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 hinders.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) He who smote . . .—Better, which smote, the whole verse being of the nature of a relative clause, with the “sceptre” for antecedent.

A continual stroke.—Literally, a stroke without ceasing.

Is persecuted, and none hindereth.—Better, completing the parallelism, with a trampling that is not stayed.

Isaiah 14:6-11. He that ruled the nations in anger — With rigour, and not with clemency; is persecuted and none hindereth — Neither the Babylonians themselves nor their confederates. The whole earth is at rest — The subjects of that vast empire who groaned under his cruel bondage. Yea, the cedars of Lebanon — Which were felled for the service of his pride and luxury, but are now suffered to stand and flourish. It is a figure usual in sacred and profane writers. Hell — The invisible world, or rather, the grave, as the same word is rendered Isaiah 14:11, and in innumerable other places; to which he elegantly ascribes sense and speech, as poets and orators frequently do; is moved to meet thee at thy coming — And to compliment thee on thy arrival in their dark regions. “This image of the state of the dead, or the Infernum Poeticum of the Hebrews, is taken from their custom of burying, those at least of the higher rank, in large sepulchral vaults hewn in the rock. Of this kind of sepulchres there are remains at Jerusalem now extant; and some that are said to be the sepulchres of the kings of Judah: see Maundrell, p. 76. You are to form to yourself an idea of an immense subterraneous vault, a vast gloomy cavern, all round the sides of which are cells to receive the dead bodies; here the deceased monarchs lie in a distinguished sort of state, suitable to their former rank, each on his own couch, with his arms beside him, his sword at his head, and the bodies of his chiefs and companions round about him: see Ezekiel 32:27. These illustrious shades rise at once from their couches, as from their thrones; and advance to the entrance of the cavern to meet the king of Babylon, and to receive him with insults on his fall.” — Bishop Lowth. All they shall say, Art thou become weak as we? — Thou, who wast king of kings, and far superior to us in power and authority? that didst neither fear God nor reverence man, but rather didst rank thyself among the immortals; thou, before whom all people, nations, and languages trembled and feared, art thou come to take thy fate with us poor mortal men? Where now is thy power and thy glory? Thy pomp is brought down to the grave — Is lost and buried with thee; and the noise of thy viols — All thy musical instruments, which were much used in Babylon, and were doubtless used in Belshazzar’s solemn feasts, (Daniel 5:1,) at which time the city was taken; to which possibly the prophet here alludes. The worm is spread under thee — Instead of those stately carpets upon which thou didst frequently tread.14:1-23 The whole plan of Divine Providence is arranged with a view to the good of the people of God. A settlement in the land of promise is of God's mercy. Let the church receive those whom God receives. God's people, wherever their lot is cast, should endeavour to recommend religion by a right and winning conversation. Those that would not be reconciled to them, should be humbled by them. This may be applied to the success of the gospel, when those were brought to obey it who had opposed it. God himself undertakes to work a blessed change. They shall have rest from their sorrow and fear, the sense of their present burdens, and the dread of worse. Babylon abounded in riches. The king of Babylon having the absolute command of so much wealth, by the help of it ruled the nations. This refers especially to the people of the Jews; and it filled up the measure of the king of Babylon's sins. Tyrants sacrifice their true interest to their lusts and passions. It is gracious ambition to covet to be like the Most Holy, for he has said, Be ye holy, for I am holy; but it is sinful ambition to aim to be like the Most High, for he has said, He who exalts himself shall be abased. The devil thus drew our first parents to sin. Utter ruin should be brought upon him. Those that will not cease to sin, God will make to cease. He should be slain, and go down to the grave; this is the common fate of tyrants. True glory, that is, true grace, will go up with the soul to heaven, but vain pomp will go down with the body to the grave; there is an end of it. To be denied burial, if for righteousness' sake, may be rejoiced in, Mt 5:12. But if the just punishment of sin, it denotes that impenitent sinners shall rise to everlasting shame and contempt. Many triumphs should be in his fall. God will reckon with those that disturb the peace of mankind. The receiving the king of Babylon into the regions of the dead, shows there is a world of spirits, to which the souls of men remove at death. And that souls have converse with each other, though we have none with them; and that death and hell will be death and hell indeed, to all who fall unholy, from the height of this world's pomps, and the fulness of its pleasures. Learn from all this, that the seed of evil-doers shall never be renowned. The royal city is to be ruined and forsaken. Thus the utter destruction of the New Testament Babylon is illustrated, Re 18:2. When a people will not be made clean with the besom of reformation, what can they expect but to be swept off the face of the earth with the besom of destruction?He who smote - This may either refer to the king of Babylon, or to the rod or scepter which he had used, and which was now broken. Herder refers it to the scepter, 'that which smote the nations.' (On the meaning of the word "smote," see the notes at Isaiah 10:20)

The people - The nations that were subject to his authority.

With a continual stroke - Margin, 'A stroke without removing.' Vulgate, Plaga insanabili - 'With an incurable plague.' - Septuagint the same - Πληγῇ ἀνιάτῳ Plēgē aniatō. The Hebrew is, as in the margin, 'A smiting without removing,' or without cessation. There was no relaxation in its oppressions, it was always engaged in acts of tyranny.

He that ruled the nations - Babylon was the capital of a vast empire, and that empire was composed of many dependent nations.

Is persecuted - By those that make war upon it. Its turn had come to be oppressed, and overthrown.

And none hindereth - No nation opposes the invader. None of the dependent kingdoms of Babylon have any real attachment to it, but all rejoice at its downfall. The most mighty kingdom of the earth is helpless and ruined. What a change was this! How sudden and striking the revolution! And what a warning to proud and guilty cities!

6. people—the peoples subjected to Babylon.

is persecuted—the Hebrew is rather, active, "which persecuted them, without any to hinder him" [Vulgate, Jerome, and Horsley].

In anger; with rigour, and not with clemency, as many conquerors have done.

Non hindereth; neither the Babylonians themselves, nor their confederates, could withstand the power of the Medes and Persians. He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke,.... The king of Babylon, who made war with the people and nations of the earth, and conquered them, smote them with the edge of the sword to gratify his passions, and satiate his bloodthirsty mind; and those that were spared, he ruled with rigour, and oppressed them with tribute and hard bondage; and, when he had conquered one nation, attacked another, and so went on pursuing his victories without intermission, giving no respite neither to his army, nor to the people:

he that ruled the nations in anger; not with justice and clemency, but in a tyrannical and oppressive way, even his own nation, as well as the nations whom he subdued:

is persecuted; is, pursued by the justice of God, overtaken and seized, and brought to condign punishment;

and none hindereth; the execution of the righteous judgment upon him; none of the neighbouring kings and nations, either tributary to him, or in alliance with him, give him the least help or assistance, or attempt to ward off the blow upon him, given him, under the direction and appointment of God, by Cyrus the Persian. So the Romish antichrist, who has made war with the saints, and has smitten them with the sword, and gone on to do so without any intermission for ages together, and has tyrannised over them in a most cruel manner, he shall be persecuted, and taken, and brought to his end, and there shall be none to help him; see Revelation 13:7.

He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and {d} none hindereth.

(d) That is, he permitted all violence and injuries to be done.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. He who] Better, as R.V., that; the antecedent being the staff,

is persecuted, and none hindereth] R.V. “with a persecution that none restrained.” The parallelism requires instead of “persecution” a noun cognate with the verb rendered “rule,” as in the preceding line. An easy emendation (mirdath for murdâph) supplies this; and this reading is almost universally accepted. The balance of clauses is then perfect:—

That struck the peoples in anger,—with incessant stroke;

That trod down the nations in wrath,—with unrelenting tread.Verse 6. - He who smote the people; rather, which smote the peoples. The participle translated "he who smote" refers to "staff" or "scepter." With a continual stroke; i.e. incessantly, one war following another without pause or stop. He that ruled, etc.; rather, which ruled the nations in anger with a persecution that held not back. Babel, like the cities of the Pentapolis, had now become a perpetual desert. "She remains uninhabited for ever, and unoccupied into generation of generations; and not an Arab pitches his tent there, and shepherds do not make their folds there. And there lie beasts of the desert, and horn-owls fill their houses; and ostriches dwell there, and field-devils hop about there. And jackals howl in her castles, and wild dogs in palaces of pleasure; and her time is near to come, and her days will not be prolonged." The conclusion is similar to that of the prophecy against Edom, in Isaiah 34:16-17. There the certainty of the prediction, even in its most minute particulars, is firmly declared; here the nearness of the time of fulfilment. But the fulfilment did not take place so soon as the words of the prophecy might make it appear. According to Herodotus, Cyrus, the leader of the Medo-Persian army, left the city still standing, with its double ring of walls. Darius Hystaspis, who had to conquer Babylon a second time in 518 b.c., had the walls entirely destroyed, with the exception of fifty cubits. Xerxes gave the last thrust to the glory of the temple of Belus. Having been conquered by Seleucus Nicator (312), it declined just in proportion as Seleucia rose. Babylon, says Pliny, ad solitudinem rediit exhausta vicinitate Seleuciae. At the time of Strabo (born 60 b.c.) Babylon was a perfect desert; and he applies to it (16:15) the words of the poet, ἐρημία μεγάλη ̓στὶν ἡ μεγάλη πόλις. Consequently, in the passage before us the prophecy falls under the law of perspective foreshortening. But all that it foretells has been literally fulfilled. The curse that Babylon would never come to be settled in and inhabited again (a poetical expression, like Jeremiah 17:25; Jeremiah 33:16), proved itself an effectual one, when Alexander once thought of making Babylon the metropolis of his empire. He was carried off by an early death. Ten thousand workmen were at that time employed for two months in simply clearing away the rubbish of the foundations of the temple of Belus (the Nimrod-tower). "Not an Arab pitches his tent there" (‛Arâbi, from ‛Arâbâh, a steppe, is used here for the first time in the Old Testament, and then again in Jeremiah 3:2; yăhēl, different from yâhēl in Isaiah 13:10 and Job 31:26, is a syncopated form of יאהל, tentorium figet, according to Ges. 68, Anm. 2, used instead of the customary יאהל): this was simply the natural consequence of the great field of ruins, upon which there was nothing but the most scanty vegetation. But all kinds of beasts of the desert and waste places make their homes there instead. The list commences with ziyyim (from zi, dryness, or from ziyi, an adj. relat. of the noun zi), i.e., dwellers in the desert; the reference here is not to men, but, as in most other instances, to animals, though it is impossible to determine what are the animals particularly referred to. That ochim are horned owls (Uhus) is a conjecture of Aurivillius, which decidedly commends itself. On benoth ya‛ănâh, see at Job 39:13-18. Wetzstein connects ya‛ănâh with an Arabic word for desert; it is probably more correct, however, to connect it with the Syriac יענא, greedy. The feminine plural embraces ostriches of both sexes, just as the 'iyyim (sing. אי equals אוי, from 'âvâh, to howl: see Bernstein's Lex. on Kirsch's Chrestom. Syr. p. 7), i.e., jackals, are called benât āwa in Arabic, without distinction of sex (awa in this appellation is a direct reproduction of the natural voice of the animal, which is called wawi in vulgar Arabic). Tan has also been regarded since the time of Pococke and Schnurrer as the name of the jackal; and this is supported by the Syriac and Targum rendering yaruro (see Bernstein, p. 220), even more than by the Arabic name of the wolf, tinân, which only occurs here and there. אי, ibnu āwa, is the common jackal found in Hither Asia (Canis aureus vulgaris), the true type of the whole species, which is divided into at least ten varieties, and belongs to the same genus as dogs and wolves (not foxes). Tan may refer to one of these varieties, which derived its name from its distinctive peculiarity as a long-stretched animal, whether the extension was in the trunk, the snout, or the tail.

The animals mentioned, both quadrupeds (râbatz) and birds (shâcan), are really found there, on the soil of ancient Babylon. When Kerporter was drawing near to the Nimrod-tower, he saw lions sunning themselves quietly upon its walls, which came down very leisurely when alarmed by the cries of the Arabs. And as Rich heard in Bagdad, the ruins are still regarded as a rendezvous for ghosts: sâ‛ir, when contrasted with ‛attūd, signifies the full-grown shaggy buck-goat; but here se‛irim is applied to demons in the shape of goats (as in Isaiah 34:14). According to the Scriptures, the desert is the abode of unclean spirits, and such unclean spirits as the popular belief or mythology pictured to itself were se‛irim. Virgil, like Isaiah, calls them saltantes Satyros. It is remarkable also that Joseph Wolf, the missionary and traveller to Bochâra, saw pilgrims of the sect of Yezidis (or devil-worshippers) upon the ruins of Babylon, who performed strange and horrid rites by moonlight, and danced extraordinary dances with singular gestures and sounds. On seeing these ghost-like, howling, moonlight pilgrims, he very naturally recalled to mind the dancing se‛irim of prophecy (see Moritz Wagner's Reise nach Persien und dem Lande der Kurden, Bd. ii. p. 251). And the nightly howling and yelling of jackals (‛ânâh after rikkēd, as in 1 Samuel 18:6-7) produces its natural effect upon every traveller there, just as in all the other ruins of the East. These are now the inhabitants of the royal 'armenoth, which the prophet calls 'almenoth with a sarcastic turn, on account of their widowhood and desolation; these are the inhabitants of the palaces of pleasure, the luxurious villas and country-seats, with their hanging gardens. The Apocalypse, in Revelation 18:2, takes up this prophecy of Isaiah, and applies it to a still existing Babylon, which might have seen itself in the mirror of the Babylon of old.

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