Isaiah 13:1-11


Isa 13:1

The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.


The word “burden” carries with the meaning of “an utterance or something lifted up” normally with an overriding theme of doom.  This chapter contains a prophecy of the destruction of Babylon.  Isaiah saw this doom through the eyes of prophecy as it did not physically happen yet.


Isa 13:2

Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them, shake the hand, that they may go into the gates of the nobles.


The banner or ensign is to be lifted up on the high mountain so it can be seen by all Media or Persia as they muster their troops.  The Medes were to be mentioned by name and they were to be drawn by the waving of the hand to come forward and join the battle against Babylon.  The gate of the nobles is another way of stating the arrogance of Babylon as found in their leadership.  They were to enter in by the gates of the main city because they would be unable to be defeated. 


Isa 13:3

I have commanded my sanctified ones, I have also called my mighty ones for mine anger, even them that rejoice in my highness.


In the word “I” God is the one who will be doing the drawing of the Medes and Persians for the purpose of destroying Babylon.  In this verse they are called his “sanctified ones.”  This does not mean they are saved but they have been chosen for the task of destroying Babylon.  The mighty ones are referring to Darius and Cyrus and the officers along with the soldiers in the body of the army.  While the Medes and Persians may not realize it what they are going to do to Babylon will be to the glory of God as he orchestrates the downfall of Babylon.  They will be destroying Babylon and will not realize they are rejoicing in the highness of the LORD because he will be the power behind Babylon’s destruction.


Isa 13:4

The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the LORD of hosts mustereth the host of the battle.


Then Isaiah hears the loud, thundering sound of a great multitude in the mountains  which may be referring to the large army which is going to come against the Babylonians that will spell their doom.  The kingdom of Cyrus contained several smaller kingdoms and nations within his empire.  Even though Isaiah is hearing the great noise, it is not the plan of these armies by themselves but it is the LORD who is drawing them into battle.


Isa 13:5

They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the LORD, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land.


The kingdom of Persia included modern day Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran.  It extended to the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.  Hence, the description of far country and end of Heaven.  Just as Assyria was called the rod of God’s anger when they dealt with Samaria and parts of Judah, the Medes and Persians will be the weapons by which Babylon will be destroyed.  It will not be a partial destruction but Babylon will be destroyed and consumed entirely.


Isa 13:6

Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.


Howling means to wail or yell in anguish.  The destruction of Babylon is called the day of the LORD just like on the last day when mystery Babylon, which is the kingdom of Satan, will be destroyed in its entirety.  God continues to let the people know that he is the one who is orchestrating the entire destruction and it is not the Medes and Persians doing it on their own.  Since the destruction is set, it cannot be reversed.  Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it? (Isaiah 43:13)  “Who shall let it” means to “turn it back.”


Isa 13:7

Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man's heart shall melt:


Since this day is already planned and according to the word of the Lord, it is already done, then no hands will be strong against the invaders but all hands will be faint which means they will be weakened and the hearts will melt means that they will not have the fortitude to fight but will be in abject fear of the Medes and Persians.


Isa 13:8

And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.


Babylon will be so terrified they will suffer the pains a woman experiences when she gives birth to a baby.  These pains will turn into sorrows when they realize that all their efforts to repel the invaders will be futile.  They will be in amazement at the fact that a great city like Babylon which had the power to conquer an empire like Assyria is now going to suffer the same fate and because they will be in such astonishment, it will be seen on their faces as white flames of a smith when the people themselves are naturally dark skinned.


Isa 13:9

Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.


The day of the destruction of Babylon is a sure thing and it will be done with the same cruelty they used to deal with the people of Judah.  The attack will be so fierce that the land will suffer total desolation and the people will be destroyed.  They are called sinners because of the wickedness in their hearts which they used against Judah but their own cruelty will be used against them.  Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the LORD. (Psalm 104:35) 


Isa 13:10

For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.


At this time, these heavenly events are not actual events that will take place but they are used in a figurative sense.  However, on the last day they will be real events as the universe is collapsing because the end of the present world and universe will make way for the New Heavens and New Earth.  In the figurative sense, Babylonians were heavy into astrology and they will no longer be able to prognosticate by the stars since there will be a gloominess covering them.  The sun will also be darkened which means there will be no rays of hope because their destruction is at hand.  The moon takes its light from the sun, so if the sun is darkened at high noon, there would be no deliverance coming for them whether it be day or night.  The sun, moon, and stars could also be referring to the King, Queen, and the other leaders of Babylon who will be extinguished, or put to death in the oncoming siege.


Isa 13:11

And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.


Here Isaiah injects in the prophecy that not only Babylon would be judged for their evil and iniquitous works, but the whole world will be subject to the same judgment although not at the same time because the worldwide judgment will take place on the last day.  Now though the Babylonians will experience the judgment in a similar fashion but here it will be just against them.  Their pride of being a huge empire will be brought down and the arrogance and conceit of the rulers such as Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar will be brought down as the ones who are called “the terrible” who inflicted so much pain and troubles to the people they conquer.