Isaiah 10 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Isaiah 10
Pulpit Commentary
Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed;
Verses 1-4. - The prophecy begun in Isaiah 9:8 terminates with this stanza, which contains a warning against injustice and oppression, addressed to Israel and Judah equally, and accompanied by the threat of a "day of desolation," when those who have refused to make God their Refuge will have no resource, but to go into captivity with the "prisoners," or to perish with the "slain." A foreign conquest, accompanied by slaughter, and the deportation of captives, is not obscurely intimated. Verse 1. - Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees (comp. Isaiah 1:17, 20, 26; Isaiah 5:23, etc.). The perversion of judgment from the judgment-seat is the sin rebuked. It was certainly prevalent in Judah, it may also have been practiced in Israel. And that write grievousness, etc. Translate, and unto the writers that enregister oppression. The decrees of courts were, it is clear, carefully engrossed by the officials, probably upon parchment, every outward formality being observed, while justice itself was set at naught.
To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!
Verse 2. - The poor... the widow... the fatherless. These were the classes who were the chief sufferers by the perversion of justice (comp. Isaiah 1:17, 23). They were exactly the classes for whom God had most compassion, and whom he had commended in the Law to the tender care of his people (see note on Isaiah 9:17).
And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory?
Verse 3. - What will ye do in the day of visitation? "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. Hosea 9:7). It is oftenest used in a bad sense because, unhappily, so many more are found to deserve punishment than reward. The desolation which shall come from far; rather, the crashing ruin (Cheyne). It is sudden, and complete destruction, rather than mere desolateness, that is threatened. Previous prophecies, especially Isaiah 7:17-20, had informed the Jews that it was to "come from far," "by them that were beyond the river." To whom will ye flee? The prophet speaks in bitter irony. Is there any one to whom ye can flee? any one who can protect you from the wrath of God? Ye well know there is no one. Where will ye leave your glory? With whom will ye deposit your riches, your magnificence, your jewels, your grand apparel? You cannot save them. They will all make to themselves wings, and "fly away like a bird" (Hosea 9:11).
Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
Verse 4. - Without me. That this is a possible rendering of the word used seems proved by Hosea 13:4. But here it scarcely suits the context. God does not speak directly, in the first person, elsewhere in the entire prophecy (Isaiah 9:8-10:4), but is spoken of in the third person throughout, as even in the present verse, where we have "his anger," "his hand." It is better, therefore, to give the word its ordinary meaning - "unless," "except." Have they anywhere to flee to, unless they shall crouch amid the captives that are being carried off, or fall amid the slain? In other words, there is no escape for them; they must either submit to captivity or death. For all this, etc. Even when the two kingdoms were destroyed, and the captivity of both was complete, God's wrath was not fully appeased, his anger was not wholly turned away. Both peoples suffered grievous things in their captivity, as appears from the Book of Daniel (Isaiah 3, 6.) and other places. It took seventy years for God's anger to be appeased in the case of Judah (2 Chronicles 36:21), while in the case of Israel it was never appeased. Crushed beneath the iron heel of their conquerors, Israel ceased to exist as a nation. SECTION V. PROPHECIES OF WOE UPON FOREIGN NATIONS (Isaiah 10:5-23)
O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation.
Verses 5-19. - ASSYRIA, AFTER BEING GOD'S INSTRUMENT TO PUNISH ISRAEL, SHALL HERSELF BE PUNISHED IN HER TURN. The wicked are a sword in the hand of God (Psalm 17:13), wherewith he executes his judgments; but this fact is hid from them, and they imagine that they are successful through their own strength and might. So it was with Assyria (vers. 5-14), which its long career of victory had made proud and arrogant above measure. God now, by the mouth of Isaiah, makes known his intention of bringing down the pride of Assyria, and laying her glory in the dust, by a sudden and great destruction (vers. 15:19), after she has served his purposes. Verse 5. - O Assyrian; literally, Ho! Asshur. "Asshur" is the nation personified, and is here addressed as an individual. The transition from vers. 1-4 is abrupt, and may be taken to indicate an accidental juxtaposition of two entirely distinct prophecies. Or Assyria may be supposed to have been in the prophet's thought, though not in his words, when he spoke of "prisoners" and "slain" in the first clause of ver. 4. The rod of mine anger (comp. Jeremiah 51:20, where it is said of Babylon, "Thou art my battle-axe and weapons of war; for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy the kingdoms"). So Assyria was now the "rod" wherewith God chastised his enemies. The true "staff" in the hand of Assyria, wherewith she smote the peoples, was "God's indignation."
I will send him against an hypocritical 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.
Verse 6. - I will send him against an hypocritical nation; or, against a corrupt nation. Israel in the wider sense, inclusive of Judah, seems to be intended. The people of my wrath; i.e. "the people who are the object of my wrath." Will I give him a charge. In 2 Kings 18:25 Sennacherib nays, "Am I come up without the Lord (Jehovah) against thin, lace, to destroy it? The Lord (Jehovah) said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it" (compare below, Isaiah 36:10). It has been usual to consider Sennacherib's words a vain boast; but if God instructed Nebuchadnezzar through dreams, may he not also by the same means have "given charges" to Assyrian monarchs? To take the spoil, and to take the prey; rather, to gather spoil, and seize prey. The terms used carry the thoughts back to Isaiah 8:1-4, and to the symbolic name, Maher-shalal-hash-baz. And to tread them down; literally, to make it a trampling. "It" refers to "nation" in the first clause.
Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few.
Verse 7. - Howbeit he meaneth not so. "Assyria," i.e., "does not view the matter in this light - is not aware that she is merely God's instrument in working out his will. On the contrary, it is in her heart to destroy the nations for her own advantage, and she imagines that she is doing it by her own strength."
For he saith, Are not my princes altogether kings?
Verse 8. - Are not my princes altogether kings? One mark of the superiority of Assyria to other countries was to be seen in the fact that her king had not mere officers, but vassal kings under him. Hence the title "king of kings" assumed by so many Assyrian monarchs. While conquered territories were by degrees and to a certain extent absorbed into the empire and placed under prefects (see the 'Eponym Canon'), an outer zone of more loosely organized dependencies was always maintained by the Assyrians; and these dependencies continued ordinarily to be administered by their native monarchs (see 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 2. pp. 524-526). These are the "princes" who were "altogether kings."
Is not Calno as Carchemish? is not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus?
Verse 9. - Is not Calno as Carehemish? A further proof of superiority, and ground of confidence, lay in the further fact, that the strongest cities had, one and all, succumbed to the Assyrian arms, and been laid in ruins to punish them for offering resistance. Six such cities are mentioned - Calneh, probably Niffer, in Lower Mesopotamia; Carchemish, on the right bank of the Euphrates in Lat. 36° 30' nearly; Hamath, the "great Hamath" of Amos (Amos 6:2), in Coelesyria on the routes; Arpad, perhaps Tel-Erfad, near Aleppo; Damascus, and Samaria. Calneh was one of the cities of Nimrod (Genesis 10:10), and, according to the LXX., was "the place where the tower was built." It may have been taken by Tiglath-Pileser in one of his expeditious into Babylonia. Amos (Amos 6:2) speaks of it as desolate in his day. Carchemish (Assyrian Gargamis) was a chief city of the Hittites, and has been called "their northern capital." Long confounded by geographers with Circesium at the junction of the Khabour with the Euphrates, it has recently been proved to have occupied a far more northern position, and is now generally identified with the ruins discovered by Mr. George Smith at Jerabis or Jerabhs. It was conquered by Sargon in B.C. 717, when "its people were led captive, and scattered over the Assyrian empire, while Assyrian colonists were brought to people the city in their place; Carchemish being formally annexed to Assyria, and placed under an Assyrian governor" (G. Smith, 'Assyria,' p. 97). Hamath was originally a Canaanite city (Genesis 10:18). By the time of David it had become the scat of an independent monarchy (2 Samuel 8:9, 10), and so continued until its reduction by the Assyrians. We find it leagued with the Hittites, the Syrians of Damascus, and the Israelites against Assyria about B.C. 850 ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 2. pp. 361-363). About B.C. 720 it was taken by Sargon, who beheaded its king, and probably reduced it to ruins (ibid., p. 411; comp. Amos 6:2). The name remains in the modern Hamah, where many curious inscriptions have been recently dug up. Arpad was attacked by Tiglath-Pileser in the early part of his reign, and reduced to subjection. It revolted in conjunction with Hamath from Sargon, and was severely punished ('Ancient Monarchies,' l.s.c.). Is not Samaria as Damascus? This mention of Samaria among the subjugated and ruined cities may undoubtedly be prophetic; but the connection with Carchemish, Hamath, and Arpad all of them towns reduced by Sargon within the years B.C. 720-717 - points rather to the verse being historical, and would seem to indicate that the date of the entire prophecy - vers. 5-19 - is subsequent to the capture of the cities, and so not earlier than B.C. 716.
As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, and whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria;
Verse 10. - As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols. "Found" here means "reached," "punished... subjugated." It is quite in accordance with Assyrian ideas that the conquered countries should be called "kingdoms of the idols" (literally, "no gods"). The Assyrian monarchs regarded their own gods as alone really deserving of the name, and made war very much with the object of proving the superiority of their deities over those of their neighbors. Hence their practice of carrying off the idols from the various cities which they conquered, or else of inscribing on them "the praises of Asshur." And whose graven images; rather, and their graven images. Did excel. In preciousness of material or in workmanship, or both. The Assyrians went near to identifying the idols with the gods themselves. Those of Jerusalem and of Samaria. The chief Samaritan idols were the golden calves at Dan and Bethel; but, in addition to these, "images and groves were set up in every high hill and under every green tree" (2 Kings 17:10), images of Baal, and Ashtoreth, and perhaps Beltis, and Chemosh, and Moloch. Even in Judah and in Jerusalem itself there were idols. Ahaz "made molten images for Baalim" (2 Chronicles 28:2). The brazen serpent was worshipped as an idol at Jerusalem until Hezekiah destroyed it; and probably, even after the reformation of Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:4), many Jews retained privately the images, which he required them to destroy (2 Chronicles 31:1). Isaiah had already declared, speaking of Judah rather than of Israel, "Their land is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made" (Isaiah 2:8).
Shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols?
Verse 11. - Shall I not... so do to Jerusalem and her idols? The speaker ignores the fact of any difference in kind between the religion of Judaea and that of the neighboring countries. He speaks as if he knew nothing of any religion without idols. No doubt Assyrian ideas on the subject of the religion of the Jews were at this time, as they were even later (2 Kings 18:22), exceedingly vague and incorrect.
Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.
Verse 12. - Wherefore; rather, but. The final result shall be such as "the Assyrian" little expected. When the Lord hath performed his whole work. The "work" assigned to Assyria was the destruction of the kingdom of Israel, and a share in the trial, punishment, and discipline of Judah. The last task seems to have been the humiliation of Manasseh, which brought about his repentance (2 Chronicles 33:11-13). Soon after this the troubles began which led to her destruction. I will punish. The sudden change from the third to the first person is harsh and abnormal, but not without parallels in other passages of Isaiah (see Isaiah 3:1-4; Isaiah 5:3, 4, etc.). The fruit of the stout heart; i.e. the actions, language, etc., which flowed from the stoutness of heart - such language, e.g., as that of vers. 8-11 and 13, 14. Of the King of Assyria. The menace is not leveled against any one particular king, as Sargon, or Sennacherib; but against the monarchy itself, which from first to last was actuated by the same spirit, and breathed the same tone, of pride, selfishness, and cruelty. (See the royal inscriptions, passim, which become more revolting as time goes on.)
For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man:
Verse 13. - For he saith. Neither this speech nor that in vers. 8-11, nor again that given in Isaiah 37:24, 25, is to be regarded as historical in the sense of being the actual utterance of any Assyrian monarch. All are imaginary, speeches, composed by the prophet, whereby he expresses in his own language the thoughts which Assyrian kings entertained in their hearts. I have removed the bounds of the people; rather, of peoples. Assyrian monarchs take as one of their titles "the remover of boundaries and landmarks" (G. Smith's 'Assyrian Discoveries,' pp. 243, 244). And have robbed their treasures (comp. 2 Kings 15:19; 2 Kings 18:14-16). The plunder of conquered countries is constantly recorded by the Assyrian monarchs as one of the most important results of each successful expedition. It is not infrequently represented in the sculptures (see 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 2. p. 85). I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man. The passage is obscure; and many different renderings have been given. Perhaps the best is that of Mr. Cheyne, "I have brought down, like a mighty one, those that sat on thrones." Abbir, however, the word translated "a mighty one," as often means "a bull" (see Psalm 22:12; Psalm 50:13; Psalm 68:30; Isaiah 34:7; Jeremiah 1:11).
And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped.
Verse 14. - My hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people; rather, of the peoples. The Assyrians are fond of comparing their enemies to birds ('Records of the Past,' vol. 7. pp. 36, 62, etc.); but the exact metaphor here used does not, I believe, occur in the inscriptions. The nations' treasures are like eggs found in deserted nests, which the hunter gathers without any, even the slightest, risk. All the earth. Oriental hyperbole. Assyrian monarchs often say that they "have subdued all the races of men," or "carried the glory of their name to the ends of the earth," or "overthrown the armies of the whole world in battle." Peeped; rather, chirped (see note on Isaiah 8:19). None of the inhabitants offered even such feeble resistance as a bird makes when its nest is robbed.
Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood.
Verse 15. - Shall the axe boast itself? Here the prophet takes the word, and rebukes Assyria for her folly in forgetting, or not perceiving, that she is a mere instrument, like an axe, a saw, a rod, or a stuff. The saw... him that shaketh it; rather, him that moveth it to and fro. The action of sawing is alluded to. As if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up; rather, as if a rod were to move them to and fro that lift it up. For Assyria to assert herself as if she were independent of God is like a rod attempting to sway the hand that holds it. It is a complete inversion of the natural order of things. Or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood. Translate, or as if d staff should lift up that which is not wood; i.e. "as if a staff should take action and lift up its holder, who is not wood, but flesh and blood."
Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory he shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire.
Verse 16. - Therefore shall the Lord... send among his fat ones leanness. A continuation of ver. 12, showing what the nature of Assyria's punishment shall be. The prophet expresses it by two images - first, that of a wasting sickness; and secondly, that of a fire. The first image expresses that gradual decay of national spirit which saps the vital strength of a nation; the second is more suited to denote some external attack under which the weakened nation should succumb. There are traces, in the later history of Assyria, both of increasing internal weakness through luxury and effeminacy, and of violent external attacks culminating in the combined Median and Babylonian invasion, before which her power collapsed (Abyden. ap. Euseb., 'Chronicles Can.,' pars i.e. 9; Syncell., 'Chronograph.,' p, 210, B; Tobit 14:15).
And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day;
Verse 17. - The light of Israel. A new name of God. The idea on which it is based may be found in the Psalms (Psalm 27:1; Psalm 84:11), and again in Isaiah (Isaiah 60:19). God enlightens his people, cheers them, comforts them spiritually, as the light of the sun enlightens, cheers, and comforts men physically. Christ, as true God, is "the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:9). Shall be for a fire. As the same material fire which gives light, warmth, and comfort may burn and destroy, so the spiritual light, finding fit material, scorches and consumes. The fire which devours Assyria is to be kindled by God. His Holy One; i.e. "the Holy One of Israel" (see Isaiah 1:4). It shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers. The destruction of Assyria shall resemble that of Israel, in which Assyria was the instrument (Isaiah 9:18). It shall be as complete, as terrible, and as final. In one day. Scarcely "in one battle" (Cheyne); for the destruction of Assyria was effected by many battles, many sieges, and much exhausting ravage. "In one day" rather means "at one and the same time," "within a brief space." It is not to he taken literally.
And shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and they shall be as when a standardbearer fainteth.
Verse 18. - Forest... fruitful field. "Forest" and "fruitful field" (carmel) are sometimes united together, sometimes contrasted. Literally, they denote wild and cultivated woodland. Used symbolically, as here, they are not so much intended to designate different parts of Assyria's glory, as to convey the idea that the destruction will be universal. Both soul and body. Here metaphor is suddenly dropped, and Isaiah shows that he is speaking of the Assyrian people, not of the land or its products. Their destruction, wicked as they were, would be one both of body and soul. As when a standard-bearer fainteth; rather, as when one that is faint fainteth. Utter prostration and exhaustion is indicated, whichever way the passage is translated.
And the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them.
Verse 19. - The rest of the trees; i.e. these that escape the burning - shall be few; literally, a number; i.e. so few that their number shall be apparent.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.
Verses 20-34. - CONSOLATION FOR THE FAITHFUL IN ISRAEL. The destruction of Assyria shall be followed - how soon, is not said - by the return of a "remnant of Israel," not so much to their own land, as to God (vers. 20, 21). The remnant, however, shall be but a remnant - judgment shall have overtaken the balk of the people (vers. 22, 23). Still, there is reason for the faithful to take courage and be of good heart; Assyria will shortly receive a check (vers. 24-27) - when her armies swoop upon Jerusalem, God will swoop down on her (vers. 28-34). Verse 20. - In that day; i.e. "at that time" - the time of the destruction of Assyria. The remnant of Israel (see Isaiah 1:9). Isaiah had indicated his firm belief in the existence of this faithful remnant and its return, in the name which he had given to his son, Shear-Jashub (see note on Isaiah 7:3). The escaped. Those who escape from the destruction to be caused by the Assyrian invasion. Shall no more again stay upon him that smote them. We are told in the Second Book of Chronicles (2 Chronicles 28:23) that Abaz "sacrificed to the gods of Damascus which smote him" - and we know that he also trusted to Tiglath-Pileser, who "distressed him and strengthened him not" (2 Chronicles 28:21). Among the "remnant" there shall be no such mistaken confidences. But shall stay upon the Lord; i.e. "shall put their trust in God; and him only" (comp. 2 Samuel 22:19; Psalm 18:18).
The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.
Verse 21. - The mighty God (comp. Isaiah 9:6). The name is not, however, Messianic in this place.
For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness.
Verses 22, 23. - These verses are exegetical of the term "remnant," and bring out its full force. The promise had been made to Abraham that his seed should be "like the sand of the sea for multitude" (Genesis 22:17). This promise had been fulfilled (1 Kings 4:20); but now the sins of the people would produce a reversal of it. It would be a remnant, and only a remnant, of the nation that would escape. Judah would have to make a fresh start as from a new beginning (see Ezra 2:64). Verse 22. - The consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness; rather, the consummation (Daniel 9:27) determined on is one that overflows with righteousness (comp. Isaiah 28:22). The prophet means that God is about to visit the land in such a spirit of severe justice that it cannot be expected that more than a remnant will survive the awful visitation.
For the Lord GOD of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land.
Verse 23. - The Lord... shall make a consumption; rather, a consummation - a final and decisive end of things. Even determined; i.e. "determined on beforehand." In the midst of all the land. "Throughout the entire land," not merely in some portions of it.
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian: he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt.
Verse 24. - O my people... be not afraid. God now addresses those who are faithful to him among the people; they have no need to fear - he will bring them safely through all the coming troubles. He shall smite thee; rather, if he smite thee; or, though he smite thee. After the manner of Egypt; i.e. as the Egyptians did in the oppression that preceded the Exodus. The yoke of Assyria was heavy even upon the nations that submitted to her. She claimed to march her armies through their territories at her pleasure, and probably pressed men and cattle into her service. She exacted a heavy tribute, and otherwise "distressed" her many vassals.
For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction.
Verse 25. - The indignation shall cease; rather, there shall be an end of wrath; i.e. "my wrath against Israel shall come to an end" - Israel having been sufficiently punished. And mine auger in their destruction; rather, and my anger shall be to their destruction; i.e. to the destruction of the Assyrians (see the margin of the Revised Version).
And the LORD of hosts shall stir up a scourge for him according to the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb: and as his rod was upon the sea, so shall he lift it up after the manner of Egypt.
Verse 26. - The Lord... shall stir up a scourge for him; or, lift up a scourge over him. Isaiah uses the metaphor of the "scourge" again in Isaiah 28:16, 18. It is rare in Scripture, though common among the Greek and Latin writers. According to the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb (comp. Isaiah 9:4). The "slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb" was that great destruction of the Midianites which was begun by the three hundred under Gideon, and completed by the men of Ephraim, whereof we have an account in Judges 7:19-25. Its counterpart in Assyrian history would seem to be the destruction of Sennacherib's army, as related in 2 Kings 19:35. As his rod was upon the sea. An allusion to the drowning of Pharaoh's host in the Red Sea. This was a nearer parallel to the destruction of Sennacherib's army than the slaughter of the Midianites, since it was wholly miraculous. By "his rod" we may understand the rod of Moses, endued by God with miraculous powers (Exodus 4:3, 4; Exodus 14:16, 27). After the manner of Egypt; i.e. "after the manner of his action in Egypt."
And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.
Verse 27. - The yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing; literally, before the oil; i.e. "the Anointed One" - primarily Hezekiah, "the anointed of the Lord" (2 Samuel 19:21; 2 Kings 11:12; Lamentations 4:20) for the time being, but with a further refer-once to the Messiah, who breaks all the bands of the wicked asunder, and casts away their cords from him (Psalm 2:2, 3); and who is represented by each prince of the house of David, as he was by David himself.
He is come to Aiath, he is passed to Migron; at Michmash he hath laid up his carriages:
Verses 28-32. - This graphic portraiture of the march of an Assyrian army on Jerusalem is probably not historic, but prophetic. Isaiah sees it in vision (Isaiah 1:1), and describes it like an eye-witness. There are at present no sufficient means of deciding to what particular attack it refers, or indeed whether the march is one conducted by Sennacherib or Sargon. Sargon calls himself in one inscription "conqueror of the land of Judah" (Layard, 'Inscriptions,' 33:8), and the details of the present prophecy, especially ver. 9, suit the reign of Sargon rather than that of his son, so that on the whole it is perhaps most probable that some expedition of Sargon's is portrayed. Verse 28. - He is come to Aiath. "Aiath" is probably Ai (Joshua 8:1-28), with a feminine termination. It lay about three miles south of Bethel, which had become Assyrian with the conquest of Samaria. If an Assyrian army mustered at Bethel, it would naturally enter Judaean territory at Ai. He is passed to Migron; rather, he has passed through Migron. "Migron" is mentioned as a village in the territory of Gibeah of Benjamin (1 Samuel 14:2); but the Migron of this passage must have been further to the north. He hath laid up his carriages; i.e. "has left his baggage-train." Michmash was about seven miles nearly due north of Jerusalem. The heavy baggage might conveniently be left there, especially as it was difficult of attack (1 Samuel 14:4-13), while a lightly equipped body of troops made a dash at Jerusalem.
They are gone over the passage: they have taken up their lodging at Geba; Ramah is afraid; Gibeah of Saul is fled.
Verse 29. - They are gone over the passage. The "passage of Michmash" (1 Samuel 13:23) - the deeply sunken valley, called now the Wady Sutveinit, between Michmash (Mukkmas) and Geba (Jeba). They have taken up their lodging at Geba; or, at Geba they rest for the night. Having crossed the wady, they bivouac on the crest of the hills enclosing it on the south. Ramah... Gibeah of Saul. Ramah is, no doubt, Er-Ram, a village on an eminence, as the name implies, about six miles north of Jerusalem, and on the direct road from Beitin. Gibeah of Saul is thought to have occupied the site of the modern Tuleil-el-Ful, two miles nearer Jerusalem. It is certainly a distinct place from Geba. The inhabitants evacuate these two places during the night.
Lift up thy voice, O daughter of Gallim: cause it to be heard unto Laish, O poor Anathoth.
Verse 30. - Lift up thy voice, O daughter of Gallim. Gallim and Laish must have been villages between Geba and Jerusalem; but it is impossible to fix their site. Anathoth (now Aaata) obtains mention in Joshua as a city of refuge in the territory of Benjamin (Joshua 21:18). It was Jeremiah's birthplace (Jeremiah 1:1). Gallim was the birthplace of the man who became the second husband of Michal, Saul's daughter. Laish is not elsewhere mentioned. Cause it to be heard unto Laish; rather, hearken, O Laisha.
Madmenah is removed; the inhabitants of Gebim gather themselves to flee.
Verse 31. - Madmenah...Gebim. These are, like Gallim and Laisha, villages otherwise unknown. They must have been within a mile or two of Jerusalem, towards the north. Their inhabitants fly as the Assyrians approach.
As yet shall he remain at Nob that day: he shall shake his hand against the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem.
Verse 32. - As yet shall he remain at Nob that day; literally, yet that day (is he) at Nob to halt. The Assyrians pitch their camp at Nob, the priestly city destroyed by Saul (1 Samuel 22:19), 1 which was evidently within sight of Jerusalem. Major Wilson's conjecture, that it occupied the site of the later Scopus, is probable.
Behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, shall lop the bough with terror: and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall be humbled.
Verse 33. - The Lord... shall lop the bough with terror. A check to the Assyrian arms is intended, but of what nature is not clear. The "lopping of the bough with terror" might indicate a panic, such as that which seized the Syrians and made Benhadad II. raise the siege of Samaria (2 Kings 7:6, 7). But the expressions used later on," hewn down," "cut down," "shall fall," rather imply a defeat.
And he shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.
Verse 34. - He shall cut down; or, one shall eat down; Jehovah being, no doubt, intended. Lebanon (comp. Ezekiel 31:3, "Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon"). Here the comparison is enlarged, and Assyria appears as Lebanon itself with all its cedar woods. By a mighty one; rather, a glorious one (comp. Isaiah 33:21, where the word here used - adir - is an epithet of Jehovah).

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