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Isaiah chapter 21

New International Version

1 A prophecy against the Desert by the Sea: Like whirlwinds sweeping through the southland, an invader comes from the desert, from a land of terror.
2 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. 3 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.
4 My heart falters, fear makes me tremble; the twilight I longed for has become a horror to me. 5 They set the tables, they spread the rugs, they eat, they drink! Get up, you officers, oil the shields!
6 This is what the Lord says to me: 'Go, post a lookout and have him report what he sees. 7 When he sees chariots with teams of horses, riders on donkeys or riders on camels, let him be alert, fully alert.'
8 And the lookout shouted, 'Day after day, my lord, I stand on the watchtower; every night I stay at my post.
9 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.
11 A prophecy against Dumah: 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.'
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 splendor 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.
English Standard Version

1 The oracle concerning the wilderness of the sea. As whirlwinds in the Negeb sweep on, it comes from the wilderness, from a terrible land.
2 A stern vision is told to me; the traitor betrays, and the destroyer destroys. Go up, O Elam; lay siege, O Media; all the sighing she has caused I bring to an end. 3 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. 4 My heart staggers; horror has appalled me; the twilight I longed for has been turned for me into trembling. 5 They prepare the table, they spread the rugs, they eat, they drink. Arise, O princes; oil the shield! 6 For thus the Lord said to me: “Go, set a watchman; let him announce what he sees. 7 When he sees riders, horsemen in pairs, riders on donkeys, riders on camels, let him listen diligently, very diligently.” 8 Then he who saw cried out: “Upon a watchtower I stand, O Lord, continually by day, and at my post I am stationed whole nights. 9 And behold, here come riders, horsemen in pairs!” And he answered, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon; and all the carved images of her gods he has shattered to the ground.” 10 O my threshed and winnowed one, what I have heard from the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, I announce to you. 11 The oracle concerning Dumah. One is calling to me from Seir, “Watchman, what time of the night? Watchman, what time of the night?”
12 The watchman says: “Morning comes, and also the night. If you will inquire, inquire; come back again.” 13 The oracle concerning Arabia. In the thickets in Arabia you will lodge, O caravans of Dedanites.
14 To the thirsty bring water; meet the fugitive with bread, O inhabitants of the land of Tema. 15 For they have fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, from the bent bow, and from the press of battle. 16 For thus the Lord said to me, “Within a year, according to the years of a hired worker, all the glory of Kedar will come to an end. 17 And the remainder of the archers of the mighty men of the sons of Kedar will be few, for the LORD, the God of Israel, has spoken.”
King James Version

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. 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. 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. 4 My heart panted, fearfulness affrighted me: the night of my pleasure hath he turned into fear unto me. 5 Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield. 6 For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth. 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: 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: 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. 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.
11 The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? 12 The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come.
13 The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye travelling companies of Dedanim. 14 The inhabitants of the land of Tema brought water to him that was thirsty, they prevented with their bread him that fled. 15 For they fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, and from the bent bow, and from the grievousness of war. 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: 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.
New American Standard Bible

1 The pronouncement concerning the wilderness of the sea: As windstorms in the Negev come in turns, It comes from the wilderness, from a terrifying land. 2 A harsh vision has been shown to me; The treacherous one still deals treacherously, and the destroyer still destroys. Go up, Elam, lay siege, Media; I have put an end to all the groaning she has caused. 3 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. 4 My mind reels, horror overwhelms me; The twilight I longed for has been turned into trembling for me. 5 They set the table, they spread out the cloth, they eat, they drink; 'Rise up, captains, oil the shields!' 6 For this is what the Lord says to me: 'Go, station the lookout, have him report what he sees. 7 When he sees a column of chariots, horsemen in pairs, A train of donkeys, a train of camels, He is to pay close attention, very close attention.' 8 Then the lookout called, 'Lord, I stand continually by day on the watchtower, And I am stationed every night at my guard post. 9 Now behold, here comes a troop of riders, horsemen in pairs.' And one said, 'Fallen, fallen is Babylon; And all the images of her gods are shattered on the ground.' 10 My downtrodden people, and my afflicted of the threshing floor! What I have heard from the LORD of armies, The God of Israel, I make known to you.
11 The pronouncement concerning Edom: One keeps calling to me from Seir, 'Watchman, how far gone is the night? Watchman, how far gone is the night?'
12 The watchman says, 'Morning comes but also night. If you would inquire, inquire; Come back again.'
13 The pronouncement about Arabia: In the thickets of Arabia you must spend the night, You caravans of Dedanites.
14 Bring water for the thirsty, You inhabitants of the land of Tema; Meet the fugitive with bread. 15 For they have fled from the swords, From the drawn sword, and from the bent bow, And from the press of battle.
16 For this is what the Lord said to me: 'In a year, as a hired worker would count it, all the splendor of Kedar will come to an end; 17 and the remainder of the number of bowmen, the warriors of the sons of Kedar, will be few; for the LORD God of Israel has spoken.'
New Living Translation

1 This message came to me concerning Babylon--the desert by the sea: Disaster is roaring down on you from the desert, like a whirlwind sweeping in from the Negev. 2 I see a terrifying vision: I see the betrayer betraying, the destroyer destroying. Go ahead, you Elamites and Medes, attack and lay siege. I will make an end to all the groaning Babylon caused. 3 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. 4 My mind reels and my heart races. I longed for evening to come, but now I am terrified of the dark.
5 Look! They are preparing a great feast. They are spreading rugs for people to sit on. Everyone is eating and drinking. But quick! Grab your shields and prepare for battle. You are being attacked!
6 Meanwhile, the Lord said to me, 'Put a watchman on the city wall. Let him shout out what he sees. 7 He should look for chariots drawn by pairs of horses, and for riders on donkeys and camels. Let the watchman be fully alert.'
8 Then the watchman called out, 'Day after day I have stood on the watchtower, my lord. Night after night I have remained at my post. 9 Now at last--look! Here comes a man in a chariot with a pair of horses!' Then the watchman said, 'Babylon is fallen, fallen! All the idols of Babylon lie broken on the ground!' 10 O my people, threshed and winnowed, I have told you everything the LORD of Heaven's Armies has said, everything the God of Israel has told me.
11 This message came to me concerning Edom: Someone from Edom keeps calling to me, 'Watchman, how much longer until morning? When will the night be over?' 12 The watchman replies, 'Morning is coming, but night will soon return. If you wish to ask again, then come back and ask.'
13 This message came to me concerning Arabia: O caravans from Dedan, hide in the deserts of Arabia. 14 O people of Tema, bring water to these thirsty people, food to these weary refugees. 15 They have fled from the sword, from the drawn sword, from the bent bow and the terrors of battle.
16 The Lord said to me, 'Within a year, counting each day, all the glory of Kedar will come to an end. 17 Only a few of its courageous archers will survive. I, the LORD, the God of Israel, have spoken!'
Christian Standard Bible

1 A pronouncement concerning the desert by the sea: Like storms that pass over the Negev, it comes from the desert, from the land of terror. 2 A troubling vision is declared to me: "The treacherous one acts treacherously, and the destroyer destroys. Advance, Elam! Lay siege, you Medes! I will put an end to all the groaning." 3 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. 4 My heart staggers; horror terrifies me. He has turned my last glimmer of hope into sheer terror. 5 Prepare a table, and spread out a carpet! Eat and drink! Rise up, you princes, and oil the shields! 6 For the Lord has said to me, "Go, post a lookout; let him report what he sees. 7 When he sees riders -- pairs of horsemen, riders on donkeys, riders on camels -- he must pay close attention." 8 Then the lookout reported, "Lord, I stand on the watchtower all day, and I stay at my post all night. 9 Look, riders come -- horsemen in pairs." And he answered, saying, "Babylon has fallen, has fallen. All the images of her gods have been shattered on the ground." 10 My people who have been crushed on the threshing floor, I have declared to you what I have heard from the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel.
11 A pronouncement concerning Dumah: One calls to me from Seir, "Watchman, what is left of the night? Watchman, what is left of the night? " 12 The watchman said, "Morning has come, and also night. If you want to ask, ask! Come back again."
13 A pronouncement concerning Arabia: In the desert brush you will camp for the night, you caravans of Dedanites. 14 Bring water for the thirsty. The inhabitants of the land of Tema meet the refugees with food. 15 For they have fled from swords, from the drawn sword, from the bow that is strung, and from the stress of battle.
16 For the Lord said this to me: "Within one year, as a hired worker counts years, all the glory of Kedar will be gone. 17 The remaining Kedarite archers will be few in number." For the Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken.

What does Isaiah chapter 21 mean?

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