Isaiah 13

Prophecies about Babylon

1 The 1oracle concerning 2Babylon which 3Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.
2 4Lift up a standard on the 5bare hill, Raise your voice to them, 6Wave the hand that they may 7enter the doors of the nobles.
3 I have commanded My consecrated ones, I have even called My 8mighty warriors, My proudly exulting ones, To execute My anger.
4 A 9sound of tumult on the mountains, Like that of many people! A sound of the uproar of kingdoms, Of nations gathered together! The LORD of hosts is mustering the army for battle.
5 They are coming from a far country, From the 10farthest horizons, The LORD and His instruments of 11indignation, To 12destroy the whole land.

Judgment on the Day of the LORD

6 Wail, for the 13day of the LORD is near! It will come as 14destruction from the Almighty.
7 Therefore * 15all hands will fall limp, And every man's 16heart will melt.
8 They will be 17terrified, Pains and anguish will take hold of them; They will 18writhe like a woman in labor, They will look at one another in astonishment, Their faces aflame.
9 Behold, 19the day of the LORD is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning anger, To make the land a desolation; And He will exterminate its sinners from it.
10 For the 20stars of heaven and their constellations Will not flash forth their light; The 21sun will be dark when it rises And the moon will not shed its light.
11 Thus I will 22punish the world for its evil And the 23wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the 24arrogance of the proud And abase the 25haughtiness of the 26ruthless.
12 I will make mortal man 27scarcer than pure gold And mankind than the 28gold of Ophir.
13 Therefore * I will make the 29heavens tremble, And 30the earth will be shaken from its place At the fury of the LORD of hosts In 31the day of His burning anger.
14 And it will be that like a hunted gazelle, Or like 32sheep with none to gather them, They will each turn to his own people, And each one flee to his own land.
15 Anyone who is found will be 33thrust through, And anyone who is captured will fall by the sword.
16 Their 34little ones also will be dashed to pieces Before their eyes; Their houses will be plundered And their wives ravished.

Babylon Will Fall to the Medes

17 Behold, I am going to 35stir up the Medes against them, Who will not value silver or 36take pleasure in gold.
18 And their bows will mow down the 37young men, They will not even have compassion on the fruit of the womb, Nor will their 38eye pity children.
19 And 39Babylon, the 40beauty of kingdoms, the glory of the Chaldeans' pride, Will be as when God 41overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
20 It will 42never * be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation; Nor will the 43Arab pitch his tent there, Nor will shepherds make their flocks lie down there.
21 But 44desert creatures will lie down there, And their houses will be full of owls; Ostriches also will live there, and shaggy goats will frolic there.
22 Hyenas will howl in their fortified towers And jackals in their luxurious 45palaces. Her fateful time also will soon come And her 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 45

  • 1. Isaiah 14:28; Isaiah 15:1
  • 2. Isaiah 13:19; Isaiah 14:4; Isaiah 47:1-15; Jeremiah 24:1; Jeremiah 50:1-51:64; Matthew 1:11; Revelation 14:8
  • 3. Isaiah 1:1
  • 4. Isaiah 5:26; Jeremiah 50:2
  • 5. Jeremiah 51:25
  • 6. Isaiah 10:32; Isaiah 19:16
  • 7. Isaiah 45:1-3; Jeremiah 51:58
  • 8. Joel 3:11
  • 9. Isaiah 5:30; Isaiah 17:12; Joel 3:14
  • 10. Isaiah 5:26; Isaiah 7:18
  • 11. Isaiah 10:5
  • 12. Isaiah 24:1
  • 13. Isaiah 2:12; Isaiah 10:3; Isaiah 13:9; Isaiah 34:2, 8; Isaiah 61:2; Ezekiel 30:3; Amos 5:18; Zephaniah 1:7
  • 14. Isaiah 10:25; Isaiah 14:23; Joel 1:15
  • 15. Ezekiel 7:17
  • 16. Isaiah 19:1; Ezekiel 21:7; Nahum 2:10
  • 17. 2 Kings 19:26; Isaiah 21:3; Jeremiah 46:5
  • 18. Isaiah 26:17; Jeremiah 4:31; John 16:21
  • 19. Isaiah 13:6
  • 20. Isaiah 5:30; Ezekiel 32:7; Joel 2:10; Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24; Luke 21:25; Revelation 6:13; Revelation 8:12
  • 21. Isaiah 24:23; Isaiah 50:3; Ezekiel 32:7; Acts 2:20; Revelation 6:12
  • 22. Isaiah 26:21
  • 23. Isaiah 3:11; Isaiah 11:4; Isaiah 14:5
  • 24. Isaiah 2:11; Isaiah 23:9; Daniel 5:22, 23
  • 25. Jeremiah 48:29
  • 26. Isaiah 25:3; Isaiah 29:5, 20
  • 27. Isaiah 4:1; Isaiah 6:11, 12
  • 28. 1 Kings 9:28; Job 28:16; Psalms 45:9
  • 29. Isaiah 34:4; Isaiah 51:6
  • 30. Psalms 18:7; Isaiah 2:19; Isaiah 24:1, 19, 20; Haggai 2:6
  • 31. Lamentations 1:12
  • 32. 1 Kings 22:17; Matthew 9:36; Mark 6:34; 1 Peter 2:25
  • 33. Isaiah 14:19; Jeremiah 50:25; Jeremiah 51:3, 4
  • 34. Psalms 137:8, 9; Isaiah 13:18; Isaiah 14:21; Hosea 10:14; Nahum 3:10
  • 35. Jeremiah 51:11; Daniel 5:28
  • 36. Proverbs 6:34, 35
  • 37. 2 Kings 8:12; 2 Chronicles 36:17
  • 38. Ezekiel 9:5, 10
  • 39. Isaiah 21:9; Isaiah 48:14
  • 40. Daniel 4:30; Rev 18:11-16, 19, 21
  • 41. Genesis 19:24; Deuteronomy 29:23; Jeremiah 49:18; Amos 4:11
  • 42. Isaiah 14:23; Isaiah 34:10-15; Jeremiah 51:37-43
  • 43. 2 Chronicles 17:11
  • 44. Isaiah 34:11-15; Zephaniah 2:14; Revelation 18:2
  • 45. Isaiah 25:2; Isaiah 32:14; Isaiah 34:13

Footnotes 12

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

New American Standard Bible Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, California.  All rights reserved.