And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in
The Targum and Syriac version, "in their palaces", and so the Vulgate Latin; or "with their widows", such as have lost their mates: what creatures are here meant is very uncertain; we in general call them the wild beasts of the islands, because the word is sometimes used for islands; the Targum renders it "cats", wild ones; the Syriac version, "sirens"; and the Arabic, the "hyaenae"; the Septuagint version, "onocentaurs"; and the Vulgate Latin version, "owls", which live in desolate houses, and cry or answer to one another, which is the sense of the phrase here: and dragons in [their] pleasant palaces;
where they delight to be, though otherwise very dismal. The Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, "hedgehogs": the Syriac version, "wild dogs"; and the Vulgate Latin version, "sirens"; the word is commonly used for "whales", and sometimes for serpents, which seems to be the sense here; and to this agrees the account that R. Benjamin Tudelensis F18 gives of Babylon, who, when he was there, about five or six hundred years ago, saw the palace of Nebuchadnezzar in ruins, but men were afraid to enter into it, because of serpents and scorpions, which were within it. Rauwolff, a German traveller, about the year 1574, reports of the tower of Babylon, that it was so ruinous, so low, and so full of venomous creatures, which lodge in holes made by them in the rubbish, that no one durst approach nearer to it than within half a league, excepting during two months in the winter, when these animals never stir out of their holes F19: and her time [is] near to come;
that is, the time of the destruction of Babylon, as the Targum expresses it; which, though two hundred years or more from the time of this prophecy, yet but a short time with God; and when this was made known to the Jews in captivity, for whose comfort it is written, it was not afar off: and her days shall not be prolonged;
the days of her prosperity and happiness, but should be shortened.
F18 Itinerarium, p. 76.
F19 Vid. Prideaux's Connection, par. 1. p. 569.