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Bible Commentaries

Layman's Bible Commentary

Isaiah 22

Verses 1-14

Exultant Jerusalem in 701 B.C. (22:1-14)

This oracle is given the enigmatic title, “concerning the valley of vision.” The identity of this valley is unknown; the title is taken from verse 5. The prophecy, however, concerns a people who are shouting with joy from the housetops (vss. 1-2) and are enjoying great feasting and drinking, heedless of the consequences, saying: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (vs. 13). To Isaiah this conduct is unrealistic and inexcusable:

For the Lord God of hosts has a day of tumult and trampling and confusion” (vs. 5). That is, the people of Jerusalem are joyous over something that has happened, while the prophet thinks that instead there should be “weeping and mourning” (vs. 12), for although the Day of the Lord has not yet fallen it will surely come (vs. 14).

In the time of Isaiah the one historical moment when these words would have their proper context would appear to be in the year 701 b.c., when King Hezekiah had saved Jerusalem from destruction by paying a very heavy tribute to Sennacherib after the latter’s capture and reduction of the fortified cities of Judah. This is made more explicit in the reference to the military preparations for siege described in verses 8b-ll. “The House of the Forest” was the armory built in Jerusalem by Solomon (1 Kings 7:2; 1 Kings 10:17). The reference to the reservoir between the walls refers to the new provision for water supply within the city fortifications, to which a long tunnel was cut through the rock from the Gihon spring (see 2 Kings 20:20). This, the Siloam tunnel, is still in Jerusalem, where it provides an adventure for tourists who walk through.

Verses 15-25

Prime Minister Shebna of Jerusalem Condemned

(22:15-25)

This exceptionally interesting passage does not really belong among the prophecies against foreign nations, as is also the case with verses 1-14. The prophecy concerns the steward Shebna who bears the title “over the household.” That was the official title of the vizier or prime minister of the government in Jerusalem, the chief executive of the country after the king. It is a title that was also borne by Joseph in Egypt (Genesis 41:40), and it has been convincingly argued that both the title and office in the Jerusalem government were in some degree modeled on the office in Egypt. What precisely the offense of Shebna was we do not know. He was hewing out a tomb for himself, and he is condemned by Isaiah as a bad man who is to be thrust out of his office. It is highly probable that this tomb has actually survived in the cliffs by the modern village of Silwan, directly across the valley from where the old city of David once existed south of the present sacred area in the old city. Isaiah tells Shebna that a man named Eliakim will be his replacement in office; and he indeed it is who in the crisis with Sennacherib is in charge of negotiations (36:3, 11, 22; 37:2). Verses 20-24 give an important picture of the nature of the office and the authority attached to it. Verse 25 is an appended passage which seems to suggest that in due course Eliakim was also removed from office, but the verse is by no means clear. It is a later addition to the earlier prophecy.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Isaiah 22". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/isaiah-22.html.