Is Isaiah 21:7 translated wrongly?

I had a talk with a Muslim friend who said, that he read/heard that there is a wrong translation of Isaiah 21:7 in all bibles.
According to him, the original Hebrew scripture had to be translated as watching out for one (single) rider on a donkey and one (single) rider on a camel, which Muslims take as a prophecy for Jesus and Muhammad.

Has anyone heard of that and knows more about how these Muslim sources come to their conclusion or the sources themselves (I couldn’t find out anything on my own)?

What I could find out so far from a friend who studies theology is, that the suggested translation with ONE rider is incorrect in his opinion. Besides that the context of the fall of Babylon.


@immanuel.96 Great question :slight_smile: No matter the translation of this specific verse, the context of this passage makes it impossible that this is a prophecy about a coming prophet. Please see following articles for some background on why the claim is made by Muslims and why it does not stand up to scrutiny.

Before I address Misha’al’s argument below, let me urge the reader to consider the wider context of this passage. This is part of the announcement of God’s punishment on several nations, which is listed in the chapters 13-24 of the Isaiah. Many nations are mentioned. In chapters 18, 19, and 20, Egypt and Cush (Ethiopia) are named, in chapter 17 - Damascus (Syria), in 15 and 16 - Moab (Jordan), in chapter 14 - Assyria and Philistine, in chapter 22 - Jerusalem, and 23 - Tyre, and so on. Each chapter describes judgment upon these nations.

It is certainly not impossible to have a “positive” prophecy in the midst of the oracles of judgment, but the whole context of these passages shows that severe judgment and punishment are going to be dealt out to various nations and groups of people. Nor do the words in this prophecy really look any different from all the “judgment of God on the nations” oracles that come in chapters before and after the specific text of chapter 21.

Clearly, it takes no scholar to understand that Isaiah 21 is a prophecy of doom on Babylon, Edom, Arabia, and others. There are no Messianic prophecies found here.

Q17: In Isa 21:7, is the rider on “donkeys” Jesus, and the rider on “camels” Mohammed?
A: No. Three points to consider in the answer.
1. These were messengers at that time coming to report that Babylon has fallen. The only special significance is that perhaps the camel riders might be scouts, donkey riders might be civilians, and charioteers might be military men.
2. Evil Midianite soldiers rode on camels too, but that is just as irrelevant as talking about Mohammed here.
3. Finally, there were camel riders (plural), so even if one was Mohammed, this would mean that another camel rider would be coming after him.