A message about Damascus
1 This is a message about Damascus city:
‘Look! Damascus is no longer a city! It has become a heap of stones.
2 Nobody lives in the cities of Aroer. Sheep and goats can safely go there to eat. They can lie down there and nobody will chase them away. 3 There will be no strong cities in Ephraim. No king will rule in Damascus. The few people who remain in Syria are no longer great, like Israel's people!’
17:3Ephraim was the Israelite kingdom in the north.
That is what the Lord Almighty says.
4 ‘At that time, Israel will no longer be great. It will be like a rich, fat person who becomes weak and hungry.
5 Israel will be like a field of grain in Rephaim valley after the harvest. The workers have cut down the crops. They have picked up the grain from the ground. 6 There will be only a few people that remain in Israel. They will be like a few olives that remain on a tree after the harvest. Perhaps two or three olives are still there on the highest branches. Four or five olives may remain on the other branches.’
That is what the Lord God of Israel says.
7 At that time, people will turn back to their Maker. They will trust the Holy God of Israel to help them.
8 They will no longer trust their idols to help them. They made altars for themselves, where they worshipped their gods. They worshipped Asherah at special poles. They made altars where they burned incense. But they will not do those things any more.
9 At that time, Israel's strong cities will be empty. People will run away from those cities, as the Amorites ran away from the hills when the Israelites attacked them. Israel's strong cities will become heaps of stones. 10 That will happen because you have forgotten the God who rescues you. He is the Rock where you can safely hide, but you have turned away from him.
17:10‘the Rock’ means God.
Instead, you plant the best plants and vines in your gardens. You buy them from foreign countries for a lot of money. 11 You take care of them so that they grow quickly. They may even make flowers on the same morning that you plant them! But you will never have any fruit from them. You will only get trouble and pain that will never go away.
12 It will be very bad for the armies of other nations! They are making a noise like the sea in a storm! They are as loud as powerful waves! 13 But it does not matter how much noise they make. Those people may roar like powerful waves, but the Lord will shout at them to stop. Then they will run far away! They will run like the wind as it blows dead weeds across the hills. It will be like a strong storm that carries away dead thistles!
14 Look at what happens! In the evening the enemy attacks, and we are very afraid. But by the morning they have disappeared! That is what happens to people who attack us. Anyone who tries to take away our valuable things for themselves will fail.