H*rry P*tt*r and the Wrath of G-dBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
Isaiah says that the people of Babylonia should “sit on the ground” rather than on a throne. (This means that they are going from being conquerors to being the conquered.) They will no longer enjoy pleasures and delicacies. Instead, they will be engaged in hard labor, losing their dignity in the process. The whole world will witness their shame. G-d will pay them back for their treatment of Israel and He doesn’t need anyone’s permission to do so. G-d is the Redeemer of Israel.
G-d tells the Chaldean people to sit quietly in the darkness, so that people won’t see them in their punished state. They will no longer enjoy their prestigious status among nations. When G-d became angry with Israel over their sins, He allowed them to be conquered, but that doesn’t excuse the conquerors acting so cruelly. They especially oppressed the elderly, who were unable to bear the hard labor. They thought there would never be any payback for their deeds, but they were wrong. Now, they are like a widow. They will lose citizens and their king in one stroke.
They will also be punished for their sorcerous ways (or perhaps it means that their sorcery won’t save them). They performed their magic in secret, thinking no one could see them. They were perverted by these practices and they considered themselves wise and powerful. Now punishment is coming and they are powerless to prevent it. Go ahead, try your sorcery and see if that helps. Let the astrologers, fortune tellers and necromancers do their best. They’re like straw in the fire – they can’t even save themselves! Nothing remains from them because they’ve been utterly consumed. You supported these magicians, but they’re no good to you in this time of need. They’re deserting you, leaving you to fend for yourselves.