Isaiah

CHAPTER 31

Against the Egyptian Alliance

1Ah! Those who go down to Egypt for help,

who rely on horses;

Who put their trust in chariots because of their number,

and in horsemen because of their combined power,

But look not to the Holy One of Israel

nor seek the LORD!* a

2Yet he too is wise and will bring disaster;

he will not turn from his threats.

He will rise up against the house of the wicked

and against those who help evildoers.b

3The Egyptians are human beings, not God,

their horses flesh, not spirit;

When the LORD stretches forth his hand,

the helper shall stumble, the one helped shall fall,

and both of them shall perish together.c

4For thus says the LORD to me:

As a lion or its young

growling over the prey,

With a band of shepherds

assembled against it,

Is neither dismayed by their shouts

nor cowed by their noise,

So shall the LORD of hosts come down

to wage war upon Mount Zion, upon its height.d

5Like hovering birds, so the LORD of hosts

shall shield Jerusalem,

To shield and deliver,

to spare and rescue.e

6Return, O Israelites, to him whom you have utterly deserted.f 7On that day each one of you shall reject his idols of silver and gold, which your hands have made.g

8Assyria shall fall by a sword, not wielded by human being,

no mortal sword shall devour him;

He shall flee before the sword,

and his young men shall be impressed as laborers.h

9He shall rush past his crag* in panic,

and his princes desert the standard in terror,

Says the LORD who has a fire in Zion

and a furnace in Jerusalem.i

* [31:1] Seek the LORD: a technical expression for seeking a prophetic or priestly oracle, similar to the expression “asking my counsel” in 30:2. The prophet complains that Judah has decided on its policy of alliance with Egypt without first consulting the Lord.

* [31:9] Crag: the king as the rallying point of the princes. Panic: terror is an element of Israel’s holy war tradition, in which defeat of the enemy is accomplished by the Lord rather than by human means (cf. v. 8).

a. [31:1] Is 5:12, 24; 18:2; 22:11; 29:15; 30:2; 36:6.

b. [31:2] Is 28:21.

c. [31:3] Ps 146:35.

d. [31:4] Hos 5:14; Am 1:2; 3:8, 12.

e. [31:5] Is 37:35; Dt 32:11; Ps 91:4.

f. [31:6] Is 1:24; Jer 3:12.

g. [31:7] Is 2:20; 30:22.

h. [31:8] Is 27:1; 34:56; 37:36.

i. [31:9] Is 30:17, 33.

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