Devotional Readings

Isaiah 17 – A word on Syria of another time…

It’s amazing how much news and happenings comes out today focused on Syria.

There was another era which we might remember when the Bible speaks of Syria.
And not just that land but the remnant of God’s people.
Listen to Max read in the KJV.

An Oracle Concerning Damascus

Isa 17:1  The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.

Isa 17:2  The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid.

Isa 17:3  The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria: they shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the LORD of hosts.

Isa 17:4  And in that day it shall come to pass, that the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean.

Isa 17:5  And it shall be as when the harvestman gathereth the corn, and reapeth the ears with his arm; and it shall be as he that gathereth ears in the valley of Rephaim.

Isa 17:6  Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof, saith the LORD God of Israel.



John Gill writes..


Isaiah 17:6

Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it,…. In Ephraim or Jacob; that is, in the ten tribes, a few of them should escape, a remnant should be saved; comparable, for the smallness of their number, to grapes that are gleaned after the vintage is got in: 

though Kimchi interprets it of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who were but few, in comparison of the ten tribes, who were many; and Jarchi explains it of Hezekiah and his company, in the midst of Jerusalem, who were but few; and observes, that some of their Rabbins understood it of the few men that were left of the multitude of Sennacherib’s army, when it was destroyed; but the first sense is best: and the same thing is signified by another simile,

as the shaking of an olive tree; with the hand, when the fruit is ripe; or, “as the striking” (q) of it with a staff; to beat off the berries, when there are left

two or three berries at the top of the uppermost bough: the word “amir” is only used here, and in Isa 17:9 and signifies, as Kimchi says, the upper bough or branch; and so Aben Ezra interprets it, the highest part of the olive; and observes, that it so signifies in the language of Kedar, or the Arabic language; in which it is used for a king, a prince, an emperor, one that has the command and government of others (r); and hence the word “amiral” or “admiral” comes: now two or three olive berries, being in the uppermost bough, are left, because they cannot be reached by the hand of the gatherer, nor by the staff of the striker. Kimchi applies this to Jerusalem, which was the highest part of the land of Israel; and what was in it the hand of the king of Assyria could not reach:

four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof; which escape the gatherer, shaker, or striker, for the same reason. These similes are very aptly made use of, since the people of Israel are frequently compared to grapes, and vines, and olives, Isa 5:1Jer 11:16,

saith the Lord God of Israel; this is added to confirm what is said, and to express the certainty of it; and shows that the Israelites are meant, to whom the Lord was a covenant God. The Targum applies the metaphors thus,

“so shall the righteous be left alone in the world among the kingdoms, saith the Lord God of Israel.”

(q) כנקף וית “ut strictura oleae”, Cocceius. (r) “imperator; princeps, dux qui allis quomodo cumque praest imperatque”, Golius, col. 158. Castel. col. 150. though the verb in the Hebrew language is used in the sense of elevation or lifting up, and seems to be derived from hence. So Schindler, col. 96. אמיר “ramus, summitas rami—-inde verbum”, האמיר “eminere aut prominere fecit, rami aut frondis instar exaltavit, extulit, evexit”, Deut. xxvi. 17, 18. Psal. xciv. 4.





Isa 17:7  At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel.


Isa 17:8  And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall respect that which his fingers have made, either the groves, or the images.

Isa 17:9  In that day shall his strong cities be as a forsaken bough, and an uppermost branch, which they left because of the children of Israel: and there shall be desolation.

Isa 17:10  Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength, therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, and shalt set it with strange slips:

Isa 17:11  In the day shalt thou make thy plant to grow, and in the morning shalt thou make thy seed to flourish: but the harvest shall be a heap in the day of grief and of desperate sorrow.

Isa 17:12  Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!

Isa 17:13  The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.

Isa 17:14  And behold at eveningtide trouble; and before the morning he is not. This is the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us.

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