Isaiah 30:16 Commentaries: And you said, "No, for we will flee on horses," Therefore you shall flee! "And we will ride on swift horses," Therefore those who pursue you shall be swift.
Isaiah 30:16
But you said, No; for we will flee on horses; therefore shall you flee: and, We will ride on the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift.
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(16) We will flee upon horses.—These were expected as the Egyptian contingent of the forces of Judah. With them and the prestige attaching to their fame, the generals and statesmen reckoned on being able to resist Assyria. Isaiah, with his keen insight into the present temper of Egypt, tells them that the only use of the horses will be for a more rapid retreat, not for the charge of battle.

30:8-18 The Jews were the only professing people God then had in the world, yet many among them were rebellious. They had the light, but they loved darkness rather. The prophets checked them in their sinful pursuits, so that they could not proceed without fear; this they took amiss. But faithful ministers will not be driven from seeking to awaken sinners. God is the Holy One of Israel, and so they shall find him. They did not like to hear of his holy commandments and his hatred of sin; they desired that they might no more be reminded of these things. But as they despised the word of God, their sins undermined their safety. Their state would be dashed in pieces like a potter's vessel. Let us return from our evil ways, and settle in the way of duty; that is the way to be saved. Would we be strengthened, it must be in quietness and in confidence, keeping peace in our own minds, and relying upon God. They think themselves wiser than God; but the project by which they thought to save themselves was their ruin. Only here and there one shall escape, as a warning to others. If men will not repent, turn to God, and seek happiness in his favour and service, their desires will but hasten their ruin. Those who make God alone their confidence, will have comfort. God ever waits to be gracious to all that come to him by faith in Christ, and happy are those who wait for him.But ye said, No - Ye who proposed an alliance with Egypt.

For we will flee upon horses - The word 'flee' (נוּס nûc), usually signifies to flee before or from any person or thing. But here it seems to have the notion of making a rapid motion in general, and not to refer to the fact that they expected to flee "from" their enemy, for it does not seem to have been a part of their expectation. The idea seems to be that by their alliance with Egypt they would secure the means of "rapid motion," whatever might be the necesity or occasion for it, whether against or from an enemy. The sense is, 'we will by this alliance secure the assistance of cavalry;' and, doubtless, the design was to employ it in the attack and discomfiture of their foes. It will be recollected that Moses Deuteronomy 17:16 strictly forbade that the future monarch of the Jews should 'multiply horses to himself, to cause the people to return to Egypt,' and that consequently the employment of cavalry was against the laws of the nation. For the reasons of this prohibition, see the note at Isaiah 2:7. The attempt, therefore, in the time of Hezekiah to call in the aid of the cavalry of Egypt, was a violation of both the letter and the spirit of the Jewish institutions (compare Isaiah 31:1; Hosea 14:4).

Therefore shall ye flee - You shall fly before your enemies; you shall be defeated and scattered.

We will ride upon the swift - That is, upon fleet horses or coursers. Arabia was celebrated, and is still, for producing fleet coursers, and the same was formerly true of Egypt (see the note at Isaiah 2:7).

16. flee—not as fugitives, but we will speed our course; namely, against the Assyrians, by the help of cavalry supplied by Egypt (Isa 31:1). This was expressly against the Mosaic law (De 17:16; see on [746]Isa 2:7; Ho 14:3).

shall … flee—literally, "before your enemies"; their sin and its punishment correspond.

We will flee out of this land from the king of Assyria; which is very probable divers of the richer sort did, having sent their treasures before them, as we read Isaiah 30:6. But ye said, No, for we will flee upon horses,.... Hither and thither to get help and assistance; go down to Egypt for it on them, or thither for them, as some render it; and then face the enemy, and, if we can not conquer him, will flee from him, and so provide for our safety; this is man's way of salvation, as opposed to God's way; see Hosea 1:7 or this may design their fleeing on horses and camels with their riches into Egypt, both for the security of them and their persons, Isaiah 30:6,

therefore shall ye flee; on horses from the enemy, and be pursued and taken by him; this was fulfilled long after, when the city was taken by the Chaldeans; see 2 Kings 25:4,

and, We will ride upon the swift; horses or camels, to the swiftness of which they trusted, and doubted not to get off safe, but would find themselves mistaken:

therefore shall they that pursue you be swift; yea, swifter than the horses and camels they rode on, and overtake them, and either put them to death, or carry them captive. The Chaldeans are represented as very swift, Jeremiah 4:13.

But ye said, No; for we will flee upon {o} horses; therefore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift.

(o) We will trust to escape by our horses.

16. we will flee] Translate: we will fly (against the enemy). The word, which in the next clause (as in every other instance) means “flee,” is chosen because in Hebr. it resembles in sound the word for “horses.”

upon the swift] (coursers). In ch. Isaiah 36:8 the Rabshakeh seems to taunt the Judæans with their childish fondness for horsemanship.Verse 16. - Ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; rather, we will fly upon horses. The nobles had perhaps a manly eagerness to mount the Egyptian war-horses, and rush upon the enemy at full speed, in the hope of discomfiting them. Isaiah warns them that they will not really fig on the enemy, but flee before him. We will ride upon the swift. "The swift" (kal) seems to be a mere variant for "horse," the parallelism being, as so frequently, "synonymous." Therefore shall they that pursue you be swift. However swift the horses of the Judaeans, their enemies would be as well mounted and would pursue and overtake them. It was necessary that the worthlessness of the help of Egypt should be placed in this way before the eyes of the people. "For it is a refractory people, lying children, children who do not like to hear the instruction of Jehovah, who say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things! Speak flatteries to us! Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, remove from our face the Holy One of Israel." On the expression ‛am merı̄ (a people of stubbornness), see at Isaiah 3:8. The vowel-pointing of כחשׁהים follows the same rule as that of החכם. The prophet traces back their words to an unvarnished expression of their true meaning, just as he does in Isaiah 28:15. They forbid the prophets of Jehovah to prophesy, more especially nekhōchōth, straight or true things (things not agreeable to their own wishes), but would rather hear chălâqōth, i.e., smooth, insinuating, and flattering things, and even mahăthallōth (from hâthal, Talm. tal, ludere), i.e., illusions or deceits. Their desire was to be entertained and lauded, not repelled and instructed. The prophets are to adopt another course (מנּי only occurs here, and that twice, instead of the more usual מנּי equals מן, after the form אלי, עלי), and not trouble them any more with the Holy One of Israel, whom they (at least Isaiah, who is most fond of calling Jehovah by this name) have always in their mouths.
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