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Isaiah 21 American Standard Version (ASV)

21 The [a]burden of the wilderness of the sea.

As whirlwinds in the South sweep through, it cometh from the wilderness, from a terrible land. A [b]grievous vision is declared unto me; the treacherous man dealeth treacherously, and the destroyer destroyeth. Go up, O Elam; besiege, O Media; all the sighing thereof [c]have I made to cease. Therefore are my loins filled with anguish; pangs have taken hold upon me, as the pangs of a woman in travail: I am [d]pained so that I cannot hear; I am dismayed so that I cannot see. My heart [e]fluttereth, horror hath affrighted me; the twilight that I desired hath been turned into trembling unto me. They prepare the table, they [f]set the watch, they eat, they drink: rise up, ye princes, anoint the shield. For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman; let him declare what he seeth: [g]and when he seeth [h]a troop, [i]horsemen in pairs, [j]a troop of asses, [k]a troop of camels, he shall hearken diligently with much heed. And he cried as a lion: O Lord, I stand continually upon the watch-tower in the day-time, and am set in my ward [l]whole nights; and, behold, here [m]cometh a troop of men, [n]horsemen in pairs. And he answered and said, Fallen, fallen is Babylon; and all the graven images of her gods are broken unto the ground.

10 O thou my threshing, and the [o]grain of my floor! that which I have heard from Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel, have I declared unto you.

11 The [p]burden of Dumah.

One calleth unto me out of Seir, Watchman, [q]what of the night? Watchman, [r]what of the night? 12 The watchman said, The morning [s]cometh, and also the night: if ye will inquire, inquire ye: [t]turn ye, come.

13 The [u]burden upon Arabia.

In the [v]forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye caravans of Dedanites. 14 Unto him that [w]was thirsty they brought water; [x]the inhabitants of the land of Tema did meet the fugitives with their bread. 15 For they fled away 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, all the glory of Kedar shall fail; 17 and the residue of the number of the archers, the mighty men of the children of Kedar, shall be few; for Jehovah, the God of Israel, hath spoken it.


  1. Isaiah 21:1 Or, oracle concerning
  2. Isaiah 21:2 Or, hard
  3. Isaiah 21:2 Or, will I make
  4. Isaiah 21:3 Hebrew bent.
  5. Isaiah 21:4 Hebrew wandereth.
  6. Isaiah 21:5 Or, spread the carpets
  7. Isaiah 21:7 Or, and he saw . . . and he hearkened
  8. Isaiah 21:7 Or, a chariot. Or, chariots
  9. Isaiah 21:7 Or, a pair of horsemen
  10. Isaiah 21:7 Or, a chariot. Or, chariots
  11. Isaiah 21:7 Or, a chariot. Or, chariots
  12. Isaiah 21:8 Or, every night
  13. Isaiah 21:9 Or, come chariots of men
  14. Isaiah 21:9 Or, a pair of horsemen
  15. Isaiah 21:10 Hebrew son.
  16. Isaiah 21:11 Or, oracle concerning
  17. Isaiah 21:11 Or, what hour
  18. Isaiah 21:11 Or, what hour
  19. Isaiah 21:12 Or, is come
  20. Isaiah 21:12 Or, come ye again
  21. Isaiah 21:13 Or, oracle
  22. Isaiah 21:13 Or, thickets
  23. Isaiah 21:14 Or, is thirsty bring ye
  24. Isaiah 21:14 Or, as otherwise read, ye inhabitants of the land of Tema, meet

Isaiah 21 New International Version (NIV)

A Prophecy Against Babylon

21 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.

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.

At this my body is racked with pain,
    pangs seize me, like those of a woman in labor;
I am staggered by what I hear,
    I am bewildered by what I see.
My heart falters,
    fear makes me tremble;
the twilight I longed for
    has become a horror to me.

They set the tables,
    they spread the rugs,
    they eat, they drink!
Get up, you officers,
    oil the shields!

This is what the Lord says to me:

“Go, post a lookout
    and have him report what he sees.
When he sees chariots
    with teams of horses,
riders on donkeys
    or riders on camels,
let him be alert,
    fully alert.”

And the lookout[a] shouted,

“Day after day, my lord, I stand on the watchtower;
    every night I stay at my post.
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!’”

10 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.

A Prophecy Against Edom

11 A prophecy against Dumah[b]:

Someone calls to me from Seir,
    “Watchman, what is left of the night?
    Watchman, what is left of the night?”
12 The watchman replies,
    “Morning is coming, but also the night.
If you would ask, then ask;
    and come back yet again.”

A Prophecy Against Arabia

13 A prophecy against Arabia:

You caravans of Dedanites,
    who camp in the thickets of Arabia,
14     bring water for the thirsty;
you who live in Tema,
    bring food for the fugitives.
15 They flee from the sword,
    from the drawn sword,
from the bent bow
    and from the heat of battle.

16 This is what the Lord says to me: “Within one year, as a servant bound by contract would count it, all the splendor of Kedar will come to an end. 17 The survivors of the archers, the warriors of Kedar, will be few.” The Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken.


  1. Isaiah 21:8 Dead Sea Scrolls and Syriac; Masoretic Text A lion
  2. Isaiah 21:11 Dumah, a wordplay on Edom, means silence or stillness.
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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