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A Message for the Nations

34 Come here and listen, O nations of the earth.
    Let the world and everything in it hear my words.
For the Lord is enraged against the nations.
    His fury is against all their armies.
He will completely destroy[a] them,
    dooming them to slaughter.
Their dead will be left unburied,
    and the stench of rotting bodies will fill the land.
    The mountains will flow with their blood.
The heavens above will melt away
    and disappear like a rolled-up scroll.
The stars will fall from the sky
    like withered leaves from a grapevine,
    or shriveled figs from a fig tree.

And when my sword has finished its work in the heavens,
    it will fall upon Edom,
    the nation I have marked for destruction.
The sword of the Lord is drenched with blood
    and covered with fat—
with the blood of lambs and goats,
    with the fat of rams prepared for sacrifice.
Yes, the Lord will offer a sacrifice in the city of Bozrah.
    He will make a mighty slaughter in Edom.
Even men as strong as wild oxen will die—
    the young men alongside the veterans.
The land will be soaked with blood
    and the soil enriched with fat.

For it is the day of the Lord’s revenge,
    the year when Edom will be paid back for all it did to Israel.[b]
The streams of Edom will be filled with burning pitch,
    and the ground will be covered with fire.
10 This judgment on Edom will never end;
    the smoke of its burning will rise forever.
The land will lie deserted from generation to generation.
    No one will live there anymore.
11 It will be haunted by the desert owl and the screech owl,
    the great owl and the raven.[c]
For God will measure that land carefully;
    he will measure it for chaos and destruction.
12 It will be called the Land of Nothing,
    and all its nobles will soon be gone.[d]
13 Thorns will overrun its palaces;
    nettles and thistles will grow in its forts.
The ruins will become a haunt for jackals
    and a home for owls.
14 Desert animals will mingle there with hyenas,
    their howls filling the night.
Wild goats will bleat at one another among the ruins,
    and night creatures[e] will come there to rest.
15 There the owl will make her nest and lay her eggs.
    She will hatch her young and cover them with her wings.
And the buzzards will come,
    each one with its mate.

16 Search the book of the Lord,
    and see what he will do.
Not one of these birds and animals will be missing,
    and none will lack a mate,
for the Lord has promised this.
    His Spirit will make it all come true.
17 He has surveyed and divided the land
    and deeded it over to those creatures.
They will possess it forever,
    from generation to generation.

Hope for Restoration

35 Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
    The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.
Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers
    and singing and joy!
The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon,
    as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon.
There the Lord will display his glory,
    the splendor of our God.
With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
    and encourage those who have weak knees.
Say to those with fearful hearts,
    “Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
    He is coming to save you.”

And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind
    and unplug the ears of the deaf.
The lame will leap like a deer,
    and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!
Springs will gush forth in the wilderness,
    and streams will water the wasteland.
The parched ground will become a pool,
    and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land.
Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish
    where desert jackals once lived.

And a great road will go through that once deserted land.
    It will be named the Highway of Holiness.
Evil-minded people will never travel on it.
    It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways;
    fools will never walk there.
Lions will not lurk along its course,
    nor any other ferocious beasts.
There will be no other dangers.
    Only the redeemed will walk on it.
10 Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return.
    They will enter Jerusalem[f] singing,
    crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear,
    and they will be filled with joy and gladness.

Assyria Invades Judah

36 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign,[g] King Sennacherib of Assyria came to attack the fortified towns of Judah and conquered them. Then the king of Assyria sent his chief of staff[h] from Lachish with a huge army to confront King Hezekiah in Jerusalem. The Assyrians took up a position beside the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is washed.[i]

These are the officials who went out to meet with them: Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace administrator; Shebna the court secretary; and Joah son of Asaph, the royal historian.

Sennacherib Threatens Jerusalem

Then the Assyrian king’s chief of staff told them to give this message to Hezekiah:

“This is what the great king of Assyria says: What are you trusting in that makes you so confident? Do you think[j] that mere words can substitute for military skill and strength? Who are you counting on, that you have rebelled against me? On Egypt? If you lean on Egypt, it will be like a reed that splinters beneath your weight and pierces your hand. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, is completely unreliable!

“But perhaps you will say to me, ‘We are trusting in the Lord our God!’ But isn’t he the one who was insulted by Hezekiah? Didn’t Hezekiah tear down his shrines and altars and make everyone in Judah and Jerusalem worship only at the altar here in Jerusalem?

“I’ll tell you what! Strike a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria. I will give you 2,000 horses if you can find that many men to ride on them! With your tiny army, how can you think of challenging even the weakest contingent of my master’s troops, even with the help of Egypt’s chariots and charioteers? 10 What’s more, do you think we have invaded your land without the Lord’s direction? The Lord himself told us, ‘Attack this land and destroy it!’”

11 Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said to the Assyrian chief of staff, “Please speak to us in Aramaic, for we understand it well. Don’t speak in Hebrew,[k] for the people on the wall will hear.”

12 But Sennacherib’s chief of staff replied, “Do you think my master sent this message only to you and your master? He wants all the people to hear it, for when we put this city under siege, they will suffer along with you. They will be so hungry and thirsty that they will eat their own dung and drink their own urine.”

13 Then the chief of staff stood and shouted in Hebrew to the people on the wall, “Listen to this message from the great king of Assyria! 14 This is what the king says: Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you. He will never be able to rescue you. 15 Don’t let him fool you into trusting in the Lord by saying, ‘The Lord will surely rescue us. This city will never fall into the hands of the Assyrian king!’

16 “Don’t listen to Hezekiah! These are the terms the king of Assyria is offering: Make peace with me—open the gates and come out. Then each of you can continue eating from your own grapevine and fig tree and drinking from your own well. 17 Then I will arrange to take you to another land like this one—a land of grain and new wine, bread and vineyards.

18 “Don’t let Hezekiah mislead you by saying, ‘The Lord will rescue us!’ Have the gods of any other nations ever saved their people from the king of Assyria? 19 What happened to the gods of Hamath and Arpad? And what about the gods of Sepharvaim? Did any god rescue Samaria from my power? 20 What god of any nation has ever been able to save its people from my power? So what makes you think that the Lord can rescue Jerusalem from me?”

21 But the people were silent and did not utter a word because Hezekiah had commanded them, “Do not answer him.”

22 Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace administrator; Shebna the court secretary; and Joah son of Asaph, the royal historian, went back to Hezekiah. They tore their clothes in despair, and they went in to see the king and told him what the Assyrian chief of staff had said.

Footnotes

  1. 34:2 The Hebrew term used here refers to the complete consecration of things or people to the Lord, either by destroying them or by giving them as an offering; similarly in 34:5.
  2. 34:8 Hebrew to Zion.
  3. 34:11 The identification of some of these birds is uncertain.
  4. 34:12 The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
  5. 34:14 Hebrew Lilith, possibly a reference to a mythical demon of the night.
  6. 35:10 Hebrew Zion.
  7. 36:1 The fourteenth year of Hezekiah’s reign was 701 B.c.
  8. 36:2a Or the rabshakeh; also in 36:4, 11, 12, 22.
  9. 36:2b Or bleached.
  10. 36:5 As in Dead Sea Scrolls (see also 2 Kgs 18:20); Masoretic Text reads Do I think.
  11. 36:11 Hebrew in the dialect of Judah; also in 36:13.