Isa 13:1-22. The Thirteenth
through Twenty-third Chapters Contain Prophecies as to Foreign
Fourteenth, and Twenty-seventh Chapters as to Babylon and
The predictions as to foreign nations are for the
sake of the covenant people, to preserve them from despair, or reliance
on human confederacies, and to strengthen their faith in God: also in
order to extirpate narrow-minded nationality: God is Jehovah to Israel,
not for Israel's sake alone, but that He may be thereby Elohim to the
nations. These prophecies are in their right chronological place, in
the beginning of Hezekiah's reign; then the nations of Western Asia, on
the Tigris and Euphrates, first assumed a most menacing aspect.
1. burden—weighty or
mournful prophecy [Grotius].
Otherwise, simply, the prophetical declaration, from a
Hebrew root to put forth with the voice anything, as in
Nu 23:7 [Maurer].
2. Lift … banner—(Isa 5:26;
the high mountain—rather, "a
bare (literally, "bald," that is, without trees) mountain"; from it
the banner could be seen afar off, so as to rally together the peoples
unto them—unto the Medes (Isa 13:17), the assailants of Babylon. It is
remarkable that Isaiah does not foretell here the Jews'
captivity in Babylon, but presupposes that event, and throws
himself beyond, predicting another event still more
future, the overthrow of the city of Israel's oppressors. It was now
one hundred seventy-four years before the event.
shake … hand—beckon with
the hand—wave the hand to direct the nations to march against
nobles—Babylonian. Rather, in a bad
sense, tyrants; as in Isa 14:5, "rulers" in parallelism to "the
wicked"; and Job 21:28
3. sanctified ones—the Median and
Persian soldiers solemnly set apart by Me for the destruction of
Babylon, not inwardly "sanctified," but designated to
fulfil God's holy purpose (Jer 51:27, 28; Joe 3:9,
11; where the Hebrew
for prepare war is "sanctify" war).
for mine anger—to execute it.
rejoice in my highness—"Those who are
made to triumph for My honor" [Horsley]. The heathen Medes could not be said to
"rejoice in God's highness" Maurer
translates, "My haughtily exulting ones" (Zep 3:11); a special characteristic of the
Persians [Herodotus,1.88]. They
rejoiced in their own highness, but it was His that they
were unconsciously glorifying.
4. the mountains—namely, which separate
Media and Assyria, and on one of which the banner to rally the hosts is
supposed to be reared.
tumultuous noise—The Babylonians are
vividly depicted as hearing some unwonted sound like the din of a host;
they try to distinguish the sounds, but can only perceive a
nations—Medes, Persians, and Armenians
composed Cyrus' army.
5. They—namely, "Jehovah," and the
armies which are "the weapons of His indignation."
far country—Media and Persia,
stretching to the far north and east.
end of heaven—the far east (Ps 19:6).
destroy—rather, "to seize" [Horsley].
6. day of the Lord—day of His vengeance
on Babylon (Isa 2:12).
Type of the future "day of wrath" (Re 6:17).
destruction—literally, "a devastating
from the Almighty—not from mere man;
therefore irresistible. "Almighty," Hebrew, Shaddai.
7. faint … melt—So Jer 50:43; compare Jos 7:5. Babylon was taken by surprise on the
night of Belshazzar's impious feast (Da 5:30). Hence the sudden fainting and
melting of hearts.
8. pangs—The Hebrew means also a
"messenger." Horsley, therefore, with
the Septuagint translates, "The heralds (who bring word
of the unexpected invasion) are terrified." Maurer agrees with English Version,
literally, "they shall take hold of pangs and sorrows."
woman … travaileth—(1Th 5:3).
amazed—the stupid, bewildered gaze of
faces … flames—"their visages
have the livid hue of flame" [Horsley];
with anguish and indignation.
9. cruel—not strictly, but
unsparingly just; opposed to mercy. Also answering to the
cruelty (in the strict sense) of Babylon towards others (Isa 14:17) now about to be visited on itself.
the land—"the earth" [Horsley]. The language of Isa 13:9-13 can only primarily and
partially apply to Babylon; fully and exhaustively, the
judgments to come, hereafter, on the whole earth. Compare Isa
13:10 with Mt 24:29; Re 8:12.
The sins of Babylon, arrogancy (Isa 13:11; Isa 14:11;
47:7, 8), cruelty, false
worship (Jer 50:38),
persecution of the people of God (Isa 47:6), are peculiarly characteristic of the
Antichristian world of the latter days (Da 11:32-37;
Re 17:3, 6; 18:6, 7, 9-14, 24).
10. stars, &c.—figuratively for
anarchy, distress, and revolutions of kingdoms (Isa 34:4; Joe 2:10; Eze 32:7, 8; Am 8:9; Re
6:12-14). There may be a
literal fulfilment finally, shadowed forth under this
fool," or "impious one"; applied to the constellation Orion,
which was represented as an impious giant (Nimrod deified, the founder
of Babylon) chained to the sky. See on Job
11. world—the impious of the
world (compare Isa 11:4).
arrogancy—Babylon's besetting sin
the terrible—rather, tyrants [Horsley].
12. man … precious—I will so cut
off Babylon's defenders, that a single man shall be as rare and
precious as the finest gold.
13. Image for mighty revolutions (Isa 24:19; 34:4; Hab 3:6, 10; Hag 2:6, 7; Re
roe—gazelle; the most timid and easily
no man taketh up—sheep defenseless,
without a shepherd (Zec 13:7).
every man … to his own
people—The "mingled peoples" of foreign lands shall flee out
of her (Jer 50:16, 28, 37; 51:9).
15. found—in the city.
joined—"intercepted" [Maurer]. "Every one that has withdrawn
himself," namely, to hide in the houses [Gesenius].
16. (Ps 137:8, 9).
17. Medes—(Isa 21:2;
Jer 51:11, 28). At that time
they were subject to Assyria; subsequently Arbaces, satrap of Media,
revolted against the effeminate Sardanapalus, king of Assyria,
destroyed Nineveh, and became king of Media, in the ninth century B.C.
not regard silver—In vain will one try
to buy his life from them for a ransom. The heathen Xenophon (Cyropædia, 5,1,10) represents
Cyrus as attributing this characteristic to the Medes, disregard of
riches. A curious confirmation of this prophecy.
18. bows—in the use of which the
Persians were particularly skilled.
19. glory of kingdoms—(Isa
14:4; 47:5; Jer 51:41).
beauty of …
excellency—Hebrew, "the glory of the pride" of the
Chaldees; it was their glory and boast.
as … Gomorrah—as utterly (Jer 49:18; 50:40; Am 4:11). Taken by Cyrus, by clearing out the
canal made for emptying the superfluous waters of the Euphrates, and
directing the river into this new channel, so that he was able to enter
the city by the old bed in the night.
20. Literally fulfilled.
neither … Arabian pitch tent—Not
only shall it not be a permanent residence, but not even a
temporary resting-place. The Arabs, through dread of evil
spirits, and believing the ghost of Nimrod to haunt it, will not pass
the night there (compare Isa 13:21).
neither … shepherds—The region
was once most fertile; but owing to the Euphrates being now no longer
kept within its former channels, it has become a stagnant marsh, unfit
for flocks; and on the wastes of its ruins (bricks and cement) no grass
21. wild beasts—Hebrew, tsiyim,
animals dwelling in arid wastes. Wild cats, remarkable for their howl
doleful creatures—"howling beasts,"
literally, "howlings" [Maurer].
owls—rather, "ostriches"; a timorous
creature, delighting in solitary deserts and making a hideous noise
man, half goat—believed by the Arabs to haunt these ruins;
probably animals of the goat-ape species [Vitringa]. Devil-worshippers, who
dance amid the ruins on a certain night [J. Wolff].
22. wild beasts of the islands—rather,
"jackals"; called by the Arabs "sons of howling"; an animal midway
between a fox and a wolf [Bochart and
cry—rather, "answer," "respond" to
each other, as wolves do at night, producing a most dismal effect.
dragons—serpents of various species,
which hiss and utter dolorous sounds. Fable gave them wings, because
they stand with much of the body elevated and then dart swiftly. Maurer understands here another species of
her time … near—though one
hundred seventy-four years distant, yet "near" to Isaiah, who is
supposed to be speaking to the Jews as if now captives in
Babylon (Isa 14:1, 2).