Isaiah 10:13
For he said, 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:
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(13) For he saith, By the strength of my hand . . .—Another reproduction of the style of the royal inscriptions of Assyria. (Comp. Isaiah 37:10-13.)

I have removed the bounds of the people.—The practice has, of course, more or less characterised the conquerors of all ages in their attempts to merge independent nationalities into one great empire; but it was pursued more systematically by Assyria than by most others. To be “a remover of boundaries and landmarks “was the title in which an Assyrian king most exulted. (Comp. inscription of Rimmon-nirari, in Smith’s Assyrian Discoveries, pp. 243, 244. Records of the Past, xi. 3).

I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man.—Better, I have put down those that sat firmly. The Hebrew word for “valiant man” means primarily a “bull,” and then figuratively, as in Isa xxxiv, 7; Psalm 22:12, a “mighty one.” The fact that the bull appears so frequently in Assyrian monuments as a symbol of sovereignty, mates it probable that the word is used in that symbolic sense here. In Psalm 78:25, the “mighty ones” to whom it is applied are those of the host of heaven, the angels of God.

Isaiah 10:13-14. For he saith, &c. — “From hence to the twentieth verse we have a more full exposition and confirmation of what had gone before, particularly the pride of the Assyrian and his vain boasting in these verses; a refutation thereof in Isaiah 10:15; and the punishment ordained for him by God, in Isaiah 10:16-19. By the strength of my hand I have done it, &c. — Here the prophet sets forth his insolent boasting of the greatness of his deeds, the prosperity of his empire, and the success of his warlike expeditions, all which are ascribed by him to the prudence of his own counsels, and the valour and strength of his forces; but without any the least acknowledgment of any superior and overruling power.” I have removed the bounds of the people — I have invaded their lands, and added them to my own dominions, Proverbs 22:28. And have robbed their treasures — Hebrew, עתודתיהם, their prepared things, their gold and silver, and other precious things, which they had been long preparing and laying up in store. And I have put down the inhabitants — Deprived them of their former glory and power. And my hand hath found as a nest — As one finds young birds in a nest; and as one gathereth eggs — Which the dam hath left in her nest; have I gathered all the earth — All the riches of the earth: an hyperbole not unusual in the mouths of such boasters. “The comparison is elegant; and nothing could more strongly or significantly describe the insolent boasting of the Assyrian. It is remarkable, that birds, after they have laid their eggs in their nests, are most diligent in their care of them; and if, at any time, they are obliged, for fear of the spoiler, to forsake them, they hover about their nests, and flutter around, moving their wings, and peeping, chirping, or lamenting; thus imitating the affections of the human mind. The prophet elegantly implies by this simile the extreme dread of this proud and oppressing king which reigned in the minds of the conquered people, and we find that the mighty tyrants and conquerors of Asia did spread such terror.” See Lowth’s Twelfth Prelection, and Dodd.10:5-19 See what a change sin made. The king of Assyria, in his pride, thought to act by his own will. The tyrants of the world are tools of Providence. God designs to correct his people for their hypocrisy, and bring them nearer to him; but is that Sennacherib's design? No; he designs to gratify his own covetousness and ambition. The Assyrian boasts what great things he has done to other nations, by his own policy and power. He knows not that it is God who makes him what he is, and puts the staff into his hand. He had done all this with ease; none moved the wing, or cried as birds do when their nests are rifled. Because he conquered Samaria, he thinks Jerusalem would fall of course. It was lamentable that Jerusalem should have set up graven images, and we cannot wonder that she was excelled in them by the heathen. But is it not equally foolish for Christians to emulate the people of the world in vanities, instead of keeping to things which are their special honour? For a tool to boast, or to strive against him that formed it, would not be more out of the way, than for Sennacherib to vaunt himself against Jehovah. When God brings his people into trouble, it is to bring sin to their remembrance, and humble them, and to awaken them to a sense of their duty; this must be the fruit, even the taking away of sin. When these points are gained by the affliction, it shall be removed in mercy. This attempt upon Zion and Jerusalem should come to nothing. God will be as a fire to consume the workers of iniquity, both soul and body. The desolation should be as when a standard-bearer fainteth, and those who follow are put to confusion. Who is able to stand before this great and holy Lord God?For he saith - The king of Assyria saith. This verse and the following are designed to show the reason why the king of Assyria should be thus punished. It was on account of his pride, and wicked plans. He sought not the glory of God, but purposed to do evil.

For I am prudent - I am wise; attributing his success to his own understanding, rather than to God.

I have removed the bounds of the people - That is, 'I have changed the limits of kingdoms; I have taken away the old boundaries, and made new ones at my pleasure. I have divided them into kingdoms and provinces as I pleased.' No higher assumption of power could have been made than thus to have changed the ancient limits of empires, and remodelled them at his will. It was claiming that he had so extended his own empire, as to have effectually blotted out the ancient lines which had existed, so that they were now all one, and under his control. So a man who buys farms, and annexes them to his own, takes away the ancient limits; he runs new lines as he pleases, and unites them all into one. This was the claim which Sennacherib set up over the nations.

Have robbed their treasures - Their hoarded wealth. This was another instance of the claim which he set up, of power and dominion. The treasures of kingdoms which had been hoarded for purposes of peace or war, he had plundered, and appropriated to his own use; compare the note at Isaiah 46:3.

I have put down the inhabitants - I have subdued them; have vanquished them.

As a valiant man - כאביר ka'bbı̂yr. Margin, 'Many people.' The Keri, or Hebrew marginal reading, is כביר kabbı̂yr without the Hebrew letter א, 'a mighty or, strong man.' The sense is not materially different. It is a claim that he had evinced might and valor in bringing down nations. Lowth renders it, 'Them that were strongly seated.' Noyes, 'Them that sat upon thrones.' The Chaldee renders the verse, not literally, but according to the sense, 'I have made people to migrate from province to province, and have plundered the cities that were the subjects of praise, and have brought down by strength those who dwelt in fortified places. Our translation has given the sense correctly.

13. I am prudent—He ascribes his success to his own prudence, not to God's providence.

removed the bounds—set aside old, and substituted new boundaries of kingdoms at will. A criminal act, as Jehovah Himself had appointed the boundaries of the nations (De 32:8).

treasures—"hoarded treasures" [Horsley].

put down … inhabitants like, &c.—rather, "as a valiant man, I have brought down (from their seats) those seated" (namely, "on thrones"; as in Ps 2:4; 29:10; 55:19). The Hebrew for "He that abideth," is He that sitteth on a throne); otherwise, "I have brought down (as captives into Assyria, which lay lower than Judea; therefore 'brought down,' compare Isa 36:1, 10), the inhabitants" [Maurer].

He saith, not only within himself, but before his courtiers and others.

By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; I owe all my successes to my own power, and valour, and wise conduct, and to no other god or man.

I have removed the bounds; I have invaded their lands, and added them to my own dominions, as this phrase is used, Proverbs 22:28 Hosea 5:10.

Their treasures, Heb. their prepared things, their gold and silver, and other precious things, which they had long been preparing and laying in store.

I have put down; deprived of their former glory and power. For he saith, by the strength of my hand I have done it,.... Meaning either that by the power of his army, which was under his command, or by his own personal valour, he had subdued kings, taken their kingdoms and chief cities, and ascribes nothing to the power aud providence of God; and if such arrogance and haughtiness, in things of a civil nature, is an instance of vanity, and is resented by the Lord, then much more such conduct in things of a religious nature, when men ascribe regeneration, conversion, and salvation, to the power of their free will, and to the works of their hands, and not to the power and grace of God:

and by my wisdom, for I am prudent; attributing his conquests partly to his power, and partly to his skill and prudence in marshalling his army, making use of stratagems to decoy the enemy, and get an advantage of him; whereas strength and power, and so wisdom and prudence, are from the Lord; as he gives safety, victory, and salvation to kings, so he teaches their hands to war, and their fingers to fight; which they ought to acknowledge, and will, unless vain and proud:

and I have removed the bounds of the people; by subduing kingdoms, and adding them to his own, so that they were no more distinct governments; and by transplanting the inhabitants of them to other places, and making new colonies and settlements; and so the Targum,

"and I have removed the people from province to province:''

taking that to himself which belongs to God, who has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of men's habitations:

and have robbed their treasures: laid up in palaces, temples, sepulchres, and private houses, for time to come, which are usually plundered when cities and towns are taken; the Targum renders it,

"their laudable cities:''

and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man; from their greatness, from their seats of honour and dignity; or I have put down many inhabitants, as Jarchi, and reduced great numbers to a low and mean estate. The Targum is,

"I have brought down with strength they that dwell in fortified places;''

and so Aben Ezra and Kimchi explain it, they that dwell in a strong place or palace.

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:
13. I am prudent] Better, I have insight.

I have removed the bounds of the people] (peoples as R.V.). It was the policy of the later Assyrian Empire to obliterate national distinctions, partly by welding the separate states under a single administration and partly by wholesale deportation of conquered populations. In the view of antiquity this was a violation of the divinely constituted order of the world (see Deuteronomy 32:8). Even in the Messianic age, Isaiah anticipates that the political integrity of different nationalities will be preserved (ch. Isaiah 2:2-4).

their treasures] lit. parata, “things prepared.”

put down the inhabitants] R.V. has brought down … them that sit (on thrones). Vulg. “in sublimi residentes.” That translation is suggested by the verb “bring down,” which seems to imply that those referred to were previously exalted. The text is possibly defective. LXX. reads σείσω πόλεις κατοικουμένας.

like a valiant man] The Qĕrê (kabbîr, a word found only in Isaiah and Job) means “a great one” (Job 34:17 [R.V.], 24, Isaiah 36:5, of God). It is difficult to see why in this case the consonantal text was departed from. It has kě’abbîr, either “like a strong one” (Kaph veritatis) or “like a bull.” See on ch. Isaiah 1:24. The bull as a symbol of strength figures largely in Assyrian art.

13, 14. The second imaginary speech of the king of Assyria. He ascribes his successes (and how easy have they been! Isaiah 10:14) solely to his own power and wisdom. Comp. the self-glorification of the prince of Tyre in Ezekiel 28.Verse 13. - For he saith. Neither this speech nor that in vers. 8-11, nor again that given in Isaiah 37:24, 25, is to be regarded as historical in the sense of being the actual utterance of any Assyrian monarch. All are imaginary, speeches, composed by the prophet, whereby he expresses in his own language the thoughts which Assyrian kings entertained in their hearts. I have removed the bounds of the people; rather, of peoples. Assyrian monarchs take as one of their titles "the remover of boundaries and landmarks" (G. Smith's 'Assyrian Discoveries,' pp. 243, 244). And have robbed their treasures (comp. 2 Kings 15:19; 2 Kings 18:14-16). The plunder of conquered countries is constantly recorded by the Assyrian monarchs as one of the most important results of each successful expedition. It is not infrequently represented in the sculptures (see 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 2. p. 85). I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man. The passage is obscure; and many different renderings have been given. Perhaps the best is that of Mr. Cheyne, "I have brought down, like a mighty one, those that sat on thrones." Abbir, however, the word translated "a mighty one," as often means "a bull" (see Psalm 22:12; Psalm 50:13; Psalm 68:30; Isaiah 34:7; Jeremiah 1:11). Asshur was to be an instrument of divine wrath upon all Israel; but it would exalt itself, and make itself the end instead of the means. Isaiah 10:7 "Nevertheless he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; for it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few." Asshur did not think so (lo'-cēn), i.e., not as he ought to think, seeing that his power over Israel was determined by Jehovah Himself. For what filled his heart was the endeavour, peculiar to the imperial power, to destroy not a few nations, i.e., as many nations as possible, for the purpose of extending his own dominions, and with the determination to tolerate no other independent nation, and the desire to deal with Judah as with all the rest. For Jehovah was nothing more in his esteem than one of the idols of the nations. Isaiah 10:8-11 "For he saith, Are not my generals all kings? Is not Calno as Carchemish, or Hamath as Arpad, or Samaria as Damascus? As my hand hath reached the kingdoms of the idols, and their graven images were more than those of Jerusalem and Samaria; shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, do likewise to Jerusalem and her idols?" The king of Asshur bore the title of the great king (Isaiah 36:4), and indeed, as we may infer from Ezekiel 26:7, that of the king of kings. The generals in his army he could call kings,

(Note: The question is expressed in Hebrew phraseology, since sar in Assyrian was a superior title to that of melek, as we may see from inscriptions and proper names.)

because the satraps

(Note: Satrapes is the old Persian (arrow-headed) khshatra (Sanscr. xatra) pâvan, i.e., keeper of government. Pâvan (nom. pâvâ), which occurs in the Zendik as an independent word pavan (nom. pavao) in the sense of sentry or watchman, is probably the original of the Hebrew pechâh (see Spiegel, in Kohler on Malachi 1:8).)

who led their several contingents were equal to kings in the extent and splendour of their government, and some of them were really conquered kings (cf., 2 Kings 25:28). He proudly asks whether every one of the cities named has not been as incapable as the rest, of offering a successful resistance to him. Carchemish is the later Circesium (Cercusium), at the junction of the Chaboras with the Euphrates (see above); Calno, the later Ctesiphon, on the left bank of the Tigris; Arpad (according to Mershid, i. p. 47, in the pashalic of Chaleb, i.e., Aleppo) and Hamath (i.e., Epiphania) were Syrian cities, the latter on the river Orontes, still a large and wealthy place. The king of Asshur had also already conquered Samaria, at the time when the prophet introduced him as uttering these words. Jerusalem, therefore, would be unable to resist him. As he had obtained possession of idolatrous kingdoms (ל מעא, to reach, as in Psalm 21:9 : hâ-'elil with the article indicating the genus), which had more idols than Jerusalem or than Samaria; so would he also overcome Jerusalem, which had just as few and just as powerless idols as Samaria had. Observe there that Isaiah 10:11 is the apodosis to Isaiah 10:10, and that the comparative clause of Isaiah 10:10 is repeated in Isaiah 10:11, for the purpose of instituting a comparison, more especially with Samaria and Jerusalem. The king of Asshur calls the gods of the nations by the simple name of idols, though the prophet does not therefore make him speak from his own Israelitish standpoint. On the contrary, the great sin of the king of Asshur consisted in the manner in which he spoke. For since he recognised no other gods than his own Assyrian national deities, he placed Jehovah among the idols of the nations, and, what ought particularly to be observed, with the other idols, whose worship had been introduced into Samaria and Jerusalem. But in this very fact there was so far consolation for the worshippers of Jehovah, that such blasphemy of the one living God would not remain unavenged; whilst for the worshipers of idols it contained a painful lesson, since their gods really deserved nothing better than that contempt should be heaped upon them. The prophet has now described the sin of Asshur. It was ambitious self-exaltation above Jehovah, amounting even to blasphemy. And yet he was only the staff of Jehovah, who could make use of him as He would.

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