Isaiah 21:1
Parallel Verses
English Standard Version
The oracle concerning the wilderness of the sea. As whirlwinds in the Negeb sweep on, it comes from the wilderness, from a terrible land.

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

Douay-Rheims Bible
THE burden of the desert of the sea. As whirlwinds come from the south, it cometh from the desert from a terrible land.

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

Webster's Bible Translation
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.

Isaiah 21:1 Parallel
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

This section, commencing in the form of historic prose, introduces itself thus: "In the year that Tartan came to Ashdod, Sargon the king of Asshur having sent him (and he made war against Ashdod, and captured it): at that time Jehovah spake through Yeshayahu the son of Amoz as follows," i.e., He communicated the following revelation through the medium of Isaiah (b'yad, as in Isaiah 37:24; Jeremiah 37:2, and many other passages). The revelation itself was attached to a symbolical act. B'yad (lit. "by the hand of") refers to what was about to be made known through the prophet by means of the command that was given him; in other words, to Isaiah 20:3, and indirectly to Isaiah 20:2. Tartan (probably the same man) is met with in 2 Kings 18:17 as the chief captain of Sennacherib. No Assyrian king of the name of Sargon is mentioned anywhere else in the Old Testament; but it may now be accepted as an established result of the researches which have been made, that Sargon was the successor of Shalmanassar, and that Shalmaneser (Shalman, Hosea 10:14), Sargon, Sennacherib, and Esarhaddon, are the names of the four Assyrian kings who were mixed up with the closing history of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. It was Longperrier who was the first to establish the identity of the monarch who built the palaces at Khorsabad, which form the north-eastern corner of ancient Nineveh, with the Sargon of the Bible. We are now acquainted with a considerable number of brick, harem, votive-table, and other inscriptions which bear the name of this king, and contain all kinds of testimony concerning himself.

(Note: See Oppert, Expdition, i.-328-350, and the picture of Sargon in his war-chariot in Rawlinson's Five Great Monarchies, i. 368; compare also p. 304 (prisoners taken by Sargon), p. 352 (the plan of his palace), p. 483 (a glass vessel with his name), and many other engravings in vol. ii.)

It was he, not Shalmanassar, who took Samaria after a three years' siege; and in the annalistic inscription he boasts of having conquered the city, and removed the house of Omri to Assyria. Oppert is right in calling attention to the fact, that in 2 Kings 18:10 the conquest is not attributed to Shalmanassar himself, but to the army. Shalmanassar died in front of Samaria; and Sargon not only put himself at the head of the army, but seized upon the throne, in which he succeeded in establishing himself, after a contest of several years' duration with the legitimate heirs and their party. He was therefore a usurper.

(Note: See Oppert, Les Inscriptions Assyriennes des Sargonides et les Fastes de Ninive (Versailles, 1862), and Rawlinson (vol. ii. 406ff.), who here agrees with Oppert in all essential points. Consequently there can no longer be any thought of identifying Sargon with Shalmanassar (see Brandis, Ueber den historischen Gewinn aus der Entzifferung der assyr. Inschriften, 1856, p. 48ff.). Rawlinson himself at first thought they were the same person (vid., Journal of the Asiatic Society, xii. 2, 419), until gradually the evidence increased that Sargon and Shalmanassar were the names of two different kings, although no independent inscription of the latter, the actual besieger of Samaria, has yet been found.)

Whether his name as it appears on the inscriptions is Sar-kin or not, and whether it signifies the king de facto as distinguished from the king de jure, we will not attempt to determine now.

(Note: Hitzig ventures a derivation of the name from the Zend; and Grotefend compares it with the Chaldee Sârēk, Daniel 6:3 (in his Abhandlung ber Anlage und Zerstrung der Gebude von Nimrud, 1851).)

This Sargon, the founder of a new Assyrian dynasty, who reigned from 721-702 (according to Oppert), and for whom there is at all events plenty of room between 721-20 and the commencement of Sennacherib's reign, first of all blockaded Tyre for five years after the fall of Samaria, or rather brought to an end the siege of Tyre which had been begun by Shalmanassar (Jos. Ant. ix. 14, 2), though whether it was to a successful end or not is quite uncertain. He then pursued with all the greater energy his plan for following up the conquest of Samaria with the subjugation of Egypt, which was constantly threatening the possessions of Assyria in western Asia, either by instigation or support. The attack upon Ashdod was simply a means to this end. As the Philistines were led to join Egypt, not only by their situation, but probably by kinship of tribe as well, the conquest of Ashdod - a fortress so strong, that, according to Herodotus (ii. 157), Psammetichus besieged it for twenty-nine years - was an indispensable preliminary to the expedition against Egypt. When Alexander the Great marched against Egypt, he had to do the same with Gaza. How long Tartan required is not to be gathered from Isaiah 20:1. But if he conquered it as quickly as Alexander conquered Gaza - viz. in five months - it is impossible to understand why the following prophecy should defer for three years the subjugation of Ethiopia and Egypt. The words, "and fought against Ashdod, and took it," must therefore be taken as anticipatory and parenthetical.

It was not after the conquest of Ashdod, but in the year in which the siege commenced, that Isaiah received the following admonition: "Go and loosen the smock-frock from off thy loins, and take off thy shoes from thy feet. And he did so, went stripped and barefooted." We see from this that Isaiah was clothed in the same manner as Elijah, who wore a fur coat (2 Kings 1:8, cf., Zechariah 13:4; Hebrews 11:37), and John the Baptist, who had a garment of camel hair and a leather girdle round it (Matthew 3:4); for sak is a coarse linen or hairy overcoat of a dark colour (Revelation 6:12, cf., Isaiah 50:3), such as was worn by mourners, either next to the skin (‛al-habbâsâr, 1 Kings 21:27; 2 Kings 6:30; Job 16:15) or over the tunic, in either case being fastened by a girdle on account of its want of shape, for which reason the verb châgar is the word commonly used to signify the putting on of such a garment, instead of lâbash. The use of the word ârōm does not prove that the former was the case in this instance (see, on the contrary, 2 Samuel 6:20, compared with 2 Samuel 6:14 and John 21:7). With the great importance attached to the clothing in the East, where the feelings upon this point are peculiarly sensitive and modest, a person was looked upon as stripped and naked if he had only taken off his upper garment. What Isaiah was directed to do, therefore, was simply opposed to common custom, and not to moral decency. He was to lay aside the dress of a mourner and preacher of repentance, and to have nothing on but his tunic (cetoneth); and in this, as well as barefooted, he was to show himself in public. This was the costume of a man who had been robbed and disgraced, or else of a beggar or prisoner of war. The word cēn (so) is followed by the inf. abs., which develops the meaning, as in Isaiah 5:5; Isaiah 58:6-7.

Isaiah 21:1 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

the burden. The first ten verses of this chapter contain a prediction of the taking of Babylon by the Medes and Persians; which is here denominated 'the desert of the sea,' because the country around it, and especially towards the sea, was a great morass, often overflowed by the Tigris and Euphrates, and only rendered habitable by being drained by a number of canals.

Isaiah 13:1 The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.

Isaiah 17:1 The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.

the desert

Isaiah 13:20-22 It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelled in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there...

Isaiah 14:23 I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction...

Jeremiah 51:42 The sea is come up on Babylon: she is covered with the multitude of the waves thereof.

as whirlwinds

Job 37:9 Out of the south comes the whirlwind: and cold out of the north.

Daniel 11:40 And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind...

Zechariah 9:14 And the LORD shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the LORD God shall blow the trumpet...


Isaiah 13:4,5,17,18 The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together...

Ezekiel 30:11 He and his people with him, the terrible of the nations, shall be brought to destroy the land...

Ezekiel 31:12 And strangers, the terrible of the nations, have cut him off, and have left him...

Cross References
Isaiah 5:28
their arrows are sharp, all their bows bent, their horses' hoofs seem like flint, and their wheels like the whirlwind.

Isaiah 13:1
The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.

Isaiah 13:20
It will never be inhabited or lived in for all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there; no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there.

Isaiah 14:23
"And I will make it a possession of the hedgehog, and pools of water, and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction," declares the LORD of hosts.

Jeremiah 51:42
The sea has come up on Babylon; she is covered with its tumultuous waves.

Ezekiel 1:4
As I looked, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, and a great cloud, with brightness around it, and fire flashing forth continually, and in the midst of the fire, as it were gleaming metal.

Ezekiel 38:9
You will advance, coming on like a storm. You will be like a cloud covering the land, you and all your hordes, and many peoples with you.

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