He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return.
And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them, because of their own counsels.
I’m going to take the liberty of clarifying the pronouns in these verses:
“He (Israel) shall not return into the land of Egypt (in which there was safety from the Assyrians) but the Assyrian shall be his (Israel’s) king because they (Israelites) refused to return (to God).
“And the sword (of Assyria) shall abide on his (Israel’s) cities, and shall consume his (Israel’s) branches and devour them (branches) because of their (Israel’s) own counsels (ideas, preferences, practices). “
Every source I looked at this morning interpreted “the sword shall abide on his cities” as “The sword of Assyria shall flash through their cities.” The destruction would be rapid and complete, showing no mercy for those caught in the way.
The phrase consume his branches and devour them is variously translated as gates, nearby smaller towns, or possibly the leaders or princes of the royal family.
However it is translated, it pictures utter, complete, merciless destruction of Israel and Judah, for one reason only: They refused to return to obedience to God.