|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.
||An oracle concerning the Wilderness of the West:Like tornadoes sweeping through the South,they come from the steppes, a land of terror.
||מַשָּׂא מִדְבַּר־יָם כְּסוּפוֹת בַּנֶּגֶב לַחֲלֹף מִמִּדְבָּר בָּא מֵאֶרֶץ נוֹרָאָה ׃
|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.
||A grim vision has been revealed to me:the traitor in the act of treachery,the destroyer laying waste.Attack, O Elamites! Lay siege, you Medes!All the sighing that Babylona has causedI will bring to an end.
||חָזוּת קָשָׁה הֻגַּד־לִי הַבּוֹגֵד בּוֹגֵד וְהַשּׁוֹדֵד שׁוֹדֵד עֲלִי עֵילָם צוּרִי מָדַי כָּל־אַנְחָתָה הִשְׁבַּתִּי ׃
|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.
||Therefore my whole frame is racked with trembling;throes of agony have seized me like a woman in labor.I am tormented beyond giving heed;I am too distraught to see.
||עַל־כֵּן מָלְאוּ מָתְנַי חַלְחָלָה צִירִים אֲחָזוּנִי כְּצִירֵי יוֹלֵדָה נַעֲוֵיתִי מִשְּׁמֹעַ נִבְהַלְתִּי מֵרְאוֹת ׃
|My heart panted, fearfulness affrighted me: the night of my pleasure hath he turned into fear unto me.
||My mind reels, I am paralyzed with fear;the nightfall I longed for has become a horror to me:
||תָּעָה לְבָבִי פַּלָּצוּת בִּעֲתָתְנִי אֵת נֶשֶׁף חִשְׁקִי שָׂם לִי לַחֲרָדָה ׃
|Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield.
||They prepare tables;they deck them with candlesticks.They are eating and drinking . . .Mobilize, you commanders! Oil the armor!
||עָרֹךְ הַשֻּׁלְחָן צָפֹה הַצָּפִית אָכוֹל שָׁתֹה קוּמוּ הַשָּׂרִים מִשְׁחוּ מָגֵן ׃
|For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.
||Because of this my Lord said to me,Go and appoint a watchmanwho will report what he sees.
||כִּי כֹה אָמַר אֵלַי אֲדֹנָי לֵךְ הַעֲמֵד הַמְצַפֶּה אֲשֶׁר יִרְאֶה יַגִּיד ׃
|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:
||Let him watch for chariots with teams of horses,riders on asses and riders on camels.He must be most vigilant, fully alert.
||וְרָאָה רֶכֶב צֶמֶד פָּרָשִׁים רֶכֶב חֲמוֹר רֶכֶב גָּמָל וְהִקְשִׁיב קֶשֶׁב רַב־קָשֶׁב ׃
|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:
||Then the lookoutb cried,I have been standing on the watchtowerday in and day out, my Lord;night after night I have stood guard.
||וַיִּקְרָא אַרְיֵה עַל־מִצְפֶּה אֲדֹנָי אָנֹכִי עֹמֵד תָּמִיד יוֹמָם וְעַל־מִשְׁמַרְתִּי אָנֹכִי נִצָּב כָּל־הַלֵּילוֹת ׃
|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.
||Now they come: cavalry and teams of horses!And he gave the reply,She has fallen; Babylon has fallen.All her idol gods he has razed to the ground.
||וְהִנֵּה־זֶה בָא רֶכֶב אִישׁ צֶמֶד פָּרָשִׁים וַיַּעַן וַיֹּאמֶר נָפְלָה נָפְלָה בָּבֶל וְכָל־פְּסִילֵי אֱלֹהֶיהָ שִׁבַּר לָאָרֶץ ׃
|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.
||cTo you who know me, who are of my fold,cI have reported what I heardfrom Jehovah of Hosts, the God of Israel.
||מְדֻשָׁתִי וּבֶן־גָּרְנִי אֲשֶׁר שָׁמַעְתִּי מֵאֵת יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הִגַּדְתִּי לָכֶם ׃
|The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?
||An oracle concerning Dumah:Men call to me from Seir,Watchman, what remains of the night?Watchman, how much of the night is left?
||מַשָּׂא דּוּמָה אֵלַי קֹרֵא מִשֵּׂעִיר שֹׁמֵר מַה־מִלַּיְלָה שֹׁמֵר מַה־מִלֵּיל ׃
|The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come.
||The watchman replies,Morning comes, though it is still night.If you would ascertain it,do so by repenting and coming back.
||אָמַר שֹׁמֵר אָתָה בֹקֶר וְגַם־לָיְלָה אִם־תִּבְעָיוּן בְּעָיוּ שֻׁבוּ אֵתָיוּ ׃
|The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye travelling companies of Dedanim.
||An oracle concerning those in Arabia:You wandering bands of Dedanites,who sojourn in the forests of Arabia,
||מַשָּׂא בַּעְרָב בַּיַּעַר בַּעְרַב תָּלִינוּ אֹרְחוֹת דְּדָנִים ׃
|The inhabitants of the land of Tema brought water to him that was thirsty, they prevented with their bread him that fled.
||bring water to greet the thirsty;meet the fugitives with food,O inhabitants of the land of Tema.
||לִקְרַאת צָמֵא הֵתָיוּ מָיִם יֹשְׁבֵי אֶרֶץ תֵּימָא בְּלַחְמוֹ קִדְּמוּ נֹדֵד ׃
|For they fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, and from the bent bow, and from the grievousness of war.
||For they flee from destruction,from the bared sword, the drawn bowand the severity of war.
||כִּי־מִפְּנֵי חֲרָבוֹת נָדָדוּ מִפְּנֵי חֶרֶב נְטוּשָׁה וּמִפְּנֵי קֶשֶׁת דְּרוּכָה וּמִפְּנֵי כֹּבֶד מִלְחָמָה ׃
|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:
||On account of this, my Lord said to me, Within a year, as the term of a lease, Kedar’s glory shall fully expire.
||כִּי־כֹה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי אֵלָי בְּעוֹד שָׁנָה כִּשְׁנֵי שָׂכִיר וְכָלָה כָּל־כְּבוֹד קֵדָר ׃
|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.
||And the number of valiant archers remaining of the sons of Kedar shall be few. Jehovah, the God of Israel, has spoken it.
||וּשְׁאָר מִסְפַּר־קֶשֶׁת גִּבּוֹרֵי בְנֵי־קֵדָר יִמְעָטוּ כִּי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל דִּבֵּר ׃
The prophet sees Babylon’s imminent destruction at the hands of Assyria and its allies. The “traitor in the act of treachery” and the “destroyer laying waste” identify the king of Assyria/Babylon: “Woe to you, despoiler, who yourself was not despoiled; O treacherous one, with whom none have been treacherous” (Isaiah 33:1). Babylon’s demise comes suddenly and with devastating force—like the devastation of tornadoes that leave nothing standing. Jehovah’s Day of Judgment mercifully ends Babylon’s oppressive civilization so that a new, millennial civilization may replace it (Isaiah 65:19-25).
The prophet’s vision of Babylon’s desolation is so grievous it is almost too much to bear. He can’t rest peacefully at night as the horror of it recurs to his mind. The imagery of a woman in labor defines Jehovah’s Day of Judgment for all the earth’s inhabitants, some for good, others for evil (Isaiah 13:8; 26:17-18; 42:14; 66:7-9). The attack on Babylon catches the wicked unawares—when people are preparing tables, decking them with candlesticks, and eating and drinking—perhaps during a national holiday that coincides with early summer as predicted elsewhere (Isaiah 16:9-10; 18:4-6; 22:13; 28:1-4).
The prophet’s appointing a “watchman” who reports what he sees implies that some watchmen don’t report what they see, or don’t see at all. Both kinds appear in Isaiah’s end-time scenario: (1) watchmen who see and hear and report it (v 10; Isaiah 52:8; 62:6); and (2) watchmen who are blind and unaware (Isaiah 29:10; 56:10). Because the term “watchman” designates a prophet (Jeremiah 31:6; Ezekiel 3:17), Jehovah’s appointing a prophet who warns of Babylon’s imminent destruction forms the type of his end-time servant who serves as a watchman to Jehovah’s people (Isaiah 41:27; 48:16; 55:4).
The watchman’s vigilance throughout the warning period pays off as he sees the approaching destruction and sounds the alarm. Babylon’s fall at the hands of the Assyrian power means the collapse of the entire socio-economic structure of Isaiah’s Greater Babylon that involves the manufacture, promotion, and sale of its “idol gods”—the works of men’s hands (Isaiah 2:8, 18, 20; 17:8; 19:1, 3; 27:9; 30:22; 36:18-20; 37:12, 18-19; 42:8, 17; 44:9-20; 45:20; 46:1-2; Jeremiah 51:8, 49; Revelation 14:8; 18:2). Razed to the ground, they prove useless because they save no one in the end (Isaiah 46:6-7).
The prophet’s last warning is reserved for Jehovah’s elect, those “who know me, who are of my fold.” Because the prophet’s disciples are privy to his teachings—“Bind up the testimony; seal the law among my disciples” (Isaiah 8:16)—he informs them of what he sees and hears. They exit Babylon at the time of its destruction in a new exodus to Zion: “Turn away, depart; touch nothing defiled as you leave [Babylon]. Come out of her and be pure, you who bear Jehovah’s vessels. But you shall not leave in haste or go in flight: Jehovah will go before you, the God of Israel behind you” (Isaiah 52:11-12).
Some who don’t exit Greater Babylon in the new exodus to Zion, but who nevertheless attempt to survive through that dark time, appeal to Jehovah’s servant how long the “night”—the Day of Judgment—will yet last. Rather than telling what he knows, the servant responds by turning their hearts from him toward their God, suggesting they should spend the current duration of time for what Jehovah intended: “by repenting and coming back.” Then they would know for themselves that the “morning”—the millennial age—is drawing near but that Jehovah’s Day of Judgment hasn’t yet served its purpose.
The prophet exhorts those who inhabit places of resort, who are acclimated to dwelling in the wilderness, to assist people escaping destruction in Jehovah’s Day of Judgment and not let them perish. Jehovah desires to provide for those fleeing from the bared sword and drawn bow—from the king of Assyria/Babylon’s invasion of their lands—through the charity of others more fortunate than themselves whom he tests thereby. Besides Jehovah’s elect, many honorable people among the earth’s inhabitants, who “look to the forest home as protection” (Isaiah 22:8), too, may yet survive (Isaiah 66:18-19).
Consistent with the theme of Greater Babylon’s humiliation that runs like a thread through Part IV of Isaiah’s Seven-Part Structure (Isaiah 13:11, 19; 14:10-20; 15:2-4; 16:7, 14; 17:3-6; 18:7; 19:13-14; 20:3-6; 21:9, 16; 22:3-4, 17-19, 25; 23:9, 16; 47:1-5, 9-11, 13-15), “Kedar’s glory shall fully expire.” As with all who don’t repent, by the end of the final year of the three years of Jehovah’s judgment (cf. Isaiah 20:3) few people who resist Assyria’s aggression—even those in wilderness areas—remain alive: “Your men shall be felled by the sword, your might [overthrown] in war” (Isaiah 3:25).