What does Isaiah 10:13 mean?
ESV: For 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.
NIV: For he says: " ‘By the strength of my hand I have done this, and by my wisdom, because I have understanding. I removed the boundaries of nations, I plundered their treasures; like a mighty one I subdued their kings.
NASB: For he has said, 'By the power of my hand and by my wisdom I did this, Because I have understanding; And I removed the boundaries of the peoples And plundered their treasures, And like a powerful man I brought down their inhabitants,
CSB: For he said: I have done this by my own strength and wisdom, for I am clever. I abolished the borders of nations and plundered their treasures; like a mighty warrior, I subjugated the inhabitants.
NLT: He boasts, 'By my own powerful arm I have done this. With my own shrewd wisdom I planned it. I have broken down the defenses of nations and carried off their treasures. I have knocked down their kings like a bull.
KJV: For 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:
NKJV: For he says: “By the strength of my hand I have done it, And by my wisdom, for I am prudent; Also I have removed the boundaries of the people, And have robbed their treasuries; So I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man.
Verse Commentary:
The Lord has said that once His work of judging His people through the Assyrians is finished, He will turn and punish the Assyrian king for his arrogance (Isaiah 10:12). Sargon II may be one of the kings described here, along with Sennacherib, though the attitude is representative of many of the kings of Assyria.

Isaiah puts words in the mouth of those kings to describe their arrogance. They genuinely believe in their greatness. They are convinced they have succeeded in destroying one nation after another by their own strength. They remove the boundaries between nations by claiming each one they overpower as their own. They have plundered the treasures of each new conquered people, adding to Assyria's enormous wealth. They are as unstoppable as a bull, bringing down everyone who dares to stand against Assyria's might.

The prophet Isaiah is not overstating the attitude of these rulers. These over-the-top descriptions of kings from this era of history can be found in ancient inscriptions. Each insisted on trumpeting his accomplishments and claiming ultimate power in the world. The Lord detested their blind pride. He knew they were merely tools in His hands. Tools that He would quickly dispose of once He was done with them.
Verse Context:
Isaiah 10:5–19 describes Assyria as a weapon of the Lord's anger directed at His own people. The king of Assyria imagines himself to be the source of his own strength. He also images that he will keep conquering one nation after another. However, when the Lord has finished using Assyria, He will turn and judge the king for his arrogance. Does the axe boast over the one who uses it? Or does the staff lift the one who holds it? The Lord will consume Assyria as fire consumes a forest.
Chapter Summary:
Isaiah declares woe on those in Israel and Judah who use the law to take advantage of the poor. These people will not escape the Lord's judgment. He next describes the Assyrians as the Lord's staff of judgment against the godless nation that is His people. When He is done punishing His people, the Lord will turn His anger on the Assyrians, nearly destroying them. Eventually, a remnant of Israelites will return to faith in the Lord. Destruction will come, but it will not consume everything. The Lord will triumph over Assyria.
Chapter Context:
Isaiah 10 follows prophecies about God's judgment on Israel for the nation's sins. It begins pronouncing sorrow for those who oppress the poor and needy. He also declares woe on the Assyrians, whom the Lord is using to judge His people Israel. Soon, the Lord will direct His anger against the Assyrians for the arrogance of their king. He will burn them down as a forest. A remnant of Israel will survive the Assyrian judgment and trust the Lord again. His anger will turn from Israel to Assyria. The Assyrian oppression of Israel will be ended.
Book Summary:
Isaiah is among the most important prophetic books in the entire Bible. The first segment details God's impending judgment against ancient peoples for sin and idolatry (Isaiah 1—35). The second part of Isaiah briefly explains a failed assault on Jerusalem during the rule of Hezekiah (Isaiah 36—39). The final chapters predict Israel's rescue from Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 40—48), the promised Messiah (Isaiah 49—57), and the final glory of Jerusalem and God's people (Isaiah 58—66).
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