Isaiah 28 Commentary


Before reading Chapters 28-33, readers should be familiar with the historical background found in the introduction under the heading ‘Judah’s new policies under Hezekiah’. Hezekiah reversed the policies of his father Ahaz. Whereas Ahaz sought help from Assyria to oppose Israel and Syria, Hezekiah sought help from Egypt to oppose Assyria. Isaiah opposed both policies alike. Faith in God, not reliance on foreign powers, is Judah’s only hope for survival. The messages collected in these chapters were probably delivered by Isaiah during the three or four years from Hezekiah’s revolt against Assyria to the miraculous rescue of Jerusalem in 701 BC.

Bad leadership and its results (28:1-29)

Although his rebukes are directed mainly against Judah, Isaiah opens the section with a short message he once preached against Israel. (The reason for this, as Isaiah will soon point out, is that the message is now equally relevant to Judah.)


The nation’s rulers are a lot of drunkards, who live only to enjoy themselves and do not care about the welfare of the people. Because they are heavy wine-drinkers, they are likened to a flourishing vineyard. A severe hailstorm (symbol of the Assyrian invasion) will now destroy the vineyard, and enemy soldiers will trample the grapes underfoot (28:1-4). Nevertheless, the few who remain faithful to God will not be forsaken. God will give them his wisdom and strength, enabling them to come through the crisis successfully (5-6).

At this point Isaiah makes it plain that his prophecy against Israel applies also to Judah. Its leaders also are drunkards, even the religious leaders (7-8). They are annoyed at Isaiah for his persistent teaching, and indignantly ask him if he thinks he is teaching children. They are tired of hearing his same simple message over and over, telling them to turn from their evil ways and trust in God (9-10). Through Isaiah God has promised them true peace and perfect rest. If they refuse to listen to these clear and simple words, God will speak to them in a different language, one that they will not understand. That is, they will hear the foreign language of the Assyrian armies whom God sends against them to punish them (11-13).

Judah has made an agreement with Egypt to rebel against Assyria, but God sees it as a rebellion against him. It is like an agreement with the world of the dead instead of with the living God. It is based on falsehood instead of on God’s truth (14-15). God is the only reliable foundation on whom Judah can build its hopes. If the Judeans trusted in him, they would not need to go running to Egypt for help (16). God will act in righteous judgment against his faithless people. Their alliance with Egypt will be as powerless against Assyria as a temporary shelter is against raging floodwaters (17-18).

Day and night the ferocious Assyrian attack will go on. The people of Judah will find that all their preparation has not been enough to give them the comfort they hoped for (19-20). In the place where David punished his enemies, David’s people will be punished by their enemies. And the more they ignore Isaiah’s warnings, the more difficult it will be for them to escape the punishment (21-22; cf. 1 Chron 14:11,16).

A farmer knows from experience that he must use different methods of planting and threshing for different crops. God likewise uses different methods in his dealings with people, and his actions are always based on his perfect knowledge (23-29).

Privacy Policy