Chapter 17

1The harsh prophecy concerning Damascus; Behold Damascus shall be removed from [being] a city, and it shall be depth of ruins.   אמַשָּׂ֖א דַּמָּ֑שֶׂק הִנֵּ֚ה דַמֶּ֙שֶׂק֙ מוּסָ֣ר מֵעִ֔יר וְהָֽיְתָ֖ה מְעִ֥י מַפָּלָֽה:
I shall be removed from being a city: [The Hebrew denotes] an expression of removing.  
removed from a city: from being a city.  
a depth: Heb. מְעִי, an expression of lowness and depth, like the depth of the seas (כִּמְעוֹת).  
2The cities of Aroer shall be abandoned; for the flocks shall they be, and they shall lie undisturbed.   בעֲזֻב֖וֹת עָרֵ֣י עֲרֹעֵ֑ר לַֽעֲדָרִ֣ים תִּֽהְיֶ֔ינָה וְרָֽבְצ֖וּ וְאֵ֥ין מַֽחֲרִֽיד:
The cities of Aroer are abandoned: Jonathan renders this as an expression of destruction. Comp. (Jer. 51:58) “shall be destroyed (עַרְעֵר תִּתְעַרְעַר) , and he explained it in reference to the cities of Aram, i.e., Jonathan renders it: Their cities are abandoned, they are destroyed. The Midrash Aggadah (introduction to Lam. Rabbah 10 [with variations], Yalkut Machin) asks in amazement, since Aroer was [part] of Eretz Israel, as it is said (Num. 32:34): ” and Aroer.“ He is dealing with Damascus and he announces matters concerning Aroer? But, since in Damascus there were streets as numerous as the days of the solar year, and in each one was a pagan deity, which they would worship one day in the year, and the Israelites made them all into one group and worshipped all of them every day, he, therefore, mentioned the downfall of Aroer juxtaposed to Damascus. I explain it, however, according to the simple meaning of the verse, as follows: Since Rezin and Pekah son of Remaliah joined together, and the prophet prophesying about the downfall of Damascus, and saying, ” Behold, Damascus shall be removed from [being] a city," and the cities of Aroer which belonged to Pekah were already abandoned, for the Reubenites and the Gadites had already been exiled, and they were always given to the flocks of sheep, and the sheep of Moab would lie there undisturbed, he continues to say that the kingdom of Pekah shall continue to be gradually terminated, and that Samaria, too, shall be captured in the days of Hoshea, and then (v. 3) And a fortress shall cease from Ephraim and a kingdom from Damascusfor Rezin shall be killed.  
3And a fortress shall cease from Ephraim and a kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Aram; like the glory of the children of Israel shall they be, says the Lord of Hosts.   גוְנִשְׁבַּ֚ת מִבְצָר֙ מֵֽאֶפְרַ֔יִם וּמַמְלָכָ֥ה מִדַּמֶּ֖שֶׂק וּשְׁאָ֣ר אֲרָ֑ם כִּכְב֚וֹד בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ יִֽהְי֔וּ נְאֻ֖ם יְהֹוָ֥ה צְבָאֽוֹת:
like the glory of: the ten tribes, shall these also be [var. Aram, too, shall be]. These shall be exiled to Halah and Habor, and these shall be exiled to Kir, as it is stated (II Kings 16:9): “And exiled its inhabitants to Kir, and he slew Rezin.”  
4And it shall come to pass on that day, that the glory of Jacob shall become impoverished and the fatness of his flesh shall become emaciated.   דוְהָיָה֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא יִדַּ֖ל כְּב֣וֹד יַֽעֲקֹ֑ב וּמִשְׁמַ֥ן בְּשָׂר֖וֹ יֵֽרָזֶֽה:
And the fatness of his flesh shall become emaciated: Jonathan [renders]: And the wealth of his glory shall be exiled.  
5And it shall be like gathering the harvest of the standing grain, and his arm reaps ears, and he shall be as one who gathers ears of grain in the valley of Rephaim.   הוְהָיָ֗ה כֶּֽאֱסֹף֙ קָצִ֣יר קָמָ֔ה וּזְרֹע֖וֹ שִׁבֳּלִ֣ים יִקְצ֑וֹר וְהָיָ֛ה כִּמְלַקֵּ֥ט שִׁבֳּלִ֖ים בְּעֵ֥מֶק רְפָאִֽים:
And it shall be like gathering the harvest of the standing grain: Just as at the time of the harvest, the reaper gathers the bundle of the standing grain in his one hand and with his other arm he reaps the ears, so will Sennacherib uproot and exile everyone, and even the gleanings that fall at the time of harvest he will gather and carry it off. That is to say that even those who flee will not escape his hand, and they will gather them [var. and he will gather them] [like one who gathers ears].  
in the valley of Rephaim: That is the valley that is before Jerusalem. In the Book of Joshua (15:8, 18:16) you will find that the valley of Rephaim adjoins Jerusalem.  
6And gleanings shall be left in it like the cutting of an olive tree, two or three berries at the end of the uppermost bough; four or five on its branches when it produces fruit, says the Lord, God of Israel.   ווְנִשְׁאַר־בּ֚וֹ עֹֽלֵלוֹת֙ כְּנֹ֣קֶף זַ֔יִת שְׁנַ֧יִם שְׁלֹשָׁ֛ה גַּרְגְּרִ֖ים בְּרֹ֣אשׁ אָמִ֑יר אַרְבָּעָ֣ה חֲמִשָּׁ֗ה בִּסְעִפֶ֙יהָ֙ פֹּֽרִיָּ֔ה נְאֻם־יְהֹוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל:
And… shall be left in it: Hezekiah and his company, who are inside Jerusalem. They are few people like the gleanings of a vineyard and like the cutter of an olive tree, who leaves over two or three berries.  
like the cutter of an olive tree: Heb. כְּנֹקֶף, like the one who cuts olives to pick them from the tree. Comp. (infra 10: 34) “And the thickets of the forest shall be cut off (וְנִקַּף).” Our Rabbis expounded: “And… shall be left in it,” as referring to Sennacherib’s army; i.e., there shall be left in the multitude of Sennacherib a few people like the cutter of an olive tree, as it is stated in the Aggadah of ‘Chelek’ (95b).  
at the end of the uppermost bough: at the end of the bough.  
on its branches: Heb. בִּסְעִפֶיהָ. Comp. infra (27:10) “And he shall finish its branches (סְעִיפֶיהָ).” Also (supra 10:33), “Lops off the branches (מְסָעֵף).”  
7On that day, man shall turn to his Maker, and his eyes shall look to the Holy One of Israel.   זבַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא יִשְׁעֶ֥ה הָֽאָדָ֖ם עַל־עֹשֵֹ֑הוּ וְעֵינָ֕יו אֶל־קְד֥וֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל תִּרְאֶֽינָה:
shall turn: Heb. יִשְׁעֶה, shall turn to his Maker. Comp. (Gen. 4: 4) “And the Lord turned (וַיִּשַׁע) to Abel.”  
man: the righteous men remaining among them.  
8And he shall not turn to the altar of the work of his hands, and what his fingers made he shall not regard, neither the asherim nor the sun-images.   חוְלֹ֣א יִשְׁעֶ֔ה אֶל־הַמִּזְבְּח֖וֹת מַֽעֲשֵׂ֣ה יָדָ֑יו וַֽאֲשֶׁ֨ר עָשׂ֚וּ אֶצְבְּעֹתָיו֙ לֹ֣א יִרְאֶ֔ה וְהָֽאֲשֵׁרִ֖ים וְהָֽחַמָּנִֽים:
he shall not regard: [lit. he shall not see.] They shall not be important in his eyes.  
9On that day, the cities of his strength shall be like the abandonment of the forest and the many branched trees which they abandoned from before the children of Israel, and it became a waste.   טבַּיּ֨וֹם הַה֜וּא יִֽהְי֣וּ | עָרֵ֣י מָֽעוּזּ֗וֹ כַּֽעֲזוּבַ֚ת הַחֹ֙רֶשׁ֙ וְהָ֣אָמִ֔יר אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָֽזְב֔וּ מִפְּנֵ֖י בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְהָֽיְתָ֖ה שְׁמָמָֽה:
the cities of his strength: [The antecedent is] Israel.  
like the abandonment of the forest and the many branched trees: Forsaken like this forest, desolate without people.  
forest: Heb. הַחֹרֶשׁ. This is a forest, as [Onkelos] translates בְחוּרְשָׁא בַיַעַר, in the forest (Deut. 19:8).  
and the many branched trees: This, too, is a forest, a place of trees. Like the abandoned cities of the Amorites, which they left in desolation in the days of Joshua like the forest and the many branched trees and fled because of the children of Israel, and the land of Israel was desolate.  
10For you forgot the God of your salvation, and the Rock of your strength you did not remember; because I planted you with pleasant saplings, and with the branch of a stranger you sow it.   יכִּ֚י שָׁכַ֙חַתְּ֙ אֱלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׁעֵ֔ךְ וְצ֥וּר מָֽעֻזֵּ֖ךְ לֹ֣א זָכָ֑רְתְּ עַל־כֵּ֗ן תִּטְּעִי֙ נִטְעֵ֣י נַֽעֲמָנִ֔ים וּזְמֹ֥רַת זָ֖ר תִּזְרָעֶֽנּוּ:
because I planted you: Because, when I planted you in the beginning, I planted a pleasant planting, twelve sons of Jacob, and when your saplings raised branches, they gave forth improper seed, like strange branches which are not of the species of the vine but resemble the vine.  
you sow it: You give your seed into that sapling. [It is also possible to say that “and with the branch of a stranger you sow it,” means that you intermarry with the nations and they mingled with you.]  
11On the day of your planting you mingled, and in the morning you cause your seed to blossom; a heap of harvest on a day of sickness and mortal pain.   יאבְּי֚וֹם נִטְעֵךְ֙ תְּשַׂגְשֵׂ֔גִי וּבַבֹּ֖קֶר זַרְעֵ֣ךְ תַּפְרִ֑יחִי נֵ֥ד קָצִ֛יר בְּי֥וֹם נַֽחֲלָ֖ה וּכְאֵ֥ב אָנֽוּשׁ:
On the day of your planting you mingled: Heb. תְּשַׂגְשֵׂנִי, an expression of mingling. Your branches became mingled with sorts of grasses and mixtures that spoil the branches of the vine. That is to say that in the place where I planted you for Me as a vineyard, there you corrupted your deeds. That is what Ezekiel said to them (20:5): “On the day I chose Israel, and I lifted My hand to the seed of the house of Jacob, and I became known to them in the land of Egypt.” And it says further (verse 8): “And they rebelled against Me and they refused to obey…” Here, too, תְּשַׂגְשֵׂנִי, you became mingled with the abominations of Egypt.  
and in the morning you cause your seed to blossom: And on the morrow, when I took you out of there, and I brought you into the land, there, too, your evil seed you caused to blossom.  
a heap of harvest on a day of sickness: a heap of bad harvest that lies by day and by night, that harvest is stricken ill, it has reached a day of distress. [Rashi in printed editions.] [Since it is difficult to make sense of this comment of Rashi, Parshandatha prefers the reading of most mss.:]  
a heap of harvest on a day of sickness: a heap of bad harvest, as “on a day of sickness” proves, that harvest reached a day of distress.  
a heap: Heb. נֵד. This is an expression of a tall heap. Comp. (Exodus 15:8) “Running water stood erect like a heap (נֵד).” Also (Ps. 33:3), “He gathers like a heap (כַּנֵּד).” [The words:] נֵד and נוֹד are not the same [i.e., נֵד is a heap or a stack, and נוֹד is a flask.]  
and mortal pain: that you were paid your reward.  
mortal: Heb. אָנוּשׁ, distressed by severe illness. Comp. (II Sam. 12: 15) “And he became mortally ill (וַיֵּאָנַשׁ) ,” also (Micah 1:9), “For her wounds are mortal (אֲנוּשָׁה).” Alternatively  
and in the morning you cause your seed to blossom: Before the heat comes, you have blossomed, and it is customary for the vineyard to blossom when the heat comes, and the one that blossoms in the morning does not thrive. This is in the Midrash of Rabbi Tanhuma (Sh’lach 12).  
12Woe to a multitude of many peoples, like the roaring of seas they roar; and a rushing of nations, like the rushing of mighty waters they rush.   יבה֗וֹי הֲמוֹן֙ עַמִּ֣ים רַבִּ֔ים כַּֽהֲמ֥וֹת יַמִּ֖ים יֶֽהֱמָי֑וּן וּשְׁא֣וֹן לְאֻמִּ֔ים כִּשְׁא֛וֹן מַ֥יִם כַּבִּירִ֖ים יִשָּׁאֽוּן:
Woe to a multitude of many peoples: This is a principle followed throughout all generations; the scourge by which Israel is punished, shall eventually suffer. Therefore, the prophets who prophesy Israel’s retribution through the nations, juxtapose after it the retribution of the nation by which Israel was punished.  
a multitude of many peoples: The armies of Sennacherib.  
they rush: an expression of rushing and roaring.  
13Nations, like the rushing of many waters, they rush, and He shall rebuke them, and he shall flee from afar, and he shall be pursued like the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like the thistle blossoms before the tempest.   יגלְאֻמִּ֗ים כִּשְׁא֞וֹן מַ֚יִם רַבִּים֙ יִשָּׁא֔וּן וְגָ֥עַר בּ֖וֹ וְנָ֣ס מִמֶּרְחָ֑ק וְרֻדַּ֗ף כְּמֹ֚ץ הָרִים֙ לִפְנֵי־ר֔וּחַ וּכְגַלְגַּ֖ל לִפְנֵ֥י סוּפָֽה:
and He shall rebuke them: [lit.] him i.e., the Holy One, blessed be He, [shall rebuke] that rushing [or throng].  
like the chaff of the mountains: He likens the wicked to the most inferior of all species and the most inferior of that species. The chaff of the mountains is drier than that of the valleys.  
and like the thistle blossoms: Heb. וּכְגַלְגַל. That is from the blossom of the thistles called kardouns in O.F. [chardons in modern French] similar to those with which they pull woolen garments, and they are not hard. When the end of the summer arrives, they burst open by themselves and the wind scatters them. Now that bursting is made like a round wheel (גַלְגַּל) [var. like a wagon wheel], like a sort of eye in the center with five spokes around it.  
14At eventide, behold there is fright; before morning he is no more. This is the portion of our plunderers and the lot of our spoilers.   ידלְעֵ֥ת עֶ֙רֶב֙ וְהִנֵּ֣ה בַלָּהָ֔ה בְּטֶ֥רֶם בֹּ֖קֶר אֵינֶ֑נּוּ זֶה חֵ֣לֶק שׁוֹסֵ֔ינוּ וְגוֹרָ֖ל לְבֹֽזְזֵֽינוּ:
and behold there is fright: Demons come upon the enemy and frighten him.  
before morning he is no more: The enemy is not in the world.  
this is the portion of our plunderers: The portion of Sennacherib and the portion of Gog and Magog, when they come to plunder us.