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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 10

Divine Judgments on the Kingdom of Israel

This section relates throughout to the kingdom of Israel. It belongs to the same period as the chapters immediately preceding, and treats of the ruin which Isaiah foresaw would shortly overtake the kingdom of the Ten Tribes: cp. Isaiah 7:16; Isaiah 8:4. The prophet traces the fall of Israel to the moral and social condition of its people. His prophecy was speedily fulfilled in the conquest of Syria and Israel by the Assyrian armies. The prophecy falls into four parts, each closing with the refrain, ’For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.’ As the same phrase occurs in Isaiah 5:25, many commentators are of opinion that the short section Isaiah 5:25-30 is connected in date and subject with this prophecy.

Isaiah 9:8-21. Because of its pride and self-confidence foes are stirred up against Israel on all hands, and sudden calamity shall overtake it, followed by internal anarchy.

Isaiah 10:1-4. The kingdom being hopelessly corrupt cannot stand when attacked.

Verses 5-6

The Assyrian Invasion and its Sequel

This is one of the finest of Isaiah’s prophecies. The subject is the advance against Jerusalem of the arrogant Assyrian conqueror, who meets with a sudden check and is foiled when his triumph is apparently secure. Then with Jehovah’s interposition for the deliverance of Zion is connected a forecast of the reign of the Messianic king (Isaiah 11:1-10). The occasion to which the prophecy probably refers is Sennacherib’s famous invasion in the reign of Hezekiah, 701 b.c. (36, 37; 2 Kings 18:13 to 2 Kings 19:36), but some scholars place it earlier, in the time of the preceding Assyrian king, Sargon. The cities referred to in Isaiah 10:9 were captured between 740 and 717 b.c., so that the Assyrian king’s boast must at least be later than 717 b.c. It may be true that the line of march which Sennacherib followed was not identical with that which the prophet represents the invader as taking in Isaiah 10:28-32 but Isaiah speaks before the event, and naturally thinks of the Assyrians as approaching Jerusalem by the usual route from the N.; he is drawing a vivid imaginative picture of the threatening danger, and expresses his confident expectation of a wonderful deliverance through a sudden discomfiture of the foe (Isaiah 10:16-19; Isaiah 33, 34). The same remarkable anticipation is a feature of Isaiah’s other utterances at this crisis (Isaiah 14:25; Isaiah 17:13-14; Isaiah 33, Isaiah 37:6-7, Isaiah 37:29-35) and it received a startling fulfilment (Isaiah 37:36-37).

Isaiah 10:5-11. The Assyrian, though proud of his conquests, is but the instrument of divine punishment.

12-19. and when God’s purposes have been accomplished through him he shall be punished for his pride.

20-27. The faithful remnant of God’s people, therefore, need not fear.

28-34. Though his advance towards Jerusalem seems irresistible, the Assyrian will meet with a sudden discomfiture.

Isaiah 11:1-10. The future king of David’s line and the nature of his kingdom.

11-16. God’s people shall be restored to their own land and reunited.

Isaiah 12. Two hymns of the redeemed.

1-3. A hymn of joy in the deliverance Jehovah has wrought.

4-6. A hymn of praise for God’s mighty deeds, which have manifested His glory to all the world.

Verses 5-34

5. And the staff in their hand] RV ’the staff in whose hand’: Jehovah speaks, declaring the Assyrian the minister of His wrath.

6. Hypocritical] RV ’profane.’ Nation.. people] not merely referring to Judah, but to be understood generally: the Assyrian has been commissioned in the divine providence to punish godless nations. Similarly in later history Christians recognised Attila as ’the scourge of God.’

7-11. The spirit of the Assyrian is represented; he has no idea of his mission, but is fired by ambition and pride of conquest.

8. Altogether] RV ’all of them.’

9. The places named were all captured by the Assyrians under Tiglath-pileser, Shalmaneser, or Sargon; Calno (a Chaldean city, cp. Genesis 10:10) in 738 b.c., Carchemish (on the W. bank of the Euphrates) in 717; Hamath (on the Orontes, in early times the Hivite capital) in 720; Arpad (near Hamath, with which it is always coupled in OT.) in 740; Samaria (capital of Israel) in 722; Damascus (capital of Syria) in 732. The mention of the last two cities amongst the Assyrian conquests shows that at this time Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 8:4 had been fulfilled.

10, 11 The Assyrian’s argument is—how can Jerusalem, with fewer gods to protect it, hope to hold out successfully?

12. Work] i.e. of judgment, or punishment.

13. People] RV ’peoples.’ I have put down] RV ’I have brought down as a valiant man them that sit on thrones.’

14. The helplessness of the world before the Assyrians is vividly imaged. Left] RV ’forsaken.’ Peeped] RV ’chirped’: cp. Isaiah 8:19.

15. The prophet now speaks in indignant retort to the vainglorious boasting of the Assyrian; how can he, being but an instrument of providence, exalt himself against Jehovah?

As if the rod, etc.] RV ’as if a rod should shake them that lift it up, or as if a staff should lift up him that is not wood.’

16. The two figures of famine and fire are used to express the destruction of the Assyrian host.

17. The light of Israel] i.e. Jehovah, who, while He gives light to His own people, at the same time consumes their enemies (Isaiah 29:6-7; Isaiah 30:27; Isaiah 33:14). In one day] Isaiah anticipates a sudden catastrophe for the Assyrians (Isaiah 10:32-34).

18. A standardbearer fainteth] RV ’a sick man pineth away.’

19. Rest] RV ’remnant’ (of the Assyrian armies).

20-23. The divine judgment will have a purifying effect on Judah; a remnant shall escape (Isaiah 1:9; Isaiah 6:13) who shall be truly devoted to Jehovah.

20. Upon him that smote them] i.e. the Assyrian, on whose help Ahaz relied (Isaiah 7:20).

21. Characteristic teaching of Isaiah, which he had embodied in the symbolic name Shear-jashub (’a remnant shall return’), given to his son (Isaiah 7:3). It is noteworthy that in this same verse there occurs also the divine title ’Mighty God,’ which the prophet had ascribed to the Messianic king (Isaiah 9:6).

22. Yet a remnant] RV ’only a remnant.’ The consumption, etc.] RV ’a consumption’ (i.e. judgment) ’is determined, overflowing with righteousness.’

24. He shall smite, etc.] RV ’though he smite,’ etc. After the manner, etc.] alluding to the oppressive cruelty of Pharaoh.

25. Cease] RV ’be accomplished.’ God’s indignation against His people will be appeased after their punishment, and His anger will then turn to the destruction of their enemies.

26. Scourge for him] i.e. for the Assyrian. According to] RV ’as in.’ The slaughter of Midian is also referred to as a typical deliverance in Isaiah 9:4. His rod] i.e. Jehovah’s, contrasted with the Assyrian oppressor’s rod (Isaiah 10:24). As the Egyptian oppression was followed by the exodus, so the Assyrian oppression is to be succeeded by a similarly striking deliverance.

27. Because of the anointing] i.e. because of the anointed king of David’s house to which God has promised a lasting kingdom. But RV ’by reason of fatness.’ A new metaphor. Judah is compared to a bullock which grows so fat and strong that a yoke can no longer be imposed upon it. A conjectural emendation by Robertson Smith makes the last sentence of this v. read, ’There cometh up from the north the destroyer.’

28-32. The prophet reverts to the present. The Assyrian advance and consequent panic vividly portrayed.

28. The towns mentioned are all to the N. of Jerusalem. Passed to] RV ’passed through.’

Hath laid up, etc.] RV ’layeth up his bag-gage’: cp. 1 Samuel 17:20. Carriage is used in AV for ’things carried.’

29. Passage] RV ’pass.’

30. Cause it to be heard, etc.] RV ’hearken, O Laishah,’ viz. to the noise of the approaching armies. O poor Anathoth] RM ’Answer her, O Anathoth.’

31. Is removed] RV ’is a fugitive.’ Gather themselves to flee] rather, ’save their households by flight’: cp. Exodus 9:19.

32-34. Arrived within sight of Jerusalem, and threatening the city, the Assyrian meets with sudden disaster.

32. RV ’This very day shall he halt at Nob, he shaketh his hand at the mount,’ etc.

33. Haughty, etc.] RV ’lofty shall be brought low.’

34. The figure is the same as in Isaiah 10:17-19. The Assyrians are to fall like a forest that is hewn down. Note close connexion with Isaiah 11.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 10". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.