|The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.
||An oracle concerning Damascus:Damascus shall cease to be a cityand become a heap of ruins.
||מַשָּׂא דַּמָּשֶׂק הִנֵּה דַמֶּשֶׂק מוּסָר מֵעִיר וְהָיְתָה מְעִי מַפָּלָה ׃
|The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid.
||The cities of Aroer shall lie forsakenand become places for herds to recline,where no one will disturb them.
||עֲזֻבוֹת עָרֵי עֲרֹעֵר לַעֲדָרִים תִּהְיֶינָה וְרָבְצוּ וְאֵין מַחֲרִיד ׃
|The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria: they shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the Lord of hosts.
||When Ephraim’s defense comes to an end,so shall the sovereignty of Damascus:as with the glory of the children of Israel,so shall it be with Aram’s remnant,says Jehovah of Hosts.
||וְנִשְׁבַּת מִבְצָר מֵאֶפְרַיִם וּמַמְלָכָה מִדַּמֶּשֶׂק וּשְׁאָר אֲרָם כִּכְבוֹד בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל יִהְיוּ נְאֻם יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת ׃
|And in that day it shall come to pass, that the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean.
||In that day Jacob’s glory shall wane,and his fatness of body become leanness.
||וְהָיָה בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא יִדַּל כְּבוֹד יַעֲקֹב וּמִשְׁמַן בְּשָׂרוֹ יֵרָזֶה ׃
|And it shall be as when the harvestman gathereth the corn, and reapeth the ears with his arm; and it shall be as he that gathereth ears in the valley of Rephaim.
||After being like a harvest of ripe grain,whose ears are reaped by the armful,he will become like ears pluckedin the Valley of Rephaim
||וְהָיָה כֶּאֱסֹף קָצִיר קָמָה וּזְרֹעוֹ שִׁבֳּלִים יִקְצוֹר וְהָיָה כִּמְלַקֵּט שִׁבֳּלִים בְּעֵמֶק רְפָאִים ׃
|Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof, saith the Lord God of Israel.
||when only the gleanings are left,or when an olive tree is beaten,having two or three berries in the topmost bough,or four or five in its most fruitful branch,says Jehovah, the God of Israel.
||וְנִשְׁאַר־בּוֹ עוֹלֵלֹת כְּנֹקֶף זַיִת שְׁנַיִם שְׁלֹשָׁה גַּרְגְּרִים בְּרֹאשׁ אָמִיר אַרְבָּעָה חֲמִשָּׁה בִּסְעִפֶיהָ פֹּרִיָּה נְאֻם־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל ׃
|At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel.
||In that day men will have regard to their Maker,and their eyes look to the Holy One of Israel,
||בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא יִשְׁעֶה הָאָדָם עַל־עֹשֵׂהוּ וְעֵינָיו אֶל־קְדוֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל תִּרְאֶינָה ׃
|And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall respect that which his fingers have made, either the groves, or the images.
||and regard not the altars,the works of their hands,nor look to things their fingers have made—the idols of prosperity and the shining images.
||וְלֹא יִשְׁעֶה אֶל־הַמִּזְבְּחוֹת מַעֲשֵׂה יָדָיו וַאֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ אֶצְבְּעֹתָיו לֹא יִרְאֶה וְהָאֲשֵׁרִים וְהָחַמָּנִים ׃
|In that day shall his strong cities be as a forsaken bough, and an uppermost branch, which they left because of the children of Israel: and there shall be desolation.
||In that day their mighty cities shall be like the deserted towns of the aHivites and Amorites,a which they abandoned before the Israelites during the desolation.
||בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא יִהְיוּ עָרֵי מָעֻזּוֹ כַּעֲזוּבַת הַחֹרֶשׁ וְהָאָמִיר אֲשֶׁר עָזְבוּ מִפְּנֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהָיְתָה שְׁמָמָה ׃
|Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength, therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, and shalt set it with strange slips:
||For you have forgotten your God, your salvation,and not remembered the Rock, your fortress.Therefore, though you plant choice cropsand sow hybrid seed,
||כִּי שָׁכַחַתְּ אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׁעֵךְ וְצוּר מָעֻזֵּךְ לֹא זָכָרְתְּ עַל־כֵּן תִּטְּעִי נִטְעֵי נַעֲמָנִים וּזְמֹרַת זָר תִּזְרָעֶנּוּ ׃
|In the day shalt thou make thy plant to grow, and in the morning shalt thou make thy seed to flourish: but the harvest shall be a heap in the day of grief and of desperate sorrow.
||and though you make them thrivethe day you plant them,causing them to sproutthe very morning you sow them,yet shall the harvest vanishin a day of diseases and incurable pain.
||בְּיוֹם נִטְעֵךְ תְּשַׂגְשֵׂגִי וּבַבֹּקֶר זַרְעֵךְ תַּפְרִיחִי נֵד קָצִיר בְּיוֹם נַחֲלָה וּכְאֵב אָנוּשׁ ׃
|Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!
||Woe to the many peoples in an uproar,who rage like the raging of the seas—tumultuous nations, in commotionlike the turbulence of mighty waters!
||הוֹי הֲמוֹן עַמִּים רַבִּים כַּהֲמוֹת יַמִּים יֶהֱמָיוּן וּשְׁאוֹן לְאֻמִּים כִּשְׁאוֹן מַיִם כַּבִּירִים יִשָּׁאוּן ׃
|The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.
||Nations may roar like the roaring of great waters,but when he rebukes them they will flee far away;they will be driven before the windlike chaff on the mountains,or as whirling dust in a storm.
||לְאֻמִּים כִּשְׁאוֹן מַיִם רַבִּים יִשָּׁאוּן וְגָעַר בּוֹ וְנָס מִמֶּרְחָק וְרֻדַּף כְּמֹץ הָרִים לִפְנֵי־רוּחַ וּכְגַלְגַּל לִפְנֵי סוּפָה ׃
|And behold at eveningtide trouble; and before the morning he is not. This is the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us.
||At evening time shall be the catastrophe,and before morning they shall be no more.This is the lot of those who plunder us,the fate of those who despoil us.
||לְעֵת עֶרֶב וְהִנֵּה בַלָּהָה בְּטֶרֶם בֹּקֶר אֵינֶנּוּ זֶה חֵלֶק שׁוֹסֵינוּ וְגוֹרָל לְבֹזְזֵינוּ ׃
Historically allied with the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Aram (Syria) with its capital Damascus was a mostly pastoral country north of Israel’s border. Often known simply as Ephraim (Isaiah 7:2), Israel’s Northern Kingdom formed a league with Aram against the threat of an invasion by Assyria (Isaiah 8:4, 9-10). As types of the end-time, Ephraim and its northern neighbor experience the same demise: when Ephraim’s defenses fail, both countries fail. Although Aram loses its sovereignty and remains a pastoral country, a remnant of its people—as with Ephraim (Isaiah 28:1-5)—survives.
Having been born into the covenant blessings of wealth and privilege, the rising generation of Jehovah’s people—here identified as a Jacob/Israel category—now faces poverty and scarcity. Although former harvests were plentiful, the earth’s “harvest” of Jehovah’s Day of Judgment sees the few elect who remain gathered out like mere “gleanings” from such an abundance before covenant curses become irrevocable (Isaiah 24:13; 27:12-13). The rest of Jehovah’s people—those of Jacob/Israel who don’t repent and return—seek to survive in what literally becomes a valley of “rephaim” or “ghosts.”
In the time of leanness, the works of men’s hands that people idolize—by which they unknowingly beget calamities or covenant curses—are discerned for what they are: false gods that preoccupy them, that waste resources and divert their hearts from the true God (v 10; Isaiah 2:7-8, Isaiah 2:7-8, 20; 27:9-10; 30:22; 31:7; 42:17; 27:9-10; 30:22; 31:7; 42:17). While prosperity may be a blessing, it can also become a curse. When dire straits befall humanity, people instinctively turn back to their Maker, the Creator of all things, and look to the Holy One of Israel, their teacher and exemplar (Isaiah 10:20; 26:16-18; 48:17; 63:15-19; 64:1-12).
When the Israelites conquered the Land of Canaan under the leadership of Moses and Joshua, Jehovah commanded them to slay men, women, and children because the iniquity of the Hivites, Amorites, Amalekites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, and Jebusites who dwelt there was full (Genesis 15:16; Exodus 23:23; Deuteronomy 3:6; Numbers 21:35). Now that the iniquity of Jehovah’s people themselves is full, they meet the same fate (Isaiah 1:4, 7; 26:21; 59:12-19). Once Jehovah takes the righteous out from among them, the wicked left behind in the land fall prey to their enemies (Isaiah 57:1).
If Jehovah’s people had remembered their ancestors’ beginnings—how Jehovah delivered them from their afflictions—they might have avoided yet another regrettable repetition of history. The parallel terms “salvation” and “Rock” show that Israel’s God personifies salvation, that he is their rock or refuge in the time of trouble (Isaiah 12:2; 62:11). His people’s relationship with him is personal: “I myself am Jehovah; apart from me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:11); “Ever trust in Jehovah, for Jehovah, Yah, is an everlasting Rock” (Isaiah 26:4; emphasis added). To be saved, they must come to him.
No matter how hard people labor or how sophisticated their agricultural methods, they have no defense against adverse weather—a covenant curse (Isaiah 15:6; 42:15). Nor do they perceive that it is Jehovah who raises up their enemies against them, who empowers them to invade their land and lay it waste (Isaiah 9:11-12; 10:5-6; 21:1-2). The “day of diseases and incurable pain”—Jehovah’s Day of Judgment—leaves the sick and ailing of humanity without medical resources or healing cures: “The curse devours the earth, for those who dwell on it have incurred guilt” (Isaiah 24:6; cf. 1:5-6).
As a power of chaos that floods the earth (Isaiah 8:7-8; 28:2, 15, 18-19), the king of Assyria/Babylon’s alliance of nations echoes his “uproar,” “rage,” “tumult,” and “commotion” against Jehovah’s people: “Hark! A tumult on the mountains, as of a vast multitude. Hark! An uproar among kingdoms, as of nations assembling: Jehovah of Hosts is marshaling an army for war” (Isaiah 13:4). Although the wicked of the world perish at the hands of Assyria’s hosts—the wicked thus destroying the wicked—their evil alliance is itself destroyed, as signified by Jehovah’s “woe” or covenant curse (Isaiah 14:25).
Those who “plunder” and “despoil” Jehovah’s people and the nations are the archtyrant and his evil alliance (Isaiah 10:5-6, 13-14). They may get stirred up against his people as the Sea is stirred up (Isaiah 5:30), or burst their banks and overflow all lands like the great and mighty waters of the River (Isaiah 8:7), but Jehovah will turn them into flying dust and chaff. Not only does the archtyrant resemble a wind and storm that devastates the nations (Isaiah 40:24; 57:13), Jehovah’s servant, too, resembles these elements when he vanquishes him and delivers Jehovah’s people (Isaiah 11:15; 41:16; 45:8).