Prophecies Against Ethiopia
Verse 1 – Woe to the land shadowed with buzzing wings, which is beyond the rivers Ethiopia,
Isaiah was warning Judah not to make an alliance with Egypt to fight the Assyrians because God was going to destroy Assyria.
Verse 2 – which sends ambassadors by sea, even in vessels of reed on the waters, saying, “Go swift messengers, to a nation tall and smooth of skin, to a people terrible from their beginning onward, a nation powerful and treading down, whose land the rivers divide.”
Both the Egyptian and Ethiopians used boats of rushes and reeds, which were more convenient for them than those made of wood. They were cheaper and swifter and lighter.
Verse 3 – All inhabitants of the world and dwellers on the earth: When he lifts up a banner on the mountains, you see it; and when he blows a trumpet, you hear it.
Verse 4 – For so the Lord said to me, “I will take My rest, and I will look from My dwelling place like clear heat in sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.”
Verse 5 – For before the harvest, when the bud is perfect and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, he will both cut off the springs with pruning hooks and take away and cut down the branches.
Verse 6 – They will be left together for the mountain birds of prey and for the beasts of the earth; the birds of prey will summer on them, and all the beasts of the earth will winter them.
God’s judgment is compared to pruning a grapevine before the grapes are ripe. Those fallen in battle would be left to the wild animals.
Verse 7 – In that time a present will be brought to the Lord of hosts from a people tall and smooth of skin, and from a people terrible from their beginning onward, a nation powerful and treading down, whose land the rivers divide – to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, to Mount Zion.
The Ethiopians (Cushites), described as tall and smooth-skinned people, are pictured as bringing tribute. This is a sign of their submission to God’s temple on Zion after the judgment.