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Isa 21:1-10. REPETITION OF THE ASSURANCE GIVEN IN THE THIRTEENTH AND FOURTEENTH CHAPTERS TO THE JEWS ABOUT TO BE CAPTIVES IN BABYLON, THAT THEIR ENEMY SHOULD BE DESTROYED AND THEY BE DELIVERED.
He does not narrate the event, but graphically supposes himself a watchman in Babylon, beholding the events as they pass.
1. desert--the champaign between Babylon and Persia; it was once a
desert, and it was to become so again.
2. dealeth treacherously--referring to the military stratagem
employed by Cyrus in taking Babylon. It may be translated, "is repaid
with treachery"; then the subject of the verb is Babylon. She is
repaid in her own coin;
3. Isaiah imagines himself among the exiles in Babylon and cannot
help feeling moved by the calamities which come on it. So for Moab
(Isa 15:5; 16:11).
4. panted--"is bewildered" [BARNES].
5. Prepare the table--namely, the feast in Babylon; during which
Cyrus opened the dykes made by Semiramis to confine the Euphrates to one
channel and suffered them to overflow the country, so that he could
enter Babylon by the channel of the river. Isaiah first represents the
king ordering the feast to be got ready. The suddenness of the irruption
of the foe is graphically expressed by the rapid turn in the language to
an alarm addressed to the Babylonian princes, "Arise," &c. (compare
MAURER translates, "They prepare the
table," &c. But see
6. Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth--God's direction to Isaiah to set a watchman to "declare" what he sees. But as in Isa 21:10, Isaiah himself is represented as the one who "declared." HORSLEY makes him the "watchman," and translates, "Come, let him who standeth on the watchtower report what he seeth."
7. chariot, &c.--rather, "a body of riders," namely, some riding in pairs on horses (literally, "pairs of horsemen," that is, two abreast), others on asses, others on camels (compare Isa 21:9; Isa 22:6). "Chariot" is not appropriate to be joined, as English Version translates, with "asses"; the Hebrew means plainly in Isa 21:7, as in Isa 21:9, "a body of men riding." The Persians used asses and camels for war [MAURER]. HORSLEY translates, "One drawn in a car, with a pair of riders, drawn by an ass, drawn by a camel"; Cyrus is the man; the car drawn by a camel and ass yoked together and driven by two postilions, one on each, is the joint army of Medes and Persians under their respective leaders. He thinks the more ancient military cars were driven by men riding on the beasts that drew them; Isa 21:9 favors this.
8. A lion--rather, "(The watchman) cried, I am as a lion"; so as is understood (Isa 62:5; Ps 11:1). The point of comparison to "a lion" is in Re 10:3, the loudness of the cry. But here it is rather his vigilance. The lion's eyelids are short, so that, even when asleep, he seems to be on the watch, awake; hence he was painted on doors of temples as the symbol of watchfulness, guarding the place (Hor. Apollo) [HORSLEY].
9. chariot of men--chariots with men in them; or rather, the same
body of riders, horsemen two abreast, as in
HORSLEY, "The man drawn in a car with a pair of riders." The first half
of this verse describes what the watchman sees; the second half,
what the watchman says, in consequence of what he sees. In the
and Isa 21:9,
the overthrow of Babylon by the horsemen, or man in the car, is
accomplished. The overthrow needed to be announced to the prophet by
the watchman, owing to the great extent of the city. HERODOTUS (1.131) says that one part of the city was
captured some time before the other received the tidings of it.
10. my threshing--that is, my people (the Jews) trodden down by
Isa 21:11, 12. A PROPHECY TO THE IDUMEANS WHO TAUNTED THE AFFLICTED JEWS IN THE BABYLONISH CAPTIVITY.
One out of Seir asks, What of the night? Is there a hope of the dawn of deliverance? Isaiah replies, The morning is beginning to dawn (to us); but night is also coming (to you). Compare Ps 137:7. The Hebrew captives would be delivered, and taunting Edom punished. If the Idumean wish to ask again, he may do so; if he wishes an answer of peace for his country, then let him "return (repent), come" [BARNES].
11. Dumah--a tribe and region of Ishmael in Arabia
now called Dumah the Stony, situated on the confines of Arabia
and the Syrian desert; a part put for the whole of Edom. VITRINGA thinks "Dumah," Hebrew, "silence," is
here used for Idumea, to imply that it was soon to be reduced to
silence or destruction.
12. Reply of the prophet, The morning (prosperity)
cometh, and (soon after follows) the night (adversity).
Though you, Idumeans, may have a gleam of prosperity, it will soon be
followed by adversity again. Otherwise, as BARNES,
"Prosperity cometh (to the Jews) to be quickly followed by adversity
(to you, Idumeans, who exult in the fall of Jerusalem, have seized on
the southern part of their land in their absence during the captivity,
and now deride them by your question)"
This view is favored by
Isa 21:13-17. PROPHECY THAT ARABIA WOULD BE OVERRUN BY A FOREIGN FOE WITHIN A YEAR.
Probably in the wars between Assyria and Egypt; Idumea and Arabia lay somewhat on the intermediate line of march.
13. upon--that is, respecting.
14. Tema--a kindred tribe: an oasis in that region
The Temeans give water to the faint and thirsting Dedanites; the
greatest act of hospitality in the burning lands of the East, where
water is so scarce.
15. they--the fugitive Dedanites and other Arabs.