Isaiah 13:8
And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travails: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.They shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth - This comparison is often used in the Scriptures to denote the deepest possible pain and sorrow, as well as the suddenness with which any calamity comes upon a people Psalm 48:6; Isaiah 21:3; Isaiah 42:14; Jeremiah 6:24; Jeremiah 13:21; Jeremiah 22:23; Jeremiah 49:24; Jeremiah 50:43; Hosea 13:13; Micah 4:9-10; John 16:21; Galatians 4:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:3.

They shall be amazed one at another - They shall stare with a stupid gaze on one another, indicating a state of great distress, anxiety, and alarm. They shall look to each other for aid, and shall meet in the countenances of others the same expressions of wonder and consternation.

Their faces shall be as flames - Their faces shall glow or burn like fire. When grief and anguish come upon us, the face becomes inflamed. The face in fear is usually pale. But the idea here is not so much that of fear as of anguish; and, perhaps, there is mingled also here the idea of indignation against their invaders.

8. pangs—The Hebrew means also a "messenger." Horsley, therefore, with the Septuagint translates, "The heralds (who bring word of the unexpected invasion) are terrified." Maurer agrees with English Version, literally, "they shall take hold of pangs and sorrows."

woman … travaileth—(1Th 5:3).

amazed—the stupid, bewildered gaze of consternation.

faces … flames—"their visages have the livid hue of flame" [Horsley]; with anguish and indignation.

They shall be amazed one at another, to see so populous and impregnable a city as Babylon was, so easily and unexpectedly taken.

Flames, Heb. faces of flame; either pale with fear, or inflamed with rage and torment, as men in misery frequently are. Some render it the faces of Lehabim, a people descending from Mizraim, Genesis 10:13 1 Chronicles 1:11, i.e. black with pain, as men use to be; of which see Joel 2:6 Nahum 2:10. And they shall be afraid,.... Troubled, dismayed, frightened, at the sudden taking of the city, and at the sight of Cyrus's troops marching up into the very heart of it, and to the king's palace:

pangs and sorrow shall take hold of them; as convulsions, pains in the bowels, &c. more fully explained in the next clause:

they shall be in pain, as a woman that travaileth; that is in labour, and ready to bring forth her child, whose pains are very sharp, and agonies great; the same is said of the king of Babylon, Jeremiah 50:43,

they shall be amazed one at another; that so great a city should be so surprised, and so suddenly taken; and that they shall not be able to help one another; and that such as were so famous for courage and valour should be at once so dispirited:

their faces shall be as flames; not red with blushing, through shame, as Kimchi; but pale with fear, as the colour of flame, or, as the faces of smiths, that work at a forge: the words may be rendered, "their faces are as the faces of Lehabim" (d); the name of a people mentioned in Genesis 10:13 the same with the Libians, which were of a blackish or tawny colour; so Jarchi interprets it, and says they were a people of a yellow complexion: and Aben Ezra observes, that some interpret it of a nation like the Ethiopians; and so it denotes, that the Babylonians, their faces should be black with distress and anguish; see Joel 2:6.

(d) "ut facies Lehabim, sive Lybiorum facies eorum", Gataker.

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 {g} flames.

(g) The Babylonians anger and grief will be so much that their faces will burn as fire.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. they shall be amazed one at another] i.e. “look in horror on each other.”

their faces shall be as flames] Lit. faces of flames are their faces, burning with feverish excitement, or perhaps with shame (Ezekiel 7:18). There are no exact parallels to the expression; cf. Joel 2:6; Nahum 2:10.Verse 8. - They shall be afraid; rather, dismayed. Pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; literally, they shall take hold of pangs and sorrows. They shall be amazed; rather, look aghast. Their faces shall be as flames. I know no better explanation than that of Dr. Kay, that a sudden transition is intended flora despondency to extreme excitement. The prophet hears a call to war. From whom it issues, and to whom or against whom it is directed, still remains a secret; but this only adds to the intensity."On woodless mountain lift ye up a banner, call to them with loud sounding voice, shake the hand, that they may enter into gates of princes!" The summons is urgent: hence a threefold signal, viz., the banner-staff planted on a mountain "made bald" (nishpeh, from which comes shephi, which only occurs in Isaiah and Jeremiah), the voice raised high, and the shaking of the hand, denoting a violent beckoning - all three being favourite signs with Isaiah. The destination of this army is to enter into a city of princes (nedı̄bı̄m, freemen, nobles, princes, Psalm 107:40, cf., Psalm 113:8), namely, to enter as conquerors; for it is not the princes who invite them, but Jehovah.
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