Isaiah 13

Listen to Isaiah 13

The Judgment of Babylon

1 The oracle concerning 1Babylon which 2Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.
2 On a bare hill 3raise a signal; cry aloud to them; wave the hand for 4them to enter the gates of the nobles.
3 I myself have commanded my consecrated ones, and have summoned my mighty men to execute my anger, my proudly exulting ones.[a]
4 The sound 5of a tumult is on the mountains as of a great multitude! The sound of an uproar of kingdoms, of nations gathering together! 6The LORD of hosts is mustering a host for battle.
5 7They come from a distant land, from the end of the heavens, the LORD and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land.[b]
6 8Wail, for 9the day of the LORD is near; as destruction from the Almighty[c] it will come!
7 Therefore all hands will be feeble, and every human heart 10will melt.
8 They will be dismayed: 11pangs and agony will seize them; 12they will be in anguish like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at one another; their faces will be aflame.
9 Behold, 13the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and 14to destroy its sinners from it.
10 15For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; 16the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light.
11 I will punish 17the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will 18put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, 19and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.
12 I will make 20people more rare than fine gold, and mankind than the 21gold of Ophir.
13 Therefore 22I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place, at the wrath of the LORD of hosts in the day of his fierce anger.
14 And like a hunted gazelle, or like sheep with none to gather them, 23each will turn to his own people, and each will flee to his own land.
15 Whoever is found will be thrust through, and whoever is caught will fall by the sword.
16 24Their infants will be dashed in pieces before their eyes; their houses will be plundered and their wives ravished.
17 Behold, 25I am stirring up the Medes against them, who have no regard for silver and do not delight in gold.
18 26Their bows will slaughter[d] the young men; they will have no mercy on the fruit of the womb; their eyes will not pity children.
19 And Babylon, 27the glory of kingdoms, the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans, will be 28like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them.
20 29It will never be inhabited or lived in for all generations; no 30Arab will pitch his tent there; no 31shepherds will make their flocks lie down there.
21 But 32wild animals will lie down there, and their houses will be full of howling creatures; there 33ostriches[e] will dwell, and there wild goats will dance.
22 Hyenas[f] will cry in its towers, and 34jackals in 35the pleasant palaces; its time is close at hand and its days will not be prolonged.

Isaiah 13 Commentary

Chapter 13

The armies of God's wrath. (1-5) The conquest of Babylon. (6-18) Its final desolation. (19-22)

Verses 1-5 The threatenings of God's word press heavily upon the wicked, and are a sore burden, too heavy for them to bear. The persons brought together to lay Babylon waste, are called God's sanctified or appointed ones; designed for this service, and made able to do it. They are called God's mighty ones, because they had their might from God, and were now to use it for him. They come from afar. God can make those a scourge and ruin to his enemies, who are farthest off, and therefore least dreaded.

Verses 6-18 We have here the terrible desolation of Babylon by the Medes and Persians. Those who in the day of their peace were proud, and haughty, and terrible, are quite dispirited when trouble comes. Their faces shall be scorched with the flame. All comfort and hope shall fail. The stars of heaven shall not give their light, the sun shall be darkened. Such expressions are often employed by the prophets, to describe the convulsions of governments. God will visit them for their iniquity, particularly the sin of pride, which brings men low. There shall be a general scene of horror. Those who join themselves to Babylon, must expect to share her plagues, ( Revelation 18:4 ) . All that men have, they would give for their lives, but no man's riches shall be the ransom of his life. Pause here and wonder that men should be thus cruel and inhuman, and see how corrupt the nature of man is become. And that little infants thus suffer, which shows that there is an original guilt, by which life is forfeited as soon as it is begun. The day of the Lord will, indeed, be terrible with wrath and fierce anger, far beyond all here stated. Nor will there be any place for the sinner to flee to, or attempt an escape. But few act as though they believed these things.

Verses 19-22 Babylon was a noble city; yet it should be wholly destroyed. None shall dwell there. It shall be a haunt for wild beasts. All this is fulfilled. The fate of this proud city is a proof of the truth of the Bible, and an emblem of the approaching ruin of the New Testament Babylon; a warning to sinners to flee from the wrath to come, and it encourages believers to expect victory over every enemy of their souls, and of the church of God. The whole world changes and is liable to decay. Wherefore let us give diligence to obtain a kingdom which cannot be moved; and in this hope let us hold fast that grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

Cross References 35

  • 1. ver. 19; Isaiah 14:4; Isaiah 21:9; Isaiah 47:1; See Jer. 51, 52
  • 2. Isaiah 1:1
  • 3. Isaiah 5:26
  • 4. [Isaiah 41:25]
  • 5. [Isaiah 22:5]
  • 6. [Joshua 5:13, 14]
  • 7. [Isaiah 46:11]
  • 8. Isaiah 14:31; Isaiah 15:2, 3, 8; Isaiah 16:7; Jeremiah 51:8; Ezekiel 30:2
  • 9. Isaiah 2:12; Joel 1:15; Zephaniah 1:7
  • 10. See Joshua 2:11
  • 11. [Nahum 2:10]
  • 12. Isaiah 26:17; Jeremiah 4:31; Jeremiah 6:24; Micah 4:9, 10; John 16:21
  • 13. [See ver. 6 above]
  • 14. [Psalms 104:35]
  • 15. [Isaiah 34:4]
  • 16. Ezekiel 32:7; Joel 2:31; Joel 3:15; Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24; Luke 21:25
  • 17. Isaiah 24:21
  • 18. [Isaiah 24:4]
  • 19. [Isaiah 2:11, 17]
  • 20. Isaiah 24:6
  • 21. 1 Kings 10:11; Job 28:16
  • 22. Haggai 2:6
  • 23. Jeremiah 50:16; Jeremiah 51:9; [1 Kings 22:36]
  • 24. Psalms 137:9; Nahum 3:10
  • 25. Isaiah 21:2; Jeremiah 51:11, 28; Daniel 5:28, 31
  • 26. Jeremiah 50:14, 29; Jeremiah 51:3
  • 27. [Isaiah 47:5]
  • 28. Isaiah 1:9; Genesis 19:24; Jeremiah 50:40; Amos 4:11
  • 29. Jeremiah 51:37, 43
  • 30. Jeremiah 3:2
  • 31. Jeremiah 33:12
  • 32. [Isaiah 34:13, 14]
  • 33. Isaiah 34:13; Jeremiah 50:39
  • 34. Isaiah 35:7; Jeremiah 51:37
  • 35. [Isaiah 25:2; Amos 3:15]

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. Or those who exult in my majesty
  • [b]. Or earth; also verse 9
  • [c]. The Hebrew words for destruction and almighty sound alike
  • [d]. Hebrew dash in pieces
  • [e]. Or owls
  • [f]. Or foxes

Chapter Summary


This chapter contains a prophecy of the destruction of Babylon, literally understood as a type and exemplar of the destruction of the mystical Babylon, so often spoken of in the book of the Revelation: an account is given of the persons that should be the instruments of it, and of the desolation they should make; which would issue in the utter ruin of that once famous city. The title of the prophecy, and the person that had it, and brought it, are expressed, Isa 13:1 orders are given to the Medes and Persians to prepare for war, Isa 13:2 and are described as the Lord's sanctified ones, his mighty ones, and who rejoiced in his highness, Isa 13:3 by the multitude of them, by the length of the way they came, and the end of their coming, by divine direction, and as the instruments of God's wrath, to destroy the land of the Chaldeans, Isa 13:4,5 wherefore the inhabitants of it are called to howling, because that destruction from the Lord was at hand, Isa 13:6,9 the effects of which were fainting, fear, consternation, pain, and sorrow, without the least relief and comfort, Isa 13:7,8,10 the causes of which were their sin and iniquity, particularly their arrogance, pride, and haughtiness, Isa 13:11 which destruction is further described by the fewness of men that should be left in the land, Isa 13:12 by the strange revolution made in it, and the confusion it should be in, Isa 13:13 by the fear and flight of men, both of their own and other nations, that should be among them, Isa 13:14 by the slaughter of men and children, the plunder of their houses, and the ravishing of their wives, Isa 13:15,16 the persons that should be employed as instruments are mentioned by name, and represented as not to be bribed with gold and silver; and as merciless and uncompassionate, that should spare neither young men nor children, Isa 13:17,18 and the chapter is concluded with a particular account of the destruction of Babylon; which is aggravated, by observing its former glory; by comparing its ruin to the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah; by its being no more to be inhabited by men within, nor to have Arabian shepherds pitching their tents without it; and by being the habitation of wild beasts, satyrs, dragons, and doleful creatures, Isa 13:19-22.

Isaiah 13 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.