Woes against proud oppressors. (1-4) The Assyrian but an instrument in the hand of God for the punishment of his people. (5-19) The deliverance from him. (20-34)
Verses 1-4 These verses are to be joined with the foregoing chapter. Woe to the superior powers that devise and decree unrighteous decrees! And woe to the inferior officers that draw them up, and enter them on record! But what will sinners do? Whither will they flee?
Verses 5-19 See what a change sin made. The king of Assyria, in his pride, thought to act by his own will. The tyrants of the world are tools of Providence. God designs to correct his people for their hypocrisy, and bring them nearer to him; but is that Sennacherib's design? No; he designs to gratify his own covetousness and ambition. The Assyrian boasts what great things he has done to other nations, by his own policy and power. He knows not that it is God who makes him what he is, and puts the staff into his hand. He had done all this with ease; none moved the wing, or cried as birds do when their nests are rifled. Because he conquered Samaria, he thinks Jerusalem would fall of course. It was lamentable that Jerusalem should have set up graven images, and we cannot wonder that she was excelled in them by the heathen. But is it not equally foolish for Christians to emulate the people of the world in vanities, instead of keeping to things which are their special honour? For a tool to boast, or to strive against him that formed it, would not be more out of the way, than for Sennacherib to vaunt himself against Jehovah. When God brings his people into trouble, it is to bring sin to their remembrance, and humble them, and to awaken them to a sense of their duty; this must be the fruit, even the taking away of sin. When these points are gained by the affliction, it shall be removed in mercy. This attempt upon Zion and Jerusalem should come to nothing. God will be as a fire to consume the workers of iniquity, both soul and body. The desolation should be as when a standard-bearer fainteth, and those who follow are put to confusion. Who is able to stand before this great and holy Lord God?
Verses 20-34 By our afflictions we may learn not to make creatures our confidence. Those only can with comfort stay upon God, who return to him in truth, not in pretence and profession only. God will justly bring this wasting away on a provoking people, but will graciously set bounds to it. It is against the mind and will of God, that his people, whatever happens, should give way to fear. God's anger against his people is but for a moment; and when that is turned from us, we need not fear the fury of man. The rod with which he corrected his people, shall not only be laid aside, but thrown into the fire. To encourage God's people, the prophet puts them in mind of what God had formerly done against the enemies of his church. God's people shall be delivered from the Assyrians. Some think it looks to the deliverance of the Jews out of their captivity; and further yet, to the redemption of believers from the tyranny of sin and Satan. And this, "because of the anointing;" for his people Israel's sake, the believers among them that had received the unction of Divine grace. And for the sake of the Messiah, the Anointed of God. Here is, ver. ( 28-34 ) , a prophetical description of Sennacherib's march towards Jerusalem, when he threatened to destroy that city. Then the Lord, in whom Hezekiah trusted, cut down his army like the hewing of a forest. Let us apply what is here written, to like matters in other ages of the church of Christ. Because of the anointing of our great Redeemer, the yoke of every antichrist must be broken from off his church: and if our souls partake of the unction of the Holy Spirit, complete and eternal deliverances will be secured to us.
Isaiah 10:1-4 . Fourth strophe.
1. them that decree--namely, unrighteous judges.
write grievousness, &c.--not the scribes, but the magistrates who caused unjust decisions (literally, "injustice" or "grievousness") to be recorded by them ( Isaiah 65:6 ) [MAURER], ( Isaiah 1:10 Isaiah 1:23 ).
2. To turn aside, &c.--The effect of their conduct is to pervert the cause of the needy [HORSLEY]. In English Version "from judgment" means "from obtaining justice."
take away the right--"make plunder of the right" (rightful claim) [HORSLEY].
3. what will ye do--what way of escape will there be for you?
visitation--of God's wrath ( Isaiah 26:14 , Job 35:15 , Hosea 9:7 ).
from far--from Assyria.
leave . . . glory--rather, "deposit (for safekeeping) your wealth" [LOWTH]. So Psalms 49:17 .
4. Without me--not having Me to "flee to" ( Isaiah 10:3 ).
bow down--Bereft of strength they shall fall; or else, they shall lie down fettered.
under . . . under--rather, "among" (literally, "in the place of") [HORSLEY]. The "under" may be, however, explained, "trodden under the (feet of the) prisoners going into captivity," and "overwhelmed under the heaps of slain on the battlefield" [MAURER].
Isaiah 10:5-32 and Isaiah 11:12 . DESTRUCTION OF THE ASSYRIANS; COMING OF MESSIAH; HYMN OF PRAISE.
Isaiah 10:9 Isaiah 10:11 show that Samaria was destroyed before this prophecy. It was written when Assyria proposed (a design which it soon after tried to carry out under Sennacherib) to destroy Judah and Jerusalem, as it had destroyed Samaria. This is the first part of Isaiah's prophecies under Hezekiah. Probably between 722 and 715 B.C. (see Isaiah 10:27 ).
5. O Assyrian, &c.--rather, "What, ho (but MAURER, Woe to the) Assyrian! He is the rod and staff of Mine anger (My instrument in punishing, Jeremiah 51:20 , Psalms 17:13 ). In their hands is Mine indignation" [HORSLEY, after JEROME]. I have put into the Assyrians' hands the execution of Mine indignation against My people.
6. send him--"Kings' hearts are in the hand of the Lord" ( Proverbs 21:1 ).
nation--Judah, against whom Sennacherib was forming designs.
of my wrath--objects of My wrath.
give . . . charge--( Jeremiah 34:22 ).
and to tread, &c.--HORSLEY translates: "And then to make him (the Assyrian) a trampling under foot like the mire of the streets" (so Isaiah 10:12 , Isaiah 33:1 , Zechariah 10:5 ). But see Isaiah 37:26 .
7. meaneth not so--He is only thinking of his own schemes, while God is overruling them to His purposes.
think--intend. Sinners plans are no less culpable, though they by them unconsciously fulfil God's designs ( Psalms 76:10 , Micah 4:12 ). So Joseph's brethren ( Genesis 50:20 , Proverbs 16:4 ). The sinner's motive, not the result (which depends on God), will be the test in judgment.
heart to destroy . . . not a few--Sennacherib's ambition was not confined to Juries. His plan was also to conquer Egypt and Ethiopia ( Isaiah 20:1-6 , Zechariah 1:15 ).
8-11. Vauntings of the Assyrians. Illustrated by the self-laudatory inscriptions of Assyria deciphered by HINCKS.
princes . . . kings--Eastern satraps and governors of provinces often had the title and diadem of kings. Hence the title, "King of kings," implying the greatness of Him who was over them ( Ezekiel 26:7 , Ezra 7:12 ).
9. Is not . . . as--Was there any one of these cities able to withstand me? Not one. So Rab-shakeh vaunts ( Isaiah 36:19 ).
Calno--Calneh, built by Nimrod ( Genesis 10:10 ), once his capital, on the Tigris.
Carchemish--Circesium, on the Euphrates. Taken afterwards by Necho, king of Egypt; and retaken by Nebuchadnezzar: by the Euphrates ( Jeremiah 46:2 ).
Hamath--in Syria, north of Canaan ( Genesis 10:18 ). Taken by Assyria about 753 s.c. From it colonists were planted by Assyria in Samaria.
Damascus--( Isaiah 17:1 Isaiah 17:3 ).
10,11. found--unable to resist me: hath overcome (so Psalms 21:8 ).
and whose--rather, "and their." This clause, down to "Samaria," is parenthetical.
excel--were more powerful. He regards Jerusalem as idolatrous, an opinion which it often had given too much ground for: Jehovah was in his view the mere local god of Judea, as Baal of the countries where it was adored, nay, inferior in power to some national gods ( Isaiah 36:19 Isaiah 36:20 , 37:12 ). See in opposition, Isaiah 37:20 , 46:1 .
As my hand . . . shall I not, as I have--a double protasis. Agitation makes one accumulate sentences.
12. whole work--His entire plan is regard to the punishment of the Jews ( Isaiah 10:5-7 ).
Zion--the royal residence, the court, princes and nobles; as distinguished from "Jerusalem," the people in general.
fruit--the result of, that is, the plants emanating from.
stout--Hebrew, "greatness of," that is, pride of.
13. I am prudent--He ascribes his success to his own prudence, not to God's providence.
removed the bounds--set aside old, and substituted new boundaries of kingdoms at will. A criminal act, as Jehovah Himself had appointed the boundaries of the nations ( Deuteronomy 32:8 ).
treasures--"hoarded treasures" [HORSLEY].
put down . . . inhabitants like, &c.--rather, "as a valiant man, I have brought down (from their seats) those seated" (namely, "on thrones"; as in Psalms 2:4 , 29:10 , 55:19 . The Hebrew for "He that abideth," is He that sitteth on a throne); otherwise, "I have brought down (as captives into Assyria, which lay lower than Judea; therefore 'brought down,' compare Isaiah 36:1 Isaiah 36:10 ), the inhabitants" [MAURER].
14. nest--implying the ease with which he carried off all before him.
left--by the parent bird.
none . . . moved . . . wing--image from an angry bird resisting the robbery of its "nest."
peeped--chirped even low ( Isaiah 8:19 ). No resistance was offered me, of deed, or even word.
15. Shall the instrument boast against Him who uses it? Through free in a sense, and carrying out his own plans, the Assyrian was unconsciously carrying out God's purposes.
shaketh it--moves it back and forward,
staff . . . lift . . . itself . . . no wood--rather, "as if the staff (man, the instrument of God's judgments on his fellow man) should set aside (Him who is) not wood" (not a mere instrument, as man). On "no wood" compare Deuteronomy 32:21 , "that which is not God;" Isaiah 31:8 shows that God is meant here by "not wood" [MAURER].
16. fat ones--( Isaiah 5:17 ). The robust and choice soldiers of Assyria ( Psalms 78:31 , where "fattest" answers in the parallelism to "chosen," or "young men," Margin).
leanness--carrying out the image on "fat ones." Destruction ( Psalms 106:15 ). Fulfilled ( Isaiah 37:36 ).
his glory--Assyria's nobles. So in Isaiah 5:13 , Margin; Isaiah 8:7 .
kindle--a new image from fire consuming quickly dry materials ( Zechariah 12:6 ).
17, 18. light of Israel--carrying out the image in the end of Isaiah 10:16 . Jehovah, who is a light to Israel, shall be the "fire" ( Deuteronomy 4:24 , Hebrews 12:29 ) that shall ignite the "thorns," (the Assyrians, like dry fuel, a ready prey to flame).
18. glory of his forest--The common soldiers, the princes, officers, &c., all alike together, shall be consumed
in one day--( Isaiah 37:36 ).
fruitful field--literally, "Carmel," a rich mountain in the tribe of Asher. Figurative for Sennacherib's mighty army. Perhaps alluding to his own boasting words about to be uttered ( Isaiah 37:24 ), "I will enter the forest of his Carmel."
soul and body--proverbial for utterly; the entire man is made up of soul and body.
as when a standard bearer fainteth--rather, "they shall be as when a sick man" (from a Syriac root) wastes away." Compare "leanness," that is, wasting destruction ( Isaiah 10:16 ) [MAURER]. Or, "there shall be an entire dissipation, like a perfect melting" (namely, of the Assyrian army) [HORSLEY].
19. rest--those who shall survive the destruction of the host.
his forest--same image as in Isaiah 10:18 , for the once dense army.
child . . . write--so few that a child might count them.
20-22. The effect on the "remnant" (contrasted with the Assyrian remnant, Isaiah 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 ( 2 Kings 18:21 , 16:7-9 ), to the God of the theocracy; fulfilled in part in the pious Hezekiah's days; but from the future aspect under which Paul, in Romans 9:27 Romans 9:28 (compare "short work" with "whole work," Isaiah 10:12 , here), regards the whole prophecy, the "remnant," "who stay 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 ( Isaiah 6:13 , 7:3 , Zechariah 12:9 Zechariah 12:10 , Zechariah 14:2 Zechariah 14:3 , Zephaniah 3:12 ).
21. mighty God--( Isaiah 9:6 ) the God who shall have evinced such might in destroying Israel's enemies. As the Assyrians in Sennacherib's reign did not carry off Judah captive, the returning "remnant" cannot mainly refer to this time.
22. yet--rather in the sense in which Paul quotes it ( Romans 9:27 ), "Though Israel be now numerous as the sand, a remnant only of them shall return"--the great majority shall perish. The reason is added, Because "the consumption (fully completed destruction) is decreed (literally, decided on, brought to an issue), it overfloweth ( Isaiah 30:28 , 8:8 ) with justice"; that is, the infliction of just punishment ( Isaiah 5:16 ) [MAURER].
23. even determined--"A consumption, and whatever is determined," or decreed [MAURER].
midst--Zion, the central point of the earth as to Jehovah's presence.
land--Israel. But the Septuagint, "in the whole habitable world." So English Version ( Romans 9:28 ), "upon the earth."
24. Therefore--Return to the main proposition, Assyria's ultimate punishment, though employed as God's "rod" to chastise Judea for a time.
O my people--God's tenderness towards His elect nation.
after the manner of Egypt--as Egypt and Pharaoh oppressed thee. Implying, too, as Israel was nevertheless delivered from them, so now it would be from the Assyrian Sennacherib. The antithesis in Isaiah 10:26 requires this interpretation [MAURER].
25. For--Be not afraid ( Isaiah 10:24 ), for
indignation . . . cease--The punishments of God against Israel shall be consummated and ended ( Isaiah 26:20 , Daniel 11:36 ). "Till the indignation be accomplished," &c.
mine anger--shall turn to their (the Assyrians') destruction.
26. slaughter of--"stroke upon."
Midian--( Isaiah 9:4 , Judges 7:25 ).
as his rod was upon the sea--rather, understanding "stroke" from the previous clause, "according to the stroke of His rod upon the Red Sea" ( Exodus 14:16 Exodus 14:26 ). His "rod" on the Assyrian ( Isaiah 10:24 Isaiah 10:26 ) stands in bold contrast to the Assyrian used as a "rod" to strike others ( Isaiah 10:5 ).
after the manner of Egypt--as He lifted it up against Egypt at the Red Sea.
27. his burden--the Assyrians oppression ( Isaiah 9:3 ). Judah was still tributary to Assyria; Hezekiah had not yet revolted, as he did in the beginning of Sennacherib's reign.
because of--( Hosea 10:15 ).
the anointing--namely, "Messiah" ( Daniel 9:24 ). Just as in Isaiah 9:4-6 , the "breaking of the yoke of" the enemies' "burden and staff" is attributed to Messiah, "For unto us a child is born," &c., so it is here. MAURER not so well translates, "Because of the fatness"; an image of the Assyrians fierce and wanton pride drawn from a well-fed bull tossing off the yoke ( Deuteronomy 32:15 ). So Isaiah 10:16 above, and Isaiah 5:17 , "fat ones."
28-32. Onward gradual march of Sennacherib's army towards Jerusalem, and the panic of the inhabitants vividly pictured before the eyes.
come to--come upon as a sudden invader ( Genesis 34:27 ).
Aiath--same as Ai ( Joshua 7:2 , Nehemiah 7:32 ). In the north of Benjamin; so the other towns also; all on the line of march to Jerusalem.
Michmash--nine miles northeast of Jerusalem.
laid up . . . carriages--He has left his heavier baggage (so "carriages" for the things carried, Acts 21:15 ) at Michmash, so as to be more lightly equipped for the siege of Jerusalem. So 1 Samuel 17:22 , 25:13 , 30:24 [JEROME and MAURER].
29. passage--the jaws of the wady or defile at Michmash ( 1 Samuel 13:23 , 1 Samuel 14:4 1 Samuel 14:5 ).
lodging--their quarters for the night, after having passed the defile which might have been easily guarded against them.
Ramah--near Geba; seven miles from Jerusalem.
Gibeah of Saul--his birthplace and residence, in Benjamin ( 1 Samuel 11:4 ), distinct from Gibeah of Judah ( Joshua 15:57 ).
30. daughter of Gallim--Gallim and her sons "Cry aloud in consternation."
Laish--not the town in Dan ( Judges 18:7 ), but one of the same name near Jerusalem (I Maccabees 9:9).
Anathoth--three miles from Jerusalem in Benjamin; the birthplace of Jeremiah. "Poor" is applied to it in pity, on account of the impending calamity. Others translate, Answer her, O Anathoth.
31. Madmenah--not the city in Simeon ( Joshua 15:31 ), but a village near Jerusalem.
removed--fled from fear.
gather themselves to flee--"put their goods in a place of safety" [MAURER].
32. that day--literally, "As yet this (one only) day (is allowed to the soldiers) for remaining (halting for rest) at Nob"; northeast of Jerusalem on Olivet; a town of the priests ( Nehemiah 11:32 ).
daughter--rightly substituted for the Chetib reading, house. His "shaking his hand" in menace implies that he is now at Nob, within sight of Jerusalem.
33. bough--literally, the "beauty" of the tree; "the beautiful branch."
high ones of stature--"the upright stem," as distinguished from the previous "boughs" [HORSLEY].
34. This verse and Isaiah 10:33 describe the sudden arrest and overthrow of Sennacherib in the height of his success Isaiah 10:18 Isaiah 10:19 , Ezekiel 31:3 Ezekiel 31:14 , &c., contain the same image; "Lebanon" and its forest are the Assyrian army; the "iron" axe that fells the forest refers to the stroke which destroyed the one hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrians ( 2 Kings 19:35 ). The "Mighty One" is Jehovah ( Isaiah 10:21 , Isaiah 9:6 ).