Isaiah: God controls the nations
God’s plans for Judah, Assyria
An EasyEnglish Bible
Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Isaiah chapters 10 to
This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.
Words in boxes are from the Bible.
A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.
God’s judgement against evil laws
v1 *Woe to those who make cruel and unfair laws. v2
And *woe to you judges who issue unfair judgements. You rob poor people of
their *rights. And you *seize the property of widows and the property of
children who have no parents. v3 You will not know what to do when
fierce enemies from a distant land attack you. You will not know where to run
for help. You will not know where to hide your wealth. v4 You will not
avoid punishment and death. The *Lord is very angry. He lifts his hand. He is
ready to strike you again.
‘He lifts his hand’: see my note on 9:12.
The king of Assyria is God’s tool
v5 *Woe to the *Assyrians! Their own terrible
punishment will be coming. But just for now, they are like a heavy stick. For a
short time, I am seizing that heavy stick because of my anger. v6 I
shall use that heavy stick to punish Judah. And Judah is the nation that has
made me angry. I am sending the *Assyrian army against them. This is because the
people in Judah will not obey me. They have made me very angry. The *Assyrian
army is to *seize all that nation’s possessions. And they will act as if other
people are mere mud on the streets.
The *Assyrians do not recognise the *Lord as the one real God.
But the *Lord is still going to use them against this ‘nation’. That is,
against Judah. God had chosen Judah to be his special people. But the people in
Judah have not obeyed their covenant (agreement) with the *Lord. They are now
refusing to obey him.
The king of Assyria’s pride
v7 But the king of Assyria is thinking about his own
cruel plans. He intends to destroy many nations. v8 He declares that
every one of his commanders is like a prince. v9 His armies have *seized
the cities called Calno and Carchemish. And the cities called Hamath and Arnad.
And the cities called Damascus and Samaria. v10-11 The king of Assyria
declares that all these places were very strong. Their gods were more powerful
than all the images and gods in *Jerusalem. ‘I shall certainly do to *Jerusalem
what I have already done to Samaria and its much stronger gods.’
The first four cities in this list were north-west of Damascus,
which is the capital of Syria.
The order of the places in this list shows the progress of the
*Assyrian army from the north. The *Assyrians are advancing nearer and nearer
to Judah. Nobody can stop them.
The king of Assyria’s methods
v12 But the king of Assyria is merely carrying out
God’s purpose against the people in *Jerusalem. As soon as that purpose is
complete, the *Lord will punish the king of Assyria. This is because of the
king’s proud words. v13 The king had been declaring that he had won all
his battles by his own strength and wisdom. He had destroyed boundaries between
nations. He had *seized their national treasures (precious objects). He had
overcome the inhabitants. v14 Each of the nations was like a bird’s
nest. ‘I gathered the wealth of the nations as easily as someone could gather
eggs from a nest. Not a wing moved. Not a beak (bird’s mouth) opened to
The *Assyrians do not realise that they are merely a temporary
tool in God’s hand. The *Lord, not people, controls history.
It was common to use a pile of stones to mark a boundary (see
Deuteronomy 19:14). Someone who removed such a mark was claiming the land as
their own (see Deuteronomy 27:17).
To *seize the wealth of the nations also means that they cannot
buy more arms to defend themselves. The king is like someone who takes eggs
from a nest. This picture in words means that the king prevents the possibility
of new forces to oppose him.
God answers the king of Assyria
v15 An axe is not greater than the man who uses it.
Nor is a saw more important than the man who saws. A heavy stick cannot raise
either itself or the hand that holds it. v16 Therefore the *Lord
(commander of heaven’s armies) will send a disease that will make even the
strongest *Assyrian soldier very weak. A terrible illness will seem like a fire
in the body that burns constantly. v17 The God of Israel will act like a
fire. Israel’s holy God will act like a flame. In one day that fire will burn
everything that belongs to Assyria, even their bushes. v18 The fire will
completely destroy the rich forests and fields, even as a final illness kills a
man. v19 So few trees will remain that even a child will be able to
count them on his fingers.
The king of Assyria has made a great mistake. Military arms may
be the most modern and efficient. But unless the soldiers are able to use them,
the arms have no value whatever.
This probably refers to the sudden fate of the *Assyrian army. In
one night, 185 000 soldiers died (see 37:36-37).
A few people will return
v20 On that day the few people that remain in Israel
and in Judah will never again have to depend on the *Assyrians for supplies.
They will completely depend on the *Lord, the Holy God of Israel. v21
Only a few people will return to the All-Powerful God of Israel. v22 The
people in Israel were once like the sand on the shore in number. But only a
very few people will return. God has decided to destroy his people, as they
deserve. v23 The *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) has decided to
punish everyone in the entire country.
The few people who returned could see a great promise from God in
the name of Isaiah’s son Shear-jashub (see 7:4).
· ‘All-Powerful God’ is one of the
titles of the *Messiah (see 9:6).
God will punish Assyria
v24 Now the *Lord, the *Lord (commander of heaven’s
armies), speaks to God’s people who still live in *Jerusalem. Do not be afraid
of the *Assyrians when they hit you with heavy sticks. They behave as the
*Egyptians did long ago.
v25 Very soon my anger will end. v26 Then the
*Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) will attack the *Assyrians. As once he did
when he struck the *Midianite army at the Rock of Oreb. And the All-Powerful
*Lord will make a path through the sea. As once he did against Egypt. v27
On that day the *Assyrians will not still rule your nation. It will feel as if
a heavy weight has gone from your shoulders.
Long ago, the *Egyptians were very cruel to the *Israelites (see
· Gideon and his little band of men
attacked the great *Midianite army. They killed the *Midianite commander, Oreb.
Afterwards, the place where he died was called the Rock of Oreb (see Judges
· God acted so that Moses was able to
lead the people to safety across the sea (see Exodus 14:29-31).
The enemy attacks
v28 *Assyrian soldiers are coming from Samaria. They
have reached the town called Aiath. They have marched through Migram. They have
left some of their supplies at Michmash. v29 They have crossed the valley.
They are spending the night at Geba. Terror has filled the people in Ramah.
Everyone has run from Saul’s town called Gibeah. v30 The people in the
towns called Gallim and Laisha are screaming. And poor Anathoth! Your fate is
terrible! v31 People are running from Madmena and Gebim. v32 But
the enemy stops at Nob for the rest of the day. The soldiers shake their fists
at *Jerusalem. v33-34 Now the *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) will
completely destroy the vast *Assyrian army. As a man with a powerful axe could
destroy the greatest of trees in the forests of Lebanon.
Aiath is probably the same town as Ai (see Joshua chapter 7).
Aiath and Micram are at the south end of the northern country called Samaria.
Geba is in the north of Judah. The *Assyrians are now over the
border, as they advance towards *Jerusalem. Anathoth was where Jeremiah was
born (see Jeremiah 1:1). All the places in these verses are towns and villages
in the area. The inhabitants are in great fear.
The *Assyrians will be able to see *Jerusalem from the town
called Nob. ‘Shake their fists’ means to threaten (warn) the inhabitants. The
*Assyrian attack will be fierce.
The situation seems beyond human help. But often, that is when God
acts to rescue his people (see Matthew 19:25-26).
The king who is coming
v1 Like a branch that grows from a *stump, somebody
from Jesse’s family will one day become king of Israel. v2 The Spirit of
the *Lord will rest (remain) upon him. The Spirit will give him wisdom,
intelligence and strength. The Spirit will teach him to know what the *Lord
desires. v3 This king’s greatest joy will be to obey the *Lord
perfectly. The king will not make any decision only by what he sees with his
eyes. Nor will he issue any judgement only by what he hears with his ears. v4
He will deal fairly with poor people. He will defend the *rights of people who
have no helpers. He will punish wicked people who are cruel to poor people. v5
Because the king will rule his people rightly and with truth.
One of Jesse’s sons was David, who followed Saul as king of
Israel. David overcame all of Israel’s enemies. He established national
*worship. And he prepared for the construction of the *Temple in *Jerusalem
(see 1 Chronicles chapters 11 to 29).
· ‘Son of David’ was a title of the
*Messiah that the people in Judah and Israel were expecting.
David did many great things for his people. But his own life was
not perfect (see 2 Samuel chapters 11 to 12).
· God’s Spirit will provide the king
that is coming with special gifts (skills) and qualities. Other national
leaders can only pretend to possess such qualities.
Peace at last
v6 Fierce animals will live calmly with young sheep
and young goats. v7 Cows and bears will feed together. Lions will eat
straw as the farmer’s animals do. And a little child will look after them. v8
Young children will play safely near the hole of a poisonous snake. They will
even put their hands on its nest. v9 Nobody will hurt or destroy anywhere
on my holy mountain. For the land will be as full of the knowledge about the
*Lord as the waters fill the sea.
The *Messiah’s arrival will bring about perfect harmony (peace
and calm) in all life. This includes the animals, especially those animals that
are natural enemies. No person or animal will be afraid of another.
God’s people will return
v10 One day, this new king from the family of Jesse
(David’s father) will come. His arrival will be the signal to all the nations
to gather in the royal city (*Jerusalem) to give him honour. His own nation
will become famous. v11 When that day comes, the *Lord will again use
his power. He will bring back his people from foreign countries. They will come
from Assyria and from Egypt. From Cush and from Elam. From Shinar and from
Hamath. From the land along the coast. v12 The *Lord will raise a flag
as a signal to nations all over the world. He will show the nations that he is
bringing back his people from foreign lands. v13 Ephraim’s jealous
attitudes will vanish. Judah will not still want to fight. Ephraim will not be
jealous of Judah. Judah will not still want to fight Ephraim. v14
Together Ephraim and Judah will attack the *Philistines to the west. Together
they will *seize the possessions of the nations to the east. They will overcome
Edom and Moab. Ammon will obey their rule. v15 The *Lord will dry part
of the Red Sea near Egypt. He will send a very hot wind to divide the river
called Euphrates into seven streams. The streams will be shallow enough for
people to cross. v16 So for God’s people who are returning, there will
be a good road from Assyria. Just as when their families at the time of Moses
escaped from Egypt.
Foreign nations will want to know more about Israel’s *Messiah.
‘Raise a flag’ is a picture in words. In a battle, the
commander’s flag was flying high for all to see. In this way his forces kept
together under his orders (control).
· In this verse the ‘flag’ was
reminding the world that the *Lord really controls history. That is, he
controls the nations and their activities. The nations will not be able to stop
the return of God’s people to their own land. This is God’s plan, so the
nations can do nothing to prevent it.
As another example of his power, the *Lord will bring back unity
between Ephraim and Judah (see my note at the beginning of Chapter 7).
As still another example of his power, the *Lord makes his
people’s return easier by his control of nature.
A song to praise God
v1 On the day that you are free, you will sing. ‘I
give you honour, *Lord! You have been very angry with your people. But your
anger has ended. Now you have comforted me. v2 You will keep me safe. I
shall not be afraid. My power and my strength come from you, *Lord. You have
v3 It is as if your people have been desperate to
find water to drink. Then somebody provides a wonderful fountain. The cool
water saves your life. What joy is yours! v4 On that day you will offer
grateful thanks to the *Lord. And you will give him great honour. You will tell
other nations what a wonderful God he is. v5 Sing to the *Lord! He has
done such wonderful things. Let all the world know! v6 The Holy God of
Israel is great. And he lives among you. So shout aloud and sing with great
joy, you people of God!
Israel’s punishment is now over. So God’s anger has ended, as he
promised (see 10:25).
One of Isaiah’s important messages to his hearers is ‘Do not be
afraid!’ (see 7:4; 8:12; 10:24; 37:6; 40:9; 44:8).
· Somebody who has known personally
God’s rescue is confident. That person knows that he can trust God completely.
There is no need whatever to be afraid.
To tell other people about one’s own experience of God is a great
way to praise him.
The next major division of the Book of Isaiah is chapters 13 to
23. These 11 chapters are about the history of foreign countries that affect
Judah in some way. Isaiah does not aim to give a complete history of these other
countries. Instead, Isaiah explains how God controls the actions of these other
nations. Isaiah’s intention is to show God’s constant care for his people.
God will punish Babylon
v1 *Woe to Babylon! God gave this special message to
Isaiah son of Amoz. v2 From the top of a hill raise a flag as a signal.
Shout aloud your orders! Raise your hand to order the attack! The soldiers are
to break through the gates of Babylon’s proud rulers. v3 The *Lord has
given orders to his very best soldiers. His proud heroes are to show how very
angry he is.
v4 Listen to the noise on the mountains! Hear the
sound of a vast crowd of people! Many nations are joining forces. The *Lord
(commander of heaven’s armies) is bringing together his soldiers for battle. v5
Soldiers are coming from distant nations. The *Lord is so angry that he will
ruin the whole country. v6 Cry and weep! The day is coming when the
All-Powerful *Lord will make the whole land a bare (empty) desert. v7
Terror will fill everyone. Courage will vanish. v8 All the people will
tremble with pain, like a mother when her child is being born. People will
stare at each other with terror on their faces.
The ancient city of Babylon (see Genesis 10:10) was on the river
called Euphrates (in modern Iraq). From the beginning the rulers of Babylon had
proud ambitions that led to very serious results for many other people (see
Genesis 11:1-9). Even in Isaiah’s day, Babylon was causing constant troubles to
Assyria, which was the ruling power. God’s message helped Isaiah to realise
that Babylon would soon be Judah’s real enemy (see Chapter 39).
‘Raise a flag’ (see my note on 11:12)
This is another example of God’s control over foreign nations, on
behalf of his people. These nations will be his agents, who carry out his
‘The day is coming.’ On that day, people will see clearly what
God is doing. His powerful deeds will impress everyone. The date is God’s
God will punish proud people
v9 The day of the *Lord is near. ‘I shall not pity
anyone when that time comes. Because I am so angry, I shall destroy the land.
And I shall kill every wicked person in it. v10 The stars in the sky
will not shine. The sun will be dark when it rises. The moon will give no
light. v11 I shall severely punish the inhabitants of the world because
of their evil actions. I shall punish all who are proud and selfish. v12
Few people will remain after I have finished my work. It will be easier to find
pure gold than to find people that remain. v13 I shall make the skies
tremble. I shall shake the foundations (the base) of the earth.’ These things
will happen because the *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) is so very angry.
‘The day of the *Lord’: see my note on verse 6.
Isaiah uses pictures in words to describe how total is the effect
of God’s action. The darkness will be extraordinary because no light whatever
reaches the world from the stars. Or from the sun, or from the moon. This does
not mean that God removes them from the sky. But he covers them so completely
that no light whatever reaches people on the earth.
The end of Babylon’s power
v14 Foreigners who were living in Babylon will rush
home to their own land. Just as an animal runs from the hunter. Just as sheep
scatter when nobody looks after them. v15-16 In Babylon, the soldiers
will kill anyone that they catch. They will even kill children. They will rob
houses of all valuable things. The soldiers will force women to have sex with
them. v17 God declares that he is sending the *Medes to ruin Babylon. No
amount of silver or gold will tempt them not to attack.
v18 The *Medes will kill the young men with bows and
arrows. They will not pity babies or children. v19 Babylon is the most
beautiful of cities. But I shall completely destroy it, just as I destroyed
Sodom and Gomorrah. v20 Nobody will ever live there again. No *Arab will
erect a tent there. Nobody who looks after sheep will ever take them there.
v21 Only wild goats and other animals of the desert
will live there. And birds will nest there. v22 The noise in Babylon’s
castles and palaces will be the sound of wild dogs. Babylon’s end has come.
Babylon will not continue to exist.
The *Medes came from the country that is today called Iran
(Persia). They joined forces with the army from Persia in the attack that
destroyed Babylon in the year 539 *BC.
‘Young men’ often means ‘men old enough to fight as soldiers’.
That is also why ‘bows and arrows’ appear in this verse.
· Attackers usually pitied babies and
children. But even they would not escape death. The cruel actions of the *Medes
will be against everyone, of whatever age.
God totally destroyed the cities called Sodom and Gomorrah (see
Genesis chapter 19). The city called Babylon was immensely larger than Sodom
and Gomorrah. And Babylon was famous for its wonderful buildings. But now
Babylon’s fate is certain.
Today what remains of Babylon’s beautiful buildings and
impressive avenues lies underneath many feet of sand.
The *Lord’s people will come home
v1 The *Lord will pity the people from Israel. He
will again choose them to be his special people. He will bring them back to
their own country. And now foreigners will want to join them as part of the
*Lord’s special people. v2 Foreigners will lead the people back home to
Israel. And the people from Israel will use the foreigners as male and female
slaves in the *Lord’s country. The people from Israel will now have authority
over those who once ruled them so cruelly.
The people from Israel had suffered because they did not obey the
*Lord. But now their punishment is complete. So now the *Lord will again choose
the people from Israel to have a special relationship with him. The *Lord will
arrange for their return home to their own land. Babylon had merely been God’s
agent to punish Israel. Babylon’s end will mean freedom for God’s people.
Former slaves (the people from Israel) will exchange roles with
their former masters (the people from Babylon).
The fate of the king of Babylon
v3 The *Lord will bring relief from pain to his
people. He will bring them relief from what they suffered as slaves. v4
Then they will laugh at the powerful king of Babylon when they sing this song:
‘See how that cruel criminal has come to his
He will never
attack us again.’
v5-6 The *Lord has broken the power of the evil
rulers. They struck whole nations with angry blows. They never stopped their
cruelty to the inhabitants. v7 Everywhere there is now peace. All
nations are singing with joy. v8 Even the great trees in Lebanon seem to
be glad. Since the king died, nobody has chopped them.
v9 *Sheol is very excited. The spirits of dead rulers
know that the spirit of the dead king of Babylon is coming to join them. v10
They will say to him, ‘Now you are just as weak as any of us! v11 Your
proud power and your music have ended here in *Sheol. You lie on a bed of
*worms. And *worms cover you like a blanket. v12 You shine like the dawn. But you have really fallen from the sky! In the past you overcame other nations.
Now you have suffered the same fate. God has chopped you to the ground, just as
men cut down a tree.
v13 You proudly said to yourself, “I shall climb up
to heaven. I shall place my royal seat above the highest stars. I shall sit
with the gods, far away in the north. v14 I shall be above the clouds,
just like God Most High.”
v15 But instead, God has sent you to the deepest part
v16 Those who see you will stare at you. This is the
man who made the world tremble. This is the man who shook countries. v17
He overcame cities. He made the earth a desert. He is the cruel king who
refused to let prisoners go home.
v18 When kings die, men bury them with honour in a
splendid royal grave. v19 But nobody will bury you. You will be just
another dead body, like a dead branch on the ground. You will be like dead
soldiers after a battle. People throw the bodies into a hole, one on top of
another. v20 Men will not bury you with honour, as they have buried
other kings. Because it was your own land that you ruined. It was your own
people that you murdered. No son of yours will ever be king. v21 We
shall kill your sons. We shall make them pay for the crimes of their father.
Your sons will never *seize the world. They will not build new cities
everywhere, as you did. v22-23 The *Lord will ruin the city called
Babylon, so that it is merely a home for wild animals. And he will flood the
country that surrounds the city.
The evil rulers had been using masses of wood for fuel and when
they attacked the walls of cities. They had no consideration for the future.
Trees need years to grow.
The ‘music’ of those who had been wicked rulers refers to their
former comfortable life of luxury. Instead of magnificent meals, the body of
the king will himself become food for *worms.
Many readers have seen in these verses a reference to the future
punishment of Satan (the devil).
This verse describes the proud ambition of the king of Babylon. But
it warns that very bad things will happen to him in the end.
‘Far away in the north’ refers to the sacred mountain called
Zephon in northern Syria. The former inhabitants of *Canaan believed that all
the gods met there. The proud king of Babylon thought that he was as great as
any god. He supposed himself to be a god because he was the most important king
in the world.
The king of Babylon’s determination to *seize complete power made
him act madly. He even stole the property of his own people. And he killed
anyone who tried to oppose him.
The king’s own sons would suffer because of their father’s wicked
behaviour (see Exodus 34:7).
God will also punish Assyria
v24 The *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) makes a
serious promise. ‘All will happen, *exactly as I have arranged. What I have
decided to do, I shall certainly carry out. v25 I shall break up the
*Assyrians who have been occupying my special land. They shall become like dirt
upon my mountains. And my people shall never again be their slaves. v26
This is the plan that I have decided for the whole earth. I have raised my hand
against all nations.’ v27 The *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) has
prepared his plan. Nobody can stop it. He lifts his hand. He is ready to
strike. Nobody can oppose him.
This probably refers to the intention of the *Assyrian army to
attack Judah in 701 *BC (see 2 Kings chapter 19).
‘Lifts his hand’: see my note on 9:12.
God will also punish the *Philistines
v28 A special message from God came to Isaiah in the
year when Ahaz king of Judah died. v29 Do not be glad, all you
*Philistines! Once it seemed as if a heavy stick was striking you. You are glad
because now that heavy stick has broken. But that heavy stick will become like
a poisonous snake. And that snake will turn into something *fiery that flies. v30
The very poorest of my people will live in safety. And they will be able to
feed their sheep in my green fields. But you *Philistines will starve. And I
shall kill any that remain. v31 Cry aloud in the city! Shout for help!
All the *Philistines tremble with fear! A cloud of dust is coming from the
north. Another powerful army is approaching. Every enemy soldier is ready to
attack. v32 What shall we say to *messengers that come to us from the
*Philistines? Tell them that *Jerusalem is the *Lord’s foundation. Even the
poorest of his people will find safety and security there.
Ahaz died in 716 *BC.
The ‘heavy stick’ is a picture in words of an enemy’s attack. God
warns the *Philistines that something even worse than the *Assyrian attack is
People will never find real safety in great armies. They will
only find real safety in the great *Lord God.
God will punish Moab
v1 God gave Isaiah this special message about Moab.
Enemies will suddenly attack Moab. They will completely destroy the important
towns called Ar and Kir in one night. The shock will cause all the people in
Moab to be silent. v2 The people in Dibon will go to the high place to
weep. The people in Moab will cry because of the fate of Nebo and Medeba.
People will shave the hair from their heads. Men will cut their beards. v3
People will wear *sackcloth in the streets. On roofs and in public places,
people cry bitterly. Tears are pouring down their cheeks. v4 The
inhabitants of Heshbon and Elealeh shout because of their pain. The sound of
their voices reaches even as far as Jahaz. Moab’s soldiers are very afraid.
Terror fills them.
v5 I feel so sorry for the people from Moab. Some of
them have reached Zoar and Eglath as they try to escape from the enemy. They
are crying as they climb the road to Luhith. They are in tears because of what
has happened. v6 The wells at Nimrim are dry. The grass is brown. No new
grass is growing. Nothing remains. v7 Therefore the people from Moab
carry what they can across the little Stream of the Trees. v8 People are
weeping across the whole country called Moab, from one end to the other end. v9
God declares that the stream near Dibon will run red because of the blood. But
he has not finished yet! Lions will hunt the people who are escaping. And lions
will also hunt the people who remain.
Isaiah mentions many places in this short chapter. So he shows
how completely enemies had ruined the whole country called Moab.
For people to shave the head was a sign that they were very sad.
The enemy attacked from the north. The people from Moab ran away
from them to the south. Like all *refugees in times of war, they tried to carry
a few possessions with them.
· The ‘Stream of the Trees’ was
probably the little river called Zered. It marked Moab’s southern border with
Moab asks for help
v1 From the town called Sela in the desert, Moab’s
people send a gift of young sheep to the king of Judah in *Jerusalem. v2
At a shallow point in the river Arnon, the worried young women from Moab are
desperate for news. They wander about like anxious birds. They seem like young
birds that have lost their nest. v3 The *messengers who brought the gift
to *Jerusalem ask the king of Judah for advice and for help. v4 ‘Please
give us a safe place in your country. Please protect us. Please do not hand us
over to our enemies.’
The present terror will come to an end. Moab’s enemy will
disappear. v5 Then in love God will establish a man from David’s family
to be Judah’s king. That king will give judgement fairly. He will not hesitate
to do what is right.
Lambs (young sheep) were a traditional gift among the people in
Moab (see 2 Kings 3:4).
Young women are the *refugees in greatest danger during times of
There was always a close relation between the people from Judah
and the people from Moab, especially during times of trouble (see Ruth 1:1).
The end of Moab’s pride
v6 It is common knowledge that the people in Moab are
so very proud. We all know about their silly excess of pride. That pride has no
*foundation whatever. v7 The people in Moab will soon be weeping. The
whole nation will cry bitterly because of the fate of Kir-hareseth. Enemies
have completely ruined the splendid fields of *vines in that district. v8
Enemies have destroyed the farms and the fields in Heshbon and the *vines in
Sibmah. Alcohol in the famous red *wine of these places was very powerful. It
caused the rulers of nations to become drunks. The *vines once reached as far
as Jazer and the Dead Sea. v9 Therefore I shall weep for the people in
Sibmah and in Jazer. I shall cry bitterly for the inhabitants of Heshbon and
Elealeh. There is no harvest to make the people glad. v10 There will be
no more joy and happiness in the fields. They will never again make *wine from
*grapes. Nobody will hear the songs and the cheerful shouts of the workers as
they collect the harvest. v11 I am so very sorry for the people in Moab
and the people in Kir-hareseth. v12 When the people in Moab go to pray
at their special place, they are wasting their time and effort. They will
receive no answer from their gods.
v13 All these events are what the *Lord said about
Moab long ago. v14 And now the *Lord declares that in *exactly three
years from now, other nations will joke about Moab’s splendid past. Very few
people will remain in Moab. And they will be weak. Other nations will consider
them to be of little value.
A proud attitude is not merely stupid. It always disappoints. And
it ends in tears.
‘*Exactly three years’ This is the sort of language that a hired
workman uses. He will frequently calculate the number of days that still remain
on his contract. People can completely trust what God says. So these words
emphasise this principle. It is as sure as a legal contract.
God will punish Damascus and Israel
v1 God gave Isaiah this special message about
Damascus (capital of Syria). *Woe to Damascus! It will become merely a heap of stones.
v2 The villages round Aroer will be empty of people. Only sheep will
live there and nobody will disturb them. v3 Attackers will destroy
Syria. The *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) has promised that Syria’s fate
will be the same as the fate of Israel.
That is, enemies will destroy the city completely. They will
knock down all the stone buildings.
Both Syria and Israel will lose their defences.
v4 When the time comes for God to act, Israel will
lose its greatness. v5 The land of Israel will be as empty as a field
after workers have collected the harvest. Only a few grains of corn remain. v6
The people in Israel will be like the few *olives that remain on the top branch
of a tree after harvest. The *Lord God of Israel has spoken. v7 (Only
then will the people from Israel again turn back to the God who created them.
Only then will they again obey the Holy God of Israel.) v8 They had made
*altars to images of false gods. And they had set up sacred places where they
burned *incense to give honour to Asherah. They had also erected special poles
in her honour. But now the people from Israel will not join in these
activities. v9 On that day your strong cities will be empty of people.
Like the cities of the Hittites and Amorites long ago when the army of Israel
approached. These cities will again be empty. Weeds and bushes will cover them.
v10 Because you forgot the God who saved you. You did not remember that
God is your strong Rock (your security). So plant your gardens that are sacred
to Baal, that foreign god. v11 Protect your gardens with a fence on the
day that you plant them. Next morning your seeds will begin to grow. But then
disease will strike them and they will all die.
‘Israel’s greatness’ refers to all that makes the people so
The word ‘harvest’ refers to the happiest time in the year.
People feel great satisfaction because food is plentiful. But attention here is
on the bare fields immediately after harvest. The crops and fruit are not still
there. Hardly anything remains.
In the end, the people will realise why God is punishing them.
And then they will return to God. In other words, they will obey him again.
Asherah was the female god that the local inhabitants of *Canaan
The Hittites and the Amorites were living in *Canaan before the
arrival of the *Israelites from Egypt (see Joshua 24:11).
‘Your strong Rock’ is a picture in words of Israel’s God. He
offers security. He is like a great mountain. If only his people would run to
him, they would be safe from their enemies.
God will defend his people
v12 The loud noise of great armies! Their loud noise
is like the loud noise of the sea! The roar of nations! Their roar is like the
roar of powerful waters! v13 But when God merely shouts at those great
armies, they run! They disappear like leaves on the hills before a wild storm. v14
In the evening, they are causing terror. By the morning, they have all gone.
Such is the fate of any enemies that would rob us of our possessions.
When God acts to defend his people, the result is immediate and
total. It is God who is the real ruler of the nations of the world. He will act
for the benefit of his people.
God will punish Cush
v1 *Woe to the country called Cush where clouds of
insects fly across the rivers. v2 The people in Cush have sent *messengers
across the sea. The *messengers have travelled in fast boats over the water.
Return home, fast *messengers. Go back to your nation of
tall people with smooth skins. To your cruel nation that spreads fear
everywhere. To your powerful nation of strange speech, to your land of many
rivers. v3 Watch, all you people of the world! Listen, you who live on
the earth! When a sign appears on the top of the mountains, you will see it.
And when the alarm sounds, you will hear it.
v4 The *Lord said to me, ‘I shall simply watch from
where I am. I shall be as quiet as warmth that comes from the sun. I shall be
as quiet as the early mist when it lifts in the summer of harvest.’
v5 Before the new *grapes appear, an enemy will have
destroyed the great army of Cush. It will happen as easily as a sharp knife
cuts branches from a tree. v6 All the soldiers will be dead. Their
bodies will be food for vultures (birds that eat dead bodies) all the summer
and for wild animals all the winter. v7 The time is coming when the
*Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) will accept gifts from the fierce
inhabitants of the land of many rivers. And the tall people with smooth skins,
who once frightened everyone, will give honour to the *Lord in *Jerusalem.
Cush was a country that today forms part of southern Egypt and
· ‘Clouds of insects’ is one possible
translation of a very rare Hebrew form of words. Or the words may refer to the
sails of small boats on the rivers. Either translation could correctly refer to
the land of Cush.
The people in Cush have sent *messengers to invite Judah to join
in a force against Assyria. But Isaiah’s message told them to return home.
Military unions will never be sufficient. God’s people should trust the *Lord
alone for success.
‘Smooth skins’ refers to the fact that the men of Cush shaved
their faces. Many other people from the east did not shave (see Genesis 41:14).
People used high places, for example the tops of mountains, to
send important news quickly and over vast distances. But in this verse ‘sign’
and ‘alarm’ give a picture in words. The meaning is ‘a clear message that
everybody can understand’.
The *Lord remains calm. What is about to happen between nations
does not affect him in any way. But when he sees that the time is right, he
will suddenly act. Then nothing can stop him. Nobody can stop him.
The *Lord will use some nation’s army to destroy the huge forces
of Cush. He, and not some political leader, is in control of the events of
See Isaiah 60:10-14.
God will punish Egypt
v1 God gave this special message to Isaiah son of
Amoz. The *Lord is coming to Egypt. He is riding on a cloud that moves quickly.
The false gods of Egypt will tremble. The courage of the inhabitants of Egypt
will disappear because of their fear. v2 I shall make the people in
Egypt fight each other. Brothers against brothers. Neighbours against
neighbours. Citizens against citizens. People in one region against people in
another region. v3 The inhabitants of Egypt will lose their courage
completely. I shall confuse their thoughts. The *Egyptians will try to get
advice from their false gods and from the spirits of dead persons. v4 I
shall hand over the inhabitants of Egypt to a fierce foreign king. He will rule
them cruelly. The *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) has spoken.
‘Riding on a cloud’ describes the power of God, who controls
storms (see Psalm 18:10-15). As clouds race across the sky in a storm, so God
is racing to rescue his people. That was also David’s experience (see Psalm
God is causing these quarrels to happen. He will greatly upset
all kinds of relations. So the *Egyptians will be even less able to oppose any
attack by an enemy.
Because of the *Lord’s immense power, false gods and people alike
are unable to do anything. To expect *idols or dead persons to tell them what
to do is hopeless. In any case, God has forbidden such activity.
God does not mention the name of the cruel enemy.
Trouble on the Nile
v5 The waters of the river Nile will fail to flow. v6
The channels of the river will get smaller and smaller. v7 The plants
that grew in the water will become dry. They will die. Then the wind will carry
off the dried plants. No trace of them will remain. v8 People who fish
in the river Nile will weep bitterly. People who throw a net into the water will
be so very sad. There are no fish to catch. No fish to sell. No income. v9
People who grow plants for material to make cloth will not know what to do. v10
All who work in the trade will be in despair. All who were earning wages by
this work will now receive no money.
The Nile has always been vital for the inhabitants of Egypt. The
river provides food and trade. Boats carry passengers and goods up and down the
· Winter rains flow into the Nile from
the high hills of central Africa. Summer rains flow into the Nile from the high
hills of Ethiopia. All this water causes the Nile to flood large areas of Egypt
regularly. The floods leave behind good soil on the plains for farmers to use.
· But if the waters fail for some
reason, the people in Egypt are soon in very serious trouble.
As the level of the water drops, plants die. The wind carries
away not only the dead plants but also the valuable soil, which is now dry
Such a terrible trouble must affect the whole life of the people
Unwise leaders in Egypt
v11 The leaders of the government in Zoan are fools.
The wisest of the king’s advisers are stupid. Yet they tell the king that they
come from a family of wise princes. v12 King, you have such very wise
advisers. So these very wise men should tell the king about the plan that the
*Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) has made against Egypt. v13 The
royal officials in Zoan and in Memphis are all fools. Egypt’s great men have
led the people in Egypt in the wrong direction. v14 The *Lord has
completely confused the officials. They are leading the nation away from the
right direction. They are making their people walk like drunks. v15
There will be nothing that anybody in Egypt can do. Both important and
unimportant people can do nothing. v16 On the day when the *Lord
(commander of heaven’s armies) acts, the inhabitants of Egypt will be like weak
women. They will tremble with fear. v17 The people from Judah will put
terror into the *Egyptians. If someone only mentions Judah’s name, everybody in
Egypt will be greatly afraid. They feel such great fear because of the things
that the *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) has decided to do.
The previous verses described God’s control over nature. Now he
shows his control over people, over even the most important officials. They may
think that they have political power. But God still carries out his purposes.
Memphis was the capital of Egypt before Zoan.
How foolish then for God’s people even to imagine that Egypt
could help them against an enemy.
The people in Egypt will even be afraid to hear the name ‘Judah’.
That name will remind the people in Egypt about Judah’s all-powerful God.
God will bless Egypt and Assyria as well as Israel
v18 The time is coming when the inhabitants of five
cities in the country called Egypt will speak Hebrew (the language of the
people from Judah). And they will make promises to the *Lord (commander of
heaven’s armies). One of the cities will be called City of the Sun.
v19 On that day there will be an *altar of stone in
the country called Egypt to give honour to the *Lord. And a sacred column near
the border to give honour to the *Lord. v20 The *altar and the column
will be evidence that the *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies) is present in
the country called Egypt. If the people suffer because of an enemy, they will
be able to cry to the *Lord for help. And he will send them a strong defender
to rescue them. v21 The *Lord will make himself known to the *Egyptians.
From that day the *Egyptians will know the *Lord. And they will show him
honour. They will give him valuable gifts. They will make promises to the *Lord
and they will carry them out. v22 After the *Lord has punished the
*Egyptians, they will turn to him. And he will cure them when they pray to him.
v23 When that time comes, a good road will link Egypt
and Assyria. The *Egyptians and the *Assyrians will travel along that road in
both directions. And people from both nations will give honour to the *Lord
together. v24 When that time comes, Israel will be a great nation like
Egypt and Assyria. And these three nations will be of great benefit to all the
v25 The *Lord (commander of heaven’s armies)
declares, ‘I will say and do good things to Egypt, my people. And to Assyria,
whom I created. And to Israel, my special people.’
These last verses of Chapter 19 look ahead to some time still in
The five cities probably include Migdol, Tahpanhes, Memphis and
Pathros, where *Jews were living (see Jeremiah 44:1). These four cities were
near the border with Judah. The ‘City of the Sun’ is a translation of the name
of the city called Heliopolis.
The *worship of the *Lord in Egypt will be public and official.
Again Isaiah is emphasising that international events are under
God’s control. The benefit will come from the *Lord, but by means of these
Centuries earlier, God had promised Abraham that all the families
of the earth would one day come to know Abraham’s God and Abraham’s people (see
Isaiah himself will be a sign to Egypt and Cush
v1 Sargon, *emperor of Assyria, ordered the commander
of his army to attack the *Philistine town called Ashdod.
v2 Three years earlier the *Lord had told Isaiah son
of Amoz to take off his clothes and his shoes. Isaiah obeyed and he went about
naked and without shoes on his feet.
v3 After the *Assyrians had *seized Ashdod, the *Lord
said, ‘My servant Isaiah has been going about naked and without shoes for three
years. This is a sign of the terrible troubles that will happen to Egypt and to
Cush. v4 The king of Assyria will *seize the people in Egypt and the
people in Cush as prisoners. He will *seize them whether they are young or old.
He will make them walk naked and without shoes on their feet. They will be
greatly ashamed. v5 The other nations thought that Cush and Egypt would
be strong enough to support them against Assyria. But then they will be in
despair. v6 People who live along the coast will see these events. And
those people will say, “We had hoped that Cush and Egypt would protect us
against the *Assyrian army. But now we realise that we cannot hope to escape.”
Ashdod was one of the five major towns of the *Philistines.
Sargon was *emperor of Assyria. His *empire included the country
of the *Philistines. But in 711 *BC the king of Ashdod tried to fight for
He also tried to get Judah and other states to join him. So
Sargon ordered his army commander to attack Ashdod.
Instead of words, God sometimes told his servants to use actions
(see Jeremiah chapter 13). This is the only occasion when Isaiah used actions
to give God’s message.
Cush was a country that today forms part of southern Egypt and
God’s people can now see for themselves that to depend on
political agreements is hopeless. Only the *Lord can save them.
altar ~ special stone where priests burned animals as
gifts to God, or to a false god.
Arab ~ a person from a country called Arabia. This may not
mean the same people as Arabs today.
Assyrian ~ a person from the country called Assyria; or
anything that has a relationship with the country called Assyria.
BC ~ ‘Before Christ’ (for dates before the birth of Jesus
bless ~ to say and to do good things for someone.
Canaan ~ original name of the country that God gave to his
Egyptian ~ a person from the country called Egypt, or
anything that has a relationship with the country called Egypt.
emperor ~ royal ruler over an *empire.
empire ~ group of many countries that a powerful king had
exact, exactly ~ we use these words to emphasise that
something is accurate.
fiery ~ something that seems like fire.
foundation ~ something strong that you can trust in order
to establish something else firmly.
grapes ~ small sweet fruit of the *vine. The juice of
grapes makes *wine.
idol ~ home-made image of a god.
incense ~ substance to burn for its sweet smell to give
honour to God.
Israelites ~ Jacob had 12 sons. In later centuries, their
large families would grow into a nation, called the Israelites. For a long
time, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. But God freed them by means of
Moses. God gave them the country called *Canaan. And there, long afterwards,
the Israelites formed two nations, called Judah and Israel.
Jerusalem ~ at the time of David and Solomon, the capital
of the country called Israel. During the time of Isaiah, Jerusalem was the
capital of the country called Judah.
Jews ~ people who belong to the countries called Judah and
Israel; people who belong to the 12 *tribes of Israel.
Lord ~ God’s name in the Bible. In the original language,
God’s names mean ‘head over all’ and ‘God always’.
Mede ~ a person from the country called Media.
messenger ~ a person who carries a message.
Messiah ~ *Old Testament title for Christ.
Midianite ~ a person from the country called Midian, or
anything that had a relationship with the country called Midian.
Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible. It contains
39 books, all from the time before Jesus was born.
olives ~ fruit of a tree that people use to make oil.
Philistine ~ a person from the country called Philistia,
or anything that had a relationship with the country called Philistia.
refugees ~ people who have had to leave their homes,
especially during war.
rights ~ the rules that protect weaker people in a country
with good government.
sackcloth ~ dress of rough material that people wore to
show that they were very sad.
seize ~ to take a person’s possessions away from that
person, either by law, or in a war. Or, to overcome a city or nation in order
to rule it. Or, to take a person as a prisoner or a slave.
Sheol ~ the place where *Jews thought that dead persons
stump ~ short lower piece of a tree that remains in the
ground after the rest of the tree has gone.
Temple ~ special building in *Jerusalem where *Jews
praised God and offered him prayers and gifts.
tribe ~ a group of the later family of one father.
vine ~ plant that produces *grapes.
wine ~ drink that people make from *grapes.
woe ~ a very sad cry because there is much pain to come.
worm ~ tiny thin animal that lives in the ground.
worship ~ to praise God and to pray to him.
© 2006-2007, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).
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