Isaiah 21: 13 The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye travelling companies of Dedanim. 14 The inhabitants of the land of Tema brought water to him that was thirsty, they prevented with their bread him that fled. 15 For they fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, and from the bent bow, and from the grievousness of war. 16 For thus hath the LORD said unto me, Within a year, according to the years of an hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail: 17 And the residue of the number of archers, the mighty men of the children of Kedar, shall be diminished: for the LORD God of Israel hath spoken it.
Before I answer to some of the details of the Muslim argument included below, let me urge you to read the wider context of this passage. This is part of the general announcement of God's punishment on several nations, which is listed in the chapters 13-24 of the Prophet Isaiah. It is certainly not impossible to have a "positive" prophecy in the midst of the oracles of judgment, but the whole context does for sure not make that our expectation when we read through this whole sequence. Nor do the words in this prophecy really look any different from all the "Judgment of God on the nations" oracles that come before and after this specific text. Let me first give you this text in an easier to read modern translation. I would recommend you to get maybe the NIV [New International Version] translation if you indeed are interested to do more reading in the Bible. I also am not a native speaker of English, and the KJV you are using is by now very archaic language [since this translation was done in 1611 if I remember right].
Isaiah 21: 13 An oracle concerning Arabia: You caravans of Dedanites, who camp in the thickets of Arabia, 14 bring water for the thirsty; you who live in Tema, bring food for the fugitives. 15 They flee from the sword, from the drawn sword, from the bent bow and from the heat of battle. 16 This is what the Lord says to me: "Within one year, as a servant bound by contract would count it, all the pomp of Kedar will come to an end. 17 The survivors of the bowmen, the warriors of Kedar, will be few." The LORD, the God of Israel, has spoken.
The Muslim argument is indented in the following.
No problem with that. The problem is, that this is not a passage about a prophet who will appear. There is no person singled out for special mentioning. Yes it is about Arabia, and about the fact that the Assyrians (?) will attack the Northern Arabian tribes and will destroy their pomp and reduces their army to a small band. Sargon, king of Assyria is mentioned in 20:1 and most of the judgements described in these chapters are fulfilled in Sargon's military advancements. And in 715 B.C. Sargon also attacked the Northern Arabian tribes. This is probably the background / fulfillment to the prophecy.
Yes, Tema is in Northen Arabia, but, if God wanted to make a clear prophecy about Muhammad, why did he not mention Yathrib [the name of the city of Medina before Muhammad]? I wonder why he did NOT say Yathrib if he really meant Yathrib? It would have been just as easy to say Yathrib as it was to say Tema.
Also, all these prophecies give the clear impression of near judgment, and don't seem to be talking about something 1300 years away. Isaiah was speaking as a prophet about 740-681 B.C. and these prophecies seem to be spoken around 720 B.C. plus minus a number of years.
Well, there is the phrase of "They flee ... from the heat of the battle" in verse 15. Although Muhammad and his companions did flee from Mekka to Medina, because their life was threatened, there was no battle at this time. Their fear was assassination, but not a raging battle.
Is Kedar = Quraish? I am not so sure about that. And though the Mekkan's were mainly Quraish as it seems, still, it was the opposition to Muhammad that was defeated, not Quraish as such. Mekka and the Quraish tribe as the custodians of Mekka were blossoming again soon after it was claimed for the Muslims, something that doesn't have any affinity to this prophecy either.
I don't have all the dictionaries here I might want to look up on this. The footnotes in my Bible and the small commentary I have suggest that the Assyrians under Sargon were defeating not only the Northern Arab tribes around 715 B.C. but most of this wider area of the Middle East. And that totally fits the whole series of prophecies given in Isaiah 13-24.
If you would want to apply it to something else, then there would need to be strong similarities identifying the prophecy with this other incident and that is just not given.
There is not stress on "him who fled" in this prophecy, it is just "a fugitive" as Young's literal translation has it.
It doesn't give the right destination of Medina, in fact it isn't about any specific journey from point A to point B, it is about flight of an army from the stronger army and that it happens in Northern Arabia and the people of Tema [modern Teyman] are supposed to provide the fugitives with food. Was that something they did for Muhammad? Not something that I heard of either.
Okay, that is about all I can say at this point. Anybody with more knowledge is invited to provide more details.
A more detailed discussion of this text.
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