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Damascus Will Be Punished

17 This is a message about Damascus:

Damascus is doomed!
    It will end up in ruins.
The villages around Aroer[a]
    will be deserted,
with only sheep living there
    and no one to bother them.
Israel[b] will lose its fortresses.
The kingdom of Damascus
    will be destroyed;
its survivors will suffer
    the same fate as Israel.
The Lord All-Powerful
    has promised this.

Sin and Suffering

When that time comes,
the glorious nation of Israel
    will be brought down;
its prosperous people
    will be skin and bones.
Israel will be like wheat fields
in Rephaim Valley
    picked clean of grain.
It will be like an olive tree
    beaten with a stick,
leaving two or three olives
    or maybe four or five
on the highest
    or most fruitful branches.
The Lord God of Israel
    has promised this.

At that time the people will turn and trust their Creator, the holy God of Israel. They have built altars and places for burning incense to their goddess Asherah, and they have set up sacred poles[c] for her. But they will stop worshiping at these places.

Israel captured powerful cities and chased out the people who lived there. But these cities will lie in ruins, covered over with weeds and underbrush.[d]

10 Israel, you have forgotten
    the God who saves you,
the one who is the mighty rock[e]
    where you find protection.
You plant the finest flowers
    to honor a foreign god.
11 The plants may sprout
and blossom
    that very same morning,
but it will do you no good,
because you will suffer
    endless agony.

God Defends His People

12 The nations are a noisy,
    thunderous sea.
13 But even if they roar
    like a fearsome flood,
God will give the command
    to turn them back.
They will be like dust,
    or like a tumbleweed
blowing across the hills
    in a windstorm.
14 In the evening
    their attack is fierce,
but by morning
    they are destroyed.
This is what happens to those
    who raid and rob us.

Footnotes

  1. 17.2 Aroer: Either a city near Damascus with the same name as the Moabite city or the Moabite city itself, here used as an example of what will happen to Damascus.
  2. 17.3 Israel: The Hebrew text has “Ephraim,” another name for the northern kingdom.
  3. 17.8 sacred poles: Or “trees,” used as symbols of Asherah, the goddess of fertility.
  4. 17.9 covered. . . underbrush: Hebrew; one ancient translation “like the cities of the Hivites and the Amorites.”
  5. 17.10 mighty rock: The Hebrew text has “rock,” which is sometimes used in poetry to compare the Lord to a mountain where his people can run for protection from their enemies.