The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Isaiah 30

Isa 30:1

OBSTINATE CHILDREN: Flouting the authority of their Father, Yahweh: Deu 21:18; Isa 1:2,4,23; 30:9.

FORMING AN ALLIANCE: Several possibilities for this Heb root: (1) as here, based on LXX; (2) "cover with a covering" (AV); (3) "weave a web" (Isa 59:5,6); (4) "pouring out a libation" (NET), ie to ratify an alliance; and/or (5) "make a molten image" (ie Isa 30:22; 40:19; 44:10) -- sending along an image (of a cherub/ox?) to Pharaoh, encouraging him to believe that they worshiped the same god as he!

HEAPING SIN UPON SIN: If the 5th possibility above, then this might be translated: "heaping idolatry upon disobedience"!

Isa 30:2

WHO GO DOWN TO EGYPT WITHOUT CONSULTING ME: 'I know your deputation to Pharaoh has already left, and you haven't even talked to me!'

DOWN TO EGYPT: It was always "down" to Egypt (Gen 12:10)!

Isa 30:3

'The Egyptians will do nothing to help you against the Assyrians!' Consider Rabshakeh's (and Sennacherib's) taunts: Isa 36:6; 2Ki 18:21.

Isa 30:4

ZOAN: The Egyptian city that witnessed the might of Yahweh on behalf of his enslaved people (Psa 78:12).

HANES: Tahpanhes, which, 100 years later, witnessed the overthrow of Egyptian might by Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 43:9,10).

Isa 30:5

A PEOPLE USELESS TO THEM: Such an ally as Judah would do the Egyptians no good either!

Isa 30:6

With great sarcasm, Isaiah describes the Judean deputation -- perhaps disguised as a trading expedition (and carrying gifts and bribes to Pharaoh?), with camels and donkeys -- taking the more difficult route to Egypt, through the Negev, so as to confuse any possible spies from Assyria.

Isa 30:7

TO EGYPT, WHOSE HELP IS UTTERLY USELESS: The route they were traveling was the perfect reverse of what was traveled by Moses and Israelites when leaving Egypt(Deu 8:15) -- a way they were forbidden to go (Deu 17:16). So how could they expect their enterprise would be successful!?

RAHAB: Sig lit "pride" or "boasting". (1) Egypt, in Psa 87:4; 89:10; Isa 30:7. (2) Apparently, a mythological sea-monster in Isa 51:9; Job 9:13; 26:12. Poss ref to the crocodile of the Nile, sym of proud Egypt and her gods. See Lesson, Rahab (Egypt).

RAHAB THE DO-NOTHING: Or, as KJV, "Their strength is to sit still."

Isa 30:8

WRITE IT ON A TABLET: Isaiah's words have the same force and permanent value as Moses' (Deu 31:22-26).

AN EVERLASTING WITNESS: Recording the message will enable the prophet to use it in the future as evidence that God warned his people of impending judgment and clearly spelled out the nation's guilt. An official record of the message will also serve as proof of the prophet's authority as God's spokesman.

Isa 30:9


DECEITFUL CHILDREN: Lying to both Assyrians and Egyptians at practically the same time! And, furthermore, trying to deceive God also!

Isa 30:10

Vv 10,11: Not only does Isaiah record his words, but he also records THEIR words for all posterity! What an ugly indictment! (They had talked exactly the same way to Micah too: Mic 2:6,11; 3:5.)

Isa 30:13

// Psa 62:3; Eze 13:10.

Isa 30:14

"An earthenware jar which has become unclean by reason of its foul contents and is therefore fit only to be smashed to fragments (Lev 15:12)" (WIsa 308).

Isa 30:15

REPENTANCE... REST... QUIETNESS... TRUST: This is the alternative to the suicidal policy of Gentile alliances (Isa 7:4; Hos 14:3). And for the LD Israel, the only hope is an absolute repentance and reliance upon the God of their fathers!

BUT YOU WOULD HAVE NONE OF IT: The priests and princes of Judah all refused this appeal. (Will it be different in the LD?)

Isa 30:16

WE WILL FLEE ON HORSES: The faithless would abandon Jerusalem just before the siege began (as did also the Arab mercenaries: Isa 21:15), and yet would fall into enemy hands nonetheless.

HORSES: Moses had forbidden Israel ever to put trust in horses from Egypt (Deu 17:16), or to return there (Deu 28:68). Cp Isa 31:1.

Isa 30:17

The reversal of Lev 26:8; Jos 23:10. Cp Lev 26:36,37; Deu 28:25; 32:30.

TILL YOU ARE LEFT LIKE A FLAGSTAFF... BANNER: A reminder of the prophecy of Isa 11:10: when only a single pole is left (ie, Hezekiah), then it will root and blossom and give life to the nation!

Isa 30:18

Vv 18,19: When the "Branch" (v 17) is lifted up, then God will be merciful to the faithful remnant which rally to it!

"God often delays in answering prayer. We have several instances of this in sacred Scripture. Jacob did not get the blessing from the angel until near the dawn of day -- he had to wrestle all night for it. The poor woman of Syrophenicia was answered not a word for a long while. Paul besought the Lord thrice that 'the thorn in the flesh' might be taken from him, and he received no assurance that it should be taken away, but instead thereof a promise that God's grace should be sufficient for him. Our Father has reasons peculiar to Himself for thus keeping us waiting. Sometimes it is to show His power and His sovereignty, that men may know that Jehovah has a right to give or to withhold. More frequently the delay is for our profit. Thou art perhaps kept waiting in order that thy desires may be more fervent. God knows that delay will quicken and increase desire, and that if He keeps thee waiting thou wilt see thy necessity more clearly, and wilt seek more earnestly; and that thou wilt prize the mercy all the more for its long tarrying. There may also be something wrong in thee which has need to be removed, before the joy of the Lord is given. Or, God makes thee tarry awhile that He may the more fully display the riches of His grace to thee at last. Thy prayers are all filed in heaven, and if not immediately answered they are certainly not forgotten, but in a little while shall be fulfilled to thy delight and satisfaction. Let not despair make thee silent, but continue instant in earnest supplication" (CHS).

Isa 30:20

BREAD OF ADVERSITY... WATER OF AFFLICTION: Siege conditions in Jerusalem: very restricted food supply (as predicted in Isa 3:1). Yet they will never actually starve (Isa 33:16).

YOUR TEACHERS WILL BE HIDDEN NO MORE: It is uncertain whether this phrase is singular or plural. Had Isaiah (and/or other prophets?) been arrested and secluded, so as not to influence the common people? And was he (or were they) now released once again?

Isa 30:21

THIS IS THE WAY; WALK IN IT: "We must get our joy and satisfaction in God and from God. It is not just wrong to get it elsewhere: it is impossible. The real thing doesn't exist anywhere else. God is Light, and the only Light. God is Love, and the only Love. God is Life, and the only Life.

"The disciples were often childish and limited as they followed Christ, but they had one thing perfectly straight in their minds, and it was the root of everything else: there's just nowhere else to go. All other roads are at last dead ends. Most people spend their lives running away from reality, and seeking substance where there is only shadow; seeking permanence where there is only brevity and dissolution; seeking security in that which is inherently insecure; seeking peace and satisfaction down a seemingly pleasing road that must inevitably end in the dark swamp of sorrow and emptiness, and -- if there is enough mental capacity then left to comprehend the tragedy -- in bitter remorse and regret.

"There is only one high, narrow, hard way out of it all, to eternity and peace and life: total dedication of this life to God, total swallowing up of this life in Christ. The vast majority go the wrong way. That's tragic. Many go toward the right way, but not far enough. That's even more tragic. Let us realize the infinite bigness and glory of it. It must loom so large to us as to overwhelm and dominate our every thought and action -- or we haven't really gotten close enough to it yet for its mighty, irresistible gravity to draw us totally into itself. Why go just part way toward God and glory?" (GVG).

Isa 30:22

THROW THEM AWAY: Heb "zarah" = to scatter, as seed is sown. Sw used of Moses' strewing the residue of the golden calf on the waters of the stream: Exo 32:20. The like process followed by Josiah in similar circumstances (2Ki 23:6, but not sw).

LIKE A MENSTRUAL CLOTH: Suggesting, perhaps, that the worship of such idols was of a sexual nature?

Isa 30:23

Vv 23,24: Special prosperity and a superabundant harvest, appropriate to a Year of Jubilee (cp 2Ki 19:29-31).

Isa 30:24

Special allegorical meaning: "Is it about oxen that God is concerned?" (1Co 9:9).

Isa 30:25

IN THE DAY OF GREAT SLAUGHTER: The great slaughter of the Assyrian army (Isa 37:36) will signal the bringing in of this overwhelming fruitfulness and harvests for the Land!

TOWERS: Siege-towers of the Assyrian army (Isa 37:33).

Isa 30:26

MOON... SUN... LIGHT OF SEVEN FULL DAYS: The light of the Glory of God; light here sym restoration of divine blessing and prosperity. The number "seven" is used symbolically to indicate intensity: cp Isa 24:23; 60:20; Rev 21:23,24; 22:5.

Isa 30:27

THE NAME OF THE LORD: The "name" of the LORD sometimes stands by metonymy for the LORD himself (see Exo 23:21; Lev 24:11; Psa 54:1; 124:8). Here God reveals that aspect of His character which His name suggests: He comes as Yahweh ("he is present"), the ever present helper of His people who annihilates their enemies and delivers them. The name "Yahweh" originated in a context where God assured a fearful Moses that He would be with him as he confronted Pharaoh and delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt. So the "Name" here is calling attention to that special deliverance, where Yahweh revealed His covenant name: Exo 3:13,15; 6:3. (The Egyptian deliverance is often uppermost in Isaiah's mind: see Isa 4:5,6; 10:24-26; 11:15,16; 49:9,10; etc.)

BURNING... CLOUDS... WRATH... FIRE... (v 28)... TORRENT: Lightning, thunder, storm, flood, tornado, hurricane (?). All the forces of nature poured out upon Assyrians.

Isa 30:28

HIS BREATH IS LIKE A RUSHING TORRENT: Prob stands metonymically for the word or battle cry that God expels from His mouth as He shouts. In Isa 34:16 and Psa 33:6 the LORD's "breath" is associated with his command.

SIEVE: Sifting, or separating -- thus isolating what is worthless so that it might be discarded, and sparing some whilst destroying others (Amo 9:9).

Isa 30:29

V 29: The great deliverance from Sennacherib's army was, conclusively, at Passover time: Isa 31:5; 37:36; 26:20; 29:1; Psa 44:1,22.

YOU WILL SING: Exo 15, and Psa 114-118 (the great "Hallel" sung at Passover).

THE NIGHT YOU CELEBRATE A HOLY FESTIVAL: Passover is the only great Feast celebrated at night: Exo 12:42.

THE ROCK OF ISRAEL: The altar of burnt-offering (cp Isa 8:14). The blood of the Passover lambs was poured at the base of this altar.

Isa 30:30

HIS MAJESTIC VOICE: The thunder of the storm: Psa 29:4; Joh 12:28,29; Exo 19:16; 20:18; ct Isa 37:23.

ARM COMING DOWN... CONSUMING FIRE: Lightning: Psa 83:13,14.

CLOUDBURST, THUNDERSTORM, AND HAIL: A storm of hail is mentioned repeatedly: EG ISA 28:2; 32:19. Hail and fire were elements of the Egyptian deliverance: Exo 9:18-26. And all these phenomena are brought together in Psa 77:15-20 (a Hezekiah psalm linking the Exodus with Sennacherib's overthrow).

Isa 30:31

HIS SCEPTER: Recalling the rod in the hand of Moses (Exo 4:4,20; 7:10,19,20; 8:5,16,23; 14:16; 17:5,9; etc).

Isa 30:32

THE MUSIC OF TAMBOURINES AND HARPS: The Passover was being celebrated by the Jews in Jerusalem, to great joy, whilst the deadly business was being carried on just outside their city walls! Songs of rejoicing, and wails of anguish, alongside one another.

Isa 30:33

TOPHET: The valley, also called "the Valley of Ben Hinnom" (2Ki 23:10; Jer 19:6), or Gehenna (Mat 5:22,29,30; Mar 9:43,45,47; etc), around the southwest corner of Jerusalem became the place of burning (Jer 7:32; 19:11) -- where the immense number of Assyrian carcasses (185,000) was consumed. {Will there be a "Tophet" in the LD? Isa 66:24!]

MADE READY FOR THE KING: Which king? Sennacherib? Ahaz? "Molech" the idol (Heb "melek" = "king") (Isa 57:9)?

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