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Isaiah 21 (Babylon, Edom, Arabia)

Isaiah's next oracle is for Babylon.



Isaiah calls them the wilderness of the sea. Ryrie notes that refers to the plains it was built on. MacArthur specifies that the area is near the Persian Gulf and very fertile.

Very ominous opening:

As windstorms in the Negev sweep on, it comes from the wilderness, from a terrifying land. A harsh vision has been shown to me; the treacherous one still deals treacherously, and the destroyer still destroys. Go up, Elam (Persia), lay siege, Media; I have made an end of all the groaning she has caused.

Isaiah 21: 1b-2

These sandstorms that come up in the Negev are know to be sudden and very ferocious.

Isiah goes on to preface this scary oracle by stating that it makes his loins full of anguish; pains like a woman in labor. Deaf by bewilderment and blind by terror. Horror. Trembling.

Needless to say, this isn't the introduction you want from a prophet about to provide an oracle to you from the living God. It also says something about Isaiah. He wasn't some bloodthirsty, vengeful prophet. These visions left him affected in a very personal and sympathetic way.

Verses 5 and 6 seem to describe the Babylonians laying out a feast when they should have been on the defensive. So God tells Isaiah's people to be on the lookout and they learn that Babylon fell. The Ryrie notes that this comes to pass in Danial 5 under Belshazzar, one son of Nebuchadnezzar, on the night he brought out the stolen Temple instruments to use as serving dishes for his drunken feast.

Persia was already outside Babylon's gates ready to pounce. They defeat Babylon in 539 B.C., according to MacArthur.

Verses 9 and 10 tell us that when Babylon falls all of the images of her gods are shattered on the ground. selling their soul to the enemy through perversion and child murder didn't have the payoff they expected.


Just two verses, 11 and 12. I, honestly, don't know how to interpret this one on my own. I read the Ryrie footnote interpretation; and it sounds good. But I cannot verify it with my own reading. The two verses are like poetry or song lyrics that can be read a variety of ways.

Someone calls to a watchman from Seir (Edom). They are asking (twice) how far gone is the night. The watchman replies that the Morning comes, but also the night. Then tells them to inquire again later.

Ryrie takes it to mean that Morning will come to Israel; but night to Edom. MacArthur and Wiersbe take it to mean that there will be morning for Israel when Assyria is defeated; but night for Israel when the Babylonians come. So it does seem that it is open for interpretation.


This oracle is 5 verses.

"In the thickets of Arabia you must spend the night." He then tells them to bring water and give bread to the fugitive. These fugitives have fled from the swords in battle.

The Lord goes on to tell Isaiah that in one year, the splendor of Kedar will terminate. Few will survive.


Admittedly, I'm not feeling great today. I don't see a ton of application for myself. I'll be interested to see what the commentators have to add.

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