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the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 22

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-14


Isaiah 22:0

This chapter interrupts the series of prophecies against foreign nations. On account of its emblematic superscription, it is incorporated in the little book (סֵפֶר) that is distinguished by such superscriptions (21 and 22). Hence its present place. It contains two parts of almost equal length. In both, presumption is rebuked; in Isaiah 22:1-7, the presumption of the secure and reckless Jerusalem; in Isaiah 22:8-14, its incorrigible obstinacy, which even a perception of danger cannot overcome. In the second part of the chapter (Isaiah 22:15-25) the Prophet declares the punishment of the haughtiness of Shebna, the steward of the palace, involving his deposition and the calling of a worthier successor, who, however, would be likewise in danger of abusing his high office. Touching the time of the composition of the first part, we have to observe that it forms a whole. But in Isaiah 22:8-14 the Prophet sets the wicked obstinacy of the present time in opposition to the inconsideration of an earlier. The time referred to (Isaiah 22:8-12) is ascertained without difficulty from a study of these verses. It was the period of Hezekiah, and just when the Assyrians were threatening the city (xxxvi. and xxxvii.), which was by no means secured against all danger by the measures which Hezekiah took for its defence (2 Chronicles 32:2 sqq. 30). There must have been then in Jerusalem persons, who in opposition to the blind, thoughtless presumption of former times (Isaiah 22:1-7), saw clearly the danger, yet in their wicked obstinacy would not seek the Lord, but desired only to satisfy their low carnal passions. The second part of the chapter belongs to the same time. It is directed against Shebna, the proud steward of the palace. In consequence of the divine displeasure here declared, he was actually deprived of his high office, and Eliakim, the person indicated by Isaiah, was appointed his successor. In chapters 36 and 37 we find Eliakim acting as steward of the palace and Shebna only a scribe. The latter had, it is clear, repented and submitted to the judgment of God. Therefore the punishment with which he was threatened was mitigated. But since Eliakim appears in 36 and 37 as already steward of the palace, this prophecy must belong to a somewhat earlier time.


Isaiah 22:1-14

a) The punishment of blind presumption

Isaiah 22:1-7

1          The burden of the valley of vision.

What aileth thee now,
That thou art wholly gone up to the housetops?

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.

3     All thy rulers are fled together,

They are bound12 by the archers;

All that are found in thee are bound together,

Which have fled3 from far.

4     Therefore said I, Look away from me;

4 I will weep bitterly,

Labour not to comfort me,
Because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people.

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.

6     And Elam bare the quiver

With chariots of men and horsemen,

And Kir5 uncovered the shield.

7     And it shall come to pass,

That6 thy choicest valleys shall be full of chariots,

And the horsemen shall set themselves in array7 at the gate.


Isaiah 22:1. The question מה־לד (comp. Isaiah 22:16 and on Isaiah 3:15) is intensified by אֵפוֹא (Isaiah 19:12). כֻּלָּדְ for כֻּלֵּדְ comp. Micah 2:12.

Isaiah 22:2. In תשׁאיִת מלאה (apposition to כלך) the accusative stands first for the sake of emphasis.

Isaiah 22:3. On מרחוק, i.e., far off, comp. on Isaiah 17:13.

Isaiah 22:4. אמרר בבכי properly: I will with weeping bring forth what is bitter. The Piel (in Isaiah only here, comp. Genesis 49:23; Exodus 1:14) is here, as often, employed like Hiphil in the causative sense. In this sense the Hiphil actually occurs Zechariah 12:10. הֵאִיץ (comp. Genesis 19:15) insistere is found only here in Isaiah.

Isaiah 22:5. מהומה, tumultus, perturbatio, Deuteronomy 7:23; Deuteronomy 28:20; in Isaiah only here. מבוסה, conculcatio, besides only Isaiah 18:2; Isaiah 18:7. מבוכה implicatio, entangling, confusion, besides only Micah 7:4. Notice the assonance in these three words.——מקרקר is to be taken neither as verb. denominativum, nor as substantive (demolition) nor as apposition to יוֹם. It is the participle Pilpel from קוּר fodere, effodere, of which the Kal occurs Isaiah 37:25 and the perf. Pilpel, Numbers 24:17. As to its construction it is in apposition to לַאדֹנָי י׳. Grammar does not require the repetition of the preposition. Notice here how the sound is an echo to the sense.——שׁוֹעַ is clamor, vociferatio, especially a cry for help. The word occurs only here.

Isaiah 22:6. אשׁפה quiver, in Isaiah besides Isaiah 49:2. The בְּ before רכב is the בְּ of concomitance = with. רכב אדם are chariots equipped with men—manned chariots in opposition to wagons for lading (עֲגָלוֹת). פרשׁים (comp. on Isaiah 21:7) stands ἀσυνδέτως, but yet is governed by בְּ. The meaning, therefore, is: Elam has seized the quiver in the midst of chariots and horsemen, i. e., has furnished an army of bowmen together with chariots and horsemen.

Isaiah 22:7. שִׁית without object = aciem struere , Psalms 3:7. Comp. Isaiah 49:15. Notice, too, the alliteration.


1. In this first half of the discourse directed to the whole of Jerusalem, the Prophet assails the presumption with which the inhabitants formerly witnessed the approach of the enemy on an occasion not more closely specified. He asks the meaning of their going up to the roofs of the houses. It was plainly in order to see the approaching foe, although the Prophet does not expressly say this (Isaiah 22:1). But the noise which prevailed in the streets, and the universal gaiety prove that the enemy was not regarded with apprehension, but with proud defiance (Isaiah 22:2). In contrast with this presumption stands the result which the Prophet proceeds to depict. He sees the slain and prisoners of all ranks who fell into the hands of the enemy, not in manly conflict, but in cowardly flight (Isaiah 22:3). A second contrast to that insolent gaiety, is formed by the profound sorrow which the Prophet Himself now feels as he looks upon the ruin of the daughter of his people (Isaiah 22:4). For the Lord Himself brings the day of destruction on Jerusalem, while he employs as His instruments for this purpose distant nations terribly equipped for war, as whose representatives only Elam and Kir are named (Isaiah 22:6-7).

2. The burden—fled from far.

Isaiah 22:1-3. The expression “the valley of vision” is taken from Isaiah 22:5. Consult the Commentary on that verse for further particulars. That the title is formed after the analogy of the superscriptions, Isaiah 21:1; Isaiah 21:11; Isaiah 21:13, and that the prophecy is placed here for that reason is self-evident. A hostile army advances against Jerusalem. But the inhabitants of Jerusalem are not afraid of the enemy. They ascend the roofs of the houses to see the foe. This is in itself quite natural. But yet the Prophet asks in a tone of displeasure, What is the matter with thee that thou in a body goest upon the roofs? The party addressed is plainly the personified Jerusalem. It is no good sign that all Jerusalem goes up on the house-tops. For this looks as if the coming of the enemy was regarded in Jerusalem as a spectacle for the amusement of all the people. It is yet worse that the accustomed noise prevails in the streets, and this noise is a joyous one. The city is called עַלִּיזָה which epithet includes the idea of haughtiness as well as joy, as we see from Isaiah 13:3; Zephaniah 3:11. (Comp. Isaiah 23:12; Psalms 94:3; Jeremiah 50:11; Jeremiah 51:39; 2 Samuel 1:20). It is uncertain to what particular occasion the Prophet here alludes. He cannot have in view what is related 2 Kings 16:5; Isaiah 7:1; for great despondency then reigned. This can be said too of chapter 36; 2 Chronicles 28:20 is too doubtful. (Comp.Ewald,History III. p. 667 note). It was probably some event of less importance, perhaps the appearance of a predatory troop. The indignation of the Prophet would befit such an occurrence. The insolence at sight of a seemingly slight danger annoyed him, inasmuch as the appearance before Jerusalem of a single soldier belonging to the army of a power aiming at universal sovereignty, should have made them sensible of the danger threatening them from that quarter. This danger passes into fact before the Prophet’s eye. He sees a hostile army before the walls of Jerusalem. It is of course a different one from that whose appearance so little discomposed the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Now things take quite another turn. Insolence is changed into its opposite, into base cowardice; security, into the greatest distress. The Prophet sees the ground covered with dead bodies of his people. They have perished miserably, have died an inglorious death. And those very rulers (קצינים comp. Isaiah 1:10; Isaiah 3:6 sq.), who, on the occasion referred to in Isaiah 22:1-2, had doubtless set the example of proud defiance, are now found to be the most cowardly. They flee all together, and are, without the drawing of a bow on their part or on that of the enemy (on מִן in the signification “without” see on Isaiah 14:19) taken and bound. But not only the chief men behaved with cowardice. All the Jews who fell into the power of the enemy (נמצאיך “thy found ones” not “those found in thee) were taken in their flight. They fled afar, not from far (comp. Isaiah 17:13). They had sought in their timidity to flee far away, for they thought themselves safe only at the farthest possible distance from their endangered home. We here readily call to mind what is related 2 Kings 25:4 sqq.; Jeremiah 39:4 sqq. Comp. Lamentations 4:17-20 of the flight of king Zedekiah and all his soldiers.

3. Therefore said I—my people.

Isaiah 22:4. In opposition to that blind presumption (Isaiah 22:2) the Prophet, who clearly perceives what will be hereafter, experiences profound grief. His sorrow is unintelligible to the people. They seek to comfort him. He refuses to be comforted, and asks only to be permitted to give vent to his grief. “Look away from me,” recalls vividly to mind Job 7:19; Job 14:6; Ps. 39:14; but in these places the Lord is entreated to turn away His holy, and, therefore, judging eye from sinful men. The expression, “the daughter of my people” first occurs here. It is not to be taken as the partitive genitive, but as the genitive of apposition, or more accurately, the genitive of identity. The daughter of my people is a daughter, i. e., a female who is my people in so far as she represents, or personifies my people. The expression, as the analogous one “daughter of Zion,” corresponds to our expressions, Germany, Prussia, Bavaria, etc. These expressions with us likewise denote the personified unity of a people under the representation of a female. Observe further how the Prophet depicts the punishment of their presumption in words which afterwards served as a model for the lamentation over Jerusalem’s destruction by the Chaldaeans (Lamentations 2:11; Lamentations 3:48).

4. For it is a day——the gate.

Isaiah 22:5-7. The conduct of the Prophet is determined by the procedure of the Lord. As He has decreed a day of destruction on Jerusalem, the sorrow of the Prophet is not without a cause. The expression יוֹם לַאדֹנָי is peculiar to Isaiah. It occurs Isaiah 2:12 (Isaiah 34:8). What it means is learnt from Isaiah 63:4 where it is called “a day of vengeance in my heart.” The expression in a somewhat modified form is used by Jeremiah (Isaiah 46:10) and Ezekiel (Isaiah 30:3). The scene of this act of judgment is to be “the valley of vision.” That Jerusalem is thus denoted is most clearly determined by the context. Knobel’s view that the expression does not mark the city itself, but only one of the valleys surrounding it, is very strange. Not to speak of other things, how would a judgment falling on only one of the valleys surrounding Jerusalem, correspond to the words of Isaiah 22:2? I believe that light is thrown on the expression “the valley of vision” by Joel 3:12 sqq. The expression “the day of the Lord” is found first in Joel. While then Isaiah speaks of “a day of trouble, and of treading down, and of perplexity” which the Lord has, he is led to think on the place which, according to Joel, should be the scene of “the day of the Lord.” This place is “the valley of Jehoshaphat,” or, as it is termed a little after, (Joel 3:14) “the valley of decision.” The place of judgment is thus denoted in Joel by symbolical names. He speaks of the judgment on the heathen which does not touch Israel. Isaiah speaks of the judgment on Jerusalem alone, and therefore does not call the place of judgment “the valley of decision,” but chooses instead of it another symbolical name. He calls it “the valley of vision.” Too much stress has been laid on the representation of a “valley,” both here and in Joel 3:12; Joel 3:14. The valley of Jehoshaphat is not the valley of Kidron, which from this passage was afterwards called the valley of Jehoshaphat; but it is an ideal plain spread out at the foot of mount Zion, not called a valley from its lying between two mountains (compare also the valley, plain of Jezreel Joshua 17:16; Judges 6:33; Hosea 1:5), but in opposition to the lofty height from which Jehovah descends. We have then neither to think on the situation of Jerusalem between mountains (Psalms 125:2), nor on the low street in a valley in which the Prophet is supposed to have dwelt. But Jerusalem is called a valley as being on this lower earth in opposition to the heavenly height from which the Judge comes. There are, besides, not wanting traces of the use of גיא in the wider signification of planities, plain. (Comp. 2 Samuel 8:13; Psalms 60:2; Numbers 21:2). But why “the valley of vision?” To me it seems that we must not overlook the fact, that in Isaiah 22:1-14 seeing is so much spoken of. The inhabitants of Jerusalem go up on the roofs to see (Isaiah 22:1). But they do not see as they ought. Then the Lord removes partially the covering from their eyes, and they look to their armory (Isaiah 22:8). They look also to the breaches in their walls (Isaiah 22:9), and to the lower pool; but alas! they do not look to Him who formed all this long ago (Isaiah 22:11). The Prophet, on the other hand, whose eye the Lord had entirely opened, sees accurately (Isaiah 22:14). Might not then Jerusalem be called the valley of (prophetic) vision, because in it the true God-imparted seeing has its place, in opposition to the defective and often quite perverse seeing? The Prophet would therefore mean: In the place where the divine seeing has indeed its home, but on account of false human seeing is not regarded, the Lord will appear to hold judgment. The breaking down of the wall took place at the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldaeans (Jeremiah 39:2). Crying to the mountain.—It seems to me to suit the context better, if we (with Ewald, Drechsler) under ההר understand not the neighboring mountain sides, but the mountain on which the Lord dwells, whence He, according to Joel 3:16 sq., roars and utters His judgment, and to which the prayers of the suppliants are directed (Psalms 2:6; Psalms 3:5; Psalms 99:9; Psalms 121:1; Isaiah 2:3; Isaiah 8:18; Isaiah 10:12; Isaiah 10:32; Isaiah 11:9, etc.). Isaiah 22:6-7 explain what is said in Isaiah 22:5. The general, indefinite “and” before Elam involves in this connection the notion “and truly, namely.” (Comp. Gesen.Thes. p. 394 c). Elam (comp. Isaiah 11:11; Isaiah 21:2) is the Persian Uvaja, i. e., the Susiana of the Greeks (Schrader,Cuneif. Inscr. p. 31). That the Elamites were renowned as archers appears from Jeremiah 49:30 (comp. Herzog,R. Encycl. III. p. 748). Kir is described by Amos (Isaiah 9:7) as the earlier dwelling of the Syrians. He also predicts that the Syrians should be brought back thither (Isaiah 1:5), a prophecy whose fulfilment is attested 2 Kings 16:9. It has been almost universally assumed since J. D. Michaelis (opposed to this view are Knobel,Voelkertafel (Ethnological Table) p. 151. Keil on 2 Kings 16:9; Vaihinger in Herzog,R. Encycl. XV., p. 394) that this Kir is the region near the river Κῦρος, a tributary of the Araxes, which falls into the Caspian Sea (comp. Ewald,Hist. III., p. 638). Delitzsch properly observes that the river Κῦρος is written not with ק but with כ. The name has not yet been found in the Assyrian inscriptions. That the Prophet named Elam and Kir as representatives of the Assyrian host is certainly possible. Only we must understand the matter thus: For the Prophet who always beheld Assyria in the foreground of his field of vision, Assyria signifies the worldly power in general, for which reason he elsewhere includes even Babylon under the name of Assyria (Isaiah 7:20; Isaiah 8:7). He mentions Elam and Kir, because they were remote and unknown nations. For the prophets frequently render their announcements of judgment more dreadful, by the threatening that distant people, entirely unknown, and therefore quite reckless and pitiless, should be the instrument of the judgment (comp. Deuteronomy 28:49; Isaiah 33:19; Jeremiah 5:15). The uncovering of the shield (comp. Cœsar Bell. Gall., 11, 21) is proper for infantry, so that all the constituents of an army—archers, chariots of war, cavalry, infantry, will be represented. In Isaiah 22:7 the exact rendering is “And it came to pass; thy best valleys were full,” etc. But the past tense is not to be understood absolutely. The Prophet does not pass suddenly from the description of future things to depict what had already taken place. He is to be understood relatively. He marks only a progress in the picture of the future which he beholds. He sees the chariots and horsemen (Isaiah 22:6) not merely at rest. He sees them in motion, he marks how they fill the environs of Jerusalem. This movement which belongs to the future, he describes as if it took place before his eyes. Thy choicest valleys, lit., the choice of thy valleys, thy best, most fruitful valleys, chief of these the valley of Rephaim (Isaiah 17:5), are filled and overrun with chariots and horsemen, they are so numerous. But they not merely threaten from a distance. They approach close to Jerusalem. The horsemen have taken their stand right before the gate in order to make a dash the moment they are required.


[1]Heb. of the bow.

[2]without bow.


[4]Heb. I will be bitter in weeping.

[5]Heb. made naked.

[6]Heb. the choice of thy valleys.

[7]Or. toward.

Verses 8-14

b) The punishment of defiance in sight of danger

Isaiah 22:8-14

8          And he [8]discovered the covering of Judah,

And thou didst look in that day
To the armour of the house of the forest.

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.

10     And ye have numbered the houses of Jerusalem,

And the houses have ye broken down to fortify the wall.

11     Ye made also a 9dicth 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.

12     And in that day did the Lord God of hosts call

To weeping, and to mourning,
And to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth;

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.

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.


Isaiah 22:11. The feminine suffixes in עִֹשֶיהָ (regarding the form comp. Ewald, § 256 b) and יֹצְרָהּ are to be regarded as neuters. יָצַר is the forming, shaping in idea, to which then עָשָׂה comes as the execution. In analogous places יצר stands therefore before עָשָׂה: Isaiah 43:7; Isaiah 45:18; Isaiah 46:11. However in Isaiah 37:26; Jeremiah 33:2, the order is as here. We could say that the succession of ideas is conceived in the one case analytically, in the other, synthetically.

Isaiah 22:13. On these infinitive constructions comp. Isaiah 5:5; Isaiah 21:5.——The abnormal form שָׁתוֹת is in imitation of שָׁחֹט, comp. Hosea 10:4.


1. The inhabitants of Jerusalem are now no longer inspired by thoughtless presumption. They see themselves compelled by this new emergency to consider seriously their means of defence. First, they inspect the store of weapons in the arsenal (Isaiah 22:8). They examine the fortifications, and collect water in the lower pool (Isaiah 22:9). They pull down houses in order to repair the walls (Isaiah 22:10), and they form a new reservoir. But to Him who has caused this distress, and who alone can remove it, they do not turn their eyes (Isaiah 22:11). And when He brings upon them bitter misery (Isaiah 22:12), the only effect of it is that, with the recklessness of despair, they give themselves eagerly to pleasure, because all will soon be over (Isaiah 22:13). But this defiant spirit exhibited no longer in blindness, but in sight of danger, the Lord will not pardon. They must expiate it with their life (Isaiah 22:14).

2. And he discovered—long ago.

Isaiah 22:8-11. This section is closely connected with the preceding one, as the construction shows.—And he discovered. The subject of the verb is the Lord God of hosts in Isaiah 22:5. But, though the connection of the two sections is so intimate, a considerable interval of time must lie between them, as the transition from that blind presumption to the defiance in sight of danger here described, was hardly quite sudden. But for this close grammatical connection of the two sections one might be tempted to refer the first part (Isaiah 22:1-7) as a separate prediction to an earlier time. It would, in fact, have been possible for the Prophet to have combined in one prophecy this earlier prediction with a later one on account of a correspondence in subject-matter between the two. But it is most natural to regard the whole piece, Isaiah 22:1-14, as a single composition, and to suppose that the Prophet in the first part (Isaiah 22:1-7) transported himself back to an earlier juncture, because it served admirably as a foil to the later crisis which he describes (Isaiah 22:8-14). This later situation, which was the occasion of this whole prophecy before us, is here described by him as a basis for the complaints and denunciations of punishment which he utters, Isaiah 22:11 b and Isaiah 22:13 sq. We have therefore to understand the aorists, Isaiah 22:8 sqq., not as praeterita prophetica, but in their proper signification. We perceive from Isaiah 22:8 a, that the Lord at last took from the eyes of Judah the covering that caused blindness. גלה is here applied not to that which is hidden, but to that which hides, as frequently. Comp. Isaiah 47:2; Nahum 3:5; Job 41:5. Judah then saw the necessity of preparing for war. They proceed therefore to the armory built by Solomon, of cedars, called the house of the forest of Lebanon (1 Kings 7:2; 1 Kings 10:17; 1 Kings 10:21), which is probably identical with the בֵּית כֵּלִים39:2, in order to see how it stood with the apparatus bellicus. The primary meaning of נֶשֶׁק is tela. They next examine the fortifications of the city of David, and discover that there are many breaches in them. I do not think that under “the city of David” we are to understand the whole of Jerusalem, as Arnold appealing to Isaiah 29:1 maintains (HerzogR. Enc. XVIII., p. 593). “The city of David” is always the South-western elevated part of Jerusalem; and if this part alone is mentioned here, this need not surprise us, as we cannot expect that the Prophet should give an enumeration historically complete. We learn, moreover, from 2 Chronicles 32:5, that Hezekiah fortified especially the proper city of David, or Zion. Another matter, which must be particularly attended to by those who defend a city, is to provide themselves with water, and to cut off the supply of it from the enemy. This is what the inhabitants of Jerusalem do. They collect, draw inwards the waters of the lower pool. In the valley of Gihon which borders Jerusalem on the west there are still two old pools; the upper (now Birket-el-Mamilla) and the lower (now Birket es-Sultân). Compare what is said on Isaiah 7:3. The account in 2 Chronicles 32:3 sq., and that in the place before us supplement one another. In the former, mention is made only of the stopping of the reservoirs. Here, prominence is given to the other necessary step, the turning into the city of the water cut off from the enemy. קִבֵּץ cannot here denote merely collecting in the pool by hindering it from flowing away. For, first, the water, without flowing off, would have risen and been soon remarked by the enemy. Secondly, the water was needed in the city. I take, therefore, קִבֵּץ in the signification in which it is employed Joel 2:6; Nahum 2:11, where it is said that faces קִבְּצוּ פָארוּר, i. e., draw in their brightness. Here, then, the meaning is that the inhabitants of Jerusalem drew the water into their city. In reference to Delitzsch’s remark that this must rather be expressed by אסף, I call attention to the fact that Joel expresses, Joel 2:10 and Joel 4:15, by אסף the same thought which he had in Joel 2:6 expressed by קבץ, whence it follows that in this place, too, קבץ can be used in the signification אסף. It may occasion surprise that Isaiah 22:10 interrupts the account regarding the reservoirs. But the Prophet evidently proceeds from the easier to the more difficult. The breaking down of the houses for the purpose of repairing the walls, was a greater work than drawing off the water of the lower pool into the wells or reservoirs already existing in the city. And the formation of a new pool between the walls, in order to empty the old one, might well appear the grandest work of all. The opinion of Drechsler, that the numbering of the houses was with a view to quartering the soldiers, is very strange. In Jeremiah 33:4 it is supposed that houses were demolished in order to repair the fortifications. The מִקְוָה (only here, elsewhere מִקְוֶה) which (Isaiah 22:11) was prepared for the waters of “the old pool,” is very probably still in existence in the Birket-el-Batrak (the pool of the patriarchs) which the Franks after this passage and 2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:30; Sir 48:19, call the pool of Hezekiah. It lies within the present wall of the city east of the Yafa (Joppa) gate. It still receives its water from the Mamilla pool by means of a canal which enters the city south of the Yafa gate. (Comp. Arnold in Herz.,R. Enc. XVIII., p. 619, and especially C. W. Wilson’sOrdnance Survey of Jerusalem, 1865, and Warren’sRecovery of Jerusalem, 1872). In opposition to the new pool, the pool whose waters it received was called “the old pool.” The former name of the old pool was “the upper pool,” which is twice mentioned by Isaiah (Isaiah 7:3; Isaiah 36:2). The expression חֹמוֹתַיִם occurs besides only in Jeremiah 39:4, and in the parallel passages Jer 52:7; 2 Kings 25:4. In these places in the books of Jeremiah and Kings a double wall seems to be meant, which connected Zion and Ophel at the end of the Tyropœon. This does not suit well the situation of the pool of Hezekiah as before mentioned. It is uncertain whether we are to understand in the place before us a corner of a wall between the north wall of Zion and the wall going north-eastwards round Akra (Delitzsch after Robinson), or a second double wall situated near the Yafa gate. This precaution was certainly not in itself wrong. What was wrong in their conduct was that they fixed their eyes only on these measures of human prudence, and omitted to look with confidence to Him who had made all this, i. e., the whole situation, and had arranged it long ago. [The common view, which supposes God to be here described as the maker and fashioner of Jerusalem, has against it the analogy of Isaiah 37:26.—D. M.].

3. And in that day—of hosts.

Isaiah 22:12-14. We may ask how the Lord then called the inhabitants of Jerusalem to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness (Isaiah 3:24), and to girding with sackcloth (Isaiah 20:2). The language is probably taken from the proclamations by which a general fast, a day of humiliation and prayer was ordained (1 Kings 21:9; 1 Kings 21:12). Such proclamations proceed proximately from the rulers, but ultimately from the Lord, who by the course of His providence renders them necessary. It is now also the Lord who so “makes and forms” everything that Israel, if it would give heed, would be called thereby to repentance. One thinks here very naturally of Isaiah 37:1 sqq., where it is related that Hezekiah, in consequence of the message of Rabshakeh, rent his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and sent deputies clothed with sackcloth to Isaiah. I would say that as Isaiah 22:8-11 recall to mind the defensive measures taken by Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 32:2 sqq.), so what is said in Isaiah 22:12 reminds us of Isaiah 37:1 sqq. Hezekiah was better than the majority of his people. His own father was Ahaz, and his son was Manasseh. He formed between the two only a short episode, which stemmed indeed for a short time the flood of corruption, but which rendered the inundation under Manasseh all the more impetuous. We can therefore reasonably assume that at the very time when Hezekiah and his immediate attendants were exhibiting these signs of penitence there were very many people in Jerusalem who were doing that wherewith the Prophet (Isaiah 22:13) reproaches the Jews. They saw the danger. They were no longer blind as in Isaiah 22:1 sqq. They did not, however, let the perception of the danger move them to lay hold of the only hand that could save them, but in defiant resignation they refused this help. They made up their mind to go to destruction, but first they would enjoy life right heartily (Isaiah 22:13). The words אכול ושׁתו I prefer, with Drechsler, Knobel, and others, to take as words of the Jews, rather than with Delitzsch ascribe them to the Prophet. For, as words of the Prophet they are superfluous, while as words of the Jews they round off their speech. Moreover the form שָׁתוֹ makes the impression of being an abbreviation borrowed from popular usage. Isaiah 22:14. The perfect ונגלה cannot be taken as the aorist. It marks rather, as Drechsler correctly observes, the revelation as an abiding one, continuing to echo in the inner ear of the Prophet. כִּפֶּר (comp. Isaiah 6:7; Isaiah 27:9) properly to cover. According to the way in which this covering takes place the word denotes forgive, or atone. Here it seems to me to signify to forgive, for the mode of threatening excludes the thought of atonement. A recompense after death is not yet taught in the Old Testament. Punishments are inflicted in this life. If a man has to suffer punishment for guilt unpardoned, he has to bear the burden till it has destroyed him, till he is dead. עד till, declares, therefore, that up to death, all through life, they will have to bear the punishment of that sin. After death follows only Sheol in which there is no more life. [Isaiah himself seems clearly to teach the doctrine of a punishment after death, Isaiah 33:14; Isaiah 66:24. And in chapter 14 the Prophet represents the dwellers of Sheol as meeting the king of Babylon with taunts on his appearance among them. This supposes that there is life there. Though the inhabitants of Sheol are prevented from taking part in the affairs of the present life on earth, as Scripture affectingly testifies, this does not hinder their possession of consciousness and activity in the invisible world.—D. M.].


[8]uncovered, took away.


Verses 15-25


Isaiah 22:15-25

15          Thus saith the Lord God of hosts;

Go, get thee unto this 10treasurer,

Even unto Shebna, which is over the house, and say,

16     What hast thou here, and whom hast thou here,

That thou hast hewed thee out a sepulchre here,

11As he that heweth him out a sepulchre on high,

And that graveth an habitation for himself in a rock?

17     Behold, the Lord [12]will carry thee away with a mighty captivity,

And will surely cover thee.

18     He will surely violently turn,

And toss thee like a ball into a 13large country;

There shalt thou die,
And there the chariots of thy glory

Shall be the shame of thy lord’s house.

19     And I will drive thee from thy station,

And from thy state shall he pull thee down.

20     And it shall come to pass in that day,

That I will call my servant Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah;

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


Isaiah 22:15. לֶךְ־בּא comp. Isaiah 26:20; Ezekiel 3:4; Eze 3:11; 2 Kings 5:5. The change of אֵל and עַל without any perceptible difference of meaning, which is very common in Jeremiah (comp. on Jeremiah 10:3) occurs also in Isaiah not unfrequently (comp. on Isaiah 10:3).

Isaiah 22:16. מרום is accusative of the place.

Isaiah 22:17. Grammar forbids our considering טלטלה (it and Pilp. טלטל only here in Isaiah) as in the construct state. For in all cases where this anomaly appears to occur, the second word is in apposition. To take גבר as a vocative (as after the Syriac version many do, also Cheyne and Diestel), is still harder than to regard it as in apposition to יהוה. For though a tolerable irony might lie in גבר, yet there is no example of the word so standing alone as vocative. The subst. טלטלה stands instead of the customary infinitive absolute. I do not understand why it is said that עטה cannot have the signification “wrap up,” “inwrap,” for it signifies induere in 1 Samuel 28:14; Psalms 104:2; Psalms 71:13. Comp. Psalms 109:19; Psalms 109:29; Isaiah 59:17; Jeremiah 43:12; and this induere cannot be understood in many of these places as merely covering, but must denote an inwrapping or enveloping one’s self tightly. It might be said that עָטָה then signifies “to inwrap one’s self,” and stands with the accusative of the thing which is put on or in which a person wraps himself, while in the passage before us עטה is joined with the accusative of the person. But it is well known that the Hebrew verbal stems are by no means clearly discriminated in respect to transitive and intransitive use, and besides, Isaiah employs here only rare verbal forms. It appears to me that the Prophet by עטה indicates the laying together of the coverings on the person of Shebna. צנף denotes the rolling together into a ball, טלטל the casting forth. צנף is to wrap round, obvolvere (the verb only here and Leviticus 16:4). Thence comes צְנֵפָה, what is rolled or wound together (ἅπ. λεγ.). כַּדּוּר is not דּוּר with the prefix, but כּ belongs to the stem. Comp. Isaiah 29:3 and כִּידוֹר Job 15:24. The signification is pila, sphaera, globus, ball. It is to be construed in apposition to צְנֵפָה. The word קָלוִֹן is found only here in Isaiah. מַצָּב ,הָדַף and מַֽעֲמָד only here in Isaiah; הָרַם is found besides Isaiah 14:17 and in Piel Isaiah 49:17.

Isaiah 22:21. חִזֵּק (with double accusative after the analogy of verbs of clothing) is to make fast, strengthen (Nahum 2:2).


1. The prophecy, which chastises the haughty and defiant spirit of the inhabitants of Jerusalem is followed by another which has for its subject the pride of a single person. Shebna, the steward of the palace, and first minister of the king, was a haughty, insolent man. He went so far in his arrogance that he caused a sepulchre to be hewn out for himself in a rock on high (probably on the height of Mount Zion). He was standing beside his new sepulchre, which was yet in course of construction, when Isaiah, by God’s command, came to him and asked him by what right and title he was hewing for himself here a sepulchre in the rock on the height (Isaiah 22:15-16)? Jehovah will cast him away as a ball into a distant, level country. There shall he die, and the disgrace of the house of David will be there his funeral pomp. But before that, the Lord will remove him from his office (Isaiah 22:17-19). The Lord will call to his place as steward of the palace Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who will prove a father to Jerusalem and Judah, and the key of authority over the realm shall be put into his hand (Isaiah 22:20-22). Eliakim will thereby raise his family also to high honors. As one hangs on a nail all vessels of the house, so will he elevate and bear all the descendants of his house; but this procedure will not remain unpunished—for the nail will break, and the vessels hanging on it will fall down and be dashed to pieces (Isaiah 22:23-25).

2. Thus saith—over the house.

Isaiah 22:15. סֹכֵן occurs only here. The feminine סֹכֶנֶת is applied as a predicate to the Shunammite Abishag (1 Kings 1:2; 1 Kings 1:4). A סֹכֶנֶת [Margin of English BibleBHS: a cherisher] is there sought for the king and also found in the person of Abishag. That in this connection the signification: “intimate friend,” amica intima, familiarissima, suits, is obvious. The signification “intimate friend” is favored by the related root, שׁכן, to dwell, with the additional signification, to dwell together (σύγκοιτος. Comp. Proverbs 8:12; Ges.Thes. p. 1408), and the Arabic sakan, friend, and the Hiphil. הִסְכִּין, to form acquaintance (Job 22:21), cognitum habere (Psalms 139:3) consuevisse (Numbers 22:30). That this was in the East a title of office is well known. (Comp. the Lexicons and Gesenius on this place). I therefore translate סֹכֵן by “privy counsellor.” The pronoun הַזֶּהthis, involves, like the Latin iste, the idea of contempt. The name שֶׁבְנָא (written שֶׁבְנָה, 2 Kings 18:18; 2 Kings 18:26; comp. ibid. Isaiah 19:2; Isaiah 36:3; Isaiah 36:11; Isaiah 36:22; Isaiah 37:2) is in the O. T. applied only to this one individual. From the circumstance that his genealogy is not given, some have been inclined to infer that he was a novus homo, an upstart, perhaps not even an Israelite. Neither conclusion seems to me to be justified. For, that Isaiah does not name the father of Shebna because he was a homo ignobilis, or quite unknown, is so unlikely, that we must rather on the contrary say, if the father of Shebna had been a man of base, or not even of Israelitish origin, or a person quite unknown, Isaiah would have given prominence to this circumstance, because it would serve to set the haughtiness of Shebna in the moreglaring light. It is therefore more probable that Isaiah, contrary to the approved custom of the East, omitted the name of the father, because he would not show this respect to the son. The fact that Shebna is further described as placed “over the house,” indicates that סֹכֵן was only a general title. He belonged, in general, to the friends of the king, but he was, in particular, the highest among them, viz.: major domus, maire du palais. He filled at the same time the first office at court and in the state. Comp. 1 Kings 4:6; 1 Kings 16:9; 1 Kings 18:3; 2 Kings 10:5. From 2 Kings 15:5 we learn that even the son of the king and subsequently his successor on the throne filled this office.

3. What hast thou——pull thee down.

Isaiah 22:16-19. The question “What hast thou here?” evidently means: What entities thee to make thy grave here? While the question “Whom hast thou here?” intimates that Shebna will not succeed in burying here even one of his kindred. The thrice-repeated פה, here, intimates that the place was a select one, not standing open to every person. The following words חצבי מרים to the end of the verse, make on one the impression that they are a quotation from some poem unknown to us. For 1) the third person does not suit the connection here; 2) the parallelism, consisting of two members, and the forms חצבי and חקקי indicate a poetic origin. What height is meant appears from the statement in many passages (1 Kings 2:10; 1 Kings 11:43, etc.;2 Chronicles 16:14, etc.) that the sepulchres of the kings were in the city of David, i. e., on Zion, and according to 2 Chronicles 32:33, on the height of Zion. [Eng. Ver. there runs “in the chiefest of the sepulchres of the sons of David;” but “height” should be substituted for “chiefest.”—D. M.]. In this quarter, although not in the proper sepulchres of the kings, those kings also were interred who did not appear worthy of the full honor of a kingly burial (2 Chronicles 24:16). Comp. Herzog,R.- Enc. I., p. 773 sqq. In the neighborhood of the royal sepulchres on the height of Zion, Shebna also seems to have laid out for himself a tomb hewn in a rock. An honor which was voluntarily accorded to such a man as Jehoiada he arrogates to himself. The last member of verse 16 bears evidently the character of poetic parallelism, for it repeats for the sake of rhetorical effect the thought of the preceding clause, though somewhat modified (the grave is described as a habitation for the dead). Comp. Obadiah 1:3; Habakkuk 2:19. Shebna believes that he is able to secure for himself and his family, even after death, a permanent dwelling for all times. But the Prophet announces to him that the Lord will cast him forth, will whirl him out with a whirl as a man, i. e., with the force of a strong man. Isaiah 22:18. We have here a pregnant construction. צנף besides meaning to roll together, must have latent in it the idea of rolling forth, as it is connected with אֵל. צְנֵפָה is then not the act of rolling, but that which is rolled together. The expression רחבת ידים, widely extended on both sides, is found further only in Genesis 34:21; Jdg 18:10; 1 Chronicles 4:40; Nehemiah 7:4. The Prophet evidently means by this large country Mesopotamia, which then still belonged to the Assyrian empire. It seems to me that there is also an antithesis in this expression. As being cast forth stands in opposition to the peaceful staying at home which Shebna hoped for, so the broad country is in contrast to the elevated rock-hewn sepulchre above the narrow valley. There, consequently, in a place which is the very opposite of the place where Shebna wished to build his grave, there shall he die, and there shall he be buried. But even the burial ceremonies will contrast strangely with those which Shebna had anticipated. Almost all interpreters take קלון ב׳ א׳ as vocative. But then the sentence “and there the chariots, etc.,” would be without a predicate; or we must supply an unmeaning predicate such as crunt, venient, or an arbitrary one such as peribunt. The Vulgate and the Peshito have taken the words ושׁמה to אדניך together as subject and predicate. But when they translate “et ibi erit currus gloriae tuae ignominia domus domini tui” we must not think that they take currus as the subject; for this construction yields no tolerable sense. But ignominia, etc. (קלון ב׳ א׳) is the subject. We have, indeed, so far as I know, no express statements respecting the use of chariots at the funerals of the Hebrews. Only in 2 Kings 23:30 we read that the dead body of king Josiah was brought in a chariot (comp. 2 Chronicles 35:24) from Megiddo to Jerusalem. But the thing is in itself probable, and in the passage before us the mention of chariots would be well explained if we durst assume that Isaiah thought of the magnificent funeral with chariots which Shebna might expect. In this supposition I translate “and there will thy state-carriages be—the shame of the house of thy lord;” that is, the shame which the house of thy lord will suffer, and that, too, chiefly through thy fault, this shame will be the escort of thy dead body, it will serve thee instead of the chariots with which they would have furnished thy funeral here, suitably to thy dignity as placed over the palace, it will constitute thy obsequies and accompany thee to the grave. That in the expression “shame of thy lord’s house,” there is an allusion to the house of the king over which Shebna was placed, is self-evident. There is no hysteron proteron when the Prophet announces the deposition of Shebna from his office. For, in fact, this deposition is only the consequence of the judgment which was to come on Shebna on account of his presumption in building himself a vault. How can a man, against whom such a sentence has been published, remain steward of the palace? He displeases the King of kings. How can the earthly king, if he will not draw on himself the wrath of the heavenly King, retain him? He must dismiss the man to whom Jehovah Himself has given notice of dismissal. Isaiah 22:19. The change of person in the two verbs is best explained, after what has been remarked, in this way: the first person refers to the Lord as the Supreme Ruler; the third person, to the human authority, by means of which the divine will is executed on Shebna. This third person is not mentioned by name, and is to be rendered by “he” or “one.” Shebna’s pride was certainly only one symptom of a spirit displeasing to God. He was assuredly no “servant of the Lord;” he therefore did not employ his power to promote the cause of Jehovah, and he must give way to a better man.

4. And it shall come—hath spoken it.

Isaiah 22:20-25. On the day when Shebna must quit his post, Eliakim the son of Hilkiah will occupy his place. We know of this Eliakim nothing except what we learn from the present passage and from 36 and 37. He was in all probability of the priestly race. For Hilkiah, as his father was called, was a common name of priests. At all events, all persons called Hilkiah mentioned in the O. T. are, with a single doubtful exception (Jeremiah 29:3) of priestly, or at least of Levitical origin, Jeremiah 1:1; 2 Kings 22:4 sqq.; 1 Chron. 5:39; 1 Chronicles 6:30; 1 Chronicles 26:11; Ezra 7:1; Nehemiah 8:4; Nehemiah 11:11; Nehemiah 12:7. It seems to follow from Isaiah 22:21, that the steward of the house had an official dress, with the putting on of which his installation was connected. The כְֹתנֶת, tunic was one of the principal parts of the dress of the priests. (Exodus 28:40; Exodus 29:5; Exodus 29:8, etc.). The girdle (אַבְנֵט) also belonged to the dress of the priests (Exodus 28:29; Leviticus 8:0). מֶמְשֶׁלֶת in the sense of sphere of rule, jurisdiction, in Isaiah besides only Isaiah 39:2. Where the paternal authority stands so high as among the Jews the expression, “to be a father to one” denotes a right to rule, which has no other limits than those which nature itself imposes on a father in relation to his child (Genesis 45:8; Judges 17:10; Judges 18:19). The expression “the house of Judah” is found in Isaiah besides only Isaiah 37:31. It occurs first in Hosea (Hosea 1:7; Hosea 5:12; Hosea 5:14); and is especially frequent in the older parts of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 3:18; Jeremiah 5:11; Jeremiah 11:10; Jeremiah 11:17, etc.), and in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 4:6; Ezekiel 8:17; Ezekiel 9:9, etc.). Respecting the distinction between Judah and Jerusalem comp. on Isaiah 2:1; Isaiah 5:3.Isaiah 22:22. The power over the house is essentially a power of the keys. For the key opens the entrance to the house, to the apartments and to all that is in them. He, therefore, who alone has this key, has alone also the highest power. The expression reminds us on the one hand of Isaiah 9:5 (“on his shoulder” is a symbolical representation of the office as a burden to be carried), on the other hand of Job 12:14. The Lord Himself is in Revelation 3:7 represented after the present passage as He who has “the key of David.” Eliakim is not only to possess the highest authority at court and in the State, he is also to use his position for advancing all his house to high honor. This will not happen without abuse of power and evil consequences. A double image is used to express what Eliakim will be to his house. First, he shall be fastened as a nail (יָתֵד Isaiah 33:20; Isaiah 54:2) in a sure place (i. e., in a place where it sticks fast). I do not think that יָתֵד is here to be taken as a tent-peg; for that would not suit Isaiah 22:25. The figure is intended first of all to convey the idea that Eliakim’s influential position will be firmly established and secure. The word of the Lord has called him to it. In this secure and influential place Eliakim will be for his own family a throne of honor (1 Samuel 2:8; Jeremiah 14:21; Jeremiah 17:12), i. e., he will bear his whole family, it will honorably rest on him, as upon a throne. We see that the two figures come substantially to the same thing. But the figure of a nail is in itself a less honorable one than that of a throne. For the nail is only a common article serving simply for the hanging up of vessels. It happens then to Eliakim that he is a nail to which all that belongs to the house of Hilkiah attaches itself, in order to attain to honor by him (Isaiah 22:24 a). They hang on Eliakim the offspring (צאצאים an expression which occurs only Job 5:25; Job 21:8; Job 27:14; Job 31:8 and Isaiah 34:1; Isaiah 42:5; Isaiah 44:3; Isaiah 48:19; Isaiah 61:9; Isaiah 65:23) and the issue; the two expressions, denote the direct and collateral issue. צְפִעוִֹת properly parasite plants, hangers-on. צפיעה, ἅπ. λεγ., is a contemptuous expression, as we can see from צפיע (Ezekiel 4:15). All vessels of small quantity, of smallness (Isaiah 36:9, comp. Exodus 15:16) from the basins (Exodus 24:6) to the skin bottles, or vessels like skin bags or bottles. Thus his entire kindred will fasten themselves on him. The proper, literal expressions “the offspring and the issue” are illustrated by the figurative expressions which follow. Isaiah 22:25. In that day (with significant allusion to Isaiah 22:20) i. e., at the time when this nepotism will be at its height, and be ripe for judgment, the nail which was fastened in a sure place will give way, break and fall, and the burden hanging on it will be dashed to pieces. Many interpreters take offence at this turn of the prophecy, which unexpectedly betokens disaster, and Hitzig pronounces Isaiah 22:24 sq. a later addition. But as the prophecy directed against Shebna had the effect that he actually resigned his post in favor of Eliakim, and was content with the lower office of a scribe (Isaiah 36:3 sqq.), in like manner the unexpected statement, Isaiah 22:24 sq., can have had the salutary design, and effect of warning Eliakim. If this result followed, then the words were not, in fact, pregnant with disaster, but with profit. If Eliakim did not let himelf be admonished, he deserved what is threatened.


[10]privy counsellor.

[11]Or, O he.

[12]will whirl thee out with a whirl as a man.

[13]Heb. large of spaces.


1. On Isaiah 21:2 “God punishes one villain by means of another, and a man is punished by the very sin which he himself commits (Wis 11:17). Thus God punished the Babylonians by the Persians, the Persians by the Greeks, the Greeks by the Romans, the Romans by the Goths, Longobardi, and Saracens.”—Cramer. [The Persians shall pay the Babylonians in their own coin; they that by fraud and violence, cheating and plundering, unrighteous wars and deceitful treaties, have made a prey of their neighbors, shall meet with their match, and by the same methods shall themselves be made a prey of. Henry. D. M.].

2. On Isaiah 21:3. “The Prophets do not rejoice at the loss suffered by their enemies; but have sympathy for them as for men made in the image of God. We ought not to cast off every humane feeling towards our foes (Matthew 5:34).”—Cramer.

3. On Isaiah 21:5. “Invadunt urbem vino somnoque sepultam.” Virgil. “We see here how people commonly feel the more secure, the more they indulge their fleshly lusts, although they are drawing nearer their punishment. So was it with the antediluvian world, so is it now also in these last times when the coming of Christ is expected, as He says, Matthew 24:38.”—Renner. The Prophet Isaiah expounded, etc.—Stuttgart, 1865, p. 73.

4. On Isaiah 21:6 sqq. “It is a grand, infallible evidence of the prophetic Scriptures, and of their divine inspiration, that they do not speak in general uncertain terms, but describe future things so accurately, and exactly, as if we saw them before our eyes. This serves to establish the authority of the Holy Scriptures.”—Cramer.

5. On Isaiah 21:10. Only what the Lord said to him, and all that the Lord said to him, the Prophet declares. Therefore he is sure and certain, even when he has incredible things to announce. Therefore is he firm and courageous, though what he has to proclaim does not please the world. He conceals and keeps back nothing; neither does he add anything. He is a faithful declarer of the mind of God, and does not spare even himself. The proof, fulfilment and accomplishment he leaves to Him who spake through him.

6. On Isaiah 21:11. “He who sets the watch without God, watches in vain (Psalms 127:1). And when God Himself is approaching, then no care of the watchmen is of any use, whether it be day or night. For when the day of the Lord begins to burn, even the stars of heaven and his Orion, do not shine brightly. For God covers the heavens, and makes the stars thereof dark, and covers the sun with a cloud (Ezekiel 32:7). For when God the Creator of all things frowns on us, then all creatures also frown on us, and are terrible and offensive to us.”—Cramer. From this place Christian Friedr. Richter, has composed his fine morning hymn:—

Hüter, wird die Nacht der Sünden
Nicht verschwinden?

[Comp. in English Bowring’s well-known hymn:—

Watchman, tell us of the night,
What its signs of promise are.—D. M.]

7. On Isaiah 21:14. “We ought not to forget to be hospitable towards the needy (Hebrews 13:1).”—Cramer.

8. On Isaiah 21:16. “I regard as a true Prophet him who does not declare a matter upon mere imagination and conjecture, but measures the time so exactly that he fixes precisely when a thing shall happen.”—Cramer.

9. On Isaiah 22:2 sqq. To see the enemy at the gates, and at the same time to regard him merely with curiosity, and to indulge in mirth and jollity, as if all were well, and this too at a time when God’s servants warn men with tears, as Isaiah did Jerusalem (Isaiah 22:4), this is blind presumption which God will punish. But when the calamity has burst upon them, and all expedients by which they try to avert it are of no avail, for men to despise then the only one who can help them, and to spend the brief remaining time in sensual pleasure, this is open-eyed defiance, and will lead to judicial blindness, and that sin which will not be forgiven (Matthew 12:32).

10. On Isaiah 22:13. This is the language of swine of the herd of Epicurus, comp. Isaiah 56:12; Wis 2:6 sqq.; 1 Corinthians 15:32.

11. On Isaiah 22:14. It is true, as Augustine says, that “no one should despair of the remission of his sin, seeing that even they who put Christ to death obtained forgiveness,” and “the blood of Jesus Christ was so shed for the forgiveness of all sins that it could wash away the sins of those by whom it was shed”—but that obstinacy, which refuses to see the needed help, excludes itself from grace and forgiveness.

12. On Isaiah 22:15 sqq. The mission which Isaiah here receives, reminds us strongly of that which Jeremiah had to discharge towards Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 22:1 sqq., esp. Isaiah 22:19), and also of what he was obliged to say to Pashur (Isaiah 20:6). A Prophet of the Lord must show no respect of persons. Isaiah indeed seems to have produced the desired effect; for we find 36 and 37. Shebna as Scribe and Eliakim as steward of the house. But Jeremiah received as recompense for the fulfilment of his mission bitter hatred and cruel persecution.

13. On Isaiah 22:17. The Vulgate translates here: Ecce Dominus asportari te faciet, sicut asportatur gallus gallinaceus. And Jerome in his exposition says: “Hebraeus, qui nos in lectione veteris Testamenti erudivit, gallum gallinaceum transtulit. Sicut inquit gallus gallinaceus humero portatoris de allo loco transfertur ad alium, sic te Dominus de loco tuo leviter asportabit.” The cock which is never mentioned in the Old Testament, and for which we have no genuine Hebrew word, is in fact called גֶּבֶר by the Talmudists. “Conscience, wanting the word of God, is as a ball rolling on the ground, and cannot rest.”—Luther.

14. On Isaiah 22:19. “Service at court is not in itself to be condemned, and a good ruler and a worthy prime minister are the gift of God (Sir 4:8; Sir 4:11; Ch. 10). Let him therefore who is called to such an office abide, as the Lord has called him (1 Corinthians 7:17), and beware of excessive pomp. For God can quickly depose the proud.”—Cramer.

15. On Isaiah 22:21 sqq. The comparison of a magistrate in high position with a father is very appropriate. The whole extent, and the proper measure of a ruler’s power are involved in this similitude. The authority of a father and that of a ruler have a common root in love. Eliakim in having the keys of the house of David laid on his shoulder that he might open and no one shut, and shut and no one open is (Revelation 3:7) viewed as a type of Christ, who is the administrator appointed by God over the house of David in the highest sense, i. e., over the kingdom of God. Christ has this power of the keys in unrestricted measure. The ministers of the Lord exercise the same only in virtue of the commission which they have from Him; and their exercise of it is only then sanctioned by the Lord, when it is in the Spirit which the Lord breathed into the disciples before He committed to them the power of the keys (John 20:22 sq.). [“The application of the same terms to Peter (Matthew 16:19) and to Christ Himself (Revelation 3:7) does not prove that they here refer to either, or that Eliakim was a type of Christ, but merely that the same words admit of different applications.” Alexander. “It is God that clothes rulers with their robes, and, therefore, we must submit ourselves to them for the Lord’s sake and with an eye to Him (1 Peter 2:13). And since it is He that commits the government into their hand,—they must administer it according to His will, for His glory. And they may depend on Him to furnish them for what He calls them to; according to the promise here. I will clothe him: and then there follows, I will strengthen him.” After Henry—D. M.]

16. On Isaiah 22:25. “No one is so exalted or raised to such high dignity as to abide therein. But man’s prosperity, office and honor, and whatever else is esteemed great in the world are, like human life, on account of sin inconstant, vain and liable to pass away. This serves as an admonition against pride and security.” Cramer.


1. On Isaiah 21:1-4. God’s judgments are terrible, 1) for him on whom they fall; 2) for him who has to announce them.

2. On Isaiah 21:6-10. The faithful watchman. 1) He stands upon his watch day and night. 2) He announces only what he has seen and what he has heard from the Lord (Isaiah 22:9-10). 3) But he announces this as a lion, i. e. aloud and without fear.

3. On Isaiah 22:11-12. The spiritual night on earth. 1) It is a. a night of tribulation, b. a night of sin. 2) It awakens a longing for its end. 3) It does not entirely cease till the Lord “vouchsafes to us a happy end, and graciously takes us from this valley of weeping to Himself in heaven.”

4. On Isaiah 21:14 sq. We may fitly employ this text for a charity sermon on any occasion when an appeal is made to the benevolence of the congregation (especially for exiles, as those banished from the Salzburg territory for their Evangelical faith). What we ought to consider when our contributions are asked. 1) Our own situation (we dwell in the land of Tema, a quite fertile oasis). 2) The situation of those who come to us in their distress. 3) What we have to give them.

5. On Isaiah 22:1-7. Warning against thoughtlessness. Pride precedes a fall. Blind presumption is often changed into its opposite.

6. On Isaiah 22:8-14. Blind presumption is bad, but open-eyed obstinacy is still worse. The latter is when one clearly perceives the existing distress, and the insufficiency of our own powers and of the means at our command, and yet refuses to look to Him who alone can help, or to consider the fate which awaits those who die without God, and seeks before the impending catastrophe happens to snatch as much as possible of the enjoyments of this world.

7. On Isaiah 22:15-19. He who will fly high is in danger of falling low. God can easily cast him down. The waxen wings of lcarus. Shebna illustrates, 1 Peter 5:5.

8. On Isaiah 22:20-25. A mirror for those in office. Every one who has an office, ought 1) to be conscious that he has come into the office legally, and according to the will of God; 2) He ought to be a father to those over whom he is set; 3) He ought so to do everything which he does in his office, that its justice is apparent, and that no one can impugn it. 4) He ought not to be like a nail on which all the relations of his family strive to fasten their hope of success; for that is bad for himself and for those who would so abuse his influence.

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Isaiah 22". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/isaiah-22.html. 1857-84.
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