The siege and taking of Jerusalem. (1-7) The wicked conduct of its inhabitants. (8-14) The displacing of Shebna, and the promotion of Eliakim, applied to the Messiah. (15-25)
Verses 1-7 Why is Jerusalem in such terror? Her slain men are not slain with the sword, but with famine; or, slain with fear, disheartened. Their rulers fled, but were overtaken. The servants of God, who foresee and warn sinners of coming miseries, are affected by the prospect. But all the horrors of a city taken by storm, faintly shadow forth the terrors of the day of wrath.
Verses 8-14 The weakness of Judah now appeared more than ever. Now also they discovered their carnal confidence and their carnal security. They looked to the fortifications. They made sure of water for the city. But they were regardless of God in all these preparations. They did not care for his glory in what they did. They did not depend upon him for a blessing on their endeavours. For every creature is to us what God makes it to be; and we must bless him for it, and use it for him. There was great contempt of God's wrath and justice, in contending with them. God's design was to humble them, and bring them to repentance. They walked contrary to this. Actual disbelief of another life after this, is at the bottom of the carnal security and brutish sensuality, which are the sin, the shame, and ruin of so great a part of mankind. God was displeased at this. It is a sin against the remedy, and it is not likely they should ever repent of it. Whether this unbelief works by presumption or despair, it produces the same contempt of God, and is a token that a man will perish wilfully.
Verses 15-25 This message to Shebna is a reproof of his pride, vanity, and security; what vanity is all earthly grandeur, which death will so soon end! What will it avail, whether we are laid in a magnificent tomb, or covered with the green sod? Those who, when in power, turn and toss others, will be justly turned and tossed themselves. Eliakim should be put into Shebna's place. Those called to places of trust and power, should seek to God for grace to enable them to do their duty. Eliakim's advancement is described. Our Lord Jesus describes his own power as Mediator, ( Revelation 3:7 ) , that he has the key of David. His power in the kingdom of heaven, and in ordering all the affairs of that kingdom, is absolute. Rulers should be fathers to those under their government; and the honour men bring unto their families, by their piety and usefulness, is more to be valued than what they derive from them by their names and titles. The glory of this world gives a man no real worth or excellence; it is but hung upon him, and it will soon drop from him. Eliakim was compared to a nail in a sure place; all his family are said to depend upon him. In eastern houses, rows of large spikes were built up in the walls. Upon these the moveables and utensils were hung. Our Lord Jesus is as a nail in a sure place. That soul cannot perish, nor that concern fall to the ground, which is by faith hung upon Christ. He will set before the believer an open door, which no man can shut, and bring both body and soul to eternal glory. But those who neglect so great salvation will find, that when he shutteth none can open, whether it be shutting out from heaven, or shutting up in hell for ever.
Isaiah 22:1-14 . PROPHECY AS TO AN ATTACK ON JERUSALEM.
That by Sennacherib, in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah; Isaiah 22:8-11 , the preparations for defense and securing of water exactly answer to those in 2 Chronicles 32:4 2 Chronicles 32:5 2 Chronicles 32:30 . "Shebna," too ( Isaiah 22:15 ), was scribe at this time ( Isaiah 36:3 ) [MAURER]. The language of Isaiah 22:12-14 , as to the infidelity and consequent utter ruin of the Jews, seems rather to foreshadow the destruction by Nebuchadnezzar in Zedekiah's reign, and cannot be restricted to Hezekiah's time [LOWTH].
1. of . . . valley of vision--rather, "respecting the valley of visions"; namely, Jerusalem, the seat of divine revelations and visions, "the nursery of prophets" [JEROME], ( Isaiah 2:3 , 29:1 , Ezekiel 23:4 , Margin; Luke 13:33 ). It lay in a "valley" surrounded by hills higher than Zion and Moriah ( Psalms 125:2 , Jeremiah 21:13 ).
thee--the people of Jerusalem personified.
housetops--Panic-struck, they went up on the flat balustraded roofs to look forth and see whether the enemy was near, and partly to defend themselves from the roofs ( Judges 9:51 , &c.).
2. art--rather, "wert"; for it could not now be said to be "a joyous city" ( Isaiah 32:13 ). The cause of their joy ( Isaiah 22:13 ) may have been because Sennacherib had accepted Hezekiah's offer to renew the payment of tribute, and they were glad to have peace on any terms, however humiliating ( 2 Kings 18:14-16 ), or on account of the alliance with Egypt. If the reference be to Zedekiah's time, the joy and feasting are not inapplicable, for this recklessness was a general characteristic of the unbelieving Jews ( Isaiah 56:12 ).
not slain with the sword--but with the famine and pestilence about to be caused by the coming siege ( Lamentations 4:9 ). MAURER refers this to the plague by which he thinks Sennacherib's army was destroyed, and Hezekiah was made sick ( Isaiah 37:36 , 38:1 ). But there is no authority for supposing that the Jews in the city suffered such extremities of plague at this time, when God destroyed their foes. BARNES refers it to those slain in flight, not in open honorable "battle"; Isaiah 22:3 favors this.
3. rulers--rather, "generals" ( Joshua 10:24 , Judges 11:6 Judges 11:11 ).
bound--rather, "are taken."
by the archers--literally, "by the bow"; so Isaiah 21:17 . Bowmen were the light troops, whose province it was to skirmish in front and ( 2 Kings 6:22 ) pursue fugitives ( 2 Kings 25:5 ); this verse applies better to the attack of Nebuchadnezzar than that of Sennacherib.
all . . . in thee--all found in the city ( Isaiah 13:15 ), not merely the "rulers" or generals.
fled from far--those who had fled from distant parts to Jerusalem as a place of safety; rather, fled afar.
4. Look . . . from me--Deep grief seeks to be alone; while others feast joyously, Isaiah mourns in prospect of the disaster coming on Jerusalem ( Micah 1:8 Micah 1:9 ).
5. trouble . . . by the Lord--that is, sent by or from the Lord Luke 21:22-24 ). near Ophel is meant as about to be the scene of devastation (compare
breaking . . . walls--that is, "a day of breaking the walls" of the city.
crying to the mountains--the mournful cry of the townsmen "reaches" to (MAURER translates, towards) the mountains, and is echoed back by them. JOSEPHUS describes in the very same language the scene at the assault of Jerusalem under Titus. To this the prophecy, probably, refers ultimately. If, as some think, the "cry" is that of those escaping to the mountains, compare Matthew 13:14 , 24:16 , with this.
6. Elam--the country stretching east from the Lower Tigris, answering to what was afterwards called Persia Elam was a province of Persia ( Ezra 4:9 ). In Sennacherib's time, Elam was subject to Assyria ( 2 Kings 18:11 ), and so furnished a contingent to its invading armies. Famed for the bow ( Isaiah 13:18 , Jeremiah 49:35 ), in which the Ethiopians alone excelled them.
with chariots of men and horsemen--that is, they used the bow both in chariots and on horseback. "Chariots of men," that is, chariots in which men are borne, war chariots (compare
Kir--another people subject to Assyria ( 2 Kings 16:9 ); the region about the river Kur, between the Caspian and Black Seas.
uncovered--took off for the battle the leather covering of the shield, intended to protect the embossed figures on it from dust or injury during the march. "The quiver" and "the shield" express two classes--light and heavy armed troops.
7. valleys--east, north, and south of Jerusalem: Hinnom on the south side was the richest valley.
in array at the gate--Rab-shakeh stood at the upper pool close to the city ( Isaiah 36:11-13 ).
8. he discovered the covering--rather, "the veil of Judah shall be taken off" [HORSLEY]: figuratively for, exposing to shame as a captive ( Isaiah 47:3 , Nahum 3:5 ). Sennacherib dismantled all "the defensed cities of Judah" ( Isaiah 36:1 ).
thou didst look--rather, "thou shalt look."
house of . . . forest--The house of armory built of cedar from the forest of Lebanon by Solomon, on a slope of Zion called Ophel ( 1 Kings 7:2 , 10:17 , Nehemiah 3:19 ). Isaiah says ( Isaiah 22:8-13 ) his countrymen will look to their own strength to defend themselves, while others of them will drown their sorrows as to their country in feasting, but none will look to Jehovah.
9. Ye have seen--rather, "Ye shall see."
city of David--the upper city, on Zion, the south side of Jerusalem ( 2 Samuel 5:7 2 Samuel 5:9 , 1 Kings 8:1 ); surrounded by a wall of its own; but even in it there shall be "breaches." Hezekiah's preparations for defense accord with this ( 2 Chronicles 32:5 ).
ye gathered--rather, "ye shall gather." into the city by subterranean passages cut in the rock of Zion, the fountain from which the lower pool (only mentioned here) is supplied. 2 Kings 20:20 , 2 Chronicles 32:3-5 , represent Hezekiah as having stopped the fountains to prevent the Assyrians getting water. But this is consistent with the passage here. The superfluous waters of the lower pool usually flowed into Hinnom valley, and so through that of Jehoshaphat to the brook Kedron. Hezekiah built a wall round it, stopped the outflowing of its waters to debar the foe from the use of them, and turned them into the city.
10. numbered--rather, "ye shall number," namely, in order to see which of them may be pulled down with the least loss to the city, and with most advantage for the repair of the walls and rearing of towers ( 2 Chronicles 32:5 ).
have ye broken down--rather, "ye shall break down."
11. Ye made . . . a ditch--rather, "Ye shall make a reservoir" for receiving the water. Hezekiah surrounded Siloah, from which the old (or king's, or upper) pool took its rise, with a wall joined to the wall of Zion on both sides; between these two walls he made a new pool, into which he directed the waters of the former, thus cutting off the foe from his supply of water also. The opening from which the upper pool received its water was nearer Zion than the other from which the lower pool took its rise, so that the water which flowed from the former could easily be shut in by a wall, whereas that which flowed from the latter could only be brought in by subterranean conduits (compare Isaiah 7:3 , 2 Kings 20:20 , 2 Chronicles 32:3-5 2 Chronicles 32:30 ; Ecclesiasticus 48:17). Both were southwest of Jerusalem.
have not looked . . . neither had respect--answering by contrast to "Thou didst look to the armor, ye have seen ('had respect', or 'regard to') the breaches" ( Isaiah 22:8 Isaiah 22:9 ).
maker thereof--God, by whose command and aid these defenses were made, and who gave this fountain "long ago." G. V. SMITH translates, "Him who doeth it," that is, has brought this danger on you--"Him who hath prepared it from afar," that is, planned it even from a distant time.
12. did the Lord God call--Usually the priests gave the summons to national mourning ( Joel 1:14 ); now JEHOVAH Himself shall give it; the "call" shall consist in the presence of a terrible foe. Translate, "shall call."
baldness--emblem of grief ( Job 1:20 , Micah 1:16 ).
13. Notwithstanding Jehovah's "call to mourning" ( Isaiah 22:12 ), many shall make the desperate state of affairs a reason for reckless revelry ( Isaiah 5:11 Isaiah 5:12 Isaiah 5:14 , Jeremiah 18:12 , 1 Corinthians 15:32 ).
Isaiah 22:15-25 . PROPHECY THAT SHEBNA SHOULD BE DEPOSED FROM BEING PREFECT OF THE PALACE, AND ELIAKIM PROMOTED TO THE OFFICE.
In Isaiah 36:3 Isaiah 36:22 , 37:2 , we find Shebna "a scribe," and no longer prefect of the palace ("over the household"), and Eliakim in that office, as is here foretold. Shebna is singled out as the subject of prophecy (the only instance of an individual being so in Isaiah), as being one of the irreligious faction that set at naught the prophet's warnings (Isaiah 28:1-33:24'); perhaps it was he who advised the temporary ignominious submission of Hezekiah to Sennacherib.
15. Go, get thee unto--rather, "Go in to" (that is, into the house to).
treasurer--"him who dwells in the tabernacle" [JEROME]; namely, in a room of the temple set apart for the treasurer. Rather, "the king's friend," or "principal officer of the court" ( 1 Kings 4:5 , 18:3 , 1 Chronicles 27:33 , "the king's counsellor") [MAURER]. "This" is prefixed contemptuously ( Exodus 32:1 ).
unto Shebna--The Hebrew for "unto" indicates an accosting of Shebna with an unwelcome message.
16. What . . . whom--The prophet accosts Shebna at the very place where he was building a grand sepulcher for himself and his family (compare Isaiah 14:18 , Genesis 23:1-20 , 49:29 , 50:13 ). "What (business) hast thou here, and whom hast thou (of thy family, who is likely to be buried) here, that thou buildest," &c., seeing that thou art soon to be deposed from office and carried into captivity? [MAURER].
on high--Sepulchres were made in the highest rocks ( 2 Chronicles 32:33 , Margin).
habitation for himself--compare "his own house" ( Isaiah 14:18 ).
17. carry . . . away with . . . captivity--rather, "will cast thee away with a mighty throw" [MAURER]. "Mighty," literally, "of a man" (so Job 38:3 ).
surely cover--namely, with shame, where thou art rearing a monument to perpetuate thy fame [VITRINGA]. "Rolling will roll thee," that is, will continually roll thee on, as a ball to be tossed away [MAURER]. Compare Isaiah 22:18 .
18. violently turn and toss--literally, "whirling He will whirl thee," that is, He will, without intermission, whirl thee [MAURER]. "He will whirl thee round and round, and (then) cast thee away," as a stone in a sling is first whirled round repeatedly, before the string is let go [LOWTH].
large country--perhaps Assyria.
chariots . . . shall be the shame of thy lord's house--rather, "thy splendid chariots shall be there, O thou disgrace of thy lord's house" [NOYES]; "chariots of thy glory" mean "thy magnificent chariots." It is not meant that he would have these in a distant land, as he had in Jerusalem, but that he would be borne thither in ignominy instead of in his magnificent chariots. The Jews say that he was tied to the tails of horses by the enemy, to whom he had designed to betray Jerusalem, as they thought he was mocking them; and so he died.
he--God. A similar change of persons occurs in Isaiah 34:16 .
20. son of Hilkiah--supposed by KIMCHI to be the same as Azariah, son of Hilkiah, who perhaps had two names, and who was "over the household" in Hezekiah's time ( 1 Chronicles 6:13 ).
21. thy robe--of office.
girdle--in which the purse was carried, and to it was attached the sword; often adorned with gold and jewels.
father--that is, a counsellor and friend.
22. key--emblem of his office over the house; to "open" or "shut"; access rested with him.
upon . . . shoulder--So keys are carried sometimes in the East, hanging from the kerchief on the shoulder. But the phrase is rather figurative for sustaining the government on one's shoulders. Eliakim, as his name implies, is here plainly a type of the God-man Christ, the son of "David," of whom Isaiah ( Isaiah 9:6 ) uses the same language as the former clause of this verse. In Revelation 3:7 , the same language as the latter clause is found (compare Job 12:14 ).
23. nail . . . sure place--Large nails or pegs stood in ancient houses on which were suspended the ornaments of the family. The sense is: all that is valuable to the nation shall rest securely on him. In Ezra 9:8 "nail" is used of the large spike driven into the ground to fasten the cords of the tent to.
throne--resting-place to his family, as applied to Eliakim; but "throne," in the strict sense, as applied to Messiah, the antitype ( Luke 1:32 Luke 1:33 ).
24. Same image as in Isaiah 22:23 . It was customary to "hang" the valuables of a house on nails ( 1 Kings 10:16 1 Kings 10:17 1 Kings 10:21 , Solomon 4:4 ).
offspring and the issue--rather, "the offshoots of the family, high and low" [VITRINGA]. Eliakim would reflect honor even on the latter.
vessels of cups--of small capacity: answering to the low and humble offshoots.
vessels of flagons--larger vessels: answering to the high offshoots.
25. nail . . . fastened--Shebna, who was supposed to be firmly fixed in his post.
burden . . . upon it--All that were dependent on Shebna, all his emoluments and rank will fail, as when a peg is suddenly "cut down," the ornaments on it fall with it. Sin reaches in its effects even to the family of the guilty ( Exodus 20:5 ).