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Isaiah 15-21New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

An Oracle concerning Moab

15 An oracle concerning Moab.

Because Ar is laid waste in a night,
    Moab is undone;
because Kir is laid waste in a night,
    Moab is undone.
Dibon[a] has gone up to the temple,
    to the high places to weep;
over Nebo and over Medeba
    Moab wails.
On every head is baldness,
    every beard is shorn;
in the streets they bind on sackcloth;
    on the housetops and in the squares
    everyone wails and melts in tears.
Heshbon and Elealeh cry out,
    their voices are heard as far as Jahaz;
therefore the loins of Moab quiver;[b]
    his soul trembles.
My heart cries out for Moab;
    his fugitives flee to Zoar,
    to Eglath-shelishiyah.
For at the ascent of Luhith
    they go up weeping;
on the road to Horonaim
    they raise a cry of destruction;
the waters of Nimrim
    are a desolation;
the grass is withered, the new growth fails,
    the verdure is no more.
Therefore the abundance they have gained
    and what they have laid up
they carry away
    over the Wadi of the Willows.
For a cry has gone
    around the land of Moab;
the wailing reaches to Eglaim,
    the wailing reaches to Beer-elim.
For the waters of Dibon[c] are full of blood;
    yet I will bring upon Dibon[d] even more—
a lion for those of Moab who escape,
    for the remnant of the land.
16 Send lambs
    to the ruler of the land,
from Sela, by way of the desert,
    to the mount of daughter Zion.
Like fluttering birds,
    like scattered nestlings,
so are the daughters of Moab
    at the fords of the Arnon.
“Give counsel,
    grant justice;
make your shade like night
    at the height of noon;
hide the outcasts,
    do not betray the fugitive;
let the outcasts of Moab
    settle among you;
be a refuge to them
    from the destroyer.”

When the oppressor is no more,
    and destruction has ceased,
and marauders have vanished from the land,
then a throne shall be established in steadfast love
    in the tent of David,
    and on it shall sit in faithfulness
a ruler who seeks justice
    and is swift to do what is right.

We have heard of the pride of Moab
    —how proud he is!—
of his arrogance, his pride, and his insolence;
    his boasts are false.
Therefore let Moab wail,
    let everyone wail for Moab.
Mourn, utterly stricken,
    for the raisin cakes of Kir-hareseth.

For the fields of Heshbon languish,
    and the vines of Sibmah,
whose clusters once made drunk
    the lords of the nations,
reached to Jazer
    and strayed to the desert;
their shoots once spread abroad
    and crossed over the sea.
Therefore I weep with the weeping of Jazer
    for the vines of Sibmah;
I drench you with my tears,
    O Heshbon and Elealeh;
for the shout over your fruit harvest
    and your grain harvest has ceased.
10 Joy and gladness are taken away
    from the fruitful field;
and in the vineyards no songs are sung,
    no shouts are raised;
no treader treads out wine in the presses;
    the vintage-shout is hushed.[e]
11 Therefore my heart throbs like a harp for Moab,
    and my very soul for Kir-heres.

12 When Moab presents himself, when he wearies himself upon the high place, when he comes to his sanctuary to pray, he will not prevail.

13 This was the word that the Lord spoke concerning Moab in the past. 14 But now the Lord says, In three years, like the years of a hired worker, the glory of Moab will be brought into contempt, in spite of all its great multitude; and those who survive will be very few and feeble.

An Oracle concerning Damascus

17 An oracle concerning Damascus.

See, Damascus will cease to be a city,
    and will become a heap of ruins.
Her towns will be deserted forever;[f]
    they will be places for flocks,
    which will lie down, and no one will make them afraid.
The fortress will disappear from Ephraim,
    and the kingdom from Damascus;
and the remnant of Aram will be
    like the glory of the children of Israel,
says the Lord of hosts.

On that day
    the glory of Jacob will be brought low,
    and the fat of his flesh will grow lean.
And it shall be as when reapers gather standing grain
    and their arms harvest the ears,
and as when one gleans the ears of grain
    in the Valley of Rephaim.
Gleanings will be left in it,
    as when an olive tree is beaten—
two or three berries
    in the top of the highest bough,
four or five
    on the branches of a fruit tree,
says the Lord God of Israel.

On that day people will regard their Maker, and their eyes will look to the Holy One of Israel; they will not have regard for the altars, the work of their hands, and they will not look to what their own fingers have made, either the sacred poles[g] or the altars of incense.

On that day their strong cities will be like the deserted places of the Hivites and the Amorites,[h] which they deserted because of the children of Israel, and there will be desolation.

10 For you have forgotten the God of your salvation,
    and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge;
therefore, though you plant pleasant plants
    and set out slips of an alien god,
11 though you make them grow on the day that you plant them,
    and make them blossom in the morning that you sow;
yet the harvest will flee away
    in a day of grief and incurable pain.

12 Ah, the thunder of many peoples,
    they thunder like the thundering of the sea!
Ah, the roar of nations,
    they roar like the roaring of mighty waters!
13 The nations roar like the roaring of many waters,
    but he will rebuke them, and they will flee far away,
chased like chaff on the mountains before the wind
    and whirling dust before the storm.
14 At evening time, lo, terror!
    Before morning, they are no more.
This is the fate of those who despoil us,
    and the lot of those who plunder us.

An Oracle concerning Ethiopia

18 Ah, land of whirring wings
    beyond the rivers of Ethiopia,[i]
sending ambassadors by the Nile
    in vessels of papyrus on the waters!
Go, you swift messengers,
    to a nation tall and smooth,
to a people feared near and far,
    a nation mighty and conquering,
    whose land the rivers divide.

All you inhabitants of the world,
    you who live on the earth,
when a signal is raised on the mountains, look!
    When a trumpet is blown, listen!
For thus the Lord said to me:
I will quietly look from my dwelling
    like clear heat in 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 shoots with pruning hooks,
    and the spreading branches he will hew away.
They shall all be left
    to the birds of prey of the mountains
    and to the animals of the earth.
And the birds of prey will summer on them,
    and all the animals of the earth will winter on them.

At that time gifts will be brought to the Lord of hosts from[j] a people tall and smooth, from a people feared near and far, a nation mighty and conquering, whose land the rivers divide, to Mount Zion, the place of the name of the Lord of hosts.

An Oracle concerning Egypt

19 An oracle concerning Egypt.

See, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud
    and comes to Egypt;
the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence,
    and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.
I will stir up Egyptians against Egyptians,
    and they will fight, one against the other,
    neighbor against neighbor,
    city against city, kingdom against kingdom;
the spirit of the Egyptians within them will be emptied out,
    and I will confound their plans;
they will consult the idols and the spirits of the dead
    and the ghosts and the familiar spirits;
I will deliver the Egyptians
    into the hand of a hard master;
a fierce king will rule over them,
    says the Sovereign, the Lord of hosts.

The waters of the Nile will be dried up,
    and the river will be parched and dry;
its canals will become foul,
    and the branches of Egypt’s Nile will diminish and dry up,
    reeds and rushes will rot away.
There will be bare places by the Nile,
    on the brink of the Nile;
and all that is sown by the Nile will dry up,
    be driven away, and be no more.
Those who fish will mourn;
    all who cast hooks in the Nile will lament,
    and those who spread nets on the water will languish.
The workers in flax will be in despair,
    and the carders and those at the loom will grow pale.
10 Its weavers will be dismayed,
    and all who work for wages will be grieved.

11 The princes of Zoan are utterly foolish;
    the wise counselors of Pharaoh give stupid counsel.
How can you say to Pharaoh,
    “I am one of the sages,
    a descendant of ancient kings”?
12 Where now are your sages?
    Let them tell you and make known
    what the Lord of hosts has planned against Egypt.
13 The princes of Zoan have become fools,
    and the princes of Memphis are deluded;
those who are the cornerstones of its tribes
    have led Egypt astray.
14 The Lord has poured into them[k]
    a spirit of confusion;
and they have made Egypt stagger in all its doings
    as a drunkard staggers around in vomit.
15 Neither head nor tail, palm branch or reed,
    will be able to do anything for Egypt.

16 On that day the Egyptians will be like women, and tremble with fear before the hand that the Lord of hosts raises against them. 17 And the land of Judah will become a terror to the Egyptians; everyone to whom it is mentioned will fear because of the plan that the Lord of hosts is planning against them.

Egypt, Assyria, and Israel Blessed

18 On that day there will be five cities in the land of Egypt that speak the language of Canaan and swear allegiance to the Lord of hosts. One of these will be called the City of the Sun.

19 On that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the center of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord at its border. 20 It will be a sign and a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt; when they cry to the Lord because of oppressors, he will send them a savior, and will defend and deliver them. 21 The Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians; and the Egyptians will know the Lord on that day, and will worship with sacrifice and burnt offering, and they will make vows to the Lord and perform them. 22 The Lord will strike Egypt, striking and healing; they will return to the Lord, and he will listen to their supplications and heal them.

23 On that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.

24 On that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, 25 whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my heritage.”

Isaiah Dramatizes the Conquest of Egypt and Ethiopia

20 In the year that the commander-in-chief, who was sent by King Sargon of Assyria, came to Ashdod and fought against it and took it— at that time the Lord had spoken to Isaiah son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and loose the sackcloth from your loins and take your sandals off your feet,” and he had done so, walking naked and barefoot. Then the Lord said, “Just as my servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and a portent against Egypt and Ethiopia,[l] so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians as captives and the Ethiopians[m] as exiles, both the young and the old, naked and barefoot, with buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt. And they shall be dismayed and confounded because of Ethiopia[n] their hope and of Egypt their boast. In that day the inhabitants of this coastland will say, ‘See, this is what has happened to those in whom we hoped and to whom we fled for help and deliverance from the king of Assyria! And we, how shall we escape?’”

Oracles concerning Babylon, Edom, and Arabia

21 The oracle concerning the wilderness of the sea.

As whirlwinds in the Negeb sweep on,
    it comes from the desert,
    from a terrible land.
A stern vision is told to me;
    the betrayer betrays,
    and the destroyer destroys.
Go up, O Elam,
    lay siege, O Media;
all the sighing she has caused
    I bring to an end.
Therefore my loins are filled with anguish;
    pangs have seized me,
    like the pangs of a woman in labor;
I am bowed down so that I cannot hear,
    I am dismayed so that I cannot see.
My mind reels, horror has appalled me;
    the twilight I longed for
    has been turned for me into trembling.
They prepare the table,
    they spread the rugs,
    they eat, they drink.
Rise up, commanders,
    oil the shield!
For thus the Lord said to me:
“Go, post a lookout,
    let him announce what he sees.
When he sees riders, horsemen in pairs,
    riders on donkeys, riders on camels,
let him listen diligently,
    very diligently.”
Then the watcher[o] called out:
“Upon a watchtower I stand, O Lord,
    continually by day,
and at my post I am stationed
    throughout the night.
Look, there they come, riders,
    horsemen in pairs!”
Then he responded,
    “Fallen, fallen is Babylon;
and all the images of her gods
    lie shattered on the ground.”
10 O my threshed and winnowed one,
    what I have heard from the Lord of hosts,
    the God of Israel, I announce to you.

11 The oracle concerning Dumah.

One is calling to me from Seir,
    “Sentinel, what of the night?
    Sentinel, what of the night?”
12 The sentinel says:
“Morning comes, and also the night.
    If you will inquire, inquire;
    come back again.”

13 The oracle concerning the desert plain.

In the scrub of the desert plain you will lodge,
    O caravans of Dedanites.
14 Bring water to the thirsty,
    meet the fugitive with bread,
    O inhabitants of the land of Tema.
15 For they have fled from the swords,
    from the drawn sword,
from the bent bow,
    and from the stress of battle.

16 For thus the Lord said to me: Within a year, according to the years of a hired worker, all the glory of Kedar will come to an end; 17 and the remaining bows of Kedar’s warriors will be few; for the Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken.

Footnotes:

  1. Isaiah 15:2 Cn: Heb the house and Dibon
  2. Isaiah 15:4 Cn Compare Gk Syr: Heb the armed men of Moab cry aloud
  3. Isaiah 15:9 Q Ms Vg Compare Syr: MT Dimon
  4. Isaiah 15:9 Q Ms Vg Compare Syr: MT Dimon
  5. Isaiah 16:10 Gk: Heb I have hushed
  6. Isaiah 17:2 Cn Compare Gk: Heb the cities of Aroer are deserted
  7. Isaiah 17:8 Heb Asherim
  8. Isaiah 17:9 Cn Compare Gk: Heb places of the wood and the highest bough
  9. Isaiah 18:1 Or Nubia; Heb Cush
  10. Isaiah 18:7 Q Ms Gk Vg: MT of
  11. Isaiah 19:14 Gk Compare Tg: Heb it
  12. Isaiah 20:3 Or Nubia; Heb Cush
  13. Isaiah 20:4 Or Nubians; Heb Cushites
  14. Isaiah 20:5 Or Nubia; Heb Cush
  15. Isaiah 21:8 Q Ms: MT a lion
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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