Isaiah 13:1

ESV The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.
NIV A prophecy against Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz saw:
NASB The pronouncement concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw:
CSB A pronouncement concerning Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz saw:
NLT Isaiah son of Amoz received this message concerning the destruction of Babylon:
KJV The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.
NKJV The burden against Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.

What does Isaiah 13:1 mean?

Most of the Old Testament prophets included in their books "oracles" against some of the nations of the world. These oracles are also called "burdens," and are part of what we would now call "prophecies," or predictions about future events. They took the form of solemn judgments from the Lord about or against these nations through His prophets in Israel. In addition to Isaiah, oracles are delivered from Jeremiah and Ezekiel. These prophets delivered these "burdens" against Edom, Egypt, Moab, Philistia, Tyre, and many other nations.

Isaiah 13 begins a new section of the book containing oracles from the Lord. These are against Babylon, Assyria, Moab, and other nations. The main idea behind such oracles is that God is Lord over all people and cultures of earth. He directs their coming and going, their victories and defeats, and their prosperity and poverty. The audience for these oracles was not the nations, themselves, but Israel. The message was clear: Do not look to other nations, or their gods, for salvation. Trust in the Lord alone.

The prophet Isaiah formally announces that he is beginning this oracle, or prophecy, against Babylon. Isaiah "saw" this revelation from the Lord and now reports what the Lord has shown him regarding Babylon. It's important to note that Isaiah died before many of these events happened. Scholars who do not believe that the Lord revealed these future events to his prophets refuse to believe Isaiah could have written about them: the primary argument for dating them after the historical events in question. This is due to how clearly Isaiah describes what happened. Those who believe Isaiah's book to be the revelation of God have no trouble understanding that Isaiah wrote what God showed him long before it took place.

Babylon was one of the great cities of the ancient world. It was especially glorious during the time of the Babylonian Empire under Nebuchadnezzar following the downfall of the Assyrian Empire. Its ruins can be visited in modern Iraq, south of Baghdad.
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