Prophecy about Egypt and Cush (Ancient Ethiopia)
20 In the year that the Tartan [the Assyrian commander in chief] came to Ashdod [in Philistia], when Sargon king of Assyria sent him and he fought against Ashdod and captured it, 2 at that time the Lord spoke through Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, untie the [a]sackcloth from your hips and take your sandals off your feet.” And he did so, walking around [b]stripped [to his loincloth] and barefoot.(A) 3 And the Lord said, “Even as My servant Isaiah has walked [c]stripped and barefoot for three years as a sign and forewarning concerning Egypt and Cush (Ethiopia), 4 in the same way the king of Assyria will lead away the Egyptian captives and the Cushite exiles, young and old, stripped and barefoot, even with buttocks uncovered—to the [d]shame of Egypt. 5 Then they will be dismayed and ashamed because of Cush their hope and Egypt their boast. 6 So the inhabitants of this coastland [the Israelites and their neighbors] will say in that day, ‘Look what has happened to those in whom we hoped and trusted and to whom we fled for help to be spared from the king of Assyria! But we, how will we escape [captivity and exile]?’”
- Isaiah 20:2 A coarse cloth usually made of goat hair or camel hair and worn as a sign of mourning, or worn by prophets.
- Isaiah 20:2 Or naked. The Hebrew can refer to someone completely naked, or only stripped to the underwear (i.e. a loincloth); see note v 4. The ancient rabbis were particularly sensitive to the issue, and some maintained (contrary to the text) that Isaiah was wearing worn-out clothes and patched shoes or sandals.
- Isaiah 20:3 Stripping off the outer garments was an act symbolizing disgrace and humiliation.
- Isaiah 20:4 Lit nakedness. As noted for v 2, the Hebrew can refer to complete nakedness or to being stripped to the underwear. A loincloth might leave the buttocks exposed to a greater or lesser extent.