Isaiah 17

A Prophecy Against Damascus

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 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[a]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.
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.
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.

Isaiah 17 Commentary

Chapter 17

Syria and Israel threatened. (1-11) The woe of Israel's enemies. (12-14)

Verses 1-11 Sin desolates cities. It is strange that great conquerors should take pride in being enemies to mankind; but it is better that flocks should lie down there, than that they should harbour any in open rebellion against God and holiness. The strong holds of Israel, the kingdom of the ten tribes, will be brought to ruin. Those who are partakers in sin, are justly made partakers in ruin. The people had, by sins, made themselves ripe for ruin; and their glory was as quickly cut down and taken away by the enemy, as the corn is out of the field by the husbandman. Mercy is reserved in the midst of judgment, for a remnant. But very few shall be marked to be saved. Only here and there one was left behind. But they shall be a remnant made holy. The few that are saved were awakened to return to God. They shall acknowledge his hand in all events; they shall give him the glory due to his name. To bring us to this, is the design of his providence, as he is our Maker; and the work of his grace, as he is the Holy One of Israel. They shall look off from their idols, the creatures of their own fancy. We have reason to account those afflictions happy, which part between us and our sins. The God of our salvation is the Rock of our strength; and our forgetfulness and unmindfulness of him are at the bottom of all sin. The pleasant plants, and shoots from a foreign soil, are expressions for strange and idolatrous worship, and the vile practices connected therewith. Diligence would be used to promote the growth of these strange slips, but all in vain. See the evil and danger of sin, and its certain consequences.

Verses 12-14 The rage and force of the Assyrians resembled the mighty waters of the sea; but when the God of Israel should rebuke them, they would flee like chaff, or like a rolling thing, before the whirlwind. In the evening Jerusalem would be in trouble, because of the powerful invader, but before morning his army would be nearly cut off. Happy are those who remember God as their salvation, and rely on his power and grace. The trouble of the believers, and the prosperity of their enemies, will be equally short; while the joy of the former, and the destruction of those that hate and spoil them, shall last for ever.

Cross References 49

  • 1. Isaiah 13:1
  • 2. S Genesis 14:15; Jeremiah 49:23; Acts 9:2
  • 3. S Deuteronomy 13:16; S Isaiah 25:2; Amos 1:3; Zechariah 9:1
  • 4. S 2 Kings 10:33
  • 5. S Isaiah 5:17; Isaiah 7:21; Ezekiel 25:5
  • 6. Isaiah 27:10
  • 7. S Leviticus 26:6; Jeremiah 7:33; Micah 4:4
  • 8. Isaiah 25:2,12; Hosea 10:14
  • 9. ver 4; Isaiah 21:16; Hosea 9:11
  • 10. Isaiah 7:8,16; Isaiah 8:4
  • 11. S Isaiah 2:11
  • 12. S ver 3
  • 13. S Isaiah 10:16
  • 14. ver 11; Isaiah 33:4; Jeremiah 51:33; Joel 3:13; Matthew 13:30
  • 15. Job 24:24
  • 16. S Joshua 17:15; S 1 Chronicles 11:15
  • 17. S Deuteronomy 4:27; S Isaiah 10:19; S Isaiah 24:13
  • 18. ver 11; Isaiah 27:12
  • 19. S Isaiah 2:11
  • 20. S Isaiah 9:13; S Isaiah 10:20
  • 21. S Psalms 95:6
  • 22. S Isaiah 12:6; Micah 7:7
  • 23. S Leviticus 26:30
  • 24. S 2 Chronicles 32:19; Isaiah 2:18,20; Isaiah 30:22; Isaiah 46:6; Revelation 9:20
  • 25. S Judges 3:7; S 2 Kings 17:10
  • 26. Isaiah 2:8
  • 27. S Isaiah 7:19
  • 28. S Deuteronomy 6:12; Deuteronomy 8:11; Psalms 50:22; Psalms 106:21; Isaiah 51:13; Isaiah 57:11; Jeremiah 2:32; Jeremiah 3:21; Jeremiah 13:25; Jeremiah 18:15; Ezekiel 22:12; Ezekiel 23:35; Hosea 8:14; Hosea 13:6
  • 29. Psalms 68:19; S Isaiah 12:2; S Luke 1:47
  • 30. S Genesis 49:24
  • 31. S Psalms 18:2
  • 32. S Isaiah 5:7
  • 33. Psalms 90:6
  • 34. S ver 5
  • 35. S Leviticus 26:20; Hosea 8:7; Joel 1:11; Haggai 1:6
  • 36. Jeremiah 10:19; Jeremiah 30:12
  • 37. S Deuteronomy 28:39; S Job 4:8
  • 38. ver 13; Isaiah 41:11
  • 39. S Psalms 18:4; Jeremiah 6:23; Luke 21:25
  • 40. S Psalms 46:6; Isaiah 8:9
  • 41. Isaiah 8:7
  • 42. S Psalms 46:3
  • 43. S Deuteronomy 28:20; S Psalms 9:5
  • 44. S Psalms 68:1; S Isaiah 13:14
  • 45. S Job 13:25; S Isaiah 2:22; Isaiah 41:2,15-16; Daniel 2:35
  • 46. Job 21:18; S Psalms 65:7
  • 47. Isaiah 29:5; Isaiah 30:13; Isaiah 47:11; Isaiah 48:3
  • 48. Isaiah 33:18; Isaiah 54:14
  • 49. S 2 Kings 19:35

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. That is, wooden symbols of the goddess Asherah

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains a prophecy of the ruin of Syria and Israel, the ten tribes; who were in alliance; and also of the overthrow of the Assyrian army, that should come against Judah. The destruction of Damascus, the metropolis of Syria, and of other cities, is threatened, Isa 17:1,2 yea, of the whole kingdom of Syria, together with Ephraim or the ten tribes, and Samaria the head of them, Isa 17:3 whose destruction is expressed by various similes, as by thinness and leanness, and by the reaping and gathering of corn, Isa 17:4,5 and yet a remnant should be preserved, compared to gleaning gapes, and a few berries on an olive tree, who should look to the Lord, and not to idols, Isa 17:6-8 and the reason of the desolation of their cities, and of their fields and vineyards, was their forgetfulness of the Lord, Isa 17:9-11 and the chapter is closed with a prophecy of the defeat of the Assyrian army, who are compared for their multitude and noise to the seas, and to mighty waters, and the noise and rushing of them, Isa 17:12 and yet should be, at the rebuke of God, as chaff, or any small light thing, before a blustering wind, Isa 17:13 and who, in the evening, would be a trouble to the Jews, and be dead before morning; which was to be the portion of the spoilers and plunderers of the Lord's people, Isa 17:14.

Isaiah 17 Commentaries

Scripture quoted by permission.  Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.