Isaiah 21:8
And he cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually on the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) And he cried, A lion.—Better, As a lion. The cry seems to be the low murmur of the eager, almost angry, impatience by which the prophet or the ideal watchman was stirred.

Isaiah 21:8-9. And he cried, A lion — “The present reading, אריה, a lion, is so unintelligible,” says Bishop Lowth, “and the mistake so obvious, that I make no doubt that the true reading is הראה,” (he that saw, or looked out,) “as the Syriac translator manifestly found it in his copy, who renders it by רוקא, speculator,” the observer, or watchman. The bishop, therefore, renders the clause, He that looked out on the watch cried aloud. My lord, I stand continually upon the watch-tower — The watchman speaks these words to the prophet, who, by command from God, had set him in this station; to whom, therefore he gives the following account of his discharge of the office wherewith he was intrusted. In the daytime, &c., whole nights — According to thy command I have stood, and do stand continually, both day and night, in my ward. This is said to express his great care and attention, and thereby to confirm the truth of the prediction which follows, as that which would as certainly come to pass, as if a watchman had descried the approach of an enemy afar off. And behold, here cometh a chariot, &c. — Or, as in Isaiah 21:7, a cavalcade of men; two file of horse, &c. Bishop Lowth renders it, from the Syriac and Ephraim Syrus, Behold, here cometh a man, one of the two riders: and he answered — Answered to the prophet, who set him to watch, or the Lord, by whose command he was set. Babylon is fallen, is fallen — The expression is doubled, to show the certainty of the event. It is usual, likewise, for the prophets to speak of a thing future as if it were already accomplished, to signify that it will certainly be accomplished; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken, &c. — “It is remarkable that Xerxes, after his return from his unfortunate expedition into Greece, partly out of religious zeal, being a professed enemy to image-worship, and partly to reimburse himself after his immense expenses, seized the sacred treasures, plundered or destroyed the temples and idols of Babylon, and thereby accomplished this prophecy.” — Bishop Newton.21:1-10 Babylon was a flat country, abundantly watered. The destruction of Babylon, so often prophesied of by Isaiah, was typical of the destruction of the great foe of the New Testament church, foretold in the Revelation. To the poor oppressed captives it would be welcome news; to the proud oppressors it would be grievous. Let this check vain mirth and sensual pleasures, that we know not in what heaviness the mirth may end. Here is the alarm given to Babylon, when forced by Cyrus. An ass and a camel seem to be the symbols of the Medes and Persians. Babylon's idols shall be so far from protecting her, that they shall be broken down. True believers are the corn of God's floor; hypocrites are but as chaff and straw, with which the wheat is now mixed, but from which it shall be separated. The corn of God's floor must expect to be threshed by afflictions and persecutions. God's Israel of old was afflicted. Even then God owns it is his still. In all events concerning the church, past, present, and to come, we must look to God, who has power to do any thing for his church, and grace to do every thing that is for her good.And he cried, A lion - Margin, 'As a lion.' This is the correct rendering. The particle כ (k) - 'as,' is not unfrequently omitted (see Isaiah 62:5; Psalm 11:1). That is, 'I see them approach with the fierceness, rapidity, and terror of a lion (compare Revelation 10:3).

My lord, I stand continually upon the watch-tower - This is the speech of the watchman, and is addressed, not to Yahweh, but to him that appointed him. It is designed to show the "diligence" with which he had attended to the object for which he was appointed. He had been unceasing in his observation; and the result was, that now at length he saw the enemy approach like a lion, and it was certain that Babylon now must fall. The language used here has a striking resemblance to the opening of the "Agamemnon" of AEschylus; being the speech of the watchman, who had been very long upon his tower looking for the signal which should make known that Troy had fallen. It thus commences:

'Forever thus! O keep me not, ye gods,

Forever thus, fixed in the lonely tower

Of Atreus' palace, from whose height Igaze

O'er watched and weary, like a night-dog, still

Fixed to my post; meanwhile the rolling year

Moves on, and I my wakeful vigils keep

By the cold star-light sheen of spangled skies.'

Symmons, quoted in the "Pictorial Bible."

I am set in my ward - My place where one keeps watch. It does not mean that he was confined or imprisoned, but that he had kept his watch station (משׁמרת mishemeret from שׁמר shâmar "to watch, to keep, to attend to").

Whole nights - Margin, 'Every night.' It means that he had not left his post day or night.

8. A lion—rather, "(The watchman) cried, I am as a lion"; so as is understood (Isa 62:5; Ps 11:1). The point of comparison to "a lion" is in Re 10:3, the loudness of the cry. But here it is rather his vigilance. The lion's eyelids are short, so that, even when asleep, he seems to be on the watch, awake; hence he was painted on doors of temples as the symbol of watchfulness, guarding the place (Hor. Apollo) [Horsley]. And he cried, A lion: the sense of the words thus rendered is this, The watchman cried out, I see also a lion, to wit, marching before the horsemen and chariots already mentioned; which they suppose to represent Cyrus or Darius marching in the head of their armies. Or, as it is rendered in the margin, and by divers others, he cried as (which particle is oft understood, as hath been formerly and frequently noted)

a lion, with a terrible cry, as being affrighted with the vision, and withal signifying the dreadfulness of that judgment which was here represented as coming upon Babylon.

My lord; the watchman speaks these words either to God, or to the prophet, who by command from God had set him in this place and station; to whom therefore he gives the following account of his discharge of the work wherewith he was intrusted.

I stand continually upon the watch-tower in the day time, and I am set in my ward whole nights; according to thy command I have stood, and do yet stand, continually, both day and night, upon my watch-tower. And he cried, a lion,.... That is, the watchman cried, a lion, or that he saw a lion; not Uriah the priest, as the Septuagint; nor Habakkuk, as some Jewish writers; but Cyrus, at the head of the Persian and Median armies, compared to a lion for his fierceness, courage, and strength; see 2 Timothy 4:17 a type of Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, by whom antichrist, or mystical Babylon, will be destroyed, Revelation 5:5. The Targum is,

"the prophet said, the voice of armies, coming with coats of mail, as a lion.''

Aben Ezra interprets it, the watchman cried as a lion, with a great voice; upon sight of the chariots and horsemen, he lifted up his voice, and roared like a lion, to express the terror he was in, and the greatness of the calamity that was coming upon the city.

I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime: so that nothing could escape his notice:

and I am set in my ward whole nights: which expresses his diligence, vigilance, and constancy, in the discharge of his duty; and therefore what he said he saw might be depended on.

And he cried, A {l} lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my post whole nights:

(l) Meaning, Darius who overcame Babylon.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. If the text be right, the first clause must read: And he cried (like) a lion (Revelation 10:3).

My lord] The A.V. seems here to assume that the prophet is addressed by his watchman. R.V. and most interpreters render “O Lord” (addressed to Jehovah). Nevertheless A.V. may be right, although it requires the substitution of ’Ǎdônî for ’Ǎdônâi.

in my ward] i.e. “at my post.”

For whole nights read “all the nights.”Verse 8. - And he cried, A lion; rather, he cried as a lion; i.e. with a loud deep voice (comp. Revelation 10:3). The watchman, after long waiting, becomes impatient, and can contain himself no longer. He makes complaint of his long vain watch. My lord; rather, O Lord. The watchman addresses his complaint to Jehovah. The power which first brings destruction upon the city of the world, is a hostile army composed of several nations. "As storms in the south approach, it comes from the desert, from a terrible land. Hard vision is made known to me: the spoiler spoils, and the devastator devastates. Go up, Elam! Surround, Maday! I put an end to all their sighing." "Storms in the south" (compare Isaiah 28:21; Amos 3:9) are storms which have their starting-point in the south, and therefore come to Babylon from Arabia deserta; and like all winds that come from boundless steppes, they are always violent (Job 1:19; Job 37:9; see Hosea 13:15). It would be natural, therefore, to connect mimmidbâr with lachalōph (as Knobel and Umbreit do), but the arrangement of the words is opposed to this; lachalōōph ("pressing forwards") is sued instead of yachalōph (see Ges. 132, Anm. 1, and still more fully on Habakkuk 1:17). The conjunctio periphrastica stands with great force at the close of the comparison, in order that it may express at the same time the violent pressure with which the progress of the storm is connected. It is true that, according to Herod. i. 189, Cyrus came across the Gyndes, so that he descended into the lowlands to Babylonia through Chalonitis and Apolloniatis, by the road described by Isidor V. Charax in his Itinerarium,

(Note: See C. Masson's "Illustration of the route from Seleucia to Apobatana, as given by Isid. of Charax," in the Asiatic Journal, xii. 97ff.)

over the Zagros pass through the Zagros-gate (Ptolem. vi. 2) to the upper course of the Gyndes (the present Diyala), and then along this river, which he crossed before its junction with the Tigris. But if the Medo-Persian army came in this direction, it could not be regarded as coming "from the desert." If, however, the Median portion of the army followed the course of the Choaspes (Kerkha) so as to descend into the lowland of Chuzistan (the route taken by Major Rawlinson with a Guran regiment),

(Note: See Rawlinson's route as described in Ritter's Erdkunde, ix. 3((West-asien), p. 397ff.)

and thus approached Babylon from the south-east, it might be regarded in many respects as coming mimmidbâr (from the desert), and primarily because the lowland of Chuzistan is a broad open plain - that is to say, a midbâr. According to the simile employed of storms in the south, the assumption of the prophecy is really this, that the hostile army is advancing from Chuzistan, or (as geographical exactitude is not to be supposed) from the direction of the desert of ed-Dahna, that portion of Arabia deserta which bounded the lowland of Chaldean on the south-west. The Medo-Persian land itself is called "a terrible land," because it was situated outside the circle of civilised nations by which the land of Israel was surrounded. After the thematic commencement in Isaiah 21:1, which is quite in harmony with Isaiah's usual custom, the prophet begins again in Isaiah 21:2. Châzuth (a vision) has the same meaning here as in Isaiah 29:11 (though not Isaiah 28:18); and châzuth kâshâh is the object of the passive which follows (Ges. 143, 1, b). The prophet calls the look into the future, which is given to him by divine inspiration, hard or heavy (though in the sense of difficilis, not gravis, câbēd), on account of its repulsive, unendurable, and, so to speak, indigestible nature. The prospect is wide-spread plunder and devastation (the expression is the same as in Isaiah 33:1, compare Isaiah 16:4; Isaiah 24:16, bâgad denoting faithless or treacherous conduct, then heartless robbery), and the summoning of the nations on the east and north of Babylonia to the conquest of Babylon; for Jehovah is about to put an end (hishbatti, as in Isaiah 16:10) to all their sighing (anchâthâh, with He raf. and the tone upon the last syllable), i.e., to all the lamentations forced out of them far and wide by the oppressor.

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