Isaiah 17 Commentary

Syria and Israel condemned (17:1-14)

This message belongs to the time of Ahaz, when Israel and Syria joined forces to attack Judah. The two attackers will themselves be destroyed (17:1-3). Israel in particular will suffer, because the nation has turned away from God. Throughout the nation, however, the scattered few remain faithful to God and these will be spared. They are likened to the odd pieces of fruit that remain on the trees after the harvest has been gathered (4-6).

The judgments will be so severe that some of the people will turn from their idolatry and cry to God for help. But for Israel as a whole there will be no help. The nation has followed Canaanite religious practices, and its destruction will be a fitting divine punishment (7-9). People plant sacred gardens and dedicate them to foreign gods, in the hope that this will bring rapid growth in their crops. But if they succeed in getting quick crops, those crops will be trampled and destroyed by the invading army (10-11).

By contrast the nation that remains faithful to God will be protected. Enemies may come against it like a flood, but (to change the illustration) they will be turned back like chaff blown by the wind (12-14).

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