New English Translation
12 Look how you have fallen from the sky,
O shining one, son of the dawn![a]
You have been cut down to the ground,
O conqueror[b] of the nations![c]
13 You said to yourself,[d]
‘I will climb up to the sky.
Above the stars of El[e]
I will set up my throne.
I will rule on the mountain of assembly
on the remote slopes of Zaphon.[f]
14 I will climb up to the tops[g] of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High!’[h]
15 But you were brought down[i] to Sheol,
to the remote slopes of the Pit.[j]
16 Those who see you stare at you,
they look at you carefully, thinking:[k]
‘Is this the man who shook the earth,
the one who made kingdoms tremble?
17 Is this the one who made the world like a wilderness,
who ruined its[l] cities,
and refused to free his prisoners so they could return home?’[m]
18 [n] As for all the kings of the nations,
all of them[o] lie down in splendor,[p]
each in his own tomb.[q]
19 But you have been thrown out of your grave
like a shoot that is thrown away.[r]
You lie among[s] the slain,
among those who have been slashed by the sword,
among those headed for[t] the stones of the Pit,[u]
as if you were a mangled corpse.[v]
20 You will not be buried with them,[w]
because you destroyed your land
and killed your people.
The offspring of the wicked
will never be mentioned again.
21 Prepare to execute[x] his sons
for the sins their ancestors have committed.[y]
They must not rise up and take possession of the earth,
or fill the surface of the world with cities.[z]
22 “I will rise up against them,”
says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
“I will blot out all remembrance of Babylon and destroy all her people,[aa]
including the offspring she produces,”[ab]
says the Lord.
23 “I will turn her into a place that is overrun with wild animals[ac]
and covered with pools of stagnant water.
I will get rid of her, just as one sweeps away dirt with a broom,”[ad]
says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
24 [ae] The Lord of Heaven’s Armies makes this solemn vow:
“Be sure of this:
Just as I have intended, so it will be;
just as I have planned, it will happen.
25 I will break Assyria[af] in my land,
I will trample them[ag] underfoot on my hills.
Their yoke will be removed from my people,
the burden will be lifted from their shoulders.[ah]
26 This is the plan I have devised for the whole earth;
my hand is ready to strike all the nations.”[ai]
27 Indeed,[aj] the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has a plan,
and who can possibly frustrate it?
His hand is ready to strike,
and who can possibly stop it?[ak]
The Lord Will Judge the Philistines
29 Don’t be so happy, all you Philistines,
just because the club that beat you has been broken![an]
For a viper will grow out of the serpent’s root,
and its fruit will be a darting adder.[ao]
30 The poor will graze in my pastures;[ap]
the needy will rest securely.
But I will kill your root by famine;
it will put to death all your survivors.[aq]
31 Wail, O city gate!
Cry out, O city!
Melt with fear,[ar] all you Philistines!
For out of the north comes a cloud of smoke,
and there are no stragglers in its ranks.[as]
32 How will they respond to the messengers of this nation?[at]
Indeed, the Lord has made Zion secure;
the oppressed among his people will find safety in her.
- Isaiah 14:12 tn The Hebrew text has הֵילֵל בֶּן־שָׁחַר (helel ben shakhar, “Helel son of Shachar”), which is probably a name for the morning star (Venus) or the crescent moon. See HALOT 245 s.v. הֵילֵל. sn What is the background for the imagery in vv. 12-15? This whole section (vv. 4b-21) is directed to the king of Babylon, who is clearly depicted as a human ruler. Other kings of the earth address him in vv. 9ff., he is called “the man” in v. 16, and, according to vv. 19-20, he possesses a physical body. Nevertheless the language of vv. 12-15 has led some to see a dual referent in the taunt song. These verses, which appear to be spoken by other pagan kings to a pagan king (cf. vv. 9-11), contain several titles and motifs that resemble those of Canaanite mythology, including references to Helel son of Shachar, the stars of El, the mountain of assembly, the recesses of Zaphon, and the divine title Most High. Apparently these verses allude to a mythological story about a minor god (Helel son of Shachar) who tried to take over Zaphon, the mountain of the gods. His attempted coup failed, and he was hurled down to the underworld. The king of Babylon is taunted for having similar unrealized delusions of grandeur. Some Christians have seen an allusion to the fall of Satan here, but this seems contextually unwarranted (see J. Martin, “Isaiah,” BKCOT, 1061).
- Isaiah 14:12 tn Some understand the verb חָלַשׁ (khalash) to mean “weaken,” but HALOT 324 s.v. II חלשׁ proposes a homonym here meaning “defeat.”
- Isaiah 14:12 sn In this line the taunting kings hint at the literal identity of the king, after likening him to the god Helel and a tree. The verb גָדַע (gadaʿ, “cut down”) is used of chopping down trees in 9:10 and 10:33.
- Isaiah 14:13 tn Heb “you, you said in your heart.”
- Isaiah 14:13 sn In Canaanite mythology the stars of El were astral deities under the authority of the high god El.
- Isaiah 14:13 sn Zaphon, the Canaanite version of Olympus, was the “mountain of assembly” where the gods met.
- Isaiah 14:14 tn Heb “the high places.” This word often refers to the high places where pagan worship was conducted, but here it probably refers to the “backs” or tops of the clouds. See HALOT 136 s.v. בָּמָה.
- Isaiah 14:14 sn Normally in the OT the title “Most High” belongs to the God of Israel, but in this context, where the mythological overtones are so strong, it probably refers to the Canaanite high god El.
- Isaiah 14:15 tn The prefixed verb form is taken as a preterite. Note the use of perfects in v. 12 to describe the king’s downfall.
- Isaiah 14:15 tn The Hebrew term בּוּר (bor, “cistern”) is sometimes used metaphorically to refer to the place of the dead or the entrance to the underworld.
- Isaiah 14:16 tn The word “thinking” is supplied in the translation in order to make it clear that the next line records their thoughts as they gaze at him.
- Isaiah 14:17 tc The pronominal suffix is masculine, even though its antecedent appears to be the grammatically feminine noun “world.” Some have suggested that the form עָרָיו (ʿarayv, plural noun with third masculine singular suffix) should be emended to עָרֶיהָ (ʿareha, plural noun with third feminine singular suffix). This emendation may be unnecessary in light of other examples of lack of agreement between a suffix and its antecedent noun.
- Isaiah 14:17 tn Heb “and his prisoners did not let loose to [their] homes.” This really means, “he did not let loose his prisoners and send them back to their homes.” On the elliptical style, see GKC 366 §117.o.
- Isaiah 14:18 sn It is unclear where the quotation of the kings, begun in v. 10b, ends. However, the reference to the “kings of the nations” in v. 18 (see also v. 9) seems to indicate that the quotation has ended at this point and that Israel’s direct taunt (cf. vv. 4b-10a) has resumed. In fact, the references to the “kings of the nations” may form a stylistic inclusio or frame around the quotation.
- Isaiah 14:18 tc The phrase “all of them” does not appear in the Qumran scroll 1QIsaa.
- Isaiah 14:18 sn This refers to the typically extravagant burial of kings.
- Isaiah 14:18 tn Heb “house” (so KJV, ASV), but in this context a tomb is in view. Note the verb “lie down” in the preceding line and the reference to a “grave” in the next line.
- Isaiah 14:19 tn Heb “like a shoot that is abhorred.” The simile seems a bit odd; apparently it refers to a small shoot that is trimmed from a plant and tossed away. Some prefer to emend נֵצֶר (netser, “shoot”); some propose נֵפֶל (nefel, “miscarriage”). In this case one might paraphrase: “like a horrible-looking fetus that is delivered when a woman miscarries.”
- Isaiah 14:19 tn Heb “are clothed with.”
- Isaiah 14:19 tn Heb “those going down to.”
- Isaiah 14:19 tn בּוֹר (bor) literally means “cistern”; cisterns were constructed from stones. On the metaphorical use of “cistern” for the underworld, see the note at v. 15.
- Isaiah 14:19 tn Heb “like a trampled corpse.” Some take this line with what follows.
- Isaiah 14:20 tn Heb “you will not be united with them in burial” (so NASB).
- Isaiah 14:21 tn Or “the place of slaughter for.”
- Isaiah 14:21 tn Heb “for the sin of their fathers.”
- Isaiah 14:21 sn J. N. Oswalt (Isaiah [NICOT], 1:320, n. 10) suggests that the garrison cities of the mighty empire are in view here.
- Isaiah 14:22 tn Heb “I will cut off from Babylon name and remnant” (ASV, NAB, and NRSV all similar).
- Isaiah 14:22 tn Heb “descendant and child.”
- Isaiah 14:23 tn Heb “I will make her into a possession of wild animals.” It is uncertain what type of animal קִפֹּד (qippod) refers to. Some suggest a rodent (cf. NASB, NRSV “hedgehog”), others, an owl (cf, NAB, NIV, TEV).
- Isaiah 14:23 tn Heb “I will sweep her away with the broom of destruction.”
- Isaiah 14:24 sn Having announced the downfall of the Chaldean empire, the Lord appends to this prophecy a solemn reminder that the Assyrians, the major Mesopotamian power of Isaiah’s day, would be annihilated, foreshadowing what would subsequently happen to Babylon and the other hostile nations.
- Isaiah 14:25 tn Heb “to break Assyria.”
- Isaiah 14:25 tn Heb “him.” This is a collective singular referring to the nation, or a reference to the king of Assyria, who by metonymy stands for the entire nation.
- Isaiah 14:25 tn Heb “and his [i.e., Assyria’s] yoke will be removed from them [the people?], and his [Assyria’s] burden from his [the nation’s?] shoulder will be removed.” There are no antecedents in this oracle for the suffixes in the phrases “from them” and “from his shoulder.” Since the Lord’s land and hills are referred to in the preceding line and the statement seems to echo 10:27, it is likely that God’s people are the referents of the suffixes; the translation uses “my people” to indicate this.
- Isaiah 14:26 tn Heb “and this is the hand that is outstretched over all the nations.”
- Isaiah 14:27 tn Or “For” (KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV).
- Isaiah 14:27 tn Heb “His hand is outstretched, and who will turn it back?”
- Isaiah 14:28 tn See note at Isa 13:1.
- Isaiah 14:28 sn Perhaps 715 b.c., but the precise date is uncertain.
- Isaiah 14:29 sn The identity of this “club” (also referred to as a “serpent” in the next line) is uncertain. It may refer to an Assyrian king, or to Ahaz. For discussion see J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:331-32. The viper/adder referred to in the second half of the verse is his successor.
- Isaiah 14:29 tn Heb “flying burning one.” The designation “burning one” may allude to the serpent’s appearance or the effect of its poisonous bite. (See the note at 6:2.) The qualifier “flying” probably refers to the serpent’s quick, darting movements, though one might propose a homonym here, meaning “biting.” (See J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah [NICOT], 1:332, n. 18.) Some might think in terms of a mythological flying, fire-breathing dragon (cf. NAB “a flying saraph”; CEV “a flying fiery dragon”), but this proposal does not make good sense in 30:6, where the phrase “flying burning one” appears again in a list of desert animals.
- Isaiah 14:30 tc The Hebrew text has, “the firstborn of the poor will graze.” “Firstborn” may be used here in an idiomatic sense to indicate the very poorest of the poor. See BDB 114 s.v. בְּכוֹר. The translation above assumes an emendation of בְּכוֹרֵי (bekhore, “firstborn of”) to בְּכָרַי (bekharay, “in my pastures”).
- Isaiah 14:30 tn Heb “your remnant” (so NAB, NRSV).
- Isaiah 14:31 tn Or “despair” (see HALOT 555 s.v. מוג). The form נָמוֹג (namog) should be taken here as an infinitive absolute functioning as an imperative. See GKC 199-200 §72.v.
- Isaiah 14:31 tn Heb “and there is no one going alone in his appointed places.” The meaning of this line is uncertain. בּוֹדֵד (boded) appears to be a participle from בָּדַד (badad, “be separate”; see BDB 94 s.v. בָּדַד). מוֹעָד (moʿad) may mean “assembly” or, by extension, “multitude” (see HALOT 558 s.v. *מוֹעָד), but the referent of the third masculine pronominal suffix attached to the noun is unclear. It probably refers to the “nation” mentioned in the next line.
- Isaiah 14:32 sn The question forces the Philistines to consider the dilemma they will face—surrender and oppression, or battle and death.