Isaiah 22


Prophecy concerning Jerusalem, 1-14.

Sentence against Shebna, who was over the household, 15-19.

Prophecy concerning Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, 20, 21.

From Eliakim, Isaiah, (agreeably to the mode universally

adopted in the prophetical writings, of making the things then

present, or which were shortly to be accomplished, types or

representations of things to be fulfilled upon a larger scale

in distant futurity,) makes a transition to the Messiah, of

whom Eliakim was a type, to whom the words will best apply,

and to whom some passages in the prophecy must be solely

restrained, 20-24.

The sentence against Shebna again confirmed, 25.

This prophecy, ending with the fourteenth verse of this chapter,

is entitled, "The oracle concerning the valley of vision," by

which is meant Jerusalem, because, says Sal. ben Melech, it was

the place of prophecy. Jerusalem, according to Josephus, was built

upon two opposite hills Sion and Acra, separated by a valley in

the midst. He speaks of another broad valley between Acra and

Moriah, Bell. Jud. v. 13; vi. 6. It was the seat of Divine

revelation; the place where chiefly prophetic vision was given,

and where God manifested himself visibly in the holy place. The

prophecy foretells the invasion of Jerusalem by the Assyrians

under Sennacherib; or by the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar.

Vitringa is of opinion that the prophet has both in view: that

of the Chaldeans in the first part, Isa 22:1-5, which he thinks

relates to the flight of Zedekiah, 2Ki 25:4, 5; and that of the

Assyrians in the latter part, which agrees with the circumstances

of that time, and particularly describes the preparations made by

Hezekiah for the defence of the city, Isa 22:8-11. Compare

2Ch 32:2-5.-L.


Verse 1. Art-gone up to the house-tops-"Are gone up to the

house-tops"] The houses in the east were in ancient times, as they

are still, generally, built in one and the same uniform manner.

The roof or top of the house is always flat, covered with broad

stones, or a strong plaster of terrace, and guarded on every side

with a low parapet wall; see De 22:8. The terrace is frequented

as much as any part of the house. On this, as the season favours,

they walk, they eat, they sleep, they transact business,

(1Sa 9:25, see also the

Septuagint in that place,) they perform their devotions

Ac 10:9. The house is built with a court within, into which

chiefly the windows open: those that open to the street are so

obstructed with lattice-work that no one either without or within

can see through them. Whenever, therefore, any thing is to be seen

or heard in the streets, any public spectacle, any alarm of a

public nature, every one immediately goes up to the house-top to

satisfy his curiosity. In the same manner, when any one has

occasion to make any thing public, the readiest and most effectual

way of doing it is to proclaim it from the house-tops to the

people in the streets. "What ye hear in the ear, that publish ye

on the house-top," saith our Saviour, Mt 10:27. The people

running all to the tops of their houses gives a lively image of a

sudden general alarm. Sir John Chardin's MS. note on this place is

as follows: "Dans les festes pour voir passer quelque chose, et

dans les maladies pour les annoncer aux voisins en allumant des

lumieres, le peuple monte sur les terrasses." "In festivals, in

order to see what is going forward, and in times of sickness, in

order to indicate them to neighbours by lighting of candles, the

people go up to the house-tops."

Verse 3. All thy rulers-are bound by the archers-"All thy

leaders-are fled from the bow"] There seems to be somewhat of an

inconsistency in the sense according to the present reading. If

the leaders were bound, usseru, how could they flee away? for

their being bound, according to the obvious construction and

course of the sentence, is a circumstance prior to their flight. I

therefore follow Houbigant, who reads huseru, remoti sunt,

"they are gone off." galu, transmigraverunt, Chaldee; which

seems to confirm this emendation.

Verse 6. Chariots of men-"The Syriac"] It is not easy to say

what recheb adam, a chariot of men, can mean. It seems

by the form of the sentence, which consists of three members, the

first and the third mentioning a particular people, that the

second should do so likewise. Thus berecheb aram

uparashim, "with chariots the Syrian, and with horsemen:" the

similitude of the letters daleth and resh is so great,

and the mistakes arising from it are so frequent, that I readily

adopt the correction of Houbigant, aram, Syria, instead

of adam, man; which seems to me extremely probable. The

conjunction vau, and, prefixed to parashim, horsemen,

seems necessary in whatever way the sentence may be taken; and it

is confirmed by five MSS., (one ancient,) four of De Rossi's,

and two ancient of my own; one by correction of Dr. Kennicott's,

and three editions. Kir was a city belonging to the Medes. The

Medes were subject to the Assyrians in Hezekiah's time, (see

2Ki 16:9; 17:6;) and so perhaps might Elam (the Persians)

likewise be, or auxiliaries to them.

Verse 8. The armour-"The arsenal"] Built by Solomon within the

city, and called the house of the forest of Lebanon; probably from

the great quantity of cedar from Lebanon which was employed in the

building. See 1Ki 7:2, 3.

Verse 9. Ye gathered together the waters-"And ye shall collect

the waters"] There were two pools in or near Jerusalem, supplied

by springs: the upper pool, or the old pool, supplied by the

spring called Gihon, 2Ch 32:30, towards the higher part of the

city, near Sion, or the city of David, and the lower pool,

probably supplied by Siloam, towards the lower part. When Hezekiah

was threatened with a siege by Sennacherib, he stopped up all the

waters of the fountains without the city; and brought them into

the city by a conduit, or subterranean passage cut through the

rock; those of the old pool, to the place where he had a double

wall, so that the pool was between the two walls. This he did in

order to distress the enemy, and to supply the city during the

siege. This was so great a work that not only the historians have

made particular mention of it, 2Ki 20:20; 2Ch 32:2, 3, 5, 30;

but the son of Sirach also has celebrated it in his encomium on

Hezekiah. "Hezekiah fortified his city, and brought in water into

the midst thereof: he digged the hard rock with iron, and made

wells for water," Ecclus. xlviii.

Verse 11. Unto the maker thereof-"To him that hath disposed

this"] That is, to God the Author and Disposer of this visitation,

the invasion with which he now threatens you. The very same

expressions are applied to God, and upon the same occasion,

Isa 37:26:-

"Hast thou not heard of old, that I have disposed it;

And of ancient times, that I have formed it?"

Verse 13. Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die.]

This has been the language of all those who have sought their

portion in this life, since the foundation of the world. So the


Heu, heu nos miseri! quam totus homuncio nil est!

Sic erimus cuncti, postquam nos auferet orcus.

Ergo vivamus, dum licet esse, bene.

Alas alas! what miserable creatures are we, only the semblances

of men! And so shall we be all when we come to die. Therefore let

us live joyfully while we may.

Domitian had an image of death hung up in his dining-room, to

show his guests that as life was uncertain, they should make the

best of it by indulging themselves. On this Martial, to flatter

the emperor, whom he styles god, wrote the following epigram:-

Frange thoros, pete vina, tingere nardo.

Ipse jubet mortis te meminisse Deus.

Sit down to table-drink heartily-anoint thyself with spikenard;

for God himself commands thee to remember death.

So the adage:-

Ede, bibe, lude: post mortem nulla voluptas.

"Eat, drink, and play, while here ye may:

No revelry after your dying day."

St. Paul quotes the same heathen sentiment, 1Co 15:32: "Let us

eat and drink, for to-morrow we die."

Anacreon is full in point, and from him nothing better can be







ANAC. Od. xv., l. 11.

"While no tempest blots your sky,

Drink, and throw the sportful dye:

But to Bacchus drench the ground,

Ere you push the goblet round;

Lest some fatal illness cry,

'Drink no more the cup of joy.'"


Verse 14. It was revealed in mine ears-"The voice of Jehovah"]

The Vulgate has vox Domini; as if in his copy he had read

kol Yehovah; and in truth, without the word kol, voice, it

is not easy to make out the sense of the passage; as appears from

the strange versions which the rest of the ancients, (except the

Chaldee,) and many of the moderns, have given of it; as if the

matter were revealed in or to the ears of JEHOVAH: εντοιςωσι

κυριου, in the ears of the Lord, Septuagint. Vitringa

translates it, Revelatus est in auribus meis JEHOVAH, "JEHOVAH

hath revealed it in mine ears," and refers to 1Sa 2:27; 3:21: but

the construction in those places is different, and there is no

speech of God added; which here seems to want something more than

the verb nigleh to introduce it. Compare Isa 5:9, where

the text is still more imperfect.

The Lord God of hosts] Adonai Yehovah tsebaoth.

But Adonai, Lord, is omitted by two of Kennicott's and

De Rossi's MSS., and by two of my own; by three editions, and

the Septuagint, Syriac and Arabic.

Verse 15. Go-unto Shebna] The following prophecy concerning

Shebna seems to have very little relation to the foregoing, except

that it might have been delivered about the same time; and Shebna

might be a principal person among those whose luxury and

profaneness is severely reprehended by the prophet in the

conclusion of that prophecy, Isa 22:11-14.

Shebna the scribe, mentioned in the history of Hezekiah,

Isa 36:11, seems to have been a different person from this

Shebna, the treasurer or steward of the household, to whom this

prophecy relates. The Eliakim here mentioned was probably the

person who, at the time of Sennacherib's invasion, was actually

treasurer, the son of Hilkiah. If so, this prophecy was delivered,

as the preceding, (which makes the former part of the chapter,)

plainly was, some time before the invasion of Sennacherib. As to

the rest, history affords us no information.

"And say unto him"] Here are two words lost out of the text,

which are supplied by two of Dr. Kennicott's MSS., one ancient,

which read veamarta elaiv, and thou shalt say unto him;

by the Septuagint, καιειποναυτω, and in the same manner by all

the ancient versions. It is to be observed that this passage is

merely historical, and does not admit of that sort of ellipsis by

which in the poetical parts a person is frequently introduced

speaking, without the usual notice, that what follows was

delivered by him.

Verse 16. A sepulchre on high-in a rock] It has been observed

before, on Isa 13:1, that persons of high rank in Judea, and in

most parts of the east, were generally buried in large sepulchral

vaults, hewn out in the rock for the use of themselves and their

families. The vanity of Shebna is set forth by his being so

studious and careful to have his sepulchre on high-in a lofty

vault; and that probably in a high situation, that it might be

more conspicuous. Hezekiah was buried, lemalah, εναναβασει

Sept.: in the chiefest, says our translation; rather, in the

highest part of the sepulchres of the sons of David, to do him the

more honour, 2Ch 32:33. There are some monuments still remaining

in Persia of great antiquity, called Naksi Rustam, which give one

a clear idea of Shebna's pompous design for his sepulchre. They

consist of several sepulchres, each of them hewn in a high rock

near the top; the front of the rock to the valley below is adorned

with carved work in relievo, being the outside of the sepulchre.

Some of these sepulchres are about thirty feet in the

perpendicular from the valley, which is itself perhaps raised

above half as much by the accumulation of the earth since they

were made. See the description of them in Chardin, Pietro della

Valle, Thevenot, and Kempfer. Diodorus Siculus, lib. xvii.,

mentions these ancient monuments, and calls them the sepulchres of

the kings of Persia.-L.

Verse 17. Cover thee] That is, thy face. This was the condition

of mourners in general, and particularly of condemned persons. See

Es 6:12; 7:8.

Verse 19. I will drive thee] ehersecha, in the first

person, Syr. Vulg.

Verse 21. To the inhabitants] leyoshebey, in the plural

number, four of Dr. Kennicott's MSS., (two ancient,) and two of De

Rossi's, with the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate.

Verse 22. And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his

shoulder] As the robe and the baldric, mentioned in the preceding

verse, were the ensigns of power and authority, so likewise was

the key the mark of office, either sacred or civil. The priestess

of Juno is said to be the key-bearer of the goddess, κλειδουχος

ηπασ AEschyl. Suppl. 299. A female high in office under a great

queen has the same title:-


"Callithoe was the key-bearer of the Olympian queen."

Auctor Phoronidis ap. Clem. Alex. p. 418, edit. Potter. This mark

of office was likewise among the Greeks, as here in Isaiah, borne

on the shoulder; the priestess of Ceres, κατωμαδιανεχεκλαιδα,

had the key on her shoulder. Callim. Ceres, ver. 45. To

comprehend how the key could be borne on the shoulder, it will be

necessary to say something of the form of it: but without entering

into a long disquisition, and a great deal of obscure learning,

concerning the locks and keys of the ancients, it will be

sufficient to observe, that one sort of keys, and that probably

the most ancient, was of considerable magnitude, and as to the

shape, very much bent and crooked. Aratus, to give his reader an

idea of the form of the constellation Cassiopeia, compares it to a

key. It must be owned that the passage is very obscure; but the

learned Huetius has bestowed a great deal of pains in explaining

it, Animadvers. in Manilii, lib. i. 355; and I think has succeeded

very well in it. Homer Odyss. xxi. 6, describes the key of

Ulysses' storehouse as ευκαμπης, of a large curvature; which

Eustathius explains by saying it was δρεπανοειδης, in shape like a

reaphook. Huetius says the constellation Cassiopeia answers to

this description; the stars to the north making the curve part,

that is, the principal part of the key; the southern stars, the

handle. The curve part was introduced into the key-hole; and,

being properly directed by the handle, took hold of the bolts

within, and moved them from their places. We may easily collect

from this account, that such a key would lie very well upon the

shoulder; that it must be of some considerable size and weight,

and could hardly be commodiously carried otherwise. Ulysses' key

was of brass, and the handle of ivory: but this was a royal key.

The more common ones were probably of wood. In Egypt they have no

other than wooden locks and keys to this day; even the gates of

Cairo have no better. Baumgarten, Peregr. i. 18. Thevenot, part

ii., chap. 10. But was it not the representation of a key, either

cut out in cloth and sewed on the shoulder of the garment, or

embroidered on that part of the garment itself? The idea of a

huge key of a gate, in any kind of metal, laid across the

shoulder, is to me very ridiculous.

In allusion to the image of the key as the ensign of power, the

unlimited extent of that power is expressed with great clearness

as well as force by the sole and exclusive authority to open and

shut. Our Saviour, therefore, has upon a similar occasion made use

of a like manner of expression, Mt 16:19; and in Re 3:7 has

applied to himself the very words of the prophet.

Verse 23. A nail] In ancient times, and in the eastern

countries, as the way of life, so the houses, were much more

simple than ours at present. They had not that quantity and

variety of furniture, nor those accommodations of all sorts, with

which we abound. It was convenient and even necessary for them,

and it made an essential part in the building of a house, to

furnish the inside of the several apartments with sets of spikes,

nails, or large pegs, upon which to dispose of and hang up the

several movables and utensils in common use, and proper to the

apartment. These spikes they worked into the walls at the first

erection of them, the walls being of such materials that they

could not bear their being driven in afterwards; and they were

contrived so as to strengthen the walls by binding the parts

together, as well as to serve for convenience. Sir John Chardin's

account of this matter is this:- "They do not drive with a hammer

the nails that are put into the eastern walls. The walls are too

hard, being of brick; or, if they are of clay, too mouldering: but

they fix them in the brick-work as they are building. They are

large nails, with square heads like dice, well made, the ends

being bent so as to make them cramp-irons. They commonly place

them at the windows and doors, in order to hang upon them, when

they like, veils and curtains." Harmer's Observ. i. p. 191. And we

may add, that they were put in other places too, in order to hang

up other things of various kinds; as appears from this place of

Isaiah, and from Eze 15:3, who speaks of a pin or nail, "to hang

any vessel thereon." The word used here for a nail of this sort is

the same by which they express that instrument, the stake, or

large pin of iron, with which they fastened down to the ground the

cords of their tents. We see, therefore, that these nails were of

necessary and common use, and of no small importance in all their

apartments; conspicuous, and much exposed to observation: and if

they seem to us mean and insignificant, it is because we are not

acquainted with the thing itself, and have no name to express it

but by what conveys to us a low and contemptible idea. "Grace hath

been showed from the Lord our God," saith Ezra, Ezr 9:8, "to

leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy

place:" that is, as the margin of our Bible explains it, "a

constant and sure abode."

"He that doth lodge near her (Wisdom's) house,

Shall also fasten a pin in her walls."

Ecclus. 14:24.

The dignity and propriety of the metaphor appears from the

Prophet Zechariah's use of it:-

"From him shall be the corner-stone, from him the nail,

From him the battle-bow,

From him every ruler together."

Zec 10:4.

And Mohammed, using the same word, calls Pharaoh the lord or

master of the nails, that is, well attended by nobles and officers

capable of administering his affairs. Koran, Sur. xxxviii. 11, and

lxxxix. 9. So some understand this passage of the Koran. Mr. Sale

seems to prefer another interpretation.

Taylor, in his Concordance, thinks yathed means the pillar

or post that stands in the middle, and supports the tent, in which

such pegs are fixed to hang their arms, &c., upon; referring to

Shaw's Travels, p. 287. But yathed is never used, as far as

appears to me, in that sense. It was indeed necessary that the

pillar of the tent should have such pegs on it for that purpose;

but the hanging of such things in this manner upon this pillar

does not prove that yathed was the pillar itself.

A glorious throne-"A glorious seat"] That is, his father's house

and all his own family shall be gloriously seated, shall flourish

in honour and prosperity; and shall depend upon him, and be

supported by him.

Verse 24. All the glory] One considerable part of the

magnificence of the eastern princes consisted in the great

quantity of gold and silver vessels which they had for various

uses. "Solomon's drinking vessels were of gold, and all the

vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold;

none were of silver; it was nothing accounted of in Solomon's

days;" 1Ki 10:21. "The vessels in the house of the forest of

Lebanon," the armoury of Jerusalem so called, "were two hundred

targets, and three hundred shields of beaten gold." Ibid.

1Ki 10:16, 17. These were ranged in order upon the walls of the

armoury, (see So 4:4,) upon pins worked into the walls on

purpose, as above mentioned. Eliakim is considered as a principal

stake of this sort, immovably fastened in the wall for the support

of all vessels destined for common or sacred uses; that is, as the

principal support of the whole civil and ecclesiastical polity.

And the consequence of his continued power will be the promotion

and flourishing condition of his family and dependents, from the

highest to the lowest.

Vessels of flagons-"Meaner vessels"] nebalim seems to

mean earthen vessels of common use, brittle, and of little value,

(see La 4:2; Jer 48:12,) in opposition to

aganoth, goblets of gold and silver used in the sacrifices.

Ex 24:6.

Verse 25. The nail that is fastened] This must be understood of

Shebna, as a repetition and confirmation of the sentence above

denounced against him.

WHAT is said of Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, Isa 22:20-24, is

very remarkable; and the literal meaning is not easy to be

understood. From Isa 9:6, and from Re 3:7, it seems to belong to

our Lord alone. The removal of Shebna from being over the treasure

of the Lord's house, Isa 22:19, and the

investiture of Eliakim with his robe, girdle, office, and

government, Isa 22:20, &c., probably point out the

change of the Jewish priesthood, and the proclaiming of the

unchangeable priesthood of Christ. See Ps 110:4.

Eliakim signifies The resurrection of the Lord; or, My God, he

shall arise. Hilkiah signifies The Lord my portion or lot.

The key of David, shutting and opening, &c., may intend the way of

salvation through Christ alone. For the hope of salvation and

eternal life comes only through Eliakim, the resurrection of

Jesus Christ from the dead.

It is said, Isa 22:24, "They shall hang upon him all the glory

of his father's house"-for, in Jesus Christ dwells all the

fullness of the Godhead bodily; and the offspring and the issue,

hatstseetsaim from yatsa, to go out,-the

suckers from the root; the sideshoots, the apostles and

primitive ministers of his word. The issue,

hatstsephioth, probably means the issue's issue; so the Targum.

The grandchildren, all those who believe on the Lord Jesus through

their word.

"The nail that is fastened in the sure place shall be removed,"

Isa 22:25,

Kimchi refers not to Eliakim, but to Shebna, Isa 22:17-19.

By, "They shall hang upon him all vessels of small quantity and

large quantity," has been understood the dependence of all souls,

of all capacities, from the lowest in intellect to the most

exalted, on the Lord Jesus, as the only Saviour of all lost

human spirits.

As the literal interpretation of this prophecy has not been

found out, we are justified from parallel texts to consider the

whole as referring to Jesus Christ, and the government of the

Church, and the redemption of the world by him. Nor are there many

prophecies which relate to him more clearly than this, taken in

the above sense.

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