|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
21:13-17 The Arabians lived in tents, and kept cattle. A destroying army shall be brought upon them, and make them an easy prey. We know not what straits we may be brought into before we die. Those may know the want of necessary food who now eat bread to the full. Neither the skill of archers, nor the courage of mighty men, can protect from the judgments of God. That is poor glory, which will thus quickly come to nothing. Thus hath the Lord said to me; and no word of his shall fall to the ground. We may be sure the Strength of Israel will not lie. Happy are those only whose riches and glory are out of the reach of invaders; all other prosperity will speedily pass away.
Verses 13-17. - THE BURDEN OF ARABIA. Edom will have companions in misfortune among the Arab tribes upon her borders, Dedan, Tema, and Kedar. War will enter their territory, derange their commerce (ver. 13), cause flight and privation (vers. 14, 15), and within a year greatly diminish the number of their fighting men (vers. 16, 17). The date of the prophecy is uncertain, but can scarcely be earlier than B.C. 715, when Sargon made an expedition into Arabia (O. Smith, 'Eponym Canon,' p. 66). Verse 13. - The burden upon Arabia; rather, in Arabia. The phrase is varied from its usual form, probably because it is not Arabia generally, but only certain of the more northern tribes, on whom calamity is about to fall. In the forest... shall ye lodge. The word used is commonly translated "forest;" but Arabia has no forests, and the meaning here must be "brushwood." Thorny bushes and shrubs are common in all parts of Arabia. The general meaning is that the caravans will have to leave the beaten track, and obtain such shelter and concealment as the scanty brushwood of the desert could afford. Ye traveling companies of Dedanim. The Dedanim, or Dedanites, were among the chief traders of the Arabian peninsula. They had commercial dealings with Tyre, which they supplied with ivory, ebony, and "precious clothes for chariots" (Ezekiel 27:15, 20). This trade they carried on by means of large caravans - the "travelling companies" of the present passage. They are thought to have had their chief settlements on the shores of the Persian Gulf, where the island of Dadan may be an echo of their name.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The burden upon Arabia,.... Which lay heavy upon it, as a burden upon a beast; or "concerning" it, or "against" it, as Kimchi notes; which Arabia, or what part thereof, is meant, may be gathered from the names after mentioned. The Targum is,
"the burden of the cup of cursing, to give the Arabians to drink.''
Ben Melech says, these are the Arabians that dwell in the wilderness:
in the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge; not in their tents and huts, which they had used to carry with them, and set up where they pleased; since now in their fright and flight they would leave them behind them, and so be obliged to take up their lodging in woods and forests; perhaps the desert of Arabia Petraea is meant:
O ye travelling companies of Dedanim; or Dedanites; these were Arabians that descended from Jokshan, a son of Abraham by Keturah, Genesis 25:3 who were either shepherds, who went in companies together with their flocks, and moved from place to place for the sake of pasture; or rather were merchants, who went in caravans and troops with their merchandise from one country to another; see Ezekiel 27:15 and who, because of the ravages of the enemy, would be glad of a lodging in the woods for security.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Isa 21:13-17. Prophecy that Arabia Would Be Overrun by a Foreign Foe within a Year.
Probably in the wars between Assyria and Egypt; Idumea and Arabia lay somewhat on the intermediate line of march.
13. upon—that is, respecting.
forest—not a grove of trees, but a region of thick underwood, rugged and inaccessible; for Arabia has no forest of trees.
travelling companies—caravans: ye shall be driven through fear of the foe to unfrequented routes (Isa 33:8; Jud 5:6; Jer 49:8 is parallel to this passage).
Dedanim—In North Arabia (Ge 25:3; Jer 25:23; Eze 25:13; 27:20; a different "Dedan" occurs Ge 10:7).
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