Isaiah 21:5

5 They set the tables, they spread the rugs, they eat, they drink! Get up, you officers, oil the shields!

Read Isaiah 21:5 Using Other Translations

Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield.
They prepare the table, they spread the rugs, they eat, they drink. Arise, O princes; oil the shield!
Look! They are preparing a great feast. They are spreading rugs for people to sit on. Everyone is eating and drinking. But quick! Grab your shields and prepare for battle. You are being attacked!

What does Isaiah 21:5 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Isaiah 21:5

Prepare the table
Set it, spread it, furnish it with all kind of provisions, as at a feast; and such an one Belshazzar made, the night the city was taken: these words are directed to him by his courtiers or queen, as represented by the prophet, in order to remove his fears; see ( Daniel 5:10 ) : watch in the watchtower;
this is said to his servants, his soldiers, or sentinels, that were placed on watchtowers to observe the motions of the enemy, who were ordered on duty, and to be on guard, that he and his nobles might feast the more securely; and all this being done, a table furnished, and a guard set, he, his nobles, and all his guests, are encouraged to "eat" and "drink" liberally and cheerfully, without any fear of the Medes and Persians, who were now besieging the city; when, at the same time, by the Lord it would be said, arise, ye princes;
not, ye nobles of Babylon, from your table, quit it, and your feasting and mirth: [and] anoint the shield;
prepare your arms, see that they are in good order, get them in readiness, and defend your king, yourselves, and your city, as some; but the princes of the Medes and Persians, Cyrus and his generals, are bid to take their arms, and enter the city while indulging themselves at their feast: it was usual to anoint shields, and other pieces of armour, partly that they might be smooth and slippery, as Jarchi, that so the darts of the enemy might easily slide off; and partly for the polishing and brightening of them, being of metal, especially of brass; so the Targum,

``polish and make the arms bright;''
see ( 2 Samuel 1:21 ) . Aben Ezra understands the words as an exhortation to the princes, to arise and anoint Darius king, in the room of Belshazzar slain; the word "shield" sometimes signifying a king, for which he mentions ( Psalms 84:9 ) so Ben Melech; but they are a call of the prophet, or of the Lord, to the princes of the Medes and Persians, to take the opportunity, while the Babylonians were feasting, to fall upon them; and the words may be rendered thus F21,
``in or while preparing the table, watching in the watchtower, eating and drinking, arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield;''
which was done by their servants, though they are called upon.
FOOTNOTES:

F21 (Nxlvh Kre) "disponendo, mensam, speculando speculam, comedendo, bibendo, surgite principes, ungite clypeum", Montanus; and to the same sense Grotius.
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