Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
PROPHECY AS TO AN
That by Sennacherib, in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah;
the preparations for defense and securing of water exactly answer to
2Ch 32:4, 5, 30.
was scribe at this time
[MAURER]. The language of
as to the infidelity and consequent utter ruin of the Jews, seems rather
to foreshadow the destruction by Nebuchadnezzar in Zedekiah's reign, and
cannot be restricted to Hezekiah's time [LOWTH].
1. of . . . valley of vision--rather, "respecting the
valley of visions"; namely, Jerusalem, the seat of divine revelations
and visions, "the nursery of prophets" [JEROME],
(Isa 2:3; 29:1;
It lay in a "valley" surrounded by hills higher than Zion and Moriah
thee--the people of Jerusalem personified.
housetops--Panic-struck, they went up on the flat balustraded roofs
to look forth and see whether the enemy was near, and partly to defend
themselves from the roofs
2. art--rather, "wert"; for it could not now be said to be "a
The cause of their joy
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,
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
not slain with the sword--but with the famine and pestilence about
to be caused by the coming siege
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";
3. rulers--rather, "generals"
Jud 11:6, 11).
bound--rather, "are taken."
by the archers--literally, "by the bow"; so
Bowmen were the light troops, whose province it was to skirmish in
this verse applies better to the attack of Nebuchadnezzar than that of
all . . . in thee--all found in the city
not merely the "rulers" or generals.
fled from far--those who had fled from distant parts to Jerusalem
as a place of safety; rather, fled afar.
4. Look . . . from me--Deep grief seeks to be alone; while others
feast joyously, Isaiah mourns in prospect of the disaster coming on
(Mic 1:8, 9).
daughter, &c.--(see on
5. trouble . . . by the Lord--that is, sent by or from the Lord
valley of vision--(See on
Some think a valley near Ophel is meant as about to be the scene of
devastation (compare see on
breaking . . . walls--that is, "a day of breaking the walls" of
crying to the mountains--the mournful cry of the townsmen "reaches"
to (MAURER translates, towards) the mountains,
and is echoed back by
them. JOSEPHUS describes in the very same language the scene at the
assault of Jerusalem under Titus. To this the prophecy, probably, refers
ultimately. If, as some think, the "cry" is that of those escaping to the mountains, compare
Mt 13:14; 24:16,
6. Elam--the country stretching east from the Lower Tigris,
answering to what was afterwards called Persia (see on
Later, Elam was a province of Persia
In Sennacherib's time, Elam was subject to Assyria
and so furnished a contingent to its invading armies. Famed for the bow
in which the Ethiopians alone excelled them.
with chariots of men and horsemen--that is, they used the bow
both in chariots and on horseback. "Chariots of men," that is,
chariots in which men are borne, war chariots (compare see on
Kir--another people subject to Assyria
the region about the river Kur, between the Caspian and Black Seas.
uncovered--took off for the battle the leather covering of the shield,
intended to protect the embossed figures on it from dust or injury
during the march. "The quiver" and "the shield" express two
classes--light and heavy armed troops.
7. valleys--east, north, and south of Jerusalem: Hinnom on the south
side was the richest valley.
in array at the gate--Rab-shakeh stood at the upper pool close to the
8. he discovered the covering--rather, "the veil of Judah shall be
taken off" [HORSLEY]: figuratively for,
exposing to shame as a captive
Sennacherib dismantled all "the defensed cities of Judah"
thou didst look--rather, "thou shalt look."
house of . . . forest--The house of armory built of cedar from
the forest of Lebanon by Solomon, on a slope of Zion called Ophel
(1Ki 7:2; 10:17;
his countrymen will look to their own strength to defend
themselves, while others of them will drown their sorrows as to their
country in feasting, but none will look to Jehovah.
9. Ye have seen--rather, "Ye shall see."
city of David--the upper city, on Zion, the south side of Jerusalem
(2Sa 5:7, 9;
surrounded by a wall of its own; but even in it there shall be
"breaches." Hezekiah's preparations for defense accord with this
ye gathered--rather, "ye shall gather."
lower pool--(See on
Ye shall bring together into the city by subterranean passages cut in
the rock of Zion, the fountain from which the lower pool (only
mentioned here) is supplied. See on
represent Hezekiah as having stopped the fountains to prevent
the Assyrians getting water. But this is consistent with the passage
here. The superfluous waters of the lower pool usually flowed into
Hinnom valley, and so through that of Jehoshaphat to the brook Kedron.
Hezekiah built a wall round it, stopped the outflowing of its
waters to debar the foe from the use of them, and turned them into the
10. numbered--rather, "ye shall number," namely, in order to see
which of them may be pulled down with the least loss to the city, and
with most advantage for the repair of the walls and rearing of towers
have ye broken down--rather, "ye shall break down."
11. Ye made . . . a ditch--rather, "Ye shall make a reservoir" for
receiving the water. Hezekiah surrounded Siloah, from which the old
(or king's, or upper) pool took its rise, with a wall joined to the wall
of Zion on both sides; between these two walls he made a new pool, into
which he directed the waters of the former, thus cutting off the foe
from his supply of water also. The opening from which the upper pool
received its water was nearer Zion than the other from which the lower
pool took its rise, so that the water which flowed from the former could
easily be shut in by a wall, whereas that which flowed from the latter
could only be brought in by subterranean conduits (compare
2Ch 32:3-5, 30;
Ecclesiasticus 48:17). Both were southwest of Jerusalem.
have not looked . . . neither had respect--answering by contrast to
"Thou didst look to the armor, ye have seen
('had respect', or 'regard to') the breaches"
(Isa 22:8, 9).
maker thereof--God, by whose command and aid these defenses were made,
and who gave this fountain "long ago." G. V. SMITH
translates, "Him who
doeth it," that is, has brought this danger on you--"Him who hath
prepared it from afar," that is, planned it even from a distant time.
12. did the Lord God call--Usually the priests gave the summons
to national mourning
now JEHOVAH Himself shall give it; the "call"
shall consist in the presence of a terrible foe. Translate, "shall
baldness--emblem of grief
13. Notwithstanding Jehovah's "call to mourning"
many shall make the desperate state of affairs a reason for reckless
(Isa 5:11, 12, 14;
PREFECT OF THE
PROMOTED TO THE
Isa 36:3, 22; 37:2,
we find Shebna "a scribe," and no longer prefect of the palace ("over
the household"), and Eliakim in that office, as is here foretold.
Shebna is singled out as the subject of prophecy (the only instance of
an individual being so in Isaiah), as being one of the
irreligious faction that set at naught the prophet's warnings
perhaps it was he who advised the temporary ignominious submission of
Hezekiah to Sennacherib.
15. Go, get thee unto--rather, "Go in to" (that is, into the house to).
treasurer--"him who dwells in the tabernacle"
[JEROME]; namely, in a
room of the temple set apart for the treasurer. Rather, "the king's
friend," or "principal officer of the court"
(1Ki 4:5; 18:3;
"the king's counsellor") [MAURER]. "This" is
unto Shebna--The Hebrew for "unto" indicates an accosting of Shebna
with an unwelcome message.
16. What . . . whom--The prophet accosts Shebna at the very place where
he was building a grand sepulcher for himself and his family (compare
Ge 23:1-20; 49:29; 50:13).
"What (business) hast thou here, and whom hast thou (of
thy family, who is likely to be buried) here, that thou
buildest," &c., seeing that thou art soon to be deposed from
office and carried into captivity? [MAURER].
on high--Sepulchres were made in the highest rocks
habitation for himself--compare "his own house"
17. carry . . . away with . . .
captivity--rather, "will cast thee away with a mighty throw"
[MAURER]. "Mighty," literally, "of a man" (so
surely cover--namely, with shame, where thou art rearing a monument
to perpetuate thy fame [VITRINGA].
"Rolling will roll thee," that is,
will continually roll thee on, as a ball to be tossed away
18. violently turn and toss--literally, "whirling He will whirl thee,"
that is, He will, without intermission, whirl thee
[MAURER]. "He will
whirl thee round and round, and (then) cast thee away," as a stone in a
sling is first whirled round repeatedly, before the string is let go
large country--perhaps Assyria.
chariots . . . shall be the shame of thy lord's house--rather, "thy
splendid chariots shall be there, O thou disgrace of thy lord's house"
[NOYES]; "chariots of thy glory" mean "thy magnificent chariots." It is
not meant that he would have these in a distant land, as he had in
Jerusalem, but that he would be borne thither in ignominy instead of in
his magnificent chariots. The Jews say that he was tied to the tails of
horses by the enemy, to whom he had designed to betray Jerusalem, as
they thought he was mocking them; and so he died.
he--God. A similar change of persons occurs in
20. son of Hilkiah--supposed by KIMCHI to be the same as Azariah, son
of Hilkiah, who perhaps had two names, and who was "over the household"
in Hezekiah's time
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.
22. key--emblem of his office over the house; to "open" or "shut";
access rested with him.
upon . . . shoulder--So keys are carried sometimes in the East, hanging
from the kerchief on the shoulder. But the phrase is rather figurative
for sustaining the government on one's shoulders. Eliakim, as his
name implies, is here plainly a type of the God-man Christ, the son of
"David," of whom Isaiah
uses the same language as the former clause of this verse. In
the same language as the latter clause is found (compare
23. nail . . . sure place--Large nails or pegs stood
in ancient houses on which were suspended the ornaments of the family.
The sense is: all that is valuable to the nation shall rest securely on
"nail" is used of the large spike driven into the ground to fasten the
cords of the tent to.
throne--resting-place to his family, as applied to Eliakim; but
"throne," in the strict sense, as applied to Messiah, the antitype
(Lu 1:32, 33).
24. Same image as in
It was customary to "hang" the valuables of a house on nails
(1Ki 10:16, 17, 21;
offspring and the issue--rather, "the offshoots of the family, high
and low" [VITRINGA].
Eliakim would reflect honor even on the latter.
vessels of cups--of small capacity: answering to the low and
vessels of flagons--larger vessels: answering to the
25. nail . . . fastened--Shebna, who was supposed to be firmly
fixed in his post.
burden . . . upon it--All that were dependent on Shebna, all his
emoluments and rank will fail, as when a peg is suddenly "cut down," the
ornaments on it fall with it. Sin reaches in its effects even to the
family of the guilty