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Isaiah 10:5-19

Context
The Lord Turns on Arrogant Assyria

10:5 Assyria, the club I use to vent my anger, is as good as dead, 1 

a cudgel with which I angrily punish. 2 

10:6 I sent him 3  against a godless 4  nation,

I ordered him to attack the people with whom I was angry, 5 

to take plunder and to carry away loot,

to trample them down 6  like dirt in the streets.

10:7 But he does not agree with this,

his mind does not reason this way, 7 

for his goal is to destroy,

and to eliminate many nations. 8 

10:8 Indeed, 9  he says:

“Are not my officials all kings?

10:9 Is not Calneh like Carchemish?

Hamath like Arpad?

Samaria like Damascus? 10 

10:10 I overpowered kingdoms ruled by idols, 11 

whose carved images were more impressive than Jerusalem’s 12  or Samaria’s.

10:11 As I have done to Samaria and its idols,

so I will do to Jerusalem and its idols.” 13 

10:12 But when 14  the sovereign master 15  finishes judging 16  Mount Zion and Jerusalem, then I 17  will punish the king of Assyria for what he has proudly planned and for the arrogant attitude he displays. 18  10:13 For he says:

“By my strong hand I have accomplished this,

by my strategy that I devised.

I invaded the territory of nations, 19 

and looted their storehouses.

Like a mighty conqueror, 20  I brought down rulers. 21 

10:14 My hand discovered the wealth of the nations, as if it were in a nest,

as one gathers up abandoned eggs,

I gathered up the whole earth.

There was no wing flapping,

or open mouth chirping.” 22 

10:15 Does an ax exalt itself over the one who wields it,

or a saw magnify itself over the one who cuts with it? 23 

As if a scepter should brandish the one who raises it,

or a staff should lift up what is not made of wood!

10:16 For this reason 24  the sovereign master, the Lord who commands armies, will make his healthy ones emaciated. 25  His majestic glory will go up in smoke. 26 

10:17 The light of Israel 27  will become a fire,

their Holy One 28  will become a flame;

it will burn and consume the Assyrian king’s 29  briers

and his thorns in one day.

10:18 The splendor of his forest and his orchard

will be completely destroyed, 30 

as when a sick man’s life ebbs away. 31 

10:19 There will be so few trees left in his forest,

a child will be able to count them. 32 

1 tn Heb “Woe [to] Assyria, the club of my anger.” On הוֹי (hoy, “woe, ah”) see the note on the first phrase of 1:4.

2 tn Heb “a cudgel is he, in their hand is my anger.” It seems likely that the final mem (ם) on בְיָדָם (bÿyadam) is not a pronominal suffix (“in their hand”), but an enclitic mem. If so, one can translate literally, “a cudgel is he in the hand of my anger.”

3 sn Throughout this section singular forms are used to refer to Assyria; perhaps the king of Assyria is in view (see v. 12).

4 tn Or “defiled”; cf. ASV “profane”; NAB “impious”; NCV “separated from God.”

5 tn Heb “and against the people of my anger I ordered him.”

6 tn Heb “to make it [i.e., the people] a trampled place.”

7 tn Heb “but he, not so does he intend, and his heart, not so does it think.”

8 tn Heb “for to destroy [is] in his heart, and to cut off nations, not a few.”

9 tn Or “For” (KJV, ASV, NASB, NRSV).

10 sn Calneh … Carchemish … Hamath … Arpad … Samaria … Damascus. The city states listed here were conquered by the Assyrians between 740-717 b.c. The point of the rhetorical questions is that no one can stand before Assyria’s might. On the geographical, rather than chronological arrangement of the cities, see J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:264, n. 4.

11 tn Heb “Just as my hand found the kingdoms of the idol[s].” The comparison is expanded in v. 11a (note “as”) and completed in v. 11b (note “so”).

12 map For the location of Jerusalem see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

13 tn The statement is constructed as a rhetorical question in the Hebrew text: “Is it not [true that] just as I have done to Samaria and its idols, so I will do to Jerusalem and its idols?”

sn This statement indicates that the prophecy dates sometime between 722-701 b.c.

14 tn The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.

15 tn The Hebrew term translated “sovereign master” here and in vv. 16, 23, 24, 33 is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay).

16 tn Heb “his work on/against.” Cf. NAB, NASB, NRSV “on”; NIV “against.”

17 tn The Lord is speaking here, as in vv. 5-6a.

18 tn Heb “I will visit [judgment] on the fruit of the greatness of the heart of the king of Assyria, and on the glory of the height of his eyes.” The proud Assyrian king is likened to a large, beautiful fruit tree.

19 tn Heb “removed the borders of nations”; cf. NAB, NIV, NRSV “boundaries.”

20 tc The consonantal text (Kethib) has כְּאַבִּיר (kÿabir, “like a strong one”); the marginal reading (Qere) is כַּבִיר (kavir, “mighty one”).

21 tn Heb “and I brought down, like a strong one, ones sitting [or “living”].” The participle יוֹשְׁבִים (yoshÿvim, “ones sitting”) could refer to the inhabitants of the nations, but the translation assumes that it refers to those who sit on thrones, i.e., rulers. See BDB 442 s.v. יָשַׁב and HALOT 444 s.v. ישׁב.

22 sn The Assyrians’ conquests were relatively unopposed, like robbing a bird’s nest of its eggs when the mother bird is absent.

23 tn Heb “the one who pushes it back and forth”; KJV “him that shaketh it”; ASV “him that wieldeth it.”

24 sn The irrational arrogance of the Assyrians (v. 15) will prompt the judgment about to be described.

25 tn Heb “will send leanness against his healthy ones”; NASB, NIV “will send a wasting disease.”

26 tc Heb “and in the place of his glory burning will burn, like the burning of fire.” The highly repetitive text (יֵקַד יְקֹד כִּיקוֹד אֵשׁ, yeqad yiqod kiqodesh) may be dittographic; if the second consonantal sequence יקד is omitted, the text would read “and in the place of his glory, it will burn like the burning of fire.”

27 tn In this context the “Light of Israel” is a divine title (note the parallel title “his holy one”). The title points to God’s royal splendor, which overshadows and, when transformed into fire, destroys the “majestic glory” of the king of Assyria (v. 16b).

28 sn See the note on the phrase “the Holy One of Israel” in 1:4.

29 tn Heb “his.” In vv. 17-19 the Assyrian king and his empire is compared to a great forest and orchard that are destroyed by fire (symbolic of the Lord).

30 tn Heb “from breath to flesh it will destroy.” The expression “from breath to flesh” refers to the two basic components of a person, the immaterial (life’s breath) and the material (flesh). Here the phrase is used idiomatically to indicate totality.

31 tn The precise meaning of this line is uncertain. מָסַס (masas), which is used elsewhere of substances dissolving or melting, may here mean “waste away” or “despair.” נָסַס (nasas), which appears only here, may mean “be sick” or “stagger, despair.” See BDB 651 s.v. I נָסַס and HALOT 703 s.v. I נסס. One might translate the line literally, “like the wasting away of one who is sick” (cf. NRSV “as when an invalid wastes away”).

32 tn Heb “and the rest of the trees of his forest will be counted, and a child will record them.”



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