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Isaiah 21:1-3 New English Translation (NET Bible)

The Lord Will Judge Babylon

21 This is an oracle[a] about the wilderness by the Sea:[b]
Like strong winds blowing in the south,[c]
one invades from the wilderness,
from a land that is feared.
I have received a distressing message:[d]
“The deceiver deceives,
the destroyer destroys.
Attack, you Elamites!
Lay siege, you Medes!
I will put an end to all the groaning.”[e]
For this reason my stomach churns;[f]
cramps overwhelm me
like the contractions of a woman in labor.
I am disturbed[g] by what I hear,
horrified by what I see.


  1. Isaiah 21:1 tn See note at Isa 13:1.
  2. Isaiah 21:1 sn The phrase is quite cryptic, at least to the modern reader. Verse 9 seems to indicate that this message pertains to Babylon. Southern Mesopotamia was known as the Sealand in ancient times, because of its proximity to the Persian Gulf. Perhaps the reference to Babylon as a “wilderness” foreshadows the destruction that would overtake the city, making it like an uninhabited wilderness.
  3. Isaiah 21:1 tn Or “in the Negev” (NASB).
  4. Isaiah 21:2 tn Heb “a severe revelation has been related to me.”
  5. Isaiah 21:2 sn This is often interpreted to mean “all the groaning” that Babylon has caused others.
  6. Isaiah 21:3 tn Heb “my waist is filled with shaking [or “anguish”].”
  7. Isaiah 21:3 tn Or perhaps, “bent over [in pain]”; cf. NRSV “I am bowed down.”
New English Translation (NET)

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