1What sorrow awaits the unjust judges
and those who issue unfair laws.
2They deprive the poor of justice
and deny the rights of the needy among my people.
They prey on widows
and take advantage of orphans.
3What will you do when I punish you,
when I send disaster upon you from a distant land?
To whom will you turn for help?
Where will your treasures be safe?
4You will stumble along as prisoners
or lie among the dead.
But even then the Lord’s anger will not be satisfied.
His fist is still poised to strike.
Judgment against Assyria
5“What sorrow awaits Assyria, the rod of my anger.
I use it as a club to express my anger.
6I am sending Assyria against a godless nation,
against a people with whom I am angry.
Assyria will plunder them,
trampling them like dirt beneath its feet.
7But the king of Assyria will not understand that he is my tool;
his mind does not work that way.
His plan is simply to destroy,
to cut down nation after nation.
8He will say,
‘Each of my princes will soon be a king.
9We destroyed Calno just as we did Carchemish.
Hamath fell before us as Arpad did.
And we destroyed Samaria just as we did Damascus.
10Yes, we have finished off many a kingdom
whose gods were greater than those in Jerusalem and Samaria.
11So we will defeat Jerusalem and her gods,
just as we destroyed Samaria with hers.’”
12After the Lord has used the king of Assyria to accomplish his purposes on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, he will turn against the king of Assyria and punish him—for he is proud and arrogant. 13He boasts,
“By my own powerful arm I have done this.
With my own shrewd wisdom I planned it.
I have broken down the defenses of nations
and carried off their treasures.
I have knocked down their kings like a bull.
14I have robbed their nests of riches
and gathered up kingdoms as a farmer gathers eggs.
No one can even flap a wing against me
or utter a peep of protest.”
15But can the ax boast greater power than the person who uses it?
Is the saw greater than the person who saws?
Can a rod strike unless a hand moves it?
Can a wooden cane walk by itself?
16Therefore, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
will send a plague among Assyria’s proud troops,
and a flaming fire will consume its glory.
17The Lord, the Light of Israel, will be a fire;
the Holy One will be a flame.
He will devour the thorns and briers with fire,
burning up the enemy in a single night.
18The Lord will consume Assyria’s glory
like a fire consumes a forest in a fruitful land;
it will waste away like sick people in a plague.
19Of all that glorious forest, only a few trees will survive—
so few that a child could count them!
Hope for the Lord’s People
20In that day the remnant left in Israel,
the survivors in the house of Jacob,
will no longer depend on allies
who seek to destroy them.
But they will faithfully trust the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel.
21A remnant will return;# Hebrew Shear-jashub; see 7:3; 8:18.
yes, the remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God.
22But though the people of Israel are as numerous
as the sand of the seashore,
only a remnant of them will return.
The Lord has rightly decided to destroy his people.
23Yes, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
has already decided to destroy the entire land.# Greek version reads only a remnant of them will be saved. / For he will carry out his sentence quickly and with finality and righteousness; / for God will carry out his sentence upon all the world with finality. Compare Rom 9:27-28.
24So this is what the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, says: “O my people in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians when they oppress you with rod and club as the Egyptians did long ago. 25In a little while my anger against you will end, and then my anger will rise up to destroy them.” 26The Lord of Heaven’s Armies will lash them with his whip, as he did when Gideon triumphed over the Midianites at the rock of Oreb, or when the Lord’s staff was raised to drown the Egyptian army in the sea.
27In that day the Lord will end the bondage of his people.
He will break the yoke of slavery
and lift it from their shoulders.# As in Greek version; Hebrew reads The yoke will be broken, / for you have grown so fat.
28Look, the Assyrians are now at Aiath.
They are passing through Migron
and are storing their equipment at Micmash.
29They are crossing the pass
and are camping at Geba.
Fear strikes the town of Ramah.
All the people of Gibeah, the hometown of Saul,
are running for their lives.
30Scream in terror,
you people of Gallim!
Shout out a warning to Laishah.
Oh, poor Anathoth!
31There go the people of Madmenah, all fleeing.
The citizens of Gebim are trying to hide.
32The enemy stops at Nob for the rest of that day.
He shakes his fist at beautiful Mount Zion, the mountain of Jerusalem.
33But look! The Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
will chop down the mighty tree of Assyria with great power!
He will cut down the proud.
That lofty tree will be brought down.
34He will cut down the forest trees with an ax.
Lebanon will fall to the Mighty One.# Or with an ax / as even the mighty trees of Lebanon fall.