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Bible Commentaries

Trapp's Complete Commentary

Isaiah 13

Verse 1

Isa 13:1 The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.

Ver. 1. The burden. ] That is, the burdenous prophecy. It should not have seemed a burden, Jer 23:36 but it is a grievous burden to graceless persons to be told of their sins, and foretold of their punishments. See Trapp on " Nah 1:1 " See Trapp on " Mal 1:1 "

Of Babylon. ] Not that Babylon in Egypt (of which 1 Peter 5:13 , as some hold), now called Grand Cairo, the sultan’s seat royal, but the metropolis of Chaldea, built by Semiramis about a hundred years after the flood, whither the Jews were to be carried captive, and concerning which calamity they are here aforehand comforted. See Micah 7:8 ; Micah 7:16 .

Verse 2

Isa 13:2 Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them, shake the hand, that they may go into the gates of the nobles.

Ver. 2. Lift up a banner. ] Deus hic quasi classicum canit; God, as chief general, gives forth his orders to the Medes and Persians. He is a "man of war," Exo 15:3 yea, the Lord victor of war, as the Chaldee there paraphraseth. See the like Jeremiah 50:2 .

Upon the high mountain. ] Where it may best be seen. Media is a mountainous country. Or, contra montem caliglnosum, against the dark mountain - i.e., Babylon, which, though situated in a plain, yet was tumoured up with her wealth and power, and seemed unmoveable. Famous this city was for a hortus pensilis, an artificial garden (made by Nebuchadnezzar for the pleasure of his wife Nicotris), which, hanging over the city, darkeneth it, a like as that continual cloud doth the island of St Thomas, on the back side of Africa.

Exalt the voice unto them, shake the hand. ] Propinquos voce, longinquos significatione ad arma convocate; b give the alarm to those that are near hand and further off.

That they may go into the gates of the nobles. ] Or, Of the munificent or bounteous lords; for such all nobles are, or ought to be. Our English word lord, contracted of the Saxon word laford, cometh of luef, to sustain or succour others.

a Strabo, lib. xvi.; Curtius, lib. v.; Josephus, lib. x.

b Junius.

Verse 3

Isa 13:3 I have commanded my sanctified ones, I have also called my mighty ones for mine anger, [even] them that rejoice in my highness.

Ver. 3. I have commanded my sanctified ones, ] i.e., I have by my secret instinct stirred up and set on my Medes and Persians, Isa 13:17 whom in my decree I have set apart for this holy work of executing vengeance on the Babylonians.

I have also called my mighties. ] My heroes, armed with my might.

Even them that rejoice in my highness. ] Heb., Exultantes superbiae meos; my brave soldiers, whom I render victorious and triumphant.

Verse 4

Isa 13:4 The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the LORD of hosts mustereth the host of the battle.

Ver. 4. The noise of the multitude. ] The Medes that come against Babylon are both numerous and streperous, as is here graphically described by an elegant hypotyposis. a

The Lord of hosts mustereth the host of the battle. ] No marvel, then, that the forces are so many and mighty, for if he but stamp with his foot, all creatures are up in arms immediately.

a Vivid description of a scene, event, or situation, bringing it, as it were, before the eyes of the hearer or reader.

Verse 5

Isa 13:5 They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, [even] the LORD, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land.

Ver. 5. They come from a far country. ] Heb., From a land of longinquity.

Even the Lord, and the weapons of his indignation. ] ’ Oπολομαχους , "Vessels of wrath," the Septuagint render them; but in another sense, then, the apostle useth that expression concerning reprobates designed to destruction.

To destroy the whole land. ] Or, The whole world, for so the Chaldees, in the pride of their empire, styled it. The Romans did the like. Luk 2:1 The Turks do the same at this day, such is their ambition.

Verse 6

Isa 13:6 Howl ye; for the day of the LORD [is] at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.

Ver. 6. Howl ye. ] "For the evils that are coming upon you" (as in Jam 5:1 ). We may well say the same to mystical Babylon.

For the day of the Lord is at hand. ] And yet it came not till over two hundred years after. Think the same of the day of judgment, and reckon that a thousand years with God is but as one day.

It shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. ] Heb., Cleshod Mishaddai, an elegance that cannot be translated. Shaddai (God’s name) signifieth a conqueror, say some; a destroyer, say others, which a conqueror must needs be, - Eundem victorem et vastatorem esse oportet. Here is threatened a devastation from the devastator.

Verse 7

Isa 13:7 Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt:

Ver. 7. Therefore shall all hands be faint. ] Base fear, that cowardly passion, shall betray them to the enemy, by expectorating their courage, and causing their hearts to fall into their heels, as we say. But this also cometh from the Lord of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working, for he ordereth the armour, Jer 50:25 and he strengtheneth or weakeneth the armies of either party. Eze 30:24 Whencesoever the sword cometh it is "bathed in heaven." Isa 34:5

And every heart shall melt. ] How much more shall wicked men’s hearts do so at the day of judgment, when the powers of heaven shall be shaken. Luk 21:26 Alegoriae; haec veriora erunt in die iudicii cuius hic est typus.

Verse 8

Isa 13:8 And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces [shall be as] flames.

Ver. 8. And they shall be afraid. ]

Conturbabuntur -

Innumerabilibus sollicitudinibus. ”

They shall be amazed one at another. ] Amused, amazed, amated, as being at their wits’ ends.

Their faces shall be as flames. ] So Jeremiah 30:5-6 , a voice of fear and trembling, every man with his hands on his loins, the posture of a travailling woman, and all faces turned into paleness. The prophet here alludeth, saith Musculus, to the face of a smith at dark night, when he standeth blowing his fire, for his face appears as if it had no blood in it, most wan and pale. Or, as others think, to a man frightened, who first looketh pale, the blood running to the heart to relieve it, afterwards, upon the return of the blood to the outward parts, he looketh red, and of a flame colour.

Verse 9

Isa 13:9 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.

Ver. 9. Behold the day of the Lord cometh cruel. ] So it shall seem to the enemies, because "an evil, an only evil, behold, is come," Eze 7:5 without mixture of mercy.

Verse 10

Isa 13:10 For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.

Ver. 10. For the stars of heaven shall not give their light. ] a They shall have punishment without pity, misery without mercy, sorrow without help, mischief without measure, crying without comfort, &c., and all this shall be but a typical hell to them, a foretaste of eternal torments.

The constellations thereof. ] Which yet some interpreters take for some single and signal star, magnam lucem magnae sequuntur tenebrae.

The sun shall be darkened. ] They shall neither have good day nor good night.

a Est hyperbole et hypollage.

Verse 11

Isa 13:11 And I will punish the world 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.

Ver. 11. And I will punish the world. ] That is, the Chaldean state; for they reckoned themselves κοσμοκρατορας , or lords of the world. See on Isaiah 13:5 . Or to show that, if the whole world should conspire against the Lord, he can as easily punish them as he did that rabble of rebels the old world. See Daniel 4:17 .

And lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. ] Or, Of the roysters or tyrants.

Verse 12

Isa 13:12 I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.

Ver. 12. I will make a man more precious. ] Quod rarum, carum. Men shall be reduced to a small number, not nobles only, sed triobolares homunciones, but peasants; nor shall any money be taken in exchange for lives.

Verse 13

Isa 13:13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.

Ver. 13. Therefore I will shake the heavens, ] i.e., For the pride, arrogance, cruelty, and other impieties of these Babylonians, I will bring upon them tragic calamities and horrid confusions, so that they shall think that heaven and earth are blended together, and each be ready to say,

In me omnis terraeque, polique, marisque, ruiua est.

Verse 14

Isa 13:14 And it shall be as the chased roe, and as a sheep that no man taketh up: they shall every man turn to his own people, and flee every one into his own land.

Ver. 14. And it shall be as the chased roe. ] Or, "She," that is, Babylon, "shall be," when drunk with security, that usher of destruction, she shall be suddenly surprised. So strong were her walls and bulwarks, that she feared no irruption of the enemy; and so bold she bore herself upon her twenty years’ provision laid in beforehand that she feared no famine by the straitness of a long siege. Herodotus telleth us that when Babylon was taken by Cyrus, some part of the city knew not of their condition till the third day after: the suddenness of their surprise must needs be very dreadful. a

They shall every man, ] i.e., All her confederates and presidiaries.

a Herod., lib. i.; Arist. Polit., lib. ill.

Verse 15

Isa 13:15 Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is joined [unto them] shall fall by the sword.

Ver. 15. Every one that is found shall be thrust through. ] This maketh them flee for it. Quis enim vult mori? prorsus nemo. Life is sweet, and men will rather flee than die.

Every one that is joined unto them. ] Or, That is decrepid, worn out with old age. See 2 Chronicles 36:17 .

Verse 16

Isa 13:16 Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished.

Ver. 16. Their children shall be dashed in pieces, &c. ] As had been prayed and prophesied long before Psa 137:9 and this was but lex talionis. See 2Ch 36:17 Lamentations 5:11 .

Their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished. ] As those three commandments, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, are ranked together in the law, so they are commonly violated together in the lawless violence of war.

Verse 17

Isa 13:17 Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and [as for] gold, they shall not delight in it.

Ver. 17. Behold I will stir up the Medes. ] Together with the Persians under the conduct of Darius and Cyrus.

Which shall not regard silver, ] sc., For a ransom, but shall kill all they meet, though never so rich, and able to redeem their lives. Proverbs 13:8 Jer 41:8

Verse 18

Isaiah 13:18 [Their] bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children.

Ver. 18. Their bows also shall dash the young men. ] They shall double destroy them. O barbaram crudelitatem! O cruel barbarian. a

And they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb. ] Quamvis adhuc teneri essent et fructus novelli, ripping up their mothers; as Amo 1:13 or at the Sicilian Vespers; and as in the late Parisian and Irish massacres, which were the most prodigious horrid villanies that ever the sun saw.

Their eye shall not spare children. ] In the massacre of Paris, a bloody Papist having snatched up a little child from one of the Protestants in his arms, the poor babe began to play with his beard, and to smile upon him. But he, more merciless than a tiger, stabbed it with a dagger, and so cast it all gory and bloody into the river. b

a Incredibilis sanguinis aviditas in milite bacchabitur.

b Acts. and Mon.

Verse 19

Isa 13:19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.

Ver. 19. And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms. ] Those four great monarchies of the world had their times and their turns, their rise and their ruin. The Roman empire can scarce stand on its feet of clay; and by the death of the recent emperor, no King of Romans being nominated, is like to suffer great concussions.

Shall be as when God overthrew Sodom. ] The destruction whereof was the greatest and most stupendous that ever we read of.

Verse 20

Isa 13:20 It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there.

Ver. 20. Neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there. ] The Scenites, a or vagrant shepherds of the Arabian Desert, that oft flitted for better pasture, shall shun Babylon as haunted with wild beasts, or rather with dragons and devils in the Revelation; all this is applied to, and shall be verified of, Rome. Isa 18:1-7

a Hi Babyloniae contermini.

Verse 21

Isa 13:21 But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there.

Ver. 21. But wild beasts of the desert. ] Heb., Ijim, Ochim, &c. These are names of wild creatures unknown to us in these parts.

And satyrs. ] Or, Devils in borrowed shapes and hideous apparitions.

Verse 22

Isa 13:22 And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in [their] pleasant palaces: and her time [is] near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.

Ver. 22. And the wild beasts of the islands. ] Heb., Ijim - i.e., desolate places and far remote.

And her time is near to come. ] Though two hundred years hence and more ere it commence. So "Babylon is fallen, is fallen" Rev 19:2 that is, certo, cito, penitus - surely, shortly, utterly.

O mora! Christe veni.

“O delay, Christ, be come.”

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 13". Trapp's Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.