What does Isaiah 14:6 mean?
ESV: that struck the peoples in wrath with unceasing blows, that ruled the nations in anger with unrelenting persecution.
NIV: which in anger struck down peoples with unceasing blows, and in fury subdued nations with relentless aggression.
NASB: Which used to strike the peoples in fury with unceasing strokes, Which subdued the nations in anger with unrestrained persecution.
CSB: It struck the peoples in anger with unceasing blows. It subdued the nations in rage with relentless persecution.
NLT: You struck the people with endless blows of rage and held the nations in your angry grip with unrelenting tyranny.
KJV: He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth.
NKJV: He who struck the people in wrath with a continual stroke, He who ruled the nations in anger, Is persecuted and no one hinders.
Verse Commentary:
Warfare in the ancient Near East was brutal. The kings of the dominant powers of Assyria and Babylon took that brutality to another level. They ruled by fear and intimidation. These kings demanded absolute submission and loyalty from their own people, as well as from conquered kings and nations. Enemies were slaughtered in massive numbers. Headless bodies were sometimes stacked high at the gates of cities as a warning. Children were killed in front of parents. Women who were allowed to survive were raped and impregnated to further humiliate and divide the beaten people. Many survivors were deported to other lands to keep uprisings and rebellion to a minimum. It was a cruel and terrifying time to be alive.

It's no wonder Isaiah reports that at some future date, after the king of Babylon has finally been defeated, the people of Israel will sing this taunt-song about him (Isaiah 14:4–21). They will celebrate the Lord's victory over the king's evil reign. This reign of unrelenting persecution and fury will finally end. The mood calls to mind historical moments, such as the end of World War II when Adolph Hitler was finally defeated. He, too, oppressed the Jewish people nearly to extinction. The celebration at the Jewish peoples return from Babylon over the defeat of Babylon's king will reach similar heights. The Lord will never allow evil to reign forever.
Verse Context:
Chapter 14:3–23 contains a mocking, sarcastic dirge for the fallen king of Babylon. The song imitates the respects otherwise paid to honor a fallen king. Instead, this song describes celebration of both people and trees at his death. The fallen kings in Sheol rise to mock the man for his weakness. The king is sarcastically referred to as the "Day Star"—leading to speculation that this is also a description of Satan's fall from heaven. The fallen one had ambition to become like the Most High among the gods, but instead was cut down to nothing in his death.
Chapter Summary:
After the oracle against Babylon in the previous chapter, Isaiah briefly describes what will follow for Judah. In compassion, the Lord will choose His people once more. He will return them to their homeland. They will sing a mocking taunt-song against the fallen king of Babylon. Isaiah pronounces oracles from the Lord against Assyria and Philistia. The Lord will break the Assyrians in His land. With heavy symbolism, Isaiah seems to prophecy that the Assyrians will defeat the Philistines with a siege four years before it happens. God's people will find refuge in Zion.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 14 follows the oracle about the destruction of Babylon with a brief encouragement to the people of Judah. The Lord will restore them to the land. They will taunt the fallen Babylonian king, using phrases many also associate with the fall of Satan. Isaiah pronounces oracles from the Lord against Assyria and Philistia. He declares that He will break the Assyrians in His land, freeing His people from their oppression. Philistia will fall at the Lord's hand to a famine inflicted on them by a power from the north. Next, Isaiah's prophecy will turn to Moab.
Book Summary:
Isaiah is among the most important prophetic books in the entire Bible. The first segment details God's impending judgment against ancient peoples for sin and idolatry (Isaiah 1—35). The second part of Isaiah briefly explains a failed assault on Jerusalem during the rule of Hezekiah (Isaiah 36—39). The final chapters predict Israel's rescue from Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 40—48), the promised Messiah (Isaiah 49—57), and the final glory of Jerusalem and God's people (Isaiah 58—66).
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