Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Isaiah 10:18

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

The glory of his forest - In these expressions, the army of Sennacherib is compared with a beautiful grove thick set with trees; and as all the beauty of a grove which the fire overruns is destroyed, so, says the prophet, it will be with the army of the Assyrian under the judgments of God. If the ‹briers and thorns‘ Isaiah 10:17 refer to the common soldiers of his army, then the glory of the forest - the tall, majestic trees - refer to the princes and nobles. But this mode of interpretation should not be pressed too far.

And of his fruitful field - וכרמלו vekaremilô The word used here - “carmel” - is applied commonly to a rich mountain or promontory on the Mediterranean, on the southern boundary of the tribe of Asher. The word, however, properly means a fruitful field, a finely cultivated country, and Was given to Mount Carmel on this account, In this place it has no reference to that mountain, but is given to the army of Sennacherib to “keep up the figure” which the prophet commenced in Isaiah 10:17. That army, numerous, mighty, and well disciplined, was compared to an extensive region of hill and vale; of forests and fruitful fields; but it should all be destroyed as when the fire runs over fields and forests, and consumes all their beauty. Perhaps in all this, there may be allusion to the proud boast of Sennacherib 2 Kings 19:23, that he would ‹go up the sides of Lebanon, and cut down the cedars thereof, and the choice fir-trees thereof‘, and enter into the forest of Carmel.‘ In allusion, possibly, to this, the prophet says that God would cut down the tall trees and desolate the fruitful field - the ‹carmel‘ of his army, and would lay all waste.

Both soul and body - Hebrew, ‹From the soul to the flesh;‘ that is, entirely. As the soul and the flesh, or body, compose the entire man, so the phrase denotes the entireness or totality of anything. The army would be totally ruined.

And they shall be as when a standard-bearer fainteth - There is here a great variety of interpretation. The Septuagint reads it: ‹And he shall flee as one that flees from a burning flame.‘ This reading Lowth has followed; but for this there is not the slightest authority in the Hebrew. The Vulgate reads it, ‹And he shall fly for terror, “et crit terrore profugus.” The Chaldee, ‹And he shall be broken, and shall fly.‘ The Syriac, ‹And he shall be as if he had never been.‘ Probably the correct idea is, “and they shall be as when a sick man wastes away.” The words which are used (נסס כמסס kı̂mesos nosēs ) are brought together for the sake of a paranomasia - a figure of speech common in the Hebrew. The word rendered in our version “fainteth” (מסס mesos ) is probably the infinitive construct of the verb מסס mâsas “to melt, dissolve, faint.” It is applied to the manna that was dissolved by the heat of the sun, Exodus 16:21; to wax melted by the fire, Psalm 68:2; to a snail that consumes away, Psalm 58:8; or to water that evaporates, Psalm 58:7.

Hence, it is applied to the heart, exhausted of its vigor and spirit, Job 7:5; to things decayed that have lost their strength, 1 Samuel 15:9; to a loan or tax laid upon a people that wastes and exhausts their wealth. It has the general notion, therefore, of melting, fainting, sinking away with the loss of strength; Psalm 22:14; Psalm 112:10; Psalm 97:5; Isaiah 19:1; Isaiah 13:7; Joshua 2:11; Joshua 5:1; Joshua 7:5. The word rendered “standard-bearer” (נסס nosēs ) is from the verb נסס nāsas This word signifies sometimes “to lift up,” to elevate, or to erect a flag or standard to public view, to call men to arms; Isaiah 5:26; Isaiah 11:10, Isaiah 11:12; Isaiah 13:2; Isaiah 18:3; Isaiah 49:22; and also to lift up, or to exhibit anything as a judgment or public warning, and may thus be applied to divine judgments. Gesenius renders the verb, “to waste away, to be sick.” In Syriac it has this signification. Taylor (“Heb. Con.”) says, that it does not appear that this word ever has the signification of a military standard under which armies fight, but refers to a standard or ensign to “call” men together, or to indicate alarm and danger. The probable signification here, is that which refers it to a man wasting away with sickness, whose strength and vigor are gone, and who becomes weak and helpless. Thus applied to the Assyrian army, it is very striking. Though mighty, confident, and vigorous-like a man in full health - yet it would be like a vigorous man when disease comes upon him, and he pines away and sinks to the grave.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
See what a change sin made. The king of Assyria, in his pride, thought to act by his own will. The tyrants of the world are tools of Providence. God designs to correct his people for their hypocrisy, and bring them nearer to him; but is that Sennacherib's design? No; he designs to gratify his own covetousness and ambition. The Assyrian boasts what great things he has done to other nations, by his own policy and power. He knows not that it is God who makes him what he is, and puts the staff into his hand. He had done all this with ease; none moved the wing, or cried as birds do when their nests are rifled. Because he conquered Samaria, he thinks Jerusalem would fall of course. It was lamentable that Jerusalem should have set up graven images, and we cannot wonder that she was excelled in them by the heathen. But is it not equally foolish for Christians to emulate the people of the world in vanities, instead of keeping to things which are their special honour? For a tool to boast, or to strive against him that formed it, would not be more out of the way, than for Sennacherib to vaunt himself against Jehovah. When God brings his people into trouble, it is to bring sin to their remembrance, and humble them, and to awaken them to a sense of their duty; this must be the fruit, even the taking away of sin. When these points are gained by the affliction, it shall be removed in mercy. This attempt upon Zion and Jerusalem should come to nothing. God will be as a fire to consume the workers of iniquity, both soul and body. The desolation should be as when a standard-bearer fainteth, and those who follow are put to confusion. Who is able to stand before this great and holy Lord God?
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 41

In vision I saw two armies in terrible conflict. One army was led by banners bearing the world's insignia; the other was led by the bloodstained banner of Prince Immanuel. Standard after standard was left to trail in the dust as company after company from the Lord's army joined the foe and tribe after tribe from the ranks of the enemy united with the commandment-keeping people of God. An angel flying in the midst of heaven put the standard of Immanuel into many hands, while a mighty general cried out with a loud voice: “Come into line. Let those who are loyal to the commandments of God and the testimony of Christ now take their position. Come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters. Let all who will come up to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.” 8T 41.1

The battle raged. Victory alternated from side to side. Now the soldiers of the cross gave way, “as when a standardbearer fainteth.” Isaiah 10:18. But their apparent retreat was but to gain a more advantageous position. Shouts of joy were heard. A song of praise to God went up, and angel voices united in the song, as Christ's soldiers planted His banner on the walls of fortresses till then held by the enemy. The Captain of our salvation was ordering the battle and sending support to His soldiers. His power was mightily displayed, encouraging them to press the battle to the gates. He taught them terrible things in righteousness as He led them on step by step, conquering and to conquer. 8T 41.2

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