Isaiah 20


‘In the year that the supreme commander, sent by Sargon king of Assyria, came to Ashdod and attacked and captured it—at that time the LORD spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz. He said to him, “Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.” And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot. Then the LORD said, “Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush, so the king of Assyria will lead away stripped and barefoot the Egyptian captives and Cushite exiles, young and old, with buttocks bared—to Egypt’s shame. Those who trusted in Cush and boasted in Egypt will be dismayed and put to shame. In that day the people who live on this coast will say, ‘See what has happened to those we relied on, those we fled to for help and deliverance from the king of Assyria! How then can we escape?’” Isaiah 20:1-6

A Prophecy Against Egypt And Cush

In this chapter, we read the symbol of Assyrian victory over Egypt and Cush.

Ashdod was one of the five main cities of the Philistines, the others being Gaza, Ashkelon, Ekron and Gath. Ashdod is called Azotas in Acts 8:40. It was a stronghold, a kind of key to the capture of Egypt, and it was the site of a temple of Dagon, which was destroyed by Samson.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following, concerning the ‘supreme commander’.

‘Sargon founded the last and greatest of the Assyrian dynasties, he was the successor to Shalmaneser and the father of Sennacherib. In the Bible, Shalmaneser is apparently the conqueror but it seems that the final phase of the conquest was completed by Sargon in 722 B.C., a fact confirmed in 2 Kings 18:10 in the statement, not that ‘He took it’, but that ‘They took it’. Sargon succeeded Shalmaneser just before the siege of Samaria was completed in 722 B.C., and reigned till 705 B.C., when he was succeeded by Sennacherib.’

‘It is possible to date this passage very precisely. Isaiah 20:1 makes mention of the fact that Isaiah’s symbolic act, going naked and barefoot, was interpreted to the people in the year that Ashdod fell to Sargon’s commander-in-chief. Sargon’s inscriptions date that event in 711 B.C. Since Isaiah had already been walking naked and barefoot for a period of three years, that symbolical protest actually began in 714 B.C.’

Isaiah walked naked and barefoot to indicate what would be the condition of the Egyptians and Cush. Please note that this doesn’t mean he was without clothes, it means that he took off his outer garment or covering because it was shameful for a man to go without this outer garment, 1 Samuel 19:24. This indicated a very low and poor estate.

Notice that God calls Isaiah ‘my servant’, what a blessing and honour it is to be called His servant. A few people in the Scriptures have had the honour of being spoken of as His Servant, 1. Abraham, Genesis 26:24, 2. Moses, Numbers 12:7, 3. Caleb, Numbers 14:24, 4. Job, Job 1:8 / Job 42:7-8, 5. Eliakim, Isaiah 22:20, and 6. Zerubbabel, Haggai 2:23.

There were some in Jerusalem who thought that they could escape to Egypt. However, because this judgment was coming on Egypt, they couldn’t escape by fleeing to Egypt.

We read of the humility that will take place in Egypt and Cush and we read of the treatment of prisoners on the march to captivity.

The whole seaboard was unable to resist the conqueror. Isaiah preached that it is best to trust the Lord for deliverance. Captives can’t save others from captivity, hence, an alliance with Egypt is of no value to Judah.

Judah had trusted in Egypt and Assyria had come to make war upon Egypt again. Egypt was subjected to the dominion of Assyria and when Assyria took care of Egypt she then turned on Judah and came right up to Jerusalem.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Even in Nahum’s account of the fall of Egypt in the siege of No-Amon, the alliance with Ethiopia was mentioned as one of the bulwarks upon which the doomed nation relied in vain for victory, Nahum 3:9.’

Go To Isaiah 21


"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."