Count on it: Egypt won’t help
Pledging allegiance against God1
This is what the LORD has to say to his people
Israelites of Judah:
Too bad you can’t do as you’re told.
I give you an assignment
But you do what you want.
You’ve pledged allegiance
To do nothing I say.
You keep piling sins on sins.
Without my permission.
You put the safety of my people
In the hands of Egypt’s king.
3Your decision to trust Pharaoh
Will become your disgrace.
You wanted Egypt’s shelter.
You’ll get Egypt’s shame.
4Egypt’s king might have officials
From Zoan in the north
To Hanes in the south.
5But they’re all headed to trouble
Because they bet on Egypt.
But Egypt won’t win.
And Egypt can’t help.
All it can offer is shame and regret.
Caravan to Egypt6
This message is about animals
In Judah’s Negev badlands.
You pack your treasures on camel humps.
You load your wealth on donkey backs.
Then you take it all in a caravan
Through a rough and wasted land
Where lions roar and vipers fly,
To a nation that can’t protect you.
It’s useless to you.
So, I’m giving Egypt a new name:
The harmless one.
Get it in writing8
Go write this down.
Get it in writing on a scroll.
Put it on the record for all time.
I want this as a witness to what I’m saying.
We can count on them
To not count on the LORD
And not listen to what he has to say.
10They tell people who see visions,
“Keep your visions to yourself.”
They say to prophets of the LORD,
“Skip what we’re supposed to do.
Tell us what we want to do.
Tell us imaginary tales. We like those, too.
11Now get out of our way, take a hike
And give our ears a rest.
We’ve had our fill of your preaching
About Israel’s Holy One.”
God smashes Israel like a clay jug12
So the Holy One of Israel says:
Okay, it’s no sale. You’re done listening.
You’re going bet your money on fraud.
You’re going to put your faith in lies.
The crack will expand and bulge.
Then in an instant
It all comes down.
In a crash of bricks and clay.
14The crash will be as complete
As a clay jug smashed to bits.
There’s not a piece left to pick up.
Nothing to scoop coals off the fire
Or to dip water from a bowl.”
15The LORD God, the Holy One of Israel says:
“I told you to go home and mind your business.
You’ll be safe if you do.
Stay calm and trust me.”
But you didn’t. You refused.
16“No,” you told me.
“We’re saddling up and getting gone.”
Okay then. Getting gone it will be.
“We’re going to ride like the wind,” you said.
So will invaders when they run you down.
17A thousand of your soldiers will run away
At the sight of a single invader.
The rest will run at the sight of five.
In the end, your survivors
Will look like a pole on a hilltop
Standing there all alone.
Jerusalem will stop crying18
The LORD wants to show you mercy.
He’ll wait until you’re ready to get it.
The LORD is a God of justice for all.
He won’t disappoint people who trust him.
God will cremate Assyria’s king27
Look. Way off in the distance.
It’s the LORD. He’s coming.
He’s burning mad and loaded for a fight.
His words burn like fire
Leaving charred flakes behind.
Like a flash flood destroying everything in its path.
He’ll sift nations, good from bad.
He’ll throw a bridle on foreign people
And lead them to their death.
29But for you, it’s time to sing and dance.
Sing like it’s your favorite day of the festival.
Celebrate like you’re on parade,
Playing flutes on the path to Jerusalem,
The mountain of the LORD.
30The LORD is going to make himself heard
When his powerful arm strikes a blow.
He’ll come wrapped in flames of devouring fire,
With a cloudburst of hail and rain.
31Oppressive Assyria will retreat to the shadows
When they hear the voice of the LORD,
When they feel the force of his blow.
32When the LORD attacks Assyria
He’ll club them with a rod, to the beat of a tune,
While Israel dances, playing lyres and tambourines.
33The LORD reserved a place to burn the dead king.
It’s where Israel once sacrificed people in flames.
The funeral pyre is huge, and the fires will flame
Once the breath of the LORD strikes the wood
In a flashing burst of fiery waves of sulfur.
This message seems to refer to an alliance the Israelites of Judah signed with Egypt, to take a stand against the Assyrian Empire’s intrusion into their lands. Late in the reign of Assyrian king Ashurbanipal, the empire’s influence was waning. And Egypt, led by Psamtik I, was on the rise. Jerusalem’s officials bet on Egypt, against God’s instruction through Isaiah. They would lose their bet.
Zoan was an Egyptian city in the lush fields of the Nile River Delta. That’s where the Hebrew ancestors of the Jewish people settled when Jacob moved his family there to escape a long, regional drought.
Hanes is often linked to Heracleopolis Magna, south of the Nile Delta, roughly 140 miles (230 km) south of Zoan. That’s about a week’s travel by foot, upstream on the Nile River. The Nile flows north and empties into the Mediterranean Sea.
Flying snakes? Or cobras in trees in a region where there weren’t many trees? Assyrian king Esarhaddon (reign 681-669 BC) said he saw flying yellow snakes on his march to Egypt. Greek Historian Herodotus reported seeing the bones of what appeared to be flying snakes several centuries later, in the 400s BC. There are snakes that glide like flying squirrels. Scientific name: Chrysopelea. Up to four feet long (1.2 meters). They live in the jungles of Southeast Asia. They fling themselves off the end of branches, a bit like people spring off diving boards.
More literally, “Rahab the do-nothing.” Rahab was a dragon monster in ancient myths about the chaos of creation. If Rahab represented a dragon, its days of terrorizing people were over. It essentially retired to a condo on the Nile River.
More literally, sunlight and moonlight will become seven times brighter. Taken literally, that might be great for making toast on Jupiter, but it would destroy life on earth. Light here is symbolic and a good thing in a dark world more than 2,000 years before the discovery of electricity. “Seven” throughout the Bible is a number that symbolizes perfection and completion. Scholars say that’s because on Day Seven of Creation, God was finished. And he did a good job.
Literally, “burdened.” The burden might be the weight of the punishment God is going to inflict on Assyrians and other kingdoms and nations.
Presumably a symbolic way of saying God would make sure the Assyrian king dies and Assyria stops threatening Israelites. This seems to parallel Isaiah 14, where dead kings and other leaders sleep on a bed of maggots and cover themselves with worms (14:11).
The writer identifies the place as Topheth. This is part of Hinnom Valley, just outside the walled city of Jerusalem. Some kings of Jerusalem once sacrificed people there. They sacrificed to the Canaanite god known as Molech (2 Kings 23:10).
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.