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A Prophecy concerning Babylon

21 Here is a prophecy concerning Babylon, the Desert by the Sea:[a]

    As whirlwinds rushing in from the southland,
    an invader[b] comes in from the desert, from a land to be feared.
A terrifying revelation has been given to me:
    The betrayer betrays; the destroyer destroys.
    Arise, you Elamites![c] Lay siege you Medes![d]
    I will put an end
    to all the grief she brought to the nations.
There’s a churning deep inside me,
    like labor pains of a woman about to give birth.
    I’m too anguished by what I hear
    and too frightened by what I see.[e]
My mind is reeling; I’m filled with panic.
    I longed for twilight, but now I tremble through the night.[f]
I see them prepare the table and spread their rugs,
    then they eat and they drink.[g]
    Get up, you military officers! Anoint your shields[h] for battle!
For this is what the Lord said to me:
    “Go post a sentry and have him report what he sees.
When he sees them come with chariots
    and advancing warriors riding on horses, donkeys, and camels,
    let him be alert—extremely alert!”
Then the sentry cries out,[i]
    “I continually stand on this watchtower day after day
    for you, O Lord.
    I’m stationed at my post throughout the night.[j]
Look! Someone’s coming!
    It’s a man in a chariot with a team of horses.
    He shouts out, ‘Fallen, fallen, Babylon has fallen!
    All the idols of their gods lie shattered on the ground!’”
10 My people, lying crushed on the threshing floor,
    I declare to you what I have heard from the God of Israel,
    Yahweh, the Commander of Angel Armies.

A Prophecy concerning Dumah (Edom)

11 Here is a prophecy about Dumah:[k]
    Someone keeps calling me from the land of Edom,[l] saying,
    “Watchman, how much longer is the night?
    Watchman, how much longer is the night?”
12 The watchman answers,
    “Morning comes, but a dark night endures.[m]
    If you want to ask again,[n] then come back and ask.”

A Prophecy Concerning Arabia

13 A prophecy concerning Arabia:
    You caravans from Dedan,
    you will camp among the thickets in the desert land of Arabia.[o]
14 People of Tema,[p] come and bring water to the thirsty
    and bread for the fugitives.
15 For they have fled from the battle, from the drawn swords,
    from the bent bows, and from the weight of warfare.
16 This is what the Sovereign God said to me:
    “Within exactly one year,[q]
    all the splendor of Kedar[r] will end.
17 And all the weapons left of Kedar’s warriors will be few,
    for the Lord Yahweh, the God of Israel, has spoken.”


  1. Isaiah 21:1 That is, by the Persian Gulf.
  2. Isaiah 21:1 Or “disaster.”
  3. Isaiah 21:2 Elam (“hidden, concealed”) is the modern-day coastal area of Iran. Media (“middle-land”) is the north-central region of Iran. Both regions made up a major portion of the Persian empire, which destroyed Babylon in 539.
  4. Isaiah 21:2 It is as though God is commanding Babylon’s enemies to betray and destroy her. This prophecy was given to Isaiah two hundred years before it took place.
  5. Isaiah 21:3 Or “too anguished to hear, too frightened to see.”
  6. Isaiah 21:4 The wording of vv. 3–4 seems to indicate that Isaiah is brought into a state of prophetic ecstasy as he shook under the intensity of the weight of the prophetic utterance. See Scott, Vestus Testamentum 2, 1952, 278–282.
  7. Isaiah 21:5 It’s as though Isaiah sees prophetically into the room where Belshazzar is feasting, and Belshazzar has no clue his fall is imminent (Dan. 5).
  8. Isaiah 21:5 Or “Oil your shields.”
  9. Isaiah 21:8 Or “He cried out, ‘A lion!’” See Rev. 5:5.
  10. Isaiah 21:8 The New Testament ministry of a “watchman” is an intercessor. It is important that every church and every city has intercessors to stand on this watchtower day after day.
  11. Isaiah 21:11 Dumah is a location in northern Arabia and is a poetic term for Edom, an ancient kingdom situated south of the Dead Sea. Dumah means “stillness (of death)” and was the land of Esau’s descendants. See also Gen. 32:3; Num. 24:18. The Hebrew root word for Edom is “Adam.”
  12. Isaiah 21:11 Or “Seir,” a mountain in Edom. This is another name for the land inhabited by the Edomites. Seir means “hairy goat, faun, satyr” and is found thirty-nine times in the Old Testament.
  13. Isaiah 21:12 Or “Morning (a new day) is coming, but so is night (judgment).”
  14. Isaiah 21:12 Or “Turn (repent), then come back and ask again.”
  15. Isaiah 21:13 That is, they will be forced off the beaten path to hide from the invading Assyrians. The Dedanites were merchants who shipped their goods to Tyre (Phoenicia). Arabia, or “the land of Arabs,” means “sterility, darkened, intermixed, stranger, barren, or wild.” Arabia is mentioned six times in the Old Testament. See also Gal. 1:17.
  16. Isaiah 21:14 Tema was a descendant of Abraham (1 Chron. 1:28-30). Tema (modern-day Tayma) is also a city in northern Saudi Arabia. Tema means “sunny, good fortune, prosperity.”
  17. Isaiah 21:16 Or “Within one year according to the years of a hired worker.”
  18. Isaiah 21:16 Kedar, a son of Ishmael, means “dark skinned.” Kedar’s descendants settled in the Arabian desert. Kedar is likely a metonymy for northern Arabia.

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