What does Isaiah 21:16 mean?
ESV: 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.
NIV: 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.
NASB: 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;
CSB: For the Lord said this to me: "Within one year, as a hired worker counts years, all the glory of Kedar will be gone.
NLT: The Lord said to me, 'Within a year, counting each day, all the glory of Kedar will come to an end.
KJV: 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:
Verse Commentary:
Isaiah concludes his oracle against Arabian tribes with a warning. He states that the glory of Kedar will come to an end within a year. He specifies that this is not an approximate year or a vague period. This timeline will be as a hired worker measures the time owed to an employer. In other words, the prophecy will soon be fulfilled in less than one real-world year.

What was the "glory of Kedar?" Isaiah may have in mind the great wealth of these traders who caravanned goods in all directions. Some gained tremendous riches and possessions along the way. The desert would not hide them from the Assyrians or other powers. Those looking for resources to fuel their war efforts would find them. Soon, the people of the region of Kedar would suffer the same fate as many others had suffered. They would be conquered and their goods would be confiscated.
Verse Context:
Chapter 21:13–17 contains Isaiah's oracle from the Lord various tribes of Arabia (Jeremiah 24:23–24). Due to conflicts in the region, the descendants of Dedan (Genesis 25:3) will become refugees. They will be forced to move their caravans off the main roads and hide in the thickets. Isaiah calls for the people of wealthy Tema to bring them food and water in their distress. Within a year, the glory of the people of Kedar will be ended and most of their warriors wiped out. Isaiah is certain this will happen because the Lord has spoken. What the Lord says will happen, will happen.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter delivers oracles against three people groups. Isaiah is terrified to the point of physical pain by the vision he sees. God reveals the terrible things coming for Babylon. Isaiah answers the Lord's call to be a watchman. When he sees the arrival of riders approaching the city, he announces that Babylon has fallen. The oracle against Dumah presents a question from an Edomite with an unsatisfying answer. The oracle against Arabia pictures starving refugees that must be fed and declares that the warriors of Kedar will be nearly wiped out within a year.
Chapter Context:
Earlier chapters included prophecies about nations such as Aram, Egypt, and Cush. Chapter 21 presents three more oracles against Israel's regional neighbors. What Isaiah sees is so horrific that he suffers intense physical pain just from watching. He answers the call to be a watchman, eventually announcing that Babylon has fallen. An oracle against Dumah provides no real answer to the question of how long the night of suffering will continue for Edom. Arabia, too, will suffer at the hand of powerful regional forces. Next is a prophecy about Jerusalem.
Book Summary:
Isaiah is among the most important prophetic books in the entire Bible. The first segment details God's impending judgment against ancient peoples for sin and idolatry (Isaiah 1—35). The second part of Isaiah briefly explains a failed assault on Jerusalem during the rule of Hezekiah (Isaiah 36—39). The final chapters predict Israel's rescue from Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 40—48), the promised Messiah (Isaiah 49—57), and the final glory of Jerusalem and God's people (Isaiah 58—66).
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