In my last post, we examined of A Prophecy About Dammesek in Yesha’yahu 17. In this post, we explore The Woes of Cush (modern Ethiopia) in Yesha’hayu 18:1-7.
The passage about Cush is not called a prophecy as the previous chapters have specified, but the opening word Woe signals a type of judgment speech. The land of Cush was south of Egypt, roughly identical to modern Ethiopia.
1 Woe to the land of whirring wings beyond the rivers of Ethiopia;
The land of whirring wings is possibly a reference to the multitude of insects that infest the Nile Valley. However, given the context of ambassadors by sea in verse 2, this more likely refers to the many fast boats made of bundled papyrus that sped their way up and down the Nile.
2 they send ambassadors by sea, across the water in papyrus-reed boats! Go, swift messengers, to a nation tall and bronzed, to a people feared far and near, to a strong and conquering nation whose land is divided by rivers!
Yes, there would have been a great deal of diplomatic activity during this period. There is some question, however, who is sending these ambassadors and to whom they are being sent. Given the desire of the Ethiopians to gain full control over Lower Egypt and the Delta, they may well be sending messengers to Assyria seeking assistance or at least a recognition of their legitimacy to rule in Egypt.
Since the Assyrians were neither tall nor bronzed, then the ambassadors may also be spreading the word to the Ethiopian people to join in the effort to unite Egypt.
The nation whose land is divided by rivers is an apt description of Mesopotamia, the “Land of Two Rivers,” the Tigris and Euphrates.
3 All you inhabitants of the world, you who live on the earth: when a banner is hoisted on the mountains, look! When the shofar is blown, listen!
Despite human diplomatic efforts, a decisive moment will occur in the future when an army gathers for battle. The banner marks the rallying point, and the trumpet signals the start of the war.
4 For Adonai has said this to me: “I will look on from my place and do nothing, like heat shimmering in the sun, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.”
God was calmly in control and did nothing in contrast to the frantic efforts of diplomacy.
5 For before the harvest, when the flowering is over, and the bud becomes a ripening grape, he will cut off the branches with pruning-knives, lop off the twigs and take them away.
It is the wise farmer who knows the correct times of the year to cultivate and prune his vines to ensure maximum yield. The grapevines in Isra’el first bloom in May and the fruit will begin to ripen by August. There are two calculated pruning’s:
- in the fall before the vines become dormant, the unproductive bunches from the previous year are removed,
- and once the grapes appear, excess leaves and tendrils are cut away to encourage higher yield and even ripening.
God will thus bide His time until the appropriate moment to make His pruning of nations on earth.
6 They will all be left to the vultures in the mountains and to the wild animals in the fields; the vultures will feed on them in summer and the wild animals of the fields in winter.
The cuttings from the grape vines were often used for fuel, but in this example, they are left as food and nesting for vultures and wild animals.
7 At that time tribute will be brought to Adonai-Tzva’ot from a nation tall and bronzed, from a people feared far and near, from a strong and conquering nation whose land is divided by rivers, to the place where the name of Adonai-Tzva’ot lives, Mount Tziyon. ~ Isaiah 18:1-7 (CJB)
Even now, there is hope for Isra’el as Iran threatens its annihilation as well as our own in the United States.
In my next post, we will begin to explore A Prophecy Against Egypt in Yesha’yahu 19.