Matthew Poole's Commentary
The burden of the valley of vision. What aileth thee now, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops?The anguish of Judah: the prophet much grieved, Isaiah 22:1-5, by the Persians, Medes, and Assyrians, Isaiah 22:6,7. He reproveth their human wisdom, Isaiah 22:8-11, and profane joy, Isaiah 22:12,13; which God would certainly punish, Isaiah 22:14. Shebnah’s deprivation for his pride, Isaiah 22:15-19. Eliakim put in his place: his glory, Isaiah 22:20-25.
Of the valley of vision; of Judah; and especially of the City of Jerusalem, as the next verse showeth; which is called a valley, because a great part of it stood in a valley, and comparatively to those higher mountains wherewith it was encompassed; of which see Psalm 121:1 125:2 Isaiah 52:7; and the valley of vision, because of the many and clear visions or revelations of God’s mind in that place, above all other parts of the world. As the prophets are called seers, 1 Samuel 9:9, so prophecy is frequently called vision, as 1 Samuel 3:1 Isaiah 1:1 Ezekiel 7:13,26.
Gone up to the housetops, as they used to do in times of great confusion and consternation, that they might mourn, and look, and cry to Heaven for help. Compare Isaiah 15:3 Jeremiah 48:38.
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.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.
All thy rulers are fled together, they are bound by the archers: all that are found in thee are bound together, which have fled from far.Thy rulers; Zedekiah and his chief commanders, whose flight he foretells.
They are bound by the archers, Heb. from the bow, i.e. so as they were disenabled from using the bow; which is a usual Hebraism; as from a king is put for from being a king, 1 Samuel 15:23; and from seeing, Psalm 69:23, is rendered that they cannot see, Romans 11:10. But this word is by some, and may very well be, joined to the foregoing clause; for the words in the Hebrew lie thus, All thy rulers are fled together from the bow, (or, bow-men, as this word is rendered, Isaiah 21:17)
they are bound; which seems most plain and unforced, and suits best with the following words, as also with the prophet’s use of the same phrase, Isaiah 21:15, they fled from the bent bow, &c. All that are found in thee; that remained there with Zedekiah in the siege; for those who had fled to the Chaldeans saved their lives and liberties. Are bound together in fetters, Jeremiah 52:11.
Which have fled from far; which fled to Jerusalem from the remotest parts of the land. But he rather speaks of those who fled from Jerusalem, and from their enemies, whereof some had fled away, but were pursued and overtaken by their enemies, and bound, as others had been. And the words seem to be well rendered, they fled far away, as this very word is used, Isaiah 23:7; which may be understood either of the same persons who fled, but were taken in their flight, as was now said; or of others, who fled away, when others abode, there and were bound.
Therefore said I, Look away from me; I will weep bitterly, labour not to comfort me, because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people.Look away from me; take off your eyes and thoughts from me, and leave me alone, that I may take my fill of sorrows.
Labour not to comfort me; for all your labour will be lost, I neither can nor will receive any consolation.
Of the daughter of my people; of that city and nation whereof I am a member. The title of daughter is oft given both to cities and nations, as hath been noted before.
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.Of treading down; in which my people are trodden under foot by their insolent enemies.
Of perplexity by the Lord God of hosts: this is added, partly to show that this did not happen without God’s providence; and partly to aggravate their calamity, because not only men, but God himself, fought against them.
Breaking down the walls of the strong cities of Judah; which was done by Sennacherib, 2 Kings 25:10.
Crying to the mountains, with such loud and dismal outcries as should reach to the neighbouring mountains, and make them ring again therewith.
And Elam bare the quiver with chariots of men and horsemen, and Kir uncovered the shield.Elam; the Persians, who now, and for a long time after. were subject to the Assyrian and Chaldean emperors, and were employed by them in their Wars.
Bare the quiver, being expert bow-men, as appears from Jeremiah 49:35, and from Strabo’s testimony.
With chariots of men and horsemen; as some of them fought on foot, so others fought from chariots and horses. Kir; the Medes, so called by a synecdoche from Kir, an eminent city and region of Media, of which see 2 Kings 16:9 Amos 1:5.
Uncovered; prepared it and themselves for the battle; for in times of peace arms were wrapt up and covered, to preserve them clean, and fit for use.
The shield; their defensive and offensive weapons.
And it shall come to pass, that thy choicest valleys shall be full of chariots, and the horsemen shall set themselves in array at the gate.Thy choicest valleys shall be full of chariots: valleys were the most proper places for the use of chariots: see Joshua 17:16.
The horsemen shall set themselves in array at the gate, to assist and defend the footmen whilst they made their assault, and withal to prevent and take those who endeavoured to escape.
And he discovered the covering of Judah, and thou didst look in that day to the armour of the house of the forest.He; the enemy, Sennacherib, of whose invasion he seems to speak.
The covering of Judah: he took those fenced cities, which were a covering or safeguard both to the people of Judah, who fled to them, and to Jerusalem, which was begirt and defended by them.
Thou didst look in that day to the armour; thy hope and trust was wholly or chiefly placed in the arm of flesh. For although Hezekiah was commended for his trust in God, yet the generality of the people were guilty of distrust in God, and confidence in the creature.
The house of the forest; more fully called the house of the forest of Lebanon, 1 Kings 7:2, not because it was built in Lebanon, for it was in Jerusalem; but either because it was built of the trees of Lebanon, for which cause the temple is called Lebanon, Zechariah 11:1, or for other reasons. See Poole "1 Kings 7:2".
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.Ye have seen, i.e. observed or considered, as this word is used, Exodus 32:9, and elsewhere, in order to the reparation of them, and to fortify the city, as the next words manifest.
Ye gathered together the waters of the lower pool, that you might both deprive the enemy of water, and supply the city with it; of which see on 2 Chronicles 32:4,5.
And ye have numbered the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses have ye broken down to fortify the wall.Ye have numbered the houses of Jerusalem; that they might exactly know their own strength, and the number of their people, and so lay the burdens more equally upon them, and make sufficient provisions for them.
The houses which stood upon or without the walls of their city, and so gave their enemies any advantage against them, and hindered the searching or fortifying the walls and city.
Ye made also a ditch 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.The two walls; either those 2 Kings 25:4, or those 2 Chronicles 32:5, in both which places we read of two walls.
For the water of the old pool; to receive the waters conveyed into it by pipes from the old pool.
The maker thereof; either,
1. Of the water; for both the springs and the rain which filleth the pools are from God alone: or,
2. Of Jerusalem, expressed in the foregoing verse, and easily understood here, because all these works were undertaken for Jerusalem’s defence and provision. And it is usual in Scripture for the pronoun relative to be put by itself, without any express mention of the person or thing to which it belongs, which is left to the reader to gather out of the foregoing or following words; of which See Poole "Psalm 87:1", See Poole "Song of Solomon 1:1".
Him that fashioned it, Heb. the former or framer of it, God; who made it a city, and the place of his special presence and worship; which also he had undertaken to protect, if the people would observe his commands; to whom therefore they should have resorted and trusted in this time of their distress.
Long ago; which clause may be added to aggravate their sin, in distrusting that God who had now for a long time given proof of his care and kindness in defending this city.
And in that day did the Lord GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth:Call; invite and oblige them by the course of his providence, and require this by the precepts requiring these things in such times and conditions.
To baldness; to make themselves bald, by plucking or shaving off the hair of their heads, as was usual in great sorrows, as Ezra 9:3 Job 1:20 Micah 1:16, although it was forbidden in case of the death of relations, for a special reason; of which see on Leviticus 19:27,28 21:5.
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.Eating flesh; not only for necessity, but to excess and luxury, as eating and drinking are taken, Matthew 24:38.
Let us eat and drink; for to-morrow we shall die: the prophets tell us that we shall certainly and suddenly be destroyed; it concerns us therefore to make our best of the present time, and to be merry whilst we have the opportunity. A most perverse and desperate conclusion, proceeding from obstinate profaneness, and contempt of God’s judgments.
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.It was revealed in mine ears; what I am saying is not my own invention, nor uncertain reports, but what I heard with these ears of mine. The like phrase we have 1 Samuel 9:15, the Lord had told Samuel in his ear. This iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die; you shall feel the sad effects of this wickedness, and my just displeasure for it, as long as you live. This is not spoken exclusively, as if it should be purged after their death, which is absurd and impious to imagine, at least concerning such as lived and died in this desperate and impenitent condition; but emphatically. to show that God will have no mercy upon them in that time of life, in which he useth and delighteth to give repentance and remission of sins to mankind.
Thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts, Go, get thee unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, which is over the house, and say,Get thee unto this treasurer; which the prophet might boldly do, because he had the protection not only of God, who sent him upon this errand, but probably of Hezekiah also, who at the time of this prophecy was either king, or his father’s viceroy, or at least heir-apparent to the crown.
Shebna; who seems to have been advanced by wicked Ahaz, and to have been a great patron of impiety and injustice in his reign, and by politic compliance with Hezekiah thought to gain his favour, and so to keep his place and power at court.
Over the house; over the house of David, as is more fully expressed below, Isaiah 22:22. Possibly he was not only the lord treasurer, but also the king’s prime minister of state.
What hast thou here? and whom hast thou here, that thou hast hewed thee out a sepulchre here, as he that heweth him out a sepulchre on high, and that graveth an habitation for himself in a rock?What hast thou here? or, What dost thou here? what right hast thou to this place and office? Whom; either,
1. What friends, in whom thou canst confide? Thou hast so ill managed thyself and thy affairs, that thou art universally hated. Or,
2. What kindred or relations? For the Jews say he was a stranger by birth; which is the more probable, because his pedigree is not mentioned in any of those places of Scripture where he is named.
Hewed thee out a sepulchre, as great and ambitious men used to do. Here; not in thine own country, the proper place for such a monument; but in Jerusalem, which should not be defiled nor disparaged with it.
On high; in a high and eminent place, as Isaiah 57:7. An habitation; either,
1. A sepulchre, which is called a man’s house, Job 30:23; or,
2. A dwelling-house. He erected, or is compared to one that doth erect, a stately house to live in, and a stately sepulchre to receive him when he dies. And these two are fitly joined together, because their sepulchres were commonly built in or near their houses. See Isaiah 14:18 John 19:41. In a rock; a fit place both for strength and state. Thus we read of a sepulchre hewed out of a rock, Matthew 27:60.
Behold, the LORD will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover thee.I will carry thee away with a mighty captivity; will cause thee to be carried into captivity by a strong hand, or by the hand of a mighty man, from which therefore thou shalt not be able to escape. Or, will cast thee away with the casting of a mighty man, i.e. with great force; or, in casting will cast thee away, O thou mighty man. Will surely cover thee, to wit, with confusion, as is here implied, and as this phrase is more fully expressed, Psalm 89:40 109:29. Or
covering may be put for obscuring his glory, which he designed to publish, and to that end erected stately monuments, &c. Or this may be an allusion to the ancient custom of covering the faces of condemned persons; of which see Esther 7:8. Compare Job 9:24 Ezekiel 12:6,12.
He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord's house.He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball, Heb. wrapping he will wrap thee up like a ball, which consists of materials wrapped and bound together, that it may be tossed far away. Or, Rolling he will roll thee with the rolling of a ball. Into a large country; like a ball which is cast into a large and plain spot of ground, where being thrown by a strong man, it runs far and wide. Or, to a far country, which seems to be here called large of spaces, not so much in itself, for that was inconsiderable to him, whether the land of his captivity was large or little, as in respect of its distance from the place of his birth and abode.
The chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord’s house. The sense of the words thus rendered seems to be this, Thy glorious chariots, wherein thou didst ride in great state at Jerusalem, shall then and there be turned into shame to thyself, and to thy master, to whom it is just matter of reproach, that he was so foolish as to advance and trust such a faithless and unworthy person. But the words are by divers others fitly rendered,
there the chariots of thy glory shall be, (or, shall die or vanish, i.e. that shall be the end of all thy pompous chariots, and other monuments of thy pride,) O thou who art
the shame of thy Lord’s house; who by thy unjust and wicked practices hast exposed thy king and master, and the royal family, to reproach and contempt.
And I will drive thee from thy station, and from thy state shall he pull thee down.And I; the Lord, whose words these are, Isaiah 22:15, as is manifest from the following verses.
Shall he; the Lord; such sudden changes of persons being very usual in these writings.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah:I will call, by my Spirit fitting him, and by my powerful providence moving Hezekiah’s heart to call him.
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.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 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.The key; the government, the power of opening and shutting, of letting men into it or putting them out of it, whereof a key is a fit emblem; whence the delivering of the keys of a house or city into the hands of another, is a sign to signify and confirm the giving him the power and possession of it.
Lay upon his shoulder; he mentions the shoulder rather than the hand, in which keys are commonly carried, either from some ceremony then in use, of carrying a key upon the shoulder, either of the officer of state himself, or of another in his name and stead; or to signify that this was a key of greater weight than ordinary, and that government, which is designed by this key, is a heavy burden, and therefore in Scripture phrase said to be upon the shoulder, as Isaiah 9:6.
None shall shut against his will, or without his commission or consent.
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.I will fasten him; I will establish the power in his hands.
In a sure place; in the strong walls, or solid timber, in the house; which is opposed to Shebna’s instability, signified by a ball, Isaiah 22:18.
He shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house; by his prudent and righteous government he shall procure great glory, not only to himself, but to all that have any relation to him. This also is opposed to what is said of Shebna in the end of Isaiah 22:18.
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.Of his father’s house; of his own kindred and family, who shall all depend upon him, and receive glory from him; of the house of David, which is called
his father’s house, either because kings are called the fathers of all their subjects, both in Scripture, as 1 Samuel 24:11 2 Kings 5:13 16:7, and in other authors; or, as Calvin ingeniously conjectures, because he was of the blood royal. Otherwise this had been no great commendation to him, that he studied so much the advancement of his own private family. And this seems more probable, because this character is opposed to that of Shebna, who was the shame of his lord’s, to wit, the king’s, house or family, Isaiah 22:18. The offspring and the issue; great and small, the children and grandchildren of his father’s house.
All vessels of small quantity; the meanest of them shall receive a lustre and advantage from their relation to him.
From the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons; all sorts of vessels, great or small, mean or precious, may be hanged upon him, without any fear of falling; whereas ordinary nails or pins, if they be oppressed with too great weight, are easily broken down, and the vessels fall with them.
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.The nail that is fastened in the sure place; Shebna, who seemed to be so, both in his own eyes, and in the eyes of others. The burden that was upon it; all those wicked officers that were advanced and supported by his power.