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Ethiopia Will Be Punished

18 Downstream from Ethiopia[a]
lies the country of Egypt,
    swarming with insects.[b]
Egypt sends messengers
up the Nile River
    on ships made of reeds.[c]
Send them fast to Ethiopia,
whose people are tall
    and have smooth skin.
Their land is divided by rivers;
they are strong and brutal,
    feared all over the world.[d]

Everyone on this earth,
    listen with care!
A signal will be given
on the mountains,
    and you will hear a trumpet.
The Lord said to me,
“I will calmly look down
    from my home above—
as calmly as the sun at noon
or clouds in the heat
    of harvest season.”

Before the blossoms
    can turn into grapes,
God will cut off the sprouts
    and hack off the branches.
Ethiopians will be food
for mountain buzzards
    during the summer
and for wild animals
    during the winter.

Those Ethiopians are tall and their skin is smooth. They are feared all over the world, because they are strong and brutal. But at that time they will come from their land divided by rivers, and they will bring gifts to the Lord All-Powerful, who is worshiped on Mount Zion.

Egypt Will Be Punished

19 This is a message about Egypt:

The Lord comes to Egypt,
    riding swiftly on a cloud.
The people are weak from fear.
Their idols tremble
    as he approaches and says,
“I will punish Egypt
    with civil war—
neighbors, cities, and kingdoms
    will fight each other.

“Egypt will be discouraged
    when I confuse their plans.
They will try to get advice
    from their idols,
from the spirits of the dead,
    and from fortunetellers.
I will put the Egyptians
under the power of a cruel,
    heartless king.
I, the Lord All-Powerful,
    have promised this.”

Trouble along the Nile

The Nile River will dry up
    and become parched land.
Its streams will stink,
    Egypt will have no water,
and the reeds and tall grass
    will dry up.
Fields along the Nile
will be completely barren;
    every plant will disappear.

Those who fish in the Nile
will be discouraged
    and mourn.
None of the cloth makers[e]
will know what to do,
    and they will turn pale.[f]
10 Weavers will be confused;
paid workers will cry and mourn.

Egypt’s Helpless Leaders

11 The king’s officials in Zoan[g]
are foolish themselves
    and give stupid advice.
How can they say to him,
    “We are very wise,
and our families go back
    to kings of long ago?”
12 Where are those wise men now?
    If they can, let them say
what the Lord All-Powerful
    intends for Egypt.

13 The royal officials in Zoan
and in Memphis
    are foolish and deceived.
The leaders in every state
have given bad advice
    to the nation.
14 The Lord has confused Egypt;
its leaders have made it stagger
    and vomit like a drunkard.
15 No one in Egypt can do a thing,
    no matter who they are.

16 When the Lord All-Powerful punishes Egypt with his mighty arm, the Egyptians will become terribly weak and will tremble with fear. 17 They will be so terrified of Judah that they will be frightened by the very mention of its name. This will happen because of what the Lord All-Powerful is planning against Egypt.

The Lord Will Bless Egypt, Assyria, and Israel

18 The time is coming when Hebrew will be spoken in five Egyptian cities, and their people will become followers of the Lord. One of these cities will be called City of the Sun.[h]

19 In the heart of Egypt an altar will be set up for the Lord; at its border a shrine will be built to honor him. 20 These will remind the Egyptians that the Lord All-Powerful is with them. And when they are in trouble and ask for help, he will send someone to rescue them from their enemies. 21 The Lord will show the Egyptians who he is, and they will know and worship the Lord. They will bring him sacrifices and offerings, and they will keep their promises to him. 22 After the Lord has punished Egypt, the people will turn to him. Then he will answer their prayers, and the Egyptians will be healed.

23 At that time a good road will run from Egypt to Assyria. The Egyptians and the Assyrians will travel back and forth from Egypt to Assyria, and they will worship together. 24 Israel will join with these two countries. They will be a blessing to everyone on earth, 25 then the Lord All-Powerful will bless them by saying,

“The Egyptians are my people.
I created the Assyrians
    and chose the Israelites.”

Isaiah Acts Out the Defeat of Egypt and Ethiopia

20 King Sargon of Assyria gave orders for his army commander to capture the city of Ashdod.[i] About this same time the Lord had told me, “Isaiah, take off everything, including your sandals!” I did this and went around naked and barefoot for three years.

Then the Lord said:

What Isaiah has done is a warning to Egypt and Ethiopia.[j] Everyone in these two countries will be led away naked and barefoot by the king of Assyria. Young or old, they will be taken prisoner, and Egypt will be disgraced. They will be confused and frustrated, because they depended on Ethiopia and bragged about Egypt. When this happens, the people who live along the coast[k] will say, “Look what happened to them! We ran to them for safety, hoping they would protect us from the king of Assyria. But now, there is no escape for us.”

The Fall of Babylonia[l]

21 This is a message about a desert beside the sea:[m]

Enemies from a hostile nation
like a whirlwind
    from the Southern Desert.
What a horrible vision
    was shown to me—
a vision of betrayal
    and destruction.
Tell Elam and Media[n]
to surround
and attack
    the Babylonians.
The Lord has sworn to end
    the suffering they caused.

I’m in terrible pain
    like a woman giving birth.
I’m shocked and hurt so much
    that I can’t hear or see.
My head spins; I’m horrified!
Early evening, my favorite time,
    has become a nightmare.

In Babylon the high officials
    were having a feast.
They were eating and drinking,
    when someone shouted,
“Officers, take your places!
    Grab your shields.”

The Lord said to me,
“Send guards
to find out
    what’s going on.
When they see cavalry troops
    and columns of soldiers
on donkeys and camels,
    tell them to be ready!”

Then a guard[o] said,
“I have stood day and night
    on this watchtower, Lord.
Now I see column after column
    of cavalry troops.”

Right away someone shouted,
    “Babylon has fallen!
Every idol in the city
    lies broken on the ground.”

10 Then I said, “My people,
    you have suffered terribly,
but I have a message for you
from the Lord All-Powerful,
    the God of Israel.”

How Much Longer?

11 This is a message about Dumah:
From the country of Seir,[p]
    someone shouts to me,
“Guard, how much longer
    before daylight?”

12 From my guard post, I answered,
“Morning will soon be here,
    but night will return.
If you want to know more,
    come back later.”

13 This is a message for Arabs
who live in the barren desert
    in the region of Dedan:[q]
You must order your caravans
14 to bring water for those
    who are thirsty.
You people of Tema[r]
must bring food
    for the hungry refugees.
15 They are worn out and weary
from being chased by enemies
    with swords and arrows.

16 The Lord said to me:

A year from now the glory of the people of Kedar[s] will all come to an end, just as a worker’s contract ends after a year. 17 Only a few of their warriors will be left with bows and arrows. This is a promise that I, the Lord God of Israel, have made.

Trouble in Vision Valley

22 This is a message
    about Vision Valley:[t]
Why are you celebrating
on the flat roofs[u]
    of your houses?
Your city is filled
    with noisy shouts.
Those who lie drunk
in your streets
    were not killed in battle.
Your leaders ran away,
but they were captured
    without a fight.
No matter how far they ran,
    they were found and caught.[v]

Then I said, “Leave me alone!
    Let me cry bitter tears.
My people have been destroyed,
    so don’t try to comfort me.”

The Lord All-Powerful
    had chosen a time
for noisy shouts and confusion
    to fill Vision Valley,
and for everyone to beg
    the mountains for help.[w]
The people of Elam and Kir[x]
attacked with chariots[y]
    and carried shields.
Your most beautiful valleys
    were covered with chariots;
your cities were surrounded
by cavalry troops.
    Judah was left defenseless.

At that time you trusted in the weapons you had stored in Forest Palace.[z] You saw the holes in the outer wall of Jerusalem, and you brought water from the lower pool.[aa] 10 You counted the houses in Jerusalem and tore down some of them, so you could get stones to repair the city wall. 11 Then you built a large tank between the walls[ab] to store the water. But you refused to trust the God who planned this long ago and made it happen.

A Time To Weep

12 When all of this happened,
the Lord All-Powerful told you
    to weep and mourn,
    to shave your heads,
    and wear sackcloth.
13 But instead, you celebrated
by feasting on beef and lamb
    and by drinking wine,
because you said,
“Let’s eat and drink!
    Tomorrow we may die.”

14 The Lord All-Powerful
has spoken to me
    this solemn promise:
“I won’t forgive them for this,
    not as long as they live.”

Selfish Officials Are Doomed

15 The Lord All-Powerful is sending you with this message for Shebna, the prime minister:

16 Shebna, what gives you the right to have a tomb carved out of rock in this burial place of royalty? None of your relatives are buried here. 17 You may be powerful, but the Lord is about to snatch you up and throw you away. 18 He will roll you into a ball and throw you into a wide open country, where you will die and your chariots will be destroyed. You’re a disgrace to those you serve.

19 The Lord is going to take away your job! 20-21 He will give your official robes and your authority to his servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah.

Eliakim will be like a father to the people of Jerusalem and to the royal family of Judah. 22 The Lord will put him in charge of the key that belongs to King David’s family. No one will be able to unlock what he locks, and no one will be able to lock what he unlocks. 23 The Lord will make him as firm in his position as a tent peg hammered in the ground, and Eliakim will bring honor to his family.

24 His children and relatives will be supported by him, like pans hanging from a peg on the wall. 25 That peg is fastened firmly now, but someday it will be shaken loose and fall down. Then everything that was hanging on it will be destroyed. This is what the Lord All-Powerful has promised.


  1. 18.1 Ethiopia: See the note at 11.11.
  2. 18.1 insects: Or “sailing ships.”
  3. 18.2 reeds: Ancient Egypt was famous for the papyrus reeds that grew in the Nile Delta.
  4. 18.2 world: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 2.
  5. 19.9 cloth makers: Cloth was made from several kinds of plants that grew in the fields along the Nile.
  6. 19.9 turn pale: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  7. 19.11 Zoan: The city of Tanis in the Nile delta.
  8. 19.18 City of the Sun: Some manuscripts of the Standard Hebrew Text, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and one ancient translation; most manuscripts of the Standard Hebrew Text have “City of Destruction.” This probably refers to Heliopolis which means “City of the Sun” (see Jeremiah 43.13).
  9. 20.1 Ashdod: King Sargon II of Assyria captured this Philistine city in 711 B.C.
  10. 20.3 Ethiopia: See the note at 11.11.
  11. 20.6 people. . . coast: Probably the Philistines.
  12. 21.1 Babylonia: King Cyrus and his army of Medes and Persians captured the city of Babylon in 539 B.C.
  13. 21.1 This. . . sea: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text. The prophet may be speaking of Babylonia as a desert, because of the terrible punishment God will bring on it. The southern part of Babylonia on the Persian Gulf was sometimes called “the land beside the sea.”
  14. 21.2 Elam and Media: People from the Iranian highlands; the capital of Elam was Susa, in the hill country east of Babylon.
  15. 21.8 guard: The Dead Sea Scrolls and one ancient translation; the Standard Hebrew Text has “lion.”
  16. 21.11 Dumah. . . Seir: Dumah was an oasis in the Arabian desert. One ancient translation has “Edom,” which may be what is meant. Seir is a mountainous region of Edom southwest of the Dead Sea.
  17. 21.13 Dedan: A region in northwest Arabia.
  18. 21.14 Tema: A region in north Arabia.
  19. 21.16 Kedar: A region in the Arabian desert.
  20. 22.1 Vision Valley: The exact location is not known. In Hebrew the name sounds something like “Hinnom Valley,” where the people of Jerusalem sometimes offered human sacrifices to the gods of Canaan.
  21. 22.1 flat roofs: In Palestine the houses usually had a flat roof. Stairs on the outside led up to the roof, which was made of beams and boards covered with packed earth.
  22. 22.3 No matter. . . caught: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  23. 22.5 and for. . . help: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  24. 22.6 Elam and Kir: Regions in the Iranian highlands.
  25. 22.6 chariots: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  26. 22.8 Forest Palace: Built by Solomon (1 Kings 7.2) and used as a place for storing weapons.
  27. 22.9 the lower pool: Mentioned only here; probably in the southern part of the Central Valley (Tyropoean Valley) of Jerusalem.
  28. 22.11 between the walls: Some cities had two walls with a space between them. If the enemy broke through the outer wall, the city was still protected by the inner wall. The houses that were torn down to repair the outer wall were probably squatters' huts that had been built between the two walls.