Please Note: Assyria's Gone and We're Still HereBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
People who forge notes to collect money not due to them, or who miscarry justice at the expense of the poor, widows and orphans – such people will get their comeuppance. What will they do when G-d comes to settle the score? Where can they run? And what will they do with all their ill-gotten gain? The people will be carried off as prisoners to a foreign land – and yet G-d is still with them!
It’s not a good thing for Assyria to be the instrument of G-d’s wrath. Israel needs to be punished, but that decision is not from Assyria, it’s from G-d. However, Sancheriv, king of Assyria, actually thinks he has the kind of power to punish the Jews on his own! He says, “Who can resist me? Aren’t my officers each as mighty as a king? Won’t Samaria be conquered like Damascus? I’ll conquer Judah and Israel just like all the other nations!” When G-d is through using Assyria to punish the Jews, He’ll make sure that Sancheriv is taught the lesson of his arrogance. He thinks he is so strong, wise and clever, but he’s just an axe – G-d is the woodsman wielding the axe. Since Sancheriv cannot recognize that G-d is over him, G-d will send the plague that humbles the Assyrian king by decimating his forces.
The Torah and those who keep it will burn Assyria, consuming their warriors and officers. Their armies will be consumed by a Heavenly fire, with few survivors, so few that any small child could count them.
At that time, when G-d judges Assyria, the remaining Jews will not rely on their oppressors, but on G-d alone. Those who remain will return to G-d, the righteous few washing away the destruction. G-d will have punished the evil and the rest will see and return to Him. G-d says: Have no fear. You’ll be punished with the rod, but it will be over soon because Assyria (the instrument of G-d’s wrath) doesn’t recognize Him.
G-d will punish Assyria as He did Midian before them, and the Egyptians before them. Then the burden of Assyrian oppression will stop.
Here, Isaiah outlines Assyria’s conquests on the way to Judah. Now they stand, poised on the outskirts of Jerusalem. G-d will cut them down to size, likening them to trees before a saw.