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As Isaiah continues in this section with his oracles against various nations, he comes to the country of Egypt to the south of Judah. You could say that Egypt and Judah have a significant history together. These 2 chapters should stir our memories of how God judged the idols of Egypt back in the Ten Plagues at the time of the Exodus. Surely God has already demonstrated His supremacy and sovereignty over the worldly power and wisdom of Egypt.

The lesson for Judah – for the people of God — continues to center around the theme of the folly of looking to other nations for deliverance and the necessity of focusing their trust in God alone. Whether the temptation is for King Ahaz to make a pact with Assyria to the north (to escape the alliance between Syria and Israel) or for Judah to now look to Egypt in the south for help (as Assyria threatens to overrun the entire region), the answer is the same. There will be no escaping the judgment of God apart from turning to Him alone for mercy and trusting completely in Him.

Yet in this context of judgment against Egypt we find the Grace of God magnified as never before. For a nation as undeserving as the pagan enemies of Egypt, we are going to see God reach out in salvation and blessing to elevate these Gentiles to the same status of blessing of the people of Judah in the last days. Isaiah is going to present the gospel message in seed form as he shows us God’s future plan for Egypt.



“The oracle concerning Egypt.”


A. (19:1-3) Internal Conflict Drives a Desperate People to Their Pagan Support Systems

1. Sovereign Dominion Stirs Helpless Desperation

“Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud, and is about to come to Egypt; The idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.”

Chap. 18 – we had seen the swiftness of the ambassadors and envoys of Ethiopia or Egypt running about in their papyrus boats to try to galvanize the nation’s defenses – Here we see the Lord in a far swifter mode of conveyance

The Lord’s agenda of judgment against the nation is like a powerful freight train that continues to roll on and cannot be stopped. Here we see the next stop on the Lord’s journey – turning His attention to the nation of Egypt. The Lord is coming swiftly and in power and majesty and supremacy as He rides on the cloud.

MacArthur: Clouds are vehicles for the Lord’s coming to execute judgment (Pss 18:10, 11; 68:4, 33; 104:3; Dan 7:13)

The two groups that respond to this impending wrath are

– The idols of Egypt

– The people of Egypt

Their response is the same – fear and panic and a sense of helpless desperation in the face of such sovereign dominion; it is not like the idols have any power to offer to the people

There is much bravado when people have the sense that God is removed and His presence is hidden; they express themselves in pride and arrogance and rebellion and self will; but when God shows up on the scene their countenance changes immediately

Beall: God is pictured as riding on a swift cloud, coming to Egypt to judge her, with her idols tottering (same word used of Ahaz’s fear of the Syro-Ephraim coalition in Isa 7:2) before Him, and Egypt’s heart melting (same word used by Rahab in Josh 2:11 to explain the Canaanites’ fear of the Israelites [so also Josh 5:1]; also used in Isa 13:7 to describe the Babylonian response to the “day of the Lord”) in fear. It is interesting that the Canaanite god Baal is often depicted as riding on a cloud; here, however, it is the Lord who will show Himself superior to these worthless idols. . . When there is a religious vacuum, spiritism takes its place–see Matt 12:43-45.

2. Internal Conflict Saps a Nation’s Strength

“So I will incite Egyptians against Egyptians;

and they will each fight against his brother,

and each against his neighbor,

city against city,

and kingdom against kingdom.”

Civil war brings about much pain and heartache – you have brother fighting against brother

Amazing that the United States was able to recover from its self-inflicted injuries of the great Civil War.

Nation divided against itself cannot stand

Oswalt: Throughout her history Egypt was especially prone to this kind of dissolution. After the six strong dynasties of the Old Kingdom (3000-2200 B.C.), there came a two-hundred-year period when each of the 42 nomes (city-states) became a country unto itself and general chaos reigned. Then the Twelfth Dynasty united the land for about two hundred years (1990-1785 B.C.), but again chaos took over for two centuries. So it went again and again.

3. Pagan Support Systems Only Increase the Confusion and Futility

“Then the spirit of the Egyptians will be demoralized within them; and I will confound their strategy, so that they will resort to idols and ghosts of the dead, and to mediums and spiritists.”

Earlier section (8:19-22), we had dealt with God’s warning against staying clear of the occult – list of 8 reasons was given – when people are faced with that emptiness and desperation, they try to fill the void with whatever is putting itself forward as a possible solution – Final answer: “Should not a people consult their God?”

Oswalt: As the more intellectualized and conceptualized polytheisms break down under the stress of the times, the more magical, subliminal spiritism reasserts itself.

Van Parunak: This section is chiastic. The correspondence between matching sections is marked not only thematically but also by how the Lord is described.

In this section, we read nothing of external enemies or the threat of captivity. The judgment takes the form of internal disruption of the society before the Lord.

B. (19:4-10) Cruel Oppression Delivers a Desperate People Over to Economic Ruin

1. (:4) Cruel Oppression

“’Moreover, I will deliver the Egyptians into the hand of a cruel master, and a mighty king will rule over them,’ declares the Lord God of hosts.”

Constable: Egyptian society was notable for its lack of unity throughout its history. There was frequent conflict between the Upper and Lower Egypt geographical factions. Kingdom periods, during which the Pharaoh was worshipped as god, were interspersed with long periods when the city states ruled themselves and the people worshipped innumerable gods. Sometimes her god-king was strong and the people united behind him, but when he was weak there was little social solidarity. Isaiah foresaw another period of social chaos coming when the Egyptians would look to idols and the spirit world for guidance. The sovereign God of armies would then deliver them over to the rule of a strong, cruel leader who would dominate them. The fulfillment may have been the Ethiopian Pharaoh Piankhi (715 B.C.), Pharaoh Psammetichus (670 B.C.), one of the Assyrian kings (Sargon II, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon in 671, or Ashurbanipal in 668 B.C.), or the Persian Artaxerxes III Ochus (343 B.C.). Several conservative scholars prefer Esarhaddon. Depressed people are easy targets for despotic rulers.

Grogan: The fierce king of v.4 has been variously identified, but there can be little doubt that the most appropriate application is to Esar-haddon, king of Assyria, who subdued Egypt in 670 B.C. Ferocity was a general characteristic of all the Assyrian monarchs, whose cruelty was proverbial.

2. (:5-10) Economic Ruin

a. (:5-7) Land Devastated by Drought

“And the waters from the sea will dry up, and the river will be parched and dry. And the canals will emit a stench, the streams of Egypt will thin out and dry up; the reeds and rushes will rot away. The bulrushes by the Nile, by the edge of the Nile and all the sown fields by the Nile will become dry, be driven away, and be no more.”

Young: Egypt is dependent for her daily existence upon the Nile. The melting snows in the mountains of central Africa produce a steady supply of water. Combined with the torrential rains which fall in the land of Ethiopia, an inundation occurs twice each year. The first of these begins about the 15th of July and continues throughout the summer, and the second occurs in October. At its height the river reaches twenty-five to thirty feet. Should this water fail, the land would indeed suffer.

Oswalt: If the Nile were ever shut off, this rich and seductive Egypt would cease to be. This critical weakness is what Isaiah is emphasizing in this strophe: why depend upon a country whose only resource for life was not in its own hands, but in the hands of Israel’s God?”

b. (:8-9) Business Devastated

“And the fishermen will lament, and all those who cast a line into the Nile will mourn, and those who spread nets on the waters will pine away.”

“Moreover, the manufacturers of linen made from combed flax and the weavers of white cloth will be utterly dejected.”

Van Parunak: vs. 9 — Flax production requires rotting the stems in water so that the pulp can be washed away, leaving the fiber behind. This is impossible without a source of water.

Young: Not only is the Nile dry and its fish dead, but the land also is no longer watered so that plants may grow. Those who derive their livelihood from the growth of the land suffer as well as do the fishermen who depend directly upon the river.

MacArthur: Egypt was famous for its production of linen from flax. Both the growth of the plant and the manufacture of the cloth depended on water.

c. (:10) Society Devastated – Both Masters and Laborers

“And the pillars of Egypt will be crushed;

All the hired laborers will be grieved in soul.”

MacArthur: God was to remove the foundations, or “pillars,” on which the working class depended. The word refers either generally to the economic structure of the society or specifically to the upper class which organized the businesses of the land.

C. (19:11-15) Foolish Counsel Deludes a Desperate People to a Drunken Stupor

1. (:11-12) Vacuum of Wise Counsel – No Insight Into the Plans of the Lord

“The princes of Zoan are mere fools; the advice of Pharaoh’s wisest advisers has become stupid. How can you men say to Pharaoh, ‘I am a son of the wise, a son of ancient kings’ Well then, where are your wise men? Please let them tell you, and let them understand what the LORD of hosts has purposed against Egypt.”

Egypt prided herself on her great wisdom –

Grogan: Constructive, progressive, and stable rule necessitates the marriage of power and wisdom. These are the characteristics of God’s great King (11:1-5), and they are the qualities of God himself. In vv. 1-4 he overcame the power of Egypt, and in vs. 3 we saw him bringing Egypt’s wisdom to nought. This theme is now further expounded (cf. 1 Cor 1:20). Every great monarch feels the need of advice from wise counselors, but what if the wisest I the land have nothing but lunacy to offer (v. 11)? No matter how ancient nor how exalted as to its source was their lore, it made no difference to their ineptness (cf. Gen 41). The rhetorical question with its taunt at the ineffectual wisdom of paganism is reminiscent of the reiterated mocking questions in other passages (e.g., 41:26; 44:7; 45:20-21). Zoan and Memphis (vv. 11, 13) were the two most important cities in Lower Egypt. They are mentioned together because of their administrative importance.

2. (:13-14) Deception of Foolish Counsel – Reduced to a Drunken Stupor

“The princes of Zoan have acted foolishly, the princes of Memphis are deluded; Those who are the cornerstone of her tribes have led Egypt astray. The LORD has mixed within her a spirit of distortion; They have led Egypt astray in all that it does, as a drunken man staggers in his vomit.”

Look at the various counselors and supposed experts in our society that continue to offer advice that steers our country away from the Lord – whether political counselors, economic experts, psychiatrists and medical doctors who want to offer counsel on human behavior, professors in our institutions of higher learning, etc. – they are consumed with a sense of how brilliant they are … yet from God’s perspective they are no better than drunken fools staggering around in their own vomit and leading an entire nation down the wrong path – blind leaders of the blind

Oswalt: Wisdom which is limited to this world is as short-sighted and confused as a person lost in a dense forest. Unless there is an overall perspective from outside this world from which to analyze and evaluate human experience, then no course of action makes any ultimate sense. This is why the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

3. (:15) Vacuum of Productive Opportunity

“And there will be no work for Egypt which its head or tail, its palm branch or bulrush, may do.”

A curse for there to be no work to accomplish; man was created to be productive

Constable: The Egyptians were known for their wisdom and took great pride in it (cf. Matt. 13:54; Mark 6:2). Isaiah challenged their wise men to inform the people what Yahweh of armies had in store for them (cf. Joseph). He could frustrate their plans, but they could not discover His. Their unwise politicians had misled the people by failing to diversify the economy, among other ways. Too much of their hope lay in the Nile, which the people worshipped as a god. Zoan (v. 11, Gr. Tanis) was a chief city and often the capital of Lower Egypt, and Noph (Gr. Memphis, v. 13) was another chief city and former capital of the same part of Egypt.

Van Parunak: vs. 15 — These terms represent all of society (as in 9:14). “Head and tail” represent the entire animal. “Branch” (the lofty palm frond) and “rush” (growing in the marsh) represent the highest and lowest plants. The prophet is describing a devastation of the land that has touched the entire society.


Now we move from poetry to prose, from judgment to blessing, from striking to healing


“in that day” – used 5 times – establishes the structure of this section

A. (19:16-17) Conviction of Sin — Starting Point of Conversion Process – Fear of God

“In that day the Egyptians will become like women, and they will tremble and be in dread because of the waving of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which He is going to wave over them. And the land of Judah will become a terror to Egypt; everyone to whom it is mentioned will be in dread of it, because of the purpose of the LORD of hosts which He is purposing against them.”

What a turnaround – now you have Egypt terrified of Judah; never been fulfilled to date; must look forward to end times

Lord will carry out His sovereign purposes for the nations

B. (19:18) Crossroads of Decision — Pledging Allegiance – Salvation vs. Destruction

“In that day five cities in the land of Egypt will be speaking the language of Canaan and swearing allegiance to the LORD of hosts; one will be called the City of Destruction.”

Van Parunak: This contrast in the verbs suggests that we should see the numbers “five” and “one” as contrasting as well. Egypt had far more than six cities; Herodotus (2.177) says there were 20,000. If the verse accounts only for six of them, what happened to the other 19,994? Probably, we are to understand the numbers as giving a proportion. For every one that is destroyed, five will turn to the Lord (Calvin).

Thus understood, the verse reports the decision that Egypt will make in the face of the judgment of vv. 1-15, summarized in vv. 16-17. Most of them will repent and turn to the Lord. The next step after fearing God’s judgment is turning to him.

John Martin: [alternative view] It seems preferable to follow the reading preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Vulgate, namely, “the City of the Sun” (heres), meaning Heliopolis (cf. NIV marg. And Ezek. 30:17). Heliopolis, one of the major cities in the south end of Egypt’s Delta, was dedicated to worship of the sun god. Such a significant change (i.e. worshiping the Lord instead of the sun god) will prove to the world and to Israel that Egypt will be serious in its new worship.

Grogan: [in line with Erlandsson] v. 18 could refer to the conversion of Egypt to the worship of the true God … sees in the five cities an allusion to the original conquest of Canaan by the Israelites. After the capture of Jericho and Ai by Joshua’s forces, their first great victory was over the kings of five important Canaanite cities, namely Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon (Josh 10). This victory led to the conquest of the whole country.

Oswalt: It appears to be identifying one of the five cities in a special way, not a sixth one. . . expresses the radical nature of the turning to God . . .

C. (19:19-22) Consummation of Salvation – Leading to Worship and Growing Knowledge

“In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD near its border. And it will become a sign and a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them. Thus the LORD will make Himself known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day. They will even worship with sacrifice and offering, and will make a vow to the LORD and perform it. And the LORD will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to the LORD, and He will respond to them and will heal them.”

Grogan: Pillars were associated with pagan worship in Canaan and so were prohibited to the Israelites (cf. Deut 7:5; 12:3), but it is clear from v.20 that something quite different is in view. Just as the altars constructed by the patriarchs were witnesses for the true God and his self-disclosure at these places, so various stones ad pillars of witness were erected in the days of Joshua . . . The pillar-monument here, situated on the border of Egypt, probably symbolizes the claiming of the land for the true and living God, the Lord Almighty.

D. (19:23) Congregation United in Worship — Reconciliation and Fellowship on Human Plane

“In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.”

E. (19:24-25) Congregation United in Blessing — Unity of Saved Jews and Gentiles Experiencing God’s Blessings

“In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, ‘Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.’”


Motyer: As Isaiah addressed his contemporaries his main thought in verses 1-15 was to expose the folly of an alliance with Egypt. To join with Egypt would be to associate with a nation under divine wrath (1), trust the promises of a divided people (2), look for help to a collapsing economy (5-10), expect wisdom where there was only folly (11-13) and believe that those who were unable to solve their own problems (15) could solve the problems of others! A devastating critique! But Isaiah’s use of verses 1-15 in its present context has a deeper purpose. Egypt stands for the Gentile world, heading into irreversible decline. Its real problem is divine opposition and yet no sins are specified such as would explain the Lord’s hostility. In a word, we have here the situation, first seen at Babel (Gn. 11), where humankind’s determination to be the solution to their own problems and to run the world without God automatically comes under disapproval and counter-attack. But divine opposition is not the last word; alongside the world’s problem (1-15) the prophet places the Lord’s solution (16-25). It is a point-by-point reply, couched in five “In that day” oracles:

Smiting (1-15) Healing (16-25)

The fear of the Lord (1) The fear of the Lord (16-17)

Confusion, disunity (2) One language, one Lord (18)

Reconciliation (19-22)

Consulting the no-gods (3) Crying to the Lord (20)

A fierce king (4) The healing Lord (22)

Harmony in worship (23)

The Nile dried in judgment (5) Highway for unity (cf. 11:15-16) (23)

Co-equality in the Lord (24-25)

A spirit of bewilderment (14) Divine blessing

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * Part 2 of the Message




Definitely R-rated passage – lots of violence, some language (where do you think we got the expression butt-naked?), and 3 years worth of nudity


Apostle Paul liked to point believers to his example: “Imitate me as I imitate Jesus Christ”;

Not all behavior of God’s prophets is intended for imitation —

Sad reality – majority of folks are headed for an eternity characterized by Shame and Bondage. For the present, they are deluded – imagining themselves to be prosperous and in charge of their lives. In their pride and rebellion, they fail to see the consequences of placing their hope in the arm of the flesh.

We as believers should be characterized as those who make their boast in the Lord – some trust in horses and some in chariots, but we will make our boast in the Lord our God. We should be living as liberated servants of our Lord Jesus Christ, no longer under bondage to Satan, to the world, and to our own sinful nature.

Earlier signs in Isaiah [Sign of his 2 children: 7:3 Shearjashub = “a remnant shall return”: 8:1-4 – Mahershalalhashbaz = “Swift is the booty, speedy is the prey”; 8:18, – bracketing the most important sign of Immanuel in 7:14; demonstrating that the Lord would keep His promises and fulfill His Word spoken through His prophet Isaiah – both in the immediate context and in the distant future of eschatological end times (“in that day”).


Last message:



Today’s message:



1. Calendar Date

“In the year”

Need to sketch the timeframe of the overall events

– In 722 BC, nearly twenty years after the initial deportations, the ruling city of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Samaria, was finally taken by Sargon II after a three-year siege started by Shalmaneser V.

Wikopedia: Assyrian Captivity of northern tribes: The captivities began in approximately 740 BC (or 733/2 BC according to other sources).

And the Elohim of Israel stirred up a spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tigathpileser king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river Gozan, unto this day.(I Chronicles 5:26)

In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abelbethmaachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria.(II Kings 15:29)

– 711 B.C. = date of fall of Ashdon (was it related to a 3 year siege??)

– 701 B.C. = attack of Assyria against Jerusalem –2 Kings 18

– Also 701 B.C. Assyrians defeated Egypt at Eltekeh; or 671 B.C. = Esarhaddon’s conquest

Constable: The year in view was 711 B.C. Like 7:1, 20:1 introduces the historical setting for the events that follow. For four years, Egypt had encouraged the city-states of western Palestine to resist Assyrian aggression—with the promise of assistance. In 713 B.C., Ashdod, the northernmost Philistine town that stood about 35 miles west of Jerusalem, had rebelled, . . . Rebellion continued, however, and pleas for help went out from Ashdod to Judah, Moab, and Edom. Sargon II (722-705 B.C.) responded to Ashdod’s rebellion by sending his second in command, who reduced Ashdod to an Assyrian province. Egypt’s promised help never materialized. In fact, the Egyptians handed Yamani over to the Assyrians in chains to avoid an Assyrian attack.

Beall: The setting of v. 1 is 711 B.C., when the Philistine city of Ashdod fell to the Assyrians. The “Tartan” of v. 1 is a high-ranking Assyrian official whom King Sargon (who reigned from 722-705 B.C.) had sent to defeat this important city (see Young, 2:52). Three years earlier (713 B.C.), Ashdod had revolted against Assyria, with the approval of the Ethiopian leader Shabako who controlled that area. At this time the Ethiopian Shabako controlled both Upper and Lower Egypt. But now Ashdod fell to the Assyrians.

Oswalt: Sargon had set up a regent favorable to himself, a man named Ahimiti. Now, probably with the backing of Shabako, Ahimiti was deposed and another man, Yamani, was made king, apparently in 713… Assyrians report a swift victory, with Yamani fleeing to Egypt for asylum and Ashdod falling in 711. The Egyptians, faced with an Assyrian army on their borders, lost all of their bluster about defying Assyria and meekly handed over a bound Yamani, undertaking to send him all the way to Assyria. Undoubtedly, this action created a chill in the hearts of Egypt’s loyal allies and served to confirm the jaundiced view of Egypt held by people like Isaiah.

2. Commander

“that the commander”

Young: In the Scriptures the word Tartan occurs also in 2 Kings 18:17.

Timeframe for crisis against Jerusalem = 701 B.C. which was the 14th year of Hezekiah’s sole reign which began in 715 B.C.

2 Kings 18 — Important context to see why Judah needed to learn this lesson God had for them in Isaiah 20

3. City Targeted

“came to Ashdod,”

Ashdod was one of the five key Philistine cities, along the coast of Canaan.

Northernmost city; 33 miles west of Jerusalem; maybe 2 miles off the coast

Background: the place to which the victorious Philistines took the Israelite Ark of the covenant (1 Sam. 5). When the image of their heathen god Dagon in his temple at Ashdod was humiliated before the Ark of the Lord, and many of the people died of serious illness, the captured sacred Ark was sent to other Philistine cities. Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible

4. Commissioning Kingdom = Assyria under leadership of Sargon

“when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him”

Ironside: Sargon, the king of Assyria, was unknown to history until his name was, in our times, found upon monuments, and thus Isaiah’s record confirmed. Scripture does not need to be vindicated by the often conflicting histories of ancient times nor by archaeological inscriptions, for we may be sure of this, the Bible is God’s inerrant Word and therefore always right, even though some of the ancient records might be in conflict with it; but again and again it has pleased God through the spade of the archaeologist to give full confirmation of the truth of His Word concerning doubts and questions that unbelievers have been only too glad to raise.

5. Conquest

“and he fought against Ashdod and captured it,”

These events of v. 1 occur after the three year period that Isaiah acted out in vv.2-3; God had given the instructions … Isaiah had obediently carried out the prophetic picture . . . now God was speaking to give the interpretation


1. Immediacy of the Sign

“at that time the LORD spoke through Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying,”

Beall: presumably three years before the defeat of Ashdod in 711 B.C.

Two timeframes involved here – command to go naked for 3 years and then after the 3 year period the interpretation given that the real import did not pertain just to the fall of Ashdod but more importantly to the conquest of Egypt by the Assyrians

2. Description of the Sign = Twofold Command

a. Stripping off all clothes = Naked

“Go and loosen the sackcloth from your hips,”

Dr. Justin Imel: Probably because of its association with repentance and the grief over one’s sin, prophets often wore sackcloth.

the customary clothing of prophets (Zech. 13:4) – combining physical discomfort (scratchy, hairy cloth) with spiritual discomfort due to the burden of communicating God’s oracles of judgment

How naked??

Dr. Justin Imel:

1) The Hebrew word used here most often means completely nude.

a) It is used that way in Gn 2:25: “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”

b) It is also used that way in Job 1:21: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb,

and naked I will depart.” Obviously the first use of “naked” in the text means nude.

2) It seems likely that Isaiah was to have his buttocks uncovered.

a) We are told that is how the Egyptians and Ethiopians would be carried off by the Assyrians (v. 4).

b) It’s hard to imagine that Isaiah could have provided an ample prophetic image unless he was in the same state as the Egyptians and Ethiopians would have been.

3) Prisoners of war were often carried away completely nude to shame and humiliate them.

a) Is 47:2-3.

b) Nah 3:5 (this is an oracle against Nineveh concerning coming captivity).

c) Since Isaiah would show through his actions how the Egyptians and Ethiopians would be carried off, it’s hard to imagine how he could have done so if he weren’t nude.

Constable: The word “naked” (Heb. ‘arom) can mean: clothed only with a loin cloth, or totally naked (cf. 58:7; Gen. 2:25; 1 Sam. 19:24; 2 Sam. 6:20; Mic. 1:8; John 21:7).

Delitzsch: With the great importance attached to the clothing in the East, where the feelings upon this point are peculiarly sensitive and modest, a person was looked upon as stripped and naked if he had only taken off his upper garment. What Isaiah was directed to do, therefore, was simply opposed to common custom, and not to moral decency. He was to lay aside the dress of a mourner and preacher of repentance, and to have nothing on but his tunic (cetoneth); and in this, as well as barefooted, he was to show himself in public. This was the costume of a man who had been robbed and disgraced, or else of a beggar or prisoner of war.

b. Shedding the shoes = Barefoot

“and take your shoes off your feet.”

Significance? Poverty and Captivity

3. Complete Obedience

“And he did so, going naked and barefoot.”

What would the reaction of the people have been?

Oswalt: In a culture which makes well-balanced behavior a fetish (except in regard to sporting events), the prophets would not be welcomed. We are ill at ease in the presence of fanatics, people who are wholly committed to an idea, a program, or even another person. Our ideal is coolness, a noncommittal reserve which prevents us from belonging to anything but ourselves or to attachments we have defined.

What would our response be to a John the Baptist??

4. Challenges of Being the Lord’s Servant / Mouthpiece / Object Lesson

“And the LORD said, ‘Even as My servant Isaiah has gone naked and barefoot’”

Lord showing His approval of the obedience of His servant – despite how shocking the deportment

Look at what God commanded Abraham to do in terms of offering up his only son Isaac as a sacrifice;

Look at what God commanded Hosea to do = take a prostitute Gomer as his wife

5. Duration of the Sign

“three years”

Long time to exist in such a state as an object lesson

6. Target Recipients of the Sign

“as a sign and token against Egypt and Cush,”

Things are not going to end well for them

Motyer: It was captive Egyptians Isaiah was forecasting. We can sense the element of drama in the announcement. Since (as we might say) any fool could have predicted that Ashdod’s rebellion would come to grief, we can hear the wiseacres saying, ‘What a lot of fuss about the obvious! Tell us something we don’t know!’ The message was not what they expected nor, enamoured as the politicians of Jerusalem were with Egypt, what they wanted to hear. But it came with doubled force: the word of explanation and prolonged act of embodiment of the message.


1. Delivered Over to Bondage

“so the king of Assyria will lead away the captives of Egypt and the exiles of Cush,”

Constable: That he had portrayed the Egyptians and Cushites, and not the people of Ashdod, would have shocked the Judeans, because many of them favored relying on Egypt and Cush for protection against Assyria. Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled in 701 B.C. when the Assyrians defeated Egypt at Eltekeh. Another less likely possibility, I think, is Esarhaddon’s conquest of Egypt in 671 B.C.

Beall: The humiliation of Egypt spoken of here occurred about 40 years after this prophecy, in 671 B.C. under Esarhaddon

2. Delivered Over to Humiliation

“young and old, naked and barefoot with buttocks uncovered,”

Van Parunak: Isaiah may have retained a loincloth. “Naked” here need not mean bare-skinned, but that he is without his outer garment. Cf. 2 Sam 6:14, 20, where Michal accuses David of uncovering himself when in fact he was wearing a linen undergarment.

But inscriptions from the ancient world give clear evidence that defeated foes were often led into captivity completely naked.1 Even in our day, the Abu Ghraib experience shows how conquerors used nakedness to humble and demean their adversaries. This is the fate that awaits Egypt.

3. Delivered Over to Shame

“to the shame of Egypt.”


1. (:5) Agonizing Over the Crushing of Their Hopes

“Then they shall be dismayed and ashamed because of Cush their hope and Egypt their boast.”

2. (:6a) Coming to Grips with the Lessons of History

“So the inhabitants of this coastland will say in that day, ‘Behold, such is our hope, where we fled for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria;’”

Why this designation: “inhabitants of this coastland”?

Young: The answer appears to be that he gives a geographical designation to the people which characterizes them for what they really are and desired to be. Judah wanted to forget her heavenly calling, to turn from trust in God and, like a profane nation, place her trust in a human power. She was willing to act like an inhabitant of the coast where a profane people dwelt. Well and good, so she shall be called. Paul similarly wrote to the Corinthians that he could not write to them but as unto carnal, “for ye are yet carnal” (1 Cor. 3:1, 3). Those who wanted to trust Egypt were no true people of God, no holy nation, but merely inhabitants of the coast.

3. (:6b) Facing a Hopeless Eternity

“and we, how shall we escape?”

Young: those who trust in the arm of the flesh can expect nothing but disillusionment.


Jer. 9:23-24 “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth”

Ps. 118:8 “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man”