Isaiah 20: If the Egyptians can do it, we can too.

The Egyptians have many things we can learn from. They have a storied culture, rich with fabulous building feats and lavishly golden tombs of death built on desert sands. Can we look back at the Egyptians, their historic culture, and those mysterious building skills, and apply anything from it to help us today?

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The Egyptians built the pyramids, so we can build our bible study methods

That’s an emphatic yes! We can and will receive inspiration from the Egyptians and learn some valuable Bible study tips at the same time.

Studying the Book of Isaiah

On our way, studying through the Book of Isaiah, I want to take a quick detour here in chapter twenty. The book is long and every chapter is filled with important verses and passages. All the chapters pull together the entire message the Lord gave to the prophet. Miss one and you miss a message from God. They’re all important. If the Lord has something to say I want to listen well and learn from what he says.

Naked and Humbled

This chapter is short, just six verses in all. In it, like several other places in the book, the prophet relays a message of warning to a Gentile nation. In this chapter, the warning is directed at two nations, Egypt and Ethiopia. The Lord warns of humiliating military defeats in their future. The Lord gives the prophet a method of delivering the message that would be hard to carry out. He’s told to take off his outer garment and walk naked through the streets in his underwear. Today, there are many beautiful models, sleazy politicians, and attention-seeking celebrities who would love the idea of walking through the street in their underwear. But Isaiah was a man of God and to him, that would have been a walk of shame.

Humiliation was the point of the sign given by the Lord.

So what’s the detour?

In this post, instead of giving further personal commentary in the chapter I will direct you to a couple of the Bible study tools I use in my times of study. Everyone has their own opinion of the Bible and the truths found in it. Many don’t read or believe it. That’s one view among many. There are a lot of people who read the Bible but don’t know how to study it. There is a huge difference between reading and studying.

There’s a problem.

If we don’t know how to study the Bible then we’re dependant on others to tell us what it means. There are too many teachers and preachers spewing garbage and claiming it’s Bible fact. If you and I don’t know how to find the truth in the Word, we are left to those failed teachers to tell us what God’s Word says. That’s unacceptable.

The Lord has taken me on a several-decades-long route exploring Bible truth. For part of that journey, I was an inexperienced Sunday school teacher (third & fourth graders). I sat in church and listened to sermons during the first service and struggled to teach a class of elementary kids during the second service. At the time, I was a good student but a lousy teacher, but I had fun.

I was also a young carpenter, building massive tracts of homes in Southern California. Over the years, our team of carpenters built tens-thousands of homes across the lower half of the state. I learned a catch-phrase from my twin-brother early in my construction career.

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Learn from the Egyptians, you gotta be smarter than the wood.

“If the Egyptians could do it, so can we!”

In construction, a team or individual is often faced with beams, posts, walls, and towers that need to be moved, built or raised. The task is often daunting. Many can’t handle the tasks. Many literally said, “I can’t,” and walked off the job site. My brother, in fun, taught me a phrase I learned to repeat many times over the years. He quoted it to me and I, in turn, quoted it to many apprentices I taught for years later.

My brother would often tell me, “If the Egyptians could do it, so can we,” as we faced a beam, post, or wall that seemed too large to move on our own. He would tell me. “You need to be smarter than the wood, little brother.” He was eight minutes older than me and he never let me forget it. 🙂

He showed me methods, tools, and tricks that helped us tackle seemingly impossible tasks that we faced.

Bible Study is like building a pyramid.

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The Egyptians built pyramids, we can build strong boys and girls ready to face the challenges of life.

My brother would say, “They built the pyramids, we can build this house.” The same applies to Bible study. Knowing how to explore the life-changing truths of God’s Word is more important than building houses. God’s Word builds men, women, boys, and girls into excellent citizens, neighbors, and leaders.

The tools and methods of study are vast. Studying is easier now with computers and online tools. Let’s take a look at a couple of those tools.

If the Egyptians can…

Compare different translations. Below I show two different translations taken from an online site.

New International Version
In the year that the supreme commander, sent by Sargon king of Assyria, came to Ashdod and attacked and captured it–
English Standard Version
In the year that the commander in chief, who was sent by Sargon the king of Assyria, came to Ashdod and fought against it and captured it—



Maps, pictures, and graphs help us grasp the material more quickly.


This chart is taken from a site, which I use a lot.


Cross References are important in our Bible study efforts.

We need to see what God’s Word says about a subject or person in other places. Cross-reference tools can get you exploring your entire Bible instead of one passage. This gives us a big-picture view of God’s plan for man.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Copy TSK
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge for Isa 20:1
Isa 20:1 — In the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod, (when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him,) and fought against Ashdod, and took it;
Phrase from KJV KJV Phrase [?] Correlating Verses TSK Help
Tartan Tartan was one of the generals of Sennacherib, who, it is probable, is here called Sargon, and in the book of Tobit, Sacherdonus and Sacherdan, against whom Tirhakah, king of Cush or Ethiopia, was in league with the king of Egypt. 2Ki 18:17
Ashdod 1Sa 6:17; Jer 25:20; Amo 1:8
and took Jer 25:29,30
Unchecked Copy Box2Ki 18:17And the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great host against Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. And when they were come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is in the highway of the fuller’s field.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 6:17And these are the golden emerods which the Philistines returned for a trespass offering unto the LORD; for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Askelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one;
Unchecked Copy BoxJer 25:20And all the mingled people, and all the kings of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, and Ashkelon, and Azzah, and Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod,
Unchecked Copy BoxAmo 1:8And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and him that holdeth the scepter from Ashkelon, and I will turn my hand against Ekron: and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish, saith the Lord

Bible dictionaries.

These dictionaries don’t give definitions to words, they open up the world of the Bible and give much greater clarity. A student can explore every city, nation, region, or culture in very deep detail.

These are a gold-mine of study for any eager Bible student.

Here’s an example of where this can lead just to verse one of chapter twenty in Isaiah.


You can see how far-ranging good study tools can take you. The ones I show here don’t even begin to explore the original text and languages. Those are fascinating and vital studies also.

Go explore. Find some great tools you can use. Don’t depend on the guy on YouTube who tells you the world is going to end because he thinks he’s smarter than you.

Get into your own deep study of God’s Word.

“If you Egyptians can do it you can too!” Let’s build strong men, women, boys, and girls with the solid Truth of God’s Word.


More from Isaiah.

The prophet sees God

America in prophecy


The Claywriter