|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:1-11 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 1-3. - THE BURDEN OF DAMASCUS. The eye of the prophet travels northwards from Moab, and, passing over Ammon as an enemy of small account, rests once more upon Damascus, already threatened in Isaiah 7:1 - 9, and probably already partially punished. Damascus is seen once more in alliance with Ephraim (ver. 3), and the two are joined with a new power, Aroer (ver. 2), which possesses several "cities." Woe is denounced on all the three powers: desolation on Damascus and Aroer; on Damascus and Ephraim, the complete loss of the last shadow of independence. The Assyrian inscriptions point out, as the probable date of the prophecy, the commencement of Sargun's reign - about B.C. 722 or 721. Verse 1. - Damascus is taken away from being a city. According to Vitringa, Damascus has been destroyed oftener than any other town; but it has a wonderful power of rising again from its ashes. Probably a destruction by Sargon is here intended ('Records of the Past,' vol. 9. p. 6).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The burden of Damascus,.... A heavy and grievous prophecy, concerning the destruction of it; the Arabic version is,
"the prophecy of Isaiah concerning Damascus;''
and the Targum is,
"the burden of the cup of cursing to give Damascus to drink.''
Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city; a kingdom, as the Targum; it was the head of one, but now its walls were demolished, its houses pulled down, and its inhabitants carried captive; this was done by Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria, 2 Kings 16:9 it had been a very ancient city, see Genesis 15:2 and the head of the kingdom of Syria, Isaiah 7:8, and though it underwent this calamity, it was rebuilt again, and was a city of great fame, when destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah 49:24 after which it was raised up again, and was in being in the apostle's time, and still is, Acts 9:22, 2 Corinthians 11:32.
and it shall be a ruinous heap; or a heap of stones, as the Targum and Kimchi interpret it. A "behold" is prefixed to the whole, as being very wonderful and remarkable, unthought of, and unexpected.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Isa 17:1-11. Prophecy Concerning Damascus and Its Ally Samaria, that is, Syria and Israel, which had leagued together (seventh and eighth chapters).
Already, Tiglath-pileser had carried away the people of Damascus to Kir, in the fourth year of Ahaz (2Ki 16:9); but now in Hezekiah's reign a further overthrow is foretold (Jer 49:23; Zec 9:1). Also, Shalmaneser carried away Israel from Samaria to Assyria (2Ki 17:6; 18:10, 11) in the sixth year of Hezekiah of Judah (the ninth year of Hoshea of Israel). This prophecy was, doubtless, given previously in the first years of Hezekiah when the foreign nations came into nearer collision with Judah, owing to the threatening aspect of Assyria.
1. Damascus—put before Israel (Ephraim, Isa 17:3), which is chiefly referred to in what follows, because it was the prevailing power in the league; with it Ephraim either stood or fell (Isa 7:1-25).
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