Isaiah 14:23

Isaiah 14:23

I will also make it a possession for the bittern
Instead of being possessed by any of the family of the king of Babylon. The "bittern" is a kind of water fowl, which, by putting its bill into mire, or a broken reed, is said to make a most horrible noise. Some think the "owl" is meant, which dwells in desolate and ruinous places; and others take it to be the "ospray", a sort of eagle that preys upon fish and ducks; according to Kimchi, the "tortoise" is meant; some will have it that the "beaver" or castor is intended; Jarchi understands it of the porcupine or "hedgehog"; and in the Arabic language this creature is called "kunphud", which is pretty near the Hebrew word "kippod", here used; to which Bochartus agrees; but, whatever creature is meant, the design is to show that Babylon should not be inhabited by men, but by birds or beasts of prey, or noxious animals; and so mystical Babylon is said to be a cage of every unclean and hateful bird, ( Revelation 18:2 ) : and pools of water;
Babylon being situated in a marshy ground, and by the river Euphrates; and when that river was turned by Cyrus F9, and afterwards its banks neglected, in course of time the water overflowed the place where the city was, and all about it, and so easily came to be what is here predicted it should; see ( Revelation 18:21 ) : and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the Lord
of hosts;
and so clear it at once of all its inhabitants, wealth, and riches, and entirely remove its large walls and stately buildings, no more to be seen, just as a house is swept clean of all its dust; intimating, that this superb city, and all belonging to it, should be reduced to dust, and be as easily swept away as dust is with a besom. The word for "sweep", and a "besom", is only used in this place, and has this signification in the Arabic language; it is said in the Talmud {k}, that the Rabbins knew not the meaning of this word, till they heard an Arabian girl say to her fellow servant,

``take this besom, and sweep the house.''
expressing the word here used.
FOOTNOTES:

F9 Xenophon. Cyropaedia, l. 7. c. 23.
F11 Roshhashana, fol. 26. 2. Megilla, fol. 18. 1.
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