Isaiah 21:1-10

A Prophecy Against Babylon

1 A prophecy against the Desert by the Sea: Like whirlwinds sweeping through the southland, an invader comes from the desert, from a land of terror.
2 A dire vision has been shown to me: The traitor betrays, the looter takes loot. Elam, attack! Media, lay siege! I will bring to an end all the groaning she caused.
3 At this my body is racked with pain, pangs seize me, like those of a woman in labor; I am staggered by what I hear, I am bewildered by what I see.
4 My heart falters, fear makes me tremble; the twilight I longed for has become a horror to me.
5 They set the tables, they spread the rugs, they eat, they drink! Get up, you officers, oil the shields!
6 This is what the Lord says to me: “Go, post a lookout and have him report what he sees.
7 When he sees chariots with teams of horses, riders on donkeys or riders on camels, let him be alert, fully alert.”
8 And the lookout[a] shouted, “Day after day, my lord, I stand on the watchtower; every night I stay at my post.
9 Look, here comes a man in a chariot with a team of horses. And he gives back the answer: ‘Babylon has fallen, has fallen! All the images of its gods lie shattered on the ground!’ ”
10 My people who are crushed on the threshing floor, I tell you what I have heard from the LORD Almighty, from the God of Israel.

Isaiah 21:1-10 Meaning and Commentary


This chapter contains prophecies against Babylon, Idumea, and Arabia. The prophecy against Babylon is called "the burden of the desert of the sea"; whose enemies are described by the fierce manner of their coming, and by the land from whence they came, Isa 21:1 which vision being declared to the prophet, is called a grievous one; what made it so was treachery among themselves; and the Medes and Persians are invited to besiege them, Isa 21:2 their terror and distress upon it are represented by the pains of a woman in travail, whom the prophet personates, Isa 21:3,4 and by the methods they took to defend themselves, to which they were alarmed, when in the greatest security and jollity, Isa 21:5 all which is illustrated by the vision of the watchman, who saw the Medes and Persians on the march, signified by a chariot and a couple of horsemen, who declares the fall of Babylon, and the destruction of its gods, Isa 21:6-9 which would issue in the good and comfort of the church and people of God, Isa 21:10 then follows the prophecy against Idumea, which consists of a question put to the watchman, and his answer to it; to which an exhortation is added, Isa 21:11,12 and the chapter concludes with another prophecy against Arabia: the calamities threatened are lodging in a forest, thirst, famine, and fleeing from the sword Isa 21:13-15, and the time is fixed when all this should be, by which their glory would fail, and the number of their archers and mighty men be lessened; for the confirmation of which the divine testimony is annexed, Isa 21:16,17.

Cross References 26

  • 1. S Isaiah 13:1
  • 2. Isaiah 13:21; Jeremiah 50:12; Jeremiah 51:43
  • 3. S Job 1:19
  • 4. Daniel 11:40; Zechariah 9:14
  • 5. Psalms 60:3
  • 6. Isaiah 24:16; Isaiah 33:1
  • 7. S Genesis 10:22; Isaiah 22:6; Jeremiah 49:34
  • 8. S Isaiah 13:3; Jeremiah 25:25; Jeremiah 51:28
  • 9. S Job 14:22
  • 10. S Genesis 3:16; Psalms 48:6; Isaiah 26:17; Isaiah 37:3; Jeremiah 30:6; Jeremiah 48:41; Jeremiah 49:22; John 16:21
  • 11. Daniel 7:28; Daniel 8:27; Daniel 10:16
  • 12. Isaiah 7:4; Isaiah 35:4
  • 13. S Isaiah 13:8; Daniel 5:9
  • 14. S Psalms 55:5
  • 15. Isaiah 5:12; Isaiah 22:2,13; Isaiah 23:7; Isaiah 24:8; Isaiah 32:13; Jeremiah 25:16,27; Jeremiah 51:39,57; Daniel 5:2
  • 16. 2 Samuel 1:21; 1 Kings 10:16-17; Jeremiah 46:3; Jeremiah 51:11
  • 17. S 2 Kings 9:17
  • 18. ver 9
  • 19. S Judges 6:5
  • 20. Micah 7:7; Habakkuk 2:1
  • 21. ver 7
  • 22. S Isaiah 13:1; Isaiah 47:1,5; S Revelation 14:8
  • 23. Isaiah 47:11; Jeremiah 51:8; Daniel 5:30; Revelation 18:2
  • 24. S Leviticus 26:30; Isaiah 46:1; Jeremiah 50:2; Jeremiah 51:44
  • 25. S Isaiah 2:18
  • 26. Isaiah 27:12; Isaiah 28:27,28; Isaiah 41:15; Jeremiah 51:33; Micah 4:13; Habakkuk 3:12; Matthew 3:12

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Dead Sea Scrolls and Syriac; Masoretic Text "A lion"
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