Chapter 21

1The harsh prophecy of the western desert; like tempests in an arid land, to pass, coming from the desert, from an awesome land.   אמַשָּׂ֖א מִדְבַּר־יָ֑ם כְּסוּפ֚וֹת בַּנֶּ֙גֶב֙ לַֽחֲל֔וֹף מִמִּדְבָּ֣ר בָּ֔א מֵאֶ֖רֶץ נֽוֹרָאָֽה:
The harsh prophecy of the western desert: This prophecy refers to Babylonia, as is delineated therein. If you ask, Did he not already prophesy about it (supra 13): “On a tranquil mountain raise a banner,” and the entire chapter? sometimes the prophecy comes into his mouth today in one manner, and later in another manner.  
The harsh prophecy of the western desert: Jonathan paraphrases: A harsh prophecy concerning the armies that come from the desert, as numerous as the waters of the sea.  
like tempests in arid land, to pass: Like a tempest that whirls in an arid land, that raises much dust.  
to pass: So will many camps pass to come upon Babylon.  
from the desert: they shall come to them (lit.. to her).  
from an awesome land: Jonathan renders: From a land where mighty deeds have been performed. It is also possible to explain that it is a place of snakes and scorpions, as it is said (Deut. 8:15): “The great and awesome desert.”  
2A harsh prophecy was told to me; The traitor shall be betrayed and the plunderer shall be plundered; march, O Elam, Besiege, O Media! All sighs have I brought to an end.   בחָז֥וּת קָשָׁ֖ה הֻגַּד־לִ֑י הַבּוֹגֵ֚ד | בּוֹגֵד֙ וְהַשּׁוֹדֵ֣ד | שׁוֹדֵ֔ד עֲלִ֚י עֵילָם֙ צוּרִ֣י מָדַ֔י כָּל־אַנְחָתָ֖ה הִשְׁבַּֽתִּי:
A harsh prophecy: The prophet says, “This harsh prophecy concerning Babylon was told to me.”  
the traitor shall be betrayed: Jonathan renders: The robbers are robbed and the plunderers are plundered. The Hebrew wording, according to the Targum, is to be explained thus: The traitor another will come and betray him; and the plunderer another will come and plunder him. These are Persia and Media, who rob and plunder Babylon, who, until now plundered and robbed all the countries.  
march, Elam: and come upon them (lit., her).  
besiege, O Media: (צוּרִי). I.e., besiege Babylon with a siege. Comp. (II Sam. 22:3) “God is my rock (צוּרִי).” The accent is on the latter syllable, on the “resh,” whereas, in this case, the accent is on the first syllable, like “rise (קוּמִי)”, “return (שׁוּבִי).”  
all sighs have I brought to an end: (אַנְחָתָה). (This is) not (spelled with a) “Mappiq heh,” (which would mean “her sigh”) for this is like “all sighs in the world,” and it is an expression denoting a great sigh of many people (sospiradic in O.F.). All sighs have I brought to an end, for the world was sighing because of the yoke of the kingdom of Babylon; now I have brought it to an end.  
3Therefore, my loins are filled with trembling; pangs have seized me like the pangs of a woman in labor; I have become confused from hearing; I have become frightened from hearing.   געַל־כֵּ֗ן מָֽלְא֚וּ מָתְנַי֙ חַלְחָלָ֔ה צִירִ֣ים אֲחָז֔וּנִי כְּצִירֵ֖י יֽוֹלֵדָ֑ה נַֽעֲוֵ֣יתִי מִשְּׁמֹ֔עַ נִבְהַ֖לְתִּי מֵֽרְאֽוֹת:
my loins are filled with trembling: The prophet is merciful and sighs over the retribution meted out to the nations. This is the Midrash Aggadah (Tan., beginning of Balak). According to its simple meaning, however, the prophet is reciting the lamentation and the mourning as though this were Babylonia lamenting.  
pangs: (צִירִים), an expression denoting trembling and pains. And our Rabbis said: A woman has doors and hinges (צִירִים) on her womb just as the doors of a house have hinges (Bechoroth 45a).  
I became confused: This is a malady known as עֲוִית, convulsions, in the language of the Sages.  
4My heart has strayed; fright has terrified me; the evening of my desire He has made for me into trembling.   דתָּעָ֣ה לְבָבִ֔י פַּלָּצ֖וּת בִּֽעֲתָ֑תְנִי אֵת נֶ֣שֶׁף חִשְׁקִ֔י שָׂ֥ם לִ֖י לַֽחֲרָדָֽה:
fright: (פַּלָּצוּת). fright.  
the evening of my desire: The night that I longed for, for rejoicing and for a banquet. In the Book of Josipon we find that he was happy since his troops had defeated the army of Persia. (Book 1, ch. 5) That night He made for me into trembling, as it is said (Dan. 5:1): “King Belshazzar made a great feast… They drank wine…(verse 4). On that very night, King Belshazzar was slain…(verse 30).” (6:1) “And Darius the Mede received the kingdom.”  
5Setting the table, setting up the lamp, eating, drinking; "Arise, princes, anoint a shield!"   העָרֹ֧ךְ הַשֻּׁלְחָ֛ן צָפֹ֥ה הַצָּפִ֖ית אָכ֣וֹל שָׁתֹ֑ה ק֥וּמוּ הַשָּׂרִ֖ים מִשְׁח֥וּ מָגֵֽן:
setting up the lamp: (הַצָּפִית), Set up the lamp. In Gen. Rabbah (63:14) we learn that people call a lamp צָפִיתָא.  
eating, drinking: And in the midst of the eating and the drinking, they cried, “Arise, princes!”  
anoint a shield: They were shields of boiled leather, and they would anoint them with oil so that the weapons would glide off. The same is mentioned concerning Saul (II Sam. 1:21): “For there the shield of the mighty was rejected.” It rejected its anointing and did not absorb it, and Saul’s shield became as though it was not anointed with oil.  
6For so has the Lord said to me, "Go, set up the lookout; what he sees he will tell.   וכִּ֣י כֹ֥ה אָמַ֛ר אֵלַ֖י אֲדֹנָ֑י לֵךְ הַֽעֲמֵ֣ד הַֽמְצַפֶּ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר יִרְאֶ֖ה יַגִּֽיד:
Go set up the lookout: One of your disciples is destined to complain about My attribute, concerning the long prosperity of Babylon, and that was Habakkuk who made a circle and stood inside it, and said (Habakkuk 2:1), “On my watch will I stand, and I will look out to see what He will speak within me.” Said the Holy One, blessed be He, “Put up that lookout and promise him in My Name that he will stand on his watch and what he sees in the downfall of Babylon he will tell.”  
7And he shall see a chariot with a pair of riders; one riding a horse and one riding a camel, and he shall listen attentively.   זוְרָ֣אָה רֶ֗כֶב צֶמֶד פָּֽרָשִׁ֔ים רֶ֥כֶב חֲמ֖וֹר רֶ֣כֶב גָּמָ֑ל וְהִקְשִׁ֥יב קֶ֖שֶׁב רַב־קָֽשֶׁב:
And he shall see a chariot: and I will show him there a sort of chariot with a pair of riders, one riding a donkey and one riding a camel, and that is a sign of Persia and Media.  
and he shall listen attentively: And there he shall hear in his prophecy a representation of the mighty rumbling and stirring of armies.  
8And the lion called, "On the watchtower, O Lord, I always stand by day, and on my watch I stand all the nights.   חוַיִּקְרָ֖א אַרְיֵ֑ה עַל־מִצְפֶּ֣ה | אֲדֹנָ֗י אָֽנֹכִ֞י עֹמֵ֚ד תָּמִיד֙ יוֹמָ֔ם וְעַ֨ל־מִ֨שְׁמַרְתִּ֔י אָֽנֹכִ֥י נִצָּ֖ב כָּל־הַלֵּילֽוֹת:
And the lion called: That is Habakkuk. אַרְיֵה (lion) has the same numerical value as Habakkuk. Isaiah prophesied that Habakkuk was destined to pray for this and say the following.  
on the watchtower, O Lord: O Lord, my God, I always stand on the watchtower to inform me about this.  
9And behold this is coming, a chariot of men, a pair of riders." And he called out and said, "Babylon has fallen, yea, it has fallen, and all its graven idols he has dashed to the earth."   טוְהִנֵּה־זֶ֥ה בָא֙ רֶ֣כֶב אִ֔ישׁ צֶ֖מֶד פָּֽרָשִׁ֑ים וַיַּ֣עַן וַיֹּ֗אמֶר נָֽפְלָ֚ה נָֽפְלָה֙ בָּבֶ֔ל וְכָל־פְּסִילֵ֥י אֱלֹהֶ֖יהָ שִׁבַּ֥ר לָאָֽרֶץ:
And behold this is coming: When he prays concerning this, he will see sort of a chariot of men, etc.  
Babylon has fallen, yea, it has fallen: Jonathan renders: Has fallen and is also destined to fall. This denotes two downfalls in two consecutive years, first through Media and Persia, and in the second year, through Heaven, as it is stated (supra 13:19): “And Babylon, the beauty of the kingdoms, the glory of the pride of the Chaldees, shall be like God’s overturning of Sodom…” And so we find in Seder Olam (ch. 28): And in that year the news came concerning Darius, and after him, in the year, the news, “And Babylon, the beauty of the kingdoms… shall be like the overturning, etc.” (supra 13:19).  
10My threshed grain and the product of my threshing floor. What I heard from the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, I have related to you.   ימְדֻשָׁתִ֖י וּבֶן־גָּרְנִ֑י אֲשֶׁ֣ר שָׁמַ֗עְתִּי מֵאֵ֨ת יְהֹוָ֧ה צְבָא֛וֹת אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל הִגַּ֥דְתִּי לָכֶֽם:
My threshed grain and the product of my threshing floor: My hallowed grain, the stack of wheat which I was commanded by the Holy Spirit to rectify you and lead you on the straight path, like a man who threshes and winnows his grain on the threshing floor.  
What I heard: from Him I have related to you.  
11The harsh prophecy of Dumah: To me one calls from Seir, "Watchman, what will be of the night? Watchman, what will be of the night?"   יאמַשָּׂ֖א דּוּמָ֑ה אֵלַי֙ קֹרֵ֣א מִשֵּׂעִ֔יר שֹׁמֵר֙ מַה־מִּלַּ֔יְלָה שֹׁמֵ֖ר מַה־מִּלֵּֽיל:
The harsh prophecy of Dumah: That is Edom, and so does Scripture say (Ezekiel 27:32): “Who is like Tyre, like Dumah in the midst of the sea?”  
To Me one calls from Seir: Said the Holy One, blessed be He: “To Me the prophet or the angel calls from the yoke of the kingdom of Seir.”  
Watchman, what will be of the night?: Watcher of Israel, what will be of this night and this darkness?  
12Said the watchman, "Morning has come, and also night. If you will request, request. Return and come."   יבאָמַ֣ר שֹׁמֵ֔ר אָתָ֥א בֹ֖קֶר וְגַם־לָ֑יְלָה אִם־תִּבְעָי֥וּן בְּעָ֖יוּ שֻׁ֥בוּ אֵתָֽיוּ:
Said the watchman: The Holy One, blessed be He.  
Morning has come: I have the ability to make the morning shine for you.  
and also night: is prepared for the wicked at the time of the end.  
if you will request, request: If you make your request to hasten the end of the exile.  
return and come: in repentance.  
13The harsh prophecy concerning Arabia: In the forest in Arabia did you lodge, on the roads of your cousins.   יגמַשָּׂ֖א בַּעְרָ֑ב בַּיַּ֚עַר בַּֽעְרַב֙ תָּלִ֔ינוּ אֹֽרְח֖וֹת דְּדָנִֽים:
The harsh prophecy concerning Arabia: About the Arabs.  
In the forest in Arabia did you lodge: I saw what you did when Assyria exiled my people, and they begged their captors to lead them through your land, since you are the descendants of their uncles, perhaps you would have mercy on them, and you were going out and lodging in the forest, the road where the caravans pass.  
the roads of your cousins: the children of your uncle.  
14Toward the thirsty they bring water; the inhabitants of the land of Tema with his bread they came before the wanderer.   ידלִקְרַ֥את צָמֵ֖א הֵתָ֣יוּ מָ֑יִם יֹֽשְׁבֵי֙ אֶ֣רֶץ תֵּימָ֔א בְּלַחְמ֖וֹ קִדְּמ֥וּ נֹדֵֽד:
Toward the thirsty: it is customary to bring water, but you, the inhabitants of the land of Tema, did not do so, but with his bread they came before the wanderer; they brought them sorts of salty foods and blown up flasks full of air, and he would eat and ask to drink, and he would put the opening of the flask into his mouth, and the air would go into his innards, and he would die. Another explanation of “Toward the thirsty they bring water,” is as follows: I did not do so to your forefather, Ishmael; when he was thirsty, I revealed to him a well of water.  
Since because of the swords they wandered: (I.e.,) my people (wandered).  
the outstretched sword: (נְטוּשָׁה) , spread over the surface of the earth, as (I Sam. 30:16) “And behold, they were scattered (נְטוּשִׁים) over the entire landscape,” (II Sam. 5:18) “And spread out (וַיִּנָּטְשׁוּ) in the Valley of Rephaim.” Another explanation is that נְטוּשָׁה is like לְטוּשָׁה, sharp. All letters whose sources are close to being from one place, (i.e., from one speech organ,) are interchangeable with one another, the ‘nun’ with the ‘lamed,’ as in the case stated (in Nehemiah 13:7): “To make him a chamber (נִשְׁכָּה),” like לִשְׁכָּה.  
15For, because of the swords they wandered; because of the outstretched sword, because of the bent bow, and because of the pressure of war.   טוכִּֽי־מִפְּנֵ֥י חֲרָב֖וֹת נָדָ֑דוּ מִפְּנֵ֣י | חֶ֣רֶב נְטוּשָׁ֗ה וּמִפְּנֵי֙ קֶ֣שֶׁת דְּרוּכָ֔ה וּמִפְּנֵ֖י כֹּ֥בֶד מִלְחָמָֽה:
16For so has the Lord said to me: "In another year, like the days of a hireling, all the glory of Kedar shall terminate.   טזכִּי־כֹ֛ה אָמַ֥ר אֲדֹנָ֖י אֵלָ֑י בְּע֚וֹד שָׁנָה֙ כִּשְׁנֵ֣י שָׂכִ֔יר וְכָלָ֖ה כָּל־כְּב֥וֹד קֵדָֽר:
like the year of a hireling: I will be exact with them to limit the time like a hireling, hired by years, who is exact with the time of the completion of his year.  
17And the rest of the number of the bows of the heroes of the children of Kedar shall decrease, for the Lord, the God of Israel has spoken."   יזוּשְׁאָ֧ר מִסְפַּר־קֶ֛שֶׁת גִּבּוֹרֵ֥י בְנֵֽי־קֵדָ֖ר יִמְעָ֑טוּ כִּ֛י יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל דִּבֵּֽר:
And the rest: the remnant.  
the bows of the heroes of the children of Kedar: Archers, for they are like their forefather, (Ishmael,) about whom it is stated (Gen. 21: 2): “And he was an archer.”