Isaiah 5:28 Commentaries: Its arrows are sharp and all its bows are bent; The hoofs of its horses seem like flint and its chariot wheels like a whirlwind.
Isaiah 5:28
Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses' hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
5:24-30 Let not any expect to live easily who live wickedly. Sin weakens the strength, the root of a people; it defaces the beauty, the blossoms of a people. When God's word is despised, and his law cast away, what can men expect but that God should utterly abandon them? When God comes forth in wrath, the hills tremble, fear seizes even great men. When God designs the ruin of a provoking people, he can find instruments to be employed in it, as he sent for the Chaldeans, and afterwards the Romans, to destroy the Jews. Those who would not hear the voice of God speaking by his prophets, shall hear the voice of their enemies roaring against them. Let the distressed look which way they will, all appears dismal. If God frowns upon us, how can any creature smile? Let us diligently seek the well-grounded assurance, that when all earthly helps and comforts shall fail, God himself will be the strength of our hearts, and our portion for ever.Whose arrows are sharp - Bows and arrows were the common instruments of fighting at a distance. Arrows were, of course, made sharp, and usually pointed with iron, for the purpose of penetrating the shields or coats of mail which were used to guard against them.

And all their bows bent - All ready for battle.

Their horses' hoofs shall be counted like flint - It is supposed that the ancients did not usually shoe their horses. Hence, a hard, solid hoof would add greatly to the value of a horse. The prophet here means, that their horses would be prepared for any fatigue, or any expedition; see a full description of horses and chariots in Bochart's "Hieroz." P. i. lib. ii. ch. viii. ix.

And their wheels like a whirlwind - That is, the wheels of their chariots shall be swift as the wind, and they shall raise a cloud of dust like a whirlwind. This comparison was very common, as it is now; see "Bochart." See, also, a magnificent description of a war-horse in Job 39:19-25.

28. bent—ready for battle.

hoofs … flint—The ancients did not shoe their horses: hence the value of hard hoofs for long marches.

wheels—of their chariots. The Assyrian army abounded in cavalry and chariots (Isa 22:6, 7; 36:8).

Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent; who are every way furnished and ready for my work, waiting only for my command.

Their horses’ hoofs shall be counted like flint, because they shall not be broken or battered by the length or stoutness and ruggedness of the way.

Their wheels like a whirlwind; partly for the swiftness of their march, and partly for the force and violence of their chariots in battle. Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent,.... Ready to shoot their arrows upon any occasion; and which being sharp, penetrated deep, and were deadly. This includes all kind of warlike instruments, with which they should come furnished, and ready prepared to do execution:

their horses' hoofs shall be counted like flint; by those who rode upon them; who knowing how strong and firm they were, and that they were not worn out, nor hurt by the length of the way they came, would not spare to make haste upon them:

and their wheels like a whirlwind; that is, the wheels of their chariots, they used in battle, as Aben Ezra, Jarchi, and Kimchi, interpret it; and so the Septuagint and Arabic versions render it: this metaphor denotes both the swiftness with which they should come, and the noise and rattling they should make, and the power and force in bearing down all before them. The Targum is,

"and his wheels swift as a tempest.''

Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses' hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
28. bows bent] which was done only for immediate action. his horses’ hoofs … flint] Therefore he will not shrink from riding them on the rocky soil of Palestine, which was extremely unfavourable to the use of horses (Amos 6:12). Similar allusions are frequent in ancient literature (κρατερώνυχες ἵπποι) the shoeing of horses being unknown in antiquity. The bows and arrows, cavalry and chariots, are all characteristic of the Assyrians.Verse 28. - Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent. The special weapon of the Assyrian soldiers is the bow. From the king in his chariot to the light-armed recruit just pressed into the service, all fight mainly with this weapon, more particularly in the earlier times (see 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 1. pp. 414, 423, 424-437, etc.). Swords and spears are also known, but comparatively little used. Their horses' hoofs... like flint. Hard, strong, and solid, as was most necessary when shoeing was unknown. Their wheels like a whirlwind. Sennacherib (Isaiah 37:24) is represented as boasting of the "multitude of his chariots;" and both the sculptures and the inscriptions of Assyria show that the chariot throe was numerous, and was regarded as more important than any other. The king always went to battle in a chariot. For the comparison of the rush of chariot-wheels to a whirlwind, see below, Isaiah 66:15; and comp. Jeremiah 4:13). The sixth woe: "Woe to those who are heroes to drink wine, and brave men to mix strong drink; who acquit criminals for a bribe, and take away from every one the righteousness of the righteous." We see from Isaiah 5:23 that the drinkers in Isaiah 5:22 are unjust judges. The threat denounced against these is Isaiah's universal ceterum censeo; and accordingly it forms, in this instance also, the substance of his sixth and last woe. They are heroes; not, however, in avenging wrong, but in drinking wine; they are men of renown, though not for deciding between guilt and innocence, but for mixing up the ingredients of strong artistic wines. For the terms applied to such mixed wines, see Psalm 75:9; Proverbs 23:30, Sol 7:3. It must be borne in mind, however, that what is here called shecâr was not, properly speaking, wine, but an artificial mixture, like date wine and cider. For such things as these they were noteworthy and strong; whereas they judged unjustly, and took bribes that they might consume the reward of their injustice in drink and debauchery (Isaiah 28:7-8; Proverbs 31:5). "For reward:" ēkeb (Arab. ‛ukb; different from âkēb, a heel, equals ‛akib) is an adverbial accusative, "in recompense," or "for pay." "From him" (mimmennu) is distributive, and refers back to tsaddikim (the righteous); as, for example, in Hosea 4:8.
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