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Book of Isaiah

Chapter 20

Isaiah was a sign to the people by his unusual dress. His normal clothing was sackcloth, to show himself mortified to the world. He was to loose the sackcloth from his loins; to wear no upper garment and go barefooted. This sign was to show, that the Egyptians and Ethiopians would be led away captives by the king of Assyria, thus stripped. The world often thinks believers are foolish, when they obey God. But the Lord will support His servants under the most trying times of their obedience; and what they are called upon to suffer for His sake.

This chapter predicts the carrying away of multitudes both of the Egyptians and the Ethiopians into captivity by the king of Assyria. The sign by which this was foretold, was the prophet's going for some time barefoot and almost naked, like a poor captive.

This chapter contains a prophecy of the destruction of the Egyptians and Ethiopians by the Assyrians, which had been prophesied of separately in the two preceding chapters (18 & 19).  The sign of it was the prophet's walking naked, and barefoot, andhttp://www.biblestudytools.com/search/?q=isaiah+20:2 the explanation and place of the sign to the captivity of Egypt and Ethiopia.

Unfulfilled Prophecy (continued from Ch.19) (20:1-4)

The one great thought in chapter 20 is that in three years Israel would be invaded. Chapter 19 closes with the reminder of future blessing for Egypt in the millennial Kingdom, and this chapter predicts coming events in the last day, which will prove that Isaiah was indeed a prophet of Almighty God.

Isaiah 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; (KJV)

In the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod . . . or Azotus (Acts 8:40). This Tartan was one of Sennacherib's generals (2 Ki.18:17).
(When Sargon the king of Assyria sent him) . . . to the above place to besiege it. This Sargon is thought to be the as Sennacherib, since Tartan was one of his generals, who might have more names than one. What king of Assyria this was is much disputed.
And fought against Ashdod, and took it . . . Ashdod was an outstanding and strong city of the Philistines (Josh.13:3; 1 Sam.5:1), in the utmost part of the land of Canaan, towards Egypt. It was held by the Assyrians until the time of Psammiticus, and was a very strong, well-fortified city. It had held out a siege for twenty nine years before he could be master it. It is most likely to have been in Hezekiah's time.

Isaiah 20:2 At the same time spake the LORD by Isaiah the son of 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. (KJV)

At the same time spake the Lord by Isaiah the son of Amoz . . . the LORD spoke by Isaiah, by the sign he used, according to His order.
Go, and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins . . . God would sometimes have His prophets add to their words, with a visible sign, to awaken people's minds to a more serious consideration of the matters planned for them. Sackcloth was a token of mourning, and which the prophet wore, because of the captivity of the ten tribes; and it may be also because of the miseries that were coming upon the people of the Jews; although some think this was Isaiah’s common dress, similar to Elijah (2 Ki.1:8).
And put off thy shoe from thy foot . . . also a sign of distress and mourning (2 Sam.15:30).
And he did so, walking naked and barefoot . . . walking naked, not completely naked, which was indecent, scandalous and dangerous, at least to do it for three years, as he did (vs.3), but without his upper garment, as slaves and prisoners used to do, whose picture he was to represent (vs.4). The word naked is used in: (1 Sam.19:24; 2 Sam.6:20; Jn.21:7). Men are also said to be naked when they are ill clothed (Job 22:6; Mat.25:36; 1 Cor.4:11; Jam.2:15). Barefoot, is the manner of mourners (2 Sam.15:30), and captives (Jer.2:25).

*****God made Isaiah a sign and a wonder to his people by his walking among them for three years naked and barefooted (Isa. 20:2-3). He was NOT nude; he simply laid aside his special prophetic garment, his outer robe, as Saul did (1Sam. 19:24), and David who was naked but still had on a linen ephod (2 Sam. 6:14-21). These kings simply put off their royal robes, just as Peter put off his outer garment so that he could fish (Jn. 21:7). Isaiah's outer robe was evidently sackcloth or coarse goat hair, like Elijah (2 Ki.1:8), for the prophets wore rough clothing as their prophetic clothing (1Ki. 1:8; Mt. 3:4).

Isaiah 20:3 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; (KJV)

And the Lord said . . . here follows the explanation of the sign, and the accommodation of it to the thing signified by it:

Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot. . . not completely naked, for the Lord would not have asked him to do that (Gen.3:21). Barefoot, no shoes.
Three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia . . . means the prophet's walking naked and barefoot was a sign that three years after this, Egypt and Ethiopia should be subdued by the Assyrians. This sign by Isaiah, was seen only by the Jews, for whose sake this prophecy mainly was . . . to stop their dependence on the above nations; although this probably was known to the Egyptians and Ethiopians. Isaiah was to walk through Israel to let them know what would happen to Egypt. As he walked, he would be for a sign and wonder for the people.
The three years here must be the same as those mentioned in Isa.16:14. Within three years Moab, Egypt, and Ethiopia were to be destroyed.

Isaiah 20:4 So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt. (KJV)

So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives . . . hey would be lead away, like beasts, being taken prisoners, and carried away captive by the king of Assyria, namely Sargon.
Young and old . . . there was no regard to age or sex. None were spared because of tender years or gray hairs.
Naked and barefoot . . . as prisoners of war usually are, being stripped by their conquerors of their clothes, and having only a few rags given them to cover their nakedness, and forced to travel without shoes on their feet.
Even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt . . . having no clothes on them to cover their private parts; or the skirts of their garments cut off, as David's servants were by the Ammonites (2 Sam.10:4; Isa.47:2). This was done to humble and humiliate the pride of the Egyptians. Since neither Egypt nor Ethiopia could protect themselves, they would not be a reliable ally for Israel. Both Egypt and Ethiopia were invaded by Sargon of Assyria, and this shame which Isaiah had predicted came upon Egypt.

Isaiah 20:5 And they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation, and of Egypt their glory. (KJV)

And they shall be afraid and ashamed . . . those that trusted and depended on the Egyptians and Ethiopians, mainly the Jews after mentioned, shall be afraid that it will be their turn next, that they also shall be taken and carried captive; and they shall be ashamed that they have put their trust and confidence in those nations, and not in the Lord.
Of Ethiopia their expectation . . . Israel expected assistance and protection, especially when they thought that Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, with his numerous forces, would put a stop to the progress of the Assyrians, and be a barrier to his neighbors. Israel thought Ethiopia could have freed them from such a powerful enemy.
And of Egypt their glory . . . Egypt was their very powerful ally, in whom they gloried; but now they would be ashamed, when both those nations on whom they relied were carried captive.

Isaiah 20:6 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? (KJV)

And the inhabitants of this isle shall say, in that day . . . not of Ashdod (vs.1), or the isle of Caphtor (Jer.47:4), but the land of Israel, as may interpret it. Called isle because it bordered on the sea, as such countries are sometimes called isles. One interprets Jerusalem, and observes that the word signifies a place or country, whether it has a river or sea encompassing it or not. The land of Canaan had the Mediterranean sea on one side of it, and the sea of Galilee and Tiberias on the other, and was also separated from all other countries by the power, providence, and Presence of God.
Behold, such is our expectation, whither we flee for help, to be delivered from the king of Assyria . . . indicating that it was vain and foolish, and they had acted a very weak and wicked part, in having the option to go to the Egyptians and Ethiopians to help them against the Assyrians, as it was plain that both nations now were being conquered by them.
And how shall we escape? . . . either by their help, who cannot defend themselves; or by our own strength, seeing they who were much more powerful than we are could not escape.

*****The word isle is often used of any coastal or maritime country. Here it is applied to Palestine on the Mediterranean.
How shall we escape? Israel learned that their only escape was their Covenant God. He sent an angel who killed 185,000 Assyrians and caused the others to flee (Isa.37:36-38).

We too, can only escape by trusting the Name and work of Jesus Christ!  

  • Those that confide in man’s power will be greatly disappointed, and one day shall be made ashamed and humiliated because of their confidence. Hopeless is the help of man, and unsuccessful is salvation hoped for from anything or anyone other than the Christ Jesus (Messiah)!  Eternal salvation is ONLY in Jesus. John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (KJV)  
    Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (KJV)  1 John 5:10-12 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 11  And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12  He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (KJV)
  • Disappointment and regret in creature and image confidences, drive people to despair. Troubles should instead drive us to God . . . NOT idolatry! For any time that we flee to the LORD for help, our expectation shall NEVER be unsatisfied.

Commentaries on Old Testament Books

Book of Isaiah . . Isaiah's Mini-Bible

Isaiah Ch.1 . . Isaiah Ch.2 . . Isaiah Ch.3 . . Isaiah Ch.4 . . Isaiah Ch.5 . . Isaiah Ch.6 . . Isaiah Ch.7 . . Isaiah Ch.8 . . Isaiah Ch.9 . . Isa.Ch.10 . . Isa.Ch.11 . . Isa.Ch12 . . Home Page

JUDGMENT ON THE NATIONS . . . . . Isaiah Ch.13 . . Isaiah Ch.14 . . Isaiah Ch.15 . . Isaiah Ch.16 . . Isaiah Ch.17 . . Isaiah Ch.18 . . Isaiah Ch.19 . . Isaiah Ch.20 . . Isaiah Ch.21 . . Isaiah Ch.22 . . Isaiah Ch.23 . . Home Page

ISAIAH’S APOCALYPSE . . . . . Isaiah Ch.24 . . Isaiah Ch.25 . . Isaiah Ch.26 . . Isaiah Ch.27 . . Home Page

ISAIAH'S SIX WOES . . . Isaiah Ch.28 . . Isaiah Ch.29 . . Isaiah Ch.30 . . Isaiah Ch.31 . . Isaiah Ch.32 . . Isaiah Ch.33 . . Isaiah Ch.34 . . Isaiah Ch.35 . . Home Page

Isaiah's Historic Part . . Isaiah Ch.36 . . Isaiah Ch.37 . . Isaiah Ch.38 . . Isaiah Ch.39 . . Home Page

Isaiah Speaks of Messiah's Incarnation. . Isaiah Ch.40 . . Isaiah Ch.41 . . Isaiah Ch.42 . . Isaiah Ch.43 . . Isaiah Ch.44 . . Isaiah Ch.45 . . Isaiah Ch.46 . . Isaiah Ch.47 . . Isaiah Ch.48 . . Home Page

Isaiah's Introduction to the Suffering Servant

Isaiah's Suffering Servant Prophecy. . . Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Isaiah's Redemption Through the Suffering Servant . . . Isaiah Ch.49 . . Isaiah Ch.50 . . Isaiah Ch.51 . . Isaiah Ch.52 . . Isaiah Ch.53 . . Isaiah Ch.54 . . Isaiah Ch.55 . . Isaiah Ch.56 . . Isaiah Ch.57

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