This chapter starts a series of prophetic chapters about the neighbors of Israel.  Different peoples are addressed in  the next ten chapters, until chapter 23.  Although historical references can be found for many of the prophecies mentioned, there are some differences among the sages about specific verses as to whether they relate to historical events or end times.  I humbly believe that these chapters, as do many others of Isaiah’s, concern the end of time, that all of the peoples and nations mentioned are metaphors for the conditions existing before and into the end times.

מַשָּׂא בָּבֶל אֲשֶׁר חָזָה יְשַׁעְיָהוּ בֶּן־אָמוֹץ׃   13:1

Isai. 13:1   The burden of Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz beheld:

The first Hebrew word מַשָּׂא;, translated as burden, possesses a variety of meanings, such as prophesy or utterance and bearing.  The implication seems to be that it is something to be lifted up.  The word is repeated in the first verses of several of the next ten chapters.

עַל הַר־נִשְׁפֶּה שְׂאוּ־נֵס הָרִימוּ קוֹל לָהֶם הָנִיפוּ יָד וְיָבֹאוּ פִּתְחֵי נְדִיבִים׃   13:2

Isai. 13:2   “On the highest mountain,

                   Raise up a sign.

                   Lift up a voice to them.

                   Wave a hand

                   That they should enter the gates of the nobles.”

This verse seems to be the start of Isaiah’s burden as conveyed to him by the Lord.

אֲנִי צִוֵּיתִי לִמְקֻדָּשָׁי גַּם קָרָאתִי גִבּוֹרַי לְאַפִּי עַלִּיזֵי גַּאֲוָתִי׃   13:3

Isai. 13:3   “I give a charge to My consecrated ones;

                    Also I call My mighty ones because of My anger,

                    My exulting ones, My proud ones.”

קוֹל הָמוֹן בֶּהָרִים דְּמוּת עַם־רָב קוֹל שְׁאוֹן מַמְלְכוֹת גּוֹיִם נֶאֱסָפִים יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת מְפַקֵּד צְבָא   13:4 מִלְחָמָה׃

Isai. 13:4   A thundering. a rumbling in the mountains,

                    A likeness of an abundant people!

                    A noise, an uproar of the kingdoms,

                    Of the nations gathering about!

                    The Lord of hosts is mustering the host of battle.

בָּאִים מֵאֶרֶץ מֶרְחָק מִקְצֵה הַשָּׁמָיִם יְהוָה וּכְלֵי זַעְמוֹ לְחַבֵּל כָּל־הָאָרֶץ׃   13:5

Isai. 13:5   Coming from a distant land,

                    From the end of heaven,

                    Are the Lord and the vessels of His indignation,

                    To destroy the whole land.

הֵילִילוּ כִּי קָרוֹב יוֹם יְהוָה כְּשֹׁד מִשַּׁדַּי יָבוֹא׃   13:6

Isai. 13:6   Howl, for near is the day of the Lord!

                    Like destruction from the Almighty, it will come.

עַל־כֵּן כָּל־יָדַיִם תִּרְפֶּינָה וְכָל־לְבַב אֱנוֹשׁ יִמָּס׃   13:7

Isai. 13:7   Therefore all hands will be slack

                    And every heart of men will melt.

וְנִבְהָלוּ צִירִים וַחֲבָלִים יֹאחֵזוּן כַּיּוֹלֵדָה יְחִילוּן אִישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵהוּ יִתְמָהוּ פְּנֵי לְהָבִים פְּנֵיהֶם׃   13:8

Isai. 13:8   And they will be trembling.

                    Pangs and pains will seize.

                    Like a woman giving birth,

                    They will writhe in pain.

                    Each man to his neighbor,

                    They will be astonished.

                    Faces of flame will be their faces.

הִנֵּה יוֹם־יְהוָה בָּא אַכְזָרִי וְעֶבְרָה וַחֲרוֹן אָף לָשׂוּם הָאָרֶץ לְשַׁמָּה וְחַטָּאֶיהָ יַשְׁמִיד מִמֶּנָּה׃   13:9

Isai. 13:9   Behold, the day of the Lord is coming,

                   Terrible with “wrath” and fierceness of “anger,”

                   To make the land to be a desolation.

                    And He will pluck its sinners from it.

כִּי־כוֹכְבֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם וּכְסִילֵיהֶם לֹא יָהֵלּוּ אוֹרָם חָשַׁךְ הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ בְּצֵאתוֹ וְיָרֵחַ לֹא־יַגִּיהַ אוֹרוֹ׃   13:10

Isai. 13:10   “When the stars of the heavens

                      And their constellations

                      Will not shine their light,

                      The sun will be darkened in its orbit,

                      And the moon will not shine its light,

וּפָקַדְתִּי עַל־תֵּבֵל רָעָה וְעַל־רְשָׁעִים עֲוֺנָם וְהִשְׁבַּתִּי גְּאוֹן זֵדִים וְגַאֲוַת עָרִיצִים אַשְׁפִּיל׃   13:11

Isai. 13:11   Then shall I visit upon the world its evil

                      And upon the wicked their iniquity,

                      End the arrogance of the proud,

                      And I shall humble the haughtiness of the powerful.”

אוֹקִיר אֱנוֹשׁ מִפָּז וְאָדָם מִכֶּתֶם אוֹפִיר׃   13:12

Isai. 13:12   “Then I shall make men more rare than pure gold,

                      And humanity, than the finest gold of Ophir.”

עַל־כֵּן שָׁמַיִם אַרְגִּיז וְתִרְעַשׁ הָאָרֶץ מִמְּקוֹמָהּ בְּעֶבְרַת יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת וּבְיוֹם חֲרוֹן אַפּוֹ׃   13:13

Isai. 13:13   “For this, I shall provoke heaven,

                      And the earth will be shaken from its place,”

                     With the wrath of the Lord of hosts

                      And with the heat of the ferocity of His “anger.”

וְהָיָה כִּצְבִי מֻדָּח וּכְצֹאן וְאֵין מְקַבֵּץ אִישׁ אֶל־עַמּוֹ יִפְנוּ וְאִישׁ אֶל־אַרְצוֹ יָנוּסוּ׃   13:14

Isai. 13:14   And it shall be, like a gazelle being chased,

                      And like a sheep when there is none gathering,

                      They shall turn, each to his people,

                      And they shall flee, each to his own land.

כָּל־הַנִּמְצָא יִדָּקֵר וְכָל־הַנִּסְפֶּה יִפּוֹל בֶּחָרֶב׃   13:15

Isai. 13:15   Everyone who is found will be pierced,

                       And everyone who perishes

                       Shall be felled by the sword.

וְעֹלְלֵיהֶם יְרֻטְּשׁוּ לְעֵינֵיהֶם יִשַּׁסּוּ בָּתֵּיהֶם וּנְשֵׁיהֶם (תִּשָּׁגַלְנָה) [תִּשָּׁכַבְנָה]׃  13:16

Isai. 13:16   Their little ones shall be dashed to pieces to their eyes.

                     Their houses will be plundered,

                      And their wives will be ravished.

The word in parentheses is understood by the sages to be in error.  The word literally means to ravish (savagely) while the alleged correction in brackets conveys a much milder expression, that of normal sex, in fact perhaps implying that the women will be accepting.  I prefer the more angry term, that in the parentheses.

הִנְנִי מֵעִיר עֲלֵיהֶם אֶת־מָדָי אֲשֶׁר־כֶּסֶף לֹא יַחְשֹׁבוּ וְזָהָב לֹא יַחְפְּצוּ־בוֹ׃   13:17

Isai. 13:17   “Behold, I am stirring up the Medes against them,

                     Who do not regard silver,

                      And gold, do not delight in it.

וּקְשָׁתוֹת נְעָרִים תְּרַטַּשְׁנָה וּפְרִי־בֶטֶן לֹא יְרַחֵמוּ עַל־בָּנִים לֹא־תָחוּס עֵינָם׃   13:18

Isai. 13:18   And the young men will dash bows to pieces,

                      And they will not pity the fruit of the womb.

                      Their eye will have no compassion on the children.

וְהָיְתָה בָבֶל צְבִי מַמְלָכוֹת תִּפְאֶרֶת גְּאוֹן כַּשְׂדִּים כְּמַהְפֵּכַת אֱלֹהִים אֶת־סְדֹם וְאֶת־עֲמֹרָה׃   13:19

Isai. 13:19   And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms,

                     The fairest of the pride of the Chaldeans,

                     Shall be like the overthrown of God,

                     Sodom and Gomorrah.

לֹא־תֵשֵׁב לָנֶצַח וְלֹא תִשְׁכֹּן עַד־דּוֹר וָדוֹר וְלֹא־יַהֵל שָׁם עֲרָבִי וְרֹעִים לֹא־יַרְבִּצוּ שָׁם׃   13:20

Isai. 13:20   A habitation it shall not be forever,

                      And it shall not continue from generation to generation.

                      And no Arabian shall pitch a tent there,

                      And shepherds shall not make folds there.

וְרָבְצוּ־שָׁם צִיִּים וּמָלְאוּ בָתֵּיהֶם אֹחִים וְשָׁכְנוּ שָׁם בְּנוֹת יַעֲנָה וּשְׂעִירִים יְרַקְּדוּ־שָׁם׃   13:21

Isai. 13:21   But wild beasts of the desert shall lurk there,

                      And their dwellings shall be full of doleful creatures.

                      And female ostriches shall dwell there,

                      And goats shall skip there.

וְעָנָה אִיִּים בְּאַלְמנוֹתָיו וְתַנִּים בְּהֵיכְלֵי עֹנֶג וְקָרוֹב לָבוֹא עִתָּהּ וְיָמֶיהָ לֹא יִמָּשֵׁכוּ׃   13:22

Isai. 13:22   And jackals shall cry in his castles,

                      And wild dogs in the temples of delight.

                      Now her time is coming near

                      And her days are not to be prolonged.

If Babylon is literally the nation to be destroyed, as it seems to be, I find it difficult to imagine this prophecy is about the end times.


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Isaiah 13