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the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 14

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Isaiah 14:0


Israel's TauntMercy on JacobThe Return From ExileThe Return From ExileThe End of the Exile
Isaiah 14:1-2Isaiah 14:1-2Isaiah 14:1-2Isaiah 14:1-2Isaiah 14:1-2
Fall of the King of Babylon“How are the Mighty Fallen”The King of Babylon in the World of the DeadThe Death of the King of Babylon
Isaiah 14:3-23(3-21)Isaiah 14:3-4aIsaiah 14:3-11Isaiah 14:3-4aIsaiah 14:3-8
Isaiah 14:4-8(4b-8) (4b-11)Isaiah 14:4-8 (4b-8)
Isaiah 14:9-11(9-11)Isaiah 14:9-11Isaiah 14:9-15(9-15)
The Fall of Lucifer
Isaiah 14:12-15(12-15)Isaiah 14:12-20a(12-20a)Isaiah 14:12-15
Isaiah 14:16-17(16-17)Isaiah 14:16-17Isaiah 14:16-21(16-21)
Isaiah 14:18-21(18-21)Isaiah 14:18-21
Babylon DestroyedIsaiah 14:20-21(20b-21)God Will Destroy Babylon
Isaiah 14:22-23(22-23)Isaiah 14:22-23Isaiah 14:22-23Isaiah 14:22-23
Judgment on AssyriaAssyria DestroyedAgainst AssyriaGod Will Destroy the AssyriansAgainst Assyria
Isaiah 14:24-27Isaiah 14:24-27(24-27)Isaiah 14:24-27(24-27)Isaiah 14:24-27Isaiah 14:24(24)
Isaiah 14:25(25)
Isaiah 14:26(26)
Isaiah 14:27(27)
Philistia DestroyedAgainst PhilistiaGod Will Destroy the PhilistinesAgainst Phlistines
Isaiah 14:28Isaiah 14:28-31Isaiah 14:28-31Isaiah 14:28Isaiah 14:28
Judgment on Philistia
Isaiah 14:29-32(29-32) (29-31) (29-31)Isaiah 14:29-30Isaiah 14:29(29)
Isaiah 14:30-31(30-31)
Isaiah 14:31
Isaiah 14:32(32)Isaiah 14:32(32)Isaiah 14:32Isaiah 14:32

READING CYCLE THREE (see introductory section)


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compareyour subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


A. There has been much discussion on the relationship of Isaiah 14:12-21 to Satan. It seems to me that we must take seriously the historical context and specific literary statements of Isaiah and assert that originally this referred to the king of Babylon (or kings of Assyria after Ashurbanipal). However, the king of Babylon's problem, as all conscious creatures, was pride. If we go back to Genesis 3:5, we see this desire to be like God. Not only has sin affected the angelic world, but also the material world (cf. Daniel 4:0; Daniel 11:36; Ezekiel 28:13ff; 2 Thessalonians 2:4). It seems to me that “Babylon” in the Bible is a type of godless human government (cf. Revelation 14:8; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 17:5; Revelation 18:2, Revelation 18:10, Revelation 18:21). The king is a type of wicked leadership. Behind the wicked world leaders in the OT stood their national deities (cf. Daniel 10:13, Daniel 10:20). From the NT we understand the personal force of evil known as Satan. The full blown identification in this chapter as Satan was probably influenced by

1. Jerome's Vulgate translating Isaiah 14:12 as “Lucifer”

2. Tertulian and Gregory the Great relating this passage to Luke 10:18

3. This passage being used as a backdrop to both Dante's Inferno and Milton's Paradise Lost

B. See Special Topic following.


C. I personally am feeling more and more uncomfortable using Isaiah 14:0 and Ezekiel 28:0 as biblical texts for the origin and demise of an angelic tempter. I think our curiosity drives us to use contexts inappropriately. The Bible is silent on many issues that we are curious about. Systematic Theology must start with exegesis! In many ways the spiritual realm is purposefully clouded, concealed.

D. For a similar context see Ezekiel 28:0 at www.freebiblecommentary.org, “Old Testament Studies,” written commentaries.

E. The Jewish Study Bible (p. 812) says of this poem “it describes the ignominious death of an Assyrian monarch of Isaiah's time, probably Sargon II, who was killed in battle in 705. It was later reinterpreted as predicting the death of a Babylonian monarch.” I think Isaiah (or a disciple) may have used an earlier poem, or at least its imagery, to describe a series of arrogant eastern kings who were destroyed by YHWH.

F. It is impossible to fit together all the historical allusions in this prophecy. Remember Hebrew prophecy is a historical “pointer,” not a detailed road map. Westerners misunderstand the imagery, ambiguity, and hyperbole! See D. Brent Sandy, Plowshares and Pruning Hooks: Rethinking the Language of Biblical Prophecy and Apocalyptic.

Verses 1-2

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Isaiah 14:1-2 1When the LORD will have compassion on Jacob and again choose Israel, and settle them in their own land, then strangers will join them and attach themselves to the house of Jacob. 2The peoples will take them along and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them as an inheritance in the land of the LORD as male servants and female servants; and they will take their captors captive and will rule over their oppressors.

Isaiah 14:1 “the Lord will have compassion” This VERB (BDB 933, KB 1216, Piel IMPERFECT, cf. Isaiah 49:13, Isaiah 49:15; Isaiah 54:7-8) denotes YHWH's special relationship with His covenant people (cf. Hosea 1-2), as does “choose” (BDB 103, KB 119, Qal PERFECT, cf. Isaiah 41:8, Isaiah 41:9; Isaiah 44:1; Isaiah 49:7). In Isaiah 9:17 Israel's God will have no compassion on His covenant people (cf. Hosea 1-3;) and in Isaiah 13:18 the Medes will have no compassion on Babylon, but YHWH will again restore His unique relationship with Abraham's seed!

After YHWH uses the powers of Mesopotamia to punish His covenant people's disobedience, He will instigate a “new exodus” and a “new conquest”! See Special Topic: Characteristics of Israel's God.

“Jacob. . .Israel” These two terms could be used for both the Northern Ten Tribes and the Southern Two Tribes being united again. See Special Topic: Israel (the name).

Isaiah 14:1-2 “strangers will join them and attach themselves to the house of Jacob. The peoples” There are two options for interpreting Isaiah 14:1-2: (1) either Isaiah 14:1 and 2 go together and describe the same group (i.e., strangers. . .peoples) or (2) Isaiah 14:1 describes the blessings of non-Jews (i.e., strangers) and Isaiah 14:2 describes the defeated enemies of Israel as being their servants.

It is difficult in Isaiah and Micah to balance YHWH's attitude and actions towards the nations.

1. He loves them and includes them into His covenant people (cf. Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 11:10, see Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan)

2. He judges them and puts them in servitude (i.e., Isaiah 60:10; Isaiah 61:5)

Somehow both are true! The prophets move back and forth, often in the same context, between these two poles. Option #1 reflects Genesis 1-3; Genesis 12:0, while option #2 reflects Israel's history in Canaan.

In Isaiah the nations return the covenant people to their land (i.e., Canaan) and become one with them in the worship of YHWH (cf. Isaiah 49:22; Isaiah 60:4-9, Isaiah 60:10-14; Isaiah 66:20). This may reflect the “new exodus.” Many foreign people left Egypt with Israel and others joined her along the way (wilderness wanderings and conquest). Maybe the imagery of Isaiah 14:2 reflects this. If so, it would solve the problem of #2 above.

Isaiah 14:2-3 There is a “role-reversal” between Isaiah 14:2 (servitude of Israel's enemies) and Isaiah 14:3 (Israel's servitude, which is now over). The “role-reversal” plot is common in the OT. YHWH acts in unexpected ways to affirm the choice of Abraham's seed (cf. Genesis 12:15, Genesis 12:17). The purpose of His special attention is not favoritism, but an eternal redemptive plan (cf. Genesis 3:15; Genesis 12:3) for all humans made in His image (cf. Genesis 1:26-27).

As so often in Isaiah, there is a short-term focus and a long-term focus. The prophet merges these two horizons. A good example might be chapter 13, where Babylon and Neo-Babylon's judgment are merged.

Verses 3-27

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Isaiah 14:3-27 3And it will be in the day when the LORD gives you rest from your pain and turmoil and harsh service in which you have been enslaved, 4that you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon, and say, “How the oppressor has ceased, And how fury has ceased! 5The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked, The scepter of rulers 6Which used to strike the peoples in fury with unceasing strokes, Which subdued the nations in anger with unrestrained persecution. 7The whole earth is at rest and is quiet; They break forth into shouts of joy. 8Even the cypress trees rejoice over you, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, 'Since you were laid low, no tree cutter comes up against us.' 9Sheol from beneath is excited over you to meet you when you come; It arouses for you the spirits of the dead, all the leaders of the earth; It raises all the kings of the nations from their thrones. 10They will all respond and say to you, 'Even you have been made weak as we, You have become like us. 11Your pomp and the music of your harps Have been brought down to Sheol; Maggots are spread out as your bed beneath you And worms are your covering.' 12How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! 13But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. 14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' 15Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit. 16Those who see you will gaze at you, They will ponder over you, saying, 'Is this the man who made the earth tremble, Who shook kingdoms, 17Who made the world like a wilderness And overthrew its cities, Who did not allow his prisoners to go home?' 18All the kings of the nations lie in glory, Each in his own tomb. 19But you have been cast out of your tomb Like a rejected branch, Clothed with the slain who are pierced with a sword, Who go down to the stones of the pit Like a trampled corpse. 20You will not be united with them in burial, Because you have ruined your country, You have slain your people. May the offspring of evildoers not be mentioned forever. 21Prepare for his sons a place of slaughter Because of the iniquity of their fathers. They must not arise and take possession of the earth And fill the face of the world with cities.” 22I will rise up against them,” declares the LORD of hosts, “and will cut off from Babylon name and survivors, offspring and posterity,” declares the LORD . 23”I will also make it a possession for the hedgehog and swamps of water, and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” declares the LORD of hosts. 24The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, “Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand, 25to break Assyria in My land, and I will trample him on My mountains. Then his yoke will be removed from them and his burden removed from their shoulder. 26This is the plan devised against the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out against all the nations. 27For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?”

Isaiah 14:4 “taunt” This is the Hebrew Wisdom Literature term mashal (BDB 605), which is usually translated “proverb.” However, the poetic structure of Isaiah 14:3-21 is in the meter of a funeral dirge (i.e., chapter 47 and Lamentations).

“against the king of Babylon” The identity of this title is uncertain. Please read “Contextual Insights,” C, second paragraph of chapter 13. Notice how in Isaiah 14:24, without any “oracle” formula, Assyria is addressed directly. After the fall of the city of Babylon to Assyria in 689 B.C., the Assyrian kings took the added throne title of “king of Babylon.”

“fury has ceased” The MT has the word מדהבה, but this is used only here in the OT. If the ד (d) is changed to ר (r), like the scroll of Isaiah in the Dead Sea Scrolls, then מרהבה (BDB 923) becomes “arrogant” or “insolent.” The UBS Hebrew Text Project gives this reading a “C” (i.e., considerable doubt) rating.

The NKJV follows a possible Aramaic root that refers to gold. No other major translation has followed its lead.

Isaiah 14:5 “The LORD has” YHWH is the controller behind human history (cf. Isaiah 14:22-23, Isaiah 14:24). He may be unseen to those who lack faith, but He is directing history for the coming of Messiah (first coming) and the consummation of the age of righteousness (second coming). See Special Topic: Righteousness.

The staff (BDB 641) and scepter (BDB 986) were symbols of kingly power (cf. Isaiah 14:6). They are used of YHWH's use of Assyria in Isaiah 10:5.

Isaiah 14:7 “The whole earth is at rest and is quiet” The “rest” (BDB 628, KB 679, Qal PERFECT) refers to a time of peace from invasion. This same VERB is used in Isaiah 14:3 (Hiphil INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT) to refer to the rest/peace of the covenant people. Here it refers to the whole ANE (i.e., “the whole earth”).

The fall of the Mesopotamian powers causes rest, quiet, and joy throughout the ANE. The oppressor is defeated (cf. Isaiah 14:8).

“They break forth into shouts of joy” Isaiah speaks often of the joy of deliverance (cf. Isaiah 44:23; Isaiah 49:13; Isaiah 52:9; Isaiah 54:1).

Here, it has an element of an eschatological joy (i.e., “the whole earth”). YHWH's will for mankind was rest, peace, abundance, and joy (cf. Genesis 1-2)!

Isaiah 14:8 “no tree cutter comes up against us” This can mean one of three things.

1. Babylon exported many trees for her own building projects (literal)

2. the enemy will not cut lumber to build siege equipment (literal)

3. the land will prosper in peace (symbolic)

Isaiah 14:9 “Sheol” Sheol is personified as preparing a welcoming gathering for the fallen kings. It (BDB 982) refers to the holding place of the dead. In the OT life after death is described as being a conscious existence, but with no joy; people being a mere shadow of their former selves with enforced equality in silence (cf. Isaiah 14:10-11, Job 3:17-19; Job 10:21-22; Job 21:23-26). See Special Topic: Where Are the Dead?.

NASB“spirits of the dead” NKJV“the dead” NRSV“the shades” TEV, NJB“ghosts” LXX“mighty ones” REB“the ancient dead”

The term (BDB 952 I, cf. Isaiah 26:19) is used in poetry for

1. dead kings, TEV, NJB

2. dead warriors, LXX

3. dead ancestors, REB

4. the dead in general, NASB, NKJV

In historical texts it refers to the Rephaim, an ethnic group associated with the giants.

SPECIAL TOPIC: Terms Used for Tall/powerful Warriors or People Groups

NASB, NRSV“leaders of the earth” NKJV“chief one of the earth” TEV“those who were powerful” NJB“rulers of the world”

This is literally “rams” (BDB 800, cf. Ezekiel 34:17). It referred to the leader of a flock and then metaphorically of human societies.

Isaiah 14:11 The first two lines denote the lavish and extravagant lifestyle of the eastern kings. They lay on pillows and slept on soft beds.

The last two lines describe the new bed of the kings in Sheol/grave (i.e., worms). Even the monarchs who saw themselves as gods, will one day be in a bed of worms! Mortality is a leveler of all mankind (cf. Isaiah 5:14). What a contrast!

“worms” Here it is used literally as an idiom for death and metaphorically of fear of death and transitoriness of all human life.

Isaiah 14:12 “How you have fallen from heaven” The VERB (BDB 656, KB 709, Qal PERFECT) denotes a settled condition. The question is, “Is this literal or figurative?” The VERB is used for a violent death (BDB 657, Isaiah 14:2a). Isaiah uses it in Isaiah 3:8; Isaiah 8:15 for the destruction of a city. But the added phrase, “from heaven,” is what causes commentators to assert an angelic being, see Special Topic: Personal Evil, as well as the similar words of Jesus in Luke 10:18.

NASB“O star of the morning” NKJV, Vulgate “O Lucifer” NRSV“O Day Star” TEV“bright morning star” NJB, LXX“Day star” REB“Bright morning star”

The Hebrew NOMINATIVE MASCULINE term is הילל (BDB 237, KB 245). This form is found only here in the OT. The VERBAL root, הלל can mean

1. “shine,” possibly referring to the new moon

2. “be boastful” or “to praise,” from which we get the Hallel psalms (i.e., praise psalms)

The KB mentions several options as to the origin of this root.

1. from a Ugaritic root, hll

2. from an Arabic root, the crescent of the new moon

3. from a Hebrew root, uncertain, but probably refers to Venus the morning star (“son of the dawn”)

4. from the Latin, Lucifer referring to Venus (i.e., lit. “light-bearer”)

The whole point of the title is that this heavenly light is quickly eclipsed by the morning light. Its splendor is brief! There is a new, brighter, and better light coming!

“You” The next two lines of Isaiah 14:12 obviously refer to an earthly king of Assyria or Babylon (cf. Isaiah 14:16-17). The imagery of the poem (Isaiah 14:4-21) is taken from Canaanite mythology (esp. Isaiah 14:13-14), which is known from Ras Shamra Tablets dating from the fifteenth century B.C. found at the city of Ugarit.

The terms “star of the morning” (Helal) and “dawn” (Shabar) are both the names of deities in Canaanite mythology, as is a mountain of the gods in the north (Mount Zaphon, cf. Psalms 48:2). Also the title for deity, “Most High,” is common in Ugaritic poems and refers to Ba'al Shamim (“Lord of heaven”). In Canaanite mytho-poetry Helal, a lesser god, tries to usurp power, but is defeated. This is behind Isaiah's imagery of an arrogant eastern potentate.

This description of a proud, arrogant Near Eastern king is extended from Isaiah 14:8-11. Only Isaiah 14:12, taken literally following the Vulgate, and a lack of knowledge of Ugaritic literature can use this context as referring to a rebellious angelic leader. See Contextual Insights, B.

Isaiah 14:13-14 These two verses show the arrogance and pride of the ANE kings.

1. “I will ascend to. . .,” BDB 748, KB 828, Qal IMPERFECT

2. “I will raise my throne. . .,” BDB 926, KB 1202, Hiphil IMPERFECT

3. “I will sit on. . .,” BDB 442, KB 444, Qal IMPERFECT

4. “I will ascend above...,” same VERB as #1

5. “I will make myself like. . .,” BDB 197, KB 225, Hiphil IMPERFECT

Arrogance and pride are the essence of the fallen human spirit. YHWH uniquely judges this human self-deification!

Isaiah 14:13 “stars of God” The title for Deity is El, אל (BDB 42), which was a common designation of deity throughout the ANE. This, too, could reflect the Canaanite mythology from Ugarit.

The stars were viewed as angels/gods who controlled human destiny (i.e., Babylonian astral worship from Ziggurats). This person wanted total control over the earth.

“I will sit on the mount of assembly

In the recesses of the north” This is a symbol of God's abode (cf. Psalms 48:2; Ezekiel 28:14). The surprising thing is its location “in the recesses of the north.” This mountain of the gods in the far north was part of Canaanite mythology, similar to the Greek Mount Olympus.

Isaiah 14:14 “Most High” This title Elyon, עליון (BDB 751 II), is used by Balaam in Numbers 24:16 and is parallel to Shaddai (i.e., Almighty, BDB 994). It is used by Moses in his Song before his death in Deuteronomy 32:8, as well as David in 2 Samuel 22:14 and in several Psalms.

It is also used in the Ras Shamra Tablets for the Canaanite High god.

Isaiah 14:15 Instead of going to the mountain in the far (BDB 438) north, he will go down to the depths (BDB 438), Sheol. See Special Topic: The Dead, Where Are They? (Sheol/Hades, Gehenna, Tartarus).

The term Sheol (BDB 982, see Special Topic at Isaiah 5:14) is parallel to “the pit” (BDB 92, cf. Ezekiel 31:16), which is another name for the grave (cf. Proverbs 28:17). The same term is used in Isaiah 14:19 and is parallel to tomb/sepulcher (cf. Isaiah 14:18).

Isaiah 14:16-19 This is the forth strophe; it refers to the astonishment of the on-lookers in Sheol at the body of the dead King of Babylon. It is similar to Isaiah 14:9-11.

Isaiah 14:17 This verse denotes the aggressive deportation practices of both Assyria and Babylon. This population control mechanism is reversed by Cyrus II (Medo-Persia) in 538 B.C.

Isaiah 14:19 “a rejected branch” This same term (BDB 666) is used in Isaiah 6:13 of “the holy seed in the stump” and in Isaiah 11:1 of the stem/shoot from Jesse, both of which refer to the Messiah, the true King. The kings of ANE are a “rejected branch”!

“Like a trampled corpse” This speaks of the humiliation of an improper burial (possible reference to Sargon II). Not only did the king miss the royal funeral, he missed burial altogether!

The term “trampled” (BDB 100, KB 115, Hophal PARTICIPLE) is also used in Isaiah 14:25 (Qal IMPERFECT). It was a metaphor of YHWH's judgment (cf. Isaiah 63:6, Qal IMPERFECT and Isaiah 63:18, Polel PERFECT). The Psalms use it regularly for the covenant people's victory over enemies through YHWH's power and presence (cf. Psalms 44:5; Psalms 60:12; Psalms 108:13). A disobedient covenant people trample God's land (cf. Jeremiah 12:10; Polel PERFECT).

Isaiah 14:20 Not only will the arrogant king be denied a proper burial, he will not be succeeded by a family member. He and his family will be cut off. His own country will not remember him!

Isaiah 14:21 The king's descendants will be killed because of their father's sins. This reflects Exodus 20:5. The king and his wicked nation must not be allowed to prosper. YHWH wants the earth full, but not of unrighteousness.

Isaiah 14:22-23 This forms a prose conclusion. It seems to me that Isaiah 14:23 is related to Isaiah 13:21-22, which is a metaphor to describe the total desolation of this nation, this king, and his city.

Isaiah 14:22 “offspring and posterity” These two terms (BDB 630 and 645) refer to descendants.

1. the first, current children

2. the second, the family tree or lineage

Loss of descendants was seen as a great shame and curse (cf. Isaiah 47:9). It may even have been thought to affect one's afterlife.

Isaiah 14:23 “I will sweep it with the broom of destruction” YHWH is depicted as a wife/child cleaning the house by sweeping (BDB 370, KB 367, Pilpel PERFECT). All the trash is removed. What a domestic, but powerful domestic metaphor (unique to Isaiah).

Isaiah 14:24-27 Most English translations make a paragraph change here. But notice there is no “oracle” marker, which implies that Isaiah 13:1-27 is one literary unit dealing with the destruction of Assyria. See Contextual Insights, C.

Isaiah 14:24 This verse asserts that God's will will be accomplished. His word is sure (cf. Isaiah 46:11; Isaiah 55:8-9; Job 23:13; Psalms 33:9; Acts 4:28).

“The LORD of hosts has sworn” By the power and authority of Himself, YHWH states His plans and purposes (cf. Isaiah 14:24; Isaiah 45:23; Isaiah 62:8; Deuteronomy 1:8, Deuteronomy 1:35; Deuteronomy 2:14; Deuteronomy 4:31; Deuteronomy 6:10, Deuteronomy 6:18, Deuteronomy 6:23; Jeremiah 51:14; Amos 4:2; Amos 8:7).

Isaiah 14:25 “to break Assyria in My land” This may refer to the plague which devastated 185,000 troops of Sennacherib in one night before the gates of Jerusalem in Hezekiah's day (cf. 2 Kings 18:13-37, esp. 2 Kings 19:35-37; 2 Chronicles 32:0).

“his yoke will be removed from them” This is a recurrent theme (cf. Isaiah 9:4; Isaiah 10:27). Yoke, like “staff” or “rod,” was a symbol of foreign oppression.

Isaiah 14:26-27 This Assyrian king had a plan for world domination (Isaiah 14:26), but YHWH had another plan (cf. Isaiah 8:10), a plan for world redemption (Isaiah 14:27)! Assyria, Babylon and Persia are tools in YHWH's plan and no one can withstand His hand (i.e., power, see Special Topic: Hand).

Verses 28-32

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Isaiah 14:28-32 28In the year that King Ahaz died this oracle came: 29”Do not rejoice, O Philistia, all of you, Because the rod that struck you is broken; For from the serpent's root a viper will come out, And its fruit will be a flying serpent. 30Those who are most helpless will eat, And the needy will lie down in security; I will destroy your root with famine, And it will kill off your survivors. 31Wail, O gate; cry, O city; Melt away, O Philistia, all of you; For smoke comes from the north, And there is no straggler in his ranks. 32How then will one answer the messengers of the nation? That the LORD has founded Zion, And the afflicted of His people will seek refuge in it.”

Isaiah 14:28 Notice there is an “oracle” mentioned in Isaiah 14:28-32 which deals with YHWH's judgment on Philistia (i.e., the Philistines), but this is not linked to the Assyrian-oriented strophe of Isaiah 14:24-27.

“In the year that King Ahaz died” In my OT chart, “Kings of the divided Monarchy” (Appendix Four, #3), three scholars give their proposed dates for Ahaz.

1. John Bright, 735 - 715 B.C.

2. E. J. Young, 736 - 728 B.C.

3. R. K Harrison, 732/732 - 716/715 B.C.

These dates (reign and co-reign, not necessarily death) could fit four aggressive Assyrian kings.

1. Tiglath-Pileser III, 745 - 727 B.C.

2. Shalmaneser V, 727 - 722 B.C.

3. Sargon II, 722 - 705 B.C.

4. Sennacherib, 705 - 681 B.C. (185,000 soldiers killed before the walls of Jerusalem in 701 B.C., cf. Isaiah 36-39; Isaiah 2:0 Kings 18-19).

Number 3, Sargon II, died in battle away from home and did participate in a military campaign against Philistia.

Isaiah 14:29 Philistia is commanded not to rejoice (BDB 970, KB 1333, Qal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense) because the evil empire has been defeated. Their short-term deliverance will not last!

The last two lines of Isaiah 14:29 are very ambiguous and uncertain. They seem to mean that things will go from bad to worse.

The phrase “flying serpent” is the NOUN “serpent” (BDB 977 I, cf. Isaiah 30:6; Numbers 21:6) plus the PARTICIPLE “flying” (BDB 733, KB 800, Polel PARTICIPLE), which denotes rapid movement (i.e., striking, sliding, darting).

Isaiah 14:30 The first two lines refer to God's care for

1. His covenant people (cf. Isaiah 14:32) or

2. the needy of Philistine society

Isaiah 14:31 “Wail, O gate; cry, O city” These two IMPERATIVES

1. wail, BDB 410, KB 413, Hiphil

2. cry, BDB 277, KB 277, Qal

describe the overthrow of the five cities of the Philistines, each with its own king (city states).

“Melt away, O Philistia, all of you” The VERB (BDB 556, KB 555, Niphal INFINITIVE ABSOLUTE) describes the paralyzing fear which grips a population (cf. Exodus 15:15; Joshua 2:9, Joshua 2:24; 1 Samuel 14:16).

Note this phrase refers to the destruction of the entire society (cf. Jeremiah 47:0 and Amos 1:6-8).

“For smoke comes from the north” The empires of the Fertile Crescent are to the east of Canaan, but because of the desert in between their armies, had to follow the Euphrates to its headwaters and then move south along the coastal plain. Therefore, “north” became an idiom of invasion, evil, and destruction.

1. here it refers to Assyria

2. in Jeremiah 4:6; Jeremiah 6:1, Jeremiah 6:22; Jeremiah 10:22; Jeremiah 13:20; Jeremiah 15:12; Jeremiah 46:20, Jeremiah 46:24; Ezekiel 26:7 it refers to Neo-Babylon.

“there is no straggler in his ranks” This describes a new Mesopotamian invader. One is gone (cf. Isaiah 14:29), but another one, a worse one (cf. Isaiah 14:29c,d), is coming!


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Does Isaiah 13-14 refer to Babylon or Assyria?

2. Are Isaiah 13:0 and 14 talking about a particular historical king or is the title used as a symbol of godless human government?

3. Is Isaiah 14 a reference to Satan?

4. Does this chapter mention demons or animals in Isaiah 13:21-22; Isaiah 14:23?

5. Sum up the theological truth in one sentence.

6. How is this prophecy used in the NT?

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Isaiah 14". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/isaiah-14.html. 2021.
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