Isaiah 21:11
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
The oracle concerning Edom. One keeps calling to me from Seir, "Watchman, how far gone is the night? Watchman, how far gone is the night?"

King James Bible
The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?

Darby Bible Translation
The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?

World English Bible
The burden of Dumah. One calls to me out of Seir, "Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?"

Young's Literal Translation
The burden of Dumah. Unto me is one calling from Seir 'Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?'

Isaiah 21:11 Parallel
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Analysis of Isaiah 21:11, Isaiah 21:12. - VISION 17. Dumah, or Idumea.

This prophecy is very obscure. It comprises but two verses. When it was delivered, or on what occasion, or what was its design, it is not easy to determine. Its brevity has contributed much to its obscurity; nor, amidst the variety of interpretations which have been proposed, is it possible to ascertain with entire certainty the true explanation. Perhaps no portion of the Scriptures, of equal length, has been subjected to a greater variety of exposition. It is not the design of these Notes to go at length into a detail of opinions which have been proposed, but to state as accurately as possible the sense of the prophet. Those who wish to see at length the opinions which have been entertained on this prophecy, will find them detailed in Vitringa and others.

The prophecy relates evidently to Idumea. It stands in connection with that immediately preceding respecting Babylon, and it is probable that it was delivered at that time. It has the appearance of being a reply by the prophet to language of "insult or taunting" from the Idumeans, and to have been spoken when calamities were coming rapidly on the Jews. But it is not certain that that was the time or the occasion. It is certain only that it is a prediction of calamity succeeding to prosperity - perhaps prosperity coming to the afflicted Hebrews in Babylon, and of calamity to the taunting Idumeans, who had exulted over their downfall and captivity, and who are represented as sneeringly inquiring of the prophet what was the prospect in regard to the Jews. This is substantially the view given by Vitringa, Rosenmuller, and Gesenius.

According to this interpretation, the scene is laid in the time of the Babylonlsh captivity. The prophet is represented as having been placed on a watch-tower long and anxiously looking for the issue. It is night; that is, it is a time of calamity, darkness, and distress. In this state of darkness and obscurity, someone is represented as calling to the prophet from Idumea, and tauntingly inquiring, what of the night, or what the prospect was. He asks, whether there was any prospect of deliverance; or whether these calamities were to continue, and perhaps whether Idumea was also to be involved in them with the suffering Jews. To this the prophet answers, that the morning began to dawn - that there was a prospect of deliverance. But he adds that calamity was also coming; calamity probably to the nation that made the inquiry - to the land of Idumea - "perhaps" calamity that should follow the deliverance of the Hebrew captives, who would thus be enabled to inflict vengeance on Edom, and to overwhelm it in punishment. The morning dawns, says the watchman; but there is darkness still beyond. Light is coming - but there is night also: light for us - darkness for you. This interpretation is strengthened by a remarkable coincidence in an independent source, and which I have not seen noticed, in the 137th Psalm. The irritated and excited feelings of the captive Jews against Edom; their indignation at the course which Edom pursued when Jerusalem was destroyed; and their desire of vengeance, are all there strongly depicted, and accord with this interpretation, which supposes the prophet to say that the glad morning of the deliverance of the "Jews" would be succeeded by a dark night to the taunting Idumean. The feelings of the captured and exiled Jews were expressed in the following language in Babylon Psalm 137:7 :

Remember, O Jehovah, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem;

Who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation.

That is, we desire vengeance on Idumea, who joined with our enemies when Jerusalem was destroyed; and when Jerusalem shall be again rebuilt, we pray that they may be remembered, and that punishment may be inflicted on them for exulting over our calamities. The watchman adds, that if the Idumean was disposed to inquire further, he could. The result could be easily ascertained. It was clear, and the watchman would be disposed to give the information. But he adds, 'return, come;' perhaps meaning, 'repent; then come and receive an answer;' denoting that if the Idumeans "wished" a favorable answer, they should repent of their treatment of the Jews in their calamities, and that "then" a condition of safety and prosperity would be promised them.

As there is considerable variety in the ancient versions of this prophecy, and as it is brief, they may be presented to advantage at a single view. The Vulgate does not differ materially from the Hebrew. The following are some of the other versions:

Septuagint: "The vision of Idumea." Unto me he called out of Seir, Guard the fortresses - Φυλάσσετε ἐπάλξεις phulassete epalcheis). I guard morning and night. If you inquire, inquire, and dwell with me. In the grove (δρυμῷ drumō) thou shalt lie down, and in the way of Dedan (Δαιδάn Daidan).

Chaldee: "The burden of the cup of malediction which is coming upon Duma." - He cries to me from heaven, O prophet, prophesy; O prophet, prophesy to them of what is to come. The prophet said, There is a reward to the just, and revenge to the unjust. If you will be converted, be converted while you can be converted.

Syriac: "The burden of Duma." The nightly watchman calls to me out of Seir. And the watchman said, The morning cometh and also the night. If ye will inquire, inquire, and then at length come.

Arabic: "A prophecy respecting Edom and Seir, the sons of Esau." Call me from Seir. Keep the towers. Guard thyself morning and evening. If you inquire, inquire.

It is evident, from this variety of translation, that the ancient interpreters felt that the prophecy was enigmatical and difficult. It is not easy, in a prophecy so brief, and where there is scarcely any clue to lead us to the historical facts, to give an interpretation that shall be entirely satisfactory and unobjectionable. Perhaps the view given above may be as little liable to objection as any one of the numerous interpretations which have been proposed.

Verse 11


Isaiah 21:11 Parallel Commentaries

Letter Xlii to the Illustrious Youth, Geoffrey De Perrone, and his Comrades.
To the Illustrious Youth, Geoffrey de Perrone, and His Comrades. He pronounces the youths noble because they purpose to lead the religious life, and exhorts them to perseverance. To his beloved sons, Geoffrey and his companions, Bernard, called Abbot of Clairvaux, wishes the spirit of counsel and strength. 1. The news of your conversion that has got abroad is edifying many, nay, is making glad the whole Church of God, so that The heavens rejoice and the earth is glad (Ps. xcvi. 11), and every tongue
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux

Cross References
Genesis 25:14
and Mishma and Dumah and Massa,

Genesis 32:3
Then Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom.

Song of Solomon 3:3
"The watchmen who make the rounds in the city found me, And I said, 'Have you seen him whom my soul loves?'

Isaiah 21:12
The watchman says, "Morning comes but also night. If you would inquire, inquire; Come back again."

Jeremiah 6:17
"And I set watchmen over you, saying, 'Listen to the sound of the trumpet!' But they said, 'We will not listen.'

Obadiah 1:1
The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord GOD concerning Edom-- We have heard a report from the LORD, And an envoy has been sent among the nations saying, "Arise and let us go against her for battle "--

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