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.