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18 Ah, land beyond the upper reaches of the Nile,[a] where winged sailboats glide along the river! Land that sends ambassadors in fast boats down the Nile! Let swift messengers return to you, O strong and supple nation feared far and wide, a conquering, destroying nation whose land the upper Nile divides.[b] And this is the message sent to you:

When I raise my battle flag upon the mountain, let all the world take notice! When I blow the trumpet, listen! For the Lord has told me this: Let your mighty army now advance against the land of Israel.[c] God will watch quietly from his Temple in Jerusalem—serene as on a pleasant summer day or a lovely autumn morning during harvesttime. But before you have begun the attack, and while your plans are ripening like grapes, he will cut you off as though with pruning shears. He will snip the spreading tendrils. Your mighty army will be left dead on the field for the mountain birds and wild animals to eat; the vultures will tear bodies all summer, and the wild animals will gnaw bones all winter. But the time will come when that strong and mighty nation, a terror to all both far and near, that conquering, destroying nation whose land the rivers divide, will bring gifts to the Lord Almighty in Jerusalem, where he has placed his name.


  1. Isaiah 18:1 upper reaches of the Nile, literally, “land beyond the rivers of Ethiopia.” Ethiopia was the seat of the powerful 25th Egyptian Dynasty (730–660 b.c.).
  2. Isaiah 18:2 whose land the upper Nile divides, literally, “whose land the rivers divide.”
  3. Isaiah 18:4 of Israel, implied.

A Prophecy Against Cush

18 Woe(A) to the land of whirring wings[a]
    along the rivers of Cush,[b](B)
which sends envoys(C) by sea
    in papyrus(D) boats over the water.

Go, swift messengers,
to a people tall and smooth-skinned,(E)
    to a people feared far and wide,
an aggressive(F) nation of strange speech,
    whose land is divided by rivers.(G)

All you people of the world,(H)
    you who live on the earth,
when a banner(I) is raised on the mountains,
    you will see it,
and when a trumpet(J) sounds,
    you will hear it.
This is what the Lord says to me:
    “I will remain quiet(K) and will look on from my dwelling place,(L)
like shimmering heat in the sunshine,(M)
    like a cloud of dew(N) in the heat of harvest.”
For, before the harvest, when the blossom is gone
    and the flower becomes a ripening grape,
he will cut off(O) the shoots with pruning knives,
    and cut down and take away the spreading branches.(P)
They will all be left to the mountain birds of prey(Q)
    and to the wild animals;(R)
the birds will feed on them all summer,
    the wild animals all winter.

At that time gifts(S) will be brought to the Lord Almighty

from a people tall and smooth-skinned,(T)
    from a people feared(U) far and wide,
an aggressive nation of strange speech,
    whose land is divided by rivers(V)

the gifts will be brought to Mount Zion, the place of the Name of the Lord Almighty.(W)


  1. Isaiah 18:1 Or of locusts
  2. Isaiah 18:1 That is, the upper Nile region