Isaiah 13

1God mustereth the armies of his wrath; 6he threateneth to destroy Babylon by the Medes; 19her utter desolation.

1THE 1burden of Babylon, 2which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.

1 This is the title of all difficult prophecies of threat; it is as a letter of judgment, which the Lord sends by His prophets. See the annotation on 2 Kings 9 on verse 25. And this threat does not only concern the king of Babel, but also the city of Babel and the entire kingdom.

2 That is, which God revealed unto him in a vision.

23Lift ye up 4a banner upon the high mountain, 5exalt the voice unto them, 6shake the hand, that 7they may 8go into the gates 9of the nobles.

3 Here the Lord addresses the king of the Persians and the Medes, exhorting him to prepare himself for war against the Babylonians.

4 Namely, for a sign which the soldiers are to gather themselves together.

5 That is, cry with a loud voice unto the soldiers who live close by.

6 Namely, to allure and gather an army together out of far countries.

7 Namely, the assembled soldiers of the Persians and the Medes.

8 Namely, in the city of Babel.

9 Namely, of the princes or nobles of Babel. Thus the prophet calls the Babylonians, because many of them were grown rich and wealthy by the spoil of their neighbors and their goods, yea, were grown as rich as princes and nobles; as also because at that time they had rule and dominion over many kingdoms and countries. See Isa. 10:8.

310I have 11commanded 12my sanctified ones, I have also called 13my mighty ones 14for mine anger, even them 15that rejoice in my highness.

10 Namely I, the Lord.

11 Not by an outward voice, but by an inward motion in the hearts of the Persians and the Medes, ordering and governing the matter by My Providence for My glory. See 2 Sam. 16:11; Isa. 23:11.

12 Understand here the Persians and the Medes, whom God had sanctified, that is, ordained and set apart for an holy work, namely, for the destruction of the wicked Babylonians. See Jer. 22 on verse 7.

13 That is, the Persians and the Medes, unto whom I have given strength and courage, and will give further still.

14 That is, for the execution of Mine anger.

15 That is, unto whom I have given a valiant and cheerful mind and courage to attack upon the Babylonians; but how the wicked do act and perform this, see Isa. 10:6, 7.

416The noise of a multitude 17in the mountains, 18like as of a great people; 19a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the LORD of hosts 20mustereth the host of the battle.

16 Here the prophet speaks again. Other, There is a voice of a multitude, or of plurality; for, the Hebrew word signifies them both.

17 Namely, on the mountains in Media.

18 Hebr. the likeness of a great people.

19 The sense is: There is such a noise and tumult as if all the kingdoms of the Gentiles were assembled and met together.

20 As being the commander in chief or the general.

5They come 21from a far country, 22from the end of heaven, even the LORD, and 23the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land.

21 Namely, from Persia, which is distant from Babel about 225 German miles, as some do write.

22 Other, from the uttermost part of the heavens, that is, from far remote countries.

23 Or, the instruments which He will use in His anger to destroy the land of the Chaldeans, and of the Babylonians, together with that entire monarchy. See Jer. 50:25.

6¶Howl 24ye; for 25the day of the LORD is at hand; 26it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.

24 Namely, O ye Babylonians, with all your adherents.

25 That is, the day in which the Lord will exercise His severe judgment upon Babylon, as Isa. 2:12; 61:2; Joel 1:15. See Job 24:1; Psalm 37:13.

26 As if he said: It shall be such a fearful desolation, that it shall sufficiently appear that it comes from the hand of Almighty God.

727Therefore shall 28all hands be faint, and 29every man’s heart 30shall melt:

27 Namely, because this destruction is so terrible and so great.

28 Namely, the hands of the Babylonians.

29 Hebr. all the heart of a man.

30 Namely, through anguish, dread and fear.

8And 31they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: 32they shall be amazed one at another; their 33faces shall be as flames.

31 Namely, the Babylonians and their adherents.

32 Or, one shall wonder at or with another.

33 That is, their faces shall be as red as fire, to wit, through shame, namely, because they, who were formerly such stout champions that would bear rule over the entire world, were now conquered and beaten by the Persians and the Medes, who in times past were of little or no repute and estimation. But others understand this as such, that the faces of the Persians and the Medes would be as flames of fire, that is, full of wrath and indignation, thirsting after blood of the Babylonians, which the redness of their faces would betray.

9Behold, 34the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and 35fierce anger, 36to lay 37the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners 38thereof out of it.

34 See verse 6.

35 Hebr. heat of anger.

36 That is, to make the land waste and desolate.

37 Namely, the land of Babylon.

38 That is, the sinners who are in it.

10For 39the stars of heaven and the 40constellations thereof shall not give their light: thea sun shall be darkened 41in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.

39 The meaning is: All things shall be against the Babylonians, in order that the very stars of heavens shall withdraw their shining from them. This phrase the prophet does often use to express thereby great troubles and miseries. See Ezek. 32:7; Joel 2:31; 3:15.

40 By the word star is meant one star alone, and by the constellation different stars united together. Other, Orion. See Job 9 on verse 9.

a Ezek. 32:7; Joel 2:31; 3:15; Mat. 24:29. Mark 13:24; Luke 21:25.

41 Hebr. when he shall go forth, namely, out of his bedchamber, Psalm 19:5.

11And 42I will 43punish the 44world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.

42 Here the Lord speaks again.

43 Or, I will visit.

44 Understand here by world the countries which were under the obedience and subjection of the king of Babel, whereof were many. See Dan. 4:17, etc.

12I will make a man more 45precious than 46fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of 47Ophir.

45 The sense is: I will make the Babylonians to be few, for many of them shall be slain. Compare 1 Sam. 3 on verse 1.

46 See 1 Kings 10 on verse 18.

47 See the annotation 1 Kings 9 on verse 28.

1348Therefore I will shake 49the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in 50the day of his fierce anger.

48 Namely, for the pride and wickedness of the Babylonians, verse 11.

49 The meaning is: I will cause such fearful punishments to light upon the Chaldeans and the Babylonians, that heaven and earth shall have cause to be amazed at it. Or, that the Babylonians shall think that heaven and earth are moved or shaken.

50 See the annotation Job 20 on verse 28.

14And it shall be as the chased roe, and 51as a sheep that no man taketh up: 52they 53shall every man turn to his own people, and flee every one into his own land.

51 Or, as a flock of sheep which no man gathereth.

52 Namely, who have come out from far countries, being hired to help the Babylonians.

53 That is, shall wish to be again in his own country, as immediately follows.

15Every one that is 54found shall be thrust through; and every one 55that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword.

54 Namely, at Babel. Or, of the Babylonians. The sense is: Whomever shall find the soldiers of the Persians and the Medes, they shall kill them, when they see that they are Babylonians.

55 Be he citizen or stranger; or understand those who did here and there resort themselves in castles or fenced places about the city of Babel. Other, all who is consumed, namely, by very old age.

16Their children also shall be 56dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished.

56 See Psalm 137:9. Other, be ground or beaten to powder.

17Behold, I will stir up 57the Medes against them, 58which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.

57 That is, the army of the Medes, under the conduct of Cyrus, king of the Persians and the Medes. Hebr. Madai. See the annotation Gen. 10 on verse 2.

58 Or, who shall not mind or heed silver. Intimating that the Medes would so thirst after the blood of the Babylonians that they would take no money or ransom to spare them, how great soever the same might be, but would seek to have the blood or life of the Babylonians. See verse 12.

18Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity 59on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not 60spare children.

59 That is, on the children in the mother’s womb.

60 Or, excuse.

19¶And Babylon, 61the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be 62asb when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.

61 That is, which is now the fairest and the most excellent among all the kingdoms of the earth.

62 This prophecy was not immediately fulfilled by the Persians and the Medes, as soon as they took the city, but it was performed still more and from time to time, in order that man today can hardly know where that mighty and stately city stood. In the time of the Emperor Vespasianus there remained only the temple of Jupiter Belus, Plinius, Naturalis Historia, lib. 6, cap. 26.

b Gen. 19:25; Isa. 1:9; Jer. 49:18; 50:40.

2063It 64shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall 65the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.

63 Namely, in the city Babel.

64 Or, they shall have no sitting-place there. See Jer. 17:6. Namely, although she imagines herself otherwise by reason of her great strength, thinking to be invincible. Other, it shall not be inhabited in eternity (that is never), that is, it shall never come again to its former state and condition, namely, after that it shall be at one time broken down to the ground.

65 The Arabians were wont to have no sure dwelling place or abiding city, but to wander up and down, and to dwell in tents or booths, pitching their tents where they found the best fodder or provision for their animals. Seeing and finding that the land about Babylon was so wasted and desolate as there would not be sufficient food for their cattle, it shall be shunned and avoided by them.

21But 66wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full 67of doleful creatures; and 68owls shall dwell there, and 69satyrsc shall dance there.

66 The Hebrew word properly signifies wildernesses, and here such kind of animals which live in wildernesses and in dry desert places. See Jer. 50:39.

67 Or, hurtful creatures. The Hebrew word signifies such animals, which make men cry out piteously of anxiety. Other, creatures that make a dole noise.

68 Hebr. the daughters of ostriches. See the annotation Lev. 11 on verse 16; Job 30:29.

69 See Lev. 17 on verse 7. Likewise 2 Chron. 11:15; Rev. 18:2.

c a goat-like creature

22And the 70wild beasts of the islands shall 71cry 72in their 73desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and 74her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.

70 The Hebrew word has its name from islands, but what kind of animals they properly were is very uncertain. Some have here fowls of the islands. Other, wild beasts out of the islands. Other, monkeys or wild cats. Other, owls, because they love to dwell in waste, forsaken, ruined houses and places. This word is also used Jer. 50:39.

71 Or, shriek to each other. Hebr. answer.

72 Namely, of the king of Babel.

73 Or, widow-like, that is, forsaken or empty places, or, as some palaces, by changing the letter resch into the letter lamed; as it is Isa. 34:13.

74 Namely, the city of Babel’s time. And understand here that time wherein the destruction of the city and kingdom of Babylon would begin, as also the beginning of the time of the deliverance of the Jews from their tyranny. There passed about two hundred years until the complete fulfillment of this prophecy.