Isaiah 18:1-7

Isa 18:1

Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia:


This is speaking about the land of Cush which is in the Sudan which was south of Egypt.  This is not speaking of the modern nation of Ethiopia.  It is not certain what land this is speaking about but could be a continuation of a prophecy against Assyria from the last three verses in the previous chapter.  In 725 B.C. Pharaoh Piankhi invaded the Egyptian Delta and brought most of it under his control.  He was overly concerned about Assyria attempting to control Phoenician trade with Egypt.


Isa 18:2

That sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters, saying, Go, ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled!


This country would send ambassadors in vessels of bulrushes.  The bulrushes were used as papyrus but they were also used in the manufacture of boats.  Sometimes bundles of the papyrus would be bound together in the form of a raft or boat.  They also made boats out of earthen jars and the papyrus was laid out on the floor and tied together by the handles.  The sea mentioned is not known what sea is in view but it may be the Red Sea since this takes place in that region.  The nation in view may be southern part of Egypt because sometimes the Egyptians would remove the hair from their bodies.  In their history they were an awesome people until the time of the Exodus and then they were trodden down by all the plagues which came upon them.  In that day shall messengers go forth from me in ships to make the careless Ethiopians afraid, and great pain shall come upon them, as in the day of Egypt: for, lo, it cometh. (Ezekiel 30:9)  The land the river have spoiled may not be speaking of literal rivers.   Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks: (Isaiah 8:7)  The King of Assyria is spoken of as a strong river and may be speaking of the fact that Egypt had been taken from a power to a second rate power.


Isa 18:3

All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see ye, when he lifteth up an ensign on the mountains; and when he bloweth a trumpet, hear ye.


Now the call goes out to all the inhabitants of the earth to notice what God is about to do. The ensign was something that was placed on a hill or mountain for all to see and the trumpet was used to call the troops to action.  This may also refer to the mountains of Judah where Assyria will place its ensigns.


Isa 18:4

For so the LORD said unto me, I will take my rest, and I will consider in my dwelling place like a clear heat upon herbs, and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.


Here the prophet is going to take his rest for a while.  He will look upon his dwelling place which would be the temple in Jerusalem but he would also dwell upon his dwelling place in Heaven as all Christians once in a while ponder our eternal home.  It will be like the heat upon the herbs which is the sun shining on the plants after a rain which causes them to grow.  The cloud of dew is something that appears in the early morning and it cools the air while it refreshes the land for the crops to grow better.  It was the cloud of dew which the LORD used to water the Garden of Eden.


Isa 18:5

For afore the harvest, when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, he shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches.


Just as the plants are fully bloomed and ripened before they are harvested, God will cut down the Assyrian army before they will get to Jerusalem and attempt to conquer it fully.  The Assyrians thought that they would take Jerusalem and have a bountiful harvest but they will be cut off before they can accomplish such a thing.


Isa 18:6

They shall be left together unto the fowls of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth: and the fowls shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them.


Remember the 185,000 of the Assyrian army that the angel of the Lord had destroyed.  Their corpses will be like prey to the fowls of the air especially the vultures and beasts of the field such as the carnivores like lions will find them and rip them apart for prey.  The corpses shall lie where they fall and not be removed which is indicated by the seasons of the year that they will remain there as a testimony. 


Isa 18:7

In that time shall the present be brought unto the LORD of hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and from a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of the LORD of hosts, the mount Zion.


The people described in 18:2 will be sending gifts to the LORD of Hosts in Mount Zion.  This may be speaking of Egypt which in the Bible is also a representation of the world.  They were once destroyed in the ten plagues but have been rebuilt into a mediocre power.  Egypt is probably in view because it continues in the next chapter.  And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities among the cities that are laid waste shall be desolate forty years: and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries. (Ezekiel 29:12)  The Egyptians were scattered among the nations by the LORD according to Ezekiel.