Isaiah 21: 1-2. “The burden of the desert of the sea. As whirlwinds in the south pass through: so it cometh from the desert, from a terrible land. A grievous vision is declared unto me; the treacherous dealer dealeth treacherously; and the spoiler spoileth. Go up, O Elam: besiege, O Media; all the sighing thereof have I made to cease.”
The desert by the sea or near the sea is also an accurate translation of this phrase. The Babylonian Empire, as you can sea covered a huge land mass and touched on more than one sea.
But, vast and strong a Babylon was, it would be destroyed by a stronger army passing through like a whirlwind that leaves destruction everywhere. That destruction would be caused by the Medes (Elam, in v. 2, is Media)
The vision that God sent to Isaiah was so awful that he called it a grievous vision.
A little geographical orientation: Elam was the name of the country originally possessed by the Persians, so-called from Elam, son of Shem (Gen. 10:22). It was east of the river Euphrates and the Persian Gulf. It was one of the earliest powers, and Shushan was its capital (Gen. 14:1,9; Neh. 1:1; Ester 1:2-5; Dan. 8:2).
Media was located north of Persia, east of the Euphrates, and south of the Caspian Sea and Armenia. Its name came from Madai, son of Japheth (Gen. 10:2). For a long time, it was under the Assyrians, until Cyrus the Great, about 556 B.C., who united Media and Persia, forming the Medo-Persian empire (Esther 1:3).
It is of great interest to me to see how Noah’s three sons–Shem, Ham, Japheth–divided and established populations in different places, including most of the Near East and parts of Africa. The geo-political map as we know it today is still influenced by these divisions.