Isaiah 22


‘A prophecy against the Valley of Vision: What troubles you now, that you have all gone up on the roofs, you town so full of commotion, you city of tumult and revelry? Your slain were not killed by the sword, nor did they die in battle. All your leaders have fled together; they have been captured without using the bow. All you who were caught were taken prisoner together, having fled while the enemy was still far away. Therefore I said, “Turn away from me; let me weep bitterly. Do not try to console me over the destruction of my people.” The Lord, the LORD Almighty, has a day of tumult and trampling and terror in the Valley of Vision, a day of battering down walls and of crying out to the mountains. Elam takes up the quiver, with her charioteers and horses; Kir uncovers the shield. Your choicest valleys are full of chariots, and horsemen are posted at the city gates.’ Isaiah 22:1-7

A Prophecy About Jerusalem

This chapter contains a prophecy, concerning the Valley of Vision, that is, Jerusalem and it depicts Jerusalem during a siege.

It is difficult to say what siege is intended here.

Young, in his commentary, says the following, concerning the siege.

‘Possibly it applies to the capture of Jerusalem by the Assyrians during the days of Manasseh, or, more likely, it is a generic description, the details of which have been drawn from various sieges which the people had to endure.’

Other commentators, suggest the background of was when Sennacherib, king of Assyria, temporarily left his focus on Jerusalem and chased the remnant of the Egyptian army after he defeated them at Eltekah. He sent part of his army to ravage the countryside of Judah, and then threaten Jerusalem.

The people were joyous, Zephaniah 2:15, celebrating on their roofs, Deuteronomy 22:8, but they had deceived themselves into thinking they couldn’t be taken. The rulers would flee in mass and be captured before the archers could even draw a bow.

Isaiah wept bitterly over the destruction of the city, just as Jeremiah did, Jeremiah 13:17 / Jeremiah 14:17 / Lamentations 1:16 / Lamentations 2:11.

Isaiah knew that it wasn’t a time for rejoicing since Rabshakeh, Sennacherib’s commander of officers, would be at the gates of Jerusalem, demanding a total surrender.

The ‘Valley of Vision’ is Jerusalem and we see a picture of the coming siege of the city, Psalm 44:6 / Luke 21:24. The chariots would be racing and their bows drawn to shoot and they would set themselves in array at the very gates of the city.

Elam, located in the southern part of Persia and Kir, 2 Kings 16:9 / Amos 1:5 / Amos 9:7, were the two armies of the Assyrians that would advance on Jerusalem and set themselves against the gates of the city.

Rabshakeh, sent by Sennacherib to besiege the city, took his station at the upper pool, and was so near the city that he could converse with the people on the walls, Isaiah 36:11-13.

‘The Lord stripped away the defences of Judah, and you looked in that day to the weapons in the Palace of the Forest. You saw that the walls of the City of David were broken through in many places; you stored up water in the Lower Pool. You counted the buildings in Jerusalem and tore down houses to strengthen the wall. You built a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the Old Pool, but you did not look to the One who made it, or have regard for the One who planned it long ago.’ Isaiah 22:8-11

After being stripped of their defences, they looked in the Palace of the Forest, 1 Kings 7:2-8, for weapons, the Palace of the Forest was a strong house that was built by Solomon.

Solomon laid up large quantities of munitions of war, 1 Kings 10:16-17, and this vast storehouse was now the principal reliance of Hezekiah against the invading forces of Sennacherib.

They saw the walls of Jerusalem were broken and they had stored up water in the Lower Pool, Isaiah 7:3. Hezekiah built one of these walls himself, 2 Chronicles 32:30 / 2 Kings 25:5 / Jeremiah 39:4 and he also  repaired the walls, 2 Chronicles 32:5, and dug a tunnel to bring the water from the outside of the walls into the city, 2 Chronicles 32:4. Many other defensive preparations were made in order to prepare for an attack.

Despite all the preparations they had made, the people failed to trust God but turned to their own material weapons for strength but to no avail.

‘The Lord, the LORD Almighty, called you on that day to weep and to wail, to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth. But see, there is joy and revelry, slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine! “Let us eat and drink,” you say, “for tomorrow we die!” The LORD Almighty has revealed this in my hearing: “Till your dying day this sin will not be atoned for,” says the Lord, the LORD Almighty.’ Isaiah 22:12-14

The day the Lord called was the day relating to the invasion of Sennacherib. These verses tells us that the people felt no pain for their sins. Isaiah is saying ‘when God calls for a fast, you stage a feast.’

In other words, it was a time when they should have been fasting and praying in repentance, but they were feasting with joy, trusting in themselves.

Some who heard the prophet’s warning flippantly remarked that they were going to die anyway and so they might as well feast.

‘This is what the Lord, the LORD Almighty, says: “Go, say to this steward, to Shebna the palace administrator: What are you doing here and who gave you permission to cut out a grave for yourself here, hewing your grave on the height and chiselling your resting place in the rock? “Beware, the LORD is about to take firm hold of you and hurl you away, you mighty man. He will roll you up tightly like a ball and throw you into a large country. There you will die and there the chariots you were so proud of will become a disgrace to your master’s house. I will depose you from your office, and you will be ousted from your position.’ Isaiah 22:15-19

These verses through to the end of the chapter, form a prophecy against proud Shebna, the treasurer of the house of David.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The prophecy contains the following things.

1. A ‘command’ to Isaiah to go to Shebna, and to reprove him for his self-confidence in his sin, Isaiah 22:15-16.

2. A declaration that he should be carried captive to a foreign land, Isaiah 22:17-18.

3. A declaration that he should be deposed and succeeded by Eliakim, Isaiah 22:20.

4. A description of the character and honours of Eliakim, and his qualifications for the office, Isaiah 22:21-24.

5. A confirmation of the whole prophecy, or a summing up the whole in a single declaration, Isaiah 22:25.

This man who had brought shame and disgrace to the people wanted a conspicuous burial place so that he might attract attention after death, but it would do him no good.

He had cut out a grave for his own burial, thinking that he would live out his life in peace in Jerusalem, however, Isaiah said that he was about to go into captivity and die in a foreign land. He would go into captivity and a result of his sinful leadership of the people.

‘In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the people of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will become a seat of honour for the house of his father. All the glory of his family will hang on him: its offspring and offshoots—all its lesser vessels, from the bowls to all the jars. “In that day,” declares the LORD Almighty, “the peg driven into the firm place will give way; it will be sheared off and will fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut down.” The LORD has spoken.’ Isaiah 22:20-25

Here we read that God would put another in the place of Shebna. Eliakim will bear the burden of the key, he would be the treasurer and he would be the benefactor to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The ‘key’ indicates the government or authority.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The reference here to the ‘key of David’ is of special interest. Many have pointed out that ‘opening and shutting’ represent the making of decisions that no one but the king could change. Here is the background of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 16:19. ‘Suggesting that Jesus was appointing Peter to be steward over the household of God in the messianic kingdom.’ While true enough as far as it goes, this statement is fundamentally altered to extend the ownership of the key of David to all of the apostles of Christ, Matthew 18:18, and by no means restricting it merely to Peter. Besides that, ‘The ultimate authority is claimed in these very terms for Christ himself,’ Revelation 3:7-8.’

It’s clear that Eliakim began as a good servant but became corrupt he is brought down. Isaiah takes our minds back to the immediate historical context of Eliakim. His heritage would be nailed in a sure place. However, his worthless and incompetent descendants would cause his family to fall. They would disgrace his family, and so, the family would be brought down because of their sin.

In other words, the relationship between these verses and the preceding is that Shebna is to be regarded as a leader of the people, and the prophecy, while directed against the nation generally, concentrates on Shebna, the leader specifically, Isaiah 9:16.

This is the only prophecy of Isaiah specifically directed against an individual.

Go To Isaiah 23


"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Matthew 6:33