"Like a Person Eating His Own Arm"By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
The people who walked in darkness – the people of Jerusalem, who lived under the threat of exile – saw a great light with Assyria’s defeat. Those who lived in the shadow of death had light shine on them. G-d has raised the nation up, rather than their enemies, and they rejoice over Him as one does over a harvest or when dividing the spoils of war. The burden that Assyria placed on Judah is gone, broken in one night like Midian in the time of Gideon (Judges chapter 7). The sound of victory in battle rings and the garments of those killed in war are soaked in blood – not so here! The Assyrians died in a plague (see II Kings chapter 19). A child has been born who will bring about this salvation and he is called by G-d “the prince of peace.” This child will increase G-d’s authority and David’s throne, supporting it with righteousness and zealousness for G-d. (This is NOT a Messianic prophecy! The child in this verse has already been born. It refers to King Chizkiyahu.)
G-d sent a prophecy and it will be fulfilled. Everyone in the Northern Kingdom of Israel will know that they were wrong when they arrogantly said they would restore what Assyria destroyed with better. G-d strengthened the enemies of the king of Aram – Assyria. Aram in the east and the Philistines in the west both attacked Israel, but G-d will be with them until He finally sends Assyria to finish the job.
The people still haven’t returned to G-d, even though He’s been punishing them. G-d will cut off both important and simple people at one time – from the elders to false prophets. The leaders of the people have misled them.
G-d will not rejoice over the young people because of their sins and He will not have mercy even on widows and orphans because all have sinned, from the highest person to the lowest. They are hypocrites and they speak foul things. Yet G-d’s hand is still stretched out to the people. Their evil will burn them like a flame and they will be trapped by the thick smoke. This smoke has reached the earth; nobody has pity on anybody else. They plunder from one another and it’s never enough. They pillage from their own family members, like a person eating his own arm.
The Tribes of Ephraim and Menashe, even though they are brothers, will fight one another until they ultimately join forces against Judah. Despite all this, G-d still doesn’t turn away from His nation.