on Isaiah 14 :19
Like an abominable branch "Like the tree abominated" - That is, as an object of abomination and detestation; such as the tree is on which a malefactor has been hanged. "It is written," saith St. Paul, Galatians 3:13, "Cursed is every man that hangeth on a tree," from Deuteronomy 21:23. The Jews therefore held also as accursed and polluted the tree itself on which a malefactor had been executed, or on which he had been hanged after having been put to death by stoning. "Non suspendunt super arbore, quae radicibus solo adhaereat; sed super ligno eradicato, ut ne sit excisio molesta: nam lignum, super quo fuit aliquis suspensus, cum suspendioso sepelitur; ne maneat illi malum nomen, et dicant homines, Istud est lignum, in quo suspensus est ille, ὁ δεινα . Sic lapis, quo aliquis fuit lapidatus; et gladius, quo fuit occisus is qui est occisus; et sudarium sive mantile, quo fuit aliquis strangulates; omnia haec cum iis, qui perierunt, sepeliuntur." Maimonides, apud Casaub. in Baron. Exercitat. 16. An. 34, Numbers 134. "Cum itaque homo suspensu maximae esset abominationi - Judaei quoque prae caeteris abominabantur lignum quo fuerat suspensus, ita ut illud quoque terra tegerent, tanquam rem abominabilem. Unde interpres Chaldaeus haec verba transtulit כחט טמור kechat temir, sicut virgultum absconditum, sive sepultum." Kalinski, Vaticinta Observationibus Illustrata, p. 342.
"The Jews never hang any malefactor upon a tree that is growing in the earth, but upon a post fixed in the ground, that it might never be said, 'That is the tree on which such a one was hanged;' for custom required that the tree should be buried with the malefactor. In like manner the stone by which a criminal was stoned to death, or the sword by which he was beheaded, or the napkin or handkerchief by which he was strangled, should be buried with him in the same grave." "For as the hanged man was considered the greatest abomination, so the very post or wood on which he was hanged was deemed a most abominable thing, and therefore buried under the earth."
Agreeably to which Theodoret, Hist. Ecclesiastes 1:17, Ecclesiastes 1:18, in his account of the finding of the cross by Helena, says, "That the three crosses were buried in the earth near the place of our Lord's sepulcher." And this circumstance seems to confirm the relation of the discovery of the cross of Christ. The crosses were found where the custom required they should be buried.
The raiment of those that are slain "Clothed with the slain" - Thirty-five MSS., (ten ancient), and three editions, have the word fully written, לבוש lebush. It is not a noun, but the participle passive; thrown out among the common slain and covered with the dead bodies. So Ecclesiastes 1:11, the earth-worm is said to be his bedcovering. This reading is confirmed by two ancient MSS. in my own collection.
on Isaiah 14 :19
But thou art cast out of thy grave - Thou art not buried like other kings in a magnificent sepulchre, but art cast out like the common dead. This was a mark of the highest infamy (see Isaiah 34:3; Ezekiel 29:5; Jeremiah 22:19). Nothing was considered more disgraceful than to be denied the privileges of an honorable burial (see the note at Isaiah 53:9). On the fulfillment of this prophecy, see the note at Isaiah 14:20.
As an abominable branch - (נתעב כנצר kenêtser nı̂te'āb). The Septuagint renders this, 'And thou shalt be cast upon the mountains as a dead body that is abominable, with many dead that are slain by the sword, descending to Hades.' The Chaldee, 'And thou shalt be cast out of thy sepulchre as a branch that is hid.' Lowth supposes that by 'abominable branch' there is allusion to a tree on which a malefactor was hanged, that was regarded as detestable, and cursed. But there are obvious objections to this interpretation. One is, that the word "branch (netser)" is never applied to a tree. It means "a shoot, a slip, a scion" (note, Isaiah 11:1). Another objection is, that there seems here to be no necessary allusion to such a tree; or to anything that would lead to it. Jerome says, that the word "netser" denotes a shoot or sucker that starts up at the root of a plant or tree, and that is useless to the farmer, and which he therefore cuts off. So, says he, the king of Babylon shall be cast off - as the farmer throws away the useless sucker. This is probably the correct idea. The word "abominable" means, therefore, not only that which is "useless," but indicates that the shoot or sucker is "troublesome" to the farmer. It is an object that he "hates," and which he gets clear of as soon as possible. So the king of Babylon would be cast out as useless, hateful, abominable; to be thrown away, as the noxious shoot is, as unfit for use, and unworthy to be preserved.
As the raiment of those that are slain - As a garment that is all defiled with gore, and that is cast away and left to rot. The garments of those slain in battle, covered with blood and dirt, would be cast away as polluted and worthless, and so would be the king of Babylon. Among the Hebrews such garments were regarded with special abhorrence (Rosenmuller); perhaps from the dread which they had of touching a dead body, and of course of anything that was found on a dead body.
Thrust through with a sword - That is, the slain thrust through. The effect of this was to pollute the garment with blood, and to render it useless.
That go down to the stones of the pit - The 'pit' here means the grave or sepulchre Isaiah 14:15. The phrase 'stones of the pit,' conveys the idea that the grave or sepulchre was usually either excavated from the solid rock, or constructed of stones. The idea is simply, that those who were slain with the sword were buried in the usual manner, though their bloody garments defiled were cast away. But the king of Babylon should not have even the honor of such a burial as was given to those who fell in battle.
As a carcase trodden under foot - Unburied; as the body of a brute that is exposed to the air, and denied the honor of a sepulchre.
on Isaiah 14 :19