Isaiah 14:19
But you are cast out of your grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcass trodden under feet.
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(19) Like an abominable branch.—The noun is the same as in Isaiah 11:1; Isaiah 60:21. The idea seems to be that of a scion or shoot which is mildewed and blasted, and which men fling away as loathsome.

As the raiment of those that are slain . . .—The image reminds us of the “garments rolled in blood “of Isaiah 9:5, gathered after the battle, and “cast forth” to be burnt. In such raiment, not in stately robes nor kingly grave-clothes, would the great ruler be found. To lie thus unburied, “a prey to dogs and vultures” (Homer, Iliad, i. 4), was, as with the Homeric heroes, the shame of all shames.

That go down to the stones of the pit.—By some critics these words are joined with the following verse: Those that go down . . . with them thou shalt not be joined in burial, i.e., shalt have no proper sepulchre. As the passage stands, “the stones of the pit” represent the burial-place into which the carcases of the slain were indiscriminately thrown.

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?But thou art cast out of thy grave - Thou art not buried like other kings in a magnificent sepulchre, but art cast out like the common dead. This was a mark of the highest infamy (see Isaiah 34:3; Ezekiel 29:5; Jeremiah 22:19). Nothing was considered more disgraceful than to be denied the privileges of an honorable burial (see the note at Isaiah 53:9). On the fulfillment of this prophecy, see the note at Isaiah 14:20.

As an abominable branch - (נתעב כנצר kenêtser nı̂te'āb). The Septuagint renders this, 'And thou shalt be cast upon the mountains as a dead body that is abominable, with many dead that are slain by the sword, descending to Hades.' The Chaldee, 'And thou shalt be cast out of thy sepulchre as a branch that is hid.' Lowth supposes that by 'abominable branch' there is allusion to a tree on which a malefactor was hanged, that was regarded as detestable, and cursed. But there are obvious objections to this interpretation. One is, that the word "branch (netser)" is never applied to a tree. It means "a shoot, a slip, a scion" (note, Isaiah 11:1). Another objection is, that there seems here to be no necessary allusion to such a tree; or to anything that would lead to it. Jerome says, that the word "netser" denotes a shoot or sucker that starts up at the root of a plant or tree, and that is useless to the farmer, and which he therefore cuts off. So, says he, the king of Babylon shall be cast off - as the farmer throws away the useless sucker. This is probably the correct idea. The word "abominable" means, therefore, not only that which is "useless," but indicates that the shoot or sucker is "troublesome" to the farmer. It is an object that he "hates," and which he gets clear of as soon as possible. So the king of Babylon would be cast out as useless, hateful, abominable; to be thrown away, as the noxious shoot is, as unfit for use, and unworthy to be preserved.

As the raiment of those that are slain - As a garment that is all defiled with gore, and that is cast away and left to rot. The garments of those slain in battle, covered with blood and dirt, would be cast away as polluted and worthless, and so would be the king of Babylon. Among the Hebrews such garments were regarded with special abhorrence (Rosenmuller); perhaps from the dread which they had of touching a dead body, and of course of anything that was found on a dead body.

Thrust through with a sword - That is, the slain thrust through. The effect of this was to pollute the garment with blood, and to render it useless.

That go down to the stones of the pit - The 'pit' here means the grave or sepulchre Isaiah 14:15. The phrase 'stones of the pit,' conveys the idea that the grave or sepulchre was usually either excavated from the solid rock, or constructed of stones. The idea is simply, that those who were slain with the sword were buried in the usual manner, though their bloody garments defiled were cast away. But the king of Babylon should not have even the honor of such a burial as was given to those who fell in battle.

As a carcase trodden under foot - Unburied; as the body of a brute that is exposed to the air, and denied the honor of a sepulchre.

19. cast out of—not that he had lain in the grave and was then cast out of it, but "cast out without a grave," such as might have been expected by thee ("thy").

branch—a useless sucker starting up from the root of a tree, and cut away by the husbandman.

raiment of those … slain—covered with gore, and regarded with abhorrence as unclean by the Jews. Rather, "clothed (that is, covered) with the slain"; as in Job 7:5, "My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust" [Maurer].

thrust through—that is, "the slain who have been thrust through," &c.

stones of … pit—whose bodies are buried in sepulchres excavated amidst stones, whereas the king of Babylon is an unburied "carcass trodden under foot."

Cast out of thy grave; or, cast from thy grave or burying place; which very probably happened to Belshazzar, who was slain in the night, Daniel 5:30, when his people had neither opportunity nor heart to bestow an honourable interment upon him, and the conquerors would not suffer them to do it.

Like an abominable branch; like a useless and rotten twig of a tree, which he that pruneth the trees cutteth off, and casteth away with abhorrency, and suffers to lie rotting more and more upon the ground; or, like a degenerate plant of a noble vine, which is abominable.

As the raiment of those that are slain; which, being cut and mangled, and besmeared with mire, and defiled with blood, was cast away with contempt, and abominated as an unclean thing, as it was in divers respects, in that age and state of the church.

That go down to the stones of the pit; which persons being slain, they, together with their garments, are cast into some pit. He saith, to the stones of the pit, either because such bodies are commonly thrown into the next pits, and pits were frequently made by digging stones out of their quarries; or because there usually are a great number of stones in the bottoms of pits, either naturally, or being cast in thither upon, divers occasions; and when dead bodies are cast in thither, men use to throw a heap of stones upon them.

As a carcass trodden under feet; neglected, like such a carcass. Or this might literally happen to Belshazzar’s dead body, through military fury and contempt, or from other causes. But thou art cast out of thy grave,.... Or rather "from" it (d); that is, he was not suffered to be put into it, or to have a burial, as the following words show, at least not to be laid in the grave designed for him; though the Jews (e), who apply this to Nebuchadnezzar, have a fabulous story that he was taken out of his grave by his son, to confirm this prophecy; and which their commentators, Aben Ezra, Jarchi, Kimchi, and Abendana, tell in this manner: that when Nebuchadnezzar was driven from men, and was with the beasts of the field for seven years, the people made his son Evilmerodach king; but when Nebuchadnezzar came to his right mind, and returned to his palace at Babylon, and found his son upon the throne, he put him in prison, where he lay till Nebuchadnezzar died, when the people took him out to make him king; but he refused to be king, saying, he did not believe his father was dead; and that if he should come again, as before, and find him, he would kill him; upon which they took him out of his grave, to show him that he was dead: but the sense here is not that the king of Babylon should be taken out of his grave, after he was laid in it, but that he should be hindered from being put into it; which very likely was the case of Belshazzar.

Like an abominable branch; cut off from a tree as useless and hurtful, and cast upon the ground, where it lies and rots, and is good for nothing, neither for fuel, nor anything else, but is neglected and despised of all:

and as the raiment of those that are slain; in battle, which being rolled in blood, nobody cares to take up and wear, nor even touch; for such persons were accounted unclean by the ceremonial law, and by the touch of them uncleanness was contracted; and perhaps with a view to this the simile is used, to express the very mean and abject condition this monarch should be in:

thrust through with a sword; which was added for explanation sake, to show in which way the persons were slain whose raiment is referred to; the clothes of such being stained with blood, when those that died by other means might not have their raiment so defiled. The word (f) rendered "thrust through", is only used in this place, and in Genesis 45:17 where it is rendered "lade", or put on a burden; but, as the several Jewish commentators before mentioned observe (g), in the Arabic language it signifies to pierce or thrust through with sword or spear, and so it is used in the Arabic version of John 19:34,

that go down to the stones of the pit; into which dead bodies after a battle are usually cast, and which have often stones at the bottom; and into which being cast, stones are also thrown over them:

as a carcass trodden underfoot; which is frequently the case of those that fall in battle; and very probably was the case of Belshazzar, when slain by the Chaldeans, whose body in a tumult might be neglected and trodden upon, and afterwards have no other burial than that of a common soldier in a pit; and instead of having a sepulchral monument erected over him, as kings used to have, had nothing but a heap of stones thrown upon him.

(d) "a sepulchro tuo", Gataker. (e) Seder Olam Rabba c. 28. fol. 81. (f) Strong's Concondance assigns two numbers to this word, 02943 and 02944. The word is the same in the Hebrew, differing only in the tense. This case is a Pual and the one in Genesis is a Qal. Wigrim's Englishman's Hebrew Concondance also has them in separate categories. There appears to be no good reason for this. Editor. (g) "confodit cum instrumentis, hasta, gladiis", Castel. col. 1546. So it is used in the Arabic version of Lam. iv. 9. and in the Chaldee language it signifies to pierce through and wound; as in the Targum on Jer. li. 4.

But thou art {m} cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet.

(m) You were not buried in the sepulchre of your fathers, your tyranny was so abhorred.

19. cast out of thy grave] Better as in R.V., cast forth away from thy sepulchre, i.e. flung out unburied. The idea that the body had been disinterred is inconsistent with Isaiah 14:20.

like an abominable branch] A worthless scion of the family.

and as the raiment of those that are slain] Render as R.V. clothed with (i.e. “surrounded by”) the slain, on the field of battle.

that go down to the stones of the pit] A difficult expression. In its present position it is most naturally understood of the hasty and ignominious burial of a dead enemy by casting stones on the body (cf. 2 Samuel 18:17). The rhythm, however, demands a short line at this point, and this phrase is much too long. Hence some propose to transfer the words to the beginning of Isaiah 14:20, where they would open a new strophe, thus:—

“Those that are buried in graves of stone, with them shalt thou not be united in sepulture.”

On this view they must be a synonym for honourable sepulture, and the “stones of the pit” would denote stone-built tombs. This seems a less natural sense. A reference to the pit of Sheol (Isaiah 14:15) is hardly to be expected in this place.Verse 19. - But thou art cast out (see ver. 13). Again "thou" is emphatic. Translate, But thou - thou art cast out. The Babylonian monarch did not rest in the tomb which he had prepared for himself. His body was "cast out" - left, apparently, where it fell in battle. If there is allusion to any individual, it is probably to Belshazzar (Daniel 5:30). Like an abominable branch. As a shoot from a tree, which is disapproved, and so condemned and cut away. As the raiment of those that are slam. The garments of the slain, soaked in blood (Isaiah 9:5), were useless, and were consequently flung away or left to rot uncured for. So was it with the corpse of the great king. That go down to the stones of the pit. This clause is thought to be misplaced. It deranges the meter and damages the sense. Corpses were not interred on fields of battle in the East (Herod., 3:26). They were left to be "trodden underfoot." It is best, with Ewald and Mr. Cheyne, to transfer the clause to the commencement of the next verse. Thus the fourth stanza is relieved, and the fifth properly filled out. "And thou, thou hast said in thy heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, and sit down on the mount of the assembly of gods in the corner of the north. I will ascend to the heights of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High. Nevertheless, thou wilt be cast down into the region of the dead, into the corner of the pit." An antithetical circumstantial clause commences with veattah, just as in Isaiah 14:19, "whilst thou," or "whereas thou." The har hammōēd (mount of assembly) cannot be Zion, as is assumed by Schegg and others, who are led astray by the parallel in Psalm 48:3, which has been entirely misunderstood, and has no bearing upon this passage at all. Zion was neither a northern point of the earth, nor was it situated on the north of Jerusalem. The prophet makes the king of Babylon speak according to the general notion of his people, who had not the seat of the Deity in the midst of them, as the Israelites had, but who placed it on the summit of the northern mountains, which were lost in the clouds, just as the Hindus place it on the fabulous mountains of Kailâsa, which lie towards the north beyond the Himalayas (Lassen, i. 34ff.). ירכתים (with an aspirated כ in a loosely closed syllable) are the two sides into which a thing parts, the two legs of an angle, and then the apex at which the legs separate. And so here, צפון ירכּתי (with an unaspirated Caph in a triply closed syllable) is the uttermost extremity of the north, from which the northern mountains stretch fork-like into the land, and yarcethe-bor the interior of the pit into which its two walls slope, and from which it unfolds or widens. All the foolhardy purposes of the Chaldean are finally comprehended in this, "I will make myself like the Most High;" just as the Assyrians, according to Ctesias, and the Persians, according to the Persae of Aeschylus, really called their king God, and the Sassanidae call themselves bag, Theos, upon coins and inscriptions ('eddammeh is hithpael, equivalent to 'ethdammeh, which the usual assimilation of the preformative Tav: Ges. 34, 2, b). By the אך in Psalm 48:14, the high-flying pride of the Chaldean is contrasted with his punishment, which hurls him down into the lowest depths. אך, which was originally affirmative, and then restrictive (as rak was originally restrictive and then affirmative), passes over here into an adversative, just as in Psalm 49:16; Job 13:15 (a change seen still more frequently in אכן); nevertheless thou wilt be hurled down; nothing but that will occur, and not what you propose. The prophetic tūrad is language that neither befits the inhabitants of Hades, who greet his advent, nor the Israel singing the mashal; but the words of Israel have imperceptibly passed into words of the prophet, who still sees in the distance, and as something future, what the mashal commemorates as already past.
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