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On The Identity Of The Anonymous Ruler In Isaiah 14:4b–21

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Chapter Summary

The identity of the anonymous ruler that is addressed in Isaiah (Isa) 14:4b-21 has puzzled generations of biblical scholars. It seems that the majority of scholars who have recently expressed themselves on the issue assume that the ruler hinted at in the poem is the Assyrian king Sargon II. Before trying to shed light on the tyrant's identity, we must deal with two issues of crucial importance for the interpretation of the poem, that is, the meaning of v. 19a in the Masoretic text, and the literary genre of the text. In particular the interpretation of v. 19a has important implications for the question of the tyrant's identity. The poem has been characterized as a parody of the royal dirge. Dirges used to be sung after a death had occurred. In prophetic literature, however, living persons and existing entities may also be the subject of a dirge.

Keywords: anonymous ruler; interpretation of v. 19a; Isaiah 14:4b-21; tyrant



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