Notes on Isaiah 10

Chapter 10

v. 6b: “To seize the spoil, to take the prey” is another of Isaiah’s ironic twists.  (On the subject of irony and paradox in Isaiah, see also notes on 6:9, and  7:1114-16.)  This is no doubt an allusion to the name Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, which means, “haste to the spoil; haste to the prey,” (8:3), but here in chapter ten (with reference to the Assyrian invasion) the phrase “to seize the spoil, to take the prey” is a threat against the Jews, whereas in chapter eight it reassures them of their deliverance from Syria and Ephraim.

v. 7: As God’s wrath works in concert with the self-destructive free-will choices of the wicked in 9:18-19, so here his wrath against his disobedient people works in concert with the king of Assyria’s will to conquer other nations.  Isaiah describes the king as if he were acting on his own free will to invade the northern kingdom and Judah; this is why he is culpable for his decision later on in spite of the fact that God made good use of the invasion.[1]

Vs. 20-21: In the context, I would say that “Israel” (as well as “Jacob”) here refers to Judeans since whoever it is “will never again depend on him who defeated them.”  The northern kingdom (a.k.a. Israel, Ephraim, and Samaria) never depended on Assyria, but Judah did.  So by this point in history the term “Israel” must have designated the northern kingdom specifically or the kingdom of God in general (which would naturally have included Judah) depending on the context.

Vs. 26-27: I believe these verses allude to 9:2-7.

[1] V. 15 does make it seem as though the king has no will in the matter (as an axe has no choice in what it chops) but this interpretation may be carrying the axe analogy too far. If, however, God overrode the king’s free will (as he eventually did with Pharaoh in Moses’ day) then it must have been because the king’s previous evil decisions (many of which were of the same type as the decision to invade Samaria and Judah) forfeited his right to exercise free will here. In this case, perhaps this overriding on the part of God may have been the beginning of the king’s punishment for those earlier crimes.


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