Saturday, June 26, 2010

Isaiah 17-24: Bad News for [Your Kingdom Here]!!

Isaiah 17

Predictions -- an "oracle," actually, although that word seems oddly Greek-mythological to be popping up here -- of the doom of Damascus. Chockablock with vague details and metaphors.

Isaiah 18

Apparently, threats of agricultural failure to the people along the rivers of Cush,

which sends envoys by sea
in papyrus boats over the water.
Go, swift messengers,
to a people tall and smooth-skinned,
to a people feared far and wide,
an aggressive nation of strange speech,
whose land is divided by rivers.
Isaiah 19

Predictions of civil war and external conquest of Egypt, in which all classes of society will suffer. In that day the Egyptians will be like women (10), which is to say fearful and cringing. Shortly after this, the Egyptians will convert to worship of God, and God will respond by striking them with a plague and then healing them (He works, I have been told, in mysterious ways). Egypt, Assyria, and Israel will all live in peace, all worshiping together.

Isaiah 20

In the shorter term future, Assyria will lay a beating on Egypt and Cush and lead their captives away with buttocks bared. This particular prophecy, incidentally, was made during a period when Isaiah, the great Old Testament prophet, was going around naked because God had told him to (2). Does this enhance his credibility? You make the call!

Isaiah 21

Mostly rambling and, frankly, not-especially-coherent prophecies of colorful bad doings in Babylon, Edom, and Arabia. It ends, however, with a highly specific prophecy that Kedar will be destroyed as a major power within one year. Hmm. I don't know whether that one came true or not. I'm pretty sure Kedar isn't a major power now.

Isaiah 22

Another prophecy packed with strange and vague analogies and details, but the upshot is that Jerusalem will be doomed because of a combination of poor leadership, outdated defenses, and of course the wrath of God. God, in this prophecy, is disappointed by the lack of a proper mood of despair in the populace, and has formulated the city's downfall accordingly.
12 The Lord, the LORD Almighty,
called you on that day
to weep and to wail,
to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth.
13 But see, there is joy and revelry,
slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep,
eating of meat and drinking of wine!
"Let us eat and drink," you say,
"for tomorrow we die!"
Isaiah 23

God will crush the prosperous merchant town of Tyre to punish pride. After seventy years go by, though, she will return to her hire as prostitute (17) -- the general vibe in the Old Testament is never exactly pro-business -- except from then on all of the profits will be set aside for God and his followers.

Isaiah 24

OK, no doubt you are comfortably pitying those hapless MiddleEasterners of millenia back whom these prophecies all seem to menace. But don't get too comfortable.
1 See, the LORD is going to lay waste the earth
and devastate it;
he will ruin its face
and scatter its inhabitants-
2 it will be the same
for priest as for people,
for master as for servant,
for mistress as for maid,
for seller as for buyer,
for borrower as for lender,
for debtor as for creditor.
3 The earth will be completely laid waste
and totally plundered.
The LORD has spoken this word.
Details follow, but "completely laid waste" pretty much covers it.
17 Terror and pit and snare await you,
O people of the earth.
18 Whoever flees at the sound of terror
will fall into a pit;
whoever climbs out of the pit
will be caught in a snare.
The floodgates of the heavens are opened,
the foundations of the earth shake.
And as this happens,
23 The moon will be abashed, the sun ashamed;
for the LORD Almighty will reign
on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,
and before its elders, gloriously.
Although who will be left to reign over and whether anyone will be around to appreciate all the glory is and open question.

Whether Isaiah was wearing any clothes while making this particular prophecy is not specified.

Next: I don't know, but I'm guessing that doom is involved.


Al Ebaster said...

More doom than you can shake an Asherah pole at. I think this is where I kinda said, "OK, I get it," and moved on to Jeremiah.

UnwiseOwl said...

Given the approximate gender equality in Ancient Egypt (as compared to the Jews, anyway), perhaps being as women wasn't quite as bad as our naked friend thought?