How often we miss out on the comfort that might be afforded us in simply calling on the various attributes and character traits of God. We rush into our petitions with desperate cries for help when much of that help begins in the knowledge of Who we’re petitioning.
Isa 37:1 And it came to pass, when king Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy) heard, he tore his clothes, vayitkas and covered, concealed, hid himself with sackcloth, vayavo and went to the beit house of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD).
Hezekiah tore his cloths in union with his court and the people of Judah. He tore them in mourning at their predicament and in sorrow over both his personal sin and disbelief, and over that of his people. This is the first step in his symbolic repentance. Second, he put on or “covered” himself with sackcloth. The Hebrew root “kasah” translated “covered” also means to conceal, hide and in a figurative sense to overwhelm. Thus, Hezekiah is overwhelmed by the consequences of both his own sin and that of Judah. While tearing garments is an instantaneous response to the revelation of sin and turmoil, it is none the less over in moments. Putting on sackcloth adds an intentional and ongoing component to repentance by constantly reminding the wearer of the discomfort and distress that sin and its consequences have brought upon him.
These acts of repentance do nothing to convince God of a man’s true state of heart, He knows all that is in a man’s heart. Rather, these symbolic actions are a means by which a man might remind himself of his true state before God and his need for the redemption that only God can provide him. Prayerful supplication and practiced repentance are for our benefit, yet another affirmation of God’s grace and mercy toward us. He is all knowing and yet in love He has selflessly engaged us in eternal conversation.
Hezekiah went “to” not “into” the house of HaShem. Only priests were allowed to enter the Temple (Court of priests, holy place) and only the High priest, the Holy of holies. The Hebrew reads “vayavo beit YHVH” literally “and he went house YHVH”. If the text were meant to be understood as “and he went into the house of HaShem” it would need to read “vayavo babeit YHVH”.
Were we to read the text as most English translations render it “he went into the house of the Lord”, we would also need to presume sin upon Hezekiah for breaking the Temple cult protocol (a sin committed by king Uzziah, who was struck with leprosy as a result [2 Chron. 26:16-22]): this is clearly not what the context conveys. Hezekiah is in no way punished for his genuine pleas to HaShem and is therefore not guilty of breaching Temple protocol or presuming upon himself the role of priest. To the contrary, Hezekiah is shown here as a respecter of protocol and one who honours the God given roles of others. This is one of his noblest traits as king.
Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord (v.14) and certainly entered the court of Israel (men’s courtyard) approaching the court of priests (For priests only) but went no further than the opening to the court of priests.
There is much for us to learn from Hezekiah’s actions. At this point in his story he did not presume to take things into his own hands as he had done. Instead he chose to rely on God and the systems set in place for orderly worship and petition. Hezekiah honoured the roles of the priest Eliyakiym, the Torah scribe Shevna and the priests who were fulfilling their allocated period of service in the Temple proper at the time of these events. His patient attention to detail in these matters shows both humility and trust on his part. A trusting man may act promptly but he need not act presumptuously as a result of panic and apprehension.
Isa 37:2 And he sent Eleyakiym (God raises, arises), who was over ha-beit the house (Temple), and Shevna (vigour, tender youth) ha-sofeir the scribe, and the ziknei elders (older ones) of ha-cohanim the priests, mitkasiym covered, concealed (overwhelmed) with sackcloth, to Yeshayahu (YHVH, he is salvation: Isaiah) the prophet the son of Amotz (Strong, alert, courageous).
We note that Yoach the recorder/historian is missing from the religious retinue sent to Isaiah. The petitioning of God through the prophet is pursued devoid of concern for contemporary secular record. This group of the king’s representatives are those responsible for the spiritual care of Judah and Israel. Thus, it is the elders among the priesthood who go in addition to Eliyakiym and Shevna, as representatives of the entire priesthood and of Judah’s Temple cult practitioners.
Isa 37:3 And they said to him, “Thus says Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy), ‘This day is a day of tzarah distress, and of tochechah correction, and of ne’atzah blasphemy (contempt): for the baniym children are come to the birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth.
Hezekiah calls this day a day of “tzarah” distress, and of “tochechah” correction, and of “ne’atzah” blasphemy (contempt)”:
By using these three specific terms Hezekiah is soberly acknowledging the truth of Judah’s situation. She is being oppressed as God’s people, she is guilty of sinning against God and is deserving of His rebuke and correction, and she is appalled at the blasphemy being levelled against the God of Israel as a result of both Israel’s sin and the arrogance of her enemies, who are ultimately the enemies of God.
The idiom “for the children are come to the birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth” (ref. Isa. 66:9) conveys a great deal. In its colloquial form it was probably used in the singular, however, here it is plural “children”. Thus, as Yarchi rightly interprets it refers to Israel (God’s chosen children) and the matriarchs of Israel, her human mothers. In the process of birthing there is sometimes a point at which neither the mother’s contractions nor the child’s movements are able to bring about the final coming forth from the womb. In such cases both mother and child are helpless to deliver themselves, they’re utterly reliant on help received from another, such as a midwife or physician. Thus Hezekiah is making an admission on Judah’s (Israel’s) behalf, confessing her helplessness and complete reliance on deliverance at God’s hand.
Isa 37:4 It may be that HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD) Eloheiycha your God (Judge) will yishma hear, listen to the words of Rav-shakeih (The great cupbearer), whom the king of Ashur (a step: Assyria) his adonav master has sent to taunt the Elohiym Chai living God, and will decide against the words which HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD) Eloheiycha your God (Judge) has heard: wherefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.”
Hezekiah is not necessarily showing his lack of relational understanding of God with the phrase “Your God”. This phrase is often used by Hebrew speakers to challenge the hearer to take ownership of their common bond. Yeshua (Jesus) uses it in this way when he says “Your Torah” (John 8:17; 10:34; 18:31): He does not mean to say that it is not His Torah, rather He means to stir in them a sense of right identity and ownership with regard to the Spirit of the Torah and the bond shared in it by every Jew. Therefore, we may understand the phrase “Your God” in one of two ways: either Hezekiah is yet to enter into personal relationship with God or, he is reminding himself that his God is also the God of Isaiah, and reminding Isaiah that the prophet shares his God with his people Israel.
By saying “Maybe Hashem will hear” means, maybe the sin of Assyria will make a louder din in the ears of God than that of our own sin. Hezekiah knows that God has witnessed the blasphemy of Assyria, his question is one of action: Will God act for His own Name’s sake and subsequently for the sake of His people Judah?
The phrase “lechareif Elohiym chai” to taunt the living God, seems to be an allusion to the mocking display of Goliath (1 Sam. 17:26; 17:36). Thus, the mocking display of Rav-Shakeih is seen as being an affront to God of similar nature.
With regard to the phrase “Your prayer” as it applies to Isaiah. It is true to say that “The prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective”, not because of a man’s righteousness but because the Righteous One lives in him. Thus, with regard to salvation God has no favourites but with regard to right action God favours the obedient.
Isa 37:5 So the servants of king Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy) came to Yeshayahu (YHVH, he is salvation: Isaiah). Isa 37:6 And Yeshayahu (YHVH, he is salvation: Isaiah) said to them, “Thus will you say to adoneichem your master, Thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD), ‘Al-tiyra Be not afraid mipenei of the face (appearance) of ha-devariym the words that you have heard, with which the na’arei young boys of the king of Ashur (a step: Assyria) have blasphemed Me.
Isaiah turns Hezekiah’s phrasing toward the servants of the king for much the same reason for which Hezekiah had addressed Isaiah. “Thus will you say to your master/lord…” As priests and keeper of Torah responsible for the mechanisms of worship practice they are being tasked by the prophet to honour the Lord’s chosen king over Judah and to act in a messianic role as communicators to the king. They are both receiving and giving the Word of the Lord.
To Hezekiah the message of HaShem begins as it often does with the comforting words “Al-tiyra” no fear! Specifically “Don’t be afraid of the appearance of the words that you’ve heard”. So often we are afraid of how things appear to be because we have lost sight of the unseen and the present work of God in our midst. God calls Hezekiah to return to Him and receive insight so that he might be delivered from appearances and understand the reality of God’s work.
There is a beautiful irony in the name Ashur (a step). It’s as if the step had hurled curses at those who will step on it as they ascend to the mountain of the Lord.
The prophet uses the Hebrew “na’arei” boys, young men, as a subtle insult toward the messengers of Sennacherib. They are not even wise enough in years to qualify as seasoned servants and are instead called novice children by the prophet Isaiah.
Isa 37:7 Hinni Behold, pay attention, I will send a ruach spirit (wind) upon him, and he will hear a rumour, and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.’”
It is a spirit from HaShem that is to come upon Sennacherib. This can be understood as both an angelic messenger that will disquiet him and or a spirit of dread, fear etc. An ill wind as it were.
“He will hear a rumour” most likely refers to the rumour of verse 9 concerning the king of Ethiopia. It may also be alluding to the news of the destruction of the Assyrian army which will soon (Within a year’s time) reach Sennacherib, though this is less likely given the seeming immediacy of the qualifying events pursuant to this verse.
Isa 37:8 So Rav-shakeih (The great cupbearer) returned, and found the king of Ashur (Assyria: a step) warring against Livnah (white): for he had heard that he was departed from Lachiysh (invincible: south of Jerusalem in the territory of Judah).
Rav-Shakeih had heard of Sennacherib’s movements and had journeyed from Lachiysh to Livnah (possibly the Egyptian city but more likely the city of the same name in the territory of Judah [Joshua 10:29]).
Isa 37:9 And he heard it said concerning Tirhakah (searched out the pious) king of Ethiopia, “He is come forth to make war with you.” And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy), saying,
The nearest precedent subject is Sennacherib, thus, it is Sennacherib who receives the news concerning Tirhakah and in desperation sends messengers back to Hezekiah to repeat and expand on the threats and intimidations of the previous chapter.
Tirhakah was king of both Ethiopia and Egypt at this time.
Isa 37:10 “Thus will you speak to Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy) king of Yehudah (Judah: praise), saying, ‘Don’t let Eloheicha your God, in Whom you trust, deceive you, saying, “Yerushalayim (Flood of peace: Jerusalem) will not be given into the hand of the king of Ashur (Assyria: a step).”
These are the words Sennacherib instructed his messengers to say to Hezekiah. The prophet Isaiah juxtaposes the arrogant actions of the king of Assyria and his messengers against the righteous actions of God and His prophet, messenger to the children of Israel.
Sennacherib’s accusation exceeds the blasphemous words previously spoken by Rav-Shakeih. To claim that HaShem (Who cannot lie) has deceived Hezekiah and Israel amounts to likening HaShem’s character to that of the father of lies the Satan.
Isa 37:11 Hinei Behold, pay attention, you have heard what the kings of Ashur (Assyria: a step) have done to all lands by destroying them utterly; and will you be delivered? Isa 37:12 Have the elohoheiy gods of the nations delivered those who my fathers have destroyed, Gozan (cutting off), and Charan (Mountaineer), and Rezeph (Hot stone), and the children of Eden (Pleasure, delight) which were in Tel-assar (Hill of Ashur)? Isa 37:13 Where is the king of Chamat (fortress), and the king of Arphad (I will be spread out), and the king of the city of Sepharvaim (two sipparas), Hena (troubling), and Ivah (ruin)?’”
It is interesting to note that here Sennacherib attributes to his fathers’ (Sargon and the previous kings of the Derketade dynasty which he had overthrown) that which Rav-shakeih had given Sennacherib himself credit for. This serves to strengthen the indictment against Sennacherib’s generational pride and the pride seeded in the very soil of Assyria and her precedent empires.
While many of the cities mentioned are identifiable a number of them can’t be placed geographically with certainty do to insufficient historical and archaeological information. The Targum understands the last two nouns as a description of Sennacherib’s actions:
"has he not removed them, and carried them captive?'' -Targum Yonatan
The Jewish commentator Yarchi agrees with this interpretation:
"the king of Assyria has moved and overthrown them, and destroyed them, and removed them out of their place;''
What is certain is that Sennacherib was boasting of his prowess and wilfully impugning the character of the God of Israel.
Isa 37:14 And Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH) received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy) went up to ha-beit the house of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD), and spread it before HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD).
Like the tearing of his cloths and the wearing of sackcloth, the spreading out of the letter before the Lord was a symbolic act done before the people to show that the king was petitioning the God of Israel alone for deliverance. This act is in itself a prayer practice.
Hezekiah went up to the Temple and as far as the court of Israel in order to lay out the letter at the opening to the entry to the court of the priests.
Isa 37:15 And Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy) prayed to the HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD), saying, Isa 37:16 “HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD) Tzevaot (Who goes warring, of hosts), Eloheiy God of Yisrael (Israel: overcomes in God), that sits between the ha-kerubim (Angelic beings), You are ha-Elohiym the God, You alone, to all the kingdoms of the earth: You have made ha-shamayim the heavens and ve’et ha-aretz the earth.
Having presented his unspoken prayer to God in the form of the letter, Hezekiah now calls on God using a very specific and significant title “YHVH Tzevaot, Eloheiy Yisrael” Mercy Who goes Warring, God/Judge of Israel (Overcome in God). There are many other names for God that Hezekiah could have used, however, the situation called for the God Who arises to battle, the King over all Who rules the host of the heavens. One does not call on the Prince of Peace when war is needed. Of course, it is one of the mysterious ironies of God’s character, that it is Mercy (YHVH) Who goes warring.
Hezekiah adds to the first title by acknowledging God’s intrinsic link to His people Israel “Eloheiy Yisrael” those who overcome in God’s judgement. Ethnic, religious, spiritual: HaShem has placed His Name on the people of Israel.
Hezekiah is not done with his identifying of the attributes and person of his God: “Who sits between the Cherubim” is a reference to the Mercy Seat atop the Ark of the Covenant which resides between the fierce Cherubim (Anthropomorphic Angelic beings) and dwells in the Holy of holies (Psa. 18:10; 80:1). This is a description of both the attribute of God’s mercy and the literal manifest (feminine) presence of God known to the rabbis of the Talmud as the Shekhinah.
Still Hezekiah continues, the entire prayer thus far being a calling out of some of the many titles and attributes of God. He concludes with two fundamentally important descriptors: Elohiym (Intense God) over all the kingdoms of the earth (A direct affront to the foolish claims of Sennacherib), and Creator of both the heavens (All that exists above and beyond) and the earth (the location of the present crisis).
How often we miss out on the comfort that might be afforded us in simply calling on the various attributes and character traits of God. We rush into our petitions with desperate cries for help when much of that help begins in the knowledge of Who we’re petitioning. Hezekiah reminds himself and his people that all prayer is a response to the Greatest of Persons. He calls out to:
It is in the comfort of reminding himself of Who God is that Hezekiah gains the spiritual strength to continue his petition in hope.
Isa 37:17 Incline Your ear, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD), and hear; open Your eyes, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD), and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib (Sin [moon deity] sends many brothers), which he has sent to taunt the Elohiym Chaiy living God.
God is invisible, immutable, unseen, He has no ears. The poetic language is used to bridge the gap between the seen and the unseen. God has heard, He is all knowing, thus, Hezekiah is asking God to listen and act. God has seen, He is all seeing, thus, Hezekiah is asking God to look with mercy and act.
Hezekiah identifies the blasphemous words of Sennacherib not for God’s sake, God has heard them and decided Sennacherib’s fate from before the foundation of the world. Hezekiah is reminding himself of the insult to God and acknowledging to himself and all Israel, that unlike the gods that Sennacherib has alluded to in their defeat, the God of Israel is living, in fact He is the very reason that life exists “Elohiym Chaiy”.
Isa 37:18 Amenam Surely, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD), the kings of Ashur (Assyria) have laid waste all the nations, and their countries, Isa 37:19 And have naton given their elohiym gods (judges) ba-eish into the fire: for they were not gods, but the work of human hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.
Hezekiah acknowledges before God the truth of what Sennacherib has said while at the same time discerning the key difference between the defeated non-gods and the God of Creation.
Isa 37:20 Now therefore, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD) Eloheiynu our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD), You only.”
Hezekiah ends his prayer by acknowledging the ultimate reason for God’s acting in these circumstances. It is God’s Name and reputation that must be honoured and maintained before all the kingdoms. Why? Because the salvation of humanity is reliant on Him. God is not a narcissist, He lifts Himself up before humanity in order to raise us up from eternal death. His exaltation is our redemption.
Hezekiah ends his prayer by acknowledging that Gods Mercy YHVH is firmly established (He uses the Holy Name twice), that YHVH is Eloheiynu is “Our God” (Israel’s God), and that God alone holds the title of Merciful Judge over all things.
Isa 37:21 Then Yeshayahu (YHVH, Mercy, He is salvation: Isaiah) the son of Amotz (Strength) sent to Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy), saying, “Thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD) Eloheiy God of Yisrael (Israel: overcomes in God), ‘Whereas You have prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Ashur (Assyria):
It is “Mercy He is Salvation” the son of “Strength” who is tasked with sending God’s answer to “My strength is Mercy”. What beauty there is in the names of God’s servants, what majesty there is in the narrative of God’s Word, and what unparalleled mystery is held in the fact that it is the sum of history and eternity woven together.
Notice that Isaiah identifies (his God) as YHVH Eloheiy Yisrael. He does this in truth and in solidarity with his Israeli brother Hezekiah. As if to say, “We have called on Him together my brother, and it is He Whom we have called on, the very person Who imparts our identity, Who responds to us”.
Isa 37:22 This is ha-d’var the word which HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD) has spoken concerning him; The virgin, the daughter of Tziyon (Parched land), has despised you, and laughed you to scorn; the daughter of Yerushalayim (Flood of peace) has shaken her head at you.
“This is ha-d’var the word” is both literal and literary. It is also transcendent in that this word (essence) is not simply true in the moment or even according to the circumstance but rather it is perpetually true because the Devar Word is Yeshua Himself.
We could read “This is the Yeshua Whom Mercy has sent out in response to the taunts of His enemies.”
Note that what follows is a future prophetic statement at the time that Hezekiah receives it. After all, Judah the virgin daughter had not yet laughed Sennacherib to scorn, nor had the residents of Jerusalem mocked him with shaking heads. To the contrary, Judah was terrified of him. Thus, HaShem speaks into time and space that which is already complete, though yet future.
Isa 37:23 Whom have you taunted and blasphemed? and against Whom have you raised your voice, and lifted up your eyes on high (gazed at with haughty eyes)? Against the kedosh Holy One (holiness) of Yisrael (Israel).
The true nature of the subject of Sennacherib’s taunt is revealed “Kedosh Yisrael” Holy One of Israel. “The tribal God of Israel is God over all, tremble you piss-ant!”
Isa 37:24 Via your servants you have taunted adonaiy a lord (Hezekiah), and have said, ‘By the multitude of my chariots I have come up to the highest mountains, to the sides of Levanon (witnesses); and I will cut down the tall cedars there, and the choice fir trees there: and I will enter into the height of his border, and the forest of his Carmel (orchard, plantation). Isa 37:25 I have dug, and drunk water; and with the sole of my feet I have dried up all the rivers of the besieged places.’
The English reader should be careful not to read “adonaiy” master/lord in this context as referring to God, it does not. It is used here to refer to the king of Judah adonaiy melekh Yehudah, the earthly king Hezekiah.
The message from God to Sennacherib is a fundamental challenge to the world view of the heathen king. The indictment cites Sennacherib’s taunting of Hezekiah (God’s chosen king over Judah at this point in history). The boasts of Sennacherib are acknowledged and the truth of at least some of them is affirmed. God does not deny that Sennacherib has had power to do these things, what He does is challenge him by revealing the true source of that power.
Isa 37:26 Haven’t you heard long ago, I have asah fashioned it; and of ancient times, that I have yatzar framed it? Now I have brought it to pass, that you should be allowed to lay waste defenced cities turning them into ruinous heaps.
God being outside of time and space, knowing the end from the beginning, has seen these events complete and has been in control of the outcome from before the birth of Sennacherib.
“Haven’t you heard?” Sennacherib had all the resources of the known world available to him regarding ancient histories and the words of the prophets of many nations. He had heard of the God of Israel and what had been done for the ancient Israelites. The Targum Yonatan adds,
"what I did to Pharaoh king of Egypt;''
Thus king Sennacherib is without excuse. He cannot say “I didn’t realise that the God of Israel was not to be trifled with…”
Isa 37:27 Therefore their inhabitants were of short yad hand (strength), they were shattered and put to shame: they were as the plants of the field, and as the green herb, as the leeks on the housetops, and as crop blasted before it was grown up.
God allowed the inhabitants of the cities defeated by Sennacherib to be caught by surprise and made weak in military terms so that the greater purpose of God, the redemption of His people and subsequently of the nations, might come to fruition.
Isa 37:28 But I know your abode, your going out, and your coming in, and your rage against Me.
This is an interesting turn of phrase. To the Hebrew reader it is a phrase all too familiar, prayed over the mezuzah as we leave and enter our homes “Blessed are you HaShem our God Who guards our going out and our coming in… Who guards our coming in and our going out.” It is a phrase connected to Shaddai (The Shin on the mezuzah) the All Sufficient Protector of Israel. It is a phrase that comforts Israel while at the same time terrifying her enemies.
“You say you are King of kings Sennacherib, and that your god is above all others. Wake from your delusion you fool, I know the intimate details of every aspect of your existence and hold your fate in My hands.”
Isa 37:29 Because you rage against Me, and your storming, has come up into My ears, therefore I will put my hook in your nose, and my bridle in your lips, and I will turn you back by the way in which you came.
The idea that Sennacherib’s rage and boasting has come up into God’s ears is a slight against Sennacherib and his gods. Their taunts and boasts concern a small dominion, one allowed them by God, Who is high above them.
The Assyrians were known to lead their captives away with hooks in their noses and pull them along from piercings in their lips. Thus, they are punished according to their own actions.
Isa 37:30 And this will be a sign to you, You will eat this year that which grows of itself; and the second year that which springs up on its own: and in the third year you will sow, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.
Verse 30 begins an inserted word of hope spoken to Judah (Israel). Here the children of Judah are addressed, the sign being one that reveals Judah’s coming deliverance. Notice that the sign will unfold over the course of Judah’s deliverance from Assyria. It will not happen all at once but it will happen.
Isa 37:31 And the remnant that has escaped of the house of Yehudah (Praise: Judah) shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward:
“as a tree which sends forth its roots below, and lifts up its branches above.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
This remnant is not a “type” as some foolishly suggest, so as to deny ethnic Israel’s identity. To the contrary, the remnant is literal ethnic Judah (Israel): it is literally qualified as such by the words “of the house of Judah”, an ethnic distinction. These are those in Jerusalem joined with those that had escaped out of the cities of Judah, during Sennacherib's invasion of the land, and besieging and taking of the fortified cities. By God’s grace they will again thrive like a tree that takes root downward feeding on the deep mayim chayim living waters of God and bears fruit upward providing healing for the nations.
Isa 37:32 For out of Yerushalayim (Flood of peace: Jerusalem) will go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Tziyon (Parched land): the kinat zeal, jealousy of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD) Tzevaot (Who goes warring, of hosts) will do this.’
“For the remnant of the righteous shall go forth from Jerusalem, and the escaped of them that establish the law from mount Zion: by the Word of the Lord of hosts shall this be done.” -Targum Yonatan
It is the “kinat” fervour, zeal, jealousy of the Lord of Mercy Who goes warring, that will do this. It is God in action, arisen, fierce, Who comes to deliver His loved ones.
They will go out from Jerusalem to return to their allotted towns and villages within the territory of Judah. They will escape captivity in the mount and be free to go out and come in.
The added clause of the Targum rightly concludes that this remnant will (for a time at least historically speaking) be devote in their faith practice and love for HaShem.
Nothing either Hezekiah or Judah has done will bring these things about. This will happened based entirely on the “Zeal of The Lord Who goes Warring”!
Isa 37:33 Therefore thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD) concerning the king of Ashur (Assyria), “He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a siege ramp against it.
“Therefore” means, “because I am zealous for My people and My own great Name, and have already established Judah’s deliverance”.
God has determined that Sennacherib will not even get the opportunity to approach the city of Jerusalem or plan even the minutest detail of a campaign to proceed against her.
Isa 37:34 By the way that he came, by the same he will return, and will not come into this city,’ says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD). Isa 37:35 ‘For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake, and for my servant David's sake.’”
Nothing is so soul destroying to the man of great conquest as a defeat that forces him to return in the way that he came. All ground gained is lost with each step back, every boast is swallowed, and like the poison of pride it sits festering in the belly. To die in battle is the glory of a warrior, and to return in defeat is his greatest shame. This would be god Sennacherib will suffer the greatest humiliation because he failed to humble himself.
“Will not come in to this city” says YHVH. There is a day coming when Hashem will speak these same words to the enemies of Israel and to the great adversary of humanity the Satan “You will not come into this city!”
Why does God defend and save the city of Jerusalem (Flood of Peace)? Is it for Judah’s sake? Is it for Israel’s sake? Is it because He wants to build a castle on the hill? Hashem defends and saves Jerusalem “for My own sake, and for my servant David's sake.” “For My Own sake” because without the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord no one can be saved, and “For My servant David’s sake” because the greater son of David the King Messiah brings redemption to Israel and to all humanity.
Isa 37:36 Then malakh an angel of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD) went forth, and struck in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and eighty five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all pegariym corpses meitiym dead on mass.
These events are also recorded in 2 Chronicles 32:21-23 and 2 Kings 19:35-37.
“Then” seems to infer that these events happened on the same night that Hezekiah had received the correspondence from Isaiah (2 Kings 19:35). However, this is probably not the case, given that the prophecy of 37:30 requires at least a year gap between it and the events of Assyria’s defeat. What took place during that year? Sennacherib was engaged in a conflict with Ethiopia/Egypt. We know this because Isaiah 37:8-9 explains that when he made his second attempt to bring Jerusalem under his power, he had received intelligence of the advance of Tirhakah, and therefore had withdrawn the centre of his army from Lakhiysh, and encamped before Livnah.
The seemingly redundant language “they were all corpses dead” is a Hebrew poetic formula that denotes utter defeat.
This work of an angel (messenger) of Hashem draws a correlation with Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. It is miraculous, instantaneous, performed at night and beyond the mechanisms of humanity.
“And the Lord sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he was come into the house of his god, they that came forth of his own bowels slew him there with the sword. Thus the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all other, and guided them on every side. And many brought gifts unto the Lord to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah: so that he was magnified in the sight of all nations from thenceforth.” -2 Chronicles 32:21-23
The first of Isaiah’s histories concerning Assyria closes here with a short account of the result of the Assyrian drama, in which Isaiah's prophecies were fulfilled: not only the prophecies immediately preceding, but all the prophecies of the Assyrian era since the time of Ahaz, which pointed to the destruction of the Assyrian forces (e.g. Isa. 10:33-34), and to the flight and death of the king of Assyria (Isa. 31:9; 30:33).
If we look further forward to chapters 38-39, we see from Isa. 38:6 that it is only by anticipation that the account of these closing events is finished here.
Isa 37:37 So Sennacherib king of Ashur (Assyria) departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh (Abode of Ninus [possibly Nimrod]).
Nineveh was built by the ancient man Ashur of Genesis 10:11. It became synonymous with those who served the sensual gods of created things in opposition to the One true God of Israel. The same spirit is in that land and its people till this very day.
Isa 37:38 And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch (the great eagle) his god, that Adrammelekh (Majestic king) and Sharetzer (Prince of treasure) his sons struck him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat (Armenia: curse reversed): and Eisar-chaddon (Ashur has given a brother) his son reigned in his stead.
A period of approximately 20 years passed between Sennacherib’s return to Nineveh from Judea and his death (701 – 681 BCE).
“Nisroch” is a deity whose exact identity is debated. The Jewish sage Yarchi says, that the name Nisroch is related to "netser", a Hebrew noun referring to a branch or shoot and in Talmudic terms a plank, which may have been from the ark of Noah. This however, is pure conjecture.
“Adrammelekh” was also the name of an idol (2 Kings 17:31) to whom children were sacrificed in fire.
It is not known for certain what moved Sennacherib’s sons to commit this patricide. Yarchi says that Sennacherib prayed to his god, and vowed, if he would deliver him, that he might not be slain, he would offer up his two sons to him. Apparently his sons had been within hearing of him, therefore they killed him to prevent their own deaths. Again, this is conjecture.
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
Babylon falls so that Israel can rise
Following destruction of Babylon, God will show mercy to His chosen people ethno-religious Israel and return her to her land, prospering her in peace and subduing her oppressors so that Israel will rule over those who had taken her captive.
This chapter contains prophecies of the restoration of the Jews, of the fall of the king of Babylon, and the destruction of the Assyrian empire, and the ruin of the Pilishtiym (immigrants). Proselytes will join the dispersed Jews and even aid their return to the land of Israel. Subsequently those who join themselves to Israel will serve her in the land and in many cases they will be the descendants of her oppressors. Thus Israel will rule over her captors. Israel will find rest in God and freedom from the fear and suffering she experienced under bondage.
As a result of her redemption and security in God, Israel will take up a song, share a parable, make a proclamation; concerning the fall of the king of Babylon. Israel’s song will echo throughout the nations and others will rejoice at hearing it. For the tyrant that once oppressed Israel and the nations will be brought down to Sheol, the holding place of the departed.
Following the parable spoken against the king of Babylon, prophecies of destruction are issued against Assyria and the Pilishtiym (immigrants) who have come against the people of Israel and their land. It is as if, with the seat of confusion (Babylon) destroyed, the progeny of her wickedness (Assyria and Philistia) are without sustenance from the root of confusion and therefore, perish.
Finally, those who ask how all this has come about are given the answer, “HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has founded Tziyon (Zion: parched land), and the humble of His people will seek refuge in it.”
Isa 14:1 For yeracheim mercy born of love HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) will show to Yaakov (Follower), u-vachar and will decide for, elect, choose od (perpetually going round) be’Yisrael on Israel (Overcomes in God), ve-hiniycham and rest them upon their own ad’matah soil: and join to them ha-geir (foreigners in Israel) the sojourners, and they shall cleave (attach themselves) to the house of Yaakov (Follower).
Mercy will show loving mercy to the follower and will choose him perpetually, living in the one who overcomes through God: the follower will rest securely in his own land and people from other tribes will join themselves to his tribe because of what Mercy has done.
The Holy Name denotes mercy. Therefore, it is Mercy Himself Who shows mercy to Yaakov the follower. The text doesn’t just say that God will “choose Yaakov” but that He will “perpetually choose Yaakov”. Rather than replace or supersede Yaakov, God will continually choose him throughout time and if other nations wish to be delivered by being chosen, they must attach themselves to Yaakov. It is attachment to and not replacement of Israel, that is the essence of the writings of Rav Shaul in his letter to the Roman believers of the first century CE.
Numerous English translations render the Hebrew “od” as “again”, which conveys only a derivative attribute of the word. In fact the Hebrew “od” literally means to go round continually. In short, it is best represented in English by the word “perpetually”. Therefore, while it is true that God chooses Israel again, the greater illumination of that truth is that He consistently and perpetually chooses her.
The Hebrew “geir” refers specifically to resident aliens. Meaning those who choose to live peacefully in the land among the community of Israel. Many of the instructions of the Torah make allowances for those who are not ethnically Jewish but live among the Jewish people. There is an important distinction to be made here between those who favour Israel from afar and those who live in the land as aliens who love and support her. The present text is referring to the latter.
Jewish commentators such as Kimchi and Ben Melech apply these verses to the times of the Messiah; and Yarchi to the Olam Haba (world to come), when Israel is to be redeemed with a perfect redemption.
Isa 14:2 And the amiym peoples shall take hold of them, ve-heviyum and enter together to mekomam their place: and the house of Yisrael (Overcomes in God) will possess them in adamat the land of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) for servants and handmaids: and it comes to pass that the captives will capture their captors; and they shall rule over their oppressors.
In this verse Isaiah further illuminates his former prophecy regarding the Messianic age when people from the nations will flock to the mountain of the Lord in order to learn to walk in His ways (Isa. 2:2-4).
Note that it is “amiym” rather than “goyim” that take hold of Yaakov and help him return to enter into the land of Israel and go up to “mekomam” their place. It is tribal groups from within the nations rather than the nation, who will cleave to Yaakov. More specifically, given the present context of the prophecy, these peoples are residents of Babylon who will help Jews escape and return to the land of Israel. A comparative edict from Cyrus of Persia was later made in fulfilment of what Jeremiah had spoken:
“And whosoever remains in any place where he sojourns, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.” -Ezra 1:4
“Mekomam” their place, is a reference to the Temple mount “Makoom”.
This aspect of the prophecy has never been fully realized politically speaking. However, it is intrinsically linked to the Messianic theme of Isaiah and the other prophets of the Tanakh (Isa. 2:2-4; 52:10; 54:2-5; 55:5; Mic. 4:1-4; Zech. 8:2-23).
In the present chapter we see a concise revelation of what is prophesied in chapters 46-66. That is, “Babylon falls, that Israel may rise!” -Delitzsch
Isa 14:3 And it comes to pass beyom in that day, ha-niyach the rest (comfort) of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) lecha will come to you meiatz’becha from your sorrow (pain, idol), and from ha-avdah your labour and hard bondage under which you were made to work.
The hard bondage of the Babylonian exile is likened to that of the bondage Israel suffered in Egypt. Once again the deliverance and rest of Israel rests on Hashem.
Notice that the comfort of Hashem will come to Israel both in compensation for and as a result of her bondage and suffering. The text says that the rest and mercy of Hashem will come to Israel “From” her suffering.
“…we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” -Romans 5:3
Our rest is born of Messiah’s suffering.
Isa 14:4 And all of you will nasa take up, carry, bear ha-mashal the parable, proverb, poem against the king of Bavel (Babylon: confusion), and say, “How has the oppressor ceased? Ceasing Madheivah his boisterous rage!
The Hebrew “nasa” carry or take up, is related to “neis” banner, miraculous sign. Thus, Israel is to take up and publically display this parable (mashal) of God’s goodness and redemption in His destruction of Babylon (figuratively, the seat of Satan’s power).
Though the text may refer to a specific Babylonian king (possibly Belshazzar), it none the less speaks against any and all satanic rulers of empire in history past, present and future. It is the seat of satanic power that is ultimately being spoken against.
We note that in a remez (hint) concerning the name of Bavel, that we read “And all of Israel will take up and proclaim this parable against the king of confusion.”
The rhetorical question, “How has the oppressor ceased?” is answered in the power and majesty of God Himself.
Isa 14:5 HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has broken in pieces mateih the staff, branch, tribe of the wicked ones, and sheivet the root, sceptre, tribe, rod of the rulers.
God will break the staff of the wicked and their oppressive rule (Specifically Babylon), the branch of their direct progeny and the entire tribe associated to them. He will also remove kingly authority from the seat of Satan’s power, never to allow rulers to come forth from it again.
Isa 14:6 He who struck the amiym peoples (tribes) in wrath with a continual striking, he that ruled the goyim nations in anger, is persecuted, and no one prevents it.
This verse describes the wicked actions of the king of Babylon and his open hatred for all the tribes (peoples) of the earth. He struck down tribes within nations and continued to strike nations in his unfounded anger. He persecuted many and few had the courage to stop him, nor were the courageous able to. This, though specific to the king of Babylon, is a description of every evil tyrant the world has or will know. It is ultimately a figure for Satan.
Isa 14:7 Nachah restful (comforting) shaktah tranquillity (quietness) is over all ha-aretz the land/earth: he breaks out with a ringing cry.
“Ha-aretz” can be translated either “Land” or “earth” here.” Land is acceptable because in the context of Israel’s parable against the king of Babylon it makes sense that they are thoughtful of their own land. On the other hand, tribes and nations are mentioned and the reign of the Babylonian Empire engulfed the entire middle east, therefore, it might just as well be translated “earth”.
Ultimately, the rest, peace, comfort, tranquillity and quietness over the earth, is the direct result of God’s destruction of the king of Babylon and his empire, both literally and figuratively.
“And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” -revelation 19:20
Thus, the land/earth breaks out in song. This personification denotes the redemption and reconciliation of all things.
“For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” -Romans 8:19
Isa 14:8 Also , the fir trees rejoice at you, the cedars of Le’vanon (witness) saying, “Since you are asleep (have been laid down), no one has ascended to cut us down to the ground.”
Since the destruction of Babylon and its allies, no armies have entered the land of Israel to besiege its cities. Therefore, the trees of Lebanon to the north have not been cut down for use as siege towers and battering rams etc.
Figuratively the towering trees unfelled represent abundance and health in the land. They prosper in times of peace and in personified form they rejoice at the coming redemption of all things. Isaiah is very fond of personifying trees and seems to have had a special love for creation (Isa. 1:29, 30; 2:13; 6:13; 9:10; 10:18; 17:7; 32:15; 41:19; 55:13).
The euphemism “laid down” refers to temporal death. Yeshua used this same euphemism to refer to death of the body.
“Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” -Yochanan (John) 11:11
Isa 14:9 Sheol (Holding place of the departed) from beneath quakes for you to meet you as you enter: it stirs up for you the raphaiym spirits, all the he goats (chief ones) of the aretz earth; it has raised up from their thrones all the kings of the goyim nations. Isa 14:10 All of them will speak and say to you, “Have you also become as weak as we are? Have you become like us?
The next three verses are an excellent example for distinguishing between the holding place of the departed and the grave, which in Hebrew are two entirely different things. Sheol, the holding place of the departed is far beneath, and is a spiritual place that is cut off from all ties to this world. Ha-kever, the grave, on the other hand is the physical resting place of the body, devoid of but intrinsically linked to, the spirit/soul. Ancient Jews, and in fact many Jewish communities still to this day, inter the bodies of their dead in above ground mausoleums and or box like stone or concrete coverings. There are many examples of this in Scripture, including the interment of Avraham in the cave of Machpelah (Gen. 50:13) and the interment of the bones of Elisha (2 Kings 13:21).
In ancient times kings were met by the royalty of the cities they entered, usually with celebration of alliance in the case of allies and with humility and subservience in the case of the conquered. Here however, the king of Babylon will be met in Sheol by the spirits of departed kings who he once ruled over as a tyrant. They will greet him with taunting and mock his mortal frailty.
The phrase “He goats” is a metaphor for a chief or tribal ruler, in the sense that the strongest male is usually head of the flock.
“Raphayim”, means “feeble ones” or “spirits” as in departed spirits who are no longer inhabiting their earthly bodies. These spirits are bound to the realm of Sheol. Thus, “raised up” is written in the context of Sheol. They are raised up within Sheol from their fallen thrones.
Isa 14:11 Descending to Sheol (not the grave [Kever] but the place of the dead) is your majesty, the noise of your nevaleycha skin bag, pitcher, instrument: beneath you is a bed of maggots, and covering you are scarlet female worms.
“For when he dies he shall carry nothing away;
His glory shall not descend after him.” -Tehillim (Psalm) 49:17
Isa 14:12 How have you fallen from the heavens, heiyleil Shinning one, self-praising one, ben shachar son of the dawn? Cut down la’aretz to the ground, earth, land: choleish prostrated in weakness al-goyim upon the nations!
In a literary sense this verse refers to the king of Babylon. The text is figurative and alludes to his pompous pride and arrogant claims. The Babylonians worshipped numerous gods, chief among them being in the heavens. The morning star, that is the brightest star in the morning sky (Venus) was an enviable position for the king of Babylon and in his pride he likened himself to it. However, in the figurative language of the text he is said to be brought down from his high horse and laid prostrate in weakness before the nations he had once ruled over.
There are some who see a remez (hint) in this text and make a comparison to Satan being like an angel of light. While this is not the p’shat (plain meaning), it does have some weight to it. Yeshua may be alluding to this text when He says:
“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” -Luke 10:18
Isa 14:13 For you have said vile’vavecha in your inner being, heart, “Into the heavens I will ascend, I will exalt my throne above the stars of El (God: Judge): I will sit also upon the mount of the moeid appointed place (place of convocation and gathering), in the sides of the north:
Once again with dramatic hyperbole the proud ranting of the king of Babylon sees him exalting himself even above the stars (symbolic of angels) of the Supreme God El-Elyon, the God of all things. The Har-moeid mount of appointed gatherings, is a reference to the Temple mount in Jerusalem. Thus the king of Babylon boasts with the vilest of blasphemes, that he is greater than the God of Israel, Creator of the heavens and the earth.
Pride is the fruit of self-deification. Idolatry is the root of all sin. The boast of the king of Babylon is a satanic one. It is the very definition of anti-Messiah. Thus, figuratively speaking this text is alluding to the man of perdition, the anti-Messiah who will come in the latter days.
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for except there comes a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition. Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:5
In the Targum of Yonatan the last part of the verse reads:
"over the people of God I will put the throne of my kingdom;''
Isa 14:14 I will ascend upon the high place of the av dark clouds; I will be like le’Elyon the most High.
“I will ascend above all people… I will be higher than them all.” -Targum Yonatan
Isa 14:15 Surely to Sheol you will descend, to the extremity of the pit.
The plain meaning again refers to the king of Babylon and his literal death. The figure continues to show the demise of satanic power. In which case Sheol becomes a precursor to the second death.
“Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.” -Revelation 19:20
“The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” -Revelation 20:10
Isa 14:16 They that see you will gaze sharply at you, and with discernment say, “Is this ha-iysh the man that made ha-aretz the land, earth to tremble, that shook kingdoms?
The man is literally the king of Babylon and figuratively the anti-Messiah (man of perdition).
Isa 14:17 Who made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities within; refusing to open the house of his prisoners?”
This describes the horrific nature of the destruction that the king of Babylon brought to the cities of the earth. Those he imprisoned suffered a fate worse than death, never to see the light of day again.
Isa 14:18 All the kings of the goyim nations, all of them together, lie in glory, each one in his own house.
This means that the kings of these nations remained interred in their original burial places within their homelands awaiting the resurrection. “Glory” refers to their memory and their graves being honoured.
Isa 14:19 But you are cast out of your kever grave like a weed, and like the clothing of the slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet.
We notice that the king of Babylon is cast out of his grave (kever), not out of Sheol (Holding place of the departed). This means that his enemies will dig up his grave and desecrate his remains, treading him under foot. This is the ultimate act of desecration over the dead.
Isa 14:20 You will not be teichad joined with them in burial, because you have destroyed your land, slain your people: do not recite the seed of evildoers.
The king of Babylon will not join the kings of the earth in honourable burial because unlike them he did not honour his own people. Thus his subjects took part in desecrating his body. One is reminded of modern history and the mockery and torture of Gadhafi when he was captured and subsequently killed and his body desecrated, all caught on film for the world to see.
The phrase, “Do not recite the seed of the evildoers” means, “Don’t recount the lineage of the wicked”.
Isa 14:21 Firmly established is the children’s matbeiach slaughtering place because of the iniquity of their fathers; they will not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities.
This is an instruction to the Medes and Persians to prepare themselves for the slaughter of the whole royal family, Belshazzar and all his children.
In a figurative sense it means the slaughter of all wickedness born of the seat of Satan’s temporal earthly power.
Isa 14:22 “For I will rise up against them”, says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (Who goes to war, of hosts), “and cut off from Bavel (Babylon: confusion) the name, and remnant, and offspring, and posterity”, says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy). Isa 14:23 “I will also appoint it a possession for the porcupine, ve-agmei mayim and troubled pools of water: and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction”, says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (Who goes to war, of hosts).
Here it is not the Medes who rise against Babylon but God Himself. This strengthens the figurative message that HaShem Tzevaot will go to war against evil and annihilate it, removing it forever from the eternal world of the righteous.
Isa 14:24 HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (Who goes to war, of hosts) has sworn, saying, “Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand”:
What God has firmly established cannot be thwarted.
Isa 14:25 “I will break Ashur (a step) the Assyrian in be’artziy My land, and upon My mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders”.
Now, having destroyed the root, Hashem turns to the fruit of the seat of evil, the other nations who have come against Israel and her God. The Assyrians who have invaded Israel and sought her destruction will be stamped out on the very mountains they presumed to occupy and as a result the burden of oppression suffered by the Jewish people will be removed.
The “yoke” can also refer to false teaching or the yoke of the teaching of foreign religions and spirituality. Thus, false gods and beliefs will be removed from Israel when Assyria is destroyed.
Isa 14:26 This is the purpose that is purposed upon col-ha-aretz the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all ha-goyim the nations.
All nations who act as Assyria has against Israel and against God will perish in like manner.
Isa 14:27 For HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot (Who goes to war, of hosts) has purposed, and who shall frustrate it? and His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?
HaShem has perpetually purposed the redemption of Israel and the destruction of her enemies. No one can prevent what He has firmly established outside of time and space.
Isa 14:28 In the year that king Achaz (He has grasped) died was ha-masa this burden.
Achaz died approximately 715 BCE. The burden is the word against Philistia (immigrants) who dwell in the land of Israel.
Isa 14:29 Do not rejoice, you whole Peleshet (Land of immigrants), because the rod of him that struck you is broken: for out of the root of the nachash serpent shall come forth tzepa an adder, and his fruit saraph a fiery flying serpent.
The Pilishtiym, according to Genesis 10:14 (1 Chronicles 1:12) were a Hamitic people. Sometime during the second millennium BCE they came into Canaan from Caphtor (Crete) and settled along the southwestern coast of Israel below the territory of Judah.
Both historically and because this follows directly after the prophecy against Assyria, it is possible that the “rod of him that struck you” refers to the Assyrians. Another possibility is that it refers to Babylon, which makes more sense in light of the figurative language used regarding the serpent.
Whomever the enemy of the Pilishtiym may have been, the point is that from the remnant of that enemy an even deadlier foe will come against them and finally the deadliest of foes, as the progression of snake types shows.
Isa 14:30 And the firstborn of the poor will feed, and the needy will lie down in safety: and I will kill your root with famine, and he will slay your remnant.
The poor among the Jews who Philistia persecuted will receive food and Israel will lie down in peace while HaShem brings famine on the Pilishtiym and will wipe them out through the fiery serpent of the previous verse.
Isa 14:31 Heiliyliy Howl, O gate; cry, O city; you, whole Peleshet (Land of immigrants), dissolved: for there will come from the north a smoke, and there will be no straggler in his appointed times.
The confederacy of Philistia was made up of Ekron, Gath, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Gaza. Thus “the whole of Philistia” will be dissolved. The enemy coming from the north is unknown, but the description is similar to that of the Assyrian army as it approached to invade Israel (Isa. 5:26-27).
The Pilishtiym are mentioned for the last time by Zechariah (9:6). Thus Isaiah’s prophecy of their disappearance from history without a trace became a reality.
Isa 14:32 What answer will be given to malachiy-goy the messengers of the nation? That HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has founded Tziyon (Zion: parched land), and the humble of His people will seek refuge in it.
Nations will seek answers for the miraculous deliverance and prosperity of Israel. One answer will be given:
“HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has yesad founded Tziyon (Zion: parched land), and the humble of His people will seek refuge in it.”
The Hebrew “yesad” is from the root “yasad”, meaning founded, fixed, established, foundation. It is used in numerous scriptures in reference to the establishing/founding of the earth itself (Psalm 78:69; 119:90; Proverbs 3:19; Isaiah 45:18; Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15).
“The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
By understanding He established the heavens;” -Proverbs 3:19
The founding of Zion (The Holy mountain, Land and people of Israel) rests in YHVH the LORD. The answer is, that the least of peoples (Israel) have been established and find refuge due to the pre-ordained and sacred choice of God. We are who we are because He has loved us with an everlasting love. The answer is that we always have a place of shelter and refuge to return to, He is the Rock of our refuge, the fierce warrior of our protection, the humble King of sacrifice and the resurrection of the dead.
But be warned, only “the humble among his people seek refuge in mount Zion”.
Without humility, no one can come to God.
Copyright 2018 Yaakov Brown
And it has come to pass in that day, that He will turn aside his burden from upon your shoulder and his yoke from upon your neck, and will bind, make a pledge from My face oil, anointing.
Is.10:1 Alas, woe! To ha-khok’kiym the cutters, inscribers who decree wickedness and record amal wearisome mischief which they have kiteivu written. Is.10:2 Le’hatot To extend, perverted midiyn judgement against the poor and tear away mishpat justice from the humble afflicted of amiy my people, causing the widows to become their plunder so that they can rob the fatherless.
The first four verses of Isaiah 10 conclude the quadruple rebuking of the people begun in chapter 9. Isaiah rebukes the law makers who are passing wicked laws that are depriving the poor, the helpless, and the needy of justice, in order to gain riches for themselves.
The use of the Hebrew kiteivu meaning he has written, is an ironical counterpoint to the Ketvi Written Devar Word of God. The Writing of God brings mishpat justice, but the writings of wicked men produce injustice.
Notice that the prophet, speaking from the heart of HaShem says, “My people”.
Is.10:3 And what will you accomplish on the day of pekudah accounting, visitation and devastation from a far country entering upon you? To whom will you escape for help? And where will you leave your kevodechem glories, honours, abundance, and dignity? Is.10:4 Without Me they will bow beneath the prisoners and fall under the murderer. For all this His anger is not turned away but His hand is stretched out still.
The probing questions of the prophet illuminate the depths of Israel’s ignorance and wilful disobedience. A devastating invasion is about to come in the form of the expanding Assyrian Empire.
Tragically the prophet asks, “To whom will you escape for help”. In other words, “Your rejection of HaShem has left you without the basic common sense to call upon Him in the face of disaster. This is a picture of a nation scraping the very bottom of the barrel. Israel is so far from faith in Hashem that they seem unable to turn and be delivered. However, His hand is outstretched still.
Is.10:5 Alas, woe! Ashur (Assyrian), sheivet rod of my aphi flaring nostril umateh and he is a branch in the hand of my anger.
Before we go further we should seek to understand the Semitic blood line of Ashur. Ashur the nation is born of Ashur the first born son of Shem (Genesis 10:22). Ashur was the founder of Nineveh, Rehobot and Calah in the land of Shinar (Genesis 10:10-11). Ashur was situated on the banks of the upper Tigris and its tributaries, in ancient Northern Mesopotamia. It is important to note that the Assyrians were Semites, while the Babylonians with whom they shared their language, religion and history, were Hamites (Genesis 10:6-10). The Assyrians were warlike and merciless in their conquests, committing atrocities and relying on abject terror in order to subdue their enemies.
Some have suggested that the Assyrians were one of the first nations in history to use psychological warfare, approaching city walls and speaking to the defenders in their own tongue in order to provoke a response of fearful surrender. One such incident is described in Isaiah 36:4-12.
It is known that when the Assyrians had conquered a population they would march their captives before them with the defeated king or ruler at the forefront. The majority of the captives, men, women and children were killed in inhumane ways: burned alive as sacrifices to the chief Assyrian deity, blinded, flayed alive and decapitated, their heads being placed on sharp stakes. Those who survived the massacre were usually dragged into captivity, pulled along by hooks that were attached to their noses.
At first subject to the Babylonians, the Assyrians eventually carved out their own kingdom which, during the reign of Tiglat-Pileser I, reached from the valley of the Tigris to the Mediterranean Ocean (1115-1077 BCE). However, following the death of Tiglat-Pileser I the Assyrian Empire went into decline and became busy defending its territory from tribal rebels within. It was during this period that Israel under the reigns of David and Solomon, experienced its golden years of expansion and prosperity.
During the ninth century BCE under Ashurnasirpal (885-860 BCE) Assyria begin a resurgence. Her great ambition being to create a vast Empire that would encompass all the territories between the Persian Gulf and the Nile valley. Thus the tiny nations of Israel and Judah were caught between the warring Empires of Assyria and Egypt. The prophets Isaiah, Nahum, Micah and Jeremiah all reflect these events.
With the accession of Tiglat-Pileser III (745-727 BCE) the Assyrian conquest reached Samaria and Judah, aided by the foolish decision of Ahaz, who had invited Assyria to help him fight against the coalition of Damascus and Samaria. The messages of Isaiah convey a first-hand knowledge of the Assyrian invading force and reflect the observations of one who observed the panic of the people and the plight of Judah’s refugees who fled from plundered towns and villages to find shelter in Jerusalem. From his vantage point in Jerusalem Isaiah would have witnessed this tragedy as it began to unfold.
However, Isaiah was also given insight from HaShem regarding the downfall of the Assyrians. In 612 BCE Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Assyria’s destruction was fulfilled. The Babylonians, Medes and Scythians captured Nineveh, the Assyrian capitol, causing it to become a desolate ruin just as Israel’s prophets had said it would long before it came to pass.
Three years later in 609 BCE the Babylonians and Medes attacked what was left of the once mighty Assyrian Empire and divided it up among themselves. The prophet Nahum, a contemporary of Isaiah writes of Assyria’s demise (Nahum 2:12-13; 3:1, 7). In less than a century the prophecies of Israel’s prophets concerning Assyria were completely fulfilled and by 609 BCE Assyria was no more.
Is.10:6 Be-goy Against the nation of hypocrites he will be sent and upon am a people evratiy of my overflowing fury, I will give him charge, to take prey and to seize plunder, and to appoint them for trampling like chomer cement, clay, mire, khutzot going outward, outside, on the street.
The prophet describes Israel as a nation of hypocrites and Ashur as nothing more than a disciplining rod wielded in the hand of God in order to redeem His people.
Is.10:7 And he doesn’t consider what he is doing in his levavu inner person, nor therefore does he think at all because to destroy, exterminate, is bi’levavu in his inner person, and to cut off, kill, (cut covenants with) goyim nations: not just a few.
The arrogant Assyrian invader is unaware that he is a tool in the hand of God. His core being is full of hatred and destruction. His only desire to kill, steal, humiliate and destroy. And for a time, God will allow him to do this to many smaller nations, Israel and Judah included.
Is.10:8 Because he says “Are not sa’ariy my princes yachdav together melakhiym kings?”
During this period in history the kings of Assyria are known to have given themselves the title “King of kings”.
“I am powerful, I am all powerful, I am gigantic, I am colossal, I am honoured, I am magnificent, I am without an equal among all the kings.”
–Esarhaddon ruler of Assyria (681-669)
By claiming to be a King of kings, the Assyrian ruler was prefiguring the anti-Messiah. Anyone who sets himself up on earth as the King of kings is spitting in the face of God’s Messiah.
Is.10:9 “Is not Kecharkemiysh (fortress of chemosh) as Calnu (Fortress of Anu)? Is not Khamat (fortress: city upper Syria) as Arpad (Spread out: city in northern Syria)? Is not Shomeron (Samaria: watch mountain) as Damesek (Damascus: silent sackcloth weaver)?”
The cities mention in this verse help us establish an approximate date for Isaiah’s message. Damascus fell to Assyria in 732 BCE, Samaria in 722, and Carchemish was captured by Sargon in 717 BCE. Since Isaiah delivered his message prior to Sennacherib laid siege to Jerusalem in 701 BCE (v.28-34), this must have occurred sometime between 717-701 BCE. Probably at the end of the reign of Ahaz (735-715 BCE).
Is.10:10 “As my hand has attained the kingdoms ha-eliyl and nothing gods, worthless u’pesileiyhem idols from Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) and from Shomeron (Samaria).” Is.10:11 “Shall I not do as I have done to Shomeron (Samaria: watch mountain) and her eliyleyah nothing gods, to Yerushalayim and her image, idol?”
By comparing the pagan idols and none gods of the other kingdoms with the God of Israel, the Assyrian blasphemed the living God. He lumps YHVH in with the gods of other nations which he calls Eliliym (none entities) and Pesiliym (graven images). In fact this was exactly the reasoning Sennacherib used when he demanded that the inhabitants of Jerusalem surrender to him (2 Kings 19:8-13; 2 Chronicles 32:17-19; Isaiah 36:14-21).
Is.10:12 And it has come to pass, Adonai finished all His work be-har Tziyon in the mountain of Zion (parched land), ube’yerushalayim and in Jerusalem (Pouring out of Peace), epekod He will visit, reckon, bring punishment upon periy the fruit of godel great pride from the levav inner person of the king of Ashur (Assyria), and upon the splendour of his rum haughty, elevated eiynayv eye.
HaShem will only allow the wicked Assyrian nation to succeed for as long as the disciplining of Israel and Judah is necessary. There will be a reckoning for the vile Empire of the Assyrians. Their arrogant scoffing against HaShem will be silenced.
Is.10:13 Because he said, “By the strength of my hand have I done this, and by my own wisdom, for I am discerning: and I have removed the borders of amiym peoples and have stolen their treasures, and have descended as a Kabiyr mighty, valiant man to dwell.” Is.10:14 “And attaining a nest my hand is strengthened, ha-amiym the peoples: and I have gathered the eggs that are left in all ha-atretz the land. I have gathered and none has lifted a wing or set free a mouth to chirp.”
The Assyrian king arrogantly presumes he has been successful in conquest due to his own efforts and the might of his army. As always, HaShem brings down the proud and lifts up the humble. God is just and no injustice will go unpunished.
The Psalmist reminds us:
“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the HaShem YHVH: Mercy our Elohim (God, Judge).” –Psalm 20:7
“Through You we push back our enemies. Through Your Name we trample those rising up against us. For I do not trust in my bow, nor can my sword save me. For You saved us from our oppressors and put to shame those who hated us.” –Psalm 44:6-8
Is.10:15 Will an axe boast of itself against He Who swings it? Or will a saw magnify itself against He Who uses it? As if sheivet a rod would raise itself to threaten the One Who welds it, or as if the mateh branch would rise up, as if it were not eitz part of a tree.
The rhetorical questions of the prophet have a clear meaning. The Assyrian is nothing more than an axe in the hand of God. The pride of Assyria is as ludicrous as the idea of a tool speaking against the one who uses it, or of a branch severed from a tree being able to sustain itself.
Is.10:16 Therefore, sending out, ha-Adonai the lord HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot of heavens armies, goes to war, into fatness, wasting, and instead of kevodo glory yeikad kindled, yekod kindling kiykod burning eish fire.
The “Therefore” returns the reader to the plight of Israel in her disciplining.
The phrase “Yeikad, yekod kiykod” emulates the sound of crackling fire. This crackling of fire will find its ultimate fulfillment in the fire unleashed by the Messiah.
Is.10:17 And it has come to pass Or Light of Yisrael (Overcome in God) le’eish for fire ukedosho and his holiness le-lehavah for a flame that will burn ve-achlah and devour his thorns and his briers be’yom echad in one day.
The fire born of the Light of Israel (The Messiah), will burn up the thorns and briers, meaning the wicked who cause her to sin. “In one day” refers to a major event that will result in the purging of the nation.
Is.10:18 U’kevod And the glory of the forest and plantation from nephesh soul and as far as basar flesh, consumed, and it has come to pass it is melted in sickness.
All the glory derived from plantations of trees and the souls of the inhabitants of those forests will be consumed by this fire.
Is.10:19 And the shear remnant eitz branch (of a tree) of his forest, will be few, so that a child might record them.
Sadly the remnant branch of Israel will be few. So few that a young child could record their number. This is a heart breaking message that weighs down the heart of the prophet with grief and mourning over his people.
Is.10:20 And it has come to pass be’yom in that day ha-hu that he not yosef added to: od a perpetual shear remnant of Yisrael Israel will escape, beit Yaakov the house of Jacob will no longer trust on the one striking him and will trust on HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) kedosh holy One of Yisrael Israel be-emet in the truth.
In this section from verse 20-22 the Hebrew shear (Remnant) is used four times, either in combination with Israel (v.20) or with Jacob (v.21), and once in regard to the survivors of the house of Jacob: emphasizing the physical nature of her survival.
Isaiah uses the term Shear-yashub (Remnant returns) twice: this is the name of Isaiah’s first born son.
What is clear from the use of Israel and Jacob, is that the remnant will be of the fullness of Israel and not of Judah alone.
Is.10:21 The shear remnant will shuva return, the remnant of Yaakov Jacob (All Israel) to El Gibor God Almighty.
El Gibor is the name which the Messiah is called in Isaiah 9:6. The corresponding name Kadosh Yisrael (Holy One of Israel) is used in verse 20.
The remnant shall return to El Gibor the Father and through El Gibor the Son, Who is also called Kadosh Yisrael.
Is.10:22 For having become Your people Yisrael Israel, like the sand of the sea, a shear remnant will yashuv return, the destruction that cut will be rinsed, washed, overflowing with tzedakah righteousness.
Sadly, though Israel had become like the sand of the sea, only a remnant would return. It is this remnant that Rav Shaul refers to in Romans 11:26.
The nation that was once disciplined harshly will be washed clean with overflowing righteousness. This is a description of the shed blood of the Mashiyach (Messiah) and its cleansing and restorative power. Israel’s remnant will be tevilah immersed and cleansed in the mikveh gathering waters of her Messiah King.
Is.10:23 For the full end and decree of Adonai HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot of heavens armies will be accomplished in the midst of all ha-aretz the land.
It is true that all the earth will hear of these things, however, it is the Land of Israel that is being referred to here. Israel is the subject of both the disciplining and redemption prophesied. Thus it is in Eretz Yisrael (The land of Israel) that these events will be seen, and it is from the land of Israel that this redemptive message will go out into all the earth.
Is.10:24 Therefore says Adonai HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot of heavens armies “Don’t be afraid amiy My people dwelling in Tziyon Zion (Parched land), of Ashur (a step) be’sheivet in his rod striking and his staff lifted up against you in like manner to Mitzrayim (double distress) Egypt.
In comforting His people (amiy: My people) Hashem reminds them that the Egyptians were equally fierce and oppressive, however, HaShem silenced them and freed His chosen people Israel. He would also do the same for them before the face of the Assyrian army.
Is.10:25 For continuing only a small amount, will cease all My anger and the aphiy flaring of My nostril on their destruction.
With regard to the greater passage of time HaShem’s anger and disciplining against Israel will be for only a short period.
Is.10:26 And awakening upon him, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot of heavens armies will bring a scourge for him like that of the slaughter of Midiyan (strife) at the cliff of Oreiv (raven), umateihu and His staff upon ha-yam the sea, so He will lift it up as be-derek in the path of Mitzrayim (double distress) Egypt.
This is now the second time that the prophet has referenced the defeat of Midian at the hand of God through Gideon and his three hundred men (Judges 7:16-25). This places emphasis on the fact that the 300 men of Gideon were like the remnant of Israel: completely reliant on God in order to have victory over their enemies and become reunited as a nation drawn together through the fire born of God’s Light.
Added to this is an allusion to Egypt’s demise at the Red Sea. Where by God’s hand Moses performed a great miracle of deliverance as a pre-figure of the coming Messiah. Thus Assyria is to be doubly defeated, a two stage path to utter desolation 1.) 612 BCE 2.) 609 BCE.
The Assyrian rod of oppression will be silence with the staff of God’s redemption.
Is.10:27 And it has come to pass in that day, that He will turn aside his burden from upon your shoulder and his yoke from upon your neck, ve-chubal and will bind, make a pledge mip’neiy from My face shamen oil, anointing.
The burden of God’s discipline will be lifted at the appropriate time and in its place an easy binding (marriage) and pledge will produce an intimate relationship between God and Israel. Thus it will be from the countenance of God’s face that the oil of His Spirit will be poured out on a redeemed people.
Is.10:28 He is come upon Ayat (heap of ruins), to pass over in Migron (precipice), to Mikhmash (hidden) to muster the keilayv implement (for war, hunting). Is.10:29 They have passed over the ford to Geva (Gibeah, hill) for lodging: trembling ha-Ramah (height), Givat (hill) of Shaul (inquirer, desire) has fled. Is.10:30 Lift up your voice daughter of Galeem (springs) cause it to be heard in Layish (lion), poor, afflicted Anatot (answers). Is.10:31 Madmenah (dung hill) is removed, those dwelling in Gebiym (cisterns) take refuge.
The prophet now speaks of the progression of conquest in a figurative way that denotes the conquest of the entire land of Judah beginning with the uppermost city Ayat. In reality Sennacherib approached Jerusalem from the south in 701 BCE having taken the fortress of Lachish and numerous other fortified locals. None the less, the prophet’s intention here is to show the all-encompassing nature of the Lord’s disciplining of Judah and not the literal progression of the invading force.
Ayat was about 68 kilometers northeast of Jerusalem and was the first city within Judah’s borders.
Is.10:32 Od going round perpetually, ha-yom the day at Nob (fruit, a high place): he will shake his hand against the mountain of the daughter of Tziyon Zion (parched land), gevat (hill) of Yerushalayim (Flood of peace).
Nob, a hillside town north of Jerusalem, within sight of the holy city is the final stop on the approach to Jerusalem. It’s at this point of impending doom that HaShem Tzevaot intervenes to deliver Jerusalem from the Assyrian army that shakes its fist against the Holy Mountain of God. It is for the sake of His own great Name that HaShem allows the Assyrian to go no further.
Is.10:33 Hineh Behold, now, see! Ha-Adon the lord HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Tzevaot of heavens armies going to war, shall cut the purah ornamental branch with awful terror: and high ones of stature shall be chopped down, and the haughty shall be brought low.
The Hebrew Hineh calls the reader to pay careful attention. The threefold title Ha-Adon HaShem Tzevaot denotes absolute sovereignty over all things.
The Hebrew text utterly renounces the pride of the Assyrian blasphemer. He is nothing more than an ornamental branch and in recompense for the vile cutting he has perpetuated against the people of God he will receive a cutting of terror, being chopped down and brought so low as to be completely annihilated.
Is.10:34 He will strike the thicket of the forest with iron: ve-ha-levanon and the Lebanon (witness) before a majestic one, will be cast down.
The Lebanon, known for its mighty cedars is used figuratively to describe the Assyrian army. Just as cedars are cut down, so too the Assyrian army.
Some Jewish commentators understand the phrase “a majestic One” to refer to the Malakh YHVH (Angel of HaShem) Who destroyed the armies of Sennacherib at the walls of Jerusalem.
“Then the Malakh HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) Messenger of the LORD went forth, and struck a hundred and eighty five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, all the corpses of the slain.”
© Yaakov Brown 2017
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,