Isaiah Chapter 20
1. In the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod, (when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him,) and fought against Ashdod, and took it;
1. Anno quo venit Thartan in Asdod, cum misisset eum Sargon rexAssyriae, oppugnassetque Asdod, et cepisset.
2. At the same time spake the Lord by Isaiah the son Amoz, saying, Go and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins, and put off thy shoe from thy foot. And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.
2. Tempore illo, inquam, locutus est Iehova iu manu Isaiae filii Amoz, dicendo: Vade et solve saccum de lumbis tuis, et calciamentum tuum exrahe de pede tuo; fecitque sic, ambulans nudus et discalceatus.
3. And the Lord said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia;
3. Et dixit Iehova: Sicut ambulavit servus meus Isaias nudus etdiscalceatus tribus annis, signum et portentum super Aegypto etEthiopia;
4. So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.
4. Ita abducet rex Assur captivitatem Aegypti, et transmigrationemAethiopiae juvenum et senum, nudam et discalceatam, et discoopertosnatibus in ignominiam Aegypti.
5. And they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation, and of Egypt their glory.
5. Et timebunt, et pudefient ab Aethiopia respectu suo, et ab Aegyptogloriatione (vel, pulchritudine) sua.
6. And the inhabitant of this isle shall say in that day, Behold, such is our expectation, whither we flee for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria: and how shall we escape?
6. Dicetque incola insulae hujus in die illa; Ecce, quomodo habeatrespectus noster, quo confugimus auxilii causa, ut liberemur a facieregis Assur; et quomodo effugiemus nos?
First, we must observe the time of this prediction. It was when the Jews were pressed hard by necessity to resort, even against their will, to foreign nations for assistance. Sacred history informs us (2 Kings 18:17) that Tartan was one of Sennacherib's captains, which constrains us to acknowledge that this Sargon was Sennacherib, who had two names, as may be easily learned from this passage. We must also consider what was the condition of Israel, for the ten tribes had been led into captivity. Judea appeared almost to be utterly ruined, for nearly the whole country was conquered, except Jerusalem, which was besieged by Rabshakeh. (2 Kings 18:13.) Tartan, on the other hand, was besieging Ashdod. Sacred history (2 Kings 18:17) mentions three captains;1 and this makes it probable that Sennacherib's forces were at that time divided into three parts, that at the same instant he might strike terror on all, and might throw them into such perplexity and confusion that they could not render assistance to each other. Nothing was now left for the Jews but to call foreign nations to their aid. In the mean time, Isaiah is sent by God to declare that their expectation is vain in relying on the Egyptians, against whom the arm of the Lord was now lifted up, and who were so far from assisting them, that they were unable to defend themselves against their enemies. Hence the Jews ought to acknowledge that they are justly punished for their unbelief, because they had forsaken God and fled to the Egyptians.
We must consider the end which is here proposed, for the design of God was not to forewarn the Egyptians, but to correct the unbelief of the people, which incessantly carried them away to false and wicked hopes. In order therefore to teach them that they ought to rely on God alone, the Prophet here foretells what awaits their useless helpers. The warning was highly seasonable, for the Ethiopians had begun to repel the Assyrians, and had forced them to retire, and no event could have occurred which would have been more gladly hailed by the Jews. Lest those successful beginnings should make them wanton, he foretells that this aid will be of short duration, because both the Ethiopians and the Egyptians will soon be most disgracefully vanquished.
This ought to be carefully observed in opposition to the Papists, who bring forward empty ceremonies instead of true sacraments. This is the rule with which we ought to meet them. If they proceed from God, we ought to embrace them, but if not, we may boldly reject them; and, indeed, they cannot be adopted without offering an insult to God, because in such cases men usurp his authority. Besides, God does not bring forward signs without the word, for what would a sacrament be if we beheld nothing but the sign? It is the doctrine alone that makes the sacrament, and therefore let us know that it is mere hypocrisy where no doctrine is taught, and that Papists act wickedly when they lay aside doctrine, and give the name of sacrament to empty ceremonies; for the Lord has connected them in such a manner that no man can separate them without infringing that order which he has enjoined.
When the Lord commands him to
A question arises, Was this actually done, or was it merely and simply a vision which he told to the people? The general opinion is, that the Prophet never went naked, but that this was exhibited to him in a vision, and only once. They allege as a reason, that on account of heat and cold, and other inconveniences of the weather, he could not have walked naked during the whole period of three years. What if we should say that the Prophet wore clothes at home, and also in public, unless when he wished to come forth to teach, and that on such occasions he was accustomed to present to the people a spectacle of nakedness? I pay little attention to the argument, that he was unable to endure heat and cold; for God, who commanded him to do this, could easily strengthen and protect him. But they assign another reason, that nakedness would have been unbecoming in a Prophet. I answer, this nakedness was not more unbecoming than circumcision, which irreligious men might consider to be the most absurd of all sights, because it made an exposure of the uncomely parts. Yet it must not be thought that the Prophet went entirely naked, or without covering those parts which would present a revolting aspect. It was enough that the people understood what the Lord was doing, and were affected by it as something extraordinary.
I am led to form this opinion by what is here said, "By the hand of Isaiah; " for although this mode of expression frequently occurs elsewhere, still we never find it where it does not imply something emphatic, to describe the effect produced. He places himself in the midst between God and his countrymen, so as to be the herald of a future calamity, not only in words, but likewise by a visible symbol. Nor is it superfluous that it is immediately added, He did so. I am therefore of opinion that Isaiah walked naked whenever he discharged the office of a prophet, and that he uncovered those parts which could be beheld without shame.
So far as relates to
1 "Tartan, and Rabsaris, and Rabshakeh"
2 "The Egyptians prisoners (Hebrews the captivity of Egypt) and Ethiopians captives." -- Eng. Ver. "The captives of Egypt and the exiles of Cush." -- Lowth.
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