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 Isaiah 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 הוא ומטה 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."
O Assyrian - The word הוי hôy is commonly used to denounce wrath, or to indicate approaching calamity; as an interjection of threatening; Isaiah 1:4. ‹Wo sinful nation;‘ Isaiah 10:8, Isaiah 10:11, Isaiah 10:18, Isaiah 10:20-21; Jeremiah 48:1; Ezekiel 13:2. The Vulgate so understands it here: Vae Assur; and the Septuagint, Οὐαι Ἀσσυρίοις Ouai Assuriois - ‹Woe to the Assyrians.‘ So the Chaldee and the Syriac. It is not then a simple address to the Assyrian; but a form denouncing wrath on the invader. Yet it was not so much designed to intimidate and appal the Assyrian himself as to comfort the Jews with the assurance that calamity should overtake him. The ‹Assyrian‘ referred to here was the king of Assyria - Sennacherib, who was leading an army to invade the land of Judea.
The rod of mine anger - That is, the rod, or instrument, by which I will inflict punishment on a guilty nation. The Hebrew would bear the interpretation that the Assyrian was, an object against which God was angry; but the former is evidently the sense of the passage, as denoting that the Assyrian was the agent by which he would express his anger against a guilty people. Woe might be denounced against him for his wicked intention, at the same time that God might design to make use of his plans to punish the sins of his own people. The word “anger” here, refers to the indignation of God against the sins of the Jewish people.
In their hand - There has been considerable variety in the interpretation of this passage. Lowth and Noyes read it, ‹The staff in whose hand is the instrument of my indignation.‘ This interpretation Lowth adopts, by omitting the word הוא hû' on the authority of the Alexandrine copy of the Septuagint, and five manuscripts, two of them ancient. Jerome reads it, ‹Wo to the Assyrian! He is the staff and the rod of my fury; in their hand is my indignation.‘ So Forerius, Ludovicus, de Dieu, Cocceius, and others. Vitringa reads it, ‹And in the hands of those who are my rod is my indignation.‘ Schmidius and Rosenmuller, ‹And the rod which is in their hands, is the rod of mine indignation.‘ There is no necessity for any change in the text. The Hebrew, literally, is, ‹Wo to the Assyrian! Rod of my anger! And he is the staff. In their hands is my indignation.‘ The sense is sufficiently clear, that the Assyrian was appointed to inflict punishmerit on a rebellious people, as the instrument of God. The Chaldee renders it, ‹Wo to the Assyrian! The dominion (power, ruler) of my fury, and the angel sent from my face, against them, for a malediction. Septuagint, ‹And wrath in their hands.‘
In their hand - In the hand of the Assyrians, where the word ‹Assyrian‘ is taken as referring to the king of Assyria, as the representative of the nation.
“From city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun,” the couriers sent out by Hezekiah carried the message. Israel should have recognized in this invitation an appeal to repent and turn to God. But the remnant of the ten tribes still dwelling within the territory of the once-flourishing northern kingdom treated the royal messengers from Judah with indifference and even with contempt. “They laughed them to scorn, and mocked them.” There were a few, however, who gladly responded. “Divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem, ... to keep the feast of unleavened bread.” Verses 10-13. PK 291.1
About two years later, Samaria was invested by the hosts of Assyria under Shalmaneser; and in the siege that followed, multitudes perished miserably of hunger and disease as well as by the sword. The city and nation fell, and the broken remnant of the ten tribes were carried away captive and scattered in the provinces of the Assyrian realm. PK 291.2
The destruction that befell the northern kingdom was a direct judgment from Heaven. The Assyrians were merely the instruments that God used to carry out His purpose. Through Isaiah, who began to prophesy shortly before the fall of Samaria, the Lord referred to the Assyrian hosts as “the rod of Mine anger.” “The staff in their hand,” He said, “is Mine indignation.” Isaiah 10:5. PK 291.3Read in context »
In a time of grave national peril, when the hosts of Assyria were invading the land of Judah and it seemed as if nothing could save Jerusalem from utter destruction, Hezekiah rallied the forces of his realm to resist with unfailing courage their heathen oppressors and to trust in the power of Jehovah to deliver. “Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him,” Hezekiah exhorted the men of Judah; “for there be more with us than with him: with him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles.” 2 Chronicles 32:7, 8. PK 349.1
It was not without reason that Hezekiah could speak with certainty of the outcome. The boastful Assyrian, while used by God for a season as the rod of His anger for the punishment of the nations, was not always to prevail. See Isaiah 10:5. “Be not afraid of the Assyrian,” had been the message of the Lord through Isaiah some years before to those that dwelt in Zion; “for yet a very little while, ... and the Lord of hosts shall stir up a scourge for him according to the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb: and as His rod was upon the sea, so shall He lift it up after the manner of Egypt. And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.” Verses 24-27. PK 349.2Read in context »