What is the burden, the Massa, of Damascus? What does this burden tell us about the future of this great historical city? What do the scriptures mean when they call Damascus a ruinous or a Mappalah heap? What mysteries can the Hebrew pictographs show us that will explain what this means? Will there be a connection to Messiah? You just might be surprised.
Damascus, which is the capital of modern-day Syria, may be the oldest city of the ancient world that has been continuously inhabited.The great American author Mark Twain once visited Damascus and declared this:
To Damascus, years are only moments, decades are only flitting trifles of time. She measures time not by days and months and years, but by the empires she has seen rise and prosper and crumble to ruin. She is a type of immortality.
Damascus has been called the “pearl of the east” throughout history because of its beauty, but according to the prophet of ancient Israel named Isaiah, something is very wrong. Although Damascus has risen and fallen many times in its history, something different will happen to it at the end of the age and before the second return of Messiah. In Chapter 17 verse 1, Isaiah writes:
The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.
The word burden found here is the Hebrew word Massa (mas-saw’) and can be translated a burden, a load, an oracle, or a prophecy. What can the ancient pictographs reveal to us? Remember Hebrew is read right to left.
Massa is spelled Mem Sheen Aleph.
Mem is the picture of water and can indicate chaos, confusion, and death as the waters of a tsunami, or it can indicate waters that bring life.
Sheen is the picture of teeth and means to press, sharp, to destroy, or to consume.
Aleph is the picture of the ox and has the meaning of the strong leader, the first, or God the Father.
The first mystery in the pictographs is not very optimistic; judgment for sin is coming. The strong leader, God the Father, is going to bring destruction upon Damascus that will come like a flood bringing chaos and death.
How severe will this future destruction be? For that, let’s investigate the Hebrew word Mappalah (map-paw-law’) which was translated in Isaiah’s prophecy as ruinous. This word is only found in the Ancient Prophetic Text three times and all are in the book of Isaiah. It comes from a root that means something fallen and indicates fallen buildings. Although repeatedly conquered and subdued, Damascus has never been totally physically destroyed; we are anticipating a future event.
Mappalah is spelled Mem Pey Lamed Hey.
Mem is the picture of water and can indicate chaos, confusion, and death as the waters of a tsunami or it can indicate waters that bring life.
Pey is the picture of the open mouth and means to speak or a word.
Lamed is the picture of the shepherd’s staff and means to control, to have authority, or it can mean the tongue.
Hey is the picture of the man with his hands lifted up to the heavens and means to reveal, to look, or to behold and can be a picture of the Holy Spirit the Revelator.
The mystery preserved for us in the pictographs is that we are to behold something that is coming that is under the control of the one in authority who is giving us a warning. That warning is again that there will be a chaotic act of destruction that will come as a flood.
How long will the effects of this future act of destruction that is revealed to Isaiah by YHWH last? Will it be forever? Will Damascus ever be rebuilt?
The Hebrew letters are also numbers, and as we search the Scriptures to see how each of the numbers is used, a pattern emerges that tells us what each number means. The information preserved in the numbers gives us valuable clues as to the future of Damascus after the judgment that Isaiah warns is coming.
For the word Massa, Mem is the number 40 and indicates a period of probation or trial and testing. Sheen is the number 300 and signifies the final blood sacrifice of the Perfect Lamb of God. Aleph is the number 1 and stands for God the Father.
The numbers in Massa tell us there will be a time of hope in the future after judgment. The chaos and destruction we saw in the pictographs will turn to a time when God the Father will end the trials and probation and complete a restoration that will end with the blood sacrifice of Messiah. The burden or Massa of Damascus will not last forever.
The numbers in the word Meppalah are equally reassuring. Mem, again, is the number 40 and indicates a period of probation or trial and testing. Pey is the number 80 (8×10) and stands for a new beginning that has been ordained in Heaven. Lamed is the number 30 and points us to the blood of Christ. Hey is the number 5 and reveals grace.
The ruin that Damascus will become in the future will be replaced by something new. That leveled city will endure its time of trial and will be given a new beginning ordained in Heaven. This will transpire through the grace of Yeshua Ha-Mashiach, the One who shed His blood for all those who have sinned against Elohim.
Isaiah describes this future time in which YHWH will bless those in Damascus in Assyria as well as those in Egypt who formerly turned against Him. In Chapter 19 verse 23 he gives a prophecy of the end of the age:
In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians.
Then, in verses 24 and 25 he describes the blessing:
In that day, shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land; Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.
As the pictographs confirmed, there will always be judgment for those who are in rebellion against YHWH, but His plan all along has been to restore and bless those who would return to Him through the blood sacrifice of the Perfect Lamb of God.
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