The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Isaiah 22

Isa 22:1

The word "oracle" or "burden" (Isa 13:1; 15:1; 17:1; 19:1; 21:1; 22:1; 23:1) is from the Heb "to lift up", in foreboding or expectation; it implies something that God has planned for another. More often than not, it speaks of a coming punishment; but at times it simply means an important event involving a particular people. The distinction must be determined by the context. Often, the "burden" begins with warnings of judgments to come, and then proceeds with prophecies of something beneficial arising out of the dark times. Zec 12 illustrates this: it begins with a "burden... for Israel... in the siege", but then quickly speaks of a time of blessing succeeding the time of affliction: Jerusalem inhabited again in her own place (Zec 12:6,7). The burdens of Isaiah generally follow this same pattern, with special ref to the LD of Gentile times and the establishment of "Israel in their own land" (Isa 14:1) and Christ as the "ruler of the land... upon the mount of the daughter of Zion" (Isa 16:1). Also the roles of various Gentile powers, esp in relation to Israel and God's plans for the LD, are outlined. What might first appear to be a dry and unrewarding study becomes in reality a promise of God's deliverance for His people (in typical prophecies) and a glorious assurance (in initial fulfillments) that God's purpose stands firm (Isa 14:26,27).

Suggested chronological order of this ch: (1) vv 8-11: preparations for defense; (2) vv 1-3: "peace" celebrations; (3) vv 12-14: Isaiah's condemnation of the celebrations; and (4) vv 4-7: the coming siege (WIsa 243).

Vv 1-3: "Peace" celebrations: "Here is an amazing picture of holy Jerusalem gone delirious with delight. And why? Because the invading Assyrians have been bought off (2Ki 18:14-16). But all the gaiety is premature..."

VALLEY OF VISION: The part of Jerusalem where the prophet lived? Moriah, the Temple site, means "the vision of Yahweh". Perhaps the Kidron Valley on the eastern side of the city (cp incident, Isa 7:3).

Isa 22:2

YOUR SLAIN WERE NOT KILLED BY THE SWORD...: They were so "drunk" that they looked dead!

Isa 22:3

"Suggestion: some of the more far-sighted and better informed, realising that trouble was bound to come, were hoping to find safety in flight. But the Arabian archers, deserting to the enemy (Isa 21:15?), sought to please their new masters by handing these fugitives over, bound as prisoners, to the Assyrians" (WIsa 246).

Isa 22:4

Vv 4-7: The coming siege of Jerusalem: a series of vivid "snapshots" of what the reality would turn out to be, and that right soon!

Isa 22:6

ELAM: Overrun earlier by Sennacherib, Elamites had now been recruited into the Assyrian forces.

THE QUIVER: Elam was known for its archers: Jer 49:35.

KIR: Another mercenary element in Sennacherib's army. A distant region in the area of Mesopotamia, its people had been forcibly resettled elsewhere (Amo 1:5,9:7).

Isa 22:8

Vv 8-11: Defensive preparations, for the invasion by Sennacherib.

THE DEFENSES OF JUDAH ARE STRIPPED AWAY: The fortresses, maintained in fine condition in the time of Uzziah (2Ch 26:8,13-15), have deteriorated in the days of Ahaz (Isa 32:14; Hos 8:14; Mic 1:8-16), and become easy pickings for Sennacherib: "Forty-six of his strong walled towns and innumerable smaller villages... I besieged and conquered" (Taylor Prism; cp Isa 37:36).

THE PALACE OF THE FOREST: Perhaps this refers to a royal armory, or to Solomon's 'House of the Forest of Lebanon,' where weapons may have been kept (1Ki 10:16-17).

Isa 22:9


YOU STORED UP WATER IN THE LOWER POOL: Hezekiah's conduit (2Ki 18:17; 2Ch 32:4).

Isa 22:11

BUT YOU DID NOT LOOK TO THE ONE WHO MADE IT...: Was this the exact time that Hezekiah fell ill, and could not continue the work of preparation?

Now here comes the key point, the "punch line", so to speak... -- "...but you did not look to the One who made it, or have regard for the One who planned it long ago."

At the threatened attack of the enemy, Judah -- and Jerusalem -- began to strengthen every conceivable defense, and take every conceivable precaution. They looked to their weapons, and their walls, and their water. They looked to everything they possible could... EXCEPT the God of Israel!

At other times, the Israelites trusted in altars (Isa 17:7), in defensed cities (Isa 37:26), in Egypt (Isa 31:1), or in Syria (2Ch 16:7-9).

But they did not, or could not, or refused to, trust in the God of Israel (Isa 8:17; Jer 33:2,3; Mic 7:7).

"Men cry out under a load of oppression; they plead for relief from the arm of the powerful. But no one says, 'Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night, who teaches more to us than to the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds of the air?' " (Job 35:9-11).

In the midst of all the preparations for the defense of the ultimately defenseless city of Jerusalem; in the midst of the crying and hand-wringing and desperate, foolish planning; in the midst of the silly, midnight-hour frenzy to "eat and drink... for tomorrow we die!" (v 13), it remained for two men -- the king and the prophet -- to ask the nation the only question it had not asked itself: "Where is our God?"

Isa 22:12

Vv 12-14: Isaiah's condemnation of optimistic celebrations: the city should have been repentant and contrite, as well as thankful. But instead they gave them over to debauchery and license and foolish partying.

Isa 22:13

LET US EAT AND DRINK... FOR TOMORROW WE DIE!: These words seem to imply a lurking uncertainty as to whether the Assyrians had been stopped permanently, or only temporarily. These words are cited by Paul in 1Co 15:32, to express a hopeless resignation to "enjoying" the life that now is, no matter how short or uncertain: the ultimate sensual denial of God.

Isa 22:15

SHEBNA: Poss this fellow was a foreigner, brought in by Ahaz from Syria (no refs to family). Guesses: (1) was he made the "High Priest" of the Assyrian "religion"?; (2) did he become regent when Hezekiah became so ill; (3) was he leader of the pro-Assyrian diplomatic corps? Typically, "Shebna" = the Mosaic priesthood, corrupt and proud.

Isa 22:16

A GRAVE: His own sepulchre, thus guaranteeing a resurrection?

ON THE HEIGHT: Built in the very area reserved for the kings of Judah (1Ki 2:10; 2Ch 32:33). Does the writer of Psa 49 have Shebna in mind... whose sepulchre will be his long home, who understands not, and will be like the beasts that perish?

Suggestion: The "sepulchre" was perhaps only a place of hiding from the Assyrians. A ref to the superstition that death can be escaped by pretending to be dead (cp "covenant with death": Isa 28:15) (BS 11:169).

Isa 22:18

ROLL YOU UP TIGHTLY LIKE A BALL AND THROW YOU INTO A LARGE COUNTRY: Instead of a stately burial in a special sepulchre, Shebna's body will be rolled up in whatever fabric is available, and then hastily stowed away! Or, poss, his body would be tied to the tail of a horse and dragged along behind (Tes 51:221).

YOUR SPLENDID CHARIOTS: Apparently the ref to chariots alludes to Shebna's excessive pride, which in turn brings disgrace to the royal family

Isa 22:20

Vv 20-24: // Rev 3:7: key of David, open, shut, etc.

IN THAT DAY I WILL SUMMON MY SERVANT, ELIAKIM SON OF HILKIAH: Could be read: "In that day I will call my servant (ie, Hezekiah) TO Eliakim"... the leper coming to the priest for cleansing (Lev 14:2) (WRev 31; WIsa 249,250). (The same Heb form occurs in 1Ki 1:32: "Call me Zadok the priest".) The language in this section (ie, shoulder, throne, government, father, house of David) all suggests Hezekiah and the Messiah. [In this, Hezekiah typ Christ, raised up and healed of the "leprosy" of sin and death.]

MY SERVANT: When singular in Isaiah, refs to Hezekiah -- as the prototype of the Messiah (Isa 42:1; 44:1,2,21; 45:4; 49:3,6; 52:13).

Isa 22:21

HE WILL BE A FATHER TO THOSE: "Father" = "leader" (Isa 4:20,21; 45:8; 2Ki 5:13; Isa 22:21). Used metaphorically of one who protects and supports those under his care and authority, like a father does his family (cp Job 29:16).

Isa 22:22

THE KEY TO THE HOUSE OF DAVID: Cp Isa 9:6,7 -- re Hezekiah. Temple restoration by Hezekiah (2Ch 29:3). Cp Kingdom prophecy: Isa 60:11.

Isa 22:23

A PEG: The words of the wise (Ecc 12:11), made flesh in Christ, the "nail" of Zec 10:4.

A PEG INTO A FIRM PLACE: "The figure... is almost unique in Scripture. It is essentially a priestly metaphor, for 'place' is Heb 'maqom', the normal meaning of which is a 'holy place'. Ezra 9:7,8 gives it this meaning, but concerning both kings and priests! And 'sure' ['firm'] is really the wd 'true', with ref to the utter dependability of the promises of God. On this nail there is to be sufficient support for large and small, for cups of gold (Exo 24:6) and flagons of earthen ware (so Paul interprets: 'vessels of gold and of silver, also of wood and of earth': 2Ti 2:20, yet all purged and 'sanctified, and meet for the Master's use' " (WIsa 250).

Isa 22:24

'Everything else will depend on him!'

Isa 22:25

'But before the nail, or peg, can be made absolutely sure and steadfast, it will have to be cut off and fall': ie, re Hezekiah: the illness and nearness to death, before the healing; and re Christ: the sufferings and death, before the resurrection and glorification.

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