Curses on Samaria (Isa 28:1-28:4)

“Cursed be the proud garland

Of the drunkards of Ephraim!

Cursed be the fading flower

Of its glorious beauty!

Cursed on the head of those

Bloated with rich food!

Cursed be those

Overcome with wine!

See!

Yahweh has one that is mighty!

He has one that is strong!

Like a storm of hail,

Like a destroying tempest,

Like a storm of mighty overflowing waters,

He will hurl them down

To the earth with his hand.

The proud garland

Of the drunkards of Ephraim

Will be trampled underfoot.

The fading flower

Of its glorious beauty,

Is on the head

Of those bloated with rich food.

They will be

Like a first-ripe fig

Before the summer.

Whoever sees it,

Eats it up

As soon as it comes to his hand.”

This is an obvious warning to northern Israel Ephraim in Samaria, before the fall of this kingdom in 722 BCE, under the Assyrian army of King Sargon II (722-705 BCE). Isaiah refers to the people in the north as the drunkards of Ephraim. They will lose their crown and garland as well as its beautiful fading flower, a refrain that is repeated twice. The folks in Ephraim were bloated with rich food and overcome with wine. Yahweh then sent a mighty strong hail storm, a tempest that flooded the area.   They were going to be trampled underfoot. They were like the first fig of the season that someone immediately grabs and eats it as soon as they see it.

Introduction to the story about the king of Babylon (Isa 14:3-14:4)

“When Yahweh has given you rest

From your pain,

From your turmoil,

From your hard service,

With which

You were made to serve,

You will take up this taunt

Against the king of Babylon.”

Many believe that this may have been a taunt by Isaiah against the dead King Sargon II, who died in 705 BCE after ruling from 722 BCE. Later it was used against King Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 BCE). It assumes that the Israelites had returned from the Exile. They had some rest from their pain, turmoil, and hard service. Now they were able to taunt the king of Babylon.