Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Isaiah 13:21

But desert creatures will lie down there, And their houses will be full of owls; Ostriches also will live there, and shaggy goats will frolic there.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Animals;   Cyrus;   Ostriches;   Owl;   The Topic Concordance - Judges;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Babylon;   Beasts;   Deserts;   Houses;   Owl, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ape;   Babylon;   Isaiah;   Ostrich;   Satyrs;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Birds;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Demon;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Dance;   Devil;   Doleful Creatures;   Goat;   Owl;   Satyr;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Babel;   Goat;   Idol;   Ostrich;   Satyrs;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Birds;   Exorcism;   Howling Creatures;   Isaiah;   Satyr;   Wilderness;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Azazel;   Devil;   Goat;   Isaiah, Book of;   Jackal;   Ostrich;   Persia, Persians;   Satyr;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Baruch, Apocalypse of;   Demon, Demoniacal Possession, Demoniacs;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Babylon ;   Demon;   Ostrich;   Satyr;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Babylon;   Medes;   Nineveh;   Ostrich;   Rebels;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Babylon;   Messiah;   Ostrich;   Satyr;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Beasts;   Goat;   Ostrich;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Judah;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Arabia;   Azazel;   Cat;   Communion with Demons;   Creature;   Demon;   Desert;   Doleful;   Goat;   Isaiah;   Jackal;   Night-Monster;   Ostrich;   Satyr;   Wild Beast;   Zoology;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Animal Worship;   Demonology;   Ostrich;   Satyr;   Wilderness;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for February 20;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Satyrs - A kind of beast like to man, which is called מרמוטש marmots, a monkey. - Rabbi Parchon.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:21". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/isaiah-13.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there - Hebrew, (ציים tsı̂yı̂ym ). This word denotes properly those animals that dwell in dry and desolate places, from צי tsı̂y “a waste, a desert.” The ancient versions have differed considerably in the interpretation. The Septuagint in different places renders it, Θηριά Thēria - ‹Wild animals;‘ or δαιμόνια daimonia - ‹Demons.‘ The Syriac, ‹Wild animals, spirits, sirens.‘ Vulgate, ‹Beasts, demons, dragons.‘ Abarbanel renders it, ‹Apes.‘ This word is applied to people, in Psalm 72:9; Psalm 74:14; to animals, Isaiah 23:13; Isaiah 34:14; Jeremiah 50:39. Bochart supposes that wild cats or catamounts are here intended. He has proved that they abound in eastern countries. They feed upon dead carcasses, and live in the woods, or in desert places, and are remarkable for their howl. Their yell resembles that of infants. (“See” Bochart‘s “Hieroz.” i. 3. 14. pp. 860-862.)

And their houses shall be full of doleful creatures - Margin, ‹Ochim,‘ or ‹Ostriches.‘ אחים 'ochı̂ym The Septuagint renders this ‹Clamours,‘ or ‹Howlings,‘ without supposing that it refers to any particular animals. The Hebrew word is found nowhere else. Bochart supposes that the yell or howl of wild animals is intended, and not animals themselves (“Hieroz.” i. 3. 15).

And owls shall dwell there - Hebrew, ‹Daughters of the owl or ostrich.‘ The owl is a well-known bird that dwells only in obscure and dark retreats, giving a doleful screech, and seeking its food only at night. It is not certain, however, that the owl is intended here. The Septuagint renders it, Σειρῆνες Seirēnes - ‹Sirens.‘ The Chaldee, ‹The daughter of the ostrich.‘ Bochart has gone into an extended argument to prove that the ostrich is intended here (“Hieroz.” xi. 2. 14). The Hebrew does not particularly denote the kind of bird intended, but means those that are distinguished for their sound - ‹the daughters of sound or clamor.‘ ‹The ostrich is a sly and timorous creature, delighting in solitary barren deserts. In the night they frequently make a very doleful and hideous noise; sometimes groaning as if they were in the greatest agonies.‘ (Shaw‘s “Travels,” vol. ii. p. 348,8vo; Taylor‘s “Heb. Con.;” see Job 30:29; Isaiah 34:13; Isaiah 43:20; Jeremiah 50:39; Micah 1:8; Leviticus 11:16; Deuteronomy 14:15; Lamentations 4:3.) The word does not elsewhere occur.

And satyrs shall dance there - (שׂערים s'e‛ı̂rı̂ym ). A “satyr,” in mythology, was a sylvan deity or demigod, represented as a monster, half man and half goat, having horns on his head, a hairy body, with the feet and tail of a goat (Webster). The word used here properly denotes that which is “hairy,” or “rough,” and is applied to “goats” in Genesis 25:25; Psalm 68:21; Leviticus 13:10, Leviticus 13:25-26, Leviticus 13:30, Leviticus 13:32. It is often rendered “hair.” (“see” Taylor). In Isaiah 34:14, it is rendered ‹satyr;‘ in Deuteronomy 32:2, it is rendered ‹the small ram;‘ in Leviticus 17:7, and 2 Chronicles 11:15, it is rendered ‹the devils,‘ meaning objects of worship, or idols. Bochart supposes that it refers to the idols that were worshipped among the Egyptians, who placed “goats” among their gods. Doderlin supposes that it means either “fawns,” or a species of the monkey tribe, resembling in their rough and shaggy appearance the wild goat.

They are here represented as ‹dancing;‘ and in Isaiah 34:14, as ‹crying to each other.‘ It is evident that the prophet intends animals of a rough and shaggy appearance; such as are quick and nimble in their motions; such as dwell in deserts, in forests, or in old ruins; and such as answer to each other, or chatter. The description would certainly seem more applicable to some of the “simia” or monkey tribe than to any other animals. It is “possible,” indeed, that he means merely to make use of language that was well known, as describing animals that the ancients “supposed” had an existence, but which really had not, as the imaginary beings called satyrs. But it is possible, also, that he means simply wild goats (compare Bochart‘s “Hieroz.” xi. 6. 7). The Septuagint renders it Δαιμόνια Daimonia - ‹Demons, or devils.‘ The Vulgate, Pilosi - ‹Shaggy, or hairy animals.‘ The Chaldee, ‹Demons.‘ The essential idea is, that such wild animals as are supposed to dwell in wastes and ruins, would hold their revels in the forsaken and desolate palaces of Babylon. The following remarks of Joseph Wolff may throw light on this passage: ‹I then went to the mountain of Sanjaar, which was full of Yezeedes. One hundred and fifty years ago, they believed in the glorious doctrine of the Trinity, and worshipped the true God; but being severely persecuted by the neighboring Yezeedes, they have now joined them, and are worshippers of the devil.

These people frequent the ruins of Babylon, and dance around them. On a certain night, which they call the Night of Life, they hold their dances around the desolate ruins, in honor of the devil. The passage which declares that “satyrs shall dance there,” evidently has respect to this very practice. The original word translated “satyr,” literally means, according to the testimony of the most eminent Jewish rabbis, “devil worshippers.”‘ ‹It is a curious circumstance,‘ says Mr. Rich, in his “Memoir on the Ruins of Babylon,” p. 30, in describing the Mujelibe, ‹that here I first heard the oriental account of satyrs. I had always imagined the belief of their existence was confined to the mythology of the west; but a Choadar who was with me when I examined this ruin, mentioned by accident, that in this desert an animal is found resembling a man from the head to the waist, but having the thighs and legs of a sheep or a goat; he said also that the Arabs hunt it with dogs, and eat the lower parts, abstaining from the upper on account of their resemblance to the human species.‘ ‹The Arabians call them Sied-as-sad, and say that they abound in some woody places near Semava on the Euphrates.‘

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:21". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/isaiah-13.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there,.... What sort of creatures are meant is not certain. The Targum renders it by a word which signifies monstrous, astonishing creatures; the Latin interpreter of it calls them apes. Jarchi and Kimchi say such are intended as are called martens or sables, a creature of the weasel kind. The Hebrew word does not much differ from the Arabic one used for "wild cats":

and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; whose voices are very mournful and unpleasant. Aben Ezra says such creatures are meant, that those that see them are amazed at them. Jarchi declares they are a kind of creatures he was ignorant of; and Kimchi thinks they are the same with "furon", or "ferrets": and the Latin interpreter of the Targum renders the word that uses by "weasels":

and owls shall dwell there; or "the daughters of the owl", or "of the ostriches", as the Targum and Syriac version; with which agrees the Vulgate Latin, rendering the word "ostriches", as it is in Lamentations 4:3; the Septuagint version translates it "sirens", or "mermaids":

and satyrs shall dance there; a sort of monstrous creatures with the ancients, painted half men and half goats; the upper part of them like men, except the horns on their heads, and the lower parts like goats, and all over hairy; and the word here used signifies hairy; and is used for goats, and sometimes for devils, either because they have appeared in this form, as Kimchi says, to them that believe them; or because they, by their appearance, inject such horror in men, as cause their hair to stand upright: hence the Targum, Jarchi, and Kimchi, interpret it of devils here; and so the Septuagint version, and those that follow it, the Syriac and Arabic, render it, "and demons shall dance there": with this agrees the account of mystical Babylon, Revelation 18:2.

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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 13:21". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/isaiah-13.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

But p 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.

(p) Who were either wild beasts or fools, or wicked spirits, by which Satan deluded man, as by the fairies, goblins, and such like fantasies.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:21". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/isaiah-13.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

wild beastsHebrew, {(tsiyim}, animals dwelling in arid wastes. Wild cats, remarkable for their howl [Bochart].

doleful creatures — “howling beasts,” literally, “howlings” [Maurer].

owls — rather, “ostriches”; a timorous creature, delighting in solitary deserts and making a hideous noise [Bochart].

satyrs — sylvan demi-gods - half man, half goat - believed by the Arabs to haunt these ruins; probably animals of the goat-ape species [Vitringa]. Devil-worshippers, who dance amid) the ruins on a certain night [J. Wolff].

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:21". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/isaiah-13.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

Satyrs — The learned agree, that these are frightful and solitary creatures.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:21". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/isaiah-13.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Isaiah 13:21 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.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:21". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-13.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; the land being forsaken by men, shall be possessed by wild beasts, which love solitary places. What the Hebrew words used here, and in the next verse, signify, the learned may see in my Latin Synopsis; and for others, it may suffice to know that in which all the learned agree, that these are frightful and solitary creatures; of which if I should particularly discourse, I should rather perplex than edify the vulgar reader.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Isaiah 13:21". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/isaiah-13.html. 1685.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Beasts. Hebrew tsiim, "fishermen." --- Serpents. Hebrew ochim. Septuagint, "echo," (Haydock) or "reeds." Babylon was built on a marshy situation, and Cyrus having let out the waters of the Euphrates, they could never be effectually stopped. --- Ostriches. Or swans. --- Hairy. Goats, chap. xxxiv. 14. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:21". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/isaiah-13.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

doleful creatures. Probably hyenas.

satyrs = goat-shaped demons worshipped by the Seirites (Edom). Compare Leviticus 17:7. 2 Chronicles 11:15; 2 Chronicles 25:14.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:21". "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

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.

Wild beasts of the desert - Hebrew, tsiyiym (Hebrew #6728), animals dwelling in arid wastes (from tsiyah (Hebrew #6723), dryness). Wild cats, remarkable for their howl (Bochart).

Their houses shall be full of doleful creatures - howling beasts. Hebrew, Ochim; literally, 'howlings' (Maurer). From ach, an exclamation of pain.

Owls shall dwell there - rather, ostriches; a timorous creature, delighting in solitary deserts, and making a hideous noise (Bochart). Hebrew, b

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:21". "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

(21) Wild beasts of the desert . . .—The Hebrew term, which in Psalms 72:9, and perhaps in Isaiah 23:13, is used of men, has been rendered by “wild cats,” but is probably generic, the ferœ naturœ that haunt such desolate regions. The “doleful creatures” (literally groaners) are probably “horned owls;” while the word rendered “owls (literally, daughters of screaming) may be taken as ostriches (Job 39:13-18). In the “satyrs” (literally, hairy or shaggy ones) we may find either “goats (as in Leviticus 4:24; Leviticus 16:9), or, as the English version suggests, a mythical form of grotesque animal life (the “demons” or “devils” of Leviticus 17:7; 2 Chronicles 11:15, a goat-shaped form, like that of the Greek Pan), or more probably (with Tristram), the species of baboon (Macacus Arabicus) still found in Babylonia.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:21". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/isaiah-13.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
But
34:11-15; Revelation 18:2
wild beasts
Heb. Ziim. doleful creatures. Heb. Ochim. owls. or, ostriches. Heb. daughters of the owl.
Reciprocal: Leviticus 11:16 - GeneralJob 30:29 - a brother;  Isaiah 14:23 - make;  Isaiah 34:13 - an habitation;  Isaiah 34:14 - The wild beasts of the desert;  Malachi 1:3 - the;  Acts 28:4 - beast

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:21". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/isaiah-13.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

21.But the Ziim shall lie there. (209) He continues the description of a desert place, and alludes to what he had formerly said, that Babylon will be destitute of inhabitants. In what way ציים (tziim) ought to be translated I cannot easily say, on account of the diversity in the opinions of translators, who differ in this, as in various names of animals and herbs. The use of these things did not continue among them; and the Jews, who are themselves ignorant and unskilful, do not retain the knowledge of these things, though there are some of them who know nothing about either herbs or animals, and yet have the impudence to boast of being physicians. Of those who think that ציים (tziim) is the name of a wild animal, some will have it to be a quadruped, and others, a bird; but that is a matter of little importance. For my own part, I have no doubt that the Prophet means either wild beasts which cannot be tamed, or birds which build their nests in distant forests.

It will not be amiss to explain what follows about Satyrs or Pans, who are called by the French, according to the various dialects of the provinces, sometimes Luittons , sometimes Follets , and sometimes Loups-garouz (210) As Satan deludes men by various tricks, so he gives to them various names. It is certain that ציים (tziim) is often used in Scripture for devils; and it is derived from ציה, (tziyah,) which means dryness, or, a desert, as איים (iyim) is derived from אים, (ayam,) which means to terrify. The Devil performs strange tricks by means of Fauns and Satyrs, and on that account their names are given to him.

The design of the Prophet is to show that the solitude will be so great, that not only will the place be deserted by men, but even the devils will there deceive by their tricks; for the devils avail themselves of the tendency of solitary places to produce terror. As enemies and robbers, by sallying forth from concealed lurking-places, frighten men the more, so devils take advantage of the night and the darkness, and of places distant from the view of men, that they may be able to excite greater terror in those who are naturally timorous.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 13:21". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/isaiah-13.html. 1840-57.