ch. 17


vs. 1-3. THE BURDEN OF DAMASCUS. -  The eye of the prophet

travels northwards from Moab, and, passing over Ammon as an enemy of

small account, rests once more upon Damascus, already threatened in

Isaiah 7:1-9, and probably already partially punished. Damascus is

seen once more in alliance with Ephraim (v. 3), and the two are joined

with a new power, Aroer (v. 2), which possesses several “cities.” Woe is

denounced on all the three powers: desolation on Damascus and Aroer; on

Damascus and Ephraim (Ephraim was synonomous with Israel, the

northern kingdom, thus the tragedy in the loss of independence – as

America leans more socialistic, with a new president, and the talk

of global this and global that, freedom loving Americans will decry

their loss of independence –It was Horace Greely who said “it is

impossible to enslave mentally or socially a Bible reading

people.  The principles of the Bible are the ground-work of human

freedom– we have turned our back on God like Israel and Judah  - CY –

2009), the complete loss of the last shadow of independance. The Assyrian

inscriptions point out, as the probable date of the prophecy, the

commencement of Sargun’s reign — about B.C. 722 or 721.


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v. 1 – Damascus – the oldest continually inhabited city in the world –


v. 2 – “The cities of Aroer are forsaken” -That the Aroer of this

passage cannot be either that on the Arnon, or that facing Rabbath-Ammon

(Joshua 13:25), has long been perceived and recognized (see Mr.

Grove’s article on “Aroer” in the ‘Dict. of the Bible,’ vol. 1. p. 115). It is

evidently a city of the same name lying much further towards the north.

And it is a city of far greater importance, having “cities” dependent on it.

Now, Sargon’s annals tell us of a “Gal’gar,” a name well expressing the

Hebrew r[r[, which was united in a league with Damascus, Samaria,

Arpad, and Simyra, in the second year of Sargon, and was the scene of a

great battle and a great destruction. Sargon besieged it, took it, and

reduced it to ashes (‘Records of the Past,’ 50.s.e.). There is every reason

to recognize the “Aroer” of this verse in the “Gargar” of Sargon’s

inscriptions. “They shall be for flocks” - (Isaiah 5:17; 7:25). It

marked the very extreme of desolation, that cattle should be pastured on

the sites of the cities.


I included the above because I wonder how many places upon the

earth throughout history has been reduced to nothing because of

sin!  (CY – 2009)


v. 3 - "the fortress also shall cease from Ephraim and the kingdom

            from Damascus and the remnant of Syria"


Ephraim is the name of a tribe of Israel, it is the name of a city,

it is the name of a mountain, and it is the name of a man, Joseph’s

son.  Ephraim is often used in Scripture to refer to the ten

northern tribes of Israel.  The prophets used it in that way  - see

Hosea 4:16,17.


Therefore, we have here in chapter 17 “the burden of Damascus” –

v. 1 and Ephraim – v. 3, or in other words the burden of the

nations of Syria and Israel.  Because of the confederacy between

Syria and Israel (often for the purpose of coming against Judah),

Israel is linked with the judgments pronounced on Syria. 


Partners in crime means partners in judgment!


Italicized from J. Vernon McGee.




united herself with Syria to resist the Assyrians, will incur a similar fate.

Her glory will decay, her population dwindle and almost disappear. Still

there will be a few left, who, under the circumstances, will turn to God

(v. 7). But it will be too late for anything like a national recovery; the

land will remain “a desolation” on account of the past sins of its inhabitants

(vs. 9-11).


The analogy for today is much more graveupon whom the ends of the

world are come” – (see I Corinthians 11:11) – when Jesus comes there

will be no remnant because they will be taken to heaven with Him “in

a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump” – (I Corinthians

15:52  - CY – 2009)


v. 4 - "the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh

            shall wax lean" – DEPOPULATION is primarily intended; but

            there is, perhaps, also a more general reference to DEPRESSION,

            WASTING and MISERY!


Choices - (small remnant) - "many called, few chosen"


vs. 7-8 - a remnant may save their own souls but they

            cannot save their country – see ch. 32:1-2


Ver. 9. — “In that day” - While a remnant of the Israelites shall repent and

turn to God, throwing in their lot with Judah, as it would seem the country

generally shall feel the weight of God’s chastening hand, on account of

Israel’s former sins and offences – “As a forsaken bough, and an

uppermost branch” -  rather, as the forsaken tract of woodland and

mountain-crest (Kay). The reference is to the condition of the land when it

passed out of the possession of the Canaanitish nations. It was then

forsaken and desolate. So shall it be once more, when Israel is expelled for

the same sins (see 2 Kings 17:7, 8) – “Which they left because of the

children of Israel” -  rather, which men forsook before the children of Israel;

i.e. from which the Canaanites fled as the children of Israel advanced and

took possession. The writer ignores the long and fierce struggle which the

Canaanites made, and looks only to the result — retirement from a

desolated country.

v. 10 –“Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and

            hast not been mindful of the Rock of thy Strength” - He who

            takes away sorrows, shelters us, comforts us, gives us

            satisfaction, peace and happiness  - our EVER  PRESENT JOY!


Forgetfulness of Jehovah has led to the adoption of a voluptuous religion –

one of debased foreign rites. There is possibly, as Mr. Cheyne thinks,

a special reference to the cult of Adonis. “shall set it’ - rather, settest it,

or hast set it. “It” must refer to“field” or “garden” understood. The later

Israelite religion has been a sort of pleasant garden, planted with exotic

slips from various quarters —Phoenicia, Syria, Moab, etc. It has been

thought permissible to introduce into it any new cult that took the fancy.

Hence the multiplication of altars complained of by Hosea (Hosea 8:11;

10:1; 12:11).


v. 11 - "the harvest shall be a heap in the day of grief and of desperate

            sorrow" – the Day of Visitation has arrived!


vs. 12-14. - A PROPHECY AGAINST ASSYRIA. This passage is,

apparently, out of place. At any rate, it is quite unconnected with what

precedes, and almost equally so with what follows. Still, it must be borne in

mind that, until the destruction of Sennacherib’s army, Isaiah has the

thought of the Assyrians, as the pressing danger, always before him, and

continually reverts to it, often abruptly, and without preparation (see

Isaiah 5:26-30; 7:17-25; 8:5-8; 10:5-19, 24-34; 14:24-27). The present

prophecy seems, more distinctly than any other in the purely prophetical

chapters, to point to the miraculous destruction of the hoot which

Sennacherib was about to bring against Jerusalem.


v. 14 - "behold at eventide trouble" - rather terror, as the word is always




                                    ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS


vs. 6-11 - National Repentance May Come Too Late to Avert National Ruin.

The crisis of a nation’s fate is brought on by slow degrees, and results from

a multitude of acts, each one of which, when once done, is past recall. Up

to a certain point there is a possibility of retrieval. “Tout peut se retablir,”

as a great monarch of our own time said. The modes of action that have

brought the state into difficulties may be renounced, or even reversed; and

recovery may set in as a natural consequence of such reversal. Or the

change of conduct may have appeased God’s anger, and His favor may

raise up the nation which he has depressed, to mark His displeasure. Such

was the case with united Israel during the period of the judges. Seven times

was the nation for its sins “sold into the hand” of a foreign power, its

independence suspended, its ruin all but accomplished; and seven times

upon its repentance did God raise up a deliverer who restored it to

vigorous life and re-established its prosperity. But this process cannot go

on forever. A time comes when the sources of national vigor are sapped,

when exhaustion has set in, when foreign neighbors have become

enormously powerful, and when it would require, not one miracle only, but

a series of miracles, to save the state from the consequences of its LONG

CONTINUED MISCONDUCT.  Then, although the remnant left may

perceive its danger, and regret the past, and repent, and put away the evil

of its doings, and even reverse its modes of action, turning to God (v. 7)

 instead of turning away from him (v. 10), and looking to the Holy One

instead of looking to idols and vanities, it may be too late to reverse the

fiat that has long since gone forth, or to arrest the destruction decreed

and determined on. The remnant may save their own souls, but they

cannot save their country. The “day of grief and of desperate sorrow’

comes on, whatever they may do; and the nation perishes in consequence

of its past misdeeds, despite its tardy amendment.


v. 10 - The Rock of our Strength.

Irreligious men have many “rocks of strength,” or at any rate think that

they have many:


1. “Some put their trust in chariots and in horses,” believe in “big

battalions” as really ruling the world, and think they have only to swell

their armies in order to sway the course of events at their pleasure. Tell

them that “it is nothing with God to help, whether with many or with them

that have no power” (2 Chronicles 14:11); assure them that “it is no

hard matter for many to be shut up in the hands of a few, and with the God

of heaven it is all one to deliver with a great multitude or a small company,

for the victory of battle standeth not in the multitude of a host, but strength

cometh from heaven” (1 Macc. 3:18, 19); and they open their eyes wide

with astonishment, and set down the speaker as a dreamy fanatic.


Compare what really happened to the Assyrians – ch. 37:36


2. Others regard wealth as a tower of strength, a “rock” that will never fail

them. Three things alone are wanted to secure complete success in life, and

these are “Money, money, money.” Their highest idea of perfect safety and

security is “the Bank of England.” (in this day Freddie Mac and Fannie

Mae – CY – 2009)  No qualms of fear assail them so long as

they have a good balance at their bankers. “Soul,” they say to themselves,

thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink,

and be merry ‘(Luke 12:16-21). Tell them that riches make themselves

wings, talk to them of failures, bankruptcies, revolutions, and they will

laugh you to scorn; theirs are safe, they are quite certain, and that is

enough for them.


3. A third class “trust in princes,” or great men. They have a patron, a

protector, a “friend at court;” and all must necessarily go well with them.

Nay, perhaps they have “two or three strings to their bow” — powerful

friends belonging to both parties; how, then, is it possible that they should

not be secure? Christian men have, on the other hand, but one “Rock of

strength,” but one Trust, but one Stay, and that is God. God is their



I. As BEING FIRM AND IMMOVABLE. All else is shifting and

changing. Men die, even though they be princes or prime ministers. Armies

melt away, suffer defeat, mutiny. Wealth becomes the prey of the spoiler, is

lost through fraud, or taken away by violence. God always remains the

same — firm, solid, substantial; something on which we can count,

something that will not disappear, that will not change, that we can rely

upon as a sure foundation.



to their fortified cities to protect them (v. 9). The Christian looks to God.

God’s strength is such that nothing can prevail against it. He is an

absolutely sure Defense, able to save men “to the uttermost.” No one that

has relied wholly and solely upon God, has ever found his reliance

misplaced or his defense fail him. If we make God our Refuge, we place

ourselves in an impregnable citadel. He is omnipotent, and therefore

ever able to save; he is faithful, and therefore ever willing to save.



THE TEMPEST. God not only protects but consoles, not only saves but

comforts. He is “the Shadow of a great Rock in a weary land.” – Isaiah 32:2 –

 When dangers threaten, when calamities come, when we are drooping

beneath the noonday heat, or chilled by the pitiless storm, we can rest on Him,

and He will cheer us; we can make our appeal to Him, and He will give us

relief and refreshment. It is promised that, ultimately, “God shall wipe away

tears from all eyes” (Revelation 21:4). Already He does this to a large extent.

Not only is He our Defense and Stay, but He is a “Rock” that “follows us

(1 Corinthians 10:4) through the wilderness of human life, assuaging

our griefs, taking away our sorrows, giving us shelter, comfort,

satisfaction, peace, happiness. He is Himself an ever-present Joy,

possessing whom, whatsoever happened to us, we should be content.