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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Isaiah 14

 

 

Verse 1

Isaiah 14:1 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.

Ver. 1. For the Lord will have mercy upon Jacob.] And therefore destroy Babylon. {as Isaiah 13:1-22} Such is his love to his Church that for her sake, and in revenge of her wrongs, he will fall foul upon her enemies. Si in Hierosolymis fiat scrutinium, quanto magis in Babylon. (a)

And the strangers shall be joined with them.] Proselyted, especially when made partakers of the grace of the gospel.


Verse 2

Isaiah 14:2 And the 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 they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors.

Ver. 2. For servants and for handmaids.] Their converts shall be willing to lay their hands under their feet, as we say, and glad to do them any service, like as Cyprian was for Caecilius, whom he called novae vitae parentem, parent of new life, and Latimer for Bilney, whom he called Blessed Bilney. See Isaiah 49:23.


Verse 3

Isaiah 14:3 And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve,

Ver. 3. That the Lord shall give thee rest, &c.] The Church hath her halcyons here; neither is she "smitten as those are that smote her, but in measure, in the branches," &c. God "stayeth his rough wind" [Isaiah 27:8] that is, such afflictions as would shake his plants too much, or quite blow them down. Yea, whether south or north wind bloweth, all shall blow good to them [Song of Solomon 4:16] Blow off their unkindly blossoms, and refresh them both under and after all their sorrow, fear, and hardship.


Verse 4

Isaiah 14:4 That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!

Ver. 4. That thou shalt take up this proverb.] Or, Taunting speech; (a) this exultatory and insultatory song, which upon the fall of Babylon shall be in every man’s mouth.

How hath the oppressor ceased!] q.d., This is wonderful and beyond all expectation.

The golden city.] Or, Gold thirsty city. (b)


Verse 5

Isaiah 14:5 The LORD hath broken the staff of the wicked, [and] the sceptre of the rulers.

Ver. 5. The Lord hath broken the staff.] Wherewith these exactors cudgelled men, as so many beasts, into subjection and obedience.

And the sceptre.] Or Rod of the rulers who ruled with rigour.


Verse 6

Isaiah 14:6 He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, [and] none hindereth.

Ver. 6. He that smote the people in wrath, &c.] This is the tyrant’s epitaph; there is at their death a general joy, as was the time when the world was well rid of Tiberius, Caligula, Nero, Heliogabalus, &c. When Domitian died, the senate decreed that his name should be erased, that all his acts should be rescinded, and his memorial abolished quite for ever. When Caligula was cut off, his monies were all melted by the decree of the senate; (a) like as King Richard III’s cognisance, the white boar, was torn from every sign, that his memory might perish. (b)


Verse 7

Isaiah 14:7 The whole earth is at rest, [and] is quiet: they break forth into singing.

Ver. 7. The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet.] Quievit, conticuit. (a) All is hushed that was used to be set in an uproar by these restless ambitionists.

They break forth into singing.] By a wide opening of the lips and lungs, as the word signifieth.


Verse 8

Isaiah 14:8 Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, [and] the cedars of Lebanon, [saying], Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us.

Ver. 8. Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee.] A notable metaphor, whereby sense and speech is attributed to senseless creatures; the trees once afraid to be felled are now freed from that fear. This tyrant was the terror of things on earth, and things under earth. Hence men and trees are said to rejoice, hell to be in a hurry, &c.

No feller is come up against us.] As was wont to do, for thy shipping, buildings, warlike engines, &c.


Verse 9

Isaiah 14:9 Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet [thee] at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, [even] all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.

Ver. 9. Hell from beneath is moved for thee.] Infernus ab inferendo; shaal, from its unsatiableness, and continual craving. Here is an ironic and poetic representation of the King of Babylon’s coming into hell, and his entertainment there; the dead kings rising from their places for reverence to receive him.

Even all the chief ones of the earth.] Heb., The he-goats, such as lead and go before the flock; such rhetoric as this we meet with in Lucian’s Dialogues. Of Laurentius Valla, that great critic, who found fault with almost all Latin authors, one made this tetrastich;

Nunc postquam manes defunctus Valla petivit,

Non audet Pluto verba Latina loqui.

Iupiter hunc caeli dignatus honore fuisset,

Censarem linguae sed timer ipse sum. ”

- Trithem.

From their thrones,] i.e., From their "sepulchres," saith Piscator.


Verse 10

Isaiah 14:10 All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?

Ver. 10. Art thou also become weak as we?] Interrogatio sarcastica et insultabunda. Hast thou also a Hic situs est, here he lies, or Mortuus est, here he died, set upon thy tombstone? This if thou hadst forethought, thou wouldst have better behaved thyself while alive: the meditation of death would have been a death to thy passions, and an allay to thine insolencies. Virgil saith, if swarms of bees meet in the air, they will sometimes fight as it were in a set battle with great violence; but if you cast but a little dust upon them, they will be all presently quiet.

Hi motus animorum atque haec certamina tanta,

Pulveris exigui iactu compressa quieseunt. ”

- Georg., lib. iv.

Had Nebuchadnezzar or his successors bethought themselves of their mortality and of death’s impartiality, they would have been more moderate.


Verse 11

Isaiah 14:11 Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, [and] the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.

Ver. 11. Thy pomp is brought down to the grave.] Ipsaque iusta sepulta iacent, funeral rites, those dues of the dead, are wanting to thee. This was fulfilled in Belshazzar, slain at his impious feast, while he profaned the vessels of God’s house to quaff in to the honour of Shac, his drunken god, and had no doubt variety of music. (a) See Jeremiah 51:39; Jeremiah 51:41; Jeremiah 51:47, Daniel 5:1; Daniel 5:30.

The worm is spread under thee, and worms cover thee.] Pro linteamine tinea sternitur: pro lodice vermes superimponuntur. For sheets thou hast maggots, and for a coverlet, worms; and this the rather because, whereas the Assyrian kings, as Strabo (b) testifieth, and the Babylonian kings, as Herodotus, (c) were wont to be embalmed after their death, that they might keep sweet, Belshazzar was not so [Isaiah 14:19-20]


Verse 12

Isaiah 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! [how] art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

Ver. 12. How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer!] That is, not O Belzeebub, as some ancients, but, O Belshazzar rather, called Lucifer here, or the morning star, for his beauty and brightness; and as much wonder it was to see the Chaldean monarch at such an under, as to have seen Lucifer, the sun’s constant companion, fallen from heaven. He was the terror of the world, and, as he thought, superior to fortune; yet a sudden and dismal change befell him. In the chariot of the Roman triumpher, there hung up a little bell and a whip, to put him in mind he might one day be whipped as a slave, or as an offender lose his head. Nemo confidat mimium secundis. Let no one rely on the least favours.


Verse 13

Isaiah 14:13 For thou hast 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:

Ver. 13. For thou hast said in thine heart.] The natural heart is a palace of satanical pride; it is like unto the table of Adonibezek, at which he sat in a chair of state, and made others, even kings, to eat meat like dogs under his feet, with their thumbs cut off.

I will ascend into heaven.] Vide quomodo non satientur honore superbi. (a) Ambition, as the crocodile, grows as long as it lives, and is never satisfied.

Above the stars of God,] i.e., Above all the kings of the earth, or above the saints, [Revelation 12:1] those earthly angels.

I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation.] I will sit upon the skirts of God’s Church; yea, I will set my throne upon God’s throne, and take up his room. See the like madness in Pharaoh; [Ezekiel 29:3] that proud prince of Tyre; [Ezekiel 28:2] Antiochus, surnamed Yεος; Herod; [Acts 12:21-23] Caligula, Chosroes, Diocletian, Antichrist, of whom and his practices one cries out, O Lucifer out-deviled, &c. [2 Thessalonians 2:4] One of the Pope’s parasites, Valladerius, saith of Paul V, that he was a god, lived familiarly with the Godhead, heard predestination itself whispering to him, had a place to sit in council with the most blessed Trinity, &c.

In the sides of the north.] In Mount Moriah, where the temple stood.


Verse 14

Isaiah 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

Ver. 14. I will ascend above the height of the clouds.] Ut verbo dicam, ero summa et sacra maiestas.

Attingit solium Iovis, et coelestia tentat.

- Hor., lib. i. Ode 3.


Verse 15

Isaiah 14:15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

Ver. 15. Yet thou shalt be brought down be hell.] To the counterpoint of thy haughtiest conceits, ad infimam erebi sedem. So a merry fellow said that Xerxes, that great warrior who took upon him to control the sea, was now mending old shoes under a shop board in hell.

To the sides of the pit,] i.e., Of the infernal lake: A tartesso in tartarum detrusus; { a} from the sides of the north, [Isaiah 14:13] whither thou hadst pierced thyself, ad latera luci, to the sides of the pit, and to an odd corner of the burying place. This was a foul fall, and worse than that of Hermannus Ferrariensis, who, having been canonised for a saint, was thirty years after unburied, and burnt for a heretic by Pope Boniface VIII, (b) or that of Thomas a Becket, of whom, forty-eight years after he had been sainted, it was disputed among the doctors of Paris whether he were damned or saved? (c)


Verse 16

Isaiah 14:16 They 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;

Ver. 16. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee.] Shall look wishingly upon thee, as scarce believing their own eyes, for the strangeness of the thing.

Is this the man that made the earth to tremble?] The earth to quake, and men’s hearts to ache? yea, sure, this is very he. At one end of the library at Dublin was a globe, at the other a skeleton, to show, saith mine author, that though a man be lord of all the world, yet he must die, nullusque fiet, qui omnia esse affectabat.


Verse 17

Isaiah 14:17 [That] made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; [that] opened not the house of his prisoners?

Ver. 17. That made the world as a wilderness.] Nero the tyrant came into the world an Agrippa, or born with his feet forward, and turned the world upside down ere he went out of it; so that the senate at last proclaimed him a public enemy to mankind, and condemned him to be drawn through the city, and whipped to death.

That opened not the house of his prisoners.] Or, That did not loose his prisoners homewards, but kept them in durance with prisoners’ pittance. [Lamentations 3:34]


Verse 18

Isaiah 14:18 All the kings of the nations, [even] all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house.

Ver. 18. All the kings of the nations,] i.e., Very many of them have their stately pyramids, tombs, mausolean monuments erected, as among us at Westminster Henry VII’s chapel is a curious and costly piece.


Verse 19

Isaiah 14:19 But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable 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.

Ver. 19. But thou art cast out of thy grave,] i.e., Cast out and kept from thy grave. (a) This befell Belshazzar upon the surprisal of the city. [Daniel 5:30] And the like also befell Alexander the Great dying at the same city; and our William the Conqueror, who having utterly sacked the city of Mants in France, and in the destruction thereof got his own, died shortly after at Rouen, where his corpse lay three days unburied - his interment being hindered by one that claimed the ground to be his. (b)

Like an abominable branch.] The matter is here set forth by three notable similitudes, such as this prophet is full of.


Verse 20

Isaiah 14:20 Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, [and] slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned.

Ver. 20. Thou shalt not be joined to them in burial,] i.e., To your equals, your fellow kings, in funeral state and pomp. Christians have an honest care, περι συνταφων, with whom they be buried, and where they are laid when dead, that as they lived together and loved together, so in their death they may not be divided. [2 Samuel 1:23]

Because thou hast destroyed thy (a) land.] Tyrannised over thine own subjects also. So did Saul, Manasseh, Herod - who butchered about Bethlehem fourteen thousand infants, as some affirm, and his own son among the rest - Tiberius, that tiger, Nero, that lion, Commodus, who was, saith Oresius, cunctis incommodus, Charles IX of France, &c.

The seed of evildoers shall never be renowned.] The house of the wicked shall be overthrown, but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish: [Proverbs 14:11] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 14:11"} Et notanto hoc parentes, et a sceleribus se abstinento: ni sibi velint parcere, ut posteritat; parcant.


Verse 21

Isaiah 14:21 Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities.

Ver. 21. Prepare another slaughter for his children.] For Belshazzar’s posterity. This is God’s charge to the Medes and Persians. See on Isaiah 14:20.


Verse 22

Isaiah 14:22 For I will rise up against them, saith the LORD of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the LORD.

Ver. 22. For I will rise up against him.] And therefore it is to no purpose for them to rise up to possess the land, and to fill the face of the world with cities, as Isaiah 14:21. "I will overturn, overturn, overturn," &c., [Ezekiel 21:27] and who shall gainstand it?


Verse 23

Isaiah 14:23 I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the LORD of hosts.

Ver. 23. I will also make it a possession for the bittern.] Which is a kind of water fowl that maketh a hideous noise.

And I will sweep it with the besom of destruction.] Scopa vastatrice verram eam, Vatab. I will not brush them for ornament, but sweep them, or rather scrub them to their ruin by my Persian Praedones, whom I will set upon them. And here the Jewish Rabbis acknowledge that they came to understand this text by hearing an Arabian woman mention a broom or a besom in her language, to her maid. (a) Apollos, a learned teacher, may yet learn of a tent maker.


Verse 24

Isaiah 14:24 The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, [so] shall it stand:

Ver. 24. The Lord of hosts hath sworn.] If he had but said it only it had been sure enough, for he cannot lie, he cannot deny himself; but when he sweareth anything we may build upon it, especially since he is Lord of hosts. He can do more than he will, but whatsoever he willeth shall undoubtedly be done; for what should hinder? Iuravit Iehovah, is the best assurance.


Verse 25

Isaiah 14:25 That 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.

Ver. 25. That I will break the Assyrian in my Land.] Or, As in breaking the Assyrian in my land; for here, saith Junius, the overthrow of the Assyrian monarchy, which should shortly be, is given for a sign of the overthrow of the Babylonian.


Verse 26

Isaiah 14:26 This [is] the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this [is] the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations.

Ver. 26. This is the purpose that is purposed.] Heb., The council that is consulted. Now there are many devices in the heart of man, but, when all is done, the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand. [Proverbs 19:21]


Verse 27

Isaiah 14:27 For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul [it]? and his hand [is] stretched out, and who shall turn it back?

Ver. 27. For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it?] Emphasin habet interrogatio. An excellent and unanswerable way of arguing from the irresistible will and almighty power of God; the like whereof is used by a certain Persian in Herodotus, in most elegant expressions, as Junius here noteth. (a)


Verse 28

Isaiah 14:28 In the year that king Ahaz died was this burden.

Ver. 28. In the year that King Ahaz died.] A very good world’s riddance. When Tiberius the tyrant died, some of the people offered sacrifice for joy; others in detestation of him cried out, Tiberium in Tiberim, Let Tiberius be thrown into Tiber. Think the like of Ahaz, that stigmatical Belialist. Howbeit, as bad as he was, the Philistines hearing of his death, hoped to find some advantage thereby against the Jews, who are therefore here encouraged.


Verse 29

Isaiah 14:29 Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent’s root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit [shall be] a fiery flying serpent.

Ver. 29. Rejoice not thou, whole Palestine.] That is, the Philistines, quos Iudaei animis armisque sibi infestissimos habuere. These were as bad neighbours to the Jews as the Dunkirkers now are to us. Uzziah had subdued them, [2 Chronicles 26:6] but Ahaz had been much damnified and despoiled by them, [2 Chronicles 28:18] and in the beginning of Hezekiah’s reign they thought to have overrun all the country. Here therefore God’s decree concerning them is published, for the comfort of his poor people, and it is this: Philistaeis non iabilandum sed eiulandum. Philistines must not be overjoyed, but rather "weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon them."

Because the rod of him that smote thee is broken.] Because Uzziah is dead, and Ahaz hath had ill success against you through his own sinfulness and sluggishness; do not you thereupon take boldness to set up your crest, and think all is your own.

For out of the serpent’s root.] Out of Uzziah’s issue,

Shall come forth a cockatrice.] Or, Basilisk, which is said to kill with his looks only; and hereby is meant Hezekiah, as also by the "fiery flying serpent," for thus he is called both for his fierceness and for his swiftness, two very commendable properties of a commander. Julius Caesar was in omnia praeceps, in all head first, very fierce, and with it notably nimble, witness his Veni, vidi, vici, I no sooner came, but overcame. The Hebrews from this text have a proverb, "Out of the serpent’s root shall come forth a cockatrice," (a) i.e., one woe is passed, but behold a worse at hand.


Verse 30

Isaiah 14:30 And the firstborn 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.

Ver. 30. And the firstborn of the poor shall feed,] i.e., God’s poor people shall; who though never so poor - as they were at a very low ebb under Ahaz - were God’s "firstborn," and, in that respect, "higher than the kings of the earth." [Psalms 89:27]

And I will kill thy root.] See Zephaniah 2:4. {See Trapp on "Zephaniah 2:4"}


Verse 31

Isaiah 14:31 Howl, O gate; cry, O city; thou, whole Palestina, [art] dissolved: for there shall come from the north a smoke, and none [shall be] alone in his appointed times.

Ver. 31. Howl, O gate.] Philistines are elsewhere taxed for flashy and foolish mirth [ 16:23-30 2 Samuel 1:20-21] Here they are told they have more cause to fear than flear, to sigh than sing, to howl than hollo.

Quis globus, O cives, caligiue, volvitur atra?

Hostis adest. ” - Virg.

From the north a smoke,] i.e., Hezekiah’s army raising a dust, and setting all in a combustion.


Verse 32

Isaiah 14:32 What shall [one] then answer the messengers of the nation? That the LORD hath founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it.

Ver. 32. That the Lord hath founded Zion.] Not Hezekiah, but Jehovah hath done it.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 14:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-14.html. 1865-1868.

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