At the time of Isaiah’s prophecy the Northern Kingdom of Israel, also known as Ephraim, was in league with Syria against Judah, the Southern Kingdom. The prophet predicted that these enemies would be conquered and no longer pose a threat to Judah.
Another interesting aspect of prophecy is that it often has more than one application. The prime illustration regarding this truth concerns the “abomination of desolation” spoken of by Daniel the prophet. History records that this was fulfilled by the Syrian leader Antiochus Epiphanes when he offered a sow upon the altar in Israel. (See my journal on Daniel 11 for a more detailed discussion.) Yet, when Jesus taught His disciples on Olivet before His death, He referenced this abomination as yet future.
Matt. 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
In light of that truth there are some interesting possibilities that emerge from the continued study of Isaiah 17. When I looked up Ephraim in my study of Isaiah 17, I found that it included Samaria and most of what is known today as the West Bank, the land currently inhabited by “the Palestinians.” It’s interesting to note that the Palestinians of today are in league with the Syrians as represented by Hizbollah regarding their desire to destroy Israel. It gets even more interesting when you take into consideration the prophecies of Zechariah concerning this same event.
Zech. 9:1-6 The burden of the word of the LORD in the land of Hadrach, and Damascus shall be the rest thereof: when the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, shall be toward the LORD. And Hamath also shall border thereby; Tyrus, and Zidon, though it be very wise. And Tyrus did build herself a strong hold, and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets. Behold, the Lord will cast her out, and he will smite her power in the sea; and she shall be devoured with fire. Ashkelon shall see it, and fear; Gaza also shall see it, and be very sorrowful, and Ekron; for her expectation shall be ashamed; and the king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited. And a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.
This prophecy connects the destruction of Damascus to Tyre and Zidon, cities that were located in current-day Lebanon, the stronghold of Hizbollah. This event is also described as bringing sorrow to Ashkelon, Gaza, and Ekron, the Philistine cities that are connected to the area of the Palestinian stronghold that we call the Gaza strip. Also interesting to note is that future application would indicate that this will destroy all hope of a Palestinian state—there will be no ruler in Gaza and the pride of the Philistines/Palestinians will be destroyed.
As I read through some of the other translations for Isaiah 17:9, I got the impression that this destruction comes at the hand of Israel.