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Friday, July 19th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 20

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verse 1


This chapter does not start with a ‘burden’, because Cusj is an ally of Egypt. That is why this chapter and the previous one are closely connected.

The background of the commission the LORD gives to Isaiah in this chapter is that some in Judah expect help from Egypt and Cush. In order to be able to resist the strong Assyria, many countries resort to making an alliance with countries that see the same threat. For Judah, however, this would be disobedience to the LORD and proof of a lack of trust in Him.

Assyria Captures Ashdod

It begins with the conquest of Ashdod, a Philistine city, by Assyria. The commander of the king of Assyria captures Ashdod, despite the fact that Philistia is supported by Egypt. Philistia is located near Judah. The conquest of Ashdod must have caused great turmoil in Judah. Judah also has a need for the support of Egypt and Cusj, although it has turned out that the support of Egypt for Philistia is of no significance.

Ashdod lies on the road from Assyria to Egypt and can therefore be considered the gate of Egypt. The fall of Ashdod is a warning and a sign for Judah not to put his trust in people, including Egypt and his ally Cusj. He who puts his trust in people will be ashamed.

Verse 2

Isaiah Portrays a Message

In view of the circumstances of the preceding verse Isaiah receives a special commission from the LORD (cf. Ezekiel 4:1-Ruth :; Hosea 1:2-1 Samuel :). He has to portray the conquest of Egypt and Cush by Assyria by walking through Judah without a cloak and shoes for no less than three years. “Naked” does not mean without any clothing, but without an outer garment (cf. 2 Samuel 6:20).

By walking without a cloak and shoes he behaves like a slave or a prisoner of war. All that time he is also exposed to wind and weather, to cold and rain. Prophets are not just a mouthpiece of God, but are involved in their message with their whole person (Isaiah 8:18). His message also has meaning for the end times, because in the end times Assyria, the king of the North, will also invade and conquer Egypt (Daniel 11:42).

Verses 3-6

Meaning of the Performance

When the three years are over, the explanation of this assignment is given (Isaiah 20:3-Numbers :). With his performance Isaiah has given the message that the people will look just like him, if they keep their alliance, or their desire to have it, with Egypt and Cusj. For the LORD will let these two countries, in which Hezekiah and Judah seek their support, come across what Isaiah depicted (Isaiah 20:5).

What Isaiah does is a sign and a token or a wonder for the people. A wonder does not have to be supernatural. In this case, you can also translate: a miraculous sign, that is, a sign that evokes admiration. A sign means that the wonder has a meaning and message.

It is a warning to the people of God, and in fact to every people and every human being, not to seek support from people when threatened by an enemy (Isaiah 20:6), but to resort to God in need. Egypt cannot help. An appeal to this is in vain. Human help will always prove to be completely inadequate (Psalms 60:11; Jeremiah 17:5-Ruth :).

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Isaiah 20". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/isaiah-20.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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