What does Isaiah 14:9 mean?
ESV: Sheol beneath is stirred up to meet you when you come; it rouses the shades to greet you, all who were leaders of the earth; it raises from their thrones all who were kings of the nations.
NIV: The realm of the dead below is all astir to meet you at your coming; it rouses the spirits of the departed to greet you-- all those who were leaders in the world; it makes them rise from their thrones-- all those who were kings over the nations.
NASB: Sheol below is excited about you, to meet you when you come; It stirs the spirits of the dead for you, all the leaders of the earth; It raises all the kings of the nations from their thrones.
CSB: Sheol below is eager to greet your coming, stirring up the spirits of the departed for you -- all the rulers of the earth -- making all the kings of the nations rise from their thrones.
NLT: 'In the place of the dead there is excitement over your arrival. The spirits of world leaders and mighty kings long dead stand up to see you.
KJV: Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
Isaiah's description of the aftermath of the death of the king of Babylon moves from celebrations on earth to his reception in the place of the dead, This place is referred to as Sheol.
This poetic imagery isn't meant to be a precise, analytical, theologically nuanced representation of the afterlife. Instead, Isaiah pictures the place of the dead as it may have been imagined to his audience at the time of writing. The dead were thought to occupy a similar level of status in Sheol as they did during their lives on earth. He is picturing the dead kings of the nations as occupying thrones, as they did in life. Isaiah will turn that idea on its head.
This place of the dead is stirred up at the news that the evil king of Babylon will be arriving there. Sheol rouses the spirits of the dead leaders of the world to greet the fallen king. They are pictured as rising from their thrones as he enters. As if these leaders still had places of honor and authority.
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.
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 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.
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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