Prophecy about Damascus
The [mournful, inspired] oracle ([a]a burden to be carried) concerning Damascus [capital of Aram (Syria), and Israel’s defense against Assyria].
“Listen carefully, Damascus will cease to be a city
And will become a fallen ruin.
“The cities of Aroer [east of the Jordan] are deserted;
They will be [only a refuge] for flocks to lie down in,
And there will be no one to make them afraid.
“The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim,
And the kingdom from Damascus
And the remnant of Aram (Syria);
They will be like the [departed] glory of [her ally] the children of Israel,”
Declares the Lord of hosts.
“Now in that day the [former] glory of Jacob [Israel—his might, his population, his prosperity] will fade,
And the fatness of his flesh will become lean.
“And it will be like the reaper gathering the standing grain,
As his arm harvests the ears of grain;
Yes, it will be like one gleaning ears of grain
In the [fertile] Valley of Rephaim.
“Yet gleanings will be left in the land [of Israel] like the shaking of the olive tree,
Two or three olives on the topmost branch,
Four or five on the [outermost] branches of the fruitful tree,”
Declares the Lord, the God of Israel.
In that day man will have regard for his Maker,
And his eyes will regard the Holy One of Israel [with awe-inspired reverence].
And he will not have regard for the [idolatrous] altars, the work of his hands,
Nor will he look to that which his fingers have made,
Neither the Asherim (symbols of the goddess Asherah) nor the incense altars.
In that day the strong cities of Aram and Israel will be like [b]deserted places in the forest,
Or like branches which they abandoned before the children of Israel;
And the land will be a desolation.
Because you [Judah] have forgotten the God of your salvation
And have not remembered the Rock of your Stronghold—
Therefore you plant [c]lovely plants
And set the grounds with vine slips of a strange god,
In the day that you plant it you carefully fence it in,
And in the morning you bring your seed to blossom;
Yet [promising as it is] the harvest will be a heap [of ruins that passes away]
In the day of sickness and incurable pain.
Oh, the uproar of many peoples
Who roar like the roaring of the seas,
And the noise of nations
Who roar like the rumbling of mighty waters!
The nations roar on like the roaring of many waters,
But God will rebuke them and they will flee far away,
And be chased like chaff on the mountains before the wind,
Or like whirling dust before the storm.
At evening time, now look, sudden terror!
Before [d]morning the Assyrians are no more.
This is the portion (fate) of those who plunder us,
And the lot of those who pillage us.
- Isaiah 17:1 I.e. an urgent message the prophet is under compulsion to proclaim.
- Isaiah 17:9 Greek reads, the deserted places of the Amorites and Hivites, which they abandoned.
- Isaiah 17:10 Or gardens of Adonis, a mythological god.
- Isaiah 17:14 The fulfillment of this prophecy (cf also Is 10:33, 34; 30:31; 31:8) is found in Is 37:36, following the repetition of the prophecy first recorded in 2 Kin 19:29-36. Just when an overwhelming victory by the Assyrian Sennacherib seemed inevitable, during a single night 185,000 of his army died, and Judah was spared—as the Lord through Isaiah had promised.
Message to Ethiopia
Woe (judgment is coming) to the land of [a]whirring wings
Which is beyond the rivers of [b]Cush (Ethiopia),
Which sends ambassadors by the sea,
Even in vessels of papyrus on the surface of the waters.
Go, swift messengers, to a nation [of people] tall and smooth (clean shaven),
To a people feared far and wide,
A powerful and oppressive nation
Whose land the rivers divide.
All you inhabitants of the world, you who dwell on the earth,
When a banner is raised on the mountains, you will see it!
When a trumpet is blown, you will hear it!
For this is what the Lord has said to me,
“I will be quiet and I will look on from My dwelling place,
Like shimmering heat above the sunshine,
Like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.”
For before the harvest, when the blossom is over
And the flower becomes a ripening grape,
He will cut off the sprigs [without buds] with pruning knives,
And [He will] remove and cut away the spreading branches.
They (warriors) will be left together for the mountain birds of prey,
And for the beasts of the earth;
And the birds of prey will [spend the] summer feeding on them,
And all the beasts of the earth will spend harvest time on them.
At that time a gift of homage will be brought to the Lord of hosts
From a people tall and smooth (clean shaven),
From a people feared far and wide,
A powerful and oppressive nation,
Whose land the rivers divide—
To the place [of worship] of the [c]name of the Lord of hosts, to Mount Zion [in Jerusalem].
- Isaiah 18:1 Perhaps a reference to the warships of Cush.
- Isaiah 18:1 Ancient Ethiopia was south of Egypt and included portions of modern Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia.
- Isaiah 18:7 See note Deut 12:5.
Message to Egypt
The [mournful, inspired] oracle ([a]a burden to be carried) concerning Egypt:
Listen carefully, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud and is about to come to Egypt;
The idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence,
And the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.
“So I will provoke Egyptians against Egyptians;
And they will fight, each one against his brother and each one against his neighbor,
City against city, kingdom against kingdom.
“Then the spirit of the Egyptians will become exhausted within them and emptied out;
And I will confuse their strategy,
So that they will consult the idols and the spirits of the dead,
And mediums and soothsayers.
“And I will hand over the Egyptians to a hard and cruel master,
And a mighty king will rule over them,” declares the Lord God of hosts.
The waters from the sea will dry up,
And the river will be parched and dry.
The canals will become foul-smelling,
The streams of Egypt will thin out and dry up,
The reeds and the rushes will rot away.
The meadows by the Nile, by the edge of the Nile,
And all the sown fields of the Nile
Will become dry, be blown away, and be no more.
The fishermen will lament (cry out in grief),
And all those who cast a hook into the Nile will mourn,
And those who spread nets upon the waters will languish.
Moreover, those who make linen from combed flax
And those who weave white cloth will be ashamed.
[Those who are] the pillars and foundations of Egypt will be crushed;
And all those who work for wages will be grieved in soul.
The princes of [b]Zoan are complete fools;
The counsel of the Pharaoh’s wisest advisors has become stupid.
How can you say to Pharaoh,
“I am a son of the wise, a son of ancient kings?”
Where then are your wise men?
Please let them tell you,
And let them understand what the Lord of hosts
Has purposed against Egypt [if they can].
The princes of Zoan have acted like fools,
The princes of Memphis are deluded [and entertain false hope];
Those who are the cornerstone of her tribes
Have led Egypt astray.
The Lord has mixed a spirit of distortion within her;
Her leaders have caused Egypt to stagger in all that she does,
As a drunken man staggers in his vomit.
There will be no work for Egypt
Which head or tail, [high] palm branch or [low] bulrush, may do.
In that day the Egyptians will become like [helpless] women, and they will tremble and be frightened because of the waving of the hand of the Lord of hosts, which He is going to wave over them. The land of Judah [Assyria’s ally] will become a terror to the Egyptians; everyone to whom Judah is mentioned will be in dread of it, because of the purpose of the Lord of hosts which He is planning against Egypt.
In that day five cities in the land of Egypt will speak the language of [the Hebrews of] Canaan and swear allegiance to the Lord of hosts. One [of them] will be called the City of [c]Destruction.
In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a memorial stone to the Lord near its border. It will become a sign and a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the Lord because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior, a [Great] Defender, and He will rescue them. And so the Lord will make Himself known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know [heed, honor, and cherish] the Lord in that day. They will even worship with sacrifices [of animals] and offerings [of produce]; they will make a vow to the Lord and fulfill it. The Lord will strike Egypt, striking but healing it; so they will return to the Lord, and He will respond to them and heal them.
In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria; and the Egyptians will worship and serve [the Lord] with the Assyrians.
In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and with Assyria [in a Messianic league], a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My heritage.”
- Isaiah 19:1 I.e. an urgent message the prophet is under compulsion to proclaim.
- Isaiah 19:11 Or Tanis, an ancient capital of the Pharaohs.
- Isaiah 19:18 A number of manuscripts read sun, so that the name is taken to be Heliopolis.