20:2 Go, and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins, and put thy shoe from off thy foot.’
Egypt encouraged and supported the Philistines to revolt against Assyria for three years (713-711 BCE), only to cowardly hand the king of Ashdod, a Philistine city, over to the Assyrians. In an attempt to dissuade Judah from similarly relying on Egypt for protection against the Assyrian army, Isaiah becomes a living sign to the people. He is to loosen his clothes at his loins, wear no upper garments, and go barefooted. This is intended to signify that the Egyptians and Ethiopians will be led away captives by the king of Assyria, thus stripped, and to remind the people not to rebel against God’s message or rely on Egypt for salvation. Though it is tempting to rely on people or material wealth for success, Isaiah’s message is that the only true source of success and salvation is the Lord.
ג וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה כַּאֲשֶׁר הָלַךְ עַבְדִּי יְשַׁעְיָהוּ עָרוֹם וְיָחֵף שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים אוֹת וּמוֹפֵת עַל מִצְרַיִם וְעַל כּוּשׁ.
5 And they shall be dismayed and ashamed, because of Ethiopia their expectation, and of Mitzrayim their glory.
ה וְחַתּוּ וָבֹשׁוּ מִכּוּשׁ מַבָּטָם וּמִן מִצְרַיִם תִּפְאַרְתָּם.
6 And the inhabitant of this coast-land shall say in that day: Behold, such is our expectation, whither we fled for help to be delivered from the king of Ashur; and how shall we escape?’
ו וְאָמַר יֹשֵׁב הָאִי הַזֶּה בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא הִנֵּה כֹה מַבָּטֵנוּ אֲשֶׁר נַסְנוּ שָׁם לְעֶזְרָה לְהִנָּצֵל מִפְּנֵי מֶלֶךְ אַשּׁוּר וְאֵיךְ נִמָּלֵט אֲנָחְנוּ.