Isaiah – Chapter 13

The Bible – Old Testament



Chapter 13


An oracle concerning Babylon; a vision of Isaiah, son of Amoz.


1 Upon the bare mountains set up a signal; cry out to them, Wave for them to enter the gates of the volunteers.


2 I have commanded my dedicated soldiers, I have summoned my warriors, eager and bold to carry out my anger.


Listen! the rumble on the mountains: that of an immense throng! Listen! the noise of kingdoms, nations assembled! The LORD of hosts is mustering an army for battle.


They come from a far-off country, and from the end of the heavens, The LORD and the instruments of his wrath, to destroy all the land.


3 Howl, for the day of the LORD is near; as destruction from the Almighty it comes.


Therefore all hands fall helpless, the bows of the young men fall from their hands. Every man’s heart melts


in terror. Pangs and sorrows take hold of them, like a woman in labor they writhe; They look aghast at each other, their faces aflame.


Lo, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with wrath and burning anger; To lay waste the land and destroy the sinners within it!


The stars and constellations of the heavens send forth no light; The sun is dark when it rises, and the light of the moon does not shine.


Thus I will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their guilt. I will put an end to the pride of the arrogant, the insolence of tyrants I will humble.


4 I will make mortals more rare than pure gold, men, than gold of Ophir.


For this I will make the heavens tremble and the earth shall be shaken from its place, At the wrath of the LORD of hosts on the day of his burning anger.


Like a hunted gazelle, or a flock that no one gathers, Every man shall turn to his kindred and flee to his own land.


Everyone who is caught shall be run through; to a man, they shall fall by the sword.


Their infants shall be dashed to pieces in their sight; their houses shall be plundered and their wives ravished.


I am stirring up against them the Medes, who think nothing of silver and take no delight in gold.


The fruit of the womb they shall not spare, nor shall they have eyes of pity for children.


And Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the glory and pride of the Chaldeans, Shall be overthrown by God like Sodom and like Gomorrah.


She shall never be inhabited, nor dwelt in, from age to age; The Arab shall not pitch his tent there, nor shepherds couch their flocks.


5 But wildcats shall rest there and owls shall fill the houses; There ostriches shall dwell, and satyrs shall dance.


Desert beasts shall howl in her castles, and jackals in her luxurious palaces. Her time is near at hand and her days shall not be prolonged.


1 [2] To them: the Medes (⇒ Isaiah 13:17) and Persians, who would destroy Babylon. Gates of the volunteers: the mustering places of Babylon’s enemies for war against her.

2 [3] Dedicated soldiers: in the sense that they will wage a «holy war» and carry out God’s plan.

3 [6-8] Day of the LORD: described often in prophetical writings, it generally signified the coming of the Lord in power and majesty to destroy his enemies and inaugurate his kingdom. Here it refers to the overthrow of Babylon. The figures used convey the idea of horror and destruction. Read together ⇒ Isaiah 13:6-8, ⇒ 14-16.

4 [12] Ophir: cf note to ⇒ Psalm 45:9.

5 [21] Satyrs: in the popular mind, demons of goatlike form dwelling in ruins, symbols of immorality; cf ⇒ Lev 17:7.