Isaiah 14:29
Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.
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(29) Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina.—Better, Rejoice not thou, Philistia, all of thee; i.e., give not thyself wholly to rejoicing. Here, as in Exodus 15:14, “Palestina” is used, not in the wider meaning with which we are familiar, but specifically as the country of the Philistines. The historical circumstances connected with the “oracle” before us are found in 2Chronicles 18:18. The Philistines had invaded the low country (Shetphēlah), and the district known as the Negeb, or “south” of Judah, in the reign of Ahaz. He had called in the help of Tiglath-pileser, the Assyrian king, to assist him as against Rezin and Pekah (Isaiah 7), so probably against these new invaders. Sargon (who succeeded Tiglath-pileser, B.C. 723) invaded Ashdod in B.C. 710 (Isaiah 20:1; Records of the Past, vii. 40). Sennacherib records a like attack on Ashkelon and (according to Rawlinson’s interpretation) Ekron (Records of the Past, vii. 61). With these data we are able to enter on the interpretation of Isaiah’s prediction.

Because the rod of him that smote thee is broken.—The “rod,” as in Isaiah 10:24, is the power of Tiglath-pileser. The Philistines were exulting in his death, or in that of Ahaz as his ally, as though their peril was past. They are told that their exultation was premature.

Out of the serpent’s root.—The three forms of serpent life (we need not be careful about their identification from the zoologist’s point of view) may represent the three Assyrian kings named above, from whose invasions the Philistines were to suffer. Each form was more terrible than the preceding. The fiery flying serpent (Isaiah 30:6; Numbers 21:6), which represented Sennacherib, was the most formidable of the three. So in Isaiah 27:1, the “piercing serpent,” the “crooked serpent,” and the “dragon” are symbols of the Assyrian power. Some critics, however, led chiefly by the first words of the next verse, find in the three serpents—(1) Ahaz, (2) Hezekiah, (3) the ideal king of Isaiah 11:1-9.

14:28-32 Assurance is given of the destruction of the Philistines and their power, by famine and war. Hezekiah would be more terrible to them than Uzziah had been. Instead of rejoicing, there would be lamentation, for the whole land would be ruined. Such destruction will come upon the proud and rebellious, but the Lord founded Zion for a refuge to poor sinners, who flee from the wrath to come, and trust in his mercy through Christ Jesus. Let us tell all around of our comforts and security, and exhort them to seek the same refuge and salvation.Rejoice not thou - Rejoice not at the death of Ahaz, king of Judah. It shall be no advantage to thee. It shall not be the means of making an invasion on Judah more practicable.

Whole Palestina - We apply the name "Palestine" to the whole land of Canaan. Formerly, the name referred only to Philistia, from which we have derived the name Palestine. The word פלשׁת peleshet means properly the land of sojourners or strangers, from פלשׁ pālash, "to rove about, to wander, to migrate." The Septuagint renders it, Ἀλλοφυλοι Allophuloi - 'strangers,' or 'foreigners,' and Γῆ ἀλλοφύλων Gē allophulōn - 'land of strangers.' Philistia was situated on the southwestern side of the land of Canaan, extending along the Mediterranean Sea from Gaza on the south, to Lydda on the north. The Philistines were a powerful people, and had often been engaged in wars with Judah. They had made a successful attack on it in the time of Ahaz; and amidst the feebleness and distractions which they supposed might succeed on the change of the government of Judah, and the administration of an inexperienced prince like Hezekiah, they hoped to be still more successful, and would naturally rejoice at the death of Ahaz. When the prophet says '" whole" Palestina,' he means to say that no part of Philistia would have occasion to rejoice at the succession of Hezekiah (see Isaiah 14:31).

Because the rod of him that smote thee is broken - It was not true that they had been smitten during the reign of Ahaz, but it had been done by his predecessor Uzziah. Perhaps the prophet refers to that prince, and to his death. He had smitten and subdued them. At his death they would rejoice; and their joy had been continued during the reigns of Jotham and Ahaz. They would now rejoice the more that a young and inexperienced prince was to ascend the throne. Their joy had been that "Uzziah" had died, and that joy had been augmenting since his death. But the prophet now tells them that they will have no further occasion for such joy.

For out of the serpent's root - That is, there shall spring forth from the serpent, or shall succeed the serpent, as a shoot or sprout springs from the root of a decayed tree (see the note at Isaiah 11:1). By the serpent here, is undoutedly intended king Uzziah, who had so severely chastised the Philistines. The word 'serpent' נחשׁ nāchâsh denotes a serpent of any kind, and usually one far less venomous than that which is meant by the word translated cockatrice. Probably the prophet does not give this name "serpent" to Uzziah or to Ahaz, or the name "cockatrice" to Hezekiah, because he regarded the names as properly descriptive of their character, but because they were so regarded by the Philistines. They were as odious and offensive to them, and as destructive of their plans, as venomous reptiles would be.

Shall come forth a cockatrice - (see the note at Isaiah 59:5). A basilisk, or adder, a serpent of most venomous nature (see the note at Isaiah 11:8). That is, though Uzziah is dead, yet there shall spring up from him one far more destructive to you than he was; one who shall carry the desolations of war much further, and who shall more effectually subdue you. Most commentators have concurred in supposing that Hezekiah is here referred to, who 'smote the Philistines even unto Gaza and the borders thereof, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city' 2 Kings 18:8. This is, doubtless, the correct interpretation. The Chaldee renders it, however, 'Because there shall proceed from the descendants of Jesse the Messiah, and his works shall be among you as a flying serpent.' This interpretation Rosenmuller supposes is correct; but it is evidently foreign to the scope of the passage.

29. Palestina—literally, "the land of sojourners."

rod … broken—The yoke imposed by Uzziah (2Ch 26:6) was thrown off under Ahaz (2Ch 28:18).

serpent's root—the stock of Jesse (Isa 11:1). Uzziah was doubtless regarded by the Philistines as a biting "serpent." But though the effects of his bite have been got rid of, a more deadly viper, or "cockatrice" (literally, "viper's offspring," as Philistia would regard him), namely, Hezekiah awaits you (2Ki 18:8).

Of him that smote thee: most understand this of Uzziah, who did them much mischief, 2 Chronicles 26:6; but he was dead thirty-two years before this time, and therefore their joy for his death was long since past. Others understand it of Ahaz; but he was so far from smiting them, that he was smitten by them, as was noted on Isaiah 14:28. It seems better to understand it more generally of the royal race or foregoing kings of Judah, who had been a terrible scourge to them, whose rod might be said to be broken, because that sceptre was come into the hands of slothful and degenerate princes, such as Ahaz was, who had been lately broken by the Philistines, and who probably was alive when this prophecy was delivered, because he here speaks of Hezekiah not as a present, but as a future king. It is said indeed that this burden was in the year that Ahaz died; but so it might be, though it was before his death.

His fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent; from the root and race of David shall come Hezekiah, who, like a serpent, shall sting thee to death, as he did, 2 Kings 18:8.

Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina,.... The land of the Philistines; the inhabitants of Palestine are meant, who rejoiced at the death of Uzziah, who was too powerful for them, and during the reign of Ahaz, of whom they had the better; and, now he was dead, they hoped things would still be more favourable to them, since a young prince, Hezekiah, succeeded him; but they would find, by sad experience, that they had no occasion to rejoice in these changes: "whole Palestine" is mentioned, because it was divided into five districts or lordships, over which there were five lords, Joshua 13:3, 1 Samuel 6:4 and as they were all rejoicing in their late successes in Ahaz's time, and in hopes of still greater, so they would all suffer in the calamity hereafter threatened:

because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: meaning not Ahaz, for be did not smite the Philistines, but was smitten by them, for they invaded his country, and took many of his cities; see 2 Chronicles 28:18 but rather Uzziah, who broke down the walls of their cities, and built others, 2 Chronicles 26:6 wherefore they rejoiced at his death; and their joy continued during the reigns of Jotham and Ahaz, and was increased at the death of Ahaz, a new and young king being placed on the throne. Some understand this of the breaking of the Assyrian, the rod of God's anger, Isaiah 14:25 by whom the Philistines had been smitten, and therefore rejoiced at his ruin; and to this the Targum seems to incline, paraphrasing it thus,

"because the government is broken, whom ye served.''

Such that interpret in this way, by the "serpent" after mentioned understand Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria, whose successors were more troublesome to the Philistines than he; and by the "cockatrice" Sennacherib; and by the "fiery flying serpent" Nebuchadnezzar. Cocceius thinks that the sense of the prophecy is, that the Philistines should not rejoice at the sceptre being taken away from the Jews, and they being carried captive into Babylon, since it would not be to their advantage; for after Nebuchadnezzar and his sons, meant by the "serpent", should come the Medes and Persians, signified by the "cockatrice": and after them the Macedonians or Greeks, designed by the "flying fiery serpent", under Alexander, who should "kill" their "root", take Tyre their metropolis, at the siege of which was a famine; and then "slay their remnant", the city of Gaza, the last of their cities, whose inhabitants he slew; but the first sense of the prophecy, as it is most common, so most easy and natural:

for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice: that is, from the posterity, of Uzziah king of Judah, who greatly annoyed the Philistines, for which reason he is compared to a "serpent", should arise Hezekiah compared to a "cockatrice", because he would be, and he was, more harmful and distressing to them; see 2 Kings 18:8,

and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent; not the fruit of the cockatrice, but of the serpent; and intends the same as before, Hezekiah, likened to such a creature, because of the fury and swiftness with which he was to come, and did come, against the Philistines, and the hurt he did to them: the "serpent" to which he is compared is called "fiery", or "burning", because it inflames where it bites; of which see Numbers 21:6 and "flying", not because it has wings, though some serpents are said to have them; but because, when it leaps or darts upon a man, it is with such swiftness, that it seems to fly; the serpent called "acontias", or "serpens jaculus", is here alluded to. The Targum applies the passage to the Messiah, thus,

"for out of the children's children of Jesse shall come forth the Messiah, and his works shall be among you as a flying serpent.''

Rejoice not thou, all {r} Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent's root shall come forth an adder, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.

(r) He wills the Philistines not to rejoice because the Jews are diminished in their power, for their strength will be greater than it ever was.

29. whole Palestina] R.V. Philistia, all of thee. On the history of the name “Palestine” see G. A. Smith, Historical Geography, p. 4. “All Philistia” is addressed because the country was broken up into a number of cantons, which might not always be united in political sentiment, as they are at this time.

the rod of him that smote thee] Or simply the rod that smote thee, as in R.V. On the reference see introductory note above.

a cockatrice] a basilisk (Heb. çepha‘). See on Isaiah 11:8.

fiery flying serpent] flying saraph. See on ch. Isaiah 6:2 and cf. Isaiah 30:6. It is probably a creation of the popular imagination, here used poetically. The sense of the metaphors is obvious: the power from which the Philistines had suffered seems at present to have received a fatal blow, but it will recover itself and assume a more deadly form than ever.

Verse 29. - Whole Palestina. The Greeks called Philistia τὴν Παλαιστίνην Συρίαν, or "Syria of the Philistines," whence the Latin "Palestina" and our "Palestine." Isaiah addresses the country as "whole Palestine," because, while it was made up of a number of principalities (1 Samuel 6:18), his message concerned it in its entirety. The rod of him that smote thee is broken. This can scarcely refer to the death of Ahaz, since Ahaz did not smite the Philistines, but was smitten by them (2 Chronicles 28:18). It may, however, refer to the death of Tiglath-Pileser, which took place only a year or two previously. Out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice; i.e. a more poisonous serpent (see note on Isaiah 11:8). Shal-maneser can scarcely be meant, since he does not, appear to have attacked the Philistines. Probably Sargon is intended, who "took Ashdod" (Isaiah 20:1), made Khanun, King of Gaza, prisoner ('Records of the Past,' vol. 9. p. 5), and reduced Philtstia generally to subjection. And his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent. The fruit of the cockatrice will be even more terrible and venomous. He will resemble the "fiery flying serpent" of the wilderness (Numbers 21:6). Sennacherib is, perhaps, this "fruit." He conquered Ascalon ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 2. p. 432) and Ekron (ibid., p. 433), and had the kings of Gaze and Ashdod among his tributaries (ibid., p. 438, note 11). Isaiah 14:29It was therefore in a most eventful and decisive year that Isaiah began to prophesy as follows. "Rejoice not so fully, O Philistia, that the rod which smote thee is broken to pieces; for out of the serpent's root comes forth a basilisk, and its fruit is a flying dragon." Shēbet maccēk, "the rod which smote thee" (not "of him that smote thee," which is not so appropriate), is the Davidic sceptre, which had formerly kept the Philistines in subjection under David and Solomon, and again in more recent times since the reign of Uzziah. This sceptre was now broken to pieces, for the Davidic kingdom had been brought down by the Syro-Ephraimitish war, and had not been able to recover itself; and so far as its power over the surrounding nations was concerned, it had completely fallen to pieces. Philistia was thoroughly filled with joy in consequence, but this joy was all over now. The power from which Philistia had escaped was a common snake (nâchâsh), which had been either cut to pieces, or had died out down to the very roots. But out of this root, i.e., out of the house of David, which had been reduced to the humble condition of its tribal house, there was coming forth a zepha‛, a basilisk (regulus, as Jerome and other early translators render it: see at Isaiah 11:8); and this basilisk, which is dangerous and even fatal in itself, as soon as it had reached maturity, would bring forth a winged dragon as its fruit. The basilisk is Hezekiah, and the flying dragon is the Messiah (this is the explanation given by the Targum); or, what is the same thing, the former is the Davidic government of the immediate future, the latter the Davidic government of the ultimate future. The figure may appear an inappropriate one, because the serpent is a symbol of evil; but it is not a symbol of evil only, but of a curse also, and a curse is the energetic expression of the penal justice of God. And it is as the executor of such a curse in the form of a judgment of God upon Philistia that the Davidic king is here described in a threefold climax as a snake or serpent. The selection of this figure may possibly have also been suggested by Genesis 49:17; for the saying of Jacob concerning Dan was fulfilled in Samson, the sworn foe of the Philistines.
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