Isaiah 20 - Outline of Isaiah (Book Notes menu page)
('The Burden of Egypt' continued, from 19:1)
1. In the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod,
(when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him,)
and fought against Ashdod, and took it;
2 At the same time spake the LORD by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying,
Go and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins,
and put off thy shoe from thy foot.
And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.
3 And the LORD said
{ie., speaking through Isaiah},
Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years
[for] a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia;
4 So shall the king of Assyria lead away
the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives,
young and old, naked and barefoot,
even with [their] buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.
5 And they shall be afraid and ashamed
of Ethiopia their expectation, and of Egypt their glory.
6 And the inhabitant of this isle shall say in that day,
Behold, such [is] our expectation, whither we flee for help
to be delivered from the king of Assyria:
and how shall we escape?
in the year that Tartan {meaning 'chief commander'} came unto Ashdod {the capital city of the Philistines} -
The 'Burden of Egypt' now returns to the near view.
The situation at that time: Assyria controls Samaria and the Philistine territories, and is threatening Jerusalem, where King Hezekiah has asked Egypt to send help against the Assyrians.
     The Assyrians took the Philistine city of Ashdod shortly before they besieged the Judean city of Lachish, from where they sent messengers to Jerusalem (2Kin 18:17-21). See 2Kings ch. 17-18 for context. This account is repeated in 2Chronicles ch. 32 and Isaiah ch. 36-37. However, Tartan is mentioned only in 2Kings.
go loose the sackcloth from off thy loins...- (The LORD gave this instruction to His prophet.)
Isaiah, wearing sackcloth, was in mourning for his people. A garment of sackcloth was a sign of sorrow, shame and humiliation. Yet, the Lord directed him take on deeper humiliation.
as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years...-
Isaiah's actions were a sign from the LORD. Isaiah was not completely naked, but was clothed as a 'servant' {slave} only in a loin cloth. The message was that Assyria would take the Egyptians and the Ethiopians captive, within three years (cp. Isa 16:14, re: Assyria's conquest of Moab). However, their humiliation would be deeper than Isaiah's, in that their captors would take away even their loin cloths. (Their buttocks, unlike Isaiah's, would be uncovered.)
they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation, and of Egypt their glory.-
Judah was looking south to Egypt and her Ethiopian allies to deliver them from Assyria, their enemy to the north. However, Assyria was about to take Egypt captive. Then...
the inhabitant of this isle {ie., of these coasts or borders; ie., the region of Judah and Jerusalem}...
...shall say, such is our expectation {ie., our object of confidence}...-
ie., Since this is the case with the nations who were 'our hope' of deliverance, where shall we turn?
If the combined military power of Egypt and Ethiopia could not defend itself against Assyria, what hope remains for our much weaker nation?
and how shall we {ie., we Israelites} escape? - Once again, Israel's lack of hope
was due to their misplaced confidence in men. (cp. Isa 2:22; Jer 17:5-7; Psa 20:7)

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