In my last post, we concluded our examination of a Woe to Efrayim ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 28:14-29. In this post, we move on to another in a series of woes, Woe to Ari’el (Yerushalayim) ~ Part 1 in Yesha’hayu 29:1-12.
1 Woe to Ari’el [fireplace on God’s altar, lion of God] – Ari’el, the city where David encamped! Celebrate the feasts for a few more years,
Ari’el is a descriptive term for Yerushalayim. In the brackets, Stern translates its meaning. El is always a reference to Adonai. This is the second woe presented in chapters 28-33. The present prophecy tells of a city that will be destroyed like the sacrifices brought to the altar.
Yerushalayim has been the most besieged city in world history. No other city has been conquered and fought over as much as Yerushalayim. The city of peace has been anything but peaceful because there can be no real peace until the Prince of Peace sits on the throne.
Celebrate the feasts refers to the three-pilgrimage journey required of all adult males to Yerushalayim of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Harvest and the Feast of Ingathering that served as the dominant agricultural festivals of the Isra’eli calendar.
2 but then I will bring trouble to Ari’el. There will be mourning and moaning, as she becomes truly an ari’el for me.
Adonai will turn Yerushalayim into an ari’el – fireplace on God’s altar. The meaning seems to be that He will destroy it by fire.
3 I will encamp all around you, besiege you with towers and mount siege-works against you.
Though on a literal level, it will be Ashur that will set up a siege around Yerushalayim, the prophet knew that it would do so only as an agent of the Lord.
4 Prostrate, you will speak from the ground; your words will be stifled by the dust; your voice will sound like a ghost in the ground, your words like squeaks in the dust.
Adonai speaks to Yerushalayim in the second person (you and your) and thus personifies the city. He will kill Yerushalayim, and it will be like a ghost in the ground.
5 But your many foes will become like fine powder, the horde of tyrants like blowing chaff, and it will happen very suddenly.
Suddenly, in verses 5-8, the prophecy shifts from a judgment against Yerushalayim to the restoration of the city.
6 You will be visited by Adonai-Tzva’ot with thunder, earthquakes and loud noises, whirlwinds, tempests, flaming firestorms.
When Adonai-Tzva’ot comes like a warrior, He often takes the form of a storm, earthquake, and fire.
7 Then, all the nations fighting Ari’el, everyone at war with her, the ramparts around her, the people that trouble her will fade like a dream, like a vision in the night. 8 It will be like a hungry man dreaming he’s eating; but when he wakes up, his stomach is empty; or like a thirsty man dreaming he’s drinking; but when he wakes up, he is dry and exhausted – it will be like this for the horde of all nations fighting against Mount Tziyon.
Those armies that move against Yerushalayim will ultimately be unsuccessful. Their early successes will give way to failure so that their first actions will seem like a dream.
9 If you make yourselves stupid, you will stay stupid! If you blind yourselves, you will stay blind! You are drunk, but not from wine; you are staggering, but not from strong liquor.
We have here a fundamental truth. If you don’t want to understand Scripture, you won’t. If you’re not interested in doing the will of Adonai or knowing the heart of Adonai, the Bible will become meaningless to you. Regardless of how educated or uneducated, you are, you will find the Word to be dry, dull, and an unsolvable mystery. It is when we approach the Word with a submitted spirit, saying, “Lord, this Book is talking to me and talking about me. Therefore, change me, Lord. Deal with my heart and life” that we receive illumination.
10 For Adonai has poured over you a spirit of lethargy; he has closed your eyes (that is, the prophets) and covered your heads (that is, the seers).
Closing the eyes and covering the head are most likely images of death here, as they are parallel to a spirit of lethargy.
11 For you, this whole prophetic vision has become like the message in a sealed-up scroll. When one gives it to someone who can read and says, “Please read this,” he answers, “I can’t, because it’s sealed.” 12 If the scroll is given to someone who can’t read with the request, “Please read this,” he says, “I can’t read.” ~ Isaiah 29:1-12 (CJB)
Adonai has laid it all out for the people, but they were spiritually dull and could not make sense of it. They will not heed Adonai’s warnings and will suffer the consequences. Official documents were written on scrolls of papyrus or vellum and then, when stored or dispatched by messenger, were rolled up and sealed with string and an affixed seal. The seal, either a ring or signet, was impressed into either wax or a lump of clay.
In my next post, we explore the Woe to Ari’el (Yerushalayim) ~ Part 2 in Yesha’hayu 29:13-24.