7 And he saw a chariot with two horsemen, a rider upon an ass, and a rider upon a camel: and he beheld them diligently with much heed. 8 And a lion cried out: I am upon the watchtower of the Lord, standing continually by day: and I am upon my ward, standing whole nights. 9 Behold this man cometh, the rider upon the chariot with two horsemen, and he answered, and said: Babylon is fallen, she is fallen, and all the graven gods thereof are broken unto the ground.

Latin Vulgate Douay-Rheims version - who is;

a) rider on the ass b) rider on the camel

side question;

I note other versions have plural - which version is correct?

  • 2
    This seems a sensible question. I don't see why it deserves to be down-voted to extinction, myself. (+1 to even it out a bit.) Just asserting 'Isaiah 21:7 is not about Jesus' is an opinion. Prophetic passages need interpretation as well as textual analysis. And some can see allusions where others see nothing.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 18 '21 at 17:54
  • What version have you quoted? - most have the riders in plural
    – Dottard
    Jan 18 '21 at 20:19
  • The Hebrew is indeed singular, but the sense of the verse is plural.
    – Robert
    Jan 21 '21 at 21:51
  • @Robert - thanks, sorry if I'm being naive - but why 'the sense of the verse is plural' Jan 25 '21 at 15:26
  • @anothertheory I think I will answer this question in long format. Bottom line, in Hebrew, especially poetry, there are many singular constructions that are interpreted as plural and vice versa. The sense is plural here because it is describing an army, or troop, with riders on donkeys, chariots, camels, etc. It's not exactly one of each (that would be a strange formation).
    – Robert
    Jan 25 '21 at 20:20

The prophecy of Isa 21:1-10 is about the fall of the Babylonian kingdom to the Medes and Persians (Dan 5:28). The OP quotes an obscure version that poorly represents the Hebrew. Note the comments from the Cambridge commentary that better translates the Hebrew of V7:

  1. The verse reads: And if he see a troop, horsemen in pairs (1 Kings 9:25), a troop of asses, a troop of camels, then let him hearken, hearken hard. This apparently is the expected sign that great events are on foot; when the riders are seen the watchman is to listen intently to discover who they are and what they are doing. The word for “troop” means always “chariot” (usually collective); here it must be used in the sense of “riding train” like the Arab. rakb. The procession represents the Persian army. “Asses” and “camels” are probably introduced as beasts of burden, although both animals are reported to have been used by the Persians in actual battle.

The Pulpit Commentary offers a little more detail about the explanation:

A chariot with a couple of horsemen; rather, a troop of horsemen riding two and two. This is exactly how a cavalry force was ordinarily represented by the Assyrians. Chariots are not intended either here or in ver. 9. They were not employed by the Persians until a late period of their history (see 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 4. pp. 113, 122). A chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; rather, men mounted on asses and on camels. It is well known that both animals were employed by the Persians in their expeditions to carry the baggage (Herod., 1:80; 4:129; Xen., 'Cyrop.,' 7:1, etc.). But neither animal was ever attached to a chariot. Isaiah 21:7

Isa 21:7 is referenced in the book of Revelation concerning the collapse of the spiritual kingdom of Babylon in Rev 14:8 & 18:2, "Babylon is fallen is fallen".

The important matter here as far at the OP's question is concerned, there is no single rider on a camel or ass - it is an army.

The prophecy of Isa 21:8 was fulfilled in 539 when Cyrus finally captured Babylon at the end of the famous siege, some of the events of which are described in Dan 5.

  • thank you for your comments and responses, much appreciated. I have used the Latin Vulgate Douay-Rheims version - copied and past. I appreciate that there were armies with Asses and Camels - however, this particular event, the way it is written - 'a chariot with two horsemen, a rider upon an ass, and a rider upon a camel' to specific doesn't appear that he is talking about an army. It may come down to which version is correct? Jan 19 '21 at 11:18
  • @anothertheory Most versions have it correct - see the many versions here which I have checked with the Hebrew - recall the DRB is a translation of a translation (ie, via the Latin) and is thus, less reliable. biblehub.com/isaiah/21-7.htm
    – Dottard
    Jan 19 '21 at 11:32
  • Vulgate the most reliable in my opinion. Albeit the majority go with plural, there are a number that are singular YLT & LSV and others. Isa 7 is very specific as is Isa 9 - mentioning a couple of horsemen etc... could simply have said riders or army of.... the difference changes the meaning considerably. maybe need Greek / Hebrew expert to clarify. Will research this more, many thanks. Jan 19 '21 at 12:47

Isaiah 21:7-9 relates to Who?

The war chariot of asses and that of camels fittingly represent the two powers, Media and Persia, that will unite to launch this attack. The ancient Persians besides using horses and elephants in their army, they also used Asses and Camels in their cavalry

Isaiah 21:7-9 relates to Who? To the Medes and the Persians

Daniel 5:26-2 (NASB)

26 This is the interpretation of the [a]message: ‘Menē’—God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it. 27 ‘Tekēl’—you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient. 28 ‘[b]Perēs’—your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and [c]Persians.” 29 Then Belshazzar gave orders, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a necklace of gold around his neck, and issued a proclamation concerning him that he now had authority as the third ruler in the kingdom.

Images for Ancient Persian asses in war.


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