King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Isaiah 21

The taking of Babylon. (1-10) Of the Edomites. (11,12) Of the Arabs. (13-17)

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The taking of Babylon

1 The burden of the desert of the sea. As whirlwinds in the south pass through; so it cometh from the desert, from a terrible land.

2 A grievous vision is declared unto me; the treacherous dealer dealeth treacherously, and the spoiler spoileth. Go up, O Elam: besiege, O Media; all the sighing thereof have I made to cease.

3 Therefore are my loins filled with pain: pangs have taken hold upon me, as the pangs of a woman that travaileth: I was bowed down at the hearing of it; I was dismayed at the seeing of it.

4 My heart panted, fearfulness affrighted me: the night of my pleasure hath he turned into fear unto me.

5 Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield.

6 For thus hath the LORD said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.

7 And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; and he hearkened diligently with much heed:

8 And he cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights:

9 And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.

10 O my threshing, and the corn of my floor: that which I have heard of the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have I declared unto you.

Of the Edomites

11 The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?

12 The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come.

Of the Arabs

13 The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye travelling companies of Dedanim.

14 The inhabitants of the land of Tema brought water to him that was thirsty, they prevented with their bread him that fled.

15 For they fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, and from the bent bow, and from the grievousness of war.

16 For thus hath the LORD said unto me, Within a year, according to the years of an hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail:

17 And the residue of the number of archers, the mighty men of the children of Kedar, shall be diminished: for the LORD God of Israel hath spoken it.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. The desert of the sea. So Babylon is here called, because from a city as full of people as the sea is with water, it was become a desert. Ch. — After its fall, it was mostly inundated. C. xiii. 20. — Land. Media and Persia, which lay to the south, and were not so beautiful as the environs of Babylon.

Ver. 2. Spoileth. Baltassar is incorrigible, or his opponents must proceed. C. — Elam; that is, O Persia: (Ch.) Cyrus, and Darius, the Mede. C. — The former nation was weak, and the latter strong. W. — Cease. The enemy will shew no pity; nor shall I; as Babylon did not heretofore. H.

Ver. 3. Pain. He bewails the crimes and the fall of Babylon, which at this time was in amity with Ezechias. v. 10. C.

Ver. 4. Babylon. Prot. “the night of my pleasure hath he turned into fear unto me.” Sept. “My soul is turned into fear.” H.

Ver. 5. Drink. Persians refresh yourselves. — Take up. Heb. “anoint.” He may also allude to the Babylonians, who were feasting.

Ver. 7. Camel. These two riders are the kings of the Persians and Medes. Ch. — The sentinel, placed by Isaias, in spirit, or rather by the king of Babylon, brings these tidings. C.

Ver. 8. Out. Lit. “He cried, a lion.” H. — Cyrus appears like one. Sept. “And call Urias to the watch-tower,” &c. C. viii. 2.

Ver. 9. Horsemen, drawn by the ass and camel. v. 7. This was verified long after.

Ver. 10. Floor: you who must shortly be reduced to the utmost distress. Baladan was friendly to Ezechias. But Assaradon having seized Babylon, took Manasses prisoner; and the city thenceforward continued to fill up the measure of its sins. C.

Ver. 11. Duma. That is, Idumea, or Edom. Ch. — It was a city of that country, twenty miles from Eleutheropolis. S. Jer. — Assaradon desolated Idumea the following year. v. 16. The Jews absurdly apply to Rome what is said of Edom. S. Jer. C.

Ver. 12. Night. Instead of joy, I must announce dreadful things. H.

Ver. 13. Arabia. This sentence is not in the Rom. (C.) or Alex. Sept. (H.) and Dedan is a city of Idumea. C. — The Israelites are threatened. W.

Ver. 14. Water. To neglect this was to be accessary to another’s death, in those dreary regions. C. xvi. 3. Deut. xxiii. 2.

Ver. 16. Hireling; counting precisely. C. xvi. 14. C. — Cedar: Arabia, (Ch.) near to Edom. C.