Isaiah 17 – An Oracle Concerning Damascus

Chris

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Isaiah 17 – An Oracle Concerning Damascus
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

An Oracle Concerning Damascus​

“See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins. The cities of Aroer will be deserted and left to flocks, which will lie down, with no one to make them afraid.” – (Isaiah 17:1-2)

Because of the language of these verses, many scholars believe that this prophecy was only partially fulfilled when the Assyrians defeated the Arameans and overran their capital, Damascus, in 732 BC. To this day Damascus is thought to be the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city with a 5000-year history and a population close to 2 million, yet Isaiah 17:1 indicates that it will one day cease to exist.

Some believe the phrase “cities of Aroer” refers to Aramean territory east of the Jordan River around the Arnon River, which flows into the Dead Sea in southern Jordan. However, the Jewish Encyclopedia claims that this phrase in Isaiah 17:2 is probably translated incorrectly, because of its geographical distance from Damascus. While they say it’s possible that there may have been another Aroer near Damascus, it is more likely that the passage should be rendered “the cities thereof shall be forsaken.” If that’s the correct translation, it would include the Hezbollah stronghold in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, which was part of Aramean territory in Isaiah’s time, and is in a direct line between Beirut and Damascus.

“The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim, and royal power from Damascus; the remnant of Aram will be like the glory of the Israelites,” declares the LORD Almighty. “In that day the glory of Jacob will fade; the fat of his body will waste away. It will be as when a reaper gathers the standing grain and harvests the grain with his arm – as when a man gleans heads of grain in the Valley of Rephaim.” – (Isaiah 17:3-5)

This segment speaks of the fall of Samaria 10 years later in 722 BC, and the systematic relocation of everyone showing any leadership tendencies to the far reaches of the Assyrian Empire. This was standard Assyrian policy to reduce the likelihood of subsequent rebellion among their conquered peoples. Jacob and Ephraim are alternate names for the Northern Kingdom, and Samaria was its capital. Judah was the name given to the Southern Kingdom, later changed to Judea in the Greek and Roman eras.

“Yet some gleanings will remain, as when an olive tree is beaten, leaving two or three olives on the topmost branches, four or five on the fruitful boughs,” declares the LORD, the God of Israel.” – (Isaiah 17:6)

Not all the people were dispersed. A remnant remained in the land, casting further doubt on the “lost 10 tribes” hypothesis. It was this remnant that came to be known as the Samaritans in the time of Jesus. (A quick reading of 2 Chronicles 11:16 shows that all 12 tribes were represented in the Southern Kingdom of Judah at the time of the civil war that divided the nation. There are no lost tribes. The Lord has always preserved a remnant of all the Tribes of Israel.)

“In that day men will look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel. They will not look to the altars, the work of their hands, and they will have no regard for the Asherah poles and the incense altars their fingers have made. In that day their strong cities, which they left because of the Israelites, will be like places abandoned to thickets and undergrowth. And all will be desolation.” – (Isaiah 17:7-9)

This is another passage that’s problematic for those who try to consign the whole prophecy to history. There is simply no reason to believe that the Assyrians turned to God following their conquest of Aram and Israel. And far from abandoning their cities because of the Israelites, it was the Israelites who were defeated and dispersed. The yet future Jewish attack on Damascus causing the destruction and abandonment of Syrian cities, and the eventual return of the survivors to their God is a much more likely fulfillment. And it could happen soon.

The Israelis have all but announced plans to mount a pre-emptive attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iran and Syria supply the money, weaponry and supervisory manpower for the 16,000 or so missiles Hezbollah has arrayed against Israel. They’re believed to have directed Hezbollah to provoke this attack to demonstrate their combined strength as a deterrent to Israel’s plans. But I don’t think anyone expected Israel’s new government, thought by most to lack sufficient backbone for this kind of thing, to respond so forcefully. Now that they have, the West sees the possibility for a major victory in the War on Terror by knocking out a player or two. Israel has promised to destroy Hezbollah before they stop, and the West may see an opportunity here to punish Syria for killing former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri last spring. Better stay tuned.

“You have forgotten God your Savior; you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress. Therefore, though you set out the finest plants and plant imported vines, though on the day you set them out, you make them grow, and on the morning when you plant them, you bring them to bud, yet the harvest will be as nothing in the day of disease and incurable pain.” – (Isaiah 17:10-11)

Asshur, father of the Assyrians, and Aram, father of the Arameans were both sons of Shem. Aram’s son Uz is the traditional founder of Damascus. The knowledge of God in the memories of these patriarchs cannot be questioned. It wasn’t that they never knew Him, but that they had forgotten Him, abandoned Him in favor of the Canaanite gods of the region, Baal and his consort Ashtoreth (aka Asherah, Astarte, Ishtar, Aphrodite, Venus.) Currently Syria is almost totally Moslem. Until they return to their Maker and Savior none of their plans and schemes will prosper in the long run.

But return to Him they will. In Isaiah 19 we’re told that in the Kingdom Age there’ll be a highway extending from Egypt to Assyria, and both will stand with Israel to receive the Lord’s blessing. (Isaiah 19:23-25)

“Oh, the raging of many nations- they rage like the raging sea! Oh, the uproar of the peoples- they roar like the roaring of great waters! Although the peoples roar like the roar of surging waters, when he rebukes them they flee far away, driven before the wind like chaff on the hills, like tumbleweed before a gale. In the evening, sudden terror! Before the morning, they are gone! This is the portion of those who loot us, the lot of those who plunder us.” – (Isaiah 17:12-14)

Having conquered both the Arameans and the Northern Kingdom, the Assyrians set their sights on the Southern Kingdom, Judah. Assyria’s King Sennacherib brought his armies almost literally to the gates of Jerusalem, so close his commanders were within speaking distance of the Jewish defenders. On the night before they were to attack, the Lord sent His angel into the Assyrian camp on Mt. Scopus to slaughter 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. Before dawn they had packed up and fled, ending 44 years of conquest. (Isaiah 37:36-38) This time in Israel’s history so parallels the Jewish view of the End Times that Sennacherib is seen by them as a type of the anti-christ, while Judah’s King Hezekiah models the Messiah.

But notice that Isaiah speaks of many nations raging against God’s people, not just Assyria, leading us once again to consider Sennacherib’s defeat as a partial fulfillment.

The phrase “rushing of many waters” is often used to describe a loud voice. Such an escalation would certainly cause an incredible uproar among the nations, and many loud voices.

If you listen carefully, you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.

https://www.raptureforums.com/bible-prophecy/isaiah-17-oracle-concerning-damascus/
 

paul289

Well-Known Member
Seems like something that's pre-Rapture, particularly since it mentions the people coming back to God. An entire city turning to God doesn't seem all that likely after the Holy Spirit leaves. So, if the Rapture is happening soon, we should see this happen. We will be able to point to this and say "See? The Bible said this would happen!"
 

Spartan Sprinter 1

Formerly known as Shaun
Respectfully don't think that Israel will come back to God after the events of Isaiah 17, they're more likely to convert to God after the Ezekiel war if that's the people you're referring to as returning back to God.

Also the Holy Spirit doesn't leave the at the time of the rapture, he simply stops the role that he was doing in the Age of Grace and goes back to his role that he was doing during the old testament .

In terms of Isaiah 17 occurring before the rapture, you could be right ,that could be a possibility
 

athenasius

Well-Known Member
There are 2 main passages about the Destruction of Damascus and some others as well.

Isaiah 17 the whole chapter, all 14 verses
Jeremiah 49: 23- 27

Isaiah 17: NIV
1 A prophecy against Damascus:

“See, Damascus will no longer be a city
but will become a heap of ruins.
2 The cities of Aroer will be deserted
and left to flocks, which will lie down,
with no one to make them afraid.
3 The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim,
and royal power from Damascus;
the remnant of Aram will be
like the glory of the Israelites,”
declares the Lord Almighty.

4 “In that day the glory of Jacob will fade;
the fat of his body will waste away.
5 It will be as when reapers harvest the standing grain,
gathering the grain in their arms—
as when someone gleans heads of grain
in the Valley of Rephaim.
6 Yet some gleanings will remain,
as when an olive tree is beaten,
leaving two or three olives on the topmost branches,
four or five on the fruitful boughs,”
declares the Lord, the God of Israel.

7 In that day people will look to their Maker (in this case the word for people is Adam-- the whole human race)
and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel.

8 They will not look to the altars,
the work of their hands,
and they will have no regard for the Asherah poles
and the incense altars their fingers have made.

9 In that day their strong cities, which they left because of the Israelites, will be like places abandoned to thickets and undergrowth. And all will be desolation.

(the previous verses were describing Damascus and the people of Syria, now Isaiah addresses the Jews directly and this may be an indirect reference to their covenant with the Antichrist-- setting out finest plants, making them grow, a harvest of disease and pain)

10 You have forgotten God your Savior;
you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress.
Therefore, though you set out the finest plants
and plant imported vines,
11 though on the day you set them out, you make them grow,
and on the morning when you plant them, you bring them to bud,
yet the harvest will be as nothing
in the day of disease and incurable pain.

(Now Isaiah pronounces woe on the nations making a huge noise --likely angry with Israel for defending herself-- which she has a right to do, and likely if this is in the first half of the tribulation period, a covenant with the AC that ensures she can defend herself)

12 Woe to the many nations that rage—
they rage like the raging sea!
Woe to the peoples who roar—
they roar like the roaring of great waters!
13 Although the peoples roar like the roar of surging waters,
when he rebukes them they flee far away,
driven before the wind like chaff on the hills,
like tumbleweed before a gale.
14 In the evening, sudden terror!
Before the morning, they are gone!
This is the portion of those who loot us,
the lot of those who plunder us.


My note here-- although this had a partial fulfillment earlier in history, parts of this remain unfinished. Damascus never ceased from being a city. Even during the Assyrian conquest. Then there are the "in that day" phrases which usually point to an end time fulfillment. Especially referring to people who suddenly look to their Maker, The Holy One of Israel.

The phrase in verse 9 "In that day their strong cities, which they left because of the Israelites," suggests that whatever happened, the IDF had something to do with that final destruction. That immediately lets it out from happening as part of Ezek 38's Gog and Magog invasion because the IDF don't defend Israel in that GM event. Only God delivers them then. So this is different from the Gog Magog invasion. But it has one similarity. Is 17:14 suggests that somehow the root cause had something to do with plundering Israel, or trying to.

V 14 also tells us it happens overnight.

then there is the fact that the last half of the Tribulation the IDF can't respond in defence of Israel as the Jews are under the attack of the Antichrist from the midpoint on till Christ's return.

So whenever this happens it isn't part of the Gog Magog event (God takes care of that whole invasion without the help of the IDF or any human help) so because the IDF are involved in some way in the destruction of Damascus it isn't part of GM

It can't be part of the last half. Nor Gog Magog (GM)

So that leaves it to before the last half of the Tribulation, and before or after the Gog Magog event.

Since it uses terminology usually considered to be part of the Tribulation (in that day phrasing) then it's likely in the first half. That is further hinted at with the wording of v 10 which I think may hint at the covenant with death and hades as Isaiah terms it in Isaiah 28:16-22. Daniel 9:27. The covenant that starts the Tribulation 7 year period.

Since it refers to the unbelief of the inhabitants of Damascus (and Israel) this could be anytime from now till the end of the Tribulation.

Comparing this to the next passage helps IF they are referring to the same final event.

Jeremiah 49: 23- 27 NIV
23 Concerning Damascus:

“Hamath and Arpad are dismayed,
for they have heard bad news.
They are disheartened,
troubled like the restless sea.
24 Damascus has become feeble,
she has turned to flee
and panic has gripped her;
anguish and pain have seized her,
pain like that of a woman in labor.

25 Why has the city of renown not been abandoned,
the town in which I delight?

26 Surely, her young men will fall in the streets;
all her soldiers will be silenced in that day,”
declares the Lord Almighty.
27 “I will set fire to the walls of Damascus;
it will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad.”

Hamath still exists as the city of Hama, in Syria today just north of Damascus. Arpad is located just north of Aleppo, near the northern border of Syria with Turkey above it, and it is a key Syrian city today.

Verse 25 interjects a rhetorical question-- this city is not Damascus now, but Jerusalem, and it's contrasted with Damascus which HAS been abandoned. This suggests that like Isaiah 17, something was planned against Jerusalem, and ends up backfiring on Syria, resulting in the complete overnight destruction of Damascus by fire. Overnight.

Some versions suggest that trouble comes to Damascus from the sea coast, they turn to flee and are overtaken. Fire consumes Damascus.
 

athenasius

Well-Known Member
In the past I've gone along with the idea that Damascus might be the kick off that gets Grumpy Gog of Magog going against Israel, setting in motion the chain of events that leads to the Gog Magog invasion in Ezek 38.

It still might be.

But for the reasons outlined above the time frame should ALSO include a possibility of the first half of the Tribulation period AFTER Gog Magog. AFTER the signing of the covenant with the AC.

It's this passage about the strange plants that makes me think it might be after the signing of the covenant.

Isaiah 17:
10 You have forgotten God your Savior;
you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress.

Therefore, though you set out the finest plants
and plant imported vines,

11 though on the day you set them out, you make them grow,
and on the morning when you plant them, you bring them to bud,

yet the harvest will be as nothing
in the day of disease and incurable pain.

BUT I would argue against myself that it could also refer to the many other peace agreements that Israel tries and tries to gain the approval of the other nations with. Oslo accords, etc. Giving away chunks of her land under pressure (GAZA!) for peace. Always trying to get along. Trying oh so hard. Not succeeding.
 

Spartan Sprinter 1

Formerly known as Shaun
In the past I've gone along with the idea that Damascus might be the kick off that gets Grumpy Gog of Magog going against Israel, setting in motion the chain of events that leads to the Gog Magog invasion in Ezek 38.

It still might be.

But for the reasons outlined above the time frame should ALSO include a possibility of the first half of the Tribulation period AFTER Gog Magog. AFTER the signing of the covenant with the AC.

It's this passage about the strange plants that makes me think it might be after the signing of the covenant.

Isaiah 17:
10 You have forgotten God your Savior;
you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress.

Therefore, though you set out the finest plants
and plant imported vines,

11 though on the day you set them out, you make them grow,
and on the morning when you plant them, you bring them to bud,

yet the harvest will be as nothing
in the day of disease and incurable pain.

BUT I would argue against myself that it could also refer to the many other peace agreements that Israel tries and tries to gain the approval of the other nations with. Oslo accords, etc. Giving away chunks of her land under pressure (GAZA!) for peace. Always trying to get along. Trying oh so hard. Not succeeding.
Man the saying of no matter how many times you re-read scripture, you learn something new rings true to me in this instance. If Isaiah is mentioning the terminology about "In that Day" in his Isaiah 17 passage regarding Damascus then i'm starting think this is a trib prophecy as well .
 

SkyRider

Well-Known Member
It would seem more fitting to occur during the time of Jacob's Trouble, than to happen pre-Rapture. As mentioned, the restraining influence that holds back all out evil will be lifted and the enemy than has a chance to provoke Israel enough to get them to retaliate against Syria. If Israel needs to bomb Iran's nuke sites, that could even occur post-Rapture. I tend to think that the three events - bombed nuclear facilities in Iran, Iran retaliates through proxies Hamas, Hezbollah and directly from in and around Damascus necessitating Isaiah 17and the Gog/Magog invasion - could be linked together. But it still seems it won't happen until post Rapture when worldwide chaos could ensue and evil, rogue nations will have a somewhat more freer hand to unleash their terror and Israel will have a full array of concerns to deal with.
 

Jaybird

Well-Known Member
I always thought that the Damascus attack would be an isolated event, but your theory makes a lot of sense in that this could be a proverbial "domino effect" with one attack provoking another. As for the prophecy concerning Edam in Jeremiah my understanding from reading a few opinions on this is that Iran's main nuclear reactor is actually located in the region of Edam so it makes perfect sense that the IDF would take this out and the people living in that area would be forced to disperse as the prophecy states. On one hand it makes sense that this might be a part of the "dominoes" falling in the area and leading to further conflicts. My only problem with this is do we really believe that Israel will wait until the Trib until Iran builds up a decent number of nukes? With all the talk coming out of the Israeli government lately it sounds like they will act sooner rather than later concerning the nuke issue. They want to prevent Iran from building any nuclear bombs.
 

katt

Well-Known Member
Can someone point out to me where in Isaiah 17 does it specifically say that Israel is the one that takes Damascus out? I've read and reread that chapter and I just don't see it.. what am I missing?
 

athenasius

Well-Known Member
@katt asked Can someone point out to me where in Isaiah 17 does it specifically say that Israel is the one that takes Damascus out? I've read and reread that chapter and I just don't see it.. what am I missing?

9 In that day their strong cities, which they left because of the Israelites, will be like places abandoned to thickets and undergrowth. And all will be desolation.
It's in verse 9 here.
 

katt

Well-Known Member
@katt asked Can someone point out to me where in Isaiah 17 does it specifically say that Israel is the one that takes Damascus out? I've read and reread that chapter and I just don't see it.. what am I missing?


It's in verse 9 here.
Thank you so much..I see now why I missed it..I was reading it wrong..
 
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