New English Translation
The Lord Will Judge Damascus
17 This is an oracle[a] about Damascus:
“Look, Damascus is no longer a city,
it is a heap of ruins!
2 The cities of Aroer are abandoned.[b]
They will be used for herds,
which will lie down there in peace.[c]
3 Fortified cities will disappear from Ephraim,
and Damascus will lose its kingdom.[d]
The survivors in Syria
will end up like the splendor of the Israelites,”
says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
4 “At that time[e]
Jacob’s splendor will be greatly diminished,[f]
and he will become skin and bones.[g]
5 It will be as when one gathers the grain harvest,
and his hand gleans the ear of grain.
It will be like one gathering the ears of grain
in the Valley of Rephaim.
6 There will be some left behind,
as when an olive tree is beaten—
two or three ripe olives remain toward the very top,
four or five on its fruitful branches,”
says the Lord God of Israel.
7 At that time[h] men will trust in their Creator;[i]
they will depend on[j] the Holy One of Israel.[k]
8 They will no longer trust in[l] the altars their hands made,
or depend on the Asherah poles and incense altars their fingers made.[m]
9 At that time[n] their fortified cities will be
like the abandoned summits of the Amorites,[o]
which they abandoned because of the Israelites;
there will be desolation.
10 For you ignore[p] the God who rescues you;
you pay no attention to your strong protector.[q]
So this is what happens:
You cultivate beautiful plants
and plant exotic vines.[r]
11 The day you begin cultivating, you do what you can to make it grow;[s]
the morning you begin planting, you do what you can to make it sprout.
Yet the harvest will disappear[t] in the day of disease
and incurable pain.
12 Beware, you many nations massing together,[u]
those who make a commotion as loud as the roaring of the sea’s waves.[v]
Beware, you people making such an uproar,[w]
those who make an uproar as loud as the roaring of powerful waves.[x]
13 Though these people make an uproar as loud as the roaring of powerful waves,[y]
when he shouts at[z] them, they will flee to a distant land,
driven before the wind like dead weeds on the hills,
or like dead thistles[aa] before a strong gale.
14 In the evening there is sudden terror;[ab]
by morning they vanish.[ac]
This is the fate of those who try to plunder us,
the destiny of those who try to loot us![ad]
- Isaiah 17:1 tn See note at Isa 13:1.
- Isaiah 17:2 tn Three cities are known by this name in the OT: (1) an Aroer located near the Arnon, (2) an Aroer in Ammon, and (3) an Aroer of Judah. (See BDB 792-93 s.v. עֲרֹעֵר, and HALOT 883 s.v. II עֲרוֹעֵר.) There is no mention of an Aroer in Syrian territory. For this reason some want to emend the text here to עֲזֻבוֹת עָרַיהָ עֲדֵי עַד (ʿazuvot ʿarayha ʿade ʿad, “her cities are permanently abandoned”). However, Aroer near the Arnon was taken by Israel and later conquered by the Syrians. (See Josh 12:2; 13:9, 16; Judg 11:26; 2 Kgs 10:33). This oracle pertains to Israel as well as Syria (note v. 3), so it is possible that this is a reference to Israelite and/or Syrian losses in Transjordan.
- Isaiah 17:2 tn Heb “and they lie down, and there is no one scaring [them].”
- Isaiah 17:3 tn Heb “and kingship from Damascus”; cf. NASB “And sovereignty from Damascus.”
- Isaiah 17:4 tn Heb “in that day” (so KJV). The verb that introduces this verse serves as a discourse particle and is untranslated; see note on “in the future” in 2:2.
- Isaiah 17:4 tn Heb “will be tiny.”
- Isaiah 17:4 tn Heb “and the fatness of his flesh will be made lean.”
- Isaiah 17:7 tn Heb “in that day” (so ASV, NASB, NIV); KJV “At that day.”
- Isaiah 17:7 tn Heb “man will gaze toward his maker.”
- Isaiah 17:7 tn Heb “his eyes will look toward.”
- Isaiah 17:7 sn See the note on the phrase “the Holy One of Israel” in 1:4.
- Isaiah 17:8 tn Heb “he will not gaze toward.”
- Isaiah 17:8 tn Heb “and that which his fingers made he will not see, the Asherah poles and the incense altars.”
- Isaiah 17:9 tn Heb “in that day” (so KJV).
- Isaiah 17:9 tn The Hebrew text reads literally, “like the abandonment of the wooded height and the top one.” The following relative clause appears to allude back to the Israelite conquest of the land, so it seems preferable to emend הַחֹרֶשׁ וְהָאָמִיר (hakhoresh vehaʾamir, “the wooded height and the top one”) to חֹרֵשֵׁי הָאֱמֹרִי (khoreshe haʾemori, “[like the abandonment] of the wooded heights of the Amorites”).
- Isaiah 17:10 tn Heb “you have forgotten” (so NAB, NIV, NRSV).
- Isaiah 17:10 tn Heb “and the rocky cliff of your strength you do not remember.”
- Isaiah 17:10 tn Heb “a vine, a strange one.” The substantival adjective זָר (zar) functions here as an appositional genitive. It could refer to a cultic plant of some type, associated with a pagan rite. But it is more likely that it refers to an exotic, or imported, type of vine, one that is foreign (i.e., “strange”) to Israel.
- Isaiah 17:11 tn Heb “in the day of your planting you [?].” The precise meaning of the verb תְּשַׂגְשֵׂגִי (tesagsegi) is unclear. It is sometimes derived from שׂוּג/סוּג (sug, “to fence in”; see BDB 691 s.v. II סוּג). In this case one could translate “you build a protective fence.” However, the parallelism is tighter if one derives the form from שָׂגָא/שָׂגָה (sagaʾ/sagah, “to grow”); see J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:351, n. 4. For this verb, see BDB 960 s.v. שָׂגָא.
- Isaiah 17:11 tc The Hebrew text has, “a heap of harvest.” However, better sense is achieved if נֵד (ned, “heap”) is emended to a verb. Options include נַד (nad, Qal perfect third masculine singular from נָדַד [nadad, “flee, depart”]), נָדַד (Qal perfect third masculine singular from נָדַד), נֹדֵד (noded, Qal active participle from נָדַד), and נָד (nad, Qal perfect third masculine singular, or participle masculine singular, from נוּד [nud, “wander, flutter”]). See BDB 626 s.v. נוּד and HALOT 672 s.v. I נדד. One could translate literally: “[the harvest] departs,” or “[the harvest] flies away.”
- Isaiah 17:12 tn Heb “Woe [to] the massing of the many nations.”
- Isaiah 17:12 tn Heb “like the loud noise of the seas, they make a loud noise.”
- Isaiah 17:12 tn Heb “the uproar of the peoples.”
- Isaiah 17:12 tn Heb “like the uproar of mighty waters they are in an uproar.”
- Isaiah 17:13 tn Heb “the peoples are in an uproar like the uproar of mighty waters.”
- Isaiah 17:13 tn Or “rebukes.” The verb and related noun are used in theophanies of God’s battle cry, which terrifies his enemies. See, for example, Pss 18:15; 76:7; 106:9; Isa 50:2; Nah 1:4, and A. Caquot, TDOT 3:49-53.
- Isaiah 17:13 tn Or perhaps “tumbleweed” (NAB, NIV, CEV); KJV “like a rolling thing.”
- Isaiah 17:14 tn Heb “at the time of evening, look, sudden terror.”
- Isaiah 17:14 tn Heb “before morning he is not.”
- Isaiah 17:14 tn Heb “this is the portion of those who plunder us, and the lot of those who loot us.”