Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
God's judgments against oppressive rulers, Isa 10:1-4. The prophet foretells the invasion of Sennacherib, and the destruction of his army. That mighty monarch is represented as a rod in the hand of God to correct his people for their sins; and his ambitious purposes, contrary to his own intentions, are made subservient to the great desires of Providence, Isa 10:5-11. Having accomplished this work, the Almighty takes account of his impious vauntings, Isa 10:12-14; and threatens utter destruction to the small and great of his army, represented by the thorns, and the glory of the forest, Isa 10:15-19. This leads the prophet to comfort his countrymen with the promise of the signal interposition of God in their favor, Isa 10:24-27. Brief description of the march of Sennacherib towards Jerusalem, and of the alarm and terror which he spread every where as he hastened forward, Isa 10:28-32. The spirit and rapidity of the description is admirably suited to the subject. The affrighted people are seen fleeing, and the eager invader pursuing; the cries of one city are heard by those of another; and groan swiftly succeeds to groan, till at length the rod is lifted over the last citadel. In this critical situation, however, the promise of a Divine interposition is seasonably renewed. The scene instantly changes; the uplifted arm of this mighty conqueror is at once arrested and laid low by the hand of heaven; the forest of Lebanon, (a figure by which the immense Assyrian host is elegantly pointed out, is hewn down by the axe of the Divine vengeance; and the mind is equally pleased with the equity of the judgment, and the beauty and majesty of the description, Isa 10:33, Isa 10:34.
My people - Instead of עמי ammi, my people, many MSS., and one of my own, ancient, read עמו ammo, his people. But this is manifestly a corruption.
Without me - That is, without my aid: they shall be taken captive even by the captives, and shall be subdued even by the vanquished. "The י yod in בלתי bilti is a pronoun, as in Hos 13:4." - Kimchi on the place. One MS. has לבלתי lebilti.
As the people had hitherto lived without God in worship and obedience; so they should now be without his help, and should perish in their transgressions.
O Assyrian "Ho to the Assyrian" - Here begins a new and distinct prophecy, continued to the end of the twelfth chapter: and it appears from Isa 10:9-11 of this chapter, that this prophecy was delivered after the taking of Samaria by Shalmaneser; which was in the sixth year of the reign of Hezekiah: and as the former part of it foretells the invasion of Sennacherib, and the destruction of his army, which makes the whole subject of this chapter it must have been delivered before the fourteenth of the same reign.
The staff in their hand "The staff in whose hand" - The word הוא hu, the staff itself, in this place seems to embarrass the sentence. I omit it on the authority of the Alexandrine copy of the Septuagint: nine MSS., (two ancient), and one of my own, ancient, for ומטה הוא umatter hu, read מטהו mattehu, his staff. Archbishop Secker was not satisfied with the present reading. He proposes another method of clearing up the sense, by reading ביום beyom, in the day, instead of בידם beyadam, in their hand: "And he is a staff in the day of mine indignation."
The Lord "Jehovah" - For אדני Adonai, fourteen MSS. and three editions read יהוה Yehovah.
The fruit "The effect" - "פרי peri, f. צבי tsebi, vid. Isa 13:19, sed confer, Pro 1:31; Pro 31:16, Pro 31:31." - Secker. The Chaldee renders the word פרי peri by עיבדי obadey, works; which seems to be the true sense; and I have followed it. - L.
Like a valiant man "Strongly seated" - Twelve MSS. agree with the Keri in reading כביר kabbir, without the א aleph. And Sal. ben Melec and Kimchi thus explain it:" them who dwelled in a great and strong place I have brought down to the ground."
No wood "Its master" - I have here given the meaning, without attempting to keep to the expression of the original, לא עץ lo ets, "the no-wood;" that which is not wood like itself, but of a quite different and superior nature. The Hebrews have a peculiar way of joining the negative particle לא lo to a noun, to signify in a strong manner a total negation of the thing expressed by the noun.
"How hast thou given help (ללא כח lelo choach) to the no-strength?
And saved the arm (לא עז lo oz) of the no-power?
How hast, thou given counsel (ללא חכמה lelo chochmah) to the no-wisdom?"
Job 26:2, Job 26:3.
That is, to the man totally deprived of strength, power, and wisdom.
"Ye that rejoice (ללא דבר lelo dabar) in nothing."
That is, in your fancied strength, which is none at all, a mere nonentity.
"For I am God, (ולא איש velo ish), and no-man;
The Holy One in the midst of thee, yet do not frequent cities."
"And the Assyrian shall fall by a sword (לא איש lo ish) of no-man;
And a sword of (לא אדם lo adam) no-mortal, shall devour him."
"Wherefore do ye weigh out your silver (בלוא לחם belo lechem) for the no-bread."
So here לא עץ lo ets means him who is far from being an inert piece of wood, but is an animated and active being; not an instrument, but an agent.
The Lord "Jehovah" - For אדני Adonai, fifty-two MSS., eleven editions, and two of my own, ancient, read יהוה, Yehovah, as in other cases.
And under his glory - That is, all that he could boast of as great and strong in his army, (Sal. ben Melec in loc.), expressed afterwards, Isa 10:18, by the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field.
And it shall burn and devour his thorns "And he shall burn and consume his thorn" - The briers and thorns are the common people; the glory of his forest are the nobles and those of highest rank and importance. See note on Isa 9:17, and compare Eze 20:47. The fire of God's wrath shall destroy them, both great and small; it shall consume them from the soul to the flesh; a proverbial expression; soul and body, as we say; it shall consume them entirely and altogether; and the few that escape shall be looked upon as having escaped from the most imminent danger; "as a firebrand plucked out of the fire," Amo 4:11; ὡς δια πυρος, so as by fire, Co1 3:15; as a man when a house is burning is forced to make his escape by running through the midst of the fire.
I follow here the reading of the Septuagint, כמאש נסס kemash noses, ὡς ὁ φευγων απω φλογος χαιομενης, as he who flees from the burning flame. Symmachus also renders the latter word by φευγων, flying.
The remnant shalt return - unto the mighty God - אל גבור El gibbor, the mighty or conquering God; the Messiah, the same person mentioned in Isa 10:6 of the preceding chapter.
For though thy people Israel - I have endeavored to keep to the letter of the text as nearly as I can in this obscure passage; but it is remarkable that neither the Septuagint, nor St. Paul, Rom 9:28, who, except in a few words of no great importance, follows them nearly in this place, nor any one of the ancient Versions, take any notice of the word שטף shoteph, overflowing; which seems to give an idea not easily reconcilable with those with which it is here joined. 1. S. Maerlius (Schol. Philolog. ad Selecta S. Cod. loca) conjectures that the two last letters of this word are by mistake transposed, and that the true reading is שפט shophet, judging, with strict justice. The Septuagint might think this sufficiently expressed by εν δικαιοσυνῃ, in righteousness. One MS., with St. Paul and Septuagint Alex., omits בו bo in Isa 10:22; sixty-nine of Kennicott's and seventeen of De Rossi's MSS. and eight editions, omit כל col, all, in Isa 10:23; and so St. Paul, Rom 9:28.
The learned Dr. Bagot, dean of Christ Church, Oxford, afterwards Bishop of Bristol and Norwich, in some observations on this place, which he has been so kind as to communicate to me, and which will appear in their proper light when he himself shall give them to the public, renders the word כליון kilayon by accomplishment, and makes it refer to the predictions of Moses; the blessing and the curse which he laid before the people, both conditional, and depending on their future conduct. They had by their disobedience incurred those judgments which were now to be fully executed upon them. His translation is, The accomplishment determined overflows with justice; for it is accomplished, and that which is determined the Lord God of hosts doeth in the midst of the land. - L. Some think that the words might be paraphrased thus: The determined destruction of the Jews shall overflow with righteousness, (צדקה tsedakah), justification, the consequence of the Gospel of Christ being preached and believed on in the world. After the destruction of Jerusalem this word or doctrine of the Lord had free course, - did run, and was glorified.
After the manner of Egypt "In the way of Egypt" - I think there is a designed ambiguity in these words. Sennacherib, soon after his return from his Egyptian expedition, which, I imagine, took him up three years, invested Jerusalem. He is represented by the prophet as lifting up his rod in his march from Egypt, and threatening the people of God, as Pharaoh and the Egyptians had done when they pursued them to the Red Sea. But God in his turn will lift up his rod over the sea, as he did at that time, in the way, or after the manner, of Egypt; and as Sennacherib has imitated the Egyptians in his threats, and came full of rage against them from the same quarter; so God will act over again the same part that he had taken formerly in Egypt, and overthrow their enemies in as signal a manner. It was all to be, both the attack and the deliverance, בדרך bederech, or כדרך kederech, as a MS. has it in each place, in the way, or after the manner, of Egypt.
The indignation "Mine indignation" - Indignatio mea, Vulg. ἡ οργη, Sept. μου η οργη κατα σου, MS. Pachom. Μου ἡ οργη ἡ κατα σου, MS. 1. D. 2. So that זעמי zaami, or הזעם hazzaam, as one MS. has it, seems to be the true reading.
And as his rod was upon the sea "And like his rod which he lifted up over the sea" - The Jewish interpreters suppose here an ellipsis of כ ke, the particle of similitude, before מטהו mattehu, to be supplied from the line above; so that here are two similitudes, one comparing the destruction of the Assyrians to the slaughter of the Midianites at the rock of Oreb; the other to that of the Egyptians at the Red Sea. Aben Ezra, Kimchi, Sal. ben Melec.
From off thy shoulder - Bishop Lowth translates the whole verse thus: -
"And it shall come to pass in that day,
His burden shall be removed from off thy shoulder;
And his yoke off thy neck:
Yea, the yoke shall perish from off your shoulders.'
On which he gives us the following note: I follow here the Septuagint, who for מפני שמן mippeney shamen read משכמיכם mishshichmeychem, απο των ωμων ὑμων, from your shoulders, not being able to make any good sense out of the present reading. I will add here the marginal conjectures of Archbishop Secker, who appears, like all others, to have been at a loss for a probable interpretation of the text as it now stands." o. leg. שכם shakam; forte legend. מבני שמן mibbeney shamen, vide cap. Isa 5:1. Zac 4:14 : Et possunt intelligi Judaei uncti Dei, Psa 105:15, vel Assyrii, משמנים mishmannim, hic Psa 105:16, ut dicat propheta depulsum iri jugum ab his impositum: sed hoc durius. Vel potest legi מפני שמי mippeney shami."
He is come to Aiath - A description of the march of Sennacherib's army approaching Jerusalem in order to invest it, and of the terror and confusion spreading and increasing through the several places as he advanced; expressed with great brevity, but finely diversified. The places here mentioned are all in the neighborhood of Jerusalem; from Ai northward, to Nob westward of it; from which last place he might probably have a prospect of Mount Sion. Anathoth was within three Roman miles of Jerusalem, according to Eusebius, Jerome and Josephus. Onomast. Loc. Hebr. et Antiq. Jud. 10:7, 3. Nob was probably still nearer. And it should seem from this passage of Isaiah that Sennacherib's army was destroyed near the latter of these places. In coming out of Egypt he might perhaps join the rest of his army at Ashdod, after the taking of that place, which happened about that time, (see Isa 20:1-6.); and march from thence near the coast by Lachish and Libnah, which lay in his way from south to north, and both which he invested till he came to the north-west of Jerusalem, crossing over to the north of it, perhaps by Joppa and Lydda; or still more north through the plain of Esdraelon.
They are gone over the passage "They have passed the strait" - The strait here mentioned is that of Michmas, a very narrow passage between two sharp hills or rocks, (see Sa1 14:4, Sa1 14:5), where a great army might have been opposed with advantage by a very inferior force. The author of the Book of Judith might perhaps mean this pass, at least among others: "Charging them to keep the passages of the hill country, for by them there was an entrance into Judea; and it was easy to stop them that would come up, because the passage was strait for two men at the most," Judith 4:7. The enemies having passed the strait without opposition, shows that all thoughts of making a stand in the open country were given up, and that their only resource was in the strength of the city.
Their lodging - The sense seems necessarily to require that we read למו lamo, to them, instead of לנו lanu, to us. These two words are in other places mistaken one for the other.
Thus Isa 44:7, for למו lamo, read לנו lanu, with the Chaldee; and in the same manner Psa 64:6, with the Syriac, and Psa 80:7, on the authority of the Septuagint and Syriac, besides the necessity of the sense.
Cause it to be heard unto Laish, O poor Anothoth "Hearken unto her, O Laish; answer her, O Anathoth!" - I follow in this the Syriac Version. The prophet plainly alludes to the name of the place, and with a peculiar propriety, if it had its name frown its remarkable echo. "ענתות anathoth, responsiones: eadem ratio nominis, quae in בית ענת beith anath, locus echus; nam hodienum ejus rudera ostenduntur in valle, scil. in medio montium, ut referent Robertus in Itiner. p. 70, et Monconnysius, p. 301." Simonis Onomasticon Vet. Test. - L. Anathoth - Answers, replies; for the same reason that Bethany, בית ענת berth anath, had its name, the house of echo; the remains of which are still shown in the valley, i.e., among the mountains.
Shall lop the bough with terror - פארה purah; but פורה purah, wine-press, is the reading of twenty-six of Kennicott's and twenty-three of De Rossi's MSS., four ancient editions, with Symmachus, Theodotion, and the Chaldee.
Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one - באדיר beaddir, the angel of the Lord, who smote them, Kimchi. And so Vitringa understands it. Others translate, "The high cedars of Lebanon shall fall:" but the king of Assyria is the person who shall be overthrown.