Isaiah 21 – Elam and Media Defeat Babylon & Allah the Moon God

It’s quite clear that people have always been bad and that the bad are so good at being bad they turn the good people into bad (2 Tim 3:13)

I got it now, becoming a politician doesn’t make you bad, you have to be bad to become a politician and the higher up you go the worse type of person you are.  Things are definitely getting worse. 

 1 The burden of the desert of the sea. As whirlwinds in the south pass through; so it cometh from the desert, from a terrible land.

“Desert” – the coming judgment would eventually turn Babylon (see v 9) into a wasteland (cf 13:20-22).

“The sea: – refers either to the Persian Gulf, which was just south of Babylon, or the alluvial plain deposited by the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and their tributaries.

“Whirlwinds…desert” – the wilderness sometimes spawns powerful winds (Hos 13:15).

Cyrus the Great
Cyrus, also known as Cyrus the Great and Cyrus II of Persia,, was the founder of the Persian Empire under the Achaemenid dynasty. As the ruler of the Persian people in Anshan, he conquered the Medes and went on to conquer the Babylonian Empire. He wrote the Cyrus Cylinder, considered to be the first declaration of human rights.

In historical artifacts discovered in the ancient ruins of Babylon and Ur, Cyrus identifies himself as King of Iran, where he reigned from 559 B.C.E. until his death. He is the first ruler whose name was suffixed with the words the Great (Vazraka in Old Persian, Bozorg in modern Persian), a title adopted by many others after him, including the eventual Acheamenid Shah, Darius the Great, and Alexander the Great, who overthrew the Achaemenid dynasty two centuries after the death of Cyrus.

Through his Cyropaedia, Cyrus’s notions of human rights influenced the U.S. Constitution—Thomas Jefferson owned two copies of this text. Eurocentricism has led many to overlook Cyrus’ contribution to governance, such as administrative divisions. Representing the Persians as the enemies of the Greeks, from whom all that is classic—democracy in particular—was believed to have been derived, led to an underappreciation of this Persian king’s contribution to democratic governance. Cyrus was exemplary for upholding universal religious freedom; he is perhaps most widely known for allowing the exiled Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple.

2 A grievous vision is declared unto me; the treacherous dealer dealeth treacherously, and the spoiler spoileth. Go up, O Elam: besiege, O Media; all the sighing thereof have I made to cease.

“Treacherous dealer…spoiler spoileth” – refers to Babylon who has attacked and plundered other nations.

“Elam” – see note on 11:11.  The Elamites were a perpetual enemy of Assyria and Babylon.  Much later, they were part of the Persian army that conquered Babylon under Cyrus in 539 B.C.

“All the sighing…have I made to cease” – God promises to put an end to the suffering that Babylon has caused the other nations.  As He will do in the end, He will remove all of our problems (Rev 21:4 & 7) and He will send Satan to the Lake of Fire for eternity (Rev 20:10).

3 Therefore are my loins filled with pain: pangs have taken hold upon me, as the pangs of a woman that travaileth: I was bowed down at the hearing of it; I was dismayed at the seeing of it.

“Filled with pain: Pangs have taken hold upon me: – see Daniels reaction to visions in Dan 8:27, 10:16-17).

4 My heart panted, fearfulness affrighted me: the night of my pleasure hath he turned into fear unto me.

“Night of my pleasure” – perhaps the end of the Babylonian empire (see note on v 12).

“Turned into fear unto me” – the devastation is beyond even what he had desired.

5 Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield.

“Eat, drink” – with the kind of confident assurance reflected in Belshazzar’s feast (see Dan 5:1).

“Arise” – rhetorically the prophet, who has seen in a vision the coming attack on Babylon, calls on the officers of Babylon to prepare.

6 For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.

“Go, set a watchman” – probably on the walls of Jerusalem.

7 And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; and he hearkened diligently with much heed:

“Chariot…asses…camels” – bearing messengers from afar.

8 And he cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights:

“He cried, A lion” – or “he cried like a lion” (with a loud voice).

9 And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.

“Babylon has fallen” – see 13:19.  Babylon fell in 689 B.C. and again in 539 B.C.  these words were adapted by John (not John the Baptist, but one of his disciples) in Rev 14:8, 18:2).

“Graven images…broken unto the ground” – the fall of a kingdom meant the disgrace of its gods (cf 46:1-2).

10 O my threshing, and the corn of my floor: that which I have heard of the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have I declared unto you.

“O my threshing” – refers top Judah who would be punished by the Babylonians and taken into captivity (see 39:5-7).  Threshing was a common metaphor for judgment or destruction from war (see Amos 1:3).

“Corn of my floor” – Lit. “son of my floor”; parallel to the first part of the line in comparing Judah to threshed grain.

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

The Cyrus Cylinder (539 B.C.)
In 539 B.C., the armies of Cyrus the Great, the first king of ancient Persia, conquered the city of Babylon. But it was his next actions that marked a major advance for Man. He freed the slaves, declared that all people had the right to choose their own religion, and established racial equality. These and other decrees were recorded on a baked-clay cylinder in the Akkadian language with cuneiform script.

Known today as the Cyrus Cylinder, this ancient record has now been recognized as the world’s first charter of human rights. It is translated into all six official languages of the United Nations and its provisions parallel the first four Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“Seir” – a synonym for Edom (Gen 32:3), homeland of Esau’s descendants, south of the Dead Sea.  Edom is dealt with more extensively in 34:5-15 (cf 63:1).

12 The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come.

“Morning…and also the night” – perhaps meaning that the long night of Assyrian oppression is almost over, but only a short “morning” will precede Babylonian domination.

13 The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye travelling companies of Dedanim.

“Forest” – the caravans had to hide from the invader (cf Judg 5:6).  The Assyrians began to attack the Arabs in 732 B.C. and the Babylonians did the same under Nebuchadnezzar (see Jer 25:17, 23-24).

“Dedanim” – an Arabian tribe whose merchant activities are mentioned also in Eze 27:20, 38:13.

14 The inhabitants of the land of Tema brought water to him that was thirsty, they prevented with their bread him that fled.

“Tema” – an oasis in northern Arabia about 400 miles southwest of Babylon (cf Job 6:19; Jer 25:23).

15 For they fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, and from the bent bow, and from the grievousness of war.

“Sword…bow” – the simple bows of the Arabs were ineffective against the swords and composite bows of Assyria.

16 For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Within a year, according to the years of an hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail:

“Kedar” – the home of Bedouin tribes in the Arabian Desert.  Kedar was known for its flocks (60:7; Eze 27:21).  Nebuchadnezzar defeated the people of Kedar (Jer 49:28-29; cf Jer 2:10).17 And the residue of the number of archers, the mighty men of the children of Kedar, shall be diminished: for the LORD God of Israel hath spoken it.

“Residue…shall be diminished” – cf 10:19, 16:14, 17:6.

Allah, the Moon God

In Old Testament times, Nabonidus (555-539 BC), the last king of Babylon, built Tayma, Arabia as a center of Moon-god worship.  

Tayma
Tayma  is a large oasis with a long history of settlement, located in northwestern Saudi Arabia at the point where the trade route between Yathrib (Medina) and Dumah (al-Jawf) begins to cross the Nefud desert. Tayma is located 264 km southeast of the city of Tabouk, and about 400 km north of Medina.

Recent archaeological discoveries show that Tayma has been inhabited since the Bronze Age. In 2010, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities announced the discovery of a rock near Tayma bearing an inscription of Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses III. This was the first confirmed find of a hieroglyphic inscription on Saudi soil. Based on this discovery, researchers have hypothesized that Tayma was part of an important land route between the Red Sea coast of the Arabian Peninsula and the Nile Valley.

The oldest mention of the oasis city appears as “Tiamat” in Assyrian inscriptions dating as far back as the 8th century BC. The oasis developed into a prosperous city, rich in water wells and handsome buildings. Tiglath-pileser III received tribute from Tayma, and Sennacherib named one of Nineveh’s gates as the Desert Gate, recording that “the gifts of the Sumu’anite and the Teymeite enter through it.” It was rich and proud enough in the 7th century BC for Jeremiah to prophesy against it (Jeremiah 25:23). It was ruled then by a local Arab dynasty, known as the Qedarites. The names of two 8th-century BC queens, Shamsi and Zabibei, are recorded.

For part of his reign, Babylonian king Nabonidus retired to Tayma for worship and looking for prophecies, entrusting the kingship of Babylon to his son, Belshazzar.

Cuneiform inscriptions possibly dating from the 6th century BC have been recovered from Tayma. It is mentioned several times in the Old Testament. The biblical eponym is apparently Tema, one of the sons of Ishmael.

According to Arab tradition, Tayma was inhabited by a Jewish community during the late classical period, though whether these were exiled Judeans or the Arab descendants of converts is unclear. During the 1st century AD, Tayma is believed to have been principally a Jewish settlement. The Jewish Diaspora at the time of the Temple’s destruction, according to Josephus, was in Parthia (Persia), Babylonia (Iraq), Arabia, as well as some Jews beyond the Euphrates and in Adiabene (Kurdistan). In Josephus’ own words, he had informed “the remotest Arabians” about the destruction. So, too, in pre-Islamic Arabic poetry, Tayma is often referred to as a fortified city belonging to the Jews, just as the anonymous Arab poet has described:

“Unto God will I make my complaint heard, but not unto man; because I am a sojourner in Taymā, Taymā of the Jews”

As late as the 6th century AD, Tayma was the home of the wealthy Jew, Samau’al ibn ‘Ādiyā.

Tayma and neighboring Khaybar were visited by Benjamin of Tudela some time around 1170 who claims that the city was governed by a Jewish prince. Benjamin was a Jew from Tudela in Spain. He travelled to Persia and Arabia in the 12th century.

In the summer of 1181 Raynald of Châtillon attacked a Muslim caravan near Tayma, despite a truce between Sultan Saladin and king Baldwin IV of Jerusalem, during a raid of the Red Sea area.

Segall stated:

South Arabia’s stellar te of Arabian paganism.  

In 1944, G. Caton Thompson revealed in her book, The Tombs and Moon Temple of Hureidha, that she had uncovered a temple of the Moon-god in southern Arabia.  The symbols of the crescent moon and no less than twenty-one inscriptions with the name Sin were found in this temple.

An idol which may be the Moon-god himself was also discovered.  This was later confirmed by other well-known archeologists.  The evidence reveals that the temple of the Moon-god was active even in the Christian era.  Evidence gathered from both North and South Arabia demonstrates that Moon-god worship was clearly active even in Muhammad’s day and was still the dominant cult.  

According to numerous inscriptions, while the name of the Moon-god was Sin, his title was al- ilah, i.e. “the deity,” meaning that he was the chief or high god among the gods. As Coon pointed out, “The god Il or Ilah was originally a phase of the Moon God.” The Moon-god was called al- ilah, i.e. the god, which was shortened to Allah in pre-Islamic times.

The pagan Arabs even used Allah in the names they gave to their children.  For example, both Muhammad’s father and uncle had Allah as part of their names.   

Serious Warning from the Bible

If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant,

And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded;

And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel:

Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die (Deuteronomy 17:2-5)

Prophecies… False Prophets Would Rise

 The Bible warned (and still warns) us false Prophets would rise and lead many:

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:6-9).

The Gospel…
the ASSURANCE of Life in Heaven…
it’s NOT Too Late

And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.

And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down (Matthew 24:11-12)

Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.

For there shall arise false Christ’s, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Behold, I have told you before.

Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.

For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be (Matthew 24:23-27).