|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
Verse 7. - And he saw... he hearkened; rather, he shall see... he shall hearken (Kay). He is to wait and watch until he sees a certain sight; then he is to listen attentively, and he will hear the crash of the falling city. A chariot with a couple of horsemen; rather, a troop of horsemen riding two and two. This is exactly how a cavalry force was ordinarily represented by the Assyrians. Chariots are not intended either here or in ver. 9. They were not employed by the Persians until a late period of their history (see 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 4. pp. 113, 122). A chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; rather, men mounted on asses and on camels. It is well known that both animals were employed by the Persians in their expeditions to carry the baggage (Herod., 1:80; 4:129; Xen., 'Cyrop.,' 7:1, etc.). But neither animal was ever attached to a chariot.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen,.... The drivers of it, or the riders in it; perhaps meaning Cyrus and Darius:
a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; by the former may be meant the Persians, who very much used mules or asses; and the Medes by the latter, who abounded in camels: the words are in the singular number, and may be rendered, "a rider of an ass, and a rider of a camel" (w); and so may describe the couple of riders along with the chariot, which may signify the whole army of the Medes and Persians, chariots being much used in war; and the rider of the ass or mule may design Cyrus, who was called a mule, because of his mixed descent, being a Persian by his father, and a Mede by his mother's side; so the oracle of Apollo told the Babylonians, that their city should stand, until a mule was king of the Medes; and the rider of the camel may point at Darius:
and he hearkened diligently with much heed; the watchman that was set to watch used the utmost attention to what he saw, and listened diligently to the noise of this chariot and horsemen, as they came nearer.
(w) , , Sept.; "ascensorem asini, et ascensorem cameli", V. L. "unum equitantium in asinis, alterum equitantium in camelis", Piscator.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
7. chariot, &c.—rather, "a body of riders," namely, some riding in pairs on horses (literally, "pairs of horsemen," that is, two abreast), others on asses, others on camels (compare Isa 21:9; Isa 22:6). "Chariot" is not appropriate to be joined, as English Version translates, with "asses"; the Hebrew means plainly in Isa 21:7, as in Isa 21:9, "a body of men riding." The Persians used asses and camels for war [Maurer]. Horsley translates, "One drawn in a car, with a pair of riders, drawn by an ass, drawn by a camel"; Cyrus is the man; the car drawn by a camel and ass yoked together and driven by two postilions, one on each, is the joint army of Medes and Persians under their respective leaders. He thinks the more ancient military cars were driven by men riding on the beasts that drew them; Isa 21:9 favors this.
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