Isaiah 10 explained

Isaiah 10 explained DEFAULT

Isaiah: God controls the nations

God’s plans for Judah, Assyria and Egypt

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Isaiah chapters 10 to 20

Norman Hillyer

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

God’s judgement against evil laws

v1 *Woe to those who make cruel and unfair laws. v2 And *woe to you judges who issue unfair judgements. You rob poor people of their *rights. And you *seize the property of widows and the property of children who have no parents. v3 You will not know what to do when fierce enemies from a distant land attack you. You will not know where to run for help. You will not know where to hide your wealth. v4 You will not avoid punishment and death. The *Lord is very angry. He lifts his hand. He is ready to strike you again.

Verse 4

‘He lifts his hand’: see my note on 9:12.

The king of Assyria is God’s tool

v5 *Woe to the *Assyrians! Their own terrible punishment will be coming. But just for now, they are like a heavy stick. For a short time, I am seizing that heavy stick because of my anger. v6 I shall use that heavy stick to punish Judah. And Judah is the nation that has made me angry. I am sending the *Assyrian army against them. This is because the people in Judah will not obey me. They have made me very angry. The *Assyrian army is to *seize all that nation’s possessions. And they will act as if other people are mere mud on the streets.

Verses 5-6

The *Assyrians do not recognise the *Lord as the one real God. But the *Lord is still going to use them against this ‘nation’. That is, against Judah. God had chosen Judah to be his special people. But the people in Judah have not obeyed their covenant (agreement) with the *Lord. They are now refusing to obey him.

The king of Assyria’s pride

v7 But the king of Assyria is thinking about his own cruel plans. He intends to destroy many nations. v8 He declares that every one of his commanders is like a prince. v9 His armies have *seized the cities called Calno and Carchemish. And the cities called Hamath and Arnad. And the cities called Damascus and Samaria. v10-11 The king of Assyria declares that all these places were very strong. Their gods were more powerful than all the images and gods in *Jerusalem. ‘I shall certainly do to *Jerusalem what I have already done to Samaria and its much stronger gods.’

Verse 9

The first four cities in this list were north-west of Damascus, which is the capital of Syria.

The order of the places in this list shows the progress of the *Assyrian army from the north. The *Assyrians are advancing nearer and nearer to Judah. Nobody can stop them.

The king of Assyria’s methods

v12 But the king of Assyria is merely carrying out God’s purpose against the people in *Jerusalem. As soon as that purpose is complete, the *Lord will punish the king of Assyria. This is because of the king’s proud words. v13 The king had been declaring that he had won all his battles by his own strength and wisdom. He had destroyed boundaries between nations. He had *seized their national treasures (precious objects). He had overcome the inhabitants. v14 Each of the nations was like a bird’s nest. ‘I gathered the wealth of the nations as easily as someone could gather eggs from a nest. Not a wing moved. Not a beak (bird’s mouth) opened to frighten me.’

Verse 12

The *Assyrians do not realise that they are merely a temporary tool in God’s hand. The *Lord, not people, controls history.

Verse 13

It was common to use a pile of stones to mark a boundary (see Deuteronomy 19:14). Someone who removed such a mark was claiming the land as their own (see Deuteronomy 27:17).

Verse 14

To *seize the wealth of the nations also means that they cannot buy more arms to defend themselves. The king is like someone who takes eggs from a nest. This picture in words means that the king prevents the possibility of new forces to oppose him.

God answers the king of Assyria

v15 An axe is not greater than the man who uses it. Nor is a saw more important than the man who saws. A heavy stick cannot raise either itself or the hand that holds it. v16 Therefore the *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) will send a disease that will make even the strongest *Assyrian soldier very weak. A terrible illness will seem like a fire in the body that burns constantly. v17 The God of Israel will act like a fire. Israel’s holy God will act like a flame. In one day that fire will burn everything that belongs to Assyria, even their bushes. v18 The fire will completely destroy the rich forests and fields, even as a final illness kills a man. v19 So few trees will remain that even a child will be able to count them on his fingers.

Verse 15

The king of Assyria has made a great mistake. Military arms may be the most modern and efficient. But unless the soldiers are able to use them, the arms have no value whatever.

Verse 16

This probably refers to the sudden fate of the *Assyrian army. In one night, 185 000 soldiers died (see 37:36-37).

A few people will return

v20 On that day the few people that remain in Israel and in Judah will never again have to depend on the *Assyrians for supplies. They will completely depend on the *Lord, the Holy God of Israel. v21 Only a few people will return to the All-Powerful God of Israel. v22 The people in Israel were once like the sand on the shore in number. But only a very few people will return. God has decided to destroy his people, as they deserve. v23 The *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) has decided to punish everyone in the entire country.

Verse 21

The few people who returned could see a great promise from God in the name of Isaiah’s son Shear-jashub (see 7:4).

·     ‘All-Powerful God’ is one of the titles of the *Messiah (see 9:6).

God will punish Assyria

v24 Now the *Lord, the *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies), speaks to God’s people who still live in *Jerusalem. Do not be afraid of the *Assyrians when they hit you with heavy sticks. They behave as the *Egyptians did long ago.

v25 Very soon my anger will end. v26 Then the *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) will attack the *Assyrians. As once he did when he struck the *Midianite army at the Rock of Oreb. And the All-Powerful *Lord will make a path through the sea. As once he did against Egypt. v27 On that day the *Assyrians will not still rule your nation. It will feel as if a heavy weight has gone from your shoulders.

Verse 24

Long ago, the *Egyptians were very cruel to the *Israelites (see Exodus 1:11).

Verse 26

·     Gideon and his little band of men attacked the great *Midianite army. They killed the *Midianite commander, Oreb. Afterwards, the place where he died was called the Rock of Oreb (see Judges 7:24-25).

·     God acted so that Moses was able to lead the people to safety across the sea (see Exodus 14:29-31).

The enemy attacks

v28 *Assyrian soldiers are coming from Samaria. They have reached the town called Aiath. They have marched through Migram. They have left some of their supplies at Michmash. v29 They have crossed the valley. They are spending the night at Geba. Terror has filled the people in Ramah. Everyone has run from Saul’s town called Gibeah. v30 The people in the towns called Gallim and Laisha are screaming. And poor Anathoth! Your fate is terrible! v31 People are running from Madmena and Gebim. v32 But the enemy stops at Nob for the rest of the day. The soldiers shake their fists at *Jerusalem. v33-34 Now the *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) will completely destroy the vast *Assyrian army. As a man with a powerful axe could destroy the greatest of trees in the forests of Lebanon.

Verse 28

Aiath is probably the same town as Ai (see Joshua chapter 7). Aiath and Micram are at the south end of the northern country called Samaria.

Verses 29-31

Geba is in the north of Judah. The *Assyrians are now over the border, as they advance towards *Jerusalem. Anathoth was where Jeremiah was born (see Jeremiah 1:1). All the places in these verses are towns and villages in the area. The inhabitants are in great fear.

Verse 32

The *Assyrians will be able to see *Jerusalem from the town called Nob. ‘Shake their fists’ means to threaten (warn) the inhabitants. The *Assyrian attack will be fierce.

Verses 33-34

The situation seems beyond human help. But often, that is when God acts to rescue his people (see Matthew 19:25-26).

The king who is coming

v1 Like a branch that grows from a *stump, somebody from Jesse’s family will one day become king of Israel. v2 The Spirit of the *Lord will rest (remain) upon him. The Spirit will give him wisdom, intelligence and strength. The Spirit will teach him to know what the *Lord desires. v3 This king’s greatest joy will be to obey the *Lord perfectly. The king will not make any decision only by what he sees with his eyes. Nor will he issue any judgement only by what he hears with his ears. v4 He will deal fairly with poor people. He will defend the *rights of people who have no helpers. He will punish wicked people who are cruel to poor people. v5 Because the king will rule his people rightly and with truth.

Verse 1

One of Jesse’s sons was David, who followed Saul as king of Israel. David overcame all of Israel’s enemies. He established national *worship. And he prepared for the construction of the *Temple in *Jerusalem (see 1 Chronicles chapters 11 to 29).

·     ‘Son of David’ was a title of the *Messiah that the people in Judah and Israel were expecting.

Verse 2

David did many great things for his people. But his own life was not perfect (see 2 Samuel chapters 11 to 12).

·     God’s Spirit will provide the king that is coming with special gifts (skills) and qualities. Other national leaders can only pretend to possess such qualities.

Peace at last

v6 Fierce animals will live calmly with young sheep and young goats. v7 Cows and bears will feed together. Lions will eat straw as the farmer’s animals do. And a little child will look after them. v8 Young children will play safely near the hole of a poisonous snake. They will even put their hands on its nest. v9 Nobody will hurt or destroy anywhere on my holy mountain. For the land will be as full of the knowledge about the *Lord as the waters fill the sea.

Verses 6-8

The *Messiah’s arrival will bring about perfect harmony (peace and calm) in all life. This includes the animals, especially those animals that are natural enemies. No person or animal will be afraid of another.

God’s people will return

v10 One day, this new king from the family of Jesse (David’s father) will come. His arrival will be the signal to all the nations to gather in the royal city (*Jerusalem) to give him honour. His own nation will become famous. v11 When that day comes, the *Lord will again use his power. He will bring back his people from foreign countries. They will come from Assyria and from Egypt. From Cush and from Elam. From Shinar and from Hamath. From the land along the coast. v12 The *Lord will raise a flag as a signal to nations all over the world. He will show the nations that he is bringing back his people from foreign lands. v13 Ephraim’s jealous attitudes will vanish. Judah will not still want to fight. Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah. Judah will not still want to fight Ephraim. v14 Together Ephraim and Judah will attack the *Philistines to the west. Together they will *seize the possessions of the nations to the east. They will overcome Edom and Moab. Ammon will obey their rule. v15 The *Lord will dry part of the Red Sea near Egypt. He will send a very hot wind to divide the river called Euphrates into seven streams. The streams will be shallow enough for people to cross. v16 So for God’s people who are returning, there will be a good road from Assyria. Just as when their families at the time of Moses escaped from Egypt.

Verse 10

Foreign nations will want to know more about Israel’s *Messiah.

Verse 12

‘Raise a flag’ is a picture in words. In a battle, the commander’s flag was flying high for all to see. In this way his forces kept together under his orders (control).

·     In this verse the ‘flag’ was reminding the world that the *Lord really controls history. That is, he controls the nations and their activities. The nations will not be able to stop the return of God’s people to their own land. This is God’s plan, so the nations can do nothing to prevent it.

Verse 13

As another example of his power, the *Lord will bring back unity between Ephraim and Judah (see my note at the beginning of Chapter 7).

Verses 15-16

As still another example of his power, the *Lord makes his people’s return easier by his control of nature.

A song to praise God

v1 On the day that you are free, you will sing. ‘I give you honour, *Lord! You have been very angry with your people. But your anger has ended. Now you have comforted me. v2 You will keep me safe. I shall not be afraid. My power and my strength come from you, *Lord. You have saved me.’

v3 It is as if your people have been desperate to find water to drink. Then somebody provides a wonderful fountain. The cool water saves your life. What joy is yours! v4 On that day you will offer grateful thanks to the *Lord. And you will give him great honour. You will tell other nations what a wonderful God he is. v5 Sing to the *Lord! He has done such wonderful things. Let all the world know! v6 The Holy God of Israel is great. And he lives among you. So shout aloud and sing with great joy, you people of God!

Verse 1

Israel’s punishment is now over. So God’s anger has ended, as he promised (see 10:25).

Verse 2

One of Isaiah’s important messages to his hearers is ‘Do not be afraid!’ (see 7:4; 8:12; 10:24; 37:6; 40:9; 44:8).

·     Somebody who has known personally God’s rescue is confident. That person knows that he can trust God completely. There is no need whatever to be afraid.

Verses 4-6

To tell other people about one’s own experience of God is a great way to praise him.

The next major division of the Book of Isaiah is chapters 13 to 23. These 11 chapters are about the history of foreign countries that affect Judah in some way. Isaiah does not aim to give a complete history of these other countries. Instead, Isaiah explains how God controls the actions of these other nations. Isaiah’s intention is to show God’s constant care for his people.

God will punish Babylon

v1 *Woe to Babylon! God gave this special message to Isaiah son of Amoz. v2 From the top of a hill raise a flag as a signal. Shout aloud your orders! Raise your hand to order the attack! The soldiers are to break through the gates of Babylon’s proud rulers. v3 The *Lord has given orders to his very best soldiers. His proud heroes are to show how very angry he is.

v4 Listen to the noise on the mountains! Hear the sound of a vast crowd of people! Many nations are joining forces. The *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) is bringing together his soldiers for battle. v5 Soldiers are coming from distant nations. The *Lord is so angry that he will ruin the whole country. v6 Cry and weep! The day is coming when the All-Powerful *Lord will make the whole land a bare (empty) desert. v7 Terror will fill everyone. Courage will vanish. v8 All the people will tremble with pain, like a mother when her child is being born. People will stare at each other with terror on their faces.

Verse 1

The ancient city of Babylon (see Genesis 10:10) was on the river called Euphrates (in modern Iraq). From the beginning the rulers of Babylon had proud ambitions that led to very serious results for many other people (see Genesis 11:1-9). Even in Isaiah’s day, Babylon was causing constant troubles to Assyria, which was the ruling power. God’s message helped Isaiah to realise that Babylon would soon be Judah’s real enemy (see Chapter 39).

Verse 2

‘Raise a flag’ (see my note on 11:12)

Verses 3-5

This is another example of God’s control over foreign nations, on behalf of his people. These nations will be his agents, who carry out his judgement.

Verse 6

‘The day is coming.’ On that day, people will see clearly what God is doing. His powerful deeds will impress everyone. The date is God’s secret.

God will punish proud people

v9 The day of the *Lord is near. ‘I shall not pity anyone when that time comes. Because I am so angry, I shall destroy the land. And I shall kill every wicked person in it. v10 The stars in the sky will not shine. The sun will be dark when it rises. The moon will give no light. v11 I shall severely punish the inhabitants of the world because of their evil actions. I shall punish all who are proud and selfish. v12 Few people will remain after I have finished my work. It will be easier to find pure gold than to find people that remain. v13 I shall make the skies tremble. I shall shake the foundations (the base) of the earth.’ These things will happen because the *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) is so very angry.

Verse 9

‘The day of the *Lord’: see my note on verse 6.

Verse 10

Isaiah uses pictures in words to describe how total is the effect of God’s action. The darkness will be extraordinary because no light whatever reaches the world from the stars. Or from the sun, or from the moon. This does not mean that God removes them from the sky. But he covers them so completely that no light whatever reaches people on the earth.

The end of Babylon’s power

v14 Foreigners who were living in Babylon will rush home to their own land. Just as an animal runs from the hunter. Just as sheep scatter when nobody looks after them. v15-16 In Babylon, the soldiers will kill anyone that they catch. They will even kill children. They will rob houses of all valuable things. The soldiers will force women to have sex with them. v17 God declares that he is sending the *Medes to ruin Babylon. No amount of silver or gold will tempt them not to attack.

v18 The *Medes will kill the young men with bows and arrows. They will not pity babies or children. v19 Babylon is the most beautiful of cities. But I shall completely destroy it, just as I destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. v20 Nobody will ever live there again. No *Arab will erect a tent there. Nobody who looks after sheep will ever take them there.

v21 Only wild goats and other animals of the desert will live there. And birds will nest there. v22 The noise in Babylon’s castles and palaces will be the sound of wild dogs. Babylon’s end has come. Babylon will not continue to exist.

Verse 17

The *Medes came from the country that is today called Iran (Persia). They joined forces with the army from Persia in the attack that destroyed Babylon in the year 539 *BC.

Verse 18

‘Young men’ often means ‘men old enough to fight as soldiers’. That is also why ‘bows and arrows’ appear in this verse.

·     Attackers usually pitied babies and children. But even they would not escape death. The cruel actions of the *Medes will be against everyone, of whatever age.

Verse 19

God totally destroyed the cities called Sodom and Gomorrah (see Genesis chapter 19). The city called Babylon was immensely larger than Sodom and Gomorrah. And Babylon was famous for its wonderful buildings. But now Babylon’s fate is certain.

Verse 20

Today what remains of Babylon’s beautiful buildings and impressive avenues lies underneath many feet of sand.

The *Lord’s people will come home

v1 The *Lord will pity the people from Israel. He will again choose them to be his special people. He will bring them back to their own country. And now foreigners will want to join them as part of the *Lord’s special people. v2 Foreigners will lead the people back home to Israel. And the people from Israel will use the foreigners as male and female slaves in the *Lord’s country. The people from Israel will now have authority over those who once ruled them so cruelly.

Verse 1

The people from Israel had suffered because they did not obey the *Lord. But now their punishment is complete. So now the *Lord will again choose the people from Israel to have a special relationship with him. The *Lord will arrange for their return home to their own land. Babylon had merely been God’s agent to punish Israel. Babylon’s end will mean freedom for God’s people.

Verse 2

Former slaves (the people from Israel) will exchange roles with their former masters (the people from Babylon).

The fate of the king of Babylon

v3 The *Lord will bring relief from pain to his people. He will bring them relief from what they suffered as slaves. v4 Then they will laugh at the powerful king of Babylon when they sing this song:

          ‘See how that cruel criminal has come to his end!

          He will never attack us again.’

v5-6 The *Lord has broken the power of the evil rulers. They struck whole nations with angry blows. They never stopped their cruelty to the inhabitants. v7 Everywhere there is now peace. All nations are singing with joy. v8 Even the great trees in Lebanon seem to be glad. Since the king died, nobody has chopped them.

v9 *Sheol is very excited. The spirits of dead rulers know that the spirit of the dead king of Babylon is coming to join them. v10 They will say to him, ‘Now you are just as weak as any of us! v11 Your proud power and your music have ended here in *Sheol. You lie on a bed of *worms. And *worms cover you like a blanket. v12 You shine like the dawn. But you have really fallen from the sky! In the past you overcame other nations. Now you have suffered the same fate. God has chopped you to the ground, just as men cut down a tree.

v13 You proudly said to yourself, “I shall climb up to heaven. I shall place my royal seat above the highest stars. I shall sit with the gods, far away in the north. v14 I shall be above the clouds, just like God Most High.”

v15 But instead, God has sent you to the deepest part of *Sheol.’

v16 Those who see you will stare at you. This is the man who made the world tremble. This is the man who shook countries. v17 He overcame cities. He made the earth a desert. He is the cruel king who refused to let prisoners go home.

v18 When kings die, men bury them with honour in a splendid royal grave. v19 But nobody will bury you. You will be just another dead body, like a dead branch on the ground. You will be like dead soldiers after a battle. People throw the bodies into a hole, one on top of another. v20 Men will not bury you with honour, as they have buried other kings. Because it was your own land that you ruined. It was your own people that you murdered. No son of yours will ever be king. v21 We shall kill your sons. We shall make them pay for the crimes of their father. Your sons will never *seize the world. They will not build new cities everywhere, as you did. v22-23 The *Lord will ruin the city called Babylon, so that it is merely a home for wild animals. And he will flood the country that surrounds the city.

Verse 8

The evil rulers had been using masses of wood for fuel and when they attacked the walls of cities. They had no consideration for the future. Trees need years to grow.

Verse 11

The ‘music’ of those who had been wicked rulers refers to their former comfortable life of luxury. Instead of magnificent meals, the body of the king will himself become food for *worms.

Verses 12-15

Many readers have seen in these verses a reference to the future punishment of Satan (the devil).

Verse 12

This verse describes the proud ambition of the king of Babylon. But it warns that very bad things will happen to him in the end.

Verse 13

‘Far away in the north’ refers to the sacred mountain called Zephon in northern Syria. The former inhabitants of *Canaan believed that all the gods met there. The proud king of Babylon thought that he was as great as any god. He supposed himself to be a god because he was the most important king in the world.

Verse 14

The king of Babylon’s determination to *seize complete power made him act madly. He even stole the property of his own people. And he killed anyone who tried to oppose him.

Verse 21

The king’s own sons would suffer because of their father’s wicked behaviour (see Exodus 34:7).

God will also punish Assyria

v24 The *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) makes a serious promise. ‘All will happen, *exactly as I have arranged. What I have decided to do, I shall certainly carry out. v25 I shall break up the *Assyrians who have been occupying my special land. They shall become like dirt upon my mountains. And my people shall never again be their slaves. v26 This is the plan that I have decided for the whole earth. I have raised my hand against all nations.’ v27 The *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) has prepared his plan. Nobody can stop it. He lifts his hand. He is ready to strike. Nobody can oppose him.

Verse 25

This probably refers to the intention of the *Assyrian army to attack Judah in 701 *BC (see 2 Kings chapter 19).

Verses 26-27

‘Lifts his hand’: see my note on 9:12.

God will also punish the *Philistines

v28 A special message from God came to Isaiah in the year when Ahaz king of Judah died. v29 Do not be glad, all you *Philistines! Once it seemed as if a heavy stick was striking you. You are glad because now that heavy stick has broken. But that heavy stick will become like a poisonous snake. And that snake will turn into something *fiery that flies. v30 The very poorest of my people will live in safety. And they will be able to feed their sheep in my green fields. But you *Philistines will starve. And I shall kill any that remain. v31 Cry aloud in the city! Shout for help! All the *Philistines tremble with fear! A cloud of dust is coming from the north. Another powerful army is approaching. Every enemy soldier is ready to attack. v32 What shall we say to *messengers that come to us from the *Philistines? Tell them that *Jerusalem is the *Lord’s foundation. Even the poorest of his people will find safety and security there.

Verse 28

Ahaz died in 716 *BC.

Verse 29

The ‘heavy stick’ is a picture in words of an enemy’s attack. God warns the *Philistines that something even worse than the *Assyrian attack is coming.

Verse 32

People will never find real safety in great armies. They will only find real safety in the great *Lord God.

God will punish Moab

v1 God gave Isaiah this special message about Moab. Enemies will suddenly attack Moab. They will completely destroy the important towns called Ar and Kir in one night. The shock will cause all the people in Moab to be silent. v2 The people in Dibon will go to the high place to weep. The people in Moab will cry because of the fate of Nebo and Medeba. People will shave the hair from their heads. Men will cut their beards. v3 People will wear *sackcloth in the streets. On roofs and in public places, people cry bitterly. Tears are pouring down their cheeks. v4 The inhabitants of Heshbon and Elealeh shout because of their pain. The sound of their voices reaches even as far as Jahaz. Moab’s soldiers are very afraid. Terror fills them.

v5 I feel so sorry for the people from Moab. Some of them have reached Zoar and Eglath as they try to escape from the enemy. They are crying as they climb the road to Luhith. They are in tears because of what has happened. v6 The wells at Nimrim are dry. The grass is brown. No new grass is growing. Nothing remains. v7 Therefore the people from Moab carry what they can across the little Stream of the Trees. v8 People are weeping across the whole country called Moab, from one end to the other end. v9 God declares that the stream near Dibon will run red because of the blood. But he has not finished yet! Lions will hunt the people who are escaping. And lions will also hunt the people who remain.

Verse 1

Isaiah mentions many places in this short chapter. So he shows how completely enemies had ruined the whole country called Moab.

Verse 2

For people to shave the head was a sign that they were very sad.

Verse 7

The enemy attacked from the north. The people from Moab ran away from them to the south. Like all *refugees in times of war, they tried to carry a few possessions with them.

·     The ‘Stream of the Trees’ was probably the little river called Zered. It marked Moab’s southern border with Edom.

Moab asks for help

v1 From the town called Sela in the desert, Moab’s people send a gift of young sheep to the king of Judah in *Jerusalem. v2 At a shallow point in the river Arnon, the worried young women from Moab are desperate for news. They wander about like anxious birds. They seem like young birds that have lost their nest. v3 The *messengers who brought the gift to *Jerusalem ask the king of Judah for advice and for help. v4 ‘Please give us a safe place in your country. Please protect us. Please do not hand us over to our enemies.’

The present terror will come to an end. Moab’s enemy will disappear. v5 Then in love God will establish a man from David’s family to be Judah’s king. That king will give judgement fairly. He will not hesitate to do what is right.

Verse 1

Lambs (young sheep) were a traditional gift among the people in Moab (see 2 Kings 3:4).

Verse 2

Young women are the *refugees in greatest danger during times of war.

Verses 4-5

There was always a close relation between the people from Judah and the people from Moab, especially during times of trouble (see Ruth 1:1).

The end of Moab’s pride

v6 It is common knowledge that the people in Moab are so very proud. We all know about their silly excess of pride. That pride has no *foundation whatever. v7 The people in Moab will soon be weeping. The whole nation will cry bitterly because of the fate of Kir-hareseth. Enemies have completely ruined the splendid fields of *vines in that district. v8 Enemies have destroyed the farms and the fields in Heshbon and the *vines in Sibmah. Alcohol in the famous red *wine of these places was very powerful. It caused the rulers of nations to become drunks. The *vines once reached as far as Jazer and the Dead Sea. v9 Therefore I shall weep for the people in Sibmah and in Jazer. I shall cry bitterly for the inhabitants of Heshbon and Elealeh. There is no harvest to make the people glad. v10 There will be no more joy and happiness in the fields. They will never again make *wine from *grapes. Nobody will hear the songs and the cheerful shouts of the workers as they collect the harvest. v11 I am so very sorry for the people in Moab and the people in Kir-hareseth. v12 When the people in Moab go to pray at their special place, they are wasting their time and effort. They will receive no answer from their gods.

v13 All these events are what the *Lord said about Moab long ago. v14 And now the *Lord declares that in *exactly three years from now, other nations will joke about Moab’s splendid past. Very few people will remain in Moab. And they will be weak. Other nations will consider them to be of little value.

Verses 6-7

A proud attitude is not merely stupid. It always disappoints. And it ends in tears.

Verse 14

‘*Exactly three years’ This is the sort of language that a hired workman uses. He will frequently calculate the number of days that still remain on his contract. People can completely trust what God says. So these words emphasise this principle. It is as sure as a legal contract.

God will punish Damascus and Israel

v1 God gave Isaiah this special message about Damascus (capital of Syria). *Woe to Damascus! It will become merely a heap of stones. v2 The villages round Aroer will be empty of people. Only sheep will live there and nobody will disturb them. v3 Attackers will destroy Syria. The *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) has promised that Syria’s fate will be the same as the fate of Israel.

Verse 1

That is, enemies will destroy the city completely. They will knock down all the stone buildings.

Verse 3

Both Syria and Israel will lose their defences.

Israel’s fate

v4 When the time comes for God to act, Israel will lose its greatness. v5 The land of Israel will be as empty as a field after workers have collected the harvest. Only a few grains of corn remain. v6 The people in Israel will be like the few *olives that remain on the top branch of a tree after harvest. The *Lord God of Israel has spoken. v7 (Only then will the people from Israel again turn back to the God who created them. Only then will they again obey the Holy God of Israel.) v8 They had made *altars to images of false gods. And they had set up sacred places where they burned *incense to give honour to Asherah. They had also erected special poles in her honour. But now the people from Israel will not join in these activities. v9 On that day your strong cities will be empty of people. Like the cities of the Hittites and Amorites long ago when the army of Israel approached. These cities will again be empty. Weeds and bushes will cover them. v10 Because you forgot the God who saved you. You did not remember that God is your strong Rock (your security). So plant your gardens that are sacred to Baal, that foreign god. v11 Protect your gardens with a fence on the day that you plant them. Next morning your seeds will begin to grow. But then disease will strike them and they will all die.

Verse 4

‘Israel’s greatness’ refers to all that makes the people so proud.

Verses 5-6

The word ‘harvest’ refers to the happiest time in the year. People feel great satisfaction because food is plentiful. But attention here is on the bare fields immediately after harvest. The crops and fruit are not still there. Hardly anything remains.

Verse 7

In the end, the people will realise why God is punishing them. And then they will return to God. In other words, they will obey him again.

Verse 8

Asherah was the female god that the local inhabitants of *Canaan *worshipped.

Verse 9

The Hittites and the Amorites were living in *Canaan before the arrival of the *Israelites from Egypt (see Joshua 24:11).

Verse 10

‘Your strong Rock’ is a picture in words of Israel’s God. He offers security. He is like a great mountain. If only his people would run to him, they would be safe from their enemies.

God will defend his people

v12 The loud noise of great armies! Their loud noise is like the loud noise of the sea! The roar of nations! Their roar is like the roar of powerful waters! v13 But when God merely shouts at those great armies, they run! They disappear like leaves on the hills before a wild storm. v14 In the evening, they are causing terror. By the morning, they have all gone. Such is the fate of any enemies that would rob us of our possessions.

Verse 14

When God acts to defend his people, the result is immediate and total. It is God who is the real ruler of the nations of the world. He will act for the benefit of his people.

God will punish Cush

v1 *Woe to the country called Cush where clouds of insects fly across the rivers. v2 The people in Cush have sent *messengers across the sea. The *messengers have travelled in fast boats over the water.

Return home, fast *messengers. Go back to your nation of tall people with smooth skins. To your cruel nation that spreads fear everywhere. To your powerful nation of strange speech, to your land of many rivers. v3 Watch, all you people of the world! Listen, you who live on the earth! When a sign appears on the top of the mountains, you will see it. And when the alarm sounds, you will hear it.

v4 The *Lord said to me, ‘I shall simply watch from where I am. I shall be as quiet as warmth that comes from the sun. I shall be as quiet as the early mist when it lifts in the summer of harvest.’

v5 Before the new *grapes appear, an enemy will have destroyed the great army of Cush. It will happen as easily as a sharp knife cuts branches from a tree. v6 All the soldiers will be dead. Their bodies will be food for vultures (birds that eat dead bodies) all the summer and for wild animals all the winter. v7 The time is coming when the *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) will accept gifts from the fierce inhabitants of the land of many rivers. And the tall people with smooth skins, who once frightened everyone, will give honour to the *Lord in *Jerusalem.

Verse 1

Cush was a country that today forms part of southern Egypt and northern Sudan.

·     ‘Clouds of insects’ is one possible translation of a very rare Hebrew form of words. Or the words may refer to the sails of small boats on the rivers. Either translation could correctly refer to the land of Cush.

Verse 2

The people in Cush have sent *messengers to invite Judah to join in a force against Assyria. But Isaiah’s message told them to return home. Military unions will never be sufficient. God’s people should trust the *Lord alone for success.

‘Smooth skins’ refers to the fact that the men of Cush shaved their faces. Many other people from the east did not shave (see Genesis 41:14).

Verse 3

People used high places, for example the tops of mountains, to send important news quickly and over vast distances. But in this verse ‘sign’ and ‘alarm’ give a picture in words. The meaning is ‘a clear message that everybody can understand’.

Verse 4

The *Lord remains calm. What is about to happen between nations does not affect him in any way. But when he sees that the time is right, he will suddenly act. Then nothing can stop him. Nobody can stop him.

Verses 5-6

The *Lord will use some nation’s army to destroy the huge forces of Cush. He, and not some political leader, is in control of the events of history.

Verse 7

See Isaiah 60:10-14.

God will punish Egypt

v1 God gave this special message to Isaiah son of Amoz. The *Lord is coming to Egypt. He is riding on a cloud that moves quickly. The false gods of Egypt will tremble. The courage of the inhabitants of Egypt will disappear because of their fear. v2 I shall make the people in Egypt fight each other. Brothers against brothers. Neighbours against neighbours. Citizens against citizens. People in one region against people in another region. v3 The inhabitants of Egypt will lose their courage completely. I shall confuse their thoughts. The *Egyptians will try to get advice from their false gods and from the spirits of dead persons. v4 I shall hand over the inhabitants of Egypt to a fierce foreign king. He will rule them cruelly. The *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) has spoken.

Verse 1

‘Riding on a cloud’ describes the power of God, who controls storms (see Psalm 18:10-15). As clouds race across the sky in a storm, so God is racing to rescue his people. That was also David’s experience (see Psalm 18:16-19).

Verse 2

God is causing these quarrels to happen. He will greatly upset all kinds of relations. So the *Egyptians will be even less able to oppose any attack by an enemy.

Verse 3

Because of the *Lord’s immense power, false gods and people alike are unable to do anything. To expect *idols or dead persons to tell them what to do is hopeless. In any case, God has forbidden such activity.

Verse 4

God does not mention the name of the cruel enemy.

Trouble on the Nile

v5 The waters of the river Nile will fail to flow. v6 The channels of the river will get smaller and smaller. v7 The plants that grew in the water will become dry. They will die. Then the wind will carry off the dried plants. No trace of them will remain. v8 People who fish in the river Nile will weep bitterly. People who throw a net into the water will be so very sad. There are no fish to catch. No fish to sell. No income. v9 People who grow plants for material to make cloth will not know what to do. v10 All who work in the trade will be in despair. All who were earning wages by this work will now receive no money.

Verse 5

The Nile has always been vital for the inhabitants of Egypt. The river provides food and trade. Boats carry passengers and goods up and down the river.

·     Winter rains flow into the Nile from the high hills of central Africa. Summer rains flow into the Nile from the high hills of Ethiopia. All this water causes the Nile to flood large areas of Egypt regularly. The floods leave behind good soil on the plains for farmers to use.

·     But if the waters fail for some reason, the people in Egypt are soon in very serious trouble.

Verse 6-7

As the level of the water drops, plants die. The wind carries away not only the dead plants but also the valuable soil, which is now dry dust.

Verse 8-10

Such a terrible trouble must affect the whole life of the people in Egypt.

Unwise leaders in Egypt

v11 The leaders of the government in Zoan are fools. The wisest of the king’s advisers are stupid. Yet they tell the king that they come from a family of wise princes. v12 King, you have such very wise advisers. So these very wise men should tell the king about the plan that the *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) has made against Egypt. v13 The royal officials in Zoan and in Memphis are all fools. Egypt’s great men have led the people in Egypt in the wrong direction. v14 The *Lord has completely confused the officials. They are leading the nation away from the right direction. They are making their people walk like drunks. v15 There will be nothing that anybody in Egypt can do. Both important and unimportant people can do nothing. v16 On the day when the *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) acts, the inhabitants of Egypt will be like weak women. They will tremble with fear. v17 The people from Judah will put terror into the *Egyptians. If someone only mentions Judah’s name, everybody in Egypt will be greatly afraid. They feel such great fear because of the things that the *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) has decided to do.

Verse 11

The previous verses described God’s control over nature. Now he shows his control over people, over even the most important officials. They may think that they have political power. But God still carries out his purposes.

Verse 13

Memphis was the capital of Egypt before Zoan.

Verse 14

How foolish then for God’s people even to imagine that Egypt could help them against an enemy.

Verse 17

The people in Egypt will even be afraid to hear the name ‘Judah’. That name will remind the people in Egypt about Judah’s all-powerful God.

God will bless Egypt and Assyria as well as Israel

v18 The time is coming when the inhabitants of five cities in the country called Egypt will speak Hebrew (the language of the people from Judah). And they will make promises to the *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies). One of the cities will be called City of the Sun.

v19 On that day there will be an *altar of stone in the country called Egypt to give honour to the *Lord. And a sacred column near the border to give honour to the *Lord. v20 The *altar and the column will be evidence that the *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) is present in the country called Egypt. If the people suffer because of an enemy, they will be able to cry to the *Lord for help. And he will send them a strong defender to rescue them. v21 The *Lord will make himself known to the *Egyptians. From that day the *Egyptians will know the *Lord. And they will show him honour. They will give him valuable gifts. They will make promises to the *Lord and they will carry them out. v22 After the *Lord has punished the *Egyptians, they will turn to him. And he will cure them when they pray to him.

v23 When that time comes, a good road will link Egypt and Assyria. The *Egyptians and the *Assyrians will travel along that road in both directions. And people from both nations will give honour to the *Lord together. v24 When that time comes, Israel will be a great nation like Egypt and Assyria. And these three nations will be of great benefit to all the world.

v25 The *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) declares, ‘I will say and do good things to Egypt, my people. And to Assyria, whom I created. And to Israel, my special people.’

Verses 18-25

These last verses of Chapter 19 look ahead to some time still in the future.

Verse 18

The five cities probably include Migdol, Tahpanhes, Memphis and Pathros, where *Jews were living (see Jeremiah 44:1). These four cities were near the border with Judah. The ‘City of the Sun’ is a translation of the name of the city called Heliopolis.

Verse 21

The *worship of the *Lord in Egypt will be public and official.

Verse 24

Again Isaiah is emphasising that international events are under God’s control. The benefit will come from the *Lord, but by means of these three nations.

Verse 25

Centuries earlier, God had promised Abraham that all the families of the earth would one day come to know Abraham’s God and Abraham’s people (see Genesis 12:1-3).

Isaiah himself will be a sign to Egypt and Cush

v1 Sargon, *emperor of Assyria, ordered the commander of his army to attack the *Philistine town called Ashdod.

v2 Three years earlier the *Lord had told Isaiah son of Amoz to take off his clothes and his shoes. Isaiah obeyed and he went about naked and without shoes on his feet.

v3 After the *Assyrians had *seized Ashdod, the *Lord said, ‘My servant Isaiah has been going about naked and without shoes for three years. This is a sign of the terrible troubles that will happen to Egypt and to Cush. v4 The king of Assyria will *seize the people in Egypt and the people in Cush as prisoners. He will *seize them whether they are young or old. He will make them walk naked and without shoes on their feet. They will be greatly ashamed. v5 The other nations thought that Cush and Egypt would be strong enough to support them against Assyria. But then they will be in despair. v6 People who live along the coast will see these events. And those people will say, “We had hoped that Cush and Egypt would protect us against the *Assyrian army. But now we realise that we cannot hope to escape.” ’

Verse 1

Ashdod was one of the five major towns of the *Philistines.

Sargon was *emperor of Assyria. His *empire included the country of the *Philistines. But in 711 *BC the king of Ashdod tried to fight for freedom.

He also tried to get Judah and other states to join him. So Sargon ordered his army commander to attack Ashdod.

Verse 2

Instead of words, God sometimes told his servants to use actions (see Jeremiah chapter 13). This is the only occasion when Isaiah used actions to give God’s message.

Verse 3

Cush was a country that today forms part of southern Egypt and northern Sudan.

Verse 6

God’s people can now see for themselves that to depend on political agreements is hopeless. Only the *Lord can save them.

altar ~ special stone where priests burned animals as gifts to God, or to a false god.

Arab ~ a person from a country called Arabia. This may not mean the same people as Arabs today.

Assyrian ~ a person from the country called Assyria; or anything that has a relationship with the country called Assyria.

BC ~ ‘Before Christ’ (for dates before the birth of Jesus Christ).

bless ~ to say and to do good things for someone.

Canaan ~ original name of the country that God gave to his people.

Egyptian ~ a person from the country called Egypt, or anything that has a relationship with the country called Egypt.

emperor ~ royal ruler over an *empire.

empire ~ group of many countries that a powerful king had *seized.

exact, exactly ~ we use these words to emphasise that something is accurate.

fiery ~ something that seems like fire.

foundation ~ something strong that you can trust in order to establish something else firmly.

grapes ~ small sweet fruit of the *vine. The juice of grapes makes *wine.

idol ~ home-made image of a god.

incense ~ substance to burn for its sweet smell to give honour to God.

Israelites ~ Jacob had 12 sons. In later centuries, their large families would grow into a nation, called the Israelites. For a long time, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. But God freed them by means of Moses. God gave them the country called *Canaan. And there, long afterwards, the Israelites formed two nations, called Judah and Israel.

Jerusalem ~ at the time of David and Solomon, the capital of the country called Israel. During the time of Isaiah, Jerusalem was the capital of the country called Judah.

Jews ~ people who belong to the countries called Judah and Israel; people who belong to the 12 *tribes of Israel.

Lord ~ God’s name in the Bible. In the original language, God’s names mean ‘head over all’ and ‘God always’.

Mede ~ a person from the country called Media.

messenger ~ a person who carries a message.

Messiah ~ *Old Testament title for Christ.

Midianite ~ a person from the country called Midian, or anything that had a relationship with the country called Midian.

Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible. It contains 39 books, all from the time before Jesus was born.

olives ~ fruit of a tree that people use to make oil.

Philistine ~ a person from the country called Philistia, or anything that had a relationship with the country called Philistia.

refugees ~ people who have had to leave their homes, especially during war.

rights ~ the rules that protect weaker people in a country with good government.

sackcloth ~ dress of rough material that people wore to show that they were very sad.

seize ~ to take a person’s possessions away from that person, either by law, or in a war. Or, to overcome a city or nation in order to rule it. Or, to take a person as a prisoner or a slave.

Sheol ~ the place where *Jews thought that dead persons went.

stump ~ short lower piece of a tree that remains in the ground after the rest of the tree has gone.

Temple ~ special building in *Jerusalem where *Jews praised God and offered him prayers and gifts.

tribe ~ a group of the later family of one father.

vine ~ plant that produces *grapes.

wine ~ drink that people make from *grapes.

woe ~ a very sad cry because there is much pain to come.

worm ~ tiny thin animal that lives in the ground.

worship ~ to praise God and to pray to him.

© 2006-2007, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

February 2007

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Matthew Henry :: Commentary on Isaiah 10

Chapter 10

The prophet, in this chapter, is dealing,

  • I. With the proud oppressors of his people at home, that abused their power, to pervert justice, whom he would reckon with for their tyranny (v. 1-4).
  • II. With a threatening invader of his people from abroad, Sennacherib king of Assyria, concerning whom observe,
    • 1. The commission given him to invade Judah (v. 5, 6).
    • 2. His pride and insolence in the execution of that commission (v. 7-11, 13, 14).
    • 3. A rebuke given to his haughtiness, and a threatening of his fall and ruin, when he had served the purposes for which God raised him up (v. 12, 15-19).
    • 4. A promise of grace to the people of God, to enable them to bear up under the affliction, and to get good by it (v. 20-23).
    • 5. Great encouragement given to them not to fear this threatening storm, but to hope that, though for the present all the country was put into a great consternation by it, yet it would end well, in the destruction of this formidable enemy (v. 24-34).

And this is intended to quiet the minds of good people in reference to all the threatening efforts of the wrath of the church's enemies. If God be for us, who can be against us? None to do us any harm.

Isa 10:1-4

Whether they were the princes and judges of Israel of Judah, or both, that the prophet denounced this woe against, is not certain: if those of Israel, these verses are to be joined with the close of the foregoing chapter, which is probable enough, because the burden of that prophecy (for all this his anger is not turned away) is repeated here (v. 4); if those of Judah, they then show what was the particular design with which God brought the Assyrian army upon them-to punish their magistrates for mal-administration, which they could not legally be called to account for. To them he speaks woes before he speaks comfort to God's own people. Here is,

  • I. The indictment drawn up against these oppressors, v. 1, 2. They are charged,
    • 1. With making wicked laws and edicts: They decree unrighteous decrees, contrary to natural equity and the law of God: and what mischief they prescribe those under them write it, enrol it, and put it into the formality of a law. "Woe to the superior powers that devise and decree these decrees! they are not too high to be under the divine check. And woe to the inferior officers that draw them up, and enter them upon record-the writers that write the grievousness, they are not too mean to be within the divine cognizance. Principal and accessaries shall fall under the same woe." Note, It is bad to do hurt, but it is worse to do it with design and deliberation, to do wrong to many, and to involve many in the guilt of doing wrong.
    • 2. With perverting justice in the execution of the laws that were made. No people had statutes and judgments to righteous as they had, and yet corrupt judges found ways to turn aside the needy from judgment, to hinder them from coming at their right and recovering what was their due, because they were needy and poor, and such as they could get nothing by nor expect any bribes from.
    • 3. With enriching themselves by oppressing those that lay at their mercy, whom they ought to have protected. They make widows' houses and estates their prey, and they rob the fatherless of the little that is left them, because they have no friend to appear for them. Not to relieve them if they had wanted, not to right them if they were wronged, would have been crime enough in men that had wealth and power; but to rob them because on the side of the oppressors there was power, and the oppressed had no comforter (Eccl. 4:1), was such apiece of barbarity as one would think none could ever be guilty of that had either the nature of a man or the name of an Israelite.
  • II. A challenge given them with all their pride and power to outface the judgments of God (v. 3): "What will you do? To whom will you flee? You can trample upon the widows and fatherless; but what will you do when God riseth up?"Job 31:14. Great men, who tyrannise over the poor, think they shall never be called to account for their tyranny, shall never hear of it again, or fare the worse for it; but shall not God visit for these things?Jer. 5:29. Will there not come a desolation upon those that have made others desolate? Perhaps it may come from far, and therefore may be long in coming; but it will come at last (reprieves are not pardons), and coming from far, from a quarter whence it was least expected, it will be the greater surprise and the more terrible. What will then become of these unrighteous judges? Now they see their help in the gate (Job 31:21); but to whom will they then flee for help? Note,
    • 1. There is a day of visitation coming, a day of enquiry and discovery, a searching day, which will bring to light, to a true light, every man, and every man's work.
    • 2. The day of visitation will be a day of desolation to all wicked people, when all their comforts and hopes will be lost and gone, and buried in ruin, and themselves left desolate.
    • 3. Impenitent sinners will be utterly at a loss, and will no know what to do in the day of visitation and desolation. They cannot fly and hide themselves, cannot fight it out and defend themselves; they have no refuge in which either to shelter themselves from the present evil (to whom will you flee for help?) or to secure to themselves better times hereafter: "Where will you leave your glory, to find it again when the storm is over?" The wealth they had got was their glory, and they had no place of safety in which to deposit that, but they should certainly see it flee away. If our souls be our glory, as they ought to be, and we make them our chief care, we know where to leave them, and into whose hands to commit them, even those of a faithful Creator.
    • 4. It concerns us all seriously to consider what we shall do in the day of visitation, in a day of affliction, in the day of death and judgment, and to provide that we may do well.
  • III. Sentence passed upon them, by which they are doomed, some to imprisonment and captivity (they shall bow down among the prisoners, or under them-those that were most highly elevated in sin shall be most heavily loaded and most deeply sunk in trouble), others to death: they shall fall first, and so shall fall under the rest of the slain. Those that had trampled upon the widows and fatherless shall themselves be trodden down, v. 4. "This it will come to," says God, "without me, that is, because you have deserted me and driven me away from you." Nothing but utter ruin can be expected by those that live without God in the world, that cast him behind their back, and so cast themselves out of his protection.

And yet, for all this, his anger is not turned away, which intimates not only that God will proceed in his controversy with them, but that they shall be in a continual dread of it; they shall, to their unspeakable terror, see his hand still stretched out against them, and there shall remain nothing but a fearful looking for of judgment.

Isa 10:5-19

The destruction of the kingdom of Israel by Shalmaneser king of Assyria was foretold in the foregoing chapter, and it had its accomplishment in the sixth year of Hezekiah, 2 Ki. 18:10. It was total and final, head and tail were all cut off. Now the correction of the kingdom of Judah by Sennacherib king of Assyria is foretold in this chapter; and this prediction was fulfilled in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah, when that potent prince, encouraged by the successes of his predecessor against the ten tribes, came up against all the fenced cities of Judah and took them, and laid siege to Jerusalem (2 Ki. 18:13, 17), in consequence of which we may well suppose Hezekiah and his kingdom were greatly alarmed, though there was a good work of reformation lately begun among them: but it ended well, in the confusion of the Assyrians and the great encouragement of Hezekiah and his people in their return to God. Now let us see here,

  • I. How God, in his sovereignty, deputed the king of Assyria to be his servant, and made use of him as a mere tool to serve his own purposes with (v. 5, 6): "O Assyrian! know this, that thou art the rod of my anger; and I will send thee to be a scourge to the people of my wrath." Observe here,
    • 1. How bad the character of the Jews was, though they appeared very good. They were a hypocritical nation, that made a profession of religion, and at this time particularly of reformation, but were not truly religious, not truly reformed, not so good as they pretended to be now that Hezekiah had brought goodness into fashion. When rulers are pious, and so religion is in reputation, it is common for nations to be hypocritical. They are a profane nation; so some read it. Hezekiah had in a great measure cured them of their idolatry, and now they ran into profaneness; nay, hypocrisy is profaneness: none profane the name of God so much as those who are called by that name and call upon it, and yet live in sin. Being a profane hypocritical nation, they are the people of God's wrath; they lie under his wrath, and are likely to be consumed by it. Note, Hypocritical nations are the people of God's wrath: nothing is more offensive to God than dissimulation in religion. See what a change sin made: those that had been God's chosen and hallowed people, above all people, had now become the people of his wrath. See Amos 3:2.
    • 2. How mean the character of the Assyrian was, though he appeared very great. He was but the rod of God's anger, an instrument God was pleased to make use of for the chastening of his people, that, being thus chastened of the Lord, they might not be condemned with the world. Note, The tyrants of the world are but the tools of Providence. Men are God's hand, his sword sometimes, to kill and slay (Ps. 17:13, 14), at other times his rod to correct. The staff in their hand, wherewith they smite his people, is his indignation; it is his wrath that puts the staff into their hand and enables them to deal blows at pleasure among such as thought themselves a match for them. Sometimes God makes an idolatrous nation, that serves him not at all, a scourge to a hypocritical nation, that serves him not in sincerity and truth. The Assyrian is called the rod of God's anger because he is employed by him.
      • (1.) From him his power is derived: I will send him; I will give him a charge. Note, All the power that wicked men have, though they often use it against God, they always receive from him. Pilate could have no power against Christ unless it were given him from above,Jn. 19:11.
      • (2.) By him the exercise of that power is directed. The Assyrian is to take the spoil and to take the prey, not to shed any blood. We read not of any slain, but he is to plunder the country, rifle the houses, drive away the cattle, strip the people of all their wealth and ornaments, and tread them down like the mire of the streets. When God's professing people wallow in the mire of sin it is just with God to suffer their enemies to tread upon them like mire. But why must the Assyrian prevail thus against them? Not that they might be ruined, but that they might be thoroughly reformed.
  • II. See how the king of Assyria, in his pride, magnified himself as his own master, and pretended to be absolute and above all control, to act purely according to his own will and for his own honour. God ordained him for judgment, even the mighty God established him for correction (Hab. 1:12), to be an instrument of bringing his people to repentance, howbeit he means not so, nor does his heart think so,v. 7.
    • 1. He does not think that he is either God's servant or Israel's friend, either that he can do no more than God will let him or that he shall do no more than God will make to work for the good of his people. God designs to correct his people for, and so to cure them of, their hypocrisy, and bring them nearer to himself; but was that Sennacherib's design? No, it was the furthest thing from his thoughts-he means not so. Note,
      • (1.) The wise God often makes even the sinful passions and projects of men subservient to his own great and holy purposes.
      • (2.) When God makes use of men as instruments in his hand to do his work it is very common for him to mean one thing and them to mean another, nay, for them to mean quite the contrary to what he intends. What Joseph's brethren designed for hurt God overruled for good, Gen. 50:20. See Mic. 4:11, 12. Men have their ends and God has his, but we are sure the counsel of the Lord shall stand. But what is it the proud Assyrian aims at? The heart of kings is unsearchable, but God knew what was in his heart.
    • 2. He designs nothing but to destroy and to cut off nations not a few, and to make himself master of them.
      • [1.] He designs to gratify his own cruelty; nothing will serve but to destroy and cut off. He hopes to regale himself with blood and slaughter; that of particular persons will not suffice, he must cut off nations. It is below him to deal by retail; he traffics in murders by wholesale. Nations, and those not a few, must have but one neck, which he will have the pleasure of cutting off.
      • [2.] He designs to gratify his own covetousness and ambition, to set up for a universal monarch, and to gather unto him all nations,Hab. 2:5. An insatiable desire of wealth and dominion is that which carries him on in this undertaking.
    • 3. The prophet here brings him in vaunting, and hectoring; and by his general's letter to Hezekiah, written in his name, vainglory and arrogance seem to have entered very far into the spirit and genius of the man. His haughtiness and presumption are here described very largely, and his very language copied out, partly to represent him as ridiculous and partly to assure the people of God that he would be brought down; for that maxim generally holds true, that pride goes before destruction. It also intimates that God takes notice, and keeps an account, of all men's proud and haughty words, with which they set heaven and earth at defiance. Those that speak great swelling words of vanity shall hear of them again.
      • (1.) He boasts of the great things he had done to other nations.
        • [1.] He had made their kings his courtiers (v. 8): "My princes are altogether kings. Those that are now my princes are such as have been kings." Or he means that he had raised his throng to such a degree that his servants, and those that were in command under him, were as great, and lived in as much pomp, as the kings of other countries. Or those that were absolute princes in their own dominions held their crowns under him, and did him homage. This was a vainglorious boast; but how great is our God whom we serve, who is indeed King of kings, and whose subjects are made to him kings! Rev. 1:6.
        • [2.] He had made himself master of their cities. He names several (v. 9) that were all alike reduced by him. Calno soon yielded as Carchemish did, Hamath could not hold out any more than Arpad, and Samaria had become his as well as Damascus. To support his boasts he is obliged to bring the victories of his predecessor into the account; for it was he that conquered Samaria, not Sennacherib.
        • [3.] He had been too hard for their idols, their tutelar gods, had found out the kingdoms of the idols and found out ways to make them his own, v. 10. Their kingdoms took denomination from the idols they worshipped; the Moabites are called the people of Chemosh (Jer. 48:46), because they imagined their gods were their patrons and protectors; and therefore Sennacherib vainly imagined that every conquest of a kingdom was the conquest of a god.
        • [4.] He had enlarged his own dominions, and removed the bounds of the people (v. 13), enclosing many large territories within the limits of his own kingdom and shifting a great way further the ancient land-marks which his fathers had set; he could not bear to be hemmed in so closely, but must have more room to thrive. By his removing the border of the people Mr. White understands his arbitrarily transplanting colonies from place to place, which was the constant practice of the Assyrians in all their conquests; and this is a probable interpretation.
        • [5.] He had enriched himself with their wealth, and brought it into his own exchequer: I have robbed their treasures. In this he said truly, Great conquerors are often no better than great robbers.
        • [6.] He had mastered all the opposition he met with: "I have put down the inhabitants as a valiant man. Those that sat high, and thought they say firmly, I have humbled and made to come down."
      • (2.) He boasts of the manner in which he had done them.
        • [1.] That he had done all this by his own policy and power (v. 13): "By the strength of my hand, for I am valiant; and by my wisdom, for I am prudent;" not by the permission of Providence and the blessing of God. He knows not that it is God that makes him what he is, and puts the staff into his hand, but sacrifices to his own net,Hab. 1:16. "This wealth is all gotten by my might and the power of my hand,"Deu. 8:17. Downright atheism and profaneness, as well as pride and vanity, are at the bottom of men's attributing their prosperity and success thus to themselves and their own conduct, and raising their own character upon it.
        • [2.] That he had done all this with a great deal of ease, and had made but a sport and diversion of it, as if he had been taking birds' nests (v. 14): my hand has found as a nest the riches of the people; and when he had found them there was no more difficulty in taking them than in rifling a nest, nor any more reluctance or regret within his own breast in destroying families and cities than in destroying crows'-nests; killing children was no more to him than killing birds. "As one gathers the eggs that are left in the nest by the dam, so easily have I gathered all the earth." Like Alexander, he thought he had conquered the world; and whatever prey he seized there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped, as birds do when their nests are rifled. They durst not make any opposition, no, nor any complaint; such awe did they stand in of this mighty conqueror. They were so weak that they knew it was to no purpose to resist, and he was so arbitrary that they knew it was to no purpose to complain. Strange that ever men who were made to do good should take a pride and a pleasure in doing wrong, and doing mischief to all about them without control, and should reckon that their glory which is their shame! But their day will come to fall who thus make themselves the terror of thy mighty, and much more of the feeble, in the land of the living.
      • (3.) He threatens what he will do to Jerusalem, which he was now about to lay siege to, v. 10, 11. He would master Jerusalem and her idols, as he had subdued other places and their idols, particularly Samaria.
        • [1.] He blasphemously calls the God of Israel an idol, and sets him on a level with the false gods of other nations, as if none were the true God but Mithras, the sun, whom he worshipped. See how ignorant he was, and then we shall the less wonder that he was so proud.
        • [2.] He prefers the graven images of other countries before those of Jerusalem and Samaria, when he might have known that the worshippers of the God of Israel were expressly forbidden to make any graven images, and if any did it must be by stealth, and therefore they could not be so rich and pompous as those of other nations. If he means the ark and the mercy-seat, he speaks like himself, very foolishly, and as one that judged by the sight of the eye, and might therefore be easily deceived in matters of spiritual concern. Those who make external pomp and splendour a mark of the true church go by the same rule.
        • [3.] Because he had conquered Samaria, he concluded Jerusalem would fall of course: "Shall not I do so to Jerusalem? can I not as easily, and may I not as justly?" But it did not follow; for Jerusalem adhered to her God, whereas Samaria had forsaken him.
  • III. See how God, in his justice, rebukes his pride and reads his doom. We have heard what the great king, the king of Assyria, says, and how big he talks. Let us now hear what the great God has to say by his servant the prophet, and we shall find that, wherein he deals proudly, God is above him.
    • 1. He shows the vanity of his insolent and audacious boasts (v. 15): Shall the axe boast itself against him that hews therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that draws it? So absurd are the boasts of this proud man. "O what a dust do I make!" said the fly upon the cart-wheel in the fable. "What destruction do I make among the trees!" says the axe. Two ways the axe may be said to boast itself against him that hews with it:-
      • (1.) By way of resistance and opposition. Sennacherib blasphemed God, insulted him, threatened to serve him as he had served the gods of the nations; now this was as if the axe should fly in the face of him that hews with it. The tool striving with the workman is no less absurd than the clay striving with the potter; and as it is a thing not to be justified that men should fight against God with the wit, and wealth, and power, which he gives them, so it is a thing not to be suffered. But if men will be thus proud and daring, and bid defiances to all that is just and sacred, let them expect that God will reckon with them; the more insolent they are the surer and sorer will their ruin be.
      • (2.) By way of rivalship and competition. Shall the axe take to itself the praise of the work it is employed in? So senseless, so absurd was it for Sennacherib to say, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom,v. 13. It is as if the rod, when it is shaken, should boast that it guides the hand which shakes it; whereas, when the staff is lifted up, is it not wood still? so the last clause may be read. If it be an ensign of authority (as the nobles of the people carried staves, Num. 21:18), if it be an instrument of service, either to support a weak man or to correct a bad man, still it is wood, and can do nothing but as it is directed by him that uses it. The psalmist prays that God would make the nations to know that they were but men (Ps. 9:20), the staff to know that it is but wood
    • 2. He foretels his fall and ruin.
      • (1.) That when God had done his work by him he would then do his work upon him, v. 12. For the comfort of the people of God in reference to Sennacherib's invasion, though it was a dismal time with them, let them know,
        • [1.] That God designed to do good to Zion and Jerusalem by this providence. There is a work to be done upon them, which God intends, and which he will perform. Note, When God lets loose the enemies of his church and people, and suffers them for a time to prevail, it is in order to the performing of some great good work upon them; and, when that is done, then, and not till then, he will work deliverance for them. When God brings his people into trouble it is to try them (Dan. 11:35), to bring sin to their remembrance and humble them for it, and to awaken them to a sense of their duty, to teach them to pray and to love and help one another; and this must be the fruit, even the taking away of sin,ch. 27:9. When these points are, in some measure, gained by the affliction, it shall be removed, in mercy (Lev. 26:41, 42), otherwise not; for, as the word, so the rod shall accomplish that for which God sends it.
        • [2.] That when God had wrought this work of grace for his people he would work a work of wrath and vengeance upon their invaders: I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria. His big words are here said to come from his stout heart, and they are the fruit of it; for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Notice is taken too of the glory of his high looks, for a proud look is the indication of a proud spirit. The enemies of the church are commonly very high and haughty; but, sooner or later, God will reckon for their haughtiness. He glories in it as an incontestable proof of his power and sovereignty that he looks upon proud men and abases them,Job 40:11, etc.
      • (2.) That, how threatening soever this attempt was upon Zion and Jerusalem, it should certainly be baffled, and broken, and come to nothing, and he should not be able to bring to pass his enterprise, v. 16, 19. Observe,
        • [1.] Who it is that undertakes his destruction, and will be the author of it; not Hezekiah, or his princes, or the militia of Judah and Jerusalem (what can they do against such a potent force?), but God himself will do it, as the Lord of hosts, and as the light of Israel.
          • First, We are sure he can do it, for he is the Lord of hosts, of all the hosts of heaven and earth. All the creatures are at his command; he makes what use he pleases on them. He is the Lord of the hosts both of Judah and of Assyria, and can give the victory to which he pleases. Let us not fear the hosts of any enemy if we have the Lord of hosts for us.
          • Secondly, We have reason to hope he will do it, for he is the light of Israel, and his Holy One. God is light; in him are perfect brightness, purity, and happiness. He is light, for he is the Holy One; his holiness is his glory. He is Israel's light, to direct and counsel his people, to favour and countenance them, and so to gladden and comfort them in the worst of times. He is their Holy One, for he is in covenant with them; his holiness is engaged and employed for them. God's holiness is the saints' comfort; they give thanks at the remembrance of it, and with a great deal of pleasure call him their Holy One,Hab. 1:12.
        • [2.] How this destruction is represented. It shall be,
          • First, As a consumption of the body by a disease: The Lord shall send leanness among his fatnesses, or his fat ones. His numerous army, that was like a body covered with fatness, shall be diminished, and waste away, and become like a skeleton.
          • Secondly, As a consumption of buildings, or trees and bushes, by fire: Under his glory, that very thing which he glories in, he will kindle a burning, as the burning of a fire, which shall lay his army in ruins as suddenly as a raging fire lays a stately house in ashes. Some make it an allusion to the fire kindled under the sacrifices; for proud sinners fall as sacrifices to divine justice. Observe,
            • 1. How this fire shall be kindled, v. 17. The same God that is a rejoicing light to those that serve him faithfully will be a consuming fire to those that trifle with him or rebel against him. The light of Israel shall be for a fire to the Assyrians, as the same pillar of cloud was a light to the Israelites and a terror to the Egyptians in the Red Sea. What can oppose, what can extinguish, such a fire?
            • 2. What desolation it shall make: it shall burn and devour its thorns and briers, his officers and soldiers, which are of little worth, and vexations to God's Israel, as thorns and briers, whose end is to be burned, and which are easily and quickly consumed by a devouring fire. "Who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? They would be so far from stopping the fire that they would inflame it. I would go through them and burn them together (ch. 27:4); they shall be devoured in one day, all cut off in an instant." When they cried not only Peace and safety, but Victory and triumph, then sudden destruction came; it came surprisingly, and was completed in a little time. "Even the glory of his forest (v. 18), the choice troops of his army, the veterans, the troops of the household, the bravest regiments he had, that he was most proud of and depended most upon, that he valued as men do their timber-trees (the glory of their forest) or their fruit-trees (the glory of the Carmel), shall be put as briers and thorns before the fire; they shall be consumed both soul and body, entirely consumed, not only a limb burned, but life taken away." Note, God is able to destroy both soul and body, and therefore we should fear him more than man, who can but kill the body. Great armies before him are but as great woods, which he can fell or fire when he pleases.
        • [3.] What would be the effect of this great slaughter. The prophet tells us,
          • First, That the army would hereby be reduced to a very small number: The rest of the trees of his forest shall be few; very few shall escape the sword of the destroying angel, so few that there needs no artist, no muster-master or secretary of war, to take an account of them, for even a child may soon reckon the numbers of them, and write the names of them.
          • Secondly, That those few who remained should be quite dispirited: They shall be as when a standard-bearer fainteth. When he either falls or flees, and his colours are taken by the enemy, this discourages the whole army, and puts them all into confusion. Upon the whole matter we must say, Who is able to stand before this great and holy Lord God?

Isa 10:20-23

The prophet had said (v. 12) that the Lord would perform his whole work upon Mount Zion and upon Jerusalem, by Sennacherib's invading the land. Now here we are told what that work should be, a twofold work:-

  • I. The conversion of some, to whom this providence should be sanctified and yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness, though for the present it was not joyous, but grievous; these are but a remnant (v. 22), the remnant of Israel (v. 20), the remnant of Jacob (v. 21), but a very few in comparison with the vast numbers of the people of Israel, who were as the sand of the sea. Note, Converting work is wrought but on a remnant, who are distinguished from the rest and set apart for God. When we see how populous Israel is, how numerous the members of the visible church are, as the sand of the sea, and yet consider that of these a remnant only shall be saved, that of the many that are called there are but few chosen, we shall surely strive to enter in at the strait gate and fear lest we seem to come short. This remnant of Israel are said to be such as had escaped of the house of Jacob, such as escaped the corruptions of the house of Jacob, and kept their integrity in times of common apostasy; and that was a fair escape. And therefore they escape the desolations of that house, and shall be preserved in safety in times of common calamity; and that also will be a fair and narrow escape. Their lives shall be given them for a prey,Jer. 45:5. The righteous scarcely are saved. Now,
    • 1. This remnant shall come off from all confidence in an arm of flesh, this providence shall cure them of that: "They shall no more again stay upon him that smote them, shall never depend upon the Assyrians, as they have done, for help against their other enemies, finding that they are themselves their worst enemies." Ictus piscator sapit-sufferings teach caution. "They have now learned by dear-bought experience the folly of leaning upon that staff as a stay to them which may perhaps prove a staff to beat them." It is part of the covenant of a returning people (Hos. 14:3), Assyria shall not save us. Note, By our afflictions we may learn not to make creatures our confidence.
    • 2. They shall come home to God, to the mighty God (one of the names given to the Messiah, ch. 9:6), to the Holy One of Israel: "The remnant shall return (that was signified by the name of the prophet's son, Shear-jashub,ch. 7:3), even the remnant of Jacob. They shall return, after the raising of the siege of Jerusalem, not only to the quiet possession of their houses and lands, but to God and to their duty; they shall repent, and pray, and seek his face, and reform their lives.' The remnant that escape are a returning remnant: they shall return to God, and shall stay upon him. Note, Those only may with comfort stay upon God that return to him; then may we have a humble confidence in God when we make conscience of our duty to him. They shall stay upon the Holy One of Israel, in truth, and not in pretence and profession only. This promise of the conversion and salvation of a remnant of Israel is applied by the apostle (Rom. 9:27) to the remnant of the Jews which at the first preaching of the gospel received and entertained it, and sufficiently proves that it was no new thing for God to abandon to ruin a great many of the seed of Abraham in full force and virtue; for so it was now. The number of the children of Israel was as the sand of the sea (according to the promise, Gen. 22:17), and yet only a remnant shall be saved.
  • II. The consumption of others: The Lord God of hosts shall make a consumption,v. 23. This is not meant (as that v. 18) of the consumption of the Assyrian army, but of the consumption of the estates and families of many of the Jews by the Assyrian army. This is taken notice of to magnify the power and goodness of God in the escape of the distinguished remnant, and to let us know what shall become of those that will not return to God; they shall be wasted away by this consumption, this general decay in the midst of the land. Observe,
    • 1. It is a consumption of God's own making; he is the author of it. The Lord God of hosts, whom none can resist, shall make this consumption.
    • 2. It is decreed. It is not the product of a sudden resolve, but was before ordained. It is determined, not only that there shall be such a consumption, but it is cut out (so the word is); it is particularly appointed how far it shall extend and how long it shall continue, who shall be consumed by it and who not.
    • 3. It is an overflowing consumption, that shall overspread the land, and, like a mighty torrent or inundation, bear down all before it.
    • 4. Though it overflows, it is not at random, but in righteousness, which signifies both wisdom and equity. God will justly bring this consumption upon a provoking people, but he will wisely and graciously set bounds to it. Hitherto it shall come, and no further.

Isa 10:24-34

The prophet, in his preaching, distinguishes between the precious and the vile; for God in his providence, even in the same providence, does so. He speaks terror, in Sennacherib's invasion, to the hypocrites, who were the people of God's wrath,v. 6. But here he speaks comfort to the sincere, who were the people of God's love. The judgment was sent for the sake of the former; the deliverance was wrought for the sake of the latter. Here we have,

  • I. An exhortation to God's people not to be frightened at this threatening calamity, nor to be put into any confusion or consternation by it. Let the sinners in Zion be afraid (ch. 33:14): but O my people, that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian,v. 24. Note, It is against the mind and will of God that his people, whatever may happen, should give way to that fear which has torment and amazement. Those that dwell in Zion, where God dwells and where his people attend him, and are employed in his service, that are under the protection of the bulwarks that are round about Zion (Ps. 48:13), need not be afraid of any enemy. Let their souls dwell at ease in God.
  • II. Considerations offered for the silencing of their fear.
    • 1. The Assyrian shall do nothing against them but what God has appointed and determined. They are here told before hand what he shall do, that it may be no surprise to them: "He shall smite thee by the divine permission, but it shall be only with a rod to correct thee, not with a sword to wound and kill; nay, he shall but lift up his staff against thee, threaten thee, and frighten thee, and shake the rod at thee, after the manner of Egypt, as the Egyptians shook their staff against your fathers at the Red Sea, when they said, We will pursue, we will overtake (Ex. 15:9), but could not reach to do them any hurt." Note, We should not be frightened at those enemies that can do no more than frighten us.
    • 2. The storm shall soon blow over (v. 25): Yet a very little while-a little, little while (so the word is), and the indignation shall cease, even my anger, which is the staff in their hand (v. 5), so that when that ceases they are disarmed and disabled to do any further mischief. Note, God's anger against his people is but for a moment (Ps. 30:5), and when that ceases, and is turned away from us, we need not fear the fury of any man, for it is impotent passion.
    • 3. The enemy that threatens them shall himself be reckoned with. God's anger against his people shall cease in the destruction of their enemies; when he turns away his wrath from Israel he shall turn it against the Assyrian; and the rod with which he corrected his people shall not only be laid aside, but thrown into the fire. He lifted up his staff against Zion, but God shall stir up a scourge for him (v. 26); he is a terror to God's people, but God will be a terror to him. The destroying angel shall be this scourge, which he can neither flee from nor contend with. The prophet, for the encouragement of God's people, quotes precedents, and puts them in mind of what God had done formerly against the enemies of his church, who were very strong and formidable, but were brought to ruin. The destruction of the Assyrian shall be,
      • (1.) According to the slaughter of Midian (which was effected by an invisible power, but effected suddenly, and it was a total rout); and as, at the rock of Oreb, one of the princes of Midian, after the battle, was slain, so shall Sennacherib be in the temple of his god Nisroch, after the defeat of his forces, when he thinks the bitterness of death is past. Compare with this Ps. 83:11, Make their nobles like Oreb and like Zeeb; and see how God's promises and his people's prayers agree.
      • (2.) As his rod was upon the sea, the Red Sea, as Moses' rod was upon that, to divide it first for the escape of Israel and then to close it again for the destruction of their pursuers, so shall his rod now be lifted up, after the manner of Egypt, for the deliverance of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Assyrian. Note, It is good to observe a resemblance between God's latter and former appearances for his people, and against his and their enemies.
    • 4. They shall be wholly delivered from the power of the Assyrian, and from the fear of it, v. 27. "They shall not only be eased of the Assyrian army, which is now quartered upon them and which is a grievous yoke and burden to them, but they shall no more pay that tribute to the king of Assyria which before this invasion he exacted from them (2 Ki. 18:14), shall be no longer at his service, nor lie at his mercy, as they have done; nor shall he ever again put the country under contribution." Some think it looks further, to the deliverance of the Jews out of their captivity in Babylon; and further yet, to the redemption of believers from the tyranny of sin and Satan. The yoke shall not only be taken away, but it shall be destroyed. The enemy shall no more recover his strength, to do the mischief he has done; and this because of the anointing, for their sakes who were partakers of the anointing.
      • (1.) For Hezekiah's sake, who was the anointed of the Lord, who had been an active reformer, and was dear to God.
      • (2.) For David's sake. This is particularly given as the reason why God would defend Jerusalem from Sennacherib (ch. 37:35), For my own sake, and for my servant David's sake.
      • (3.) For his people Israel's sake, the good people among them that had received the unction of divine grace.
      • (4.) For the sake of the Messiah, the Anointed of God, whom God had an eye to in all the deliverances of the Old-Testament church, and hath still an eye to in all the favours he shows to his people. It is for his sake that the yoke is broken, and that we are made free indeed.
  • III. A description both of the terror of the enemy and the terror with which many were struck by it, and the folly of both exposed, v. 28, to the end. Here observe,
    • 1. How formidable the Assyrians were and how daring and threatening they affected to appear. Here is a particular description of the march of Sennacherib, what course he steered, what swift advances he made: He has come to Aiath, etc. "This and the other place he has made himself master of, and has met with no opposition." At Michmash he has laid up his carriages, as if he had no further occasion for his heavy artillery, so easily was every place he came to reduced; or the store-cities of Judah, which were fortified for that purpose, had now become his magazines. Some remarkable pass, and an important one, he had taken: They have gone over the passage.
    • 2. How cowardly the men of Judah were, the degenerate seed of that lion's whelp. They were afraid; they fled upon the first alarm, and did not offer to make any head against the enemy. Their apostasy from God had dispirited them, so that one chased a thousand of them. Instead of a valiant shout, to animate one another, nothing was heard by lamentation, to discourage and weaken one another. And poor Anathoth, a priests' city, that should have been a pattern of courage, shrieks louder than any, v. 30. With respect to those that gathered themselves together, it was not to fight, but to flee by consent, v. 31. This is designed either,
      • (1.) To show how fast the news of the enemy's progress flew through the kingdom: He has come to Aiath, says one; nay, says another, He has passed to Migron, etc. And yet, perhaps, it was not altogether so bad as common fame represented it. But we must watch against the fear, not only of evil things, but of evil tidings, which often make things worse than really they are, Ps. 112:7. Or,
      • (2.) To show what imminent danger Jerusalem was in, when its enemies made so many bold advances towards it and its friends could not make one bold stand to defend it. Note, The more daring the church's enemies are, and the more dastardly those are that should appear for her, the more will God be exalted in his own strength, when, notwithstanding this, he works deliverance for her.
    • 3. How impotent his attempt upon Jerusalem shall be: he shall remain at Nob, whence he may see Mount Zion, and there he shall shake his hand against it, v. 32. He shall threaten it, and that shall be all; it shall be safe, and shall set him at defiance. The daughter of Jerusalem, to be even with him, shall shake her head at him, ch. 37:22.
    • 4. How fatal it would prove, in the issue, to himself. When he shakes his hand at Jerusalem, and is about to lay hands on it, then is God's time to appear against him; for Zion is the place of which God has said, This is my rest for ever; therefore those who threaten it affront God himself. Then the Lord shall lop the bough with terror and cut down the thickets of the forest,v. 33, 34.
      • (1.) The pride of the enemy shall be humbled, the boughs that are lifted up on high shall be lopped off, the high and stately trees shall be hewn down; that is, the haughty shall be humbled. Those that lift up themselves in competition with God or opposition to him shall be abased.
      • (2.) The power of the enemy shall be broken: The thickets of the forest he shall cut down. When the Assyrian soldiers were under their arms, and their spears erect, they looked like a forest, like Lebanon; but, when in one night they all became as dead corpses, the pikes were laid on the ground, and Lebanon was of a sudden cut down by a mighty one, by the destroying angel, who in a little time slew so many thousands of them: and, if this shall be the exit of that proud invader, let not God's people be afraid of him. Who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of a man that shall die?

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2. Measurement by God’s standard 9:8-10:4

This section of the book focuses on the Northern Kingdom, and it ties in with the section immediately preceding concerning the Messiah (Isaiah 9:2-7). It explains why Ephraim’s plans against Judah would fail. They would not fail because of Ahaz’s alliance with Assyria but because God would frustrate them. Ephraim would not go into captivity because she lacked sufficient military strength but because she failed to measure up to the standard God had set for her. This standard lay in the area of moral rectitude through covenant obedience rather than military resources.

"The great light would not arise till the darkness had reached its deepest point. The gradual increase of this darkness is predicted in this second section of the esoteric addresses [Isaiah 8:5 to Isaiah 12:6]." [Note: Delitzsch, 1:255.]

This section, a poem, consists of four strophes, each ending with the refrain: "In spite of all this His anger does not turn away and His hand is still stretched out" (Isaiah 9:12; Isaiah 9:17; Isaiah 9:21; Isaiah 10:4; cf. Isaiah 5:25). The progression of thought is from pride, to flawed leadership, to selfishness, to social injustice.

Verses 1-2

The Ephraimite leaders were using their positions to deprive the needy of their rights and to obtain what the poor had for themselves. They were evidently favoring legislation that resulted in these ends, as well as perverting the justice that was in place in the Mosaic system. The situation was so bad in Israel that the Lord chose to abandon His customary defense of the defenseless.

Verses 1-4

The oppression of the helpless 10:1-4

Isaiah directed this last strophe against the unjust authorities and judges.

Verses 3-4

When God brought Ephraim into judgment, he would have nowhere to hide and no one to protect him (cf. Matthew 24:45-51). Then he would be the needy without defense or recourse. For the fourth time, God promised that He would judge Ephraim (cf. Isaiah 9:12; Isaiah 9:17; Isaiah 9:21).

Ephraim, the Northern Kingdom, had more reason to fear God than he had to fear Assyria. Yahweh would discipline him because of his pride, corrupt leadership, selfishness, and oppression of his vulnerable citizens. He would not suffer defeat because of military inferiority but for moral inadequacy.

Verses 5-6

"Woe" (Heb. hoy) introduces a judgment oracle. Assyria was like a rod in God’s hand; He controlled her actions. He would send her to discipline godless Judah, against whom God’s fury burned: "to capture booty and to seize plunder" (Isaiah 10:6, the meaning of Maher-shalal-hash-baz’s name, Isaiah 8:1; Isaiah 8:3). However, Assyria was in for woe herself (cf. Isaiah 10:1) because she failed to acknowledge that she was under the sovereign authority of Yahweh.

Verses 5-11

The instrument of destruction 10:5-11

Assyria was simply an unwitting tool in Yahweh’s hand that He would use to accomplish His purposes (cf. Habakkuk 1:12-17). This pericope is one of the greatest revelations of the relation between heaven and earth in the Bible. [Note: Motyer, p. 112.]

Verses 5-16

3. Hope of God’s deliverance 10:5-11:16

Earlier God revealed that He would use Assyria to destroy Judah for her lack of trust in Yahweh (Isaiah 7:1 to Isaiah 8:22). Now He revealed that He would also destroy this destroyer (cf. Habakkuk 2:4-20). It is God who is sovereign, not Assyria, and He was with His people.

"The Messianic prophecy, which turns its darker side towards unbelief in ch. vii., and whose promising aspect burst like a great light through the darkness in ch. viii. 5-ix. 6, is standing now upon its third and highest stage. In ch. vii. it is like a star in the night; in ch. viii. 5-ix. 6, like the morning dawn; and now the sky is perfectly cloudless, and it appears like the noonday sun." [Note: Delitzsch, 1:264.]

Verses 5-34

The destruction of the destroyer 10:5-34

This segment presents Yahweh as the transcendent God who controls the destiny of all nations. He creates history just as He created the cosmos. The victory of the Assyrians did not prove the superiority of her gods, nor did Judah’s defeat mean that Yahweh was inferior. The whole passage contrasts sovereignties: Assyria’s and Yahweh’s.

Verse 7

Assyria did not consciously serve God. She planned to pursue her own selfish purposes and to destroy many nations to expand her own empire. She mistakenly thought she was sovereign.

Verses 8-11

Assyria, in her unrealistic pride, boasted, in the person of her king, that her princes were the equivalent of kings, so great was their authority. She assumed that the cities of Judah were the same as the cities of other nations, namely, without Yahweh’s special concern and protection. She mistakenly thought that Judah’s God was just another god (cf. 2 Kings 18:33-35). Therefore she planned to do to Judah and Jerusalem just as she had done to other nations and their great cities. In each of the three pairs of cities listed (Isaiah 10:9), the first is farther southwest than the second. The prophet portrayed the Assyrian king as thinking: "I took this one that is closer to me, so I can take that other one that is farther from me."

Verse 12

When God finished using Assyria as His rod to punish Mt. Zion and Jerusalem, He would punish Assyria, too, for her arrogance and haughtiness. The prose form of this verse, which serves as a climax in a long section of poetry, makes this major point stand out all the more clearly.

"God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility are always in perfect balance in the Word of God. Even though we are not able to reconcile these paradoxical facts, we can believe both because the Bible teaches both. God is sovereign in His universe; and at the same time man is fully accountable to God for all his acts." [Note: A. Martin, Isaiah . . ., p. 43.]

Verses 13-14

Assyria, again personified (cf. Isaiah 10:8-11), manifested arrogance and haughtiness by boasting that all her victories were the result of her own strength and intelligence (cf. Romans 1:19-21). She felt, as many nations have, including Nazi Germany, that she was superior and therefore had the right to determine the fates of inferiors. She had a right to steal from others who could not or would not defend themselves. Changing the boundaries of conquered nations was an integral part of Assyrian imperial practice, along with the relocation of captives. [Note: Watts, p. 150.]

Verse 15

It is illogical, the prophet pointed out, for the impersonal instrument of judgment to exalt itself over the Person who wields it.

Verse 16

Because of Assyria’s pride, sovereign Yahweh of armies would defeat this mighty foe. Isaiah described her fall as resulting from a wasting disease and a consuming fire. In Hebrew, in contrast to English, mixed metaphors add strength to a description rather than weakening it.

Verses 17-18

The Assyrians were jumping into a fire by invading Jerusalem. The fire would come from the light of Israel, namely: her holy God (cf. Isaiah 8:12-15). This fire would consume the small and the great in Assyria: from the lowly thorns, to the beautiful garden plants, to the mighty trees of the forest.

Verse 19

The remaining trees (leaders) would be so few that a small child would be able to count them.

In 701 B.C. the Assyrians besieged Jerusalem and God slew 185,000 of them in one night (Isaiah 37:36-37). The Babylonians felled the Assyrian Empire in 609 B.C. One scholar believed that all of what Isaiah predicted in Isaiah 10:5-19 was fulfilled between the fall of Nineveh in 612 B.C. and the battle of Carchemish in 605 B.C. [Note: Archer, p. 620.]

Verse 20

In some future day, the remnant (cf. Isaiah 6:13; Isaiah 7:3) who escaped annihilation by the Assyrians would no longer trust in man for deliverance, as Ahaz and Judah did before the Assyrian takeover. They would learn this most important lesson and truly trust in Yahweh, the holy one of Israel. Thus Israel would be the really wise and strong nation, not Assyria (cf. Isaiah 10:13). Israel, as well as Assyria (Isaiah 10:19), would have a remnant left over after the Lord’s destruction of both nations.

Verses 20-27

The promise of restoration 10:20-27

The focus of the prophecy shifts from Assyria to Israel.

Verse 21

A remnant would return (Shearjashub, Isaiah 7:3) to the genuinely mighty God. It would be a remnant of the whole house of Jacob, from all the Israelites. The reference to the mighty God (cf. Isaiah 9:5), along with the sincere change of attitude in Israel-one that has not yet taken place-points to a time of fulfillment in the eschatological future. "That day" (Isaiah 10:20), as elsewhere, is a millennial reference here.

"The remnant is not a super-spiritual elite looking down on others, but they do dare to live by faith in God." [Note: Ortlund, p. 94.]

Verses 22-23

God had promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the sand grains of the sea (Genesis 22:17; Genesis 32:12). This did not mean, as the Israelites in Isaiah’s day apparently concluded, that they would always be a large people. No, God would so thoroughly destroy them because of their sin that only a small number would survive (cf. Romans 9:27-28). The sovereign Yahweh of armies would destroy them throughout the whole Promised Land, not just in the Northern Kingdom.

Verses 24-27

The Lord used reminders of two previous deliverances to encourage the residents of Jerusalem to believe that they would survive the attack of a stronger and larger foe. He had delivered their forefathers from Egypt and the Midianites, and He had destroyed the Egyptians and the Midianites (Judges 7:25). The rock of Oreb got its name from the Midianite Prince Oreb, who escaped death in the battle with the Israelites, but died when he fled. Similarly, Sennacherib did not perish with his army but died after he returned home. The Assyrian oppression would not last long (cf. Isaiah 9:4), and God would then punish the disciplinarian of His people. God’s blessing on His people would be responsible for the breaking of the yoke of bondage on them.

Verses 28-32

Isaiah foresaw the Assyrian army descending on Jerusalem from the north, passing through various towns, and finally arriving at Nob just north of Jerusalem. From that location, probably modern Mt. Scopus, which was somewhat higher in elevation than Mt. Zion, the enemy looked down on Jerusalem and shook his fist menacingly. All the towns and villages mentioned stood only a few miles north and east of Jerusalem.

Verses 28-34

A description of Assyria’s attack and judgment 10:28-34

Verses 33-34

The prophet now changed his perspective as well as his figure. Even though Assyria would menace and, indeed, destroy Jerusalem, Yahweh of armies would cut the enemy down to size as a lumberjack trimmed branches off a tree and finally felled it. God’s irresistible instrument would cut back Assyria’s many lofty leaders. This would be a felling as colossal as the harvesting of Lebanon’s vast forests (cf. Ezekiel 31:3).

"The . . . ’forest thickets’ refers to thick underbrush that must be cleared to allow the fine trees to grow. . . .’the Lebanon’ refers, not to a country as today, but to a region on the slopes of Mount Hermon to the north of Israel. It was renowned for the magnificent gigantic trees which grew there." [Note: Watts, p. 166.]

This prophecy found literal fulfillment when God Himself defeated the Assyrians in 605 B.C. (ch. 37).


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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 10". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Isaiah 10:24 - 12:6 - Jon Courson

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Verse 1

Actually, the first four verses of this chapter could have been logically included with the previous chapter, since they form the fourth stanza, following the first three in Isaiah 9, each stanza followed by the refrain: "For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is outstretched still."

Of course, it should be remembered that both chapter and verse divisions in the Bible are in many instances arbitrary and illogical; but long usage has made it a practical impossibility to change or correct them. "The present division into chapters was made by Cardinal Hugo in 1250 A.D.; and into verses, by Robert Stephens the famous printer of Paris, in 1551 A.D."

The stubbornness of Ephraim is almost unbelievable; for no matter what disasters overcame the nation they persisted in following their idolatrous, shameful rebellion against the Lord. The great difference between Ephraim and Judah was in the existence of a righteous remnant in the Southern Israel; whereas, in Northern Israel, the Lord said, "Everyone is profane and an evil-doer, and every mouth speaketh folly" (Isaiah 9:17). Their apostasy was thus complete, and there was nothing further that even God could have done for Ephraim except what he did, namely, destroy them, just as God had done long previously to practically the whole race of Adam on the occasion of the Great Deluge.

Isaiah 10:1-4


"Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and to the writers that write perverseness; to turn aside the needy from justice, and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey. And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory? They shall only bow down under the prisoners, and fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still."

A quick overview of these four stanzas, or strophes, will reveal the totality and dreadful finality of the prophecy:


Strophe One, Isaiah 9:8-12

This is a judgment against Ephraim for laughing off the facts, for mocking reality, and for their egotistical bragging about how they would overcome God's punishments. If bricks and sycamores are destroyed, Ephraim will replace them with hewn stones and cedars!

Strophe Two, Isaiah 9:13-17

Here is a judgment against permissiveness, error, and false leadership. The eloquent comparison of crooked priests to the tail of a dog shows that it was the departure from God's truth that caused their apostasy.

Strophe Three, Isaiah 9:18-21

Here is a judgment against disunity, internal discord and strife. With even their former allies at last turning against Ephraim, and with the Ten Tribes fighting against each other, their final ruin would follow in the deportation of the heart of the nation to Assyria. This took place in 722 B.C.

Strophe Four, Isaiah 10:1-4

This judgment is against the central government and the judiciary, against those who made and administered the laws. It has often been observed that when these arms of human society fail, there can remain little hope for that society. Although these prophecies against Ephraim were principally focused upon the Northern Israel, they also spilled over in their application to Judah also. God's anger at all of Israel's pride and wickedness was approaching the flash point.

Before leaving these first four verses, we wish to notice somewhat further the question:


This is the third in a series of questions regarding ultimate values as contrasted with that which is earthly, temporary, and ephemeral. Every mortal who gives his life to the amassing of treasures, the pursuit of power, or in chasing the butterflies of happiness supposed to lie at the foot of some fantasy rainbow - every such mortal should ask himself, "What are you going to do with it?" What will it be worth to you in the Day of Judgment? and, how is it going to help you when calamity comes upon you?" our Lord raised the same soul-searching question when he addressed the rich fool of Luke 12:20: "Whose shall those things be?" (KJV) "You cannot save them. With whom will ye deposit your riches, your magnificence, your treasures, your grand apparel? Is there anyone to whom you can flee? anyone who can protect you from the wrath of God?"

Verse 5

"Ho Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, the staff in whose hand is mine indignation! I will send him against a profane nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few. For he saith, Are not my princes all of them kings? Is not Calno as Carchemish? Is not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus? As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria; shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols?"

Rawlinson, in his outline of Isaiah, made this the beginning of the division reaching through Isaiah 23, but, following Robinson (See Introduction), we believe the close connection with the fate of Judah and Jerusalem indicate rather that it belongs with the first division, Isaiah 1-12.

"Ho Assyrian ..." This paragraph prophecies the destruction of Assyria, and at the same time also identifies this evil power as "The Rod" of God with which Jehovah will punish his hypocritical and profane people Israel. Assyria is thus the instrument God will use for the accomplishment of his purpose to punish Israel. This metaphor of God's using wicked nations to achieve his purpose, and then turning upon those wicked powers in their ruin to punish them and destroy them is extensively mentioned in the Old Testament. Back in Isaiah 7:20 Assyria was identified as "God's razor, other examples of the recurrence of this metaphor identify such wicked powers as "God's bows" (Isaiah 13:17), "God's battle-ax" (Jeremiah 51:20), and "God's arrows" (Jeremiah 51:11).

The words "Ho Assyrian" actually mean, "Woe betide this Assyria" as in James Moffatt's translation of the Old Testament. Cheyne rendered it, "Woe is Asher."

"A profane nation ..." According to Rawlinson, hypocritical or a corrupt nation would be preferable to profane in this verse.

"However he meaneth not so ..." This means that Assyria had no intention or desire whatever to serve God's purpose in the destruction of Israel. Ah no! Assyria was motivated by blood-lust, insatiable greed and ambition, sadistic cruelty, and arrogant opposition to God himself, totally unaware, that when he had shortly fulfilled God's purpose, the Lord would also totally destroy Assyria. Rabshakeh's proud boast that he had Jehovah with him when he went up against Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:25) was more than likely nothing but a ploy to frighten the city. "He had probably heard of the prophecies of the Judean prophets."

Isaiah 10:8-11 carry the arrogant boasts of Assyria. They do not for an instant see that God is using them. No! All of their exploits are due to their own power and their own devices! Just look at the cities they have already destroyed! Look at the gods they have already defeated. "Insignificant little Judah with their puny gods (nothing to compare with the costly and excellent idols of cities already taken), they declared, would easily fall."

This paragraph raises a question regarding the date of this prophecy. Hailey quoted Young as giving the dates when the cities mentioned here were taken by the Assyrians: "Calno in 738 B.C.; Carchemesh on the Euphrates in 717 B.C.; Hamath on the Orontes in 720 B.C.; Arpad in 740,720 B.C.; Samaria in 722 B.C.; and Damascus in 732 B.C." Delitzsch believed the prophecy was written before these conquests took place, because Isaiah often spoke of future events as having already taken place. Hailey believed it more probable that "This prophecy was written between the dates of the fall of Carchemesh (717 B.C.) and that of Sennacherib investiture of Jerusalem in (702-701 B.C.)."

It appears to us that there may be good reasons for accepting the position of Delitzsch on this. McGuiggan's warning that we should remember that, "Isaiah often speaks of things having been accomplished that are still in the future," most certainly should be heeded. We shall observe many examples of this use of the present or the past tense for speaking of future events in Isaiah. First, "Isaiah 10:20-23 leave an impression that Ephraim has not fallen yet."

"The Assyrians' argument in Isaiah 10:10,11 is: "How can Jerusalem, with fewer gods to protect it, hope to hold out successfully?."

Verse 12

"Wherefore it shall come to pass, that, when the Lord has performed his whole work upon mount Zion, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks. For he hath said, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I have understanding: and I have removed the bounds of the peoples, and have robbed their treasures, and like a valiant man I have brought down them that sit on thrones: and my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the peoples; and as one gathers eggs that are forsaken, have I gathered all the earth: and there was none that moved the wing, or that opened the mouth, or chirped."

The interesting change of persons in Isaiah 10:12, from the second (the Lord) to the first (I will) is not at all unusual in the Old Testament.

No, God had not accepted the wickedness of a kingdom like Assyria. The rod of divine punishment was already laid up against that evil nation; and the reason was stated here. This arrogant and boastful power had bragged that they knew all of the answers. They thought they had the ability to destroy any nation on earth as handily as one could rob a bird nest and with no more opposition than a helpless little bird would be able to provide against such a catastrophe. There was not even the flutter of a wing, or the chirping of a bird. The rapacious cruelty and blood-lust of Assyria reached a pinnacle of such behavior in ancient history.

Verse 15

"Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? shall the saw magnify itself against him that wieldeth it? as if a rod should wield him that lifteth it up, or as if a staff should lift up him that is not wood. Therefore will the Lord, Jehovah of hosts send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory there shall be kindled a burning like the burning of fire. And the light of Israel will be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame; and it will burn and destroy his thorns and his briers in one day. And he will consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and it shall be as when a standard-bearer fainteth. And the remnant of the trees of his forest shall be few, so that a child may write them."

The rebuke here is against Assyria. How ignorant and how stupid they were not to see that God was merely using them, that all of their exploits would have been impossible without his permission; and that all the while they were hastening to the day when they also would be severely punished by the Lord. The words here have the force of saying, "How can Assyria, being but an instrument of God, exalt himself against Jehovah?"

"Like the burning of fire ..." This is thought by scholars to refer to a terrible sickness such as a very high fever. Peake called it a wasting disease; and Kidner identified the two metaphors here as, "fever, and a forest fire." The big point in the prophecy, however, is not what will cause the disaster, whether a disease or a forest fire, but the suddenness with which it will fall. "In one day ... Isaiah anticipates a sudden catastrophe for the Assyrians." Without a doubt, this is a prophecy of the destruction of Sennacherib army to terminate his siege of Jerusalem (2 Kings 19 and Isaiah 36). The mysterious death of so many of his army seems to have resulted from some sudden and fatal illness.

Verse 20

"And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and they that are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again lean upon him that smote them, but shall lean upon Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel in truth. A remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. For though thy people, Israel, be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them shall return: a destruction is determined, overflowing with righteousness. For a full end, and that determined, will the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, make in the midst of the earth."

It should be remembered that the name of Isaiah's first son Shear-jashub has the meaning of, "A remnant shall return," thus certifying the authenticity and early date of Isaiah's receiving these great prophecies of the wholesale destruction of Israel, the deportation of the nation as a whole, and the return of a small remnant.

It is significant that here the prophet takes one of the titles of the Messianic Prince given in Isaiah 9 and applies it to Almighty God himself.

There is a prophecy in these verses that Israel "in that day" will no longer rely upon alliances with foreign powers as Ahaz had done in the case of Assyria; and Cheyne pointed out that indeed all of this came to pass during the Babylonian captivity. "`The remnant' of Israel was weaned from its false confidences and returned to God." After the return of the "remnant," there were never any more examples of Israel lapsing into idolatry.

As Archer observed, "No matter how small a fraction `that remnant' might prove to be, after the judgments of God had fallen on the apostate nation, the future would lie with them."

Verse 24

"Therefore thus saith the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrians, though he smite thee with the rod, and lift up his staff against thee after the manner of Egypt. For yet a very little while, and the indignation against thee shall be accomplished, and mine anger shall be directed to his destruction. And Jehovah of hosts shall stir up against him a scourge, as in the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb; and his rod will be over the sea, and he will lift it up after the manner of Egypt. And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall depart from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and thy yoke shall be destroyed by reason of fatness."

The last clause of Isaiah 10:27 here is said by some scholars to be difficult because of imperfections in the text; and that may very well be, because the metaphor of Israel getting so fat that they can throw off the yoke of Assyria simply does not fit. We like the suggestion of Jamieson that there is a reference to the Messiah here. The alternate reading for "fatness" in the Cross-Reference Bible is "oil," evidently meaning the anointing oil. "Just as in Isaiah 9:4-6 the breaking of the yoke of the enemies is attributed to Messiah, so it is here." Dummelow also honored this understanding of the place thus:

"Because of the anointing, because of the anointed king of David's house, to which God has promised a lasting kingdom."

"His rod will be over the sea ..." This is a promise that Jehovah will lift up his rod for the protection of his people and the destruction of their enemies, just like God through Moses had done so long ago when that action rescued Israel and destroyed Egypt at the Red Sea.

Verse 28

"He is come to Aiath, he is passed through Migron; at Micmash he layeth up his baggage; they are gone over the pass; they have taken up their lodging at Geba; Ramah trembleth; Gibeah of Saul is fled. Cry aloud with thy voice, O daughter of Gallim! Hearken O Laisha! O thou poor Anathoth! Madmenah is a fugitive; the inhabitants of Gebim flee for safety. This very day shall he halt at Nob: he shaketh his hand at the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem."

"These verses are a prophecy of Sennacherib's army's approach of Jerusalem in order to invest it."

Here is another reason for our preferring the view that all of these verses are prophecy, not history. Note that Isaiah here represented Assyria's approach as being from the north; but actually, as Kidner pointed out the final approach was probably from Lachish which is southwest of Jerusalem; but in a prophecy, Lachish would most surely have been grouped with all of the nearby cities lying in the vicinity of Jerusalem, nearly all of which were indeed north of the city. This lone city lying somewhat to the southwest does not compromise the language of the prophecy in any manner.

These verses pause with the great Assyrian army poised to strike; but at the very last moment, when it seemed that all was lost, God intervened and put his hook in the nose of the invader and hauled him back to Nineveh. Isaiah will elaborate this event more fully in Isaiah 36.

Verse 33

"Behold, the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, will lop the boughs with terror: and the high of stature shall be hewn down, and the lofty shall be brought low. And he will cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one."

"Lebanon is here a metaphor, because of their (Assyria's) forests of cedars." The only hint provided in this chapter of just how such a mighty deliverance is to come about is found in Isaiah 10:26 where it is revealed that it would resemble in some way the slaughter of Midian and of the Egyptians. This is a pledge that the deliverance will not come by an army, or by any human device, but that the deliverance shall be of God and of him only. The mighty one who is depicted here as cutting down the forest of Lebanon (a metaphor for Assyria) is, of course, God himself.


Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Isaiah 10". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.


10 explained isaiah

Isaiah 10: The Remnant will Return

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Where we are:

Part 1: Judgment

Part 2: Historical Interlude

Part 3: Salvation

Chapters 1-35

Chapters 36-39

Chapters 40-66

When this takes place:

Chapter 10 takes place during the reign of Ahaz, Judah’s wicked king.

Key verse:

Isa. 10:21:  The remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the Mighty God.

Quick summary:

The Lord will use Assyria as the rod of His anger against unrepentant Israel. Then He will punish the king of Assyria for his arrogance and welcome a remnant of Jacob. “In just a little while My wrath will be spent,” the Lord tells His people, “and My anger will turn to their (Assyria’s) destruction” (v. 25).

Take note:

The sovereign hand of God is clearly revealed throughout this chapter. In verses 1-4 He laments the injustice of His people and promises to punish it; in verses 5-11 He refers to Assyria as the rod of His wrath; in verses 12-19 He promises to rebuke Assyria for its prideful acts of aggression; in verses 20-26 He declares that a remnant will return to the Mighty God; and in verses 27-34 He reassures His people that the yoke of Assyrian oppression will fall from Israel’s neck.

Crooked statutes (Isa. 10:1-4)

Israel’s leaders are guilty of several evil acts: 1) enacting crooked statutes; 2) writing oppressive laws; 3) preventing the poor from getting fair trials; 4) depriving the afflicted of justice; 5) hurting widows; and 6) plundering the fatherless. By preying on the vulnerable, the leaders are violating God’s law (see Ex. 22:22; 23:6; Deut. 15:7-8; 24:17-18). As a result, the whole nation will go into captivity. The leaders will have no one to help them, just as they refused to help their fellow countrymen in need. “Those who had defrauded the poor and made unjust laws for their own profit would lose all their wealth and cringe among the captives, or fall among the slain” (Larry Richards, Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary, S 374).

Assyria: tool of God’s wrath (Isa. 10:5-19)

Verses 5-11 show how God is using Assyria as “the rod of My anger” (v. 5), while 12-19 warn the arrogant Assyrian king that even he is subject to Almighty God. The destruction of the northern kingdom by Shalmaneser was foretold in chapter 9 and accomplished in the sixth year of Hezekiah’s reign (see 2 Kings 18:10). Now, God foretells the judgment of the southern kingdom (Judah) at the hands of Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, and this is accomplished in the 14th year of Hezekiah.

“The knowledge that the aggressor is wielded by God puts the question of wicked men’s success in its proper context, by showing that it serves the ends of justice when it seems to defy them (6-7), and it is neither impressive in itself (15) nor ultimately unpunished (12),” writes D.A.  Carson in The New Bible Commentary (S. Is 10:5).

While God will use Assyria to punish a “godless nation” – strong words for Israel in verse 6 – the Assyrian king sees Israel as one of many nations he intends to destroy. His sights also are set on Egypt and Ethiopia (Isa. 20:1-6). Matthew Henry comments: “When God makes use of men as instruments in his hand to do his work it is very common for him to mean one thing and them to mean another, nay, for them to mean quite the contrary to what he intends. What Joseph’s brethren designed for hurt God overruled for good, Gen. 50:20. See Mic. 4:11, 12. Men have their ends and God has his, but we are sure the counsel of the Lord shall stand” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, S. Is 10:5).

Assyria already has conquered the Aramean cities of Calno, Carchemish, Hamath, Arpad, Damascus, and Israel’s capital of Samaria. Because the Assyrians believed these cities had greater gods than Jerusalem, the taking of the capital of Judah would be relatively easy. Assyria’s motives clearly are political and expansionist. However, God ultimately will strike down Assyria because of the king’s “arrogant acts and the proud look in his eyes” (v. 12). Five times in verses 13-14 the king uses the word “I” and twice he uses the word “me” to describe his achievements, attributing them entirely to his own military might rather than to God.

So how will the Lord bring haughty Assyria low? First, He compares Assyria to a tool in His hand – an ax, saw, staff, or rod – and then He vows to afflict the people with “an emaciating disease” and a “burning fire” (v. 16). God will destroy the Assyrian army like trees consumed in a forest fire. So few soldiers will be left standing that a child may count them. This is fulfilled years later when, in 701 B.C., 185,000 Assyrian soldiers surrounding Jerusalem are killed (Isa. 37:36-37). Then, in 609 B.C., the Assyrians fall to the Babylonians.

The remnant will return (Isa. 10:20-26)

Isaiah now contrasts the defeated remnant of Assyria (v. 19) with the repentant remnant of Israel, which will learn to depend on God rather than on alliances with idolatrous nations such as Assyria and Egypt. This is partly fulfilled in the days of Hezekiah, but it appears this will be more completely fulfilled in the days after the defeat of Antichrist and the return of Israel to the Lord (see Rom. 9:27-28).

Isaiah assures his readers that they need not fear the Assyrians. After God uses them to punish His own people, He will turn His wrath on the Assyrians, dealing with them as He did with the Midianites and the two Midianite leaders (Judges 7:1-25). The Lord of Hosts also will destroy the Assyrians – referred to figuratively as “the sea” – as He did the Egyptians in the days of Moses.

Target of God’s wrath (Isa. 10:27-34)

The route the Assyrian invaders would take in their assault on Judah begins at the northern boundary of Judah at Aiath (another name for Ai) about eight miles from Jerusalem and continues to Nob, two miles north of the city. The sites of eight of the 12 cities mentioned in this passage are known today, according to The Bible Knowledge Commentary. But Assyria will not succeed in its plan to take Jerusalem. The Lord God of Hosts will intervene and cut down the invading troops as if they were trees, chopping off their branches “with terrifying power” (v. 33). “In the end history will turn to destiny, and the plans and promises of our Sovereign Lord will be perfectly fulfilled” (The Teacher’s Commentary, S. 375).

Closing thought

Gary V. Smith comments: “Sometimes righteous people do not know why they suffer, but at other times God clearly reveals that people are being punished for their sins (as in Isaiah 10). In such cases, it is always wise for the sinners to return to God and rely on him. Trusting in other men or nations will only lead to disappointment. The only true source of hope is to lean on Almighty God and fear only him” (The New American Commentary: Isaiah 1-39, p. 267).

Copyright 2008 by Rob Phillips

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Written byrphilliPosted inAudio Files, IsaiahTagged witha king's arrogant acts, Almighty God, Assyria, Assyria as the rod of God's anger, Assyria's seige of Jerusalem, Bible commentary, Bible studies on audio, book of Isaiah, Christian apologetics, Christian apologetics speaker, free Bible commentary, Free Bible study, free Bible study download, free Bible study downloads, free download, God's anger, God's judgment on Israel, God's judgment on Judah, God's plans verses man's plans, God's punishment, Isaiah, Israel, Israel as a godless nation, Israel in captivity, Israel's leaders in Bible times, Jerusalem, Judah, Judah in captivity, king Ahaz of Judah, King Hezekiah, leaders who oppose God, Midianites, nations that oppose God, nations that oppose Israel, prophet Isaiah, Rob Phillips, Sennacherib, the Antichrist and the return of Israel, the Assyrian army, the counsel of the Lord, the Lord of Hosts, the Mighty God, the prophet Isaiah, the remnant will return, the rod of God's wrath, the sovereign hand of GodSours:
Isaiah 10:24 - 12:6 - Jon Courson

Isaiah 10 Commentary

Judgment & Character
of God
Comfort & Redemption
of God





Salvation &


True God






Judah &
Is 1:1-12:6
the Nations
& Promises
Holiness, Righteousness & Justice of JehovahGrace, Compassion & Glory of Jehovah
God's Government
"A throne" Is 6:6
God's Grace
"A Lamb" Is 53:7

Isaiah 10:1 Woe to those who enact evil statutes and to those who constantly record unjust decisions,

  • Woe: Isa 3:11 5:8,11,18,20-22 Jer 22:13 Hab 2:6,9,12,15,19 Mt 11:21 Mt 23:13-16,23,27,29 26:24 Lk 11:42-44,46,47,52 Jude 1:11
  • those: 1Ki 21:13 Esther 3:10-13 Ps 58:2 94:20,21 Da 6:8,9 Mic 3:1-4,9-11 Mic 6:16 Jn 9:22 19:6


Isaiah 9:8-10:4

To help keep this chapter in context observe the preceding table and the following outline adapted from Talk Thru the Bible which summarizes the first section of Isaiah dealing primarily with prophecies concerning the Kingdom of Judah...

Prophecies against Judah
Isaiah 1:1-12:6

A The Judgment of Judah Isa 1:1–31

B The Day of the Lord Isa 2:1–4:6

C The Parable of the Vineyard Isa 5:1–30

D The Commission of Isaiah Isa 6:1–13

E The Destruction of Israel by Assyria Isa 7:1–10:4

1 Sign of Immanuel Isa 7:1–25

2 Sign of Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz Isa 8:1–22

3 Prophecy of the Messiah’s Birth Isa 9:1–7

4 Judgment on Ephraim Isa 9:8–10:4

F The Destruction of Assyria by God Isa 10:5–12:6

1 Destruction of Assyria Isa 10:5–19

2 Remnant of Israel Isa 10:20–34

3 Restoration of the Messiah’s Kingdom Isa 11:1–16

4 Thanksgiving in the Messiah’s Kingdom Isa 12:1–6

Note that some commentators feel that Isaiah is now addressing the Southern Kingdom (H A Ironsides, New American Commentary, Albert Barnes), but there is no indication that he has switched from speaking about the Northern Kingdom (which is the approach taken by these notes).

And so Isaiah 10:1-4 closes out this section addressed to the Northern Kingdom (also known as Jacob, Israel, Ephraim) which begins in Isaiah 9:8 and is divided into 4 subsections (Isa 9:8-12, 13-17, 18-21, 10:1-4) each ending with the same refrain...

In spite of all this His anger does not turn away,
And His hand is still stretched out
(Isaiah 9:12, 17, 21, 10:4)

When the message to the Northern Kingdom is concluded, Isaiah then takes us his prophetic discourse (it was all prophecy at the time Isaiah spoke it but is largely history to us today) dealing with God's use of the Assyrian Empire to punish the Southern Kingdom, followed by His prediction of Assyria's demise because of her arrogance and pride. This section extends from Isaiah 10:4 through Isaiah 10:34 and prepares us for the rise of the greatest kingdom of all, Messiah's Millennial Kingdom, beginning in Isaiah 11:1ff.

Alexander summarizes Isaiah 10...

Isaiah 10:1-4 - The prophet first completes his description of the prevalent iniquity, with special reference to injustice and oppression, as a punishment of which he threatens death and deportation by the hands of the Assyrians.

Isaiah 10:5-15 - He then turns to the Assyrians themselves, God's chosen instruments, whom He had commissioned against Israel to punish and degrade it, but whose own views were directed to universal conquest, to illustrate which, the Assyrian himself is introduced as boasting of his tributary princes and his rapid conquests, which had met with no resistance from the people or their gods, and threatening Judah with a like fate, unaware of the destruction which awaits himself, imputing his success to his own strength and wisdom, and glorying, though a mere created instrument, over his maker and his mover.

Isaiah 10:20-23 - His approaching doom is then described under the figure of a forest suddenly and almost totally consumed by fire, Isaiah 10:16-19. This succession of events is to have the effect of curing the propensity to trust in man rather than God, at least among the elect remnant who survive; for only a remnant shall escape God's righteous judgments.

Isaiah 10:24-34 - To these the prophet now addresses words of strong encouragement, with a renewed prediction of a judgment on Assyria, similar to that on Midian at Oreb, and on Egypt at the Red sea, which is then described, in the most vivid manner, by an exhibition of the enemy's approach, from post to post, until he stands before Jerusalem, and then, with a resumption of the metaphor before used, his destruction is described as the prostration of a forest -- trees and thickets -- by a might axe. (The Prophecies of Isaiah)

Amplified Version...

WOE TO those [judges] who issue unrighteous decrees, and to the magistrates who keep causing unjust and oppressive decisions to be recorded,

Woe (1945) (hoy) means alas! Ho! Woe is an interjection, an exclamation of grief, regret, anguish, pain or distress or a denouncement. Hoy was used sometime to attract attention (Isa 55:1) Hoy was used in funeral laments (1Ki 13:30, Jer 22:18, 34:5) and carries the connotation of death, something Israel would soon experience at the hand of he Assyrians.

Hoy - 47v in NAS. 21 uses are found in Isaiah! -

1Kgs 13:30; Isa 1:4, 24; 5:8, 11, 18, 20, 21, 22; 10:1, 5; 17:12; 18:1; 28:1; 29:1, 15; 30:1; 31:1; 33:1; 45:9, 10; 55:1; Jer 22:13, 18; 23:1; 30:7; 34:5; 47:6; 48:1; 50:27; Ezek 13:3, 18; 34:2; Amos 5:18; 6:1; Mic 2:1; Nah 3:1; Hab 2:6, 9, 12, 15, 19; Zeph 2:5; 3:1; Zech 2:6f; 11:17

Eerdman's Dictionary adds that woe...

predominately occurs in prophetic speeches, usually in a series of such utterances, and signals an announcement of impending destruction. The distinguishing feature of the woe oracle is the opening interjection, “Woe to…,” which is followed by the description of evil deeds and a prediction of divine judgment (Isa 5:8, 9, 10; Mic 2:1-5).


Woe to those who enact evil statutes - More literally "Woe [to] those who decree evil decrees." These are evil judges, legislators and leaders who are unrighteous. This and subsequent passages describe abuse of power and it inevitably calls forth divine displeasure.

J Vernon McGee comments that...

This verse is very much up-to-date. I think we are seeing the working out of this in our contemporary culture, because the courts are to hand down justice and mirror the justice of God, and they don’t. Lawlessness abounds. People sink into degradation. The idea of freedom has been distorted. Every criminal who is arrested ought to be given a fair trial but in order that my family and your family can walk the streets in peace, criminals will have to be punished. Many who are guilty of crimes are set free by a softhearted, softheaded judge. That judge is not giving justice to me and my family or to you and your family....

One of the leading political analysts in this country recently stated on a telecast that every program that has been devised to help the poor has hurt the poor. What is wrong? The only One who will give justice to the poor is God. Judges are supposed to represent God on earth. Today many godless men are judges. They are in no position to judge at all until they recognize that they are representing God....

It is a farce to have a man put his hand on the Bible and take an oath in a court of law today, because most judges do not believe it is the Word of God. The lawyers, the jury, and the men who are taking the oath probably do not believe it is God’s Word. When you don’t believe it, you might as well take an oath on a Sears and Roebuck catalog. Some of them may have more respect for that than they do for the Bible.

God is dealing with principles; and, until a judge represents God, he cannot represent the people. We have gotten so far from this concept that I am sure I sound like a square! And that’s what I am....

God is saying to the judges, “You are to represent Me, and the day is coming when I am going to judge you.” I feel that every judge ought to recognize the fact that he is one day going to stand before God and give an account of how he has handled his responsibility here on earth. Judges in our day seem to have bleeding hearts; they want to show mercy to the poor criminal. Well, they should be meting out justice to both rich and poor. In the day of reckoning, the unjust judges will stand before the Just Judge.

Failed leadership has been addressed in Isaiah 9:13-17, but in more general terms as those who misled the people. Now the indictment is very specific pointing out their "blatant misrule, the willful making of decrees in the interest of class-division and personal advantage." (Motyer)

Evil (0205)('aven) in its most basic sense has "two facets: a stress on trouble which moves on to wickedness, and an emphasis on emptiness which moves on to idolatry." (TWOT

NET translates this verse...

Those who enact unjust policies are as good as dead, those who are always instituting unfair regulations

Comment: Beloved, does this sound like any modern government you know, where liberal judges frequently overturn just, generally conservative decisions! It was "Woe" to Israel and it is "Woe" to any country that emulates Israel's unfair governmental practices! Pray for revival beloved.

To those who constantly record unjust decisions - More literally "to the writers who write out harm." where the Hebrew verb form suggests this to be a repetitive action.

Unjust (05999) (amal) primarily describes toil or painful labor and comes to mean misery, anguish, troublesome work, trouble, labor, toil. It describes that which is an unpleasant, hard, distressing. Some versions translate amal in this passage with grievousness, which is that which is characterized by severe pain, suffering or sorrow. The point is clear that the wicked leads were writing and enacting laws which abused the people they should have comforted and protected. The fact that verse 4 discusses their "wealth", strongly implies that the leaders (judges, magistrates, etc) were using the legal system to "line their pockets" with filthy lucre!

Matthew Henry...

Whether they were the princes and judges of Israel of Judah, or both, that the prophet denounced this woe against, is not certain

Isaiah 10:2 So as to deprive the needy of justice and rob the poor of My people of their rights, so that widows may be their spoil and that they may plunder the orphans.:

  • deprive: Isa 29:21 La 3:35 Am 2:7 5:11,12 Mal 3:5
  • widows: Isa 1:23 3:14 5:7 Jer 7:6 Eze 22:7 Mt 23:14

So as to deprive the needy of justice - In Isa 10:1 and this passage the general sin that is denounced is that of oppression and injustice.

Needy (01800) (dal) means one who is low, especially the lower classes of society (2Ki 24:14, 25:12). Feeble, weak, helpless. "Those of humble rank and circumstances; who have no powerful friends and defenders." (Barnes)

TWOT adds that

dal denotes the lack of material wealth (Pr 10:15) and social strength (Amos 2:7). Such people are contrasted with the rich (Ex 30:15; Ru 3:10) and the great (Lev 19:5). God enjoins their protection (Ex 23:3; Lev 14:21; Isa 10:2), and promises to them justice (Isa 11:4). Only infrequently is dal used of spiritual poverty (cf. Jer 5:4), and in most cases such usages parallel ebyôn, needy (Isa 14:30).

Isaiah had castigated unrighteous rulers (not those in Israel but in Judah) in the first chapter writing...

Your rulers are rebels and companions of thieves; Everyone loves a bribe And chases after rewards. They do not defend the orphan, Nor does the widow’s plea come before them. (Isa 1:23)

Rob (01497) (gazal) has a root meaning of violence that goes beyond mere stealing or taking another's belongings but includes robbing by force.

Poor (06041) (ani) means poor, afflicted, humble. The Septuagint (Lxx) translates with the adjective ptochos (from ptosso = crouch, cringe, cower down or hide oneself for fear, a picture of one crouching and cowering like a beggar with a tin cup to receive the pennies dropped in!) which describes a person who is dependent on others for support. Ptochos is an adjective which describes one who crouches and cowers and is used as a noun to mean beggar. These poor were unable to meet their basic needs and so were forced to depend on others or on society. Classical Greek used the ptochos to refer to a person reduced to total destitution, who crouched in a corner begging. As he held out one hand for alms he often hid his face with the other hand, because he was ashamed of being recognized.

Plunder the orphans (cp Isa 1:17) - The verb plunder means to take by violence and may be literally true but could also be a picture of how they violated justice.


Things are so upside down that the very ones YHWH seeks to protect (i.e., widows and orphans) have become the spoil and plunder! (Ref)

John Martin writes that...

These actions, which involved taking advantage of people who could not defend their rights, violated God’s Law (Ex. 22:22; 23:6; Dt. 15:7, 8; 24:17, 18; cf. Isa. 1:17).

Malachi sounds a similar warning and sums up the root problem as an absence of a (reverential) fear of Jehovah....

“Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,” says the Lord of hosts. (Mal 3:5).

Barnes comments that...

The widow and the orphan are without protectors. Judges, by their office, are particularly bound to preserve their rights; and it, therefore, evinces peculiar iniquity when they who should be their protectors become, in fact, their oppressors, and do injustice to them without the possibility of redress. Yet this was the character of the Jewish judges; and for this the vengeance of Heaven was about to come upon the land. (Isaiah 10 Commentary)

Isaiah 10:3 Now what will you do in the day of punishment, and in the devastation which will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help? And where will you leave your wealth?:

  • what: Isa 20:6 33:14 Job 31:14 Jer 5:31 Eze 24:13,14 Rev 6:15,16
  • day: Isa 26:21 Ho 9:7 Lk 19:44 1Pe 2:12
  • devastation: Isa 5:26 30:27,28 39:3,6,7 Dt 28:49
  • to whom: Isa 30:1-3,16 31:1-3 Ho 5:13
  • where: Isa 2:20,21 5:14 Ge 31:1 2Ki 7:6-8,15 Ps 49:16,17 Pr 11:4 Zep 1:18


Now what will you do in the day of punishment - The first of a series of rhetorical questions each calling for a negative reply. Isaiah addressing the wicked leaders directly warns them that the day of reckoning ("judgment day") cannot be averted or avoided. This series of questions clearly imply that the calamity would be so great that there would be no refuge, or escape.

The day of punishment is translated by some versions as “the day of visitation” (KJV) which is the day when God arrives to execute justice (cp Job 31:14; 35:15) in the form of Assyrian oppression for the oppressors of the poor and needy. The Pulpit Commentary notes that...

The day of visitation is the day when God reckons with his servants, and demands an account from each of the work done in his vineyard, being prepared to recompense the good and punish the bad (comp. Hos. 9:7). It is oftenest used in a bad sense because, unhappily, so many more are found to deserve punishment than reward.

The devastation which will come from afar - The punishment threatened is desolation by a foreign foe. Things might seem to be just fine in the land of Ephraim, but that belied the truth that an outside foe would soon wreak havoc. God is not mocked and what Israel had sown was soon to be reaped (Gal 6:7-note, Gal 6:8-note).

Devastation (07722) (so'ah - feminine form) means ruin, desolation or devastation, which can be sudden or unexpected (as something crashing - Cheyne calls it "the crashing ruin") such as the arrival of a disastrous storm (so'ah = "storm" in Ezek 38:9). It describes that which is laid waste by plundering or destroying and implies a complete ruin of the affected area. In Zeph 1:15, this word describes the dreadful Day of the Lord. The storms of war were stirring and would soon sweep over the Northern Kingdom (722BC).

This prediction is not just desolation but describes sudden, and complete destruction.

So'ah - 12v in the KJV = desolation 5, destruction 3, desolate 2, destroy 1, storm 1, wasteness 1

Job 30:3, 14; 38:27; Ps 35:8, 17; 63:9; Pr 1:27; 3:25; Isa 10:3; 47:11; Ezek 38:9; Zeph 1:15.

From afar - Refers to the Assyrian Empire (map of Assyria) which were well known in the ancient world as some of most violent and savage forces that had ever been know. For example in Wikipedia we read that some of their acts of brutality included...

rape, mutilating men until death, placing heads, arms, hands and even lower lips on the conquered city's walls, skulls and noses atop stakes. Alternatively these could also be piled up or even their corpses cut up and fed to the dogs. On some occasions, people were blinded so that as they wandered throughout the land they would speak of Assyrian terrors and demoralize the local population. (Military history of the Assyrian Empire)

Boyd describes the brutality of the Assyrians...

The Assyrian Kingdom became one of Israel’ s mightiest, most brutal foes. It was a nation with the highest culture, a highly formal religion, and skilled in the crafts and arts of mankind, but was unmercifully cruel in its punishment of its enemies. Their acts were atrocious. King Ashurnasirpal (883–859 BC) was its great leader of expansion. His armies of bowmen, spearmen, slingers, cavalry and charioteers made up one of the most feared and dreaded units of military might of that day. Such was what the prophet Nahum had in mind (Nah 2:3, 4; 3:2, 3).

Ashurnasirpal described his dealings with a certain city he had conquered as follows: “Six hundred of their warriors I put to the sword; 3000 captives I burned with fire; I left not a single one among them alive to serve as a hostage. Kholai, their governor, I captured alive. Their corpses I piled into heaps; their men and maidens I burned in the fire; Khulai, their governor, I flayed and his skin I spread upon the wall of the city of Damdamusa; the city I destroyed, I ravaged, I burned with fire.” (Assyrian Brutality -- By Bob Boyd)

To whom will you flee for help? - Another rhetorical question calling for a negative reply. There will be no one to rescue or defend from the foreign foe. They had sown the rotten seeds of failing to help the helpless and would reap their bitter harvest of helplessness in the face of the onslaught of the notoriously brutal Assyrian forces. The ESV Study Bible has an interesting note that "Corrupt wealth buys helplessness."

There is a tragic irony for the only Refuge is the very One Who brought the devastation through His instrument Assyria.

Clarke comments...

As the people had hitherto lived without God in worship and obedience; so they should now be without His help, and should perish in their transgressions. (Isaiah 10 Commentary)

There is also a twist of irony in the questions in this passage for it is as if he is asking

“When you have forsaken others in their time of need, who will you go to for help when you are in need?”

And where will you leave your wealth? (cp Ps 49:17) - A final rhetorical question. Where will your ill-gotten gain be safe and secure? There was no bank or safe that could keep their wealth safe, for the land would be devastated by the ferocious Assyrian forces. When God's hand of judgment falls on Israel, all the wealth these leaders had gained through corrupt, unjust methods would vanish like the wind, reminding us of truths in other Scriptures...

When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings, like an eagle that flies toward the heavens. (Pr 23:5)

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. (1Ti 6:9)

Wealth (03519) (kabod) means to be heavy or weighty but only rarely used literally. Kabod can describe the glory of God (Ex 16:7, 10, 24:17, 33:18), but in the present context describes wealth as that which is valued (cp Ge 31:1; Na 2:9).

Hosea has a parallel passage...

As for Ephraim, their glory will fly away like a bird— No birth, no pregnancy and no conception! (Hos 9:11).

The psalmist writes...

For (explaining why not to be fearful or in awe of the rich - Ps 49:16) when he dies he will carry nothing away; His glory will not descend after him. (Ps 49:17)

Warren Wiersbe has a great application point for this verse writing that...

The prophet’s three questions in Isaiah 10:3 ought to be pondered by every person who wants to be ready when the Lord comes. If God cannot bring us to repentance through His Word, then He must lift His hand and chasten us. If we do not submit to His chastening, then He must stretch out His hand and judge us. God is long-suffering, but we dare not tempt Him by our careless or calloused attitude. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).

Isaiah 10:4 Nothing remains but to crouch among the captives or fall among the slain. In spite of all this, His anger does not turn away and His hand is still stretched out.:

  • Lev 26:17,36,37 Dt 31:15-18 32:30 Jer 37:10 Ho 9:12
  • all this: Isa 5:25 9:12,17,21)( rod: Isa 10:15 8:4 14:5,6 Ps 17:14 125:3 Jer 51:20-24

Nothing remains but to crouch among the captives or fall among the slain - Bow as a captive to the foreign invaders or be slain by them. Go into captivity or fall in battle.

Crouch (03766) (kara) means to bow down and can refer both to bending in general or to bowing in worship or obeisance (attitude of deference). Some uses clearly refer to kneeling (2Ki 1:13, Jdg 7:6).

It is interesting to note that another Hebrew verb shachah could also mean to bowing down to pay homage. Shachah however is often translated worship, or to show reverential respect by bowing down before a superior, the first use in Ge 22:5 being by Abraham who is going to worship Jehovah. But here in Isaiah 10:4 Isaiah does not use shachah but kara which never translated worship in the NAS. So what is the point? Since the leaders refused to bow down in worship (shachah) before Jehovah, they would be forced to bow before pagan invaders in humiliation and subjugation. Beloved, who do you bow before?

Guzik comments that...

When the Assyrians conquered other nations, it wasn’t enough for them to just win a military victory. They had a perverse pleasure in humiliating and subjugating their conquered foes. They would do everything they could to bring them low. Here, God says, “You have rejected Me, so without Me you shall bow down in humiliation and degradation before your enemies.” (Isaiah 10 Commentary)

ESV Study Bible adds that...

In his writings, the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III boasted of stacking the corpses of his defeated enemies and heaping up piles of their skulls (cf. Nah. 3:3). To give up in the face of such an enemy is profound despair. (ESV Study Bible)

In spite of all this, His anger does not turn away and His hand is still stretched out - This is the fourth time this sad refrain has occurred (Isaiah 9:12, 17, 21, 10:4) and marks the close of the prophecy of divine judgment on the Northern Kingdom.

This is a fascinating refrain given the fact that this passage describes what would seem to be final punishment (especially "fall among the slain" = death)

Guzik commenting on the fourth use of this phrase...

reminds us that God’s judgment is persistent. It moves from phase to phase until it finds repentance. This means that it makes sense for us to repent now, because God’s judgment is persistent for all eternity.

“If even physical death does not satisfy the fierce anger of this holy God, what dread and punishment lies beyond the grave?” (Grogan)

It makes perfect sense for this message of coming judgment to follow the announcement of the Messiah. His coming was announced, but the people were not ready for Him, and the predicted judgment would come before they were ready. (Isaiah 10 Commentary)

Isaiah 10:5 Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger and the staff in whose hands is My indignation,: (Assyria: Ge 10:11)

Isaiah 10:5-34

Woe - see note on Isaiah 10:1 see note

Young comments that...

All that we do has been foreordained of God, and to Him we are responsible. When we are employed in some momentous task we should look to Him and acknowledge His greatness for using us as He has. This Assyria did not do. Puffed up with pride, she thought that she was conducting affairs in accordance with her own wishes. Instead of recognizing the sovereignty of God, she believed herself to be sovereign...When a nation is thus charged with the execution of God’s wrath and looks not to God, it itself can only become the object of woe. (The Book of Isaiah 3 Vol. Edward J. Young)

Assyria - God's rod and staff. Solomon explains that...

Jehovah has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil. (Pr 16:4)

Vine comments that...

Verses 5 to 19 give a striking example of how God has used gentile nations to chastise His earthly people, permitting these nations to attain to a high degree of domination. They on their part have prided themselves on what they consider to be their own attainments, and on this account have brought upon themselves the retributive judgments of the Lord.

Click map of Assyria - the river nearest to Israel is the Euphrates. Observe in the legend the striking expansion of the boundaries that occurred the years 824BC and 671BC. Observe that Judah is not green but yellow - while the Northern Kingdom whose capital was Samaria was eventually defeated by Assyria, the Assyrian advances on Judah did not result in her defeat - Why? God's protective hand was on Judah. He would eventually use Nebuchadnezzar as His servant [Jer 25:9, 27:6, 43:10] to defeat and demolish Judah and Jerusalem in 586BC. Beloved if God is in control of kingdoms rising and falling, what is there in your life which you think is beyond His control? And remember His timing is not necessarily your timing!)

The rod of My anger - While God is not the Author of evil, He does on occasion use wicked men and nations to punish even His own people when they fall into sin and idolatry. When this punishment is completed, however, those evil kingdoms or individuals inevitably meet even more severe judgments (Isaiah 10:12). So while Assyria was His primary rod for punishing the Northern Kingdom, Babylon was the primary instrument He used to punish the Southern Kingdom, the prophet Habakkuk recording...

For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that fierce and impetuous people who march throughout the earth to seize dwelling places which are not theirs. (Hab 1:6, cp 2Chr 36:17, Jer 25:9).

Rod (07626)(shebet) is literally a club or heavy blunt wooden stick as a weapon to kill by striking the victim or opponent (2Sa 23:21; 1Ch 11:23) and in the present context refers (figuratively) to the nation of Assyria as God's "rod of discipline" with which He judges Israel.

Anger (0639) (ap) means nose and thus depicts hard breathing or nasal snorting that accompanies exasperation. In short, ap therefore describes anger which is felt as an emotion. It is the Lord's anger which empowers Assyria to be His rod of discipline on His people.

Henry Morris has an interesting comment on Assyria...

As in many of the prophecies, there is to be both a precursive fulfillment, in this case the coming invasion of Israel and Judah by the unspeakably cruel and wicked Assyrians, and a final fulfillment, the northern invaders of Israel in the last days, as described particularly in Ezekiel 38. The term "Assyrian" seems, in fact, to be a title of the coming Antichrist (Micah 5:5,6).

This One (Messiah) will be our peace (cp Prince of peace Isa 9:6). When the Assyrian invades our land, when he tramples on our citadels, then we will raise against him seven shepherds and eight leaders of men. 6 They will shepherd the land of Assyria with the sword, The land of Nimrod at its entrances; And He will deliver us from the Assyrian When he attacks our land And when he tramples our territory. (Mic 5:5-6).

Comment: While not everyone would agree that Micah's prophecy describes the future Antichrist, Micah's prediction of Israeli victory over Assyria has never been historically fulfilled and does leave open this fulfillment as a distinct possibility that it refers to the last days. Morris commenting on Micah's prophecy writes

Since Assyria was the chief threat to Judah at the time Micah was writing, many expositors assume that "the Assyrian" in this verse is simply a metaphor for all her enemies. The context in this passage, however, is strongly Messianic and prophetic, and Assyria was a dead nation long before even the first coming of Christ. With this context in mind, it seems most likely that "the Assyrian" here is a name for the Antichrist of the last days, the leader of the last great invasion of Israel before the second coming of Christ. He is an Assyrian not by nationality (the Assyrians of antiquity have long vanished from history) but by geography, since his capital will be at restored Babylon (Zechariah 5:5-11). In the last days, "the Assyrian" (or Antichrist, or the Beast) will be seeking to establish his world government and especially to eliminate the nation Israel and all Christians in every nation. At that time, this particular prophecy will become clear. There has been no historical fulfillment of this prophecy as yet, which makes it even more obvious that the major context of this whole section must relate to the future. At that time, the Lord will raise up leaders--perhaps from Israel--to organize escape routes and resistance to the Assyrian's armies and death squads.

Gaebelein adds that the ancient Assyrian invasion from the North was a foreshadowing of a greater "King of the North"

This is an interesting and important chapter (Isaiah 10). The Assyrian enemy was used by God to punish His people....In Isaiah 10 we read a fuller description of this great troubler and how he invaded the land of Israel. God addresses him as the rod He uses in anger against His people. While all this had a past fulfilment a similar invasion of the land of Palestine will be enacted before the times of the Gentiles close and the King of Kings appears. The "Assyrian" of the end time comes from the North; therefore he is called in Daniel’s prophecy “the King of the North.” Antiochus Epiphanes is a type of this final outward foe of Israel. Study carefully with this chapter Is 14:24–25; Is 30:31–33; Micah 5:1–7; Daniel 8:23-26; 11:40–45; Psalm 74:1–10; Psalm 89. Jehovah shall suddenly make an end of him. Verses 33–34 compare with Daniel 11:45. (Commentary on Isaiah - Annotated Bible)

Isaiah 10:6 I send it against a godless nation and commission it against the people of My fury to capture booty and to seize plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets.:

  • against: Isa 9:17 19:17 29:13 30:9-11 33:14 Jer 3:10 4:14 Mt 15:7
  • commission: Isa 10:13,14 37:26,27 41:25 45:1-5 Jer 25:9 34:22 47:6,7
  • trample them: Heb. lay them a treading, Isa 22:5 63:3,6 2Sa 22:43 Mic 7:10 Zec 10:5


I send it - God in His Sovereignty sends his instrument Assyria against His people. Assyria's invasion was not a chance happening. In fact nothing occurs "by chance." There surely is some play on words for Isaiah himself had been sent to God's people (Isaiah 6:8-note).

A godless nation - ("defiled"; ASV = "profane"; NAB = "impious"; NCV = "separated from God") A profane, sinning nation who were once called "My people."

Beloved I cannot read this phrase without great remorse as I contemplate the United States of America and the continual attempts by godless men and women to completely remove every reference to God and God's Word from our country! Woe! Lord, revive the remnant while there is still time to repent! Amen.

The people of My fury (Literally, "the people of My anger") - These are the people who justly deserve or merit God's anger. This phrase summarizes why God is sending the Assyrians -- He is angry with His rebellious, faithless people. Beloved, let us learn from these passages -- God is never mocked. If we sow seeds of willful sin, we will surely reap the Lord's rod of discipline! We never sin in a vacuum. We never sin and "get away with it." God's chosen people are a powerful demonstration of this principle. This is why Paul writes...

Now these things happened (referring to events in the OT - see 1Co 10:1, 2, 3, 4, 5) as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved....Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (1Cor 10:6, 11)

Comment: May God grant us the grace to read and heed God's clear OT warnings! Amen

Isaiah 10:7 Yet it does not so intend, nor does it plan so in its heart, but rather it is its purpose to destroy and to cut off many nations.:

  • Intend: Ge 50:20 Mic 4:11,12 Ac 2:23 13:27-30
  • Heart: Isa 36:18-20 37:11-13

Rather it is its purpose - "It...Its" refers to the Assyrian empire and "its purpose" was to serve as Jehovah's instrument of punishment. This is a clear indicator that God is in control of history. He is Sovereign, a truth some believers struggle with but one which is incredibly comforting when it fully received. If He were not sovereign, how could the Bible make statements like those in Ge 50:20 and Ro 8:28-note? So the purpose of Assyria was to serve as God's instrument of punishment for His rebellious chosen people. As Young puts it "In God’s hand the Assyrian was an unconscious and unwitting instrument."

Solomon reminds us that

The king's heart (Ed: Yes, mysteriously [to me], even wicked pagan kings like those of the evil empire Assyria) is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes. (Pr 21:1)

ESV Study Bible note...

God uses human evil for his own just purpose, but he does not need humans to intend their cooperation. Events unfold through human intentions but also, more deeply, through the divine intention (cf. Luke 22:22; Acts 2:22, 23; 4:27,28). (ESV Study Bible)

Isaiah 10:8 For it says, "Are not my princes all kings?:

  • Isa 36:8 2Ki 18:24 19:10 Eze 26:7 Da 2:37

It says - Referring to Assyria who is personified as asking this question. As someone has said in this section on Assyria, we gain great insight into the heart of a dictator.

Are not my princes all kings? - The NLT translates is as "Each of my princes will soon be a king." The implication would be that Assyria would conquer sufficient nations and the kings of those nations would now be subject ("princes") to the king of Assyria (cp 2Ki 25:28). Oswalt has a different interpretation that "He is so great that even his “commanders” are the equivalent of the kings of other lands." The main point is that Assyria is saying he was unstoppable.

Isaiah 10:9 "Is not Calno (Calneh) like Carchemish, or Hamath like Arpad, or Samaria like Damascus?:

  • Calno: Am 6:1,2
  • Carchemish: 2Ch 35:20 Jer 46:2
  • Hamath: Isa 36:19 37:13 2Sa 8:9 2Ki 17:24 Jer 49:23
  • Samaria: Isa 7:8 17:3 2Ki 16:9 17:5,6 18:9,10

The boasting of Assyria continues as it revels in its conquests over fortresses. At this time Samaria (capital of the Northern Kingdom) had not fallen but in this passage is treated as if it had already fallen to Assyria.

NET Bible Note comments that...

The city states listed here were conquered by the Assyrians between 740–717BC. The point of the rhetorical questions is that no one can stand before Assyria’s might.

Utley has a historical note...

a. Calno (or Calneh), city in northern Syria (cf. Amos 6:2) fell in 742 B.C. (all these dates are estimates only) b. Carchemish, major city of the Hittites near the headwaters of the Euphrates, joined Assyrian coalition in 738 B.C. c. Hamath, city on the northern boundary of Israel (cf. 2Chr. 8:4) on the Orontes River, fell in 738 BC d. Arpad, city in northwest Syria fell in 741 BC e. Samaria (capital of Israel) fell in 722 BC to Sargon II f. Damascus (capital of Syria) fell in 732 B.C. (Ref)

Isaiah 10:10 As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols, whose graven images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria:

  • the kingdoms: Isa 10:14 2Ki 18:33-35 19:12,13,17-19 2Ch 32:12-16,19

As my hand... - The Assyrian boast continues. We see similar boasting by the Assyrian commander Rabshakeh in Isa 36:13-20; 37:8-13.

Idols (0457)('eliyl) means worthless (e.g., those who perform their job poorly - Job 13:4, Zech 11:17). 'Eliyl refers to that which is worthless as an object of worship. The idea is that which is good for nothing, vain or vanity, of no value, a thing of naught. 'Eliyl is used primarily to describe vain objects of worship, i.e. the gods of this world, whether literal idols made with hands, riches, or deceitful men. The irony of this is biting not only with respect to the usual meaning of this word but also in view of its similarity to the usual word for God ('Elohim). The Lxx translates with the rare adjective gluptos which means "carved" and thus describes carved images (eg Dt 7:5, 25 "graven images" = gluptos, Isa 46:1 = "images"; Isa 48:5 = "graven image").

Utley comments that images...

is an interesting word (BDB 47). Its basic meaning is uncertain, but it is spelled similarly to Elohim ('eliyl), which has caused scholars to assume it refers to weak and non-existent idols (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 411). Monotheism is the uniqueness of Israel’s faith. There are other spiritual beings, but only one true God (cf. Dt 4:35,39; 6:8; 32:39; Isa 43:9, 10, 11; 45:21, 22; Jer 2:11; 5:7,10; Ro 3:30; 1Co 8:4,6; 1Ti 2:5; Jas 2:19). The idols represent nothing, only the false hopes and fears (superstitions) of fallen humanity realizing there is more to reality than the physical, but unable to comprehend spiritual truth (i.e., revelation). (Reference) (Bolding added)

Isaiah 10:11 Shall I not do to Jerusalem and her images just as I have done to Samaria and her idols?":

  • Shall I not do: Isa 36:19,20 37:10-13

Shall I not do to Jerusalem and her images - A rhetorical question. Notice the contemptuous, boastful blasphemy of Assyria in equating Jerusalem's God, the one true and Living God, with idols ("her images").

Images (KJV = "idols") (0457)('eliyl) - see previous verse.

This verse concludes the comparison which began in verse 10. Assyria is personified as saying that it had defeated kingdoms who possessed idols far greater than those in Jerusalem (pagans did not believe in the Living God, Who they classified as one amongst a other gods, who they equated with idols). Assyria reasoned that since it had defeated greater "images...and idols" (Isa 10:10), they would surely defeat Jerusalem (representative of the Southern Kingdom of Judah).

We encounter an example of an allusion to the idols of conquered countries in the taunting words of the Assyrian commander Rabshakeh which were later addressed to Judah.

Has any one of the gods (idols) of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria from my hand? ‘Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their land from my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’ (2Ki 18:33-35).

Isaiah 10:12 So it will be that when the Lord has completed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem. He will say, "I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness.":

  • when the Lord: Isa 10:5,6 14:24-27 27:9 46:10,11 Ps 76:10 1Pe 4:17
  • I will: Isa 10:16-19,25-34 17:12-14 29:7,8 30:30-33 31:5-9 37:36-38 50:11 Jer 50:18
  • punish: Isa 9:9 Job 40:11,12 Ps 21:10 Mt 12:33 15:19
  • the pomp: Isa 2:11 5:15 Ps 18:27 Pr 30:13 Eze 31:10,14 Da 4:37

So it will be that when the Lord has completed all His work - His work of punishment although not a complete defeat of Judah and Jerusalem at the hands of the Assyrians.

Completed (01214) (batsa') is a technical term used by weavers to designate the action of cutting a piece of cloth free from the loom after it has been woven. The idea is to ‘snip off’ a thread and hence ‘to terminate’.

Young has an interesting comment which seems to see the completion of the Lord's work as not just fulfilled in past history but as also having a future fulfilment...

The persecution of Zion and Jerusalem represents in essence the substance of all the persecutions that would come upon the Church (Ed: I would favor end times persecution on the nation of Israel, cp Jer 30:7, Da 12:1-note, et al), and the declaration and description of this punishment prepare the way for the announcement of the coming of the end of the days, the period of blessing to be ushered in by the Messiah (Ed: Second Coming). (The Book of Isaiah 3 Vol. Edward J. Young) 

Comment: Although I would not agree with Young that the Church in this present age has replaced Israel (see discussion of the phrase Israel of God), I do agree with his interpretation of Isaiah 10:12a having a past and a future fulfillment and that the return of the King of kings (Rev 19:16-note) will be the ultimate time "when the Lord has completed all His Work on Mt Zion and Jerusalem."

On Mount Zion and on Jerusalem - This refers to the Assyrian invasion of the Southern Kingdom which ultimately will be defeated by Babylon.

I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness - Yes God had used evil Assyria for His holy purposes but they would afterward be held accountable to God (Assyria fell in 612BC).

Motyer notes that...

What the king of Assyria did conformed to the will of God; why he did it had nothing to do with the will of God, only with the king’s arrogance and vaingloriousness. (The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary) 

Isaiah 10:13 For he has said, "By the power of my hand and by my wisdom I did this, for I have understanding; and I removed the boundaries of the peoples and plundered their treasures, and like a mighty man I brought down their inhabitants:

  • He has said: Isa 10:8 37:23,24 Dt 8:17 Eze 25:3 26:2 28:2-9 29:3 Da 4:30 Am 6:13 Hab 1:16
  • removed: 2Ki 15:29 17:6,24 18:11,32 1Ch 5:26 Am 5:27 6:1,2
  • plundered: 2Ki 16:8 18:15 Ho 13:15,16)

For - Term of explanation. Isaiah 10:13,14 help to amplify our understanding of the Assyrian king's arrogant heart and pomp of his haughtiness.

By the power of my hand and by my wisdom I did this - The king of Assyria took the glory to himself and boasted that his conquests were the result of his power and his wisdom! Pride is a most deceptive sin, even when it is not very subtle! The Assyrian's declaration is almost identical to the arrogant boast expressed years later by King Nebuchadnezzar...

The king reflected and said, 'Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?' (Da 4:30)

Isaiah 10:14 And my hand reached to the riches of the peoples like a nest, and as one gathers abandoned eggs, I gathered all the earth; and there was not one that flapped its wing or opened its beak or chirped.":

  • And my: Isa 5:8 Job 31:25 Pr 18:12 21:6,7 Ho 12:7,8 Na 2:9-13 3:1 Hab 2:5-11

Assyria's boasting continues (count the number of personal pronouns in Isa 10:13, 14!). Other nations were like so many unguarded bird's eggs before Assyria's power. Or at least that is the inflated opinion Assyria possessed and projected.

IVP Background Commentary adds that...

The arrogant claims put in the mouth of the Assyrian king by Isaiah is not at all exaggerated. The royal inscriptions of these kings are extreme in the claims they arrogate to the king. Tiglath-Pileser declares himself beloved of the gods, light of all his people and shepherd of humankind, who subdued many kings, despoiled cities and imposed tribute. He claimed that he considered his enemies mere ghosts. (Matthews, V. H., Chavalas, M. W., & Walton, J. H. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press)

Isaiah 10:15 Is the axe to boast itself over the one who chops with it? Is the saw to exalt itself over the one who wields it? That would be like a club wielding those who lift it, or like a rod lifting him who is not wood.:

  • axe: Isa 10:5 Ps 17:13,14 Jer 51:20-23 Eze 28:9 Ro 9:20,21

Application: Beloved, we who are God's workmanship (Ep 2:10-note) must be careful not to take credit for what God does through us for He will not share His glory with another! (Isa 42:8, cp Mt 5:16-note "in such a way" that He alone receives the glory)

Now comes the indictment of the pride of Assyrian king, who is metaphorically compared to an axe, a saw, a club, and a rod, mere "tools" as it were in the hand of the Almighty God. Clearly, Assyria did not act independently of the Sovereign God.

As John Calvin said...

Whenever men ascribe to themselves more than is proper, they rise against God.

Is the axe to boast itself over the one who chops with it? - This (and the next) question is rhetorical and calls for a negative response.

That would be like a club wielding those who lift it or like a rod lifting him who is not wood - This exaggeration shows now ludicrous it would be for an axe to boast or a saw to exalt itself, referring to how ridiculous it was for the king of Assyria to make these claims.


God said he would cut down the “forest” of Judah’s pride (Isa 6:13), and Assyria is the “ax” in God’s hand to accomplish that task. God also said that He would punish his people for their sin (Isa 5:25), and Assyria is the instrument of that punishment. (Ibid)

Isaiah 10:16 Therefore the Lord, the GOD of hosts, will send a wasting disease among his stout warriors; and under his glory a fire will be kindled like a burning flame.:

  • Lord of hosts: Isa 5:17 14:24-27 29:5-8 37:6,7,29,36 2Ch 32:21 Ps 106:15 Ac 12:23
  • under: Isa 9:5 30:30-33 33:10-14

Therefore - And oh what a conclusion it is! The Assyrian king's pompous puffed up pride would be punctured by a wasting (Hebrew = leanness) disease among the stout (Hebrew = fat) warriors (note pun = leanness sent to "fat" warriors), who were the main source of the empire's seeming invincibility.

Lord - Adonai - My Lord, My Master

Lord, the GOD of hosts (repeated in Isaiah 10:16, 23, 24, 33) - This name speaks of God as Master and as over the armies (hosts), so that He is in control. The ESV Study Bible has an interesting explanation of why this unusual name is concentrated in verses 16-34 commenting that...

God moves history to preserve his remnant people. Isaiah marks this section with the Lord God of hosts. (ESV Study Bible)

(God) Will send (cp "I send" in Is 10:6) - God was in total control of Assyria's fate.

His glory - The glory of Assyria. Man's glory is "flammable" and easily consumed by the fire of God.

A fire will be kindled - Fire is used metaphorically to describe the complete destruction of whatever is burned. In this case the fuel for the fire would be the Assyrian Empire which would be completely consumed by the "conflagration."

Delitzsch comments that...

In accordance with Isaiah’s masterly art of painting in tones, the whole passage is so expressed, that we can hear the crackling, and spluttering, and hissing of the fire, as it seizes upon everything within its reach. This fire, whatever it may be so far as its natural and phenomenal character is concerned, is in its true essence the wrath of Jehovah.

Isaiah 10:17 And the light of Israel will become a fire and his Holy One a flame, and it will burn and devour his thorns and his briars in a single day.:

  • light: Isa 60:19 Ps 27:1 84:11 Rev 21:23 22:5
  • flame: Isa 30:27,28 33:14 64:1,2 66:15,16,24 Nu 11:1-3 16:35 Ps 18:8 Ps 21:9 50:3 83:14,15 Jer 4:4 7:20 Mal 4:1-3 Mt 3:12 2Th 1:7-9 Heb 12:29
  • devour: Isa 27:4 37:36 Ps 97:3 Na 1:5,6,10)


The light of Israel - Notice that some translations (NIV, NLT, Amplified) capitalize "Light" indicating they consider this to be God. In context that seems to be the correct interpretation (cp 1Jn 1:5).

The NET Bible note agrees adding that...

In this context the “Light of Israel” is a divine title (note the parallel title “his holy one”). The title points to God’s royal splendor, which overshadows and, when transformed into fire, destroys the “majestic glory” of the king of Assyria (Isa 10:16b).

Motyer refers us to a number of OT passages that discuss the Lord as Light

Ps 27:1-note; P 84:11-note; Is. 60:1, 2, 3, 19, 20; Mic 7:8 (Ed: cp Ps 36:9-note, Hab 3:4, Rev 22:5-note). Light symbolizes God’s favor (Ps 4:7-note), guidance (Ps 43:3-note), law (Ps 119:105-note), revelation of truth (Is 42:6) and presence (Ps 104:2-note; Is 4:5). The light which in its fullest sense is yet to come (Isa 9:1, 30:26) is already present. In the darkness of calamity, faith walks in the light. For the link between light and holiness see Isa 6:3. There ‘glory’ expressed the presence of the Lord in all His glory in every place; here light is the presence of the Lord in all His unapproachable holiness. (The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary) 

Will become a fire - Metaphor of God as a consuming fire, a description that refers to God later in Isaiah -- Isaiah 29:6, Isa 30:27, 30. Clearly this picture of God as a fire is an affirmation of an omnipotent God Who possesses power to destroy His adversaries. In Daniel we see God's power over nations...

And it is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men, And knowledge to men of understanding. (Da 2:21-note)

The writer of Hebrews rightly says that our God is a consuming fire. (Heb 12:29-note)

Comment: Beloved aren't we glad the writer said He is our God! While this awesome description of God cause us to reverentially fear Him, we can know that He is our God, because the Lamb has been offered up as a whole burnt offering to the propitiate the wrath of God against sin. Because Christ was consumed by the wrath of God poured out on Calvary, we who are safe in Christ, need never fear experiencing His consuming fire.

In the first Biblical description of God as a consuming power we read

to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the mountain top. (Ex 24:17)

Moses describes God as...

the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (Dt 4:24)

Criswell comments: God's jealousy is the other side of His love. It is the zeal with which He seeks to maintain His relationship with those He loves. God's jealousy has been called "the basic element in the whole OT idea of God." Because God loves Israel, He will not tolerate losing their loyalty to another, for this would break the covenant and keep Israel from blessing and prosperity.

Later Moses describes God functioning as Israel's warrior against her enemies (much like what He is doing here in Isaiah 10:17ff)...

Know therefore today that it is the LORD your God who is crossing over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and He will subdue them before you, so that you may drive them out and destroy them quickly, just as the LORD has spoken to you. (Dt 9:3)

Holy One - This is one of Isaiah’s favorite titles for God and used some 29x out of 58 total uses in the OT. It pictures the Lord as the Sovereign King Who rules over His covenant people and exercises moral authority over them.

Holy One - 29x (out of 56x in the entire OT) - Isa 1:4; 5:19, 24; 10:17, 20; 12:6; 17:7; 29:19, 23; 30:11, 12, 15; 31:1; 37:23; 40:25; 41:14, 16, 20; 43:3, 14, 15; 45:11; 47:4; 48:17; 49:7; 54:5; 55:5; 60:9, 14.

His thorns...his briars - Figurative description of the Assyrian king and his empire which would be destroyed just as easily as a fire destroys thorns and briars.


Judah's enemy Assyria would be destroyed in a single day (cp same phrase referring to what Assyria would do to Israel!). In the days of King Hezekiah of Judah, the Assyrian forces invaded Judah and seemed ominously close to defeating Jerusalem (even as they had boasted they would do in Isaiah 10:10, 11). And yet here in Isaiah 10:16, 17 through the prophet Isaiah God promises protection for Judah and Jerusalem. And later Isaiah records the details of God's hand of protection over Judah and Jerusalem...

Therefore, thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, 'He shall not come to this city, or shoot an arrow there; neither shall he come before it with a shield, nor throw up a mound against it. 34 'By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come to this city,' declares the LORD. 35 'For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for My servant David's sake.'" 36 Then the Angel of the LORD (compare to the Light of Israel, the Holy One") went out, and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men arose early in the morning, behold, all of these were dead (fulfillment of Isaiah's prediction of destruction of the Assyrian forcesin a single day). 37 So Sennacherib, king of Assyria, departed and returned home, and lived at Nineveh. (Isaiah 37:33-37)

The parallel account of the Holy One's protection of Jerusalem and Judah is recorded in Second Kings...

Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, "He shall not come to this city or shoot an arrow there; neither shall he come before it with a shield, nor throw up a mound against it. 33 "By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come to this city,"' declares the LORD. 34 'For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for My servant David's sake.'" 35 Then it happened that night that the Angel of the LORD went out, and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were dead (The Angel "destroyed every mighty warrior, commander and officer in the camp of the king of Assyria." 2Chr 32:21). 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home, and lived at Nineveh. 37 And it came about as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with the sword ("some of his own children killed him" 2Chr 32:21); and they escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son became king in his place. (2Kings 19:32-37)

Isaiah 10:18 And He will destroy the glory of his forest and of his fruitful garden, both soul and body, and it will be as when a sick man wastes away.:

  • destroy: Isa 10:33,34 9:18 2Ki 19:23,28 Jer 21:14 Eze 20:47,48

Isaiah uses a number of phrases (glory of his [Assyria's] forest...fruitful garden... soul and body...a sick man) to picture the thoroughness of His divine decree to destroy Assyria.

Isaiah 10:19 And the rest of the trees of his forest will be so small in number that a child could write them down.:

Rest (07605)(sear/shear) refers to a remnant of something, in the present case a remnant of the Assyrian empire that remains after their divinely decreed destruction takes place. Sear/shear is a key word in this section of Isaiah's prophecy being found some 6 times (out of a total of 25 uses in the OT!) in two chapters (Isa 10:19, 20, 21, 22;11:11,16). In Isaiah 14:22 the prophet uses sear/shear to refer to Babylon ("survivors"), in Isaiah 16:14 to Moab, in Isaiah 17:3 to Aram and in Isaiah 21:17 to Kedar (A powerful tribe in Northern Arabia).

The trees of the small in number - This metaphor (trees) refers to Assyria's soldiers, following the intervention by the Angel of Jehovah who struck 185,000 soldiers (Isa 37:36) How high can a child count?

The NLT paraphrase helps understand the sense of this passage...

Of all that glorious forest, only a few trees will survive—so few that a child could count them!

Isaiah 10:20 Now in that day the remnant of Israel, and those of the house of Jacob who have escaped, will never again rely on the one who struck them, but will truly rely on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.:

  • remnant: Isa 1:9 4:2,3 6:13 37:4,31,32 Ezr 9:14 Ro 9:27-29
  • Never: 2Ki 16:7 2Ch 28:20 Ho 5:13 14:3
  • Rely: Isa 17:7,8 26:3,4 48:1,2 50:10


Let's look at some background information to help understand to what "double reference" refers. This is not an attempt to convince you of the authenticity or veracity of this principle but to help you understand what the theologians mean when they use this terminology.

One of the foremost scholars of Bible prophecy Dr John Walvoord (now with the Lord) explains that...

Prophecies sometimes have more than one fulfillment. This is referred to as the law of double reference. It is not unusual in Scripture for a prophecy to be partially fulfilled early and then later have a complete fulfillment. Accordingly, what seems to be a partial fulfillment of a prophecy should not be assumed to be the final answer as the future may record a more complete fulfillment. (The Prophecy Knowledge Handbook All the Prophecies of Scripture Explained in One Volume) (Bolding added)

Comment: Some writings use the term "double fulfillment" rather than "double reference". In fairness, it should also be clearly stated that not all Biblical scholars (Milton Terry in Biblical Hermeneutics, Puritan John Owen, Bishop J C Ryle), espouse this principle in the interpretation of Scripture. These notes are not going to resolve this debate. Suffice it to say, this website does believe that some passages have a near and future fulfillment.

David Jeremiah has a well done article (cost to view entire article but gives annual access to 1000's of conservative theological articles) in which he summarizes the main points of the "law of double reference"...

1. In double reference prophecy, the first fulfillment of the prophecy usually is found in a person or event close in time to the prophetic utterance.

2. In double reference prophecy, the first fulfillment is usually only a partial fulfillment of the total prophetic message.

3. In double reference prophecy, the ultimate fulfillment is usually found in the person of Christ or the affairs of His kingdom.

Double fulfillment is particularly true of the predictions…concerning the Babylonian Captivity, the event of the day of the Lord, the return from Babylon, the world-wide dispersion of Israel, and their future regathering from all the corners of the earth… (Charles Feinberg)

4. In double reference prophecy, the first fulfillment is usually temporal, whereas, the ultimate fulfillment may be spiritual or eternal.

5. In double reference prophecy, part of the prophetic message may be fulfilled close at hand, and that fulfillment in turn becomes another prophecy. A. J. Gordon says, “Prophecy has no sooner become history, than history in turn becomes prophecy.”

6. In double reference prophecy, two or more prophecies may be grouped together in one area of vision, although they are really at different distances in fulfillment.

7. In double reference prophecy, observations 5 and 6 are usually found to be working in the same passage.

There are many other terms beside “double reference” which are used by various writers and theologians to describe what has been set forth in the seven observations we have just discussed. In most cases, the following terms are used interchangeably with “double reference” and may be understood to stand for any or all of the parts of the law: Near and Far View, Double Sense, Multiple Fulfillment, Gap Prophecy, Foreshortening, and several others.

There are two terms which need special mention here. “Compenetration” is a term used by Catholic writers to define what they understand by this law of double reference. “In an Old Testament passage, the near meaning and the remote meaning for the New Testament so compenetrate that the passage at the same time and in the same word refers to the near and the remote New Testament meaning.”...

A double fulfillment prophecy loses not one bit of its literalness when it is fulfilled the second or third time. This would violate our basic system of hermeneutics. “Double fulfillment is literal fulfillment and therefore consistent with basic rules of interpretation.”

The law of double reference is not the Pandora’s Box of Biblical Hermeneutics as some opponents would claim. It is the failure of many to distinguish application from interpretation that has caused such an accusation to be leveled at the principle. To accept the law of double reference as a legitimate tool for interpretation of prophecy is not to open the door to all kinds of fanciful notions as to the hidden and allegorical meanings that might be alluded to in a prophetic passage.

To speak of the law of double reference is to speak of interpretation, not application. Double reference is not one interpretation and manifold applications. It is one message for two audiences separated in time....

How can you tell if a prophetic statement has more than one fulfillment? These suggestions may help:

1. Determine if the prophecy has been fulfilled in its literal and complete meaning. Elsa Raud makes the following comment: "We can know whether or not the law of double reference applies to the prophecy we are reading by ascertaining whether it has been fulfilled completely and literally. Genesis 12:3 says that “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” All the families of the earth have not yet experienced the blessing in Christ which the promise declares…. Only a comparatively few Jews and Gentiles have thus been blessed in Him. The prophecy in Genesis 12:3 will be fulfilled for all the families of the earth in the Day of the Lord."

2. If the prophecy seems to have a double or wider meaning, examine that meaning only after you have carefully worked out the primary interpretation of the prophecy. What you understand by the first fulfillment will color your understanding of the second or ultimate fulfillment.

3. Look for some interpretive comment from the New Testament writers to aid your interpretation of the secondary or ultimate meaning.

4. If the understanding you get from the ultimate fulfillment is not completely in accord with that which is directly revealed concerning the person or event, reject it. Start over! In no case does our knowledge of a future event or person depend solely on the information contained in a double reference prophecy. (The Principle of Double Fulfillment in Interpreting Prophecy)

Dwight Pentecost has succinctly defined this "double sense" principle in interpretation of prophecy writing that...

Few laws are more important to observe in the interpretation of prophetic Scriptures than the law of double reference. Two events, widely separated as to the time of their fulfillment, may be brought together into the scope of prophecy. This was done because the prophet had a message for his own day as well as for a future time. By bringing two widely separated events into the scope of the prophecy both purposes could be fulfilled. Horne says:

The same prophecies frequently have a double meaning, and refer to different events, the one near, the other remote; the one temporal, the other spiritual or perhaps eternal. The prophets thus having several events in view, their expressions may be partly applicable to one, and partly applicable to another, and it is not always easy to make the transitions. What has not been fulfilled in the first, we must apply to the second; and what has already been fulfilled, my often be considered as typical of what remains to be accomplished.

It was the purpose of God to give the near and far view so that the fulfillment of the one should be the assurance of the fulfillment of the other. (Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology. See Page 46)

The fact that part of the prophecy has been fulfilled without the fulfillment of the rest of it does not argue for a figurative or non-literal method of fulfillment of that unfulfilled portion, but such a partial fulfillment does promise a complete, literal, future fulfillment of the whole. (Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology. See Page 63-64)

Now in that day - To what day is Isaiah referring? The possible interpretations (which are not necessarily mutually exclusive) are listed below...

(1) A historical day - The day that Assyria defeated the Northern Kingdom and invaded and threatened to destroy the Southern Kingdom. Even in the face of national tragedy, God would preserve a remnant.

(2) A future day - The day when a remnant of believing Jews will return to their Messiah, the Holy One of Israel, which from other passages will occur in the last days just before the Second Coming of Christ.

While the context is the prophecy regarding the destruction of Assyria indicate that Isaiah was certainly referring to a historical fulfillment in his day but there are characteristics in this passage which would seem to allow for one to interpret it as a double reference."

(1) The phrase in that day is often used in contexts which have a near and future fulfillment (see notes below). There is another use of in that day which clearly refers to a yet future day when the Messiah returns.

(2) The present passage appears to distinguish "Israel" and "the house of Jacob". It appears that Isaiah is not addressing only the Northern Kingdom of Israel but also the Southern Kingdom using the phrase "remnant of Israel and those of the house of Jacob". The house of Jacob in Isaiah 2:5, 6, 8:17 definitely refers to the Southern Kingdom. The phrase House of Jacob is used 9 times in Isaiah - Isa 2:5 Isa 2:6 Isa 8:17 Isa 10:20 Isa 14:1 Isa 29:22 Isa 46:3 Isa 48:1 Isa 58:1

(3) The time phrase never again refers to Israel/Jacob relying on the strength of men (in context the Assyrian Empire but a picture of the strength of men who filled with pride and self reliance) rather than the strength of Jehovah. The future believing Jewish remnant will forever rely on Jehovah (Messiah). This latter prophecy has never been fulfilled for Israel/Jacob as a nation. It will be fulfilled in the last days just before Messiah returns, when a believing remnant of the nation of Israel will have their eyes opened to see their Messiah and to come to totally rely upon Him.

To reiterate, this prophecy clearly had a partial fulfillment in Isaiah's day when a remnant of Jews came to truly (rely on) Jehovah as their Righteous One. However as discussed this passage also seems to foreshadow a greater day for the divided, nation, in that day when the Messiah returns and as Paul says "all Israel will be saved" (Ro 11:26-note)

Comment: I encourage you to be a Berean as these notes make no claim to being authoritative or 100% accurate. So while this section seems to allow for an interpretation as a "double reference", you may not agree after carefully "examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11-note). If you would like to do further study on the topic of The Future of Israel, let me suggest a 12 hour (free) course by Dr Anthony Garland What Will Happen to Israel? which presents a detailed expository discussion of Romans 9-11.

Jameison, an older commentary writes that...

The effect on the “remnant” (contrasted with the Assyrian remnant, Is 10:19); namely, those who shall be left after the invasion of Sennacherib, will be a return from dependence on external idolatrous nations, as Assyria and Egypt (2Ki 18:21; 16:7, 8, 9), to the God of the theocracy; fulfilled in part in the pious Hezekiah’s days; but from the future aspect under which Paul, in Ro 9:27, 28...regards the whole prophecy, the “remnant,” “who rely upon the Lord,” probably will receive their fullest realization in the portion of Jews left after that Antichrist shall have been overthrown, who shall “return” unto the Lord (Isa 6:13; 7:3; Zec 12:9, 10; Zep 3:12).

Teed writes...

In that day” often refers to the last days when the Lord will punish the wicked and set up His righteous kingdom (Isaiah. 4:2). However, here it seems to refer to the more immediate judgment on the Northern Kingdom by Assyria (10:27) and the return of a remnant from that empire. Though Israel had many people “like the sand of the sea,” only a few would return. Destruction, though overwhelming, would be fair (righteous) and would be on the whole land, both Israel and Judah.

But things will also be the same in the “Last Days” just before Jesus returns. (Isaiah 10 Teed Commentaries) (It is interesting that Teed goes on to paraphrase Harry Ironside's comments [see below] that speak of a future fulfillment - see Ironside's comment below.

Harry Ironside sees a future prophetic fulfillment in Isaiah 10:20-23 (but as discussed above, not everyone agrees with this genre of interpretation)...

When the judgments of God are being poured out upon the earth in the dark days of the great tribulation, a remnant of the Jews will turn to the Lord in deep repentance and in living faith. These will prove the greatness of His mercy and the unfailing character of His promises. No longer relying for their help on the powers that persecuted and failed them in the hour of their need, as when Ahaz turned first to Assyria and then to Egypt in his desperate plight, they will find their resource and protection in God Himself. (Isaiah 10:20)

The prophetic Word is clear and free of all obscurity. Only unbelief can deny its definite application to a literal remnant of the sons of Jacob when they turn to the Lord in the time of their greatest trouble. Then He will awake and will come to their help, and He will save the nation in the remnant. We need to remember that they are not all Israel which are of Israel. The great majority “as the sand of the sea” will go into utter apostasy and be destroyed in their sins, but a remnant shall return and be acknowledged by God as His people. And so, as we learn in Romans 11, “All Israel shall be saved,” for this remnant ("all Israel") will be the true Israel in that day of Jehovah’s power.

John Walvoord writes that Isaiah 10:5-34 describes God’s judgment...

on Assyria whom God used to judge Israel as well as on Israel herself (Isa 10:5-19). God’s judgment on Assyria was described in detail. The prophecy made clear that after God used the Assyrians to judge Israel, He would then judge the Assyrians (Isa 10:12, 16, 18)... After Assyria had been destroyed, God would restore “the remnant of Israel, the survivors of the house of Jacob” (Isa 10:20). A remnant of Israel would return to their land (Isa 10:21). In graphic language, Assyria was described as cut down like a tree whose limbs are cut off (Isa 10:33, 34). A partial return of Israel to their land from Assyria was accomplished after Nineveh fell to the Babylonians (612BC). The complete regathering of Israel will be fulfilled in relation to the second coming of Christ. (The Prophecy Knowledge Handbook All the Prophecies of Scripture Explained in One Volume) (Bolding added)

In that day - 83v in the OT and almost 50% occur in Isaiah (40x) - See related notes on the phrase in that day in comments on Isaiah 2:11, Isaiah 4:2, Isaiah 7:18.

Lev 7:35; Nu 32:10; Dt 31:17, 18; 1Sa 3:12; 8:18;

Isa 2:11, 17, 20; 3:18; 4:1,2; 5:30; 7:18, 20,21, 23; 10:20, 27; 11:10; 12:4; 17:4, 7, 9; 19:16, 18, 19, 21, 23, 24; 20:6; 22:8, 12, 20, 25; 23:15; 24:21; 25:9; 26:1; 27:1, 2, 12, 13; 28:5; 31:7; 52:6

Jer 4:9; 48:41; 49:22, 26; 50:30; Hos 2:16, 18, 21; Joel 3:18; Amos 2:16; 8:3, 9, 13; 9:11; Mic 4:6; 5:10; Zeph 3:11, 16; Zech 2:11; 3:10; 9:16; 12:3f, 6, 8f, 11; 13:1f, 4; 14:4, 6, 8f, 13, 20f; Mk 2:20; Lk 6:23; 10:12; Jn 14:20; 16:23, 26

Oswalt comments on in that day alluding to this phrase as having a double reference (fulfillment)...

In that day” is an expansive term referring to any future time of God’s judgment and/or restoration. Thus, it is not necessary to refer it directly to the events of 701BC nor even to the events of 620–609BC, when Assyria was finally destroyed. Rather, here it speaks of that future time when all the punishment at the hands of the nations will be over and the purified “remnant” of God’s people (see Is 4:2–6) will be brought home. (Oswalt, J. The NIV Application Commentary: Isaiah (176). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan)

Cornerstone Bible Commentary on in that day...

For connection with the Messianic Age, see Isaiah 11:10, 11; 12:1, 4.

Motyer on in that day...

This phrase identifies a moment when God’s hand is particularly seen in human history. Customarily, this is a hand of judgment, but as here and in Isa 4:2, that judgment is not to be considered in merely destructive terms, for there shall be a purified remnant which will emerge from the chaos of that day (Mal. 4:1–3). (The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary)

(Although Motyer does not go so far as to state that this prophecy has a future and complete fulfillment as I have espoused, he make an interesting statement in which he seems to leave that "door open" writing that ) Isaiah is looking forward to a day when a restored Judah will have become wise enough to put her trust in God, Who is her Holy One and Whose intentions for her are pure, Whose power is unique, and whose commitment to her is total. (My question would be - has that "day" come to pass in a way that would completely fulfill Isaiah's prophecy?)

C I Scofield on in that day...

That day is often the equivalent of "the day of the LORD" (Isa 2:10-22; Rev 19:11-21). The prophecy here passes from the general to the particular, from historic and fulfilled judgments upon Assyria to the final destruction of all Gentile world power at the return of the Lord in glory.

Remnant Summary (C I Scofield): In the history of Israel a remnant may be discerned, a spiritual Israel within the national Israel. In Elijah's time 7000 had not bowed the knee to Baal (1Ki 19:18). In Isaiah's time, Israel had been reduced to only a few godly "survivors" (Isa 1:9), for whose sake God still forebore to destroy the nation. During the captivities the remnant appears in Jews like Esther, Mordecai, Ezekiel, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. At the end of the seventy years of Babylonian captivity it was the remnant that returned under Ezra and Nehemiah. At the advent of our Lord, John the Baptist, Simeon, Anna, and those "who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem" (Lk 2:38) were the remnant. During the Church Age the remnant is composed of believing Jews (Ro 11:4, 5). But an important aspect of the remnant is prophetic. During the great tribulation a remnant out of all Israel will turn to Jesus as Messiah, the "sealed" Israelites of Rev 7:3-8.

Remnant - See on site study of the important doctrine of theremnant. Although the specific word "remnant" is not used in the in previous chapters of Isaiah, the concept of remnant has been clearly alluded to and constitutes an important doctrine in Isaiah (even appearing in the name of his son Shear-jashub = “a remnant will return” - Isa 7:3-note)...

Unless the LORD of hosts Had left us a few survivors, we would be like Sodom, We would be like Gomorrah. (Isa 1:9-note)

In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel. And it will come about that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy-- everyone who is recorded for life in Jerusalem (Ed: Note the allusion to "election"). (Isa 4:2,3-note)

Yet there will be a tenth portion in it, And it will again be subject to burning, Like a terebinth or an oak Whose stump remains when it is felled. The holy seed is its stump." (Isa 6:13)

In the present context the remnant of Israel is synonymous with those of the house of Jacob who have escaped.

refers to Jews who placed their faith in Messiah. Throughout history there have always been some Jews who have had their hearts circumcised and become Jews not just in the physical sense but in a spiritual sense (see Paul's comments Ro 2:27, 28, 29-note).

John MacArthur adds that...

A small nucleus of God’s people, preserved by His sovereign grace, form this righteous remnant in the midst of national apostasy. There were always the obedient few who preserved, obeyed, and passed on God’s law. There will always be a remnant because God will never forsake the Abrahamic Covenant (cf. Mic 2:12,13; Ro 9:27; 11:5). (MacArthur, J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word)

The one who struck them - The king of the empire of Assyria.

Rely...rely (08172) (sha'an) which means to lean upon or rest against (as for support - Samson in Jdg 16:26, Saul on his sword 2Sa 1:6) and figuratively as in this passage means to rely on in the sense of depending upon. The idea is that one has trust and belief in something (someone). For example in a proverb most of us have memorized (if you have not, you should consider memorizing it!) we read...

Trust (Hebrew = batah; Lxx = peitho) in Jehovah with all (Lxx = holos = a whole heart) your heart and do not lean (sha'an) on your own understanding. (Pr 3:5)

Comment: Trust in God or trust in self is the picture.

Sha'an - 20 verses in the OT - Ge 18:4; Nu 21:15; Jdg 16:26; 2Sa 1:6; 2Kgs 5:18; 7:2, 17; 2Chr 13:18; 14:11; 16:7, 8; Job 8:15; 24:23; Pr 3:5; Isa 10:20; 30:12; 31:1; 50:10; Ezek 29:7; Mic 3:11

In Isa 30:11, 31:1, 50:10 trust (batah) and rely (sha'an) are linked together. Notice also that the NASB translates sha'an as "trust" (in Jehovah) in 2Chr 13:18, 14:11, 16:7, 8. Clearly what you chose to rely on equates with that in which you place your trust.

Young sees a turning point in the passage writing that...

Here grace breaks through! The promises of God have not failed. Ahaz had leaned for help upon Assyria, and Assyria had set free from the danger that threatened him. As a result, however, there came a train of worse evils. Assyria marched in mighty power against Judah, but Assyria would be brought to an end, and then the people of God would turn to the only One upon whom they could safely lean for support, the Holy One of Israel. (The Book of Isaiah 3 Vol. Edward J. Young) 


The LORD, the Holy One of Israel - "LORD" in all capital letters signifies "Jehovah" in the NASB and Jehovah is clearly identified as the Holy One of Israel (see notes on "Holy One" in Isa 10:17). Who is "Jehovah"? Or to ask it another way, who is "I Am" in the New Testament? Or is "Jehovah" mentioned in the NT? The answer is yes, for John records

These things Isaiah said, because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him. (John 12:41)

Comment by Criswell: The passage undoubtedly refers to the magnificent vision of Isaiah (cf. Isa. 6), but also to the great Suffering Servant prophecy of Isa. 53 (Jn 12:38). Again the theme is sounded: the Messiah's glory is revealed in His suffering. Since John declares that Isaiah saw the glory of Jesus, it is certain that this vision was a Christophany, i.e., a pre-incarnate appearance of the living Lord. See also study of Jehovah = Jesus

MacArthur adds: (John 12:41) is a reference to Isaiah 6:1. John unambiguously ties Jesus to God or Yahweh of the OT (see note on 8:58)....(In John 8:58) Jesus declared Himself to be Yahweh, i.e., the LORD of the OT.

Merrill Tenney comments: John says that Isaiah saw Jesus and spoke of him. He identified Jesus with the Jehovah (Yahweh) of the OT.

Application: Who are you relying upon -- self or Savior? Have you surrendered your "right" and your ability to take care of thing in your way, the way you thing is right? Or are you willing to give up your way of confronting the "Assyrians" in your life and rely on God's way?

Isaiah 10:21 A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the Mighty God.:

  • return: Isa 7:3 9:13 19:22 55:7 65:8,9 Ho 6:1 7:10,16 14:1 Ac 26:20 2Co 3:14-16)


A remnant will the mighty God - A picture of repentance. This phrase is reminiscent of the name of Isaiah's son, Shear-jashub (Isa 7:3). A small nucleus of God’s people, preserved by His sovereign grace, form this righteous remnant (righteous by grace through faith, even like Abraham - Ge 15:6) in the midst of national apostasy. There were always the few who preserved, obeyed, and passed on God’s law. There will always be a remnant because God will never forsake the Abrahamic Covenant (cf. Mic 2:12,13 Ro 9:27 11:5).

Return (07725) (shub) describes movement back to a point of departure, which can be literal (sun dial in 2Ki 20:10) or figurative as in the present passage where shub conveys the idea of a radical change in one's attitude toward sin. This sense of shub implies a conscious moral separation and personal decision to forsake sin and enter fellowship with God. We see a striking example of this meaning in the king of Nineveh's charge to his people to "turn (shub) from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands." (Jonah 3:8). Repentance combines a turn from evil and a turn to good. This remnant makes a volitional choice to turn around and come back to the Mighty God.

The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery notes that...

The remnant motif in the Bible is associated with a variety of images, but the starting point of the motif is with Israel, as an ethnic people, a nation and ultimately as a symbol of the people of God. These can carry either a positive connotation, such as the “righteous remnant,” or a negative connotation, such as what remains following judgment. The negative aspect of remnant is portrayed in exaggerated and colorful ways that convey the gravity of divine judgment....Isaiah’s remnant idea (often) carries with it the hope of restoration. The judgment will act as a purge that will remove impure dross and leave behind a pure residue (Is 1:25,26; see Purity). Those who have faith will survive the coming flood (Is 28:16; 30:15). A holy seed will survive (Is 6:13). “He who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, every one who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem” (Is 4:3 RSV) (Dictionary of Biblical Imagery- Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, Tremper Longman III) (This is a unique resource and is highly recommended!)

Mighty God (El Gibbor) is the same name by which Isaiah had described the Messiah in (Isaiah 9:6-note). God is the "Warrior God" Who is able to liberate His people from the oppression of their enemies (in this case the Assyrians).

Young comments that...

Herein is graphically expressed the truth which was taught in the name of Isaiah’s son, Shear-jashub. Salvation had been promised, the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head. If this is to be accomplished there must be a remnant. A remnant will indeed return, and this is the remnant of Jacob. It is the true Israel, the elect people of God, who will lean not upon the smiter Assyria but upon the Mighty God. This Mighty God has already been introduced. He is One that will sit upon the throne of David. To turn to ʾel gibbor is to turn to the Lord Himself. “Afterward,” said the Lord through Hosea, “shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days” (Hos. 3:5). (The Book of Isaiah 3 Vol. Edward J. Young) 

Comment: Most conservative commentators interpret Hosea 3:5 as a prophecy of the nation of Israel's repentance after going through the Refiner's fire of the Great Tribulation (cp Zech 12:10, 13:8, 9, Ro 11:25, 26-note).

Henry Morris comments on David their king in Hos 3:5: Not only will they seek God as they had known Him in ancient times, but they will also acknowledge "David" as their king. That is, they will recognize Jesus as the long-awaited "son of David," Who was also the Son of God, Whose "throne shall be established for ever" (2Sa 7:12, 13, 14, 15, 16; Lk 1:31, 32, 33; Mt 22:41, 42, 43, 44, 45). In a secondary application, it may also be that David himself, resurrected with all Old Testament saints (cp Da 12:13-note), will again rule over earthly Israel during the millennium, when the apostles also will be "judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Mt 19:28; 27:52,53; 1Co 6:2; Rev 20:4; Jer 30:9; Ezek 34:23,24).

Oswalt - While it is not clear that a direct reference to Isa 9:6 is intended, the broad connection is plain. There will come a day when God’s government will be established and His might demonstrated in His Messiah. (The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1–39)

Isaiah 10:22 For though your people, O Israel, may be like the sand of the sea, only a remnant within them will return. A destruction is determined, overflowing with righteousness.:

  • though Your: 1Ki 4:20 Ho 1:10 Ro 9:27 11:5,6 Rev 20:8
  • remnant: Isa 6:13
  • destruction: Isa 6:11 8:8 27:10,11 28:15-22 Da 9:27 Ro 9:28
  • with: Ge 18:25 Ac 17:31 Ro 2:5 3:5,6

For though your people, O Israel, may be like the sand of the sea, only a remnant within them will return - For is a term of explanation - Isaiah is explaining more details about the remnant. Paul quotes this verse in Romans 9:27, 28...

Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved; for the Lord will execute His word on the earth, thoroughly and quickly.” (Ro 9:27, 28-note).

MacArthur comments: Isaiah prophesied that the southern kingdom of Judah would be conquered and scattered—temporarily rejected by God—because of her unbelief. Paul’s point is that the scattering Isaiah described was only a preview of Israel’s rejection of the Messiah and her subsequent destruction and scattering.

John Witmer comments that in Romans 9:27-28: Paul quoted Old Testament verses to support the fact that God in His sovereign choice and calling always includes a Jewish segment, though it is a minority. The passages quoted (Isa. 10:22, 23 and Isa 1:9, both from the Septuagint - Lxx) make it clear that in God’s judgment on rebellious Israel He by sovereign choice preserves and saves a remnant. Those promises were fulfilled in the Captivity and Exile of both Israel and Judah and in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD and will also be fulfilled in the national end-time deliverance of Israel (Ro 11:26, 27).

Vine comments that this verse...

makes clear that here again (as often in OT prophecy) the passage points not merely to the immediate fulfillment, as in the case of the Assyrian invasion, but looks on to later circumstances. For the apostle Paul in Romans 9:27 applies Isa 10:22, 23 to the yet future time, when Israel, passing through the Great Tribulation, will be reduced in number to a mere remnant (cp Zech 13:8, 9), the nucleus of the redeemed nation at the inception of the Millennium. This will be the issue of “the consumption decreed,” i.e., the judgments of “the time of Jacob’s trouble,” (Jer 30:7) executed “with righteousness” in the midst of the land. Accordingly the prophecy relates to the future time of “the Day of the Lord.”


The promises to Abraham will not be abrogated; indeed, they will be fulfilled (Ge 22:17; 32:12). But they cannot be used as a hedge to protect oneself from judgment (Luke 3:7, 8, 9), which is apparently what some were doing in Isaiah’s day. (The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1–39)

On the phrase overflowing with righteousness, Guzik comments that...

When God allows destruction - whether in outright judgment or loving correction - it is always righteous, and never unfair. In fact, His judgment overflows with righteousness! (Isaiah 10 Commentary)

Arnold Fruchtenbaum

The Remnant of Israel - According to Romans 11:25, 26, 27, all Israel will be saved.

According to Isaiah 10:20–23, only the Remnant will be saved.

This is not a contradiction if understood in the context of Israel’s national salvation. Zechariah 13:8, 9 points out that two-thirds of the Jewish population will be destroyed during the Tribulation.

Only the Remnant will survive, the escaped of Isaiah 4:2; 10:20; 37:31, 32; Joel 2:32; and Obadiah 1:17.

The remaining one-third become believers, so at that point all Israel and the remnant of Israel become one and the same, as Micah 2:12, 13 shows. I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel. The all of thee and the remnant of Israel become identical, for with Israel’s national salvation the whole nation joins the Remnant (Mic 2:12). Then, Messiah returns to rescue them (Mic 2:13).(Future Israel - go to page 20)

Isaiah 10:23 For a complete destruction, one that is decreed, the Lord GOD of hosts will execute in the midst of the whole land.:

  • decreed: Isa 14:26,27 24:1-23 Da 4:35

The English translation of the Septuagint gives a slight variation...

He will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because the Lord will make a short work in all the world.

Complete destruction (03617) (kalah) means completion as when God said Pharaoh would "surely drive (them) out...completely (kalah)." (Ex 11:1). In the present context the idea is annihilation (cp Nahum 1:8 = "complete end", Da 11:16 = "destruction")

Kalah - 18v in the OT - Gen 18:21; Ex 11:1; 2Chr 12:12; Neh 9:31; Isa 10:23; 28:22; Jer 4:27; 5:10, 18; 30:11; 46:28; Ezek 11:13; 20:17; Dan 9:27; 11:16; Nah 1:8f; Zeph 1:18. NAS = annihilation(1), complete destruction(5), complete end(4), completely(4), destroy*(2), destruction(2), end(1), entirely(1), full end(2).

There is one other use of kalah in Isaiah...

And now do not carry on as scoffers, Or your fetters will be made stronger; For I have heard from the Lord GOD of hosts of decisive (charats - see "decreed" below; Lxx = suntemno = to cut in pieces, to cut short, to cut off, to cut short, figuratively to abruptly end an allotted time!) destruction (kalah; Lxx = sunteleo = bringing something to its promised, ultimate finish) on all the earth. (Isaiah 28:22)

Decreed (02782) (charats) is a verb that has the primary sense of cut means to determine (as if to cut out), to speak about something with an assurance or confidence. For example God "cuts out" or determines the length of human life (Job 14:5 "his days are determined [charats]").

If God says (decrees) it that settles it whether we choose to believe or not to believe!

Charats - 12v in the OT - Ex 11:7; Lev 22:22; Josh 10:21; 2Sa 5:24; 1Ki 20:40; Job 14:5; Isa 10:22, 23; 28:22; Da 9:26, 27; 11:36. NAS = act promptly(1), bark*(1), decided(1), decisive(1), decreed(3), determined(3), maimed(1), uttered(1).

Charats is used in one of the greatest prophecies in the entire Bible (Da 9:24-27)...

Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off (crucifixion) and have nothing, and the people (Roman empire) of the prince who is to come (Antichrist) will destroy the city and the sanctuary (Occurred in 70AD). And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined (charats). 27 And he (Antichrist) will make a firm covenant with the many for one week (7 Years), but in the middle of the week (see Mt 24:15, 2Th 2:3,4 - marks beginning of the Great Tribulation - Mt 24:21) he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed (charats), is poured out on the one who makes desolate. (Daniel 9:26-note, Da 9:27-note, context = Da 9:24-note, Da 9:25-note)

Comment: If you have never studied this great prophecy, you owe to yourself (especially in light of the "signs of the times"!) to read it prayerfully, carefully and literally, as it is without doubt (in my mind) the greatest specific prophecy in all Scripture, because it predicts essentially to the day, the first coming of the Messiah, His subsequent crucifixion and rejection and the coming of the counterfeit "Christ", the Antichrist (Anti has two senses = [1] Instead of, in place of and [2] Against, opposed to.)

(Charats is also used in Daniel's description of the future Antichrist) Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done. (Da 11:36-note)

Comment: The Hebrew word for indignation (zaam) is also used in Isaiah 10:5 and Isaiah 10:25.

Lord GOD of hosts - "the Lord, the Lord of Heaven's Armies" (NLT)

In Isaiah 14 we read a declaration similar to that in Isaiah 10:23...

This is the plan devised against the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out against all the nations. For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back? (Isa 14:26, 27)

Comment: In this passage in Isaiah 14 the ultimate fulfillment applies not just to Israel, but to "all the nations (goyim = Gentiles)," when Christ returns. (Second Coming) History is indeed "His Story" and He is actively at work in His world (Ps 50:12) carrying out His purposes. No opposition can defeat God's plans (Nu 11:23 Job42:2 Je32:17 Ge18:14 Mk 10:27 Lk 1:37). No people or nation is automatically excluded from His plan. God is Sovereign over human history (Isa 10:26). All nations will have to submit to his judgment. This principle will be seen in relation to other nations--both small and great--in the oracles that follow. God is not like a man who makes plans and finds he has no power to put them into effect. Perfect wisdom and absolute power find their unity in God.

In the midst of the whole land - "In the midst of all the earth" (Amplified). The Septuagint translates "whole land" with the Greek phrase "te oikoumene hole" which literally means theentire inhabited earth. This begs the question of "Has there been a "complete destruction" of the entire inhabited world in the history of mankind (the flood is a past event in reference to this prophecy so is not relevant)?" Since the answer to this is "no", it suggests that the ultimate fulfillment of this passage refers to a future time of world wide destruction, which would be very compatible with the Great Tribulation (cp Mt 24:21, 22) which is terminated by the Second Coming of Jesus.

Young seems to agree with the preceding interpretation writing that the determined end will be executed...

in the midst of the earth and so will affect the whole earth. It is the last judgment, from which no man can flee. It is not some local judgment, confined to the boundaries of Palestine, but one in which all the earth is involved. (Bolding added) (The Book of Isaiah 3 Vol. Edward J. Young)

Motyer comments that...

the whole land/in the midst of all the earth/land indicates that the acts of God take place in the actuality of history and in the life of this world. (Bolding added)

Isaiah 10:24 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD of hosts, "O My people who dwell in Zion, do not fear the Assyrian who strikes you with the rod and lifts up his staff against you, the way Egypt did. : (

  • my people: Isa 4:3 12:6 30:19 46:13 61:3 Heb 12:22, 23, 24
  • Do not fear: Isa 8:12,13 33:14, 15, 16 35:4 37:6,22,33, 34, 35
  • The way Egypt did: Ex 1:10-16 14:9,21-31 15:6-10


My people - Using the possessive pronoun "My", God is reminding them of His faithfulness to His covenant promises to their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (cp Ge 22:17). And given the preceding context, the ones who should especially have no reason to fear are those who are part of the blessed believing Jewish remnant (cp Lk 12:4)

Who dwell in Zion - In Jerusalem. This address is directed to the Southern Kingdom, Judah.

Do not fear - In the midst of wrath God remembers mercy and offers comfort. Beloved, have you not experienced these comforting words from your Father in a time when you were fearful? Beloved, this is one of the great words of comfort from our heavenly Father, so it should not surprise us that it permeates the pages of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation (See below for 58 mentions of do not fear in 57v in the NAS)...

Ge 15:1; 21:17; 26:24; 35:17; Ex 14:13; Nu 14:9; 21:34; Dt 1:21; 3:2, 22; 31:8; Josh 8:1; 10:8, 25; Jdg 6:23; Ru 3:11; 1Sa 12:20; 2Sa 9:7; 13:28; 1Kgs 17:13; 2Kgs 6:16; 17:34; 1Chr 22:13; 28:20; 2Chr 20:15, 17; 32:7; Ps 55:19; 64:4; Is 10:24 40:9 41:10, 13 14; 43:1, 5; 44:2; 51:7; 57:11; Jer 10:5; 46:27 28; La 3:57; Joel 2:21 22; Hag 2:5; Zech 8:13, 15; Mal 3:5; Mt 10:26, 28, 31; Lk 5:10; 12:7; 18:4; 1Pe 3:14; Re 2:10

Related phrase "do not be afraid" (47x in 46v in the NAS - ) - Ge 43:23; 46:3; 50:19, 21; Ex 20:20; Dt 20:1, 3; 31:6; Josh 11:6; Jdg 4:18; 1Sa 4:20; 22:23; 23:17; 28:13; 2Ki 1:15; 19:6; 25:24; Neh 4:14; Ps 49:16; Pr 3:25; Isa 37:6; 44:8; Jer 1:8; 40:9; 42:11; Ezek 3:9; Da 10:12, 19; Zeph 3:16; Mt 1:20; 14:27; 17:7; 28:5, 10; Mk 5:36; 6:50; Lk 1:13, 30; 2:10; 8:50; 12:4, 32; Jn 6:20; Acts 18:9; 27:24; Rev 1:17

These words of comfort were frequently on the lips of Jesus instructing us...

Do not be afraid, (present imperative + negative = Command to stop something that is in progress - stop being afraid!) little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.


He (God) knows that the end will be destruction and deportation (Isa 6:11f. Ed: Referring to the coming Babylonian captivity some 100 years after this prophecy), but he also knows that the Assyrians will not be the agents in this. (The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary) 


The Lord is telling His people, “Judgment and correction are coming, and it will hurt. But I have a plan, so don’t be afraid.” This is a hard word to believe, because judgment and correction, by their very nature, hurt! Yet we can decide to not be afraid and trust in the Lord, even when it hurts....Why shouldn’t they fear? Because the Assyrians are not in charge, the Lord is.

We can always be comforted by the fact that God will never leave His people to the mercy of their enemies. Even when He uses the Assyrians to bring judgment and correction, He is still in charge


The Assyrian - Harry Ironside sees a double fulfillment in Isaiah 10 and specifically interprets the Assyrian as historically fulfilled in the empire of Assyria which came against Jerusalem after defeating the Northern Kingdom in 722BC. But Ironside also sees the Assyrian as a shadow of the future Antichrist who will come against Jerusalem in the last days (cp Zech 12:2, 3, 4, 14:2, 3). Thus Ironside comments that...

In clear and definite terms, the prophet predicts the overthrow of the enemy who was hammering, as it were, at the gate of Jerusalem. God would prevent the carrying out of his purpose even though it might seem for a time that Judah’s case was hopeless. Literally, all was fulfilled in due time so far as the prophecy had to do with the Assyrian of the past. When in the last days another mighty power comes against Palestine from the same region as that occupied by the Assyrians of old, his doom will be just as certain as was that of the enemy in the past. The progress of the Assyrian army marching down through the land is depicted graphically in the verses that close this chapter (Isaiah 10:28-34)...Prophecy is history written beforehand, and here Isaiah foretold the path that the Assyrian would take as he marched through Palestine, wreaking his vengeance upon city after city; but the closing verses tell of his defeat at last when the Lord of hosts intervened in His mighty power for the deliverance of those who cried to Him in the hour of their distress. No military strategy, no weapons of war would avail to save the haughty invader when the hand of God was stretched out against him...(In his introduction to Isaiah 11 Ironside writes) There is a very close connection with that which now comes before us and that which we have seen in the last chapter. After the Assyrian is destroyed and Israel will have been delivered from all her enemies, we have the peaceful reign of Him who is the Rod out of Jesse’s stem, the Branch of the Lord who is to bring all things into subjection to God and rule with the iron rod of inflexible righteousness.

Comment: Ironside presents an interesting futuristic interpretation which does have some parallel with the events John describes in the Revelation. In Revelation 19 we see the Antichrist (the Beast) defeated (Rev 19:11-note, Rev 19:20-note, cp Zech 14:2, 3) which is immediately followed by the description of a period of 1000 years when Satan is bound (Rev 20:2) and Messiah rules (Rev 20:4-note, cp Zech 14:4, 5, 6, 7, 8 especially Zech 14:9, 11). And thus just as the events of Isaiah 10 parallel the events of Revelation 19, so too the events of Isaiah 11 parallel Revelation 20. I present these thoughts for your consideration as a good Berean.

The way Egypt did - This fact is meant to cause the hearers to have hope because despite Egyptian oppression, the Sovereign Lord delivered Israel by His strong hand. What He had done in the past, He was able to do again with the Assyrians.

Beloved, it behooves all of us as God's children to keep fresh in our minds the times in our life when we have experienced divine deliverances, so that we might remain hopeful in future trials and afflictions. How is your memory of God's great and mighty deeds in your life? Do you have any "memorial stones" to help you remember the times when you were hidden in the cleft of the Rock? Sadly, we so often forget these past deliverances and get "swallowed up" by the pain of the present trial.

Isaiah 10:25 For in a very little while My indignation against you will be spent and My anger will be directed to their destruction. :

  • For: Isa 10:33,34 12:1,2 14:24,25 17:12-14 30:30-33 31:4-9 37:36-38 54:7 2Ki 19:35 Ps 37:10 Da 11:36 Heb 10:37

For - term of explanation - God is explaining to Judah why they need not fear the Assyrian invasion which will eventually advance to the very edge of Jerusalem but no further.

My indignation - (this same phrase with the same meaning is found in Isa 26:20-see below) The immediate fulfillment of this prophecy refers to the Assyrian invasion who was the conduit of Jehovah's indignation against His people.

Comment: Clearly this prophecy was fulfilled in history with the Assyrian invasion of Judah, but could this "indignation" also be a foreshadowing of the end times indignation that the nation of Israel will experience at the hands of the Antichrist (see notes below)? Possibly.

Indignation (02195) (za'am from the parent verb za'am - 02194) is a noun which means conveys the basic idea of experiencing or expressing intense anger, fury, anger, rage or indignation.


The verb (za'am = 02194) is used to indicate both the state of being indignant and the activity giving expression to that state. It is used in reference to man, but more often to God. Isaiah foretells a day when God’s “indignation” will be experienced by Israel’s enemies (Isa 66:14). (The noun zaam) is regularly translated “indignation,” referring more often to God than to man.

Zaam - 22v in the OT - Ps 38:3; 69:24; 78:49; 102:10; Isa 10:5, 25; 13:5; 26:20; 30:27; Jer 10:10; 15:17; 50:25; Lam 2:6; Ezek 21:31; 22:24, 31; Da 8:19; 11:36; Hos 7:16; Nah 1:6; Hab 3:12; Zeph 3:8. NAS = indignation(21), insolence(1).

Isaiah uses zaam in chapter 26 in a warning of coming indignation...

Come, my people, enter into your rooms and close your doors behind you; Hide for a little while until indignation runs its course. (Isaiah 26:20)

Comment: Most conservative commentators see this reference to indignation as a description of the coming Great Tribulation, that short (3.5 year) but intense period (Jer 30:7) when the Antichrist has full authority to exert his will, a major component of which includes the "final holocaust" for the Jews (cp Zech 13:8, 9)

MacArthur notes that: Israel’s final restoration was not immediately at hand. Hence she had to continue praying in solitude for that restoration until the time of God’s indignation would pass.

John Martin commenting on Isa 26:20, 21 adds that: Isaiah wrote that the future remnant should hide during the time of distress (God’s wrath in the Tribulation), knowing that deliverance from the Lord will come. Eventually the Lord will set matters right by punishing people...for their sins. All sins will be made known (the earth will disclose the blood shed upon her), whether they have been done in secret or in public. These words would have encouraged the remnant in Isaiah’s day to remain true to the Lord, knowing that He will eventually judge sin. After that judgment is accomplished, believers will be able to sing the song recorded in Isaiah 26.

Young sees not only a past fulfillment (in Assyrian and Babylonian "indignation" against the Jews) but also a future aspect stating that

the period of indignation continued until the restoration was complete and Christ had come. Indignation was then the prelude of blessing to God’s people and of wrath for His enemies. (The Book of Isaiah 3 Vol. Edward J. Young)

My anger will be directed to their destruction - When God had finished punishing His people, He would direct His dreadful, powerful hand against Assyria.

Isaiah 10:26 The LORD of hosts will arouse a scourge against him like the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb; and His staff will be over the sea and He will lift it up the way He did in Egypt. : (

  • Arouse: Isa 10:16-19 2Ki 19:35 Ps 35:23
  • Like: Isa 9:4 Jud 7:25 Ps 83:11
  • Staff: Isa 10:24 11:16 51:9,10 Ex 14:25-27 Ne 9:10,11 Ps 106:10,11 Hab 3:7-15 Rev 11:18 19:15


Jehovah explains how He will scourge Assyria by comparing her punishment to that of two prior episodes of divine deliverance which would serve to encourage Judah and Jerusalem that would survive the coming onslaught of the Assyrians.

LORD of hosts (see study) - Yahweh of Armies is able to defeat any human army!

Arouse (05782)('ur) stir up, awake, incite. Once again we see clearly that the sovereign hand of the Almighty is in control of in human history! What event, circumstance, trial, test, temptation or person is there in your life with which you are not willing to trust Him?

A scourge - This is a reference to the Babylonian and Median attack on the remnant of the Assyrian Empire in about 609BC. The invaders divided the scraps of Assyria among themselves. (For a discussion of the "Last period and Fall of the Empire" scroll to the bottom of link = Assyria)

Scourge (07752)(shot) is a whip or lash (eg, to control animals - Pr 26:3, Na 3:2). The idea is that of a device (such as a whip with leather thongs) used to punish and bring pain (eg, 1Ki 12:11, 14).

Shot - 11v in the OT - 1Ki 12:11, 14; 2Chr 10:11, 14; Job 5:21; 9:23; Pr 26:3; Isa 10:26; 28:15, 18; Nah 3:2. NAS = scourge(5), whip(2), whips(4).

The records of what God has done in the past to protect us and deliver us should serve to strengthen us for the attacks of adversity, affliction, and trials that are yet to come. God remains faithful and our faith in His faithfulness is founded on His past episodes of faithfulness!

The slaughter of Midian - Jdg 7:25-note describes the victory of Gideon's small band of men over the hordes of Midianites at the rock of Oreb. This term of comparison (like the slaughter) is saying that just as miraculous and complete was Gideon’s victory over the Midianites, Jehovah's judgment of Assyria would be similar just as complete and miraculous. 2Kings 19:35 describes how God simply sent the Angel of the LORD, and killed 185,000 Assyrians in one night. When the people woke up, there were 185,000 dead Assyrian soldiers.

His staff...over the sea - This is clearly a reference to Israel's miraculous deliverance from Egyptian bondage via God's opening (for Israel to pass through) and closing (for destruction of Pharaoh's army) of the Red Sea (see use of staff in Ex 14:16, 26, 15:4). In the same way as He miraculously eradicated the Egyptians, He would do something similarly miraculous against Assyria. (SeeIn A Single Day for passages describing God's miraculous intervention.)

Application: When fear assaults you, do you fall back by faith on those times the Lord showed Himself mighty in your life? Do you keep a record of those times to "memorialize" His faithfulness? Do you pass these truths on to your children? (See also Fear, How to Handle It)

Oswalt records this illustration...

In the 1970s Joseph Tson, a Romanian pastor, heard a Voice of America broadcast enumerating all of the failed promises of Marxism, and he immediately thought of all the promises of the Christian faith that have come true. He has said that in that moment he knew Communism could not survive and that he and other Christians should begin preparing for the day of its collapse. We might marvel at such vision, but the fact is, Tson was a man with a memory, and because of that memory, he could see the future when others could not. (Ibid)

Isaiah 10:27 So it will be in that day, that his burden will be removed from your shoulders and his yoke from your neck, and the yoke will be broken because of fatness.

  • burden: Isa 9:4 14:25 2Ki 18:13,14 Na 1:9-13
  • because: Isa 37:35 2Sa 1:21 Ps 2:1-3,6: Ps 20:6 45:7 84:9 89:20-52 105:15 132:10,17,18 Da 9:24-26 Lk 4:18 Jn 1:41: Ac 4:27 1Jn 2:20,27

In that day - What day? The day God removes the yoke of oppression of Assyria from Judah.

Burden...yoke - These are terms that speak of bondage or servitude that the Assyrian kings used to boast about putting on the necks of conquered peoples. Oswalt records an example of of boasting in the annals of Sargon II

“[I] imposed upon them the yoke of Ashur, my lord.”

Isaiah 10:28 He has come against Aiath, He has passed through Migron; At Micmash he deposited his baggage. :

  • Aiath: Jos 7:2 Ne 11:31)(Migron: 1Sa 14:2)(Michmash: 1Sa 13:2,5 14:5,31)

In Isa 10:28-32 we have a graphic description of the Assyrian advance toward Jerusalem from the city farthest north Aiath or Ai southward to Nob which is on the outskirts of Jerusalem. This is as far as the army of the Assyrians came against Judah. They were stopped here when the Lord killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night.

Ryrie says that all of the cities mentioned in verse 28-32 are within a three hour march of Jerusalem.

Aiath or Ai (map)...Migron...Micmash (map)...Geba (map)...Ramah (map)...Gibeah (map)... Gallim (exact location not known but just north of Jerusalem)...Laish (exact location not known but supposedly about a mile NE of Jerusalem)...Anathoth...Madmenah...Gebim...Nob (5-6 kilometers NE of Jerusalem)

Guzik explains why God gives such detail regarding the cities of Judah pointing out that...

Because of the word of comfort and encouragement in the previous section, Judah might think that God wouldn’t send judgment among them at all. This section, with the specific mention of many cities of Judah, is meant to show that God will indeed allow the invasion of the Assyrians, even though He will restore after the attack. (Isaiah 10 Commentary)

Isaiah 10:29 They have gone through the pass, saying, "Geba will be our lodging place." Ramah is terrified, and Gibeah of Saul has fled away. :

As noted all these villages are very near Jerusalem and thus Isaiah was graphically depicting the slow, steady movement of the savage Assyrian forces toward the capital city.

Isaiah 10:30 Cry aloud with your voice, O daughter of Gallim! Pay attention, Laishah and wretched Anathoth! :

  • Gallim: 1Sa 25:44
  • Laish: Jud 18:7,29
  • Anathoth: Jos 21:18 1Ki 2:26 Jer 1:1 32:8
  • Gallim (exact location not known but just north of Jerusalem)
  • Laish (exact location not known but supposedly about a mile NE of Jerusalem)
  • Anathoth

Isaiah 10:31 Madmenah has fled. The inhabitants of Gebim have sought refuge. :

Fled...sought refuge - A picture of the unstoppable marauding forces of the Assyrians.

Wolf comments that...

With a deft poetic touch, Isaiah told how the enemy moved through twelve different locations, coming ever closer to the capital.



Isaiah 10:32 Yet today he will halt at Nob; He shakes his fist at the mountain of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem. :

  • Nob: 1Sa 21:1 22:19 Ne 11:32
  • shakes: Isa 10:24 11:15 13:2 19:16 Zec 2:9
  • Mountain: Isa 2:2 37:22

Nob (5-6 kilometers NE of Jerusalem)

He will halt at Nob - The Assyrian invasion of Judah would advance no further than Nob. In the preceding passages, Isaiah paints a picture of an unstoppable, fearsome flood of forces from Assyria. And then he says they will halt. God let them go so and no further. God was true to His Word as history proved.

He shakes his fist - Reflecting the pompous attitude of the Assyrians and similar to the earlier description of "the Assyrian who strikes you with the rod and lifts up his staff against you."

The daughter of Zion (Isa 1:8 10:32 16:1 37:22 52:2 62:11) - Jerusalem capital city of Judah.

The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery notes that...

Often the word daughter is found in expressions such as “daughter of Zion” (e.g., Is 1:8; Jer 4:31; Mic 4:10; Mt 21:5), “daughter of Sidon” (Is 23:12) and “daughter of Babylon” (Jer 50:42). This Hebrew idiom reflects a double metaphor common in the culture of the ancient Near East: a capital city was personified as a woman, and the inhabitants of that city collectively as her “daughter.” A pagan city was personified by a female goddess whose husband was the local patron deity; Zion or Jerusalem remained distinct as she whose husband was the one true God, Yahweh. During times of war when a city was overrun and its population exiled, the city was considered to be a barren woman, rejected by her husband-deity (Is 54:1). Thus her daughters, the collective inhabitants, depended on her for identity but also shaped her future by their actions. For instance, Isaiah proclaims to “barren” Jerusalem, “Rejoice, O barren woman!” (Is 54:1) and prophesies a return of the inhabitants to that city and an unprecedented future glory for it. Because of Isaiah’s use of these idioms, Jesus fulfills prophecy by addressing Jerusalem as “daughter of Zion” (Mt 21:5), and the apostle Paul quotes Isaiah 54:1 and announces in Galatians 4:26 that Jerusalem above is “free” and that she is the “mother” of Christians. (Dictionary of Biblical Imagery- Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, Tremper Longman III ) 

Isaiah 10:33 Behold, the Lord, the GOD of hosts, will lop off the boughs with a terrible crash; Those also who are tall in stature will be cut down and those who are lofty will be abased.

  • lop: Isa 10:16-19 37:24-36,38 2Ki 19:21-37 2Ch 32:21
  • tall: Am 2:9
  • lofty: Isa 2:11-17 Job 40:11,12 Da 4:37 Lk 14:11

See another prophecy of the breaking of Assyria - Isaiah 14:24,25, 26, 27.

See comments regarding a In A Single Day for passages describing God's miraculous intervention and His lopping off the boughs of Assyria with a terrible crash.

Behold (02009) (hinneh) is an interjection (= a word in speaking or writing, thrown in between words connected in construction, to express some emotion or passion) often seeks to grab the reader's attention and says something like - Look! Pay attention! Don't miss this next point! Hinneh draws attention to an important fact or action that follows and in a sense demands our attention. Vine adds that it is notable that when behold (hinneh) is used in Isaiah, it always introduces something relating to future circumstances.

Given the relentless march of the Assyrian army toward Jerusalem, the reader is ready to hear of Jerusalem being overthrown, but instead we hear "Behold!" This stops the reader in his tracks so to speak and gives a radically different prediction for the fate of Jerusalem. The God of armies would lop off the boughs of the Assyrian army. What a picture of mighty Assyria's abrupt fall from power!

Uses of hinneh in Isaiah -

Isa 3:1; 5:7, 26, 30; 6:7f; 7:14; 8:7, 18, 22; 10:33; 12:2; 13:9, 17; 17:1, 14; 19:1; 20:6; 21:9; 22:17; 24:1; 25:9; 26:21; 28:2, 16; 29:8, 14; 30:27; 34:5; 35:4; 36:6; 37:7, 11, 36; 38:5, 8, 17; 39:6; 40:9f; 41:15, 27; 42:9; 43:19; 47:14; 48:7, 10; 49:12, 22; 51:22; 52:6, 13; 54:11; 58:9; 59:9; 60:2; 62:11; 65:1, 6, 13f, 17f; 66:12, 15.

Tall in stature...lofty - God repeatedly emphasizes the pride and arrogance of the Assyrians.

Cut down (01438) (gada') means to fell (as a tree), to cut down or off. Figuratively describes severing the "tall in stature" Assyrians as if one were cutting a tree down. This is poetic justice for the "axe" (Assyria) who boasted in Isaiah 10:15 would itself be "axed" for its arrogance!

Motyer has an interesting note comparing this section to the first verse of the next chapter Isaiah 11:1, which is clearly a prophecy of the Messiah...

The cutting down of the lofty trees can only refer to the destruction of Assyria. This provides the perfect foil for the Messianic shoot, but it is extremely dramatic after five verses of Assyrian self-confidence, inexorable progress and affrontery! In contrast to the bogus sovereignty of the king, the real Sovereign (hā’ādôn) takes centre stage. (The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary) 

Abased (08213) (shaphel) means literally in a physical sense to be low and by bringing the Assyrians to a lower place, it was a picture of God's humbling of this arrogant people.

Isaiah 10:34 He will cut down the thickets of the forest with an iron axe, and Lebanon will fall by the Mighty One

  • cut down: Isa 10:18 37:24 Jer 22:7 46:22,23 48:2 Na 1:12
  • Lebanon: Zec 11:1,2
  • mighty one: Isa 31:8 37:36 Ps 103:20 Da 4:13,14,23 2Th 1:7 2Pe 2:11 Rev 10:1 Rev 18:21

Guzik comments that "The forests of Lebanon were known for their large, mighty cedar trees. God will judge the proud among Judah - and all the nations for that matter - and leave a once mighty forest of those of high stature as if they were just stumps. The bigger they are, the harder they fall! 

Lebanon will fall (Isa 2:13, 37:24) - Isaiah's point is that if even Lebanon which was famous for its thick forests of cedar trees and would fall before God, Assyria should not think it could escape the powerful hand of the Lord of Armies (Hosts).

Young adds that "As elsewhere the Assyrian is compared to Lebanon. “Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature; and his top was among the thick boughs” (Ezek. 31:3). But great as Lebanon was, it would fall by means of a Mighty One, and that Mighty One is the punishing God of Israel. The forest, mighty like Lebanon, is gone. The trees are felled, the thickets cut down. The Mighty One remains, Lord over all. He has protected His people and demonstrated His faithfulness. (The Book of Isaiah 3 Vol. Edward J. Young

By the Mighty One - Once again we see that the Lord is the active "Agent" of the Assyrian "defoliation". This chapter repeatedly emphasizes the Sovereignty of God in the affairs of mankind.

Mighty (0117) ('addiyr) means strong, powerful, majestic, awesome. The use in Psalm 93 gives a good sense of the picture as it describes our great God...

More than the sounds of many waters, Than the mighty breakers of the sea, The Lord on high is mighty (Lxx = thaumastos = wonderful, worthy of our amazement). (Ps 93:4)

Spurgeon: Jehovah, the self existent and omnipotent, cares not for the opposition of dying men, however many or mighty they may be.

"Loud the stormy billows spoke,
Loud the billows raised their cry;
Fierce the stormy billows broke,
Sounding to the echoing sky.
Strong the breakers tossing high,
Stronger is Jehovah's might.
True thy words; and sanctity
Well becomes thy temple bright."

Yea, than the mighty waves of the sea. When the storm raises Atlantic billows, and drives them on with terrific force, the Lord is still able to restrain them, and so also when impious men are haughty and full of rage the Lord is able to subdue them and overrule their malice. Kings or mobs, emperors or savages, all are in the Lord's hands, and he can forbid their touching a hair of the heads of his saints.

Addiyr - 25v in the NAS - Ex 15:10; Jdg 5:13, 25; 1 Sam 4:8; 2Chr 23:20; Neh 3:5; 10:29; Ps 8:1, 9; 16:3; 76:4; 93:4; 136:18; Isa 10:34; 33:21; Jer 14:3; 25:34ff; 30:21; Ezek 17:23; 32:18; Nah 2:5; 3:18; Zech 11:2

Mighty One - This phrase is used 14x in 13v in the OT - Ge 10:8 49:24 Josh 22:22 1Chr 1:10 Job 34:17 Ps 45:3 50:1 132:2 132:5 Isa 1:24 10:34 49:26 60:16


These last passages describe the miraculous destruction of the Assyrian army as it lay camped at the very doors of Jerusalem and given the fact that the next section describes the Millennial reign of Christ, it is reasonable to consider that this abrupt destruction of the Assyrian army is a shadow or picture of the abrupt destruction of the Army of the Antichrist ("the Assyrian" in Micah 5,6 is interpreted by some commentators as the Antichrist) at the sudden return of the LORD of the Armies, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Victorious Warrior! John records this great scene which will bring an end to this present age (and the times of the Gentiles)...

Revelation 19:11 And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war.

12 And His eyes are a flame of fire, and upon His head are many diadems; and He has a name written upon Him which no one knows except Himself.

13 And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called The Word of God.

14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.

15 And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.

16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."

17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, "Come, assemble for the great supper of God;

18 in order that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great."

19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies, assembled to make war against Him who sat upon the horse, and against His army.

20 And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.

21 And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat upon the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.


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Isaiah 10 – Assyria Judged

Since Isaiah 10:1-4 connects with Isaiah 9, it is examined in the previous chapter.

A. God’s judgment on arrogant Assyria.

1. (5-7) Assyria, the unintentional instrument in the hand of the LORD.

“Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger
And the staff in whose hand is My indignation.
I will send him against an ungodly nation,
And against the people of My wrath
I will give him charge,
To seize the spoil, to take the prey,
And to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
Yet he does not mean so,
Nor does his heart think so;
But it is in his heart to destroy,
And cut off not a few nations.

a. Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger: In the previous section (Isaiah 7:1 through 10:4), the LORD revealed that He would use Assyria as an instrument of judgment against Syria, Israel, and Judah. But what about Assyria? Weren’t they even more wicked than Syria, Israel, or Judah? Yes, the Assyrians were wicked; yet the LORD could use them as the rod of My anger. At the same time, none of this excused Assyria, so the LORD says, “woe to Assyria.”

i. “A similar shift in the object of divine judgment occurred in the case of the Babylonians. God raised up the Babylonian armies between 605 and 686 B.C. to punish Judah (Habakkuk 1:6-11), and then He announced judgment on Babylon (Habakkuk 2:6-17; Isaiah 14:5).” (Wolf)

b. The rod of My anger…the staff in whose hand is My indignation: The rod and the staff were sticks used by shepherds to guide and correct their sheep. God is saying that Assyria was like a stick in His hand, used to correct Syria, Israel, and Judah.

c. I will send him against an ungodly nation, and against the people of My wrath: In this sense, Assyria was on a mission from God. They were doing the LORD’s will, running His errands when they came against Syria, Israel, and Judah. God gave them permission (I will give them charge) to seize the spoil, to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.

d. Yet he does not mean so, nor does his heart think so: Since Assyria was an instrument in God’s hand, since they were doing the will of the LORD, does this excuse their attack on Syria, Israel, and Judah? Not at all! Though they were instruments in God’s hand, they did not mean so, nor does his heart think so. They didn’t care at all about God’s will or glory in the matter. Instead, it is in his heart to destroy, and cut off not a few nations. Assyria didn’t care about the will or glory of God; they wanted to destroy and cut off many nations.

i. Psalm 76:10 says Surely the wrath of man shall praise You. God can use the wickedness and carnality of man to further His will, without ever approving of the wickedness or carnality. In fact, God is totally justified in judging the very wickedness and carnality that He used.

ii. The pattern is repeated over and over through the Scriptures. Joseph’s brothers sinned against Joseph, but God used it for His purpose, and disciplined Joseph’s brothers. Saul sinned against David, but God used it for His purpose, and judged Saul. Judas sinned against Jesus, but God used it for His purpose, and judged Judas.

iii. This should help with questions that trouble many people. The first question is “How can God bring any good through an evil thing that was done to me?” We can’t often know in advance exactly how God will bring the good, but we can trust that He will as we continue to yield to Him and seek Him. The second question is “Doesn’t God care about what they did to me?” He does care, and God will bring His correction or judgment according to His perfect will and timing.

2. (8-14) The arrogance of Assyria.

“For he says,
‘Are not my princes altogether kings?
Is not Calno like Carchemish?
Is not Hamath like Arpad?
Is not Samaria like Damascus?
As my hand has found the kingdoms of the idols,
Whose carved images excelled those of Jerusalem and Samaria,
As I have done to Samaria and her idols,
Shall I not do also to Jerusalem and her idols?’”

Therefore it shall come to pass, when the LORD has performed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, that He will say, “I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his haughty looks.”

For he says:
“By the strength of my hand I have done it,
And by my wisdom, for I am prudent;
Also I have removed the boundaries of the people,
And have robbed their treasuries;
So I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man.
My hand has found like a nest the riches of the people,
And as one gathers eggs that are left,
I have gathered all the earth;
And there was no one who moved his wing,
Nor opened his mouth with even a peep.”

a. Are not my princes altogether kings: Assyria had such an inflated view of themselves that they regarded their princes to be on the level of the kings of other nations.

b. As I have done to Samaria and her idols, shall I not do also to Jerusalem and her idols? Here, the LORD described the proud, arrogant heart of the Assyrians. Samaria was the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel, which was given over to gross idolatry. Jerusalem was the capital of the southern kingdom of Judah, which still maintained some worship of the Lord GOD. In their pride, the Assyrians thought the Lord GOD nothing more than one of the idols that they had conquered in Samaria or in many other cities. The Assyrians were in for a rude wake-up call.

i. “The cities mentioned in verses 9 and 10 came under Assyrian control between 740 and 721 B.C., and none of the gods of these areas had provided the slightest help. It was assumed that the ‘idols’ (v.10) of Jerusalem were equally impotent.” (Wolf)

c. I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his haughty looks: The pride of Assyria and her king was found in his arrogant heart and exposed by his haughty looks. How much pride can be revealed by a haughty look.

i. The Bible describes God’s opinion of haughty looks: A haughty look, a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked are sin. (Proverbs 21:4) The one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, him I will not endure (Psalm 101:5). For You will save the humble people, but will bring down haughty looks (Psalm 18:27).

d. By the strength of my hand I have done it: Again, the LORD revealed the heart of Assyria. They gloried in their own strength and wisdom (by my wisdom, for I am prudent). They exaggerated their power (I have gathered all the earth).

i. Julius Caesar had this heart of pride when he said of his military conquests: Veni, vidi, vici (“I came, I saw, I conquered”). Charles V had a better heart when he said of his military conquests, Veni, vidi, sed Christus vicit (“I came, I saw, but Christ conquered”).

3. (15-19) God assesses the arrogance of Assyria.

Shall the ax boast itself against him who chops with it?
Or shall the saw exalt itself against him who saws with it?
As if a rod could wield itself against those who lift it up,
Or as if a staff could lift up, as if it were not wood!
Therefore the Lord, the Lord of hosts,
Will send leanness among his fat ones;
And under his glory
He will kindle a burning
Like the burning of a fire.
So the Light of Israel will be for a fire,
And his Holy One for a flame;
It will burn and devour
His thorns and his briers in one day.
And it will consume the glory of his forest and of his fruitful field,
Both soul and body;
And they will be as when a sick man wastes away.
Then the rest of the trees of his forest
Will be so few in number
That a child may write them.

a. Shall the ax boast itself against him who chops with it? The LORD uses the pictures of an ax, a saw, a rod, and a staff to make the point that the instrument should never take credit for what the worker does with the instrument. The scalpel can’t take credit for what the surgeon does; the strength and the skill are in the user, not in the instrument.

i. If it is easy for an unknowing instrument of God to become proud, it is also easy for a willing instrument of God to become proud. Jesus said we should have a different attitude: So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, “We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.” (Luke 17:10) As wonderful as it is to be an instrument in the hand of God, the instrument deserves no special glory.

b. Therefore the Lord…will send leanness among his fat ones: Assyria sat “fat and sassy” at the time, but God would send leanness to them. His judgment will be like the burning of a fire among them, and it will consume the glory of his forest and of his fruitful field. The Lord will leave Assyria just a shadow of its former self.

i. Bultema on both soul and body: “Calvin warned against inferring from this that the soul is not immortal. What is meant, according to this keen expositor, is that the soul of this tyrant will have to pay for his wicked deeds on earth after the destruction of His body.”

B. Despite the coming attack of the Assyrians, God will preserve a remnant of Israel.

1. (20-27) God tells His people: Do not be afraid of the Assyrian.

And it shall come to pass in that day
That the remnant of Israel,
And such as have escaped of the house of Jacob,
Will never again depend on him who defeated them,
But will depend on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.
The remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob,
To the Mighty God.
For though your people, O Israel, be as the sand of the sea,
A remnant of them will return;
The destruction decreed shall overflow with righteousness.
For the Lord GOD of hosts
Will make a determined end
In the midst of all the land.

Therefore thus says the Lord GOD of hosts: “O My people, who dwell in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrian. He shall strike you with a rod and lift up his staff against you, in the manner of Egypt. For yet a very little while and the indignation will cease, as will My anger in their destruction.” And the LORD of hosts will stir up a scourge for him like the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb; as His rod was on the sea, so will He lift it up in the manner of Egypt.

It shall come to pass in that day
That his burden will be taken away from your shoulder,
And his yoke from your neck,
And the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil.

a. It shall come to pass in that day: The LORD told Judah to not trust in Assyria as their deliverer when the threat from Syria and Israel came (Isaiah 7). The LORD promised that He would deliver them from Syria and Israel and that they did not have to trust in Assyria. But Ahaz, king of Judah, did not take God’s counsel and trusted in Assyria. The LORD would then use Assyria to defeat Syria and Israel as He had promised, but He would also use Assyria to judge Judah. Now, the LORD wants to prepare Judah for the attack from Assyria, reminding them that He is still in charge and they can still trust Him.

i. This shows the remarkable grace and longsuffering of God. We would not criticize the LORD if He said, “You want to trust in the Assyrians and not in Me? Fine. You are now on your own. Good luck.” But even in the midst of the judgment they deserved, brought through the Assyrians, God wants to comfort His people and bring them hope.

b. The remnant of Israel…will never again depend on him who defeated them, but will depend on the LORD. The LORD promises His people, “You are going through this now because you will not trust Me. But I am going to change you so that you trust Me again, and you will once again depend on the LORD.”

c. A remnant of them will return: The suffering of God’s people at the hands of the Assyrians and others would make them feel as if they would certainly be destroyed. God assures them that this is not the case. He will always preserve His remnant.

d. The destruction decreed shall overflow with righteousness: When God allows destruction – whether in outright judgment or loving correction – it is always righteous, and never unfair. In fact, His judgment overflows with righteousness.

e. For the Lord GOD of hosts will make a determined end: An end of what? An end of Judah’s trust in nations like Assyria. They will never again depend on him who defeated him.

f. Therefore…do not be afraid of the Assyrian: The LORD is telling His people, “Judgment and correction are coming, and it will hurt. But I have a plan, so don’t be afraid.” This is a hard word to believe because judgment and correction, by their very nature, hurt! Yet we can decide to not be afraid and trust in the LORD, even when it hurts.

i. He shall strike you with a rod, yet do not be afraid. He will lift up his staff against you, but do not be afraid. Why shouldn’t they fear? Because the Assyrians are not in charge, the LORD is. In a very little while…the indignation will cease, as will My anger. We can always be comforted by the fact that God will never leave His people to the mercy of their enemies. Even when He uses the Assyrians to bring judgment and correction, He is still in charge.

g. And the LORD of hosts will stir up a scourge for him like the slaughter of Midian: Judah should trust the LORD because He will indeed take care of the Assyrians. He will take care of them like He took care of Midian at the rock of Oreb. The LORD will strike Assyria as His rod was upon the sea.

i. Judges 7:25 describes Gideon’s victory over the Midianites at the rock of Oreb. As miraculous and complete as Gideon’s victory was, that is how miraculous and complete God’s judgment on Assyria would be. As it happened, this was exactly the case. 2 Kings 19:35 describes how God simply sent the angel of the LORD and killed 185,000 Assyrians in one night. When the people woke up, there were 185,000 dead Assyrian soldiers.

ii. Exodus 14:16 describes how the LORD used the rod of Moses to divide the Red Sea. In the same way, He would do something totally miraculous against Assyria.

iii. The LORD even took care of the king of the Assyrians according to His justice. 2 Kings 19:36-37 describes that when the king of the Assyrians returned home after attacking Judah, he was murdered by his own sons as he worshipped in the temple of Nisroch his god.

h. It shall come to pass in that day that his burden will be taken from your shoulder, and his yoke from your neck: Assyria would indeed trouble and oppress Judah, but not forever. Instead, the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil. Because of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit among Judah (represented by the anointing oil), the yoke of bondage would be destroyed.

i. Bultema thinks that because of the anointing oil should really be seen as because of the Anointed One, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. He is the source of our victory and freedom from the yoke of bondage.

2. (28-32) A prophetic description of the arrival of the army of the Assyrians.

He has come to Aiath,
He has passed Migron;
At Michmash he has attended to his equipment.
They have gone along the ridge,
They have taken up lodging at Geba.
Ramah is afraid,
Gibeah of Saul has fled.
Lift up your voice,
O daughter of Gallim!
Cause it to be heard as far as Laish—
O poor Anathoth!
Madmenah has fled,
The inhabitants of Gebim seek refuge.
As yet he will remain at Nob that day;
He will shake his fist at the mount of the daughter of Zion,
The hill of Jerusalem.

a. He has come to Aiath: Because of the word of comfort and encouragement in the previous section, Judah might think that God wouldn’t send judgment among them at all. This section, with the specific mention of many cities of Judah, is meant to show that God will indeed allow the invasion of the Assyrians, even though He will restore after the attack.

b. Aiath…Migron…Michmash…. Geba…. Nob: The listing of cities flows from the north to the south, describing the course of the Assyrian invasion. Nob is right on the outskirts of Jerusalem. This is as far as the army of the Assyrians came against Judah. They were stopped here when the LORD killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night.

i. “With a deft poetic touch, Isaiah told how the enemy moved through twelve different locations, coming ever closer to the capital.” (Wolf)

3. (33-34) The LORD humbles the proud among the people of Judah.

Behold, the Lord,
The LORD of hosts,
Will lop off the bough with terror;
Those of high stature will be hewn down,
And the haughty will be humbled.
He will cut down the thickets of the forest with iron,
And Lebanon will fall by the Mighty One.

a. Those of high stature will be hewn down: The LORD promises that His judgment will extend even against those of high stature. A mighty forest seems invincible and seems as if it will stand forever, but the LORD can cut it down. Even so, the LORD will cut down the proud and those of high stature among Judah. All that will be left in a once-mighty forest will be stumps.

b. And Lebanon will fall by the Mighty One: The forests of Lebanon were known for their large, mighty cedar trees. God will judge the proud among Judah – and all the nations for that matter – and leave a once mighty forest of those of high stature as if they were just stumps. The bigger they are, the harder they fall down.

(c) 2021 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik –


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