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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.


19. Surely the people in Zion shall dwell in Jerusalem. He confirms the former statement, that the people will indeed be afflicted, but will at length return to “Zion.” Now, this might be thought incredible after the desolation of the city and of the whole country, for it seemed as if the whole nation had perished; yet Isaiah promises that the Church shall be preserved. He begins with Mount “Zion,” on which the temple was built, and says that there men will henceforth call on the Lord. He likewise adds, “in Jerusalem,” by which he means that the Church shall be enlarged and increased, and that all that had formerly been laid waste shall be restored. Yet he intimates that “Jerusalem” shall again be populous, because God had chosen it to be his sanctuary.

Weeping thou shalt not weep. 299299    {Bogus footnote} The meaning is, that this mourning shall not be perpetual. The Church, that is, all believers, while they were in this wretched and distressed condition, must have been exceedingly sorrowful; but he says that those tears shall come to an end. To the same purport is it said by the Psalmist, “They who sow in tears shall reap in joy.” (Psalm 126:5.) The Lord permits us indeed to be afflicted with great anguish; but at length he cheers us, and gives us reason for gladness, when he restores his Church; for that is the true joy of believers. Besides, as it is difficult to taste any consolation when the mind is overwhelmed by a conviction of God’s vengeance, he holds out a ground of consolation in the mercy of God, because, when he is appeased, there is no reason to dread that joy and peace shall not immediately return. But, as the Prophet Habakkuk says in the passage already quoted, “in his wrath the Lord remembers mercy;” and he never punishes believers with such severity as not to restrain and moderate his strokes, and put a limit to his chastisements. (Habakkuk 3:2.)

At the voice of thy cry. The Prophet points out the manner of obtaining pardon, in order to arouse believers to pray earnestly, and to supplicate with earnest groanings; for if there be no repentance, if we do not ask pardon from God, we are altogether unworthy of his mercy. If, therefore, we wish that the Church should be gathered together, and rescued from destruction by a kind of resurrection, let us cry to God to listen to our sighs and groanings; and if there be no sorrow of heart that excites us to prayer, we have no right to expect any alleviation.

He will answer thee. This means nothing else than that he will give evidence of his kindness and aid; for the Lord “answers,” not by word, but by deed. Yet let us not think that he will instantly comply with our wishes, which are often hasty and unseasonable. He will undoubtedly assist us when the proper time arrives, so that we shall know that he had in view our salvation.

20. When the Lord shall have given you. He continues the same subject, and strengthens believers, that they may not faint; for patience springs from the hope of a more prosperous issue. Accordingly, he prepares them for enduring future chastisement, for the wrath of God will press hard on them for a time; but he immediately promises that a joyful issue awaits them, when they shall have endured those calamities and distresses; for God will restrain his severity. Thus, I consider ו (vau) to mean “When” or “After;” as if he had said, “When you shall have endured those troubles, then will the Lord bless you; for he will change your condition for the better.”

Thy rain shall no longer be restrained. 300300    {Bogus footnote} The word מורה (mōrĕh) is viewed by some commentators as meaning “a teacher.” But this does not agree with the context; for, although the chief fruit of our reconciliation to God is to have faithful “teachers,” yet, as the ignorant multitude was more deeply affected by the want of food, Isaiah accommodates his language to their ignorance, and gives them a taste of God’s fatherly kindness under the emblem of abundance of food.

By the words “bread” and “water,” he means extreme want and scarcity of all things, and therefore he calls it “bread of anguish and water of affliction.” 301301    {Bogus footnote} Instead of this famine, he says that he will send them plenty and abundance. This is what he means by the word rain; for he describes the cause instead of the effect, as if he had said, “The earth shall yield fruit in abundance.” This had a literal and special reference to a country, the fertility of which depended entirely on heaven; for it was not watered by rivers or fountains, but by rains.

“The land whither ye go to possess it,” says Moses, “is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven.” (Deuteronomy 11:11.)

He declares that the fruits of the earth, which the Lord took away or diminished by barrenness, will return; because, in consequence of the copious “rains,” 302302    {Bogus footnote} there will be large and abundant produce. Thus, when the Lord shall punish us, let us comfort our hearts with these statements and promises.

21. Then shall thine ears hear. It was indeed no despicable promise which he made of an abundant produce of the fruits of the earth, but the chief ground of gladness and joy is, when God restores to us pure and sound doctrine; for no scarcity of wheat ought to terrify and alarm us so much as a scarcity of the word; and indeed, in proportion as the soul is more excellent than the body, so much the more ought we to dread this kind of famine, as another prophet also reminds us. (Amos 8:11.) Isaiah promises this to the Jews as the most valuable of all blessings, that they shall be fed with the word, by the want of which they had formerly been heavily afflicted. The false prophets also boast of the word, and in a more haughty and disdainful manner than godly teachers: they wish to be reckoned and declared to be the best guides; but they lead men into error, and at length plunge them into destruction. But the word which points out the right path comes from God alone, though it would be of little service to us, if he did not also promise that he would give us ears; for otherwise he would speak to the deaf, and we should hear nothing but a confused sound.

A word behind thee. These words must be extended so far as to mean that he will not permit what he speaks to us to be useless, but will inwardly move our understandings and hearts, so as to train them to true obedience; for by nature we are not willing to learn, and must be altogether formed anew by his Spirit. The word hear is very emphatic. He compares God to a schoolmaster, who places the children before his eyes, that he may more effectually train and direct them; by which he expresses the wonderful affection and care manifested towards us by God, who does not reckon it enough to go before us, but also “with his eye upon us gives us direction.” (Psalm 32:8.) But the Prophet declares that they who follow God as their guide will be in no danger of going astray.

Walk ye in it. This is an exhortation to cheerful progress, so that their journey may not be retarded, as frequently happens, by any uncertainty. What he adds, about the right hand and the left, might be thought absurd; for when Moses pointed out to the people the way in which they should walk, he at the same time charged them “not to turn aside to the right hand or to the left.” (Deuteronomy 5:32; 17:20.) The road is straight and we ought not to seek any departures from it.

What then does the Prophet mean? I reply, he uses the words “Right” and “Left” in a different sense; for he means by them every kind of transactions which we must undertake to perform. These are various, as there are also various modes of living; and every person meets with difficulties of many kinds, and is under the necessity of deliberating about them. By the “right and left hand,” therefore, he means all the actions of human life, whatever they are, so that, in all that we undertake, we may have God for our guide, and may always regulate our transactions by his authority, whether we must go “to the right hand or to the left.” And hence we derive very great consolation, that the Lord will favor our undertakings, and will direct our steps, to whatever hand we turn, provided only that we do not turn aside from the path which he points out to us.

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