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Chapter 20

Isaiah’s Warning Against Trust in Egypt and Ethiopia. In the year the general sent by Sargon, king of Assyria, came to Ashdod,[a] fought against it, and captured it— [b]at that time the Lord had spoken through Isaiah, the son of Amoz: Go and take off the sackcloth from your waist, and remove the sandals from your feet. This he did, walking naked and barefoot.(A) Then the Lord said: Just as my servant Isaiah has gone naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and portent against Egypt and Ethiopia,(B) so shall the king of Assyria lead away captives from Egypt, and exiles from Ethiopia, young and old, naked and barefoot, with buttocks uncovered, the shame of Egypt.(C) They shall be dismayed and ashamed because of Ethiopia, their hope, and because of Egypt, their boast.(D) The inhabitants of this coastland shall say on that day, “See what has happened to those we hoped in, to whom we fled for help and deliverance from the king of Assyria! What escape is there for us now?”(E)

Footnotes

  1. 20:1 Ashdod: a city of Philistia. In 713 B.C., Azuri, the king of Ashdod was deposed by Sargon for plotting rebellion, but the citizens of Ashdod rejected the ruler installed by the Assyrian king and followed a certain Yamani, who in 712 B.C., with the protection of Egypt, attempted to draw Edom, Moab, and Judah into a coalition against Assyria. In 711 B.C., Sargon’s general marched against Ashdod, and Yamani fled to Ethiopia. Ashdod was captured, and a short time later Ethiopia handed Yamani over to the Assyrians for punishment.
  2. 20:2–6 Isaiah’s nakedness is a symbolic act to convey the message that Assyria would lead the Egyptians and Ethiopians away as captives. The Judeans and their allies would then realize the folly of having trusted in them. The purpose of the oracle was to dissuade Hezekiah, the Judean king, from being drawn into Ashdod’s anti-Assyrian coalition (14:28–32).

A Prophecy Against Egypt and Cush

20 In the year that the supreme commander,(A) sent by Sargon king of Assyria, came to Ashdod(B) and attacked and captured it— at that time the Lord spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz.(C) He said to him, “Take off the sackcloth(D) from your body and the sandals(E) from your feet.” And he did so, going around stripped(F) and barefoot.(G)

Then the Lord said, “Just as my servant(H) Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years,(I) as a sign(J) and portent(K) against Egypt(L) and Cush,[a](M) so the king(N) of Assyria will lead away stripped(O) and barefoot the Egyptian captives(P) and Cushite(Q) exiles, young and old, with buttocks bared(R)—to Egypt’s shame.(S) Those who trusted(T) in Cush(U) and boasted in Egypt(V) will be dismayed and put to shame.(W) In that day(X) the people who live on this coast will say, ‘See what has happened(Y) to those we relied on,(Z) those we fled to for help(AA) and deliverance from the king of Assyria! How then can we escape?(AB)’”

Footnotes

  1. Isaiah 20:3 That is, the upper Nile region; also in verse 5

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