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The canon of the entire Bible was essentially settled around the turn of the fourth century. By logical extension, the Catholic Church thereby affirmed that the book of Isaiah represented the Word of God. Since the 4th Century, the Church has never wavered on the book of Isaiah. With this in mind, I wish to ask the following question:


Isaiah 14:21:

Prepare a place to slaughter his children for the sins of their ancestors; they are not to rise to inherit the land and cover the earth with their cities.

I have two questions about this passage;

  • Is Isaiah sanctioning genocide?
  • Does the Catholic Church still stand behind this passage? Or do they shun it to a point where it should be deleted from the Bible?

I am, in fact, looking for an exegesis about this passage. I'm wondering if I missing some context, etc; because if I'm not, this passage seems to directly contradict the Sixth Commandment.

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I think the verse should be read in the context of the whole chapter. It's referring to the King of Babylon (who may even be associated with the antichrist). –  Andrew Leach Jul 27 at 13:06
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Since this is clearly a misunderstanding of the context, it's not answerable. Asking the if the Catholic Church is "still" behind the concept is like asking you if you've stopped beating our wife yet if you're in fact, never beat your wife. Answering "Yes" indicates the Church supports genocide. Answering "No" indicates the Church once did. Answering any other way is not addressing the original question and would be deleted as "not an answer". This post simply isn't answerable because it inherently assumes something that's simply not a valid assumption. –  David Stratton Jul 27 at 16:24
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I disagree with David; the question is, indeed, answerable. The Catholic Church does stand behind the verse, but insists that it be read in context, and in the context of the literary genre of the passage. As such it applies only to the children of the King of Babylon at the time the passage was written, and was long ago made moot, no longer applying to living persons. And further it does not command anyone to commit genocide, as genocide is defined as killing an entire people, and the verse in question involves killing the offspring of a particular person. –  brasshat Jul 27 at 16:30
    
@brasshat - When phrased that way, I agree. I read this as "Does the Catholic Church endorse genocide". If it's "Does the Catholic church agree this verse belongs in the Bible" then it's answerable. I'm leaving my own comment and these in case others make the same mistake. Hopefully these comments will clear it up. –  David Stratton Jul 27 at 17:20

2 Answers 2

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The Catholic Church does stand behind the verse, but insists that it be read in context, and in the context of the literary genre of the passage. As such it applies only to the children of the King of Babylon at the time the passage was written, and was long ago made moot, no longer applying to living persons.

Further it does not command anyone to commit genocide, as genocide is defined as killing an entire nation of people, and the verse in question involves killing the offspring of a particular person.

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Isaiah 14:21 is not a commandment.

It seems like the principle actor in each portion of this passage is God, not man, and this is certainly in God's purview.

v 5
"The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked,"

v 12
“How you have fallen from heaven,"

v 15 "Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol,"

The verses following 14:21 are a good example:

“I will rise up against them,” declares the LORD of hosts, “and will cut off from Babylon name and survivors, offspring and posterity,” declares the LORD. “I will also make it a possession for the hedgehog and swamps of water, and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” declares the LORD of hosts.

God is decreeing destruction for Babylon. He is implicitly the actor in the executing of his judgment. There is no commandment for Israel (or us) in this passage.

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