What Is the Destruction of Damascus in Isaiah 17?

Isaiah 17 gives a prophecy about the destruction of Damascus. The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Amos tell of the destruction coming to one of the world’s most ancient cities.


Isaiah 17:1-3

“The burden against Damascus. ‘Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap. The cities of Aroer are forsaken; they will be for flocks which lie down, and no one will make them afraid. The fortress also will cease from Ephraim, the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria…’” (emphasis added)


Jeremiah 49:23-27

“Against Damascus. ‘Hamath and Arpad are shamed, for they have heard bad news. They are fainthearted; there is trouble on the sea; it cannot be quiet. Damascus has grown feeble; she turns to flee, and fear has seized her. Anguish and sorrows have taken her like a woman in labor. Why is the city of praise not deserted, the city of My joy? Therefore her young men shall fall in her streets, and all the men of war shall be cut off in that day,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall consume the palaces of Ben-Hadad.’” (emphasis added)


Amos 1:3, 5

“Thus says the Lord: ‘For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment… I will also break the gate bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the Valley of Aven…’” (emphasis added)


Biblical prophecy is being fulfilled at an unprecedented rate. Therefore, it is paramount to understand the times we live in, what the Bible says, and prophetic events that point to the second coming of Jesus. The destruction of Damascus, as stated in Isaiah 17, is one of the events to be aware of. Current circumstances are aligning, making its fulfillment possible in the near future, pointing to another moment on God’s prophetic timeline. 



Damascus Today

An Aerial view of the city of Damascus


Damascus, the capital of Syria, is a large city of about 2 million people.

It is the oldest capital and longest-inhabited city in the world.

Even with the Syrian Civil War, which began in 2011, Damasus is still a vibrant city with many markets and museums—a major cultural center of that region.

It might be difficult to believe that the destruction of Damascus mentioned in Isaiah 17 is possible when you see the abundant life there today.While we don’t know all the details of when desolation will take place, we see the destruction of Damascus coming because it is written in God’s Word.

His Word always comes to pass, and current events seem to bring this prophesied destruction into focus.



The Destruction of Damascus Seems Impossible, but God’s Story Isn’t Over Yet

As Mark Twain made his way to Israel in the 1800s, he contrasted its desolation with the prosperity of Damascus.

In his book The Innocents Abroad, He wrote that Israel was “desolate and unlovely,” yet “to Damascus, years are only moments, decades are only flitting trifles of time. She measures time not by days, months, or years but by the empires she has seen rise and prosper and crumble to ruin. She’s a type of immortality.”


Damascus has seen the rise and fall of many empires…

  • Egyptian
  • Assyrian
  • Babylonian 
  • Persian and Medes


The Bible says that this seemingly timeless city will one day be destroyed, as tricky as it is to understand. This is because God sees the beginning and end of all things.


The prophet Isaiah reminds us that…

“For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.”—Isaiah 46:9-11 

Many things God spoke through the prophets have come to pass, but some are yet to be fulfilled. His Word reminds us that He is in control. He knows the beginning from the end. And it’s not a surprise to God when destruction hits Damascus or anywhere else.


Isaiah 17, Destruction of Damascus Prophecy, and Ezekiel 38 

“The burden against Damascus. ‘Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap.’”—Isaiah 17:1


Damascus will be unhabitable. The Bible says this ancient city that has been prosperous for generations will meet its time in history when it will be destroyed. But then, what follows after the destruction of Damascus?  


Will the events of Isaiah 17 and the destruction of Damascus ignite the Ezekiel 38 war?

Amir Tsarfati believes it is very likely.


Amir Tsarfati recently joined Abundant Life for the “What’s Next for Israel?” event. He provided insights into the relationship between Isaiah 17, the prophecy of the destruction of Damascus, and the Ezekiel 38 war.

  • “Isaiah 17 is the thing that will ignite the whole region to bring about the Ezekiel 38 war. Isaiah 17 speaks of the utter destruction of Damascus to the point that it can no longer be inhabitable. And as you know, Damascus has never been destroyed to that point. And so, it’s a future event, and it will happen.”


Let it be noted that Syria is well-known for having a large storehouse of chemical weapons in the Middle East. This could be the reason for its destruction.

Again, we don’t know precisely how Isaiah 17:1 will be fulfilled. Still, there is a convergence of events happening today that tie the destruction of Damascus and the Ezekiel 38 prophecy together, leading to a situation of biblical proportions.



Other Places Damascus Is Mentioned in the Bible

Damascus is mentioned several times in the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments. Here are a few key references to Damascus in the Bible:


Genesis 14:14-15

The first mention of Damascus in the Bible is Genesis 14. Damascus is associated with Abram’s (later changed to Abraham) rescue of Lot after his capture by Mesopotamian kings.

“Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus.”


2 Samuel 8:5-6

The Bible records King David’s success when he attacked and subdued the troublesome enemies of Israel. In this passage, Syrian forces joined for protection and found themselves helpless. Second Samuel 8:5-6 says:

“When the Syrians of Damascus came to help Hadadezer king of Zobah, David killed twenty-two thousand of the Syrians. Then David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus; and the Syrians became David’s servants, and brought tribute. So the Lord preserved David wherever he went.”


Acts 9

Damascus might be best known as the place of Paul’s conversion. Paul encountered Jesus face-to-face on the road to Damascus. This dramatic encounter resulted in saving faith, as he came to know Jesus as the promised Messiah and Savior. Acts 9:3-9 says:

“As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 

“So he, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’

“And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.”


These biblical references give Damascus a historical and cultural backdrop, revealing its strategic and prophetic importance in the Bible.



Now What?

As events in our world become more intense and hostile, it can leave us fearful. However, the Bible says that God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind. We can have peace amid turmoil through the Prince of Peace Himself—Jesus Christ. Choosing to believe God’s Word and receiving Christ breaks the chains of fear and gives us hope that will last into eternity.


Do you want to know more about end-time events?

The book of Daniel outlines both past and future events and gives insights into what is coming. You can get this FREE 24-page download, teaching videos, and an extensive Q&A session with Pastor Phil Hopper. Discover how current events line up with biblical prophecies.