Isaiah 10 Commentary

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Judah &
Is 1:1-12:6
the Nations
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"A throne" Is 6:6
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Isaiah 10:1 Woe to those who enact evil statutes and to those who constantly record unjust decisions,

  • Woe: Isa 3:11 5:8,11,18,20-22 Jer 22:13 Hab 2:6,9,12,15,19 Mt 11:21 Mt 23:13-16,23,27,29 26:24 Lk 11:42-44,46,47,52 Jude 1:11
  • those: 1Ki 21:13 Esther 3:10-13 Ps 58:2 94:20,21 Da 6:8,9 Mic 3:1-4,9-11 Mic 6:16 Jn 9:22 19:6


Isaiah 9:8-10:4

To help keep this chapter in context observe the preceding table and the following outline adapted from Talk Thru the Bible which summarizes the first section of Isaiah dealing primarily with prophecies concerning the Kingdom of Judah...

Prophecies against Judah
Isaiah 1:1-12:6

A The Judgment of Judah Isa 1:1–31

B The Day of the Lord Isa 2:1–4:6

C The Parable of the Vineyard Isa 5:1–30

D The Commission of Isaiah Isa 6:1–13

E The Destruction of Israel by Assyria Isa 7:1–10:4

1 Sign of Immanuel Isa 7:1–25

2 Sign of Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz Isa 8:1–22

3 Prophecy of the Messiah’s Birth Isa 9:1–7

4 Judgment on Ephraim Isa 9:8–10:4

F The Destruction of Assyria by God Isa 10:5–12:6

1 Destruction of Assyria Isa 10:5–19

2 Remnant of Israel Isa 10:20–34

3 Restoration of the Messiah’s Kingdom Isa 11:1–16

4 Thanksgiving in the Messiah’s Kingdom Isa 12:1–6

Note that some commentators feel that Isaiah is now addressing the Southern Kingdom (H A Ironsides, New American Commentary, Albert Barnes), but there is no indication that he has switched from speaking about the Northern Kingdom (which is the approach taken by these notes).

And so Isaiah 10:1-4 closes out this section addressed to the Northern Kingdom (also known as Jacob, Israel, Ephraim) which begins in Isaiah 9:8 and is divided into 4 subsections (Isa 9:8-12, 13-17, 18-21, 10:1-4) each ending with the same refrain...

In spite of all this His anger does not turn away,
And His hand is still stretched out
(Isaiah 9:12, 17, 21, 10:4)

When the message to the Northern Kingdom is concluded, Isaiah then takes us his prophetic discourse (it was all prophecy at the time Isaiah spoke it but is largely history to us today) dealing with God's use of the Assyrian Empire to punish the Southern Kingdom, followed by His prediction of Assyria's demise because of her arrogance and pride. This section extends from Isaiah 10:4 through Isaiah 10:34 and prepares us for the rise of the greatest kingdom of all, Messiah's Millennial Kingdom, beginning in Isaiah 11:1ff.

Alexander summarizes Isaiah 10...

Isaiah 10:1-4 - The prophet first completes his description of the prevalent iniquity, with special reference to injustice and oppression, as a punishment of which he threatens death and deportation by the hands of the Assyrians.

Isaiah 10:5-15 - He then turns to the Assyrians themselves, God's chosen instruments, whom He had commissioned against Israel to punish and degrade it, but whose own views were directed to universal conquest, to illustrate which, the Assyrian himself is introduced as boasting of his tributary princes and his rapid conquests, which had met with no resistance from the people or their gods, and threatening Judah with a like fate, unaware of the destruction which awaits himself, imputing his success to his own strength and wisdom, and glorying, though a mere created instrument, over his maker and his mover.

Isaiah 10:20-23 - His approaching doom is then described under the figure of a forest suddenly and almost totally consumed by fire, Isaiah 10:16-19. This succession of events is to have the effect of curing the propensity to trust in man rather than God, at least among the elect remnant who survive; for only a remnant shall escape God's righteous judgments.

Isaiah 10:24-34 - To these the prophet now addresses words of strong encouragement, with a renewed prediction of a judgment on Assyria, similar to that on Midian at Oreb, and on Egypt at the Red sea, which is then described, in the most vivid manner, by an exhibition of the enemy's approach, from post to post, until he stands before Jerusalem, and then, with a resumption of the metaphor before used, his destruction is described as the prostration of a forest -- trees and thickets -- by a might axe. (The Prophecies of Isaiah)

Amplified Version...

WOE TO those [judges] who issue unrighteous decrees, and to the magistrates who keep causing unjust and oppressive decisions to be recorded,

Woe (1945) (hoy) means alas! Ho! Woe is an interjection, an exclamation of grief, regret, anguish, pain or distress or a denouncement. Hoy was used sometime to attract attention (Isa 55:1) Hoy was used in funeral laments (1Ki 13:30, Jer 22:18, 34:5) and carries the connotation of death, something Israel would soon experience at the hand of he Assyrians.

Hoy - 47v in NAS. 21 uses are found in Isaiah! -

1Kgs 13:30; Isa 1:4, 24; 5:8, 11, 18, 20, 21, 22; 10:1, 5; 17:12; 18:1; 28:1; 29:1, 15; 30:1; 31:1; 33:1; 45:9, 10; 55:1; Jer 22:13, 18; 23:1; 30:7; 34:5; 47:6; 48:1; 50:27; Ezek 13:3, 18; 34:2; Amos 5:18; 6:1; Mic 2:1; Nah 3:1; Hab 2:6, 9, 12, 15, 19; Zeph 2:5; 3:1; Zech 2:6f; 11:17

Eerdman's Dictionary adds that woe...

predominately occurs in prophetic speeches, usually in a series of such utterances, and signals an announcement of impending destruction. The distinguishing feature of the woe oracle is the opening interjection, “Woe to…,” which is followed by the description of evil deeds and a prediction of divine judgment (Isa 5:8, 9, 10; Mic 2:1-5).


Woe to those who enact evil statutes - More literally "Woe [to] those who decree evil decrees." These are evil judges, legislators and leaders who are unrighteous. This and subsequent passages describe abuse of power and it inevitably calls forth divine displeasure.

J Vernon McGee comments that...

This verse is very much up-to-date. I think we are seeing the working out of this in our contemporary culture, because the courts are to hand down justice and mirror the justice of God, and they don’t. Lawlessness abounds. People sink into degradation. The idea of freedom has been distorted. Every criminal who is arrested ought to be given a fair trial but in order that my family and your family can walk the streets in peace, criminals will have to be punished. Many who are guilty of crimes are set free by a softhearted, softheaded judge. That judge is not giving justice to me and my family or to you and your family....

One of the leading political analysts in this country recently stated on a telecast that every program that has been devised to help the poor has hurt the poor. What is wrong? The only One who will give justice to the poor is God. Judges are supposed to represent God on earth. Today many godless men are judges. They are in no position to judge at all until they recognize that they are representing God....

It is a farce to have a man put his hand on the Bible and take an oath in a court of law today, because most judges do not believe it is the Word of God. The lawyers, the jury, and the men who are taking the oath probably do not believe it is God’s Word. When you don’t believe it, you might as well take an oath on a Sears and Roebuck catalog. Some of them may have more respect for that than they do for the Bible.

God is dealing with principles; and, until a judge represents God, he cannot represent the people. We have gotten so far from this concept that I am sure I sound like a square! And that’s what I am....

God is saying to the judges, “You are to represent Me, and the day is coming when I am going to judge you.” I feel that every judge ought to recognize the fact that he is one day going to stand before God and give an account of how he has handled his responsibility here on earth. Judges in our day seem to have bleeding hearts; they want to show mercy to the poor criminal. Well, they should be meting out justice to both rich and poor. In the day of reckoning, the unjust judges will stand before the Just Judge.

Failed leadership has been addressed in Isaiah 9:13-17, but in more general terms as those who misled the people. Now the indictment is very specific pointing out their "blatant misrule, the willful making of decrees in the interest of class-division and personal advantage." (Motyer)

Evil (0205)('aven) in its most basic sense has "two facets: a stress on trouble which moves on to wickedness, and an emphasis on emptiness which moves on to idolatry." (TWOT

NET translates this verse...

Those who enact unjust policies are as good as dead, those who are always instituting unfair regulations

Comment: Beloved, does this sound like any modern government you know, where liberal judges frequently overturn just, generally conservative decisions! It was "Woe" to Israel and it is "Woe" to any country that emulates Israel's unfair governmental practices! Pray for revival beloved.

To those who constantly record unjust decisions - More literally "to the writers who write out harm." where the Hebrew verb form suggests this to be a repetitive action.

Unjust (05999) (amal) primarily describes toil or painful labor and comes to mean misery, anguish, troublesome work, trouble, labor, toil. It describes that which is an unpleasant, hard, distressing. Some versions translate amal in this passage with grievousness, which is that which is characterized by severe pain, suffering or sorrow. The point is clear that the wicked leads were writing and enacting laws which abused the people they should have comforted and protected. The fact that verse 4 discusses their "wealth", strongly implies that the leaders (judges, magistrates, etc) were using the legal system to "line their pockets" with filthy lucre!

Matthew Henry...

Whether they were the princes and judges of Israel of Judah, or both, that the prophet denounced this woe against, is not certain

Isaiah 10:2 So as to deprive the needy of justice and rob the poor of My people of their rights, so that widows may be their spoil and that they may plunder the orphans.:

  • deprive: Isa 29:21 La 3:35 Am 2:7 5:11,12 Mal 3:5
  • widows: Isa 1:23 3:14 5:7 Jer 7:6 Eze 22:7 Mt 23:14

So as to deprive the needy of justice - In Isa 10:1 and this passage the general sin that is denounced is that of oppression and injustice.

Needy (01800) (dal) means one who is low, especially the lower classes of society (2Ki 24:14, 25:12). Feeble, weak, helpless. "Those of humble rank and circumstances; who have no powerful friends and defenders." (Barnes)

TWOT adds that

dal denotes the lack of material wealth (Pr 10:15) and social strength (Amos 2:7). Such people are contrasted with the rich (Ex 30:15; Ru 3:10) and the great (Lev 19:5). God enjoins their protection (Ex 23:3; Lev 14:21; Isa 10:2), and promises to them justice (Isa 11:4). Only infrequently is dal used of spiritual poverty (cf. Jer 5:4), and in most cases such usages parallel ebyôn, needy (Isa 14:30).

Isaiah had castigated unrighteous rulers (not those in Israel but in Judah) in the first chapter writing...

Your rulers are rebels and companions of thieves; Everyone loves a bribe And chases after rewards. They do not defend the orphan, Nor does the widow’s plea come before them. (Isa 1:23)

Rob (01497) (gazal) has a root meaning of violence that goes beyond mere stealing or taking another's belongings but includes robbing by force.

Poor (06041) (ani) means poor, afflicted, humble. The Septuagint (Lxx) translates with the adjective ptochos (from ptosso = crouch, cringe, cower down or hide oneself for fear, a picture of one crouching and cowering like a beggar with a tin cup to receive the pennies dropped in!) which describes a person who is dependent on others for support. Ptochos is an adjective which describes one who crouches and cowers and is used as a noun to mean beggar. These poor were unable to meet their basic needs and so were forced to depend on others or on society. Classical Greek used the ptochos to refer to a person reduced to total destitution, who crouched in a corner begging. As he held out one hand for alms he often hid his face with the other hand, because he was ashamed of being recognized.

Plunder the orphans (cp Isa 1:17) - The verb plunder means to take by violence and may be literally true but could also be a picture of how they violated justice.


Things are so upside down that the very ones YHWH seeks to protect (i.e., widows and orphans) have become the spoil and plunder! (Ref)

John Martin writes that...

These actions, which involved taking advantage of people who could not defend their rights, violated God’s Law (Ex. 22:22; 23:6; Dt. 15:7, 8; 24:17, 18; cf. Isa. 1:17).

Malachi sounds a similar warning and sums up the root problem as an absence of a (reverential) fear of Jehovah....

“Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,” says the Lord of hosts. (Mal 3:5).

Barnes comments that...

The widow and the orphan are without protectors. Judges, by their office, are particularly bound to preserve their rights; and it, therefore, evinces peculiar iniquity when they who should be their protectors become, in fact, their oppressors, and do injustice to them without the possibility of redress. Yet this was the character of the Jewish judges; and for this the vengeance of Heaven was about to come upon the land. (Isaiah 10 Commentary)

Isaiah 10:3 Now what will you do in the day of punishment, and in the devastation which will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help? And where will you leave your wealth?:

  • what: Isa 20:6 33:14 Job 31:14 Jer 5:31 Eze 24:13,14 Rev 6:15,16
  • day: Isa 26:21 Ho 9:7 Lk 19:44 1Pe 2:12
  • devastation: Isa 5:26 30:27,28 39:3,6,7 Dt 28:49
  • to whom: Isa 30:1-3,16 31:1-3 Ho 5:13
  • where: Isa 2:20,21 5:14 Ge 31:1 2Ki 7:6-8,15 Ps 49:16,17 Pr 11:4 Zep 1:18


Now what will you do in the day of punishment - The first of a series of rhetorical questions each calling for a negative reply. Isaiah addressing the wicked leaders directly warns them that the day of reckoning ("judgment day") cannot be averted or avoided. This series of questions clearly imply that the calamity would be so great that there would be no refuge, or escape.

The day of punishment is translated by some versions as “the day of visitation” (KJV) which is the day when God arrives to execute justice (cp Job 31:14; 35:15) in the form of Assyrian oppression for the oppressors of the poor and needy. The Pulpit Commentary notes that...

The day of visitation is the day when God reckons with his servants, and demands an account from each of the work done in his vineyard, being prepared to recompense the good and punish the bad (comp. Hos. 9:7). It is oftenest used in a bad sense because, unhappily, so many more are found to deserve punishment than reward.

The devastation which will come from afar - The punishment threatened is desolation by a foreign foe. Things might seem to be just fine in the land of Ephraim, but that belied the truth that an outside foe would soon wreak havoc. God is not mocked and what Israel had sown was soon to be reaped (Gal 6:7-note, Gal 6:8-note).

Devastation (07722) (so'ah - feminine form) means ruin, desolation or devastation, which can be sudden or unexpected (as something crashing - Cheyne calls it "the crashing ruin") such as the arrival of a disastrous storm (so'ah = "storm" in Ezek 38:9). It describes that which is laid waste by plundering or destroying and implies a complete ruin of the affected area. In Zeph 1:15, this word describes the dreadful Day of the Lord. The storms of war were stirring and would soon sweep over the Northern Kingdom (722BC).

This prediction is not just desolation but describes sudden, and complete destruction.

So'ah - 12v in the KJV = desolation 5, destruction 3, desolate 2, destroy 1, storm 1, wasteness 1

Job 30:3, 14; 38:27; Ps 35:8, 17; 63:9; Pr 1:27; 3:25; Isa 10:3; 47:11; Ezek 38:9; Zeph 1:15.

From afar - Refers to the Assyrian Empire (map of Assyria) which were well known in the ancient world as some of most violent and savage forces that had ever been know. For example in Wikipedia we read that some of their acts of brutality included...

rape, mutilating men until death, placing heads, arms, hands and even lower lips on the conquered city's walls, skulls and noses atop stakes. Alternatively these could also be piled up or even their corpses cut up and fed to the dogs. On some occasions, people were blinded so that as they wandered throughout the land they would speak of Assyrian terrors and demoralize the local population. (Military history of the Assyrian Empire)

Boyd describes the brutality of the Assyrians...

The Assyrian Kingdom became one of Israel’ s mightiest, most brutal foes. It was a nation with the highest culture, a highly formal religion, and skilled in the crafts and arts of mankind, but was unmercifully cruel in its punishment of its enemies. Their acts were atrocious. King Ashurnasirpal (883–859 BC) was its great leader of expansion. His armies of bowmen, spearmen, slingers, cavalry and charioteers made up one of the most feared and dreaded units of military might of that day. Such was what the prophet Nahum had in mind (Nah 2:3, 4; 3:2, 3).

Ashurnasirpal described his dealings with a certain city he had conquered as follows: “Six hundred of their warriors I put to the sword; 3000 captives I burned with fire; I left not a single one among them alive to serve as a hostage. Kholai, their governor, I captured alive. Their corpses I piled into heaps; their men and maidens I burned in the fire; Khulai, their governor, I flayed and his skin I spread upon the wall of the city of Damdamusa; the city I destroyed, I ravaged, I burned with fire.” (Assyrian Brutality -- By Bob Boyd)

To whom will you flee for help? - Another rhetorical question calling for a negative reply. There will be no one to rescue or defend from the foreign foe. They had sown the rotten seeds of failing to help the helpless and would reap their bitter harvest of helplessness in the face of the onslaught of the notoriously brutal Assyrian forces. The ESV Study Bible has an interesting note that "Corrupt wealth buys helplessness."

There is a tragic irony for the only Refuge is the very One Who brought the devastation through His instrument Assyria.

Clarke comments...

As the people had hitherto lived without God in worship and obedience; so they should now be without His help, and should perish in their transgressions. (Isaiah 10 Commentary)

There is also a twist of irony in the questions in this passage for it is as if he is asking

“When you have forsaken others in their time of need, who will you go to for help when you are in need?”

And where will you leave your wealth? (cp Ps 49:17) - A final rhetorical question. Where will your ill-gotten gain be safe and secure? There was no bank or safe that could keep their wealth safe, for the land would be devastated by the ferocious Assyrian forces. When God's hand of judgment falls on Israel, all the wealth these leaders had gained through corrupt, unjust methods would vanish like the wind, reminding us of truths in other Scriptures...

When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings, like an eagle that flies toward the heavens. (Pr 23:5)

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. (1Ti 6:9)

Wealth (03519) (kabod) means to be heavy or weighty but only rarely used literally. Kabod can describe the glory of God (Ex 16:7, 10, 24:17, 33:18), but in the present context describes wealth as that which is valued (cp Ge 31:1; Na 2:9).

Hosea has a parallel passage...

As for Ephraim, their glory will fly away like a bird— No birth, no pregnancy and no conception! (Hos 9:11).

The psalmist writes...

For (explaining why not to be fearful or in awe of the rich - Ps 49:16) when he dies he will carry nothing away; His glory will not descend after him. (Ps 49:17)

Warren Wiersbe has a great application point for this verse writing that...

The prophet’s three questions in Isaiah 10:3 ought to be pondered by every person who wants to be ready when the Lord comes. If God cannot bring us to repentance through His Word, then He must lift His hand and chasten us. If we do not submit to His chastening, then He must stretch out His hand and judge us. God is long-suffering, but we dare not tempt Him by our careless or calloused attitude. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).

Isaiah 10:4 Nothing remains but to crouch among the captives or fall among the slain. In spite of all this, His anger does not turn away and His hand is still stretched out.:

  • Lev 26:17,36,37 Dt 31:15-18 32:30 Jer 37:10 Ho 9:12
  • all this: Isa 5:25 9:12,17,21)( rod: Isa 10:15 8:4 14:5,6 Ps 17:14 125:3 Jer 51:20-24

Nothing remains but to crouch among the captives or fall among the slain - Bow as a captive to the foreign invaders or be slain by them. Go into captivity or fall in battle.

Crouch (03766) (kara) means to bow down and can refer both to bending in general or to bowing in worship or obeisance (attitude of deference). Some uses clearly refer to kneeling (2Ki 1:13, Jdg 7:6).

It is interesting to note that another Hebrew verb shachah could also mean to bowing down to pay homage. Shachah however is often translated worship, or to show reverential respect by bowing down before a superior, the first use in Ge 22:5 being by Abraham who is going to worship Jehovah. But here in Isaiah 10:4 Isaiah does not use shachah but kara which never translated worship in the NAS. So what is the point? Since the leaders refused to bow down in worship (shachah) before Jehovah, they would be forced to bow before pagan invaders in humiliation and subjugation. Beloved, who do you bow before?

Guzik comments that...

When the Assyrians conquered other nations, it wasn’t enough for them to just win a military victory. They had a perverse pleasure in humiliating and subjugating their conquered foes. They would do everything they could to bring them low. Here, God says, “You have rejected Me, so without Me you shall bow down in humiliation and degradation before your enemies.” (Isaiah 10 Commentary)

ESV Study Bible adds that...

In his writings, the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III boasted of stacking the corpses of his defeated enemies and heaping up piles of their skulls (cf. Nah. 3:3). To give up in the face of such an enemy is profound despair. (ESV Study Bible)

In spite of all this, His anger does not turn away and His hand is still stretched out - This is the fourth time this sad refrain has occurred (Isaiah 9:12, 17, 21, 10:4) and marks the close of the prophecy of divine judgment on the Northern Kingdom.

This is a fascinating refrain given the fact that this passage describes what would seem to be final punishment (especially "fall among the slain" = death)

Guzik commenting on the fourth use of this phrase...

reminds us that God’s judgment is persistent. It moves from phase to phase until it finds repentance. This means that it makes sense for us to repent now, because God’s judgment is persistent for all eternity.

“If even physical death does not satisfy the fierce anger of this holy God, what dread and punishment lies beyond the grave?” (Grogan)

It makes perfect sense for this message of coming judgment to follow the announcement of the Messiah. His coming was announced, but the people were not ready for Him, and the predicted judgment would come before they were ready. (Isaiah 10 Commentary)

Isaiah 10:5 Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger and the staff in whose hands is My indignation,: (Assyria: Ge 10:11)


Isaiah 10:5-34

Woe - see note on Isaiah 10:1 see note

Young comments that...

All that we do has been foreordained of God, and to Him we are responsible. When we are employed in some momentous task we should look to Him and acknowledge His greatness for using us as He has. This Assyria did not do. Puffed up with pride, she thought that she was conducting affairs in accordance with her own wishes. Instead of recognizing the sovereignty of God, she believed herself to be sovereign...When a nation is thus charged with the execution of God’s wrath and looks not to God, it itself can only become the object of woe. (The Book of Isaiah 3 Vol. Edward J. Young)

Assyria - God's rod and staff. Solomon explains that...

Jehovah has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil. (Pr 16:4)

Vine comments that...

Verses 5 to 19 give a striking example of how God has used gentile nations to chastise His earthly people, permitting these nations to attain to a high degree of domination. They on their part have prided themselves on what they consider to be their own attainments, and on this account have brought upon themselves the retributive judgments of the Lord.

Click map of Assyria - the river nearest to Israel is the Euphrates. Observe in the legend the striking expansion of the boundaries that occurred the years 824BC and 671BC. Observe that Judah is not green but yellow - while the Northern Kingdom whose capital was Samaria was eventually defeated by Assyria, the Assyrian advances on Judah did not result in her defeat - Why? God's protective hand was on Judah. He would eventually use Nebuchadnezzar as His servant [Jer 25:9, 27:6, 43:10] to defeat and demolish Judah and Jerusalem in 586BC. Beloved if God is in control of kingdoms rising and falling, what is there in your life which you think is beyond His control? And remember His timing is not necessarily your timing!)

The rod of My anger - While God is not the Author of evil, He does on occasion use wicked men and nations to punish even His own people when they fall into sin and idolatry. When this punishment is completed, however, those evil kingdoms or individuals inevitably meet even more severe judgments (Isaiah 10:12). So while Assyria was His primary rod for punishing the Northern Kingdom, Babylon was the primary instrument He used to punish the Southern Kingdom, the prophet Habakkuk recording...

For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that fierce and impetuous people who march throughout the earth to seize dwelling places which are not theirs. (Hab 1:6, cp 2Chr 36:17, Jer 25:9).

Rod (07626)(shebet) is literally a club or heavy blunt wooden stick as a weapon to kill by striking the victim or opponent (2Sa 23:21; 1Ch 11:23) and in the present context refers (figuratively) to the nation of Assyria as God's "rod of discipline" with which He judges Israel.

Anger (0639) (ap) means nose and thus depicts hard breathing or nasal snorting that accompanies exasperation. In short, ap therefore describes anger which is felt as an emotion. It is the Lord's anger which empowers Assyria to be His rod of discipline on His people.

Henry Morris has an interesting comment on Assyria...

As in many of the prophecies, there is to be both a precursive fulfillment, in this case the coming invasion of Israel and Judah by the unspeakably cruel and wicked Assyrians, and a final fulfillment, the northern invaders of Israel in the last days, as described particularly in Ezekiel 38. The term "Assyrian" seems, in fact, to be a title of the coming Antichrist (Micah 5:5,6).

This One (Messiah) will be our peace (cp Prince of peace Isa 9:6). When the Assyrian invades our land, when he tramples on our citadels, then we will raise against him seven shepherds and eight leaders of men. 6 They will shepherd the land of Assyria with the sword, The land of Nimrod at its entrances; And He will deliver us from the Assyrian When he attacks our land And when he tramples our territory. (Mic 5:5-6).

Comment: While not everyone would agree that Micah's prophecy describes the future Antichrist, Micah's prediction of Israeli victory over Assyria has never been historically fulfilled and does leave open this fulfillment as a distinct possibility that it refers to the last days. Morris commenting on Micah's prophecy writes

Since Assyria was the chief threat to Judah at the time Micah was writing, many expositors assume that "the Assyrian" in this verse is simply a metaphor for all her enemies. The context in this passage, however, is strongly Messianic and prophetic, and Assyria was a dead nation long before even the first coming of Christ. With this context in mind, it seems most likely that "the Assyrian" here is a name for the Antichrist of the last days, the leader of the last great invasion of Israel before the second coming of Christ. He is an Assyrian not by nationality (the Assyrians of antiquity have long vanished from history) but by geography, since his capital will be at restored Babylon (Zechariah 5:5-11). In the last days, "the Assyrian" (or Antichrist, or the Beast) will be seeking to establish his world government and especially to eliminate the nation Israel and all Christians in every nation. At that time, this particular prophecy will become clear. There has been no historical fulfillment of this prophecy as yet, which makes it even more obvious that the major context of this whole section must relate to the future. At that time, the Lord will raise up leaders--perhaps from Israel--to organize escape routes and resistance to the Assyrian's armies and death squads.

Gaebelein adds that the ancient Assyrian invasion from the North was a foreshadowing of a greater "King of the North"

This is an interesting and important chapter (Isaiah 10). The Assyrian enemy was used by God to punish His people....In Isaiah 10 we read a fuller description of this great troubler and how he invaded the land of Israel. God addresses him as the rod He uses in anger against His people. While all this had a past fulfilment a similar invasion of the land of Palestine will be enacted before the times of the Gentiles close and the King of Kings appears. The "Assyrian" of the end time comes from the North; therefore he is called in Daniel’s prophecy “the King of the North.” Antiochus Epiphanes is a type of this final outward foe of Israel. Study carefully with this chapter Is 14:24–25; Is 30:31–33; Micah 5:1–7; Daniel 8:23-26; 11:40–45; Psalm 74:1–10; Psalm 89. Jehovah shall suddenly make an end of him. Verses 33–34 compare with Daniel 11:45. (Commentary on Isaiah - Annotated Bible)

Isaiah 10:6 I send it against a godless nation and commission it against the people of My fury to capture booty and to seize plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets.:

  • against: Isa 9:17 19:17 29:13 30:9-11 33:14 Jer 3:10 4:14 Mt 15:7
  • commission: Isa 10:13,14 37:26,27 41:25 45:1-5 Jer 25:9 34:22 47:6,7
  • trample them: Heb. lay them a treading, Isa 22:5 63:3,6 2Sa 22:43 Mic 7:10 Zec 10:5


I send it - God in His Sovereignty sends his instrument Assyria against His people. Assyria's invasion was not a chance happening. In fact nothing occurs "by chance." There surely is some play on words for Isaiah himself had been sent to God's people (Isaiah 6:8-note).

A godless nation - ("defiled"; ASV = "profane"; NAB = "impious"; NCV = "separated from God") A profane, sinning nation who were once called "My people."

Beloved I cannot read this phrase without great remorse as I contemplate the United States of America and the continual attempts by godless men and women to completely remove every reference to God and God's Word from our country! Woe! Lord, revive the remnant while there is still time to repent! Amen.

The people of My fury (Literally, "the people of My anger") - These are the people who justly deserve or merit God's anger. This phrase summarizes why God is sending the Assyrians -- He is angry with His rebellious, faithless people. Beloved, let us learn from these passages -- God is never mocked. If we sow seeds of willful sin, we will surely reap the Lord's rod of discipline! We never sin in a vacuum. We never sin and "get away with it." God's chosen people are a powerful demonstration of this principle. This is why Paul writes...

Now these things happened (referring to events in the OT - see 1Co 10:1, 2, 3, 4, 5) as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved....Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (1Cor 10:6, 11)

Comment: May God grant us the grace to read and heed God's clear OT warnings! Amen

Isaiah 10:7 Yet it does not so intend, nor does it plan so in its heart, but rather it is its purpose to destroy and to cut off many nations.:

  • Intend: Ge 50:20 Mic 4:11,12 Ac 2:23 13:27-30
  • Heart: Isa 36:18-20 37:11-13

Rather it is its purpose - "It...Its" refers to the Assyrian empire and "its purpose" was to serve as Jehovah's instrument of punishment. This is a clear indicator that God is in control of history. He is Sovereign, a truth some believers struggle with but one which is incredibly comforting when it fully received. If He were not sovereign, how could the Bible make statements like those in Ge 50:20 and Ro 8:28-note? So the purpose of Assyria was to serve as God's instrument of punishment for His rebellious chosen people. As Young puts it "In God’s hand the Assyrian was an unconscious and unwitting instrument."

Solomon reminds us that

The king's heart (Ed: Yes, mysteriously [to me], even wicked pagan kings like those of the evil empire Assyria) is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes. (Pr 21:1)

ESV Study Bible note...

God uses human evil for his own just purpose, but he does not need humans to intend their cooperation. Events unfold through human intentions but also, more deeply, through the divine intention (cf. Luke 22:22; Acts 2:22, 23; 4:27,28). (ESV Study Bible)

Isaiah 10:8 For it says, "Are not my princes all kings?:

  • Isa 36:8 2Ki 18:24 19:10 Eze 26:7 Da 2:37

It says - Referring to Assyria who is personified as asking this question. As someone has said in this section on Assyria, we gain great insight into the heart of a dictator.

Are not my princes all kings? - The NLT translates is as "Each of my princes will soon be a king." The implication would be that Assyria would conquer sufficient nations and the kings of those nations would now be subject ("princes") to the king of Assyria (cp 2Ki 25:28). Oswalt has a different interpretation that "He is so great that even his “commanders” are the equivalent of the kings of other lands." The main point is that Assyria is saying he was unstoppable.

Isaiah 10:9 "Is not Calno (Calneh) like Carchemish, or Hamath like Arpad, or Samaria like Damascus?:

  • Calno: Am 6:1,2
  • Carchemish: 2Ch 35:20 Jer 46:2
  • Hamath: Isa 36:19 37:13 2Sa 8:9 2Ki 17:24 Jer 49:23
  • Samaria: Isa 7:8 17:3 2Ki 16:9 17:5,6 18:9,10

The boasting of Assyria continues as it revels in its conquests over fortresses. At this time Samaria (capital of the Northern Kingdom) had not fallen but in this passage is treated as if it had already fallen to Assyria.

NET Bible Note comments that...

The city states listed here were conquered by the Assyrians between 740–717BC. The point of the rhetorical questions is that no one can stand before Assyria’s might.

Utley has a historical note...

a. Calno (or Calneh), city in northern Syria (cf. Amos 6:2) fell in 742 B.C. (all these dates are estimates only) b. Carchemish, major city of the Hittites near the headwaters of the Euphrates, joined Assyrian coalition in 738 B.C. c. Hamath, city on the northern boundary of Israel (cf. 2Chr. 8:4) on the Orontes River, fell in 738 BC d. Arpad, city in northwest Syria fell in 741 BC e. Samaria (capital of Israel) fell in 722 BC to Sargon II f. Damascus (capital of Syria) fell in 732 B.C. (Ref)

Isaiah 10:10 As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols, whose graven images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria:

  • the kingdoms: Isa 10:14 2Ki 18:33-35 19:12,13,17-19 2Ch 32:12-16,19

As my hand... - The Assyrian boast continues. We see similar boasting by the Assyrian commander Rabshakeh in Isa 36:13-20; 37:8-13.

Idols (0457)('eliyl) means worthless (e.g., those who perform their job poorly - Job 13:4, Zech 11:17). 'Eliyl refers to that which is worthless as an object of worship. The idea is that which is good for nothing, vain or vanity, of no value, a thing of naught. 'Eliyl is used primarily to describe vain objects of worship, i.e. the gods of this world, whether literal idols made with hands, riches, or deceitful men. The irony of this is biting not only with respect to the usual meaning of this word but also in view of its similarity to the usual word for God ('Elohim). The Lxx translates with the rare adjective gluptos which means "carved" and thus describes carved images (eg Dt 7:5, 25 "graven images" = gluptos, Isa 46:1 = "images"; Isa 48:5 = "graven image").

Utley comments that images...

is an interesting word (BDB 47). Its basic meaning is uncertain, but it is spelled similarly to Elohim ('eliyl), which has caused scholars to assume it refers to weak and non-existent idols (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 411). Monotheism is the uniqueness of Israel’s faith. There are other spiritual beings, but only one true God (cf. Dt 4:35,39; 6:8; 32:39; Isa 43:9, 10, 11; 45:21, 22; Jer 2:11; 5:7,10; Ro 3:30; 1Co 8:4,6; 1Ti 2:5; Jas 2:19). The idols represent nothing, only the false hopes and fears (superstitions) of fallen humanity realizing there is more to reality than the physical, but unable to comprehend spiritual truth (i.e., revelation). (Reference) (Bolding added)

Isaiah 10:11 Shall I not do to Jerusalem and her images just as I have done to Samaria and her idols?":

  • Shall I not do: Isa 36:19,20 37:10-13

Shall I not do to Jerusalem and her images - A rhetorical question. Notice the contemptuous, boastful blasphemy of Assyria in equating Jerusalem's God, the one true and Living God, with idols ("her images").

Images (KJV = "idols") (0457)('eliyl) - see previous verse.

This verse concludes the comparison which began in verse 10. Assyria is personified as saying that it had defeated kingdoms who possessed idols far greater than those in Jerusalem (pagans did not believe in the Living God, Who they classified as one amongst a other gods, who they equated with idols). Assyria reasoned that since it had defeated greater "images...and idols" (Isa 10:10), they would surely defeat Jerusalem (representative of the Southern Kingdom of Judah).

We encounter an example of an allusion to the idols of conquered countries in the taunting words of the Assyrian commander Rabshakeh which were later addressed to Judah.

Has any one of the gods (idols) of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria from my hand? ‘Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their land from my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’ (2Ki 18:33-35).

Isaiah 10:12 So it will be that when the Lord has completed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem. He will say, "I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness.":

  • when the Lord: Isa 10:5,6 14:24-27 27:9 46:10,11 Ps 76:10 1Pe 4:17
  • I will: Isa 10:16-19,25-34 17:12-14 29:7,8 30:30-33 31:5-9 37:36-38 50:11 Jer 50:18
  • punish: Isa 9:9 Job 40:11,12 Ps 21:10 Mt 12:33 15:19
  • the pomp: Isa 2:11 5:15 Ps 18:27 Pr 30:13 Eze 31:10,14 Da 4:37

So it will be that when the Lord has completed all His work - His work of punishment although not a complete defeat of Judah and Jerusalem at the hands of the Assyrians.

Completed (01214) (batsa') is a technical term used by weavers to designate the action of cutting a piece of cloth free from the loom after it has been woven. The idea is to ‘snip off’ a thread and hence ‘to terminate’.

Young has an interesting comment which seems to see the completion of the Lord's work as not just fulfilled in past history but as also having a future fulfilment...

The persecution of Zion and Jerusalem represents in essence the substance of all the persecutions that would come upon the Church (Ed: I would favor end times persecution on the nation of Israel, cp Jer 30:7, Da 12:1-note, et al), and the declaration and description of this punishment prepare the way for the announcement of the coming of the end of the days, the period of blessing to be ushered in by the Messiah (Ed: Second Coming). (The Book of Isaiah 3 Vol. Edward J. Young

Comment: Although I would not agree with Young that the Church in this present age has replaced Israel (see discussion of the phrase Israel of God), I do agree with his interpretation of Isaiah 10:12a having a past and a future fulfillment and that the return of the King of kings (Rev 19:16-note) will be the ultimate time "when the Lord has completed all His Work on Mt Zion and Jerusalem."

On Mount Zion and on Jerusalem - This refers to the Assyrian invasion of the Southern Kingdom which ultimately will be defeated by Babylon.

I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness - Yes God had used evil Assyria for His holy purposes but they would afterward be held accountable to God (Assyria fell in 612BC).

Motyer notes that...

What the king of Assyria did conformed to the will of God; why he did it had nothing to do with the will of God, only with the king’s arrogance and vaingloriousness. (The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary

Isaiah 10:13 For he has said, "By the power of my hand and by my wisdom I did this, for I have understanding; and I removed the boundaries of the peoples and plundered their treasures, and like a mighty man I brought down their inhabitants:

  • He has said: Isa 10:8 37:23,24 Dt 8:17 Eze 25:3 26:2 28:2-9 29:3 Da 4:30 Am 6:13 Hab 1:16
  • removed: 2Ki 15:29 17:6,24 18:11,32 1Ch 5:26 Am 5:27 6:1,2
  • plundered: 2Ki 16:8 18:15 Ho 13:15,16)

For - Term of explanation. Isaiah 10:13,14 help to amplify our understanding of the Assyrian king's arrogant heart and pomp of his haughtiness.

By the power of my hand and by my wisdom I did this - The king of Assyria took the glory to himself and boasted that his conquests were the result of his power and his wisdom! Pride is a most deceptive sin, even when it is not very subtle! The Assyrian's declaration is almost identical to the arrogant boast expressed years later by King Nebuchadnezzar...

The king reflected and said, 'Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?' (Da 4:30)

Isaiah 10:14 And my hand reached to the riches of the peoples like a nest, and as one gathers abandoned eggs, I gathered all the earth; and there was not one that flapped its wing or opened its beak or chirped.":

  • And my: Isa 5:8 Job 31:25 Pr 18:12 21:6,7 Ho 12:7,8 Na 2:9-13 3:1 Hab 2:5-11

Assyria's boasting continues (count the number of personal pronouns in Isa 10:13, 14!). Other nations were like so many unguarded bird's eggs before Assyria's power. Or at least that is the inflated opinion Assyria possessed and projected.

IVP Background Commentary adds that...

The arrogant claims put in the mouth of the Assyrian king by Isaiah is not at all exaggerated. The royal inscriptions of these kings are extreme in the claims they arrogate to the king. Tiglath-Pileser declares himself beloved of the gods, light of all his people and shepherd of humankind, who subdued many kings, despoiled cities and imposed tribute. He claimed that he considered his enemies mere ghosts. (Matthews, V. H., Chavalas, M. W., & Walton, J. H. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press)

Isaiah 10:15 Is the axe to boast itself over the one who chops with it? Is the saw to exalt itself over the one who wields it? That would be like a club wielding those who lift it, or like a rod lifting him who is not wood.:

  • axe: Isa 10:5 Ps 17:13,14 Jer 51:20-23 Eze 28:9 Ro 9:20,21

Application: Beloved, we who are God's workmanship (Ep 2:10-note) must be careful not to take credit for what God does through us for He will not share His glory with another! (Isa 42:8, cp Mt 5:16-note "in such a way" that He alone receives the glory)

Now comes the indictment of the pride of Assyrian king, who is metaphorically compared to an axe, a saw, a club, and a rod, mere "tools" as it were in the hand of the Almighty God. Clearly, Assyria did not act independently of the Sovereign God.

As John Calvin said...

Whenever men ascribe to themselves more than is proper, they rise against God.

Is the axe to boast itself over the one who chops with it? - This (and the next) question is rhetorical and calls for a negative response.

That would be like a club wielding those who lift it or like a rod lifting him who is not wood - This exaggeration shows now ludicrous it would be for an axe to boast or a saw to exalt itself, referring to how ridiculous it was for the king of Assyria to make these claims.


God said he would cut down the “forest” of Judah’s pride (Isa 6:13), and Assyria is the “ax” in God’s hand to accomplish that task. God also said that He would punish his people for their sin (Isa 5:25), and Assyria is the instrument of that punishment. (Ibid)

Isaiah 10:16 Therefore the Lord, the GOD of hosts, will send a wasting disease among his stout warriors; and under his glory a fire will be kindled like a burning flame.:

  • Lord of hosts: Isa 5:17 14:24-27 29:5-8 37:6,7,29,36 2Ch 32:21 Ps 106:15 Ac 12:23
  • under: Isa 9:5 30:30-33 33:10-14

Therefore - And oh what a conclusion it is! The Assyrian king's pompous puffed up pride would be punctured by a wasting (Hebrew = leanness) disease among the stout (Hebrew = fat) warriors (note pun = leanness sent to "fat" warriors), who were the main source of the empire's seeming invincibility.

Lord - Adonai - My Lord, My Master

Lord, the GOD of hosts (repeated in Isaiah 10:16, 23, 24, 33) - This name speaks of God as Master and as over the armies (hosts), so that He is in control. The ESV Study Bible has an interesting explanation of why this unusual name is concentrated in verses 16-34 commenting that...

God moves history to preserve his remnant people. Isaiah marks this section with the Lord God of hosts. (ESV Study Bible)

(God) Will send (cp "I send" in Is 10:6) - God was in total control of Assyria's fate.

His glory - The glory of Assyria. Man's glory is "flammable" and easily consumed by the fire of God.

A fire will be kindled - Fire is used metaphorically to describe the complete destruction of whatever is burned. In this case the fuel for the fire would be the Assyrian Empire which would be completely consumed by the "conflagration."

Delitzsch comments that...

In accordance with Isaiah’s masterly art of painting in tones, the whole passage is so expressed, that we can hear the crackling, and spluttering, and hissing of the fire, as it seizes upon everything within its reach. This fire, whatever it may be so far as its natural and phenomenal character is concerned, is in its true essence the wrath of Jehovah.

Isaiah 10:17 And the light of Israel will become a fire and his Holy One a flame, and it will burn and devour his thorns and his briars in a single day.:

  • light: Isa 60:19 Ps 27:1 84:11 Rev 21:23 22:5
  • flame: Isa 30:27,28 33:14 64:1,2 66:15,16,24 Nu 11:1-3 16:35 Ps 18:8 Ps 21:9 50:3 83:14,15 Jer 4:4 7:20 Mal 4:1-3 Mt 3:12 2Th 1:7-9 Heb 12:29
  • devour: Isa 27:4 37:36 Ps 97:3 Na 1:5,6,10)


The light of Israel - Notice that some translations (NIV, NLT, Amplified) capitalize "Light" indicating they consider this to be God. In context that seems to be the correct interpretation (cp 1Jn 1:5).

The NET Bible note agrees adding that...

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 (Isa 10:16b).

Motyer refers us to a number of OT passages that discuss the Lord as Light

Ps 27:1-note; P 84:11-note; Is. 60:1, 2, 3, 19, 20; Mic 7:8 (Ed: cp Ps 36:9-note, Hab 3:4, Rev 22:5-note). Light symbolizes God’s favor (Ps 4:7-note), guidance (Ps 43:3-note), law (Ps 119:105-note), revelation of truth (Is 42:6) and presence (Ps 104:2-note; Is 4:5). The light which in its fullest sense is yet to come (Isa 9:1, 30:26) is already present. In the darkness of calamity, faith walks in the light. For the link between light and holiness see Isa 6:3. There ‘glory’ expressed the presence of the Lord in all His glory in every place; here light is the presence of the Lord in all His unapproachable holiness. (The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary

Will become a fire - Metaphor of God as a consuming fire, a description that refers to God later in Isaiah -- Isaiah 29:6, Isa 30:27, 30. Clearly this picture of God as a fire is an affirmation of an omnipotent God Who possesses power to destroy His adversaries. In Daniel we see God's power over nations...

And it is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men, And knowledge to men of understanding. (Da 2:21-note)

The writer of Hebrews rightly says that our God is a consuming fire. (Heb 12:29-note)

Comment: Beloved aren't we glad the writer said He is our God! While this awesome description of God cause us to reverentially fear Him, we can know that He is our God, because the Lamb has been offered up as a whole burnt offering to the propitiate the wrath of God against sin. Because Christ was consumed by the wrath of God poured out on Calvary, we who are safe in Christ, need never fear experiencing His consuming fire.

In the first Biblical description of God as a consuming power we read

to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the mountain top. (Ex 24:17)

Moses describes God as...

the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (Dt 4:24)

Criswell comments: God's jealousy is the other side of His love. It is the zeal with which He seeks to maintain His relationship with those He loves. God's jealousy has been called "the basic element in the whole OT idea of God." Because God loves Israel, He will not tolerate losing their loyalty to another, for this would break the covenant and keep Israel from blessing and prosperity.

Later Moses describes God functioning as Israel's warrior against her enemies (much like what He is doing here in Isaiah 10:17ff)...

Know therefore today that it is the LORD your God who is crossing over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and He will subdue them before you, so that you may drive them out and destroy them quickly, just as the LORD has spoken to you. (Dt 9:3)

Holy One - This is one of Isaiah’s favorite titles for God and used some 29x out of 58 total uses in the OT. It pictures the Lord as the Sovereign King Who rules over His covenant people and exercises moral authority over them.

Holy One - 29x (out of 56x in the entire OT) - Isa 1:4; 5:19, 24; 10:17, 20; 12:6; 17:7; 29:19, 23; 30:11, 12, 15; 31:1; 37:23; 40:25; 41:14, 16, 20; 43:3, 14, 15; 45:11; 47:4; 48:17; 49:7; 54:5; 55:5; 60:9, 14.

His thorns...his briars - Figurative description of the Assyrian king and his empire which would be destroyed just as easily as a fire destroys thorns and briars.


Judah's enemy Assyria would be destroyed in a single day (cp same phrase referring to what Assyria would do to Israel!). In the days of King Hezekiah of Judah, the Assyrian forces invaded Judah and seemed ominously close to defeating Jerusalem (even as they had boasted they would do in Isaiah 10:10, 11). And yet here in Isaiah 10:16, 17 through the prophet Isaiah God promises protection for Judah and Jerusalem. And later Isaiah records the details of God's hand of protection over Judah and Jerusalem...

Therefore, thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, 'He shall not come to this city, or shoot an arrow there; neither shall he come before it with a shield, nor throw up a mound against it. 34 'By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come to this city,' declares the LORD. 35 'For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for My servant David's sake.'" 36 Then the Angel of the LORD (compare to the Light of Israel, the Holy One") went out, and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men arose early in the morning, behold, all of these were dead (fulfillment of Isaiah's prediction of destruction of the Assyrian forces in a single day). 37 So Sennacherib, king of Assyria, departed and returned home, and lived at Nineveh. (Isaiah 37:33-37)

The parallel account of the Holy One's protection of Jerusalem and Judah is recorded in Second Kings...

Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, "He shall not come to this city or shoot an arrow there; neither shall he come before it with a shield, nor throw up a mound against it. 33 "By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come to this city,"' declares the LORD. 34 'For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for My servant David's sake.'" 35 Then it happened that night that the Angel of the LORD went out, and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were dead (The Angel "destroyed every mighty warrior, commander and officer in the camp of the king of Assyria." 2Chr 32:21). 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home, and lived at Nineveh. 37 And it came about as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with the sword ("some of his own children killed him" 2Chr 32:21); and they escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son became king in his place. (2Kings 19:32-37)

Isaiah 10:18 And He will destroy the glory of his forest and of his fruitful garden, both soul and body, and it will be as when a sick man wastes away.:

  • destroy: Isa 10:33,34 9:18 2Ki 19:23,28 Jer 21:14 Eze 20:47,48

Isaiah uses a number of phrases (glory of his [Assyria's] forest...fruitful garden... soul and body...a sick man) to picture the thoroughness of His divine decree to destroy Assyria.

Isaiah 10:19 And the rest of the trees of his forest will be so small in number that a child could write them down.:

  • small: Isa 37:36

Rest (07605)(sear/shear) refers to a remnant of something, in the present case a remnant of the Assyrian empire that remains after their divinely decreed destruction takes place. Sear/shear is a key word in this section of Isaiah's prophecy being found some 6 times (out of a total of 25 uses in the OT!) in two chapters (Isa 10:19, 20, 21, 22;11:11,16). In Isaiah 14:22 the prophet uses sear/shear to refer to Babylon ("survivors"), in Isaiah 16:14 to Moab, in Isaiah 17:3 to Aram and in Isaiah 21:17 to Kedar (A powerful tribe in Northern Arabia).

The trees of the small in number - This metaphor (trees) refers to Assyria's soldiers, following the intervention by the Angel of Jehovah who struck 185,000 soldiers (Isa 37:36) How high can a child count?

The NLT paraphrase helps understand the sense of this passage...

Of all that glorious forest, only a few trees will survive—so few that a child could count them!

Isaiah 10:20 Now in that day the remnant of Israel, and those of the house of Jacob who have escaped, will never again rely on the one who struck them, but will truly rely on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.:

  • remnant: Isa 1:9 4:2,3 6:13 37:4,31,32 Ezr 9:14 Ro 9:27-29
  • Never: 2Ki 16:7 2Ch 28:20 Ho 5:13 14:3
  • Rely: Isa 17:7,8 26:3,4 48:1,2 50:10


Let's look at some background information to help understand to what "double reference" refers. This is not an attempt to convince you of the authenticity or veracity of this principle but to help you understand what the theologians mean when they use this terminology.

One of the foremost scholars of Bible prophecy Dr John Walvoord (now with the Lord) explains that...

Prophecies sometimes have more than one fulfillment. This is referred to as the law of double reference. It is not unusual in Scripture for a prophecy to be partially fulfilled early and then later have a complete fulfillment. Accordingly, what seems to be a partial fulfillment of a prophecy should not be assumed to be the final answer as the future may record a more complete fulfillment. (The Prophecy Knowledge Handbook All the Prophecies of Scripture Explained in One Volume) (Bolding added)

Comment: Some writings use the term "double fulfillment" rather than "double reference". In fairness, it should also be clearly stated that not all Biblical scholars (Milton Terry in Biblical Hermeneutics, Puritan John Owen, Bishop J C Ryle), espouse this principle in the interpretation of Scripture. These notes are not going to resolve this debate. Suffice it to say, this website does believe that some passages have a near and future fulfillment.

David Jeremiah has a well done article (cost to view entire article but gives annual access to 1000's of conservative theological articles) in which he summarizes the main points of the "law of double reference"...

1. In double reference prophecy, the first fulfillment of the prophecy usually is found in a person or event close in time to the prophetic utterance.

2. In double reference prophecy, the first fulfillment is usually only a partial fulfillment of the total prophetic message.

3. In double reference prophecy, the ultimate fulfillment is usually found in the person of Christ or the affairs of His kingdom.

Double fulfillment is particularly true of the predictions…concerning the Babylonian Captivity, the event of the day of the Lord, the return from Babylon, the world-wide dispersion of Israel, and their future regathering from all the corners of the earth… (Charles Feinberg)

4. In double reference prophecy, the first fulfillment is usually temporal, whereas, the ultimate fulfillment may be spiritual or eternal.

5. In double reference prophecy, part of the prophetic message may be fulfilled close at hand, and that fulfillment in turn becomes another prophecy. A. J. Gordon says, “Prophecy has no sooner become history, than history in turn becomes prophecy.”

6. In double reference prophecy, two or more prophecies may be grouped together in one area of vision, although they are really at different distances in fulfillment.

7. In double reference prophecy, observations 5 and 6 are usually found to be working in the same passage.

There are many other terms beside “double reference” which are used by various writers and theologians to describe what has been set forth in the seven observations we have just discussed. In most cases, the following terms are used interchangeably with “double reference” and may be understood to stand for any or all of the parts of the law: Near and Far View, Double Sense, Multiple Fulfillment, Gap Prophecy, Foreshortening, and several others.

There are two terms which need special mention here. “Compenetration” is a term used by Catholic writers to define what they understand by this law of double reference. “In an Old Testament passage, the near meaning and the remote meaning for the New Testament so compenetrate that the passage at the same time and in the same word refers to the near and the remote New Testament meaning.”...

A double fulfillment prophecy loses not one bit of its literalness when it is fulfilled the second or third time. This would violate our basic system of hermeneutics. “Double fulfillment is literal fulfillment and therefore consistent with basic rules of interpretation.”

The law of double reference is not the Pandora’s Box of Biblical Hermeneutics as some opponents would claim. It is the failure of many to distinguish application from interpretation that has caused such an accusation to be leveled at the principle. To accept the law of double reference as a legitimate tool for interpretation of prophecy is not to open the door to all kinds of fanciful notions as to the hidden and allegorical meanings that might be alluded to in a prophetic passage.

To speak of the law of double reference is to speak of interpretation, not application. Double reference is not one interpretation and manifold applications. It is one message for two audiences separated in time....

How can you tell if a prophetic statement has more than one fulfillment? These suggestions may help:

1. Determine if the prophecy has been fulfilled in its literal and complete meaning. Elsa Raud makes the following comment: "We can know whether or not the law of double reference applies to the prophecy we are reading by ascertaining whether it has been fulfilled completely and literally. Genesis 12:3 says that “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” All the families of the earth have not yet experienced the blessing in Christ which the promise declares…. Only a comparatively few Jews and Gentiles have thus been blessed in Him. The prophecy in Genesis 12:3 will be fulfilled for all the families of the earth in the Day of the Lord."

2. If the prophecy seems to have a double or wider meaning, examine that meaning only after you have carefully worked out the primary interpretation of the prophecy. What you understand by the first fulfillment will color your understanding of the second or ultimate fulfillment.

3. Look for some interpretive comment from the New Testament writers to aid your interpretation of the secondary or ultimate meaning.

4. If the understanding you get from the ultimate fulfillment is not completely in accord with that which is directly revealed concerning the person or event, reject it. Start over! In no case does our knowledge of a future event or person depend solely on the information contained in a double reference prophecy. (The Principle of Double Fulfillment in Interpreting Prophecy)

Dwight Pentecost has succinctly defined this "double sense" principle in interpretation of prophecy writing that...

Few laws are more important to observe in the interpretation of prophetic Scriptures than the law of double reference. Two events, widely separated as to the time of their fulfillment, may be brought together into the scope of prophecy. This was done because the prophet had a message for his own day as well as for a future time. By bringing two widely separated events into the scope of the prophecy both purposes could be fulfilled. Horne says:

The same prophecies frequently have a double meaning, and refer to different events, the one near, the other remote; the one temporal, the other spiritual or perhaps eternal. The prophets thus having several events in view, their expressions may be partly applicable to one, and partly applicable to another, and it is not always easy to make the transitions. What has not been fulfilled in the first, we must apply to the second; and what has already been fulfilled, my often be considered as typical of what remains to be accomplished.

It was the purpose of God to give the near and far view so that the fulfillment of the one should be the assurance of the fulfillment of the other. (Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology. See Page 46)

The fact that part of the prophecy has been fulfilled without the fulfillment of the rest of it does not argue for a figurative or non-literal method of fulfillment of that unfulfilled portion, but such a partial fulfillment does promise a complete, literal, future fulfillment of the whole. (Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology. See Page 63-64)

Now in that day - To what day is Isaiah referring? The possible interpretations (which are not necessarily mutually exclusive) are listed below...

(1) A historical day - The day that Assyria defeated the Northern Kingdom and invaded and threatened to destroy the Southern Kingdom. Even in the face of national tragedy, God would preserve a remnant.

(2) A future day - The day when a remnant of believing Jews will return to their Messiah, the Holy One of Israel, which from other passages will occur in the last days just before the Second Coming of Christ.

While the context is the prophecy regarding the destruction of Assyria indicate that Isaiah was certainly referring to a historical fulfillment in his day but there are characteristics in this passage which would seem to allow for one to interpret it as a double reference."

(1) The phrase in that day is often used in contexts which have a near and future fulfillment (see notes below). There is another use of in that day which clearly refers to a yet future day when the Messiah returns.

(2) The present passage appears to distinguish "Israel" and "the house of Jacob". It appears that Isaiah is not addressing only the Northern Kingdom of Israel but also the Southern Kingdom using the phrase "remnant of Israel and those of the house of Jacob". The house of Jacob in Isaiah 2:5, 6, 8:17 definitely refers to the Southern Kingdom. The phrase House of Jacob is used 9 times in Isaiah - Isa 2:5 Isa 2:6 Isa 8:17 Isa 10:20 Isa 14:1 Isa 29:22 Isa 46:3 Isa 48:1 Isa 58:1

(3) The time phrase never again refers to Israel/Jacob relying on the strength of men (in context the Assyrian Empire but a picture of the strength of men who filled with pride and self reliance) rather than the strength of Jehovah. The future believing Jewish remnant will forever rely on Jehovah (Messiah). This latter prophecy has never been fulfilled for Israel/Jacob as a nation. It will be fulfilled in the last days just before Messiah returns, when a believing remnant of the nation of Israel will have their eyes opened to see their Messiah and to come to totally rely upon Him.

To reiterate, this prophecy clearly had a partial fulfillment in Isaiah's day when a remnant of Jews came to truly (rely on) Jehovah as their Righteous One. However as discussed this passage also seems to foreshadow a greater day for the divided, nation, in that day when the Messiah returns and as Paul says "all Israel will be saved" (Ro 11:26-note)

Comment: I encourage you to be a Berean as these notes make no claim to being authoritative or 100% accurate. So while this section seems to allow for an interpretation as a "double reference", you may not agree after carefully "examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11-note). If you would like to do further study on the topic of The Future of Israel, let me suggest a 12 hour (free) course by Dr Anthony Garland What Will Happen to Israel? which presents a detailed expository discussion of Romans 9-11.

Jameison, an older commentary writes that...

The effect on the “remnant” (contrasted with the Assyrian remnant, Is 10:19); namely, those who shall be left after the invasion of Sennacherib, will be a return from dependence on external idolatrous nations, as Assyria and Egypt (2Ki 18:21; 16:7, 8, 9), to the God of the theocracy; fulfilled in part in the pious Hezekiah’s days; but from the future aspect under which Paul, in Ro 9:27, 28...regards the whole prophecy, the “remnant,” “who rely upon the Lord,” probably will receive their fullest realization in the portion of Jews left after that Antichrist shall have been overthrown, who shall “return” unto the Lord (Isa 6:13; 7:3; Zec 12:9, 10; Zep 3:12).

Teed writes...

In that day” often refers to the last days when the Lord will punish the wicked and set up His righteous kingdom (Isaiah. 4:2). However, here it seems to refer to the more immediate judgment on the Northern Kingdom by Assyria (10:27) and the return of a remnant from that empire. Though Israel had many people “like the sand of the sea,” only a few would return. Destruction, though overwhelming, would be fair (righteous) and would be on the whole land, both Israel and Judah.

But things will also be the same in the “Last Days” just before Jesus returns. (Isaiah 10 Teed Commentaries) (It is interesting that Teed goes on to paraphrase Harry Ironside's comments [see below] that speak of a future fulfillment - see Ironside's comment below.

Harry Ironside sees a future prophetic fulfillment in Isaiah 10:20-23 (but as discussed above, not everyone agrees with this genre of interpretation)...

When the judgments of God are being poured out upon the earth in the dark days of the great tribulation, a remnant of the Jews will turn to the Lord in deep repentance and in living faith. These will prove the greatness of His mercy and the unfailing character of His promises. No longer relying for their help on the powers that persecuted and failed them in the hour of their need, as when Ahaz turned first to Assyria and then to Egypt in his desperate plight, they will find their resource and protection in God Himself. (Isaiah 10:20)

The prophetic Word is clear and free of all obscurity. Only unbelief can deny its definite application to a literal remnant of the sons of Jacob when they turn to the Lord in the time of their greatest trouble. Then He will awake and will come to their help, and He will save the nation in the remnant. We need to remember that they are not all Israel which are of Israel. The great majority “as the sand of the sea” will go into utter apostasy and be destroyed in their sins, but a remnant shall return and be acknowledged by God as His people. And so, as we learn in Romans 11, “All Israel shall be saved,” for this remnant ("all Israel") will be the true Israel in that day of Jehovah’s power.

John Walvoord writes that Isaiah 10:5-34 describes God’s judgment...

on Assyria whom God used to judge Israel as well as on Israel herself (Isa 10:5-19). God’s judgment on Assyria was described in detail. The prophecy made clear that after God used the Assyrians to judge Israel, He would then judge the Assyrians (Isa 10:12, 16, 18)... After Assyria had been destroyed, God would restore “the remnant of Israel, the survivors of the house of Jacob” (Isa 10:20). A remnant of Israel would return to their land (Isa 10:21). In graphic language, Assyria was described as cut down like a tree whose limbs are cut off (Isa 10:33, 34). A partial return of Israel to their land from Assyria was accomplished after Nineveh fell to the Babylonians (612BC). The complete regathering of Israel will be fulfilled in relation to the second coming of Christ. (The Prophecy Knowledge Handbook All the Prophecies of Scripture Explained in One Volume) (Bolding added)

In that day - 83v in the OT and almost 50% occur in Isaiah (40x) - See related notes on the phrase in that day in comments on Isaiah 2:11, Isaiah 4:2, Isaiah 7:18.

Lev 7:35; Nu 32:10; Dt 31:17, 18; 1Sa 3:12; 8:18;

Isa 2:11, 17, 20; 3:18; 4:1,2; 5:30; 7:18, 20,21, 23; 10:20, 27; 11:10; 12:4; 17:4, 7, 9; 19:16, 18, 19, 21, 23, 24; 20:6; 22:8, 12, 20, 25; 23:15; 24:21; 25:9; 26:1; 27:1, 2, 12, 13; 28:5; 31:7; 52:6

Jer 4:9; 48:41; 49:22, 26; 50:30; Hos 2:16, 18, 21; Joel 3:18; Amos 2:16; 8:3, 9, 13; 9:11; Mic 4:6; 5:10; Zeph 3:11, 16; Zech 2:11; 3:10; 9:16; 12:3f, 6, 8f, 11; 13:1f, 4; 14:4, 6, 8f, 13, 20f; Mk 2:20; Lk 6:23; 10:12; Jn 14:20; 16:23, 26

Oswalt comments on in that day alluding to this phrase as having a double reference (fulfillment)...

In that day” is an expansive term referring to any future time of God’s judgment and/or restoration. Thus, it is not necessary to refer it directly to the events of 701BC nor even to the events of 620–609BC, when Assyria was finally destroyed. Rather, here it speaks of that future time when all the punishment at the hands of the nations will be over and the purified “remnant” of God’s people (see Is 4:2–6) will be brought home. (Oswalt, J. The NIV Application Commentary: Isaiah (176). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan)

Cornerstone Bible Commentary on in that day...

For connection with the Messianic Age, see Isaiah 11:10, 11; 12:1, 4.

Motyer on in that day...

This phrase identifies a moment when God’s hand is particularly seen in human history. Customarily, this is a hand of judgment, but as here and in Isa 4:2, that judgment is not to be considered in merely destructive terms, for there shall be a purified remnant which will emerge from the chaos of that day (Mal. 4:1–3). (The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary)

(Although Motyer does not go so far as to state that this prophecy has a future and complete fulfillment as I have espoused, he make an interesting statement in which he seems to leave that "door open" writing that ) Isaiah is looking forward to a day when a restored Judah will have become wise enough to put her trust in God, Who is her Holy One and Whose intentions for her are pure, Whose power is unique, and whose commitment to her is total. (My question would be - has that "day" come to pass in a way that would completely fulfill Isaiah's prophecy?)

C I Scofield on in that day...

That day is often the equivalent of "the day of the LORD" (Isa 2:10-22; Rev 19:11-21). The prophecy here passes from the general to the particular, from historic and fulfilled judgments upon Assyria to the final destruction of all Gentile world power at the return of the Lord in glory.

Remnant Summary (C I Scofield): In the history of Israel a remnant may be discerned, a spiritual Israel within the national Israel. In Elijah's time 7000 had not bowed the knee to Baal (1Ki 19:18). In Isaiah's time, Israel had been reduced to only a few godly "survivors" (Isa 1:9), for whose sake God still forebore to destroy the nation. During the captivities the remnant appears in Jews like Esther, Mordecai, Ezekiel, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. At the end of the seventy years of Babylonian captivity it was the remnant that returned under Ezra and Nehemiah. At the advent of our Lord, John the Baptist, Simeon, Anna, and those "who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem" (Lk 2:38) were the remnant. During the Church Age the remnant is composed of believing Jews (Ro 11:4, 5). But an important aspect of the remnant is prophetic. During the great tribulation a remnant out of all Israel will turn to Jesus as Messiah, the "sealed" Israelites of Rev 7:3-8.

Remnant - See on site study of the important doctrine of the remnant. Although the specific word "remnant" is not used in the in previous chapters of Isaiah, the concept of remnant has been clearly alluded to and constitutes an important doctrine in Isaiah (even appearing in the name of his son Shear-jashub = “a remnant will return” - Isa 7:3-note)...

Unless the LORD of hosts Had left us a few survivors, we would be like Sodom, We would be like Gomorrah. (Isa 1:9-note)

In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel. And it will come about that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy-- everyone who is recorded for life in Jerusalem (Ed: Note the allusion to "election"). (Isa 4:2,3-note)

Yet there will be a tenth portion in it, And it will again be subject to burning, Like a terebinth or an oak Whose stump remains when it is felled. The holy seed is its stump." (Isa 6:13)

In the present context the remnant of Israel is synonymous with those of the house of Jacob who have escaped.

refers to Jews who placed their faith in Messiah. Throughout history there have always been some Jews who have had their hearts circumcised and become Jews not just in the physical sense but in a spiritual sense (see Paul's comments Ro 2:27, 28, 29-note).

John MacArthur adds that...

A small nucleus of God’s people, preserved by His sovereign grace, form this righteous remnant in the midst of national apostasy. There were always the obedient few who preserved, obeyed, and passed on God’s law. There will always be a remnant because God will never forsake the Abrahamic Covenant (cf. Mic 2:12,13; Ro 9:27; 11:5). (MacArthur, J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word)

The one who struck them - The king of the empire of Assyria.

Rely...rely (08172) (sha'an) which means to lean upon or rest against (as for support - Samson in Jdg 16:26, Saul on his sword 2Sa 1:6) and figuratively as in this passage means to rely on in the sense of depending upon. The idea is that one has trust and belief in something (someone). For example in a proverb most of us have memorized (if you have not, you should consider memorizing it!) we read...

Trust (Hebrew = batah; Lxx = peitho) in Jehovah with all (Lxx = holos = a whole heart) your heart and do not lean (sha'an) on your own understanding. (Pr 3:5)

Comment: Trust in God or trust in self is the picture.

Sha'an - 20 verses in the OT - Ge 18:4; Nu 21:15; Jdg 16:26; 2Sa 1:6; 2Kgs 5:18; 7:2, 17; 2Chr 13:18; 14:11; 16:7, 8; Job 8:15; 24:23; Pr 3:5; Isa 10:20; 30:12; 31:1; 50:10; Ezek 29:7; Mic 3:11

In Isa 30:11, 31:1, 50:10 trust (batah) and rely (sha'an) are linked together. Notice also that the NASB translates sha'an as "trust" (in Jehovah) in 2Chr 13:18, 14:11, 16:7, 8. Clearly what you chose to rely on equates with that in which you place your trust.

Young sees a turning point in the passage writing that...

Here grace breaks through! The promises of God have not failed. Ahaz had leaned for help upon Assyria, and Assyria had set free from the danger that threatened him. As a result, however, there came a train of worse evils. Assyria marched in mighty power against Judah, but Assyria would be brought to an end, and then the people of God would turn to the only One upon whom they could safely lean for support, the Holy One of Israel. (The Book of Isaiah 3 Vol. Edward J. Young


The LORD, the Holy One of Israel - "LORD" in all capital letters signifies "Jehovah" in the NASB and Jehovah is clearly identified as the Holy One of Israel (see notes on "Holy One" in Isa 10:17). Who is "Jehovah"? Or to ask it another way, who is "I Am" in the New Testament? Or is "Jehovah" mentioned in the NT? The answer is yes, for John records

These things Isaiah said, because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him. (John 12:41)

Comment by Criswell: The passage undoubtedly refers to the magnificent vision of Isaiah (cf. Isa. 6), but also to the great Suffering Servant prophecy of Isa. 53 (Jn 12:38). Again the theme is sounded: the Messiah's glory is revealed in His suffering. Since John declares that Isaiah saw the glory of Jesus, it is certain that this vision was a Christophany, i.e., a pre-incarnate appearance of the living Lord. See also study of Jehovah = Jesus

MacArthur adds: (John 12:41) is a reference to Isaiah 6:1. John unambiguously ties Jesus to God or Yahweh of the OT (see note on 8:58)....(In John 8:58) Jesus declared Himself to be Yahweh, i.e., the LORD of the OT.

Merrill Tenney comments: John says that Isaiah saw Jesus and spoke of him. He identified Jesus with the Jehovah (Yahweh) of the OT.

Application: Who are you relying upon -- self or Savior? Have you surrendered your "right" and your ability to take care of thing in your way, the way you thing is right? Or are you willing to give up your way of confronting the "Assyrians" in your life and rely on God's way?

Isaiah 10:21 A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the Mighty God.:

  • return: Isa 7:3 9:13 19:22 55:7 65:8,9 Ho 6:1 7:10,16 14:1 Ac 26:20 2Co 3:14-16)


A remnant will the mighty God - A picture of repentance. This phrase is reminiscent of the name of Isaiah's son, Shear-jashub (Isa 7:3). A small nucleus of God’s people, preserved by His sovereign grace, form this righteous remnant (righteous by grace through faith, even like Abraham - Ge 15:6) in the midst of national apostasy. There were always the few who preserved, obeyed, and passed on God’s law. There will always be a remnant because God will never forsake the Abrahamic Covenant (cf. Mic 2:12,13 Ro 9:27 11:5).

Return (07725) (shub) describes movement back to a point of departure, which can be literal (sun dial in 2Ki 20:10) or figurative as in the present passage where shub conveys the idea of a radical change in one's attitude toward sin. This sense of shub implies a conscious moral separation and personal decision to forsake sin and enter fellowship with God. We see a striking example of this meaning in the king of Nineveh's charge to his people to "turn (shub) from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands." (Jonah 3:8). Repentance combines a turn from evil and a turn to good. This remnant makes a volitional choice to turn around and come back to the Mighty God.

The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery notes that...

The remnant motif in the Bible is associated with a variety of images, but the starting point of the motif is with Israel, as an ethnic people, a nation and ultimately as a symbol of the people of God. These can carry either a positive connotation, such as the “righteous remnant,” or a negative connotation, such as what remains following judgment. The negative aspect of remnant is portrayed in exaggerated and colorful ways that convey the gravity of divine judgment....Isaiah’s remnant idea (often) carries with it the hope of restoration. The judgment will act as a purge that will remove impure dross and leave behind a pure residue (Is 1:25,26; see Purity). Those who have faith will survive the coming flood (Is 28:16; 30:15). A holy seed will survive (Is 6:13). “He who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, every one who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem” (Is 4:3 RSV) (Dictionary of Biblical Imagery- Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, Tremper Longman III) (This is a unique resource and is highly recommended!)

Mighty God (El Gibbor) is the same name by which Isaiah had described the Messiah in (Isaiah 9:6-note). God is the "Warrior God" Who is able to liberate His people from the oppression of their enemies (in this case the Assyrians).

Young comments that...

Herein is graphically expressed the truth which was taught in the name of Isaiah’s son, Shear-jashub. Salvation had been promised, the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head. If this is to be accomplished there must be a remnant. A remnant will indeed return, and this is the remnant of Jacob. It is the true Israel, the elect people of God, who will lean not upon the smiter Assyria but upon the Mighty God. This Mighty God has already been introduced. He is One that will sit upon the throne of David. To turn to ʾel gibbor is to turn to the Lord Himself. “Afterward,” said the Lord through Hosea, “shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days” (Hos. 3:5). (The Book of Isaiah 3 Vol. Edward J. Young

Comment: Most conservative commentators interpret Hosea 3:5 as a prophecy of the nation of Israel's repentance after going through the Refiner's fire of the Great Tribulation (cp Zech 12:10, 13:8, 9, Ro 11:25, 26-note).

Henry Morris comments on David their king in Hos 3:5: Not only will they seek God as they had known Him in ancient times, but they will also acknowledge "David" as their king. That is, they will recognize Jesus as the long-awaited "son of David," Who was also the Son of God, Whose "throne shall be established for ever" (2Sa 7:12, 13, 14, 15, 16; Lk 1:31, 32, 33; Mt 22:41, 42, 43, 44, 45). In a secondary application, it may also be that David himself, resurrected with all Old Testament saints (cp Da 12:13-note), will again rule over earthly Israel during the millennium, when the apostles also will be "judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Mt 19:28; 27:52,53; 1Co 6:2; Rev 20:4; Jer 30:9; Ezek 34:23,24).

Oswalt - While it is not clear that a direct reference to Isa 9:6 is intended, the broad connection is plain. There will come a day when God’s government will be established and His might demonstrated in His Messiah. (The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1–39)

Isaiah 10:22 For though your people, O Israel, may be like the sand of the sea, only a remnant within them will return. A destruction is determined, overflowing with righteousness.:

  • though Your: 1Ki 4:20 Ho 1:10 Ro 9:27 11:5,6 Rev 20:8
  • remnant: Isa 6:13
  • destruction: Isa 6:11 8:8 27:10,11 28:15-22 Da 9:27 Ro 9:28
  • with: Ge 18:25 Ac 17:31 Ro 2:5 3:5,6

For though your people, O Israel, may be like the sand of the sea, only a remnant within them will return - For is a term of explanation - Isaiah is explaining more details about the remnant. Paul quotes this verse in Romans 9:27, 28...

Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved; for the Lord will execute His word on the earth, thoroughly and quickly.” (Ro 9:27, 28-note).

MacArthur comments: Isaiah prophesied that the southern kingdom of Judah would be conquered and scattered—temporarily rejected by God—because of her unbelief. Paul’s point is that the scattering Isaiah described was only a preview of Israel’s rejection of the Messiah and her subsequent destruction and scattering.

John Witmer comments that in Romans 9:27-28: Paul quoted Old Testament verses to support the fact that God in His sovereign choice and calling always includes a Jewish segment, though it is a minority. The passages quoted (Isa. 10:22, 23 and Isa 1:9, both from the Septuagint - Lxx) make it clear that in God’s judgment on rebellious Israel He by sovereign choice preserves and saves a remnant. Those promises were fulfilled in the Captivity and Exile of both Israel and Judah and in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD and will also be fulfilled in the national end-time deliverance of Israel (Ro 11:26, 27).

Vine comments that this verse...

makes clear that here again (as often in OT prophecy) the passage points not merely to the immediate fulfillment, as in the case of the Assyrian invasion, but looks on to later circumstances. For the apostle Paul in Romans 9:27 applies Isa 10:22, 23 to the yet future time, when Israel, passing through the Great Tribulation, will be reduced in number to a mere remnant (cp Zech 13:8, 9), the nucleus of the redeemed nation at the inception of the Millennium. This will be the issue of “the consumption decreed,” i.e., the judgments of “the time of Jacob’s trouble,” (Jer 30:7) executed “with righteousness” in the midst of the land. Accordingly the prophecy relates to the future time of “the Day of the Lord.”


The promises to Abraham will not be abrogated; indeed, they will be fulfilled (Ge 22:17; 32:12). But they cannot be used as a hedge to protect oneself from judgment (Luke 3:7, 8, 9), which is apparently what some were doing in Isaiah’s day. (The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1–39)

On the phrase overflowing with righteousness, Guzik comments that...

When God allows destruction - whether in outright judgment or loving correction - it is always righteous, and never unfair. In fact, His judgment overflows with righteousness! (Isaiah 10 Commentary)

Arnold Fruchtenbaum

The Remnant of Israel - According to Romans 11:25, 26, 27, all Israel will be saved.

According to Isaiah 10:20–23, only the Remnant will be saved.

This is not a contradiction if understood in the context of Israel’s national salvation. Zechariah 13:8, 9 points out that two-thirds of the Jewish population will be destroyed during the Tribulation.

Only the Remnant will survive, the escaped of Isaiah 4:2; 10:20; 37:31, 32; Joel 2:32; and Obadiah 1:17.

The remaining one-third become believers, so at that point all Israel and the remnant of Israel become one and the same, as Micah 2:12, 13 shows. I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel. The all of thee and the remnant of Israel become identical, for with Israel’s national salvation the whole nation joins the Remnant (Mic 2:12). Then, Messiah returns to rescue them (Mic 2:13).(Future Israel - go to page 20)

Isaiah 10:23 For a complete destruction, one that is decreed, the Lord GOD of hosts will execute in the midst of the whole land.:

  • decreed: Isa 14:26,27 24:1-23 Da 4:35

The English translation of the Septuagint gives a slight variation...

He will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because the Lord will make a short work in all the world.

Complete destruction (03617) (kalah) means completion as when God said Pharaoh would "surely drive (them) out...completely (kalah)." (Ex 11:1). In the present context the idea is annihilation (cp Nahum 1:8 = "complete end", Da 11:16 = "destruction")

Kalah - 18v in the OT - Gen 18:21; Ex 11:1; 2Chr 12:12; Neh 9:31; Isa 10:23; 28:22; Jer 4:27; 5:10, 18; 30:11; 46:28; Ezek 11:13; 20:17; Dan 9:27; 11:16; Nah 1:8f; Zeph 1:18. NAS = annihilation(1), complete destruction(5), complete end(4), completely(4), destroy*(2), destruction(2), end(1), entirely(1), full end(2).

There is one other use of kalah in Isaiah...

And now do not carry on as scoffers, Or your fetters will be made stronger; For I have heard from the Lord GOD of hosts of decisive (charats - see "decreed" below; Lxx = suntemno = to cut in pieces, to cut short, to cut off, to cut short, figuratively to abruptly end an allotted time!) destruction (kalah; Lxx = sunteleo = bringing something to its promised, ultimate finish) on all the earth. (Isaiah 28:22)

Decreed (02782) (charats) is a verb that has the primary sense of cut means to determine (as if to cut out), to speak about something with an assurance or confidence. For example God "cuts out" or determines the length of human life (Job 14:5 "his days are determined [charats]").

If God says (decrees) it that settles it whether we choose to believe or not to believe!

Charats - 12v in the OT - Ex 11:7; Lev 22:22; Josh 10:21; 2Sa 5:24; 1Ki 20:40; Job 14:5; Isa 10:22, 23; 28:22; Da 9:26, 27; 11:36. NAS = act promptly(1), bark*(1), decided(1), decisive(1), decreed(3), determined(3), maimed(1), uttered(1).

Charats is used in one of the greatest prophecies in the entire Bible (Da 9:24-27)...

Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off (crucifixion) and have nothing, and the people (Roman empire) of the prince who is to come (Antichrist) will destroy the city and the sanctuary (Occurred in 70AD). And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined (charats). 27 And he (Antichrist) will make a firm covenant with the many for one week (7 Years), but in the middle of the week (see Mt 24:15, 2Th 2:3,4 - marks beginning of the Great Tribulation - Mt 24:21) he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed (charats), is poured out on the one who makes desolate. (Daniel 9:26-note, Da 9:27-note, context = Da 9:24-note, Da 9:25-note)

Comment: If you have never studied this great prophecy, you owe to yourself (especially in light of the "signs of the times"!) to read it prayerfully, carefully and literally, as it is without doubt (in my mind) the greatest specific prophecy in all Scripture, because it predicts essentially to the day, the first coming of the Messiah, His subsequent crucifixion and rejection and the coming of the counterfeit "Christ", the Antichrist (Anti has two senses = [1] Instead of, in place of and [2] Against, opposed to.)

(Charats is also used in Daniel's description of the future Antichrist) Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done. (Da 11:36-note)

Comment: The Hebrew word for indignation (zaam) is also used in Isaiah 10:5 and Isaiah 10:25.

Lord GOD of hosts - "the Lord, the Lord of Heaven's Armies" (NLT)

In Isaiah 14 we read a declaration similar to that in Isaiah 10:23...

This is the plan devised against the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out against all the nations. For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back? (Isa 14:26, 27)

Comment: In this passage in Isaiah 14 the ultimate fulfillment applies not just to Israel, but to "all the nations (goyim = Gentiles)," when Christ returns. (Second Coming) History is indeed "His Story" and He is actively at work in His world (Ps 50:12) carrying out His purposes. No opposition can defeat God's plans (Nu 11:23 Job42:2 Je32:17 Ge18:14 Mk 10:27 Lk 1:37). No people or nation is automatically excluded from His plan. God is Sovereign over human history (Isa 10:26). All nations will have to submit to his judgment. This principle will be seen in relation to other nations--both small and great--in the oracles that follow. God is not like a man who makes plans and finds he has no power to put them into effect. Perfect wisdom and absolute power find their unity in God.

In the midst of the whole land - "In the midst of all the earth" (Amplified). The Septuagint translates "whole land" with the Greek phrase "te oikoumene hole" which literally means the entire inhabited earth. This begs the question of "Has there been a "complete destruction" of the entire inhabited world in the history of mankind (the flood is a past event in reference to this prophecy so is not relevant)?" Since the answer to this is "no", it suggests that the ultimate fulfillment of this passage refers to a future time of world wide destruction, which would be very compatible with the Great Tribulation (cp Mt 24:21, 22) which is terminated by the Second Coming of Jesus.

Young seems to agree with the preceding interpretation writing that the determined end will be executed...

in the midst of the earth and so will affect the whole earth. It is the last judgment, from which no man can flee. It is not some local judgment, confined to the boundaries of Palestine, but one in which all the earth is involved. (Bolding added) (The Book of Isaiah 3 Vol. Edward J. Young)

Motyer comments that...

the whole land/in the midst of all the earth/land indicates that the acts of God take place in the actuality of history and in the life of this world. (Bolding added)

Isaiah 10:24 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD of hosts, "O My people who dwell in Zion, do not fear the Assyrian who strikes you with the rod and lifts up his staff against you, the way Egypt did. : (

  • my people: Isa 4:3 12:6 30:19 46:13 61:3 Heb 12:22, 23, 24
  • Do not fear: Isa 8:12,13 33:14, 15, 16 35:4 37:6,22,33, 34, 35
  • The way Egypt did: Ex 1:10-16 14:9,21-31 15:6-10


My people - Using the possessive pronoun "My", God is reminding them of His faithfulness to His covenant promises to their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (cp Ge 22:17). And given the preceding context, the ones who should especially have no reason to fear are those who are part of the blessed believing Jewish remnant (cp Lk 12:4)

Who dwell in Zion - In Jerusalem. This address is directed to the Southern Kingdom, Judah.

Do not fear - In the midst of wrath God remembers mercy and offers comfort. Beloved, have you not experienced these comforting words from your Father in a time when you were fearful? Beloved, this is one of the great words of comfort from our heavenly Father, so it should not surprise us that it permeates the pages of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation (See below for 58 mentions of do not fear in 57v in the NAS)...

Ge 15:1; 21:17; 26:24; 35:17; Ex 14:13; Nu 14:9; 21:34; Dt 1:21; 3:2, 22; 31:8; Josh 8:1; 10:8, 25; Jdg 6:23; Ru 3:11; 1Sa 12:20; 2Sa 9:7; 13:28; 1Kgs 17:13; 2Kgs 6:16; 17:34; 1Chr 22:13; 28:20; 2Chr 20:15, 17; 32:7; Ps 55:19; 64:4; Is 10:24 40:9 41:10, 13 14; 43:1, 5; 44:2; 51:7; 57:11; Jer 10:5; 46:27 28; La 3:57; Joel 2:21 22; Hag 2:5; Zech 8:13, 15; Mal 3:5; Mt 10:26, 28, 31; Lk 5:10; 12:7; 18:4; 1Pe 3:14; Re 2:10

Related phrase "do not be afraid" (47x in 46v in the NAS - ) - Ge 43:23; 46:3; 50:19, 21; Ex 20:20; Dt 20:1, 3; 31:6; Josh 11:6; Jdg 4:18; 1Sa 4:20; 22:23; 23:17; 28:13; 2Ki 1:15; 19:6; 25:24; Neh 4:14; Ps 49:16; Pr 3:25; Isa 37:6; 44:8; Jer 1:8; 40:9; 42:11; Ezek 3:9; Da 10:12, 19; Zeph 3:16; Mt 1:20; 14:27; 17:7; 28:5, 10; Mk 5:36; 6:50; Lk 1:13, 30; 2:10; 8:50; 12:4, 32; Jn 6:20; Acts 18:9; 27:24; Rev 1:17

These words of comfort were frequently on the lips of Jesus instructing us...

Do not be afraid, (present imperative + negative = Command to stop something that is in progress - stop being afraid!) little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.


He (God) knows that the end will be destruction and deportation (Isa 6:11f. Ed: Referring to the coming Babylonian captivity some 100 years after this prophecy), but he also knows that the Assyrians will not be the agents in this. (The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary


The Lord is telling His people, “Judgment and correction are coming, and it will hurt. But I have a plan, so don’t be afraid.” This is a hard word to believe, because judgment and correction, by their very nature, hurt! Yet we can decide to not be afraid and trust in the Lord, even when it hurts....Why shouldn’t they fear? Because the Assyrians are not in charge, the Lord is.

We can always be comforted by the fact that God will never leave His people to the mercy of their enemies. Even when He uses the Assyrians to bring judgment and correction, He is still in charge


The Assyrian - Harry Ironside sees a double fulfillment in Isaiah 10 and specifically interprets the Assyrian as historically fulfilled in the empire of Assyria which came against Jerusalem after defeating the Northern Kingdom in 722BC. But Ironside also sees the Assyrian as a shadow of the future Antichrist who will come against Jerusalem in the last days (cp Zech 12:2, 3, 4, 14:2, 3). Thus Ironside comments that...

In clear and definite terms, the prophet predicts the overthrow of the enemy who was hammering, as it were, at the gate of Jerusalem. God would prevent the carrying out of his purpose even though it might seem for a time that Judah’s case was hopeless. Literally, all was fulfilled in due time so far as the prophecy had to do with the Assyrian of the past. When in the last days another mighty power comes against Palestine from the same region as that occupied by the Assyrians of old, his doom will be just as certain as was that of the enemy in the past. The progress of the Assyrian army marching down through the land is depicted graphically in the verses that close this chapter (Isaiah 10:28-34)...Prophecy is history written beforehand, and here Isaiah foretold the path that the Assyrian would take as he marched through Palestine, wreaking his vengeance upon city after city; but the closing verses tell of his defeat at last when the Lord of hosts intervened in His mighty power for the deliverance of those who cried to Him in the hour of their distress. No military strategy, no weapons of war would avail to save the haughty invader when the hand of God was stretched out against him...(In his introduction to Isaiah 11 Ironside writes) There is a very close connection with that which now comes before us and that which we have seen in the last chapter. After the Assyrian is destroyed and Israel will have been delivered from all her enemies, we have the peaceful reign of Him who is the Rod out of Jesse’s stem, the Branch of the Lord who is to bring all things into subjection to God and rule with the iron rod of inflexible righteousness.

Comment: Ironside presents an interesting futuristic interpretation which does have some parallel with the events John describes in the Revelation. In Revelation 19 we see the Antichrist (the Beast) defeated (Rev 19:11-note, Rev 19:20-note, cp Zech 14:2, 3) which is immediately followed by the description of a period of 1000 years when Satan is bound (Rev 20:2) and Messiah rules (Rev 20:4-note, cp Zech 14:4, 5, 6, 7, 8 especially Zech 14:9, 11). And thus just as the events of Isaiah 10 parallel the events of Revelation 19, so too the events of Isaiah 11 parallel Revelation 20. I present these thoughts for your consideration as a good Berean.

The way Egypt did - This fact is meant to cause the hearers to have hope because despite Egyptian oppression, the Sovereign Lord delivered Israel by His strong hand. What He had done in the past, He was able to do again with the Assyrians.

Beloved, it behooves all of us as God's children to keep fresh in our minds the times in our life when we have experienced divine deliverances, so that we might remain hopeful in future trials and afflictions. How is your memory of God's great and mighty deeds in your life? Do you have any "memorial stones" to help you remember the times when you were hidden in the cleft of the Rock? Sadly, we so often forget these past deliverances and get "swallowed up" by the pain of the present trial.

Isaiah 10:25 For in a very little while My indignation against you will be spent and My anger will be directed to their destruction. :

  • For: Isa 10:33,34 12:1,2 14:24,25 17:12-14 30:30-33 31:4-9 37:36-38 54:7 2Ki 19:35 Ps 37:10 Da 11:36 Heb 10:37

For - term of explanation - God is explaining to Judah why they need not fear the Assyrian invasion which will eventually advance to the very edge of Jerusalem but no further.

My indignation - (this same phrase with the same meaning is found in Isa 26:20-see below) The immediate fulfillment of this prophecy refers to the Assyrian invasion who was the conduit of Jehovah's indignation against His people.

Comment: Clearly this prophecy was fulfilled in history with the Assyrian invasion of Judah, but could this "indignation" also be a foreshadowing of the end times indignation that the nation of Israel will experience at the hands of the Antichrist (see notes below)? Possibly.

Indignation (02195) (za'am from the parent verb za'am - 02194) is a noun which means conveys the basic idea of experiencing or expressing intense anger, fury, anger, rage or indignation.


The verb (za'am = 02194) is used to indicate both the state of being indignant and the activity giving expression to that state. It is used in reference to man, but more often to God. Isaiah foretells a day when God’s “indignation” will be experienced by Israel’s enemies (Isa 66:14). (The noun zaam) is regularly translated “indignation,” referring more often to God than to man.

Zaam - 22v in the OT - Ps 38:3; 69:24; 78:49; 102:10; Isa 10:5, 25; 13:5; 26:20; 30:27; Jer 10:10; 15:17; 50:25; Lam 2:6; Ezek 21:31; 22:24, 31; Da 8:19; 11:36; Hos 7:16; Nah 1:6; Hab 3:12; Zeph 3:8. NAS = indignation(21), insolence(1).

Isaiah uses zaam in chapter 26 in a warning of coming indignation...

Come, my people, enter into your rooms and close your doors behind you; Hide for a little while until indignation runs its course. (Isaiah 26:20)

Comment: Most conservative commentators see this reference to indignation as a description of the coming Great Tribulation, that short (3.5 year) but intense period (Jer 30:7) when the Antichrist has full authority to exert his will, a major component of which includes the "final holocaust" for the Jews (cp Zech 13:8, 9)

MacArthur notes that: Israel’s final restoration was not immediately at hand. Hence she had to continue praying in solitude for that restoration until the time of God’s indignation would pass.

John Martin commenting on Isa 26:20, 21 adds that: Isaiah wrote that the future remnant should hide during the time of distress (God’s wrath in the Tribulation), knowing that deliverance from the Lord will come. Eventually the Lord will set matters right by punishing people...for their sins. All sins will be made known (the earth will disclose the blood shed upon her), whether they have been done in secret or in public. These words would have encouraged the remnant in Isaiah’s day to remain true to the Lord, knowing that He will eventually judge sin. After that judgment is accomplished, believers will be able to sing the song recorded in Isaiah 26.

Young sees not only a past fulfillment (in Assyrian and Babylonian "indignation" against the Jews) but also a future aspect stating that

the period of indignation continued until the restoration was complete and Christ had come. Indignation was then the prelude of blessing to God’s people and of wrath for His enemies. (The Book of Isaiah 3 Vol. Edward J. Young)

My anger will be directed to their destruction - When God had finished punishing His people, He would direct His dreadful, powerful hand against Assyria.

Isaiah 10:26 The LORD of hosts will arouse a scourge against him like the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb; and His staff will be over the sea and He will lift it up the way He did in Egypt. : (

  • Arouse: Isa 10:16-19 2Ki 19:35 Ps 35:23
  • Like: Isa 9:4 Jud 7:25 Ps 83:11
  • Staff: Isa 10:24 11:16 51:9,10 Ex 14:25-27 Ne 9:10,11 Ps 106:10,11 Hab 3:7-15 Rev 11:18 19:15


Jehovah explains how He will scourge Assyria by comparing her punishment to that of two prior episodes of divine deliverance which would serve to encourage Judah and Jerusalem that would survive the coming onslaught of the Assyrians.

LORD of hosts (see study) - Yahweh of Armies is able to defeat any human army!

Arouse (05782)('ur) stir up, awake, incite. Once again we see clearly that the sovereign hand of the Almighty is in control of in human history! What event, circumstance, trial, test, temptation or person is there in your life with which you are not willing to trust Him?

A scourge - This is a reference to the Babylonian and Median attack on the remnant of the Assyrian Empire in about 609BC. The invaders divided the scraps of Assyria among themselves. (For a discussion of the "Last period and Fall of the Empire" scroll to the bottom of link = Assyria)

Scourge (07752)(shot) is a whip or lash (eg, to control animals - Pr 26:3, Na 3:2). The idea is that of a device (such as a whip with leather thongs) used to punish and bring pain (eg, 1Ki 12:11, 14).

Shot - 11v in the OT - 1Ki 12:11, 14; 2Chr 10:11, 14; Job 5:21; 9:23; Pr 26:3; Isa 10:26; 28:15, 18; Nah 3:2. NAS = scourge(5), whip(2), whips(4).

The records of what God has done in the past to protect us and deliver us should serve to strengthen us for the attacks of adversity, affliction, and trials that are yet to come. God remains faithful and our faith in His faithfulness is founded on His past episodes of faithfulness!

The slaughter of Midian - Jdg 7:25-note describes the victory of Gideon's small band of men over the hordes of Midianites at the rock of Oreb. This term of comparison (like the slaughter) is saying that just as miraculous and complete was Gideon’s victory over the Midianites, Jehovah's judgment of Assyria would be similar just as complete and miraculous. 2Kings 19:35 describes how God simply sent the Angel of the LORD, and killed 185,000 Assyrians in one night. When the people woke up, there were 185,000 dead Assyrian soldiers.

His staff...over the sea - This is clearly a reference to Israel's miraculous deliverance from Egyptian bondage via God's opening (for Israel to pass through) and closing (for destruction of Pharaoh's army) of the Red Sea (see use of staff in Ex 14:16, 26, 15:4). In the same way as He miraculously eradicated the Egyptians, He would do something similarly miraculous against Assyria. (See In A Single Day for passages describing God's miraculous intervention.)

Application: When fear assaults you, do you fall back by faith on those times the Lord showed Himself mighty in your life? Do you keep a record of those times to "memorialize" His faithfulness? Do you pass these truths on to your children? (See also Fear, How to Handle It)

Oswalt records this illustration...

In the 1970s Joseph Tson, a Romanian pastor, heard a Voice of America broadcast enumerating all of the failed promises of Marxism, and he immediately thought of all the promises of the Christian faith that have come true. He has said that in that moment he knew Communism could not survive and that he and other Christians should begin preparing for the day of its collapse. We might marvel at such vision, but the fact is, Tson was a man with a memory, and because of that memory, he could see the future when others could not. (Ibid)

Isaiah 10:27 So it will be in that day, that his burden will be removed from your shoulders and his yoke from your neck, and the yoke will be broken because of fatness.

  • burden: Isa 9:4 14:25 2Ki 18:13,14 Na 1:9-13
  • because: Isa 37:35 2Sa 1:21 Ps 2:1-3,6: Ps 20:6 45:7 84:9 89:20-52 105:15 132:10,17,18 Da 9:24-26 Lk 4:18 Jn 1:41: Ac 4:27 1Jn 2:20,27

In that day - What day? The day God removes the yoke of oppression of Assyria from Judah.

Burden...yoke - These are terms that speak of bondage or servitude that the Assyrian kings used to boast about putting on the necks of conquered peoples. Oswalt records an example of of boasting in the annals of Sargon II

“[I] imposed upon them the yoke of Ashur, my lord.”

Isaiah 10:28 He has come against Aiath, He has passed through Migron; At Micmash he deposited his baggage. :

  • Aiath: Jos 7:2 Ne 11:31)(Migron: 1Sa 14:2)(Michmash: 1Sa 13:2,5 14:5,31)

In Isa 10:28-32 we have a graphic description of the Assyrian advance toward Jerusalem from the city farthest north Aiath or Ai southward to Nob which is on the outskirts of Jerusalem. This is as far as the army of the Assyrians came against Judah. They were stopped here when the Lord killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night.

Ryrie says that all of the cities mentioned in verse 28-32 are within a three hour march of Jerusalem.

Aiath or Ai (map)...Migron...Micmash (map)...Geba (map)...Ramah (map)...Gibeah (map)... Gallim (exact location not known but just north of Jerusalem)...Laish (exact location not known but supposedly about a mile NE of Jerusalem)...Anathoth...Madmenah...Gebim...Nob (5-6 kilometers NE of Jerusalem)

Guzik explains why God gives such detail regarding the cities of Judah pointing out that...

Because of the word of comfort and encouragement in the previous section, Judah might think that God wouldn’t send judgment among them at all. This section, with the specific mention of many cities of Judah, is meant to show that God will indeed allow the invasion of the Assyrians, even though He will restore after the attack. (Isaiah 10 Commentary)

Isaiah 10:29 They have gone through the pass, saying, "Geba will be our lodging place." Ramah is terrified, and Gibeah of Saul has fled away. :

  • The pass: 1Sa 13:23 14:4

As noted all these villages are very near Jerusalem and thus Isaiah was graphically depicting the slow, steady movement of the savage Assyrian forces toward the capital city.

Isaiah 10:30 Cry aloud with your voice, O daughter of Gallim! Pay attention, Laishah and wretched Anathoth! :

  • Gallim: 1Sa 25:44
  • Laish: Jud 18:7,29
  • Anathoth: Jos 21:18 1Ki 2:26 Jer 1:1 32:8
  • Gallim (exact location not known but just north of Jerusalem)
  • Laish (exact location not known but supposedly about a mile NE of Jerusalem)
  • Anathoth

Isaiah 10:31 Madmenah has fled. The inhabitants of Gebim have sought refuge. :

  • Madmenah: Jos 15:31)

Fled...sought refuge - A picture of the unstoppable marauding forces of the Assyrians.

Wolf comments that...

With a deft poetic touch, Isaiah told how the enemy moved through twelve different locations, coming ever closer to the capital.



Isaiah 10:32 Yet today he will halt at Nob; He shakes his fist at the mountain of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem. :

  • Nob: 1Sa 21:1 22:19 Ne 11:32
  • shakes: Isa 10:24 11:15 13:2 19:16 Zec 2:9
  • Mountain: Isa 2:2 37:22

Nob (5-6 kilometers NE of Jerusalem)

He will halt at Nob - The Assyrian invasion of Judah would advance no further than Nob. In the preceding passages, Isaiah paints a picture of an unstoppable, fearsome flood of forces from Assyria. And then he says they will halt. God let them go so and no further. God was true to His Word as history proved.

He shakes his fist - Reflecting the pompous attitude of the Assyrians and similar to the earlier description of "the Assyrian who strikes you with the rod and lifts up his staff against you."

The daughter of Zion (Isa 1:8 10:32 16:1 37:22 52:2 62:11) - Jerusalem capital city of Judah.

The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery notes that...

Often the word daughter is found in expressions such as “daughter of Zion” (e.g., Is 1:8; Jer 4:31; Mic 4:10; Mt 21:5), “daughter of Sidon” (Is 23:12) and “daughter of Babylon” (Jer 50:42). This Hebrew idiom reflects a double metaphor common in the culture of the ancient Near East: a capital city was personified as a woman, and the inhabitants of that city collectively as her “daughter.” A pagan city was personified by a female goddess whose husband was the local patron deity; Zion or Jerusalem remained distinct as she whose husband was the one true God, Yahweh. During times of war when a city was overrun and its population exiled, the city was considered to be a barren woman, rejected by her husband-deity (Is 54:1). Thus her daughters, the collective inhabitants, depended on her for identity but also shaped her future by their actions. For instance, Isaiah proclaims to “barren” Jerusalem, “Rejoice, O barren woman!” (Is 54:1) and prophesies a return of the inhabitants to that city and an unprecedented future glory for it. Because of Isaiah’s use of these idioms, Jesus fulfills prophecy by addressing Jerusalem as “daughter of Zion” (Mt 21:5), and the apostle Paul quotes Isaiah 54:1 and announces in Galatians 4:26 that Jerusalem above is “free” and that she is the “mother” of Christians. (Dictionary of Biblical Imagery- Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, Tremper Longman III

Isaiah 10:33 Behold, the Lord, the GOD of hosts, will lop off the boughs with a terrible crash; Those also who are tall in stature will be cut down and those who are lofty will be abased.

  • lop: Isa 10:16-19 37:24-36,38 2Ki 19:21-37 2Ch 32:21
  • tall: Am 2:9
  • lofty: Isa 2:11-17 Job 40:11,12 Da 4:37 Lk 14:11

See another prophecy of the breaking of Assyria - Isaiah 14:24,25, 26, 27.

See comments regarding a In A Single Day for passages describing God's miraculous intervention and His lopping off the boughs of Assyria with a terrible crash.

Behold (02009) (hinneh) is an interjection (= a word in speaking or writing, thrown in between words connected in construction, to express some emotion or passion) often seeks to grab the reader's attention and says something like - Look! Pay attention! Don't miss this next point! Hinneh draws attention to an important fact or action that follows and in a sense demands our attention. Vine adds that it is notable that when behold (hinneh) is used in Isaiah, it always introduces something relating to future circumstances.

Given the relentless march of the Assyrian army toward Jerusalem, the reader is ready to hear of Jerusalem being overthrown, but instead we hear "Behold!" This stops the reader in his tracks so to speak and gives a radically different prediction for the fate of Jerusalem. The God of armies would lop off the boughs of the Assyrian army. What a picture of mighty Assyria's abrupt fall from power!

Uses of hinneh in Isaiah -

Isa 3:1; 5:7, 26, 30; 6:7f; 7:14; 8:7, 18, 22; 10:33; 12:2; 13:9, 17; 17:1, 14; 19:1; 20:6; 21:9; 22:17; 24:1; 25:9; 26:21; 28:2, 16; 29:8, 14; 30:27; 34:5; 35:4; 36:6; 37:7, 11, 36; 38:5, 8, 17; 39:6; 40:9f; 41:15, 27; 42:9; 43:19; 47:14; 48:7, 10; 49:12, 22; 51:22; 52:6, 13; 54:11; 58:9; 59:9; 60:2; 62:11; 65:1, 6, 13f, 17f; 66:12, 15.

Tall in stature...lofty - God repeatedly emphasizes the pride and arrogance of the Assyrians.

Cut down (01438) (gada') means to fell (as a tree), to cut down or off. Figuratively describes severing the "tall in stature" Assyrians as if one were cutting a tree down. This is poetic justice for the "axe" (Assyria) who boasted in Isaiah 10:15 would itself be "axed" for its arrogance!

Motyer has an interesting note comparing this section to the first verse of the next chapter Isaiah 11:1, which is clearly a prophecy of the Messiah...

The cutting down of the lofty trees can only refer to the destruction of Assyria. This provides the perfect foil for the Messianic shoot, but it is extremely dramatic after five verses of Assyrian self-confidence, inexorable progress and affrontery! In contrast to the bogus sovereignty of the king, the real Sovereign (hā’ādôn) takes centre stage. (The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary

Abased (08213) (shaphel) means literally in a physical sense to be low and by bringing the Assyrians to a lower place, it was a picture of God's humbling of this arrogant people.

Isaiah 10:34 He will cut down the thickets of the forest with an iron axe, and Lebanon will fall by the Mighty One

  • cut down: Isa 10:18 37:24 Jer 22:7 46:22,23 48:2 Na 1:12
  • Lebanon: Zec 11:1,2
  • mighty one: Isa 31:8 37:36 Ps 103:20 Da 4:13,14,23 2Th 1:7 2Pe 2:11 Rev 10:1 Rev 18:21

Guzik comments that "The forests of Lebanon were known for their large, mighty cedar trees. God will judge the proud among Judah - and all the nations for that matter - and leave a once mighty forest of those of high stature as if they were just stumps. The bigger they are, the harder they fall! 

Lebanon will fall (Isa 2:13, 37:24) - Isaiah's point is that if even Lebanon which was famous for its thick forests of cedar trees and would fall before God, Assyria should not think it could escape the powerful hand of the Lord of Armies (Hosts).

Young adds that "As elsewhere the Assyrian is compared to Lebanon. “Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature; and his top was among the thick boughs” (Ezek. 31:3). But great as Lebanon was, it would fall by means of a Mighty One, and that Mighty One is the punishing God of Israel. The forest, mighty like Lebanon, is gone. The trees are felled, the thickets cut down. The Mighty One remains, Lord over all. He has protected His people and demonstrated His faithfulness. (The Book of Isaiah 3 Vol. Edward J. Young

By the Mighty One - Once again we see that the Lord is the active "Agent" of the Assyrian "defoliation". This chapter repeatedly emphasizes the Sovereignty of God in the affairs of mankind.

Mighty (0117) ('addiyr) means strong, powerful, majestic, awesome. The use in Psalm 93 gives a good sense of the picture as it describes our great God...

More than the sounds of many waters, Than the mighty breakers of the sea, The Lord on high is mighty (Lxx = thaumastos = wonderful, worthy of our amazement). (Ps 93:4)

Spurgeon: Jehovah, the self existent and omnipotent, cares not for the opposition of dying men, however many or mighty they may be.

"Loud the stormy billows spoke,
Loud the billows raised their cry;
Fierce the stormy billows broke,
Sounding to the echoing sky.
Strong the breakers tossing high,
Stronger is Jehovah's might.
True thy words; and sanctity
Well becomes thy temple bright."

Yea, than the mighty waves of the sea. When the storm raises Atlantic billows, and drives them on with terrific force, the Lord is still able to restrain them, and so also when impious men are haughty and full of rage the Lord is able to subdue them and overrule their malice. Kings or mobs, emperors or savages, all are in the Lord's hands, and he can forbid their touching a hair of the heads of his saints.

Addiyr - 25v in the NAS - Ex 15:10; Jdg 5:13, 25; 1 Sam 4:8; 2Chr 23:20; Neh 3:5; 10:29; Ps 8:1, 9; 16:3; 76:4; 93:4; 136:18; Isa 10:34; 33:21; Jer 14:3; 25:34ff; 30:21; Ezek 17:23; 32:18; Nah 2:5; 3:18; Zech 11:2

Mighty One - This phrase is used 14x in 13v in the OT - Ge 10:8 49:24 Josh 22:22 1Chr 1:10 Job 34:17 Ps 45:3 50:1 132:2 132:5 Isa 1:24 10:34 49:26 60:16


These last passages describe the miraculous destruction of the Assyrian army as it lay camped at the very doors of Jerusalem and given the fact that the next section describes the Millennial reign of Christ, it is reasonable to consider that this abrupt destruction of the Assyrian army is a shadow or picture of the abrupt destruction of the Army of the Antichrist ("the Assyrian" in Micah 5,6 is interpreted by some commentators as the Antichrist) at the sudden return of the LORD of the Armies, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Victorious Warrior! John records this great scene which will bring an end to this present age (and the times of the Gentiles)...

Revelation 19:11 And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war.

12 And His eyes are a flame of fire, and upon His head are many diadems; and He has a name written upon Him which no one knows except Himself.

13 And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called The Word of God.

14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.

15 And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.

16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."

17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, "Come, assemble for the great supper of God;

18 in order that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great."

19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies, assembled to make war against Him who sat upon the horse, and against His army.

20 And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.

21 And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat upon the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.