Isaiah 10:1-34

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10:1. Masoretic Text: Woe to the ones decreeing decrees of wickedness and those writing who have written mischief,

Septuagint: Woe to those writing wickedness, for the ones writing are writing wickedness,

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, no definite article precedes the expression rendered “the ones decreeing.”


Woe or calamity is pronounced on those who enacted laws that legitimized an individual’s acting corruptly and oppressively. Being decrees, regulations, or statutes that gave license to do evil, they are called “decrees of wickedness.” The “mischief” or “harm” that was made possible by what had been committed to official writing would have included oppression.

10:2. Masoretic Text: to turn aside justice from the poor and to rob the needy of my people of judgment, that widows may be their spoil and that they may plunder the fatherless.

Septuagint: turning aside justice [from] the poor, robbing judgment [from] the needy of my people, so that a widow booty might be to them and an orphan plunder.


The regulations were designed to deprive the poor or the lowly ones among the people from having an equitable judgment rendered in their behalf. The afflicted were robbed of their right to be granted an impartial judgment. The oppressors made use of the unjust decrees to deprive widows of the little they had and to rip from orphans what may have been left to them after the death of their fathers.

10:3. Masoretic Text: And what will you do in the day of visitation and in the devastation that will come from a distance? To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your glory [kavód]?

Septuagint: And what will you do in the day of visitation? For to you distress will come from a distance. And to whom will you flee to be helped, and where will you leave your glory?

The last question is not completed in this verse.


The oppressors treated the poor and disadvantaged without any compassion. Therefore, as the first question implied, they could not expect any mercy to be extended to them in their time of adversity. In the “day of visitation,” when YHWH’s judgment would be expressed against them, they would be unable to do anything to shield themselves from or to mitigate the penalty for their actions. The desolation was certain to come from afar, or from distant enemy forces. There would be no avenue of escape for the hateful oppressors, as is implied by the question about where they would flee for aid.

The Hebrew word kavód can convey the thought of “glory,” “honor,” “distinction,” “abundance,” or “wealth.” In this context, the “glory” probably relates to their riches that were dishonestly acquired and which gave them an outward appearance of splendor or distinction. As part of a nation that would suffer military defeat, they would not retain any of their former glory.

10:4. Masoretic Text: except to bow down among the prisoners and fall among the slain? In all this, his anger is not turned back, and his hand is still stretched out.

Septuagint: [in order] not to fall into distress? For all these things, the wrath is not turned back, but the hand is still raised up.

Instead of a word for “prisoners,” the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah contains a term meaning “fetters,” which refers to individuals in fetters. In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the conjunction “and” precedes the expression rendered “in all this,” and the Hebrew word for “hand” is plural.


Among the defeated people, the wealthy oppressors would not be accorded any favors or special treatment. They would be led away among the captives. The reference to their “bowing down” could mean that they would be in a state of dejection and fear, with their heads lowered. Another possibility is that, on account of not having previously dealt with hardships, they would stumble and fall down before other prisoners when being led away into exile. There would also be those who would fall among those slain during the military campaign. The Targum of Isaiah portrays them “bound as prisoners” taken away from their land and, away from their cities, “cast out as slain.” Modern translations contain various interpretive renderings (“from collapsing under [fellow] prisoners, from falling beneath the slain” [Tanakh]; “to avoid squatting among the captives or falling among the slain” [NJB]; “You will stumble along as prisoners or lie among the dead.” [NLT]).

YHWH would not be turning back his anger against the abusive oppressors. His power would continue to be directed against them and all others who disregarded his law and will. That irresistible power would be like a stretched out and raised arm that is in a position for the hand to strike.

10:5. Masoretic Text: Woe to Asshur [the Assyrian], the rod of my anger, and a staff, which in their hand, [is] my indignation.

Septuagint: Woe to the Assyrians, the rod of my wrath, and anger is in their hands.


YHWH purposed to use Assyria as his instrument to punish the Israelites (those in the two-tribe kingdom of Judah [verse 11]). As the “rod of [his] anger,” Assyria was YHWH’s means for expressing wrath against his wayward people. In their “hand,” or in the power of the Assyrians, the “staff” (or the Assyrian forces in their role as conquerors) would be the expression of YHWH’s indignation that was directed against the Israelites who had disregarded his law and resisted his will. The Septuagint rendering represents the “anger” as being in the hands or the power of the Assyrians. According to the Targum of Isaiah, the Assyrian was a messenger YHWH sent out against his people “with a curse.”

10:6. Masoretic Text: Against a profane nation I will send him; against the people of my wrath I will command him to take spoil and to snatch plunder and to set it [as] a place for trampling like mire of the streets.

Septuagint: My anger I will send against a lawless nation, and I will instruct my people to seize spoils and plunder and to trample down the cities and transform them into dust.

The Septuagint rendering changes the subject, with God’s people being assured of triumph over the enemy power.


The “profane” or godless nation is Israel (more specifically, the two-tribe kingdom of Judah [verse 11]). In the Targum of Isaiah, the nation is referred to as the “profane congregation” and identified as the people that had transgressed God’s law. In view of their unfaithfulness, the Israelites had become the people of YHWH’s wrath or those against whom his anger was directed. Against them, he would send Assyria, granting the warriors of this military power the opportunity to plunder the nation and to devastate it. Just as mire in the streets is trampled upon, the nation would be reduced to a place of trampling, a state of humiliation and ruin.

10:7. Masoretic Text: And he — not so does he intend. And his heart — not so does it devise, for to destroy [is] in his heart and to cut off nations not a few.

Septuagint: But thus he did not plan and in [his] soul he did not thus reckon, but to remove [is in] his mind and to destroy nations not a few.


In this context, “heart” may be understood to designate the mind as relating to the real motivation of the Assyrian military power. For the second occurrence of heart, the Greek rendering “soul” can designate the Assyrian entity. The Assyrian military power did not know about YHWH’s purpose to use it as a rod to punish his disobedient people. Therefore, as an entity, the “Assyrian” did not plan nor consider functioning in this capacity. “His” goal (Assyria’s goal as its monarch had determined) was conquest for the sake of conquest, conducting destructive military campaigns and defeating one nation after another.

10:8. Masoretic Text: For he says, Are not my princes altogether kings?

Septuagint: And if they say to him, You alone are ruler,

The Septuagint rendering appears to represent the conquered peoples as acknowledging the Assyrian power in the person of its king as the sole ruler over them.


The “princes” may be the lesser officials in the Assyrian empire or the military captains. Although they did not have the actual status of “kings,” the “Assyrian” is represented as boasting that all of them were kings, thereby stressing the greatness of the Assyrian monarch as a king over kings.

10:9. Masoretic Text: [Is] not Calno like Carchemish? [Is] not Hamath like Arpad? [Is] not Samaria like Damascus?

Septuagint: then he will say, Did I not seize the country above Babylon and Chalanne [Chalne], where the tower was built? And I seized Arabia and Damascus and Samaria.

The Septuagint rendering appears to reflect the time of the translator, as it differs from the reading of the extant Hebrew text.


Before Sennacherib’s military campaign in the two-tribe kingdom of Judah, other Assyrian monarchs had carried out conquests of the prominent cities here mentioned. Calno is thought to have been the Kullani (Kullan-köy) that is referred to in Assyrian texts, a city in northern Syria that Tiglath-pileser III conquered. Carchemish, a major city located on the west bank of the upper Euphrates, came under Assyrian control during the reign of Sargon II. Hamath, a city nearly 120 miles (c. 190 kilometers) north of Damascus, fell before the Assyrians, and people from Hamath were brought to Samaria after the Assyrian conquest. (2 Kings 17:24) Arpad is believed to have been the site of Tell Rif‘at, situated approximately 100 miles (c. 160 kilometers) north of Hamath. Both Tiglath-pileser III and Sargon II subjected Arpad to punitive military action for revolting. In his annals, Sargon II claims that he “besieged and conquered Samaria,” but a Babylonian chronicle indicates that his predecessor, Shalmaneser V, “shattered Samaria.” According to the biblical record, Shalmaneser laid seige to Samaria. (2 Kings 18:9, 10) Thus the places mentioned were alike in that the Assyrians conquered all of them.

10:10. Masoretic Text: As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the worthlessness [’elil], whose images are greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria.

Septuagint: In the manner I seized these in my hand, also all the dominions I will seize. Howl you graven images in Jerusalem and Samaria.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the Hebrew word ’elil is plural.


The “hand” or power of the “Assyrian” found numerous kingdoms to conquer. These kingdoms were known for having many deities, and the Hebrew term ’elil is probably to be understood as meaning “worthless idol.” The many images and the deities these represented did not prevent the nations from suffering defeat when the Assyrian forces attacked. The reference to these images as being “greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria” probably is to be understood to mean as being more numerous. This implied that, because the larger number of images could not save the other places, a smaller number would certainly not be able to do so.

10:11. Masoretic Text: Will I not, as I have done to Samaria and her images, thus do to Jerusalem and her idols?

Septuagint: For in the manner I have done to Samaria and to her handmade [idols], thus I will also do to Jerusalem and to her idols.


The Assyrian monarch and his forces conquered Samaria, and the images in the city could not save it. So the “Assyrian” is represented as saying that the same thing would happen to Jerusalem and the idols there.

10:12. Masoretic Text: And it will occur that when my Lord has finished all his work in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, he [literally, “I”] will attend to the fruit of the greatness of heart of the king of Asshur [Assyria] and the glory of the loftiness of his eyes.

Septuagint: And it will be when the Lord has finished all his doings in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, he will bring [judgment] upon the great mind, the ruler of the Assyrians, and upon the loftiness of the glory of his eyes.

The text of the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah does not include the expression here translated “and it will occur.”


Mount Zion is closely associated with the palace complex and the royal house, and Jerusalem may be considered as designating the rest of the city. After YHWH finished using Assyria as an instrument to punish his disobedient people, doing so by withdrawing his protective care, he would give attention to the king of Assyria. The expression “greatness of heart” (or, according to the Septuagint, “the great mind”) apparently relates to the exalted view the king of Assyria had of his victories. In his inmost self or in his mind, he was inflated, and the fruit of this was an insolent pride that had no recognition of limits. The thought that his successes were not exclusively achieved on account of his perceived greatness never occurred to him. In his look or his eyes, he reflected a haughtiness of such greatness that it could be referred to as “glory” or “splendor.”

10:13. Masoretic Text: For he has said, With my hand’s strength I have done [it] and by my wisdom, for I have insight. And I have removed the boundaries of peoples and plundered their treasures. And I have brought down like a mighty one those sitting.

Septuagint: For he said, With [my] strength I will act, and with the wisdom of [my] insight I will remove boundaries of nations and plunder their might, and I will shake inhabited cities.


Pridefully, the king of Assyria attributed all his triumphs to his own power and his wisdom or skill in directing military action. He regarded himself as a possessor of insight, enabling him to make effective plans for his campaigns of conquest. By taking over the lands of other peoples in warfare, he removed their boundaries and plundered their riches. Those “sitting” could either refer to rulers sitting on thrones or the inhabitants who were “sitting” or settled in a particular territory. He did depose kings, and he deported those who survived the military defeat.

10:14. Masoretic Text: My hand has found like a nest the wealth of the peoples. And like a gathering of abandoned eggs I — I have gathered all the earth. And there has not been one moving a wing and opening a mouth and chirping.

Septuagint: And the whole world I will seize with [my] hand like a nest and like the abandoned eggs I will lift [out of the nest], and [there] is no one who will escape from me or gainsay me.


Like a nest that one might find when in search for eggs, the “hand” (or the military power the Assyrian monarch exercised) found the “wealth” of other peoples and seized it. The treasures of the conquered peoples were like “abandoned eggs,” ready for the taking. As one collected the eggs from a nest, so the king of Assyria “gathered all the earth,” incorporating the lands he conquered into his empire. Nothing interfered with the attainment of his objective. The military conquest was accomplished with the ease of taking abandoned eggs from a nest. No parent bird moved a wing, no mouth opened to attack the hand that took the eggs, and no excited chirping occurred.

10:15. Masoretic Text: Will the ax glorify itself over the one chopping with it? Will the saw magnify itself over the one moving it? As if a rod should move those who raise it. As if a staff should raise one [who is] not wood.

Septuagint: Will an ax be glorified without the one chopping with it? Or will a saw be raised without the one pulling it? Likewise [it would be] if anyone were to lift a rod or wood.

The concluding sentence in the Septuagint is obscure. Perhaps the thought is that a rod or a piece of wood does not lift itself; it is only lifted when someone does it.


The king of Assyria and his military forces served merely as an instrument for YHWH’s purpose. They were like the ax and the saw, and so there was no basis for boasting. Without God’s permission, the king would not have attained his objectives, no more than an ax can chop by itself or a saw can move back and forth without someone doing the pulling. By assuming an arrogant bearing and boasting, the king of Assyria glorified himself above YHWH, the one for whom he merely functioned as an instrument.

10:16. Masoretic Text: Therefore, the Lord, YHWH of hosts, will send a wasting [disease] among his stout ones, and under his glory [there] will be burning, a burning like the burning of fire.

Septuagint: And not thus, but the Lord Sabaoth will send against your honor dishonor, and against your glory a lighted fire will burn.

“Sabaoth” is a transliteration of the Hebrew designation meaning “hosts” or “armies,” and identifies YHWH as having hosts of angels at his service.


In his arrogance, the king of Assyria had lifted himself up above YHWH, contending that all his victories had been achieved through his military might and effective planning of his strategies when carrying out his military campaigns. Therefore, YHWH would take action against him as he was planning to conquer Jerusalem. The “stout ones” would be the Assyrian warriors, and among them YHWH would deal a blow comparable to sending a “wasting” disease that would lead to their death. It would be as if a fire had been ignited under the “glory” of the Assyrian monarch. The military force was his glory, for by means of it he gained the victories that became the object of his boastful pride. Accordingly, when 185,000 Assyrian soldiers perished in one night while the Assyrian king Sennacherib planned to conquer Jerusalem, this development proved to be like a fire that had been set under the Assyrian king’s glory, reducing the “glory” to ashes and replacing it with dishonor. (2 Kings 19:35) The humiliation was comparable to a continual burning.

The words of the Septuagint “and not thus” indicate that the king of Assyria would not succeed in his objective. God would disgrace him and send a destructive fire against his “glory,” the military might that provided the basis for his glorying or boasting.

10:17. Masoretic Text: And the light of Israel will become a fire, and his Holy One a flame; and it will burn and consume his weeds and his thorny plants in one day.

Septuagint: And the light of Israel will be for a fire, and it will sanctify him through a burning fire and consume wood like grass.

The words here translated “weeds” and “thorny plants” are collective singulars in the Hebrew text and cannot be identified with any specific plants.

According to the punctuation of Rahlfs’ printed Greek text, the words “in that day” appear at the beginning of the sentence that continues in verse 18. These words, however, could also conclude the previous sentence (“consume wood like grass in that day”).


The “light of Israel” is YHWH, for he provided illumination through his law and the teaching of the prophets, making it possible for the Israelites to have light or dependable guidance. For the king of Assyria, the light would prove to be a fire. YHWH, the Holy One (who maintains his holiness or purity by not leaving wrongs indefinitely unpunished), would be like a flame that would consume the Assyrian warriors as if they were mere weeds and thorny plants. The destruction would occur quickly, “in one day.” In the fulfillment, this occurred in one night. (2 Kings 19:35)

In the Septuagint, the reference to the one who was sanctified apparently applies to the king of Assyria. The destruction of the Assyrian host proved to be like a sacrifice, and so it was through the fiery destructive act that the king was sanctified. His force, though it may have been like wood, was consumed quickly like grass.

10:18. Masoretic Text: And the glory of his forest and of his orchard, from soul to flesh, he will annihilate, and it will be as when one in despair [nasás] wastes away [literally, “melts” (masás)].

Septuagint: In that day the mountains and the hills and the thickets will wither, and it will consume from soul to flesh, and it will be that the one who flees will be as one fleeing from a burning flame.

Note the wordplay in the Hebrew text (masás and nasás). There is uncertainty about the meaning of the Hebrew word nasás, which has been defined as “be sick,” “totter,” “stagger,” or “despair.”


The “forest” and the “orchard” refer to the military forces of the king of Assyria, with the warriors being like trees in a forest or in an orchard. They would suffer destruction, depriving the king of Assyria of the glory the warriors brought to him when gaining military victories. In connection with the destruction, the idiomatic expression “from soul to flesh” appears to represent an all-embracing end. Everything is depicted as wasting away.

The reading of the Septuagint portrays the destruction as affecting mountains, hills, and thickets. The one who would be trying to escape would not delay but would flee as from a fire.

10:19. Masoretic Text: And the rest of the trees of his forest will be so few that a boy can record them.

Septuagint: And the remaining ones of them will be of a [limited] number, and a boy will record them.

In the Hebrew text, the word for “tree” is a collective singular.


The “trees” of the Assyrian king’s forest, or his warriors, will become few in number. The force would become small enough so that a little boy could count the remaining warriors and then write down the number.

10:20. Masoretic Text: And it will occur in that day that no more will the remnant of Israel and the escaped ones of the house of Jacob lean on the one striking them. And they, in truth, will lean on YHWH, the Holy One of Israel.

Septuagint: And it will be in that day that no more will the remnant of Israel and the saved ones of Jacob rely on those who have wronged them. But, in truth, they will rely on God, the Holy One of Israel.


After experiencing YHWH’s adverse judgment, only a remnant of Israel would repent. Among those of the descendants of Jacob who escaped with their lives during the time of judgment, they would not put their trust in any foreign military power that had wronged them, not providing the protection that they wanted but striking them with military action when demands were not met. Instead of relying on the military might of a foreign power to secure their safety, they would rely fully on YHWH “in truth” or sincerely, trusting in his unfailing help and protection. YHWH is the Holy One of Israel, maintaining absolute holiness and purity in all his actions, including his judgments.

10:21. Masoretic Text: A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.

Septuagint: And what is remaining of Jacob will [rely] upon the mighty God.


There is an apparent allusion to the name of Isaiah’s son Shear-jashub (meaning “a remnant will return”). Only a remnant of those surviving the execution of divine judgment would be moved to repent and to return to the “mighty God,” seeking his forgiveness, guidance, and aid. The qualifying term “mighty” could suggest that the repentant remnant would come to rely on God’s might for protection and not the military might of other nations as had been the case in the past.

10:22. Masoretic Text: For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant of them will return. Annihilation is determined, overflowing with righteousness.

Septuagint: And if the people of Israel become as the sand of the sea, the remnant of them will be saved, for he is finishing and shortening a word in righteousness.


The people of Israel might become numerous like the sand along the seashore. Nevertheless, after being taken into exile, only a remnant would return to the land and return to God as repentant individuals. At the time, YHWH had decreed a severe judgment for the disobedient people, using the military forces of a foreign power to devastate the land. The result would be annihilation, as many would perish. The reference to “overflowing with righteousness” indicates that the adverse judgment would be an expression of YHWH’s righteousness or justice. That righteousness is overflowing or abundant, not being limited in any respect.

The Septuagint rendering about finishing or shortening a word could relate to fulfilling it and doing so without delay (as if the time had been shortened). The word could be that announced through the prophet Isaiah regarding the judgment to come, which word would be carried out in expression of God’s righteousness or justice.

10:23. Masoretic Text: For an annihilation, as decreed, my Lord, YHWH of hosts, is carrying out in the midst of all the earth.

Septuagint: For God will carry out a shortened word in the whole world.


YHWH, the God with hosts of angels at his service, determined to judge the nations, not just his people Israel. Nations like Assyria, on account of their insolent pride and cruel warfare, deserved to be punished. Therefore, YHWH had decreed annihilation for them, and he would do so “in the midst of all the earth,” which may mean in the very land that the people of these nations inhabited or where they conducted their military campaigns. According to the Targum of Isaiah, YHWH would destroy “all the wicked of the earth.”

10:24. Masoretic Text: Therefore, thus says my Lord, YHWH of hosts, Fear not, my people who dwell in Zion, because of Asshur [the Assyrians collectively] when he strikes you with a rod and his staff is raised against you in the way of Egypt.

Septuagint: Therefore, thus says the Lord Sabaoth, Fear not, my people who dwell in Zion, on account of the Assyrians because he will strike you with a rod, for I am directing a blow against you so that you might see the way of Egypt.

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah indicates that Assyria is the “rod that strikes you” (the Israelites).

Sabaoth is a transliterated form of the Hebrew word meaning “hosts” or “armies,” indicating that hosts of angels are in the service of YHWH.


The inhabitants of Jerusalem were not to fear the Assyrians, who had determined to conquer the city. In Egypt, the Israelites had been enslaved, and their taskmasters did beat them with rods. The beatings of the Assyrians came in the form of military campaigns that desolated the land, turned towns and cities into ruins, and greatly reduced the population. The Assyrian beatings were “in the way of Egypt,” or were like those of the Egyptians in their role as oppressors.

While the Septuagint includes the admonition not to be afraid, the second part of the verse conveys a thought that differs from the Hebrew text. God is portrayed as directing the blow, which did happen from the standpoint of his using the Assyrians as his instrument. The result appears to be that those against whom the blow is directed see an avenue of escape to Egypt. Seemingly, the rendering of the Septuagint is based on a literal interpretation of the Hebrew word rendered “way.”

10:25. Masoretic Text: For yet a little while and indignation will have ended and my anger to their finish.

Septuagint: For yet a little while and the anger will cease, but my wrath [will be directed] against their counsel.


The inhabitants of Jerusalem were not to be afraid of the Assyrians because YHWH would cease to be angry with his wayward people. His anger would cease before it reached the point of bringing about their “finish” or their complete end.

According to the Septuagint, God’s wrath would be directed against the “counsel,” apparently meaning the counsel or plan of the Assyrians to attack and conquer Jerusalem.

10:26. Masoretic Text: And YHWH of hosts will arouse a whip against him [the Assyrians collectively] like the blow of Midian at the rock Oreb. And his rod over the sea — and he will raise it in the way of Egypt.

Septuagint: And God will arouse [calamity] against them according to the blow of Midian in a place of affliction, and his wrath [will be aroused] on the way by the sea, in the way down to Egypt.

It appears that the Septuagint translator understood the term “way” to apply to a literal way, resulting in an obscure rendering.


YHWH would take action against the Assyrians in the manner that he did against the Midianites in the time of Gideon and the Egyptians in the time of Moses. The expression the “way of Egypt” indicates the manner in which YHWH intervened for his people in delivering them from the Egyptians. The incidents from past history served to illustrate that once again there would be divine deliverance from an oppressor.

Gideon and his small band, with divine help, were able to throw the camp of the Midianites into confusion so that they started slaughtering one another and fleeing in panic. At the rock of Oreb, the Midianite prince Oreb was killed. (Judges 7:19-22, 25) After all the Israelites had reached the safety of the eastern bank of the Red Sea and the Egyptian pursuers had entered the miraculously opened passage through which the Israelites had traveled, Moses extended the rod in his hand over the sea and the water rushed back into the opening, drowning the Egyptians. (Exodus 14:16, 21-28)

10:27. Masoretic Text: And it will occur in that day that his burden will depart from your shoulder and his yoke from your neck, and the yoke will be destroyed because of oil [or, fatness].

Septuagint: And it will be in that day that the fear of him will be removed from you, and his yoke from your shoulder, and the yoke will be destroyed from your shoulder.


The yoke the Assyrian monarch imposed included demands for high tribute and, when not met, punitive military action and plunder. According to the Targum of Isaiah, the nations would be “destroyed from before the Anointed One” or the Messiah. This link of “oil” to the “Anointed One” makes possible an explanation for an otherwise obscure reference. The mention of oil could be an allusion to the oil with which kings were anointed. Jerusalem was saved from Assyrian attack and conquest in answer to Hezekiah’s prayer. As the king in the royal line of David, he was then the “anointed one.” (2 Kings 19:20-35) Another possible meaning is that “fatness” is representative of “strength,” and the Assyrians were broken on account of YHWH’s might when coming to the defense of his people.

10:28. Masoretic Text: He has come to Aiath. He has passed through Migron. At Michmash he sets down his vessels.

Septuagint: For he will come into the city of Aiath and pass on into Migron. And in Michmash he will set down his vessels.

The spellings of place names are very different in Hebrew and Greek, but the same spellings are used here in the translation and in the verses that follow. The place names in the Septuagint also do not always correspond to those in the Hebrew text.


Verses 27 through 32 present a poetic portrayal of a military campaign against the two-tribe kingdom of Judah as the attacking force advances toward Jerusalem. The Hebrew text is replete with wordplays. As a stylized poetical description, the portrayal would not be a prophetic indication of the route the Assyrian warriors would follow.

Aiath appears to have been a city in the northern part in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. To the south lay Migron and Michmash, two Benjamite cities in close proximity to one another. (1 Samuel 13:5; 14:1, 2, 4, 5, 15, 16) The “vessels” that would have been left at Michmash would have been unessential equipment and supplies. A comparatively small group of soldiers would have stayed there to guard the items. Unencumbered by the extra weight of the nonessentials, the main fighting force would have been able to advance more quickly.

10:29. Masoretic Text: They have crossed over the pass. Geba [is] a place of rest for us. Ramah trembles. Gibeah of Saul has fled.

Sepuagint: And he will pass through the ravine and come into Aiath. Fear will seize Ramah, city of Saul …

In the Septuagint, the verb “flee” in the future tense is the last word in this verse and refers to Gallim mentioned in the next verse. Only partially does the Septuagint reading reflect the extant Hebrew text.


A steep valley separates what are considered to be the sites of ancient Geba and Michmash. Possibly it is this valley that is being referred to as the pass the invaders are said to cross over. While the Septuagint again mentions Aiath (not Geba), its rendering could support the meaning of crossing a ravine or valley. One problem with the Greek verb parérchomai, here translated “pass through,” is that it can also mean “pass by” or “pass alongside,” and the context is not specific enough to determine the exact significance.

At Geba, the military force is portrayed as camping for the night. The Benjamite cities of Ramah and Gibeah were located on the main road to Jerusalem. The trembling of Ramah appears to relate to the overwhelming fear that seized the inhabitants of the city upon the approach of the invading force. The residents of Gibeah are depicted as taking flight before the arrival of the attackers. In view of its having been the home of Saul, Israel’s first king, Gibeah is called “Gibeah of Saul.” This designation served to distinguish the city from the Gibeah in the territory of the tribe of Judah.

10:30. Masoretic Text: Cry aloud [with] your voice, daughter of Gallim. Give heed, Laishah. Answer [‘anáh] her, Anathoth.

Septuagint: The daughter of Gallim will flee. Laishah will give heed. Anathoth will give heed.


The expression “daughter of Gallim” means “city of Gallim.” Faced with the approaching military force, the inhabitants (based on the Septuagint text) would flee. The Hebrew text suggests that they would cry out loudly in panic, alarm, or lamentation. “Giving heed” or listening may relate to being observant of the movement of the invaders and then taking appropriate action. Laishah and Anathoth were located near the southern border of the territory of Benjamin. Anathoth, a Levite city, has been identified with a site less than three miles (under 5 kilometers) from Jerusalem.

The Hebrew expression that appears with Anathoth is ‘aniyyáh. On the basis of the Syriac, this has been linked to the word ‘anáh, meaning “answer.” It may be, however, that ‘aniyyáh is to be linked to ‘ani, referring to being in misery or in an afflicted or oppressed state. While “answer her” is a common rendering (NAB, NJB, NRSV, REB), others have chosen a meaning that reflects distress (“sorrowful Anathoth” [CEV]; “O Poor Anathoth” [ESV]; “wretched Anathoth” [NASB]; “Anathoth is miserable” [HCSB]).

10:31. Masoretic Text: Madmenah has fled; Gebim’s inhabitants have taken refuge.

Septuagint: Madmenah has been confounded, also Gebim’s inhabitants …

In the Septuagint, the last word in verse 31 is a form of the verb parakaléo, which, depending on the context, can mean “console,” “comfort,” “encourage,” “exhort,” or “admonish,” or “summon.” The basic sense of the Greek word is to “call to one’s side.” This verb relates to the sentence in the next verse.


Both Madmenah and Gebim must have been located near Jerusalem. The residents of Madmenah are represented as having chosen flight from the invaders, and those of Gebim are depicted as having taken refuge from the attacking warriors.

10:32. Masoretic Text: This very day, at Nob, he makes a halt. He shakes his hand at the mountain of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem.

Septuagint: Encourage [them] today on the path to remain, encourage with the hand, O mountain, the daughter of Zion, and [you] hills that [are] in Jerusalem.

The Septuagint rendering could be understood as a directive to admonish the inhabitants of Jerusalem to remain on the divinely approved way. As the mountain was the temple site, possibly the ones to give the encouragement (though not specified) would be those who were devoted to the worship of YHWH there.


Nob appears to have been a site at an elevation near enough to Jerusalem for the city to be seen. Apparently the Assyrian monarch is represented as stopping there and making a threatening gesture with his hand against Jerusalem. The expression “daughter of Zion” refers to the city, and the designation “hill of Jerusalem” calls attention to the city’s being on an elevated site. Within Jerusalem proper and its environs, there were a number of hills, which fits the rendering of the Septuagint.

10:33. Masoretic Text: Look! The Lord, YHWH of hosts, will cut off the boughs with a [terrifying] crash. And the ones great of height will be cut down, and the lofty will be brought low.

Septuagint: For look! The Sovereign, the Lord Sabaoth, will confound the notable ones with [his] might, and the lofty ones in [their] arrogance will be crushed, and the lofty ones will be humiliated.

“Sabaoth” is a transliterated form of the Hebrew word that means “hosts” or “armies” and identifies YHWH as one with hosts of angels at his command.


The Assyrian military force apparently is being represented as a forest of stately trees. In acting against the Assyrians, YHWH would, as if in a forest, be cutting off the boughs of the trees, destroying the notable position of the military force in its role as a successful conqueror. His act would fill those witnessing it with terror. All that was exalted in the Assyrian military would be cut down as are trees in a forest, and the lofty ones would be humiliated, deprived of all grounds for boasting as they had in past victories.

The Septuagint rendering does not retain the imagery of trees. Similarly, the Targum of Isaiah refers to YHWH as causing “slaughter upon his armies.”

10:34. Masoretic Text: And he will cut down the thickets of the forest with an iron, and Lebanon, by a majestic one, will fall.

Septuagint: And the lofty ones will fall by the sword, and Lebanon, with the lofty ones, will fall down.

The Targum of Isaiah again contains no allusion to trees. YHWH is represented as the one who would “slay the mighty men of his armies that act proudly with iron.” Regarding the warriors, the Targum of Isaiah says that they would be cast “upon the land of Israel.”


YHWH would cut down the Assyrian military host like someone chopping down the thickets of a forest with an iron tool or ax. In the Septuagint, the imagery is that of war, with the “lofty ones” or proud warriors being slain with the sword. Lebanon, known for its majestic cedars, is another poetic figure of the Assyrian host. The “majestic one” by whom “Lebanon” would fall is either YHWH or his angel.

As the rendering of the Septuagint suggests, the “majestic one” of the Hebrew text may be understood as a collective singular and apply to the lofty trees. It would then signify that Lebanon with its majestic ones would fall. Translators vary in which meaning they make explicit in their renderings. “Lebanon with its majestic trees will fall.” (NRSV) “Lebanon with its noble trees will fall.” (REB) “And the Lebanon trees shall fall in their majesty.” (Tanakh) “Lebanon in its splendor falls.” (NAB) “The Lebanon falls to the blows of a Mighty One.” (NJB) “Lebanon will fall before the Mighty One.” (NIV) “Lebanon will fall by the Mighty One.” (NASB) “And the great trees of Lebanon will fall by the power of the Mighty One.” (NCV)