Isaiah 20:1-6

Isa 20:1

In the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod, (when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him,) and fought against Ashdod, and took it;


Chapter 20 is a prophecy about the destruction of the Egyptians and Ethiopians by the Assyrians.  This is the only place in the Scriptures where Sargon II is mentioned, he reigned from 721-705 B.C.  Tartan was a chief commander in the army of Assyria and besieged the city of Ashdod about 713 B.C. when Azuri who was king of the Philistine city refused to pay tribute to Assyria.  Ashdod was located 33 miles (53 KM) west of Jerusalem.


Isa 20:2

At the same time spake the LORD by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, Go and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins, and put off thy shoe from thy foot. And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.


Isaiah had worn sackcloth as a sign that he was in mourning for the sins of the people.  God was now giving a visible sign which he sometimes did with the warnings of the prophets.  Isaiah was to remove his shoes from his feet and to remove his sackcloth from his body.  Having no shoes on was a sign of mourning.  And David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot: and all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went up, weeping as they went up. 2 Samuel 15:30)  Isaiah was also not fully naked because that would have violated the law found in Leviticus 18:6-19 but he was naked from the waist up.


Isa 20:3

And the LORD said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia;


The sign of Isaiah walking like that was a warning to Egypt and Cush (Ethiopia) that the Assyrians would come against their alliance and defeat them.  They would be defeated and then taken to Assyria.  They would be stripped naked and go barefoot as a sign of humiliation and being subjugated by their conquerors.  This sign that Isaiah gave them was also to the Jews of Judah who would now realize that dependence upon these two nations was futile.


Isa 20:4

So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.


Egypt which was a proud and powerful nation that would now be reduced to total humiliation by the Assyrians who would take the captives of both Egypt and Ethiopia barefoot and would have their buttocks and genitals exposed as a sign of total disgrace before the rest of the world at that time.  By causing them to walk naked, the prisoners could also not hide any weapons on them as they could if they were wearing clothes, so there would have been a protection along with the humiliation.


Isa 20:5

And they shall be afraid and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation, and of Egypt their glory.


Then the Philistines who had hoped that Egypt and Ethiopia would ally with them would be ashamed and fearful because they had hoped this alliance would be strong enough to withstand the Assyrian onslaught.  The same would hold true for those in Judah who held out that they could get be delivered from the threats of Assyria if Egypt and Ethiopia could defeat the Assyrians. 


1 Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin: 2 That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! (Isaiah 30:1-2)


Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. (Psalm 20:7)


Isa 20:6

And the inhabitant of this isle shall say in that day, Behold, such is our expectation, whither we flee for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria: and how shall we escape?


This is speaking about the land of Judah which bordered on the coast of the Mediterranean sea as they were sometimes called isles.  They had hoped that Egypt could help them against the coming Assyrians but now that Egypt has been taken captive by Assyria the Jews were wondering how could they flee and escape from such a mighty power.  If Egypt and Cush together could not do anything to defeat Assyria, then what would Judah do when they come on to the land?  Their expectations of victory were now shattered and they now lived in fear of what was to come.  The three verses which I quoted in the previous verse shows why they lived in fear because they were putting their trust in pagan countries and was relying on their strength to help instead of coming to the LORD who could wipe out Assyria in a breath.