The word "oracle" or "burden" (Isa 13:1; 15:1; 17:1; 19:1;
21:1; 22:1; 23:1) is from the Heb "to lift up", in foreboding or expectation; it
implies something that God has planned for another. More often than not, it
speaks of a coming punishment; but at times it simply means an important event
involving a particular people. The distinction must be determined by the
context. Often, the "burden" begins with warnings of judgments to come, and then
proceeds with prophecies of something beneficial arising out of the dark times.
Zec 12 illustrates this: it begins with a "burden... for Israel... in the
siege", but then quickly speaks of a time of blessing succeeding the time of
affliction: Jerusalem inhabited again in her own place (Zec 12:6,7). The burdens
of Isaiah generally follow this same pattern, with special ref to the LD of
Gentile times and the establishment of "Israel in their own land" (Isa 14:1) and
Christ as the "ruler of the land... upon the mount of the daughter of Zion" (Isa
16:1). Also the roles of various Gentile powers, esp in relation to Israel and
God's plans for the LD, are outlined. What might first appear to be a dry and
unrewarding study becomes in reality a promise of God's deliverance for His
people (in typical prophecies) and a glorious assurance (in initial
fulfillments) that God's purpose stands firm (Isa 14:26,27).
"Isa 13-23 contains a series of judgment oracles against
various nations. It is likely that Israel, not the nations mentioned, actually
heard these oracles. [However, perhaps Isaiah's 'burdens' were handed in writing
to the ambassadors of the various nations who came to Hezekiah's coronation: Isa
14:32. Cp idea in Jer 27:2-4.] The oracles prob had a twofold purpose. For those
leaders who insisted on getting embroiled in international politics, these
oracles were a reminder that Judah need not fear foreign nations or seek
international alliances for security reasons. For the righteous remnant within
the nation, these oracles were a reminder that Israel's God was indeed the
sovereign ruler of the earth, worthy of his people's trust" (NET
Isa 13-23: Ten "burdens": (1) Babylon or Assyria (Isa 13;
14:1-27), (2) Philistia (Isa 14:28-32), (3) Moab (Isa 15; 16); (4) Damascus (Isa
17); (5) Egypt (Isa 18-20); (6) the desert of the sea (Isa 21:1-10); (7) Dumah
(Isa 21:11,12); (8) Arabia (Isa 21:13-17); (9) the valley of vision (Isa 22);
and (10) Tyre (Isa 23). Ten may be a significant number: cp Gen 15:19-21; Dan 2;
7; Psa 83; Eze 38:1-6; Rev 17:12-14.
"It is to be expected that these burdens will have a LD ref,
in addition to their contemporary relevance. This is the normal characteristic
of nearly all Messianic prophecy. In several places (eg, Isa 17:13; 13:5,6;
19:23-25; 22:22) clear links with other LD prophecies seem to demand this" (WIsa
Isa 13:1-18: Judah is overrun and devastated by the ruthless
armies of Sennacherib. Isa 13:19-22: the overthrow of Assyria/Babylon. Isa
14:1-3: Israel's restoration. Isa 14:4-27: the fate of Assyria/Babylon and all
"Who can doubt that the further fulfillment of Isa 13; 14 will
produce the very situation which made the reign of Hezekiah one of the most
exciting in all history? Once again, as then, there will be wrath on the state
of Israel for its godlessness and lack of faith; the Land will be overrun by a
confederacy of enemies; vast numbers will be herded away as slave labour in the
lands of their conquerors; then, through the repentance of the faithful remnant
and the merits of one Man whom God has smitten with undeserved suffering for the
sake of His people, there will come sudden incredible divine deliverance, and
the City of God will be safe; a gracious year of jubilee will be celebrated,
with the joyous return of all the captives; and then will ensue a reign of
righteousness and peace and prosperity more adequate to fulfill all the
long-cherished dreams of God's pious and faithful ones. Not all of this picture
comes in Isa 13;14; but much of it is there, and the other details are copiously
filled in, in Isaiah's later prophecies" (WIsa 200).
A BARE HILLTOP: Or "the levelled mountain" (WK), ie the
Temple mount in Jerusalem. (Neither Babylon nor Nineveh are situated on anything
GATES OF THE NOBLES: A special entry-gate for the
rulers of Israel: 1Ch 9:18; 2Ch 23:20; Jer 39:3; Lam 5:14.
MY HOLY ONES: Also called "MY warriors" (gibborim) and
"those who rejoice... in ME". This cannot = pagans! Prob ref the angels of God.
Cp same idea, Joel 3:11.
TO CARRY OUT MY WRATH: Which they did (Isa
THE WEAPONS OF HIS WRATH: Assyria/Babylon, the rod in
the hand of God (Isa 10:5).
TO DESTROY THE WHOLE COUNTRY: This is what the
Assyrians did to most of Judah.
Quotes or is quoted by Joel 1:15, where the primary ref is to
the Assyrian invasion of the Land.
WAIL: "Howl" (AV) = Heb "yalal", a play on words with
"hallel" (praise) as in "Halleluyah".
THE DAY OF THE LORD IS NEAR: Used by Peter (2Pe 3:10)
and Paul (1Th 5:2) with ref to 2nd Coming.
DESTRUCTION FROM THE ALMIGHTY: Pun: "shad
EVERY MAN'S HEART WILL MELT: "Men will faint from
terror" (Luk 21:26).
A WOMAN IN LABOR: Same figure as Psa 48:5,6, re the
Assyrian threat against Jerusalem. Refs 2nd coming in 1Th 5:3; Mar
STARS... CONSTELLATIONS... SUN... MOON: The heavenly
bodies are often a figure of Israel (eg Gen 37:9,10; Jer 31:35,36; Mat 24:29;
CONSTELLATIONS: The plural of the special constellation
"Orion", the "hunter", for which the ancient eastern name was "Nimrod, the
founder of Babylon and Assyria (Gen 10:8,9). The plural = intensive, as in "the
great and mighty Nimrod".
WILL NOT SHOW THEIR LIGHT: Sun, moon, and stars being
darkened is repeated in prophecies of the 2nd Coming: Joel 2:31; 3:15; Isa
24:23; Mat 24:29; Luk 21:25; Rev 6:12,13.
THE RUTHLESS: Heb "aritz" = the powerful, terrible, or
tyrannical. One of Isaiah's standard descriptions of the Assyrians (eg Isa
HEAVENS TREMBLE; AND THE EARTH WILL SHAKE: See echoes
in Isa 50:3; 51:6, with ref to the overthrow of God's people (and cp Psa
102:25,26). LD applications: Hag 2:6; Heb 12:26; Rev 6:12,14.
FROM ITS PLACE: Heb "maqom", usually ref to a holy
place or altar -- ie, the Temple at Jerusalem.
THEIR INFANTS WILL BE DASHED TO PIECES: "This is the
very judgment denounced upon the people of Nineveh (Nah 3:10), exactly in
accordance with the bitter prayer of Psa 137:9" (WIsa 197). Also in Hos
THEIR HOUSES WILL BE LOOTED AND THEIR WIVES RAVISHED:
Quoted in Zec 14:2 with ref to Jerusalem in LD.
I WILL STIR UP AGAINST THEM THE MEDES: Either (1)
Median mercenaries in the Assyrian army used against Israel, or (2) Median
inroads into Assyria after the disaster of Isa 37:36.
Vv 19-22: "Jeremiah, who was a great quoter of earlier
Scriptures, saw the fulfillment of these words re Nineveh in his own time. And
yet he went on to assert a further fulfillment re the Babylon he knew (Jer
50:27,39,40; 51:11,28,29,33,37,62) -- a very long-range prophecy, this! Nor does
this end the story, for again the words are picked up to describe the ultimate
fate of the apocalyptic 'Babylon' (Rev 18:2)" (WIsa 203).
LIKE SODOM AND GOMORRAH: An enacted parable of the LD:
HER TIME IS AT HAND: A speedy fulfillment of the
prophecy. This rules out a ref to the Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar and beyond --
too far in future. The only reasonable candidate for a speedy fulfillment is
Nineveh. (Cp Zep 2:14,15.) Even then, it was about a century before Nineveh
"Is it poss that just as the destruction of Nineveh proclaimed
by Jonah (Jon 3:4) was deferred for 150 years, so also Isaiah's urgent prophecy
about the Assyrians, learning their lesson from Sennacherib's experience, caused
them not only to send all their Jewish captives home but also to leave God's
Land alone, even when they were busy plundering Egypt?" (WIsa 202).