A Taunt-Song Against Bavel ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 14:11-23

In my last post, we learned that God promises to restore Isra’el and after they have rested, they will sing A Taunt-Song Against Bavel ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 14:1-11. In this post, we continue to explore A Taunt-Song Against Bavel ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 14:12-23.

We left off in the song with the King of Bavel going down to Sh’ol to maggots under his mattress and worms all over his blanket.

12  “How did you come to fall from the heavens, morning star, son of the dawn? How did you come to be cut to the ground, conqueror of nations?

The Hebrew word for the morning star, helel, is not used anywhere else in the Tanakh. Dawn, shaḥar, was often personified in the Tanakh and was a known deity in Phoenician and Ugaritic inscriptions. [1]

Commentators have often connected this passage to Luke 10:18 and Revelation 12:8-9, but the context seems clear that the one fallen from the heavens is not Satan (despite the KJV translated morning star as “Lucifer”) but is instead the king of Bavel. If there is a second application, the Bible never indicates as much. The poetic theme of this passage may be modeled on the Canaanite account of a lesser god that tried to usurp the position of the high God. Such pride resulted in a quick and horrible fall.

13  You thought to yourself, ‘I will scale the heavens, I will raise my throne above God’s stars. I will sit on the Mount of Assembly far away in the north.

The word used for God here is El. While this is sometimes used to refer to Isra’el’s God in the Bible, it is also known as the name of the chief god in the Canaanite pantheon. In the Tanakh, the word stars occasionally refer to angels of the heavenly court (Job 38:7).

The attempt of a human, no matter how powerful, to take the place of God is the ultimate expression of arrogance. In Canaanite mythology, which is exploited here to make a point about human pride, the mountain of Ba’al, the chief god, was in the remotest parts of the North. Indeed, his mountain was named Mount North.

14  I will rise past the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’

In the Tanakh, the Hebrew term El Elyon usually is a title for God Most High. However, since it also occurs as a divine title (and perhaps even as a divine name) in other literature from the ancient Near East (Ugaritic, Aramaic, and Phoenician), its use in a context such as this can be ambiguous. It is best known outside the Bible as a title for Ba’al in the Ugaritic texts. [2]

15  “Instead you are brought down to Sh’ol, to the uttermost depths of the pit.

Pride tries to lift a human being to the level of God, but it always causes a rapid fall to a position below humanity (the Pit).

16  Those who see you will stare at you, reflecting on what has become of you: ‘Is this the man who shook the earth, who made kingdoms tremble, 17 who made the world a desert, who destroyed its cities, who would not set his prisoners free?’

In death, the powerful, oppressive king will look weak and helpless. The nameless people who will see him are quoted as expressing amazement at how powerless he seems.

18  “All other kings of the nations, all of them, lie in glory, each in his tomb. 19  But you are discarded, unburied, like a loathed branch, clothed like the slain who were pierced by the sword, then fall to the stones inside a pit, like a corpse to be trampled underfoot. 20  You will not be joined with those kings in the grave, because you destroyed your own land, you have brought death to your own people. The descendants of evildoers will be utterly forgotten.

There is even a contrast with other kings, who were buried in beautiful tombs. This king will not even be given a decent burial but will lie dead on the battlefield, surrounded and also covered by other dead bodies. Again, the idea is that a person who was mighty in life will be reduced to a humiliating circumstance in death.

21  Get ready to slaughter his sons for the iniquity of their fathers; so they won’t arise, take over the earth and cover the world with their cities.”

It was an expectation of a powerful king that, when he died, his son would become the next king and would continue his imperialistic pretensions, but because of the depredations of the fathers, the sons would meet an untimely death.

22  “I will arise against them,” says Adonai-Tzva’ot. “I will cut off from Bavel name and remnant, offshoot and offspring,” says Adonai. 23  “I will make it a haunt for hedgehogs, it will become a swampy waste, I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” says Adonai-Tzva’ot. ~ Yesha’yahu 14:12-23 (CJB)

God will bring this judgment. Bavel, particularly its most southern part, was a swampland. God would reduce the entire nation to this in the anger of His judgment. Bavel will be cut off. There won’t be a name, a remnant, or even a distant relative left. An entire civilization was destroyed, just as Yesha’yahu prophesied.

In my next post, we will wrap-up our study of Yesha’yahu 14 by examining A Prophecy Against Ashur and P’leshet (Philistia) in Yesha’yahu 14:24-32.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament.

[2] Ibid.

1 thought on “A Taunt-Song Against Bavel ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 14:11-23

  1. I tend to believe that verse 12 is a type and shadow. In other words, it has dual meanings. Yes, I believe that it is in reference to the king of Babel, but I also believe it is in reference to satan.

    This is similar to the teachings of Daniel which allude to Antiochus Epiphanes. While I believe there is a direct reference to Antiochus, I also believe that a dual
    reference is being made to the future antichrist.

    Oh well…just my thoughts

    Liked by 1 person

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