Isaiah Nehemiah

Isaiah 17:1-11 and the book of Nehemiah.

FE 1The burden of Damascus: Damascus will cease to be a city and it will be a ruinous heap. I Jonah 3:4 2The cities of Aroer will be forsaken. They will be for flocks which will lie down in them and no one will harm them. 3The might will also cease from Ephraim and the kingdom from Damascus and the remnant of Ephraim will be like the glory of the children of Israel, says the Master of hosts. Isaiah 17:1-34In that day it will come to pass that the glory of Jacob will wane and the fatness of his flesh will wax lean. I Jonah 3:5 5It will be as when the reaper harvests standing sheaves and gathers the ears in his arms and it will be as he that gathers ears in the valley of Rephaites. 6Yet gleaning will be left in it as the beating of an olive tree and 2 or 3 berries in the top of the uppermost bough and 4 or 5 on its outermost branches, says the Master, god of Israel. Isaiah 17:4-67In that day man will trust in his maker and his eyes will look to the holy one of Israel. 8He will not trust in the altars, the work of his hands and the work which his fingers have made, nor will he look at the idols nor the images. I Jonah 3:7-9 Isaiah 17:7-89In that day his strong cities will be like a desolate well and like an emirate which was left destitute before the children of Israel. So you will become a desolation. Isaiah 17:910Because you have forgotten god your savior and have not been mindful of the rock of your strength, therefore you will plant pleasant plants and will graft them with foreign branches. 11In the day that you plant them they will put forth blossoms and in the morning your seed will flourish, but the harvest will be a ruin in the day of grief and of desperate sorrow. I Jonah 4:6-7 Isaiah 17:10-11 (Isaiah 17:1-11 BRB)

Isaiah says Damascus will be a ruinous heap. This matches the condition of Jerusalem before Nehemiah got to work.

1The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah. Nehemiah 1:1It came to pass in the month of Canun in the 20th year I was in Shushan the palace. 2Hanan, 1 of my brothers, came, and men of the Jews. I asked them about those Jews who remained from the captivity and also about the city of Jerusalem. Nehemiah 1:1-23These men whom I asked said to me, The men who escaped the captivity are there in the city dwelling in great affliction and much misery. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down and its gates have been burned with fire. Nehemiah 1:3 (Nehemiah 1:1-3 BRB)

Isaiah describes a time when the harvest is too little. This matches the famine.

FE 1There was a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brothers the Jews. 2For there were those who said, Our sons and our daughters and our brothers are many therefore let us purchase grain that we may eat and live. Nehemiah 5:1-23There were those who also said, We are going to sell our fields our houses and our vineyards that we may purchase grain during the famine that we may live. Nehemiah 5:34There were those who said, Let us borrow silver from the king's tribute and work our fields and our vineyards that we may live. 5There were those who also said, Now our flesh is as the flesh of our brothers, our sons are as their sons, and we are compelling our sons and our daughters to be servants and some of our daughters are already compelled to become female servants yet they do not raise their hands in protest before god and our fields our vineyards and our goods are given for other men. Nehemiah 5:4-5 (Nehemiah 5:1-5 BRB)

Isaiah describes a time when men will look to their maker again. This matches the restoration of worship.

FE 1On the 24th day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting and with sackcloth and ashes on them. 2The seed of Israel separated themselves from all the peoples and stood and confessed their sins and the sins of their fathers. 3They stood up in their place and read in the scroll of the law of the Master their god a 4th of the day and a 4th of the day they confessed and bowed before the Master their god. 4The chiefs stood over the Levites, Joshua and the children of Kadmiel and the children of Shebaniah and the children of Sherebiah and the children of Kenani, and cried before the Master their god with a loud voice. 5They said, the Levites Joshua and Kadmiel and the children of Hashabneiah and Sherebiah and Hodiah and Shebaniah and Pethahiah, Stand up and bless the Master your god forever and ever. Nehemiah 9:1-5Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all creations and praises. Nehemiah 9:5-6 (Nehemiah 9:1-5 BRB)

Isaiah describes an empty well and an emirate. This matches the priests and Levites not being paid because Eliashib and Tobias were controlling the storehouse.

4Before this Eliashib the priest had come and built there for himself a large court 5where they had formerly put the meal offerings the frankincense and the vessels containing the tithes of grain the wine and the oil which were commanded to be given to the Levites and the singers and the porters and the offerings for the priests. Nehemiah 13:4-56But while these things took place I was not in Jerusalem for in the 32nd year of Arthasastha king of Babel I came to the king. After certain days I asked leave of the king. 7I came to Jerusalem and understood the evil that Eliashib did for Tobia in preparing for him a house in the court of god. 8It grieved me exceedingly, so I threw all the house stuff of Tobia out into the street outside the court. 9I commanded and they cleansed the court, and I brought back to there the vessels of the house of god with the meal offerings and the frankincense. Nehemiah 13:6-910I learned that the portions of the Levites had not been given them, and that the Levites and the singers and those who did the work had fled each to his field. 11I contended with the chiefs and said to them, Why is the house of god forsaken? I gathered them together and set them in their place. Nehemiah 13:10-1112All the Jews brought the tithe of the grain and the wine and the oil to the storehouses. 13I appointed in charge of the storehouses Shelemiah the priest and Zadok the scribe and of the Levites Peraiah, and with them was Hanan son of Zaccur son of Mattaniah, for they were counted faithful and they were chosen by lot to be leaders over their brothers. Nehemiah 13:12-1314Remember me my god concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my god and for its rites. Nehemiah 13:14 (Nehemiah 13:4-14 BRB)

Isaiah talks about strange branches. This matches the foreign wives and mixed offspring.

23In those days I also saw Jews who had married foreign wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab. 24Half of their sons spoke the language of Ashdod and half the other, they could not intelligently speak in the language of the Jews, but according to the tongue of each people. 25I contended with them and cursed them and struck some of them and buried them and made the others swear by god saying, You will not give your daughters to their sons nor take of their daughters to your sons or for yourselves. 26Solomon king of Israel sinned by these things, yet among many peoples there was no king like him who was beloved by his god, and god made him king over all Israel, also, even him, foreign women caused to sin. 27This thing was reported to you, yet you committed this great evil to transgress against our god in marrying foreign wives. Nehemiah 13:23-27 (Nehemiah 13:23-27 BRB)

This prophecy is addressed to Damascus, not Jerusalem. This shift in name is best understood as an overlay or type. Damascus is like Nehemiah's Jerusalem. What's true of Damascus in this prophecy is equally true of Nehemiah's Jerusalem. This allows what's known about Damascus elsewhere in scripture to fill in our understanding of what Nehemiah's Jerusalem was like. In particular, it suggests that all the guys resisting Nehemiah's work are the same kinds of guys you would find living in Damascus, Syrians, Arabs, and more.

The prophecy is stated in future tense, but Nehemiah's Jerusalem had fallen to the Babylonians more than 70 years before Nehemiah was on the scene. This shift in time is not incidental, but means Nehemiah's story applies to Jerusalem in a future time when similar events would transpire again. The 70 years of Jerusalem being overrun before Nehemiah comes on the scene becomes the "7 times," or 2550 years, of Jerusalem between the fall to Babylon in ~585 BC and the restoration in 1967 as per Leviticus 26. In essence, what Isaiah seems to be saying, is that Jerusalem would be overrun by Arabs, and the like, well beyond the time of Nehemiah, in fact, until only recently. That means we just had a time, or are in a time, generally, when Nehemiah is rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem against tremendous pressure not to.