|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
Verse 17. - Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them. Isaiah's knowledge that the Medes should take a leading part in the destruction of Babylon is, no doubt, as surprising a fact as almost any other in the entire range of prophetic foresight, or insight, as set before us in Scripture. The Medes were known to Moses as an ancient nation of some importance (Genesis 10:2); but since his time had been unmentioned by any sacred writer; and, as a living nation, had only just come within the range of Israelite vision, by the fact that, when Sargon deported the Samaritans from Samaria, he placed some of them "in the cities of the Medes" (2 Kings 17:6). The Assyrians had become acquainted with them somewhat more than a century earlier, and had made frequent incursions into their country, finding them a weak and divided people, under the government of a large number of petty chiefs. Sargon had conquered a portion of the tribes, and placed prefects in the cities; at the same time planting colonists in them from other parts of the empire. That, when the weakness of Media was being thus made apparent, Isaiah should have foreseen its coming greatness can only be accounted for by his having received a Divine communication on the subject. Subsequently, he had a still more exact and complete communication (Isaiah 21:2). Which shall not regard silver. The Medes were not a particularly disinterested people; but in the attack on Babylon, made by Cyrus, the object was not plunder, but conquest and the extension of dominion. The main treasures of Babylon - those in the great temple of Bolus - were not carried off by Cyrus, as appears both from his own inscriptions, and from Herodotus (1. 181-183).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them,.... The Babylonians; this explains who are meant by the sanctified and mighty ones, Isaiah 13:3 the Medes were a people that descended from Medai, one of the sons of Japheth, Genesis 10:2 as Josephus observes (i); under these the Persians are included, though they are only mentioned, because Cyrus was sent by Cyaxares king of Media on this expedition against Babylon, and was made by him general of the Medes, and acted as such under him; and when Babylon was taken, and Belshazzar slain, Darius the Median took the kingdom, Daniel 5:31 now these are mentioned by name some hundreds of years before the thing came to pass, as Cyrus their general in Isaiah 45:1 which is a strong proof of the truth of prophecy, and of divine revelation; and, whatever might be the moving causes of this expedition, the affair was of God; it was he that put it into the hearts of the Medes, and stirred up their spirits to make war against Babylon; and though God is not the author of sin, yet he not only suffered the things to be done before and after mentioned, but in his providence ordered them as just punishments on a sinful people:
which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it; not but that they had a regard for, gold and silver, as appears by their spoiling of the houses of the Babylonians, Isaiah 13:16 but that they had not so great a regard for these things as to spare the lives of any for the sake of them; they were so intent upon taking away their lives, that they disregarded their substance; their first work was to slay, and then to spoil; they first destroyed, and then plundered; no man with his gold and silver could obtain a ransom of his life from them. Cyrus (k) in his speech to his army said,
"O ye Medes, and all present, I truly know that not for want of money are ye come out with me,'' &c.
(i) Antiqu. Jud. l. 1. c. 6. sect. 1.((k) Cyropaedia, l. 5. sect. 3.
Wesley's Notes on the Bible
13:17 Medes - Under whom he comprehends the Persians. Not delight - Which is to be understood comparatively. They shall more eagerly pursue the destruction of the people, than the getting of spoil.
Isaiah 13:17 Parallel Commentaries
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible