Isaiah 22:2
You that are full of stirs, a tumultuous city, joyous city: your slain men are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle.
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(2) A joyous city . . .—It would seem from Isaiah 32:13 as if this was the characteristic on which Jerusalem, like Athens afterwards (Thucyd. ii. 40), specially prided itself.

Thy slain men are not slain with the sword . . .—The words imply something like a reproach of cowardice. Those who had perished had not died fighting bravely in battle, but by the pestilence which then, as at all times, was prevalent in the crowded streets of a besieged city.

22:1-7 Why is Jerusalem in such terror? Her slain men are not slain with the sword, but with famine; or, slain with fear, disheartened. Their rulers fled, but were overtaken. The servants of God, who foresee and warn sinners of coming miseries, are affected by the prospect. But all the horrors of a city taken by storm, faintly shadow forth the terrors of the day of wrath.Thou that art full of stirs - Of tumult, of commotion, of alarm. Or, perhaps, this whole description may mean that it was formerly a city distinguished for the hum of business, or for pleasure; a busy, active, enterprising city. The Hebrew will bear this, but I prefer the former interpretation, as indicating mingled alarm and consternation, and at the same time a disposition to engage in riot and revelry.

A joyous city - A city exulting; rejoicing; given to pleasure, and to riot. (See the description of Nineveh in Zephaniah 2:15) It is remarkable that the prophet has blended these things together, and has spoken of the tumult, the alarm, and the rejoicing, in the same breath. 'This may be either because it was the "general" character of the city thus to be full of revelry, dissipation, and riot, and he designates it by that which "usually and appropriately" described it; or because it was, even then, notwithstanding the general consternation and alarm, given up to revelry, and the rather on account of the approaching danger. So he describes the city in Isaiah 22:12-13.

Thy slain men are not slain with the sword - The words 'thy slain' here (חלליך chălâlayikā), seem to be intended to be applied to the soldiers on whom the defense of the city rested; and to mean those who had not died an honorable death "in" the city in its defense, but who had "fled" in consternation, and who were either taken in their flight and made captive, or who were pursued and put to death. To be slain with the sword here is equivalent to being slain in an honorable engagement with the enemy. But here the prophet speaks of their consternation, their cowardice, and of their being partly trampled down in their hasty and ignominious flight by each other; and partly of the fugitives being overtaken by the enemy, and thus put to death.

2. art—rather, "wert"; for it could not now be said to be "a joyous city" (Isa 32:13). The cause of their joy (Isa 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 (2Ki 18:14-16), or on account of the alliance with Egypt. If the reference be to Zedekiah's time, the joy and feasting are not inapplicable, for this recklessness was a general characteristic of the unbelieving Jews (Isa 56:12).

not slain with the sword—but with the famine and pestilence about to be caused by the coming siege (La 4:9). Maurer refers this to the plague by which he thinks Sennacherib's army was destroyed, and Hezekiah was made sick (Isa 37:36; 38:1). But there is no authority for supposing that the Jews in the city suffered such extremities of plague at this time, when God destroyed their foes. Barnes refers it to those slain in flight, not in open honorable "battle"; Isa 22:3 favors this.

Thou art full of stirs; or, thou who wast full of stirs, or noises, to wit, of joyful shouts, as the following words limit it, and as this word is used, Zechariah 4:7, though elsewhere it be taken for doleful cries.

Tumultuous; or, streperous; full of noise and clamour, through revelling and jollity. See Proverbs 20:1 Zechariah 9:15.

Not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle, but either by famine or pestilence in the siege, as many died, Jeremiah 14:18 38:2, or in their flight, as others were; both which were inglorious kinds of death. Thou art full of stirs,.... Or, "wast full of stirs"; through the multitude of people walking about in it, and the vast hurry of business done in it; but now all hush and quiet, the streets clear of people, and the shops shut up, and all got up to the housetops for shelter; or, "full of noises" (l), as a populous trading city is. The word signifies shoutings and acclamations, and is used for joyful ones, Zechariah 4:7 and may be so taken here, and may design such as were expressed at their festivals, and on other occasions; unless it is to be understood of doleful ones, on account of the invasion and siege:

a tumultuous city; through the throng of people, and the noise of thorn:

a joyous city; some on business, others on pleasure; some hurrying from place to place about their trade and commerce, and others amusing themselves with pastime, mirth, and jollity; which is commonly the case of populous cities in prosperity. This had been Jerusalem's case, but now it was otherwise:

thy slain men are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle; for Sennacherib never entered into it, nor put any of its inhabitants to the sword; nor was there any battle fought between them, nor was he suffered so much as to shoot an arrow into it, Isaiah 37:33 wherefore those that died in it died either through the fright and consternation they were put into, or through the famine his army had caused, in laying the country round about them desolate.

(l) "plena strepitibus", Munster; "tumultuationibus", Montanus, Junius & Tremellius; "fragoribus", Piscator.

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

(c) Which was wont to be full of people and joy.

(d) But for hunger.

2. full of stirs] R.V. full of shoutings. joyous city] jubilant city, as ch. Isaiah 32:13. A festive disposition seems to have characterised the inhabitants of Jerusalem in Isaiah’s time; cf. also ch. Isaiah 5:14. That their gladness on this occasion was “the forced gaiety of despair” is indicated by nothing in the passage; it was due to the sense of relief from imminent peril.

thy slain … battle] Jerusalem’s warriors have not met a glorious death on the battle-field, but have been taken prisoners and ignominiously executed (see Isaiah 22:3). Some critics, however, take this clause and the next verse as the description of a vision which the prophet has of the future. On that view, which is plausible enough, it would be more natural to think of deaths from famine and pestilence (Lamentations 4:9).Verse 2. - A joyous city (comp. ver. 13). Thy slain men are not slain with the sword. It is a blockade rather than a siege. Men die, not of wounds, but of privations (Lamentations 4:9). Sennacherib himself says, "Hezekiah, like a caged bird, within Jerusalem, his royal city, I confined; towers round about him I raised; and the exit of the great gate of his city I shut" (G. Smith, 'Eponym Canon,' p. 135, II. 15-18). The heading בּערב משּׂא (the ע written according to the best codd. with a simple sheva), when pointed as we have it, signifies, according to Zechariah 9:1 (cf., Isaiah 9:7), "oracle against Arabia." But why not massâ ‛Arâb, since massâ is followed by a simple genitive in the other three headings? Or again, is this the only heading in the tetralogy that is not symbolical? We must assume that the Beth by which this is distinguished is introduced for the express purpose of rendering it symbolical, and that the prophet pointed it first of all בּערב, but had at the same time בּערב in his mind. The earlier translators (lxx, Targum, Syr., Vulg., Ar.) read the second בּערב like the first, but without any reason. The oracle commences with an evening scene, even without our altering the second בּערב. And the massa has a symbolical title founded upon this evening scene. Just as 'Edom becomes Dumah, inasmuch as a night without a morning dawn falls upon the mountain land of Seir, so will בּערב soon be בּערב, inasmuch as the sun of Arabia is setting. Evening darkness is settling upon Arabia, and the morning-land is becoming an evening-land. "In the wilderness in Arabia ye must pass the night, caravans of the Dedanians. Bring water to meet thirsty ones! The inhabitants of the land of Tema are coming with its bread before the fugitive. For they are flying before swords, before drawn swords, and before a bent bow, and before oppressive war." There is all the less ground for making any alteration in בּערב בּיער, inasmuch as the second Beth (wilderness in Arabia for of Arabia) is favoured by Isaiah's common usage (Isaiah 28:21; Isaiah 9:2; compare 2 Samuel 1:21; Amos 3:9). ‛Arab, written with pathach, is Arabia (Ezekiel 27:21; ‛arâb in pause, Jeremiah 25:24); and ya‛ar here is the solitary barren desert, as distinguished from the cultivated land with its cities and villages. Wetzstein rejects the meaning nemus, sylva, with ya‛ar has been assumed to have, because it would be rather a promise than a threat to be told that they would have to flee from the steppe into the wood, since a shady tree is the most delicious dream of the Beduins, who not only find shade in the forest, but a constant supply of green pasture, and fuel for their hospitable hearths. He therefore renders it, "Ye will take refuge in the V‛ar of Arabia," i.e., the open steppe will no longer afford you any shelter, so that ye will be obliged to hide yourselves in the V‛ar. Arab. wa‛ur for example, is the name applied to the trachytic rayon of the Syro-Hauranitic volcanoes which is covered with a layer of stones. But as the V‛ar in this sense is also planted with trees, and furnishes firewood, this epithet must rest upon some peculiar distinction in the radical meaning of the word ya‛ar, which really does mean a forest in Hebrew, though not necessarily a forest of lofty trees, but also a wilderness overgrown with brushwood and thorn-bushes. The meaning of the passage before us we therefore take to be this: the trading caravans ('ârchōth, like hailı̄coth in Job 6:19) of the Dedanians, that mixed tribe of Cushites and Abrahamides dwelling in the neighbourhood of the Edomites (Genesis 10:7; Genesis 25:3), when on their way from east to west, possibly to Tyre (Ezekiel 27:20), would be obliged to encamp in the wilderness, being driven out of the caravan road in consequence of the war that was spreading from north to south. The prophet, whose sympathy mingles with the revelation in this instance also, asks for water for the panting fugitives (התיוּ, as in Jeremiah 12:9, an imperative equivalent to האתיוּ equals האתיוּ; compare 2 Kings 2:3 : there is no necessity to read קדמוּ, as the Targum, Dderlein, and Ewald do). They are driven back with fright towards the south-east as far as Tema, on the border of Negd and the Syrian desert. The Tema referred to is not the trans-Hauranian Tm, which is three-quarters of an hour from Dumah, although there is a good deal that seems to favour this,

(Note: See Wetzstein, ut supra, p. 202; compare Job, ii.425.)

but the Tema on the pilgrim road from Damascus to Mecca, between Tebuk and Wadi el-Kora, which is about the same distance (four days' journey) from both these places, and also from Chaibar (it is to be distinguished, however, from Tihama, the coast land of Yemen, the antithesis of which is ne'gd, the mountain district of Yemen).

(Note: See Sprenger, Post und Reise-routen des Orients, Heft i.((1864), pp. 118, 119.))

But even here in the land of Tema they do not feel themselves safe. The inhabitants of Tema are obliged to bring them water and bread ("its bread," lachmo, referring to nōdēd: the bread necessary in order to save them), into the hiding-places in which they have concealed themselves. "How humiliating," as Drechsler well observes, "to be obliged to practise their hospitality, the pride of Arabian customs, in so restricted a manner, and with such unbecoming secrecy!" But it could not possibly be done in any other way, since the weapons of the foe were driving them incessantly before them, and the war itself was rolling incessantly forward like an overwhelming colossus, as the repetition of the word "before" (mippenē) no less than four times clearly implies.

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