The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.
Damascus — Both of that city and kingdom.
A heap — This was fulfilled by Tiglath-pilneser, 2 Kings 16:9, although afterwards it was re-edified.
 The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid.
Aroer — Of that part of Syria, called Aroer, from a great city of that name. These cities were possessed by the Reubenites and Gadites, whom Tiglath-pilneser carried into captivity, 1 Chronicles 5:26. These he mentions here, as he doth Ephraim in the next verse, because they were confederate with Syria against Judah.
Afraid — Because the land shall be desolate, and destitute of men who might disturb them.
 The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria: they shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the LORD of hosts.
The fortress — All their fortresses; the singular number being put for the plural.
Remnant — The remainders of Damascus and Syria shall be an headless body, a people without a king.
Of Israel — Syria shall have as much glory as Israel; that is, neither of them shall have any at all.
 And it shall be as when the harvestman gathereth the corn, and reapeth the ears with his arm; and it shall be as he that gathereth ears in the valley of Rephaim.
Gathereth — Taking care, as far as may be, that all may be gathered in, and nothing left. So shall the whole body of the ten tribes be carried away captive, some few gleanings only being left.
Rephaim — A very fruitful place near Jerusalem.
 Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof, saith the LORD God of Israel.
Yet — Some few Israelites were left after their captivity, who joined themselves to Judah, and were carried captive to Babylon with them, from whence also they returned with them.
 At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel.
A man — Those few men that are left.
Look — They shall sincerely respect, and trust, and worship God, and God only.
 And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall respect that which his fingers have made, either the groves, or the images.
Not look — Not trust to them, or to worship offered to idols upon them.
The work — Their own inventions.
Groves — Which were devised by men, as fit places for the worship of their gods.
Images — Worshipped in their groves.
 In that day shall his strong cities be as a forsaken bough, and an uppermost branch, which they left because of the children of Israel: and there shall be desolation.
In — The day of Jacob's trouble, of which he spake verse 4.
Uppermost branch — Which he that prunes the tree neglects, because he esteems it useless and inconsiderable.
Left — Which they (the Canaanites) left or forsook because of (or for fear of) the children of Israel. And this was a fit example, to awaken the Israelites to a serious belief of this threatening, because God had inflicted the same judgment upon the Canaanites, for the same sins of which they were guilty.
 Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength, therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, and shalt set it with strange slips:
Thou — O Israel.
The rock — That God who was thy only sure defence.
Plants — Excellent flowers and fruit-trees.
Strange — Fetched from far countries, and therefore highly esteemed.
 In the day shalt thou make thy plant to grow, and in the morning shalt thou make thy seed to flourish: but the harvest shall be a heap in the day of grief and of desperate sorrow.
In the day — Thou shalt from day to day, beginning early in the morning, use all diligence that what thou hast planted may thrive.
But — When this grievous calamity shall come, all your harvest shall be but one heap.
 Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!
Woe — This is a new prophecy, added for the comfort of God's people.
Many — Combined together against Judah.
Seas — Who invade my land and people with great force, as the sea does when it enters into the land by a breach.
 And behold at eveningtide trouble; and before the morning he is not. This is the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us.
Behold — At even there is great terror among God's people, for fear of their enemies; and before the morning comes, their enemies are cut off.