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Wednesday, July 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 21

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-10




1. Though most commentators see in this passage a reference to the fall of Babylon to the Medes and Persians (as described in Daniel 5), it may refer to an earlier defeat by Sargon, the Assyrian (with whom Elam and Media were allied) about 710 B.C. Whereas the fall of Babylon, under Cyrus, was a cause of great joy for Judah; the prophet is here filled with pain, anxiety, gloom, consternation, terror and utter despair for his beloved people. There seemed nothing they could do to stop the despised Assyrian!

2. Like an irresistible whirlwind from the South, the prophet sees the approach of Babylon’s enemy from the land of terror, (Verse 1).

3. It is a terrible vision that he sees - involving treachery and destruction, (Verse 2).

4. Edom is commanded to "Go up!" and Media to "Lay siege!"

5. In verses 3-4 Isaiah describes his own feelings - resulting from the terrible vision: anguish, pain, dismay, fear and trembling.

6. So swiftly and unexpectedly did the enemy appear that Babylon was taken unaware: in fact, she was preparing for a celebration when the cry came: "Arise, ye princes! Anoint your shields!" (Verse 5)

7. The prophet shrank from beholding what was to come upon Babylon, but, at the command of the Lord, went to his watchtower, (Verse 6).

8. Faithful as a watchman, he observed carefully and then cried as a lion: "Behold! a troop of men; horsemen in pairs! Babylon is fallen! The images of her gods are shattered to the ground!" (Verse 9)

9. It was with tenderness that the prophet addressed his afflicted people as "my threshing - son of the threshing floor" and assured them that he had only declared to them what he had heard from "the Lord of hosts", (Verse 10).

10. They must not put their trust in Babylon; but lean on the strong arm of their God! He alone can save them!

Verses 11-12


1. A region of Edom, near Mt Seir, Dumah was inhabited by the descendants of Esau - perpetual enemies of Israel.

2. In this brief passage Dumah is. pictured as dwelling in darkness (night) and as being anxious about the future. (Let it be noted that "night" is used as a symbol of: trouble, trial, struggle, sorrow and death.)

3. The question they direct to the watchman is: "What time (period) of the night is it?" It seemed to this people that the night was exceedingly long and they were wondering about the future.

4. The reply of the prophet is a bit indefinite: there are signs of both morning and night.

a. It may be that he saw "morning" for Judah, but "night" for Edom, or

b. He may mean to imply that, by her own attitude and choice, Edom will determine which it will be, (Joshua 24:15).

5. In tender compassion, however, the prophet, in essence, says to Edom: "If you are sincere, then turn from your idols and come to the light of morning!"

6. But, she rejected that gracious invitation and passed into age-long night.

Verses 13-17


1. The wandering tribes of Arabia will be greatly affected by the constant warfare between Egypt and Assyria; their trading caravans must hide in the thickets of the desert, (Verse 13).

2. The inhabitants of Tema (capital of the Ishmaelitish district north of Dedan) are to relieve the severity of their hardship by providing bread and water for them, (Verse 14-15).

3. But, within one year, the glory of Kedar (the tribes of North Arabia) will have faded - few of their heroic warriors left, (Verse 16-17a).

4. When this comes to pass Judah may surely know that God has again spoken by the prophet (Verse 17b); his call for Judah to cast her burden fully upon Jehovah must not fall on deaf ears.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Isaiah 21". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/isaiah-21.html. 1985.
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