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Bible Commentaries

Layman's Bible Commentary

Isaiah 20

Verses 1-6

The Prophet’s Acted Sign of Egypt’s Destruction (20:1-6)

Chapter 20 is a small section of prose biography by one of the prophet’s disciples, comparable in type of material to 7:1-9. When the Ethiopian Dynasty in Egypt attempted to organize a revolt of the small nations to the north of her against Sargon II (see comment on 14:28-32), the Philistine city-state of Ashdod along the southern coastal plain of Palestine became the focal center of the revolt. Judah evidently took no part in the uprising, with the result that she was spared when Sargon’s army destroyed Ashdod and crushed the revolt in 711 b.c. It was at that time that Isaiah heard the Lord’s command that he should walk naked and barefoot “as a sign and a portent against Egypt and Ethiopia” (vs. 3). The people of that country will be exiled, naked and barefoot as was the prophet. The reference in the same verse to Isaiah’s walking this way for three years would seem to suggest that throughout the period of the revolt, from 714 to 711 b.c., he counseled Judah and all who would hear that the Ethiopian Dynasty of Egypt was a weak thing to trust for support against Assyria. In this he was proved right, because the revolt was easily crushed, though the destruction of the capital of Egypt, Thebes, by the Assyrian monarch Asshurbanapal (about 669-630 b.c.) did not occur until 663 b.c., long after the death of Isaiah. The prophet’s action was an extreme one because it was supposed to attract the attention of people, and at the same time the word of explanation always accompanied the action so that the people would know for what it stood. It was not God’s will that the connivings of Egypt at this time would succeed; she herself was going down to defeat and disaster. For the present Assyria was God’s servant and agent, even though she did not know it.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Isaiah 20". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/isaiah-20.html.