Isaiah chapter 10

English Standard Version

1Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression, 2to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey! 3What will you do on the day of punishment, in the ruin that will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth? 4Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners or fall among the slain. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still. 5Woe to Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury! 6Against a godless nation I send him, and against the people of my wrath I command him, to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. 7But he does not so intend, and his heart does not so think; but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few; 8for he says: “Are not my commanders all kings? 9Is not Calno like Carchemish? Is not Hamath like Arpad? Is not Samaria like Damascus? 10As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols, whose carved images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria, 11shall I not do to Jerusalem and her idols as I have done to Samaria and her images?” 12When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes. 13For he says: “By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I remove the boundaries of peoples, and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones.
New International Version

New American Standard Bible

Christian Standard Bible

New Living Translation

King James Version

5O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. 6I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. 7Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few. 8For he saith, Are not my princes altogether kings? 9Is not Calno as Carchemish? is not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus? 10As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, and whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria; 11Shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols? 12Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks. 13For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man: 14And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped. 15Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood. 16Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory he shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire. 17And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day; 18And shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and they shall be as when a standardbearer fainteth. 19And the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them.

What does Isaiah chapter 10 mean?

Isaiah chapter 10 continues to progress through more prophecies regarding God's coming destruction of both Judah and Assyria.

First, the prophet declares woe on those in Judah and Israel who use the local laws to taking advantage of the poor and needy. Their intent is so deliberate that they write oppression into the civic code. This eliminates any possibility of justice for the poor, widows, and orphans. Instead of caring for them, these wealthy oppressors manipulate the law to take what little the poor have for themselves (Isaiah 10:1–2).

Isaiah asks how their wealth will help them when the Lord's judgment comes. These rich oppressors will find themselves either dead or crouching along with everyone else among those taken captive. In the end, their wealth will be worthless to save them from the Lord's coming wrath (Isaiah 10:3–4).

Next, he describes the Assyrian Empire and their war machine as the rod of the Lord's anger. The Lord is sending them against a godless nation. He is referring to His own people in Israel and Judah. God commands Assyria to attack and plunder His people. They are to pummel the people into the ground (Isaiah 10:5–6).

The Assyrian kings do not believe they are being used by the God of Israel. They believe they are self-directed and powerful enough to conquer one nation after another. After all, they have defeated the gods of all the nations in their path. This conquering path includes the northern ten tribes of Israel. The Assyrians see no difference in the God of Jerusalem. This will soon change (Isaiah 10:7–11).

What the Assyrians don't yet know, is that when the Lord is through using them as His own tool to judge His people, He will turn His punishment on them. The words of their arrogant king and the boastful attitude will not go unpunished. The Assyrian king proudly believes he has conquered all by the strength of his own hand. He thinks no one has even resisted him because of his own might (Isaiah 10:12–14).

Isaiah scoffs at the idea that Assyria's power is of its own doing. He compares them to an axe that brags over the one who uses it. Or a saw that believes it deserves the credit over the one wielding it. These tools are just tools. They do not have power over the one who operates them. To prove His point, the Lord will send a wasting disease into the armies of the Assyrians. He will be the flame that destroys their might, leaving only a tiny remnant standing (Isaiah 10:15–19).

When the day comes, a remnant will remain among the Israelites, as well. That remnant will no longer look for help from invading nations. They will lean on God for help. This remnant will be saved, but only this fraction of the people. The Lord will bring all the destruction He has warned about, and that judgment will be righteous (Isaiah 10:20–23).

However, the Lord urges His people not to fear the Assyrians. His anger will soon turn from Israel to the Assyrians. He will use His supernatural power to break the invaders oppression over Israel. Just as He has done for His people in times past (Isaiah 10:24–27).

The prophet Isaiah pictures a fast-moving invading army, likely of Assyrians, as they march from the north toward Jerusalem. They finally arrive outside of the city and shake their fists at the city of Jerusalem. Isaiah then pictures the Lord suddenly cutting down the tallest and most powerful trees, clearing the forest even of the cedars of Lebanon. Showing the people that there is no army too great or too powerful that the Lord cannot cut down (Isaiah 10:28–34).
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