Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Isaiah 13:1

The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Amoz;   Burden;   Prophecy;   Scofield Reference Index - Babylon;   Burden;   Egypt;   Nineveh;   Thompson Chain Reference - Burden of Prophecy;   Isaiah;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Babylon;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Babylon;   Isaiah;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Babylon;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Revelation, Theology of;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Burden;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Isaiah;   Massa;   Oracles;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Isaiah, Book of;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Burden;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Medes;   Rebels;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Messiah;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Judah;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Amoz;   Burden;   Isaiah;   Oracle;   Revelation;   Zechariah, Book of;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for February 20;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The burden of Babylon - The prophecy that foretells its destruction by the Medes and Persians: see the preceding observations.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/isaiah-13.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The burden of Babylon - Or, the burden “respecting,” or “concerning” Babylon. This prophecy is introduced in a different manner from those which have preceded. The terms which Isaiah employed in the commencement of his previous prophecies, were vision (see the note at Isaiah 1:1), or word Isaiah 2:1. There has been considerable diversity of opinion in regard to the meaning of the word ‹burden,‘ which is here employed. The Vulgate renders it, Onus - ‹Burden,‘ in the sense of load. The Septuagint Ὅρασις Horasis - ‹Vision.‘ The Chaldee, ‹The burden of the cup of malediction which draws near to Babylon.‘ The Hebrew word משׂא mas's'â' from נשׂא nâs'â' to lift, to raise up, to bear, to bear away, to suffer, to endure”), means properly that which is borne; that which is heavy; that which becomes a burden; and it is also applied to a gift or present, as that which is borne to a man 2 Chronicles 17:11.

It is also applied to a proverb or maxim, probably from the “weight” and “importance” of the sentiment condensed in it Proverbs 30:1; Proverbs 31:1. It is applied to an oracle from God 2 Kings 4:25. It is often translated ‹burden‘ Isaiah 15:1-9; Isaiah 19:1; Isaiah 21:11, Isaiah 21:13; Isaiah 22:1; Isaiah 23:1; Isaiah 30:6; Isaiah 46:1; Jeremiah 23:33-34, Jeremiah 23:38; Nehemiah 1:1; Zechariah 1:1; Zechariah 12:1; Malachi 1:1. By comparing these places, it will be found that the term is applied to those oracles or prophetic declarations which contain sentiments especially weighty and solemn; which are employed chiefly in denouncing wrath and calamity; and which, therefore, are represented as weighing down, or oppressing the mind and heart of the prophet. A similar useage prevails in all languages. We are all familiar with expressions like this. We speak of news or tidings of so melancholy a nature as to weigh down, to sink, or depress our spirits; so heavy that we can scarcely bear up under it, or endure it. And so in this case, the view which the prophet had of the awful judgments of God and of the calamities which were coming upon guilty cities and nations, was so oppressive, that it weighed down the mind and heart as a heavy burden. Others, however, suppose that it means merely a message or prophecy which is taken up, or borne, respecting a place, and that the word indicates nothing in regard to the nature of the message. So Rosenmuller, Gesenius, and Cocceius, understand it. But it seems some the former interpretation is to be preferred. Grotins renders it, ‹A mournful prediction respecting Babylon.‘

Did see - Saw in a vision; or in a scenical representation. The various events were made to pass before his mind in a vision, and he was permitted to see the armies mustered; the consternation of the people; and the future condition of the proud city. This verse is properly the title to the prophecy.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/isaiah-13.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

DIVISION II (Isaiah 13-23)

This division contains Isaiah's prophecies against the nations, some twelve in all, the first one being contained in Isaiah 13 and all of Isaiah 14 (except the last five verses).

THE PROPHECY AGAINST BABYLON

Here is contained one of the most glorious predictive prophecies in all the Word of God; and, of course, critical enemies of God's word shout their denials as convincingly as they can; but to no avail. There is no evidence of any kind whatever, either external or internal, that casts the slightest doubt on the authenticity and integrity of this great prophecy. For that matter, critics offer no proof of their arrogant denials. Kelley stated that, "This is one of the sections in the articles against the nations that must be dated later than the prophet Isaiah."[1] Peake supposed that, "The prophecy must have been written near the close of the Exile."[2] Why do such scholars "suppose" or "allege" such things? O, they say, "The historical situation presupposed in this chapter is much later than Isaiah." So what? When Micah predicted the birth of Christ in Bethlehem seven centuries before the event, were not the historical conditions when Christ was born different to those when Micah prophesied?

The only thing we have here, then, is the knee-jerk reaction of critics to one of their satanic rules that "There is no such thing as predictive prophecy !" Therefore we reject such arrogant denials for what they are, merely the glib, unsupported falsehoods of unbelievers, unworthy of belief on the part of any Christian.

We are very grateful for the emergence of many young scholars today, among whom are Homer Hailey and John Willis, whose writings we are quoting in this commentary, who have rejected the fulminations of Bible enemies against such passages as this 13th chapter. Willis, for example, approvingly quoted Albert Barnes' immortal words regarding this prophecy against Babylon. We give the same quotation here:

"This is one of the clearest predictions of a future event that can anywhere be found, and the exact, minute fulfillment of it furnishes the highest possible evidence that "Isaiah spake as he was moved by the Holy Ghost."[3] How will the infidel account for this prophecy and its fulfillment? It will not do to say that it was an accident. It is too minute and too particular. It is not due to human sagacity. No human sagacity could have foretold it. It is not fancied fulfillment. It is real in the most minute particulars. And if so, then Isaiah was commissioned by Jehovah as he claimed to be. And, if this prophecy was inspired by God, by the same train of reasoning it can be proved that the whole Bible is a revelation from heaven.[4]

The truth which confounds the critics here is seen in the fact that Isaiah here looks far beyond the event of Israel's captivity which lay far in the future when Isaiah wrote this to the fall of Babylon to the Medes and the deliverance for God's people which would follow, indicating at the same time the awful punishment laid up for Babylon. The critical theory, of course, denies that the captivity itself was prophesied in advance, the absurdity of which critical allegation is seen in the fact that from the date of Isaiah's first-born son, the captivity as well as the return of a remnant were symbolically prophesied in the name Shear-Jashub. Was that also done "after the exile"? Of course not!

Also, let it be noted that the Medes were never the dominant portion of the Medo-Persian power that destroyed Babylon; and as Cheyne pointed out, it is absolutely ridiculous to suppose that anyone writing "after the exile" would have ignored the part of Persia in Babylon's punishment; but God, revealing the punishment at least 175 years before it was executed introduced the name of the Medes as having a part in it. Did they have a part? Certainly. The Scriptures reveal that when Babylon fell, "It was Darius the Mede who took the kingdom at age 62" (Daniel 5:30-31). However, nobody writing "after the exile" would have paid any attention whatever to the Medes. The allegation of Peake to the effect that the post-exilic writer made a mistake by attributing the fall of Babylon to the Medes is preposterous![5]

Summarizing this chapter, we have: God commands the assembly of the armies destined to be his instrument in the destruction of Babylon (Isaiah 13:1-3); a prophetic vision of the armies advancing to destroy Babylon (Isaiah 13:4,5); Isaiah gradually shifted from his own words to those of God as the awful consequences of God's wrath were described (Isaiah 13:6-10); a description of the dreadful destruction destined to befall Babylon (Isaiah 13:11-16); the everlasting desolation to which the city was doomed (Isaiah 13:17-22).

Isaiah 13:1-3

"The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see. Set ye up an ensign upon the bare mountain, lift up the voice unto them, wave the hand that they may go into the gates of the nobles. I have commanded my consecrated ones, yea, I have called my mighty men for mine anger, even my proudly exulting ones."

"The burden of Babylon ..." The word here rendered "burden" is also translated oracle, or prophecy; but, the Hebrew word carries the ordinary meaning of 'burden.' "Generally in the Old Testament, and always in Isaiah, it refers to a Divine denunciation."[6] Surely the prophecy concerning Babylon carried a "burden" of woe to that city.

The mustering of the great mass of armies was to be accomplished by a triple signal (all of them metaphorical) of an ensign lifted high on a bare mountain, a loud call, and the waving of a hand.

The Babylonians called the gates of their city the "gates of the gods"; but Isaiah here put that in its proper perspective.

The picture that emerges here is that of God Himself in absolute control and command of all the powers on earth, which powers are summonsed here to execute the wrath of God upon Babylon.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/isaiah-13.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

The burden of Babylon,.... That is, a prophecy concerning Babylon, as the word is rendered, Proverbs 31:1. The Septuagint and Arabic versions translate it "the vision"; it signifies a taking upF23משא a נשא "tollere". a speech against it, and pronouncing a heavy sentence on it, such an one as should sink it into utter destruction; which will be the case of mystical Babylon, when it shall be as a millstone cast into the sea, never to be brought up again, Revelation 18:21. The Targum is,

"the burden of the cup of cursing to give Babylon to drink:'

after some prophecies concerning the Messiah and his kingdom, and the church's song of praise for salvation by him, others are delivered out concerning the enemies of the people of God, and their destruction, and begin with Babylon the chief of these enemies, and into whose hands the people of Israel would be delivered for a while; wherefore this prophecy is given forth, in order to lay a foundation for comfort and relief, when that should be their case; by which it would appear that they should have deliverance from them by the same hand that should overthrow them:

which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see: by a spirit of prophecy; for this he saw not with his bodily eyes, though it was as clear and certain to him as if he had. The Targum is,

"which Isaiah the son of Amoz prophesied.'

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/isaiah-13.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

The a burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.

(a) That is, the great calamity which was prophesied to come on Babel, a grievous burden which they were not able to bear. In these twelve chapters following he speaks of the plagues with which God would smite the strange nations (whom they knew) to declare that God chastised the Israelites as his children and these others as his enemies: and also that if God does not spare these who are ignorant, they must not think strange if he punishes them who have knowledge of his Law, and do not keep it.
Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/isaiah-13.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Isaiah 13:1-22. The thirteenth through twenty-third chapters contain prophecies as to foreign nations. The thirteenth, fourteenth, and twenty-seventh chapters contain prophecies as to Babylon and Assyria.

The predictions as to foreign nations are for the sake of the covenant people, to preserve them from despair, or reliance on human confederacies, and to strengthen their faith in God: also in order to extirpate narrow-minded nationality: God is Jehovah to Israel, not for Israel‘s sake alone, but that He may be thereby Elohim to the nations. These prophecies are in their right chronological place, in the beginning of Hezekiah‘s reign; then the nations of Western Asia, on the Tigris and Euphrates, first assumed a most menacing aspect.

burdenweighty or mournful prophecy [Grotius]. Otherwise, simply, the prophetical declaration, from a Hebrew root to put forth with the voice anything, as in Numbers 23:7 [Maurer].

of Babylonconcerning Babylon.

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/isaiah-13.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

The heading in Isaiah 13:1, “Oracle concerning Babel, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see,” shows that chapter 13 forms the commencement of another part of the whole book. Massâh (from נסא ), efferre , then effari , Exodus 20:7) signifies, as we may see from 2 Kings 9:25, effatum , the verdict or oracle, more especially the verdict of God, and generally, perhaps always, the judicial sentence of God,

(Note: In Zechariah 12:1. the promise has, at any rate, a dark side. In Lamentations 2:14 there is no necessity to think of promises in connection with the mas'oth ; and Proverbs 30:1 and Proverbs 31:1 cannot help us to determine the prophetic use of the word.)

though without introducing the idea of onus (burden), which is the rendering adopted by the Targum, Syriac, Vulgate, and Luther, notwithstanding the fact that, according to Jeremiah 23:33., it was the scoffers who associated this idea with the word. In a book which could throughout be traced to Isaiah, there could be no necessity for it to be particularly stated, that it was to Isaiah that the oracle was revealed, of which Babel was the object. We may therefore see from this, that the prophecy relating to Babylon was originally complete in itself, and was intended to be issued in that form. But when the whole book was compiled, these headings were retained as signal-posts of the separate portions of which it was composed. Moreover, in the case before us, the retention of the heading may be regarded as a providential arrangement. For if this “oracle of Babel” lay before us in a separate form, and without the name of Isaiah, we should not dare to attribute it to him, for the simple reason that the overthrow of the Chaldean empire is here distinctly announced, and that at a time when the Assyrian empire was still standing. For this reason the majority of critics, from the time of Rosenmüller and Justi downwards, have regarded the spuriousness of the prophecy as an established fact. But the evidence which can be adduced in support of the testimony contained in the heading is far too strong for it to be set aside: viz., (1.) the descriptive style as well as the whole stamp of the prophecy, which resembles the undisputed prophecies of Isaiah in a greater variety of points than any passage that can be selected from any other prophet. We will show this briefly, but yet amply, and as far as the nature of an exposition allows, against Knobel and others who maintain the opposite. And (2.) the dependent relation of Zephaniah and Jeremiah - a relation which the generally admitted muse-like character of the former, and the imitative character of the latter, render it impossible to invert. Both prophets show that they are acquainted with this prophecy of Isaiah, as indeed they are with all those prophecies which are set down as spurious. Stähelin, in his work on the Messianic prophecies (Excursus iv), has endeavoured to make out that the derivative passages in question are the original passages; but stat pro ratione voluntas . Now, as the testimony of the heading is sustained by such evidence as this, the one argument adduced on the other side, that the prophecy has no historical footing in the circumstances of Isaiah's times, cannot prove anything at all. No doubt all prophecy rested upon an existing historical basis. But we must not expect to be able to point this out in the case of every single prophecy. In the time of Hezekiah, as Isaiah 39:1-8 clearly shows (compare Micah 4:10), Isaiah had become spiritually certain of this, that the power by which the final judgment would be inflicted upon Judah would not be Asshur, but Babel, i.e., an empire which would have for its centre that Babylon, which was already the second capital of the Assyrian empire and the seat of kings who, though dependent then, were striving hard for independence; in other words, a Chaldean empire. Towards the end of his course Isaiah was full of this prophetic thought; and from it he rose higher and higher to the consoling discovery that Jehovah would avenge His people upon Babel, and redeem them from Babel, just as surely as from Asshur. The fact that so far-reaching an insight was granted to him into the counsels of God, was not merely founded on his own personality, but rested chiefly on the position which he occupied in the midst of the first beginnings of the age of great empires. Consequently, according to the law of the creative intensity of all divinely effected beginnings, he surveyed the whole of this long period as a universal prophet outstripped all his successors down to the time of Daniel, and left to succeeding ages not only such prophecies as those we have already read, which had their basis in the history of his own times and the historical fulfilment of which was not sealed up, but such far distant and sealed prophecies as those which immediately follow. For since Isaiah did not appear in public again after the fifteenth year of Hezekiah, the future, as his book clearly shows, was from that time forth his true home. Just as the apostle says of the New Testament believer, that he must separate himself from the world, and walk in heaven, so the Old Testament prophet separated himself from the present of his own nation, and lived and moved in its future alone.

Copyright Statement
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:1". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/isaiah-13.html. 1854-1889.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.

The burden — This title is commonly given to sad prophecies, which indeed are grievous burdens to them on whom they are laid.

Babylon — Of the city and empire of Babylon by Cyrus.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/isaiah-13.html. 1765.

Scofield's Reference Notes

burden

A "burden," Heb. massa= a heavy, weighty thing, is a message, or oracle concerning Babylon, Assyria, Jerusalem, etc. It is "heavy" because the wrath of God is in it, and grievous for the prophet to declare.

Babylon

The city, Babylon is not in view here, as the immediate context shows. It is important to note the significance of the name when used symbolically. "Babylon" is the Greek form: invariably in the O.T. Hebrew the word is simply Babel, the meaning of which is confusion, and in this sense the word is used symbolically.

(1) In the prophets, when the actual city is not meant, the reference is to the "confusion" into which the whole social order of the world has fallen under Gentile world-domination. (See "Times of the Gentiles," Luke 21:24; Revelation 16:14; Isaiah 13:4 gives the divine view of the welter of warring Gentile powers. The divine order is given in Isaiah 11. Israel in her own land, the centre of the divine government of the world and channel of the divine blessing; and the Gentiles blessed in association with Israel. Anything else is, politically, mere "babel."

(2) In Revelation 14:8-11; Revelation 16:19 the Gentile world-system is in view in connection with Armageddon; Revelation 16:14; Revelation 19:21 while in Revelation 17. the reference is to apostate Christianity, destroyed by the nations Revelation 17:16 headed up under the Beast; Daniel 7:8; Revelation 19:20 and false prophet. In Isaiah the political Babylon is in view, literally as to the then existing city, and symbolically as to the times of the Gentiles. In the Revelation both the symbolical- political and symbolical-religious Babylon are in view, for there both are alike under the tyranny of the Beast. Religious Babylon is destroyed by political Babylon Revelation 17:16 political Babylon by the appearing of the Lord Revelation 19:19-21. That Babylon the city is not to be rebuilt is clear from; Isaiah 13:19-22; Jeremiah 51:24-26; Jeremiah 51:62-64. By political Babylon is meant the Gentile world-system. (See "World,"; John 7:7; Revelation 13:8) It may be added that, in Scripture symbolism, Egypt stands for the world as such; Babylon for the world of corrupt power and corrupted religion; Nineveh for the pride, the haughty glory of the world.

Copyright Statement
These files are considered public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available in the Online Bible Software Library.
Bibliographical Information
Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Isaiah 13:1". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/isaiah-13.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Isaiah 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, [Jeremiah 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 "Nahum 1:1"} {See Trapp on "Malachi 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.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-13.html. 1865-1868.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

W e have a prophecy concerning the destruction of Babylon; and the Lord, for the comfort of the Church, causeth his servant to make it known, and the powers by whom he would accomplish it, even the Medes and Persians.

Isaiah 13:1

I pray the Reader to remark, with me, at the opening of this chapter, that from this part of the prophet's writings, a new subject seems to open: the prophet begins, what he calls burdens. Hence we have, in several successive chapters after this burden of Babylon, the burden of Moab, and the burden of Damascus, and the burden of Egypt, and the like. But the history of those nations is no farther entered into, than as they minister to the Church, either in persecuting the Church, or becoming instruments to her prosperity, according to the sovereign will and appointment of God. Although none of them thought so: neither did their heart intend it: yet to this little handful of people, this Church, this portion of the Lord Jesus, they all ministered; and every monarchy of the earth rose, or fell, as should bring about the Lord's purposes concerning Zion. I would beg the Reader to keep this in view while reading the history of men and nations; yea, even in modern times, as well as in the ages that are past, he will find, that for the salvation and preservation of God's Israel, all the nations of the earth are formed; and that they are moved about and directed to this one purpose only. Here the Lord begins with Babylon, in the threatened desolations which should overtake that nation. The things predicted were not to be accomplished for more than a hundred years; and during that time, the Lord's Israel was to go into captivity in Babylon, and seventy years were to be accomplished upon them. But in the mean time, the Lord will comfort his people with his promises. Reader! mark this! Is it not most blessed, and most gracious in the Lord, if, when at any time he is about to correct them for their transgressions, he pours in his consolations before? Do you know anything of this kind in your own exercises?

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/isaiah-13.html. 1828.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Isaiah 13:1.— This prophesy respecting Babylon may be divided into two parts; the former part contained in the present chapter: wherein we have, first, the title, Isaiah 13:1.; secondly, the matter comprehended in this first part, which describes figuratively and strongly the calamity of Babylon, Isaiah 13:2-16 and in the subsequent verses confirms the former prediction. Vitringa is of opinion, from the great similarity of phrases particularly which is found in both, that this prophesy was delivered at the same time with the preceding one concerning Assyria, beginning chap. Isaiah 10:5. The great design of delivering this and the following prophesies of the same kind was, first to set forth the reasons of the divine justice in punishing the enemies of the church, in order to console the minds and confirm the faith of the pious. A second and more immediate design was, to comfort the minds of true believers against that sad and sorrowful event, the Babylonish captivity; and the third to announce, under this figure, the destruction of the spiritual Babylon, the whole kingdom of sin and Satan. See Revelation 14:8; Revelation 17:5. It is necessary for every reader who would completely understand the prophesies which respect the several states mentioned in this SECOND part, to make themselves well acquainted with the history of those states. The excellent and judicious Vitringa has affixed to his comment an historical account of each kingdom. We just subjoin from him a brief detail of the state of the Babylonish empire. The kingdom of Babylon was founded by Nimrod, who made Babel the seat of his empire; It was then occupied by the Arabs, who less regarded Babylon; but the Syrians, having founded their monarchy in the East, seized the Babylonish empire, repaired, fortified, adorned and enlarged Babylon, and at first, most likely, governed that province by nobles or deputies, and then placed kings over it, among whom Nabonassar was famous. Those kings became obnoxious to the Assyrians; and afterwards shook off their yoke. It is uncertain whether Merodach-baladan was the first who did so, or the kings who followed Assar-Addin, and principally Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar; the Medes and other nations having before, and perhaps on account of the slaughter of Sennacherib, led them away in their defection from the Assyrians: this was the first step of the greatness of the Babylonish empire. The valour and prosperity of the two kings after Assar-addin,—Nabopolassar, and his son Nebuchadnezzar, very much advanced the dignity of this empire. At length, Ninus being cut off by the Medes, and the Chaldees assisting them, this kingdom and empire was entirely established; for as the Medes, after the destruction of Ninus, had all Asia beyond the Tygris subject to them, except Susiana, the Babylonish kings ruled over all Asia on this side the Tygris, as far as the river Halys and Egypt. See Vitringa, and the Universal History, vol. 4:

The burden of Babylon This inscription is not so much of a new prophesy as of a new book of prophesies, contra-distinguished from the former book, which also has its inscription; but we have here a different word used, משׂא massaa, the burden, of Babylon, which Vitringa renders, the sentence upon, or delivered concerning Babylon. Bishop Newton observes, (Prophesies, vol. 1: p. 354.) that it is remarkable, that the prophesies uttered against any city or country often carry the inscription of the burden of that city or country; and by burden is commonly understood a threatening burdensome prophesy, big with ruin and destruction; which, like a dead weight, is hung upon the city or country to sink it. But the word משׂא massaa, in the original is of more general import: sometimes it signifies a prophesy at large; sometimes a prophesy of good as well as of evil, as in Zechariah 12:1 sometimes it is translated a prophesy, where there is no prophesy, but only a grave moral sentence; and sometimes it is used of the author, as well as the subject, of a prophesy. The word משׂא massaa, in the original is derived from the verb נשׂא nasa, which signifies to take or lift up, or bring; and the proper meaning of it is, any weighty important matter, or sentence, which ought not to he neglected; but is worthy of being carried in the memory and deserves to be lifted up and uttered with emphasis. See Revelation 2:24. By Babylon we are to understand not only the city of that name, but the whole empire: See Vitringa.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:1". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/isaiah-13.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

ISAIAH CHAPTER 13

God’s armies, Isaiah 13:1-5. The destruction of Babylon by the Persians and Medes: their great distress and anguish; and their utter desolation, Isaiah 13:6-22.

The burden: this title is commonly given to sad prophecies, which indeed are grievous burdens to them upon whom they are laid. See 2 Kings 9:25 Jeremiah 23:33,36.

Of Babylon; of the city and empire of Babylon by Cyrus, for their manifold and great sins, and in order to the deliverance of his people.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Isaiah 13:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/isaiah-13.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

1.The burden of Babylon — The word massah, “burden,” is from a verb, meaning to lift, raise, and impliedly to bear; a secondary meaning is, to utter: hence the noun may mean a “burden” — mental burden — a verdict, or oracular utterance; or, a declaration prophetic and menacing — a judicial sentence upon Babylon. See 1 Kings 9:25.

Did see — The whole vision was serious, substantive truth, pictorially enacted.

 

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/isaiah-13.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

A general title for chapters13-23, and particularly the oracle against Babylon ( Isaiah 13:2 to Isaiah 14:27), opens chapter13. An oracle (or burden) is a message from God. Babylon was at this time an ancient city, it would later be an empire, and it had been in the past the historical source of arrogant self-sufficiency ( Genesis 11:1-9). When Isaiah wrote, it was a town within the Assyrian Empire that was asserting itself and was a real threat to Assyrian supremacy. Merodach-baladan was its king at this time (ca702 B.C.; cf. ch39). Isaiah "saw" the oracle in the sense that God enabled him to understand the things He proceeded to reveal (cf. Isaiah 1:1).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/isaiah-13.html. 2012.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Isaiah 13:1. The burden of Babylon — Of the city and empire of Babylon. The original word, משׂא, here rendered burden, is, by Dr. Waterland, after Vitringa, translated, The sentence upon, or, delivered concerning Babylon. It is “derived from a verb, which signifies to take, or lift up, or bring; and the proper meaning of it is, any weighty, important matter or sentence, which ought not to be neglected, but is worthy of being carried in the memory, and deserves to be lifted up, and uttered with emphasis.” See Revelation 2:24, and Vitringa. Bishop Newton and others have observed, that “the prophecies uttered against any city or country, often carry the inscription of the burden of that city or country: and that by burden is commonly understood a threatening, burdensome prophecy, big with ruin and destruction: which, like a dead weight, is hung upon the city or country to sink it.” But it appears that the word is of more general import, and sometimes signifies a prophecy at large, sometimes a prophecy of good as well as of evil, as in Zechariah 12:1; and sometimes, where the original word is used, it is translated prophecy, where there is no prophecy, but only a grave moral sentence.

This prophecy against Babylon, which consists of two parts, the former contained in this chapter, the latter in the next, was probably delivered, as Vitringa has shown, in the reign of Ahaz, about two hundred years before the completion of it, and a hundred and thirty before the Jews were even carried captive to Babylon; which captivity the prophet does not expressly foretel here, but supposes, in the spirit of prophecy, as what was actually to take place. “And the Medes, who are expressly mentioned, Isaiah 13:17, as the principal agents in the overthrow of the Babylonian monarchy, by which the Jews were to be released from that captivity, were at this time an inconsiderable people; having been in a state of anarchy ever since the fall of the great Assyrian empire, of which they had made a part under Sardanapalus; and did not become a kingdom till about the seventeenth of Hezekiah.” — Bishop Lowth. The great design of God in inspiring his prophet with the knowledge of these future events, and exciting him to deliver these prophecies concerning them, seems to have been, 1st, To set forth the reasons of his justice, in punishing the enemies of his church, in order to console the minds and confirm the faith of the pious. 2d, With respect to this prophecy especially, concerning the destruction of Babylon, the design was to comfort the minds of true believers against that sad and sorrowful event, the Babylonish captivity. And, 3d, Under the figure of that destruction, to announce the destruction of the spiritual Babylon, the whole kingdom of sin and Satan. See Vitringa, and Revelation 14:8; Revelation 17:5.

“The former part of this prophecy,” says Bishop Lowth, “is one of the most beautiful examples that can be given, of elegance of composition, variety of imagery, and sublimity of sentiment and diction, in the prophetic style: and the latter part consists of an ode of supreme and singular excellence. The prophecy opens with the command of God to gather together the forces which he had destined to his service, Isaiah 13:2-3. Upon which the prophet hears the tumultuous noise of the different nations crowding together to his standard; he sees them advancing, prepared to execute divine wrath, Isaiah 13:4-5. He proceeds to describe the dreadful consequences of this visitation; the consternation which will seize those that are the objects of it; and transferring unawares the speech from himself to God, Isaiah 13:11, sets forth, under a variety of the most striking images, the dreadful destruction of the inhabitants of Babylon, which will follow, Isaiah 13:11-16; and the everlasting desolation to which that great city is doomed, Isaiah 13:17-22. The deliverance of Judah from captivity, the immediate consequence of this great revolution, is then set forth without being much enlarged upon, or greatly amplified, chap. 14:1, 2. This introduces, with the greatest ease, and the utmost propriety, the triumphant song on that subject, Isaiah 13:4-22. The beauties of which, the various images, scenes, persons introduced, and the elegant transitions from one to another, I shall endeavour to point out in their order.”

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/isaiah-13.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Burden. That is, a prophecy against Babylon. (Challoner) --- Nimrod began the kingdom, Genesis x. Belus and Ninus brought it to great eminence. But after 1240 years, Babylon was taken by Cyrus. (Worthington) --- Isaias delivered the seven following chapters in the first year of Ezechias, chap. xiv. 28.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/isaiah-13.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

burden = a prophetic oracle or warning. This begins the fourth great division of the book. Reference to Pentateuch (Numbers 24:3), App-92.

Babylon. This takes precedence, and stands for Chaldsea generally. It reached its height about 100 years later, under Nahopolassar and his son Nebuchadnezzar. A generation later it was captured by Cyrus and Darius the Mede (see App-57). Babylon was of little importance at this time.

Isaiah. His name given in Isaiah 1:1; Isaiah 2:1; Isaiah 7:3; Isaiah 13:1; Isaiah 20:2, Isaiah 20:3; Isaiah 37:2, Isaiah 37:5, Isaiah 37:6, Isaiah 37:21; Isaiah 39:3, Isaiah 39:5, Isaiah 39:8.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/isaiah-13.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.

The predictions as to foreign nations are for the sake of the covenant people, to preserve them from despair, or reliance on human confederacies, and to strengthen their faith in God;-also in order to extirpate narrow-minded nationality. God is YAHWEH (Hebrew #3068) TO ISRAEL, not for Israel's sake alone, but that He my be thereby 'ELOHIYM (Hebrew #430) TO THE NATIONS. These prophecies are in their right chronological place, in the beginning of Hezekiah's reign;-then first the nations of Western Asia, on the Tigris and Euphrates, assumed a most menacing aspect.

The burden, [ masaa' (Hebrew #4853)] - weighty or mournful prophecy. So the Chaldaic paraphrases, 'the burden of the cup of malediction' (Grotius). Otherwise simply, the prophetic declaration, from a Hebrew root [ naasa' (Hebrew #5375)], to put forth with the voice anything, as in Numbers 23:7, "Baalam took up his parable" (Maurer). So apparently it means, Proverbs 31:1; Zechariah 12:1. But the primary meaning is probably a weighty saying or solemn prophecy, taken up (as nasa means) in the mouth of man. So Kimchi.

Of Babylon - concerning Babylon.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/isaiah-13.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

XIII.

(1) The burden of Babylon . . .—The title “burden,” which is repeated in Isaiah 15:1; Isaiah 17:1; Isaiah 19:1; Isaiah 21:1; Isaiah 22:1; Isaiah 23:1, indicates that we have in this division a collection of prophetic utterances, bearing upon the future of the surrounding nations, among which Babylon was naturally pre-eminent. The authenticity of the first of these oracles has been questioned, partly on the ground of differences of style, partly because it seems to anticipate the future destruction of Babylon with a distinctness which implies a prophecy after the event. The first of these objections rests, as will be seen from the numerous coincidences between these and other portions of Isaiah, on no sufficient evidence. The second implies a view of prophecy which excludes the element of a divinely given foreknowledge; and that view the present writer does not accept.

Accepting the two chapters as Isaiah’s, we have to ask how Babylon came at the time within the prophet’s historical horizon, and what were at the time its political relations with Assyria. (1) It is obvious that the negotiations which Ahaz had opened with Tiglath-pileser, the passage to and fro of armies and ambassadors, the journeys of prophets like Jonah and Nahum, the commerce of which we have traces even in the days of Joshua (Joshua 7:21), must have made Babylon, as well as Nineveh, familiar to the leading men of Judah. As a matter of fact, it was probably more familiar. Babylon was the older, more famous, more splendid city Nineveh (if we accept the conclusions of one school of historians) had been overpowered and destroyed by the Medes under Arbaces, and the Babylonians under Belesis (B.C. 739), the Pul of Bible history, under whom Assyria was a dependency of Babylon (Lenormant, Anc. Hist., p. 38). In Tiglath-pileser the Assyrians found a ruler who restored their supremacy. The Chaldæans, however, revolted under Merôdach-baladan, and Sargon records with triumph how he had conquered him and spoiled his palace. As the result of that victory, he took the title of king of Babylon. Merôdach-baladan, however, renewed his resistance early in the reign of Sennacherib, and though again defeated, we find him courting the alliance of Hezekiah either before or after the destruction of that king’s army (Isaiah 39). We can scarcely doubt that the thought of a Babylonian, as of an Egyptian, alliance had presented itself to the minds of the statesmen of Judah as a means of staying the progress of Assyrian conquests. The chapters now before us, however, do not seem written with reference to such an alliance, and in Isaiah 14:25 Babylon seems contemplated chiefly as the representative of the power of Assyria. It seems probable, accordingly, that the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14:4 is to be identified with Sargon, the Assyrian king, who took the title of “Vicar of the Gods in Babylon” (Records of the Past, vol. xi. 17).

The word “burden,” prefixed to this and the following prophecies, is a literal translation of the Hebrew. It seems to have acquired a half-technical sense as announcing the doom which a nation or a man was called to bear, and so to have acquired the meaning of an “oracle,” or “prophecy.” This meaning, which is first prominent in Isaiah (in Proverbs 30:1; Proverbs 31:1 it is used of an ethical or didactic utterance thought of as inspired), was afterwards given to it in the speeches of the false prophets (Lamentations 2:14); and in Jeremiah 23:33-40 we have a striking play upon the primary and derived meaning of the word. (See Note on Jeremiah 23:33.) It continued in use, however, in spite of Jeremiah’s protest, and appears in Zechariah 9:1; Zechariah 12:1; Malachi 1:1. Oracle is perhaps the best English equivalent. We note as characteristic (see Isaiah 1:1; Isaiah 2:1), that the “burden” is described as that which Isaiah saw.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/isaiah-13.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.
A. M. 3292. B.C. 712. burden
14:28; 15:1; 17:1; 19:1; 21:1,11,13; 22:1,25; 23:1; Jeremiah 23:33-38; Ezekiel 12:10; Nahum 1:1; Habakkuk 1:1; Zechariah 9:1; 12:1; Malachi 1:1
of Babylon
14:4-23; 21:1-10; 43:14; 44:1,2; 47:1-15; Jeremiah 25:12-26; 50:1-51; Daniel 5:28-6; Revelation 17:1-18
which Isaiah
1:1
Reciprocal: Genesis 11:9 - Babel;  2 Kings 9:25 - the Lord;  2 Kings 20:12 - Babylon;  Psalm 79:6 - upon;  Psalm 87:4 - Babylon;  Psalm 137:8 - who art;  Isaiah 2:1 - saw;  Isaiah 39:1 - king;  Jeremiah 5:10 - ye up;  Jeremiah 9:26 - Egypt;  Jeremiah 25:26 - drink;  Jeremiah 27:7 - until;  Lamentations 1:21 - thou wilt;  Ezekiel 28:26 - when I;  Daniel 5:26 - God;  Habakkuk 2:7 - they;  Zephaniah 3:15 - he hath;  Zechariah 5:7 - talent

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/isaiah-13.html.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

THE PROUD CITY DOOMED

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

In 2 Kings 17 we find an account of the invasion of Israel by the Assyrians (2Ki ). Then follows a long enumeration of the sins which had brought this Divine visitation upon the ten tribes, ending with the words, "So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day" (2Ki 17:23). If the scourge was no longer in the hands of the king of Assyria, it would be transferred to other hands not less terrible.

1. Would this scourge destroy the life of the Jewish nation? This was the awful question which presented itself to the minds of the prophets when they saw one and another limb of this nation lopped off, when they saw that a great numerical majority of the tribes would be carried away. Isaiah's eyes were opened to see whence the permanence of the race was derived, how great critical moments of its life discovered Him who was everlastingly present with it. The child born in hours of trouble and rebuke had borne witness to him of the continuance of the regal family as well as of the people of God's covenant, when the rage of their enemies as well as their own faithlessness were threatening them with destruction. Nor was this all. In the miserable, heartless reign of Ahaz the vision had been presented to him of a "Rod coming out of the stem of Jesse, which should stand for an ensign of the people. To it should the Gentiles seek, and His rest should be glorious." Consider the Rod out of Jesse, what it betokened (Isa )! The immediate fruits which Isaiah saw coming out of this root might have appeared in the days of any patriotic and prosperous prince, and did actually appear in the latter days of Hezekiah. No doubt Hezekiah might become, and did actually become, "an ensign to the nations," just as Solomon had been before him, one to whom they brought presents, whose alliance they sought, whose elevation out of a deep calamity was a proof that some mighty God was with him. But—

2. Though we need not seek in any more distant days than those of Hezekiah for a very satisfactory fulfilment of these predictions (and let it never be forgotten that what may seem to us, when we look back over 3000 years, an exaggerated description of deliverance and restoration, must have seemed inadequate and almost cold to those who experienced the blessing),—though Hezekiah was a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and though the Spirit of the Lord did rest upon him (Isa ),—though the peacefulness and order of his last years might faithfully carry out the symbols of the wolf and the lamb lying down togther, yet it was no less impossible for the prophet to think chiefly of Hezekiah when he was uttering these words than it would have been for him to fancy that he was the King whom he saw sitting on the throne, and his train filling the temple in the year that Uzziah died (chap. Isa 6:1-4). There was, however, this great blessing which came to Isaiah from his being able to connect the Divine King with an actual man—the belief that a man must embody and present the Godhead, that only in a man could its blessedness and glory appear, acquired a force and vividness from his hope of Hezekiah's government and from his actual experience of it, which we may say, without rashness or profaneness, would have been otherwise wanting in him. In using that language, we are only affirming that any method but the one which we know the Divine Wisdom has adopted for conveying a truth to a man's spirit must be an imperfect method. Hezekiah's existence was necessary to the instruction of Isaiah, and through him of all generations to come. Perhaps Shalmaneser and Sennacherib were, in another way, scarcely less necessary.

Apparently the prophet passes in this chapter to an entirely new subject. The Assyrian seems to be forgotten. He opens with the burden of Babylon; he goes on to the burden of Damascus, &c. But Babel or Babylon represented to the prophets the attempt to establish a universal society, not upon the acknowledgment of the Divine care and protection, but upon the acknowledgment of a mere power in nature against which men must try to measure their own. The order and history of the Jewish nation were made, from age to age, silently to testify against it. "Babylon is the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency" (Isa ); her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged (Isa 13:22). But these and similar words must refer to more than the destruction of a certain Chaldean city then or afterwards. How can we limit them to it when we find such words as those in Isa 13:11-13? Instead of being, as some suppose, an interpolated fragment, the burden of Babylon comes in to make all the visitations upon the other tribes of the earth intelligible. They are diverse but harmonious portions of the same Divine message to man—a message of terror, but also of deliverance and hope. In chap. 14 we feel how wonderfully these are combined.

But though most feel something of the grandeur of this poetry, and a few the truth of this prophecy, we do not enough consider upon what both are founded. The God-Man was the ground upon which the Jewish nation stood; here you have the contrast—the Man-God; he would ascend up to heaven and exalt his throne above the stars of God. This is the natural ruler of a society which counts the gold of Ophir more precious than human beings. We have here the Babylonian power and the Jerusalem power, that parody of human and Divine greatness which is seen in an earthly tyrant, that perfect reconciliation of divinity and humanity which is seen in the Redeemer. Consider both images well. Both are presented to us; we must admire and copy one of them; and whichever we take, we must resolutely discard the other. If we have ever mixed them together in our minds, a time is at hand that will separate them for ever. The Babylonian mark and image, your own evil nature, a corrupt society, the evil spirit, have been striving to stamp you ever since your childhood. Each hour you are tempted to think a man less precious than the gold of Ophir; the current maxims of the world take for granted that he is; you in a thousand ways are acting on those maxims. Oh, remember that in them, and in the habits, which they beget, lies the certain presage of slavery for men and nations, the foretaste of decay and ruin, which no human contrivances can avert, which the gifts and blessings of God's providence only accelerate. May God grant us power to cast Babylonian principles out of our hearts, that when they come before us we may despise them and laugh them to scorn, knowing that not against us but against the Holy One the enemy is exalting himself. In that day may we be able to sing the song which the prophet said should be sung in the land of Judah (Isa ).—F. D. Maurice, M.A.: Prophets and Kings, pp. 272-290.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:1". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/isaiah-13.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

1. The burden of Babylon From this chapter down to the twenty-fourth, the Prophet foretells what dreadful and shocking calamities awaited the Gentiles and those countries which were best known to the Jews, either on account of their being contiguous to them, or on account of the transactions of commerce and alliances; and he does so not without weighty reasons. When various changes are taking place, some think that God sports with the affairs of men, and others, that everything is directed by the blind violence of fortune, as profane history sufficiently testifies; very few are aware that these things are appointed and regulated by the purpose of God. There is nothing of which it is more difficult to convince men than that the providence of God governs this world. Many indeed acknowledge it in words, but very few have it actually engraven on their heart. We tremble and shudder at the very smallest change, and we inquire into the causes, as if it depended on the decision of men. What then shall be done, when the whole world is thrown into commotion, and the face of affairs is so completely changed in various places, that it appears as if everything were going to ruin?

It was therefore highly useful that Isaiah and other prophets should discourse about calamities of this nature, that all might understand that those calamities did not take place but by the secret and wonderful purpose of God. If they had uttered no prediction on those subjects, such a disordered state of affairs might have shaken and disturbed the minds of the godly; but when they knew long beforehand that this would happen, they had in the event itself a mirror of the providence of God. When Babylon was taken, which they had previously learned from the mouth of the Prophet, their own experience taught them that the prediction had not been made in vain, or without solid grounds.

But there was also another reason why the Lord commanded that the destruction of Babylon and other nations should be foretold. These predictions were of no advantage to Babylon or the other nations, and these writings did not reach them; but by this consolation he intended to alleviate the grief of the godly, that they might not be discouraged, as if their condition were worse than that of the Gentiles; which they would have had good reason to conclude, if they had seen them unpunished escape the hand of God. If the monarchy of Babylon had remained unshaken, the Jews would not only have thought that it was in vain for them to worship God, and that his covenant which he had made with Abraham had not been fulfilled, since it fared better with strangers and wicked men than with the elect people; but a worse suspicion might have crept into their minds, that God showed favor to accursed robbers, who gave themselves up to deeds of dishonesty and violence, and despised all law both human and divine. Indeed, they might soon have come to think that God did not care for his people, or could not assist them, or that everything was directed by the blind violence of fortune. Accordingly, that they might not faint or be thrown into despair, the Prophet meets them with the consoling influence of this prediction, showing that the Babylonians also will be punished.

Besides, the comparison taught them how severe was the punishment that awaited them, which they had knowingly and willingly brought upon themselves. For if God pronounces such dreadful threatenings against the unbelieving and irreligious Gentiles, who wandered in darkness, how much greater will be his rigour and severity against a rebellious people who have intentionally sinned against him!

The servant who knoweth his master’s will, and doeth it not, is justly beaten with many stripes. (Luke 12:47.)

Thus when God threatened such dreadful punishment against the blind Gentiles, the Jews, who had been instructed in the law, might behold as in a mirror what they had deserved.

But the chief design which Isaiah had in view in these predictions was, to point out to the Jews how dear and valuable their salvation was in the sight of God, when they saw that he undertook their cause and revenged the injuries which had been done to them. He spoke first of the desolation and ruin that would befall the kingdom of Judah and of Israel, because judgment must begin at the house of God. (1 Peter 4:17.) God takes a peculiar care of his own people, and gives his chief attention to them. Whenever therefore we read these predictions, let us learn to apply them to our use. The Lord does not indeed, at the present day, foretell the precise nature of those events which shall befall kingdoms and nations; but yet the government of the world, which he undertook, is not abandoned by him. Whenever therefore we behold the destruction of cities, the calamities of nations, and the overturning of kingdoms, let us call those predictions to remembrance, that we may be humbled under God’s chastisements, may learn to gather wisdom from the affliction of others, and may pray for an alleviation of our own grief.

The burden. As to the word burden, which frequently occurs, I shall state briefly in what sense it ought to be understood. It was generally employed by the prophets of God, whenever they threatened any afflictive event, in order to inform the people that no afflictive event happened which the Lord himself did not lay as a burden on men’s shoulders. The wickedness and obstinacy of the people having constrained the prophets to preach incessantly about God’s chastisements, the consequence was, that as a matter of ordinary jesting they called all the prophecies by the name of a burden; as is evident from Jeremiah 23:36, where the Lord kindles into fierce indignation, because they not only spoke of his word contemptuously, but also held it up to dislike. This word makes known to the godly, that the Lord appoints all calamities and afflictions, that every one may suffer the punishment of his own sin.

Which Isaiah, the son of Amoz, saw. He expressly states that what he is about to utter was revealed to him by a heavenly vision, that the weight which is thus given to it may render it victorious over all the judgments pronounced by the flesh. It was difficult to believe that a monarchy so flourishing, and so prodigiously rich, could be overturned in any way. Their eyes being dazzled by beholding such vast power, the Prophet draws away their attention from it to believe the heavenly revelation, that they may expect by faith the judgment of God which they could not comprehend by the unaided exercise of their own minds.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/isaiah-13.html. 1840-57.