21 This is God’s message concerning Babylon:[a]
Disaster is roaring down upon you from the terrible desert, like a whirlwind sweeping from the Negeb. 2 I see an awesome vision: oh, the horror of it all! God is telling me what he is going to do. I see you plundered and destroyed. Elamites and Medes will take part in the siege. Babylon will fall, and the groaning of all the nations she enslaved will end. 3 My stomach constricts and burns with pain; sharp pangs of horror are upon me, like the pangs of a woman giving birth to a child. I faint when I hear what God is planning; I am terrified, blinded with dismay. 4 My mind reels; my heart races; I am gripped by awful fear. All rest at night—so pleasant once—is gone; I lie awake, trembling.
5 Look! They are preparing a great banquet! They load the tables with food; they pull up their chairs[b] to eat. . . . Quick, quick, grab your shields and prepare for battle! You are being attacked!*
6-7 Meanwhile (in my vision)[c] the Lord had told me, “Put a watchman on the city wall to shout out what he sees. When he sees riders in pairs on donkeys and camels,* tell him, ‘This is it!’”
8-9 So I put the watchman on the wall, and at last he shouted, “Sir, day after day and night after night I have been here at my post. Now at last—look! Here come riders in pairs!”
Then I heard a voice shout out, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the idols of Babylon lie broken on the ground.”
10 O my people, threshed and winnowed, I have told you all that the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, has said.
11 This is God’s message to Edom:[d]
Someone from among you keeps calling, calling to me: “Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? How much time is left?” 12 The watchman replies, “Your judgment day is dawning now. Turn again to God, so that I can give you better news. Seek for him, then come and ask again!”
13 This is God’s message concerning Arabia:
O caravans from Dedan, you will hide in the deserts of Arabia. 14 O people of Tema, bring food and water to these weary fugitives! 15 They have fled from drawn swords and sharp arrows and the terrors of war! 16 “But a long year from now,”[e] says the Lord, “the great power of their enemy,* the mighty tribe of Kedar, will end. 17 Only a few of its stalwart archers will survive.” The Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken.
- Isaiah 21:1 Babylon, implied in v. 9.
- Isaiah 21:5 pull up their chairs, literally, “spread out the rugs.” You are being attacked. More details of the feast are seen in Daniel 5, as this prophecy was fulfilled when Cyrus captured the city.
- Isaiah 21:6 in my vision, implied. riders in pairs on donkeys and camels, literally, “a troop, horsemen in pairs, riders on asses, riders on camels.” Possibly the meaning is that the asses and camels were paired for the attack. The city fell to the Medes and Persians, perhaps represented by these paired riders.
- Isaiah 21:11 Edom, literally, “Dumah.”
- Isaiah 21:16 But a long year from now. The Dead Sea manuscript reads, “within three years, according to the year of a hireling,” like 16:14. the great power of their enemy, implied.