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Frameworks: Isaiah 21: Against Babylon, against Edom & against Arabia



1.2.2 Second wave Ch.21-23

Ch.21 Against Babylon, against Edom & against Arabia

Ch.22 – Against Jerusalem

Ch.23 – Against Tyre

This Chapter:

v.1-10 Against Elam, Media & Babylon, a warning

v.11,12 A brief word against Edom

v.13-17 A brief word against Arabia


[Introductory Comment: This and the following two chapters vary greatly in style from chapters 13 to 20 that were all straight forward warnings of what was soon to come. These three chapters start by being full of personal pronouns – I, me, my [of the Lord and the prophet – ch.21] that make them very much more personal, not merely declaratory warnings of the previous chapters. In chapters 22 & 23 the pronouns are ‘you' and ‘your' again personal words rather than the blunt information of the previous chapters.

Babylon is not mentioned until v.9. The land of Elam [v.2] adjacent to Babylonia, had a coastline abutting the Persian Gulf – hence v.1 ‘Desert by the Sea'. Media [v.2] lay to the north of Babylonia. These are warnings about the fall of these three peoples [v.1-10]. This is followed by a very brief warning that something is about to happen in Edom [v.11,12] and then to the desert tribes of Arabia in the south [v.13-17]. Again rather than specific words of warning from heaven over these peoples, this chapter comes more as prophetic anguish and anxiety that Isaiah is feeling about what is coming to the whole region.]



v.1-10 Against Elam, Media & Babylon, a warning


v.1 (The word comes against Elam – see above – of an invader) A prophecy against the Desert by the Sea:

Like whirlwinds sweeping through the southland,
    an invader comes from the desert,
    from a land of terror.

v.2 (The invader will pillage these lands) A dire vision has been shown to me:
    the traitor betrays, the looter takes loot.
Elam, attack! Media, lay siege!
    I will bring to an end all the groaning she caused.

v.3 (The prophet senses the awfulness of this) At this my body is racked with pain,
    pangs seize me, like those of a woman in labour;
I am staggered by what I hear,
    I am bewildered by what I see.
v.4  My heart falters,
    fear makes me tremble;
the twilight I longed for
    has become a horror to me.

v.5 (They appeared to be at ease and comfort) They set the tables,
    they spread the rugs,
    they eat, they drink!
Get up, you officers,
    oil the shields!

v.6 (But the Lord tells them to be on the lookout) This is what the Lord says to me:

‘Go, post a lookout
    and let him report what he sees.
v.7 (When they see an approaching army they should alert) When he sees chariots
    with teams of horses,
riders on donkeys
    or riders on camels,
let him be alert,
    fully alert.'

v.8 (The lookouts ease will be shattered) And the lookout shouted,

‘Day after day, my lord, I stand on the watchtower;
    every night I stay at my post.
v.9 (He realises next door Babylon has fallen) Look, here comes a man in a chariot
    with a team of horses.
And he gives back the answer:
    “Babylon has fallen, has fallen!
All the images of its gods
    lie shattered on the ground!”'

v.10 (This is Isaiah's insight) My people who are crushed on the threshing-floor,
    I tell you what I have heard
from the Lord Almighty,
    from the God of Israel.



v.11,12 A brief word against Edom


v.11 (A foreboding of the peace of the night about to be shattered) A prophecy against Dumah: [in Edom]

Someone calls to me from Seir, [again in Edom to the south-east of the Dead Sea]
    ‘Watchman, what is left of the night?
    Watchman, what is left of the night?'
(There is a feeling of uncertainty about something about to happen) The watchman replies,
    ‘Morning is coming, but also the night.
If you would ask, then ask;
    and come back yet again.'



v.13-17 A brief word against Arabia


v.13 (The spotlight turns on the south) A prophecy against Arabia:

You caravans of Dedanites,
    who camp in the thickets of Arabia,
v.14  bring water for the thirsty;
you who live in Tema,
[in northern Saudi Arabia]
    bring food for the fugitives.
(Fugitives will flee from an invader) They flee from the sword,
    from the drawn sword,
from the bent bow
    and from the heat of battle.

v.16 (Downfall is coming to their areas within a year) This is what the Lord says to me: ‘Within one year, as a servant bound by contract would count it, all the splendour of Kedar [in the north-western Arabian desert] will come to an end.

v.17 (Few of their own warriors will be left) The survivors of the archers, the warriors of Kedar, will be few.' The Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken.



Continue to Chapter 22