Friday, May 20, 2011

Isaiah, Chapters 16-18: More threats

Chapter 16

Now suddenly Isaiah has some sympathy for the poor, hot Moabite women with no mans. Now the Israelites can take them in as concubines. That's it, though. The whole rest of the country is to wail and beat its collective chest at the loss of everything else. All this will happen within three years.

Chapter 17

Isaiah runs out of mean things to say about Moab and turns his attention to Syria. First, Damascus will be in ruins. He will leave a few berries and grapes for gleaning, so that the grateful Syrians will look upon god as a saviour. And of course because this is a book written by farmers before the invention of things like irrigation and nitrogen-fixing, there is a bit about agriculture, namely that god will cause the crops to wither on the vines. Then other countries will invade, but they won't succeed in conquering Syria.

Chapter 18

Isaiah seems to be running out of steam. He can only work up the energy to call Ethopia a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled! (v. 2) God doesn't have any great plans for Ethopia, just to hang out in the hills and wreck the weather so the crops don't grow. Then he'll scatter the people but there's no talk of making them bald or sending plagues or anything, just benign neglect.

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