Isaiah 31:8
Then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of a mighty man; and the sword, not of a mean man, shall devour him: but he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall be discomfited.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) Not of a mighty man . . .—The Hebrew has no adjectives, but the nouns are those which are commonly opposed to each other in this way, as in Isaiah 2:9, like the Latin vir and homo. The thought expressed is, of course, that the whole work would be of God, and not of man. The “sword” was that of the Divine judgment (Deuteronomy 32:41), perhaps, as in 1Chronicles 21:16, of the destroying angel of the pestilence.

Isaiah 31:8-9. Then shall the Assyrian, &c. — When you have cast away your idols, and seriously sought unto God for help; both which things were performed by Hezekiah; fall by the sword, not of a mighty man, &c. — Not of any man, mean or mighty, but of an angel. But he shall flee from the sword — From, or for fear of, that plague, which so strangely and suddenly destroyed his army. And his young men — Hebrew, בחוריו, his choice young men, his guards, and valiant commanders, and soldiers, shall be discomfited — Hebrew, למס יהיו, shall be for melting, or shall melt away; a great part of them being destroyed by the angel, and the hearts of the rest melting for fear. And he shall pass to his stronghold — Sennacherib shall flee away with all speed from Jerusalem, to his strong city of Nineveh. Or, as it is in the margin, which see. And his princes shall be afraid of the ensign — Of the Lord’s ensign, which he hath lifted up against them. Or, as וחתו מנס, may be properly rendered, shall be struck with consternation at his flight. Saith the Lord, whose fire is in Zion — That is, either, 1st, whose fire is continually burning upon the altar in Zion; a sign that his presence and residence are there. Or, rather, 2d, who is, and will appear to be, in Zion like a fire, to defend his people, and to consume their enemies. Thus God promises that he would be, unto Jerusalem, a wall of fire round about, Zechariah 2:5. See also Zechariah 12:6. 31:6-9 They have been backsliding children, yet children; let them return, and their backslidings shall be healed, though they have sunk deep into misery, and cannot easily recover. Many make an idol of their silver and gold, and by the love of that are drawn from God; but those who turn to God, will be ready to part with it. Then, when they have cast away their idols, shall the Assyrian fall by the sword of an angel, who strikes more strongly than a mighty man, yet more secretly than a mean man. God can make the stoutest heart to tremble. But if we keep up the fire of holy love and devotion in our hearts and houses, we may depend upon God to protect us and them.Then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword - The sword is often used as an instrument of punishment. It is not meant here literally that the sword would be used, but it is employed to denote that complete destruction would come upon them.

Not of a mighty man - The idea here is, that the army should not fall by the valor of a distinguished warrior, but that it should be done by the direct interposition of God (see Isaiah 37:36).

Of a mean man - Of a man of humble rank. His army shall not be slain by the hand of mortals.

But he shall flee - The Assyrian monarch escaped when his army was destroyed, and fled toward his own land; Isaiah 37:37.

From the sword - Margin, 'For fear of.' The Hebrew is 'From the face of the sword;' and the sense is, that he would flee in consequence of the destruction of his host, here represented as destroyed by the sword of Yahweh.

And his young men - The flower and strength of his army.

Shall be discomfited - Margin, 'For melting;' or 'tribute,' or 'tributary.' Septuagint, Εἰς ἥττημα Eis hēttēma - 'For destruction.' The Hebrew word (מס mas), derived probably from מסס mâsas, "to melt away, to dissolve") is most usually employed to denote a levy, fine, or tax - so called, says Taylor, because it wastes or exhausts the substance and strength of a people. The word is often used to denote that people become tributary, or vassals, as in Genesis 49:15; Deuteronomy 20:11; compare Joshua 16:10; 2 Samuel 20:24; 1 Kings 4:6; 1 Kings 5:13; Esther 10:1. Probably it does not here mean that the strength of the Assyrian army would become literally tributary to the Jews, but that they would be as if they had been placed under a levy to them; their vigor and strength would melt away; as property and numbers do under taxation and tribute.

8. Assyrian—Sennacherib, representative of some powerful head of the ungodly in the latter ages [Horsley].

sword, not of … mighty … mean man—but by the unseen sword of God.

flee—Sennacherib alone fled homewards after his army had been destroyed (Isa 37:37).

young men—the flower of his army.

discomfited—rather, "shall be subject to slavery"; literally, "shall be liable to tribute," that is, personal service (De 20:11; Jos 9:21) [Maurer]. Or, not so well, "shall melt away" [Rosenmuller].

Then; when you have cast away your idols, and seriously sought to me for help; both which things were performed by Hezekiah.

With the sword, not of a mighty man; and the sword, not of a mean man; by the sword, not of any man, either mean or mighty, but of an angel.

From the sword; from, or for fear of, that plague which so strangely and suddenly destroyed his army.

His young men, Heb. his choice young men; his guards and valiant commanders and soldiers.

Shall be discomfited, Heb. shall melt away, a great part of them being destroyed by the angel; and the hearts of the rest melting for fear. Then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of a mighty man,.... That is, the Assyrian army under Sennacherib their king, which besieged Jerusalem in Hezekiah's time; which, as soon as the people were brought to a sense of their sin, and repentance for it, and cast away their idols as a proof of it, were utterly destroyed; but not in battle, not by the sword of Hezekiah, or any of his valiant generals:

and the sword, not of a mean man, shall devour him; neither the sword of a general, nor of a private soldier, nor indeed of any man, but of an angel; see 2 Kings 19:35,

but he shall flee from the sword; from the drawn sword of the angel, who very probably appeared in such a form as in 1 Chronicles 21:16 which Sennacherib king of Assyria seeing, as well as the slaughter made in his army by him, fled from it; in the Hebrew text it is added, "for himself" (y); he fled for his life, for his own personal security; see 2 Kings 19:36,

and his young men shall be discomfited; his choice ones, the flower of his army: or "melt away" (z), through fear; or die by the stroke of the angel upon them: the sense of becoming "tributary" seems to have no foundation.

(y) "fugiet sibi", Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius; "fuga consulet sibi", Junius & Tremellius. (z) "in liquefactionem, erunt", Vatablus; "colliquescent", Piscator.

{h} Then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of man; and the sword, not of men, shall devour him: but he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall be made vessels.

(h) When your repentance appears.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. not of a mighty man … mean man] R.V. not of man … men (see on ch. Isaiah 2:9). Lit. “of a Not-man … Not-mortal,” i.e. a superhuman sword.

shall be discomfited] R.V. shall become tributary, “be subjected to bond-service,” as 1 Kings 9:21 f., &c.

8, 9. The discomfiture of the Assyrians will be accomplished by Jehovah Himself. The connexion with what precedes is not very close.Verse 8. - Then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of a mighty man; rather, and Assyria shall fall by the sword of one who is not a man Assyria's destruction will not be by the visible swords of human enemies, but by the invisible sword of God (comp. 2 Kings 19:35). And the sword, not of a mean man, shall devour him; rather, and the sword of one who is not a mortal shall detour him - an instance of "synonymous parallelism." He shall flee; more literally, betake himself to flight. His young men shall be discomfited; rather, as in the margin, shall be for tribute. They shall become the vassals of a foreign power. There is nothing to surprise us in the fact, that the prophet returns again and again to the alliance with Egypt. After his warning had failed to prevent it, he wrestled with it in spirit, set before himself afresh the curse which would be its certain fruit, brought out and unfolded the consolation of believers that lay hidden in the curse, and did not rest till the cursed fruit, that had become a real thing, had been swallowed up by the promise, which was equally real. The situation of this fourth woe is just the same as that of the previous one. The alliance with Egypt is still in progress. "Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help, and rely upon horses, and put their trust in chariots, that there are many of them; and in horsemen, that there is a powerful multitude of them; and do not look up to the Holy One of Israel, and do not inquire for Jehovah! And yet He also is wise; thus then He brings evil, and sets not His words aside; and rises up against the house of miscreants, and against the help of evil-doers. And Egypt is man, and not God; and its horses flesh, and not spirit. And when Jehovah stretches out His hand, the helper stumbles, and he that is helped falls, and they all perish together." The expression "them that go down" (hayyōredı̄m) does not imply that the going down was taking place just then for the first time. It is the participle of qualification, just as God is called הבּרא. לעזרה with Lamed of the object, as in Isaiah 20:6. The horses, chariots, and horsemen here, as those of Egypt, which Diodorus calls ἱππάσιμος, on account of its soil being so suitable for cavalry (see Lepsius in Herzog's Cyclopaedia). The participle is combined in the finite verb. Instead of ועל־סוּסים, we also find the reading preferred by Norzi, of על without Vav, as in Isaiah 5:11 (cf., Isaiah 5:23). The perfects, שׁעוּ לא and דרשׁוּ לא, are used without any definite time, to denote that which was always wanting in them. The circumstantial clause, "whilst He is assuredly also wise," i.e., will bear comparison with their wisdom and that of Egypt, is a touching μείωσις. It was not necessary to think very highly of Jehovah, in order to perceive the reprehensible and destructive character of their apostasy from Him. The fut. consec. ויּבא is used to indicate the inevitable consequence of their despising Him who is also wise. He will not set aside His threatening words, but carry them out. The house of miscreants is Judah (Isaiah 1:4); and the help (abstr. pro concr., just as Jehovah is frequently called "my help," ‛ezrâthı̄, by the Psalmist) of evil-doers is Egypt, whose help has been sought by Judah. The latter is "man" ('âdâm), and its horses "flesh" (bâsâr); whereas Jehovah is God (El) and spirit (rūăch; see Psychol. p. 85). Hofmann expounds it correctly: "As ruuach has life in itself, it is opposed to the bâsâr, which is only rendered living through the rūăch; and so El is opposed to the corporeal 'âdâm, who needs the spirit in order to live at all." Thus have they preferred the help of the impotent and conditioned, to the help of the almighty and all-conditioning One. Jehovah, who is God and spirit, only requires to stretch out His hand (an anthropomorphism, by the side of which we find the rule for interpreting it); and the helpers, and those who are helped (i.e., according to the terms of the treaty, though not in reality), that is to say, both the source of the help and the object of help, are all cast into one heap together.
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