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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Isaiah 10

 

 

Verse 1

Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed;

Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees - namely, unrighteous judges.

And that write grievousness which they have prescribed - not the scribes, but the magistrates who caused unjust decisions (literally, injustice, or 'grievousness') to be recorded by them (Isaiah 65:6; Isaiah 1:10; Isaiah 1:23).


Verse 2

To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!

To turn aside the needy from judgment. The effect of their conduct is, to pervert the cause of the needy, as the Hebrew may be translated. In the English version, "from judgment" means 'from obtaining justice.'

And to take away the right - `to make plunder of the right' (rightful claim) (Horsley).


Verse 3

And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory?

What will ye do? - what way of escape will there be for you?

In the day of visitation - of God's wrath (Isaiah 26:14; Job 35:15; Hosea 9:7).

And in the desolation (which) shall come from far - from Assyria.

Where will ye leave your glory? - rather, 'where will ye deposit (for safe keeping) your wealth? (Lowth.) So Psalms 49:17, "When he dieth, he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him."


Verse 4

Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.

Without me - Not having me to 'flee to' (Isaiah 10:3).

They shall bow down - bereft of strength, they shall fall; or else, they shall lie down fettered.

Under the prisoners ... under the slain - rather, among (literally, in the place of) (Horsley). The "under" [ tachat (Hebrew #8478)] may be, however, explained in the ordinary sense, 'trodden under the (feet of the) prisoners going into captivity,' and 'overwhelmed under the heaps of slain on the battlefield.' Compare Isaiah 10:6, end: Isaiah 14:19, "as ... those that are slain, as a carcass trodden under feet." Isaiah 10:9; Isaiah 10:11 show that Samaria was destroyed before this prophecy. It was written when Assyria proposed (a design which it soon after tried to carry out under Sennacherib) to destroy Judah and Jerusalem, as it had destroyed Samaria. This is the first part of Isaiah's prophecies under Hezekiah. Probably between 722 and 715 B.C. (see Isaiah 10:27.)


Verse 5

O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation.

O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation - rather, 'What, ho [ howy (Hebrew #1945), God by this particle summoning the Assyrian to fulfill His will; but Maurer, Woe to the] Assyrian! He is the rod and staff of mine anger (my instrument in punishing, Jeremiah 51:20; Psalms 17:13) In their hands is mine indignation' (Horsley, after Jerome). But the English version accords better with the Hebrew accents, which disjoin "and the staff," etc., from "mine anger." For "and," the margin, 'though,' may be substituted. Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, though the staff (the power to strike) in their hands is mine indignation - i:e., though I have put into the Assyrians' hands the execution of mine indignation against my people, yet they shall not escape unpunished, inasmuch as they execute the decrees of God, not for the glory of God, but for their own lust of conquest, and as they attribute the glory of their successes to their idols.


Verse 6

I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.

I will send him. "Kings' hearts are in the hand of the Lord" (Proverbs 21:1).

Against an hypocritical - polluted (Horsley). But see Isaiah 9:17, chaneeph, 'hypocrite,' which supports the English version here.

Nation - Judah, against whom Sennacherib was forming designs.

And against the people of my wrath - the objects of my wrath.

Will I give him a charge - (Jeremiah 34:22.)

And to tread them down like the mire. Horsley translates, 'and then to make him (the Assyrian) a trampling under foot like the mire of the streets' (so Isaiah 10:12; Isaiah 33:1; Zechariah 10:5). But see Isaiah 37:26, in favour of the English version.


Verse 7

Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few.

Howbeit he meaneth not so - He is only thinking of his own schemes, while God is overruling them to His purposes.

Neither doth his heart think so - intend so. Sinners' plans are no less culpable, though they by them unconsciously fulfill God's designs (Psalms 76:10; Micah 4:12). So Joseph's brethren (Genesis 50:20; Proverbs 16:4). The sinners' motive, not the result (which depends on God), will be the test in judgment.

But (it is) in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few. Sennacherib's ambition was not confined to Judea. His plan was also to conquer Egypt and Ethiopia (Isaiah 20:1-6; Isaiah 33:1).


Verses 8-11

For he saith, Are not my princes altogether kings?

-Vauntings of the Assyrians. Illustrated by the self-laudatory inscriptions of Assyria deciphered by Hincks.

Verse 8. (Are) not my princes altogether kings? Eastern satraps and governors of provinces often had the title and diadem of kings. Hence, the title "King of kings," implying the greatness of Him who was over them (Ezekiel 26:7; Ezra 7:12).

Verse 9. (Is) not Calno as Carchemish? - Was there any one of these cities able to withstand me? Not one! So Rabshakeh vaunts (Isaiah 36:19).

Calno - Calneh, built by Nimrod (Genesis 10:10, "Calneh, in the laud of Shiner"), once his capital on the Tigris.

Carchemish - Circesium, on the Euphrates. Taken afterward by Necho, king of Egypt; and retaken by Nebuchadnezzar, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, by the Euphrates (Jeremiah 46:2).

Hamath - in Syria, north of Canaan (Genesis 10:18). Taken by Assyria about 753 BC. From it colonists were planted by Assyria in Samaria.

Arpad - near Hamath. Samaria - now overthrown.

Damascus - (Isaiah 17:1-14.)

Verse 10,11. As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols - unable to resist me; hath overcome them (so Psalms 21:8).

And whose graven images - rather, and their. This clause, down to "Samaria," is parenthetical.

Did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria - were more powerful. He regards Jerusalem as idolatrous, an opinion which it often had given too much ground for; Yahweh was in his view the mere local god of Judea, as Baal of the countries where it was adored, nay, inferior in power to some national gods (Isaiah 36:19-20; Isaiah 37:12). See in opposition, Isaiah 37:20; Isaiah 46:1.

As my hand ... Shall I not, as I have done - a double protasis, or antecedent sentence. Agitation makes one accumulate sentences.


Verse 12

Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.

Wherefore it shall come to pass, (that) when the Lord hath performed his whole work - His entire plan in regard to the punishment of the Jews (Isaiah 10:5-7).

Upon mount Zion - the royal residence; the court, princes, and nobles, as distinguished from

On Jerusalem - the people in general.

I will punish the fruit - the result of; i:e., the plans emanating from "the stout heart" - Hebrew, of the greatness of; i:e., pride of the heart.

And the glory of his high looks - the haughtiness of his looks (Zechariah 1:15).


Verse 13

For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: and I have For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man:

For he saith ... I am prudent - He ascribes his success to his own prudence, not to God's providence.

I have removed the bounds - set aside old, and substituted new boundaries of kingdoms at will. A criminal act, as Yahweh Himself had appointed the boundaries of the nations (Deuteronomy 32:8).

And have robbed their treasures - their hoarded treasures [from `aatad (Hebrew #6257), to prepare] (Horsley).

I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man - rather, 'as a valiant man, I have brought down (from their seats) these seated' (namely, on thrones, as in Psalms 2:4; Psalms 29:10; Psalms 55:19, where the Hebrew for "he that abideth" is, He that sitteth on a throne); otherwise, 'I have brought down (as captives into Assyria, which lay lower than Judea:' cf. Isaiah 36:1; Isaiah 36:10) the inhabitants' (Maurer).


Verse 14

And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped.

My hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people - implying the ease with which he carried off all before him.

As one gathereth eggs (that are) left - by the parent bird.

There was none that moved the wing - image from an angry bird resisting the robbery of its 'nest.'

Or peeped - chirped even low (Isaiah 8:19). No resistance was offered me, of deed, or even word.


Verse 15

Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood.

Shall the ax boast? ... - Shall the instrument boast against Him who uses it? Though free in a sense, and carrying out his own plans, the Assyrian was unconsciously carrying out God's purposes. Shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? - moves it backward and forward.

As if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood - rather, 'as if the staff (man, the instrument of God's judgments on his fellow-man) should lift up (Him who is) not wood' (not a mere instrument, as man). In the literal sense the not-wood is man, as the staff is his instrument. In the parabolic sense God stands in the same relation to man (for instance, the Assyrian) that man does to the staff. On "no wood," cf. Deuteronomy 32:21, "that which is not God;" Isaiah 31:8, "Then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of ... man," shows that God is meant here by 'not wood' (Maurer).


Verse 16

Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory he shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire.

Therefore shall the Lord ... send among his fat ones - (Isaiah 5:17.) The robust and choice soldiers of Assyria (Psalms 78:31, where "fattest" answers in the parallelism to 'chosen,' or 'young men,' margin).

Leanness - carrying out the image in "fat ones." Destruction (Psalms 106:15). Fulfilled (Isaiah 37:36).

Under his glory - Assyria's nobles. So in Isaiah 5:13, margin, Isaiah 8:7.

He shall kindle a burning - a new image from fire consuming quickly dry materials (Zechariah 12:6).


Verse 17-18

And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day;

The light of Israel ... shall burn ... his thorns - the Assyrian's wicked host; carrying out the image in the end of Isaiah 10:16 Yahweh, who is a light to Israel, shall be the "fire" (Deuteronomy 4:24; Hebrews 12:29) that shall ignite the thorns (the Assyrians, like dry fuel, already prey to flame, Nahum 1:10).

Verse 18. And shall consume the glory of his forest. The common soldiers, the princes, officers, etc., all alike together, shall be consumed (note, Isaiah 9:18).

In one day - (Isaiah 37:36.)

And of his fruitful field - literally, Carmel, a rich mountain in the tribe of Asher. Figurative for Sennacherib's mighty army. Perhaps alluding to his own boasting words about to be uttered, Isaiah 37:24, "I will enter the forest of his Carmel."

Both soul and body - proverbial for utterly; the entire man is made up of soul and body.

They shall be as when a standard-bearer fainteth. - `they shall be as when a sick man (from a Syriac root) wastes away.' Compare "leanness," i:e., wasting destruction (Isaiah 10:16) (Maurer). Or, 'there shall be an entire dissipation, like a perfect melting (namely, of the Assyrian army) (Horsley). I prefer the English version [ noceec (Hebrew #5264), from naacac (Hebrew #5264), to lift up]. When the standard-bearer faints, the whole army is dissolved. So Mercer, Piscator, and Calvin.


Verse 19

And the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them.

The rest - those who shall survive the destruction of the host.

Of the trees of his forest - same image as in Isaiah 10:18, for the once dense army.

Shall be few, that a child may write them - so few that a child might count them.


Verse 20

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.

The remnant of Israel ... shall no more again stay upon him that smote them ... The effect on the "remnant" (contrasted with the Assyrian remnant, Isaiah 10:19) - namely, those who shall be left after the invasion of Sennacherib-will be a return from dependence on external idolatrous nations, as Assyria and Egypt (2 Kings 18:1-37; 2 Kings 19:1-37; 2 Kings 20:1-21; 2 Kings 21:1-26; 2 Kings 16:7-9), to the God of the theocracy; fulfilled in part in the pious Hezekiah's days; but from the future aspect under which Paul, in Romans 9:27-28 (cf. "short work" with "whole work," Isaiah 10:12 here) regards the whole prophecy, the "remnant" "who stay upon the Lord" probably will receive its fullest realization in the portion of Jews left after that Antichrist shall have been overthrown, who shall "return" unto the Lord (Isaiah 6:13; Isaiah 7:3; Zechariah 12:9-10; Zechariah 14:2-3; Zephaniah 3:12).


Verse 21

The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.

The remnant shall return ... unto the mighty God (Isaiah 9:6) - the God who shall have evinced such might in destroying Israel's enemies. Since the Assyrians in Sennacherib's reign did not carry off Judah captive, the returning "remnant" cannot mainly refer to this time.


Verse 22

For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness.

Though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, (yet) a remnant of them (Hebrew, among them) shall return. Paul explains the sense, Romans 9:27, 'Though Israel be now numerous as the sand, a remnant only of them shall return'-the great majority shall perish. The reason is added.

The consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness - `because the consumption (the complete destruction) decreed (literally, decided on) shall over flow (Isaiah 30:28; Isaiah 8:8) with justice (shall bring upon sinners an overflowing flood of justice, Isaiah 5:16). Romans 9:28 explains this passage, "He will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness" - i:e., He will finish the work of destruction decided upon in His righteous decree. At the same time it is hinted that the work of destruction of His people has its definite end when the rebels shall have been cut off (Isaiah 10:25).


Verse 23

For the Lord GOD of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land.

For the Lord God of hosts will make a consumption, even determined - `a consumption, and whatever is determined' (Maurer). But Gesenius supports the English version. The Hebrew for "decreed," Isaiah 10:22, and "determined," in this verse, is from the same root ( chaaruwts (Hebrew #2782), necheraatsaah (Hebrew #2782), both from chaarats, to cut short, or decide a matter definitely (Isaiah 28:22). So Romans 9:28 quotes it. The Hebrew is thus used in 1 Kings 20:40, "thyself hast decided it."

In the midst - Zion, the central point of the earth as to Yahweh's presence.

Of all the land - Israel. But the Septuagint, 'in the whole habitable world.' So the English version (Romans 9:28, "a short work will the Lord make upon the earth"). The consumption - i:e., complete destruction of the ungodly in the midst of the land of Israel-will radiate out from that center to all the earth. Paul evidently quotes from the Septuagint [logon sunteloon kai suntemnoon en dikaiosunee. Hoti logon suntetmeemenon ho Kurios poieesei en tee oikoumenee holee. Romans 9:28, logon (Greek #3056) sunteloon (Greek #4931) kai (Greek #2532) suntemnoon (Greek #4932) en (Greek #1722) dikaiosunee (Greek #1343), hoti (Greek #3754) logon (Greek #3056) suntetmeemenon poieesei (Greek #4160) Kurios (Greek #2962) epi (Greek #1909) tees (Greek #3588) gees (Greek #1093)].


Verse 24

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian: he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt.

Therefore - Return to the main proposition, Assyria's ultimate punishment, though employed as God's 'rod' to chastize Judea for a time.

O my people - God's tenderness toward His elect nation.

Be not afraid of the Assyrian: he shall ... lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt - as Egypt and Pharaoh oppressed thee. Implying, too, as Israel was nevertheless delivered from them, so now it would be from the Assyrian Sennacherib. The antithesis in Isaiah 10:26, end, requires this interpretation.


Verse 25

For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction.

For - be not afraid (Isaiah 10:24), For, etc.

Yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease - the punishments of God against Israel shall be consummated and ended (Isaiah 26:20; Daniel 11:36, "until the indignation be accomplished," etc.)

And mine anger, in their destruction - mine anger shall turn to their (the Assyrians') destruction.


Verse 26

And the LORD of hosts shall stir up a scourge for him according to the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb: and as his rod was upon the sea, so shall he lift it up after the manner of Egypt.

The Lord of hosts shall stir up a scourge for him according to the slaughter of - the stroke upon.

Midi (I94 Jd 725 ) Midian - (Isaiah 9:4; Judges 7:25.)

As his rod was upon the sea - rather, understanding stroke from the previous clause, 'according to the stroke of his rod upon the Red Sea' (Exodus 14:16; Exodus 14:26). His "rod" on the Assyrian (Isaiah 10:24; Isaiah 10:26) stands in bold contrast to the Assyrian used as a "rod" to strike others (Isaiah 10:5).

After the manner of Egypt - as He lifted it up against Egypt at the Red Sea, in contrast to the Assyrian smiting thee with his rod "after the manner of Egypt," Isa ; - i:e., as Egypt once smote thee.


Verse 27

And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.

His burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder - the Assyrians' oppression shall be taken away (Isaiah 9:4). Judah was still tributary to Assyria; Hezekiah had not yet revolted, as he did in the beginning of Sennacherib's reign.

Because of - literally, from the face of (mipnee) (Hosea 10:15).

The anointing - namely, the anointing, or consecration, that is upon the elect nation, its prophets, priests, kings, and its holy place (Psalms 105:15), the Antitype to all which is the anointed Messiah (Daniel 9:24, "to anoint the Most Holy;" Psalms 2:2; Psalms 45:7; Luke 4:18; Luke 4:21). So the spiritual Israel, believers, have their anointing from Him (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27). Just as in Isaiah 9:4-6, the 'breaking of the yoke of' the enemies' 'burden and staff' is attributed to Messiah - "Thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder;" "For unto us a child is born," etc., so it is here. Isaiah and Hezekiah, God's anointed prophet and king respectively, were the type, as it was from regard to their prayers that God delivered Judah from Sennacherib, (Isaiah 37:4; Isaiah 37:14-21, etc.) But it is for the sake of Messiah ultimately that all deliverances are vouchsafed to God's people. Parallel to Isaiah 8:10, "Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought ... for God is with us." or 'because of Immanuel.' Maurer, not so well, translates, 'because of the fatness:' an image of the Assyrians' fierce and wanton pride, drawn from a well-fed bull tossing off the yoke (Deuteronomy 32:15). So Isaiah 10:16 above, and Isaiah 5:17, "fat ones."


Verses 28-32

He is come to Aiath, he is passed to Migron; at Michmash he hath laid up his carriages:

Onward gradual march of Sennacherib's army toward Jerusalem, and the panic of the inhabitants, vividly pictured before the eyes.

Verse 28 Come to come upon as a sudden invader (Genesis 34:27) Verse 28. Come to - come upon as a sudden invader (Genesis 34:27).

He is come to Aiath - same as Ai (Joshua 7:2; Nehemiah 7:32). In the north of Benjamin: so the other towns also; all on the line of march to Jerusalem.

Michmash - nine miles northeast of Jerusalem.

He hath laid up his carriages - he has left his heavier baggage (so "carriages," for the things carried, Acts 21:15) at Michmash, so as to be more lightly equipped for the siege of Jerusalem. So 1 Samuel 17:22; 1 Samuel 25:13; 1 Samuel 30:24.

Verse 29. They are gone over the passage - the jaws of the wady or defile at Michmash (1 Samuel 13:23; 1 Samuel 14:4-5).

They have taken up their lodging - their quarters for the night, after having passed the defile, which might have been easily guarded against them.

Ramah - near Geba, seven miles from Jerusalem.

Gibeah of Saul - his birth-place and residence in Benjamin (1 Samuel 11:4); distinct from Gibeah of Judah (Joshua 15:57).

Verse 30. Lift up thy voice, O daughter of Gallim - Gallim and her sons (note, Isaiah 1:8). 'Cry aloud in consternation.'

Cause it to be heard unto Laish - not the town in Dan (Judges 18:7), but one of the same name near Jerusalem (1 Maccabees 9:9).

O poor Anathoth - three miles from Jerusalem, in Benjamin; the birth-place of Jeremiah. "Poor" is applied to it in pity, on account of the impending calamity. Others translate [`


Verse 33

Behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, shall lop the bough with terror: and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall be humbled.

The Lord of hosts shall lop the bough - literally, the beautiful branch [ pu'raah (Hebrew #6288), from paa'ar (Hebrew #6286), to beautify].

The high ones of stature - `the upright stem,' as distinguished from the previous 'boughs' (Horsley).


Verse 34

And he shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.

He shall cut down the thickets of the forests with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one. This verse and Isaiah 10:33 describe the sudden arrest and overthrow of Sennacherib in the height of his success (Isaiah 10:18-19; Ezekiel 31:3-14, contains the same image. "Lebanon" and its forest are the Assyrian army; the "iron" axe that fells the forest refers to the stroke which destroyed the 185,000 Assyrians (2 Kings 19:35). The "Mighty one" is Yahweh (Isaiah 10:21; Isaiah 9:6).

Remarks: Sinners who set at nought right should consider seriously the solemn question of God by His prophet, "What will ye do in the day of visitation?" Men may evade this question now, but then they cannot. There shall be none to whom they can "flee," and no place "where" they can "leave" for safety their wealth, which is now their chief "glory." To be "without" the Lord, then, is to be numbered among those doomed to eternal vengeance. God uses ungodly men of might to be his "rod" for chastening his own people. But when the rod lifts itself against him who wields it, it is high time that it should be cast away dishonoured. Though sinners are employed to execute God's purposes, yet, inasmuch as this is not in all their thoughts, they shall get no credit for it. Nay, further, inasmuch as, like the Assyrian, they ascribe the glory of their successes to themselves, and make an idol of their skill and prowess, robbing Yahweh of His due honour, they shall, after having been used for a time to execute unconsciously God's purposes, be punished for their "stoutness" of heart and "high looks."

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 10:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/isaiah-10.html. 1871-8.

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Sunday, July 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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