Attention!
15 million Ukrainian are displaced by Russia's war.
Millions miss a meal or two each day.
Help us change that! Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Isaiah 20

This chapter does not start with a ‘burden’, because Cush 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.

Verse 1

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 Cush, 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 Cush. 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. Eze 4:1-8; Hos 1:2-9). 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. 2Sam 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 (Isa 8:18). His message also has meaning for the end time, because in the end time Assyria, the king of the North, will also invade and conquer Egypt (Dan 11:42).

Verses 3-6

Meaning of the Performance


When the three years are over, the explanation of this assignment is given (Isa 20:3-4). 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 Cush. For the LORD will let these two nations, from which Hezekiah and Judah seek their support, to experience what Isaiah portrayed (Isa 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 wonderful 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 (Isa 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 (Psa 60:11; Jer 17:5-8).

Copyright Statement
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
No part of the publications may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.
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.