(1) Woe to them that go down . . .—The Egyptian alliance was, of course, the absorbing topic of the time, and Isaiah returns to it yet again. As in Isaiah 30:16, the princes of Judah were attracted by the prospect of strengthening themselves in their weakest point, and reinforcing the cavalry of Judah, which could hardly be mentioned by an Assyrian ambassador without a smile (Isaiah 36:9), with an Egyptian contingent. Isaiah once more condemns this as trusting in an “arm of flesh “instead of in the “Holy One of Israel.”
And will not call back his words.—Such words, e.g., as those of the preceding chapter (Isaiah 30:12-13; Isaiah 30:16-17).
To fight for Mount Zion.—The preposition has been differently rendered as for, on, against. The lion in the last case is claiming the sheep as his own prey, and will not suffer interference from without. Jehovah, using the Assyrian armies as His instruments, will fight against Jerusalem, and will not allow the Egyptian allies to interfere with His chastisements. (Comp. Isaiah 29:7-8.) The second clause simply marks Jerusalem as the scene of the conflict, but agrees in substance with the first. Looking to the verse that follows, the idea of protection seems more natural than that of hostility. The thought of supreme ownership, however, includes both; Jerusalem belonged to Jehovah to protect or to chastise.
Passing over.—The word is the same as that used in connection with the Passover festival, and may perhaps imply a reference to it.
Whose fire is in Zion.—Fire, as the symbol of the Divine glory, giving light and warmth to the faithful, and burning up the evil. (Comp. Isaiah 10:16-17.)