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Alliance with Egypt Is Futile


Alas for those who go down to Egypt for help

and who rely on horses,

who trust in chariots because they are many

and in horsemen because they are very strong,

but do not look to the Holy One of Israel

or consult the Lord!


Yet he too is wise and brings disaster;

he does not call back his words,

but will rise against the house of the evildoers,

and against the helpers of those who work iniquity.


The Egyptians are human, and not God;

their horses are flesh, and not spirit.

When the Lord stretches out his hand,

the helper will stumble, and the one helped will fall,

and they will all perish together.



For thus the Lord said to me,

As a lion or a young lion growls over its prey,

and—when a band of shepherds is called out against it—

is not terrified by their shouting

or daunted at their noise,

so the Lord of hosts will come down

to fight upon Mount Zion and upon its hill.


Like birds hovering overhead, so the Lord of hosts

will protect Jerusalem;

he will protect and deliver it,

he will spare and rescue it.


6 Turn back to him whom you have deeply betrayed, O people of Israel. 7For on that day all of you shall throw away your idols of silver and idols of gold, which your hands have sinfully made for you.


“Then the Assyrian shall fall by a sword, not of mortals;

and a sword, not of humans, shall devour him;

he shall flee from the sword,

and his young men shall be put to forced labor.


His rock shall pass away in terror,

and his officers desert the standard in panic,”

says the Lord, whose fire is in Zion,

and whose furnace is in Jerusalem.


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Isa 31:1-9. The Chief Strength of the Egyptian Armies Lay in Their Cavalry.

1. and stay on horses, and trust in chariots—In their level and fertile plains horses could easily be used and fed (Ex 14:9; 1Ki 10:28). In hilly Palestine horses were not so easily had or available. The Jews were therefore the more eager to get Egyptian chariots as allies against the Assyrian cavalry. In Assyrian sculptures chariots are represented drawn by three horses, and with three men in them (see Isa 36:9; Ps 20:7; Da 9:13).

2. he also is wise—as well as the Egyptian priests, so famed for wisdom (Ac 7:22), but who are "fools" before Him (Isa 19:11). He not only devises, but executes what He devises without "calling back His words" (Nu 23:19).

home—the whole race.

help—the Egyptian succor sought by the Jews.

3. not spirit—not of divine power (Ps 56:4; 146:3, 5; Zec 4:6).

he that helpeth—Egypt.


4. (Isa 42:13; Ho 11:10).

roaring on—"growling over" his prey.

abase himself—be disheartened or frightened.

5. As in the image of "the lion," the point of comparison is the fearless might of Jehovah; so in that of the birds, it is His solicitous affection (De 32:11; Ps 91:4; Mt 23:37).

flying—Rather, "which defend" their young with their wings; "to fly" is a secondary meaning of the Hebrew word [Maurer]. "Hovering over" to protect their young [G. V. Smith].

passing over—as the destroying angel passing over, so as to spare the blood-marked houses of the Israelites on the first passover (Ex 12:13, 23, 27). He passed, or leaped forward [Lowth], to destroy the enemy and to spare His people.

6. The power and love of Jehovah, just mentioned, are the strongest incentives for returning to Him (Eze 16:62, 63; Ho 6:1).

ye … Israel—The change of person marks that when they return to the Lord, He will address them in more direct terms of communion in the second person; so long as they were revolters, God speaks of them, as more at a distance, in the third person, rather than to them.

7. In the day of trial the idols will be found to render no help and will therefore be cast away. Compare as to the future restoration and conversion of Israel simultaneously with the interposition of Jehovah in its defense, Zec 12:9-14; 13:1, 2.

for a sin—that is, whereby especially you contracted guilt (1Ki 12:30).

8. Assyrian—Sennacherib, representative of some powerful head of the ungodly in the latter ages [Horsley].

sword, not of … mighty … mean man—but by the unseen sword of God.

flee—Sennacherib alone fled homewards after his army had been destroyed (Isa 37:37).

young men—the flower of his army.

discomfited—rather, "shall be subject to slavery"; literally, "shall be liable to tribute," that is, personal service (De 20:11; Jos 9:21) [Maurer]. Or, not so well, "shall melt away" [Rosenmuller].

9. Rather, "shall pass beyond his strongholds"; he Shall not stop to take refuge in it through fear (Jud 20:47; Jer 48:28) [Gesenius].

ensign—the banner of Jehovah protecting the Jews [Maurer].

fire … furnace—"light" and "fire," namely, of Jehovah's altar at Jerusalem (Isa 29:1). Perhaps "furnace," as distinguished from "fire," may mean that His dwelling-place (His hearth) was at Jerusalem (compare Isa 4:5); or else the fiery furnace awaiting all the enemies who should attack Jerusalem.