The vision of the attack against Babylon (Isa 21:2-21:5)

“A stern vision

Is told to me.

The betrayer betrays.

The destroyer destroys.

Go up!

O Elam!

Lay siege!

O Media!

All the sighing

She has caused

I bring to an end.

Therefore my loins are

Filled with anguish.

Pangs have seized me,

Like the pangs of a woman in labor.

I am bowed down,

So that I cannot hear.

I am dismayed

So that I cannot see.

My mind reels.

Horror has appalled me.

The twilight I longed for

Has been turned for me

Into trembling.

They prepare the table.

They spread the rugs.

They eat.

They drink.

Rise up!


Oil the shield!”

Isaiah has this stern vision from Yahweh. The betrayer and the destroyer act out together. Elam and Medes, the Persians and the Medes were about to attack Babylon. Since the Israelites were in Babylon, they were afraid but hopeful, like a woman experiencing labor before the birth of a child. Isaiah, in the first person singular, was not quite able to hear or see what was going on. He knew that horror was about to happen. Instead of a happy twilight there was trembling. However, they continued as normal, eating and drinking at tables with rugs. Nevertheless, the cry came to the commanders to rise up and get ready. They had to oil the straps on their shields as they prepared to do battle.

The coming destruction of Babylon (Isa 13:17-13:22)


I am stirring up the Medes

Against them.

They have no regard for silver.

They do not delight in gold.

Their bows

Will slaughter the young men.

They will have no mercy

On the fruit of the womb.

Their eyes will not pity children.


The glory of kingdoms,

The splendor of the Chaldeans,

The pride of the Chaldeans,

Will be like Sodom and Gomorrah

When God overthrew them.

It will never be inhabited.

No one will live in for all generations.

Arabs wills not pitch their tents there.

Shepherds will not make their flocks

Lie down there.

But wild animals will

Lie down there.

Its houses

Will be full of howling creatures.

Ostriches will live there.

Goat demons will dance there.

Hyenas will cry in its towers.

Jackals will be in the pleasant palaces.

Its time is close at hand.

Its days will not be prolonged.”

Very clearly, this is all about the destruction of the city of Babylon. Yahweh will get the people of Medes, an area northwest of Persia, who don’t care about gold and silver, to come and slaughter the young men and the children of Babylon. The glorious Babylon, the pride of the Chaldeans, who were the southern Babylonians, would become like the people in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis, chapters 18-19. There seems to be a fascination with these 2 biblical towns. After this defeat, the city of Babylon would never be inhabited again. Neither wandering Arabs nor shepherds would go there. Only wild animals and howling creatures, like goats, ostriches, hyenas, and jackals would live there in those great buildings. The time of their destruction was at hand. You would not have to wait a long time.

The fortifications of King Arphaxad (Jdt 1:1-1:4)

“It was the twelfth year of the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled over the Assyrians in the great city of Nineveh. In those days, King Arphaxad, ruled over the Medes in Ecbatana. He built walls around Ecbatana with hewn stones three cubits thick and six cubits long. He made the walls seventy cubits high and fifty cubits wide. At the gates he built towers one hundred cubits high and sixty cubits wide at the foundations. He made its gates seventy cubits high and forty cubits wide to allow his armies to march out in force and his infantry form their ranks.”

This story has an exact date, the 12th year of the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar. This is a portrayal of a war between Babylonia and Media. King Nebuchadnezzar had actually defeated the Assyrians in Nineveh. Nebuchadnezzar lived from 634-562 BCE. He was a Chaldean, in other words, he ruled Babylonia, 605-562 BCE, from what we call present day Baghdad. It was under his rule that Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 BCE as depicted in 2 Chronicles, chapter 32, and 2 Kings, chapters 24-25. The 12th year of his rule would put this at 593 BCE, a few years before the final destruction of Jerusalem. King Arphaxad was a supposed contemporary Median king during the conquest of the Assyrians. If he was a contemporary of King Nebuchadnezzar, he might be identified with King Cyaxares (625–585 BC) of Media. Anyway these were the two protagonists in this story. Ecbatana was the capital of Media, as we saw in Tobit, chapter 3. This King Arphaxad fortified his city of Ecbatana with stones that were 4 ½ feet thick and 9 feet long that made the walls 105 feet high and 75 feet wide. The towers were 150 feet high and 90 feet wide at their foundation. The gates were very wide, 105 feet high and 60 feet wide, so that his army could get in and out of the gates. Although the name of the book is Judith, she will not make an appearance until chapter 8 of this book.