The word "oracle" or "burden" (Isa 13:1; 15:1; 17:1; 19:1;
21:1; 22:1; 23:1) is from the Heb "to lift up", in foreboding or expectation; it
implies something that God has planned for another. More often than not, it
speaks of a coming punishment; but at times it simply means an important event
involving a particular people. The distinction must be determined by the
context. Often, the "burden" begins with warnings of judgments to come, and then
proceeds with prophecies of something beneficial arising out of the dark times.
Zec 12 illustrates this: it begins with a "burden... for Israel... in the
siege", but then quickly speaks of a time of blessing succeeding the time of
affliction: Jerusalem inhabited again in her own place (Zec 12:6,7). The burdens
of Isaiah generally follow this same pattern, with special ref to the LD of
Gentile times and the establishment of "Israel in their own land" (Isa 14:1) and
Christ as the "ruler of the land... upon the mount of the daughter of Zion" (Isa
16:1). Also the roles of various Gentile powers, esp in relation to Israel and
God's plans for the LD, are outlined. What might first appear to be a dry and
unrewarding study becomes in reality a promise of God's deliverance for His
people (in typical prophecies) and a glorious assurance (in initial
fulfillments) that God's purpose stands firm (Isa 14:26,27).
DAMASCUS: Ancient city of Aram, founded by Uz -- Shem's
grandson, on a plateau beside the Abana and Pharpar Rivers (2Ki 5:12). Defeated
by David (2Sa 8), but later antagonistic to Solomon (1Ki 11:24). Closely
connected with Israel's apostasy as in 1Ki 15;20; 2Ch 16. "No eastern city has
been so often overthrown and rebuilt as Damascus" (Vitringa, WIsa
A HEAP OF RUINS: Fulfilled by Tiglathpileser of Assyria
when bribed by Ahaz of Judah (2Ki 16:9). Later, when Sennacherib faced revolt
from various subject states, Syria was one of them, and this prophecy foretells
the outcome of that king's punitive expedition.
THE CITIES OF AROER WILL BE DESERTED: Or, as LXX, "her
cities for ever are forsaken".
THE FORTIFIED CITY WILL DISAPPEAR FROM EPHRAIM: Israel
is included alongside Syria, because Pekah of Israel and Rezin of Syria had
allied themselves together against Judah (Isa 7:6).
THE FORTIFIED CITY: Prob Samaria, which withstood a
long siege by Shalmanezer and Sargon before being at last brought to
LIKE THE GLORY OF THE ISRAELITES: "Ephraim's glory will
fly away like a bird" (Hos 9:11).
VALLEY OF REPHAIM: Consistently translated in NIV. AV
has "valley of the giants" (Jos 15:18; 18:16; Isa 17:5) or "valley of the
Rephaim" (2Sa 5:18,22; 23:13; 1Ch 11:15; 14:9; Isa 17:5). "Rephaim" sig "the
YET SOME GLEANINGS WILL REMAIN: A remnant of faithful
ones, even in Northern Kingdom of Israel.
Vv 7,8: In the coming days oppressive events will shatter
belief in all forms of false worship, and men will be led back to faith in
THE ALTARS: Esp the Assyrian altar imported by Ahaz
(2Ki 16:10-12). These were to encounter a shattering wave of righteous zeal and
indignation (2Ki 18:4; 2Ch 31:1).
INCENSE ALTARS: "Images" (AV), lit "sun-pillars":
obelisks erected in connection with sun-worship. Poss reltd to the "sun-dial" of
Ahaz (2Ki 20:11)?
"At that time their fortified cities will be like the
abandoned summits of the Amorites, which they abandoned because of the
Israelites; there will be desolation" (NET).
"In that day their strong cities will be like the deserted
places of the Hivites and the Amorites, which they deserted because of the
children of Israel, and there will be desolation" (RSV).
"Those Canaanite tribes, worshipers of the false gods
denounced here in v 8, were for that main reason cast out of the Land, leaving
their cities and villages to be taken over by Israel, led by Joshua. Now for the
same evil found in God's people, they are to suffer a like experience, the
Assyrians being used as the scourge of God" (WIsa 221).
THE FINEST PLANTS AND... IMPORTED VINES: "It could
refer to a cultic plant of some type, associated with a pagan rite" (NET notes).
" Sustained allusion to the pagan sexual fertility cult which dominated so many
of the religions adjacent to Israel. There is some evidence that the word
YET THE HARVEST WILL BE AS NOTHING: That is, the
"gardens" of immoral rituals will be swept away by the "flood" of the Assyrian
armies! Good riddance!
THE RAGING OF MANY NATIONS: "The enemy is described as
'many people' because of the copious recruitment of mercenaries which the
Assyrians made use of from other conquered countries: 'the multitude of the
nations that fight against Ariel' (Isa 29:7); 'assemble yourselves, all ye
peoples, and ye shall be broken in pieces' (Isa 8:9). Elam and Kir and the Medes
are specifically mentioned (Isa 21:2; 22:6) and the vigorous judgments against
Edom and Moab make it pretty certain that they too joined with enthusiasm in the
onslaught on Judah (Isa 25:10; 34:6; 63:1)" (WIsa 221,222).
LIKE THE RAGING SEA... THE ROARING OF GREAT WATERS: //
Isa 57:20,21; 8:7; Psa 46:1-8. The chaotic waters are perhaps intended to
conjure up the picture -- familiar in Canaanite and Babylonian mythology -- of
the god's (ie, in this case, Yahweh's) primordial victory over Leviathan the
"god" of the sea: see Lesson, Leviathan -- esp "OT History".
WHEN HE REBUKES THEM: God laughs at boastful nations
(Psa 2:4). Jesus the rebuker (Isa 2:4; 66:15,16) will come in flaming fire (2Th
1:7,8) to destroy the Assyrian (Joel 3:12...; Mic 5:5).
CHAFF: // Psa 1:4; 35:5; Mat 3;12; Isa
TUMBLEWEED: "Wheel" (galgal) in AV; the wild artichoke,
which, when ripe and dry, breaks off at the root and is carried by the wind,
rolling like a wheel over the plains. The RSV margin has "tumbleweed". The
Assyrian power is so described in Isa 17:12,13: "...like a rolling thing
[galgal, sw Psa 83:13] before the whirlwind."
IN THE EVENING, SUDDEN TERROR! BEFORE THE MORNING, THEY ARE
GONE!: Precisely how judgment fell on the Assyrian host: "Then the angel of
the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the
Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning -- there were all the
dead bodies!" (Isa 37:36). "Again it has to be emphasized that the real value of
this prophecy is in its meaning for today. Syrian Damascus, along with Edom and
Moab, Egypt and Tyre and all the other Arab marauders, will combine with the
great northern enemy to devastate and ravage Israel for its persistent faithless
materialistic godlessness and worship of sex. And yet through the penitence of a
faithful remnant there will come sudden Messianic deliverance. The destroying
angel of the Lord still has much work to accomplish -- and he has not forgotten
how to achieve it overnight!" (WIsa 222).