Isaiah 21- Punishment to Babylon

1 The burden of the desert of the sea. As whirlwinds in the south pass through; so it comes from the desert, from a terrible land.

Evidently, “desert of the sea” was a nickname for Babylon. This prophecy is to them.

2 A grievous vision is declared unto me; the treacherous dealer deals treacherously, and the spoiler spoils. Go up, O Elam: besiege, O Media; all the sighing thereof have I made to cease.

Elam is another name for Persia. This prophecy, remember, is given before even the Assyrians has conquered Israel. Years after they have punished Israel for her rebellion against God, Babylon will become a major power, defeat the Assyrians, and conquer Judah. Isaiah is prophesying some 100 years before it happens that Babylon will then be conquered by the Medes and Persians.

3 Therefore are my loins filled with pain: pangs have taken hold upon me, as the pangs of a woman that travaileth: I was bowed down at the hearing of it; I was dismayed at the seeing of it.

What Isaiah saw was terrifying.

4 My heart panted, fearfulness affrighted me: the night of my pleasure hath he turned into fear unto me.

He sees a party being turned into terror.

5 Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield.

The Babylonian nobles were in the middle of a party when the Medo/Persian army invaded the city. Isaiah is seeing their party interrupted by battle.

6 For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he sees.

The Babylonians had watchmen set on the wall. In fact, they were under siege by the Medes and Persians when Belshazzar decided to have his party. The Euphrates river flowed through the middle of the city, so the king thought there was no way anyone could conquer them. A siege was unimportant.

7 And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; and he hearkened diligently with much heed:

Belshazzar’s watchmen watched the Medes (who commonly used camels) and the Persians (who commonly used donkeys) as they worked to divert the river. Still, the city gate went down into the water and the army wouldn’t be able to pass.

8 And he cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights:

The watchman yells in surprise. Nothing new has happened. But suddenly the enemy is marching into the city. Someone left the gate open.

9 And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.

The chariot man yells the news that Babylon has fallen.

Actually, this entire prophecy was likely very confusing to those who first heard it. Babylon had been a major player in the region in the past, but the Assyrians had already put them down- hard. They are already defeated and fallen in the time of Isaiah. This happened under Nebuchadnezzar the first.

Daniel’s Nebuchadnezzar was the second king of Babylon by that name.

10 O my threshing, and the corn of my floor: that which I have heard of the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have I declared unto you.

This prophecy was likely very comforting to those in captivity to Babylon 100 years later. They knew what was going to happen to their captors.

Historians tell us of Gadatas and Gobryas, two great officers of the king of Babylon, that went over to Cyrus, and, being well acquainted with all the avenues of the city, led a party directly to the palace, where Belshazzar was killed.

11 The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, "Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?"

12 The watchman said, "The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come."

Not much in this, except that Edom (with Seir it’s capital city) is watching all that is going on.

13 The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye travelling companies of Dedanim.

Today’s Arabia doesn’t have forests, but the evidence is that at one time they were quite forested.

People are going to take refuge in Arabia.

14 The inhabitants of the land of Tema brought water to him that was thirsty, they prevented with their bread him that fled.

15 For they fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, and from the bent bow, and from the grievousness of war.

16 For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Within a year, according to the years of a hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail:

17 And the residue of the number of archers, the mighty men of the children of Kedar, shall be diminished: for the LORD God of Israel hath spoken it.

One year after this prophecy is given refuges from Kedar will flee to Arabia.