Isaiah 13:6
Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.
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(6) Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand.—The verse is an almost verbal reproduction of Joel 1:15. On the “day of Jehovah,” see Note on Isaiah 2:12.

As a destruction from the Almighty.—The Hebrew shodmish-Shaddai comes with the emphasis of assonance, possibly coupled with that of etymology, the Hebrew Shaddai being derived by many scholars from the verb Shadad =to destroy. On this assumption, “destruction from the destroyer” would be a fair equivalent. The name, occurring frequently in the earlier books of the Old Testament (twenty-three times in Job and eight in the Pentateuch), was characteristic of the pre-Mosaic creed of Israel (Exodus 6:3), and occurs but seldom in the prophets: here, and in Joel 1:15; Ezekiel 1:24; Ezekiel 10:5.

Isaiah 13:6-8. Howl ye — We have here a very elegant and lively description of the terrible confusion and desolation which should be made in Babylon by the attack which the Medes and Persians should make upon it. They who were now at ease and secure are premonished to howl, and make sad lamentation, 1st, Because God was about to appear in wrath against them, and it is a fearful thing to fall into his hands. And, 2d, Because their hearts would fail them, and they would have neither courage nor comfort left them; would neither be able to resist the judgment coming, nor bear up under it; neither to oppose the enemy nor to support themselves. For the day of the Lord is at hand — A day of judgment and recompense, when God would act as a just avenger of his own and his people’s injured cause, and severely chastise the Babylonians for their pride and luxury, their inhumanity and cruelty, their idolatry and superstition, and, above all, their sins against the people of God, his religion and sanctuary, and so against God himself: see Jeremiah 50:31. It shall come as a destruction — Or, rather, A destruction shall it come, not merely as, or like a destruction, but such in reality, and that most awful, as being from the Almighty, whose power is irresistible, and wrath intolerable. “The prophet begins here to describe the calamity coming upon them, but in figures, according to his manner, grand, and adapted to raise a terrible image of it.” All hands shall be faint — Hebrew, תרפינה, shall fall down, and be unable to hold a weapon; and every man’s heart shall melt — So that they shall be ready to die with fear. God often strikes a terror into those whom he designs for destruction. Pangs, &c., shall take hold of them — The pangs of their fear shall be like those of a woman in hard labour. They shall be amazed one at another — To see such a populous, and, apparently, impregnable city, so easily and unexpectedly taken. Their faces shall be as flames — Hebrew, shall be faces of flames; either pale with fear, or inflamed with rage and torment, as men in great misery often are. Bishop Lowth renders it, Their countenances shall be like flames of fire.

13:6-18 We have here the terrible desolation of Babylon by the Medes and Persians. Those who in the day of their peace were proud, and haughty, and terrible, are quite dispirited when trouble comes. Their faces shall be scorched with the flame. All comfort and hope shall fail. The stars of heaven shall not give their light, the sun shall be darkened. Such expressions are often employed by the prophets, to describe the convulsions of governments. God will visit them for their iniquity, particularly the sin of pride, which brings men low. There shall be a general scene of horror. Those who join themselves to Babylon, must expect to share her plagues, Re 18:4. All that men have, they would give for their lives, but no man's riches shall be the ransom of his life. Pause here and wonder that men should be thus cruel and inhuman, and see how corrupt the nature of man is become. And that little infants thus suffer, which shows that there is an original guilt, by which life is forfeited as soon as it is begun. The day of the Lord will, indeed, be terrible with wrath and fierce anger, far beyond all here stated. Nor will there be any place for the sinner to flee to, or attempt an escape. But few act as though they believed these things.Howl ye - Ye inhabitants of Babylon, in view of the approaching destruction.

The day of the Lord - The time when Yahweh will inflict vengeance on you draws near (see the note at Isaiah 2:12; compare Isaiah 13:9).

As a destruction from the Almighty - Not as a desolation from man, but as destruction sent from him who has all power in heaven and on earth. Destruction meditated by man might be resisted; but destruction that should come from the Almighty must be final and irresistible. The word 'Almighty' שׁדי shadday, one of the names given to God in the Scriptures, denotes, properly, "one who is mighty," or who has all power; and is correctly rendered Almighty, or Omnipotent; Genesis 17:1; Genesis 28:3; Genesis 48:3; Exodus 6:3; Ruth 1:20; Job 5:17; Job 6:4, Job 6:14; Job 8:3, Job 8:5; Job 11:7; Job 13:4; Job 15:25. In the Hebrew here, there is a paronomasia or "pun" - a figure of speech quite common in the Scriptures, which cannot be retained in the translation - 'It shall come as a destruction (כשׁד keshod) from the Almighty (משׁדי mı̂shadday).'

6. day of the Lord—day of His vengeance on Babylon (Isa 2:12). Type of the future "day of wrath" (Re 6:17).

destruction—literally, "a devastating tempest."

from the Almighty—not from mere man; therefore irresistible. "Almighty," Hebrew, Shaddai.

It shall come as a destruction; or rather, a destruction or devastation shall come, as the LXX. and vulgar Latin render it. For this was not

as a destruction, but was a destruction indeed. And the particle as is not seldom used to express, not the likeness, but the reality of the thing, as John 1:14.

From the Almighty; who fighteth for your adversaries, and against you, and therefore your destruction is unavoidable.

Howl ye, for the day of the Lord is at hand,.... These words are an address to the Babylonians, who instead of rejoicing and feasting, as Belshazzar and his nobles were the night that Babylon was taken, had reason to howl and lament; seeing the day that the Lord had fixed for their destruction was very near, and he was just about to come forth as a judge to take vengeance on them; for though it was about two hundred and fifty years from the time of this prophecy, to the taking of Babylon, yet it is represented as at hand, to show the certainty of it, both for the comfort of the Jewish captives, when they should be in it, and for the awakening of the sluggish inhabitants, who were secure, and thought themselves out of danger:

it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty: suddenly, swiftly, and irresistibly: there is a beautiful paronomasia in the Hebrew text, "ceshod mishaddai" (c); as destruction from the destroyer; from God, who is able to save, and to destroy; he is almighty and all sufficient, so some render the word; the hand of God was visible in it.

(c) .

Wail {f} ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.

(f) You Babylonians.

6. The verse is almost identical with Joel 1:15. On the “day of Jehovah” see on ch. Isaiah 2:12.

as a destruction from the Almighty] The Heb. phrase contains an alliteration which cannot be easily reproduced in English. The Germans render “wie Gewalt vom Gewaltigen.” The word for “Almighty” is the Divine name Shaddai (see Exodus 6:3), but its etymology is doubtful. According to one derivation it comes from the same root as the word for “destruction,” so that we might almost venture to translate “like destruction from the Destroyer.” This verse, however, can hardly be appealed to in support of that view, since it may imply nothing beyond the mere play upon words. (See further Robertson Smith, Old Test. in Jewish Church, pp. 423 f.)

Verse 6. - Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand (comp. Joel 1:15); literally, the expression used in both passages is a day of Jehovah. The idiom would not, however, allow the use of the article, so that the phrase is ambiguous. "The day of Jehovah" is properly "that crisis in the history of the world when Jehovah will interpose to rectify the evils of the present, bringing joy and glory to the humble believer, and misery and shame to the proud and disobedient" (Cheyne). But any great occasion when God passes judgment on a nation is called in Scripture "a day of the Lord." "a coming of Christ." And so here the day of the judgment upon Babylon seems to be intended. It shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. Isaiah is thought to quote from Joel (Joel 1:15) here; but perhaps both prophets quoted from an earlier author. Shaddai (equivalent to "Almighty') is an ancient name of God, most rarely used by the prophetical writers (only here, and in Ezekiel 1:24; Ezekiel 10:5; Joel 1:15), and never elsewhere by either Isaiah or Joel. It has generally been said to mean "the Strong One;" but recently the theory has found favor that it meant originally "the Sender of storms," from the Arabic sh'da - jecit, effudit. However this may be, the word is certainly used in the later times mainly to express God's power to visit and punish, and the present passage might perhaps be best translated, "It shall come as a destruction from the Destroyer (k'shod mish-Shaddai yabo)." Isaiah 13:6Then all sink into anxious and fearful trembling. "Howl; for the day of Jehovah is near; like a destructive force from the Almighty it comes. Therefore all arms hang loosely down, and every human heart melts away. And they are troubled: they fall into cramps and pangs; like a woman in labour they twist themselves: one stares at the other; their faces are faces of flame." The command הילילוּ (not written defectively, הלילוּ) is followed by the reason for such a command, viz., "the day of Jehovah is near," the watchword of prophecy from the time of Joel downwards. The Caph in ceshod is the so-called Caph veritatis, or more correctly, the Caph of comparison between the individual and its genus. It is destruction by one who possesses unlimited power to destroy (shōd, from shâdad, from which we have shaddai, after the form chaggai, the festive one, from châgag). In this play upon the words, Isaiah also repeats certain words of Joel (Joel 1:15). Then the heads hang down from despondency and helplessness, and the heart, the seat of lift, melts (Isaiah 19:1) in the heat of anguish. Universal consternation ensues. This is expressed by the word venibhâlu, which stands in half pause; the word has shalsheleth followed by psik (pasek), an accent which only occurs in seven passages in the twenty-one prose books of the Old Testament, and always with this dividing stroke after it.

(Note: For the seven passages, see Ewald, Lehrbuch (ed. 7), p. 224.)

Observe also the following fut. paragogica, which add considerably to the energy of the description by their anapaestic rhythm. The men (subj.) lay hold of cramps and pangs (as in Job 18:20; Job 21:6), the force of the events compelling them to enter into such a condition. Their faces are faces of flames. Knobel understands this as referring to their turning pale, which is a piece of exegetical jugglery. At the same time, it does not suggest mere redness, nor a convulsive movement; but just as a flame alternates between light and darkness, so their faces become alternately flushed and pale, as the blood ebbs and flows, as it were, being at one time driven with force into their faces, and then again driven back to the heart, so as to leave deadly paleness, in consequence of their anguish and terror.

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