Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Chap. Isaiah 10:5-34The Judgment of the World-Power. An Oracle against Assyria
This great prophecy is the clearest and probably the earliest exposition of that conception of the divine government of the world which was the guiding principle of the latest period of Isaiah’s ministry. The leading idea of the passage is the contrast between the mission assigned to Assyria in the scheme of Jehovah’s Providence, and the ambitious policy of universal dominion cherished by the rulers of that Empire. Assyria was the instrument chosen by Jehovah to manifest His sole deity by the extinction of all the nationalities that put their trust in false gods. But the great world-power, intoxicated by its success, and attributing this to its own wisdom and resource, recognises no difference between Jehovah and other gods, but confidently reckons on proving His impotence by the subjugation of His land and people. Hence it becomes necessary for Jehovah to vindicate His supreme Godhead by the destruction of the power which has thus impiously transgressed the limits of its providential commission. And this judgment will take place at the very moment when Assyria seeks to crown its career of conquest by an assault on Jehovah’s sanctuary on Mount Zion, the earthly seat of His government. These are the ideas which lay at the root of Isaiah’s heroic faith in the crisis of Sennacherib’s invasion. He did not doubt that Judah’s sins required an exemplary chastisement, or that that chastisement would come by means of the Assyrians, but he had the firmest conviction that Jehovah’s purpose did not include the violation of His sanctuary, which would in that age have been equivalent to the extinction of the true religion.
When was this prophecy written? Certainly between the years 717 and 701. The superior limit is given by the list of captured cities in Isaiah 10:9. Carchemish, the latest conquest there mentioned, was incorporated in the Assyrian Empire (although, to be sure, it had been captured more than once previously) in 717, about five years after the fall of Samaria. The lower limit is of course the great invasion of 701. But whether the oracle was uttered near the beginning, middle, or end of that period is a question on which no agreement has yet been reached. (1) The opinion that the prophecy belongs to a time not long after the destruction of Samaria has much to recommend it. The overthrow of the greater portion of Jehovah’s people must have excited the greatest consternation in Judah, and led to anxious questionings as to where this seemingly irresistible tide of invasion was to end. This would be a suitable occasion for the publication of a prophetic oracle on the true function of Assyria in Jehovah’s counsel and the impassable limit to its power. It is also in favour of an early date that Isaiah 10:20 seems to contain a reflection on the fatal policy inaugurated by Ahaz of trusting to Assyria as the best security against national annihilation. The principal objection to this view arises from the impression, which is probably a just one, that the prophet regards the crisis, and consequently the defeat of Assyria, as imminent (see esp. Isaiah 10:28-34). (2) Assuming that an invasion of Judah was either actually carried out or at least seriously contemplated by Sargon about 711, several critics have brought this prophecy into connexion with that event. The same difficulty, however, meets us here in another form. The prophecy of chapter 20, which undoubtedly belongs to the time supposed, anticipates a still further extension of the Assyrian conquests to Egypt and Ethiopia. It seems incredible that when Isaiah had for three years sought to impress that fact on his countrymen, he should simultaneously announce the downfall of Assyria as an event just about to take place. (3) There remains the hypothesis that this oracle belongs generally to the same period as the group of discourses with which it has the closest affinities (chs. 28–32), and was uttered in view of Sennacherib’s invasion in 701. Only, the imaginary description of the invader’s route in Isaiah 10:28-32 forbids us to place it too near the actual attack. The Assyrians are there conceived as advancing from the north, which was the natural course for an Assyrian onslaught on Jerusalem to take. Sennacherib’s expedition, however, came from the Philistine plain, and for some time previous to the event, it must have been evident that that was the direction from which danger was to be apprehended. Other objections to this date have little weight. It is true that none of the conquests enumerated in Isaiah 10:9 were effected by Sennacherib in person, but neither were they all effected by any one king, and if it is the king who speaks in Isaiah 10:9 he speaks not in his own name but as the representative of the might of Asshur. Nor is Isaiah 10:27 inconsistent with the fact that Hezekiah had renounced his allegiance to Assyria before the attack by Sennacherib. The mere withholding of tribute was by no means equivalent to emancipation from the Assyrian yoke, so long as Assyria was in a position to enforce submission by an exemplary chastisement.
These arguments are only valid on the assumption of the Isaianic authorship and substantial unity of the passage as a whole. The grounds on which this has been disputed by recent writers (see Cheyne, Introduction, pp. xlviii ff.) are not convincing, and cannot be adequately discussed here.
Following Ewald, we may divide the prophecy into three main sections:—
i. Isaiah 10:5-15. The plan of Jehovah and the plan of Asshur.
(1) The divine mission entrusted to Assyria is boldly contrasted with the barbarous lust of plunder and conquest, and the glorification of brute force which characterised the policy of that Empire (5–7).
(2) The latter thought is expanded in a speech put into the mouth of the Assyrian, in which he enumerates his past successes, and confidently anticipates an easy conquest of Jerusalem (8–11). The prophet’s answer (12).
(3) A second speech of the Assyrian, full of the spirit of self-exaltation and savage delight in the exercise of irresistible power (13, 14); the section closing with a contemptuous reply on the part of the prophet, recalling the image of the opening verse (15).
ii. Isaiah 10:16-23. The overthrow of Assyria and its consequences for Judah.
(1) The destruction of Assyria is described under the two figures of a wasting disease and a consuming fire (16–19).
(2) The conversion of the Remnant of Israel will follow this decisive manifestation of Jehovah’s sovereignty (20–23).
iii. Isaiah 10:24-34. The peroration, consisting of:
(1) A message of comfort to the harassed nation (24–27).
(2) An ideal description of the march of the Assyrian from the northern frontier to the walls of Jerusalem (28–32) and his sudden annihilation by the hand of Jehovah (33, 34).
Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed;1. that decree unrighteous decrees, &c.] Better perhaps, that draw up mischievous ordinances and are continually writing oppression. The magnates are addressed not as judges but as legislators; their offence is that they embody injustice in arbitrary written enactments, which enable them to perpetrate the most grievous wrongs under legal forms.
and that write … prescribed] The construction is peculiar. The intensive form of the verb “to write” occurs only here.
1–4. Fourth strophe. Most critics consider that at this point the scene changes from Samaria to Jerusalem; (1) because the internal condition of Ephraim has already been depicted in the last stages of dissolution and (2) because the abuses here denounced are a constant feature of Isaiah’s prophecies against Judah. In the absence of positive indications these reasons are hardly sufficient to justify so abrupt a transition. It would be more plausible to hold with Giesebrecht and others that the strophe had its place originally among the “woes” of ch. 5; but this also seems unnecessary.
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!2. The effect and real purpose of this legislative activity.
To turn aside the needy from judgment] See on ch. Isaiah 1:23.
my people] as Isaiah 3:12; Isaiah 3:15.
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?3. The unjust lawgivers are reminded that there is a day of revision, when they must answer to the Supreme Judge.
And what will ye do?] cf. Hosea 9:5. day of visitation] cf. Hosea 9:7; Micah 7:4; Jeremiah 11:23; Jeremiah 23:12, &c.
desolation] or, storm; the word is only employed here by Isaiah. The “storm” of invasion “comes from far”; cf. ch. Isaiah 5:26, Isaiah 30:27.
leave your glory] i.e. “your wealth”; Genesis 31:1; Isaiah 61:6; Isaiah 66:12.
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.4. Without me … slain] This clause is very difficult. The easiest explanation perhaps is to take it as the answer to the questions of Isaiah 10:3 : (they can do nothing) except crouch under the captives and fall under the slain. Another is “Except one (here and there) crouch among captives, they must fell under the slain.” Objections to both occur readily enough to anyone who reads the Hebrew, especially the abrupt changes from singular to plural. An ingenious conjecture of Lagarde’s gives the sense “Beltis crouches, Osiris is broken (חַת אֹסִיר כֵּלְתִּי כֹּרַעַת cf. Isaiah 46:1; Jeremiah 50:2), they fall, &c.”; i.e. the heathen gods shall be unable to give protection to their votaries. But there is no evidence that Egyptian deities (Osiris) were worshipped in Israel in Isaiah’s time; and in any case their sudden introduction here would be surprising.
his hand is stretched out still] See on ch. Isaiah 5:25 ff.
O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation.5. O Assyrian] Ho Asshur, the name both of the people and its national god. The god being little more than the personified genius of the nation, we might almost venture to suppose that he is here directly addressed and is the speaker in Isaiah 10:8 ff. But the word is never used of the god in the O.T.
the rod of mine anger] the instrument with which Jehovah chastises the nations, cf. Jeremiah 51:20.
and the staff … indignation] lit. “and a staff, it is in their hand, my indignation,”—an absolutely refractory clause. Driver (Tenses § 201, 1, Obs.) translates “and a staff is it in their hand, [viz.] mine indignation.” But to say in one line that Assyria is the rod of Jehovah’s anger and in the next that His indignation is a staff in their hand is awkward in the extreme. Better a “flat tautology” than that, although the objection is meaningless as applied to a synonymous parallelism. It is best to omit the words “it is in their hand” as a gloss and render and the staff of mine indignation.
5–7. Jehovah’s plan contrasted with Assyria’s purpose.
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.6. I will send him, &c.] Rather: I send him against a profane nation (R.V.). See ch. Isaiah 9:17. In a general description of the mission of Assyria it is not advisable to limit the reference to Judah or Israel. The meaning is that Jehovah sends the Assyrian against any nation that deserves punishment.
people of my wrath] See Isaiah 9:19.
like the mire of the streets] Cf. Psalm 18:42; Micah 7:10.
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.7. Howbeit he meaneth not so] The charge is not so much that Asshur exceeds his commission (as in Zechariah 1:15), as that he recognises no commission at all; his policy is entirely oblivious of moral interests.
For he saith, Are not my princes altogether kings?8. Are not my officers altogether kings?] Many of them really were subjugated kings (2 Kings 25:28), and any one of them excelled in dignity the petty sovereigns of the independent states (see ch. Isaiah 36:9). The title “King of Kings” (Ezekiel 26:7) was already assumed by Assyrian monarchs.
8–11. The first speech of the Assyrian.
Is not Calno as Carchemish? is not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus?9. The six cities are enumerated in geographical order from north to south, the first of each pair being, however, nearer to Jerusalem than the second. (1) The site of Carchemish (Ass. Gargamîsh) was identified by Mr G. Smith with the ruins of Jerabîs on the right bank of the Euphrates. As a great centre of the Hittite confederacy it had been frequently subdued by Assyrian kings, and was ultimately incorporated in the Empire by Sargon in 717. (2) Calno is probably Kullani, a city near Arpad, captured by Tiglath-pileser III. about 738. It is probably identical with the Calneh mentioned in Amos 6:2; but quite distinct from the Babylonian Calnçh of Genesis 10:10. (3) Arpad (now Tell Erfâd, about 15 miles north of Aleppo) was taken about 740 by Tiglath-pileser. (4) Hamath (Hamah, on the Orontes, about half way between Carchemish and Damascus) was taken by Tiglath-pileser in 738 and again by Sargon in 720. (5) Damascus fell about 732 and (6) Samaria in 722.
As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, and whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria;10. the kingdoms of the idols] The expression “nonentities” (see on ch. Isaiah 2:8) is surprising in the mouth of the Assyrian; but not inappropriate, since even from his point of view the overthrow of so many kingdoms might seem a demonstration of the non-entity of their gods as compared with the solitary might of Asshur.
and whose graven images, &c.] A circumstantial clause: although their images, &c.
did excel] “were more than,” either in number or importance. The Assyrian is after all an idolater at heart, measuring the prestige of a god by the multitude and excellence of his graven images.
Shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols?11. But Samaria has fallen, her idols have not saved her; how then can Jerusalem escape, who trusts in the same deity? Samaria and her idols (nonentities) … Jerusalem and her idols (images).
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.12. The verse seems to interrupt what might well have been a single speech of the Assyrian King, by a threat of the doom reserved for him. The arrogant assumption that Jehovah is a mere tribal deity, who is defeated when His images are overthrown, rouses the prophet to this indignant outburst.
when the Lord hath performed] completed, lit. “cut off.” The figure is taken from the cutting off of the finished web from the loom. See ch. Isaiah 38:12; also Zechariah 4:9.
his whole work] The work of chastisement and purification, to be executed on mount Zion and on Jerusalem.
the fruit of the stout heart (lit. “fruit of the pride of heart,” see ch. Isaiah 9:9) of the king of Assyria] The “fruit” is the outcome of his pride in such language as Isaiah 10:8-11; Isaiah 10:13 f.
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:13. I am prudent] Better, I have insight.
I have removed the bounds of the people] (peoples as R.V.). It was the policy of the later Assyrian Empire to obliterate national distinctions, partly by welding the separate states under a single administration and partly by wholesale deportation of conquered populations. In the view of antiquity this was a violation of the divinely constituted order of the world (see Deuteronomy 32:8). Even in the Messianic age, Isaiah anticipates that the political integrity of different nationalities will be preserved (ch. Isaiah 2:2-4).
their treasures] lit. parata, “things prepared.”
put down the inhabitants] R.V. has brought down … them that sit (on thrones). Vulg. “in sublimi residentes.” That translation is suggested by the verb “bring down,” which seems to imply that those referred to were previously exalted. The text is possibly defective. LXX. reads σείσω πόλεις κατοικουμένας.
like a valiant man] The Qĕrê (kabbîr, a word found only in Isaiah and Job) means “a great one” (Job 34:17 [R.V.], 24, Isaiah 36:5, of God). It is difficult to see why in this case the consonantal text was departed from. It has kě’abbîr, either “like a strong one” (Kaph veritatis) or “like a bull.” See on ch. Isaiah 1:24. The bull as a symbol of strength figures largely in Assyrian art.
13, 14. The second imaginary speech of the king of Assyria. He ascribes his successes (and how easy have they been! Isaiah 10:14) solely to his own power and wisdom. Comp. the self-glorification of the prince of Tyre in Ezekiel 28.
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.14. The magnificent simile represents the ease with which the Assyrians had rifled the countries of their treasures, and the panic terror which their approach everywhere produced.
or peeped] R.V. chirped; the same word as in Isaiah 8:19.
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.15. To a believer in the divine government of the world the self-exaltation of Assyria is as ludicrous as if a tool were to vaunt itself against the man who uses it. The two last clauses are exclamations.
against them that lift it up] A plural of majesty, indicating that Jehovah is meant. Some Hebrew MSS., however, have the singular.
should lift up itself, as if it were no wood] Lit. should lift up not-wood. (See R.V.) “Not-wood” is a compound noun like “not-man” in ch. Isaiah 31:8; “one who is not wood” i.e. a man.
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.16. the Lord, the Lord of hosts] as in ch. Isaiah 1:24. The ordinary printed editions have the unparalleled expression Adônâi Tsěbâôth, for which Baer rightly restores Yahveh Tsěbâôth.
send among his fat ones] Better, “send into his fat limbs,” the image being that of a human body. For the metaphor see ch. Isaiah 17:4.
he shall kindle … fire] Better, there shall burn a burning like the burning of fire. The monotony is as marked in the Hebrew as in this translation.
Isaiah 10:17. The same figure as in ch. Isaiah 9:18.
Isaiah 10:18. both soul and body] For similarly abrupt changes of metaphor, cf. ch. Isaiah 5:24, Isaiah 8:8, Isaiah 28:18.
and they shall be … fainteth] Render with R.V. marg., and it shall be as when a sick man pineth away, a return to the figure with which Isaiah 10:16 opens. The participle nôṣçṣ occurs nowhere else: A.V. connects it with nçṣ a standard; the translation “sick man” rests on the analogy of the Syriac.
Isaiah 10:19. And the rest] the remnant (R.V.); the same word as in Isaiah 10:20-22. shall be few] lit. “a number,” a numerable quantity.
a child may write them] i.e. make a list of them.
16–19. The destruction of the Assyrian army is described under the two figures of sickness and a conflagration. There is a certain amount of confusion in the metaphors, and undoubtedly the style deteriorates at this point.
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;
And shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and they shall be as when a standardbearer fainteth.
And the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them.
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.20. such as are escaped] cf. ch. Isaiah 4:2.
shall no more again stay (themselves) upon him that smote them] an allusion to the Assyrian alliance contracted by Ahaz (2 Kings 16:7 ff.), a policy, however, whose evil consequences were not fully realised till the reign of Hezekiah. From the false situation in which the nation was then placed no escape was possible except by the intervention of Jehovah. After that deliverance the survivors shall adopt the attitude, consistently advocated by Isaiah, of steadfast reliance on Jehovah alone; they shall stay (themselves) upon Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, in truth (in faithfulness).
20–23. The conversion of the survivors of Israel.
The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.21. The remnant, &c.] A remnant shall turn. Thus shall be fulfilled the prophecy embodied in the name of Isaiah’s son, Shear-jashub (ch. Isaiah 7:3).
the mighty God] the Hero-God—in ch. Isaiah 9:6 a title of the Messiah, but here apparently of Jehovah.
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.22. “For though thy population, O Israel, should be as the sand of the sea, (only) a remnant in it shall turn (and be saved).” (Cf. Hosea 1:10; Genesis 22:17.)
the consumption decreed … righteousness] Render: extermination is decreed overflowing in righteousness. The “extermination” is the judgment which reduces the teeming population of Israel to a mere remnant; this will be an overwhelming manifestation of Jehovah’s judicial righteousness (see on ch. Isaiah 1:27). It seems impossible to take this clause in a consolatory sense, as if the verb “decreed” expressed the limitation fixed for the judgment. The very similar phraseology of the next verse, compared with ch. Isaiah 28:22, shews that the threatening aspect of the decree is prominent.
Isaiah 10:23. The verse reads: For an extermination and a decisive work is the Lord Jehovah of Hosts about to execute in the midst of the whole earth (or land): cf. ch. Isaiah 28:22. The phrase “extermination and decisive work” is repeated in Daniel 9:27 (cf. Daniel 11:36). The word for “decisive” is from the verb rendered “decreed” in last verse.
Isaiah 10:24-27. In view of this ultimate prospect, the prophet turns with a message of consolation to the believing kernel of the nation.
For the Lord GOD of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land.
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.24. O my people that dwellest in Zion] Cf. ch. Isaiah 14:32, Isaiah 30:19. Dwelling in Zion is the emblem of security, since it is there that Jehovah will beat back and destroy the Assyrian (Isaiah 10:32-34).
he shall smite thee … and shall lift up …] These are relative clauses attached to “the Assyrian.” Render: who smites thee … and lifts up his staff, &c. (cf. Isaiah 9:4).
after the manner of Egypt] As the Egyptians did in the time of the Oppression, Exodus 5 (cf. for the expressions Amos 4:10).
Isaiah 10:25. For yet a very little while] Cf. ch. Isaiah 29:17, (Isaiah 16:14).
and mine anger in their destruction] A more grammatical rendering would be: and mine anger (is directed) to their (the Assyrians’) annihilation. The two clauses of the verse appear to be antithetical; indignation (against Israel) comes to an end, wrath (against Assyria) culminates in its utter destruction.
Isaiah 10:26. For stir up for him render brandish over him, a sense authenticated by 2 Samuel 23:18.
according to the slaughter … Oreb] Transl. like the smiting of Midian at the rock Oreb. For the incident referred to, see Jdg 7:25 (cf. Psalm 83:9; Psalm 83:11; Isaiah 9:4).
and as his rod … Egypt] To be paraphrased thus: “and his rod (which was stretched out) over the (Red) Sea (at the Exodus from Egypt), he shall lift up as it was lifted up to destroy the Egyptians.” The last phrase is used in effective antithesis to the use in Isaiah 10:24.
Isaiah 10:27. The figures of the burden and the yoke are combined exactly as in ch. Isaiah 14:25.
and the yoke … anointing] A very difficult sentence. The closest rendering is that of the margin of R.V.: and the yoke shall be destroyed by reason of fatness. This has usually been interpreted to mean that the animal (Judah) will “wax fat and kick” (Deuteronomy 32:15) and break its yoke; or that its increasing fatness will burst the yoke on its neck (a very odd comparison!). Neither of these senses is at all tolerable; according to Isaiah’s teaching the prosperity of the nation only commences after Jehovah has destroyed the Assyrian yoke. Dillmann’s interpretation—Judah will become so vigorous after its emancipation that no one will ever think of putting it under the yoke again—is equally unsatisfying. The text is almost certainly corrupt, and of the various emendations that have been proposed the most plausible are those which find in the clause a mutilated introduction to Isaiah 10:28-32. Prof. Robertson Smith has suggested instead of the last four words: יחרל ׃עלה מצפון שרד. The twenty-seventh verse would end with the first word (“the yoke shall cease from off thy neck”), and the next would begin thus: “A destroyer comes up from the north; he comes to Aiath, &c.” The alterations are considerable, but undoubtedly we thus obtain a suitable commencement to the sketch of the Assyrian advance. Duhm follows on the same lines, but reads, “he comes up from Pene-Rimmon” (i.e. the Rock Rimmon, a few miles north of Aiath, Jdg 20:45). This however plunges us in medias res as abruptly as before.
Isaiah 10:28-32. A free delineation (mostly in prophetic perfects) of the march of an Assyrian army towards Jerusalem. The verses are not to be taken as a prediction that the enemy will actually come by this route, still less of course are they an oraculum post eventum. They simply present a graphic picture of the unresting energy and eagerness of an Assyrian army, and the ease with which it might invade Judah from the north now that Samaria has fallen. And this is done in order to introduce the assurance that when the invader does come, and the prize is just within his grasp, Jehovah will smite him down (Isaiah 10:33 ff.). A passage of very similar character is Micah 1:10-16.
The strategic point in the itinerary here sketched is the Pass of Michmash, the scene of Jonathan’s famous exploit against the Philistines (1 Samuel 14), and at this time probably marking the northern frontier of the kingdom of Judah. It is situated in the modern Wadi Suweinît, and is guarded by the villages of Michmash on the north and Geba on the south. The road from Michmash crosses the valley in a south-westerly direction, and about midway between Michmash and Geba (the whole distance is about two miles) traverses an extremely narrow defile, where a large army might easily be checked by a handful of resolute defenders, In Isaiah 10:28 f. Isaiah alludes to the precautions that would naturally be taken to secure a safe passage of this difficult ravine.
Isaiah 10:28. He comes upon Aiath] ‘Ayyath (cf. 1 Chronicles 7:28 [R.V. marg.]; Nehemiah 11:31) is no doubt the ancient ‘Ai, and was probably two miles N.W. from Michmash.
Migron] The only known place of this name lay on the south side of the pass (1 Samuel 14:2). Prof. Robertson Smith thinks the operation indicated is the seizing of this post on the southern side by a coup de main before attempting to lead the main army through the defile. Most other commentators, however, hold that some place, not to be certainly identified, between Ai and Michmash is intended.
laid up his carriages] R.V. layeth up his baggage, deposits his impedimenta. “Carriages” in old English means of course not that in which one is carried, but that which one carries (cf. Acts 21:15).
Isaiah 10:29. They go through the pass; they make Geba their encampment for the night. The latter clause might also be translated as the eager cry of the Assyrians: “Geba is our night quarters.” From this point the road to Jerusalem lies open; hence the remaining verses simply describe the terror spread amongst the villages along the route of the Assyrians. Ramah (Er-Râm) is less than two miles due west of Geba, Gibeah of Saul is probably Tulêl el-Fûl, about halfway between that place and Jerusalem.
For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction.
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.
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.
He is come to Aiath, he is passed to Migron; at Michmash he hath laid up his carriages:
They are gone over the passage: they have taken up their lodging at Geba; Ramah is afraid; Gibeah of Saul is fled.
Lift up thy voice, O daughter of Gallim: cause it to be heard unto Laish, O poor Anathoth.30. Shriek loudly, O daughter of Gallim; listen, O Laishah. Neither of these places can be identified.
O poor Anathoth] Translate, with a slight change of pointing, answer her, O Anathoth. Anathoth (‘Anâta) is about three miles N.N.E. from Jerusalem.
Madmenah is removed; the inhabitants of Gebim gather themselves to flee.31. Madmenah (Dung-hill) and Gebim (Cisterns) are both unknown. For gather themselves to flee render: hastily secure (their belongings), Exodus 9:19.
As yet shall he remain at Nob that day: he shall shake his hand against the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem.32. Render with Cheyne: This very day he will halt in Nob, swinging his hand, &c. Nob (1 Samuel 21, 1 Samuel 22; Nehemiah 11:32) must be sought in the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem, but its site has not yet been ascertained. The most probable conjecture is that it was on the height of Scopus overlooking the city from the north.
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.33, 34. Just when the Assyrian is in sight of his goal, Jehovah smites him down. The description naturally passes into figurative and somewhat vague language. The image is that of a stately forest laid low by the axe-man.
Isaiah 10:33. The Lord Jehovah of Hosts, as in Isaiah 10:16.
The “high ones of stature,” and the “lofty ones” (R.V.) are the great trees; the epithets keep within the limits of the figure. For be humbled read lie low.
Isaiah 10:34. the thickets of the forest (R.V.) cf. ch. Isaiah 9:18. The verb in the first clause is probably passive: “shall be cut down.” Lebanon] Better, the Lebanon. Lebanon means “the white (mountain)”—either from its snows or its chalk cliffs—and in Hebr. prose always retains the art.; here, however, the reference is to its forests, which supply a figure for the Assyrian army.
a mighty one] or “a majestic One”—Jehovah Himself.
And he shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.