1 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honour Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan –2The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.3You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.4For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.5Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.7Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
The Lord’s anger against Israel
8The Lord has sent a message against Jacob; it will fall on Israel.9All the people will know it – Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria – who say with pride and arrogance of heart,10‘The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig-trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.’11But the Lord has strengthened Rezin’s foes against them and has spurred their enemies on.12Arameans from the east and Philistines from the west have devoured Israel with open mouth. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised.13But the people have not returned to him who struck them, nor have they sought the Lord Almighty.14So the Lord will cut off from Israel both head and tail, both palm branch and reed in a single day;15the elders and dignitaries are the head, the prophets who teach lies are the tail.16Those who guide this people mislead them, and those who are guided are led astray.17Therefore the Lord will take no pleasure in the young men, nor will he pity the fatherless and widows, for everyone is ungodly and wicked, every mouth speaks folly. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised.18Surely wickedness burns like a fire; it consumes briers and thorns, it sets the forest thickets ablaze, so that it rolls upwards in a column of smoke.19By the wrath of the Lord Almighty the land will be scorched and the people will be fuel for the fire; they will not spare one another.20On the right they will devour, but still be hungry; on the left they will eat, but not be satisfied. Each will feed on the flesh of their own offspring:21Manasseh will feed on Ephraim, and Ephraim on Manasseh; together they will turn against Judah. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised.