New International Version - UK

Isaiah 21

A prophecy against Babylon

1A prophecy against the Desert by the Sea:

Like whirlwinds sweeping through the southland,
    an invader comes from the desert,
    from a land of terror.

A dire vision has been shown to me:
    the traitor betrays, the looter takes loot.
Elam, attack! Media, lay siege!
    I will bring to an end all the groaning she caused.

At this my body is racked with pain,
    pangs seize me, like those of a woman in labour;
I am staggered by what I hear,
    I am bewildered by what I see.
My heart falters,
    fear makes me tremble;
the twilight I longed for
    has become a horror to me.

They set the tables,
    they spread the rugs,
    they eat, they drink!
Get up, you officers,
    oil the shields!

This is what the Lord says to me:

‘Go, post a lookout
    and let him report what he sees.
When he sees chariots
    with teams of horses,
riders on donkeys
    or riders on camels,
let him be alert,
    fully alert.’

And the lookout[a] shouted,

‘Day after day, my lord, I stand on the watchtower;
    every night I stay at my post.
Look, here comes a man in a chariot
    with a team of horses.
And he gives back the answer:
    “Babylon has fallen, has fallen!
All the images of its gods
    lie shattered on the ground!”’

10 My people who are crushed on the threshing-floor,
    I tell you what I have heard
from the Lord Almighty,
    from the God of Israel.

A prophecy against Edom

11 A prophecy against Dumah:[b]

Someone calls to me from Seir,
    ‘Watchman, what is left of the night?
    Watchman, what is left of the night?’
12 The watchman replies,
    ‘Morning is coming, but also the night.
If you would ask, then ask;
    and come back yet again.’

A prophecy against Arabia

13 A prophecy against Arabia:

You caravans of Dedanites,
    who camp in the thickets of Arabia,
14     bring water for the thirsty;
you who live in Tema,
    bring food for the fugitives.
15 They flee from the sword,
    from the drawn sword,
from the bent bow
    and from the heat of battle.

16 This is what the Lord says to me: ‘Within one year, as a servant bound by contract would count it, all the splendour of Kedar will come to an end. 17 The survivors of the archers, the warriors of Kedar, will be few.’ The Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken.


  1. Isaiah 21:8 Dead Sea Scrolls and Syriac; Masoretic Text A lion
  2. Isaiah 21:11 Dumah, a word play on Edom, means silence or stillness.

Amplified Bible

Isaiah 21

God Commands That Babylon Be Taken

1The [mournful, inspired] oracle ([a]a burden to be carried) concerning the Desert of the [b]Sea (the seasonally flooded plains just south of Babylon):

As windstorms in the Negev (the South) sweep through,
So it (God’s judgment) comes from the desert, from [the hostile armies of] a terrifying land.

A harsh vision has been shown to me;
The treacherous one deals treacherously, and the destroyer destroys.
Go up, Elam! Lay siege, Media!
All the groaning [caused by Babylon’s ruthless oppressions] I [the Lord] have brought to an end.

Therefore [continues Isaiah] my loins are filled with anguish;
Pains have seized me like the pains of a woman in childbirth;
I am so bent and bewildered that I cannot hear, I am so terrified that I cannot see.

My mind reels, horror overwhelms me;
The twilight I longed for has been [c]turned into fear and trembling for me.

They set the table [for the doomed banquet], they spread out the cloth, they eat, they drink;
“Rise up, captains [of Belshazzar’s court], oil your shields [for battle, for your enemy is at the gates]!”

This is what the Lord says to me,

“Go, station the lookout, let him report what he sees.

“When he sees a chariot, horsemen in pairs,
A train of donkeys and a train of camels,
Let him pay attention and listen closely, very closely.”

And the lookout called like a lion,

“O Lord, I stand continually on the watchtower by day,
And I am stationed every night at my guard post.

“Now look! Here comes a troop of riders, horsemen in pairs.”
And one said, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon;
And all the carved images of her gods are shattered on the ground.”
O my threshed people [Judah, who must be judged and trampled down by Babylon], my afflicted of the threshing floor.
What I have heard from the Lord of hosts,
The God of Israel, I have [joyfully] announced to you [that Babylon is to fall].

Oracles about Edom and Arabia

11 The [mournful, inspired] oracle ([d]a burden to be carried) concerning Dumah (Edom):

Someone keeps calling to me from Seir (Edom),
“Watchman, what is left of the night [of Assyrian oppression]?
Watchman, what is left of the night? [How long until morning?]”
The watchman says,
“The morning comes [only briefly], but also [comes] the night [of Babylonian oppression].
If you would ask [of me then], ask [again, if Edom really wishes to know];
Come back again.”

13 The [mournful, inspired] oracle ([e]a burden to be carried) concerning Arabia:

In the thickets of Arabia you must spend the night,
Caravans of Dedanites.
Bring water for the thirsty [Dedanites],
O inhabitants of the land of Tema [in Arabia];
Meet the fugitive with bread.
For they have fled from the swords,
From the drawn sword, from the bent bow
And from the press of battle and grief of war.

16 For the Lord has said this to me, “Within a year, according to the years of a hired man [who will work no longer than was agreed], all the splendor of [the tribe of] Kedar will end; 17 and the remainder of the number of archers, the mighty men of the sons of Kedar, will be few; for the Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken.”


  1. Isaiah 21:1 I.e. an urgent message the prophet is under compulsion to proclaim.
  2. Isaiah 21:1 Probably a reference to the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers and their tributaries which overflowed their banks like a sea. Great dams were constructed to control their floodwaters.
  3. Isaiah 21:4 The vision reveals the events to occur at the feast of Belshazzar—the defilement of the golden articles taken from God’s temple, the handwriting on the wall, the murder of Babylon’s great king.
  4. Isaiah 21:11 I.e. an urgent message the prophet is under compulsion to proclaim.
  5. Isaiah 21:13 I.e. an urgent message the prophet is under compulsion to proclaim.