Restoration of Israel. 1But the LORD will take pity on Jacob and again choose Israel, and will settle them on their own land; foreigners will join them and attach themselves to the house of Jacob.a 2The nations will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them* as male and female slaves on the Lord’s land; they will take captive their captors and rule over their oppressors.b
Downfall of the King of Babylon. 3On the day when the LORD gives you rest from your sorrow and turmoil, from the hard service with which you served,c 4you will take up this taunt-song* against the king of Babylon:d
How the oppressor has come to an end!
how the turmoil has ended!
5The LORD has broken the rod of the wicked,
the staff of the tyrantse
6That struck the peoples in wrath
with relentless blows;
That ruled the nations in anger,
with boundless persecution.f
7The whole earth rests peacefully,
song breaks forth;
8The very cypresses rejoice over you,
the cedars of Lebanon:
“Now that you are laid to rest,
no one comes to cut us down.”g
9Below, Sheol is all astir
preparing for your coming;
Awakening the shades to greet you,
all the leaders of the earth;
Making all the kings of the nations
rise from their thrones.
10All of them speak out
and say to you,
“You too have become weak like us,
you are just like us!
11Down to Sheol your pomp is brought,
the sound of your harps.
Maggots are the couch beneath you,
worms your blanket.”h
12How you have fallen from the heavens,
O Morning Star,* son of the dawn!
How you have been cut down to the earth,
you who conquered nations!i
13In your heart you said:
“I will scale the heavens;
Above the stars of God*
I will set up my throne;
I will take my seat on the Mount of Assembly,
on the heights of Zaphon.j
14I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will be like the Most High!”k
15No! Down to Sheol you will be brought
to the depths of the pit!l
16When they see you they will stare,
pondering over you:
“Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
who shook kingdoms?
17Who made the world a wilderness,
razed its cities,
and gave captives no release?”
18All the kings of the nations lie in glory,
each in his own tomb;m
19But you are cast forth without burial,
like loathsome carrion,
Covered with the slain, with those struck by the sword,
a trampled corpse,
Going down to the very stones of the pit.n
20You will never be together with them in the grave,
For you have ruined your land,
you have slain your people!
Let him never be named,
that offshoot of evil!
21Make ready to slaughter his sons
for the guilt of their fathers;o
Lest they rise and possess the earth,
and fill the breadth of the world with cities.*
22I will rise up against them, says the LORD of hosts, and cut off from Babylon name and remnant, progeny and offspring, says the LORD.p 23I will make it a haunt of hoot owls and a marshland; I will sweep it with the broom of destruction, oracle of the LORD of hosts.
God’s Plan for Assyria*
24The LORD of hosts has sworn:
As I have resolved,
so shall it be;
As I have planned,
so shall it stand:
25To break the Assyrian in my land
and trample him on my mountains;
Then his yoke shall be removed from them,
and his burden from their shoulder.q
26This is the plan proposed for the whole earth,
and this the hand outstretched over all the nations.*
27The LORD of hosts has planned;
who can thwart him?
His hand is stretched out;
who can turn it back?r
29* Do not rejoice, Philistia, not one of you,
that the rod which struck you is broken;
For out of the serpent’s root shall come an adder,
its offspring shall be a flying saraph.
30In my pastures the poor shall graze,
and the needy lie down in safety;
But I will kill your root with famine
that shall slay even your remnant.
31Howl, O gate; cry out, O city!
Philistia, all of you melts away!
For there comes a smoke from the north,*
without a straggler in its ranks.
32What will one answer the messengers of the nations?*
“The LORD has established Zion,
and in her the afflicted of his people find refuge.”
* [14:2] Possess them: Israel will make slaves of the nations who escort it back to its land.
* [14:4–21] This taunt-song, a satirical funeral lament, is a beautiful example of classical Hebrew poetry. According to the prose introduction and the prosaic conclusion (vv. 22–23), it is directed against the king of Babylon, though Babylon is mentioned nowhere in the song itself. If the reference to Babylon is accurate, the piece was composed long after the time of Isaiah, for Babylon was not a threat to Judah in the eighth century. Some have argued that Isaiah wrote it at the death of an Assyrian king and the references to Babylon were made by a later editor, but this is far from certain.
* [14:12] Morning Star: term addressed to the king of Babylon. The Vulgate translates as “Lucifer,” a name applied by the church Fathers to Satan. Son of the dawn: Heb., ben shahar, may reflect the name of a pagan deity.
* [14:13–15] God: not Elohim, the common word for God, but El, the name of the head of the pantheon in Canaanite mythology, a god who was early identified with the Lord in Israelite thought. Mount of Assembly: mountain where the council of the gods met, according to Canaanite mythology. Zaphon: the sacred mountain of Baal, originally the Jebel el-Aqra north of Ugarit, but other mountains have been identified with it, including Mount Zion in Jerusalem (Ps 48:3). The attempt to usurp the place of God (v. 14), coupled with the dramatic reversal (“above the stars of God” to “the depths of the pit”) occasioned the interpretation that saw here the rebellion and fall of Satan.
* [14:24–27] The motif of God’s plan or work is a recurring thread running through Isaiah’s oracles. The plans of Judah’s enemies will not come to pass (7:5–7; 8:9–10; 10:7), but God’s plan for his work of disciplining his own people (5:12, 19; 28:21), and then for punishing the foreign agents God used to administer that discipline (10:12) will come to pass.
* [14:28–31] This oracle seems to reflect the political situation soon after the death of Ahaz in 715 B.C., when Ashdod and the other Philistine cities were trying to create a united front to rebel against Assyria. Ahaz had refused to join the rebels in 735 B.C. and remained loyal to Assyria during the rest of his reign, but the Philistines may have had higher hopes for his son Hezekiah. Judah, however, did not join in Ashdod’s disastrous revolt in 713–711 B.C. (cf. 20:1).
* [14:28] The year that King Ahaz died: 715 B.C.
* [14:29] The occasion for this oracle is usually taken to be the death of an Assyrian king; the Philistines were vassals of Assyria, whereas no victories of Ahaz over the Philistines are recorded. The chronological notice (in the year that King Ahaz died) may be incorrect, for no Assyrian king died around 715, the date usually assigned for the death of Ahaz. Flying saraph: a winged cobra, often portrayed in Egyptian art and on Israelite seals. The Hebrew saraph means “to burn” and perhaps is applied to the cobra because of the burning sensation of its bite.
* [14:31] Smoke from the north: the dust raised from the approach of the Assyrian army.