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Isaiah 23:13

ESV Behold the land of the Chaldeans! This is the people that was not; Assyria destined it for wild beasts. They erected their siege towers, they stripped her palaces bare, they made her a ruin.
NIV Look at the land of the Babylonians, this people that is now of no account! The Assyrians have made it a place for desert creatures; they raised up their siege towers, they stripped its fortresses bare and turned it into a ruin.
NASB Behold, the land of the Chaldeans—this is the people that did not exist; Assyria allocated it for desert creatures—they erected their siege towers, they stripped its palaces, they made it a ruin.
CSB Look at the land of the Chaldeans -- a people who no longer exist. Assyria destined it for desert creatures. They set up their siege towers and stripped its palaces. They made it a ruin.
NLT Look at the land of Babylonia — the people of that land are gone! The Assyrians have handed Babylon over to the wild animals of the desert. They have built siege ramps against its walls, torn down its palaces, and turned it to a heap of rubble.
KJV Behold the land of the Chaldeans; this people was not, till the Assyrian founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness: they set up the towers thereof, they raised up the palaces thereof; and he brought it to ruin.

What does Isaiah 23:13 mean?

Are the people of Tyre and Sidon utterly convinced the Lord God of Israel cannot destroy them by means of an invading army? They may very well have been. After all, business was good. Life went on as normal. They had escaped destruction repeatedly (Isaiah 23:7–8).

The prophet's oracle reminds them about another powerful city-state. Babylon, in the land of the Chaldeans, once stood proud and was renowned around the world for its strength, wisdom, and beauty. By thew time Isaiah wrote this prophecy, the Babylonians were no longer a significant power in the world.

What happened to the Babylonians? The Lord used the Assyrians to destroy them. By way of the Assyrians, the Lord transformed the once-great city into a place occupied only by wild beasts (Isaiah 13:21–22). The Assyrians arrived, put up their siege towers, and tore the city down. The carried off anything of value from the palaces of Babylon and killed or enslaved all the people. When they were done, only a ruin remained where a major metropolis once had stood.

The Assyrians were not ultimately responsible the razing of Babylon. Behind it all, it was the Lord God of Israel who did it. In this passage, He is warning those in Tyre and Sidon that He will do the same to their cities (Isaiah 23:1–12).

One remarkable thing about Isaiah and other books of Israelite prophecy is that they do not brag about their God. The typical pattern was for nations to declare that their gods would give their armies victory in battle over their enemies. The God of Israel declares that He will bring down nations by using the armies of other nations, not Israel. Even more strange, this is declared when His own people have been nearly wiped out.
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