Does Isaiah’s “taunt” against the King of Babylon imply that the souls of the departed are conscious in Sheol?
Isaiah’s “taunt” against the King of Babylon (Isa. 14:3-23) uses pictorial language to describe God’s judgment upon the oppressor. Figuratively speaking, the spirits of kings long gone are raised to meet the great King of Babylon, who has, despite all his pretensions, become like one of them (9-11a). He has come down to the grave, a place of “maggots” and “worms” (11b). The description of the kings in Sheol being raised up to meet the fallen foe is no more to be taken literally than his mention of talking fields and pine trees (14:8). Ezekiel chapters 31 and 32 contain dirges of a similar nature.