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The Valley of Vision Proclamation Against Jerusalem Warning to Jerusalem of Approaching Destruction A Message About Jerusalem Against Rejoicing in Jerusalem
22:1a 22:1a 22:1-4
(5-7) 22:5-8a
22:8b-11 22:8b-11
22:12-13 22:12-14
(14) 22:14
The Judgment on Shebna A Warning to Shebna Against Shebna
22:15-19 22:15-19 22:15-23
22:20-25 22:20-23
22:24-25 22:24-25

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Third paragraph, etc.


1The oracle concerning the valley of vision.
What is the matter with you now, that you have all gone up to the housetops?
2You who were full of noise,
You boisterous town, you exultant city;
Your slain were not slain with the sword,
Nor did they die in battle.
3All your rulers have fled together,
And have been captured without the bow;
All of you who were found were taken captive together,
Though they had fled far away.
4Therefore I say, "Turn your eyes away from me,
Let me weep bitterly,
Do not try to comfort me concerning the destruction of the daughter of my people."
5For the Lord God of hosts has a day of panic, subjugation and confusion
In the valley of vision,
A breaking down of walls
And a crying to the mountain.
6Elam took up the quiver
With the chariots, infantry and horsemen;
And Kir uncovered the shield.
7Then your choicest valleys were full of chariots,
And the horsemen took up fixed positions at the gate.
8And He removed the defense of Judah.
In that day you depended on the weapons of the house of the forest,
9And you saw that the breaches
In the wall of the city of David were many;
And you collected the waters of the lower pool.
10Then you counted the houses of Jerusalem
And tore down houses to fortify the wall.
11And you made a reservoir between the two walls
For the waters of the old pool.
But you did not depend on Him who made it,
Nor did you take into consideration Him who planned it long ago.

22:1 "oracle" This is a textual marker of a new message from YHWH directed at a national/ethnic group (see note at Isa. 13:1). Surprisingly, in the midst of YHWH's judgment on the surrounding nations He addresses Judah, possibly because of her sin, she was just another among the goim (nations).

It is surely possible that these messages are related to specific historical invasions. In differing years, different armies and nations were affected. But Hebrew poetry is so vague that a specific historical situation is difficult to ascertain. Possibly there has been a later editing of Isaiah's messages based on certain word plays or key words, not historical events (i.e., the poems of Isaiah are out of chronological order).

Remember the main point of the whole oracle and the main truth of each strophe is the way to approach the prophet's (i.e., YHWH') meaning, not great attention to all the details and rare words.

NASB, NRSV, Peshitta    "the valley of vision"
NKJV, TEV, NJB, REB, NET    "the Valley of Vision"
LXX    "the ravine of Sion"
JB    "valley of Hinnom"

Because of the use of this phrase in Isa. 22:5b, it must refer to the "day of panic" sent by the Lord of hosts (note Joel 3:14) against Jerusalem (cf. vv. 9-10).

22:1b-2b These are a description of a time of mourning (JPSOA, cf. Jer. 48:38) or rejoicing (cf. v. 13) in Jerusalem.

  1. up to the housetops
  2. you who were full of noise
  3. you boisterous town
  4. you exultant city

The JB (footnote) assumes it relates to Hezekiah's initial victories over Assyria in 705 b.c. or 713 b.c. (Jewish Study Bible, p. 825).

22:2c-3d Apparently some of the city (i.e., leaders and soldiers) fled before the invaders.

  1. they were captured and put to death, but not in battle
  2. their leaders fled too, but were also captured and killed
  3. all of them who fled were taken into exile (c. 3 c-d)

Because of these lines of poetry many believe this chapter refers to the siege of Nebuchadnezzar in 586 b.c., when Zedekiah fled the city and was captured (cf. 2 Kgs. 25:4-6), but I think it refers to Assyria's invasion by one of the following:

  1. Tiglath-pileser III (Isaiah 7-12)
  2. Shalmaneser V (cf. 2 Kings 17)
  3. Sargon II (fall of Samaria in 722 b.c., cf. Isa. 28:1-6)
  4. Sennacherib (705 and 701 b.c., Isaiah 36-39; 2 Kings 18-19)

This chapter seems to relate specifically to Hezekiah's reign (715-687 b.c.). But as often happens in Isaiah, these invasions are presented as mingled. Isaiah was primarily concerned with theology; history was a servant to present these truths about God, mankind, sin, and salvation.

22:4 The prophet speaks of himself, as he did in Isa. 21:3-4

  1. turn your eyes away from me, BDB 1043, KB 1609, Qal imperative
  2. let me weep bitterly, BDB 600, KB 638, Piel imperfect used in a cohortative sense
  3. do not try to comfort me, BDB 21, KB 23, Hiphil imperfect used in a jussive sense ("to comfort," BDB 636, KB 688, Piel infinitive construct)

The prophet wanted to be left alone so as to work through his grief privately.

▣ "the daughter of my people" This is an idiomatic phrase for a people or ethnic group (cf. Isa. 1:8; 10:30, 32; 16:1; 23:10-12; 37:22; 47:1,5; 52:5; 62:11). Here it refers to the covenant people of Judah (i.e., "daughter of Zion").

22:5 This verse describes YHWH's "day of panic." It is just the opposite of Isa. 22:1-2.

  1. panic, BDB 223, cf. Deut. 28:20
  2. subjugation, BDB 101, used only thrice, cf. Isa. 18:2,7
  3. confusion, BDB 100, used only twice, cf. Micah 7:4
  4. breaking down of walls, קרר, BDB 903 II, KB 1148, Pilpel participle (only here; some scholars think the root is an Arabic or Ugaritic root meaning, "shout," "crackle," or "make noise" (KB 1128 I, קר)
  5. crying to the mountain (no verbal)

The JPSOA sees the last two lines of v. 5 as place names.

  1. Kir, cf. Isa. 22:6; 2 Kgs. 16:9; Amos 1:5; 9:7 ("wall," BDB 885 I; "Kir," BDB 885 II)
  2. Shoa, cf. Ezek. 23:23 ("crying," BDB 1002; "Shoa, BDB 1003 III)

No English translation follows this understanding.

▣ "to the mountain" The noun (BDB 249) is singular and may refer to the temple mount (i.e., cry out to YHWH).

22:6-7 These verses describe the military aspects of the invasion. Elam and Kir (possibly Media, cf. Isa. 21:2; 2 Kgs. 16:9) were northern areas of Mesopotamia. They became mercenaries in the Assyrian army to keep from being invaded.

NASB   "infantry"
NKJV, Peshitta   "men"
NRSV   "cavalry"
REB   "Aram"
JPSOA, LXX   "mounted men"

The MT has "men" (אדם, BDB 9, see 31:8, where "adam" is also used in a military sense), but for parallelism some change it to "Aram," ארם. This ד (d) vs. ר (R) is a common confusion in Hebrew.

22:8 "He removed the defense of Judah" "Defense" in this verse means "covering" (BDB 697). They did not trust in YHWH (cf. Isa. 22:11c,d) so He removed His protective presence (i.e., a cloud, cf. Isa. 4:5; Ps. 105:39). This has been the problem through all of Israel's history. God's people do not trust and obey Him and there are consequences! The cursings and blessings of Deuteronomy 27-29 show them clearly.

"The defense" may have literally referred to the fortress Azekah (Jewish Study Bible, footnote, p. 825).

▣ "In that day" This is a common idiom in the Prophets for the day of God's visitation (i.e., Isa. 19:16,18, 19,21,23,24).

Special Topic: That Day.

NASB   "you depended on"
NKJV, NRSV   "you looked to"
NJB   "you lturned your gaze to"
REB   "you checked"
JPSOA   "you gave thought to"

The verb (BDB 613, KB 661, Hiphil imperfect with waw) denotes that they trusted in their weaponry, not YHWH.

▣ "of the house of the forest" This was the name of the armory in Jerusalem (cf. 1 Kgs. 7:2; 10:17).

22:9 The historical setting appears to be the time of Hezekiah. He built (2 Kgs. 20:20) pools for the collection of water during sieges (cf. Isa. 22:11; 7:3; Neh. 3:16). Apparently Hezekiah did a lot of physical preparation to the defenses of Jerusalem just before Sennacherib came in 701 b.c., but they are not what saved the city of Jerusalem; it was YHWH and His greater purpose (Isa. 22:11).

22:10-11 This verse seems to describe the walls of Jerusalem as double walls (which has no archaeological confirmation). Many people moving into the city for refuge had built temporary houses in the space between the two walls. But these houses had to be removed (see IVP, Bible Background Commentary, p. 614).

Another possible way to understand the text was that some houses were destroyed to fill up the space between walls. This made it more difficult for siege machines to knock a hole in the city's wall.

This same area may have been filled with water at certain low places (cf. Isa. 22:11). This served as

  1. a barrier to those who breached the outer wall
  2. a surplus water supply for the city which was full of refugees

22:11 "But you did not depend on Him who made it" This is the theological key to the context. The same verb of Isa. 22:8b is repeated (here a Hiphil perfect, lit. "look"). They were trusting in their own fortifications and provisions for war, not in their covenant God!

▣ "Nor did you take into consideration Him" The verb (BDB 906, KB 1157) is a Qal perfect. God's people had forsaken the promises of preservation that He made to them. Isaiah emphasizes these promises and asserts regularly that Jerusalem will not fall.

The reason God will not let her fall is His overarching purpose (i.e., "plan," lit. "formed," BDB 427, KB 428, Qal participle, cf. Isa. 37:26; 46:11; Jer. 18:11) for His people.

  1. inform the world about YHWH
  2. model a godly society
  3. be the channel for the coming Messiah

12Therefore in that day the Lord God of hosts called you to weeping, to wailing,
To shaving the head and to wearing sackcloth.
13Instead, there is gaiety and gladness,
Killing of cattle and slaughtering of sheep,
Eating of meat and drinking of wine:
"Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die."
14But the Lord of hosts revealed Himself to me,
"Surely this iniquity shall not be forgiven you
Until you die," says the Lord God of hosts.

22:12-14 This is another strophe which starts with "in that day."

Verse 12 lists the mourning rites (see Special Topic: Grieving Rites) that would characterize Jerusalem.

  1. weeping, BDB 113 (no verb)
  2. wailing, BDB 704 (no verb)
  3. shaving the head, BDB 901 (no verb, the baldness could be by shaving or plucking, cf. Ezra 9:3; Job 1:20; Jer. 7:29; 16:6; 41:5; 48:37; Mic. 1:16)
  4. wearing sackcloth, BDB 291, KB 291, Qal infinitive construct

Isaiah 22:13 describes what Jerusalem was doing instead. They should have been seeking YHWH in repentance and prayer, but no, they were caught up in

  1. gaiety, BDB 965
  2. gladness, BDB 970
  3. sacrificing as normal, two Qal infinitive absolutes (BDB 246, BDB 133)
  4. eating fellowship sacrifices, BDB 37, Qal infinitive absolute
  5. drinking, BDB 1059 I, Qal infinitive absolute

22:13d Their attitude toward life is expressed in this line of poetry. It is similar to Belshazzar's party in Daniel 5.

This attitude reflects their lack of understanding about the plans (BDB 427, KB 428, Qal participle, cf. Isa. 11d) of YHWH for Jerusalem and His people (cf. Isa. 5:11-12). Instead of a sense of corporate purpose and hope, they sought immediate individual gratification!

22:14 Judah's lack of faith will result in their deaths. Judgment has come to Judah. Jerusalem itself will be spared, but Judah will be devastated.

Judah has missed the time of YHWH's visitation (for deliverance), so now they will experience His visitation for destruction!

▣ "Surely this iniquity shall not be forgiven you" What sin? I think the sin of lack of trust and reliance on God mentioned in Isa. 22:11c,d.

15Thus says the Lord God of hosts,
"Come, go to this steward,
To Shebna, who is in charge of the royal household,
16'What right do you have here,
And whom do you have here,
That you have hewn a tomb for yourself here,
You who hew a tomb on the height,
You who carve a resting place for yourself in the rock?
17Behold, the Lord is about to hurl you headlong, O man.
And He is about to grasp you firmly
18And roll you tightly like a ball,
To be cast into a vast country;
There you will die
And there your splendid chariots will be,
You shame of your master's house.'
19I will depose you from your office,
And I will pull you down from your station.
20Then it will come about in that day,
That I will summon My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah,
21And I will clothe him with your tunic
And tie your sash securely about him.
I will entrust him with your authority,
And he will become a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.
22Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder,
When he opens no one will shut,
When he shuts no one will open.
23I will drive him like a peg in a firm place,
And he will become a throne of glory to his father's house.
24So they will hang on him all the glory of his father's house, offspring and issue, all the least of vessels, from bowls to all the jars. 25In that day," declares the Lord of hosts, "the peg driven in a firm place will give way; it will even break off and fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut off, for the Lord has spoken."

22:15-19 This describes YHWH's judgment on Shebna, King Hezekiah's steward. The exact reason for Shebna's replacement with Eliakim (cf. Isa. 22:20-25) is uncertain, but it must have been serious and in context, may be a "self-reliant spirit."

Shebna is probably "Shebnah" of 2 Kgs. 18:18, who was Eliakim's scribe.

22:16 This is a series of questions challenging Shebna's right to serve.

22:17-19 Sin has consequences. Leaders are especially responsible (they trusted in their armaments, cf. vv. 8,18). YHWH is described as the personal agent of judgment.

  1. to hurl you, Isa. 22:17, BDB 376, KB 373, Pipel participle; and related noun (BDB 376), "hurl you violently"
  2. to grasp you firmly, Isa. 22:17, Qal perfect and Qal infinitive absolute of BDB 742 II, KB 814 II
  3. "roll you tightly like a ball to be cast," Isa. 22:18, Qal infinitive absolute and Qal imperfect verb, as well as the noun, of the same root (BDB 857, KB 1039)
  4. die an outcast in a foreign land, Isa. 22:18c,d
  5. "I will depose you," Isa. 22:19, BDB 213, KB 239, Qal perfect with waw
  6. "I will pull you down," Isa. 22:19, BDB 248, KB 256, Qal imperfect

There is an interesting lexical theory connected to #2. NIDOTTE, vol. 3, pp. 380-381, suggests that the root means "delouse," as a metaphor for complete destruction (cf. Jer. 43:12).

22:18 "splendid chariots" See Special Topic: Chariots

22:20-25 These verses describe what YHWH will do to Shebna's successor, Eliakim (cf. 2 Kgs. 18:18, 26,37; 19:2; Isa. 22:20; 36:3,11,22; 37:2).

  1. YHWH will summon him, lit. "call," Isa. 22:20, BDB 894, KB 1128, Qal perfect with waw
  2. YHWH will clothe him with a tunic, Isa. 22:21, BDB 527, KB 519, Hiphil perfect with waw
  3. YHWH will tie a sash securely about him, Isa. 22:21, verb from #2 implied
  4. YHWH will entrust him with your authority, Isa. 22:21, BDB 304, KB 302, Piel imperfect
  5. YHWH will set the key of the house of David on his shoulders, Isa. 22:22, BDB 678, KB 733, Qal perfect
  6. YHWH will drive him like a peg into a firm place, Isa. 22:23, BDB 1075, KB 1787, Qal perfect with waw

22:21-23 These verses describe what he will do.

  1. he will become a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Isa. 22:21
  2. he opens and no one will shut, he shuts and no will open, Isa. 22:22
  3. he will become a throne of glory to his father's house, Isa. 22:23 (cf. Isa. 22:24)

In some sense these verses see Eliakim as a type or foreshadowing of the Messiah. This same foreshadowing is seen in Zechariah with Zerubbabel and Joshua (cf. Zech. 3-4).

22:23 "firm" See SPECIAL TOPIC: Believe, Trust, Faith, and Faithfulness in the Old Testament (אמן), especially II., A., 1., b., (2).

NASB, NKJV, NRSV   "offspring and issue"
TEV   "his relatives and dependants"
NJB   "the descendants and offspring"
REB   "even to the meanest members"
JPSOA   "the sprouts and the leaves"
LXX   "from small to great"
Peshitta   "both the honorable men and the glorious men"
NET   "the offspring and the offshoots"

The MT has

  1. the offspring ‒ BDB 425, KB 993
    1. plants ‒ Isa 34:1; 42:5
    2. animals ‒ Job 31:8
    3. humans ‒ Job 5:25; 21:8; 27:14; Isa. 2:3; 22:24; 44:3; 48:19; 61:9; 65:23
  2. the issue ‒ BDB 861, KB 1048; this unknown root is found only here; parallelism implies some kind of offshoot or leaf

22:25 Even Eliakim (i.e., the peg driven in a firm place), with all of YHWH's help, cannot stop the judgment that is coming.

  1. peg will give way (BDB 559 I, KB 561, Qal imperfect)
  2. peg will break off (BDB 154, KB 180, Niphal perfect) with waw
  3. peg will fall (BDB 656, KB 709, Qal perfect) with waw
  4. load will be cut off (BDB 503, KB 500, Niphal perfect) with waw

Judgment is coming, YHWH said (BDB 180, KB 210, Piel perfect).

▣ "the peg" It (BDB 450) may refer to

  1. Shebna
  2. Eliakim
  3. Judah
  4. Jerusalem
  5. Messiah

In context #1 or #2 is best, but the others address YHWH's future plans (cf. Isa. 22:11).

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