21 This is a message about a desert beside the sea:[b]
Enemies from a hostile nation attack like a whirlwind from the Southern Desert. 2 What a horrible vision was shown to me— a vision of betrayal and destruction. Tell Elam and Media[c] to surround and attack the Babylonians. The Lord has sworn to end the suffering they caused.
3 I’m in terrible pain like a woman giving birth. I’m shocked and hurt so much that I can’t hear or see. 4 My head spins; I’m horrified! Early evening, my favorite time, has become a nightmare.
5 In Babylon the high officials were having a feast. They were eating and drinking, when someone shouted, “Officers, take your places! Grab your shields.”
6 The Lord said to me, “Send guards to find out what’s going on. 7 When they see cavalry troops and columns of soldiers on donkeys and camels, tell them to be ready!”
8 Then a guard[d] said, “I have stood day and night on this watchtower, Lord. 9 Now I see column after column of cavalry troops.”
Right away someone shouted, “Babylon has fallen! Every idol in the city lies broken on the ground.”
10 Then I said, “My people, you have suffered terribly, but I have a message for you from the Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel.”
How Much Longer?
11 This is a message about Dumah: From the country of Seir,[e] someone shouts to me, “Guard, how much longer before daylight?”
12 From my guard post, I answered, “Morning will soon be here, but night will return. If you want to know more, come back later.”
13 This is a message for Arabs who live in the barren desert in the region of Dedan:[f] You must order your caravans 14 to bring water for those who are thirsty. You people of Tema[g] must bring food for the hungry refugees. 15 They are worn out and weary from being chased by enemies with swords and arrows.
16 The Lord said to me:
A year from now the glory of the people of Kedar[h] will all come to an end, just as a worker’s contract ends after a year. 17 Only a few of their warriors will be left with bows and arrows. This is a promise that I, the Lord God of Israel, have made.
21.1Babylonia: King Cyrus and his army of Medes and Persians captured the city of Babylon in 539 B.C.
21.1This. . . sea: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text. The prophet may be speaking of Babylonia as a desert, because of the terrible punishment God will bring on it. The southern part of Babylonia on the Persian Gulf was sometimes called “the land beside the sea.”
21.2Elam and Media: People from the Iranian highlands; the capital of Elam was Susa, in the hill country east of Babylon.
21.8guard: The Dead Sea Scrolls and one ancient translation; the Standard Hebrew Text has “lion.”
21.11Dumah. . . Seir: Dumah was an oasis in the Arabian desert. One ancient translation has “Edom,” which may be what is meant. Seir is a mountainous region of Edom southwest of the Dead Sea.
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