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).
DESERT BY THE SEA: This is the direction from which the
invader comes, ie (most prob) the wilderness between Jerusalem and the sea-plain
of the Shephelah, or (less prob) the country between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.
Either way might be the route by which an invader (ie Assyria) might approach
Jerusalem. (Also, an implied allusion to the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt,
through the desert, and through the Red Sea: Exo 13:18).
WHIRLWINDS SWEEPING THROUGH THE SOUTHLAND: Ref the
natural phenomenon of hurricanes coming into Judea, following a path northward
from the Red Sea, through a "terrible land". But here the "hurricane" is the
"whirlwind of the Lord" (Job 38:1; Zec 9:14): cp the language of the destruction
of Sennacherib's army, with flame, and fire, and tempest, and hailstones (Isa
30:30,31; Nah 1:3,8,9).
ELAM... MEDIA: Mercenaries in the Assyrian army (cp Isa
A WOMAN IN LABOR: // 1Th 5:3.
THE TWILIGHT I LONGED FOR: "The night of my pleasure"
(AV) is an allusion to Passover, the only holy observance kept at nighttime, and
the time of the overthrow of Sennacherib's army (Isa 31:5; 30:29; 29:1; 26:20;
THEY SET THE TABLES, THEY SPREAD THE RUGS, THEY EAT, THEY
DRINK!: Other Passover allusions.
THEY SPREAD THE RUGS: The KJV has "watch in the
watchtower" -- based on v 6. But the NIV translation suits the Passover
OIL THE SHIELDS: Smearing the shields with oil would
make them more flexible and effective in battle. Or, as per the Passover motif,
"anoint the doorposts" (LXX): the smearing of the blood of the Lamb on the door
frames (Exo 12:22).
POST A LOOKOUT AND HAVE HIM REPORT WHAT HE SEES: The
watchmen of Israel were the prophets (Isa 52:8; 56:10; 62:6; Eze 3:17; Mic 7:4).
One prophet (Isaiah?) is bidden to appoint another prophet (Habakkuk?: Hab
2:1,2) to be on the alert.
AND THE LOOKOUT SHOUTED: "The Masoretic text has 'the
lion', but this makes little sense here. 'Ariy', 'lion' (KJV), is prob a
corruption of an orig 'the one who sees' (DSS), ie, the aforementioned guard (v
EVERY NIGHT I STAY AT MY POST: Or "all the night" I
watch for deliverance -- Passover: "a night of watching unto the Lord" (Exo
BABYLON IS FALLEN: The devastation of the Assyrian army
outside Jerusalem. Cited in Rev 14:8; 18:2.
ALL THE IMAGES OF ITS GODS LIE SHATTERED ON THE GROUND:
The gods of Nineveh in whose power Sennacherib had gloried at the holy city of
Yahweh (Isa 36:18-20), idols whose impotence Isaiah was to castigate in later
prophecies loaded with sarcasm (Isa 40:19...; Isa 44:9...; Isa 46). Another link
with the Passover of Exodus, because all of the 10 plagues were directed against
the Egyptian deities.
THRESHING FLOOR: Zion was orig a threshing floor (2Sa
24:18,24; cp figure in Mic 4:13), and now the enemies of the LORD would be
threshed like grain (ie, also, Dan 2!).
Vv 11,12: The "burden" of Dumah, or Edom. Edom was always a
bitter enemy of Israel, glad of any opportunity to score over the kings reigning
in Jerusalem. In Psa 83 Edom is the leader of an Arab confederacy against Judah,
in the days of Hezekiah (cp Psa 137:7). Cp also Isa 34; 63:1-6.
DUMAH: The name Idumea is shortened here to "Dumah", a
Heb wd meaning "silence", suggesting the silence of death (Psa 115:17; 94:17),
the night that is soon to descend on Edom.
SEIR: Part of the territory of Edom (Gen
WHAT IS LEFT OF THE NIGHT?: The night, here, = the time
of distress: the Passover night of fear and death, culminating in the morning of
deliverance (Isa 37:36).
MORNING IS COMING, BUT ALSO THE NIGHT: We determine by
our actions whether the coming day of the Lord is one of "morning" or "night"
for us! Cp idea, Amo 5:18-20.
AND COME BACK YET AGAIN: "Just as the prophecy of a
comparable judgment on Moab had concentrated on an exhortation to put faith in
Jehovah and His king in Zion (Isa 16:4,5), so also with these Edomites. But
there was little hope that this wisdom would be heeded. Edom's age-long
hostility was too deeply ingrained. So the prophet's urging is curt and cool. He
knows that he speaks in vain" (WIsa 242).
Vv 13-17: The "burden" of Arabia. Poss the same "burden" as vv
11,12 (Edom): the place names in these vv ref to Edom also.
ARABIA: Heb "ereb" = "mixed", with special ref to Arab
peoples (see Lesson, Arab/"mixed").
YOU CARAVANS OF DEDANITES: "The words present a picture
of travelling caravans having their progress seriously interrupted by invasion
of their territory and the consequent flight of the communities which would
normally have welcomed them. Instead they have to improvise camping places in
the 'forest' ['thickets': NIV], that is, the rough scrub or bush land on the
edge of the desert" (WIsa 242).
DEDANITES: A Cushite people of southern Arabia (Gen
The fugitives are met by their fellows with food and drink --
what a ct with the inhospitable treatment accorded to Israel centuries earlier
(Deu 23:4; Num 20:17-19)..
TEMA: Another Ishmaelite tribe of Arabia (Gen
AS A SERVANT BOUND BY CONTRACT WOULD COUNT IT: That is,
a year, and not one day longer!
KEDAR: Nomadic tribes of Ishmael (Gen 25:13; Isa 60:7;
Jer 49:29; cp Psa 120).