Isa 17:1-11. Prophecy
Concerning Damascus and Its Ally Samaria, that is, Syria and
Israel, which had leagued together (seventh and eighth chapters).
Already, Tiglath-pileser had carried away the people
of Damascus to Kir, in the fourth year of Ahaz (2Ki 16:9); but now in Hezekiah's reign a
further overthrow is foretold (Jer 49:23; Zec 9:1). Also, Shalmaneser carried away Israel
from Samaria to Assyria (2Ki 17:6; 18:10, 11) in the sixth year of Hezekiah of
Judah (the ninth year of Hoshea of Israel). This prophecy was,
doubtless, given previously in the first years of Hezekiah when
the foreign nations came into nearer collision with Judah, owing to the
threatening aspect of Assyria.
1. Damascus—put before Israel
(Ephraim, Isa 17:3),
which is chiefly referred to in what follows, because it was the
prevailing power in the league; with it Ephraim either stood or fell
2. cities of Aroer—that is, the cities
round Aroer, and under its jurisdiction [Gesenius]. So "cities with their villages" (Jos 15:44); "Heshbon and all her cities"
13:17). Aroer was near
Rabbahammon, at the river of Gad, an arm of the Jabbok (2Sa 24:5), founded by the Gadites (Nu 32:34).
for flocks—(Isa 5:17).
3. fortress … cease—The
strongholds shall be pulled down (Samaria especially: Ho 10:14; Mic 1:6; Hab 1:10).
remnant of Syria—all that was left
after the overthrow by Tiglath-pileser (2Ki 16:9).
as the glory of … Israel—They
shall meet with the same fate as Israel, their ally.
4. glory of Jacob—the kingdom of Ephraim
and all that they rely on (Ho 12:2; Mic 1:5).
fatness … lean—(See on Isa 10:16).
5. harvestman, &c.—The inhabitants
and wealth of Israel shall be swept away, and but few left behind just
as the husbandman gathers the corn and the fruit, and leaves only a few
gleaning ears and grapes (2Ki 18:9-11).
with his arm—He collects the standing
grain with one arm, so that he can cut it with the sickle in the other
Rephaim—a fertile plain at the
southwest of Jerusalem toward Beth-lehem and the country of the
Philistines (2Sa 5:18-22).
6. in it—that is, in the land of
two or three … in the top—A few
poor inhabitants shall be left in Israel, like the two or three olive
berries left on the topmost boughs, which it is not worth while taking
the trouble to try to reach.
7. look to his Maker—instead of trusting
in their fortresses—(Isa 17:3; Mic 7:7).
8. groves—A symbolical tree is often
found in Assyrian inscriptions, representing the hosts of heaven
("Saba"), answering to Ashteroth or Astarte, the queen of heaven, as
Baal or Bel is the king. Hence the expression, "image of the grove," is
explained (2Ki 21:7).
images—literally, "images to the sun,"
that is, to Baal, who answers to the sun, as Astarte to the hosts of
heaven (2Ki 23:5; Job 31:26).
9. forsaken bough—rather "the leavings
of woods," what the axeman leaves when he cuts down the grove (compare
which they left because of—rather,
"which (the enemies) shall leave for the children of Israel";
literally, "shall leave (in departing) from before the face of
the children of Israel" [Maurer]. But a
few cities out of many shall be left to Israel, by the purpose of God,
executed by the Assyrian.
10. forgotten … God of … salvation
… rock—(De 32:15, 18).
plants—rather, "nursery grounds,"
set in—rather, "set them," the
strange slips—cuttings of plants from
far, and therefore valuable.
11. In the day … thy plant—rather,
"In the day of thy planting" [Horsley].
shalt … make … grow—Maurer translates, "Thou didst fence
it," namely, the pleasure-ground. The parallel clause, "Make …
flourish," favors English Version. As soon as thou plantest, it
in the morning—that is, immediately
after; so in Ps 90:14,
the Hebrew, "in the morning," is translated "early."
but … shall be a heap—rather,
"but (promising as was the prospect) the harvest is gone" [Horsley].
in … day of grief—rather, "in
the day of (expected) possession" [Maurer]. "In the day of inundation" [Horsley].
of desperate sorrow—rather, "And the
sorrow shall be desperate or irremediable." In English Version
"heap" and "sorrow" may be taken together by hendiadys. "The heap of
the harvest shall be desperate sorrow" [Rosenmuller].
Isa 17:12-18:7. Sudden
Destruction of a Great Army in Judea (namely that of the
Assyrian Sennacherib), AND Announcement of the
Event to the Ethiopian Ambassadors.
The connection of this fragment with what precedes
is: notwithstanding the calamities coming on Israel, the people of God
shall not be utterly destroyed (Isa 6:12, 13); the Assyrian spoilers shall perish
12. Woe … multitude—rather,
"Ho (Hark)! a noise of," &c. The prophet in vision
perceives the vast and mixed Assyrian hosts (Hebrew, "many
peoples," see on Isa 5:26): on the hills
of Judah (so "mountains," Isa 17:13):
but at the "rebuke" of God, they shall "flee as chaff."
to the rushing … that
make—rather, "the roaring … roareth" (compare Isa 8:7;
13. shall … shall—rather, "God
9:5) them, and they
flee—are chased"; the event is set before the eyes as
actually present, not future.
chaff of … mountains—Threshing
floors in the East are in the open air on elevated places, so as
to catch the wind which separates the chaff from the wheat (Ps 88:13;
rolling thing—anything that rolls:
14. eventide … before
morning—fulfilled to the letter in the destruction "before
morning" of the vast host that "at eveningtide" was such a
terror ("trouble") to Judah; on the phrase see Ps 90:6; 30:5.
he is not—namely, the enemy.
us—the Jews. A general declaration of
the doom that awaits the foes of God's people (Isa 54:17).