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Arrogant Assyria

10 Woe to those who legalize injustice and write oppressive legislation! You rip away the rights of the poor and prey upon widows and orphans![a] What will come of you on your day of visitation when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? And what will you do then with all your great wealth?[b] You’ll have no option but to cringe among the captives or fall among the corpses of the slain! Yet despite all this, his anger has not subsided, and his hand is poised to strike.[c]

Woe to arrogant Assyria, the rod of my anger! The club I place in the king’s hand is my fury. I am the one who has sent him against a godless nation and ordered him to attack a people who anger me. I sent him to take the spoil and seize the plunder[d] and to trample them down like dust in the street. But he has no clue what he’s doing, and he has something else in mind. He plans on annihilating many nations and thinks, “After all, I have made my executive commanders into kings. Calneh[e] will be no different than Carchemish,[f] whom I destroyed. I’ll destroy Hamath as I did Arpad[g] and Samaria like Damascus.[h] 10 Since I was able to seize kingdoms full of idols and images more powerful and more impressive than those of Jerusalem and Samaria, 11 won’t I do the same thing to Jerusalem and Samaria and their idols?”[i]

12 But when the Lord has carried out his purpose on Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will punish the king of Assyria because of his overbearing arrogance and unrestrained pride![j] 13 He boasted, “Look what I have done by the strength of my hand and by my wisdom. See how clever I am! I have erased the borders of nations and plundered their treasures. I have been like a mighty conqueror, subduing those in strong fortresses.[k] 14 I seized their wealth as one who found an unprotected nest. As one who gathers eggs that have been left behind, so I gathered the wealth of the world. And the young birds could neither move a wing nor even open their mouths to peep!”

God Decrees Judgment on Assyria

15 Is the axe greater than the one who wields it? Is the saw greater than the one who cuts with it? Can the axe strike without a hand to move it? Can a lifeless wooden cane walk all by itself?[l] 16 Therefore, the sovereign Lord Yahweh, Commander of Angel Armies, will send a devastating plague among Assyria’s proud warriors. Yes, the “glory”[m] of Assyria will be burned and go up in smoke! 17 For the Light of Israel will become a fire in their midst, and the Holy One will become a flame! He will consume the thorns[n] and thistles of the Assyrian king in one day! 18 The splendor of his forest and orchard[o] will be completely destroyed,[p] like a dying man fading away.[q] 19 The forest will have so few trees left[r] that even a little boy could count them.

Restoration Promised

20 In that day, neither the remnant of Israel nor the survivors of the house of Jacob will lean anymore upon the one who abused them,[s] but they will lean fully[t] on the faithfulness of the Lord Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel. 21 A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob’s tribes to the mighty God. 22 Though your people Israel were as many as the sand on the seashore, only a remnant will return. Destruction has been decreed, and it will be overflowing with righteousness. 23 For the Lord Yahweh, Commander of Angel Armies, will complete the destruction he has decreed upon the whole land.

24 So hear what the Lord Yahweh, Commander of Angel Armies, has to say: “My Zion-people, do not be gripped with fear over the Assyrians who oppress and abuse you,[u] as the Egyptians did long ago. 25 After only a brief moment, I will end my indignation against you, and it will fall upon them to their destruction!”

26 The Lord Yahweh, who commands angel armies, will wield his whip against them, as when he struck Midian at the rock of Oreb.[v] And once again he will raise his rod over the waters, as he did in Egypt.

27 In that day the Lord will remove the heavy burden from your shoulders and break off the yoke of bondage from your necks because of the heavy anointing upon you![w]

28 The Assyrian army[x] attacked Aiath;[y]
    they passed over into Migron[z]
    and stored their equipment at Michmash.[aa]
29 They went through the pass
    and spent the night at Geba.[ab]
    Ramah[ac] was alarmed and trembled.
    Those in Gibeah, the city of Saul, ran for their lives.
30 Cry aloud, O daughter of Gallim![ad]
    Listen, O Laishah![ae] Poor Anathoth![af]
31 Madmenah[ag] is retreating;
    the residents of Gebim[ah] are hiding.
32 This very day,[ai] standing at Nob,[aj] he will shake his fist
    at the mountain of the daughter of the house of Zion—
    at the hill of Jerusalem.
33 Behold, the Sovereign Lord of Angel Armies
    is about to cut off the branches with terrifying power.
    He will cut down the exalted heights of the high,
    and all the lofty will be brought low.
34 He will slash the thickets of the forest as with an axe,
    and Lebanon will fall before the Mighty One.


  1. Isaiah 10:2 Or “You make widows your spoil and orphans your prey.”
  2. Isaiah 10:3 Or “glory” or “honor,” a possible metaphor for their vast armies.
  3. Isaiah 10:4 Or “his hand is still reaching out.”
  4. Isaiah 10:6 See Isa. 8:1.
  5. Isaiah 10:9 Calneh or Calno, which means “(selfish) ambition,” was a city in Shinar (Gen. 10:10).
  6. Isaiah 10:9 Carchemish, which means “fortress of one who subdues,” was a capital city of northern Syria, once known as the Hittite empire.
  7. Isaiah 10:9 Hamath means “high walls” and was the principal city of northern Syria. Arpad means “I will spread out” and was a Syro-Hittite city north of Aleppo in northwestern Syria.
  8. Isaiah 10:9 Samaria means “watch (guard) mountain.” It was the mountainous region north of Jerusalem also known as the northern kingdom of Israel. Damascus is not a Hebrew word (likely Aramaic); it means “alert, active.” Damascus is the major city of Syria and is viewed as the oldest continually inhabited city on earth.
  9. Isaiah 10:11 In his blasphemous boast, he equates the Lord Yahweh with all the other gods and their idols that he had conquered. His arrogance will be his downfall. Although he became the rod of God’s anger to punish Judah and Israel, that same rod is now poised to strike him down.
  10. Isaiah 10:12 Or “the pride of his exalted eyes.”
  11. Isaiah 10:13 Or “brought down kings from their thrones.” Assyria represents human reasoning, with its high thoughts and deceptive fantasies that exalt themselves against God (see 2 Cor. 10:1). The intellect of man falls short and is inferior to the wisdom and knowledge of God.
  12. Isaiah 10:15 Although God used Assyria as his “axe” and his “saw” to bring about his purposes, that doesn’t mean they have reason to be proud. The same can be said of us. Although God may use us powerfully, we must give glory and credit to God and his grace. See Acts 12:23.
  13. Isaiah 10:16 The “glory” of Assyria is a metaphor describing all their pomp and military might.
  14. Isaiah 10:17 Moses knelt before the burning thorn bush, and God ignited a fire in his heart. Today God wants to light a holy flame in every heart that follows Christ.
  15. Isaiah 10:18 The phrase “forest and orchard” is a metaphor for Assyria’s armies (forest) and his noblemen (orchard).
  16. Isaiah 10:18 Or “From breath to flesh, it will be destroyed,” a metaphor for totality.
  17. Isaiah 10:18 The Hebrew text of this last clause is uncertain.
  18. Isaiah 10:19 The fire of the glory of the Lord will consume the armies of Assyria. One angel destroyed 185,000 Assyrians in one night. See Isa. 37:36-38; 2 Kings 19:35.
  19. Isaiah 10:20 That is, Assyria.
  20. Isaiah 10:20 Or “sincerely.”
  21. Isaiah 10:24 Or “who beat you with a rod and lift up their staff against you.”
  22. Isaiah 10:26 The rock of Oreb (“raven”) is the place where Gideon killed two fleeing Midianite princes (Judg. 7:25). Isaiah mentions both the rock of Oreb and the victory at the Red Sea to illustrate how God will completely subdue his enemies.
  23. Isaiah 10:27 Or “because of oil (anointing).” Oil is a frequent symbol of the anointing of God. Although the meaning of the Hebrew text of this clause is uncertain, some scholars see the imagery of an ox who grew so fat that it shattered the yoke over his neck. Assyria’s yoke of bondage will be broken off Judah because they will grow fat, heavy with the anointing of God’s restored favor.
  24. Isaiah 10:28 Or “he.” By implication and context, it is the king of Assyria with his armies.
  25. Isaiah 10:28 Aiath (or Ai) was a city east of Bethel and near Jericho. It means “heap of ruins.” In vv. 28–31, the Hebrew text contains no conjunctions and is in a very disjointed, short, hard-hitting style. There is much scholarly debate about when this invasion took place. Perhaps the names of the locations give us hints about the things God will “invade” inside of believers today. The “heap of ruins” could be an apt picture of our flesh life.
  26. Isaiah 10:28 Migron means “threshing floor.” God takes his chosen ones through the threshing floor of our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
  27. Isaiah 10:28 Michmash is a city about ten miles north of Jerusalem, believed to be modern-day Mukhmas, and means “hidden.” God will go after our hidden issues.
  28. Isaiah 10:29 Or Gibeah, which means “uphill,” a picture of striving in the flesh.
  29. Isaiah 10:29 Ramah means “high place,” an obvious metaphor for lofty and arrogant attitudes that are “raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:1).
  30. Isaiah 10:30 Gallim means “heaps (of waves, stones, etc.)” or possibly “springs.” It represents the flow of life that does not originate with God but with self.
  31. Isaiah 10:30 Or Laish, the Hebrew word for “lion.” The lion’s den is a picture of the realm of demonic power (Song. 4:8).
  32. Isaiah 10:30 Or “Answer (her), O Anathoth!” Anathoth means “answers to prayers.”
  33. Isaiah 10:31 Madmenah means “dung heap.” See Phil. 3:8.
  34. Isaiah 10:31 Gebim means “pits” or “ditches.”
  35. Isaiah 10:32 Or “while it is still day.”
  36. Isaiah 10:32 Nob was the city of priests, which the Talmud and Jerome’s translation state was within sight of Jerusalem. Nob means “higher place.”