You Who Legislate Evil
1-4Doom to you who legislate evil,
who make laws that make victims—
Laws that make misery for the poor,
that rob my destitute people of dignity,
Exploiting defenseless widows,
taking advantage of homeless children.
What will you have to say on Judgment Day,
when Doomsday arrives out of the blue?
Who will you get to help you?
What good will your money do you?
A sorry sight you’ll be then, huddled with the prisoners,
or just some corpses stacked in the street.
Even after all this, God is still angry,
his fist still raised, ready to hit them again.
Doom to Assyria!
5-11“Doom to Assyria, weapon of my anger.
My wrath is a club in his hands!
I send him against a godless nation,
against the people I’m angry with.
I command him to strip them clean, rob them blind,
and then push their faces in the mud and leave them.
But Assyria has another agenda;
he has something else in mind.
He’s out to destroy utterly,
to stamp out as many nations as he can.
Assyria says, ‘Aren’t my commanders all kings?
Can’t they do whatever they like?
Didn’t I destroy Calno as well as Carchemish?
Hamath as well as Arpad? Level Samaria as I did Damascus?
I’ve eliminated kingdoms full of gods
far more impressive than anything in Jerusalem and Samaria.
So what’s to keep me from destroying Jerusalem
in the same way I destroyed Samaria and all her god-idols?’”
12-13a When the Master has finished dealing with Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he’ll say, “Now it’s Assyria’s turn. I’ll punish the bragging arrogance of the king of Assyria, his high and mighty posturing, the way he goes around saying,
13b-14 “‘I’ve done all this by myself.
I know more than anyone.
I’ve wiped out the boundaries of whole countries.
I’ve walked in and taken anything I wanted.
I charged in like a bull
and toppled their kings from their thrones.
I reached out my hand and took all that they treasured
as easily as a boy taking a bird’s eggs from a nest.
Like a farmer gathering eggs from the henhouse,
I gathered the world in my basket,
And no one so much as fluttered a wing
or squawked or even chirped.’”
15-19Does an ax take over from the one who swings it?
Does a saw act more important than the sawyer?
As if a shovel did its shoveling by using a ditch digger!
As if a hammer used the carpenter to pound nails!
Therefore the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
will send a debilitating disease on his robust Assyrian fighters.
Under the canopy of God’s bright glory
a fierce fire will break out.
Israel’s Light will burst into a conflagration.
The Holy will explode into a firestorm,
And in one day burn to cinders
every last Assyrian thornbush.
God will destroy the splendid trees and lush gardens.
The Assyrian body and soul will waste away to nothing
like a disease-ridden invalid.
A child could count what’s left of the trees
on the fingers of his two hands.
* * *
20-23And on that Day also, what’s left of Israel, the straggling survivors of Jacob, will no longer be fascinated by abusive, battering Assyria. They’ll lean on God, The Holy—yes, truly. The ragtag remnant—what’s left of Jacob—will come back to the Strong God. Your people Israel were once like the sand on the seashore, but only a scattered few will return. Destruction is ordered, brimming over with righteousness. For the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, will finish here what he started all over the globe.
24-27a Therefore the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, says: “My dear, dear people who live in Zion, don’t be terrorized by the Assyrians when they beat you with clubs and threaten you with rods like the Egyptians once did. In just a short time my anger against you will be spent and I’ll turn my destroying anger on them. I, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, will go after them with a cat-o’-nine-tails and finish them off decisively—as Gideon downed Midian at the rock Oreb, as Moses turned the tables on Egypt. On that day, Assyria will be pulled off your back, and the yoke of slavery lifted from your neck.”
* * *
27b-32 Assyria’s on the move: up from Rimmon,
on to Aiath,
with a bivouac at Micmash.
They’ve crossed the pass,
set camp at Geba for the night.
Ramah trembles with fright.
Gibeah of Saul has run off.
Cry for help, daughter of Gallim!
Listen to her, Laishah!
Do something, Anathoth!
Madmenah takes to the hills.
The people of Gebim flee in panic.
The enemy’s soon at Nob—nearly there!
In sight of the city he shakes his fist
At the mount of dear daughter Zion,
the hill of Jerusalem.
33-34But now watch this: The Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
swings his ax and lops the branches,
Chops down the giant trees,
lays flat the towering forest-on-the-march.
His ax will make toothpicks of that forest,
that Lebanon-like army reduced to kindling.