Isaiah 14

CHAPTER XIV

Deliverance of Israel from captivity, which shall follow the

downfall of the great Babylonish empire, 1, 2.

Triumphant ode or song of the children of Jacob, for the signal

manifestation of Divine vengeance against their oppressors,

3-23.

Prophecy against the Assyrians, 24, 25.

Certainty of the prophecy, and immutability of the Divine

counsels, 26, 27.

Palestine severely threatened, 28-31.

God shall establish Zion in these troublous times, 32.

NOTES ON CHAP. XIV

Verse 1. And will yet choose Israel.] That is, will still regard

Israel as his chosen people; however he may seem to desert them,

by giving them up to their enemies, and scattering them among the

nations. Judah is sometimes called Israel; see Eze 13:16;

Mal 1:1; 2:11: but the name of Jacob and of Israel, used

apparently with design in this place, each of which names includes

the twelve tribes, and the other circumstances mentioned in this

and the next verse, which did not in any complete sense accompany

the return from the captivity of Babylon, seem to intimate that

this whole prophecy extends its views beyond that event.

Verse 2. For servants and handmaids] For thrallis and

thrallesses.-OLD BIBLE. Male and female slaves.

Verse 3. In the day-"In that day"] bayom hahu. The

word hahu is added in two MSS. of Kennicott's, and was

in the copies from which the Septuagint and Vulgate translated: εν

τηημεραεκεινη, in die illa, (ηαναπαυσει, MS. Pachom. adding

,) in that day. This is a matter of no great consequence: however,

it restores the text to the common form, almost constantly used on

such occasions; and is one among many instances of a word

apparently lost out of the printed copies.

Verse 4. This proverb-"This parable"] mashal, I take this

to be the general name for poetic style among the Hebrews,

including every sort of it, as ranging under one or other, or all

of the characters, of sententious, figurative, and sublime; which

are all contained in the original notion, or in the use and

application of the word mashal. Parables or proverbs, such as

those of Solomon, are always expressed in short pointed sentences;

frequently figurative, being formed on some comparison; generally

forcible and authoritative, both in the matter and the form. And

such in general is the style of the Hebrew poetry. The verb mashal

signifies to rule; to exercise authority; to make equal; to

compare one thing with another; to utter parables, or acute,

weighty, and powerful speeches, in the form and manner of

parables, though not properly such. Thus Balaam's first prophecy,

(Nu 23:7-10,) is called his

mashal; though it has hardly any thing figurative in it: but it

is beautifully sententious, and, from the very form and manner of

it, has great spirit, force, and energy. Thus Job's last speeches,

in answer to his three friends, chap. xxvii.-xxxi., are called

mashals; from no one particular character, which discriminates

them from the rest of the poem, but from the sublime, the

figurative, the sententious manner which equally prevails through

the whole poem, and makes it one of the first and most eminent

examples extant of the truly great and beautiful in poetic style.

See Clarke on Pr 1:1.

The Septuagint in this place render the word by θρηνος, a

lamentation. They plainly consider the speech here introduced as a

piece of poetry, and of that species of poetry which we call the

elegiac; either from the subject, it being a poem on the fall and

death of the king of Babylon, or from the form of the composition,

which is of the longer sort of Hebrew verse, in which the

Lamentations of Jeremiah, called by the Septuagint θρηνοι, are

written.

The golden city ceased] madhebah, which is here

translated golden city, is a Chaldee word. Probably it means that

golden coin or ingot which was given to the Babylonians by way

of tribute. So the word is understood by the Vulgate, where it is

rendered tributum; and by Montanus, who translates it aurea

pensio, the golden pension. Kimchi seems to have understood the

word in the same sense. De Rossi translates it auri dives, rich in

gold, or auri exactrix, the exactor of gold; the same as the

exactor of tribute.

Verse 9. Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee] That

is, Nebuchadnezzar. "It (hell) hath raised up from their thrones

all the kings of the earth;-the ghosts (rephaim) of all the mighty

ones, or goats, ( attudey,) of the earth-all the

oppressors of mankind." What a most terrible idea is here!

Tyrannical kings who have oppressed and spoiled mankind, are here

represented as enthroned in hell; and as taking a Satanic pleasure

in seeing others of the same description enter those abodes of

misery!

Verse 11. Cover thee-"Thy covering."] Twenty-eight MSS. (ten

ancient) of Kennicott's, thirty-nine of De Rossi's, twelve

editions, with the Septuagint and Vulgate, read

umechassecha, in the singular number.

Verse 12. O Lucifer, son of the morning] The Versions in general

agree in this translation, and render heilel as signifying

Lucifer, φωσφωρος, the morning star, whether Jupiter or

Venus; as these are both bringers of the morning light, or

morning stars, annually in their turn. And although the context

speaks explicitly concerning Nebuchadnezzar, yet this has been, I

know not why, applied to the chief of the fallen angels, who is

most incongruously denominated Lucifer, (the bringer of light!) an

epithet as common to him as those of Satan and Devil. That the

Holy Spirit by his prophets should call this arch-enemy of God and

man the light-bringer, would be strange indeed. But the truth is,

the text speaks nothing at all concerning Satan nor his fall, nor

the occasion of that fall, which many divines have with great

confidence deduced from this text. O how necessary it is to

understand the literal meaning of Scripture, that preposterous

comments may be prevented! Besides, I doubt much whether our

translation be correct. heilel, which we translate Lucifer,

comes from yalal, yell, howl, or shriek, and should be

translated, "Howl, son of the morning;" and so the Syriac has

understood it; and for this meaning Michaelis contends: see his

reasons in Parkhurst, under halal.

Verse 13. I will ascend into heaven] I will get the empire of

the whole world. I will exalt my throne above the stars of

God-above the Israelites, who are here termed the stars of God.

So the Targum of Jonathan, and R. D. Kimchi. This chapter speaks

not of the ambition and fall of Satan, but of the pride,

arrogance, and fall of Nebuchadnezzar.

The mount of the congregation-"The mount of the Divine

Presence"] It appears plainly from Ex 25:22, and Ex 29:42, 43,

where God appoints the place of meeting with Moses, and promises

to meet with him before the ark to commune with him, and to speak

unto him; and to meet the children of Israel at the door of the

tabernacle; that the tabernacle, and afterwards the door of the

tabernacle, and Mount Zion, (or Moriah, which is reckoned a part

of Mount Zion,) whereon it stood, was called the tabernacle, and

the mount of convention or of appointment; not from the people's

assembling there to perform the services of their religion, (which

is what our translation expresses by calling it the tabernacle of

the congregation,) but because God appointed that for the place

where he himself would meet with Moses, and commune with him, and

would meet with the people. Therefore har moed, the

"mountain of the assembly," or ohel moed, the "tabernacle

of the assembly," means the place appointed by God, where he would

present himself; agreeably to which I have rendered it in this

place, the mount of the Divine Presence.

Verse 19. Like an abominable branch-"Like the tree abominated"]

That is, as an object of abomination and detestation; such as the

tree is on which a malefactor has been hanged. "It is written,"

saith St. Paul, Ga 3:13, "Cursed is every man that hangeth on a

tree," from De 21:23. The Jews therefore held also as accursed

and polluted the tree itself on which a malefactor had been

executed, or on which he had been hanged after having been put to

death by stoning. "Non suspendunt super arbore, quae radicibus

solo adhaereat; sed super ligno eradicato, ut ne sit excisio

molesta: nam lignum, super quo fuit aliquis suspensus, cum

suspendioso sepelitur; ne maneat illi malum nomen, et dicant

homines, Istud est lignum, in quo suspensus est ille, οδεινα. Sic

lapis, quo aliquis fuit lapidatus; et gladius, quo fuit occisus is

qui est occisus; et sudarium sive mantile, quo fuit aliquis

strangulates; omnia haec cum iis, qui perierunt, sepeliuntur."

Maimonides, apud Casaub. in Baron. Exercitat. xvi. An. 34, Num.

134. "Cum itaque homo suspensu maximae esset abominationi-Judaei

quoque prae caeteris abominabantur lignum quo fuerat suspensus,

ita ut illud quoque terra tegerent, tanquam rem abominabilem. Unde

interpres Chaldaeus haec verba transtulit kechat temir,

sicut virgultum absconditum, sive sepultum." Kalinski, Vaticinta

Observationibus Illustrata, p. 342.

"The Jews never hang any malefactor upon a tree that is growing

in the earth, but upon a post fixed in the ground, that it might

never be said, 'That is the tree on which such a one was hanged;'

for custom required that the tree should be buried with the

malefactor. In like manner the stone by which a criminal was

stoned to death, or the sword by which he was beheaded, or the

napkin or handkerchief by which he was strangled, should be

buried with him in the same grave." "For as the hanged man was

considered the greatest abomination, so the very post or wood on

which he was hanged was deemed a most abominable thing, and

therefore buried under the earth."

Agreeably to which Theodoret, Hist. Ecclesiast. i. 17, 18, in

his account of the finding of the cross by Helena, says, "That the

three crosses were buried in the earth near the place of our

Lord's sepulchre." And this circumstance seems to confirm the

relation of the discovery of the cross of Christ. The crosses were

found where the custom required they should be buried.

The raiment of those that are slain-"Clothed with the slain"]

Thirty-five MSS., (ten ancient,) and three editions, have the

word fully written, lebush. It is not a noun, but the

participle passive; thrown out among the common slain and covered

with the dead bodies. So Isa 14:11, the earth-worm is said to be

his bed-covering. This reading is confirmed by two ancient MSS. in

my own collection.

Verse 20. Because thou hast destroyed thy land, &c.-"Because

thou hast destroyed thy country; thou hast slain thy people"]

Xenophon gives an instance of this king's wanton cruelty in

killing the son of Gobrias, on no other provocation than that, in

hunting, he struck a boar and a lion which the king had missed.

Cyrop. iv. 309.

Verse 23. I will sweep it with the besom of destruction-"I will

plunge it in the miry gulf of destruction"] I have here very

nearly followed the Version of the Septuagint; the reasons for

which see in the last note on De Poesi Hebr. Praelect, xxviii.

The besom of destruction, as our Version renders it.

bematate. This, says Kimchi, is a Chaldee word: and it is worthy

of remark that the prophet, writing to the Chaldeans, uses several

words peculiar to their own language to point out the nature of

the Divine judgments, and the causes of them.

See Clarke on Jer 10:11.

Sixteen of Kennicott's MSS., and seventeen of De Rossi's,

and one ancient of my own, have the word bematatey, in

the plural. "I will sweep her with the besoms of destruction."

Verse 25. I will break the Assyrian-upon my mountains-"To crush

the Assyrian-on my mountains"] The Assyrians and Babylonians are

the same people, Herod. i. 199, 200. Babylon is reckoned the

principal city in Assyria, ibid. 178. Strabo says the same thing,

lib. xvi. sub init. The circumstance of this judgment being to be

executed on God's mountains is of importance; it may mean the

destruction of Sennacherib's army near Jerusalem, and have a still

farther view: compare Eze 39:4; and see Lowth on this place of

Isaiah.

Verse 28. In the year that king Ahaz died was this burden]

Uzziah had subdued the Philistines, 2Ch 26:6, 7; but, taking

advantage of the weak reign of Ahaz, they invaded Judea, and took,

and held in possession, some cities in the southern part of the

kingdom. On the death of Ahaz, Isaiah delivers this prophecy,

threatening them with the destruction that Hezekiah, his son, and

great-grandson of Uzziah, should bring upon them: which he

effected; for "he smote the Philistines, even unto Gaza, and the

borders thereof," 2Ki 18:8. Uzziah, therefore, must be meant by

the rod that smote them, and by the serpent from whom should

spring the flying fiery serpent, Isa 14:29, that is, Hezekiah, a

much more terrible enemy than even Uzziah had been.

The Targum renders the twenty-ninth verse in a singular way.

"For, from the sons of Jesse shall come forth the Messiah; and his

works among you shall be as the flying serpent."

Verse 30. And the first-born of the poor, &c.] The Targum goes

on applying all to the Messiah. "And the poor of the people shall

he feed, and the humble shall dwell securely in his days: and he

shall kill thy children with famine, and the remnant of thy people

shall he slay."

I will kill-"He will slay"] The Septuagint reads hemith,

in the third person, ανελει; and so the Chaldee. The Vulgate

remedies the confusion of persons in the present text, by reading

both the verbs in the first person.

Verse 31. There shall come from the north a smoke-"From the

north cometh a smoke"] That is, a cloud of dust raised by the

march of Hezekiah's army against Philistia; which lay to the

south-west from Jerusalem. A great dust raised has, at a distance,

the appearance of smoke: Fumantes pulvere campi; "The fields

smoking with dust."-VIRG. AEn. xi. 908.

Verse 32. The messengers of the nation-"The ambassadors of the

nations"] The Septuagint read goyim, εθνων, plural; and

so the Chaldee, and one MS. The ambassadors of the neighbouring

nations, that send to congratulate Hezekiah on his success, which

in his answer he will ascribe to the protection of God. See

2Ch 32:23. Or, if

goi singular, the reading of the text, be preferred, the

ambassadors sent by the Philistines to demand peace.-L.

The Lord hath founded Zion] Kimchi refers this to the state of

Zion under Hezekiah, when the rest of the cities of Judea had

been taken, and this only was left for a hope to the poor of God's

people: and God so defended it that Rabshakeh could not prevail

against it.

The true Church of God is a place of safety; for as all its

members are devoted to God, and walk in his testimonies, so they

are continually defended and supported by him. In the

congregations of his people, God dispenses his light and

salvation; hence his poor or humble ones expect in his ordinances

the blessings they need.

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