Isaiah 22:21
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) I will clothe him with thy robe . . .—The words point to an actual transfer of the robe and girdle which were Shebna’s insignia of office. There was to be, in this case, a literal investiture.

He shall be a father . . .—The words were, perhaps, an official title given to the king’s vizier or chamberlain. (Comp. 2Kings 5:13.) Here, however, the words indicate that the idea of the title should be fulfilled, and that the government of Eliakim should be, in the truest sense, paternal.

22:15-25 This message to Shebna is a reproof of his pride, vanity, and security; what vanity is all earthly grandeur, which death will so soon end! What will it avail, whether we are laid in a magnificent tomb, or covered with the green sod? Those who, when in power, turn and toss others, will be justly turned and tossed themselves. Eliakim should be put into Shebna's place. Those called to places of trust and power, should seek to God for grace to enable them to do their duty. Eliakim's advancement is described. Our Lord Jesus describes his own power as Mediator, Re 3:7, that he has the key of David. His power in the kingdom of heaven, and in ordering all the affairs of that kingdom, is absolute. Rulers should be fathers to those under their government; and the honour men bring unto their families, by their piety and usefulness, is more to be valued than what they derive from them by their names and titles. The glory of this world gives a man no real worth or excellence; it is but hung upon him, and it will soon drop from him. Eliakim was compared to a nail in a sure place; all his family are said to depend upon him. In eastern houses, rows of large spikes were built up in the walls. Upon these the moveables and utensils were hung. Our Lord Jesus is as a nail in a sure place. That soul cannot perish, nor that concern fall to the ground, which is by faith hung upon Christ. He will set before the believer an open door, which no man can shut, and bring both body and soul to eternal glory. But those who neglect so great salvation will find, that when he shutteth none can open, whether it be shutting out from heaven, or shutting up in hell for ever.And I will clothe him with thy robe - He shall succeed thee in the office, and wear the garments which are appropriate to it.

And strengthen him with thy girdle - That is, he shall wear the same girdle that thou didst (see the note at Isaiah 3:24). In that girdle was usually the purse, and to it was attached the sword. Often, among the Orientals, the girdle was adorned with gold and precious stones, and was regarded as the principal embellishment of the dress.

And he shall be a father ... - A counselor; a guide; one who can be trusted in time of danger and difficulty. We use, the word "father" in the same sense, when we speak of the 'father of his country.'

21. 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—that is, a counsellor and friend.

I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle: there was a peculiar sort of robe and girdle which was the badge of his office, which should be taken from him, and given to Eliakim.

He shall be a father; he shall not only have the authority of a father, which thou now hast, in which respect all rulers are called fathers, as Exodus 20:12 Numbers 36:1; but shall also govern them with fatherly care and affection, and not with rigour and cruelty, as thou dost.

And I will clothe him with thy robe,.... The same he wore, or rather one like unto it, which was a badge and token of his office. If he was a priest, as the Jews say, this was his priestly robe, by which the high priest was distinguished from others; but he rather seems to be a civil officer, who wore a garment suitable to it, and distinctive of it; in which he was a type of Christ, invested with the priestly, or rather with the kingly office, crowned with glory and honour; and who is seen among his churches, clothed with a garment down to the feet, Revelation 1:13,

and strengthen him with thy girdle: which was a symbol both of power and of strength; both priests and princes had their girdles. Christ's girdle, in the administration of his office, is faithfulness and righteousness, Isaiah 11:5;

and I will commit thy government into his hand; the government of the king's house, typical of the government of the church, put into the hands of Christ by his Father, Isaiah 9:6,

and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah; have a fatherly care over them, and affection for them; and such an one is Christ, who stands in the relation of the everlasting Father to his church and people, and of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named; he provides for them, takes care of them, is tenderly affected towards them, pities and sympathizes with them, and affords them all supply and support. Kimchi interprets it of a faithful counsellor, and a good leader. So Ben Melech.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. robe (“tunic”) … girdle] The palace officials seem to have worn distinctive liveries (1 Kings 10:5); the uniform of the vizier was apparently a tunic and a girdle of special pattern. The word for “girdle” is used elsewhere only of the priestly girdle (see Exodus 39:29, &c.). For strengthen, translate gird.

he shall be a father]—a beneficent administrator, as Shebna had not been. How much in the East the welfare of the people depends on the character of the vizier is known from the legends of Haroun-al-Rashid. For the expression cf. Genesis 45:8; 1Ma 11:32.

Verse 21. - With thy robe... with thy girdle. The dress of office worn by Shebna would be taken from him, and Eliakim would be invested therewith. The "robe" is the long-sleeved cloak or tunic worn commonly by persons of rank; the "girdle" is probably an ornamental one, like those of the priests (Exodus 28:39), worn over the inner tunic. He shall be a father; i.e. a protector, counselor, guide (comp. Job 29:16, "I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out"). It is, perhaps, implied that Shebna had not conducted himself as a "father." Isaiah 22:21Jehovah first of all gives him the blow which makes him tremble in his post, and then pulls him completely down from this his lofty station,

(Note: וּממּעמדך has not only the metheg required by the kametz on account of the long vowel, and the metheg required by the patach on account of the following chateph patach (the latter of which also takes the place of the metheg, as the sign of a subordinate tone), but also a third metheg with the chirek, which only assists the emphatic pronunciation of the preposition, out which would not stand there at all unless the word had had a disjunctive accent (compare Isaiah 55:9; Psalm 18:45; Hosea 11:6).)

in order that another worthier man may take his place. "And it will come to pass in that day, that I call to my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and invest him with thy coat, and I throw thy sash firmly round him, and place they government in his hand; and he will become a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. And I place the key of David upon his shoulder: and when he opens, no man shuts; and when he shuts, no man opens. And I fasten him as a plug in a fast place, and he becomes the seat of honour to his father's house. And the whole mass of his father's house hangs upon him, the offshoots and side-shoots, every small vessel, from the vessel of the basins even to every vessel of the pitchers." Eliakim is called the "servant of Jehovah," as one who was already a servant of God in his heart and conduct; the official service is added for the first time here. This title of honour generally embraces both kinds of service (Isaiah 20:3). It is quite in accordance with oriental custom, that this transfer of the office is effected by means of investiture (compare 1 Kings 19:19): chizzēk, with a double accusative, viz., that of the person and that of the official girdle, is used here according to its radical signification, in the sense of girding tightly or girding round, putting the girdle round him so as to cause the whole dress to sit firmly, without hanging loose. The word memshaltekâ (thy government) shows how very closely the office forfeited by Shebna was connected with that of the king. This is also proved by the word "father," which is applied in other cases to the king as the father of the land (Isaiah 9:5). The "key" signifies the power of the keys; and for this reason it is not given into Eliakim's hand, but placed upon his shoulder (Isaiah 9:5). This key was properly handled by the king (Revelation 3:7), and therefore by the "house-mayor" only in his stead. The power of the keys consisted not only in the supervision of the royal chambers, but also in the decision who was and who was not to be received into the king's service. There is a resemblance, therefore, to the giving of the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter under the New Testament. But there the "binding" and "loosing" introduce another figure, though one similar in sense; whereas here, in the "opening" and "shutting," the figure of the key is retained. The comparison of the institution of Eliakim in his office to the fastening of a tent-peg was all the more natural, that yâthēd was also used as a general designation for national rulers (Zechariah 10:4), who stand in the same relation to the commonwealth as a tent-peg to the tent which it holds firmly and keeps upright. As the tent-peg is rammed into the ground, so that a person could easily sit upon it, the figure is changed, and the tent-peg becomes a seat of honour. As a splendid chair is an ornament to a room, so Eliakim would be an honour to his hitherto undistinguished family. The thought that naturally suggests itself - namely, that the members of the family would sit upon this chair, for the purpose of raising themselves to honour - is expressed by a different figure. Eliakim is once more depicted as a yâthed, but it is as a still higher one this time - namely, as the rod of a wardrobe, or a peg driven high up into the wall. Upon this rod or peg they hang (thâlu, i.e., one hangs, or there hangs) all the câbōd of the house of Eliakim, i.e., not every one who wished to be honoured and attained to honour in this way (cf., Isaiah 5:13), but the whole weight of his family (as in Isaiah 8:7). This family is then subdivided into its separate parts, and, as we may infer from the juxtaposition of the masculine and feminine nouns, according to its male and female constituents. In צאצאים (offshoots) and צפעות ("side-shoots," from צפע, to push out; compare צפיע, dung, with צאה, mire) there is contained the idea of a widely ramifying and undistinguished family connection. The numerous rabble consisted of nothing but vessels of a small kind (hakkâtân), at the best of basons (aggânoth) like those used by the priests for the blood (Exodus 24:6), or in the house for mixing wine (Sol 7:3; Aram. aggono, Ar. iggâne, ingân, a washing bason), but chiefly of nebâlim, i.e., leather bottles or earthenware pitchers (Isaiah 30:14). The whole of this large but hitherto ignoble family of relations would fasten upon Eliakim, and climb through him to honour. Thus all at once the prophecy, which seemed so full of promise of Eliakim, assumes a satirical tone. We get an impression of the favouring of nephews and cousins, and cannot help asking how this could be a suitable prophecy for Shebna to hear.

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