161From the city of Sela in the desert the people of Moab send a lamb as a present to the one who rules in Jerusalem. 2They wait on the banks of the River Arnon and move aimlessly to and fro, like birds driven from their nest.
3They say to the people of Judah, “Tell us what to do. Protect us like a tree that casts a cool shadow in the heat of noon, and let us rest in your shade. We are refugees; hide us where no one can find us. 4Let us stay in your land. Protect us from those who want to destroy us.”
(Oppression and destruction will end, and those who are devastating the country will be gone. 5Then one of David's descendants will be king, and he will rule the people with faithfulness and love. He will be quick to do what is right, and he will see that justice is done.)
6The people of Judah say, “We have heard how proud the people of Moab are. We know that they are arrogant and conceited, but their boasts are empty.”
7The people of Moab will weep because of the troubles they suffer. They will all weep when they remember the fine food they used to eat in the city of Kir Heres. They will be driven to despair. 8The farms near Heshbon and the vineyards of Sibmah are destroyed — those vineyards whose wine used to make the rulers of the nations drunk. At one time the vines spread as far as the city of Jazer, and eastwards into the desert, and westwards to the other side of the Dead Sea. 9Now I weep for Sibmah's vines as I weep for Jazer. My tears fall for Heshbon and Elealeh, because there is no harvest to make the people glad. 10No one is happy now in the fertile fields. No one shouts or sings in the vineyards. No one tramples grapes to make wine; the shouts of joy are ended.16.10 One ancient translation the shouts of joy are ended; Hebrew I have ended the shouts of joy. 11I groan with sadness for Moab, with grief for Kir Heres. 12The people of Moab wear themselves out going to their mountain shrines and to their temples to pray, but it will do them no good.
13That is the message the LORD gave earlier about Moab. 14And now the LORD says, “In exactly three years Moab's great wealth will disappear. Of its many people, only a few will survive, and they will be weak.”
The LORD said, “Damascus will not be a city any longer; it will be only a pile of ruins. 2The cities of Syria will be deserted for ever.17.2 One ancient translation The cities… for ever; Hebrew The cities of Aroer are deserted. They will be a pasture for sheep and cattle, and no one will drive them away. 3Israel will be defenceless, and Damascus will lose its independence. Those Syrians who survive will be in disgrace like the people of Israel. I, the LORD Almighty, have spoken.”
4The LORD said, “A day is coming when Israel's greatness will come to an end, and its wealth will be replaced by poverty. 5Israel will be like a field where the corn has been cut and harvested, as desolate as a field in the valley of Rephaim when it has been picked bare. 6Only a few people will survive, and Israel will be like an olive tree from which all the olives have been picked except two or three at the very top, or a few that are left on the lower branches. I, the LORD God of Israel, have spoken.”
7When that day comes, people will turn for help to their Creator, the holy God of Israel. 8They will no longer rely on the altars they made with their own hands, or trust in their own handiwork — symbols of the goddess Asherah and altars for burning incense.
9When that day comes, well-defended cities will be deserted and left in ruins like the cities that the Hivites and the Amorites17.9 One ancient translation the Hivites and the Amorites; Hebrew woodland and hill country. abandoned as they fled from the people of Israel.
10Israel, you have forgotten the God who rescues you and who protects you like a mighty rock. Instead, you plant sacred gardens17.10 sacred gardens: See 1.29. in order to worship a foreign god. 11But even if they sprouted and blossomed the very morning you planted them, there would still be no harvest. There would be only trouble and incurable pain.
12Powerful nations are in commotion with a sound like the roar of the sea, like the crashing of huge waves. 13The nations advance like rushing waves, but God reprimands them and they retreat, driven away like dust on a hillside, like straw in a whirlwind. 14In the evening they cause terror, but by morning they are gone. That is the fate of everyone who plunders our land.
Beyond the rivers of Ethiopia18.1 Ethiopia: See Word List. there is a land where the sound of wings is heard. 2From that land ambassadors come down the Nile in boats made of reeds. Go back home, swift messengers! Take a message back to your land divided by rivers, to your strong and powerful nation, to your tall and smooth-skinned people, who are feared all over the world.
3Listen, everyone who lives on earth! Look for a signal flag to be raised on the tops of the mountains! Listen for the blowing of the bugle! 4The LORD said to me, “I will look down from heaven as quietly as the dew forms in the warm nights of harvest time, as serenely as the sun shines in the heat of the day. 5Before the grapes are gathered, when the blossoms have all fallen and the grapes are ripening, the enemy will destroy the Ethiopians18.5 Ethiopians: See Word List. as easily as a knife cuts branches from a vine. 6The corpses of their soldiers will be left exposed to the birds and the wild animals. In summer the birds will feed on them, and in winter, the animals.”
7A time is coming when the LORD Almighty will receive offerings from this land divided by rivers, this strong and powerful nation, this tall and smooth-skinned people, who are feared all over the world. They will come to Mount Zion, where the LORD Almighty is worshipped.