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The Futility of Reliance on Egypt


Oh, rebellious children, says the L ord,

who carry out a plan, but not mine;

who make an alliance, but against my will,

adding sin to sin;


who set out to go down to Egypt

without asking for my counsel,

to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh,

and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt;


Therefore the protection of Pharaoh shall become your shame,

and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt your humiliation.


For though his officials are at Zoan

and his envoys reach Hanes,


everyone comes to shame

through a people that cannot profit them,

that brings neither help nor profit,

but shame and disgrace.


6 An oracle concerning the animals of the Negeb.

Through a land of trouble and distress,

of lioness and roaring lion,

of viper and flying serpent,

they carry their riches on the backs of donkeys,

and their treasures on the humps of camels,

to a people that cannot profit them.


For Egypt’s help is worthless and empty,

therefore I have called her,

“Rahab who sits still.”


A Rebellious People


Go now, write it before them on a tablet,

and inscribe it in a book,

so that it may be for the time to come

as a witness forever.


For they are a rebellious people,

faithless children,

children who will not hear

the instruction of the L ord;


who say to the seers, “Do not see”;

and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right;

speak to us smooth things,

prophesy illusions,


leave the way, turn aside from the path,

let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”


Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel:

Because you reject this word,

and put your trust in oppression and deceit,

and rely on them;


therefore this iniquity shall become for you

like a break in a high wall, bulging out, and about to collapse,

whose crash comes suddenly, in an instant;


its breaking is like that of a potter’s vessel

that is smashed so ruthlessly

that among its fragments not a sherd is found

for taking fire from the hearth,

or dipping water out of the cistern.



For thus said the Lord G od, the Holy One of Israel:

In returning and rest you shall be saved;

in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.

But you refused 16and said,

“No! We will flee upon horses”—

therefore you shall flee!

and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”—

therefore your pursuers shall be swift!


A thousand shall flee at the threat of one,

at the threat of five you shall flee,

until you are left

like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain,

like a signal on a hill.


God’s Promise to Zion


Therefore the L ord waits to be gracious to you;

therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you.

For the L ord is a God of justice;

blessed are all those who wait for him.

19 Truly, O people in Zion, inhabitants of Jerusalem, you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you. 20Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” 22Then you will defile your silver-covered idols and your gold-plated images. You will scatter them like filthy rags; you will say to them, “Away with you!”

23 He will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and grain, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. On that day your cattle will graze in broad pastures; 24and the oxen and donkeys that till the ground will eat silage, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. 25On every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water—on a day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. 26Moreover the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, like the light of seven days, on the day when the L ord binds up the injuries of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.


Judgment on Assyria


See, the name of the L ord comes from far away,

burning with his anger, and in thick rising smoke;

his lips are full of indignation,

and his tongue is like a devouring fire;


his breath is like an overflowing stream

that reaches up to the neck—

to sift the nations with the sieve of destruction,

and to place on the jaws of the peoples a bridle that leads them astray.


29 You shall have a song as in the night when a holy festival is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one sets out to the sound of the flute to go to the mountain of the L ord, to the Rock of Israel. 30And the L ord will cause his majestic voice to be heard and the descending blow of his arm to be seen, in furious anger and a flame of devouring fire, with a cloudburst and tempest and hailstones. 31The Assyrian will be terror-stricken at the voice of the L ord, when he strikes with his rod. 32And every stroke of the staff of punishment that the L ord lays upon him will be to the sound of timbrels and lyres; battling with brandished arm he will fight with him. 33For his burning place has long been prepared; truly it is made ready for the king, its pyre made deep and wide, with fire and wood in abundance; the breath of the L ord, like a stream of sulfur, kindles it.


10. Who say to the seers, See not. He now describes more clearly, and shews, as it were, to the life, the contempt of God and obstinacy which he formerly mentioned; for wicked men not only pour ridicule on doctrine, but furiously drive it away, and would even wish to have it utterly crushed and buried. This is what Isaiah intended to express. Not only do they turn away their ears, and eyes, and all their senses, from doctrine, but they would even wish that it were destroyed and taken out of the way; for wickedness is invariably attended by such rage as would lead them to wish the destruction of that which they cannot endure. The power and efficacy of the word wounds and enrages them to such a degree, that they give vent to their fierceness and cruelty like wild and savage beasts. They would gladly escape, but whether they will or not, they are constrained to hear God speaking, and to tremble at his majesty. This bitterness is followed by hatred of the prophets, snares, alarms, persecutions, banishment, tortures, and deaths, by which they think that they can overturn and root out both the doctrine and the teachers; for men are more desirous to have dreams and fabulous tales told them than to be faithfully instructed.

See not, prophesy not to us right things. The Prophet does not relate the words of wicked men, as if they openly made use of these words, but he describes the state of the fact and their actual dispositions; for he had not to do with men who were such fools as to make an intentional discovery of their wickedness. They were singularly cunning hypocrites, who boasted of worshipping God, and complained that they were unjustly reproached by the prophets. Isaiah tears off the mask by which they concealed themselves, and discovers what they are, because they refused to give place to the truth; for whence came the murmurs against the prophets, but because they could not bear to hear God speaking?

The prophets were called seers, because the Lord revealed to them what would afterwards be made known to others. They were stationed, as it were, in a lofty place, that they might behold from on high, and as if from “a watch-tower,” (Habakkuk 2:1,) the prosperous or adverse events which were approaching. The people wished that nothing of an adverse nature should be told them; and therefore they hated the prophets, because, while they censured and sharply reproved the vices of the people, they at the same time were witnesses of the approaching judgment of God. Such is the import of those words, “Do not see, do not prophesy right things.” Not that they spoke in this manner, as we have already said, but because such was the state of their feelings, and because they desired that the prophets should speak with mildness, and could not patiently bear the sharpness of their reproofs. Not one of them was so impudent as to say that he wished to be deceived, and that he abhorred the truth; for they declared that they sought it with the greatest eagerness, as all our adversaries boast of doing at the present day; but they denied that what Isaiah and the other prophets told them was the word of God. In like manner they plainly told Jeremiah that he was “a liar,” (Jeremiah 43:2,) and threatened him more insolently,

“Thou shalt not prophesy in the name of the Lord,
lest thou die by our hand.” (Jeremiah 11:21.)

To them the truth was intolerable; and when they departed from it, they could find nothing but falsehood, and thus they willingly chose to be deceived and to have falsehood told them.

Speak to us smooth things. When he says that they desire “smooth things,” 290290    {Bogus footnote} he points out the very source; for they were ready to receive flatterers with unbounded applause, and would willingly have allowed their ears to be tickled in the name of God. And this is the reason why the world is not only liable to be carried away by delusions, but earnestly desires them; for almost all wish to have their vices treated with forbearance and encouragement. But it is impossible that the servants of God, when they endeavor faithfully to discharge their duty, should be chargeable with being severe reprovers; and hence it follows that it is an idle and childish evasion, when wicked men pretend that they would willingly be God’s disciples, provided that he were not rigorous. It is as if they bargained that, for their sake, he should change his nature and deny himself; as Micah also says, that no prophets were acceptable to the Jews, but such as “prophesied of wine and strong drink.” (Micah 2:11.)

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