And this man shall be the peace - This clause should be joined to the preceding verse, as it finishes the prophecy concerning our blessed Lord, who is the Author and Prince of Israel; and shall finally give peace to all nations, by bringing them under his yoke.
When the Assyrian shall come - This is a new prophecy, and relates to the subversion of the Assyrian empire.
Then shall we raise against him seven shepherds - Supposed to mean the seven Maccabees, Mattathias, and his five sons, and Hyrcanus, the son of Simon.
Eight principal men - Eight princes, the Asmonean race; beginning with Aristobulus, and ending with Herod, who was married to Mariamne. - Sharpe. Perhaps seven and eight are a definite for an indefinite number, as Ecclesiastes 11:2; Job 5:19. The prophet means the chiefs of the Medes and Babylonians, the prefects of different provinces who took Nineveh, whose number may have been what is here specified. - Newcome.
Calmet considers this as referring to the invasion of Judea by Cambyses, when the Lord raised up against him the seven magi. He of them who passed for king of the Persians was the Smerdis of Herodotus, the Oropastes of Trogus, and the Artaxerxes of Ezra. These magi were put to death by seven Persian chiefs; who, having delivered the empire from them, set one of themselves, Darius, the son of Hystaspes, upon the throne.
And this Man shall be the Peace - This, emphatically, that is, “This Same,” as is said of Noah, “This same shall comfort us” Genesis 5:29, or, in the song of Moses, of the Lord, “This Same is my God” Exodus 15:2. Of Him he saith, not only that He brings peace, but that He Himself is that Peace; as Paul saith, “He is our Peace” Ephesians 2:14, and Isaiah calls Him “the Prince of peace” Isaiah 9:6, and at His Birth the heavenly host proclaimed “peace on earth” Luke 2:14; and He “preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh” Ephesians 2:17; and on leaving the world He saith, “Peace I leave with you, My Peace I give unto you” John 14:27. “He shall be our Peace,” within by His Grace, without by His Protection. Lap.: “Wouldest thou have peace with God, thine own soul, thy neighbor? Go to Christ who is our Peace,” and follow the footsteps of Christ. “Ask peace of Him who is Peace. Place Christ in thy heart and thou hast placed Peace there.”
When the Assyrian shall come into our land, and when he shall tread in our palaces - Assur stands for the most powerful and deadliest foe, “ghostly and bodily,” as the Assyrian then was of the people of God. For since this plainly relates to the time after Christ‘s coming, and, (to say the least,) after the captivity in Babylon and deliverance Micah 4:10 from it, which itself followed the dissolution of the Assyrian Empire, the Assyrians cannot be the literal people, who had long since ceased to be In Isaiah too the Assyrian is the type of antichrist and of Satan.
As Christ is our Peace, so one enemy is chosen to represent all enemies who Acts 12:1 vex the Church, whether the human agents or Satan who stirs them up and uses them. “By the Assyrian,” says Cyril, “he here means no longer a man out of Babylon, but rather marks out the inventor of sin, Satan. Or rather, to speak fully, the implacable multitude of devils, which spiritually ariseth against all which is holy, and fights against the holy city, the spiritual Zion, whereof the divine Psalmist saith, “Glorious things are spoken of thee, thou city of God.” For Christ dwelleth in the Church, and maketh it, as it were, His own city, although by His Godhead filling all things. This city of God then is a sort of land and country of the sanctified and of those enriched in spirit, in unity with God. When then the Assyrian shall come against our city, that is, when barbarous and hostile powers fight against the saints, they shall not find it unguarded.”
The enemy may tread on the land and on its palaces, that is, lay low outward glory, vex the body which is of earth and the visible temple of the Holy Spirit, as he did Paul by the thorn in the flesh, the minister of Satan to buffet him, or Job in mind body or estate, but Luke 12:4 after that he has no more than he can do; he cannot hurt the soul, because nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, and (Rup.) Christ who is our Peace is in us; and of the saint too it may be said, “The enemy cannot hurt him” Psalm 89:22. Rib.: Much as the Church has been vexed at all times by persecutions of devils and of tyrants, Christ has ever consoled her and given her peace in the persecutions themselves: “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ” 2 Corinthians 1:4-5. The Apostles Acts 5:41 departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name. And Paul writeth to the Hebrews, “ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing that ye have in heaven a better and more enduring substance” Hebrews 10:34.
Then shall we raise against him seven shepherds and eight principal men - (Literally, anointed, although elsewhere used of pagan princes.)
The “shepherds” are manifestly inferior, spiritual, shepherds, acting under the One Shepherd, by His authority, and He in them. The princes of men are most naturally a civil power, according to its usage elsewhere Joshua 13:21; Psalm 83:12; Ezekiel 32:30. The “seven” is throughout the Old Testament a symbol of a sacred whole, probably of the union of God with the world, reconciled with it; eight, when united with it, is something beyond it. Since then “seven” denotes a great, complete, and sacred multitude, by the eight he would designate “an incredible and almost countless multitude.” Rib.: “So in defense of the Church, there shall be raised up very many shepherds and teachers (for at no time will it be forsaken by Christ;) yea by more and more, countlessly, so that, however persecutions may increase, there shall never be lacking more to teach, and exhort to, the faith.”