Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed;
Woe — Unto those magistrates who make unjust laws, and give unjust sentences.
Grievousness — Grievous things, such unjust decrees as cause grief and vexation to their subjects.
 To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!
Judgment — From obtaining a just sentence.
 And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory?
From far — From the Assyrians. This he adds, because the Israelites, having weakened the Jews and being in amity with the Assyrians their next neighbours, were secure.
Leave — To be kept safe for your use.
Glory — Your wealth.
 Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
Without me — Without my favour and help, which you have forfeited.
Shall bow down — Notwithstanding all your succours.
 O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation.
O Assyrian — This is God's invitation to him to take the charge, and set upon the work.
The rod — The instrument of mine anger, wherewith I shall chastise my people.
Anger — Mine anger against my people puts the weapons of war into their hand.
 I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
Send him — By my providence, giving him both occasion and inclination to this expedition.
 Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few.
Howbeit — He doth not design the execution of my will, but only to enlarge his own empire. Which is seasonably added, to justify God in his judgments threatened to the Assyrian.
To cut off — To sacrifice multitudes of people to his own ambition and covetousness.
 For he saith, Are not my princes altogether kings?
Kings — Equal for power and wealth, and glory, to the kings of other nations.
 Is not Calno as Carchemish? is not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus?
Is not — Have not I conquered one place as well as another, the stronger as well as the weaker? Samaria - Or, shall not Samaria be as Damascus? Shall I not take that, as I have done this city?
 As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, and whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria;
The kingdoms — Which worshipped their own idols, and vainly imagined that they could protect them from my power. He calls the gods of the nations, not excepting Jerusalem, idols, by way of contempt, because none of them could deliver their people out of his hands, and because he judged them to be but petty gods, far inferior to the sun, which was the god of the Assyrians.
 Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.
Wherefore — Because of this impudent blasphemy.
His work — Of chastising his people so long as he sees fit.
Looks — His insolent words and carriage.
 For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man:
Removed — I have invaded their lands, and added them to my own dominions, Proverbs 22:28.
Put down — Deprived of their former glory and power.
 And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped.
Eggs — Which the dam left in her nest.
Gathered — All the riches of the earth. An hyperbole not unusual in the mouths of such persons.
Peeped — As birds do, which, when they see the robbing of their nest, express their grief and anger, by hovering about them, and by mournful cries.
 Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood.
The ax — How absurd is it, for thee, who art but an instrument in God's hand, to blaspheme thy Lord and master, who has as great power over thee, as a man hath over the ax wherewith he heweth?
 Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory he shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire.
The Lord — The sovereign Lord of thine and all other armies, shall strip him and all his princes, of their wealth, and might, and glory; and destroy his numerous army, as the fire doth those combustible things which are cast into it.
 And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day;
The light — That God who is and will be a comfortable light to his people.
A fire — To the Assyrians.
Thorns — His vast army, which is no more able to resist God, than dry thorns and briars are to oppose the fire.
 And shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and they shall be as when a standardbearer fainteth.
The glory — Of his great army, which may not unfitly be compared to a forest, for the numbers of men, who stood as thick as trees do in a forest.
Field — Of his soldiers, who stood as thick as ears of corn in a fruitful field.
Soul and body — Totally, both inwardly and outwardly.
They shall be — Like that of an army when their standard-bearer is slain or flees away, which strikes a panic into the whole army.
 And the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them.
The rest — The remainder of that mighty host.
 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.
And such — Such Jews as shall be preserved from that sweeping Assyrian scourge.
Stay — Shall no more trust to the Assyrians for help.
 For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness.
A remnant — Or, a remnant only.
The consumption — The destruction of Israel was already decreed by the fixed counsel of God, and therefore must needs be executed, and like a deluge overflow them.
Righteousness — With justice, and yet with clemency, inasmuch as he has spared a considerable remnant of them, when he might have destroyed them utterly.
 For the Lord GOD of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land.
In the midst — In all the parts of the land, not excepting Jerusalem, which was to be preserved in the Assyrian invasion.
 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian: he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt.
Therefore — This is an inference, not from the words immediately foregoing, but from the whole prophecy. Seeing the Assyrian shall be destroyed.
Smite — He shall afflict, but not destroy thee.
Egypt — As the Egyptians formerly did.
 For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction.
Indignation — Mine anger towards the Assyrian.
Cease — As anger commonly does when vengeance is fully executed.
 And the LORD of hosts shall stir up a scourge for him according to the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb: and as his rod was upon the sea, so shall he lift it up after the manner of Egypt.
Stir up — Shall send a destroying angel.
Midian — Whom God slew suddenly and unexpectedly, in the night.
Oreb — Upon which one of their chief princes was slain, and nigh unto which the Midianites were destroyed.
The sea — To divide it, and make way for thy deliverance, and for the destruction of the Egyptians.
 And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.
Burden — The burden of the Assyrian.
The anointing — Possibly this may be understood of David, who is often mentioned in scripture by the name of God's anointed; and for whose sake, God gave many deliverances to the succeeding kings and ages, as is expressly affirmed, 2 Corinthians 1:20, and of all the deliverances and mercies granted to God's people in all ages.
 He is come to Aiath, he is passed to Migron; at Michmash he hath laid up his carriages:
He — Here the prophet returns to the Assyrian invasion; which he describes, after the manner of the prophets, as a thing present, and sets down the several stages by which he marched towards Jerusalem. He, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, is come, in his way to Jerusalem.
Laid up — Leaving such things there as were less necessary, that so he might march with more expedition.
 They are gone over the passage: they have taken up their lodging at Geba; Ramah is afraid; Gibeah of Saul is fled.
Fled — The people fled to Jerusalem for fear of the Assyrian.
 Lift up thy voice, O daughter of Gallim: cause it to be heard unto Laish, O poor Anathoth.
Daughter — Jerusalem was the mother city, and lesser towns are commonly called her daughters.
 As yet shall he remain at Nob that day: he shall shake his hand against the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem.
Shake — By way of comminution.
 Behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, shall lop the bough with terror: and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall be humbled.
The bough — The top-bough, Sennacherib, with a most terrible stroke.
 And he shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.
Iron — Or, as with iron, as the trees of the forest are cut down with instruments of iron.
Lebanon — Or, his Lebanon, the Assyrian army, which being before compared to a forest, and being called his Carmel in the Hebrew text, verse 18, may very fitly upon the same ground, be called his Lebanon here.