The Meaning of Isaiah 31:3 Explained

Isaiah 31:3

KJV: Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together.

YLT: And the Egyptians are men, and not God, And their horses are flesh, and not spirit, And Jehovah stretcheth out His hand, And stumbled hath the helper, And fallen hath the helped one, And together all of them are consumed.

Darby: And the Egyptians are men, and not God, and their horses flesh, and not spirit; and Jehovah shall stretch forth his hand, and he that helpeth shall stumble, and he that is helped shall fall, and they all shall perish together.

ASV: Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit: and when Jehovah shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall stumble, and he that is helped shall fall, and they all shall be consumed together.

What does Isaiah 31:3 Mean?

Verse Meaning

The contrast between the relative strength of humans and God is stark.
"To us "flesh" seems so substantial, because visible and tangible, while "spirit" may seem ethereal.... Nothing could be further from biblical thinking, as a glance at passages like Zechariah 4:6 and John 3:5-8 will disclose." [1]
Yahweh would stretch out His hand in powerful judgment to defeat the helpers (Egypt) as well as the helped (Judah) because they trusted in human power rather than in God (cf. Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 7:19; John 4:24).

Context Summary

Isaiah 31:1-9 - A Nobler Future For The Nation
Isaiah continues to denounce the contemplated alliance with Egypt. His compatriots put their trust in horses and chariots, and refused the help of their fathers' God. Yet was He not so wise as the Egyptians, and equally as strong! And were they not running a fearful risk in rejecting One who would not recall His words of threatened punishment to those who refused His help? At best, the Egyptians were men, and not God, and their cavalry, flesh. If only they would trust Him, God would defy their foes, as a lion defies a company of unarmed shepherds, Isaiah 31:4. The mother-bird hovers over her brood to protect it from the kestrel; so would He spread His covering wing over Jerusalem, Isaiah 31:5. We may have deeply revolted, yet we may turn back to God with the certainty that He will receive and rescue us, Isaiah 31:6.
Sennacherib fell by the sword of his sons. Compare Isaiah 32:8 with 2 Kings 19:36-37. How different is our glorious King, whose many-sided nature meets all our needs! Isaiah 32:2. Before Him all men are unveiled in their true characters. Only those who are royal in heart shall stand before Him, Isaiah 31:8. [source]

Chapter Summary: Isaiah 31

1  The prophet shows the folly and danger of trusting Egypt, and forsaking God
6  He exhorts to conversion
8  He shows the fall of Assyria

What do the individual words in Isaiah 31:3 mean?

And Egypt [is] men and not God and their horses are flesh and not spirit When Yahweh stretches out His hand and both will fall he who helps and he will fall down who is helped and together They all will perish -
וּמִצְרַ֤יִם אָדָם֙ וְֽלֹא־ אֵ֔ל וְסוּסֵיהֶ֥ם בָּשָׂ֖ר וְלֹא־ ר֑וּחַ וַֽיהוָ֞ה יַטֶּ֣ה יָד֗וֹ וְכָשַׁ֤ל עוֹזֵר֙ וְנָפַ֣ל עָזֻ֔ר וְיַחְדָּ֖ו כֻּלָּ֥ם יִכְלָיֽוּן ס

וּמִצְרַ֤יִם  And  Egypt  [is] 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Proper Noun, feminine singular
Root: מִצְרַיִם  
Sense: a country at the northeastern section of Africa, adjacent to Palestine, and through which the Nile flows adj Egyptians = “double straits”.
אָדָם֙  men 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular
Root: אָדָם 
Sense: man, mankind.
וְֽלֹא־  and  not 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Adverb, Negative particle
Root: הֲלֹא 
Sense: not, no.
אֵ֔ל  God 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular
Root: אֵל 
Sense: god, god-like one, mighty one.
וְסוּסֵיהֶ֥ם  and  their  horses  are 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Noun, masculine plural construct, third person masculine plural
Root: סוּס 
Sense: swallow, swift.
בָּשָׂ֖ר  flesh 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular
Root: בָּשָׂר  
Sense: flesh.
וְלֹא־  and  not 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Adverb, Negative particle
Root: הֲלֹא 
Sense: not, no.
ר֑וּחַ  spirit 
Parse: Noun, common singular
Root: רוּחַ  
Sense: wind, breath, mind, spirit.
וַֽיהוָ֞ה  When  Yahweh 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: יהוה 
Sense: the proper name of the one true God.
יַטֶּ֣ה  stretches  out 
Parse: Verb, Hifil, Imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: נָטָה 
Sense: to stretch out, extend, spread out, pitch, turn, pervert, incline, bend, bow.
יָד֗וֹ  His  hand 
Parse: Noun, feminine singular construct, third person masculine singular
Root: יָד  
Sense: hand.
וְכָשַׁ֤ל  and  both  will  fall 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Conjunctive perfect, third person masculine singular
Root: כָּשַׁל  
Sense: to stumble, stagger, totter.
עוֹזֵר֙  he  who  helps 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Participle, masculine singular
Root: עָזַר  
Sense: to help, succour, support.
וְנָפַ֣ל  and  he  will  fall  down 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Conjunctive perfect, third person masculine singular
Root: נָפַל  
Sense: to fall, lie, be cast down, fail.
עָזֻ֔ר  who  is  helped 
Parse: Verb, Qal, QalPassParticiple, masculine singular
Root: עָזַר  
Sense: to help, succour, support.
וְיַחְדָּ֖ו  and  together 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Adverb
Root: יַחַד 
Sense: union, unitedness adv.
כֻּלָּ֥ם  They  all 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular construct, third person masculine plural
Root: כֹּל  
Sense: all, the whole.
יִכְלָיֽוּן  will  perish 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Imperfect, third person masculine plural, Paragogic nun
Root: כָּלָה  
Sense: to accomplish, cease, consume, determine, end, fail, finish, be complete, be accomplished, be ended, be at an end, be finished, be spent.
ס  - 
Parse: Punctuation