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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Isaiah 20



Verses 1-6

Egypt's Captivity symbolised

This chapter is assigned in the title to the time when Sargon besieged Ashdod (711 b.c.). The Philistine city was at that time the centre of revolt. Sargon interposed and set up a new king, but the people were dissatisfied and substituted another; the siege and capture of Ashdod by the Assyrians followed. It seems that the Palestinian peoples who revolted against Assyria relied upon the support of Egypt. Isaiah, by putting on captive's garb, and walking the streets of Jerusalem for three years, indicates in a striking manner the vanity of their expectations.

2-6. Isaiah's striking action intended to symbolise the captivity of Egypt and Ethiopia, which would confound those who looked to them for aid.

1. Tartan] rather, 'the Tartan': the official title of the Assyrian commander-in-chief (2 Kings 18:17). Sargon] The only known mention of this monarch until modern times. Inscriptions have now thrown much light on his reign. He followed Shalmaneser (2 Kings 18:9) 722 b.c. and reigned till 705, when he was succeeded by Sennacherib.

2. Sackcloth] such as prophets sometimes wore (2 Kings 1:8; Zechariah 13:4). Naked, etc.] i.e. in the guise of a captive. Not only by word, but by action calculated to arrest attention, Isaiah strove to impress his message. Such symbolic actions were frequently performed by the prophets (1 Kings 11:30; Jeremiah 19:1.; Jeremiah 27:2).

4. The prophet's strange action explained.

6. Isle] RV 'coast-land,' referring especially to Philistia, which had been foremost in the revolt against Assyria. Flee] RV 'fled.'


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 20:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.

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