As I have mentioned (here) I am participating in “Greek Isaiah in a Year” reading group. These are my notes from this week (14:9-20).
MT: Sheol (שׁאול) rejoices and comes out to meet the King. Sheol arouses the spirits (of the dead, רפאים) and all the “he-goats (כל־עתודי),” likely a phrase for the rulers of the nations (מלכי גוים), Sheol causes to arise from their thrones. I can’t tell if v. 9b is saying that Sheol is bringing dead ruler off current thrones to greet another dead ruler, or if this is the author’s way of saying that Sheol causes all kings to arise from their thrones.
LXX: Hades is embittered (ἐπικράνθη) by having to meet the King. Interesting how the mood differs from the MT. The MT presents Sheol as excited to welcome the King to his death. The LXX presents Hades as disappointed that he has to meet the King. The “giant rulers” (appositional οἱ γίγαντες οἱ ἄρξαντες) may mean something like “the mighty, ruling ones.” I’m not sure that the LXX intends to convey the idea of giant rulers. These ones are the kings of the nations (βασιλεῖς ἐθνῶν).
MT: The kings observe that the King has become “weak like us”
(חלית כמונו). This explains v. 9b. Sheol captures all the rulers, eventually, even Babel’s King.
LXX: The King was “captured/taken” (ἑάλως) like all other kings. He is “reckoned” (κατελογίσθης) like the other kings.
MT: The pride of the King is “brought down” (Hofal: הורד) by Sheol. Maggots are spread out (as a bed?) and worms are the covering. Gross.
LXX: The glory (ἡ δόξα) of the King will go down into Hades (εἰς ᾅδου). Decay (στρώσουσιν σῆψιν) will be spread out and worms will be as covers (σκώληξ).
MT: This v. begins with great exclamation: “How! ( איך) you have fallen from the heavens (משׁמים), shining one (הילל), Son of the Dawn (בן־שׁחר).” These may have been titles for the King of Babel: shining one, Son of the Dawn, one who came from heaven. This language is appropriate for a god, which makes them jest in this context. What god will be swallowed by Sheol? Rather than be in heaven, the King was cut down to the ground (נגדעת לארץ, like a tree?! see v. 8). He is described as one who weakened (חולשׁ) the nations (גוים).
LXX: The King is fallen (ἐξέπεσεν) from heaven (ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ). He is called “the dawn-bringer” (ἑωσφόρος) and “the one rising early morn” (ὁ πρωὶ ἀνατέλλων). He was the one sending (ὁ ἀποστέλλων, light?) into all the nations (τὰ ἔθνη). Now he will be rubbed into the earth (συνετρίβη εἰς τὴν γῆν).
MT: The King of Babel made divine claims. He spoke to himself in his heart (בלבבך) telling himself that he will ascend to the heavens (השׁמים). He would go to the star of God (לכוכבי־אל). He planned to exalt his own throne (כסאי). He would sit on the mount of meeting (בהר־מועד) in the extreme north.
LXX: The King spoke to his mind (i.e., thought to himself, ἐν τῇ διανοίᾳ) about ascending into the heavens (τὸν οὐρανὸν). He planned to put his throne (τὸν θρόνον) above the “star of heaven” (τῶν ἄστρων τοῦ οὐρανοῦ). He would do this on the mountains of the north.
MT: Then he said he would ascend above the clouds (על־במתי עב) resembling (אדמה) the Most High (לעליון).
LXX: Then he said he would ascend above the clouds (ἐπάνω τῶν νεφελῶν) being like (ὅμοιος) the Highest (τῷ ὑψίστῳ).
MT: Rather than ascend to heaven the King will descend to Sheol (אל־שׁאול תורד). Contra the King’s desire to ascend to the highest mountains, higher than the clouds, he will go the deepest part of the pit (אל־ירכתי־בור) of Sheol.
LXX: The King will descend into Hades (εἰς ᾅδου καταβήσῃ) instead. He will fall to the base/foundation of the earth (τὰ θεμέλια τῆς γῆς).
MT: The people who see this ponder to themselves, “This is the man who made the earth shiver (מרגיז האָרץ), who caused kingdoms the shake (מרעישׁ ממלכות)?”
LXX: The people say, “This is the man who provoked (ὁ ἄνθρωπος ὁ παροξύνων) the earth (τὴν γῆν), shaking kingdoms (βασιλεῖς)?”
MT: The King made the inhabited world (תבל) like deserts and the cities (עריו) he tore down. For the prisoners () he did not open to their house ().
LXX: The King is described as having made (θεὶς) the entire inhabited world (τὴν οἰκουμένην ὅλην) into a desert (ἔρημον). Also, he leveled cities (τὰς πόλεις καθεῖλεν). The miserable (ἐπαγωγῇ) were not loosed (οὐκ ἔλυσεν).
MT: All the kings of the nations (כל־מלכי גוים) “lie down,” i.e., die (שׁכבו). There is an emphasis here. The author says “all” (כל) and then repeats “all of them” (כלם) to enhance the point. This is done “in glory” (בכבוד) as a man in his home (אישׁ בביתו). “House” means “tomb” here: the “house” of their death.
LXX: The message is the same as the MT. All the “kings of the nations (πάντες οἱ βασιλεῖς τῶν ἐθνῶν) fall asleep (ἐκοιμήθησαν) in honor (ἐν τιμῇ), like a man in his home (ἄνθρωπος ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ αὐτοῦ).” One thing to note is that בכבוד could have been a form of doxa, glory.
MT: The threat against the King of Babel is that he will not die an honored king like others. The author declare emphatically, “but you” (ואתה) to emphasize that he is different from the other kings. Rather, he will be “thrown/cast” (השׁלכת) from his sepulcher (מקברך). The King is called an “abhorred branch” (כנצר נתעב). “Branch” language reminds me of that used about a royal descendant of David. The murderous behavior of the King will result in his own gruesome death. The King is “clothed” (לבושׁ) with those who he has pierced by the sword (מטעני חרב). He will go down to the “stones of the pit” (אל־אבני־בור , the pit is Sheol, see v. 15) “like a trampled corpse (כפגר מובס).”
LXX: This v. has a slightly different message from the MT. It begins with a casting down (ῥιφήσῃ), but it is onto a mountain like a sickly dead one (ἐν τοῖς ὄρεσιν ὡς νεκρὸς ἐβδελυγμένος) rather than a sepulcher. He joins the many who have died and gone to Hades (εἰς ᾅδου) after being pierced with swords (μαχαίραις). The cloak mixed in blood (ἱμάτιον ἐν αἵματι πεφυρμένον) analogy appears and continues into v. 21. It cannot be purified (οὐκ ἔσται καθαρόν).
MT: The King will not be “united” with the past kings in a sepulcher (בקבורה). Two reasons are given: (1) the King ruined his land (כי־ארצך שׁחת) and (2) he slaughtered his people (עמך הרגת). An additional curse is pronounced: no one will proclaim the descendants (זרע) of the evil ones forever (לעולם).
LXX: The purity motif continues. The King will not be clean/pure (καθαρός). Why? Because (διότι) “my earth” (τὴν γῆν μου, God’s) “you destroyed” (ἀπώλεσας) and “my people” (τὸν λαόν μου) “you killed” (ἀπέκτεινας). The shift moves from the King destroying his own land and people to ruing God’s earth and killing his people. The King will not exist forever (εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα χρόνον, the MT speaks of the descendants not being proclaimed “forever”) and he is called a “evil seed” (σπέρμα πονηρόν).
See older notes: