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A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Isaiah 13-14

Kuruvilla Thomas
Bangalore
Published on 28 January 2020




Isaiah 13-14 Timeline
Fig. 1


Introduction

This study treats Isaiah 13:2-14:27 as a "Functional Chiasmus" in order to arrive at a coherent reconfiguration of the text. Text that is arranged in the form of a functional chiasmus must be rearranged based on certain logical principles to be correctly interpreted. A functional chiasmus is a new concept; see definition here [1]. This study also contains an exegesis of the rearranged text. If you wish to skip the technicalities of a chiastic parse, you may read starting from Part 4 of the Discussion section, which has the reconfigured text.

As we have seen in our analysis of passages like Daniel 8 [4], Satanic power from ancient Babylon passed through a series of great empires - primarily the Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman empires. This movement of power happens when people who belong to powerful Satanic bloodlines migrate through these empires, taking with them the occult knowledge and connections to Satan that give them their power. We believe that "Babylon" in this passage, the empire that inherits this Satanic power at the start of the Millennial reign of Christ, is the "Holy Roman" Empire - a global empire with its seat of power at the Vatican.

This passage makes predictions about 3 periods: the defeat of "Babylon" at start of Christ's Millennial reign; the end-times tribulations; and the obligatory First Jewish-Roman war. Although the passage has a straightforward chiastic structure, its chiastic design is obscured by language that describes difficult times which can apply to any period of war. So we will go into some detail on our parsing decisions and why we believe these passages belong to these particular periods.


Notes:
We will use the term "Judahite" to refer to the Israelites living in and around Jerusalem in the 1st century who primarily were of the tribe of Judah; We will try to avoid the term "Jew" to avoid the confusion it introduces.


Discussion

1. Presuppositions

We base our parse of Isaiah 13:2-14:27 on the assumption that it refers to 3 periods:

  1. The First Jewish–Roman War (circa 66AD–74AD). The Roman army slaughters the people of Judah and Jerusalem.
  2. The destruction of "Babylon" at the start of Christ's millennial reign on earth (circa 2000AD).
  3. End times tribulations (circa 3000AD).

2. Parsing the chiasmus

We will use the NIV Bible for this parse.

Parsing this chiasmus involves dividing portions of the text into three categories as above. We will call the period of the First Jewish-Roman war Period 1, the destruction of "Babylon" at the start of Christ's millennial reign Period 2 and the End-times tribulation Period 3.


Categorizing Isaiah 13:2-14:27

Ch 13 Vs 2-5 belong to Period 2. God's warriors from around the world mass for a war against "Babylon". One reason we do not believe that this refers to the Medo-Persian defeat of Babylon is that the warriors come from the "ends of the earth".

Ch 13 Vs 6-9 belong to Period 1. The people in Jerusalem and Judah watch in terror at the marauding Roman army and the certain death that awaits them. The injunction to "wail" at the start of verse 6 seems to indicate that the verse begins a section about the destruction of God's own people.

Ch 13 Vs 10-13 belong to Period 3. This is the end times "Day of the Lord" that affects the whole world. These calamitous astronomical events are also predicted to occur at the opening of the 6th seal in Revelation (Rev. 6:12-14) [3] and in the Olivet discourse (Matt.24:29) [5].

Ch 13 Vs 14-18 belongs to Period 1. The horrors described in these verses (rape, the killing of children, etc) could have occurred in any ancient war but we believe that these more human details are reported in this section because they apply to God's own people and because of the exceptional cruelty of this Roman attack.

Ch 13 Vs 19 - Ch 14 Vs 27 belong to Period 2. The description of the final destruction of "Babylon" at the end of this passage in chapter 13 echoes what we see in other passages like Revelation 18 [3]. The next chapter, Isaiah 14, is more clearly about the defeat of Satan's kingdom, "Babylon", before Christ's reign.


Original text

We color-code the chiastic units of the original text (NIV) below for easy visual identification using: red for Period 1, blue for Period 2 and green for Period 3.


Isaiah 13 2 Raise a banner on a bare hilltop, shout to them; beckon to them to enter the gates of the nobles. 3 I have commanded those I prepared for battle; I have summoned my warriors to carry out my wrath— those who rejoice in my triumph.
4 Listen, a noise on the mountains, like that of a great multitude! Listen, an uproar among the kingdoms, like nations massing together! The Lord Almighty is mustering an army for war. 5 They come from faraway lands, from the ends of the heavens— the Lord and the weapons of his wrath— to destroy the whole country.

6 Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. 7 Because of this, all hands will go limp, every heart will melt with fear. 8 Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame. 9 See, the day of the Lord is coming —a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger— to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.
10 The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. 11 I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. 12 I will make people scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir. 13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the Lord Almighty, in the day of his burning anger.
14 Like a hunted gazelle, like sheep without a shepherd, they will all return to their own people, they will flee to their native land. 15 Whoever is captured will be thrust through; all who are caught will fall by the sword. 16 Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives violated.
17 See, I will stir up against them the Medes, who do not care for silver and have no delight in gold. 18 Their bows will strike down the young men; they will have no mercy on infants, nor will they look with compassion on children.

19 Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the pride and glory of the Babylonians, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah. 20 She will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations; there no nomads will pitch their tents, there no shepherds will rest their flocks. 21 But desert creatures will lie there, jackals will fill her houses; there the owls will dwell, and there the wild goats will leap about. 22 Hyenas will inhabit her strongholds, jackals her luxurious palaces. Her time is at hand, and her days will not be prolonged.

Isaiah 14 1 The Lord will have compassion on Jacob; once again he will choose Israel and will settle them in their own land. Foreigners will join them and unite with the descendants of Jacob. 2 Nations will take them and bring them to their own place. And Israel will take possession of the nations and make them male and female servants in the Lord’s land. They will make captives of their captors and rule over their oppressors. 3 On the day the Lord gives you relief from your suffering and turmoil and from the harsh labor forced on you,
...
(Verses 4-24 omitted)
...
25 I will crush the Assyrian in my land; on my mountains I will trample him down. His yoke will be taken from my people, and his burden removed from their shoulders.” 26 This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations. 27 For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?




3. Building the reconfigured text


From this parse, it appears that Isaiah 13:2-14:27 form a Functional chiasmus as below:

A1   Ch 13 Vs 2-5 Period 2. God gathers a mighty army.
  B1   Ch 13 Vs 6-9 Period 1. Roman attack during the First Jewish-Roman War.
    X   Ch 13 Vs 10-13 Period 3. End times tribulations.
  B2   Ch 13 Vs 14-18 Period 1. People flee the brutal Roman attack
A2   Ch 13 Vs 19 - Ch 14 Vs 27 Period 2. The Destruction of "Babylon" at the start of the Millennial reign of Christ.


We now reconstruct the phrases in the right order based on the chiastic structure above and based on the ordering rules of a functional chiasmus [1].

We lead with central pivot point 'X'. The corresponding subunits (For example; subunit A1 corresponds to A2) are placed contiguously to form units (For example, A1,A2 is a unit ) so that we get a list of such units.


The sequence selected for rearrangement is:

X  [A1,A2]  [B1,B2]        (1)

Translating (1) into verse numbers, we get:

Ch 13 Vs 10-13  [Ch 13 Vs 2-5, Ch 13 Vs 19 - Ch 14 Vs 27]   [Ch 13 Vs 6-9, Ch 13 Vs 14-18]        (2)

We arrive at the reconfigured passage in the next section by rearranging the verses so they are in sequence (2).



4. Isaiah 13:2-14:27 Reconfigured

End Times Tribulations (c. 3000).(Ch 13 Vs 10-13)
Chapter 13 10 The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. 11 I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. 12 I will make people scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir. 13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the Lord Almighty, in the day of his burning anger.


The Destruction of "Babylon" at the start of Christ's Millennial Reign (circa 2000AD ) (Ch 13 Vs 2-5, Ch 13 Vs 19 - Ch 14 Vs 27)
Chapter 13 2 Raise a banner on a bare hilltop, shout to them; beckon to them to enter the gates of the nobles. 3 I have commanded those I prepared for battle; I have summoned my warriors to carry out my wrath— those who rejoice in my triumph.
4 Listen, a noise on the mountains, like that of a great multitude! Listen, an uproar among the kingdoms, like nations massing together! The Lord Almighty is mustering an army for war. 5 They come from faraway lands, from the ends of the heavens— the Lord and the weapons of his wrath— to destroy the whole country.


Chapter 13 19 Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the pride and glory of the Babylonians, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah. 20 She will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations; there no nomads will pitch their tents, there no shepherds will rest their flocks. 21 But desert creatures will lie there, jackals will fill her houses; there the owls will dwell, and there the wild goats will leap about. 22 Hyenas will inhabit her strongholds, jackals her luxurious palaces. Her time is at hand, and her days will not be prolonged.

Chapter 14 1 The Lord will have compassion on Jacob; once again he will choose Israel and will settle them in their own land. Foreigners will join them and unite with the descendants of Jacob. 2 Nations will take them and bring them to their own place. And Israel will take possession of the nations and make them male and female servants in the Lord’s land. They will make captives of their captors and rule over their oppressors. 3 On the day the Lord gives you relief from your suffering and turmoil and from the harsh labor forced on you,
...
(Verses 4-24 omitted)
...
25 I will crush the Assyrian in my land; on my mountains I will trample him down. His yoke will be taken from my people, and his burden removed from their shoulders.” 26 This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations. 27 For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?


The First Jewish–Roman War (circa 66AD–74AD). (Ch 13 Vs 6-9, Ch 13 Vs 14-18)
Chapter 13 6 Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. 7 Because of this, all hands will go limp, every heart will melt with fear. 8 Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame. 9 See, the day of the Lord is coming —a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger— to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.

Chapter 13 14 Like a hunted gazelle, like sheep without a shepherd, they will all return to their own people, they will flee to their native land. 15 Whoever is captured will be thrust through; all who are caught will fall by the sword. 16 Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives violated.
17 See, I will stir up against them the Medes, who do not care for silver and have no delight in gold. 18 Their bows will strike down the young men; they will have no mercy on infants, nor will they look with compassion on children.




5. An exegesis of the reconfigured text.

The passage has been split into 3 sections as above for analysis.

End Times Tribulations (c. 3000).(Ch 13 Vs 10-13)

Chapter 13 10 The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. 11 I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. 12 I will make people scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir. 13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the Lord Almighty, in the day of his burning anger.

At the end times there will be terrifying astronomical events and worldwide tribulations as we saw in our chiastic reconfiguration of Revelation [3]. The population of the earth will be reduced considerably as God punishes those who obstinately refuse to obey him.



5.2 The Destruction of "Babylon" at the start of Christ's Millennial Reign (circa 2000AD ) (Ch 13 Vs 2-5, Ch 13 Vs 19 - Ch 14 Vs 27)

Chapter 13 2 Raise a banner on a bare hilltop, shout to them; beckon to them to enter the gates of the nobles. 3 I have commanded those I prepared for battle; I have summoned my warriors to carry out my wrath— those who rejoice in my triumph.
4 Listen, a noise on the mountains, like that of a great multitude! Listen, an uproar among the kingdoms, like nations massing together! The Lord Almighty is mustering an army for war. 5 They come from faraway lands, from the ends of the heavens— the Lord and the weapons of his wrath— to destroy the whole country.

God will raise an army from around the world to fight the country that inherits the title of "Babylon" at the start of the Millennial reign of Christ. As we have seen in the introduction, this is most likely the "Holy Roman" empire which is based out of the Vatican. The "nobles" are the higher level servants of Satan who rule the world through the Vatican, especially those of the Satanic bloodlines.



Chapter 13 19 Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the pride and glory of the Babylonians, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah. 20 She will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations; there no nomads will pitch their tents, there no shepherds will rest their flocks. 21 But desert creatures will lie there, jackals will fill her houses; there the owls will dwell, and there the wild goats will leap about. 22 Hyenas will inhabit her strongholds, jackals her luxurious palaces. Her time is at hand, and her days will not be prolonged.

"Babylon", that wealthy land that rules the world through Satan's power, will be destroyed forever.(See also Rev. 18)



Chapter 14 The Lord will have compassion on Jacob; once again he will choose Israel and will settle them in their own land. Foreigners will join them and unite with the descendants of Jacob. 2 Nations will take them and bring them to their own place. And Israel will take possession of the nations and make them male and female servants in the Lord’s land. They will make captives of their captors and rule over their oppressors.

In the new Israel, the Israelite tribes will be joined by faithful Christians from around the world. The new Israel will be a world hegemon under Christ.



3 On the day the Lord gives you relief from your suffering and turmoil and from the harsh labor forced on you, 4 you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon:
How the oppressor has come to an end! How his fury has ended! 5 The Lord has broken the rod of the wicked, the scepter of the rulers, 6 which in anger struck down peoples with unceasing blows, and in fury subdued nations with relentless aggression. 7 All the lands are at rest and at peace; they break into singing. 8 Even the junipers and the cedars of Lebanon gloat over you and say, “Now that you have been laid low, no one comes to cut us down.”

"Babylon" will be defeated and its "king" bought low (The "king" is probably the Antichrist - a human representative of Satan.). The people of earth will be greatly relieved because their tormentor has been defeated.



9 The realm of the dead below is all astir to meet you at your coming; it rouses the spirits of the departed to greet you— all those who were leaders in the world; it makes them rise from their thrones— all those who were kings over the nations. 10 They will all respond, they will say to you, “You also have become weak, as we are; you have become like us.” 11 All your pomp has been brought down to the grave, along with the noise of your harps; maggots are spread out beneath you and worms cover you.

The powerful ruler of the world will die like all powerful kings that came before him.



12 How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! 13 You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” 15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.
16 Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate: “Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble, 17 the man who made the world a wilderness, who overthrew its cities and would not let his captives go home?”
18 All the kings of the nations lie in state, each in his own tomb. 19 But you are cast out of your tomb like a rejected branch; you are covered with the slain, with those pierced by the sword, those who descend to the stones of the pit. Like a corpse trampled underfoot, 20 you will not join them in burial, for you have destroyed your land and killed your people.

This passage seems to be addressed to Satan, who is the "Morning Star", the one who saw himself as equal to God, the spiritual ruler of "Babylon". With the fall of "Babylon", Satan too is brought low; he is not destroyed at the time but and thrown into the bottomless pit for a thousand years (Rev 20) as we have seen in our parse of Revelation [3]



Let the offspring of the wicked never be mentioned again. 21 Prepare a place to slaughter his children for the sins of their ancestors; they are not to rise to inherit the land and cover the earth with their cities.
22 “I will rise up against them,” declares the Lord Almighty. “I will wipe out Babylon’s name and survivors, her offspring and descendants,” declares the Lord. 23 “I will turn her into a place for owls and into swampland; I will sweep her with the broom of destruction,” declares the Lord Almighty.

Satan's people will also be destroyed. His people are his worshippers - especially those of the Satanic bloodlines - who attain wealth and power by doing the abominable things that Satan requires of them.



24 The Lord Almighty has sworn,
“Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen. 25 I will crush the Assyrian in my land; on my mountains I will trample him down. His yoke will be taken from my people, and his burden removed from their shoulders.”
26 This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations. 27 For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?

At the time of the start of the Millennial Reign of Christ, "Babylon" will have total tyrannical control of the whole world. God will defeat the "Assyrian" so that the people of Israel and the world no longer be under Satan's rule ("Assyria" and "Babylon" are sometimes used interchangeably in the Bible.).



5.3 The First Jewish–Roman War (circa 66AD–74AD). (Ch 13 Vs 6-9, Ch 13 Vs 14-18)

Chapter 13 6 Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. 7 Because of this, all hands will go limp, every heart will melt with fear. 8 Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame. 9 See, the day of the Lord is coming —a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger— to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.

The Roman General Vespasian and his son Titus began the campaign to crush a Jewish revolt by attacking the Judahite centres surrounding Jerusalem in 67AD. (See our paper on Daniel 9 [2] for more historical details on this period.). This was a terrifying, brutal campaign that killed all in its path and completely destroyed Jerusalem.



Chapter 13 14 Like a hunted gazelle, like sheep without a shepherd, they will all return to their own people, they will flee to their native land. 15 Whoever is captured will be thrust through; all who are caught will fall by the sword. 16 Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives violated.

The people of Judah went back to their home-towns and to their clans to prepare for the Roman attack. Their troubles were compounded by internecine squabbling between the Judahite clans and factions. The Christians fled to the Transjordanian mountains as they had been instructed by Jesus, but those who did not believe in Christ were lead astray by the Pharisee leadership.



17 See, I will stir up against them the Medes, who do not care for silver and have no delight in gold. 18 Their bows will strike down the young men; they will have no mercy on infants, nor will they look with compassion on children.

As we have seen in the introduction, Satanic powers passed through several mighty empires like the Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman empires. So the "Medes", in this passage, presumably represent the Romans who came some time after them. The "Medes" were probably chosen to represent Rome because the Roman empire did not exist at the time of the prophecy and also to obfuscate the meaning of the passage - the Medes did defeat Babylon. The text "do not care for silver..." probably means that the Roman army would not accept silver or gold as payment to stop their brutal attack.




Conclusion

This paper is a chiastic reconstruction of the text which shows that the passage contains three interwoven prophetic passages. We often see the three Periods of this prophecy (70AD, 2000AD and 3000AD) in Chiastic reconstructions - the Olivet discourse for example [5]. But the passage is primarily about the defeat of Satan's empire, "Babylon" (The "Holy Roman" Empire) at the start of the Millennial reign of Christ



References

[1] A Definition of Functional Chiasmus
[2] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of "The 70 Weeks Of Daniel"
[3] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Revelation 4-22 Part 2: An Exegesis of Period 2
[4] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Daniel 8
[5] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of "The Olivet Discourse" in Matthew 24










Related pages

Daniel 9
Mark 13
Luke 21
Luke 17:22-37
Functional Chiasmus