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