New American Standard Bible
The watchman says, "Morning comes but also night. If you would inquire, inquire; Come back again."
King James Bible
The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come.
Darby Bible Translation
The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will inquire, inquire; return, come.
World English Bible
The watchman said, "The morning comes, and also the night. If you will inquire, inquire. Come back again."
Young's Literal Translation
The watchman hath said, 'Come hath morning, and also night, If ye inquire, inquire ye, turn back, come.'
Isaiah 21:12 Parallel
CommentaryBarnes' Notes on the Bible
The watchman said - Or rather "saith;" indicating that this is the answer which the prophet returned to the inquiry from Idumea.
The morning cometh - There are signs of approaching day. The 'morning' here is an emblem of prosperity; as the light of the morning succeeds to the darkness of the night. This refers to the deliverance from the captivity of Babylon, and is to be supposed as having been spoken near the time when that captivity was at an end - or nearly at break of day after the long night of their bondage. This declaration is to be understood as referring to a different people from those referred to in the expression which immediately follows - 'and also the night.' 'The morning cometh' - to the captive Jews; 'and also the night' - to some other people - to wit, the Idumeans. It "might" mean that the morning was to be succeeded by a time of darkness to the same people; but the connection seems to demand that we understand it of others.
And also the night - A time of calamity and affliction. This is emphatic. It refers to the Idumeans. 'The morning cometh to the captive Jews; it shall be closely succeeded by a night - a time of calamity - to the taunting Idumeans.' During the captivity of the Jews in Babylon, the Idumeans invaded and took possession of the southern part of Judea. The prophet here refers to the fact, perhaps, that on the return of the Jews to their native land, they would revenge this by expelling them, and by inflicting punishment on the land of Edom. For a full proof that calamities came upon the land of Idumea, see Keith "On the Prophecies." Art. "Idumea," and the notes at Isaiah 34)
If ye will inquire, inquire ye - If you choose to ask anything further in regard to this, you can. The sense is probably this: 'You Idumeans have asked respecting the night in derision and reproach. An answer has been given somewhat agreeably to that inquiry. But if you seriously wish to know anything further respecting the destiny of your land, you can ask me (Isaiah) or any other prophet, and it will be known. But ask it in seriousness and earnestness, and with a suitable regard for the prophetic character and for God. And especially if you wish a more favorable answer to your inquiries, it is to be obtained only by forsaking sin and turning to God, and then you may come with the hope of a brighter prospect for the future.' The design of this is, therefore:
(1) to "reprove" them for the manner in which they had asked the question;
(2) to assure them that God was willing to direct humble and serious inquirers; and
(3) to show in what way a favorable answer could be obtained - to wit, by repentance. And this is as true of sinners now as it was then. "They" often evince the reproachful and taunting spirit which the Idumeans did. "They" hear only a similar response - that prosperity and happiness await the Christian, though now in darkness and affliction; and that calamity and destruction are before the guilty. They "might" have the same answer - an answer that God would bless them and save them, if they would inquire in a humble, serious, and docile manner.
Return - Turn from your sins; come back to God, and show respect for him and his declarations.
Come - "Then" come and you shall be accepted, and the watch man will also announce "morning" as about to dawn on you. This seems to be the sense of this very dark and difficult prophecy. It is brief, enigmatical, and obscure. Yet it is beautiful; and if the sense above given be correct, it contains most weighty and important truth - alike for the afflicted and persecuted friends, and the persecuting and taunting foes of God. With reference to the interpretation here proposed, which supposes, as will have been seen:
(1) a state of excited feeling on the part of the Jews toward the Idumeans, for the part which they took in the destruction of their city;
(2) the prospect of speedy deliverance to the Jews in Babylon; and
(3) a consequent desolation and vengeance on the Idumeans for the feelings which they had manifested in the destruction of Jerusalem, see the prophecy of Obadiah, Obadiah 1:8-21 :
Shall I not in that day, saith the Lord,
Even destroy the wise men out of Edom,
LibraryLetter 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
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?"
The oracle about Arabia. In the thickets of Arabia you must spend the night, O caravans of Dedanites.
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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