’s stylus, “Of the swiftly to be made plunder of spoils, for it is near.”


YHWH instructed Isaiah to use a common writing implement or, according to another rendering of the Hebrew, the usual script to write the name Maher-shalal-hash-baz on a large tablet. In the Septuagint, a word meaning “scroll” (tómos) appears in the text and here probably means a sheet of papyrus. The compound name Maher-shalal-hash-baz can signify, “Hurrying to the plunder; booty hastens.” In the Septuagint, this name is rendered according to the basic sense of its individual parts. The name called attention to the fact that invading armies would soon despoil the kingdom of Judah.

8:2. Masoretic Text: And have trustworthy witnesses attest for me — Uriah the priest and Zechariah, son of Jeberechiah.

Septuagint: And make trustworthy men witnesses for me — Uriah and Zechariah, son of Berechiah.

The Masoretic Text could be literally translated, “And I had attest for me.” In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the text conveys the thought as it is rendered here.


In the presence of dependable witnesses (Uriah the priest and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah), YHWH directed Isaiah to write the name Maher-shalal-hash-baz. Uriah apparently was not supportive of Isaiah’s prophetic activity, for he cooperated with Ahaz in replacing the altar of burnt offering with one patterned after an altar the king had seen in Damascus. (2 Kings 16:10-16) The biblical record contains no other reference to Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah. Both men appear to have been regarded by others as reliable, independent witnesses, with no special interest in supporting Isaiah.

8:3. Masoretic Text: And I went to the prophetess, and she became pregnant and bore a son. And YHWH said to me, “Call his name ‘Maher-shalal-hash-baz.’”

Septuagint: And I went to the prophetess, and she became pregnant and bore a son. And the Lord said to me, “Call his name, ‘Quickly despoil; swiftly plunder.’”


Isaiah’s wife is called a prophetess, which designation would commonly indicate that she also filled a prophetic role. There is a possibility, though, that she is called a prophetess merely because of being the wife of the prophet. After she gave birth to the boy, YHWH commanded Isaiah to give him the name he had written in the presence of two dependable witnesses. The Septuagint rendering again presents the basic sense of what the name Maher-shalal-hash-baz conveyed.

8:4. Masoretic Text: For before the boy knows [how] to call, “my father” and “my mother,” the might [or, “wealth”] of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria will be taken before the face of the king of Assyria.

Septuagint: For before the boy knows [how] to call “father” or “mother,” one will take the might of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria before the king of the Assyrians.

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah says, “his father and his mother.”


The Hebrew words for “father” (’av) and “mother” (’em) are among the first sounds an infant makes, and so the terms correspond more closely to “papa” and “mamma.” Before this baby boy would be able to recognize his parents and call them “papa” and “mamma,” the Assyrian monarch and his forces would ravage the Syrian capital Damascus and the Israelite capital Samaria. The spoils of conquest would then be brought before the king of Assyria.

8:5. Masoretic Text: And YHWH continued to speak to me again, saying,

Septuagint: And the Lord continued to speak to me further,


It appears that YHWH’s speaking again to Isaiah occurred on another occasion. If this is the case, these words serve to introduce what was then revealed to the prophet.

8:6. Masoretic Text: Because this people has rejected the waters of Shiloah that move gently and [find] exultation in Rezin and the son of Remaliah;

Septuagint: Because this people does not desire the water of Siloam that moves gently but desires to have Rezin and the son of Remaliah reign over you;


The channel known as Shiloah (Siloam) had a gradual gradient, making it possible for the water to flow gently. In this context, the “waters of Shiloah” appear to represent the protection and security that YHWH provides in expression of his love for his people. They, however, rejected what he could do for them and faithlessly looked to other sources to secure their well-being and security.

In the Targum of Isaiah, the rejection is represented as meaning that the people did not want the house of David, which had ruled with gentleness, to continue to reign but preferred to have Rezin and the son of Remaliah (Pekah) exercise governing authority. This interpretation suggests that a significant part of the people in the kingdom of Judah supported the removal of King Ahaz and having him replaced with the son of Tabeel. The reading of the Septuagint lends support to such an interpretation.

The context, however, indicates that another significance is more likely. In view of the people’s fearful response to the report about the alliance of kings Rezin and Pekah and their intent to attack Jerusalem (7:1, 2), it seems most unlikely that the people’s “exultation” relates to a desire to be subject to Rezin and Pekah. There is a far greater likelihood that the people exulted because of having succeeded in countering the threat by making an alliance with the Assyrian monarch. This better fits their having rejected gently flowing water and chosen a mighty river that had the potential to flood and cause widespread destruction.

8:7. Masoretic Text: therefore, look! My Lord is bringing up over them the waters of the River, the mighty and abundant [waters] — the king of Assyria and all his glory — and it will rise over all its channels and go over all its banks.

Septuagint: therefore, look! The Lord is bringing up over you the mighty and abundant water of the River — the king of the Assyrians and his glory. And he will go up on every valley of yours and on every wall of yours.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, “my Lord” appears above the main line of text. Immediately below the correction, only the topmost strokes of the letters of the text are preserved. The divine name (YHWH) appears to have been present in the main text.


YHWH would let the people of the kingdom of Judah suffer from Assyrian aggression, which would result in devastating the land as would the strong, swiftly moving current of the Euphrates River at flood stage. This would occur because they had rejected him as the dependable source of aid and turned to Assyria for help in dealing with the threat from kings Rezin and Pekah. The Assyrian king’s glory may be his military force in which he took pride and by means of which he attained the victories that provided the basis for his boasting. In the Septuagint, the focus is on the military campaign, with the invaders marching over all the valleys and scaling the walls of cities to conquer them.

8:8. Masoretic Text: And it will pass through into Judah, overflow, and pass on, reaching up to the neck. And it will occur that the outspreading of its wings will fill the breadth of your land; with us [is] God.

Septuagint: And he will remove from Judea [any] man who [is] able to raise [his] head or able to complete anything, and his camp will be so [large] as to fill the breadth of your country. With us [is] God.

In the Masoretic Text, “Immanuel” is two words (“with us [is] God”), but in the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah it is one word. The Septuagint rendering of the Hebrew text is according to the meaning of “Immanuel” (“with us [is] God”).


Like the raging Euphrates at flood stage, the Assyrian monarch and his warriors would overwhelm the kingdom of Judah, devastating the land and decimating the population. Like a rising river, the invading forces would reach “up to the neck,” which the Targum of Isaiah identifies as Jerusalem, the capital city. The fact that the head would not be overwhelmed indicated that the devastation would not be total. This proved to be the case when Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, invaded Judah. Divine intervention prevented him from conquering Jerusalem. Nevertheless, the invading Assyrian force did spread out over the territory of the kingdom of Judah like a bird that spreads out its wings. The reference to Immanuel may have served to indicate that, although the Assyrians would cause widespread devastation, YHWH would be with his people. The invaders would not be able to do more than he would permit and that he would still aid his people if they turned to him. (2 Kings 18:13; 19:32-35)

The rendering of the Septuagint suggests that the Assyrian campaign would result in widespread loss of life, with the strong men who were capable of fighting perishing in battle. The camp of the invaders is portrayed as so extensive as to fill the entire territory of the kingdom of Judah.

8:9. Masoretic Text: Be smashed, O peoples, and be shattered. Give ear, all you in distant parts of the earth. Gird yourselves, and be shattered; gird yourselves, and be shattered.

Septuagint: Know, O nations, and be defeated. Hear [this] to the farthest [parts] of the earth, [Though] being strong, be defeated, for if you again become strong, you will again be defeated.

There are wordplays in the Hebrew text that cannot be conveyed in translations (ró‘u [be smashed] and chótu [be shattered]; ’azrú [gird yourselves] and chótu [be shattered]).

The Septuagint rendering “know” is apparently based on reading “D” (daleth), not “R” (resh), as the initial letter of the Hebrew word ró‘u, which is a form of rá‘a‘. In many contexts, the Hebrew word ró‘u, here rendered “be smashed,” can also mean “be evil” or “do evil.”


Those aligning themselves against God’s people are challenged to act, but they are told that their efforts would end disastrously. The message about their being smashed, shattered, or completely broken to pieces is directed to all, reaching to the most distant parts of the earth. Though the enemies gird themselves, preparing themselves to fight with their weapons in their girdles, they would not attain their objective but would be shattered. This happened to the forces of Assyrian king Sennacherib when he determined to capture Jerusalem. (2 Kings 19:32-35)

8:10. Masoretic Text: Take counsel, [yes] counsel, and it will be frustrated. Speak a word, and it will not stand, for with us [is] God.

Septuagint: And whatever counsel you counsel, the Lord will frustrate, and whatever word you speak, it will by no means remain for you, for with us [is] the Lord God.

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah has “Immanuel” as one word, whereas it is two words in the Masoretic Text (“with us [is] God”).

In the Septuagint, the verb for “remove” is preceded by two words meaning “not.” To preserve the emphatic sense, these words are here rendered “by no means.”


Any counsel or plan that was contrary to God’s purpose respecting his people would fail. Enemies might formulate what appeared to be the very best plan, but God would bring it to nothingness. They might be sure about the accomplishment of the word they expressed, but that word would not stand. It would fail to materialize. Through his spokesman Rabshakeh, the Assyrian king boastfully declared that the men of Jerusalem could not possibly succeed in defending the city and that YHWH would not deliver them out of his hand. That boastful word or message, however, did not stand. Because YHWH was with his people, he did deliver Jerusalem. (2 Kings 18:28-35; 19:32-35)

8:11. Masoretic Text: For thus YHWH spoke to me with strength of the hand and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying,

Septuagint: Thus says the Lord, With the strong hand they resist the course of the way of this people, saying,

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the definite article does not precede the word for “hand.” Also the conjunction “and” does not precede the verb meaning “instructed.”


The expression “strength of the hand” or “strong hand” denotes “power.” Translators have variously rendered the phrase that includes this expression (“while his hand was strong upon me” [NRSV]; “taking hold of me” [NAB]; “when He took me by the hand” [Tanakh]; when He “singled me out” [Tanakh, footnote]; “spoke to me with mighty power” [NASV]). The Targum of Isaiah suggests that this related to the divine action involved in strongly impressing the prophetic word upon Isaiah (“when the prophecy was strong”). Possibly in a dream or while in a trance, Isaiah received YHWH’s directive not to “walk” or to conduct himself in the manner of his fellow Israelites who faithlessly chose to follow their own course and formulate their own plans to secure their safety. The people generally did not have faith in YHWH as the one upon whom their well-being and security depended.

The Septuagint rendering suggests that Isaiah and other devoted servants of YHWH would strongly resist following the course of the people generally. The loyal worshipers of YHWH would continue to put their trust in him and seek to do his will.

8:12. Masoretic Text: Do not call “conspiracy” all that this people calls “conspiracy,” and what it fears do not you fear nor let it cause you to tremble.

Septuagint: Never must you say “hard” for all [and] whatever this people says is “hard.” But its fear you must by no means fear nor must you be troubled.

The Hebrew adjective for “hard” is qashéh, and the noun that has been defined as “conspiracy” is qésher. In the consonantal text, only the last letter is different. This may explain why the word “hard” sklerós appears in the Septuagint.

Before the verb for “fear,” two words for “not” are found in the Septuagint. To retain the emphatic significance, these words here have been rendered “by no means.”


According to the Hebrew text, YHWH’s command is not only directed to Isaiah, for the verbs are plural. The directive was meant for all who were God’s devoted servants. What the people in the kingdom of Judah called a “conspiracy” appears to have been the alliance of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel and Syria. They appear to have used the expression in a manner that was devoid of any trust in YHWH as the one who could safeguard their security, and the alliance became the object of their fear and plunged them into a state of great anxiety. Isaiah and others who looked to YHWH as the source of dependable aid were not to say “conspiracy” in such a faithless manner nor were they to succumb to fear or be troubled on account of this development.

8:13. Masoretic Text: YHWH of hosts — him must you regard as holy, and let him be your fear, and let him cause you to tremble.

Septuagint: The Lord himself you should sanctify, and he will be your fear.

In the Septuagint, the verb for “sanctify” is second person plural, but the “your” (with reference to “fear”) is singular.


Isaiah and other faithful ones were to regard YHWH as holy and, therefore, as the one, who in keeping with his holiness or purity, would deal justly with his people and never fail to fulfill his word. Instead of being in fear of men or nations and their schemes to do harm, they were to have YHWH as their “fear,” or the object of their profound awe or reverential regard. Their trembling before him would signify that they would have a wholesome fear of not being found as persons whom he disapproved on account of their disregard for him and his word.

8:14. Masoretic Text: And he will become a holy place and a stone to strike against and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel; a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Septuagint: And if you put your trust in him, he will become to you a holy place and not like a stone of stumbling you will encounter nor like a fall-causing rock. But the house of Jacob [is] in a trap, and in a hollow [are] those dwelling in Jerusalem.

In the Septuagint, the verbs and the pronoun “you” are singular and thus directed to the individual.


The Septuagint rendering makes it clear that YHWH would be a “holy place,” a sanctuary, or a place of safety only to those who put their trust in him, looking to him for aid and as the source of their well-being and security. To the faithless ones, to those who refused to believe and heed his word, he would be an object they would strike against and over which they would stumble, resulting in great loss and suffering. The two houses of Israel were the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel and the two-tribe kingdom of Judah (with Ephraim as the dominant tribe of the northern kingdom and Judah the dominant tribe of the southern kingdom). On account of the severe judgment that the inhabitants of Jerusalem would experience, YHWH would be like a “trap and a snare” to them, for the military invasions would leave them in a state comparable to that of a trapped or an ensnared animal.

In the Septuagint, the “house of Jacob” apparently designates the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem may be understood as being representative of the kingdom of Judah. The circumstances of the house of Jacob were like that of an animal in a trap, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem found themselves constrained like an animal that had fallen into a pit. Historically, this description fit their situation as the objects of Assyrian aggression.

8:15. Masoretic Text: And many among them will stumble, and they will fall and be broken; and they will be ensnared and seized.

Septuagint: Therefore, many among them will become powerless and will fall and be broken; and men who are in security will approach and be seized.


The majority of the Israelites did not trust YHWH and seek to do his will. As a consequence, he would become to them a stone that would cause them to stumble, fall, and be broken as a consequence of their fall. The calamity that would come upon them would be comparable to being caught in a snare and then seized like an animal that had been trapped. According to the rendering of the Septuagint, those who would be seized may have considered themselves secure. This could have been said of those who felt that the alliance with Assyria would end the threat from King Rezin and his forces and King Pekah and his armies, but the alliance plunged them into a trap that brought untold suffering from the Assyrian military.

8:16. Masoretic Text: Wrap up the testimony; seal the law among my disciples.

Septuagint: Then will become manifest those who seal the law [so as] not to learn.

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah includes “and” before the verb for “seal.”

In its rendering, the Septuagint conveys a meaning that differs from the Masoretic Text and the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah. The sealing is represented as being done by those who have no regard for the law, the Torah, or divine instruction. They placed it out of their sight like a sealed scroll in order not to give any attention to God’s requirements. They did not want to learn anything about the “law” or God’s revealed will.


The “testimony” may be the prophetic message. As the parallel expression, “law” or “Torah” would be this message that had the force of law and served to instruct. The wrapping up of the testimony would conceal it from those who did not want it. Among the disciples of Isaiah, persons who valued the prophetic word and chose to be guided thereby, it would be sealed up and thus preserved among them as if deposited within them for safekeeping.

The imperative to wrap up the testimony and to seal the law may be regarded from two standpoints — (1) as Isaiah’s prayerful appeal directed to YHWH or (2) as YHWH’s words to Isaiah. Viewed as directed to YHWH, Isaiah would have been pleading for him to wrap up the testimony and to seal it in order thus to be preserved among his disciples. Regarded from the standpoint of a directive to Isaiah, the recorded message was to be wrapped up and sealed for preservation among the disciples until the time for their fulfillment. (Compare Daniel 12:4.)

8:17. Masoretic Text: And I will wait for YHWH, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him.

Septuagint: And he will say, I will wait on God, who has turned his face away from the house of Jacob, and I will put trust in him.

Whereas the Hebrew text represents Isaiah as the speaker, the Septuagint rendering introduces a speaker, evidently a person who is devoted to YHWH.


YHWH concealed his face from the people on account of their unfaithfulness. As descendants of the patriarch Jacob, they were his “house.” Since YHWH had hidden his face from them, they had ceased to be people to whom he gave his favorable attention. Isaiah, however, was determined to wait on YHWH, confident that he would act according to his word. Regardless of the circumstances, Isaiah resolved not to lose hope in YHWH.

8:18. Masoretic Text: Look! I and the children whom YHWH has given me [are] signs and wonders in Israel from YHWH of hosts, who tents on Mount Zion.

Septuagint: Look! I and the children whom God has given me, and they will be for signs and wonders in the house of Israel from the Lord Sabaoth, who resides on Mount Zion.

Instead of the plural, the Dead Sea Scroll reads “sign and wonder.”

“Sabaoth” is a transliterated form of the Hebrew word meaning “hosts” or “armies” and identifies YHWH as the one with mighty forces of angels at his service.


Isaiah appreciatively acknowledged that his children were gifts that YHWH had bestowed on him. He and his sons Shear-jashub and Maher-shalal-hash-baz served as “signs and wonders” in Israel, and this proved to be according to YHWH’s purpose. The very names of the prophet and of his sons were signs, and what they signified would cause wonder or amazement. “Isaiah” means “salvation of YHWH,” emphasizing that the source of salvation was, not any political alliance and the military protection acquired therefrom, but YHWH alone. “Shear-jashub” (“a remnant will return”) served as a testimony that Judah and Jerusalem would be desolated and that only a repentant remnant would return from exile. The name “Maher-shalal-hash-baz” pointed to the fact that the king of Assyria would subjugate Damascus and Samaria before the boy would be able to discriminate between good and bad. This name also indicated that all would be accomplished in a short time.

8:19. Masoretic Text: And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and of the fortune-tellers that peep and mutter”; should not a people inquire of its god [“God” or “gods”], the dead on behalf of the living?

Septuagint: And if they say to you, “Seek those whose voice resounds from the earth and the ventriloquists [literally, ‘speakers from the belly’] who make empty words resound from the belly”; [should not] a nation [seek] its god [or “God”]? Why do they seek the dead regarding the living?

In the Masoretic Text, the plural form of “god” can either be the plural of excellence or the plural “gods.” The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah contains the singular “god” (“God”).


Evidently those who had rejected YHWH and what he had provided for the guidance of his people advised the faithful ones to consult mediums and fortune-tellers for guidance. Their argument appears to have been that a nation or people was entitled to inquire of its “god” or “gods,” and the mediums and fortune-tellers were the means for doing so. A number of translations make this significance explicit. “Someone may say to you, ‘Go to the fortunetellers who make soft chirping sounds or ask the spirits of the dead. After all, a nation ought to be able to ask its own gods what it should do.’” (CEV) “People will say to you, ‘Seek guidance from ghosts and familiar spirits which squeak and gibber; a nation may surely consult its gods, consult its dead on behalf of the living for instruction or a message.’” (REB) “And should people say to you, ‘Go and consult ghosts and wizards that whisper and mutter’ — a people should certainly consult its gods and the dead on behalf of the living!” (NJB)

The verse may also be understood as questions that serve to reject the advice to consult mediums and fortune-tellers. This significance is conveyed in a number of translations. “When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?” (NIV) “When they say to you, ‘Consult the spirits of the dead and the spirits who chirp and mutter,’ shouldn’t a people consult their God? [Should they consult] the dead on behalf of the living?” (HCSB) “Some people say, ‘Ask the mediums and fortune-tellers, who whisper and mutter, what to do.’ But I tell you that people should ask their God for help. Why should people who are still alive ask something from the dead?” (NCV)

Mediums and various practicers of occult arts conveyed their messages in other than a normal voice. Their utterances sounded like peeps or chirps and words spoken in a low tone as when muttering. According to the Septuagint, the sound of the words appeared to be coming from the ground.

The Targum of Isaiah represents the Israelites as receiving this encouragement from people of the nations among whom they would find themselves. This Targum mentions that the nations thus serve their idols and inquire of their idol, “the living of the dead.” In this case, the idol may be understood to be the dead or lifeless thing.

8:20. Masoretic Text: To the law and to the testimony — If they do not speak according to this word, to such a one [there is] no dawn.

Septuagint: For he gave the law for a help so that they should not speak according to this saying, regarding which no gifts are to be given for it.


Translators who represent all of verse 19 as advice of faithless ones often include the expression “law and testimony” (variously rendered “for instruction and message” [Tanakh], “for teaching and for instruction” [NRSV], “for instruction and for testimony” [Margolis]) as a continuation of their encouragement to use spiritistic means of inquiry. In view of the earlier mention of the “law” (Torah, instruction, or teaching) and the “testimony” in connection with the disciples of Isaiah (8:16), it appears more likely that the reference to “law and testimony” is part of the answer constituting a rejection of the advice of faithless ones. While the Septuagint rendering is very different, it does lend support to this understanding. The Targum of Isaiah indicates that the Israelites who found themselves in exile among the nations were to say that they heeded “the law, which was given [to them] for a testimony.”

The law condemned all occult practices, and the testimony of the prophets focused on faithful adherence to the law. (Leviticus 19:31; 20:6, 27; Deuteronomy 18:9-12; 1 Samuel 7:3; Hosea 4:6; compare Malachi 4:4[3:22].) According to the Septuagint, the law God gave to the Israelites served to help them not to become involved with or become promoters of occult practices. Mediums and fortune-tellers did not deserve any “gifts” or payments for their utterances.

For faithful Israelites, the God-given law or teaching and the divine testimony in the form of the prophetic word proved to be the source of trustworthy guidance. Those who spoke contrary to this sound direction would be persons without light or true enlightenment. They would continue to be in the dark, without any prospect of enlightenment comparable to the dawn that dispels the darkness of the night. Their words would likewise reflect the darkness of their personal condition.

8:21. Masoretic Text: And [an individual] will pass through it, distressed and hungry. And it will occur [that] because he is hungry, he will become enraged and speak contemptuously of his king and his God. And he will turn [his face] upward,

Septuagint: And harsh famine will come upon you, and it will be that, whenever you hunger, you will be distressed, and you will speak evil of your ruler and of your idol [patachra]. And they will look up into the heaven above,

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, “distressed” is preceded by the usual word for “and,” which could here be rendered “while.”

The word for “God” is a plural form in the Masoretic Text and could either mean “gods” or be a plural of excellence (“God”). In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the singular “God” is found.

The transliterated word patachra is an Aramaic term meaning “idol.”


The people would experience YHWH’s severe judgment because of their rejection of his law and his word that had been conveyed to them through the prophets. He would withdraw his favor and protection from them, allowing enemy forces to invade and desolate their country. When the survivors would pass through the land, looking for something to eat, they would find very little. Distressed and hungry, they would give way to anger and rail against their king and their God, blaming them for their plight. One might look upward, evidently longing for some sign of relief from the distress.

8:22. Masoretic Text: and he will look to the earth. And see! Distress and darkness, gloom of affliction, and he will be cast into dense darkness.

Septuagint: and they will look down to the earth, and see! Distress and affliction and darkness, oppressive perplexity and darkness so as not [to allow one] to see.

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah includes the definite article (“the”) before “earth” or “land.”

Verse 23, which a number of translations include in this chapter, will be considered under verse 1 of chapter 9.


Regardless of where the people might look, whether to heaven above (8:21) or down to the ground below, they would not see even the slightest indication of a little relief from their distress. Hungry and greatly afflicted, they would find themselves plunged into a state of deep darkness or gloom, with no avenue of escape from their dire straits.