Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 30

Layman's Bible CommentaryLayman's Bible Commentary

Verses 1-17

Egypt as “Rahab Who Sits Still” (30:1-17)

Chapter 30, like chapter 29, is organized into two main sections. The first (vss. 1-17) has to do with the “rebellious people” in the revolt against Assyria, whereas the remainder of the chapter presents the opposite picture of God as Savior beyond the time of present trouble.

Verses 1-7 are another ironic lament over the rebellious people of Jerusalem who have made a league with Egypt without asking for the counsel of God. Once again Egypt is a people that can bring no profit. In verses 6-7 there is a reference to the caravans crossing the dangerous Sinai desert from Palestine to Egypt, with a reminder of Egypt’s “worthless and empty” help. The name “Rahab who sits still,” given to Egypt in verse 7, is as amusing as it is ironical. Rahab is another name for Canaanite “Leviathan,” the mythological dragon of chaos, the symbol of the unruly forces of nature, and particularly of the turbulence of the ocean. For such a dragon to be motionless is the height of incongruity. Yet that is precisely what Egypt is, and consequently it proves to be a very weak power on which to rely.

In verses 8-17 the prophet is again told to write down his message so that it may be a witness for the time to come (see also 8:16-18). The people are a rebellious lot, and how such people respond to their prophets receives one of its classic biblical statements in verses 10-11. We who have set our own course in history want to hear no word of the Lord that would thwart it, and we make trouble for any prophet who insists that we listen to the word of the Lord in its true form.

In the time of this running back and forth between Palestine and Egypt, what God really wants of Israel is presented in one of the great summaries of all Scripture (vs. 15): The salvation and strength of Israel lie in her repentance, quietness, and trust in God. The people will not have it that way, and for this reason they are in trouble and can expect more trouble.

Verses 18-33

“This Is the Way, Walk in It” (30:18-33)

In the second part of chapter 30 the editors of the prophecy present the other side of the picture. God does not wish to punish for the sake of punishing. He is waiting to be gracious (vs. 18). Indeed, in verses 20-21 the meaning of the present affliction is beautifully stated: God is a teacher in adversity, but he will not forever hide himself. A final prose prophecy in verses 29-33 would appear to refer to the destruction of the Assyrian army also mentioned in 37:36. If so, then it may date with the very latest prophecies in Isaiah, about 690 b.c.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Isaiah 30". "Layman's Bible Commentary".