Isaiah 14 Notes

Chapter Fourteen:

v.2: Isaiah describes the Jewish relationship with the Gentiles in two ways. One is in verses such as 2:2-4, 11:10, 42:6, and 60:1-3. In these verses, the Gentiles are at peace with the Jews because they have accepted the Jewish God; hence, they are no longer a threat to the Jewish nation.

The second way Isaiah describes the Jewish relationship with the Gentiles is in verses such as this one. Here they are the enemies of the Jews, but God has reduced the Gentiles to servants; hence, they are no longer a threat to the Jewish nation. In both cases, Isaiah notes that the Gentiles will no longer threaten the people of God. Either they will unite with Judah and accept the God of the Jews, or they will be reduced to servitude.

Vs. 9-21: I do not believe this should be taken as an accurate description of how the Jews of that day viewed the afterlife. This section is part of a larger song (beginning at v. 4) and the language of the whole is poetic, not literal. If someone were to take this image of the afterlife literally, he would also have to concede that the Jews of Isaiah’s day believed that the cedars of Lebanon in v. 8 were literally conversing joyfully with each other about the death of the king of Babylon.

v. 12: The image of the Morning Star (the sun) is one of regal authority. (Its ultimate manifestation is in the King of Kings; see Revelation 22:16.) Here the image of the Babylonian king’s former royal glory contrasts sharply with his present humiliation: the morning star, in this case, has fallen.

v. 13: According to Barnes, “the heights of Zaphon” or “the assembly in the far north” refers to a mountain in the north on which the Babylonians believed the gods dwelt (272-273). The Oxford commentary associates the mountain with Canaanite mythology (999). This is interesting because, as Barnes points out, several ancient cultures (Greek, Hindu, Persian) placed the mountain on which their gods supposedly dwelt to the north (273). I wonder why the north was significant in that way.

v. 28: This seems like another natural break in the narrative to me. I suppose these oracles from God came to Isaiah upon the death of a king because such times would have been uneasy, pivotal moments in history. (Compare this with 6:1.)


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