Isaiah 21
Contemporary English Version

The Fall of Babylonia+

1This is a message about a desert beside the sea:+

Enemies from a hostile nation

attack like a whirlwind

from the Southern Desert.

2What a horrible vision

was shown to me—

a vision of betrayal

and destruction.

Tell Elam and Media+

to surround and attack

the Babylonians.

The Lord has sworn to end

the suffering they caused.

3I'm in terrible pain

like a woman giving birth.

I'm shocked and hurt so much

that I can't hear or see.

4My head spins; I'm horrified!

Early evening, my favorite time,

has become a nightmare.

5In Babylon the high officials

were having a feast.

They were eating and drinking,

when someone shouted,

“Officers, take your places!

Grab your shields.”

6The Lord said to me,

“Send guards

to find out

what's going on.

7When they see cavalry troops

and columns of soldiers

on donkeys and camels,

tell them to be ready!”

8Then a guard+ said,

“I have stood day and night

on this watchtower, Lord.

9- Now I see column after column

of cavalry troops.”

At once someone shouted,

“Babylon has fallen!

Every idol in the city

lies broken on the ground.”

10Then I said, “My people,

you have suffered terribly,

but I have a message for you

from the Lord All-Powerful,

the God of Israel.”

How Much Longer?

11This is a message about Dumah:

From the country of Seir,+

someone shouts to me,

“Guard, how much longer

before daylight?”

12From my guard post, I answered,

“Morning will soon be here,

but night will return.

If you want to know more,

come back later.”

13This is a message for Arabs who live in the barren desert in the region of Dedan:+

You must order your caravans

14to bring water for those

who are thirsty.

You people of Tema+

must bring food

for the hungry refugees.

15They are worn out and weary

from being chased by enemies

with swords and arrows.

16The Lord said to me:

A year from now the glory of the people of Kedar+ will all come to an end, just as a worker's contract ends after a year. 17Only a few of their warriors will be left with bows and arrows. This is a promise that I, the Lord God of Israel, have made.


21 Title Babylonia: King Cyrus and his army of Medes and Persians captured the city of Babylon in 539 b.c.
21.1 This … sea: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text. The prophet may be speaking of Babylonia as a desert, because of the terrible punishment God will bring on it. The southern part of Babylonia on the Persian Gulf was sometimes called “the land beside the sea.”
21.2 Elam and Media: People from the Iranian highlands; the capital of Elam was Susa, in the hill country east of Babylon.
21.8 guard: The Dead Sea Scrolls and one ancient translation; the Standard Hebrew Text has “lion.”
21.11 Dumah … Seir: Dumah was an oasis in the Arabian desert. One ancient translation has “Edom,” which may be what is meant. Seir is a mountainous region of Edom southwest of the Dead Sea.
21.13 Dedan: A region in northwest Arabia.
21.14 Tema: A region in north Arabia.
21.16 Kedar: A region in the Arabian desert.

Contemporary English Version, Second Edition (CEV®)

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