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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 14

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-2


Isaiah 14:1-2

1          For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob,

And will yet choose Israel,
And set them in their own land:
And the strangers shall be joined with them,
And they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.

2     And 1the people shall take them, and bring them to their place:

And the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the Lord
For servants and handmaids:
And 2they shall take them captives, 3whose captives they were;

And they shall rule over their oppressors.


Isaiah 14:1. הִנִּיחַ. comp. Isaiah 28:2; Isaiah 46:7. נלוה as to sense and construction like Isaiah 56:3; Isaiah 56:6, where alone the word occurs again in this sense.—Niph. נספח only here. Comp. Hithp. 1 Samuel 26:19 and on Isaiah 37:30.

Isaiah 14:2. Hithp. התנחל in Isa. only here.—The accusative depends on the transitive notion that is latent in the reflexive form. Comp. Numbers 33:54 and often. The expression אדמת י׳ occurs only here. But comp. Isaiah 14:25; Joel 1:6; 4:2; Jeremiah 2:7, etc.—שׁבים. Comp. 1 Kings 8:46-50.—רָדָה in Isa. only here, Isaiah 14:6; Isaiah 41:2 (Hiph.).—נֹגְשִׂים. Comp. Isaiah 3:12; Isaiah 9:3; Isaiah 60:17.


1. The reason for the destruction of Babylon described in Isaiah 13:14-22 is here indicated by the Prophet to be the intention of Jehovah to have mercy again on His people, and bring them back into their land. That shall take place by the glad consent and even active co-operation of the heathen nations. These will join themselves to Israel—in fact lead Israel into their own land (Isaiah 14:1). Israel will then have them for servants and maids, and will hold those in prison who before devoted them to such a fate (Isaiah 14:2).

2. For the Lord—their oppressors.

Isaiah 14:1-2. Though Israel’s deliverance is not the sole motive of the Lord in destroying Babylon, it is yet a chief motive. Isaiah in the second part, and Jeremiah in the denunciations of judgments (Jeremiah 50, 51) that connect so closely with the present and the later prophecies of Isaiah on this subject, frequently declare that Babylon’s fall is to be Israel’s deliverance (e.g., Jeremiah 50:4 sqq., Jeremiah 50:8 sqq., Jeremiah 50:28; Jeremiah 51:6, Jeremiah 50:36 sqq., Jeremiah 50:45 sqq.). The adhesion of strangers, who would be witnesses of the mighty deeds of Jehovah in judging and delivering, is a trait that the second return from bondage will have in common with the first (Exodus 12:19; Exodus 12:38; Numbers 11:4, etc.). And the people shall take them, etc.—It is more exactly explained that this adhesion of strangers will not be to seek protection, but to form an honorable and serviceable attendance as friends and admirers. This is a thought that often recurs in the second part of Isaiah 44:5; Isaiah 49:22 sq.; Isaiah 55:5; Isaiah 60:4-9 sq., This notion that strangers should amicably attend Israel and then be enslaved for it occasions offence. But the heathen will only display this friendliness constrained thereto by the mighty deeds of Jehovah. And even if the Old Testament knows of a conversion of the heathen to Jehovah (Hosea 2:23; Isaiah 65:1; comp. Romans 9:24 sqq.; Isaiah 10:18 sqq.)—yet, from the Old Testament view-point, there remains ever such a chasm between Israel and even the converted heathen that for the latter no other position was conceivable than that of those strangers who went along to Canaan out of Egypt or the desert, or of the Canaanites that remained (1 Kings 9:20 sq). This is a consequence of that fleshly consciousness of nobility of which Israel was full. Only by Christ could that chasm be bridged over, in whom there is neither circumcision nor uncircumcision (Galatians 5:6; Galatians 3:28; Romans 10:12). [“The simple meaning of this promise seems to be that the church or chosen people and the other nations should change places, the oppressed becoming the oppressor, and the slave the master. This of course admits both an external and internal fulfilment. In a lower sense and on a smaller scale it was accomplished in the restoration of the Jews from exile; but its full accomplishment is yet to come, not with respect to the Jews as a people, for their pre-eminence has ceased forever, but with respect to the church, including Jews and Gentiles, which has succeeded to the rights and privileges, promises and actual possessions of God’s ancient people. The true principle of exposition is adopted even by the Rabbins. Jarchi refers the promise to the future, to the period of complete redemption. Kimchi more explicitly declares that its fulfilment is to be sought partly in the restoration from Babylon, and partly in the days of the Messiah.” J. A. Alex.in loc.]


[1]Or, nations.

[2]Or, they shall be captors of their captors.

[3]Heb. that had taken them captives.

Verses 3-23


Isaiah 14:3-23

3          And it shall come to pass in the day that the Lord shall give thee rest

From thy 4sorrow, and from thy 5fear,

And from the hard bondage

6Wherein thou wast made to serve,

4     That thou shalt 7take up this 8proverb 9against the king of Babylon, and say,

How hath the oppressor ceased!
The 1011golden city ceased!

5The Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked,

And the sceptre of the rulers.

6He who smote the people in wrath

With 12a continual stroke,

He that 13ruled the nations in anger,

14Is persecuted, and none hindereth.

7The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet:

They break forth into singing.

8Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee,

And the cedars of Lebanon, saying,

Since thou art laid down,
No feller is come up against us.

915Hell from beneath is moved for thee

To meet thee at thy coming:

It stirreth up the 16dead for thee,

Even all17 18the chief ones of the earth;

It hath raised up from their thrones
All the kings of the nations.

10All they shall 19speak and say unto thee,

20Art thou also become weak as we?

kArt thou become like unto us?

11Thy pomp is brought down to the grave,

And the noise of thy viols:

The worm is spread under thee, and the worms 1cover thee.

12How art thou fallen from heaven,

21O Lucifer, son of the morning!

How art thou cut down to the ground,

Which didst 22weaken the nations!

1323For thou 24hast said in thine heart,

I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.
I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;

I will be like the Most High.

1525Yet thou 26shalt be brought down to hell,

To the 27sides of the pit.

16They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying,

Is this the man that made the earth to tremble,

That did shake kingdoms;

17That made the world as a wilderness,

And destroyed the cities thereof;

That 28opened not the house of his prisoners?

18All the kings of the nations, even all of them,

Lie in 29glory, every one in his own house.

19But thou art cast out of thy grave

Like an 30abominable branch,

And as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword,

That go down to the stones of the pit;
As a carcase trodden under feet.

20Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial,

Because thou hast destroyed thy land,

And slain thy people:

The seed of evil doers shall never be 31renowned.

21Prepare slaughter for his children

For the iniquity of their fathers;
That they do not rise, nor possess the land,
Nor nil the face of the world with cities.

22     32For I will rise up against them,

Saith the Lord of hosts,
And cut off from Babylon the name and remnant,
And 33son, and nephew, saith the Lord.

23     I will also make it a possession for the 34bittern, and pools of water:

And I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the Lord of hosts.


Isaiah 14:3. ביום הניח וגו calls to mind Deuteronomy 25:19.—עֹצֶב in the sense of dolor, labor, only here in Isaiah. It is not to be confounded with עֹצֶב idolum (Isaiah 48:5).—Also רֹגֶז, which often occurs in Job, does not again occur in Isaiah.—אשׁר עבד does not stand for ‘א עֻבְּדָה as Gesenius supposes. And אשׁר is not to be rendered by the ablative, but it is accusative according to the well-known construction of the Passive with the accusative of the nearer object (comp. Isaiah 21:2; Genesis 35:26).

Isaiah 14:4. Whatever may be the fundamental meaning of מָשַׁל, and whether מָשַׁל, to rule, and מָשַׁל, to compare, come from one or from two roots (Gesen. Winer, Delitzsch assume constitit erectus as the common radical meaning; comp. Del. Commentary and Zur Geschichte d. jud. Poesie, p 196), the word any way signifies a dictum in terse language, distinguished from a merely prosaic statement, let the dictum be fable, parable, allegory, aphorism, proverb, riddle, didactic poem, or satire. It is here used in the last named sense, i.e., sarcastic address, as in Habakkuk 2:6; Micah 2:4; comp. Deuteronomy 28:37; Jeremiah 24:9; Psalms 69:12; 1 Kings 9:7. [“Its most general sense seems to be that of tropical or figurative language. Here it may have a special reference to the bold poetic fiction following.”—J. A. A.]. The word does not again occur in Isaiah.—מדהבה is ἅπ. λεγ. The LXX., translates ἔπισπουδαστής, which means the driver, inciter. It is thus synonymous with נֹגֵשׂ. Vulg. tributum, according to which the word is derived either from זָהָב = דְּהַב. gold, or from רָהָב insistere, opprimere, so that the notion oppress would be taken in the sense of collecting tribute. In the latter sense the meaning as regards etymology would coinclde with the Greek ἐπισπουδαστής. For, according to the sense, the Greek translation seems to signify rather the driver who urges prisoners or slaves to make haste. The Peschito also, which translates operis exactor, and the Targ. Jonathan which translates fortitudo peccatoris appear to have read מַרְהֵכָה. So, too, perhaps Saadia (timiditas). As Aquila translates λιμός, he must either have taken מַרְעֵכָה = מַרְהֵבָה, or מַדְאֵבָה = מַדְהֵבָה, from דָּאַכ, languere. Delitzsch sides with the last meaning, construing מ as Mem loci, and translates, place of torture. Yet it seems to me that locus languendi, even if one overlooks the permutation of א and ה, is still a vocabulum satis languidum for place of torture. I would like therefore, with J. D. Michaelis, Gesenius, Knobel, Meier and others, to assume that מדהבה is an error of transcribing for מרהבה, as also an old edition (Thessalon, 1,600) actually reads. It favors this, too, that רָהַב (superbire, opprimire) and נָגַשׂ also correspond in parallelism, Isaiah 3:5.

Isaiah 14:5. שׁבט משׁלים (comp. Ezekiel 19:11), as epexegesis of מטה רשׁעים is any way to be understood as a tyrant’s sceptre. This is confirmed by the statement of Isaiah 14:6.

Isaiah 14:6. The expression בלתי סרה occurs only here: סרה in Isaiah 1:5; Isaiah 31:6; Isaiah 59:13, in the sense of revolt. On בלתי see at Isaiah 10:4. The conjecture of Doederlein, that instead of מֻרְדָף we should read מִרְדַּת has, according to the analogy of מַכַּת, much plausibility. The confounding of ף and ת might easily happen in the unpointed text. Neither מִרְדָּה nor מֻרְדָּף occur elsewhere. מדדף is nom. passivum: the being pursued, being hounded on, like מֻנָד being scared off, cast away, 2 Samuel 23:6. מֻצָּב stations, Isaiah 29:3. מֻרְבֶּכֶת, stirred in, Leviticus 6:14, etc.—חשׂך occurs again Isaiah 54:2; Isaiah 58:1.—בלי kindred to בלתי (comp. Ewald, 322, a.), is poetic negation. It occurs in Isaiah, again only Isaiah 32:10. See on בַּל Isaiah 14:21.

Isaiah 14:7. פצח רנה is an expression peculiar to the second part of Isa. (Isaiah 44:23; Isaiah 49:13; Isaiah 52:9; Isaiah 54:1; Isaiah 55:12) and does not occur elsewhere.

Isaiah 14:8. שָׂמַח with לְ involves the notion of rejoicing at misfortune: Psalms 30:2; Psalms 35:19; Psalms 35:24; Psalms 38:17; Micah 7:8; Obadiah 1:12.

Isaiah 14:9. לְךָ after רגזה is constructio praegnans. (comp. Micah 7:14), לקראת בואך however is the nearer qualification of the לְךָ: hell gets into uproar toward thee, that is in order to welcome thee as an arrival.—עוֹרֵר Isaiah 10:26; Isaiah 23:13.—שְׁאוֹל is, in the first half of the verse, like Isaiah 5:14, construed as feminine. But when the discourse continues with the masculine form עוֹרֵר, the reason can hardly be because שׁאול elsewhere (Job 26:6) is used as masculine. For the question still arises, why does the Prophet vary the gender? I think the Prophet in the first clause has the totality in mind, whereas in עוֹרֵר וגו׳ he means that special dominant will that he ascribes to Sheol as to a person. The former, as with all collectives, he conceives as feminine: but this person, as a ruler he conceives of as masculine. [“Hitzig explains this on the ground that in the first clause Sheol is passive, in the second active: Maurer, with more success, upon the ground that the nearest verb takes the feminine or proper gender of the noun, while the more remote one, by a common license, retains the masculine or radical form, as in Isaiah 33:9, (see Gesenius, § 141, Rem. 1).”—J. A. A.]

Isaiah 14:10. יענו is employed according to well-known usage, whereby, not only the discourse responsive to other discourse, but discourse responsive to action is designated as answer (Isaiah 21:9; Deuteronomy 21:7; Deuteronomy 26:5; Job 3:2; Matthew 11:25; Matthew 22:1, etc.).—The Pual הֻלֵּיתָ only here. Comp. passages like Isaiah 53:10; Isaiah 57:10; Genesis 48:1, etc.; Deuteronomy 29:21, etc., and the meaning cannot be ambiguous: tu quoque debilitatus es. Also אלינו נמשׁלת is a pregnant phrase: thou art made like us and brought to us. [Of this constr. praegn. J. A. A., says: “this supposition is entirely gratuitous.”]

Isaiah 14:11. הֶמְיָה from הָמָה strepere, synonymous with הָמוֹן (Isaiah 13:4), is ἅπ. λεγ. Concerning נֶכֶל comp. at Isaiah 5:12.—רִמָּה only here in Isaiah.—תּוֹלֵעָה, Isaiah 41:14; Isaiah 66:24.

Isaiah 14:12. הֵילֵל is by some expositors (Jerome, Aquila, Rosenmueller, Gesenius) taken as imperative from הֵילִיל = howl, in which sense, in fact, the word occurs Ezekiel 21:17; Zechariah 11:2. But this meaning is forced and mars the context. Only that meaning will correspond with the context which takes this word in the sense of bright star, from הָלַל to shine (Job 29:3, etc.). The form הֵילֵל can be formed after analogy of שֵׁילָל ,הֵידָד (Micah 1:8 K’thibh). It is, however, possible, too, that הֵילֵל is derived from הִלֵּל, although there is no analogy for this, for אֵשֶׁת ,מֵאֵך are not analogous, and i before strong consonants always lengthens to i as substitute for doubling (Ewald, § 84 a.). It must only be that at the same time a sort of attraction took place, and thus the Tsere of the final syllable conformed to the vowel of the preceding syllable. Then helel could be identical with the name Hillel (Judges 12:13; Judges 12:15); to which the remark may be added, that Rabbi Hillel the younger (in the 4th Cent., after Christ) is named Ἑλλήλ by Epiphanius (Adv. Haer. II. p. 127. Ed. Paris.). Also Buxtorf (Lex. Chald. talm. et Rabb. p. 617) writes: הִילֵּל Hillel, olim Hellel ut Emmanuel et Immanuel, de qua scriptione vide Drus. Observ. L. IX. 100:1. ” That this bright star is the morning star appears from the addition בן־שׁחר.—חָלַשׁ with Accus. Exodus 17:13 : with עַל only in this place, which seems to depend on the latent notion of lording it, like רָדַף חָבַשׁ ,רָפָא, are construed with the Accus., and לְ.

Isaiah 14:15. The adversative thought is introduced by אַךְ. The restrictive fundamental meaning (“only,” which receives adversative force in such a connection = nisi rectius dixeris i.e. sed. comp. Jeremiah 5:5) seems to involve here a certain irony: but pity, that thou must own to Orkus.—ירכתי בור stands opposed to י׳ צפון. The deepest corner of the deep grave. בור properly, pit, grave, but the underworld, is, so to speak, the deepening and extending of the grave Isaiah 38:18 and often.—The imperf. תורד, according to Delitzsch, comes unsuitably both from the mouth of the dwellers in Hades, and from Israel that sings this Maschal; it is therefore to be construed as resumption of the discourse by the Prophet, who has before his mind as future, what the Maschal recites as past (comp. הורד Isaiah 14:11). But this departure from the role is improbable. Moreover it is grammatically unnecessary to take תורד as future. It is present. It describes the descent into Hades as something now taking place, a movement not yet concluded. Thus Joshua (Isaiah 9:8) questions the emissaries of the Gibeonites מֵאַיִן תָּבֹאוּ; but Joseph his brethren (Genesis 42:7) מֵאַיִן בָּאתֶם. The former regarded those questioned as arrivals, as it were still in the act of coming; the latter as ones who had arrived.

Isaiah 14:16. שָׁגַח (only here in Isaiah; beside this in Psalms 33:14; Song of Solomon 2:9), with אל in connection with ראים evidently means attentively gazing. The same thought is still more strongly emphasized by יתבוננו. The word occurs in Isaiah again Isaiah 1:3; Isaiah 43:18; Isaiah 52:15. With אֵל or עַל it signifies an intent, scrutinizing contemplation (1 Kings 3:21; Psalms 37:10; Job 31:1).—מרגיז comp. on Isaiah 13:13, where it is associated with רעשׁ.

Isaiah 14:17. The masculine suffixes in עריו and אסיריו refer to a latent masculine notion in תבל, probably to ארץ, which Isaiah is wont to use as parallel with תבל (Isaiah 18:3; Isaiah 26:18), and uses as masculine oftener than all other Old Testament writers (Isaiah 9:18; Isaiah 18:2; Isaiah 26:18; Isaiah 66:8, beside these only Genesis 13:6). This is favored, also, by אסיריו, for there is no אסירי תבל, but אסירי ארץ occurs (Lamentations 3:34). [“The anomaly of gender may be done away by referring both the pronouns to the King himself, who might just as well be said to have destroyed his own cities, as his own land and his own people (Isaiah 14:20), the rather as his sway is supposed to have been universal.—J. A. A.].—Concerning the pregnant construction פתח ביתה comp. Jeremiah 50:33.—

Isaiah 14:19. נצר is an exclusively Isaianic word. It occurs, beside the present, only Isaiah 11:1, Isaiah 60:21, except where Daniel 11:7 quotes Isaiah 11:1.—נתעב, in Isaiah only here, is probably chosen for the sake of the alliteration.—לְבוּשׁ in Isaiah again Isaiah 63:12.——מטען only here.—כְּ in כפגר is Kaph veritatis (comp. on Isaiah 13:6) and what has been said figuratively is now said without figure.—פֶגֶר occurs again Isaiah 34:3; Isaiah 37:36; Isaiah 66:24. Part. מובם only here; other forms of בוּם Isaiah 14:25; Isaiah 63:6; Isaiah 63:18.

Isaiah 14:20. תחד from יחד only here in Isaiah. Comp. Genesis 19:6. Isaiah 14:21. בַּל poetic = אַל; occurs again Isaiah 26:10-11; Isaiah 26:14; Isaiah 26:18; Isaiah 33:20-21; Isaiah 33:23-24; Isaiah 35:9; Isaiah 40:24; Isaiah 43:17; Isaiah 44:8-9; comp. on Isaiah 26:8.

Isaiah 14:22. Of the pairs of alliterated words שׁאר is a current word with Isaiah (comp. at Isaiah 7:13; Isaiah 10:19), נין ונכד stand together in the three passages where they recur: Genesis 21:23; Job 18:19 and here.

[“The specific meaning son and nephew (i.e., nepos, grandson), given in the Engl. Version, and most of the early writers, and retained by Umbreit, is derived from the Chaldee Paraphrase (בר ובר בר). Aben Ezra makes the language still more definite by explaining שׁם to be a man himself, שׁאר a father, נין a son, and נכד a grandson.——But the more general meaning of the terms now held to be correct, is given in the LXX. (ὄνομα καὶ κατάλειμμα καὶ σπέρμα) and the Vulgate (nomen et reliquias et germen et progeniem.)”—J. A. A.]

Isaiah 14:23. טִאְטֵאתִי is Pilp., of a root טָא (טוּא) pellere, protrudere, that occurs only here, from which also the substantive מַטְאֲטֵא is formed. Some have justly found in this word a reference to טִיט clay, out of which the brick-builded Babylon emerged. But the broom, of which Jehovah makes use, is הַשְׁכֵד (infin. nomin.), destruction.


1. In that day wherein the Lord will grant Israel the deliverance described in Isaiah 14:1-2, Israel shall sing a song of derision about the king of Babylon (Isaiah 14:3-4 a). The Prophet has no particular king in mind, but the king of Babylon in abstracto. With wonderful poetic vigor and beauty he shows how the proud possessor of the world-power, who in titanic arrogance would mount to equality with the very Godhead, shall be cast down to the lowest degradation and wretchedness by the omnipotence of the true God. He begins with a joyful exclamation that the scourge of the nations is broken (Isaiah 14:4-6Isaiah 14:4-6Isaiah 14:4-6). The earth now has rest; the very cypresses and cedars rejoice that they are no more felled (Isaiah 14:7-8). On the other hand, the under-world, the kingdom of the dead, rises in commotion at the new arrival. Spectres hurry to meet him—the princes under them rise off their seats (Isaiah 14:9). “Thou, too, comest to us,” they call to him (Isaiah 14:10). Then the Prophet takes up the discourse again, personating Israel, into whose mouth he puts the words, and brings out the contrast in the history of the Babylonian: Thy pomp is cast down to hell, the sound of revel in thy palaces is hushed, and thy body moulders in the grave, a star cast down from heaven (Isaiah 14:10-12). Thou wouldst raise thyself to the level of the Godhead, and now descendest into the deepest depth of the lower world (Isaiah 14:13-15). Also the subjects of the dead king express their thoughts at the spectacle of the unburied, cast-away corpse, seeing in this present wretchedness the punishment of past wrong-doing: Is this the man that shook and desolated the earth (Isaiah 14:16-17)? While the bodies of other kings lie quiet in their graves, his corpse, without a grave, is cast away as a despised and trampled carcase (Isaiah 14:18-19). This is the punishment for his having ruined land and nation. Therefore shall his generation be exterminated (Isaiah 14:20-21). Finally Jehovah Himself confirms the announcement of destruction, extending the warning of punishment to Babylon entire, and presents to it the prospect of desolation in the same manner as occurs chap. 13.Isaiah 14:21; Isaiah 14:21 sq. (Isaiah 14:22-23).

2. And it shall come to pass——hindereth.

Isaiah 14:3; Isaiah 14:6. A song of derision about the representative of the Babylonish world-power cannot be appropriate while one is in its power. When one is out of reach of his arm, then the long pent-up resentment may find expression. The service (עֲבֹדָה. comp. Isaiah 28:21; Isaiah 32:17) is also called “hard” (קָשָׁה, Exodus 1:6; Exodus 6:9; Deuteronomy 26:6) in the description of the Egyptian bondage. Thus we have a reminder of the resemblance between the first and the second exile.

3. The whole earth——against us.

Isaiah 14:7-8. But not merely the world of mankind, the impersonal creatures were disquieted by this world-despot, who knew no law but his own passions, and they, too, rejoice, jubilant at the repose. Representative of all others, the elevated giants of the forest high up on Lebanon speak, to utter their joy that, since the end of the tyrant, they are no more felled. Cypress (Isaiah 37:24; Isaiah 41:19; Isaiah 55:13; Isaiah 60:13), a hard and lasting wood, was used, not only for house and ship-building (1 Kings 5:8; 1 Kings 5:10; Ezekiel 27:5), but also in the manufacture of lances (Nahum 2:4) and musical instruments (2 Samuel 6:5; comp. Isaiah 14:11). [“According to J. D. Michaelis, Antilibanus is clothed with firs as Libanus or Lebanon proper is with cedars, and both are here introduced as joining in the general triumph. J. A. A.]

4. Hell from beneath——like unto us.

Isaiah 14:9-10. On Sheol see Isaiah 14:14. [“The English word Hell, though now appropriated to the condition or place of future torments, corresponds in etymology and early usage to the Hebrew word in question. Gesenius derives it, with the German Hölle, from Höhle, “hollow;” but the English etymologists from the Anglo-Saxon helan, “to cover,” which amounts to the same thing,—the ideas of a hollow and a covered place being equally appropriate. As Sheol, retained by Henderson, and the Greek word Hades, introduced by Lowth and Barnes, require explanation also, the strong and homely Saxon form will be preferred by every unsophisticated taste. Ewald and Umbreit [and Naegelsbach] have the good taste to restore the old word Hölle in their versions. J. A. A.] As the Prophet has before personified the trees of Lebanon, so here he personifies the world of the dead. He presents it as governed by a common will. This will, so to speak, the will of the ruler, roused by the appearance of the king of Babylon, electrifies the entire kingdom, so that it gets into unusual commotion and turns to the approaching king in wonder (comp. Isaiah 14:16). Especially the kings already there in the kingdom of the dead, the colleagues of the Babylonian, are in commotion. רפאים (Isaiah 26:14; Isaiah 26:19) are the lax, nerveless, powerless, who have no body, and thus no life-power more, who are only outlines, shades. The word is without article, likely because not all רפאים, but only a part of them, i.e., all עתודים (the strong ones, or he-goats) shall be made to rise. These are called he-goats (Isaiah 1:11; Isaiah 34:6), not only because on earth they were the leader-goats of the nation-flocks (Zechariah 10:3; Psalms 68:31; Jeremiah 50:8), but because they are still such. It seems to me that there underlies here the representation of Psalms 49:15 (14) : “Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall pasture them” [feed on them, Eng. Version.]. Therefore, perhaps it reads ארץ, earth, and not the earth, for the latter would be the earth as abode of the living. In the kingdom of the dead the dead are like a great flock—death pastures them: but those that were he-goats on earth are such also in the under-world. For the latter has no independent life. It only reflects in outline what life accomplished in complete, corporeal existence. Only to the end of Isaiah 14:10 do the words of the shades extend. For, on the one hand, much discourse does not become them (Knobel), and, on the other, much of what follows does not become the mouths of shades, viz.: the derision of the Babylonian that would retort on themselves, and because Isaiah 14:16 a and 20a they would speak of themselves in the third person. Therefore from Isaiah 14:11 on the author of the Maschal again speaks. [“The ancient versions and all the early writers understand רפאים to mean giants. Its application to the dead admits of several explanations equally plausible with that of Gesenius (who in the earlier editions of his Lexicon and in his Commentary on Isaiah derives it from רפא, but in the last edition of his Lexicon derives it from רפה, to be still or quiet, a supposititious meaning founded on an Arabic analogy); and entitled to the preference according to the modern laws of lexicography, because instead of multiplying, they reduce the number of distinct significations. The shades or spectres of the dead might naturally be conceived as actually larger than the living man, since that which is shadowy and indistinct is commonly exaggerated by the fancy. Or there may be an allusion to the Canaanitish giants who were exterminated by divine command, and might be chosen to represent the whole class of departed sinners. Or, in this case, we may suppose the kings and great ones of the earth to be distinguished from the vulgar dead as giants or gigantic forms. Either of these hypotheses precludes the necessity of finding a new root for a common word, or of denying its plain use elsewhere. As to mere poetical effect, so often made a test of truth, there can be no comparison between the description of the dead as weak or quiet ones, and the sublime conception of gigantic shades or phantoms.” Some comment on the text as if it were “not a mere prosopopœia or poetical creation of the highest order, but a chapter from the popular belief of the Jews as to the locality, contents and transactions of the unseen world. Thus Gesenius, in his Lexicon and Commentary, gives a minute topographical description of Sheol, as the Hebrews believed it to exist. With equal truth a diligent compiler might construct a map of hell, as conceived by the English Puritans, from the descriptive portions of Paradise Lost. This kind of exposition is chargeable with a rhetorical incongruity in lauding the creative genius of the poet, and yet making all his grand creations commonplace articles of popular belief. The true view of the matter, as determined both by piety and taste, appears to he that the passage now before us comprehends two elements, and only two: religious verities or certain facts, and poetical embellishments. It may not he easy to distinguish clearly between these—but it is only between these that we are able or have any occasion to distinguish. The admission of a tertium quid in the shape of superstitious fables is as false in rhetoric as in theology.” J. A. A.]

5. Thy pomp——of the pit.

Isaiah 14:11-15. The contrasts between what the Babylonian would be and what he now is are here set forth. The pomp he prepared for his eyes to see, and the glorious sounds he let his ears hear are swallowed up by hell. His body, once so dearly cared for and couched, has now maggots for a couch and worms for a covering. Passages from Job (Job 7:5; Job 21:26) seem here to present themselves to the Prophet’s mind. Shining and high was he once, like the morning star; now he is fallen from heaven. הֵילֵל, shining star, is called “son of the morning,” because it seems to emerge out of the morning dawn (comes et alumnus aurorae). “In the southern heavens, when mirrored in the waves of the sea, this planet has a brighter gleam than with us” (Leyrer in Herz.R. Encycl. XIX. p. 563). Tertullian, Gregory the Great, and latterly Stier, with reference to Luke 10:18, have taken the star fallen from heaven for Satan. Hence originates the name Lucifer (Vulgate—although מַזָּרוֹת, Job 38:32, is also so rendered), ἑως φόρος (LXX.). Once he was mighty over the nations—but now he is himself broken and cast to the earth (Isaiah 22:25).

The following And thou hast said,etc. (Isaiah 14:13) seems at first sight to stand in antithesis to what precedes (Isaiah 14:12). But examination shows that Isaiah 14:13-15 belong together. For the תורד, “thou art brought down,” Isaiah 14:15, corresponds to the אעלה, “I will ascend,” of Isaiah 14:13-14, and Isaiah 14:12 is complete in itself, each clause of it containing a complete antithesis; the lofty star is fallen, the conqueror lies prostrate on the ground. Thus the וְ before אַתָּה is not adversative, but simply the copulative: and thou who thoughtst to mount to the heavens must go down to hell. The world-power is by its very nature inimical to God: its aim is to supplant God and put itself in His place. This tendency is indwelling in the world-power derived from its transcendental author, Satan, and is realized in every particular representative. Thus, then, here the Babylonian expresses his purpose of assuming the highest place, not simply on earth among the lords of the world, but in heaven itself, and that above the stars, which seem here to be conceived of as the residences of the spirits of God, the צבאות, Job 38:7, and the spheres of their manifestation, according to heathen notions, which very well suit in the mouth of the Babylonian. Let him be enthroned above the stars, and he, too, is “god of hosts.” Let the throne of the potentate be above the stars; then he shall stand on the pinnacle of the sacred mountain of the gods, about which the constellations circle, and which the heathen notions of the Orient represent as in the North. This mountain is variously named by the different nations. It is called Meru (Kailasa, in the direction beyond the Himalaia) by those in India, Alburg by the others; nor does the Olympus of the Greeks stand wholly disconnected herewith. Comp. Rhode,Heil. Saga des Zendvolkes, p. 229 sq.; Gesenius,Jes. II. p. 516 sqq.; Lassen,Ind. Alterthumskunde I. p. 34 sq.; Movers,Phön. II. 1, p. 414; Kohut,Jüd. Angelol. u. Daemonol. in den Abhh. f. d. Kunde des Morgenl., 1866, p. 57.

Many expositors down to Fuerst (Conc. p. 501) and Shegg [J. A. A. states both views without deciding; so also substantially Birks] have been led by the expression הַרֹ מוֹעֵד to hold that the mountain meant in the text is Zion, as the gathering place of the Israelites, for which they appeal especially to Psalms 48:3. But Zion lay neither to the north of Palestine nor to the north of Jerusalem, nor does the mention of Zion in this sense become the lips of the possessor of the world-power. יַרְכָּתַיִם (remotest corners, Eng. Vers.sides), are the thighs, which (considered from within outwardly), form the extremest boundaries, as well as (regarded in their junction), the extremest points. Thus the word stands for the inmost corner (e.g., of a cave, 1 Samuel 24:4) as well as for the extremest boundary of a land. Thus Jeremiah 6:22; Jeremiah 25:32 says ירכתי ארץ (sides, coasts of the earth); and here Isa. (and after him Ezekiel 38:6; Ezekiel 38:15; Ezekiel 39:2) says צפיןי׳ (extremest, highest North). The expressions “above the stars of God” and “mount of the congregation” signify the loftiest height intensively, “the heights of the clouds” (במותי עב—an expression found only here), in an extensive sense. For as far as the clouds extend (Psalms 35:6; Psalms 57:11; Psalms 108:5) the dominion of the true God reaches, and everywhere the clouds are His air chariots and air thrones (Isaiah 19:1; Psalms 97:2; Psalms 104:3; Daniel 7:13). If, then, the Babylonian reigns in the loftiest heights and every where, he has become like the highest God. But thereby he has supplanted the highest God: for two cannot at once occupy the highest place. And this, as remarked above, is the aim of Satan and of his earthly sphere of power, the world-power, which culminates in Antichrist (Daniel 11:36; 2 Thessalonians 2:3 sq.). This tendency of the world-power explains how, not only heathen, but now and then also Jewish and Christian princes, have laid claim to divine honors, or at least have suffered such to be paid them. Curtius (VIII. 5) praises the Persians because: non pie solum, sed etiam prudenter reges suos inter Deos colunt. In inscriptions Persian kings are explicitly called ἔκγονοι θεῶν, ἐκ γένους θεῶν, and even θεοί. Comp. Hengstenberg,Introd. to the O. Test. I. [p. 124 sqq. of the German Ed.]. This is well known in regard to the Roman Emperors. Such deification had its extremest illustration in the case of Diocletian, who made himself an object of divine worship as a representative of the highest God. Comp. Alb. Vogel,Prof., Der Kaiser Diocletian, ein Vortrag, Gotha, 1857. Herod let himself be called God, and had to suffer dearly for that assumption of honor such as belongs to God alone (Acts 12:21 sqq.). In Christian Europe, too, there have not been wanting instances of such heathenish adulation of princes. See under Doctrinal and Ethical remarks below.

Isaiah 14:15 expresses, in contrast with the pretensions of the Babylonian, what his actual fate shall be. [See above in Text. and Gram.]

6. They that see——with cities.

Isaiah 14:16-21. “They that see” are not the denizens of hell, for they have before them the dead as an unburied corpse. The underlying thought of the passage is, however, that the sins of the deceased are enumerated (Isaiah 14:16-17), and his fate is designated as their merited punishment. Thus it says, “they that see thee,” i.e. they that see thee lying an unburied corpse look upon thee. Because he destroyed the rest of countries, he himself now finds no rest in the grave. Because he made a desert of the fruitful land (תבל to be taken in this sense here in contrast with מדבר, comp. on Isaiah 13:11), he lies himself a deserted carcase; because he showed no pity to prisoners, he is himself pitilessly dealt with.

I do not think it probable that the following words are to be ascribed to others than the ראים, those seeing thee, Isaiah 14:16, e.g. to the Prophet. The internal connection with Isaiah 14:16-17 is too close. “Is this the man,” says Isaiah 14:16? What kind of man? Why just that one who, according to Isaiah 14:19, lies as a trampled carcase. Then Isaiah 14:22, what the Prophet says in the name of the Lord, comes in all the more emphatically as confirming this. It is then the subjects of the king that remark, that whereas all other kings lie in state in the tombs of their ancestors (comp. 2 Kings 21:18, 2 Chronicles 33:20) their king is cast away far from his grave (מִן=procul, Jeremiah 48:45; Lamentations 4:9).

But he is cast away as a despised branch. When trees are felled, or pruned, many a small branch, which compared to the whole tree is worthless, is cast aside and trampled in the mud.
Most expositors in explaining the following words take לְבֻשׁ as part. pass. But it seems to me that then the two following participles appear very superfluous. For what does it amount to to describe the Chaldean as covered with the slain that are thrust through and carried down to the pit? It is otherwise if, with Aqu., Theod., Luther, Fuerst (conc.), and others, we take לְבֻשׁ as substantive. Then it is said that the corpse of the Chaldean is cast away, not only as a despised branch, but also as the garment of the slain who were thrust through with the sword and buried. For were they thrust through with a sword, then, too, the garment would be cut into holes, and at least spotted with blood, and if they are buried, it is explained how their garment comes into the hands of others. When the dead are buried on the field of battle, their clothes are taken off them, but those that are torn and cut in holes and smeared with blood, are cast away, while those unharmed are retained as valuable booty. “The stones of the pit” cannot be the stones of a grave on the top of the earth. For neither the rock-hewn grave, nor a walled-up tomb, nor a grave covered with stones to avoid the trouble of shoveling up a mound, has any meaning in this connection; though it may be said by the way, that heaping up stones is no less troublesome than shoveling up a mound. Buried in general is the chief thing. But there is only one בּוֹר, pit, that has stones under all circumstances. It is the widening and deepening of the grave (שְׁאוֹל see Isaiah 14:15), that is on the surface. This is in the interior of the earth. This interior is any way closed about by the עַמּוּרִים, pillars, (Job 9:6), מְכוֹנִיםfoundations, (Psalms 104:5) of the earth; but these are the mountains (comp. Proverbs 7:25) which are thence called “strong foundations of the earth” Micah 6:2. But that the foundations or the roots of the earth consist of rock was known to the ancients as well as to us. The king, as an unburied, thrown away corpse, shall not be reunited in the grave with those other dead which, according to Isaiah 14:19, are buried.—The king destroyed his land by despotism and wars, and sacrificed his subjects in masses. Thus, not only himself, but his entire dynasty shall be destroyed. The name of his race shall become extinct as godless. To this end his seed must be slain. The people themselves demand it. They resolve that this generation shall not be raised up to possess the land and fill it with cities. Building cities contributes to security, the establishment of dominion, the interests of trade, and the cultivation of the ground. A builder of cities must ever be a mighty man. There is no need, therefore, to change עָרִים, as some would do, to עָרִצִים (Ewald), עִיִּים (Hitzig), עָדִים (Meier). On the other hand one must be careful not to press all the particular traits of this prophecy. What we said above concerning the ideal coloring of prophecy is appropriate also here.

7. For I will——saith the Lord of hosts.

Isaiah 14:22-23. These are words of the Prophet which he speaks in the name of Jehovah. Therefore the word of God constitutes the, formal conclusion of the prophecy, the Prophet resuming the thread of discourse and keeping it to the end. He confirms thereby the words of the people by giving them a general and more comprehensive direction. What they had said only against the royal race is changed to a denunciation of punishment against the kingdom of Babylon in general. Its cities shall become the possession (Job 17:11; Obadiah 1:17) of the porcupine (Isaiah 34:11; Zephaniah 2:14), and, (in consequence of the ruin of the embankments of the Euphrates), swampy marshes (Isaiah 35:7; Isaiah 41:18; Isaiah 42:15). By the porcupine appears to be meant the echinus aquatica, which was found of unusual size (according to Strabo, Isaiah 16:1) on the islands of the Euphrates. Comp. Bochart,Hieroz. II., p. 454 sqq.




[6]which was wrought by thee.


[8]Or, taunting speech.


[10]Or, exactress of gold.


[12]Heb. a stroke without removing.

[13]trod down.

[14]by persecution without sparing.

[15]Or, The grave.

[16]spectres, or giants.

[17]Heb. leaders.

[18]Or, great goats.


[20]Thou art.

[21]Or, O day star.


[23]And yet.




[27]remotest corners.

[28]Or, did not let his prisoners loose homewards.

[29]in state.




[33]issue and offspring.



1. On Isaiah 13:2-13. The prophecy concerning the day of the Lord has its history. It appears first in the form of the announcement of a scourge of locusts (Joel); then it becomes an announcement of human war-expeditions and sieges of cities. Finally it becomes a message that proclaims the destruction of the earth and of its companions in space. But from the first onward, the last particular is not wanting: only at first it appears faintly. In Joel 2:10, one does not know whether the discourse is concerning an obscuration of the heavenly bodies occasioned only by the grasshoppers or by higher powers. But soon (Joel 3:4; Joel 3:20) this particular comes out more definitely. In the present passage of Isaiah it presses to the foreground. In the New Testament (Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24 sq.; Luke 21:25) it takes the first and central place. We observe clearly that the judgment on the world is accomplished in many acts, and is yet one whole; and as on the other hand nature, too, is itself one whole, so, according to the saying: “whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26), the catastrophes on earth have their echo in the regions above earth.

2. On Isaiah 13:4 sqq. “God cannot do otherwise than punish accumulated wickedness. But He overthrows violence and crime, and metes out to tyrants the measure they have given to others, for He gives to them a master that the heathen shall know that they too are men (Ps. 9:21; Psalms 11:5).”—Cramer.

[On 13 Isaiah 13:3. “It cannot be supposed that the Medes and Persians really exulted, or rejoiced in God or in His plans.—But they would exult as if it were their own plan, though it would be really the glorious plan of God. Wicked, men often exult in their success: they glory in the execution of their purposes; but they are really accomplishing the plans of God, and executing His great designs.”—Barnes.]

[On Isaiah 13:9. “The moral causes of the ruin threatened are significantly intimated by the Prophet’s calling the people of the earth or land its sinners. As the national offences here referred to, Vitringa enumerates pride (Isaiah 13:11; Isaiah 14:11; Isaiah 47:7-8), idolatry (Jeremiah 50:38), tyranny in general (Isaiah 14:12; Isaiah 14:17), and oppression of God’s people in particular (Isaiah 47:6).”—J. A. Alexander.]

3. On Isaiah 13:19 sqq. Imperiti animi, etc. “Unlearned minds when they happen on allegories, can hold no certain sense of Scripture. And unless this Papal business had kept me to the simple text of the Bible, I had become an idle trifler in allegories like Jerome and Origen. For that figurative speech has certain allurements by which minds seek to dispose of difficulties. … The true allegory of this passage is concerning the victory of conscience over death. For, the law is Cyrus, the Turk, the cruel and mighty enemy that rises up against the proud conscience of justitiaries who confide in their own merits. These are the real Babylon, and this is the glory of Babylon, that it walks in the confidence of its own works. When, therefore, the law comes and occupies the heart with its terrors, it condemns all our works in which we have trusted, as polluted and very dung. Once the law has laid bare this filthiness of our hearts and works, there follows confusion, writhing, and pains of parturition; men become ashamed, and that confidence of works ceases and they do those things which we see now-a-days: he that heretofore has lived by confidence of righteousnesss in a monastery, deserts the monkish life, casts away to ashes all glory of works, and looks to the gratuitous righteousness and merit of Christ, and that is the desolation of Babylon. The ostriches and hairy creatures that remain are Eck, Cochleus and others, who do not pertain to that part of law. They screech, they do not speak with human voice, they are unable to arouse and console any afflicted conscience with their doctrine. My allegories, which I approve, are of this sort, viz., which shadow forth the nature of law and gospel.” Luther.

4. On Isaiah 13:21 sqq. “There the Holy Spirit paints for thee the house of thy heart as a deserted, desolate Babylon, as a loathsome cesspool, and devil’s hole, full of thorns, nettles, thistles, dragons, spukes, kobolds, maggots, owls, porcupines, etc., all of which is nothing else than the thousandfold devastation of thy nature, in as much as into every heart the kingdom of Satan, and all his properties have pressed in, and all and every sin, as a fascinating serpent-brood, have been sown and sunk into each one, although not all sins together become evident and actual in every one’s outward life.”—Joh. Arndt’s Informatorium biblicum, § 7.

5. On Isaiah 14:1-2. “Although it seems to me to be just impossible that I could be delivered from death or sin, yet it will come to pass through Christ. For God here gives us an example; He will not forsake His saints though they were in the midst of Babylon.”—Heim and Hoffmann after Luther.

6. On Isaiah 14:4 sqq. “Magna imperia fere nihil sunt quam magnae injuriae.

Ad generum Cereris sine caede et sanguine pauci
Descendunt reges et sicca mente tyranni.—Luther.

Impune quidvis facere id est regem esse.”—Sallust.

Among the Dialogi mortuorum of Lucian of Samosata the thirteenth is between Diogenes and Alexander the Great. This dialogue begins with the words: “Τί τοῦτο, ὦ Ἀλέξανδρε, τέθνηκας καὶ σὺ, ὥσπερ ἡμεῖσ ἅπαντες;” thereupon the contrast is ironically set forth between what Alexander was, as one given out to be a son of the gods, and so recognized by men, and possessor of all highest human glories, and what he is at present. It is, as is well known, doubtful whether Lucian really was acquainted with the Scriptures. See Planck, Lucian and Christianity in Stud. u. Krit., 1851, IV. p. 826 sqq. Comp. also Schrader, die Höllenfahrt der Istar., 1874.

7. On Isaiah 14:4 sqq. ”Omni genera figurarum utitur ad confirmandos et consolandos suos, ut simul sit conjuncta summa theologia cum summa rhetorica.”—Luther.

8. On Isaiah 14:12 sqq. As early as the LXX. this passage seems to have been understood of Satan. It points that way that they change the second person into the third; πῶς ἐξέπεσεν, etc. At least they were so understood. See Jerome, who thereby makes the fine remark: “Unde ille cecidit per superbiam, vos ascendatis per humilitatem.” But Luther says: “Debet nobis insignis error totius papatus, qui hunc textum de casu angelorum accepit, studia literarum et artium deccndi commendare tamquam res theologo maxime necessarias ad tractationem sacrarum literarum.”

9. On Isaiah 14:13-14. “The Assyrian monarch was a thorough Eastern despot … rather adored as a god than feared as a man.” Layard’s Discoveries amongst the ruins of Nineveh and Babylon, 1853, New York, p. 632. “In the heathen period the pre-eminence of the German kings depended on their descent from the gods, as among the Greeks” (Gervinus, Einleit. in d. Gesch. d. 19 Iahrh., 1853, p. 14). Christian Thomasius, in his Instit. jurispr. divinae, dissert. proœmialis, p. 16, calls the princes “the Gods on earth.” In a letter from Luxemburg, after the departure of the Emperor Joseph II., it is said (in a description of the journey, of which a sheet lies before me): “we have had the good fortune to see our earthly god.” Belani, Russian Court Narratives, New Series, III. Vol., p. Isaiah 125: “The Russian historian Korampzin says in the section where he describes the Russian self-rule: “The Autocrat became an earthly god for the Russians, who set the whole world in astonishment by a submissiveness to the will of their monarch which transcends all bounds.”

Verses 24-27


Isaiah 14:24 to Isaiah 20:6

a) Prophecy against Assyria

Isaiah 14:24-27

We have explained above why the prophecy against Assyria occupies the second place and after the one against Babylon. A prophecy against Assyria could not be omitted. It was necessary as a background to the prophecies that follow. But it needed only to be a short one. For the Prophet is sensible that the power of Assyria is shattered by the overthrow of Sennacherib—therefore fore that, in a prophetic sense, it is in principle a thing done away. But to Assyria and the other nations named in the superscription above, the Prophet does not proclaim merely temporal destruction. He sets before all more or less plainly the prospect of partaking of the Messianic salvation of the future.


24          The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying,

Surely as I have thought, so 35shall it come to pass;

And as I have purposed, so shall it stand:

25     36That I will break the Assyrian in my land,

And upon my mountains tread him under foot:
Then shall his yoke depart from off them,
And his burden depart from off their shoulders.

26     This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth:

And this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations.

27     For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it?

37And his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?


Isaiah 14:24. דִּמָּה in the sense of animo componere, “to dispose in thought,” only again Isaiah 10:7; moreover the Prophet seems to have had in mind in this place, Numbers 33:56.——The Perfect היתה expresses the coincidence of the realization with the thought. No sooner said than done, i.e., as God conceives a thought, it is also (as to principle) realized. The following imperf. תקום has then the meaning that what is, as to principle, realized, must arise, set up as actual, outward circumstance. Before תקום the כּן is not repeated, but היא is used, evidently for the sake of variety. The thought is essentially the same. It is a sort of Anacoluthon——היה and קום are used as in Isaiah 7:7; Isaiah 8:10.

Isaiah 14:25. The infin. לשׁבר depends on the oath-clause Isaiah 14:24 b; what is determined shall be fulfilled frangendo Assyrios, etc. לשׁבר is therefore inf. modalis or gerundivus.——With אבוסנו (comp. Isaiah 14:19; Isaiah 63:6; Isaiah 63:18) the language returns from the infinitive construction to the verbum fin., according to a frequent Hebrew usage.——The suffixes in מעליהם and שׁכמו have nothing to which they can relate in the words of Isaiah 14:24-25.—Moreover from Isaiah 14:4 onwards, Israel is not referred to. True, in Isaiah 14:1-2, Israel is likewise spoken of in the third person, and with quite similar suffixes (עליחם Isaiah 14:1, שׁביהם ,נגשׂיהם Isaiah 14:2); but then Isaiah 14:3 intervenes, in which Israel is spoken of in the second person. It must, therefore, be assumed that the suffixes Isaiah 14:25 refer back, not only over the entire Maschal (4–23), but also away over Isaiah 14:3 to Isaiah 14:1-2, and that these verses originated, not at the same time with the rest of the prophecy against Babylon, but much earlier. All this is very improbable. I cannot therefore agree with Vitringa and Drechsler, but must side with the view, that the present verses are a fragment of a greater prophecy for Israel of a comforting nature, which, however, cannot be identical with 7–12 because in these Assyria is regarded in a totally different light from that which appears in the present verses.

Isaiah 14:27. יָפֵר comp. Isaiah 8:10. [“This has been variously translated “scatter” (LXX.), “weaken” (Vulg.), “avert” (Luth.), “dissolve” (Calvin), “change” (J. D. “Michaelis”), “hinder” (Gesen.), break (Ewald [Naegelsb.]); but its true sense is that given in the Eng. Version and by De Wette (vereiteln) [see Fuerst Lex.]. The meaning of the last clause is not simply that his hand is stretched out, as most writers give it, but that the hand stretched out is his, as appears from the article prefixed to the participle נטויה. (See Gesen. § 108, 3. Ewald, § 560.—J. A. A.].


1. Whoever reads the prophecies of Isaiah against the heathen nations with attention, must feel surprise that in them, there is relatively little more said about Assyria. After occupying in 7–12 the foreground, it retreats in 13 and onward into the background. On the other hand Babylon now stands front and the Prophet recognizes in it the representative of the perfectly developed world-power that has attained to the exclusive possession of dominion. Now the question arises: how are Assyria and Babylon related? What becomes of Assyria if now Babylon is called the world-power? How is it to be explained that according to Isaiah 10:24-27 Israel at the end of days is delivered out of bondage to Assyria, if at that end-period not Assyria but Babylon stands at the summit of the world-power? These questions are solved by the short section before us, Isaiah 14:24-27. It appears therein that in the immediate future Assyria must be destroyed, that, therefore, Israel may expect deliverance from the yoke of Assyria in a brief season, but that therewith Israel is neither delivered forever, nor is the world-power for ever broken up. But Babylon walks in the footsteps of Assyria; and if in 7–12 the world-power appeared solely under the name of Assyria, it happened only because the Prophet could not then distinguish that which followed Assyria from Assyria itself, and therefore comprehended it under one name.

2. The Lord of hosts——turn it back.

Isaiah 14:24-27. Drechsler attaches great weight to the fact that the phrase “the Lord of hosts hath sworn,” is preceded by a thrice repeated “saith the Lord of hosts,” Isaiah 14:22-23. He says the former is only a climax of these latter. He lays stress, too, on the fact that the thrice repeated “Lord of hosts” of Isaiah 14:22-23 has its correlative in the double use of the same in Isaiah 14:24; Isaiah 14:27, and that the same words which in Isaiah 14:23 “conclude the proper body of the discourse, in Isaiah 14:24 begin the appendix.” He, therefore, regards Isaiah 14:24-27 as an integral part of the discourse that extends through Isaiah 13:1 to Isaiah 14:27, and therefore as having originated at the same time. But that is impossible. The words Isaiah 14:24-27 must be older than, the catastrophe of Sennacherib before Jerusalem, for they foretell it. But the prophecy against Babylon Isaiah 13:1 to Isaiah 14:23 must be much more recent, for it is the product of a much higher and, therefore, of a much later prophetic knowledge [? Tr.]. If, too, in the points named there appears a certain correspondence, yet it remains very much a question whether that is intentional. The expressions in question, so far as they correspond, occur exceedingly often in all sorts of connections.

The expression “the Lord hath sworn” is especially frequent in Deuteronomy, but always with the Dative of the person whom the oath concerns (Deuteronomy 1:8; Deuteronomy 2:14; Deuteronomy 4:31, etc.). In Isaiah it occurs again, Isaiah 45:23; Isaiah 54:9; Isaiah 62:8.—The contents of the oath is: “as I have thought … so shall it stand.”

[“From the distant view of the destruction of Babylon, the Prophet suddenly reverts to that of the Assyrian host, either for the purpose of making one of these events accredit the prediction of the other, or for the purpose of assuring true believers, that while God had decreed the deliverance of the people from remoter dangers, He would also protect them from those at hand.—On the formula of swearing vide supra, v. 9.—Kimchi explains היתה to be a preterite used for a future, and this construction is adopted in most versions, ancient and modern. It is, however, altogether arbitrary and in violation of the only safe rule as to the use of tenses, viz., that they should have their proper and distinctive force, unless forbidden by the context, or the nature of the subject; which is very far from being the case here.——The true force of the preterite and future forms, as here employed, is recognized by Aben Ezra, who explains the clause to mean that according to God’s purpose, it has come to pass and will come to pass hereafter. The antithesis is rendered still more prominent by Jarchi, by whom this verse is paraphrased as follows—‘Thou hast seen, oh Nebuchadnezzar, how the words of the prophets of Israel have been fulfilled in Sennacherib, to break Assyria in my land, and by this thou mayest know that what I have purposed against thee shall also come to pass’ (comp. Ezekiel 31:3-18).—The only objection to this view is that the next verse goes on to speak of the Assyrian overthrow, which would seem to imply that the last clause of this verse (24) as well as the first relates to that event. Another method of expounding the verse, therefore, is to apply היתה and תקום to the same events, but in a somewhat different sense,—‘As I intended it has come to pass, and as I purposed, it shall continue.’ The Assyrian power is already broken, and shall never be restored. This strict interpretation of the preterite does not necessarily imply that the prophecy was actually uttered after the destruction of Sennacherib’s army. Such would indeed be the natural inference from this verse alone: but for reasons which will be explained below, [viz., in comment on Isaiah 14:26.—Tr.] it is more probable that the Prophet merely takes his stand in vision at a point of time between the two events of which he speaks, so that both verbs are really prophetic, the one of a remote the other of a proximate futurity, but for that very reason their distinctive forms should be retained and recognized. Yet the only modern writers who appear to do so in translation are Calvin and Cocceius, who have factum est, and J. D. Michaelis, who has ist geschehen.—J. J. A. So also substantially Barnes.]

In my land and on my mountain the Lord says. Therefore not in his own land or some other land, but in Palestine the annihilating blow shall fall on Assyria. This evidently points to the overthrow of Sennacherib before Jerusalem (2 Kings 19:35; Isaiah 37:36). Though even after this overthrow Assyria’s power did not at once appear broken, still it was such inwardly and in principle. As much as Nebuchadnezzar after his victory at Carchemish was ruler of the world, though outwardly he had not that appearance (Jeremiah 25:0), so Assyria, after the Lord had smitten him in his territory, from the view-point of God, and according to inward and divine reality, was broken to pieces and trodden down.—The consequence of that overthrow of Assyria is that Israel shall be freed from his dominion.

The words his yoke shall depart,etc. sound essentially the same as Isaiah 10:27. Other resemblances are of Isaiah 14:24 to Isaiah 7:5; Isaiah 7:7; Isaiah 8:10; Isaiah 10:7; Isaiah 14:25 to Isaiah 9:3; Isaiah 10:27; Isaiah 14:26 to Isaiah 9:11; Isaiah 9:16; Isaiah 9:20; Isaiah 10:4; Isaiah 11:11; Isaiah 14:27 to Isaiah 8:10. But much as Isaiah 14:24-27 remind one of chapts. 7–12, there is still this essential difference, that in the last named chapters there is no where a prophecy of an overthrow of Assyria in the holy land itself. In general the gaze of the Prophet in those chapters is directed to a much more remote distance. There he looks on Assyria still as representative of the world-power generally, and thus, too, Assyria’s overthrow coincides for him with the overthrow of the world-power in general by the Messiah. Here we encounter a look into the immediate future. It must belong to the time before the defeat of Sennacherib. Therefore our verses cannot belong originally to the prophecy against Babylon. [See above in Text. and Gram.].

When the Prophet (Isaiah 14:26) declares that the catastrophe predicted for Assyria is significant for the whole earth, and for all nations, he does it by reason of the connection that exists between all acts of the Godhead. That defeat of Sennacherib, too, is an integral moment of the decree that the Lord has determined concerning the whole earth, and all nations. This counsel of God stands so firm that no power of the world can hinder its execution; the hand which the Lord has stretched out to do this execution nothing can turn aside from its doing.


1. How grand is the Prophet’s contemplation of history! How the mighty Assyria shrivels up, which in chapters 7–12, played so great a part! Only a line or so is devoted to it here, “Das macht, es ist gericht, eir Wörtlein bann es fällen.” The Prophet knows that Sennacherib’s defeat before Jerusalem is at once the overthrow of the Assyrian world-power, and the deliverance of Israel from his yoke, although Assyria stood yet a hundred years and did harm enough to Judah still (2 Chronicles 33:11). But God always sees the essence of things. What He wills, comes to pass; and when it has happened, perhaps no one knows what that which has come to pass means: only the future makes it plain. The fruit germ frosted in the blossom, may remain green for days. Only by degrees it becomes yellow, then black, and evidently dead.

[“By this assurance (Isaiah 14:24-27) God designed to comfort His people, when they should be in Babylon in a long and dreary captivity. Comp. Psalms 137:0. And by the same consideration His people may be comforted in all times. His plans shall stand. None can disannul them. No arm has power to resist Him. None of the schemes formed against Him shall ever prosper. Whatever ills, therefore, may befall His people; however thick, gloomy, and sad their calamities may be; and however dark His dispensations may appear, yet they may have the assurance that all His plans are wise, and that they all shall stand.”—Barnes].


[35]it has come to pass.

[36]To break.

[37]And his is the hand that is stretched out.

Verses 28-32

b) Prophecies relating to the nations threatened by Assyria, viz.: Philistia, Moab, Syria and Ephraim, Ethiopia and Egypt

Isaiah 14:28 to Isaiah 20:6


Isaiah 14:28-32

This short piece was occasioned by an embassy that the Philistines sent to Jerusalem in hypocritical courtesy, after the death of king Ahaz. It contains the most manifold correspondences to chap. 11, so that there can be no doubt about its having a contemporaneous origin. Yet chap. 11, originated before this piece, for the latter evidently leans on the former. It is seen that the young king Hezekiah, immediately on ascending the throne awakened great expectations. That the present piece comes just here, has, may be, its explanation in this, that Isaiah would begin with these western neighbors as the least dangerous. He then passes on to the East to the mightier Moabites, from them he ascends north to the still mightier Syro-Ephraimites, to conclude with the mightiest of all, the Egyptians and Ethiopians of the South. Jeremiah, chap. 47, goes from the Philistines to the Moabites, and then by a round-about to Damascus.


28     In The Year That King Ahaz Died Was This Burden.

29     Rejoice not thou, 38whole Palestina,

Because 39the rod of him that smote thee is broken:

For out of the serpent’s root shall come forth a 40 41cockatrice,

And his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.

30     And the first born of the poor shall feed,

And the needy shall lie down in safety:
And I will kill thy root with famine,
And he shall slay thy remnant.

31     Howl, O gate; cry, O city;

Thou, awhole Palestina, art dissolved:

For there 42shall come from the north a smoke,

And 43 44none shall be alone in his 45appointed times.

32     What shall one then answer the messengers of the nation?

That the Lord hath founded Zion,
And the poor of His people shall 46trust in it.


Isaiah 14:28. מַשָׂא see Isaiah 13:1.

Isaiah 14:30. בכורי דלים is, so to speak, a superlative of בְּנֵי ד׳ = those on whom the essence of poverty and lowliness is impressed in full, unmitigated power.—To take the basilisk as the subject of יהרג (Delitzsch) does too much violence. I [thus, too J. A. A.] take simply רעב, which is gen. masc., as subject.

Isaiah 14:31. שַׁעַר metonymy for those assembled in the gates, the ישְׁבֵי שַׁעַר Psalms 69:13; hence the feminine construction: comp. יוֹדֵעַ כָל־שַׁעַר עַמִּי Ruth 3:11.—Niph. נמוג occurs in Isaiah only here. The form is to be regarded here as Inf. absol. Regarding the form comp. Isaiah 59:13; Ewald, § 240, c.——מוֹעָד, (the hordes united at their rendezvous, מוֹעֵד Joel 8:14) is ἄπ. λεγ.——בּוֹדֵד in Isaiah only here; comp, Hosea 8:8; Psalms 102:8.

Isaiah 14:32. עָנָה is according to rule construed with a double Accusative (comp. 1 Samuel 20:10; Micah 6:5; Jeremiah 23:37, etc.). The third pers. sing stands impersonally as is often the case (comp. Isaiah 6:10; Isaiah 7:24; Isaiah 8:4; Isaiah 10:4, etc.).—חסה stands often with בְּ of the place whither one flees for refuge (Isaiah 30:2; Psalms 36:8; Judges 9:15, etc.).


1. Philistia is warned against rejoicing at the death of Ahaz. If Ahaz was a serpent, then out of his root (Isaiah 11:1—notice the Messianic reference!) shall proceed a basilisk and flying dragon (Isaiah 14:29). Israel shall pasture in peace; Philistia perish by poverty and care (Isaiah 14:30). From the northern quarter the enemy shall invade the land, scathing and burning (Isaiah 14:31). But to the embassy, in regard to the matters they sought to spy out, the short, haughty answer shall be given: Zion is Jehovah’s foundation, and in this the needy of His people find a sure refuge (Isaiah 14:32).

2. In the year——thy remnant.

Isaiah 14:28-30. The year of Ahaz’s death is 728 B. C. The Philistines, according to 2 Chronicles 28:18, had possessed themselves of territory belonging to Israel. They had made a conquest in the low country (שְׁפֵלָה) and in the south-land (נֶגֶב) of the cities Bethshemesh, Ajalon, Gederoth, Shocho, Timna and Gimzo, and dwelt in them. But of Hezekiah it is related (2 Kings 18:8): “He smote the Philistines, even unto Gaza, and the borders thereof, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.” He had, therefore, at last conquered back the lost territory. This is all that the historical books offer to us concerning the times of Ahaz and Hezekiah.

From Isaiah 14:32 it is seen that after the death of Ahaz the Philistines sent ambassadors to Jerusalem. Perhaps the ostensible object of this embassage was neighborly consideration: they would offer condolence. But in reality they were to sound the state of affairs. [See below comment of J. A. A., etc., at Isaiah 14:32.--Tr.] Isaiah knows this very well, and gives them an answer that, on the one hand, befitted their perfidy, and, on the other, the standpoint of a genuine representative of the Theocracy. That is not saying that Isaiah gave this answer in the name of the government. He gave it as Prophet, i.e., he uttered it like he published his other prophecies; whether publicly or to the ears of the embassy, or before a few witnesses, is a matter of indifference. His words concern primarily the rulers themselves. He says to them how, as the representatives of the people of God, they ought to reply. At any rate, he knew that his words would go to the right address, i.e., as well to the government in Jerusalem as to the Philistine ambassadors.

The introductory words (Isaiah 14:28) are the same as Isaiah 6:1. In our passage they have evidently the sense that Ahaz had already died. This appears from what follows. Rejoice notetc.—These words recall 2 Samuel 1:20, the lament of David over the death of Saul and his sons. For there it reads: “Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph” (comp. Micah 1:10). Ahaz was as little as Saul a king after God’s heart. That did not hinder the Philistines from rejoicing at the death of either of their kings. To either event that occasioned sorrow to Israel there was attached joyful hope for them. Though so far as we know, Ahaz did them no harm, but was rather conquered by them; yet they might hope that under his young successor their interests would be still more fostered. Therefore Isaiah warns them against overflowing with too much joy—joy that would fill all Philistia. He describes the subject of the joy to be: because the rod of him that smote thee is broken.—As Ahaz did not smite the Philistines, but was much more smitten by them, we must not regard him as the rod that smote, but the kingdom of Judah in general. David broke their power (2 Samuel 5:17 sqq.; Isaiah 8:1; Isaiah 21:15 sqq.). Although from that period they were still dangerous enemies, yet the time of their superiority was past. It is related of Solomon (1 Kings 4:21) and of Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 17:11) that the Philistines were tributary to them. Uzziah leveled the walls of Gath, Jabneh and Ashdod (2 Chronicles 26:6). The government of Ahaz was weak even toward the Philistines. Might they not hope that one still weaker would succeed Ahaz, and that thus the staff that had once smitten them would be entirely broken? For this reason we take שׁבט מכך (comp. Isaiah 9:12; Isaiah 10:20) to be rather: “the staff that smote thee” than “the staff of him that smote thee.” Ahaz, though having no staff that smote, was, as king of Judah, a part of that staff that had smitten them.

But the Prophet destroys the hope of the Philistines. He says in advance, that out of the root of the serpent shall proceed a basilisk and a conquering dragon. The expression שׁרשׁ, root, applied to the serpent is strange. But it is to be explained as an allusion to the “root of Jesse” (Isaiah 11:1; Isaiah 11:10). Perhaps there lies in the נָחָשׁ even an allusion to the name אחז, and at the same time a reminder of the serpent that Dan was to be, according to Genesis 49:17, and whose realization we find in Samson. צֶפַע, basilisk (which occurs only here) evidently means the same as צִפְעִֹני which Isaiah 11:8, uses in the same discourse of which the expression “root” has reminded us. The expression must any way be meant as something stronger compared with “serpent,” as, on the other hand, שׂרף מעופף “flying dragon” (found again only Isaiah 30:6; comp. Herod, 2:75; 3:109 and Gesen.in loc.) is meant to express something stronger than צֶפַע. By the “basilisk,” the Prophet any way means Hezekiah; very likely by the “flying dragon,” he means the Messiah. For what is said Isaiah 14:30 of the happy circumstances of Israel, plainly recalls the representation of the Messianic salvation Isaiah 11:4 sqq.——But if the Prophet compares the typical and anti-typical king of Judah to serpents, we must consider that they must be serpents only for the hated enemies. God says of Himself that He will be the plague and destruction of death (Hosea 13:14).

First-born of the lowly it says Isaiah 14:30; not the first-born.” I do not think that the בכרי דלים here are the Jews. The Prophet lives quite in the sphere of the ideas of chap. 11. There it is said (Isaiah 14:4 sqq.), that the Messiah shall judge the lowly (דלים) with righteousness, and that wild and tame beasts shall pasture peacefully together. In our passage the Prophet unites both these thoughts, in that he draws from the one his subject and from the other his predicate. But, according to Isaiah 11:4, he means the lowly and poor in an individual sense. He is not thinking of political lowliness of the nation. It shall be a sign of the glory and blessedness of His kingdom, that people, that otherwise were poor and wretched, shall move in rich pasture and rest there securely. He means of course Jewish poor, but not the Jews as the poorest people. It appears to me, moreover, that Isaiah has before his mind a passage from Job (Job 18:12-13) where it says: “Be hunger his power, and destruction stand ready at his side; devour the members of his skin, devour his members the first-born of death.”

In contrast with the rich pasture that the poor of Israel shall find under their king, the Messiah, and in contrast with the glorious fruit that the root of the royal house of David shall produce, the Philistines shall be destroyed to the root of their existence by hunger and want, yea, the last remnant of them shall be strangled by this grim enemy.
3. Howl, O gate——trust in it.

Isaiah 14:31-32. The Prophet describes in Isaiah 14:31, how Philistia will suffer and feel the destruction, which, according to 29b and 30b, is in prospect. The gates shall howl (comp. Isaiah 13:6; Jeremiah 48:20) and the entire population of the cities shall cry (comp. Ezekiel 21:17) the whole land shall dissolve in anguish and fear, i.e., shall be without courage, counsel, defence (comp. Exodus 15:15; Joshua 2:9; Joshua 2:24; ?????Joshua 10:18; Joshua 13:7). The reason for these utterances is assigned: for there shall come from the north a smoke.—It is plain enough that neither clouds of dust nor fire borne in advance of troops can be intended here. For neither of these would occasion terror like the smoke of towns already set on fire. Most expositors understand the Assyrian to be meant by the approaching enemy. But that is much too narrow a construction. According to Isaiah 14:29 b. and 30b. the Lord announces Himself, and His anointed as the enemy that will destroy Philistia. And if Isaiah 14:30 a. Messianic salvation is proclaimed to Israel, then the reverse of this for the Philistines is naturally Messianic destruction. But Philistia will have, too, its part to endure in the great judgments that the Lord will bring on the world of nations, and by which He will redeem His people. In Isaiah 11:14, which is so nearly allied to our passage, the Philistines are, in fact, expressly named among the nations out of whose power the Lord will deliver His people. Therefore, the Prophet means here the final judgment on Philistia, though, of course, this does not exclude that this final judgment has its preliminary stages, and that one of these, too, may be an Assyrian invasion, to which, in fact, “from the north” refers. The army of the enemy will be a compact and powerful body—no one runs away, no one strays off (comp. Isaiah 5:27).

The Prophet having said to the Philistines in general, what the reality of the future will be in contrast with the hopes of their malicious rejoicing, comes at last (Isaiah 14:32) to speak of the special fact that prompted him to this prophetic declaration. Ambassadors had come who ostensibly would manifest friendly sympathy, but, in fact, spy out how matters stood in Jerusalem. The Prophet knows that. It is important to give them an answer that is worthy of the Theocracy. Whether or not the powers that were were competent and willing to do this we know not. Any way the Prophet of Jehovah considered it as belonging to his office to express what, from the genuine theocratic point of view, ought to be said to these ambassadors.—–מּלֹאכי– ,גוי, messengers of a nation, stands significantly without article. גוי, nation, designates here very expressly a heathen people. He says therefore: what sort of answer have messengers of a heathen people to get, who come with such a purpose as these Philistines now do? None other than the curt: Jehovah founded Zion, (Isaiah 28:16) and therefore the wretched of His people (Isaiah 10:2) can hide themselves with confidence in this divine foundation. [“The very absence of the article (i.e., with גוי) implies that the expression (“messengers of a nation”) is indefinite, and that the whole sense meant to be conveyed is this, that such may be the answer given to the inquiries made from any quarter.”—J. A. A. This judicious remark may suffice to call attention to the very slender foundation there is for the conjecture which yet gives much of the coloring to the foregoing comment. If no special Philistine delegation is meant by Isaiah, then all that is said about pretended condolence, malicious satisfaction, spying, etc., is misplaced fancy. Much as we may desire to detect the historic facts connected with prophecy, we must be content without them if they are not supplied. The tendency of modern exposition is as much to license in conjecturing the historical basis of prophecy, as formerly it was to license in detecting the fulfilment of it. On Isaiah 14:29, J. A. A., comments: “All interpreters agree that the Philistines are here spoken of, as having recently escaped from the ascendancy of some superior power, but at the same time threatened with a more complete subjection.” Everything historically specific, beyond this obviously sure statement, is conjecture with no broader foundation than that pointed out above. Another commentater (Dr. B. Neteler,Das Buch Isaias—mit Berücksichtigung—der auf seinen Inhalt sick bezieenden assyrischen Inschriften erklärt, Münster, 1876), who reads the text in the light of recent interpretations of Assyrian inscriptions identifies the reference of the symbols as follows: “The staff that repeatedly smote the Philistines very seriously was Sargon. The basilisk proceeding out of the root of the serpent is Sennacherib, who, in his third expedition, conquered various Philistine cities. The flying dragon is Esarhaddon, who, in the beginning of his reign, undertook an expedition toward the sea coasts, and whose war against Egypt was doubtless a considerable burden for Philistia.” “The messengers of the nation (Isaiah 14:32) that came on like a devastating fire, and overcame the nation of Philistines with little trouble, must acknow ledge that worldly-power comes to grief against Zion. Sargon and Sennacherib had that experience." Birks makes the rod = the serpent = Tiglath-Pileser, etc.—Tr.].


1. On Isaiah 14:32. It is to be remarked here that Isaiah holds out as a shield, the truth that the Lord has founded Zion. But when the Jews founded on this truth a wicked hope, in that they saw therein a passport for every sort of godless-ness, then it is said: “Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, are these.” Jeremiah 7:4.


[38]all Philistia.

[39]the rod that smote.

[40]Or, adder.



[43]Or, he shall not be alone.

[44]no straggler in his armies.

[45]Or, assemblies.

[46]Or, betake themselves unto it.

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Isaiah 14". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/isaiah-14.html. 1857-84.
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