Isaiah 34:13
And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls.
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(13) An habitation of dragons, and a court for owls . . .—The wild creatures named are identified, as elsewhere, with jackals” (“wild dogs,” Delitzsch) and “ostriches.”

34:9-17 Those who aim to ruin the church, can never do that, but will ruin themselves. What dismal changes sin can make! It turns a fruitful land into barrenness, a crowded city into a wilderness. Let us compare all we discover in the book of the Lord, with the dealings of providence around us, that we may be more diligent in seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness. What the mouth of the Lord has commanded, his Spirit will perform. And let us observe how the evidences of the truth continually increase, as one prophecy after another is fulfilled, until these awful scenes bring in more happy days. As Israel was a figure of the Christian church, so the Edomites, their bitter enemies, represent the enemies of the kingdom of Christ. God's Jerusalem may be laid in ruins for a time, but the enemies of the church shall be desolate for ever.And thorns ... - (see the note at Isaiah 5:6)

It shall be an habitation of dragons - On the meaning of the word 'dragons,' see the note at Isaiah 13:22.

Court for owls - A place of resort, a residence of owls. The word rendered 'court' (חציר châtsı̂yr) means a dwelling-place, a habitation, as well as an enclosure or court. The margin is, 'Daughters of the owl,' or 'ostriches' (see the note at Isaiah 13:21). 'I would,' says Stephens, when standing amidst the ruins of Petra, the capital of Idumea (see the note at Isaiah 16:1), and with this passage of Isaiah in his eye, 'I would that the sceptic could stand as I did, among the ruins of this city among the rocks, and there open the sacred book, and read the words of the inspired penman, written when this desolate place was one of the greatest cities in the world. I see the scoff arrested, his cheek pale, his lip quivering, and his heart quaking with fear, as the ancient city cries out to him in a voice loud and powerful as one risen from the dead; though be would not believe Moses and the prophets, he believes the hand-writing of God himself, in the desolation and eternal ruin around him.' (Incidents of Travel in Egypt, etc., vol. ii. p. 76.)

13. dragons—(See on [758]Isa 13:21; [759]Isa 13:22).

court for owls—rather, "a dwelling for ostriches."

This is another mark and evidence of extreme desolation, as it is also, Hosea 9:6.

And thorns shall come up in her palaces,.... Where their kings and princes dwelt, and kept their courts, popes and cardinals; here will be the tokens of God's curse, as thorns are, these being the people of his curse, as in Isaiah 34:5,

nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof; alluding to "Bozrah" which signifies a fortress; referring to the towers and fortifications of the city of Rome, and all other fortified cities within its jurisdiction:

and it shall be a habitation of dragons; literally, as it figuratively had been the seat of the old dragon, the devil, and of the beast to whom the dragon gave his power, seat, and authority; and who, though he looked like a lamb, spoke like a dragon, Revelation 12:3,

and a court for owls; or, "daughters of the owl"; or "ostriches", as some render it.

And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls.
13. The mention of nobles and princes naturally leads to the palaces and castles.

dragons … owls] jackals … ostriches (R.V.). See on ch. Isaiah 13:21 f.

Verse 13. - Thorns shall come up in her palaces. The "palaces" of Bozrah are mentioned also by Amos (Amos 1:12), and are threatened with destruction by fire. Amid their ruins should grow up thorns and briars. It shall be an habitation of dragons; or, of jackals (see the comment on Isaiah 13:22). Owls; literally, daughters of screaming - a description better suited to the owl than to the ostrich, which some regard as the bird meant. Isaiah 34:13The allusion to the monarchy and the lofty electoral dignity leads the prophet on to the palaces and castles of the land. Starting with these, he carries out the picture of the ruins in Isaiah 34:13-15. "And the palaces of Edom break out into thorns, nettles and thistles in its castles; and it becomes the abode of wild dogs, pasture for ostriches. And martens meet with jackals, and a wood-devil runs upon its fellow; yea, Liiliith dwells there, and finds rest for itself. There the arrow-snake makes its nest, and breeds and lays eggs, and broods in the shadow there; yea, there vultures gather together one to another." The feminine suffixes refer to Edom, as they did in the previous instance, as בּת־אדום or אדום ארץ. On the tannı̄m, tsiyyı̄m, and 'iyyı̄m, see at Isaiah 13:21-22. It is doubtful whether châtsı̄r here corresponds to the Arabic word for an enclosure ( equals חצר), as Gesenius, Hitzig, and others suppose, as elsewhere to the Arabic for green, a green field, or garden vegetable. We take it in the latter sense, viz., a grassy place, such as was frequented by ostriches, which live upon plants and fruits. The word tsiyyim (steppe animals) we have rendered "martens," as the context requires a particular species of animals to be named. This is the interpretation given by Rashi (in loc.) and Kimchi in Jeremiah 50:39 to the Targum word tamvân. We do not render 'iyyı̄m "wild cats" (chattūilin), but "jackals," after the Arabic. קרא with על we take in the sense of קרה (as in Exodus 5:3). Lı̄lı̄th (Syr. and Zab. lelitho), lit., the creature of the night, was a female demon (shēdâh) of the popular mythology; according to the legends, it was a malicious fairy that was especially hurtful to children, like some of the fairies of our own fairy tales. There is life in Edom still; but what a caricature of that which once was there! In the very spot where the princes of Edom used to proclaim the new king, satyrs now invite one another to dance (Isaiah 13:21); and there kings and princes once slept in their palaces and country houses, the lı̄lı̄th, which is most at home in horrible places, finds, as though after a prolonged search, the most convenient and most comfortable resting-place. Demons and serpents are not very far distant from one another. The prophet therefore proceeds in Isaiah 34:15 to the arrow-snake, or springing-snake (Arabic qiffâze, from qâphaz, related to qâphats, Sol 2:8, to prepare for springing, or to spring; a different word from qippōd, which has the same root). This builds its nest in the ruins; there it breeds (millēt, to let its eggs slide out) and lays eggs (bâqa‛, to split, i.e., to bring forth); and then it broods in the shade (dâgar is the Targum word in Job 39:14 for chimmēm (ithpael in Lamentations 1:20 for חמרמר), and is also used in the rabbinical writings for fovere, as Jerome renders it here). The literal sense of the word is probably to keep the eggs together (Targum, Jeremiah 17:11, בּעין מכנּשׁ, lxx συνήγαγεν), since דּגר (syn. חמּר) signifies "to collect." Rashi has therefore explained it in both passages as meaning glousser, to cluck, the noise by which a fowl calls its brood together. The dayyâh is the vulture. These fowls and most gregarious birds of prey also collect together there.
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