I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)I will be like the most High.—The Chaldaean king is rightly represented as using a Divine name (Elîôn), which was not essentially Israelite, but common to the Phœnicians and other kindred nations. (See Genesis 14:18; Daniel 4:24; Luke 8:28; Acts 16:17.) The Persians carried their adulation still further, and applied the title “god” to their kings (Æsch. Pers. 623), as the Syrians afterwards did in the case of Antiochus Theos. The Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions, for the most part, fall short of this, and describe the king as the “servant,” or “priest,” of Assur, or Bel, or Nebo, “the viceroy, or vicar, of the gods.”2 Thessalonians 2:4, in regard to antichrist: 'He, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.' And this similarity is the more remarkable, because antichrist is represented, in Revelation 17:4-5, as seated in babylon - the spiritual seat of arrogance, oppression, and pride. Probably Paul had the passage in Isaiah in his eye when he penned the description of antichrist. Above the heights of the clouds, to wit, into heaven, as he said, Isaiah 14:13.
Like the Most High, in the uncontrollableness of my power, and the universal extent of my dominion over all the earth.
"I will ascend above all people,''
compared to clouds for their multitude. In the mystical sense, the true ministers of the word may be meant, so called for their height, motion, swiftness, and fulness of Gospel doctrine, compared to rain; see Isaiah 5:6.
I will be like the most High; so Satan affected to be, and this was the bait he laid for our first parents, and with which they were taken; and nothing less than deity could satisfy some ambitious princes, as Caligula, and others; and this was what the Babylonish monarch aspired to, and ordered to be ascribed to him, and be regarded as such, either while living, or at least after death, which was what had been done to many Heathen princes. So antichrist is represented as showing himself to be God, 2 Thessalonians 2:4 by calling and suffering himself to be called God; by assuming all power in heaven and in earth; taking upon him to depose kings and dispose of kingdoms at pleasure; dispensing with the laws of God, and making new ones; absolving men from their oaths, pardoning their sins, setting up himself as infallible, as the sole interpreter of Scripture, and judge of controversies. The Targum is,
"I will he higher than them all;''I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)14. I will be like the most High] Better: I will make myself like to the Most High. The sense of all the previous metaphors is gathered up in this sentence. The king arrogates to himself divine honour.Verse 14. - I will be like the Most High (comp. Isaiah 47:8). It is a mistake to say that "the Assyrians gave the name of God to their monarchs" (Kay), or, at any rate, there is no evidence that they did. Nor does any king, either Assyrian or Babylonian, ever assume a Divine title. There is a marked difference in this respect between the Egyptian and the Assyro-Babylonian religions. Probably Isaiah only means that Babylonian monarchs thought of themselves as gods, worked their own wills, were wrapped up in themselves, did not in heart bow down to a higher Power. Isaiah 44:23; Isaiah 49:13); and it is a distinctive peculiarity of the prophet to bring in the trees of the forest, as living and speaking beings, to share in the universal joy (cf., Isaiah 55:12). Jerome supposes the trees to be figuratively employed here for the "chiefs of the nations" (principes gentium). But this disposition to allegorize not only destroys the reality of the contents, but the spirit of the poetry also. Cypresses and cedars rejoice because of the treatment which they received from the Chaldean, who made use of the almost imperishable wood of both of them for ornamental buildings, for his siege apparatus, and for his fleets, and even for ordinary ships - as Alexander, for example, built himself a fleet of cypress-wood, and the Syrian vessels had masts of cedar. Of the old cedars of Lebanon, there are hardly thirty left in the principle spot where they formerly grew. Gardner Wilkinson (1843) and Hooker the botanist (1860) estimated the whole number at about four hundred; and according to the conclusion which the latter drew from the number of concentric rings and other signs, not one of them is more than about five hundred years old.
(Note: See Wilkinson's paper in the Athenaeum (London, Noverse 1862).)
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