Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 17

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-11

Judgment on Syeia and Israel

This section is headed,’ oracle concerning Damascus,’ but its subject is in fact wider; it treats of the impending ruin not only of Syria, but also of Ephraim, i.e. the kingdom of Israel (Isaiah 17:3). This connexion of Ephraim with Syria is best explained by the alliance of the two kingdoms against Judah (Isaiah 7:1-2). Isaiah here teaches (as in Isaiah 7:16; Isaiah 8:4) that they will both be completely overthrown, an anticipation which was literally fulfilled (Isaiah 10:9; 2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 16:9). The date of this prophecy would thus be subsequent to the formation of the Syro-Ephraimite alliance (i.e. the reign of Jotham in Judah, 2 Kings 15:37), and some time before the capture of Damascus by the Assyrians (732 b.c.).

1-3. The imminent ruin of Damascus, in which Israel also will be involved.

4-6. The state to which Israel will be reduced figuratively set forth.

7, 8. The spiritual effect of the chastisement.

9-11. The cause of it—desertion of Jehovah for foreign deities, who cannot help in the day of calamity.

1. Burden] see on Isaiah 13:1.

2. The cities of Aroer] This Aroer is probably the one in Gad (Joshua 13:25), and the reference is to the cities belonging to the kingdom of Israel on the E. of Jordan. Some ancient versions, however, read, ’the cities are forsaken for ever.’

3. And the remnant, etc.] RM ’and the remnant of Syria shall be as,’ etc. As the glory] explained in Isaiah 13:4-6, where it is shown that the glory of Israel shall pass away.

4-6. By three separate figures the gloomy prospects of Israel are set forth: (a) that of an emaciated body, Isaiah 17:4; (b) that of a harvest field that is reaped, Isaiah 17:5; (c) that of vines or olives when the fruit is gathered, Isaiah 17:6. The teaching is characteristic of Isaiah, for the figures imply that for Israel, as for Judah (Isaiah 4:3; Isaiah 6:13; Isaiah 7:3) there shall be a remnant.

5. As he that gathereth] RV ’as when one gleaneth.’

Valley of Rephaim] SW. of Jerusalem (Joshua 15:8).

8. Groves] Heb. Asherim (RV). These were symbols of the Canaanite goddess Asherah. The symbol seems to have been a pole, treetrunk, or carved pillar (Deuteronomy 16:21; 2 Kings 21:7), erected near an altar (Judges 6:25). Images] RV ’sun-images,’ pillars dedicated to the sun-god.

9. As a forsaken, etc.] RV ’as the forsaken places in the wood and on the mountain top, which were forsaken from before the children of Israel.’ LXX, however, reads, ’forsaken places of the Amorites and the Hivites which were forsaken,’ etc. The sense is that Israel shall be punished with a desolation like that which the former inhabitants experienced at the hands of the Israelites.

10. Rock] a title of Jehovah (Isaiah 30:29; Deuteronomy 32:4). Shalt thou plant.. shalt set] RV ’plantest.. settest.’ This is a metaphor of the foreign worships so carefully introduced.

Verses 12-14

Discomfiture of the Assyrians

A short prophecy, in which Isaiah foretells sudden disaster for the Assyrian invaders; it is parallel to Isaiah 14:24-27,; belongs to the same period.

12-13. The Assyrian hosts advance against Judah, but are suddenly dispersed in a single night.

12. Read, ’Ah, the uproar of many peoples, which roar like the roaring of the seas; and the rushing,’ etc. Many people] The Assyrian army was recruited from many nations.

13. Rolling thing] RV ’whirling dust’: cp. Psalms 83:13.

14. Specially fulfilled in the destruction of Sennacherib’s army (Isaiah 37:36).

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 17". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.