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Isaiah 21:11-12

Context
Bad News for Seir

21:11 Here is a message about Dumah: 1 

Someone calls to me from Seir, 2 

“Watchman, what is left of the night?

Watchman, what is left of the night?” 3 

21:12 The watchman replies,

“Morning is coming, but then night. 4 

If you want to ask, ask;

come back again.” 5 

1 tn The noun דּוּמָה (dumah) means “silence,” but here it is a proper name, probably referring to a site in northern Arabia or to the nation of Edom. See BDB 189 s.v. II דּוּמָה. If Dumah was an area in northern Arabia, it would be of interest to the Edomites because of its strategic position on trade routes which they used. See J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:398.

2 sn Seir is another name for Edom. See BDB 973 s.v. שֵׂעִיר.

3 sn The “night” probably here symbolizes distress and difficult times. See BDB 539 s.v. לַיְלָה.

4 sn Dumah will experience some relief, but it will be short-lived as night returns.

5 sn The point of the watchman’s final instructions (“if you want to ask, ask; come again”) is unclear. Perhaps they are included to add realism to the dramatic portrayal. The watchman sends the questioner away with the words, “Feel free to come back and ask again.”



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