God’s Message to Ethiopia
18 Look at the land along the rivers of Ethiopia where you can hear the buzzing of insect wings. 2 That land sends people down the Nile River in reed boats.[a]
Fast messengers, go to the people
who are tall and smooth,
who are feared far and wide.
Go to that powerful nation that defeats other countries
and whose land is divided by rivers.
Go warn them!
3 Like a flag on a hill,
everyone on earth will see what happens.
Like a trumpet call,
everyone in the country will hear it.
4 The Lord said, “I will be in the place prepared for me.[b] I will quietly watch these things happen: On a beautiful summer day, at noon, people will be resting. (It will be during the hot harvest time when there is no rain, but only early morning dew.) 5 Then something terrible will happen. Earlier in the year, the flowers bloomed and the new grapes formed buds and began to grow. But before the crop is harvested, the enemy will come and cut the plants. They will break the vines and throw them away. 6 The vines will be left for the birds from the mountains and the wild animals to eat. The birds will feed on them throughout the summer, and that winter the wild animals will eat the vines.”
7 At that time a special offering will be brought to the Lord All-Powerful from the people who are tall and smooth, from those who are feared far and wide, from that powerful nation that defeats other countries and whose land is divided by rivers.[c] This offering will be brought to the Lord’s place on Mount Zion.
God’s Message to Egypt
19 A message[d] about Egypt: Look, the Lord is coming on a fast cloud. He will enter Egypt, and all the false gods of Egypt will shake with fear. Egypt’s courage will melt away like hot wax.
2 The Lord says, “I will cause the Egyptians to fight against themselves. Men will fight their brothers. Neighbors will be against neighbors. Cities will be against cities. Kingdoms will be against kingdoms.[e] 3 The Egyptians will be afraid and confused. They will ask their false gods and wise men what they should do. They will ask their wizards and magicians, but I will ruin their plans.” 4 The Lord God All-Powerful says, “I will give Egypt to a hard master. A powerful king will rule over the people.”
5 The water in the Nile River will dry up and disappear. 6 All the rivers will smell very bad.[f] The canals in Egypt will be dry, and the water will be gone. All the water plants will rot. 7 All the plants along the riverbanks will die and blow away. Even the plants at the widest part of the river will dry up, blow away, and disappear.
8 The fishermen, all those who catch fish from the Nile River, will become sad and they will cry. They depend on the Nile River for their food, but it will be dry. 9 Those who make cloth from flax, who weave it into linen, will all be sad. 10 Those who weave cloth will be broken, and those who work for money will be depressed.
11 The leaders of the city of Zoan[g] are fools. Pharaoh’s “wise advisors” give bad advice. They say they are wise. They say they are from the old family of the kings, but they are not as smart as they think. 12 Egypt, where are your wise men? They should learn what the Lord All-Powerful has planned for Egypt. They should be the ones to tell you what will happen.
13 The leaders of Zoan have been fooled. The leaders of Noph[h] have believed lies, so they lead Egypt the wrong way. 14 The Lord confused them, so they wander around and lead Egypt the wrong way. Everything they do is wrong. They are like drunks rolling in their vomit. 15 There is nothing the leaders can do. (They are “the heads and the tails.” They are “the tops and the stalks of plants.”[i])
16 At that time the Egyptians will be like frightened women. They will be afraid of the Lord All-Powerful, because he will raise his arm to punish the people. 17 The land of Judah brings fear to everyone in Egypt. Anyone in Egypt who hears the name Judah will be afraid. This will happen because the Lord All-Powerful has planned terrible things to happen to Egypt. 18 At that time there will be five cities in Egypt where people speak Hebrew.[j] One of these cities will be named “Destruction City.”[k] The people in these cities will promise to follow the Lord All-Powerful.
19 At that time there will be an altar for the Lord in the middle of Egypt. At the border of Egypt there will be a monument to show honor to the Lord. 20 This will be a sign to show that the Lord All-Powerful does amazing things. Any time the people cry for help from the Lord, he will send help. He will send someone to save and defend the people—to rescue the people from those who hurt them.
21 At that time the Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians, and they really will know the Lord. They will serve him and give him many sacrifices. They will make promises[l] to the Lord, and they will do what they promise. 22 The Lord will punish the Egyptians, but then he will heal them, and they will come back to him. The Lord will listen to their prayers and heal them.
23 At that time there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. Then the Assyrians will go to Egypt, and the Egyptians will go to Assyria. Egypt will work with Assyria.[m] 24 Then Israel, Assyria, and Egypt will join together and control the land. This will be a blessing for the land. 25 The Lord All-Powerful will bless these countries. He will say, “Egypt, you are my people. Assyria, I made you. Israel, I own you. You are all blessed!”
Assyria Will Defeat Egypt and Ethiopia
20 Sargon[n] was the king of Assyria. He sent his military commander to fight against Ashdod. The commander went there and captured the city. 2 At that time the Lord spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz. He said, “Go, take the sackcloth off your waist and the sandals off your feet.” So Isaiah obeyed the Lord and went without clothes or sandals.
3 Then the Lord said, “My servant Isaiah has gone without clothes or sandals for three years. This is a sign for Egypt and Ethiopia. 4 The king of Assyria will defeat Egypt and Ethiopia. Assyria will take prisoners and lead them away from their countries. The people, young and old, will be led away without clothes or sandals. They will be completely naked. 5 Those who looked to Ethiopia for help will be shattered. Those who were amazed by Egypt’s glory will be ashamed.”
6 People living along the coast will say, “We trusted those countries to help us. We ran to them so that they would rescue us from the king of Assyria. But look at them. They have been captured, so how can we escape?”
God’s Message About Babylon
It is coming like a storm blowing through the Negev.
It is coming in from the desert, from a frightening nation.
2 I was given a vision of the hard times to come.
I see traitors turning against you.
I see people taking your wealth.
Elam, go against them!
Media, surround the city!
I will put an end to all their moaning.
3 I saw those terrible things, and now I am afraid.
My fear makes my stomach hurt like the pain of giving birth.
What I hear frightens me.
What I see makes me shake with fear.
4 I am worried and shaking with fear.
My pleasant evening has become a nightmare.
5 People are rushing around shouting their orders:
“Set the table!
Post the guard!
Get something to eat and drink!
Officers, get up!
Polish your shields!”
6 The Lord said to me, “Go find someone to guard this city. He must report whatever he sees. 7 Whether he sees a chariot and a team of horses or men riding donkeys or camels, he must listen carefully.”[q]
8 Then one day the watchman[r] called out,
The messenger said,
“Babylon has been defeated!
It has fallen to the ground!
All the statues of her false gods
were thrown to the ground and broken to pieces.”
10 My people, you will be like the grain crushed on my threshing floor. I have told you everything I heard from the Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel.
God’s Message About Dumah
11 This is a message about Dumah[u]:
There is someone calling to me from Seir,[v]
“Guard, how much of the night is left?
How much longer will it be night?”
12 The guard answered,
“Morning is coming, but then night will come again.
If you have something else to ask,
then come back[w] later and ask.”
God’s Message About Arabia
13 This is a message about Arabia:
A caravan from Dedan spent the night
near some trees in the Arabian Desert.
14 They gave water to some thirsty travelers.
The people of Tema gave them food.
15 They were running from swords
that were ready to kill.
They were running from bows
that were ready to shoot.
They were running from a hard battle.
16 The Lord told me this would happen. He said, “In one year, the way a hired helper counts time, all Kedar’s glory will be gone. 17 Only a few of the archers, the great soldiers of Kedar, will be left alive.” The Lord, the God of Israel, told me this.
God’s Message to Jerusalem
Jerusalem, what is wrong?
Why has everyone gone up to hide in their upper rooms?
2 This city was so happy,
but now there is a terrible uproar.
There are bodies lying everywhere,
but they were not killed with swords.
The people died,
but not while fighting.
3 All your officers ran away together,
but they have all been captured without bows.[z]
All the leaders ran away together,
but they were found and captured.
4 So I say, “Don’t look at me!
Let me cry!
Don’t rush to comfort me
about the destruction of Jerusalem.”
5 The Lord God All-Powerful chose a special day for there to be riots and confusion. People trampled on each other in the Valley of Vision. The city walls were pulled down. People in the valley shouted up at those on the mountain. 6 Horse soldiers from Elam took their bags of arrows and rode into battle. Soldiers from Kir rattled their shields. 7 Your favorite valley was filled with chariots. Horse soldiers were stationed in front of the city gates. 8 Then the cover protecting Judah[aa] was removed, and the people turned to the weapons they kept at the Forest Palace.[ab]
9-11 Then you noticed how many cracks there were in the walls around the City of David, so you began collecting water from the Lower Pool.[ac] You counted the houses and used stones from them to repair the walls. Then you built a pool between the double walls[ad] for storing water from the Old Pool.[ae]
You did all this to protect yourselves, but you did not trust the God who made all these things. You did not even notice the one who made all these things so long ago. 12 So the Lord God All-Powerful told the people to cry and mourn for their dead friends. He told them to shave their heads and wear mourning clothes. 13 But look, everyone was happy. The people rejoiced, saying,
“Kill the cattle and sheep,
and let’s celebrate.
Let’s eat meat and drink wine.
Eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
14 The Lord All-Powerful said this to me and I heard it with my own ears: “You are guilty of doing wrong, and I promise that you will die before this guilt is forgiven.” The Lord God All-Powerful said these things.
God’s Message to Shebna
15 The Lord God All-Powerful told me to go to Shebna, the palace manager, 16 and say this: “What are you doing here? None of your relatives are buried here, are they? Then what right do you have to prepare a tomb for yourself in this high place? Why are you cutting a tomb out of this rock?
17-18 “What a big man you are! But the Lord will crush you. He will roll you into a small ball and throw you far away into the open arms of another country, and there you will die.
“You are very proud of your chariots. But in that faraway land, your new ruler will have better chariots. And your chariots will not look important in his palace. 19 I will force you out of your position here. Your new leader will take you away from your important job. 20 At that time I will call for my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah. 21 I will take your robe and put it on him. I will give him your scepter. I will give him the important job you have, and he will be like a father to the people of Jerusalem and Judah’s family.[af]
22 “I will put the key to David’s house around his neck. If he opens a door, no one will be able to close it. If he closes a door, no one will be able to open it. 23 He will be like a favorite chair in his father’s house. I will make him like a strong peg in a solid board. 24 All the honored and important things of his father’s house will hang on him. All the adults and little children will depend on him. They will be like little dishes and big water bottles hanging on him.”
25 The Lord All-Powerful said, “At that time the peg that is now in the solid board will get weak and break. It will fall to the ground, and everything hanging on it will be destroyed. Then everything I said in this message will happen. It will happen because the Lord said it would.”
- Isaiah 18:2 reed boats These boats were made by tying many reeds (a type of water plant) together.
- Isaiah 18:4 the place prepared for me Probably the Temple in Jerusalem.
- Isaiah 18:7 Or “At that time the people who are tall and smooth, who are feared far and wide, that powerful nation who defeats other countries and whose land is divided by rivers, those people will be brought to the Lord All-Powerful as a special gift.”
- Isaiah 19:1 message Or “burden.”
- Isaiah 19:2 Kingdoms will be against kingdoms Or “States will be against states.” This means Egyptians will fight other Egyptians.
- Isaiah 19:6 smell very bad In Hebrew this is like a name for the Nile River.
- Isaiah 19:11 Zoan A city in Egypt. Also in verse 13.
- Isaiah 19:13 Noph Or “Memphis,” a city in Egypt.
- Isaiah 19:15 the heads and … stalks of plants See Isa. 9:14-15.
- Isaiah 19:18 Hebrew Literally, “the language of Canaan.”
- Isaiah 19:18 Destruction City This is a wordplay on the name meaning “Sun City,” which is also called On or Heliopolis.
- Isaiah 19:21 promises A special kind of promise to God. See Lev. 22:18-24.
- Isaiah 19:23 Egypt will work with Assyria Or “Egypt will serve Assyria.”
- Isaiah 20:1 Sargon A king of Assyria. He was king about 721–705 B.C.
- Isaiah 21:1 message Or “burden.” Also in verses 11, 13.
- Isaiah 21:1 the desert by the sea Probably Babylon.
- Isaiah 21:7 Or “Whether he sees a column of teams of horsemen, columns of donkeys, or columns of camels, he must listen carefully.”
- Isaiah 21:8 the watchman “the seer,” an ancient title for a prophet. The standard Hebrew text has “a lion.”
- Isaiah 21:8 watchtower A tall building where guards stood and watched to see if anyone was coming near their city.
- Isaiah 21:9 a man … horses Or “a column of teams of horsemen.” This might be a team of horses pulling a war chariot or mounted archers in the Assyrian army who often worked in pairs.
- Isaiah 21:11 Dumah This Hebrew word means “silence.” It may refer to Edom or to a city in Arabia.
- Isaiah 21:11 Seir A mountain in Edom or a city in Arabia.
- Isaiah 21:12 come back This can also mean “change your heart” or “repent.”
- Isaiah 22:1 message Or “burden.”
- Isaiah 22:1 Valley of Vision This probably means one of the valleys near Jerusalem. Also in verse 5.
- Isaiah 22:3 but they have … bows Or “but the archers captured them.”
- Isaiah 22:8 cover protecting Judah This might be the wall around Jerusalem, but see Isa. 4:5-6.
- Isaiah 22:8 Forest Palace A part of Solomon’s palace where his weapons and wealth were stored.
- Isaiah 22:9 Lower Pool The pool at the southern tip of the City of David, just below the Upper Pool (the Pool of Siloam).
- Isaiah 22:9 pool between the double walls This is probably the Upper Pool (the Pool of Siloam).
- Isaiah 22:9 Old Pool Probably the pool at Gihon Spring on the eastern slopes of the city.
- Isaiah 22:21 people of Jerusalem and Judah’s family Or “The king sitting on the throne in Jerusalem, the royal family of Judah.”