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A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Isaiah 28-32

Kuruvilla Thomas
Bangalore
Published on 22 March 2020 *




Isaiah 28-32 Timeline
Fig. 1


Introduction

This study treats Isaiah 28-32 as a cryptochiasmus in order to arrive at a coherent reconfiguration of the text. Text that is structured as a cryptochiasmus must be rearranged based on certain principles to be correctly interpreted. A cryptochiasmus is a novel concept; see definition in [1]. If you wish to skip the technicalities of a chiastic parse, you may read starting from Section 4 of the Discussion section, which has the reconfigured text.

This prophecy predicts Assyria's completion of the exile of the Northern Tribes under Shalmaneser and Sargon II - the exile began under Tiglath-Pileser III (2 Kings 15:29, [3]). We show that this prophecy also makes predictions on Jesus' ministry. This is one of the few chiastically structured passages in the Bible that are explicitly designated as sealed - other passages are Dan. 8, Dan. 10-12 and Isa. 7-9.


Notes:
We will use the term "Judahite" to refer to the Israelites - primarily those of the tribe of Judah and their descendants - that remained after the Assyrian exile of the Northern Tribes; we will try to avoid the term "Jew" to avoid the confusion it introduces.


Discussion

1. Presuppositions

We base our parse of Isaiah 28:1-32:20 on the assumption that it refers to 3 periods:

  1. The Assyrians defeat Samaria and exile Ephraim (c. 725-720BC). Shalmaneser V, king of Assyria, attacked Samaria, because Hoshea, king of Samaria, stopped paying tribute to him and formed an alliance with Egypt against him. This prophecy may have been a warning against seeking Egypt's help; the warning was ignored, and Samaria was attacked about a year after this prophecy was made (see 32:10), .
  2. The Period from the Ministry of Christ (27AD-30AD) to the First Jewish–Roman War (66AD–73AD). Christ's message is mocked by some of the Judahites under the influence of Pharisaism. The Roman army began their siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD and completely destroyed the city and its people shortly thereafter.
  3. The start of Christ's millennial reign (circa 2017AD). Israel's enemies are defeated and Christ leads a blessed new Israel.

2. Parsing the chiasmus

We will use the NIV Bible for this parse.

Parsing this chiasmus involves dividing portions of the text into three categories as above. We will call the time of Assyria's defeat of Samaria Period 1, the sacking of Jerusalem in 70 AD Period 2 and the start of Christ's millennial reign Period 3.


Categorizing Isaiah 28:1-32:20

Ch 28 Vs 1-4 belong to Period 1. Samaria, the pride of Ephraim's "drunkards", will be defeated by Assyria.

Ch 28 Vs 5-6 belong to Period 3. The Lord will guide the coming Messiah, the leader of the new Israel.

Ch 28 Vs 7 - Ch 29 Vs 4 belong to Period 2. The message of Christ is mocked, Jerusalem is defeated.

Ch 29 Vs 5-8 belong to Period 3. Israel's enemies are defeated at the start of the Millennial reign of Christ.

Ch 29 Vs 9-12 belong to Period 1. The prophets are blind and the scroll is sealed. In this passage, the prophet appears to be talking about the people listening to the prophecy, those of his time in Period 1.

Ch 29 Vs 13-16 belong to Period 2. The people do not worship God in the right spirit. We believe this belongs to Period 2 because of the way its referenced in the New Testament (Matthew 15:7-9). Also, this passage cannot be about Samaria in Period 1, as they worshipped other gods.

Ch 29 Vs 17-24 belong to Period 3. Israel will be blessed and Christ will rule a just earth.

Ch 30 Vs 1-18 belong to Period 1. Ephraim is defeated because they chose to rely on Egypt instead of repenting for their waywardness and relying on their God

Ch 30 Vs 19-33 belong to Period 3. Israel will turn back to its God and he will lead them into prosperity. God will destroy his enemies.

Ch 31 Vs 1-3 belong to Period 1. Israelites trust in Egypt instead of their God

Ch 31 Vs 4 - 32 Vs 8 belong to Period 3. God will reign over a just world.

Ch 32 Vs 9-20 belong to Period 1. A warning to the women and a promise of future blessedness.


Original text

We color-code the chiastic units of the original text (NIV) below for easy visual identification using: red for Period 1, blue for Period 2 and green for Period 3.


Isaiah 28 1 Woe to that wreath, the pride of Ephraim’s drunkards, to the fading flower, his glorious beauty, set on the head of a fertile valley— to that city, the pride of those laid low by wine! 2 See, the Lord has one who is powerful and strong. Like a hailstorm and a destructive wind, like a driving rain and a flooding downpour, he will throw it forcefully to the ground. 3 That wreath, the pride of Ephraim’s drunkards, will be trampled underfoot. 4 That fading flower, his glorious beauty, set on the head of a fertile valley, will be like figs ripe before harvest— as soon as people see them and take them in hand, they swallow them.
5 In that day the Lord Almighty will be a glorious crown, a beautiful wreath for the remnant of his people. 6 He will be a spirit of justice to the one who sits in judgment, a source of strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.
7 And these also stagger from wine and reel from beer: Priests and prophets stagger from beer and are befuddled with wine; they reel from beer, they stagger when seeing visions, they stumble when rendering decisions. 8 All the tables are covered with vomit and there is not a spot without filth.
9 “Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast? 10 For it is: Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there.”
...
(Verses 11-27 omitted)
...
28 Grain must be ground to make bread; so one does not go on threshing it forever. The wheels of a threshing cart may be rolled over it, but one does not use horses to grind grain. 29 All this also comes from the Lord Almighty, whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent.


Isaiah 29 1 Woe to you, Ariel, Ariel, the city where David settled! Add year to year and let your cycle of festivals go on. 2 Yet I will besiege Ariel; she will mourn and lament, she will be to me like an altar hearth. 3 I will encamp against you on all sides; I will encircle you with towers and set up my siege works against you. 4 Brought low, you will speak from the ground; your speech will mumble out of the dust. Your voice will come ghostlike from the earth; out of the dust your speech will whisper.
5 But your many enemies will become like fine dust, the ruthless hordes like blown chaff. Suddenly, in an instant, 6 the Lord Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire. 7 Then the hordes of all the nations that fight against Ariel, that attack her and her fortress and besiege her, will be as it is with a dream, with a vision in the night— 8 as when a hungry person dreams of eating, but awakens hungry still; as when a thirsty person dreams of drinking, but awakens faint and thirsty still. So will it be with the hordes of all the nations that fight against Mount Zion.
9 Be stunned and amazed, blind yourselves and be sightless; be drunk, but not from wine, stagger, but not from beer. 10 The Lord has brought over you a deep sleep: He has sealed your eyes (the prophets); he has covered your heads (the seers).
11 For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll. And if you give the scroll to someone who can read, and say, “Read this, please,” they will answer, “I can’t; it is sealed.” 12 Or if you give the scroll to someone who cannot read, and say, “Read this, please,” they will answer, “I don’t know how to read.”

13 The Lord says:
“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught. 14 Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.” 15 Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?” 16 You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”?

17 In a very short time, will not Lebanon be turned into a fertile field and the fertile field seem like a forest? 18 In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. 19 Once more the humble will rejoice in the Lord; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. 20 The ruthless will vanish, the mockers will disappear, and all who have an eye for evil will be cut down— 21 those who with a word make someone out to be guilty, who ensnare the defender in court and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice.
22 Therefore this is what the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, says to the descendants of Jacob:
“No longer will Jacob be ashamed; no longer will their faces grow pale. 23 When they see among them their children, the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy; they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. 24 Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding; those who complain will accept instruction.”


Isaiah 30 1 “Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the Lord, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; 2 who go down to Egypt without consulting me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge. 3 But Pharaoh’s protection will be to your shame, Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace. 4 Though they have officials in Zoan and their envoys have arrived in Hanes, 5 everyone will be put to shame because of a people useless to them, who bring neither help nor advantage, but only shame and disgrace.”
...
(Verses 6-14 omitted)
...
15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. 16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift! 17 A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill.”
18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

19 People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” 22 Then you will desecrate your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!”
23 He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in broad meadows. 24 The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat fodder and mash, spread out with fork and shovel. 25 In the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall, streams of water will flow on every high mountain and every lofty hill. 26 The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.
27 See, the Name of the Lord comes from afar, with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; his lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire. 28 His breath is like a rushing torrent, rising up to the neck. He shakes the nations in the sieve of destruction; he places in the jaws of the peoples a bit that leads them astray. 29 And you will sing as on the night you celebrate a holy festival; your hearts will rejoice as when people playing pipes go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel. 30 The Lord will cause people to hear his majestic voice and will make them see his arm coming down with raging anger and consuming fire, with cloudburst, thunderstorm and hail. 31 The voice of the Lord will shatter Assyria; with his rod he will strike them down. 32 Every stroke the Lord lays on them with his punishing club will be to the music of timbrels and harps, as he fights them in battle with the blows of his arm. 33 Topheth has long been prepared; it has been made ready for the king. Its fire pit has been made deep and wide, with an abundance of fire and wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of burning sulfur, sets it ablaze.


Isaiah 31 1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord. 2 Yet he too is wise and can bring disaster; he does not take back his words. He will rise up against that wicked nation, against those who help evildoers. 3 But the Egyptians are mere mortals and not God; their horses are flesh and not spirit. When the Lord stretches out his hand, those who help will stumble, those who are helped will fall; all will perish together.
4 This is what the Lord says to me:
“As a lion growls, a great lion over its prey— and though a whole band of shepherds is called together against it, it is not frightened by their shouts or disturbed by their clamor— so the Lord Almighty will come down to do battle on Mount Zion and on its heights. 5 Like birds hovering overhead, the Lord Almighty will shield Jerusalem; he will shield it and deliver it, he will ‘pass over’ it and will rescue it.”
6 Return, you Israelites, to the One you have so greatly revolted against. 7 For in that day every one of you will reject the idols of silver and gold your sinful hands have made.
8 “Assyria will fall by no human sword; a sword, not of mortals, will devour them. They will flee before the sword and their young men will be put to forced labor. 9 Their stronghold will fall because of terror; at the sight of the battle standard their commanders will panic,” declares the Lord, whose fire is in Zion, whose furnace is in Jerusalem.


Isaiah 32 1 See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. 2 Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.
3 Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed, and the ears of those who hear will listen. 4 The fearful heart will know and understand, and the stammering tongue will be fluent and clear. 5 No longer will the fool be called noble nor the scoundrel be highly respected. 6 For fools speak folly, their hearts are bent on evil: They practice ungodliness and spread error concerning the Lord; the hungry they leave empty and from the thirsty they withhold water. 7 Scoundrels use wicked methods, they make up evil schemes to destroy the poor with lies, even when the plea of the needy is just. 8 But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand.

9 You women who are so complacent, rise up and listen to me; you daughters who feel secure, hear what I have to say! 10 In little more than a year you who feel secure will tremble; the grape harvest will fail, and the harvest of fruit will not come. 11 Tremble, you complacent women; shudder, you daughters who feel secure! Strip off your fine clothes and wrap yourselves in rags. 12 Beat your breasts for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vines 13 and for the land of my people, a land overgrown with thorns and briers— yes, mourn for all houses of merriment and for this city of revelry. 14 The fortress will be abandoned, the noisy city deserted; citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever, the delight of donkeys, a pasture for flocks, 15 till the Spirit is poured on us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest. 16 The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field. 17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. 18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. 19 Though hail flattens the forest and the city is leveled completely, 20 how blessed you will be, sowing your seed by every stream, and letting your cattle and donkeys range free.


3. Building the reconfigured text


From this parse, it appears that Isaiah 28-32 form a cryptochiasmus as below:

A1   Ch 28 Vs 1-4 Period 1. Samaria is defeated by Assyria.
  B1   Ch 28 Vs 5-6 Period 3. The Lord will guide the leader of the new Israel.
    X   Ch 28 Vs 7 - Ch 29 Vs 4 Period 2. The sacking of Jerusalem by the Romans.
  B2   Ch 29 Vs 5-8 Period 3. Israel's enemies are defeated at the start of the Christ's reign.
A2   Ch 29 Vs 9-12 Period 1. The prophets are blind and the scroll is sealed.


We now reconstruct the phrases in the right order based on the chiastic structure above and based on the ordering rules of a cryptochiasmus [1].

We usually lead with the pivot point but in this case, we will place central pivot point 'X' last as allowed by the rules of Cryptochiasmus [1]. The corresponding subunits (For example; subunit A1 corresponds to A2) are placed contiguously to form units (For example, A1,A2 is a unit ) so that we get a list of such units.


The sequence selected for rearrangement is:

[A1,A2]  [B1,B2]  X        (1)

We have the following sequence when we include the the next 3 subunits of the prophecy:
[A1,A2] - Period 1
[B1,B2] - Period 3
X - Period 2
Ch 29 Vs 13-16 - Period 2. The people do not worship God in the right spirit.
Ch 29 Vs 17-24 - Period 3. Israel will be blessed and Christ will rule a just earth.
Ch 30 Vs 1-18 - Period 1. Ephraim relies on Egypt to fight Assyria instead of on their own God.


We still have text for the periods in a non-contiguous form. We can treat this as a multiply-applied cryptochiasmus as below.


M1   [A1,A2] - Period 1
  N1   [B1,B2] - Period 3
   XX   X,  Ch 29 Vs 13-16 - Period 2
  N2   Ch 29 Vs 17-24 - Period 3
M2   Ch 30 Vs 1-18 - Period 1

The sequence selected for rearrangement is:
XX  [M1,M2]  [N1,N2]        (2)


Translating this sequence (2) into the subunits of the first chiasmus, we get:

X, Ch 29 Vs 13-16   [[A1,A2], Ch 30 Vs 1-18]   [[B1,B2], Ch 29 Vs 17-24]        (3)

Further translating (3) into verse numbers, we get:

[Ch 28 Vs 7 - Ch 29 Vs 4, Ch 29 Vs 13-16]  [[Ch 28 Vs 1-4, Ch 29 Vs 9-12], Ch 30 Vs 1-18]   [[Ch 28 Vs 5-6, Ch 29 Vs 5-8], Ch 29 Vs 17-24]        (4)

Below, we have another 4 subunits of the prophecy that remain to be integrated into the chiasmus. They are in the form Period 3, Period 1..., and it is easy to see how the units above can be manipulated to form chiasmi with the subunits below with Periods in the sequence [3,1,2,1,3] (this must be done twice).


Ch 30 Vs 19-33 belong to Period 3. Israel will turn back to its God.
Ch 31 Vs 1-3 belong to Period 1. Israelites trust in Egypt instead of their God
Ch 31 Vs 4 - 32 Vs 8 belong to Period 3. God will reign over a just world.
Ch 32 Vs 9-20 belong to Period 1. A warning to the women and a promise for the future.

But instead of going by the formalism of a chiastic reconfiguration, which will be overly lengthy and complex, we use the simple expedient of adding the subunits to the end of the Period to which they belong in (4), so that we get (5) below.


[Ch 28 Vs 7 - Ch 29 Vs 4, Ch 29 Vs 13-16] 
[[Ch 28 Vs 1-4, Ch 29 Vs 9-12], Ch 30 Vs 1-18], [Ch 31 Vs 1-3, Ch 32 Vs 9-20]  
[[Ch 28 Vs 5-6, Ch 29 Vs 5-8], Ch 29 Vs 17-24] [Ch 30 Vs 19-33, Ch 31 Vs 4 - 32 Vs 8]
  (5)

We arrive at the reconfigured passage in the next section by rearranging the verses so they are in sequence (5).



4. Isaiah 28-32 Reconfigured

The Period from the Ministry of Christ (27AD-30AD) to the First Jewish–Roman War (66AD–73AD) (Ch 28 Vs 7 - Ch 29 Vs 4, Ch 29 Vs 13-16)
Chapter 28 7 And these also stagger from wine and reel from beer: Priests and prophets stagger from beer and are befuddled with wine; they reel from beer, they stagger when seeing visions, they stumble when rendering decisions. 8 All the tables are covered with vomit and there is not a spot without filth.
9 “Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast? 10 For it is: Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there.”
11 Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, 12 to whom he said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest”; and, “This is the place of repose”— but they would not listen. 13 So then, the word of the Lord to them will become: Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there— so that as they go they will fall backward; they will be injured and snared and captured.
14 Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers who rule this people in Jerusalem. 15 You boast, “We have entered into a covenant with death, with the realm of the dead we have made an agreement. When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by, it cannot touch us, for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding place.”
16 So this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic. 17 I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line; hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding place. 18 Your covenant with death will be annulled; your agreement with the realm of the dead will not stand. When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by, you will be beaten down by it. 19 As often as it comes it will carry you away; morning after morning, by day and by night, it will sweep through.”
The understanding of this message will bring sheer terror. 20 The bed is too short to stretch out on, the blanket too narrow to wrap around you. 21 The Lord will rise up as he did at Mount Perazim, he will rouse himself as in the Valley of Gibeon— to do his work, his strange work, and perform his task, his alien task. 22 Now stop your mocking, or your chains will become heavier; the Lord, the Lord Almighty, has told me of the destruction decreed against the whole land.
23 Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say. 24 When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually? Does he keep on breaking up and working the soil? 25 When he has leveled the surface, does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin? Does he not plant wheat in its place, barley in its plot, and spelt in its field? 26 His God instructs him and teaches him the right way.
27 Caraway is not threshed with a sledge, nor is the wheel of a cart rolled over cumin; caraway is beaten out with a rod, and cumin with a stick. 28 Grain must be ground to make bread; so one does not go on threshing it forever. The wheels of a threshing cart may be rolled over it, but one does not use horses to grind grain. 29 All this also comes from the Lord Almighty, whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent.


Chapter 29 1 Woe to you, Ariel, Ariel, the city where David settled! Add year to year and let your cycle of festivals go on. 2 Yet I will besiege Ariel; she will mourn and lament, she will be to me like an altar hearth. 3 I will encamp against you on all sides; I will encircle you with towers and set up my siege works against you. 4 Brought low, you will speak from the ground; your speech will mumble out of the dust. Your voice will come ghostlike from the earth; out of the dust your speech will whisper.

Chapter 29 13 The Lord says:
“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught. 14 Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.” 15 Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?” 16 You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”?


The Assyrians defeat Samaria and exile Ephraim (c. 725BC-720BC). (Ch 28 Vs 1-4, Ch 29 Vs 9-12, Ch 30 Vs 1-18, Ch 31 Vs 1-3, Ch 32 Vs 9-20)
Chapter 28 1 Woe to that wreath, the pride of Ephraim’s drunkards, to the fading flower, his glorious beauty, set on the head of a fertile valley— to that city, the pride of those laid low by wine! 2 See, the Lord has one who is powerful and strong. Like a hailstorm and a destructive wind, like a driving rain and a flooding downpour, he will throw it forcefully to the ground. 3 That wreath, the pride of Ephraim’s drunkards, will be trampled underfoot. 4 That fading flower, his glorious beauty, set on the head of a fertile valley, will be like figs ripe before harvest— as soon as people see them and take them in hand, they swallow them.

Chapter 29 9 Be stunned and amazed, blind yourselves and be sightless; be drunk, but not from wine, stagger, but not from beer. 10 The Lord has brought over you a deep sleep: He has sealed your eyes (the prophets); he has covered your heads (the seers).
11 For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll. And if you give the scroll to someone who can read, and say, “Read this, please,” they will answer, “I can’t; it is sealed.” 12 Or if you give the scroll to someone who cannot read, and say, “Read this, please,” they will answer, “I don’t know how to read.”


Chapter 30 1 “Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the Lord, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; 2 who go down to Egypt without consulting me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge. 3 But Pharaoh’s protection will be to your shame, Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace. 4 Though they have officials in Zoan and their envoys have arrived in Hanes, 5 everyone will be put to shame because of a people useless to them, who bring neither help nor advantage, but only shame and disgrace.”
6 A prophecy concerning the animals of the Negev:
Through a land of hardship and distress, of lions and lionesses, of adders and darting snakes, the envoys carry their riches on donkeys’ backs, their treasures on the humps of camels, to that unprofitable nation, 7 to Egypt, whose help is utterly useless. Therefore I call her Rahab the Do-Nothing.
8 Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness. 9 For these are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction. 10 They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. 11 Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!”
12 Therefore this is what the Holy One of Israel says:
“Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit, 13 this sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant. 14 It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from a hearth or scooping water out of a cistern.”
15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. 16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift! 17 A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill.”
18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!


Chapter 31 1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord. 2 Yet he too is wise and can bring disaster; he does not take back his words. He will rise up against that wicked nation, against those who help evildoers. 3 But the Egyptians are mere mortals and not God; their horses are flesh and not spirit. When the Lord stretches out his hand, those who help will stumble, those who are helped will fall; all will perish together.

Chapter 32 9 You women who are so complacent, rise up and listen to me; you daughters who feel secure, hear what I have to say! 10 In little more than a year you who feel secure will tremble; the grape harvest will fail, and the harvest of fruit will not come. 11 Tremble, you complacent women; shudder, you daughters who feel secure! Strip off your fine clothes and wrap yourselves in rags. 12 Beat your breasts for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vines 13 and for the land of my people, a land overgrown with thorns and briers— yes, mourn for all houses of merriment and for this city of revelry. 14 The fortress will be abandoned, the noisy city deserted; citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever, the delight of donkeys, a pasture for flocks, 15 till the Spirit is poured on us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest. 16 The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field. 17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. 18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. 19 Though hail flattens the forest and the city is leveled completely, 20 how blessed you will be, sowing your seed by every stream, and letting your cattle and donkeys range free.

The Start of Christ's millennial reign (circa 2017AD) (Ch 28 Vs 5-6, Ch 29 Vs 5-8, Ch 29 Vs 17-24, Ch 30 Vs 19-33, Ch 31 Vs 4 - 32 Vs 8)
Chapter 28 5 In that day the Lord Almighty will be a glorious crown, a beautiful wreath for the remnant of his people. 6 He will be a spirit of justice to the one who sits in judgment, a source of strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.

Chapter 29 5 But your many enemies will become like fine dust, the ruthless hordes like blown chaff. Suddenly, in an instant, 6 the Lord Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire. 7 Then the hordes of all the nations that fight against Ariel, that attack her and her fortress and besiege her, will be as it is with a dream, with a vision in the night— 8 as when a hungry person dreams of eating, but awakens hungry still; as when a thirsty person dreams of drinking, but awakens faint and thirsty still. So will it be with the hordes of all the nations that fight against Mount Zion.

Chapter 29 17 In a very short time, will not Lebanon be turned into a fertile field and the fertile field seem like a forest? 18 In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. 19 Once more the humble will rejoice in the Lord; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. 20 The ruthless will vanish, the mockers will disappear, and all who have an eye for evil will be cut down— 21 those who with a word make someone out to be guilty, who ensnare the defender in court and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice.
22 Therefore this is what the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, says to the descendants of Jacob:
“No longer will Jacob be ashamed; no longer will their faces grow pale. 23 When they see among them their children, the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy; they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. 24 Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding; those who complain will accept instruction.”


Chapter 30 19 People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” 22 Then you will desecrate your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!”
23 He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in broad meadows. 24 The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat fodder and mash, spread out with fork and shovel. 25 In the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall, streams of water will flow on every high mountain and every lofty hill. 26 The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.
27 See, the Name of the Lord comes from afar, with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; his lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire. 28 His breath is like a rushing torrent, rising up to the neck. He shakes the nations in the sieve of destruction; he places in the jaws of the peoples a bit that leads them astray. 29 And you will sing as on the night you celebrate a holy festival; your hearts will rejoice as when people playing pipes go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel. 30 The Lord will cause people to hear his majestic voice and will make them see his arm coming down with raging anger and consuming fire, with cloudburst, thunderstorm and hail. 31 The voice of the Lord will shatter Assyria; with his rod he will strike them down. 32 Every stroke the Lord lays on them with his punishing club will be to the music of timbrels and harps, as he fights them in battle with the blows of his arm. 33 Topheth has long been prepared; it has been made ready for the king. Its fire pit has been made deep and wide, with an abundance of fire and wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of burning sulfur, sets it ablaze.


Chapter 31 4 This is what the Lord says to me:
“As a lion growls, a great lion over its prey— and though a whole band of shepherds is called together against it, it is not frightened by their shouts or disturbed by their clamor— so the Lord Almighty will come down to do battle on Mount Zion and on its heights. 5 Like birds hovering overhead, the Lord Almighty will shield Jerusalem; he will shield it and deliver it, he will ‘pass over’ it and will rescue it.”
6 Return, you Israelites, to the One you have so greatly revolted against. 7 For in that day every one of you will reject the idols of silver and gold your sinful hands have made.
8 “Assyria will fall by no human sword; a sword, not of mortals, will devour them. They will flee before the sword and their young men will be put to forced labor. 9 Their stronghold will fall because of terror; at the sight of the battle standard their commanders will panic,” declares the Lord, whose fire is in Zion, whose furnace is in Jerusalem.


Chapter 32 1 See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. 2 Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.
3 Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed, and the ears of those who hear will listen. 4 The fearful heart will know and understand, and the stammering tongue will be fluent and clear. 5 No longer will the fool be called noble nor the scoundrel be highly respected. 6 For fools speak folly, their hearts are bent on evil: They practice ungodliness and spread error concerning the Lord; the hungry they leave empty and from the thirsty they withhold water. 7 Scoundrels use wicked methods, they make up evil schemes to destroy the poor with lies, even when the plea of the needy is just. 8 But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand.



5. A commentary on the reconfigured text

5.1 The Period from the Ministry of Christ (27AD-30AD) to the First Jewish–Roman War (66AD–73AD)(Ch 28 Vs 7 - Ch 29 Vs 4, Ch 29 Vs 13-16)

Chapter 28 7 And these also stagger from wine and reel from beer: Priests and prophets stagger from beer and are befuddled with wine; they reel from beer, they stagger when seeing visions, they stumble when rendering decisions. 8 All the tables are covered with vomit and there is not a spot without filth.

The Judaism of the leadership of Judea - the Pharisees and prophets - was corrupted with Satanic ideas that had crept into their doctrines during their during their stay at Babylon ("drunk with the wine" as in Rev 17:2), so they erred in their visions and judgements, and led the people astray ("vomited out filth") (see Matthew 23).



Chapter 28 9 “Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast? 10 For it is: Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there.”

This passage appears to quote the Pharisees and Scribes of the time, as they denigrated Jesus' message. The Pharisees felt that, compared to the sophisticated Law that the Judahite leadership taught, made up of complex rules that demanded deep, extensive study, Jesus' simplistic teachings consisted of "a few little rules for this and that" (the beatitudes of Matt. 5:1-12 may be an example), a doctrine suitable for infants (see also 1 Cor. 1:18-31).



Chapter 28 11 Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people,

Jesus' followers spoke in tongues - in foreign languages previously unknown to them - so that witnesses of this miracle may believe and turn to Christ. Paul paraphrased this passage in 1 Cor. 14:21,22 when he explained that speaking in tongues was for the benefit of the non-believers among them.



Chapter 28 12 to whom he said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest”; and, “This is the place of repose”— but they would not listen.

The corrupted religion of the Pharisees was based on "works" which meant that its adherents had to follow a number of burdensome man-made rules to please God (Matt. 23:4). In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus promised relief to these "weary and heavy laden" that believed in him, as his "yoke is easy" (his requirements are simple), but the Pharisees and their followers would not listen.



Chapter 28 13 So then, the word of the Lord to them will become: Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there— so that as they go they will fall backward; they will be injured and snared and captured.

To those who would not believe in him, Jesus' doctrine remained "a few silly little rules for this and that" and its true essence remained hidden (see also Matthew 11:25) ("will become" in vs. 13a is better rendered "will be" - vs 13 repeats the idea of vs 10). Jesus was a snare and a stumbling block for the Judahites who do not believe in him (1 Cor 1:23, Romans 9:33), and they ended up captured or killed by the Romans during the First Jewish-Roman War.



Chapter 28 14 Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers who rule this people in Jerusalem. 15 You boast, “We have entered into a covenant with death, with the realm of the dead we have made an agreement. When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by, it cannot touch us, for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding place.”

The leaders of the Judahites appear to have made a covenant with the Satanic realm to the effect that they would not be affected by any great calamity sent as punishment ("scourge"). They wrongly felt protected from the Roman attack by this agreement because they were unaware that the covenant could not be honoured by the lying dark realm. This is an indication of the extent to which they were involved in witchcraft and demon worship under the cover of being pious followers of the Law of God - their Judaism had been thoroughly corrupted by the filth of Babylon (see also Matt. 23:15,27,28).



Chapter 28 16 So this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.

Jesus, the stone that is a stumbling block to some, is the cornerstone for others (Romans 9:33, Matthew 21:42, 1 Peter 2:4-8). He shows us the right way to think, live and worship God, and he teaches on the peace that comes through faith in God (John 14:6). Those Judahites who heeded Jesus' instruction to flee as soon as they saw the Romans, escaped death.



Chapter 28 17 I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line; hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding place. 18 Your covenant with death will be annulled; your agreement with the realm of the dead will not stand. When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by, you will be beaten down by it. 19a As often as it comes it will carry you away; morning after morning, by day and by night, it will sweep through.”

God will execute His justice on the Judahites - the righteous will be protected, while the evil will face His merciless wrath through the Roman attack. The Judahites covenant with dark forces did not stand, because the Romans, over a period of 7 miserable years, comprehensively destroyed all of Judea and brutally massacred its people - they were wrong to trust in lying Satanic powers for their protection.



Chapter 28 19b The understanding of this message will bring sheer terror.

Reports of the brutality of the Roman attack terrified the Judahites (the phrase, "the understanding of this message" is better rendered "understanding the reports"). For instance, the Romans announced their arrival in a region near the Jordan by sending thousands of dead bodies down the river.



Chapter 28 20 The bed is too short to stretch out on, the blanket too narrow to wrap around you.

The sense of this proverbial saying is that the Judahites preparations for defence against the Romans (especially at Jerusalem) will prove to be inadequate. (See more historical details of the period in our paper on the "70 Weeks of Daniel" [2])



Chapter 28 21 The Lord will rise up as he did at Mount Perazim, he will rouse himself as in the Valley of Gibeon— to do his work, his strange work, and perform his task, his alien task. 22 Now stop your mocking, or your chains will become heavier; the Lord, the Lord Almighty, has told me of the destruction decreed against the whole land.

God miraculously helped the Israelites defeat their enemies in places like Mount Perazim (2 Samuel 5:20-21, 1 Chronicles 14:11), and the valley of Gibeon (1 Chronicles 14:16), but this time he will be doing the "strange work" of aiding the enemy. God decreed the comprehensive destruction of Judea and Jerusalem and the slaughter of its people (see [2]), and those who mocked Jesus' teaching would suffer more.



Chapter 28 23 Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say.

The passage below (vs 23-29) appears to explain the reason for God's "strange work" in dealing with the Judahites in the previous passages. The sense of this illustration from crop husbandry is that God, who gives wisdom to the farmer to create various kinds of produce, knows how to deal with the people He created.



Chapter 28 24 When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually? Does he keep on breaking up and working the soil? 25 When he has leveled the surface, does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin? Does he not plant wheat in its place, barley in its plot, and spelt in its field? 26 His God instructs him and teaches him the right way.

After the earth has been prepared, the farmer plants different types of seeds in the different areas of his farm. So also, God places people with various personalities and abilities in the various nations.



Chapter 28 27 Caraway is not threshed with a sledge, nor is the wheel of a cart rolled over cumin; caraway is beaten out with a rod, and cumin with a stick. 28 Grain must be ground to make bread; so one does not go on threshing it forever. The wheels of a threshing cart may be rolled over it, but one does not use horses to grind grain. 29 All this also comes from the Lord Almighty, whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent.

Like the farmer, God adopts different ways to mould us into what He wants us to be; He is gentle with some, and tough or even cruel with others, depending on the situation and the nature of the person. God, in His infinite wisdom, does what is right at all times, though we may not understand all his actions and though He may sometimes seem excessively harsh.



Chapter 29 1 Woe to you, Ariel, Ariel, the city where David settled! Add year to year and let your cycle of festivals go on. 2 Yet I will besiege Ariel; she will mourn and lament, she will be to me like an altar hearth. 3 I will encamp against you on all sides; I will encircle you with towers and set up my siege works against you. 4 Brought low, you will speak from the ground; your speech will mumble out of the dust. Your voice will come ghostlike from the earth; out of the dust your speech will whisper.

In spite of the people of Jerusalem ('Ariel') religiously observing the cycle of appointed festivals, the Lord used the Roman army to set siege to Jerusalem and burn it, turning it into an "altar hearth". The once proud city was humbled and quite literally razed to the ground by the Romans (see also Luke 21:6).

'Ariel' can be interpreted as meaning "Lion of God" (an appropriate name for the Judahite capital - Gen 49:9) or "the hearth of God" (the city was burned to the the ground and turned into an altar hearth - vs 2,4). Since both meanings of 'Ariel' apply, this may be a paronomasia or pun on the word.



Chapter 29 13 The Lord says:
“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.

The hypocritical Pharisees may make pious declarations and may follow the man-made rules they have been taught by their corrupt leaders ("works") to earn Gods favour (see also Eph. 2:8–9), but their hearts are lacking in love for God and their fellow man. Jesus paraphrases this passage in Matthew 15:7-9, making it clear that it refers to the Pharisees of this Period.



14 Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”

Jesus will astound the Judahites with miracles and wonders so that they believe in him and follow him. Through his ministry and through the message of his death on the cross, Jesus made it clear to the Judahites that the "wisdom" of their Pharisee leaders was but foolishness (this passage is quoted in 1 Cor. 1:18-20 as referring to the "wise" of this Period.)



Chapter 29 15 Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?”
16 You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”?

Those who engage in witchcraft and the worship of demon gods try to hide that from God and his faithful followers. God sees all things (Psalm 33:13–14), but their evil doctrines teach otherwise. Satanic doctrines such as Gnosticism (which originated in the 1st century) teach of a complex spiritual hierarchy in which God is subordinate to a "supreme being", and in which the demon gods are exalted. The adherents of these belief systems tend to believe they are superior to others and even to God on account of their "secret knowledge" or gnosis. Everything is upside down according to these belief systems, and so their adherents tend to manifest a disdain for God.



5.2 The Assyrians defeat Samaria and exile Ephraim. (c. 725-720BC) (Ch 28 Vs 1-4, Ch 29 Vs 9-12, Ch 30 Vs 1-18, Ch 31 Vs 1-3, Ch 32 Vs 9-20)

Chapter 28 1 Woe to that wreath, the pride of Ephraim’s drunkards, to the fading flower, his glorious beauty, set on the head of a fertile valley— to that city, the pride of those laid low by wine!

Samaria, the capital city of Ephraim ("Ephraim" represents the Northern tribes of Israel), was located on a pleasant and fertile hill. The city was surrounded by a rich valley, with a circle of hills beyond, all of which looked like a laurel wreath or crown around the city. Ephraim was "fading" because it had already been defeated by the Assyrians under Tiglath-Pileser III (2 Kings 15:29, [3]) and turned into as vassal state. The "drunkenness" in this Period refers to the corruption of the mind that occurs through the worship of pagan demon gods.



Chapter 28 2 See, the Lord has one who is powerful and strong. Like a hailstorm and a destructive wind, like a driving rain and a flooding downpour, he will throw it forcefully to the ground. 3 That wreath, the pride of Ephraim’s drunkards, will be trampled underfoot.

As punishment for their "drunkenness", or idol worship, God gave Samaria to the powerful Assyrian king Shalmaneser V (2 Kings 17:6-20).

Hoshea, the king of Israel in Samaria, was a Assyrian vassal, but he stopped paying tribute to Shalmaneser and, instead, sent envoys to king So of Egypt (Pharaoh Osorkon IV) to form an alliance (1 Kings 17:1-6). Shalmaneser seized and imprisoned Hoshea for this rebellion, invaded Israel and captured Syria after a three year siege (c. 725-722BC).



Chapter 28 4 That fading flower, his glorious beauty, set on the head of a fertile valley, will be like figs ripe before harvest— as soon as people see them and take them in hand, they swallow them.

Shalmaneser died soon after and the Assyrians retreated, but Samaria was weakened and without a ruler (Samaria was like a fig that was ripe before harvest time - quickly finished off). The Assyrians returned under Sargon II (720BC), exiled the rest of the people of Ephraim (who became the "Ten Lost Tribes") and settled the land with foreigners (who became the Samaritans).



Chapter 29 9 Be stunned and amazed, blind yourselves and be sightless; be drunk, but not from wine, stagger, but not from beer. 10 The Lord has brought over you a deep sleep: He has sealed your eyes (the prophets); he has covered your heads (the seers).

After predicting the physical punishment for their waywardness in the previous passages, the prophet now pronounces a spiritual curse from God on the Northern Tribes (see also Isaiah 6:9,10). Spiritually speaking, their minds will be: stunned into a frozen state; blinded to the truth and to their own God; and clouded in thinking and judgement (it is clear from this passage that the "drunkenness" in this prophecy is figurative). The spiritual leadership of Ephraim - the prophets and seers - will also be blinded to the truth and remain spiritually asleep. So the idolatrous Northern Tribes and their descendants will continue to worship idols until the start of the Millennial Reign.



Chapter 29 11 For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll. And if you give the scroll to someone who can read, and say, “Read this, please,” they will answer, “I can’t; it is sealed.” 12 Or if you give the scroll to someone who cannot read, and say, “Read this, please,” they will answer, “I don’t know how to read.”

This prophecy is sealed, even from those of the Northern Tribes, even though the predictions of the first Period apply immediately to them. Because it is sealed, those who are literate and learned will understand as much of the prophecy as those who cannot read.



Chapter 30 1 “Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the Lord, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; 2 who go down to Egypt without consulting me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge. 3 But Pharaoh’s protection will be to your shame, Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace. 4 Though they have officials in Zoan and their envoys have arrived in Hanes, 5 everyone will be put to shame because of a people useless to them, who bring neither help nor advantage, but only shame and disgrace.”

Samaria angered God by looking to the pagan Egyptian Pharaoh for protection (Zoan and Hanes are locations of Egyptian palaces), instead of trusting God and seeking the council of His prophets. Egypt proved a useless ally to Samaria when Shalmaneser, angered by Hoshea's betrayal, attacked Israel; Samaria was humiliatingly defeated and its people exiled (2 Kings 17:3-6).



Chapter 30 6 A prophecy concerning the animals of the Negev:
Through a land of hardship and distress, of lions and lionesses, of adders and darting snakes, the envoys carry their riches on donkeys’ backs, their treasures on the humps of camels, to that unprofitable nation, 7 to Egypt, whose help is utterly useless. Therefore I call her Rahab the Do-Nothing.

This passage (vs 6-7) focuses on the expense and effort the Israelites put in to buying Egypt's protection instead of seeking God's help. The introductory phrase in vs 6 is better rendered, "The burden of the animals of the Negev", the burden on the camels and donkeys being: treasures, envoys, hardship and great danger. Israel's envoys embarked on this difficult, treacherous and costly mission through the desert to make an alliance that proved worse than useless.

The KJV translation for the last sentence of vs 7 is: "Therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength is to sit still." Both translations may be right, as Isaiah appears to be punning on the word Rahab (Rahab, a poetic name for Egypt, as used in Psalm 87:4, can also mean "strength"). This prophecy repeatedly mocks the impotence of the vaunted Egyptians.



Chapter 30 8 Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness. 9 For these are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction. 10 They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. 11 Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!”

The people of the Samaria do not want to hear admonishments from God, as conveyed through His prophets, which is an indication of how far they have fallen away from properly honouring, obeying and worshipping Him. God wants this written on a stone tablet as a permanent record, because the Northern Tribes will be punished for this attitude for millennia.



Chapter 30 12 Therefore this is what the Holy One of Israel says:
“Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit, 13 this sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant. 14 It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from a hearth or scooping water out of a cistern.”

Samaria and Northern Israel will be utterly destroyed, because they chose to depend on Egypt, their deceitful oppressor, instead of relying on their God. The figure of a stressed, weakened, bulging wall is used here, because such walls tend to break suddenly and completely.



Chapter 30 15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. 16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift!

Apparently, the plan was that if the Israelites faced defeat at the hands of the Assyrians, they would flee, regroup, and return with their Egyptian allies. The Israelites chose to rely on their battle preparations instead of repentance and trust in their God. So the horses that they planned to use to flee, will be used to flee; that is, they will surely be defeated. Hoshea and his forces fled on their swift Egyptian horses, but were captured at the beginning of the war (2 Kings 17:4-6).



Chapter 30 17 A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill.”

Hoshea and his army were easily panicked and fled. With its king captured, an isolated and unprotected Samaria endured a 3-year siege before being taken by the Assyrians (2 Kings 18:9-12).



Chapter 30 18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

In spite of all this, the Israelite's God wants to forgive them and show compassion. But they will only be fully redeemed millennia later in Period 3 at the start of the Millennial Reign.



Chapter 31 1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord. 2 Yet he too is wise and can bring disaster; he does not take back his words. He will rise up against that wicked nation, against those who help evildoers. 3 But the Egyptians are mere mortals and not God; their horses are flesh and not spirit. When the Lord stretches out his hand, those who help will stumble, those who are helped will fall; all will perish together.

The Israelites who trust Egypt and the might of horses instead of their God will be punished (see also Deut. 17:16, Psalm 20:7). God is wise too (some sarcasm there) and will do as he warned in the previous passages. He will punish both those who help and those who seek help (Egyptian forces were also defeated by Sargon II at Raphia c. 720BC and later had to send tribute to the Assyrians.).



Chapter 32 9 You women who are so complacent, rise up and listen to me; you daughters who feel secure, hear what I have to say! 10a In little more than a year you who feel secure will tremble;

This passage, like the prophecy to the women of Jerusalem in Isa. 3:16-25, is a warning to the complacent women of Northern Israel who face the same fate as the men. Instead of trusting their God, they too feel secure because of their faith in the Egyptians. Verse 10a dates the prophecy to a short time before the Assyrian attack.



Chapter 32 10b the grape harvest will fail, and the harvest of fruit will not come. 11 Tremble, you complacent women; shudder, you daughters who feel secure! Strip off your fine clothes and wrap yourselves in rags. 12 Beat your breasts for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vines 13 and for the land of my people, a land overgrown with thorns and briers— yes, mourn for all houses of merriment and for this city of revelry.

The cities ("this city" in vs 10 is better rendered "the city") and villages of the Northern Tribes will be abandoned and the cultivated land will will be overgrown with briers (a similar prediction was made regarding a previous attack on Israel in Isaiah 7:23-25).



Chapter 32 14 The fortress will be abandoned, the noisy city deserted; citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever, the delight of donkeys, a pasture for flocks,

This prediction a long abandonment ("forever" is better translated "for a long time") of the Promised Land may figuratively indicate the spiritual separation of the Northern Tribes from their God (the Assyrians repopulated the region with foreigners soon after, so it not literally abandoned for a long time). God hardened the hearts of the Northern Tribes against Himself until the start of the Millennial Reign.



Chapter 32 15 till the Spirit is poured on us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest.

At the start of the Millennial Rein, the Israelites will once again turn back to their God. The proverbial expression of the 'desert turning into a forest' (see also Isa. 29:17) indicates a spiritual reconstitution (as in Eze. 37:1-14) that reverses the abandonment of the previous verse. The coming Messiah, the Holy Spirit [2] from God, will lead the New Israel and the world and the those who live in Israel will be guided by the angels (Isa. 30:21).



Chapter 32 16 The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert, his righteousness live in the fertile field. 17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. 18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. 19 Though hail flattens the forest and the city is leveled completely, 20 how blessed you will be, sowing your seed by every stream, and letting your cattle and donkeys range free.

The New Israel and the world will enjoy peace, justice and prosperity under Christ. The text "Hail flattens the forest..." indicates the destruction of the Beast army by God (Rev. 19:18-20), and "the city is leveled" indicates that the 'Babylon' of the time will be razed to the ground (Rev. 18) - Satan's capital is destroyed and his reign ended.

Although this last section (vs 15-20) belongs in Period 3, we have placed this in Period 1 because it is intimately linked with the preceding passage (vs 14) about abandonment.




5.3 The Start of Christ's Millennial Reign (circa 2017AD) (Ch 28 Vs 5-6, Ch 29 Vs 5-8, Ch 29 Vs 17-24, Ch 30 Vs 19-33, Ch 31 Vs 4 - 32 Vs 8)

Chapter 28 5 In that day the Lord Almighty will be a glorious crown, a beautiful wreath for the remnant of his people. 6 He will be a spirit of justice to the one who sits in judgment, a source of strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.

The Israelites will turn back to their God at the start of the Millennial Reign (Romans 11:25); HE will be their glorious crown, and not Samaria (as in Period 1 - Ch 28:1). The coming Messiah, the ruler of Israel and the world, will be counselled from the spiritual world by God through Christ (Rev. 2:26,27). God will help defeat hostile nations miraculously before they can harm the residents of the New Israel.



Chapter 29 5 But your many enemies will become like fine dust, the ruthless hordes like blown chaff. Suddenly, in an instant, 6 the Lord Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire.

This passage may refer to the attack of the Beast at the beginning of the Millennial Reign (Rev 19:19,20), or it may be a general statement on all major wars against the New Israel (notably, the Gog and Magog wars - Eze. 38,39 and Rev 20:7-9) - they all involve a number of hostile nations with large armies that are supernaturally defeated.



Chapter 29 7 Then the hordes of all the nations that fight against Ariel, that attack her and her fortress and besiege her, will be as it is with a dream, with a vision in the night— 8 as when a hungry person dreams of eating, but awakens hungry still; as when a thirsty person dreams of drinking, but awakens faint and thirsty still. So will it be with the hordes of all the nations that fight against Mount Zion.

The many nations that come against 'Ariel' may consider victory a foregone conclusion because of their strength and numbers, but they will be suddenly and miraculously defeated, so that their assured victory will seem like a dream. ( The capital city, Mount Zion or Ariel, synecdochically represents the New Israel in this passage.) 'Ariel', the mighty "lion of God" that conquers all, is also the "altar hearth" at which Israel's enemies are burned (29:6), so this may be another paronomasia.



Chapter 29 17 In a very short time, will not Lebanon be turned into a fertile field and the fertile field seem like a forest?

The sense of this proverbial saying that the mostly barren mountains of Lebanon will turn into a fruitful field and then a lush forest, is that there will be a sudden revolutionary change among the Israelites for the better. In a very short period (ie., suddenly) the eyes of the nation of Israel will be opened and they will turn away from pagan gods and back to their God (see also Isaiah 66:7-13, 32:15, Ezekiel 37).



Chapter 29 18 In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.

In this Period, before the Millennial Reign, this scroll will be unsealed (see 29:11) so that its meaning will be revealed to all. And the Israelites, who were cursed with spiritual blindness in Period 1, will have their eyes opened to their God.



Chapter 29 19 Once more the humble will rejoice in the Lord; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. 20 The ruthless will vanish, the mockers will disappear, and all who have an eye for evil will be cut down— 21 those who with a word make someone out to be guilty, who ensnare the defender in court and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice.

In a world ruled by Christ, truth and justice will prevail for all, even the poor and weak. Those who were once powerful because of their Satanic connections - and used that power to subvert the law - will be brought down.



Chapter 29 22 Therefore this is what the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, says to the descendants of Jacob:
“No longer will Jacob be ashamed; no longer will their faces grow pale. 23 When they see among them their children, the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy; they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. 24 Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding; those who complain will accept instruction.”

This passage imagines the patriarch Jacob keeping watch over his most populous descendants - the Northern Tribes - over the millennia. Jacob will no longer be ashamed of his idol-worshipping descendants when he sees that God has turned their hardened hearts to Himself - they will once again worship the God of their fathers (Romans 11:25-28). ( We recommend this alternate translation for vs 22b-23a: "No longer will Jacob be ashamed; no longer will his face grow pale, when he sees the work of my hands among his children.)



Chapter 30 19 People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.

After giving His people a long period of adversity ("gives you" on vs 20 is better rendered "has given you"), God, their teacher and guide, ("teachers" is better rendered in the singular) will make Himself known to the Israelites again and will once again answer their prayers - vs. 20 has roughly the same meaning as vs. 19. (Jerusalem and Zion in this passage represent the New Israel of the Millennial Age)



21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” 22 Then you will desecrate your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!”

The Israelites will once again hear the council of their God, and so they will get rid of their idols of fallen angels.



Chapter 30 23 He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in broad meadows. 24 The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat fodder and mash, spread out with fork and shovel.

Israel will be prosperous, so that even the lowly cattle will be given choice feed.



Chapter 30 25 In the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall, streams of water will flow on every high mountain and every lofty hill. 26 The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.

This passage seems to be a metaphor for spiritual awakening. The great slaughter and towers falling indicate that Satan's lies no longer hold sway. At this time spiritual knowledge will flow out from important places ("mountains and lofty hills") like the New Jerusalem. The bright light refers to an outpouring of wisdom from God. The spiritual bruises due to the lies of Satan, especially in Israel, will be healed - the meaning of verse 26 is similar to that of verse 25.



Chapter 30 27 See, the Name of the Lord comes from afar, with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; his lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire. 28 His breath is like a rushing torrent, rising up to the neck. He shakes the nations in the sieve of destruction; he places in the jaws of the peoples a bit that leads them astray.

The name of the Lord indicates His fearsome reputation and His reputation will precede Him. The Lord will punish the worshippers of Satan with great anger, much of his destruction occurs merely by stating the truth; the metaphor of "his lips are full of wrath" and "his tongue is a consuming fire" is similar to that of the "two-edged sword coming from the mouth" of the Rider on the White Horse of Revelation. Hostile nations will be led to engage in the foolish act of fighting the New Israel.



Chapter 30 29 And you will sing as on the night you celebrate a holy festival; your hearts will rejoice as when people playing pipes go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel.

The Israelites will celebrate this time with great joy, as their forefathers did in ancient times.



Chapter 30 30 The Lord will cause people to hear his majestic voice and will make them see his arm coming down with raging anger and consuming fire, with cloudburst, thunderstorm and hail. 31 The voice of the Lord will shatter Assyria; with his rod he will strike them down. 32 Every stroke the Lord lays on them with his punishing club will be to the music of timbrels and harps, as he fights them in battle with the blows of his arm.

The Assyrians will be defeated. As we have seen in other prophecies, the Assyrians, who are one of the kings of Revelation, here represents 'Babylon' at the start of the Millennial Reign.



Chapter 30 33 Topheth has long been prepared; it has been made ready for the king. Its fire pit has been made deep and wide, with an abundance of fire and wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of burning sulfur, sets it ablaze.

Topheth, a valley near Jerusalem where unspeakable acts of evil. like child sacrifices, were committed (Jer. 7:31-34, 19:5-6), later became a place where carcasses and other refuse was burnt. Topheth seems to represent the lake of fire that will be prepared to punish wicked - the Antichrist and the Beast is thrown into the lake of fire (Rev 19:20) at this time. This passage may be a clue on what the lake of fire represents - the wicked will be punished in proportion to the evil they have committed.



Chapter 31 4 This is what the Lord says to me:
“As a lion growls, a great lion over its prey— and though a whole band of shepherds is called together against it, it is not frightened by their shouts or disturbed by their clamor— so the Lord Almighty will come down to do battle on Mount Zion and on its heights. 5 Like birds hovering overhead, the Lord Almighty will shield Jerusalem; he will shield it and deliver it, he will ‘pass over’ it and will rescue it.”

Like a lion that cannot be scared away by large numbers of much weaker attackers, God will eternally battle the multitudes of armies arrayed against the New Jerusalem (Rev 19:19, Eze. 38:4-6), and His protective covering will be over the land.



Chapter 31 6 Return, you Israelites, to the One you have so greatly revolted against. 7 For in that day every one of you will reject the idols of silver and gold your sinful hands have made.

The Israelites will turn back to their own God to their own God as the curse from Isaiah 29:9,10 will be lifted, and they will stop worshipping idols.



Chapter 31 8 “Assyria will fall by no human sword; a sword, not of mortals, will devour them. They will flee before the sword and their young men will be put to forced labor. 9 Their stronghold will fall because of terror; at the sight of the battle standard their commanders will panic,” declares the Lord, whose fire is in Zion, whose furnace is in Jerusalem.

The power that inherits the title of 'Assyria' at the start of the Millennial reign, most likely the Beast system (Rev. 13:1), will be supernaturally defeated by God, and its able will become vassals ("put to forced labor" is better rendered "vassals") to the new Israel (Isa. 60:5-7,10-12, 16). Its leaders will be terrified and strongholds will fall merely at the sight God's forces coming against them. Once again, Isaiah uses the image of Zion as God's furnace ('Ariel' in 29:1) that burns up its enemies.



Chapter 32 1 See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. 2 Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.

The coming Messiah will rule Israel and the world righteously (see also Jer. 23:5, Isa. 9:6,7...). Those who help him reign - true believers who have suffered and died for God (Rev. 20:4) - will be just protectors and nurturers of the people.



Chapter 32 3 Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed, and the ears of those who hear will listen. 4 The fearful heart will know and understand, and the stammering tongue will be fluent and clear.

A great awakening around the world, and especially among the Israelites, will open peoples eyes to the truth. The earth will no longer be misled by the lies of Satan and his minions. Once people clearly understand the truth, they will be able to articulate it as well.



Chapter 32 5 No longer will the fool be called noble nor the scoundrel be highly respected. 6 For fools speak folly, their hearts are bent on evil: They practice ungodliness and spread error concerning the Lord; the hungry they leave empty and from the thirsty they withhold water. 7 Scoundrels use wicked methods, they make up evil schemes to destroy the poor with lies, even when the plea of the needy is just. 8 But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand.

Under Satan's reign, over the millennia, the 'fool' and 'scoundrel' - those who worship Satan and his demons - are the 'elite' who are rewarded with money, power, honour and fame (Rev. 17:2, Rev. 18:3). Satan's 'elite' implement his evil plans, use their power unjustly against the weak and poor, spread lies and hide the truth about God (the hunger and thirst in vs. 6 are spiritual).

During the Millennial Reign, these 'foolish' will no longer reign and instead get the treatment they deserve (Rev. 16). The faithful of God, who are just and righteous, will rule the world and make plans in keeping with the word of God.




Conclusion

With this chiastic reconstruction, we show that the passage contains three interwoven prophetic passages. The chiastic structure of the passage is unusual, as it typically is for chiasmi that are explicitly designated as sealed. The first Period of the prophecy predicts the exile of the Northern Tribes from Israel, the second Period predicts the destruction of Judea and the dispersion of the Southern Tribes, and the final Period predicts the gathering of all the tribes into the new Israel.

This prophecy also makes predictions on Christ's first coming: primarily that his message will be a stumbling block for some Judahites, leading to their death, but a cornerstone for others, leading to eternal life.



References

[1] A Definition of Cryptochiasmus
[2] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of "The 70 Weeks Of Daniel"
[3] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Isaiah 7-9






* Updated 14/4/2021 added chapters 31,32




Related pages

Daniel 9
Mark 13
Luke 21
Luke 17:22-37
Cryptochiasmus