Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Isaiah 10: 28-34

28 He has come against Aiath,
He has passed through Migron;
At Michmash he deposited his baggage.
29 They have gone through the pass, saying,
“Geba will be our lodging place.”
Ramah is terrified, and Gibeah of Saul has fled away.
30 Cry aloud with your voice, O daughter of Gallim!
Pay attention, Laishah and wretched Anathoth!
31 Madmenah has fled.
The inhabitants of Gebim have sought refuge.
32 Yet today he will halt at Nob;
He shakes his fist at the mountain of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem.
33 Behold, the Lord, the God of hosts, will lop off the boughs with a terrible crash;
Those also who are tall in stature will be cut down
And those who are lofty will be abased.
34 He will cut down the thickets of the forest with an iron axe,
And Lebanon will fall by the Mighty One.

Although the basic message of today's passage--the conclusion of Isaiah, Chapter 10-- is not difficult to understand, you are probably choking over the myriad place names as you try to read this. To help us not choke, let's pull out this vocabulary to study before we try and piece this all back together. A geographical Hebrew Heimlich, if you will....

Not all of these locales are listed on this map, but, where available, I have tried to include geographical information. (All references from the Encyclopedia of the Bible, EOB.)

  • Aiath--Likely known as Ai in other places in Scripture, Aiath was located somewhere east of Bethel, according to Genesis 12:8.
  • Migron--In I Samuel 14, we read of when Saul camped under a pomegranate tree at Migron, located "in the outskirts of Gibeah." The EOB says that it is not clear if the Migron of I Samuel is the same as the one mentioned in Isaiah.
  • Michmash--This is a town located 6 miles southeast of Bethel. Back to I Samuel for a little history, Saul and his son, Jonathan, are battling the Philistines. Saul has more men, but he isn't very brave and retreats (to the pomegranate tree at Migron). Samuel pushes Saul back into battle while Jonathan cleverly executes a sneak attack at Michmash that scares the Philistines silly.
  • Geba--Besides Saul and Jonathan, who camped at Geba at the time of the Michmash battle, David also made headlines at Geba as this is where he began his attacks on the Philistines.
  • Ramah--Without further description, 'ramah' means height in Hebrew, and there were a few ramahs in the region. What is referred to in Isaiah is Ramah of Benjamin (one of the 12 tribes). Judges 4 tells us that Deborah served as a judge in Israel between Bethel and Ramah. Judah's King Asa, quite before Isaiah's time, dismantled a blockade at Ramah that had been established by Israel's evil King Baasha, which stopped the flow of traffic into Jerusalem cutting off the city from resources.
  • Gibeah of Saul--This is the city named after the home of the first king of Israel, King Saul.
  • Gallim--This village was located north of Jerusalem, near Gibeah of Saul and Anathoth.
  • Laishah--Another village of Benjamin, located northeast of Jerusalem.
  • Anathoth--This is one of 48 cities given to the Levites from the tribe of Benjamin. This is also the birthplace of the prophet Jeremiah.
  • Madmenah--In Hebrew, 'madmenah' means compost heap, and it's important to say compost heap and not trash pile or dung hill. Healthy compost made for good, productive soil. Madmenah is also an unidentified city on this pathway outlined by Isaiah.
  • Gebim--In Hebrew, 'gebim' means pit or pits. Again, this town has not been adequately identified, except for its location on the Assyrian's attack blitz mentioned by Isaiah.
  • Nob--Three centuries before its mention by the prophet, Nob is cited as a "city of priests." It was at Nob where Saul commanded the killing of 85 priests, this as part of his chasing down of David.
  • Lebanon--Not surprising that Isaiah would use Lebanon as a word picture for Assyria in creating the image of a mighty, towering forest, for this is what Lebanon was known.

Amazing to see this level of detail captured by Isaiah after reading through the background on these cities. The Reformation Study Bible mentions that Micah features a similar type of exposition on Assyria's invasion, only from the southwest. But, that's a study years down the road. Isaiah made note of these cities through which the Assyrian army moved, whether fully known now or not. There was intent. [And, I am very thankful for the map, too!]

Where there is Biblical history, I feel the need to pause and consider what happened in that place and then to think about how this mighty army swept through these areas, "depositing baggage" (vs. 28), and leaving people "terrified" (vs. 29) or fleeing (vs. 29 and 31). God brought victory to Saul and Jonathan in the battle of Michmash. Where was victory now? God allowed for rebuilding and safety at Ramah for Asa. Where was this safety now?

"Yet today he will halt at Nob" and shake his fist at Jerusalem. (vs. 32) The Assyrian, Sennacherib, stops at "the city of priests" and only shakes his fist in threat at Jerusalem. After such a run, after what would appear an unstoppable conquest, the attack comes to a screeching halt at the wall of Jerusalem.

"BEHOLD, the Lord, the God of hosts...."
--vs. 33 (emphasis mine)

Because who holds everything in His hands? Who is the God of Angel Armies, to quote the new Chris Tomlin song? The Lord! God had already determined that a remnant would be saved. Part of that plan meant saving Jerusalem at this time from utter destruction. Isaiah forthtells the story here and will relay the fulfillment of his own prophecy later on in Chapter 37. The mighty Assyrian, as the tallest cedar of Lebanon, will fall at the iron axe of the mighty hand of God (vs. 34).

"Come and see the works of God,
Who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of men.
He turned the sea into dry land;
They passed through the river on foot;
There let us rejoice in Him!
He rules by His might forever;
His eyes keep watch on the nations;
Let not the rebellious exalt themselves."
--Psalm 66: 5-7

Continuing on with the theme of mighty trees: "Righteous Reign of the Branch".... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Isaiah 11: 1-5

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).