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Isaiah 21:1

    Isaiah 21:1 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    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.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

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

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    The burden of the wilderness of the sea. As whirlwinds in the South sweep through, it cometh from the wilderness, from a terrible land.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    The word about the waste land. As storm-winds in the South go rushing through, it comes from the waste land, from the land greatly to be feared.

    Webster's Revision

    The burden of the wilderness of the sea. As whirlwinds in the South sweep through, it cometh from the wilderness, from a terrible land.

    World English Bible

    The burden of the wilderness of the sea. As whirlwinds in the South sweep through, it comes from the wilderness, from an awesome land.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    The burden of the wilderness of the sea. As whirlwinds in the South sweep through, it cometh from the wilderness, from a terrible land.

    Definitions for Isaiah 21:1

    Sea - Large basin.

    Clarke's Commentary on Isaiah 21:1

    The desert of the sea - This plainly means Babylon, which is the subject of the prophecy. The country about Babylon, and especially below it towards the sea, was a great flat morass, overflowed by the Euphrates and Tigris. It became habitable by being drained by the many canals that were made in it.

    Herodotus, lib. 1:184, says that "Semiramis confined the Euphrates within its channel by raising great dams against it; for before it overflowed the whole country like a sea." And Abydenus, (quoting Megasthenes, apud Euseb. Praep. Evang. 9:41), speaking of the building of Babylon by Nebuchadonosor, says, "it is reported that all this part was covered with water and was called the sea; and that Belus drew off the waters, conveying them into proper receptacles, and surrounded Babylon with a wall." When the Euphrates was turned out of its channel by Cyrus, it was suffered still to drown the neighboring country; and, the Persian government, which did not favor the place, taking no care to remedy this inconvenience, it became in time a great barren morassy desert, which event the title of the prophecy may perhaps intimate. Such it was originally; such it became after the taking of the city by Cyrus; and such it continues to this day.

    As whirlwinds in the south "Like the southern tempests" - The most vehement storms to which Judea was subject came from the desert country to the south of it. "Out of the south cometh the whirlwind," Job 37:9. "And there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house," Job 1:19. For the situation of Idumea, the country (as I suppose) of Job, see Lamentations 4:21 compared with Job 1:1, was the same in this respect with that of Judea: -

    "And Jehovah shall appear over them,

    And his arrow shall go forth as the lightning;

    And the Lord Jehovah shall sound the trumpet;

    And shall march in the whirlwinds of the south."

    Barnes' Notes on Isaiah 21:1

    The burden - (see the note at Isaiah 13:1).

    Of the desert - There have been almost as many interpretations of this expression, as there have been interpreters. That it means Babylon, or the country about Babylon, there can be no doubt; but the question why this phrase was applied, has given rise to a great diversity of opinions. The term 'desert' (מדבר midbâr) is usually applied to a wilderness, or to a comparatively barren and uncultivated country - a place for flocks and herds (Psalm 65:13; Jeremiah 9:9 ff); to an actual waste, sandy desert Isaiah 32:15; Isaiah 35:1; and particularly to the deserts of Arabia Genesis 14:6; Genesis 16:7; Deuteronomy 11:24. It may here be applied to Babylon either historically, as having been "once" an unreclaimed desert: or by "anticipation," as descriptive of what it "would be" after it should be destroyed by Cyrus, or possibly both these ideas may have been combined. That it was "once" a desert before it was reclaimed by Semiramis is the testimony of all history; that it is "now" a vast waste is the united testimony of all travelers. There is every reason to think that a large part of the country about Babylon was formerly overflowed with water "before" it was reclaimed by dykes; and as it was naturally a waste, when the artificial dykes and dams should be removed, it would again be a desert.

    Of the sea - (ים yâm). There has been also much difference of opinion in regard to this word. But there can be no doubt that it refers to the Euphrates, and to the extensive region of marsh that was covered by its waters. The name 'sea' (ים yâm) is not unfrequently given to a large river, to the Nile, and to the Euphrates (see the note at Isaiah 11:15; compare Isaiah 19:5). Herodotus (i. 184), says, that 'Semiramis confined the Euphrates within its channel by raisin great dams against it; for before, it overflowed the whole country like a sea.' And Abydenus, in Eusebius, ("Prepara. Evang.," ix. 457) says, respecting the building of Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, that 'it is reported that all this was covered with water, and was called a sea - λέγεται δὲ πάντα μεν ἐξ ἀρχῆς ὕδωρ εἶναι, θαλασσων καλουμένην legetai de panta men ech archēs hudōr einai, thalassōn kaloumenēn (Compare Strabo, "Geog." xvi. 9, 10; and Arrianus, "De Expedit. Alexandri," vii. 21). Cyrus removed these dykes, reopened the canals, and the waters were suffered to remain, and again converted the whole country into a vast marsh (see the notes at Isaiah 13; 14)

    As whirlwinds - That is, the army comes with the rapidity of a whirlwind. In Isaiah 8:8 (compare Habakkuk 1:11), an army is compared to an overflowing and rapid river.

    In the south - Whirlwinds or tempests are often in the Scriptures represented as coming from the south, Zechariah 9:14; Job 37:9 :

    Out of the south cometh the whirlwind,

    And cold out of the north.

    So Virgil:

    - creberque procellis

    Africus -

    AEneid, i.85.

    The deserts of Arabia were situated to the south of Babylon, and the south winds are described as the winds of the desert. Those winds are represented as being so violent as to tear away the tents occupied by a caravan (Pietro della Valle, "Travels," vol. iv. pp. 183, 191). In Job 1:19, the whirlwind is represented as coming 'from the wilderness; that is, from the "desert" of Arabia (compare Jeremiah 13:24; Hosea 13:15).

    So it cometh from the desert - (see Isaiah 13:4, and the note on that place). God is there represented as collecting the army for the destruction of Babylon 'on the mountains,' and by mountains are probably denoted the same as is here denoted by the desert. The country of the "Medes" is doubtless intended, which, in the view of civilized and refined Babylon, was an uncultivated region, or a vast waste or wilderness.

    continued...

    Wesley's Notes on Isaiah 21:1

    21:1 The plain - Of Babylon, which lay in a very plain country. And the title of the sea might well be given to the waters of Babylon, because of the great plenty and multitude of them. South - In those parts which lay southward from Judea, where there were many and great deserts. Pass through - As meeting with no opposition. It - The burden or judgment. Desert - From Media and Persia; a great desert lay between them and Chaldea. A terrible land - From the Medes, a warlike and formidable people.