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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 14

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-23

The Judgment of Babylon and its King

This is the first of a series of prophecies dealing mainly with foreign nations. Its subject is Babylon, where the Jews are represented as undergoing exile, from which they are about to be delivered (Isaiah 14:1-3) owing to the capture of Babylon by the Medes (Isaiah 13:17). The historical setting of the prophecy is thus much later than the age of Isaiah, in whose time the Assyrians were the great-enemies of God’s people. On this ground most modern scholars regard this section as non-Isaianic, and date it during the Babylonian exile. As the Medes alone (not Cyrus and the Persians) are mentioned as the instruments used by God in the deliverance of His people, the prophecy must be dated before 549 b.c., the year in which Cyrus overthrew the Medes, who afterwards were united with him in the conquest of Babylon (538 b.c)..

Isaiah 13:1. Title prefixed to the section.

2-18. Hostile hosts are mustered to carry out Jehovah’s purpose of judgment against Babylon,

19-22. with the result that it shall be utterly desolate.

Isaiah 14:1-3. The deliverance of captive Israel.

4-20. A song of triumph over the king of Babylon. 1st scene: Hades, where the spirit of the vainglorious monarch is brought low (4-15). 2nd scene: The battle-field, where his dishonoured corpse lies with the slain (16-20).

21-23. The completeness of Babylon’s overthrow.

Verses 1-32

1. Strangers] The thought of the voluntary adhesion of strangers is prominent in the later chapters of the book (Isaiah 44:5; Isaiah 55:5; Isaiah 60:5).

2. People] RV ’peoples.’ Similar anticipations are found in Isaiah 49:22; Isaiah 60:10; Isaiah 61:5: these were in some measure fulfilled in the time of Ezra: Ezra 1:1-4; Ezra 6:7, Ezra 6:8.

4. Proverb] RV ’parable’ (Habakkuk 2:6), or ’taunting-song.’ The King] Nabonidus was king of Babylon from 555 till its fall 549 b.c. Golden city] rather, RM, ’exactress,’ or ’raging one.’

7. The nations rejoice in the peace which follows the fall of their oppressor.

9. The spirit of the dead king of Babylon is greeted by the shades in Hades. The dead] lit. ’feeble ones’; the word is used in Heb. for disembodied spirits (Psalms 88:10). It hath raised, etc.] In Hades the dead monarchs are conceived as retaining some shadow of their former greatness: cp. Ezekiel 32:21. n. The grave] RV ’hell,’ as in Ezekiel 32:9 i.e. Hades.

12. The fall of the mighty king is compared, first, to the fall of the bright star of dawn from the sky, then, by a sudden change of figure, to the felling of a great tree. Lucifer] RV ’day-star.’ Weaken] RV ’lay low.’

13. The arrogant self-deification here put into the mouth of the Babylonian king finds a parallel in some of the Assyrian inscriptions.

Mount, etc.] not Zion, as many ancient commentators explain, comparing Psalms 48:2, but the mount in the far N. where the gods are imagined to reside—the Babylonian Olympus: cp. Ezekiel 28:12-14. Sides] RV ’uttermost parts,’ and so in Isaiah 14:15.

16. The scene now shifts to the battle-field, where men gaze upon the dishonoured corpse of the dead king.

18. Lie] RV ’sleep.’ In his own house] i.e. in a tomb of his own.

19. An abominable branch] i.e. a blighted branch cut off from a tree and left to rot upon the ground. And as the raiment.. slain] RV ’clothed with the slain.’ The king’s corpse lies under heaps of the slain on the field of defeat. The stones of the pit] referring to stones flung together in a hastily-made grave on the battle-field.

20. Shalt not be joined, etc.] To be excluded from burial was the extremest disgrace for a king: Jeremiah 22:19; 2 Chronicles 21:20; 2 Chronicles 24:25. with them] i.e. the honourably buried kings (Isaiah 14:18).

Shall.. renowined] RV ’shall not be named for ever’; a similar curse is pronounced on Jehoiachin (Jeremiah 22:30). The taunt-song ends with this verse, and in Isaiah 14:21-23 the prophet speaks in his own person.

21. With cities] as emblems of their dominion.

22. Nephew] RV ’son’s son.’

23. Pools of water] The works of irrigation connected with the Euphrates being destroyed the land would become a morass. This, in fact, happened after the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus.

Verses 24-27

The Destruction of the Power of Assyria

A short section belonging to the same period as Isaiah 10:5 to Isaiah 12:6 (cp. Isaiah 14:25 with Isaiah 10:27); the subject is the overthrow of the Assyrian invader, and the prophecy was literally fulfilled in the destruction of Sennacherib’s army.

24-27. It is Jehovah’s sworn and unalterable purpose to destroy the Assyrian power, that his burdensome rule over Judah and the nations may cease.

25. Upon my mountains] i.e. the mountains of Judah (Isaiah 49:11; Isaiah 65:9). 26. All the nations] Jehovah’s merciful purpose embraces not only His own people, but the nations generally.

Verses 28-32

Warning to the Philistines

This prophecy is assigned, in the title prefixed to it, to the year that king Ahaz died (728 b.c.). The Philistines are represented as exulting over the death of their oppressor, but are warned that their joy is premature, for worse times are in store for them. The oppressor of Philistia referred to may be (1) Ahaz, whose death may have formed the occasion of the utterance, or, more probably, (2) Tiglathpileser, whose ally Ahaz had been; in that case Sargon and Sennacherib are indicated by the cockatrice and fiery serpent (Isaiah 14:29), each one proving more terrible and formidable to the nations of Western Asia than his predecessor.

The joy of Philistia is premature, for, though apparently broken, the Assyrian power will recover and become more formidable than before (Isaiah 14:29). While Judah escapes, Philistia will suffer from famine and sword (30), and the smoke on the horizon already marks the invader’s approach (31). Philistine ambassadors arrived in Judah to arrange a defensive alliance; the prophet’s answer is an expression of confidence in Jehovah, who has promised safety to Zion (32).

29. Thou, whole Palestina] RV ’O Philistia, all of thee.’ Rod of him, etc.] RV ’rod that smote.’ The rod symbolises the Assyrian power, as in Isaiah 10:24. Serpent’s root, etc.] Each species mentioned is more deadly than the preceding, the fiery serpent being the worst of all (Isaiah 30:6; Numbers 21:6); the serpent also symbolises Assyria in Isaiah 27:1.

30. Firstborn of the poor] i.e. the very poor, those inheriting a double portion (Deuteronomy 21:17) of poverty. The reference is to the people of Judah, who, though afflicted, shall escape, whereas of the Philistines will be left no remnant to return.

31. Thou.. dissolved] RV ’thou art melted away, O Philistia, all of thee.’ The north] the way by which the invader would naturally approach. Shall be alone in] RV ’standeth aloof at.’ The meaning is that no soldier is missing from the ranks of the enemy.

32. Trust] RV ’take refuge.’

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 14". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/isaiah-14.html. 1909.
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