1 THE MOURNFUL, inspired prediction (a burden to be lifted up) concerning the Desert of the Sea [which was Babylon after great dams were raised to control the waters of the Euphrates River which overflowed it like a sea–and would do so again]: As whirlwinds in the South (the Negeb) sweep through, so it [the judgment of God by hostile armies] comes from the desert, from a terrible land.
2 A hard and grievous vision is declared to me: the treacherous dealer deals treacherously, and the destroyer destroys. Go up, O Elam! Besiege, O Media! All the sighing [caused by Babylon's ruthless oppressions] I will cause to cease [says the Lord]. [Isa. 11:11; 13:17.]
3 Therefore are my [Isaiah's] loins filled with anguish, pangs have seized me like the pangs of a woman in childbirth; I am bent and pained so that I cannot hear, I am dismayed so that I cannot see.
4 My mind reels and wanders, horror terrifies me. [In my mind's eye I am at the feast of Belshazzar. I see the defilement of the golden vessels taken from God's temple, I watch the handwriting appear on the wall–I know that Babylon's great king is to be slain.] The twilight I looked forward to with pleasure has been turned into fear and trembling for me. [Dan. 5.]
5 They prepare the table, they spread the rugs, [and having] set the watchers [the revelers take no other precaution], they eat, they drink. Arise, you princes, and oil your shields [for your deadly foe is at the gates]!
6 For thus has the Lord said to me: Go, set [yourself as] a watchman, let him declare what he sees.
7 And when he sees a troop, horsemen in pairs, a troop of donkeys, and a troop of camels, he shall listen diligently, very diligently.
8 And [the watchman] cried like a lion, O Lord, I stand continually on the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my station every night.
9 And see! Here comes a troop of men and chariots, horsemen in pairs! And he [the watchman] tells [what it foretells]: Babylon has fallen, has fallen! And all the graven images of her gods lie shattered on the ground [in my vision]!
10 O you my threshed and winnowed ones [my own people the Jews, who must be trodden down by Babylon], that which I have heard from the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, I have [joyfully] announced to you [Babylon is to fall]!
11 The mournful, inspired prediction (a burden to be lifted up) concerning Dumah (Edom): One calls to me from Seir (Edom), Watchman, what of the night? [How far is it spent? How long till morning?] Guardian, what of the night?
12 The watchman said, The morning comes, but also the night. [Another time, if Edom earnestly wishes to know] if you will inquire [of me], inquire; return, come again.
13 The mournful, inspired prediction (a burden to be lifted up) concerning Arabia: In the forests and thickets of Arabia you shall lodge, O you caravans of Dedanites [from northern Arabia].
14 To the thirsty [Dedanites] bring water, O inhabitants of the land of Tema [in Arabia]; meet the fugitive with bread [suitable] for him.
15 For they have fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, from the bent bow, and from the grievousness of war [the press of battle].
16 For the Lord has said this to me, Within a year, according to the years of a hireling [who will work no longer than was agreed], all the glory of Kedar [an Arabian tribe] will fail.
17 And the remainder of the number of archers and their bows, the mighty men of the sons of Kedar, will be diminished and few; for the Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken it.