a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

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.


17. A thousand, as one, shall flee at the rebuke of one. Because the Jews, on account of their vast numbers, relied on their forces, as men are wont to do when they possess any power, therefore the Prophet threatens that all the protection which they have at home will be of no more avail to them than foreign aid, because the Lord will break and take away their courage, so that they shall not be able to make use of their forces. For what avail arms and a vast multitude of men? What avail fortresses and bulwarks, when men’s hearts fail and are dismayed? It is therefore impossible for us to be strong and powerful, unless the Lord strengthen and uphold us by his Spirit. This statement occurs frequently in the law, that when they should revolt from God, a vast number of them would be put to flight by a very small number of enemies. But there is this difference between the law and the prophets, that the prophets apply to a particular subject what Moses announced in general terms, as we have formerly explained. 296296    {Bogus footnote}

Here two observations must be made. First, we shall have just as much courage as the Lord shall give us; for we immediately lose heart, if he do not support us by his power. Secondly, it is the result of the righteous vengeance of God, that we are terrified by men, when he could not prevail upon us to fear him; that, when we have despised God’s word and warnings, we fall down in terror at the words and threatenings of men. But we must also add, thirdly, God needs not extensive preparations to chastise us; for, if he lift up but a finger against us, we are undone. A small and feeble army will be sufficient to destroy us, even though we be well prepared, and have great numbers on our side. Next, he threatens that there will be no end to these calamities till they have been reduced to the last extremity, and until, amidst the frightful desolation of the earth, but few tokens of God’s compassion are left.

As the mast of a ship on the top of a mountain. This may be explained in two ways. Some consider the metaphor to be taken from trees which have been cut down; for, when a forest is cut down, lofty trees are left which may be of use for building ships. But הר, (hār,) “a mountain,” probably denotes also a rock or promontory, against which ships are dashed, and to which they adhere, and on which a “mast,” the emblem of shipwreck, is afterwards seen. 297297    {Bogus footnote}

As a banner on a hill. Another metaphor is now added, borrowed from trophies erected to commemorate the defeat of enemies. In short, the Prophet declares that they will be so few that all that remains shall be an indication of very great ruin. As if he had said, “This great multitude which you now have dazzles your eyes; but there will be such ruin and decrease that you shall no longer have the face of a people.” We are thus reminded how humbly and modestly we ought to conduct ourselves, even though we have great wealth and numerous forces; for if our mind be puffed up, God will speedily beat down our pride, and render us more feeble and cowardly than women and children, so that we shall not be able to bear the sight even of a single enemy, and all our strength shall melt away like snow.

VIEWNAME is study