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.
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(11) Thy pomp is brought down to the grave. Literally, to Sheol, as in Isaiah 14:9. The “pomp” is the same as the “beauty” of Isaiah 13:19.

The noise of thy viols.—Perhaps harps, or cymbals, representing one of the prominent features of Babylonian culture (Daniel 3:5). The singers see, as it were, all this kingly state mouldering in the grave, maggots and worms (the two words are different in the Hebrew) taking the place of the costly shawls and carpets on which the great king had been wont to rest.

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?Thy pomp - Thy magnificence (see the note at Isaiah 5:14).

The noise of thy viols - Instruments of music were often used in their feasts; and the meaning here is, that instead of being surrounded with splendor, and the instruments of music, the monarch was now brought down to the corruption and stillness of the grave. The instrument referred to by the word 'viol' (נבל nēbel, plur. נבלים nebalı̂ym, Greek νάβλα nabla, Latin nablium), was a stringed instrument usually with twelve strings, and played by the pecten or by the hand (see the notes and illustrations on Isaiah 5:12). Additional force is given by all these expressions if they are read, as Lowth reads them, as questions asked in suprise, and in a taunting manner, over the haughty king of Babylon - 'Is thy pride then brought down to the grave?' etc.

The worm - This word, in Hebrew (רמה rimmâh), denotes a worm that is found in putrid substances Exodus 16:25; Job 7:5; Job 21:26.

Is spread under thee - Is become thy couch - instead of the gorgeous couch on which thou wert accustomed to repose.

And the worm - (תולעה tôlê‛âh) - the same word which occurs in Isaiah 1:18, and rendered there as "crimson" (see the note on that verse). This word is usually applied to the insect from which the crimson dye was obtained; but it is also applied to the worm which preys upon the dead Exodus 16:20; Isaiah 66:24.

Cover thee - Instead of the splendid covering which was over thee when reposing on thy couch in thy palace. What could be more humiliating than this language? How striking the contrast between his present situation and that in which he reposed in Babylon! And yet this language is as applicable to all others as to that prond and haughty king. It is equally true of the great and mighty everywhere; of the rich, the frivolous, the beautiful, and the proud who lie on beds of down, that they will soon lie where worms shall be their couch and their covering. How ought this reflection to humble our pride! How should it lead us to be prepared for that hour when the grave shall be our bed; and when far away from the sound of the viol and the harp; from the sweet voice of friendship and the noise of revelry, we shall mingle with our native dust!

11. "Pomp" and music, the accompaniment of Babylon's former feastings (Isa 5:12; 24:8), give place to the corruption and the stillness of the grave (Eze 32:27).

worm—that is bred in putridity.

worms—properly those from which the crimson dye is obtained. Appropriate here; instead of the crimson coverlet, over thee shall be "worms." Instead of the gorgeous couch, "under thee" shall be the maggot.

Thy pomp is brought down to the grave; all thy glory is lost and buried with thee.

The noise of thy viols; all thy musical and melodious instruments, which were much used in Babylon, Daniel 3:5,7,10, and were doubtless used in Belshazzar’s solemn feast, 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 rich and stately carpets upon which thou didst frequently tread.

Thy pomp is brought down to the grave,.... Or "hell"; all the state and majesty in which he appeared, when sitting on the throne of his kingdom, with a glittering crown on his head, a sceptre in his hand, clad in the richest apparel, and attended by his princes and nobles with the utmost reverence and submission; all this, with much more, followed him to the regions of the dead, and there it left him; see Psalm 49:17,

and the noise of thy viols; or musical instruments, even all of them, one being put for all; such as were used at festivals, and at times of joy and rejoicing, of which the Babylonians had many, and very probably were used at the feast by Belshazzar, when the city was taken, and he was slain; to which reference may be had in this place, Daniel 3:5 compare with this Revelation 18:16,

the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee; who used to have rich carpets spread for him to tread upon, and stately canopies under which he sat, beds of down to lie upon, and the richest covering over him, and now, nothing but worms over him, and worms under him; or instead of being wrapped in gold and silk, and embalmed with the most precious spices, as the eastern kings used to be, he had not so much as a grave, but was cast out of that, as is after said, and so was liable to putrefaction, and to be covered with worms at once; worms in his bed, and worms in his bed clothes! See Job 21:26.

Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm {g} is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.

(g) Instead of your costly carpets and coverings.

11. It is doubtful whether this verse continues the address of the shades. It certainly does not extend further.

For the grave read Sheol. the noise of thy viols] possibly indicating that the king had been cut down suddenly at a riotous feast (see Isaiah 21:5; Daniel 5).

the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee] (The Heb. uses two distinct words for “worm.”) His lot is far worse than that of other potentates. No kingly throne is reserved for him in Sheol, but as one who has been denied honourable burial on earth (Isaiah 14:19) he is laid in the “recesses of the pit” (Isaiah 14:15) and makes his bed in corruption.

Verse 11. - The noise of thy viols. (On the fondness of the Babylonians for music, and the number and variety of their musical instruments, see Daniel 3:7, 10, etc.) The word here translated "viol" is more commonly rendered "psaltery." (On the probable character of the instrument intended, see note on Isaiah 5:12.) The worm is spread under thee, etc.; rather, beneath thee is spread the maggot, and the worm covereth thee. The thought of the grave brings the thought of corruption with it. For cushion and for coverlet the royal corpse has only the loathsome creatures which come with putrescence. At this point the second stanza terminates. Isaiah 14:11"Thy pomp is cast down to the region of the dead, the noise of thy harps: maggots are spread under thee, and they that cover thee are worms." From the book of Daniel we learn the character of the Babylonian music; it abounded in instruments, some of which were foreign. Maggots and worms (a bitter sarcasm) now take the place of the costly artistic Babylonian rugs, which once formed the pillow and counterpane of the distinguished corpse. יצּע might be a third pers. hophal (Ges. 71); but here, between perfects, it is a third pers. pual, like yullad in Isaiah 9:5. Rimmâh, which is preceded by the verb in a masculine and to a certain extent an indifferent form (Ges. 147, a), is a collective name for small worms, in any mass of which the individual is lost in the swarm. The passage is continued with איך (on which, as a catchword of the mashal, see at Isaiah 1:21).
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