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.
This is a message about Egypt.
The LORD is coming to Egypt, riding swiftly on a cloud. The Egyptian idols tremble before him, and the people of Egypt lose their courage. 2The LORD says, “I will stir up civil war in Egypt and turn brother against brother and neighbour against neighbour. Rival cities will fight each other, and rival kings will struggle for power. 3I am going to frustrate the plans of the Egyptians and destroy their morale. They will ask their idols to help them, and they will go and consult mediums and ask the spirits of the dead for advice. 4I will hand the Egyptians over to a tyrant, to a cruel king who will rule them. I, the LORD Almighty, have spoken.”
5The water will be low in the Nile, and the river will gradually dry up. 6The channels of the river will stink as they slowly go dry. Reeds and rushes will wither, 7and all the crops sown along the banks of the Nile will dry up and be blown away. 8Everyone who earns his living by fishing in the Nile will groan and cry; their hooks and their nets will be useless. 9Those who make linen cloth will be in despair; 10weavers and skilled workers will be broken and depressed.
11The leaders of the city of Zoan are fools! Egypt's wisest people give stupid advice! How dare they tell the king that they are successors to the ancient scholars and kings? 12King of Egypt, where are those clever advisers of yours? Perhaps they can tell you what plans the LORD Almighty has for Egypt. 13The leaders of Zoan and Memphis are fools. They were supposed to lead the nation, but they have misled it. 14The LORD has made them give confusing advice. As a result, Egypt does everything wrong and staggers like a drunken man slipping on his own vomit. 15No one in Egypt, rich or poor, important or unknown, can offer help.
16A time is coming when the people of Egypt will be as timid as women. They will tremble in terror when they see that the LORD Almighty has stretched out his hand to punish them. 17The people of Egypt will be terrified of Judah every time they are reminded of the fate that the LORD Almighty has prepared for them.
18When that time comes, the Hebrew language will be spoken in five Egyptian cities. The people there will take their oaths in the name of the LORD Almighty. One of the cities will be called, “City of the Sun”.
19When that time comes, there will be an altar to the LORD in the land of Egypt and a stone pillar dedicated to him at the Egyptian border. 20They will be symbols of the LORD Almighty's presence in Egypt. When the people there are oppressed and call out to the LORD for help, he will send someone to rescue them. 21The LORD will reveal himself to the Egyptian people, and then they will acknowledge and worship him, and bring him sacrifices and offerings. They will make solemn promises to him and do what they promise. 22The LORD will punish the Egyptians, but then he will heal them. They will turn to him, and he will hear their prayers and heal them.
23When that time comes, there will be a highway between Egypt and Assyria. The people of those two countries will travel to and fro between them, and the two nations will worship together. 24When that time comes, Israel will rank with Egypt and Assyria, and these three nations will be a blessing to all the world. 25The LORD Almighty will bless them and say, “I will bless you, Egypt, my people; you, Assyria, whom I created; and you, Israel, my chosen people.”