Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Isaiah 13:2

Lift up a standard on the bare hill, Raise your voice to them, Wave the hand that they may enter the doors of the nobles.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Mountain;   Thompson Chain Reference - Banners;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Babylon;   Hands, the;   Mountains;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Babylon;   Isaiah;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Babylon;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Banner;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Isaiah;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Isaiah, Book of;   War;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Jehovah-nissi;   Medes;   Rebels;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Messiah;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ensign;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Banner;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Armies;   War;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Judah;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Banner;   Exalt;   Isaiah;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Ararat;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - War;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for February 20;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Exalt the voice - The word להם lahem, "to them," which is of no use, and rather weakens the sentence, is omitted by an ancient MS., and the Vulgate.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:2". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/isaiah-13.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Lift ye up a banner - A military ensign or standard. The vision opens here; and the first thing which the prophet hears, is the solemn command of God addressed to the nations as subject to him, to rear the standard of war, and to gather around it the mighty armies which were to be employed in the destruction of the city. This command, ‹Lift ye up a banner,‘ is addressed to the leaders of those armies to assemble them, and to prepare them for war.

Upon the high mountain - It was customary for military leaders to plant a standard on a tower, a fortress, a city, a high mountain, or any elevated spot, in order that it might be seen afar, and be the rallying point for the people to collect together (see the note at Isaiah 11:10). Here, the prophet does not refer to any particular “mountain,” but means simply, that a standard should be raised, around which the hosts should be assembled to march to Babylon. The Chaldee renders it, ‹Over the city dwelling in security, lift up the banner.‘

Exalt the voice - Raise up the voice, commanding the people to assemble, and to prepare for the march against Babylon, Perhaps, however, the word ‹voice‘ here (קול qôl ) refers to the “clangor,” or sound, of a trumpet used for mustering armies. The word is often used to denote “any” noise, and is frequently applied to thunder, to the trumpet, etc.

Unto them - That is, to the Medes and Persians, who were to be employed in the destruction of Babylon.

Shake the hand - In the way of beckoning; as when one is at so great a distance that the voice cannot be heard, the hand is waved for a sign. This was a command to beckon to the nations to assemble for the destruction of Babylon.

That they may go into the gates of the nobles - The word rendered here ‹nobles‘ (נדיבים nedı̂ybı̂ym ) means, properly, “voluntary, free, liberal;” then those who are noble, or liberally-minded, from the connection between nobleness and liberality; then those who are noble or elevated in rank or office. In this sense it is used here; compare Job 12:21; Job 34:18; 1 Samuel 2:8; Psalm 107:40; and Proverbs 8:16, where it is rendered ‹princes;‘ Numbers 21:18, where it is rendered ‹nobles.‘ Lowth renders it here ‹princes.‘ Noyes renders it ‹tyrants ‹ - a sense which the word has in Job 21:28 (see the note at that place). There is no doubt that it refers to Babylon; and the prophet designs probably to speak of Babylon as a magnificent city - a city of princes, or nobles. The Chaldee renders it, ‹That they may enter its gates, which open to them of their own accord;‘ retaining the original signification of “voluntariness” in the Hebrew word, and expressing the idea that the conquest would be easy. Our common translation has expressed the correct sense.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:2". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/isaiah-13.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain,.... Or "upon the mountain Nishphah"; some high mountain in Media or Persia, proper to set a standard on, or erect a banner for the gathering men together, to enlist themselves as soldiers, and so form an army to march into the land of Chaldea. Vitringa thinks there may be an allusion to the mountain Zagrius, which divides Media and Persia from Assyria, mentioned by StraboF24Geograph. l. 11. p. 359. . Or "upon a high mountain"; any high mountain fit for such a purpose; or "against the high mountain", as someF25על הר נשפה "contra montem excelsum", Forerius, Sanctius. read it; meaning Babylon, called a mountain, Jeremiah 51:25 not because of its situation, for it was in a plain; but because of its eminence above other cities and states. The Targum is,

"against the city that dwells securely, lift up a sign;'

a token of war, proclaim war against it, that lives at ease, and is in peace; and so the word is used in the Talmudic language, as Kimchi observes; and to this agrees Jarchi's note,

"to gather against the mountain that is quiet, and trusts in its tranquillity, lift up a banner to the nations.'

Exalt the voice unto them; the Medes, mentioned by name in Isaiah 13:17 such as were within call, or were gathered together by the lifting up of the banner; such were to be urged with great vehemency to enlist themselves, and engage in a war against Babylon:

shake the hand; beckon with it to them that are afar off, that cannot hear the voice:

that they may go into the gates of the nobles; that dwell in the city of Babylon, where they might expect to find rich plunder; though some understand this of the nobles or princes of the Medes and Persians, as Kimchi observes, that should enter through the gates of Babylon into the city; and by others it is interpreted of the soldiers coming to the doors of the leaders or generals of the army, to give in their names, and enlist themselves in their service; which well agrees with what goes before.

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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 13:2". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/isaiah-13.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice to them, shake the b hand, that they may go into the gates of the nobles.

(b) That is, the Medes and Persians.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:2". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/isaiah-13.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

banner — (Isaiah 5:26; Isaiah 11:10).

the high mountain — rather, “a bare (literally, “bald,” that is, without trees) mountain”; from it the banner could be seen afar off, so as to rally together the peoples against Babylon.

unto them — unto the Medes (Isaiah 13:17), the assailants of Babylon. It is remarkable that Isaiah does not foretell here the Jews‘ captivity in Babylon, but presupposes that event, and throws himself beyond, predicting another event still more future, the overthrow of the city of Israel‘s oppressors. It was now one hundred seventy-four years before the event.

shake  …  handbeckon with the hand - wave the hand to direct the nations to march against Babylon.

nobles — Babylonian. Rather, in a bad sense, tyrants; as in Isaiah 14:5, “rulers” in parallelism to “the wicked”; and Job 21:28 [Maurer].

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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 13:2". "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 prophet hears a call to war. From whom it issues, and to whom or against whom it is directed, still remains a secret; but this only adds to the intensity. ”On woodless mountain lift ye up a banner, call to them with loud sounding voice, shake the hand, that they may enter into gates of princes!” The summons is urgent: hence a threefold signal, viz., the banner-staff planted on a mountain “made bald” ( nishpeh , from which comes sh e phi , which only occurs in Isaiah and Jeremiah), the voice raised high, and the shaking of the hand, denoting a violent beckoning - all three being favourite signs with Isaiah. The destination of this army is to enter into a city of princes ( nedı̄bı̄m , freemen, nobles, princes, Psalms 107:40, cf., Psalms 113:8), namely, to enter as conquerors; for it is not the princes who invite them, but Jehovah.

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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:2". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/isaiah-13.html. 1854-1889.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

A banner — To gather soldiers together.

Mountain — Whence it may be discerned at a considerable distance. Withal he seems to intimate, that their enemies should come from the mountainous country of Media.

Them — To the Medes.

Shake — Beckon to them with your hand, that they may come to this service, that they may go and fight against Babylon, and take it, and so enter in to the palaces of the king, and his princes.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:2". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/isaiah-13.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Isaiah 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," [Exodus 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.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:2". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-13.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Lift ye up a banner, to gather soldiers together for this expedition.

Upon the high mountain; whence it may be discerned at a considerable distance. Withal he seems to intimate that their enemies should come from the mountainous country of Media.

Unto them; to the Medes, who are named below, Isaiah 13:17.

Shake the hand; beckon to them with your hand, that they may come to this service.

That they may go into the gates of the nobles; that they may go and fight against Babylon, and take it, and so enter into the palaces of the king, and of his princes, and spoil them at their pleasure; which the Medes and Persians did. The manner of expression implies how easily and expeditiously they did their work, that, like Caesar, they might say they only came, and saw, and overcame.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Isaiah 13:2". 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

2.Lift ye up a banner — See Isaiah 5:26 and Isaiah 11:12, and the notes there.

Upon the high mountain — Literally, bald mountain, from which the reared standard could be seen from afar, and a rally thither could be made.

Unto them — The Medes. The Median power, with that of Persia, is to conquer Babylon. The point of time in the vision is, when Babylon is flushed with power and prosperity, and stained with crime. The Median mountainous country lay to the northeast, the Persian to the east. Cyrus, though not named, is the great instrument of God, who is now summoning.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:2". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/isaiah-13.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Mountain of Media, whence Darius came. It was usual to erect a signal, (chap. xxx. 17., and Jeremias vi. 1.) to call troops together. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:2". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/isaiah-13.html. 1859.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

Lift ye up a banner - (Isaiah 5:26; Isaiah 11:10.)

Upon the high mountain - or else, 'a bare (literally, bald; i:e., without trees) mountain' [ nishpeh (Hebrew #8192), from shaapah (Hebrew #8192); akin to an Aramaic root, bald; Syriac, to level or make plain. But Buxtorf supports the English version. Shaapah (Hebrew #8192) means to be high: so the noun in Numbers 23:3. The Vulgate takes nishpeh (Hebrew #8192) here by metathesis from nesheph (Hebrew #5399), twilight, and translates dark, referring to Babylon, on account of its confusion, as Babel means. Or else, on account of the fogs from the marsh in which Babylon lay. But Babylon was not on a mountain, but in a low plain]. From "the high mountain" the banner could be seen afar off, so as to rally together the peoples against Babylon.

Exalt the voice unto them - unto the Medes (Isaiah 13:17), the assailants of Babylon. It is remarkable that Isaiah does not foretell here the Jews' captivity in Babylon, but presupposes that event, and throws himself beyond, predicting another event still more future, the overthrow of the city of Israel's oppressors. It was now 174 years before the event.

Shake the hand - beckon with the hand; wave the hand to direct the nations to march against Babylon.

That they may go into the gates of the nobles - Babylonian, rather, in a bad sense, tyrants ( n

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:2". "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

(2) Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain . . .—Strictly speaking, a bare mountain. where there were no trees to hide the standard round which the forces that the prophet sees were to rally. The word and thought are the same as in Isaiah 5:26; but there the summons lies for the invaders of Israel, here for its avengers. The voice that summons is, as the next verse shows, that of Jehovah. The “shaking the hand” is, as in Isaiah 10:32, the act of the generals pointing with emphatic gesture to the city that is to be destroyed.

The gates of the nobles.—The word is used to heighten the contrast between the greatness of the city to be destroyed, with its gates that had witnessed for centuries the entrance of kings and princes, and the wild roughness of the barbarian destroyers.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:2". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/isaiah-13.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
Lift ye up
5:26; 11:12; 18:3; Jeremiah 50:2; 51:27,28
upon the high
Jeremiah 51:25
shake
10:32; 11:15
go into
45:1-3; Jeremiah 51:58
Reciprocal: Judges 4:6 - Hath;  1 Chronicles 5:26 - stirred up;  Isaiah 21:2 - Go up;  Isaiah 21:5 - arise;  Isaiah 46:11 - Calling;  Jeremiah 6:4 - Prepare;  Jeremiah 49:14 - Gather;  Jeremiah 49:28 - Arise;  Jeremiah 50:9 - I will raise;  Jeremiah 50:25 - opened;  Jeremiah 50:41 - GeneralJeremiah 51:12 - the standard;  Jeremiah 51:53 - from;  Zechariah 2:9 - I will;  Matthew 22:7 - his

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:2". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/isaiah-13.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

2.Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain. The word mountain contains a metaphor; for the discourse relates to Babylon, which, we know, was situated on a plain; but with a view to its extensive dominion, he has assigned to it an elevated situation, like a fortress set on high above all nations. But perhaps it will be thought better to take the word mountain as used indefinitely; as if he had said, “When a signal is given there will be a vast assemblage from very distant countries, because all men will be attracted towards it by the wide and extensive influence of the sight;” and, indeed, I consider this opinion to be more probable, but I chose to mention at first the opinion which had been commonly received. Yet it might be thought absurd that the Prophet here enjoins the creatures to yield, as it were, obedience to him, if God had not fortified the Prophet by his instructions and authority. A private man here commands the Medes and Persians, assembles armies, orders a banner to be lifted up, and sounds the trumpet for battle.

This should therefore lead us to consider the majesty of God, in whose name he spoke, and likewise the power and efficacy which is always joined with the word. Such modes of expression are frequently found in the Prophets, that, by placing the events as it were before our eyes, he may enable us to see that God threatens nothing by his servants which he is not ready immediately to execute. Isaiah might indeed have threatened in plain and direct terms, “The Persians and Medes will come, and will burst through the gates of Babylon, notwithstanding the prodigious strength of its fortifications.” But those exclamations are far more energetic, when he not only assumes the character of a herald and proclaims war, but, as if he exercised the highest authority, orders the Medes and Persians to assemble like hired soldiers. Not only does he show that they will be ready at the bidding of God, because they are moved by his secret influence; but, having been sent by God to announce the ruin of Babylon, he claims for his own voice the accomplishment of what appeared to be beyond belief. It amounts to this, “When God hath spoken about what shall happen, we ought to entertain no doubt concerning it.” It deserves our notice also, that he describes the Persians and Medes, without mentioning their names; for that threatening is more emphatic, when he points them out, as it were, with the finger, as when we say, “This and that man.” This contributes to the certainty of the prophecy, when he points out such distant events as if they were at hand.

Shake the hand, that they may enter within the gates of the nobles. When he says, Shake the hand, and they shall enter, he means that the Persians and Medes shall no sooner begin to advance at the command of God than their road shall be plain and easy in spite of every obstruction. Though the Hebrews call Princes נדיבים, (Nedibim,) that is, generous and bountiful, on which is also founded that saying of Christ, εὐεργέται καλοῦνται, they are called benefactors, (Luke 22:25,) yet I think that the Prophet draws our attention to the splendor of power in which the Babylonians gloried. They were furnished above others with forces and warlike armaments, so that it appeared to be incredible that they could ever be vanquished. But the Prophet threatens that nothing shall hinder God from opening up a way and entrance to the enemies.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:2". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/isaiah-13.html. 1840-57.