The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Isaiah 33

Isa 33:1

This particular "Woe", in ct to previous ones, is directed against the wretched and deceitful Assyrians. Duplicity was the hallmark of Sennacherib's foreign policy (Isa 21:2; 24:16); even the payment of massive tribute (2Ki 18:16) made no difference to his aggressive empire-building.

Isa 33:2

WE LONG FOR YOU: "We have waited for you" (AV): " 'Waiting for the LORD' is quite one of the most poignant ideas in all Isaiah's prophecies. It embodies a picture of a faithful minority who look with eager and almost pathetic expectancy for a divine intervention which will save them and their Land from a desperate situation from which they have no power to extricate themselves" (WIsa 326). Cp Isa 25:9; 26:8; 64:4; 30:18. Cp also 2Pe 3:11-15.

EVERY MORNING: Manna given (Exo 16:21). Fire on the altar (Lev 6:12). Incense offered (Exo 30:7). Praise offered (1Ch 23:30). Service offered (1Ch 9:27). Sacrifice presented (2Ch 2:4; 13:11). God visits (Job 7:18). God is their strength (here). His compassions new (Lam 3:23). The Philistines present themselves (1Sa 17:16). God silences the wicked (Psa 101:8). Judgment (Zep 3:5). Administer justice (Jer 21:12).

Isa 33:3

THE THUNDER OF YOUR VOICE: The overpowering majesty of the theophany and storms (as in Isa 28:15; 29:5-7; 30:30). Elsewhere these words picture a lashing rain (1Ki 18:41) and the fearful threat of Sennacherib's conglomerate army assembled against Jerusalem (Isa 13:4).

RISE UP: The description of the Ark of God setting forth (Num 10:35) -- the Shekinah Glory going into action!

Isa 33:4

"Joel 2 has sustained and vivid anticipation of the northern invader (these brutal Assyrians) going irresistibly through the Land plundering and ravaging everywhere (Joel 2:1-11; cp Isa 10:14; 17:5). Now Isaiah picks up the same powerful figure of speech -- but the tables are turned, for his locusts are the inhabitants of Jerusalem rushing out of the city to plunder the devastated camp of the enemy... a picture of eager delighted citizens making one trip after another to the enemy camp to see what they can salvage" (WIsa 327).

Isa 33:5

Vv 5,6: "A godly administration described in Messianic terms which deliberately echo the Messianic prophecy of Isa 11: 'judgment, righteousness, wisdom, knowledge, stability (faithfulness), salvation, the fear of the LORD' (vv 2-5)" (WIsa 327).

Isa 33:6

THIS TREASURE: The spiritual "treasure" of renewed faith in Yahweh, in ct to the merely material "treasure" of plunder from the fallen Assyrians (v 4) -- or the Jewish "treasure" used to pay off the Assyrians earlier (2Ki 18:14-16)!

Isa 33:7

Vv 7-9: A retrospect: (1) the Judean ambassadors of peace returning from fruitless negotiations with Sennacherib and Rabshakeh (2Ki 18:16; Isa 36:3; 28:15; 21:2; 33:1) and/or (2) the Judean ambassadors returning from Egypt (Isa 30:4; 31:1).

Isa 33:9

The Assyrian siege engines required an enormous amount of lumber.

BASHAN AND CARMEL: Both of these areas were known for their trees and vegetation: Isa 2:13; 35:2

Isa 33:10

I WILL ARISE... WILL I BE EXALTED... WILL I BE LIFTED UP: Yahweh goes into action with a display of His Shekinah Glory and power: cp v 5; Isa 5:16; 30:18; Psa 118:16; Isa 59:19; 26:11; Mic 5:9.

Isa 33:12

THE PEOPLES WILL BE BURNED AS IF TO LIME: The disposal of the great piles of corpses sprawled in a gruesome circle round the city. Cp Amo 2:1.

Isa 33:13

YOU WHO ARE FAR AWAY: The captives which had been carried away to Babylon. Or poss the Gentiles -- who now give glory to God, and Hezekiah (2Ch 32:23).

YOU WHO ARE NEAR: God's people in the city of Jerusalem and the Land.

Isa 33:14

THE SINNERS IN ZION ARE TERRIFIED...: "The 'devouring fire' and 'everlasting burnings' with which the divine judgment was manifest (Isa 30:27-33; 31:9) provoked the same reaction in these Jewish sinners as a like theophany had done in the hearts of their forefathers at Sinai (Exo 20:18,19; Deu 4:24; Num 17:12,13; Heb 12:29)" (WIsa 329).

Isa 33:15

The ancient rabbi Samlai stated that Moses gave 613 commandments, and that David reduced these to 11 commandments (ie Psa 15). Further, he stated that Isaiah reduced the 11 to 6 (Isa 33:15). What he could not mention, of course, was that Jesus was to summarize all the law in only two commandments (Mat 22:40).

Isa 33:17

THE KING IN HIS BEAUTY: Hezekiah, fully recovered from his grievous illness (Isa 38:1; 53:2)!

A LAND THAT STRETCHED AFAR: A land of extensive territory. Judah now being renewed to its "glory days", before the Assyrian ravages. Cp Isa 9:7 (the increase of his government), and the "Land full of knowledge of the Lord" (Isa 11:9).

Isa 33:18

Quoted in 1Co 1:20: "Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?"

THE CHIEF OFFICER: "The scribe" (AV).

THE ONE WHO TOOK THE REVENUE: Related to Heb "shekel"; the official who took charge of the massive tribute paid by Judah to Assyria.

THE OFFICER IN CHARGE OF THE TOWERS: That is, the siege towers (Isa 30:25; 33:9; 37:24; 2Ki 19:23).

Isa 33:19

// Exo 14:13: "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again."

STRANGE, INCOMPREHENSIBLE TONGUE: Cp Psa 114:1, also re the Egyptians.

Isa 33:21

Zion will be protected and made to stand firm by the Almighty Power of God. The city of Jerusalem, which lacks the broad rivers and streams of Egypt and Nineveh, and the insulating defense of the sea, like Tyre and Zidon, is sheltered and supported by that which is infinitely greater... the Lord of Hosts! Jerusalem has Immanuel and the quiet waters of Shiloah (Isa 8:6-8), and God as a wall of fire round about it (Zec 2:5)!

GALLEY WITH OARS... MIGHTY SHIP: The sort of ships which Assyria might have obtained in Phoenicia (Isa 2:16; Psa 48:7).

Isa 33:23

EVEN THE LAME: Cp 2Sa 5:8; Isa 35:5,6. Judah's victory over its enemies will be so thorough there will be more than enough plunder for everyone, even slow-moving lame men who would normally get left out in the rush to gather the loot.

Isa 33:24

NO ONE.. WILL SAY, 'I AM ILL': Hezekiah, smitten for the sins of the nation (Isa 52:13,14), is now healed of his sickness (Isa 53:4). All, of course, typical of Jesus Christ!

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