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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Isaiah 10

 

 

Verses 1-4

Isaiah 9:8 to Isaiah 10:4. Yahweh Smites Ephraim with Stroke after Stroke.—It is generally agreed that Isaiah 5:26-29 formed the closing strophe of this poem (p. 440). The date is probably before the coalition of Syria and Ephraim (Isaiah 9:11 f.), i.e. between 740 and 735. It is one of Isaiah's earliest prophecies. It is very uncertain whether the whole is a prediction of the future, or whether, with the exception of the conclusion, it describes calamities that have already overtaken the people. On the whole the former view is preferable. It is that adopted in RV, the tenses being taken as prophetic perfects, the alternative view being given in the margin.

Isaiah 9:8-12. Yahweh has sent crashing into Israel His word with its power of self-fulfilment, which will soon teach the boastful Ephraimites another lesson. For they believe that the state of things temporarily overthrown by disaster was mean and fragile in comparison with the splendour and stability they will soon attain. So Yahweh will incite the Syrians and Philistines against them. Yet His anger is not turned away, His hand is still stretched out to smite.

Isaiah 9:10. To the present day houses in Palestine are generally built of sun-dried bricks and beams of sycomore, since they are the cheapest material. Hewn stone and cedar would be reserved for the rich (p. 109).

Isaiah 9:11. adversaries of Rezin: since the Syrians are Israel's enemies, and Rezin was king of Syria, we must correct the text, reading probably "his adversaries."

Isaiah 9:13-17. Since this will have no salutary effect, Yahweh will in one day destroy both small and great. He will not spare the sturdiest or the most helpless; the whole nation is evil. Nor yet does this exhaust His wrath.

Isaiah 9:14. palm-branch and rush: the lofty and the low.

Isaiah 9:15 f. An insertion. Isaiah 9:15 contains an incorrect explanation of Isaiah 9:14; for Isaiah 9:16 cf. Isaiah 3:12.

Isaiah 9:17. rejoice over: "spare" (yiphsah for yismah) would give a better parallel.

Isaiah 9:18-21. Wickedness is like a fire, which first lays hold on the briers, and, gaining strength, sets alight the whole dense forest. The land will be visited by Yahweh's wrath, the people will be like cannibals, the land rent by a ruthless civil war. Yet His hand is still stretched out.

Isaiah 9:19. burnt up: of quite uncertain meaning.—as the fuel of fire: we should probably read "like cannibals."

Isaiah 9:20. his own arm: read, "his neighbour" (rç‘ô for zerô‘ô); cf. Jeremiah 19:9.

Isaiah 10:1-4. This section differs in several ways from the rest of the poem, and may be derived from another context. It is probably Isaianic. It attacks unjust judges, who deprive the poor and defenceless of justice, that they may defraud them. What will they do when the storm of vengeance sweeps on them from afar? To whom can they turn?

Isaiah 10:3. glory: wealth.

Isaiah 10:4. Very difficult; the text must be corrupt. A re-division of the consonants gives "Beltis crouches, Osiris is broken" (Lagarde). This may be correct, but we have no evidence for the worship of these deities in Palestine at this time. The meaning would be, "You can flee to no one, for your false gods will be buried under heaps of slain." Gray reads, "To avoid crouching under the prisoners."


Verses 5-34

Isaiah 10:5-34. Assyria's Boastfulness and Its Punishment.—This prophecy, so far as it is Isaiah's, must be later than the capture of Carchemish in 717 and before Sennacherib's invasion in 701. Narrower limits cannot be fixed. Non-Isaianic material appears to be present in it.

Isaiah 10:5-19. Assyria is Yahweh's rod to smite any nation that has aroused His anger, but, inspired by lust of blood, plans to exterminate many peoples, and boastfully thinks to destroy Jerusalem with her divine nonentities, less powerful than those of cities she has seized. So, when she has served His purpose, He will punish her boastfulness in ascribing her conquests to her own wisdom and might. She has abolished the boundaries of subject peoples, merging them in her empire; plundered their treasures and abased their rulers, robbing the nations as a man takes the eggs from a nest abandoned by the panic-stricken birds, none venturing a protest. What folly for God's tool to vaunt itself against Him who wields it! God will punish with wasting disease, and with fire like the conflagration of a mighty forest, which spares so few trees that a child can count them.

Isaiah 10:5. Read, "and the staff of mine indignation."

Isaiah 10:8. Assyrian governors were in some cases subject kings, or they ruled over territories larger than those governed by the kings of the small Syrian states.

Isaiah 10:9. Calno. (Amos 6:2*) perhaps Kullani, near Arpad, captured about 738 B.C. Carchemish (now Jerabis) was on the right bank of the Euphrates, the capital of the Hittites, 50 miles N.E. of Kullani, captured in 717. Hamath (2 Kings 14:25*, Amos 6:2*) was on the Orontes, a little more than 100 miles N. of Damascus, reconquered by Sargon in 720. Arpad was near Aleppo, about 100 miles N. of Hamath; it was captured in 740. Damascus, the capital of Syria, was captured in 732 by Tiglath-pileser: Samaria by Sargon in 722.

Isaiah 10:10-12. Perhaps an insertion.—idols: lit. nonentities.

Isaiah 10:12. fruit of the stout heart: the arrogant boasting in which his audacity has found expression.

Isaiah 10:13. Text at the close uncertain.

Isaiah 10:16-19. The metaphors are confused and the style falls off. Possibly the verses are late, embodying borrowed Isaianic phraseology; more probably they have an Isaianic basis, but have suffered in transmission.

Isaiah 10:16. his fat ones: better, "his fat limbs." The figure is that of a body smitten by a wasting sickness.

Isaiah 10:18. The clause "as when a sick man pineth away" (mg.) would be more in place after Isaiah 10:16 a.

Isaiah 10:20-23. Then the remnant of Israel will no longer seek support in an earthly power, which, instead of helping, only smote it, but in Yahweh. For Israel, however numerous, will suffer Yahweh's righteous judgment of extermination, so that only a remnant shall be left.

Isaiah 10:24-27. A prophecy of encouragement now begins. God's people in Zion must not fear the Assyrian, though he smite it as Egypt did before the Exodus. For very soon Yahweh's indignation will be passed, and His anger will be accomplished in the destruction of the oppressor, which shall be like Gideon's overthrow of Midian (Judges 7:25) and the lifting of the rod over the Red Sea, which opened the waters for the Hebrews and closed them over the Egyptians. Then Israel's shoulder shall be freed from the oppressor's burden and the yoke removed from its neck.

Isaiah 10:27. and the yoke . . . anointing: if MT is right, we should render as mg. But the meaning that Israel shall grow so fat, i.e. prosperous, that the yoke is burst from its neck, is unlikely. The clause should probably be connected with Isaiah 10:28 and the text emended. We should perhaps read, "He hath come up from Pene-Rimmon, he is come to Aiath." Pene-Rimmon is about 10 miles N. of Jerusalem.

Isaiah 10:28-34. The march of the Assyrians on Jerusalem is depicted. The host of the enemy moves on till Jerusalem seems to be within its grasp, then suddenly God intervenes and cuts it down. Probably the Assyrian army did not advance on Jerusalem by this route. We are reading imaginative poetry. The central point is that the enemy will threaten Jerusalem with apparently irresistible power, but God will intervene in the city's extremity and annihilate the foe. It would do the prophet an injustice to press the details of this brilliant picture with prosaic literalness.

Isaiah 10:28 f. Aiath is probably Ai, 9 miles N. of Jerusalem. Migron may be identical with a place now known as Makrun. Michmash was about 2 miles S.E. of Ai. The pass is referred to in 1 Samuel 14:2. The enemy leaves the heavy baggage at Michmash, since he has to descend into the deep Wady es-Suwnit and then climb up the opposite side to Geba.

Isaiah 10:29. Geba is about 5 miles N. of Jerusalem, Ramah lies 2 miles to the W. of Geba, Gibeah is probably between it and Jerusalem.

Isaiah 10:30 f. The places are unidentified, with the exception of Anathoth, which lay between Geba and Jerusalem, and was Jeremiah's native city.

Isaiah 10:30 b. Read mg.

Isaiah 10:32. The Assyrian is represented as in sight of the city. Nob has not been identified (1 Samuel 12:1*).

Isaiah 10:33 f. Just when the Assyrian army catches sight of the city and it seems to be helpless in its grasp, Yahweh intervenes and cuts it down, as a forest is felled by the axe. Lebanon is a figurative expression for the Assyrians on account of its forest of cedars.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Isaiah 10:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/isaiah-10.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, July 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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