Isaiah 14:17
That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?
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(17) That opened not the house of his prisoners.—Better, as in the margin, he loosed not his prisoners to their homes. This was, we may note, a characteristic feature of the cruelty of the Assyrian kings. So Sennacherib and Assurbanipal boast of having carried off captive kings in “chains of iron” (Records of the Past, i. pp. 43, 62, 72), and kept them chained like dogs in the court of their palace (ib., pp. 93, 97). So Jehoiachin was kept in prison for thirty-seven years (Jeremiah 52:31).

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?That made the world as a wilderness - That made cities and kingdoms desolate.

That opened not the house of his prisoners - This is a description of his oppression and cruelty. Of course many prisoners would be taken in war. Instead of giving them liberty, he threw them into prison and kept them there. This may be rendered, 'his prisoners he did not release that they might return home' (see the Margin). The Chaldee renders it, 'To his prisoners he did not open the door.' The sense is substantially the same. The idea is, that he was cruel and oppressive. He threw his captives into dungeons, and found pleasure in retaining them there.

17. opened not … house … prisoners—But Maurer, as Margin, "Did not let his captives loose homewards." Whereby he signifies both his irresistible power, and his continued cruelty. He neither was willing to give them any liberty or ease, nor could any force him to do it. That made the world as a wilderness,.... Both by destroying the inhabitants of it, and by laying waste cities, towns, villages, fields, vineyards, gardens, and all places improved and cultivated, wherever he came, as it follows:

and destroyed the cities thereof; as the Assyrian kings had done, some of which are mentioned in Isaiah 10:9,

that opened not the house of his prisoners; the prison house, in, which they were held; or,

"the gate to his prisoners,''

as the Targum; or rather the words may be rendered, "that opened not to his prisoners", that they might go "home"; or as De Dieu, in short, yet fully, expresses it, "that did not dismiss his prisoners home"; he not only cruelly and inhumanly put many to the sword, but such as surrendered, and were taken captives, he detained them in prison, and would not loose their bonds, but let them die there; which was an instance of great cruelty and inhumanity.

That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed its cities; that opened not {l} the house of his prisoners?

(l) To set them free, noting his cruelty.

17. opened not the house of his prisoners] Translate as R.V. let not loose his prisoners to their home (a so-called pregnant construction). But from this point the rhythm is defective, and the text is almost certainly in some disorder. The immediate difficulty might be surmounted by bringing the words “every one in his house” from the end of Isaiah 14:18 (where they are rhythmically superfluous) to the end of Isaiah 14:17 : thus (with a slight alteration):—

“That let not loose his prisoners,—each to his home.”

But a satisfactory reconstruction of the passage as a whole seems impossible.Verse 17. - That opened not the house of his prisoners; literally, that loosed not his prisoners homewards. The long imprisonment of Jehoiachin by Nebuchadnezzar (thirty-six years, 2 Kings 25:27) is an illustration; but perhaps it is rather the retention in captivity of the entire Jewish people that is brought to the prophet's cognizance. "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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