Isaiah 21
The fall of Babylonia#21.1 Babylonia: King Cyrus and his army of Medes and Persians captured the city of Babylon in 539 BC.
1This is a message about a desert beside the sea:#21.1 This…sea: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text. The prophet may be speaking of Babylonia as a desert, because of the terrible punishment God will bring on it. The southern part of Babylonia on the Persian Gulf was sometimes called “the land beside the sea”.
Enemies from a hostile nation
attack like a whirlwind
from the Southern Desert.
2What a horrible vision
was shown to me—
a vision of betrayal
and destruction.
Tell Elam and Media#21.2 Elam and Media: People from the Iranian highlands; the capital of Elam was Susa, in the hill country east of Babylon.
to surround and attack
the Babylonians.
The LORD has sworn to end
the suffering they caused.
3I'm in terrible pain
like a woman giving birth.
I'm shocked and hurt so much
that I can't hear or see.
4My head spins; I'm horrified!
Early evening, my favourite time,
has become a nightmare.
5In Babylon the high officials
were having a feast.
They were eating and drinking,
when someone shouted,
“Officers, take your places!
Grab your shields.”
6The LORD said to me,
“Send guards to find out
what's going on.
7When they see cavalry troops
and columns of soldiers
on donkeys and camels,
tell them to be ready!”
8Then a guard#21.8 guard: The Dead Sea Scrolls and one ancient translation; the Standard Hebrew Text has “lion”. said,
“I have stood day and night
on this watchtower, Lord.
9Now I see column after column#Rev 14.8; 18.2.
of cavalry troops.”
Straight away someone shouted,
“Babylon has fallen!
Every idol in the city
lies broken on the ground.”
10Then I said, “My people,
you have suffered terribly,
but I have a message for you
from the LORD All-Powerful,
the God of Israel.”
How much longer?
11This is a message about Dumah:
From the country of Seir,#21.11 Dumah…Seir: Dumah was an oasis in the Arabian desert. One ancient translation has “Edom”, which may be what is meant. Seir is a mountainous region of Edom south-west of the Dead Sea.
someone shouts to me,
“Guard, how much longer
before daylight?”
12From my guard post, I answered,
“Morning will soon be here,
but night will return.
If you want to know more,
come back later.”
13This is a message for Arabs
who live in the barren desert
in the region of Dedan:#21.13 Dedan: A region in north-west Arabia.
You must order your caravans
14to bring water for those
who are thirsty.
You people of Tema#21.14 Tema: A region in north Arabia.
must bring food
for the hungry refugees.
15They are worn out and weary
from being chased by enemies
with swords and arrows.
16The Lord said to me:
A year from now the glory of the people of Kedar#21.16 Kedar: A region in the Arabian desert. will all come to an end, just as a worker's contract ends after a year. 17Only a few of their warriors will be left with bows and arrows. This is a promise that I, the LORD God of Israel, have made.