20:2 Go, untie the sackcloth from your loins
Egypt encouraged the Philistines to revolt against Assyria, and supported the rebellion for three years (713-711 BCE), only to then cowardly hand the Philistine king of Ashdod over to the Assyrians. In an attempt to dissuade Yehuda from similarly relying on Egypt for protection against the Assyrian army, Yeshayahu becomes a living sign to the people. He is to loosen his clothes at his loins, wear no upper garments, and go barefoot. This behavior is designed to signify that the Egyptians and Ethiopians will be led away as captives by the king of Assyria, and to remind the people not to rebel against Hashem’s message or try to rely on Egypt for salvation. Though it is tempting to rely on people or material wealth for success, Yeshayahu‘s message is that God is the only true source of success and salvation.1 comment
ג וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה כַּאֲשֶׁר הָלַךְ עַבְדִּי יְשַׁעְיָהוּ עָרוֹם וְיָחֵף שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים אוֹת וּמוֹפֵת עַל־מִצְרַיִם וְעַל־כּוּשׁ׃
5 And they shall be dismayed and chagrined because of Nubia their hope and Egypt their boast.
ה וְחַתּוּ וָבֹשׁוּ מִכּוּשׁ מַבָּטָם וּמִן־מִצְרַיִם תִּפְאַרְתָּם׃
6 In that day, the dwellers of this coastland shall say, ‘If this could happen to those we looked to, to whom we fled for help and rescue from the king of Assyria, how can we ourselves escape?’”
ו וְאָמַר יֹשֵׁב הָאִי הַזֶּה בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא הִנֵּה־כֹה מַבָּטֵנוּ אֲשֶׁר־נַסְנוּ שָׁם לְעֶזְרָה לְהִנָּצֵל מִפְּנֵי מֶלֶךְ אַשּׁוּר וְאֵיךְ נִמָּלֵט אֲנָחְנוּ׃