A "burden," Heb. massa= a heavy, weighty thing, is a message, or oracle concerning Babylon, Assyria, Jerusalem, etc. It is "heavy" because the wrath of God is in it, and grievous for the prophet to declare.
The city, Babylon is not in view here, as the immediate context shows. It is important to note the significance of the name when used symbolically. "Babylon" is the Greek form: invariably in the O.T. Hebrew the word is simply Babel, the meaning of which is confusion, and in this sense the word is used symbolically.
(1) In the prophets, when the actual city is not meant, the reference is to the "confusion" into which the whole social order of the world has fallen under Gentile world-domination. (See "Times of the Gentiles," Luke 21:24; Revelation 16:14; Isaiah 13:4 gives the divine view of the welter of warring Gentile powers. The divine order is given in Isa. 11. Israel in her own land, the centre of the divine government of the world and channel of the divine blessing; and the Gentiles blessed in association with Israel. Anything else is, politically, mere "babel."
(2) In Revelation 14:8-11; 16:19 the Gentile world-system is in view in connection with Armageddon ; Revelation 16:14; 19:21 while in Re 17. the reference is to apostate Christianity, destroyed by the nations Revelation 17:16 headed up under the Beast ; Daniel 7:8; Revelation 19:20 and false prophet. In Isaiah the political Babylon is in view, literally as to the then existing city, and symbolically as to the times of the Gentiles. In the Revelation both the symbolical- political and symbolical-religious Babylon are in view, for there both are alike under the tyranny of the Beast. Religious Babylon is destroyed by political Babylon Revelation 17:16 political Babylon by the appearing of the Lord Revelation 19:19-21. That Babylon the city is not to be rebuilt is clear from ; Isaiah 13:19-22; Jeremiah 51:24-26,62-64. By political Babylon is meant the Gentile world-system. (See "World," ; John 7:7; Revelation 13:8) It may be added that, in Scripture symbolism, Egypt stands for the world as such; Babylon for the world of corrupt power and corrupted religion; Nineveh for the pride, the haughty glory of the world.
Verses 12-16 look forward to the apocalyptic judgments (Re 6.-13.). Verses 17-22 have a near and far view. They predict the destruction of the literal Babylon then existing; with the further statement that, once destroyed, Babylon should never be rebuilt (cf) Jeremiah 51:61-64. All of this has been literally fulfilled. But the place of this prediction in a great prophetic strain looks forward to the destruction of both politico-Babylon and ecclesio- Babylon in the time of the Beast shows that the destruction of the actual Babylon typifies the greater destruction yet to come upon the mystical Babylons. Cf. (See Scofield "Isaiah 13:1") .
See note 2; (See Scofield "Isaiah 13:1") .