The Valley of Vision
1Oracle on the Valley of Vision:* a
What is the matter with you now, that you have gone up,
all of you, to the housetops,
2* You who were full of noise,
Your slain are not slain with the sword,
nor killed in battle.
3All your leaders fled away together,
they were captured without use of bow;
All who were found were captured together,
though they had fled afar off.
4That is why I say: Turn away from me,
let me weep bitterly;
Do not try to comfort me
for the ruin of the daughter of my people.c
5It is a day of panic, rout and confusion,
from the Lord, the GOD of hosts, in the Valley of Vision*
a cry for help to the mountains.
6Elam takes up the quiver,
Aram mounts the horses
and Kir* uncovers the shields.
7Your choice valleys are filled with chariots,
horses are posted at the gates—
8and shelter over Judah is removed.*
On that day you looked to the weapons in the House of the Forest; 9* you saw that the breaches in the City of David were many; you collected the water of the lower pool. 10You numbered the houses of Jerusalem, tearing some down to strengthen the wall; 11you made a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the old pool. But you did not look to the city’s Maker, nor consider the one who fashioned it long ago.
12On that day the Lord,
the GOD of hosts, called
For weeping and mourning,
for shaving the head and wearing sackcloth.
13But look! instead, there was celebration and joy,
slaughtering cattle and butchering sheep,
Eating meat and drinking wine:
“Eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”d
14This message was revealed in my hearing from the LORD of hosts:
This iniquity will not be forgiven you until you die,
says the Lord, the GOD of hosts.
Shebna and Eliakim
15Thus says the Lord, the GOD of hosts:
Up, go to that official,
Shebna,* master of the palace,
16* “What have you here? Whom have you here,
that you have hewn for yourself a tomb here,
Hewing a tomb on high,
carving a resting place in the rock?”
17The LORD shall hurl you down headlong, mortal man!
He shall grip you firmly,
18And roll you up and toss you like a ball
into a broad land.
There you will die, there with the chariots you glory in,
you disgrace to your master’s house!
19I will thrust you from your office
and pull you down from your station.
20On that day I will summon my servant
21I will clothe him with your robe,
gird him with your sash,
confer on him your authority.
He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
and to the house of Judah.f
22I will place the key* of the House of David on his shoulder;
what he opens, no one will shut,
what he shuts, no one will open.g
23I will fix him as a peg in a firm place,
a seat of honor for his ancestral house;
24On him shall hang all the glory of his ancestral house:*
descendants and offspring,
all the little dishes, from bowls to jugs.
25On that day, says the LORD of hosts, the peg fixed in a firm place shall give way, break off and fall, and the weight that hung on it shall be done away with; for the LORD has spoken.
* [22:1–14] The title “oracle on the valley of vision,” like the other oracle headings in chaps. 13–23, was supplied by an editor and is taken from v. 5. In all probability it relates to the events of 701, the lifting of Sennacherib’s siege of Jerusalem. The death of the Assyrian king Sargon II in 705 occasioned the revolt of many of the vassal nations subject to Assyria, a revolt in which Hezekiah joined, over Isaiah’s bitter opposition. The biblical and other data concerning the outcome of this adventure are conflicting and confusing. While 2 Kgs 19 (Is 37) tells of a miraculous deliverance of the city after the siege had been renewed, Assyrian documents and 2 Kgs 18:13–16 report that Sennacherib, Sargon II’s successor, devastated Judah (the destruction of 46 cities is mentioned in Assyrian records); Hezekiah had to surrender and paid Sennacherib a heavy indemnity, taken from the Temple treasury and adornments. The inhabitants of Jerusalem apparently took the lifting of the siege as occasion for great rejoicing, a response that Isaiah condemns. They should be mourning the dead and learning that their confidence in allies rather than in the Lord leads to disaster.
* [22:2–3] The retreat of Judah’s soldiers is a further reason that rejoicing is not in order.
* [22:5] Valley of Vision: frequently identified as the Hinnom Valley, west of Jerusalem.
* [22:6] Elam…Kir: the Assyrian forces presumably included auxiliary troops from various places.
* [22:8] Shelter over Judah is removed: the reference is obscure; it has been suggested that Judah’s protection was Jerusalem itself, and with the fall of the city the country was exposed. House of the Forest: an armory built by Solomon; its columns of wood suggested the trees of a forest; cf. 1 Kgs 7:2; 10:17.
* [22:9–11] Frenetic efforts made to fortify the city before the impending siege; cf. 2 Kgs 20:20; 2 Chr 32:3–4, 30. Some suggest that the description of these preparations comes from the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s assault on Jerusalem in 588. You did not look to the city’s Maker: Isaiah here makes the crucial point. Jerusalem’s safety lay not in military forces nor in alliances with other nations nor in playing power politics but in the Lord, here presented as the creator and founder of the city. Isaiah may be alluding to the belief that the city was inviolable.
* [22:15] Shebna: by the time of the siege of Jerusalem in 36:3, Shebna, the scribe, no longer held the office of master of the palace.
* [22:16] What is probably Shebna’s inscribed tomb has been discovered in the village of Silwan on the eastern slope of Jerusalem.
* [22:20] Eliakim: by the time of the events described in 36:3, Eliakim had replaced Shebna as master of the palace.
* [22:22] Key: symbol of authority; cf. Mt 16:19; Rev 3:7.
* [22:24–25] Apparently Eliakim proved to be a disappointment, so an oracle of judgment was added to the originally positive oracle to Eliakim.
c. [22:4] Jer 6:26; 9:1; 14:17.
d. [22:13] Is 56:12; Wis 2:6; 1 Cor 15:32.
e. [22:20] 2 Kgs 18:18, 37.