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Isaiah 21:3

ESV 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.
NIV At this my body is racked with pain, pangs seize me, like those of a woman in labor; I am staggered by what I hear, I am bewildered by what I see.
NASB For this reason my loins are full of anguish; Pains have seized me like the pains of a woman in labor. I am so bewildered I cannot hear, so terrified I cannot see.
CSB Therefore I am filled with anguish. Pain grips me, like the pain of a woman in labor. I am too perplexed to hear, too dismayed to see.
NLT My stomach aches and burns with pain. Sharp pangs of anguish are upon me, like those of a woman in labor. I grow faint when I hear what God is planning; I am too afraid to look.
KJV 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.
NKJV Therefore my loins are filled with pain; Pangs have taken hold of me, like the pangs of a woman in labor. I was distressed when I heard it; I was dismayed when I saw it.

What does Isaiah 21:3 mean?

Isaiah's vision from the Lord terrified him to the point of physical pain. He saw dreadful destruction coming for Babylon. This vision deeply wounded him thinking of those who would suffer. This agony was almost more than he could bear. He writes that his body was wracked with pain. Cramps take hold of him like the contractions of a woman going through labor. It would be fair to picture him as doubled over in misery. This vision has so wrecked him that he cannot see or hear any more of it. It is just too painful for him.

Why was Isaiah so moved by this vision of destruction? This isn't the first vision mentioned in his book, why is this one so much more tragic? We don't know the answer to that question. But what is clear is that what he saw coming for the people of Babylon must have been truly horrific. By all accounts, Sennacherib, who destroyed Babylon in 689 BC, was especially cruel to those he defeated.
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