Isaiah 5:26-27 NASB

“He will also lift up a standard to the distant nation, And will whistle for it from the ends of the earth; And behold, it will come with speed swiftly. No one in it is weary or stumbles, None slumbers or sleeps; Nor is the belt at its waist undone, Nor its sandal strap broken.” ‭‭

Who is the “distant nation” here and does “lift up a standard” mean to call them? And is it that no one in the distant nation will grow weary, stumble, etc.? I’m essentially wondering who the “it” in 27-30 is referring to, and how this fits into the Lord’s anger against Israel from the rest of the chapter.

2 Answers 2


The translation you are using is creating some of the confusion.

The Hebrew of Isaiah 5:26 reads:

וְנָֽשָׂא־נֵ֤ס לַגּוֹיִם֙ מֵרָח֔וֹק וְשָׁ֥רַק ל֖וֹ מִקְצֵ֣ה הָאָ֑רֶץ וְהִנֵּ֥ה מְהֵרָ֖ה קַ֥ל יָבֽוֹא

This means:

He will lift up a sign to the nations (plural) from afar and he will signal (lit. "whistle") from the ends of the land; and behold it will be quick and easy to come.

The simply meaning is that this is referring to G-d causing enemy nations (presumably Assyria and Babylon) to come to attack Israel. And even though they are far, G-d will make it easy and quick for them to travel to attack.

The "it" in 5:27 is the enemy armies as a whole. The enemy won't get tired, they won't stumble, they won't sleep, their equipment won't wear out, etc. They are coming and will bring destructon to Israel.

  • 1
    Thank you for the direct, helpful answer and translation! Commented May 26, 2022 at 19:45

Isa 5 is a prophecy predicting that Israel will be plundered and ultimately destroyed because of their unfaithfulness to God.

In order to accomplish this punishment/judgement, God intends to allow foreign nations from "afar" to invade Israel/Judah. This certainly occurred:

  • Assyria invaded the northern kingdom and ended it in 722 BC
  • Babylonia/Chaldea later invaded Judah in 605 BC, 597 BC, and finally ended the kingdom in 586 BC when Jerusalem was burned and the temple destroyed.

Thus, as part of this prophecy, Isaiah predicted that (Isa 5:13)

Therefore My people will go into exile for their lack of understanding; their dignitaries are starving and their masses are parched with thirst.

Both Assyria and Babylon were nations (the Hebrew is plural) "from afar", or "distant nations". Matthew Poole says this:

the nations from far; either,

  1. To the Assyrians, of whom he speaks more particularly Isaiah 10, and that under this same character of a people that come from far, Isaiah 5:29 and who did not long after this prophecy invade Judea, and did much mischief in it. Although that part of the prediction, Isaiah 5:29,

They shall lay hold of the prey, and shall carry it away safe, and none shall deliver it, do not seem to agree to them, nor that invasion; for the Assyrians were forced to retreat with great shame and loss, and the Jews were delivered from them. Or,

  1. To the Chaldeans; for even Babylon is called a far country, Isaiah 39:3. And he saith nations, because the Chaldean army was made up of several nations. Will hiss unto them; or, will whistle unto or for them; will gather them together by his word, as shepherds gather their sheep. He intimates how easily and speedily God can do this work. From the ends of the earth; which is not to be understood strictly, but popularly, and with a latitude, from very remote places; although part of the Chaldean army did come from places not very far distant from the end of that part of the world, so far as it was then known.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.