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Damascus in Old Testament prophecy

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posted on Jun, 2 2017 @ 05:01 PM
The united kingdom of David and Solomon was strong enough to dominate the area on the eastern side of Jordan, and apparently a large stretch of territory northwards.
When the kingdom divided, the northern kingdom of Israel inherited the eastern territories, but found itself hard-pressed to defend them.
The desert peoples were always causing trouble, especially the Ammonites and the Moabites.
“Thus says the Lord; For three transgressions of the Ammonites and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they have ripped up women with child in Gilead, that they might enlarge their border” (Amos ch1 v13).
“For three transgressions of Moab and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because he burned to lime the bones of the king of Edom” (Amos ch2 v1).

Damascus was part of this eastern region.
A story about the foundation of the kingdom in Damascus is told in 1 Kings. An adversary of Solomon, called Rezon, “gathered men about him and became leader of a marauding band… and they went to Damascus and dwelt there, and made him king in Damascus” (1 Kings ch11 v23).
Their wars with Israel seem to have begun when Asa, king of Judah, sent gold and silver to Ben-Hadad, king of Damascus, to win him over to an alliance. When Ben-Hadad invaded Dan and Naphtali, that had the desired effect of pulling Israel’s attention away from the frontier with Judah (ch15 vv18-21).

We also read of wars in the reign of Ahab.
Ben-hadad had gathered his armies together and was besieging Samaria.
“And behold a prophet came near to Ahab king of Israel and said ‘Thus says the Lord; Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I shall give it into your hand this day; and you shall know that I am the Lord’”
Ahab asked for more detail; “By whom?”
“By the servants of the governors of the districts”.
“Who shall begin the battle?
So Ahab fought the battle according to these directions, and of course he won.
“Then the prophet came near to the king of Israel and said ‘Come, strengthen yourself, and consider well what you have to do; for in the spring the king of Syria will come up against you’” (ch20 vv13-22)

Ben-hadad certainly did come back in the spring, following a different strategy.
He took the advice of his servants, who told him that Israel’s God was a mountain god, whose help would be useless in the plains.
Then “a man of God” came near to the king of Israel and told him that the Lord was going to prove the Syrians wrong by giving the great multitude into his hands again (v28).
The result of the battle was another victory for Israel.
Ben-hadad surrendered himself to the king, who spared his life (making the same mistake that Saul had made in the case of Agag).
And “a certain man of the sons of the prophets” acted out a “thou art the man” scene. He disguised himself as a wounded soldier, and told the king that he was about to be penalised because he had been told to guard a prisoner, and he had allowed the prisoner to escape. The king declared that the penalty was right, and should stand.
Then the man quickly tore off his disguise, and the king recognised him as “one of the prophets”.
He then announced from the Lord “Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life and your people for his people” (vv35-43).

Three years later, the king received a state visit from Jehoshaphat, king of Judah (ch22)
Ahab invited the other king to take part in a campaign against the Syrians in order to recover Ramoth-Gilead.
Jehoshaphat was willing, but said “Inquire first for the word of the Lord”.
Therefore the king of Israel gathered four hundred prophets together, and formally asked them the question; “Shall I go up to battle against Ramoth-Gilead, or shall I forebear?”
They were all telling him “Go up; for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king”.
The star of the show was Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah, who made himself horns of iron, declaring “Thus says the Lord; With these you shall push the Syrians until they are destroyed”. We must imagine him putting on these horns and demonstrating the act of “pushing” (vv11-12)
But Micaiah gave a completely different answer; “I saw all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd”. His prophecy was vindicated by the shattering defeat which Israel suffered.

In the reign of Jehoram, the prophet Elisha was active in protecting his country against the Syrians.
Every time the king of Syria made plans to push his army to some location in Israel, Elisha knew what those plans were and gave a warning to his own king.
The Syrian king thought there must be a spy among the servants in his court, but they told him how Elisha knew the very words that he spoke in his bedchamber.
So a Syrian army was sent to Dothan for the purpose of seizing the prophet.
At Elisha’s request, however, the Lord struck them with a kind of blindness, so that Elisha was able to lead them all straight into Samaria.
The king of Israel was as excited as a child at Christmas;
“My father, shall I slay them? Shall I slay them?”
But Elisha told him to feed them well and let them go home (ch6 vv8-23).

The next invasion from Ben-hadad was more dangerous.
He besieged the city of Samaria, which was reduced to famine conditions.
But Elisha promised the king that food would be available in plenty the next day, and his promise was kept when the Syrian army was frightened away.
The good news was brought back to Samaria when hungry lepers ventured up to the Syrian camp (observing philosophically “If they kill us, we shall but die”) and found it empty.

In a time of peace, Elisha visited Damascus. He told Hazael, the future king of Syria, that Ben-Hadad would die, and then gazed upon Hazael, weeping.
“I weep because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel; you will set on fire their fortresses, and you will slay their young men with the sword, and dash in pieces their little ones, and rip up their women with child” (2 Kings ch8 vv7-15).
We are told a little later that Hazael began to defeat Israel extensively, conquering most of the lands east of the Jordan (ch15 vv32-33).
“For three transgressions of Damascus and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing-sledges of iron.
So I will send a fire upon the house of Hazael, and it shall devour the strongholds of Ben-Hahad” (Amos ch1 vv3-4).

Elisha gave one final prophecy on his deathbed, where the king Joash was in attendance.
The prophet told the king to take a bow and arrows.
He helped the king to shoot an arrow out of the window, and declared this to be a sign of “The lord’s arrow of victory over Syria”.
Then he told the king to strike the arrows on the ground.
The king stopped after striking three times, making Elisha cross. It meant that the king would only defeat the Syrians three times, which would fall short of removing the Syrian threat.

posted on Jun, 2 2017 @ 05:02 PM
In Isaiah’s time there was a re-shuffling of the system of alliances, a classic “diplomatic revolution”.
An agreement was made between Rezin, king of Syria, and the unscrupulous adventurer Pekah the son of Remaliah, who had seized the throne of Israel by conspiring against the previous king.
The aims of their agreement were;
1) Let us go up against Judah and terrify it.
2) Let us conquer it for ourselves.
3) Let us set up the son of Tabe-el as king in the midst of it. (Isaiah ch7 v6)
They set themselves up to besiege Jerusalem, investing the city and probably blockading it.
Isaiah tried to encourage his king, and finally gave the well-known prophecy about the birth of a child.
“By the time the child knows how to refuse evil and choose the good”, he would be able to eat curds and honey.
In other words, the famine conditions of the siege would be over.
This would happen because both the besieging kings would be dead, thanks to the intervention of the king of Assyria.
This prophecy was fulfilled by Tiglath-Pilezer;
“The king of Assyria marched up against Damascus and took it, carrying its people captive to Kir, and he killed Rezin”- 2 Kings ch16 v9

The various prophecies of the destruction of Damascus relate to this last event.
One reference to it has been tagged on to the previously quoted passage in Amos;
“I will break the bar of Damascus and cut off the inhabitants from the valley of Aven, and him that holds the sceptre from Beth-eden; and the people of Syria shall go into exile to Kir” (Amos ch1 v5).

Similar prophecies in Jeremiah and Isaiah belong to the same era.
Thus the Jeremiah prophecy (ch49 vv23-27) begins with a report that Hamath and Arpad are confounded.
But the conquest of these cities is included in the boasting of Rabshekah at the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem;
“Has any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad?” (Isaiah ch36 v19).
Which ties this prophecy to the Assyrian invasions, and the period of Ahaz and Hezekiah.
The passage culminates in the words “I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus and it shall devour the strongholds of Ben-hadad”, echoing the prophecy of Amos already quoted.

Isaiah, again, declares that Damascus will cease to be a city, but the fate of the city is linked with the downfall of “Ephraim”, or the kingdom of Israel.
“The fortress will disappear from Ephraim and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria will be like the glory of the children of Israel” (Isaiah ch17 v3).
That is the clue that this prophecy, like the previous prophecy in ch7, has been called out by the joint invasion of the armies of Israel and Syria under the leadership of Pekah and Rezin.
Therefore “her cities will be deserted” must be another reference to the exile in Kir.

For the purposes of Old Testament prophecy, Damascus ceases to exist after that event.

posted on Jun, 2 2017 @ 05:03 PM
It seems that many Christians are expecting a more modern destruction of Damascus to be a significant event in the history of the “end-times”.
The objections to this theory can also apply to other attempts to connect prophecy with current events.

In the first place, the prophecies about Damascus are written for the benefit of the Israelites of the prophet’s own time. These people are looking to see God’s help in the immediate future, and a fall of Damascus taking place many centuries later would not meet their need.
That’s why the prophecies were fulfilled at the time, by means of Assyrian arms.
We need not attach too much significance to “never to be occupied again”, which is the common hyperbole of the prophetic voice. Damascus was probably deserted long enough after the Assyrian conquest to make the prophet’s point.

Those who resurrect such prophecies and apply them to current events also overlook the fact that life and history in the Middle East have not been suspended between Biblical times and our own day.
Damascus has been attacked and conquered many, many times in the interval.
So we have no reason, apart from the demands of narcissism, to identify such an event occurring in our own generation as THE fulfilment of the supposed prophecy.

Finally, the destruction of Damascus appears in prophecy as a detached event, which has no sequel. An enemy of God’s people comes to a bad end. That’s it. In other prophecies, other enemies of God’s people come to a bad end. But there is no sequence of events connecting them together.
This is what foils any attempt to knit these prophecies into a narrative of the political history of the end-times.
That’s not what Old Testament prophecy is for.

The main value of these prophecies for believers living in our own time is the testimony they provide of God’s determination to protect his people against their adversaries.

posted on Jun, 2 2017 @ 05:05 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI
I believe Damascus will be destroyed whether it is prophecy or not.

posted on Jun, 2 2017 @ 05:08 PM
a reply to: daarksydereborn
You don't offer any reason for believing in a future event that has not been prophesied.

posted on Jun, 2 2017 @ 05:26 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI
To me it is quite obvious that Syria is toast, perhaps the powers that be are trying to create the fulfillment of the prophecy.

posted on Jun, 2 2017 @ 05:27 PM
If Damascus is the oldest continuously occupied city, it would seem "deserted" is either used rather casually by Isaiah or poorly translated? Or your theory is off. I've wondered about all of this too.

posted on Jun, 2 2017 @ 05:32 PM
a reply to: daarksydereborn
A state can be destroyed without a permanent destruction of the capital.

I've never seen any point in the hypothesis that the actions of political powers can be predicted by prophecy because they deliberately set out to fulfil prophecy. There are so many different interpretations of prophecy available, how would they know which one to follow?

posted on Jun, 2 2017 @ 05:38 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

IMO, TPTB will do whatever it takes to make sure they destroy as many people and places as they can. Damascus, I believe will be nuked in the not too distant future.

posted on Jun, 2 2017 @ 05:39 PM

originally posted by: The GUT
If Damascus is the oldest continuously occupied city, it would seem "deserted" is either used rather casually by Isaiah or poorly translated? Or your theory is off. I've wondered about all of this too.

My supposition was that the city was deserted to a sufficient extent, for a sufficient amount of time after the Assyrians exiled the inhabitants to Kir, to fulfil the prophecy as far as it needed to be fulfilled. I think prophetic language does tend to be a little casual, and ought not to be treated with a pedantic dedication to detail.

posted on Jun, 2 2017 @ 05:40 PM
You know how many times do we have to go back to Old Testament prophecies? How do we know that they weren't already fulfilled?

posted on Jun, 2 2017 @ 05:43 PM
a reply to: Miracula2
Have you been reading these threads, or just looking at the titles?
My basic theme, all the way through, is that these prophecies were normally fulfilled in the era when they were made. See especially my third post in this thread.

posted on Jun, 2 2017 @ 05:45 PM
a reply to: Miracula2
Good point. How do we know the bible was even inspired by God? The Catholic church has pretty much omitted the truth in religion for centuries, and hidden truths that should be in any bible.

posted on Jun, 2 2017 @ 07:18 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI


‘War of Gog & Magog.'

“The Hebrew prophet Ezekiel wrote 2,500 years ago that in the ‘last days’ of history, GOG (Russia or Turkey) and Persia (Iran) will form a military alliance to attack Israel from the north,”

Now, Damascus was already destroyed in an attack by the Assyrians that unfolded in 732 B.C but Damascus is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on earth. It has been attacked, besieged, and conquered. But Damascus has never been completely destroyed and left uninhabited.

The context of Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49 are a series of end times prophecies dealing with God’s judgments on Israel’s neighbors and enemies leading up to and through the tribulation.

The prophet Isaiah utilized the term “in that day” in several of his prophecies. The following table lists the verses where the term “in that day” appears in the Book of Isaiah.

The term “in that day” in the Book of Isaiah almost always refers to the End Times. For instance, the term “in that day” refers to the Day of the Lord in Isaiah 2:11-12.

edit on 2-6-2017 by infolurker because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 3 2017 @ 08:06 AM

originally posted by: infolurker
The context of Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49 are a series of end times prophecies dealing with God’s judgments on Israel’s neighbors and enemies leading up to and through the tribulation.

I disagree with the premise, because I see no reason for making that assumption. Nothing in the prophet's wording calls them end-time prophecies.
The general trend of this series of threads ought to be showing that Old Testament prophecy "concerning the nations" is largely about the nations which were a threat to Israel and Judah in the time of the prophets. The only exceptions are the prophecy explicitly related to "the last battle", which Iwill be looking at next time. Why else do you think that the prophecy about the fall of Damascus is linked with prophecy about the fall of Ephraim, which no longer exists? It is because this is a prophecy about the Damascus and Ephraim known to the prophet Isaiah. Any one who wants to apply it to the present day needs to find a present-day Ephraim as well.

I am convinced that the modern obsession with finding end-time prophecy in the Old Testament is driven by inadequate faith.
It shows inadequate faith because people without enough patience to leave the details to God are anxious to track down more detail than he is intending to provide.
It shows inadequate faith because people without enough patience to leave the timing to God are anxious to find ways of discovering that the end-times are happening NOW, with MY generation at the centre of events. None of these students of end-time prophecy try to place the fulfilment in the distant future. It has to be the very near future, because that is the object of the exercise.

I am content to recognise that God does not have the intention of giving us a detailed warning of events, to relax in faith and let things happen in their own good time.
edit on 3-6-2017 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 3 2017 @ 09:39 AM
a reply to: DISRAELI

The main value of these prophecies for believers living in our own time is the testimony they provide of God’s determination to protect his people against their adversaries.

Precisely correct. They also point up the punishment for failing to heed God's word!

posted on Jun, 4 2017 @ 12:00 PM
This series will come to a climax with a thread on "The Last Battle in Old Testament prophecy". Next time.

edit on 4-6-2017 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 4 2017 @ 12:23 PM
the prophecy that Damascus will be reduced to a heap-of-ruins ~ along with 'Babylon' becoming the dwelling place of hoot-owls & Satyrs ~

are not end-times unfoldings... the "ruinous heap Damascus" and the "dwelling place of death, Babylon" only become that way during the Millenial era when 'The Greater Israel comes into existance

It seems likely to me that the clean-up of the land after that great battle & extermination of the 200 million man Armies, where a permanent cadre of persons are assigned the duty to pick up every bone & bone fragment of the battlefield and bury it... I submit that the burial places for those bones of the antichrist Armies will be the desolation zones known as Damascus & Babylon (the city of)

feel free to erase this notion from mine or other readers minds...
edit on th30149659707604242017 by St Udio because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 4 2017 @ 12:40 PM
a reply to: St Udio
I will have a separate thread on "the Last Battle", though my approach to it will be less literal than some.

posted on Jun, 4 2017 @ 12:51 PM

originally posted by: DISRAELI
a reply to: daarksydereborn
You don't offer any reason for believing in a future event that has not been prophesied.

What has been prophesied however is the return of the other non-Jewish Israelite tribes to their own land. That Syrian city as it sits now represents resistance to those returns.
edit on 4-6-2017 by Logarock because: n

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