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According to Isaiah 14:9, they can:

Sheol below is excited about you, to meet you when you come; It stirs the spirits of the dead (Or shades (Heb Repha’im)) for you, all the leaders of the earth; It raises all the kings of the nations from their thrones. (NASB)

Sheol beneath hath been troubled at thee, To meet thy coming in, It is waking up for thee Rephaim, All chiefs ones of earth, It hath raised up from their thrones All kings of nations. (YLT)

[Isaiah 14:9]

But Psalm 88:10 & Isaiah 26:14 appear to be saying that they can't:

Will You perform wonders for the dead? Or will the departed spirits rise and praise You? Selah (NASB)

To the dead dost Thou do wonders? Do Rephaim rise? do they thank Thee? Selah. (YLT)

[Psalm 88:10]

The dead will not live, the departed spirits (Or shades) will not rise; Therefore You have punished and destroyed them, And You have eliminated all remembrance of them. (NASB)

14 Dead -- they live not, Rephaim, they rise not, Therefore Thou hast inspected and dost destroy them, Yea, thou destroyest all their memory. (YLT)

[Isaiah 26:14]

Question

I have two questions actually:

  • Contradiction question: Isaiah 14:9 suggests that Rephaim are raised, whereas Psalm 88:10 & Isaiah 26:14 affirm that Rephaim will not rise. Is this a contradiction?

  • On the resurrection of the dead: if Psalm 88:10 & Isaiah 26:14 affirm that Rephaim will not rise, how can this be reconciled with the New Testament promise of the resurrection of the dead on Judgement Day? Were Isaiah & David ignorant of the resurrection? Why would they say that Rephaim will not rise?

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  • How is this question different from hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/73495/…
    – Dottard
    Feb 16 at 21:28
  • @Dottard - it includes other passages, and it has an additional focus on the resurrection of the dead that the other question doesn't. Feb 16 at 21:30
  • 1
    The answer would be the same - Isa 14:9ff is about simple personification. I feel at times like this a court room and we are under cross examination with the same questions asked again and again hoping for a different answer eventually.
    – Dottard
    Feb 16 at 21:32
  • @Dottard - it depends on who answers the question. I would concede the claim of personification in the case of the trees and Sheol, but claiming the same about the Rephaim would be speculation (you can read my reasons here). Feb 16 at 21:40
  • I did not suggest personification about Raphaim but about sheol - read my answer carefully and accurately. Sheol is an abstract idea - it cannot do anything as this verse suggests, therefore, it is poetic personification.
    – Dottard
    Feb 16 at 21:42

1 Answer 1

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Other lords fall, the LORD does not

The previous verse in Isaiah 26 provides the antecedent for verse 14:

13 O Lord [Yahweh] our God, other lords [adonim] beside thee have had dominion over us: but by thee only will we make mention of thy name.

14 They [the adonim] are dead, they [the adonim] shall not live; they [the adonim] are deceased, they [the adonim] shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them [the adonim], and made all their [the adonim] memory to perish.

The LORD (Yahweh) will be praised and have dominion; the lords (adonim) will not.

The distinction is more apparent if adonim (אֲדֹנִ֖ים) is rendered "masters" instead of "lords" (which creates an unnecessary redundancy in English).

--

Who are the adonim?

From Ellicott:

The “other lords” are the conquerors and oppressors by whom Israel had been enslaved; possibly also, the false gods with whom those conquerors identified themselves.

From Benson:

Those tyrants are destroyed, they shall never live or rise again to molest us. He probably refers to the miraculous destruction of Sennacherib’s army before Jerusalem

Isaiah's people have been delivered from the oppression of other nations (e.g. 2 Kings 19:34-35); they have also cast out false gods that had been worshipped in the land in the past (e.g. 2 Kings 18:4-6)

These false gods have no life and never will. These oppressive nations have been broken and will rise no more.

--

Who will rise?

Empires & false gods may remain lifeless, but Isaiah is quite clear a few verses later that men will not:

Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. (Isaiah 26:19)

--

The Interrogative Psalm

In Psalm 88:10-12 six questions are asked--note that each of them is a question asked by a man contemplating death, not a statement or an answer.

This says nothing about the consciousness or unconsciousness of the dead, but does perhaps suggest the futility of procrastinating turning to the Lord. It asks a question which is graciously answered elsewhere--yes indeed the dead will rise.

This is not dissimilar to the pondering of Job:

If a man die, shall he live again? (Job 14:14)

If the question were never answered, this would be a much more depressing book. Fortunately, 5 chapters later:

25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:

26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God (Job 19:25-26)

--

Conclusion

Contradiction question: Isaiah 14:9 suggests that Rephaim are raised, whereas Psalm 88:10 & Isaiah 26:14 affirm that Rephaim will not rise. Is this a contradiction?

No, the Psalm is asking a melancholy question; the Isaiah passage refers to different entities (fallen empires will not rise; the individual people from them will rise)

On the resurrection of the dead: if Psalm 88:10 & Isaiah 26:14 affirm that Rephaim will not rise, how can this be reconciled with the New Testament promise of the resurrection of the dead on Judgement Day? Were Isaiah & David ignorant of the resurrection? Why would they say that Rephaim will not rise?

There is no contradiction--it is quite common for a conqueror in war to describe the enemy by saying "they will never rise again [to attack us]". When a warring nation demands unconditional surrender it is for just this purpose--to make sure the opponent never again has the resources to conquer. The Psalm asks a question that is graciously answered elsewhere--in both the OT & NT.

Isaiah & David were not ignorant of the resurrection (e.g. see Isaiah 26:19, Psalm 16:10).

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  • 1
    Impressive answer. Nicely done. Upvoted + 1. Feb 17 at 3:29
  • 1
    Good answer +1.
    – Dottard
    Feb 17 at 21:32

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