Perversion of Justice
1#This is another hoy-oracle; cf. note on 5:8–24. It may originally have been part of the collection at 5:8–24. Ah! Those who enact unjust statutes,
who write oppressive decrees,#a. [10:1] Jer 8:8.
2Depriving the needy of judgment,
robbing my people’s poor of justice,
Making widows their plunder,
and orphans their prey!#b. [10:2] Is 1:23; 3:14–15.
3What will you do on the day of punishment,
when the storm comes from afar?
To whom will you flee for help?
Where will you leave your wealth,
4Lest it sink beneath the captive
or fall beneath the slain?
For all this, his wrath is not turned back,
his hand is still outstretched!#For all this…outstretched!: this refrain appears to be out of place here; cf. 9:11, 16, 20.
Judgment on Assyria
5#These verses contain a series of oracles directed against Assyria. Verses 5–15 portray Assyria as simply the rod God uses to punish Israel, though Assyria does not realize this. The original conclusion to this unit may be the judgment found in vv. 24–27a, which continues the imagery and motifs found in vv. 5–15. Verses 16–23, because of the quite different imagery and motifs, may originally have been an insertion directed against Aram and Israel at the time of the Syro-Ephraimite War. Ah! Assyria, the rod of my wrath,
the staff I wield in anger.#c. [10:5] Jer 51:20–23.
6Against an impious nation#Impious nation: Judah. It was God’s intention to use Assyria merely to punish, not to destroy, the nation. I send him,
and against a people under my wrath I order him
To seize plunder, carry off loot,
and to trample them like the mud of the street.
7But this is not what he intends,
nor does he have this in mind;
Rather, it is in his heart to destroy,
to make an end of not a few nations.
8For he says, “Are not my commanders all kings?”
9#The cities mentioned were all cities captured, some more than once, by the Assyrians in the eighth century B.C. Verse 9 suggests a certain historical order in the fall of these cities, and v. 10 suggests that all of them had fallen before Samaria (cf. Am 6:2). That implies that one should think primarily of events during the reign of Tiglath-pileser III (745–727). “Is not Calno like Carchemish,
Or Hamath like Arpad,
or Samaria like Damascus?
10Just as my hand reached out to idolatrous kingdoms
that had more images than Jerusalem and Samaria—
11Just as I treated Samaria and her idols,
shall I not do to Jerusalem and her graven images?”
12But when the Lord has brought to an end all his work on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,
I will punish the utterance
of the king of Assyria’s proud heart,
and the boastfulness of his haughty eyes.
13For he says:
“By my own power I have done it,
and by my wisdom, for I am shrewd.
I have moved the boundaries of peoples,
their treasures I have pillaged,
and, like a mighty one, I have brought down the enthroned.
14My hand has seized, like a nest,
the wealth of nations.
As one takes eggs left alone,
so I took in all the earth;
No one fluttered a wing,
or opened a mouth, or chirped!”
15Will the ax boast against the one who hews with it?
Will the saw exalt itself above the one who wields it?
As if a rod could sway the one who lifts it,
or a staff could lift the one who is not wood!
16Therefore the Lord, the Lord of hosts,
will send leanness among his fat ones,#His fat ones: the strong men of the enemy army.
And under his glory there will be a kindling
like the kindling of fire.#d. [10:16] Is 17:4.
17The Light of Israel will become a fire,
the Holy One, a flame,
That burns and consumes its briers
and its thorns in a single day.#e. [10:17] Is 9:17–18; 30:27–33; 31:9; 33:14.
18And the glory of its forests and orchards
will be consumed, soul and body,
and it will be like a sick man who wastes away.
19And the remnant of the trees in his forest
will be so few,
that any child can record them.
20On that day
The remnant of Israel,
the survivors of the house of Jacob,
will no more lean upon the one who struck them;
But they will lean upon the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel, in truth.
21A remnant will return,#A remnant will return: in Hebrew, shear-jashub, an allusion to the name of Isaiah’s son, Shear-jashub; cf. 7:3. the remnant of Jacob,
to the mighty God.
22Though your people, O Israel,
were like the sand of the sea,#f. [10:22] Hos 2:1; Rom 9:27–28.
Only a remnant of them will return;
their destruction is decreed,
as overflowing justice demands.#g. [10:22] Is 28:16–18.
23For the Lord, the God of hosts, is about to carry out the destruction decreed in the midst of the whole land.#h. [10:23] Is 28:22.
24#This verse with its reference to Assyria’s rod may introduce the original conclusion to vv. 5–15. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of hosts: My people, who dwell in Zion, do not fear the Assyrian, though he strikes you with a rod, and raises his staff against you as did the Egyptians. 25For just a brief moment more, and my wrath shall be over, and my anger shall be set for their destruction. 26Then the Lord of hosts will raise against them a scourge such as struck Midian at the rock of Oreb;#i. [10:26] Is 9:3; Jgs 7:25. and he will raise his staff over the sea as he did in Egypt.#j. [10:26] Ex 14:16. 27On that day,
His burden shall be taken from your shoulder,
and his yoke shattered from your neck.#k. [10:27] Is 9:3.
The March of an Enemy Army#A poetic description of the march of an enemy army from the north, advancing south to the very gates of Jerusalem, where the enemy waves his hand in a gesture of derision against the city. Though Sennacherib’s troops took a different route, advancing down the coast and then approaching Jerusalem from the southeast, the arrogant attitude toward God’s chosen city was the same. Aiath: the Ai of Jos 7:22–8:29. Migron: modern Makrun north of Michmash. The ravine: the deep valley between Michmash and Geba (cf. 1 Sm 14:1–5). Ramah…Gibeah…Bath-Gallim…Laishah…Anathoth…Madmenah…Gebim: cities north of Jerusalem threatened by the sudden appearance of this enemy army. Nob: probably to be identified with the present Mount Scopus from where one has a clear view of Jerusalem.
He has come up from Rimmon,
28he has reached Aiath, passed through Migron,
at Michmash he has stored his supplies.
29He has crossed the ravine,
at Geba he has camped for the night.
Gibeah of Saul has fled.
30Cry and shriek, Bath-Gallim!
Hearken, Laishah! Answer her, Anathoth!
31Madmenah is in flight,
the inhabitants of Gebim seek refuge.
32Even today he will halt at Nob,
he will shake his fist at the mount of daughter Zion,
the hill of Jerusalem!
33#Just when the enemy is about to capture Jerusalem, God intervenes and destroys the hostile army. Cf. 29:1–8; 31:4–9. Now the Lord, the Lord of hosts,
is about to lop off the boughs with terrible violence;
The tall of stature shall be felled,
and the lofty ones shall be brought low;
34He shall hack down the forest thickets with an ax,
and Lebanon in its splendor shall fall.