Damascus is doomed! It will end up in ruins. 2 The villages around Aroer[a] will be deserted, with only sheep living there and no one to bother them. 3 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
4 When that time comes, the glorious nation of Israel will be brought down; its prosperous people will be skin and bones. 5 Israel will be like wheat fields in Rephaim Valley picked clean of grain. 6 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.
7 At that time the people will turn and trust their Creator, the holy God of Israel. 8 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.
9 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.
17.2Aroer: 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.
17.3Israel: The Hebrew text has “Ephraim,” another name for the northern kingdom.
17.8sacred poles: Or “trees,” used as symbols of Asherah, the goddess of fertility.
17.9covered. . . underbrush: Hebrew; one ancient translation “like the cities of the Hivites and the Amorites.”
17.10mighty 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.
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