The Certainty of Deliverance from
Isa 14:4-23. The Jews'
Triumphal Song Thereat.
"It moves in lengthened elegiac measure like a song
of lamentation for the dead, and is full of lofty scorn" [Herder].
Isa 14:24-27. Confirmation of
This by the Hereforetold Destruction of the Assyrians under
a pledge to assure the captives in Babylon that He
who, with such ease, overthrew the Assyrian, could likewise effect His
purpose as to Babylon. The Babylonian king, the subject of this
prediction, is Belshazzar, as representative of the kingdom (Da 5:1-31).
1. choose—"set His choice upon." A
deliberate predilection [Horsley]. Their
restoration is grounded on their election (see Ps 102:13-22).
strangers—proselytes (Es 8:17;
Ac 2:10; 17:4, 17). Tacitus, a heathen [Histories, 5.5],
attests the fact of numbers of the Gentiles having become Jews in his
time. An earnest of the future effect on the heathen world of the Jews'
spiritual restoration (Isa 60:4, 5, 10; Mic
5:7; Zec 14:16; Ro 11:12).
2. the people—of Babylon, primarily. Of
the whole Gentile world ultimately (Isa 49:22; 66:20;
their place—Judea (Ezr 1:1-6).
possess—receive in possession.
captives—not by physical, but by moral
might; the force of love, and regard to Israel's God (Isa 60:14).
3. rest—(Isa 28:12; Eze 28:25,
A Chorus of Jews Express Their Joyful Surprise
at Babylon's Downfall.
The whole earth rejoices; the cedars of Lebanon taunt
4. proverb—The Orientals, having few
books, embodied their thoughts in weighty, figurative, briefly
expressed gnomes. Here a taunting song of triumph (Mic 2:4; Hab
the king—the ideal representative of
Babylon; perhaps Belshazzar (Da 5:1-31).
The mystical Babylon is ultimately meant.
golden city—rather, "the exactress of
gold" [Maurer]. But the old translators
read differently in the Hebrew, "oppression," which the
parallelism favors (compare Isa 3:5).
5. staff—not the scepter (Ps 2:9), but the staff with which one strikes
others, as he is speaking of more tyrants than one (Isa 9:4;
10:24; 14:29) [Maurer].
rulers—tyrants, as the parallelism
"the wicked" proves (compare see on Isa
6. people—the peoples subjected to
is persecuted—the Hebrew is
rather, active, "which persecuted them, without any to hinder
him" [Vulgate, Jerome, and Horsley].
7. they—the once subject nations of the
whole earth. Houbigant places the stop
after "fir trees" (Isa 14:8),
"The very fir trees break forth," &c. But the parallelism is better
in English Version.
8. the fir trees—now left undisturbed.
Probably a kind of evergreen.
rejoice at thee—(Ps 96:12). At thy fall (Ps 35:19, 24).
no feller—as formerly, when thou wast
in power (Isa 10:34; 37:24).
Isa 14:9-11. The Scene
Changes from Earth to Hell.
Hades (the Amenthes of Egypt), the unseen
abode of the departed; some of its tenants, once mighty monarchs, are
represented by a bold personification as rising from their seats in
astonishment at the descent among them of the humbled king of Babylon.
This proves, in opposition to Warburton
[The Divine Legation], that the belief existed among the Jews
that there was a Sheol or Hades, in which the "Rephaim" or manes of the
9. moved—put into agitation.
for thee—that is, "at thee"; towards
thee; explained by "to meet thee at thy coming" [Maurer].
chief ones—literally, "goats"; so
rams, leaders of the flock; princes (Zec 10:3). The idea of wickedness on a
gigantic scale is included (Eze 34:17; Mt 25:32, 33). Magee derives "Rephaim" (English Version,
"the dead") from a Hebrew root, "to resolve into first
elements"; so "the deceased" (Isa 26:14) "ghosts" (Pr 21:16). These being magnified by the
imagination of the living into gigantic stature, gave their name to
giants in general (Ge 6:4; 14:5; Eze 32:18, 21). "Rephaim," translated in the
Septuagint, "giants" (compare see on Job
26:5, 6). Thence, as the giant Rephaim of Canaan were notorious
even in that guilty land, enormous wickedness became connected
with the term. So the Rephaim came to be the wicked spirits in
Gehenna, the lower of the two portions into which Sheol is divided.
10. They taunt him and derive from his
calamity consolation under their own (Eze 31:16).
weak—as a shade bereft of blood and
life. Rephaim, "the dead," may come from a Hebrew root, meaning
similarly "feeble," "powerless." The speech of the departed closes with
11. "Pomp" and music, the accompaniment of
Babylon's former feastings (Isa 5:12; 24:8), give place to the corruption and the
stillness of the grave (Eze 32:27).
worm—that is bred in putridity.
worms—properly those from which the
crimson dye is obtained. Appropriate here; instead of the
crimson coverlet, over thee shall be "worms." Instead of
the gorgeous couch, "under thee" shall be the maggot.
Isa 14:12-15. The Jews
Address Him Again as a Fallen Once-bright Star.
The language is so framed as to apply to the
Babylonian king primarily, and at the same time to shadow forth through
him, the great final enemy, the man of sin, Antichrist, of Daniel, St.
Paul, and St. John; he alone shall fulfil exhaustively all the
lineaments here given.
12. Lucifer—"day star." A title truly
belonging to Christ (Re 22:16),
"the bright and morning star," and therefore hereafter to be assumed by
Antichrist. Gesenius, however, renders
the Hebrew here as in Eze 21:12; Zec 11:2, "howl."
weaken—"prostrate"; as in Ex 17:13, "discomfit."
13. above … God—In Da 8:10, "stars" express earthly
potentates. "The stars" are often also used to express heavenly
principalities (Job 38:7).
mount of the congregation—the place of
solemn meeting between God and His people in the temple at
Jerusalem. In Da 11:37, and 2Th 2:4, this is attributed to Antichrist.
sides of the north—namely, the sides
of Mount Moriah on which the temple was built; north of Mount
48:2). However, the
parallelism supports the notion that the Babylonian king expresses
himself according to his own, and not Jewish opinions (so in Isa 10:10) thus "mount of the congregation"
will mean the northern mountain (perhaps in Armenia) fabled by
the Babylonians to be the common meeting-place of their gods.
"Both sides" imply the angle in which the sides meet; and so the
expression comes to mean "the extreme parts of the north." So
the Hindus place the Meru, the dwelling-place of their gods, in the
north, in the Himalayan mountains. So the Greeks, in the
northern Olympus. The Persian followers of Zoroaster put the
Ai-bordsch in the Caucasus north of them. The allusion to the stars
harmonizes with this; namely, that those near the North Pole,
the region of the aurora borealis (compare see on Job 23:9; Job 37:22)
[Maurer, Septuagint, Syriac].
14. clouds—rather, "the cloud,"
singular. Perhaps there is a reference to the cloud, the symbol of the
divine presence (Isa 4:5; Ex 13:21). So this tallies with 2Th 2:4, "above all that is called God";
as here "above … the cloud"; and as the
Shekinah-cloud was connected with the temple, there
follows, "he as God sitteth in the temple of God," answering to
"I will be like the Most High" here. Moreover, Re 17:4, 5, represents Antichrist as seated in
Babylon, to which city, literal and
spiritual, Isaiah refers here.
15. to hell—to Sheol (Isa 14:6), thou who hast said, "I will ascend
into heaven" (Mt 11:23).
sides of the pit—antithetical to the
"sides of the north" (Isa 14:13).
Thus the reference is to the sides of the sepulcher round which
the dead were arranged in niches. But Maurer here, as in Isa 14:13, translates, "the extreme," or
innermost parts of the sepulchre: as in Eze 32:23 (compare 1Sa 24:3).
Isa 14:16-20. The Passers-by
Contemplate with Astonishment the Body of the King of Babylon Cast Out,
Instead of Lying in a Splendid Mausoleum, and Can Hardly Believe
Their Senses that It Is He.
16. narrowly look—to be certain they are
consider—"meditate upon" [Horsley].
17. opened not … house …
prisoners—But Maurer, as
Margin, "Did not let his captives loose homewards."
18. All—that is, This is the
in glory—in a grand mausoleum.
house—that is, "sepulchre," as in
Ec 12:5; "grave" (Isa 14:19). To be excluded from the family
sepulcher was a mark of infamy (Isa 34:3; Jer 22:19; 1Ki 13:22; 2Ch 21:20;
19. cast out of—not that he had lain
in the grave and was then cast out of it, but "cast out
without a grave," such as might have been expected by
branch—a useless sucker
starting up from the root of a tree, and cut away by the
raiment of those … slain—covered
with gore, and regarded with abhorrence as unclean by the Jews. Rather,
"clothed (that is, covered) with the slain"; as in Job 7:5, "My flesh is clothed with worms
and clods of dust" [Maurer].
thrust through—that is, "the slain who
have been thrust through," &c.
stones of … pit—whose bodies are
buried in sepulchres excavated amidst stones, whereas the king of
Babylon is an unburied "carcass trodden under foot."
20. not … joined with them—whereas
the princes slain with thee shall be buried, thou shalt not.
thou … destroyed …
land—Belshazzar (or Naboned) oppressed his land with
wars and tyranny, so that he was much hated [Xenophon, Cyropædia 4.6, 3; 7.5,
seed … never be renowned—rather,
"shall not be named for ever"; the Babylonian dynasty shall end with
Belshazzar; his family shall not be perpetuated [Horsley].
Isa 14:21-23. God's
Determination to Destroy Babylon.
21. Prepare, &c.—charge to the Medes
and Persians, as if they were God's conscious instruments.
his children—Belshazzar's (Ex 20:5).
rise—to occupy the places of their
fill … with cities—Maurer translates, "enemies," as the Hebrew
means in 1Sa 28:16; Ps 139:20; namely, lest they inundate the world
with their armies. Vitringa translates,
"disturbers." In English Version the meaning is, "lest they fill
the land with such cities" of pride as Babylon was.
22. against them—the family of the king
name—all the male
representatives, so that the name shall become extinct (Isa 56:5; Ru
remnant—all that is left of them. The
dynasty shall cease (Da 5:28-31). Compare as to Babylon in general,
23. bittern—rather, "the hedgehog"
[Maurer and Gesenius]. Strabo
(16:1) states that enormous hedgehogs were found in the islands of the
pools—owing to Cyrus turning the
waters of the Euphrates over the country.
besom—sweep-net [Maurer], (1Ki 14:10; 2Ki 21:13).
Isa 14:24-27. A Fragment as
to the Destruction of the Assyrians under Sennacherib.
This would comfort the Jews when captives in Babylon,
being a pledge that God, who had by that time fulfilled the
promise concerning Sennacherib (though now still future), would also
fulfil His promise as to destroying Babylon, Judah's enemy.
24. In this verse the Lord's thought
(purpose) stands in antithesis to the Assyrians' thoughts (Isa 10:7). (See Isa 46:10, 11; 1Sa 15:29; Mal 3:6).
25. That—My purpose, namely, "that."
break … yoke—(Isa 10:27).
my mountains—Sennacherib's army was
destroyed on the mountains near Jerusalem (Isa 10:33, 34). God regarded Judah as peculiarly
26. This is … purpose … whole
earth—A hint that the prophecy embraces the present world of
all ages in its scope, of which the purpose concerning Babylon and
Assyria, the then representatives of the world power, is but a
hand … stretched out
upon—namely, in punishment (Isa 5:25).
27. (Da 4:35).
Isa 14:28-32. Prophecy
To comfort the Jews, lest they should fear that
people; not in order to call the Philistines to repentance, since the
prophecy was probably never circulated among them. They had been
subdued by Uzziah or Azariah (2Ch 26:6); but in the reign of Ahaz (2Ch 28:18), they took several towns in south
Judea. Now Isaiah denounces their final subjugation by Hezekiah.
28. In … year … Ahaz
died—726 B.C. Probably it was
in this year that the Philistines threw off the yoke put on them by
29. Palestina—literally, "the land of
rod … broken—The yoke
imposed by Uzziah (2Ch 26:6) was
thrown off under Ahaz (2Ch 28:18).
serpent's root—the stock of Jesse
11:1). Uzziah was doubtless
regarded by the Philistines as a biting "serpent." But though the
effects of his bite have been got rid of, a more deadly viper,
or "cockatrice" (literally, "viper's offspring," as Philistia would
regard him), namely, Hezekiah awaits you (2Ki 18:8).
30. first-born of … poor—Hebraism,
for the most abject poor; the first-born being the foremost of
the family. Compare "first-born of death" (Job 18:13), for the most fatal death. The
Jews, heretofore exposed to Philistine invasions and alarms, shall be
in safety. Compare Ps 72:4,
"Children of the needy," expressing those "needy in
feed—image from a flock feeding in
He shall slay—Jehovah shall. The
change of person, "He" after "I," is a common Hebraism.
31. gate—that is, ye who throng the
gate; the chief place of concourse in a city.
from … north—Judea, north and
east of Palestine.
smoke—from the signal-fire, whereby a
hostile army was called together; the Jews' signal-fire is meant
here, the "pillar of cloud and fire," (Ex 13:21; Ne 9:19); or else from the region devastated by
fire [Maurer]. Gesenius less probably refers it to the cloud of
dust raised by the invading army.
none … alone … in … appointed
times—Rather, "There shall not be a straggler among
his (the enemy's) levies." The Jewish host shall advance on
Palestine in close array; none shall fall back or lag from weariness
5:26, 27), [Lowth]. Maurer thinks
the Hebrew will not bear the rendering "levies" or "armies." He
translates, "There is not one (of the Philistine watch guards) who will
remain alone (exposed to the enemy) at his post," through
fright. On "alone," compare Ps 102:7; Ho 8:9.
32. messengers of the nation—When
messengers come from Philistia to enquire as to the state of Judea, the
reply shall be, that the Lord … (Ps 87:1, 5; 102:16).