Sign up to receive email updates:

The Vision Isaiah Saw

1.

The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw about Judah and Jerusalem in the days when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah  

Hear, heavens; earth, lend your ears:
God makes his Proclamation.
‘I made my sons grow, raised them up, and they — they revolted against me.  

An ox knows his herdsman; a donkey knows his master’s paddock — Israel doesn’t know. My people don’t understand.  

Oh, doom! Sinful nation, population heavy with corruption, offspring of the evil ones, destroyer sons . . . They abandoned God. They disdained Israel’s Sacred One. Their backs are turned.  

To what end? You still get pummeled; again and again you mutiny. Your whole head is in a fever; your whole heart is faint.  

From pad of heel to crown of head, the whole structure is unsound: gashes and bruises and wounds oozing. They’re not staunched, not bandaged, not eased with oil.  

Your land — laid waste. Your cities — burned in fire. Your soil and substance — right in front of you there are invaders eating it, and it’s laid waste – like a ruin toppled by invaders.  

But Zion's daughter is left behind: like a tent in a vineyard, like a shack in a patch of cucumbers, like a city under siege.  

If the God of Legions hadn’t left stragglers for us – just a few – we would be like Sodom; we would look like Gomorrah.  

Hear God’s Proclamation, you elites of Sodom. Lend your ears to our god’s teaching, people of Gomorrah.  

What good are all your sacrifices to me?’ says God. ‘I’m stuffed full. Offerings of goats; milk from fat cows; bull’s blood; sheep and rams: I take no pleasure in them.  

When you come to show yourselves before me — who asked for that from you? To trample my courtyards?  

No more: stop bringing worthless gifts, sweet-smelling incense . . . it’s vile to me. New moons and sabbaths, assemblies called together: I can’t bear corruption and pious congregations.

Your new moons and your meeting days: my soul deplores them; they’re a heavy load on me and I’m tired of carrying it.  

So when you stretch out your palms I’ll hide my eyes from you. Even when you multiply your prayers, you’ll get no audience from me. Your hands are full of blood.  

Wash. Get pure. Get the evil of the things you do out of my sight. Let go of evil.  

Learn how to make good. Hunt after justice. Give relief to victims and justice to orphans. Plead the widow’s case.  

Come here,’ says God; ‘let’s talk this out together. If your sins are like scarlet, they’ll turn white like snow. If they flush like crimson, they’ll be like wool.  

If you’re content to listen, the goodness of the earth will be your food.  

But if you refuse in defiance, then you will be food for the sword. God’s mouth makes this Proclamation.  

How did she whore herself out, this city stronghold secure in belief? She was full of justice; righteousness used to spend nights in her. But now killers do.  

Your silver’s become trash; your wine’s diluted with water.  

Your leaders are mutinous. Accomplices to thieves – all of them relishing bribes, hunting out graft. They give no justice to orphans; the widow’s plea never reaches them.  

And so the Master, God of Legions, Israel’s Juggernaut, declares: ‘Oh, I’ll get relief from the persecution pressing on me, get revenge on my enemies.

I’ll put my hand back on you, and like lye I’ll scour your filth away, extract all your impurities.

I’ll put your judges back, like at the beginning, and your mentors, like at the start. After that they’ll call you city of righteousness, stronghold secure in belief.  

Zion will be ransomed in justice, her homecomers in righteousness.  

But the shattering of the rebels and of the sinners is one and the same: those who desert God will be eaten alive.  

The brawny trunks you lusted after will put them to shame in the end. The gardens you chose will bring you reproach,  

Because you’ll be like a tree trunk with withering leaves; like a garden with no water.  

The powerful are for kindling now, and the things they do become sparks. They’re engulfed, both of them together, with no one to extinguish the flame.  

2.

What Isaiah, son of Amoz, Saw Proclaimed about Judah and Jerusalem.

It happens in the final days:
The mountain of God’s house will be established at the head of the mountains, lifted above the hills.
The nations will all come flooding to it.

Then peoples come en masse.
They say, ‘come, and we’ll ascend to God’s mountain, to the house of Jacob’s god –
He’ll teach us his ways and we’ll walk on his paths.
Because what he teaches will emanate from Zion,
and God’s proclamation from Jerusalem.

And he gives justice to the nations, and adjudicates between the many peoples;
They hammer out their swords into blades for their ploughs, and their spears into pruning hooks.
No nation will wield a sword against another, and from then on they won’t teach the art of war.

House of Jacob! Come walk; let’s walk in the light of God.

Because you cast away your people, Jacob's house: they’re filled with the East, with fortune-tellers, like the Philistines. They simper over foreign children.

And their territory is packed full of silver and gold – there’s no end to their treasure troves.
And their territory is packed full of horses – there’s no end to their riding gear.

And their territory is packed full of empty gods. They’re prostrating themselves to things their own hands made – things their fingers did.

Men grovel in the dirt; humanity degrades itself – you shall not bear with them.

Come squeeze into this crevice – get hidden in the dust; keep from facing the terror of God and his awful magnificence.

Men’s arrogant eyes will be cast down; the height of humanity will grovel; then God is set apart in exaltation
On That Day.

Yes: there’s a Day that belongs to the God of Legions, over every self-important and high-minded thing, and over everything exalted: it will be cast down.

And over every cedar from Lebanon, lofty and uplifted,
And over every oak from Bashan.

And over all exalted mountains,
And over all uplifted hills.

And over every towering citadel,
And over every fortressed wall.

And over all the fleets from Tarshish.
And over all the sumptuous artwork.

Men’s arrogance will grovel in the dirt; the height of humanity will be degraded; then God is set apart in exaltation
On That Day.

He will obliterate every one of the empty gods.

And they’ll go into cliffside hollows, into holes they claw in the dust, to keep from facing the terror of God and his awful magnificence, when he stands to rock Earth to its core.

On That Day,
Men will toss their empty gods of silver, their empty gods of gold – which they made for themselves, to grovel in front of – toss them aside to the burrowing rodents and bats,

To go into the cut cliffside, the fissures and crags of the rock. To keep from facing the terror of God and his awful magnificence, when he stands to rock Earth to its core.

Cut yourselves off from men. Their life is exhaled from their nostrils; on what grounds should they be given any thought?

3.

Yes – Look: see the Master, God with his Legions, taking Jerusalem’s sustenance away, taking the staff Judah leans on. All the sustenance of bread and all the sustenance of water.

Taking away the war hero, fighting man, judge and prophet, fortune teller and elder statesman,

Captain of squadrons, man of high rank, mentor, wise man, conjurer, silver-tongued scholar.

I give them boys for rulers, and infants will be sovereign over them.

And then the people tyrannise each other, man against man and neighbor against neighbor. Children will disdain their elders, and lowlifes disdain the men of consequence.

To the point that a man will grab hold of his brother in their father’s house: ‘The mantle is yours — you be our captain, with this crisis on your hands.’

He’ll take up an oath On That Day, saying, ‘I won’t be the one to patch this up: there’s no bread in my house, and no mantle. You won’t appoint me the people’s captain.’

Because Jerusalem has collapsed and Judah is fallen: their tongues and the things they do are against God, to embitter the eyes of his majesty.

The looks on their faces bear witness against them. Their sin! Like Sodom they tell all about it. They don’t keep it hidden. Oh their souls, their souls! They’ve lavished evil upon themselves.

Say this for the righteous: that it is good. That the fruit of the things they do will be their food.

Doom, oh, for the guilty man, this evil: what his own hand accomplishes is what will be done to him.

My people! Infants tyrannise them, and women lord it over them. My people, your guides lead you astray; they destroy the paths you travel on.

God rises to argue his case, then stands to bring judgment upon the nations.

God will advance in justice upon the elder statesmen of his people, and their leaders. ‘You were the ones who devoured the vineyard; the plunder from the poor is in your houses.

What do you get out of beating down my people, and grinding down the faces of the poor?’ declares my Master, the God of Legions,

And God says, ‘because of how Zion's daughters put on airs and strut around with necks outstretched, batting their eyes, sashaying as they go with bangles jangling on their feet,

The Master will disfigure their scalps, these daughters of Zion, and God will lay their cavities bare.

On That Day my Master will sweep away the elegance of the bangles, and the ribbons in their hair, and the gems around their necks,

The chokers and the bracelets and the veils,

The wigs and the anklets and the girdles, the corsets and the charm-stones,

The rings and nose-piercings,

The changes of outfit, and the cloaks, and the capes, and the purses,

And the pocket mirrors, and the linen, and the turbans, and the gauze.

Then it happens: where there were perfumed exhalations a stench will arise,
and a gash where there was a girdle,
and bald heads where there was coiffed hair,
and burlap garments where there was fine attire.
Where there was beauty, burn wounds.

Your grown men will fall by the sword, and your war heroes will fall in battle.

Then her gates will wail and weep. Emptied, she'll sit on the earth.

4.

And seven women will clutch at one man
On That Day.
They'll tell him, ‘we’ll eat our own food. We’ll wear our own clothes. Just let us be called by your name! Take away our disgrace!’

On That Day
The Branch of God will unfurl into majesty and splendour
And the fruit of the Earth into excellence and beauty,
For Israel's refugees.

Then it happens: the survivors in Zion,
And the ones still left in Jerusalem,
Will be spoken of as sacred,
Every one of them inscribed into life in Jerusalem,

When my Master scrubs away the grime from Zion's daughters
And the blood from Jerusalem —
Scours it away from her core
With a breath of justice,
With a burning spirit.

Then God creates —
Over the whole structure of Mount Zion,
Over the congregations called together —
Cloud in the daylight, and smoke,
And the brilliance of fire: a flare in the night,
Yes: a canopy above all majesty.

And for shade from the scorching heat in the daylight
There will be a tent:
A place to take shelter and hide
From the downpour,
From the rain.

5.

Let me sing to the one I love a song of him I love, about his vineyard.

The one I love had a vineyard, on the crest of a hill with rich soil.

Now, he fenced it off, and cleared it of stones, and sowed it with select varietals, and built a tower inside it.
Then he hollowed out a winepress in it too, and waited with high hopes for succulent grapes. But it produced rotted berries.

And now, any citizen of Jerusalem or man of Judah — judge between me and my vineyard.

What else was there to do to my vineyard that I didn’t do? Why, when I had high hopes for succulent grapes, should it produce rotted berries?

And now let me tell you what I’ll do to my vineyard: have its hedge removed, so it gets devoured. Smash its wall, so it gets trampled on.

I’m going to lay waste to it: it won’t be weeded or trimmed; thorns and choke-weed will sprout up; I’ll give orders to the clouds to rain no rain upon it.

Because the vineyard of God with his Legions is the household of Israel, and the man of Judah is the crop of his delight. He had high hopes for virtue, but look: see the violence. High hopes for honour, but listen: hear the screams.

Doom, oh, for the people who annex one house to another: they connect field to field until there’s no more space. Until you have to live in isolation in the middle of your own land.

In my ears, the God of Legions: ‘just see if countless houses don’t become wastelands — big ones and good ones, with no one to live in them.

Yes, ten acres of vineyard will produce just one vat of wine; ten bushels of seed will produce just one bushel of grain.

Oh doom for the people who wake up at dawn to hunt for hard liquor; who keep it up until night falls and wine makes them burn.

There are strings and lyres; there are tambourines and pipes; there’s wine at their drinking parties — it’s only God’s miracles they don’t attend to. It’s the things he does with his hands they don’t see.

That’s why my people are driven into captivity: for lack of knowledge. Their noblemen go hungry, and their commoners are parched with thirst.

That’s why the Grave bloats herself and her maw gapes limitlessly open. And down they sink into her, with all their glamour, and their ruckus, and their crowds and giddy celebrants.

Men grovel in the dirt; humanity degrades itself, and the eyes of the arrogant are brought low,

But he is exalted: God with his Legions in justice. The one sacred god will be held sacred in righteousness.

Then lambs will graze the way they do, and nomads will feed on wastelands that had belonged to fatcats.

Doom, yes, for the people that drag corruption along behind them with straps of inanity, and sin like a cart with a rope.

The people who say, ‘let him hurry it up then, and fast-track the work he’s doing. That way we’ll see, and the counsel of Israel’s sacred one will be close — will arrive, and we’ll know it.’

Doom for the people who say evil is good and good evil. Who put the deep dark in place of the light and the light in place of the deep dark. Who put bitter in place of sweet, and sweet in place of bitter.

Doom for the people who are wise in their own eyes, and discerning in their own sight.

Doom for those heroes of wine drinking — the mighty mixers of liquor.

The people who justify evil in return for bribes: they strip the righteous man of his righteousness.

That’s why, like a tongue of flame eats up dry wheat, and a blaze depletes the grass,
Their roots will become like rotten filth, and their blossom will dissipate like dust: they reject what God with his Legions teaches, what Israel’s Sacred One says — they make a mockery of it.

That’s why God’s blazing anger seethes against his people; he’s reaching out his hand towards them, and he’ll smite them so the mountains quake — so their corpses lie like garbage in the middle of the road. In all this his anger doesn’t turn back, and his hand still reaches out.

But he raises a flag for the nations from far away, and whistles for them from the ends of the earth — and look: they rush ahead; they’ll be coming fast.

No fatigue, no stumbling among them: they won’t doze, won’t sleep; their loincloths never come undone, and the strap on their sandal never snaps.

Their arrows are whetted and all their bows pulled taught; you’d think their horses’ hooves were rock, and their wheels roll like a hurricane.

The roar they make is like a lion’s. They’ll snarl like wild cubs, roaring and pouncing on their prey: they’ll carry it off safe and sound, with no one to rescue it.

Then they’ll roar at them On That Day, like the ocean’s roar. Survey the earth, see: pitch black dark. Grief. The light goes black on the horizon.

6.

It was the year King Uzziah died when I saw my Master. He was sitting on his throne: exalted and lifted on high, his mantle folds filling the temple,

The Burning Ones stationed above him — six wings! Six wings on each one. With two they were covering their faces. With two they were covering their feet. With two they were flying.

And they called out, one to another, and said:
‘SACRED SACRED SACRED GOD OF LEGIONS:
The whole earth is filled with his majesty.’

The doorframe was rocked with the voice of them, calling, and the building was filled with smoke.

I wailed, ‘oh, I am dismantled. I, a man of filthy lips within a filthy-lipped nation: my eyes see the King, the God of Legions.’

But then one of the Burning Ones flew to me. In his hand, an ember: he picked it up with tongs from off the altar.

He touched it to my mouth and said, ‘Look: this touches your lips, and takes away your corruption; your sin is scoured away.’

And I heard the voice of my Master. Saying, ‘Whom will I send? Who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Look: here I am. Send me.’

And He said, ‘go. You shall say to this nation, “listen! Oh you, listen, but comprehend nothing. See! Oh you, see, but never understand.”

‘Fatten these people’s hearts. Weigh down their ears; shut their eyes. Or else they would see with their eyes, and with their ears, listen, and understand in their hearts, and turn, and find healing.’

And I said, ‘Master, for how long?’ And he said, ‘until the cities are ravaged, emptied of anyone living there, houses emptied of human life, and the earth lifeless, desolate.

‘And God will drive humanity miles away, and the deserted territory will yawn wide in the heart of the Earth.

‘And if there’s still a tenth left, then that again will be devoured in flame — like a terebinth tree, like an oak. When they are toppled, their stump remains. Their stump is the sacred seed.’

7.

It happened in the days of Ahaz son of Jotham son of Uzziah, King of Judah: up came Rezin, King of Aram, and Pekah son of Remaliah, king of Israel, to wage war against Jerusalem – but they couldn’t win.

Word reached David's house: they were told, ‘Aram has joined forces with Ephraim.’ Then Ahaz's heart and his people’s heart were rattled, as tree branches in the woods rattle at the breath of the wind.

But God said to Isaiah, ‘go out to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-Jashub, at the far end of the waterway from the Upper Pool, on the highway to the Fuller’s Field.

And say to him, “careful now, still your mind, don’t be afraid. Don’t let your heart go limp at the thought of these two lumps of smoldering charcoal — at the thought of the seething rage of Rezin and Aram and Remaliah's son

Because Aram plotted evil against you, along with Ephraim and Remaliah's son, saying,

‘let’s go up to Judah and assault it, and breach its wall; let’s claim it for our own, and make Tabeel's son king at its city centre.’

So says my Master, God: ‘it won’t stand. It won’t happen.

Aram’s head is Damascus, and Damascus’ head is Rezin. And by sixty-five years from now the nation of Ephraim will be beaten out of existence.

And Ephraim’s head is Samaria, and Samaria’s head is the son of Remaliah. If your belief isn’t secure, then neither are you.’”’

And God proclaimed still more to Ahaz. He said,

‘Ask for a sign from God, your own god — from the pits of the Grave or the lofty heights.’

But Ahaz said, ‘I won’t ask. No, I won’t put God to the test.’

Then Isaiah said, ‘now listen, house of David: is it so minor a thing for you to run men ragged, that you’re going to tire out your god too?

Since that’s so: my Master will give you a sign himself. Look: see a maiden girl conceiving, and bringing forth a son, and calling him by the name GOD-WITH-US.

Curds and honey will be his food when he knows to reject evil and choose good.

Yes, even before the boy knows to reject evil, and choose good, that land — with its two kings who so fill you with horror — will be abandoned.

Upon you, and your people, and your fathers’ house, God will make days come that never came before, not since the day that Ephraim left Judah.

And it happens On That Day: God will whistle for the gadflies at the farthest banks of Egypt’s rivers, and the drone bees in Assyria’s land.

And they’ll swarm, all of them, into desolate valleys and gashes in the rock, and over all the brambles and all the pasture.

On That Day my Master’s going to take a razor hired from across the river — the king of Assyria — and shave your head, your crotch, your toes, even your beard too.

And it happens On That Day: a man will nourish a calf and two sheep.

And it happens: from all the milk they make he’ll eat curds, so curds and honey will be food for everyone still left in the heart of the land.

And it happens On That Day: every place where a thousand grapevines once went for a thousand silver coins, will be good for nothing but thorns and choke-weed.

People will go there carrying bows and arrows, because the whole land will be thorns and choke-weed.

And as for all the mountains furrowed deep with pickaxes: you won’t go there for fear of thorns and choke-weed. They’ll be where you send your oxen and let livestock trample.

8.

Then God spoke to me: ‘get yourself a massive slab, and chisel onto it in words everyone can read words everyone can read — FOR SWIFT-TO-PLUNDER-SPRINT-AT-PREY.

And I’ll call witnesses to testify, secure ones I can trust: Uriah the priest, and Zechariah, Jeberechiah’s son.

I approached the prophetess, and she conceived, and gave birth to a son. God spoke to me: ‘call him by the name Swift-to-Plunder-Sprint-at-Prey.

Because, before the boy knows how to call out ‘father’ and ‘mother,’ the might of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria will be carried off before Assyria’s king.

And again God proclaimed still more to me. He said,

‘Because this nation rejected Shiloah’s water with its gentle current, because they’re delighted with Rezin and the son of Remaliah,

Because of that, look: here is the Master, making waters rise against them from the river. Mighty teeming waters: Assyria’s king and all his majesty. He rises along all his channels and comes up over all his banks.

He washes over Judah. He overflows right up to neck-height, and the unfurling of his wings expands to fill the wideness of your land, God-With-Us.

Scream, nations, and be shattered. Lend your ears, everyone from distant regions of the Earth: strap on your battle gear and be shattered. Strap it on and be shattered.

Plan your plans: they’ll come to nothing. Proclaim your proclamations: they won’t stand, because of God with Us.

Because this is how God spoke to me — like his hand was gripping me, keeping me from walking on this people’s path, and saying:

‘Don’t say it’s treason whenever this nation says something’s treason. Don’t fear what they fear — don’t let it shake you.

The God of Legions is the one you shall hold sacred. He’s what you shall fear; he’s what shall shake you.

He’s what you’ve got for a sacred place, but also for a stone that trips them up, and for a rock that buckles their knees, the two houses of Israel — a snare and a trap for those living in Jerusalem.

Plenty of people among them will trip and fall, and be broken, and captured, and snared.

Stash the testimony away. Seal up what God teaches among those who’ve learned from me:

I hold out for God, the one hiding his face from Jacob's house. I put my high hopes in him.

Here I am, and the children God gave me, as signs and omens in Israel from God with his Legions who dwells on Mount Zion.

Now when they say to you, ‘go consult the psychics and mediums, the ones that mutter and chant under their breath’ — shouldn’t a nation consult its God? Or should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?

As for what’s taught and what’s testified: if what they say isn’t like this Proclamation, then it sheds no daylight.

Harrowed, starved, they'll journey across the land. It happens: in their starvation they'll fume with anger, curse their king and their god, and turn to face upwards,

Or stare at the ground. See: oppression. And pitch black, fearsome darkness — there they are, shoved out into the gloom.

Still, no darkness for her in her miseries. In time gone by he subjected the land of Zebulun to scorn, and the land of Naphtali. He brought heavier burdens on her, by way of the ocean over the Jordan, Galilee of other nations.

9.

The people walking in the pitch black dark saw light, vast
Light: they were living on Earth under death’s shadow when radiance burst over them.

You made our population grow;
made their joy vast.
The way they rejoiced in your sight was like the joy at harvest-time,
like the celebrations when they pass out the plunder from battle.

Because the yoke of his burden and the bar across his shoulder,
the club in the hands that were beating him down —
You shattered them, like back in Midian.

Because every boot stampeding on shaken ground,
every uniform soaked in blood,
Will be for burning now —
fuel for the fire.

Because a baby is delivered to us, a son given, and the rule of law is on his shoulder.
He is called by the name:
MIRACLE MENTOR
HERO GOD
FATHER FOREVER
SOVEREIGN OF PEACE

For expanding the rule of law,
For peace without end,
On David’s throne and in his kingdom,
To ground it and uphold it in justice and in righteousness from now until eternity,
The fierce desire of God with his Legions is doing this.

My Master sent a Proclamation upon Jacob. It fell upon Israel.

And the people will know, all of them, Ephraim and everyone living in Samaria, with their arrogant and swelling hearts, who say,

‘The baked bricks have fallen, but we’ll rebuild with carved stone. The sycamores have been hewn down, but we’ll replace them with cedars.’

So God raised up Rezin’s oppressors above him, and goaded his enemies on.

Arameans in front, and Philistines behind: they eat Israel by the mouthful. In all this his anger doesn’t turn back, and his hand still reaches out.

And the people don’t turn to the one who’s battering them. And they don’t seek out the God of Legions.

God cuts the head from off of Israel, and the tail too — the palm frond and the bulrush, in one day.

Elders and dignified men: these are the head. Prophets teaching lies: these are the tail.

The ones guiding this nation are the ones leading it astray, and the ones being guided are the ones being devoured.

That’s why my Master takes no joy in their finest men. He has no room in his heart for their orphans and widows, because they’re profane and rotten, all of them; every one of their mouths proclaims gibberish. In all this his anger doesn’t turn back, and his hand still reaches out.

Because depravity blazes like a devouring flame. It eats the thorns and choke-weed, ignites the close-packed forest — smoke coils high.

In the fury of God with his Legions the earth is charred black, and the people are food for the flame. No man shows his brother clemency.

On the right they’re tearing off hunks in their hand, ravenous. On the left they’re eating but they can’t get enough. Each man is eating the flesh of his own arm.

Manasseh eats Ephraim and Ephraim eats Manasseh. They’re united against Judah.

10.

Oh, declaimers of worthless decrees, writers of burdensome writing, oh,

(Which turn the needy away from arbitration and strip justice away from the poor among my people — so widows are their plunder, and they rob orphans blind),

What will you do to meet the day of reckoning and the devastation coming from far away? To whom will you run for help, and where will you leave all that abundance of yours?

Nothing left for you but humiliation among the subjugated, and downfall among the slaughtered. In all this his anger doesn’t turn back, and his hand still reaches out.

Oh, Assyria, oh, sceptre of my fury — in their hand is the club of my rage.

It’s a profane nation I’m sending him against: against the people of my wrath I give him his orders — to plunder for plunder and prey upon prey. To squash them underfoot like mud on the roadside.

But he's not picturing it that way; and that’s not how his heart plans it: it’s demolition that’s on his heart, to mow down more than a few nations.

Yes, he's saying, ‘aren’t my commanders all kings?

Isn’t Calno just like Carchemish? And Hamath like Arpad? Samaria like Damascus?

Just as my hand found its way to the kingdoms of the empty gods — there were more statues of them there than in all Jerusalem and Samaria

Just as I did to Samaria and their empty gods, won’t I do the same to Jerusalem and her icons?’

And it happens as my Master brings an end to everything he’s doing on Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem: ‘now I bring a reckoning upon Assyria’s king for the over-swollen fruit that his arrogant heart bears, and for the high and haughty look in his eyes.

Because he said: ‘in the might of my hand I do it, and in my wisdom, because I understand — I remove the boundaries between nations, looting their treasuries, subduing the people living there, like a mighty bull.

My hand finds its way to the wealth of vigorous nations as to a bird’s nest: like arms sweeping up eggs left defenseless, so am I, sweeping up the whole earth in my arms, and there’s not so much as a wing fluttering; not a peep from one opened mouth.

Does an axe exalt itself over the one who wields it? Does a saw lift itself up above the one who brandishes it? Like a sceptre brandishing the one who picks it up, or a club lifting someone made of more than wood.

And so the Master, God of Legions, will send emaciation on his fatcats, and instead of his abundant majesty he’ll kindle kindling like a kindled flame.

And it happens: the light of Israel becomes fire; her Sacred One becomes a flame, and it devours. It eats up its thorns and choke-weed in one day.

It will engulf, too, the whole abundant thickness of its forests and cornfields from inside out, from soul to skin: like a disease that devours the diseased.

Then there’ll be a countable number of trees still left in the forest — a schoolboy could tally them up.

It happens On That Day: those stragglers still left in Israel and the refugees of Jacob's house won’t lean on the one who beats them anymore: they’ll lean on God, Israel’s Sacred One, secure in truth.

A few stragglers will come back. Jacob’s stragglers will come back to their own god, their Hero God.

Yes. Even if your people, Israel, are like sand by the ocean, only a few will still be left to come back there. This obliteration is set in stone — a righteous deluge.

It’s all settled and set in stone: my Master, God of Legions, will do it in the core of the whole Earth.

Therefore so says my Master, God of Legions: ‘Don’t be afraid of Assyria — people of mine, living on Zion: when he beats you with a club and brandishes his sceptre over you, the way Egypt did,

Then just a little moment longer and the indignation against you will be all spent. Then my fury will turn to demolishing them.

Then God of Legions rears up against them with a whip, as in the beating he gave Midian on Oreb’s rock. And his sceptre will be over the sea: he’ll lift it up the way Egypt did.

It happens On That Day: his burden will be removed from off your shoulder, and his yoke from off your neck: the yoke is torn apart by the strain of your girth.

He comes to Aiath; he passes through Migron; in Michmas he stores away his packs.

They pass across the pass: ‘there’s lodging for us at Geba.’ Ramah quakes with fear and Gibeath of Shaul scurries away.

Call out and holler, daughter of Gallim. Laish — listen! Alas for Anathoth.

Madmenah’s men are made nomads, and everyone living in Gebim is on the run.

While it’s still day he’ll take his stand in Nob, shake his fist at the mountain, Zion’s daughter, Jerusalem’s hillside.

Look: see the Master, God of Legions, hacking splendid foliage off the treetops with a savage strength. See the ones that stand tall hewn down. See their proud height brought low.

Then he slices through the forest thickets with an axe. At a champion’s hands, Lebanon will fall.

Sign up to receive email updates: