Prophecies about Babylon
13 The [mournful, inspired] oracle ([a]a burden to be carried) concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw [in a prophetic vision]:
Lift up a signal banner on the bare mountain,
Summon them [the Medes and Persians] with a loud voice,
Wave the [beckoning] hand so that they may enter the doorways of the [Babylonian] nobles.
I [the Lord] have commanded My consecrated ones,
I have even called My great warriors,
My proudly exulting ones [the Medes and the Persians who triumph for My honor]—
To execute My anger.
A sound of tumult on the mountains,
Like that of many people!
A sound of the uproar of the kingdoms,
Of nations gathered together!
The Lord of hosts is mustering an army for battle.
They are coming from a distant country,
From the end of heaven [the farthest horizon]—
The Lord and the weapons of His indignation—
To destroy the whole land.(A)
Judgment on the Day of the Lord
Wail, for the day of the Lord is at hand!
It will come as [b]destruction from the [c]Almighty (All Sufficient One—Invincible God)!(B)
Therefore [d]all hands will fall limp,
And every man’s heart will melt.
They [of Babylon] will be shocked and terrified,
Pains and anguish will grip them;
They will be in pain like a woman in childbirth.
They will stare aghast and horrified at one another,
Their faces aflame [from the effects of the unprecedented warfare].
Listen carefully, the day of the Lord is coming,
Cruel, with wrath and raging anger,
To make the land a horror [of devastation];
And He shall exterminate its sinners from it.(C)
For the stars of heaven and their constellations
Will not flash with their light;
The sun will be dark when it rises,
And the moon will not shed its light.
In this way I will punish the world for its evil
And the wicked for their wickedness [their sin, their injustice, their wrongdoing];
I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud
And will abase the arrogance of the tyrant.
I will make mortal man more rare than fine gold,
And mankind [scarcer] than the pure gold of Ophir.
Therefore I will make the heavens tremble;
And the earth will be shaken from its place
At the wrath of the Lord of hosts
In the day of His burning anger.
And like the hunted gazelle,
Or like sheep that no man gathers,
Each [foreign resident] will turn [and go back] to his own people,
And each one flee to his own land.
Anyone who is found will be pierced through,
And anyone who is captured will fall by the sword.
Their children also will be smashed to pieces
Before their eyes;
Their houses will be looted
And their wives ravished.
Babylon Will Fall to the Medes
Listen carefully, I will put the Medes [in motion] against them,
Who have no regard for silver and do not delight in gold [and therefore cannot be bribed].
Their bows will cut down the young men [of Babylon];
They will take no pity on the fruit of the womb,
Their eyes will not look with compassion on the children.
And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the [e]Chaldeans’ pride,
Will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them.
Babylon will never be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation;
Nor will the Arab pitch his tent there,
Nor will the shepherds let their sheep lie down there.
But desert creatures will lie down there,
And their houses will be full of owls;
Ostriches also will live there, and [f]wild goats will dance there.
[g]Hyenas will howl in their castles,
And jackals in their luxurious palaces.
Babylon’s time has nearly come,
And her days will not be prolonged.
14 For the Lord will have compassion on Jacob (the captives in Babylon) and will again choose Israel, and will settle them in their own land. Foreigners (Gentiles) will join them [as proselytes] and will attach themselves to the house of Jacob (Israel).(D) 2 The peoples will take them along and bring them to their own place (Judea), and the house of Israel will possess them as an inheritance in the land of the Lord as male and female servants; and they will take captive those whose captives they have been, and they will rule over their [former] oppressors.(E)
3 And it will be in the day when the Lord gives you rest from your pain and turmoil and from the harsh service in which you have been enslaved, 4 that you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon, and say,
“How the oppressor has ceased [his insolence],
And how the fury has ceased!
“The Lord has broken the staff of the wicked,
The scepter of the [tyrant] rulers
Which used to strike the peoples in anger with incessant blows,
Which subdued and ruled the nations in wrath with unrelenting persecution.
“The whole earth is at rest and is quiet;
They break into shouts of joy.
“Even the cypress trees rejoice over you [kings of Babylon], even the cedars of Lebanon, saying,
‘Since you were laid low, no woodcutter comes up against us.’
“[h]Sheol below is excited about you to meet you when you come [you tyrant of Babylon];
It stirs up the spirits of the dead [to greet you], all the leaders of the earth;
It raises all the kings of the nations from their thrones [in astonishment at your fall].
“All of them will respond [tauntingly] and say to you,
‘You have become as weak as we are.
You have become like us.
‘Your pomp and magnificence have been brought down to Sheol,
Along with the music of your harps;
The maggots [which prey on the dead] are spread out under you [as a bed]
And worms are your covering [Babylonian rulers].’
“How you have fallen from heaven,
O [i]star of the morning [light-bringer], son of the dawn!
You have been cut down to the ground,
You who have weakened the nations [king of Babylon]!
“But you said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
In the remote parts of the north.
‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’
“But [in fact] you will be brought down to Sheol,
To the remote recesses of the pit (the region of the dead).
“Those who see you will gaze at you,
They will consider you, saying,
‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
Who shook kingdoms,
Who made the world like a wilderness
And overthrew its cities,
Who did not permit his prisoners to return home?’
“All the kings of the nations, all of them lie [dead] in glorious array,
Each one in his own sepulcher.
“But you [king of Babylon] have been cast out of your tomb (denied burial)
Like a rejected branch,
Clothed with the slain who are pierced by the sword,
Who go down to the stones of the pit [into which carcasses are thrown],
Like a dead body trampled [underfoot].
“You will not be united with them in burial,
Because you have destroyed your land,
You have slain your people.
May the descendants of evildoers never be named!
“Prepare a slaughtering place for his sons
Because of the wickedness [the sin, the injustice, the wrongdoing] of their fathers.
They must not rise and take possession of the earth,
And fill the face of the world with cities.”
22 “I will rise up against them,” says the Lord of hosts, “and will cut off from Babylon name and survivors, and son and grandson,” declares the Lord. 23 “I will also make Babylon a possession of the hedgehog and of [j]swamps of water, and I will sweep it away with the broom of destruction,” declares the Lord of hosts.
Judgment on Assyria
24 The Lord of hosts has sworn [an oath], saying, “Just as I have intended, so it has certainly happened, and just as I have planned, so it will stand— 25 to break the Assyrian in My land, and on My mountains I will trample him underfoot. Then the Assyrian’s [k]yoke will be removed from them (the people of Judah) and his burden removed from their shoulder. 26 This is the plan [of God] decided for the whole earth [regarded as conquered and put under tribute by Assyria]; and this is the hand [of God] that is stretched out over all the nations. 27 For the Lord of hosts has decided and planned, and who can annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?”
Judgment on Philistia
28 In the year that King Ahaz [of Judah] died this [mournful, inspired] oracle ([l]a burden to be carried) came:
“Do not rejoice, O Philistia, any of you,
Because the rod [of Judah] that struck you is broken;
For out of the serpent’s root will come a viper [King Hezekiah of Judah],
And its offspring will be a flying serpent.(F)
“The firstborn of the helpless [of Judah] will feed [on My meadows],
And the needy will lie down in safety;
But I will kill your root with famine,
And your survivors will be put to death.
“Howl, O gate; cry, O city!
Melt away, O Philistia, all of you;
For smoke comes out of the north,
And there is no straggler in his ranks and no one stands detached [in Hezekiah’s battalions].
“Then what answer will one give the messengers of the [Philistine] nation?
That the Lord has founded Zion,
And the afflicted of His people will seek and find refuge in it.”
Judgment on Moab
15 The [mournful, inspired] oracle ([m]a burden to be carried) concerning Moab:
Because in a night Ar of Moab is devastated and ruined;
Because in a night Kir of Moab is devastated and ruined.
They have gone up to the temple and to Dibon, to the high places to weep.
Moab wails over Nebo and over Medeba;
Everyone’s head is shaved, and every beard is cut off [in mourning].(G)
In their streets they have wrapped themselves with sackcloth;
On their [flat] housetops and in their open squares
Everyone is wailing, dissolved in tears.
Heshbon and Elealeh [cities claimed by Moab] cry out;
Their voice is heard as far as Jahaz.
Therefore the armed men of Moab cry out;
Moab’s soul trembles within him.
My heart cries out for Moab;
His fugitives are [fleeing] as far as Zoar and Eglath-shelishiyah.
For they go up the ascent of Luhith weeping;
For on the road to Horonaim they raise a cry of distress over their destruction.(H)
For the waters of Nimrim are desolate.
Indeed the grass is withered, the new growth dies;
There is no green thing.
Therefore the abundance which they have acquired and stored away
They carry off over the Brook of the Willows.
For the cry of distress has echoed around the territory of Moab;
The wailing goes as far as Eglaim and the mournful cry to Beer-elim.
For the waters of Dimon are full of blood;
Yet I will bring even more woes on Dimon—
A lion upon those of Moab who escape and upon the remnant of the land.
Prophecy of Moab’s Devastation
16 Send lambs to the ruler of the land [[n]you Moabites],
From Sela [that is, Petra in Edom] through the wilderness to the mountain of the Daughter of Zion (Jerusalem).(I)
For like wandering birds or scattered nestlings,
The daughters of Moab will be at the fords of the [river] Arnon.
[Say to the ruler] “Give us advice, make a decision [for Moab, king of Judah];
Cast your shadow [over us] like night in the midst of noon;
Hide the outcasts, do not betray the fugitive [to his pursuer].
“Let our outcasts of Moab live among you;
Be a [sheltered] hiding place to them from the destroyer.”
For the extortioner has come to an end, destruction has ceased,
Oppressors [who trample men] have completely disappeared from the land,
A throne will be established in lovingkindness,
And One will sit on it in faithfulness in the tent (dynasty, family) of David;
Judging and seeking justice
And being prompt to do righteousness.(J)
We have heard of the pride of Moab, an excessive pride—
Even of his arrogance, his conceit, his rage,
His untruthful boasting.
Therefore Moab will wail for Moab; everyone will wail.
You will mourn for the raisin cakes of Kir-hareseth,
As those who are utterly stricken and discouraged.
For the fields of Heshbon have languished and withered, and the vines of Sibmah as well;
The lords of the nations have trampled down [Moab’s] choice vine branches,
Which reached as far as Jazer and wandered into the wilderness;
Its tendrils stretched out, they passed over [the shores of] the [Dead] Sea.
Therefore I (Isaiah) will weep bitterly for Jazer, for the vines of Sibmah.
I will drench you with my tears, O Heshbon and Elealeh;
For the war-cry [of the enemy] has fallen on your summer fruits and your harvest.
Gladness and joy are taken away from the fruitful field;
In the vineyards there will be no singing or joyful sound;
No treader treads out wine in the presses,
For I (God) put an end to the joyful shouting.
Therefore my heart sounds like a harp [in mournful compassion] for Moab,
And my inner being mourns for Kir-hareseth.
So it will come to pass when Moab presents himself,
When he wearies himself [worshiping] on his high place [of idolatry]
And comes to his sanctuary [of Chemosh, god of Moab] to pray,
That he will not prevail.(K)
13 This is the word which the Lord spoke earlier concerning Moab [when Moab’s pride and resistance to God were first known]. 14 But now the Lord speaks, saying, “Within [o]three years, as the years of a hired man [who will not serve longer than the agreed time], the glory of Moab will be degraded along with all [p]the great population, and the remnant [that survives] will be very small and of no account.”
Prophecy about Damascus
17 The [mournful, inspired] oracle ([q]a burden to be carried) concerning Damascus [capital of Aram (Syria), and Israel’s defense against Assyria].
“Listen carefully, Damascus will cease to be a city
And will become a fallen ruin.
“The cities of Aroer [east of the Jordan] are deserted;
They will be [only a refuge] for flocks to lie down in,
And there will be no one to make them afraid.
“The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim,
And the kingdom from Damascus
And the remnant of Aram (Syria);
They will be like the [departed] glory of [her ally] the children of Israel,”
Declares the Lord of hosts.
“Now in that day the [former] glory of Jacob [Israel—his might, his population, his prosperity] will fade,
And the fatness of his flesh will become lean.
“And it will be like the reaper gathering the standing grain,
As his arm harvests the ears of grain;
Yes, it will be like one gleaning ears of grain
In the [fertile] Valley of Rephaim.
“Yet gleanings will be left in the land [of Israel] like the shaking of the olive tree,
Two or three olives on the topmost branch,
Four or five on the [outermost] branches of the fruitful tree,”
Declares the Lord, the God of Israel.
In that day man will have regard for his Maker,
And his eyes will regard the Holy One of Israel [with awe-inspired reverence].
And he will not have regard for the [idolatrous] altars, the work of his hands,
Nor will he look to that which his fingers have made,
Neither the Asherim (symbols of the goddess Asherah) nor the incense altars.
In that day the strong cities of Aram and Israel will be like [r]deserted places in the forest,
Or like branches which they abandoned before the children of Israel;
And the land will be a desolation.
Because you [Judah] have forgotten the God of your salvation
And have not remembered the Rock of your Stronghold—
Therefore you plant [s]lovely plants
And set the grounds with vine slips of a strange god,
In the day that you plant it you carefully fence it in,
And in the morning you bring your seed to blossom;
Yet [promising as it is] the harvest will be a heap [of ruins that passes away]
In the day of sickness and incurable pain.
Oh, the uproar of many peoples
Who roar like the roaring of the seas,
And the noise of nations
Who roar like the rumbling of mighty waters!
The nations roar on like the roaring of many waters,
But God will rebuke them and they will flee far away,
And be chased like chaff on the mountains before the wind,
Or like whirling dust before the storm.
At evening time, now look, sudden terror!
Before [t]morning the Assyrians are no more.
This is the portion (fate) of those who plunder us,
And the lot of those who pillage us.
- Isaiah 13:1 I.e. an urgent message the prophet is under compulsion to proclaim.
- Isaiah 13:6 Shod in Hebrew, forming a word play with Shaddai.
- Isaiah 13:6 Heb Shaddai.
- Isaiah 13:7 Babylon was taken by surprise on the night of Belshazzar’s sacrilegious feast when Belshazzar was killed, and Darius the Mede was made king over Babylonia, the realm of the Chaldeans (Dan 5:30). The Chaldeans became the dominant people in Babylonia when Merodach-baladan declared himself king of Babylon. The words “Chaldean” and “Babylonian” are used interchangeably.
- Isaiah 13:19 The Chaldeans dominated and ruled Babylonia from 625 b.c., until their empire fell in 539 b.c., but they were known as early as 1000 b.c. as an aggressive, tribal people in the southern region of Babylonia. They were highly skilled in both the science of astronomy and the pseudo-science of astrology. They kept meticulous records of celestial motion and correctly calculated the length of a year to within just a few minutes. Babylon, their capital city, was the center of trade and learning in the western part of Asia. The classical literature of the Chaldeans was written in cuneiform, but the common language, both written and spoken in Babylon, was Akkadian that was increasingly influenced by Aramaic.
- Isaiah 13:21 Another possibility is goat demons.
- Isaiah 13:22 This prophecy was written well over a century before Babylon’s downfall in 539 b.c.
- Isaiah 14:9 I.e. the nether world, the place of the dead, Hades.
- Isaiah 14:12 Many students of the Bible have felt that the passage which follows applies to Satan (cf Luke 10:18). It is clear from the larger context that the passage addresses the king of Babylon, but that does not rule out a secondary reference to Satan. Many commentators are of the opinion that the arrogance expressed here is satanic, and that the passage correctly represents Satan’s attitude because he was working through the Babylonian ruler. The Hebrew for this expression is translated “Lucifer” (“light-bringer”) in The Latin Vulgate, and is translated this way in the King James Version. But because of the association of that name with Satan, it is not used in this and other translations. Some students feel that the application of the name Lucifer to Satan, in spite of the long and confident teaching to that effect, is erroneous. The application of the name to Satan has existed since the third century a.d., and is based on the supposition that Luke 10:18 is an explanation of Is 14:12, which many authorities believe is not true. “Lucifer,” the light-bringer, is the Latin equivalent of the Greek word “Phosphoros,” which is used as a title of Christ in 2 Pet 1:19 and corresponds to the name “radiant and brilliant Morning Star” in Rev 22:16, a name Jesus called Himself. This passage here in Is 14:12ff clearly applies to the king of Babylon.
- Isaiah 14:23 The city of Babylon was in the middle of a very fertile area, and it would have seemed reasonable to suppose that, regardless of what happened to the population, the region would always furnish pasturage for flocks. But Isaiah said it would become the possession of wild animals and would be covered with “swamps of water.” This is how that prophecy was literally fulfilled: after Babylon was taken, the whole area around the city was put under water from neglect of the canals and dikes of the Euphrates River. It became stagnant “swamps of water” among ruins haunted by wild animals, proclaiming to any who might see it that it had happened just as the Lord intended (Is 14:24).
- Isaiah 14:25 The prophecy against Assyria had actually by this time already been fulfilled, but Isaiah attached it to the as yet unfulfilled prophecy against Babylon as a pledge or guarantee of the fulfillment of the latter.
- Isaiah 14:28 I.e. an urgent message the prophet is under compulsion to proclaim.
- Isaiah 15:1 I.e. an urgent message the prophet is under compulsion to proclaim.
- Isaiah 16:1 As King Mesha sent 100,000 lambs each year to King Ahab of Israel (2 Kin 3:4), so now the Moabites are advised to win the king’s favor and protection by diverting their tribute to the king in Jerusalem as an acknowledgment of subjection.
- Isaiah 16:14 This prophecy was fulfilled after the death of King Ahaz of Judah (Is 14:28), about the third year of King Hezekiah’s reign. Moab was not left completely without population at this time; there was still a “remnant.” The final desolation of Moab was reserved for King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 582 b.c., some five years after the taking of Jerusalem. The ruins of Elealeh, Heshbon, Medeba, Dimon, etc., still exist to confirm through modern research the accuracy of the fulfillment of this prophecy.
- Isaiah 16:14 Lit all the great number.
- Isaiah 17:1 I.e. an urgent message the prophet is under compulsion to proclaim.
- Isaiah 17:9 Greek reads, the deserted places of the Amorites and Hivites, which they abandoned.
- Isaiah 17:10 Or gardens of Adonis, a mythological god.
- Isaiah 17:14 The fulfillment of this prophecy (cf also Is 10:33, 34; 30:31; 31:8) is found in Is 37:36, following the repetition of the prophecy first recorded in 2 Kin 19:29-36. Just when an overwhelming victory by the Assyrian Sennacherib seemed inevitable, during a single night 185,000 of his army died, and Judah was spared—as the Lord through Isaiah had promised.