2.5 million Ukrainian refugees have fled to Poland. Churches are helping but the financial burden is too much.
Consider helping today!

Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Isaiah 22

Verse 1

The burden of the valley of vision. What aileth thee now, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops?

Isaiah 22:1-14.-PROPHECY AS TO AN ATTACK ON JERUSALEM: that by Sennacherib, in the 14th year of Hezekiah; Isaiah 22:8-11, the preparations for defense and securing of water exactly answer to those in 2 Chronicles 32:4-5; 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 more fully to foreshadow the destruction by Nebuchadnezzar in Zedekiah's reign, and cannot be restricted to Hezekiah's time (Lowth.)

The burden of the valley of vision - i:e., the weighty prophecy respecting the valley of visions-namely, Jerusalem, the seat of divine revelations and visions, 'the nursery of prophets' (Jerome). Isaiah 2:3; Isaiah 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).

What aileth thee - the people of Jerusalem personified.

Gone up to the house-tops? Panic struck, they went up on the flat balustraded roofs to look forth and see whether the enemy is near, and partly to defend themselves from the roofs, (Judges 9:51, etc.)

Verse 2

Thou that art full of stirs, a tumultuous city, a joyous city: thy slain men are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle.

Thou that art - rather, wast, 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, because this recklessness was a general characteristic of the unbelieving Jews (Isaiah 56:12).

Thy slain (men are) 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; Isaiah 38:1). But there is no authority for supposing that the Jews in the city suffered such extremities of plague at that time, when God destroyed their foes. The prophecy therefore stretches on to the siege of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah 14:18; Jeremiah 38:2, states that famine and pestilence were the main cause of deaths in the city. The antithetical contrast to the previous joyousness may imply also that overwhelming fear and anxiety slew many-the same cause which led their "rulers" to "flee" (Isaiah 22:3).

Verse 3

All thy rulers are fled together, they are bound by the archers: all that are found in thee are bound together, which have fled from far.

All thy rulers - or generals (Joshua 10:24; Judges 11:6; Judges 11:11); Hebrew, quatzin.

They are bound. So Hebrew, ussaru; i:e., 'are taken captive.'

By the archers - literally, by the bow. So Isaiah 21:17. Syriac translation, 'are retarded from laying hold of the bow'-literally, 'are bound (Hebrew, min (H4480)) from the bow;' i:e., are so paralyzed as not to use the bow. So Junius and Tremellius. The English version is better: as "bound" ( 'ucaaruw (H631)) is used in this sense in this same verse. Bowmen were the light troops, whose province it was to skirmish in front and (2 Kings 6:22) pursue fugitives. This verse applies better to the attack of Nebuchadnezzar than that of Sennacherib (2 Kings 25:5).

All ... in thee are bound together - all found in the city (Isaiah 13:15), not merely the "rulers" or generals.

(Which) have fled from far - those who had fled from distant parts to Jerusalem as a place of safety.

Verse 4

Therefore said I, Look away from me; I will weep bitterly, labour not to comfort me, because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people.

Look away from me. Deep grief seeks to be alone; while others feast joyously, Isaiah mourns in prospect of the disaster coming on Jerusalem (Micah 1:8-9).

Daughter of my people - (note, Isaiah 1:8; Lamentations 2:11).

Verse 5

For it is a day of trouble, and of treading down, and of perplexity by the Lord GOD of hosts in the valley of vision, breaking down the walls, and of crying to the mountains. For (it is) a day of trouble ... by the Lord God of hosts - literally, 'for lª- the Lord' - i:e., sent by or from the Lord. So the Hebrew particle is used as for, directed on the part of, in Isaiah 19:15.

And of treading down - of Jerusalem by the Gentiles (Luke 21:22-24).

In the valley of vision - (note, Isaiah 22:1) Some think a valley near Ophel is meant as about to be the scene of devastation (cf. Isaiah 32:13-14, note).

Breaking down the walls - i:e., 'a day of breaking the walls' of the city.

And of crying to the mountains - the mournful cry of the townsmen reaches to (Maurer translates toward) 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, cf. Mark 13:14; Matthew 24:16, with this.

Verse 6

And Elam bare the quiver with chariots of men and horsemen, and Kir uncovered the shield.

Elam - the country stretching east from the Lower Tigris, answering to what was afterward called Persia (note, Isaiah 21:2). Later, 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 - i:e., they use the bow both in chariots and on horseback. De Dieu takes the Hebrew for "horsemen," " paaraashiym (H6571), to be 'on horses,' as the Arabs use the word. So in Isaiah 28:28. "Chariots of men" mean chariots in which men are borne, war-chariots. Or else, rekeb (H7393) (the English version, 'chariot') means 'a cavalcade of men,' 'a body of riders:' 'Elam bare the quiver with a cavalcade of men (namely), horsemen.' I prefer this, as the Hebrew for men is not ish, a hero, or warrior; but the general term for men, 'aadaaam (H120) (cf. note, Isaiah 21:7; Isaiah 21:9).

Kir - another people subject to Assyria (2 Kings 16:9); the region about the river Kur, between the Caspian and Black Sea.

Uncovered the shield - 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.

Verse 7

And it shall come to pass, that thy choicest valleys shall be full of chariots, and the horsemen shall set themselves in array at the gate.

Thy choicest valleys - east, north, and south of Jerusalem: Hinnom, on the south side, was the richest valley.

In array at the gate - Rabshakeh stood at the upper pool close to the city (Isaiah 36:11-13).

Verse 8

And he discovered the covering of Judah, and thou didst look in that day to the armour of the house of the forest.

He discovered the covering of Judah - the veil ( maacaak (H4539)) of Judah shall be taken off (Horsley); figurative, 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 in that day. The prophetic preterite: so certain is what God foretells, as though it were already fulfilled.

To the armour of the house of the forest - the house of armoury, built of cedar from the forest of Lebanon by Solomon, on a slope of Zion called Ophel (1 Kings 7:2; 1 Kings 10:17; Nehemiah 3:19). Isaiah says (Isaiah 22:8-13) his countrymen look to their own strength to defend themselves, while others of them drown their sorrows as to their country in feasting, but none look to Yahweh.

Verse 9

Ye have seen also the breaches of the city of David, that they are many: and ye gathered together the waters of the lower pool.

Ye have seen. The prophetic preterite.

The breaches of the 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 32:4-5).

Ye gathered together the waters of the lower pool - (note, Isaiah 22:11.) Ye shall bring together into the city, by subterranean passages cut in the rock of Zion, the fountain from which the lower pool (only mentioned here) is supplied (note, Isaiah 7:3; 2 Kings 20:20, "he made a pool, and a conduit, and brought water into the city." 2 Chronicles 32:3-5 represents 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 Kedroo. 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.

Verse 10

And ye have numbered the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses have ye broken down to fortify the wall.

Numbered the houses of Jerusalem - 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.

The houses have ye broken down to fortify the wall - (2 Chronicles 32:5.)

Verse 11

Ye made also a ditch between the two walls for the water of the old pool: but ye have not looked unto the maker thereof, neither had respect unto him that fashioned it long ago.

Ye made also a ditch - a reservoir for receiving the water of the old pool. 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 this 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 subterraneous conduits (cf. note, Isaiah 22:9; Isaiah 7:3; 2 Chronicles 32:30; Sir 48:17 ). Both were southwest of Jerusalem.

But ye have not looked ... neither had respect - answering by contrast to, 'thou didst look to the armour, ye have seen (had respect, or regard to) the breaches' (Isaiah 22:8-9.)

Maker thereof - God, by whose command and aid these defenses were made, and who gave this fountain "long ago."

Verse 12

And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping and to mourning and to baldness and to And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth:

In that day did the Lord God of hosts call to weeping. Usually the priests gave the summons to national mourning (Joel 1:13-14); now Yahweh Himself shall give it. The "call" shall consist in the presence of a terrible foe.

And to baldness. Plucking off the hair or shaving the to heed was an emblem of grief (Job 1:20; Micah 1:16.)

Verse 13

And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die.

And behold (implying amazement at the people's infatuation) joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep. Notwithstanding Yahweh's call to "mourning" (Isaiah 22:12), many shall make the desperate state of affairs a reason for reckless revelry (Isaiah 5:11-12; Isaiah 5:14; Jeremiah 18:12; 1 Corinthians 15:32).

In Isaiah 36:3; Isaiah 36:22; Isaiah 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 nought the prophet's warnings, (Isaiah 28:1-29; Isaiah 29:1-24; Isaiah 30:1-33; Isaiah 31:1-9; Isaiah 32:1-20; Isaiah 33:1-24.) Perhaps it was he who advised the temporary ignominious submission of Hezekiah to Sennacherib. The un-Hebrew form of his name implies that he was an alien-perhaps introduced by Hezekiah's predecessor Ahaz. He made an ostentatious display of his rank (Isaiah 22:18: cf. 2 Samuel 15:1), and had hewn out for himself a tomb high in the cliffs, southwest of Jerusalem (cf. margin, 2 Chronicles 32:33).

Verse 14

And it was revealed in mine ears by the LORD of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 15

Thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts, Go, get thee unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, which is over the house, and say,

Go, get thee unto - literally, enter into; i:e., Go in to (i:e., into the house to).

This treasurer - `him who dwells in the tabernacle' (Jerome) - namely, in a room of the temple set apart for the treasurer. Hebrew, cokeen (H5532), from caakan (H5532), to dwell: one dwelling on terms of intimacy; the familiar friend of the king. Rather, 'the king's friend,' or 'principal officer of the court' (1 Kings 4:5; 1 Kings 17:3, "governor of his house;" 1 Chronicles 27:33, "the king's counselor") (Maurer). "This" is prefixed contemptuously (Exodus 31:1).

Unto Shebna. The Hebrew [ `al (H5921)] upon, for unto, indicates an accosting of Shebna with an unwelcome message.

Verse 16

What hast thou here? and whom hast thou here, that thou hast hewed thee out a sepulchre here, as he that heweth him out a sepulchre on high, and that graveth an habitation for himself in a rock?

What hast thou here, and whom? The prophet accosts Shebna at the very place where he was building a grand sepulchre for himself and his family (cf. Isaiah 14:18; Genesis 23:1; Genesis 49:29; Genesis 50:13). 'What (business) hast thou here, and whom hast thou (of thy family, who is likely to be buried) here, that thou buildest,' etc., seeing that thou art soon to be deposed from office, and carried into captivity (Maurer).

A sepulchre on high. Sepulchres were made in the highest rocks. Hezekiah thus was "buried in the highest of the sepulchres of the sons of David," (2 Chronicles 32:33, margin.)

An habitation for himself - i:e., a house for his dead body: cf. 'his own house,' Isaiah 14:18.

Verse 17

Behold, the LORD will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover thee.

Carry thee away with a mighty captivity - rather, mªTalTelkaa (H2904) TalTeelaah (H2925), from tuwl (H2904), "cast" (1 Samuel 18:11; 1 Samuel 20:33); 'will cast thee away with a mighty throw' (Maurer). "Mighty" - literally, 'as a mighty man' (Hebrew, geber (H1397), a mighty warrior: so Job 38:3). Since the Hebrew accents separate 'throw' from "mighty man," and the construction whereby the latter is put in apposition with the former is strange, perhaps it is better to translate, 'will cast thee away with a cast, mighty man as thou art' the former is strange, perhaps it is better to translate, 'will cast thee away with a cast, mighty man as thou art' (in thine own esteem).

And will surely cover thee - namely, with shame, where thou art rearing a monument to cover thyself with fame-literally, 'covering will cover thee' [ wª`oTªkaa (H5844) `aaToh (H5844)]. Some think allusion is made to the covering of criminals' faces before execution (Esther 7:8). Grotius notices that the same verb is used in Leviticus 13:45, of the leper's covering his upper lip; whence some infer that Shebna was strucken with leprosy. The Chaldaic supports the English version, 'shall cover thee with confusion:' cf. Psalms 109:29.

Verse 18

He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord's house.

Violently turn and toss thee - literally, whirling, He will whirl thee; i:e., 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).

Into a large country - perhaps Assyria.

There the chariots ... (shall be) the shame of thy Lord's house - it shall be a reproach to Hezekiah that he had been so weak as to elevate thee, and enable thee to have such chariots; or else thy glorious chariots which formerly thou hadst shall be the shame of thy lord's house, in that thou didst defile that house which was as it were God's sanctuary (Calvin). Rather, 'thy splendid chariots shall be there (or else, shall die with thee), oh then disgrace of thy lord's house (Noyes); "chariots of thy glory," mean 'thy magnificent chariots.' It is not meant that be would have these in a distant land, as he had in Jerusalem, but that he would be borne there in ignominy, instead of in his magnificent chariots. The sense is, I think, the only 'chariots of glory' that thou shalt have "there" will be the reproach which thou shalt bear, of having been "the shame of thy lord's house:" instead of thy former chariots of glory, thou shalt have the reproach of having been the shame of thy lord's house. 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.

Verse 19

And I will drive thee from thy station, and from thy state shall he pull thee down.

State - office.

Shall he (God) pull thee down. A similar change of persons occurs, Isaiah 34:16. The transition from the first to the third person expresses estrangement

Verse 20

And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah:

Eliakim the 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).

Verse 21

And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.

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 - i:e., a counselor and friend to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Verse 22

And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

The key of the house of David - emblem of his office over the house, to "open" or "shut;" access rested with him.

Will I lay upon his 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 ("the government shall be upon his shoulder"), as the former clause of this verse; and Himself, in Revelation 3:7, the same language as the latter clause (cf. Job 12:14).

Verse 23

And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house.

Nail in a 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, and so is used for the tent itself: "grace hath been showed from the Lord our God ... to give us a nail in his holy place."

Throne - i:e., resting-place to his family, as applied to Eliakim; but "throne," in the strict sense, as applied to Messiah the antitype (Luke 1:32-33).

Verse 24

And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons.

Same image as in Isaiah 22:23. It was customary to "hang" the valuables of a house on nails (1 Kings 10:16-17; 1 Kings 10:21; Song of Solomon 4:4).

The offspring and the issue - rather, 'the offshoots of the family, high and low' (Vitringa). The Hebrew for "issue" [tsªpiy`owt, from tsaapa`, to put forth, especially vile things, as, for instance, worthless shoots, excrement, Exodus 4:15 ]. Eliakim would reflect honour 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.

Verse 25

In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the LORD hath spoken it.

Nail that is fastened - Shebna, who was supposed to be firmly fixed in his post.

And the burden that was upon it shall be cut off - 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).

Remarks: The joy and the recklessness of the people of the world form a sad contrast to the terrible doom which awaits them. But this ill-seasoned mirth and the love of pleasure and excitement are still more sad to witness when they are seen in the professing people of God. How bitterly the prophet in this chapter weeps not only "because of the spoiling of His people," but especially because of the sin which incurred that divine judgment. Jerusalem has been given up to the "treading down" of the Gentiles for ages, and will be so "until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled" (Isaiah 22:5). Her "choicest valleys" have been long desecrated by the Mohammedan. The veil of the daughter of Zion has been rudely torn off, and her shame has been "discovered." What a warning is her case to the professing people of God, that spiritual privileges, so far from securing impunity in sin, will only aggravate the condemnation of those who "hold the truth in unrighteousness."

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 22". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.