The Word Made Fresh
1An oracle about the Valley of Vision:
What do you mean, that all of you have gone up to the rooftops?
2You are filled with shouting, tumult and rejoicing.
Those of you who were slain were not killed by the sword
nor did they die in battle.
3But all of your leaders have run away together,
and have been captured without the need for a single bow.
All of you who could be found were captured
even though they had run far away.
4That is why I said, “Don’t look at me.
Let me weep tears of bitterness.
Don’t try to comfort me
because of the destruction of my people.”
5The LORD God Almighty has appointed a day of tumult,
with trampling and confusion in the Valley of Vision,
with a day of smashing walls,
and a cry for help from the mountains.
6Elam carried quivers with chariots and horses,
and Kir uncovered their shields.
7Your most important valleys were filled with chariots
And your cavalry guarded the gates.
8But Judah’s defenses were torn away.
On that day you looked for weapons in the forest places,
9and you discovered many breaches in the wall of the city of David,
and you gathered water from the lower pool.
10You counted all the buildings in Jerusalem,
and tore down houses to strengthen the walls.
11You dug a reservoir between the two walls
to hold water from the old pool,
but you ignored the One who made it
and had no regard for the One who planned it long ago.
12That is the day the LORD God Almighty told you
to weep and to mourn, and to shave your heads
and wear only sackcloth;
13but instead, you engaged in fun and partying.
You killed oxen and slaughtered sheep.
You ate meat and drank wine.
“Oh, let us eat and drink,” you said, “for we will die tomorrow.”
14The LORD’s will was spoken to my ears:
this behavior will not be forgiven as long as you live.
That is what the LORD God the Almighty says.
15This word is from the LORD God Almighty: “Go to the steward whose name is Shebna. He is master of the palace. 16Say to him, ‘What right do you have here? Who are your relatives, to justify your cutting a tomb for yourself on the high places and chipping out a resting place in the stones? 17 The LORD is going to throw you violently away, seizing hold of you, 18whirling you around and around, and tossing you like a ball into the countryside. That is where you will die, and that is where your wonderful chariots will rot. For you are a disgrace to your master’s family! 19I will throw you out of your office and you will be tossed out of your position.
20“On that very day I will summon my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah. 21I will clothe him in your robe, bound with your sash. I will give your authority to him, and he shall become like a father to the people of Jerusalem and the family of Judah. 22I will place squarely on his shoulders the key to the house of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 23I will make his position secure, and his throne will become a throne of honor to his ancestors. 24He will be given full authority over his ancestral family – every child born to them, every small container from cup to flagon. 25When that day comes,” says the LORD Almighty, “the peg that had been securely driven in its place will give way; it will be cut down and will fall and the load that it carried will collapse, for the LORD has spoken.”
1-4: Having foretold the fate of the neighboring peoples and empires, Isaiah turns again to Jerusalem. He has skipped over Tyre, but don’t worry, he will get to them in the next chapter. These verses are a little unusual in that they are referring to a future event as though it were past. The leaders will have fled, leaving the people exposed. The leaders are captured, however, and the people become captives as well. The “valley of vision” is obscure; perhaps a reference to one of the valleys around the city. Parts of this chapter seem to relate to the attack by the Assyrians in the time of King Hezekiah (see 2 Kings 18 and 19), but these opening verses don’t fit the story of that battle.
5-8: Elam was an ancient power away to the east of Babylon. The mention of Elam here does not mean the Elamites are the invading enemy but rather that they are an example of a mighty army with a cavalry of chariots. Kir is unknown, though mentioned here and in 2 Kings 18:9 and Amos 1:5 and 9:7. It was apparently a place to which exiles were taken by the Assyrians. The imagery of verse 6 is repeated in 7 and 8. Jerusalem’s valleys will be filled with chariots like those of Elam and Judah’s. Their “covering” will be taken away like the shields of Kir being removed. The “House of the Forest” was an armory built by Solomon (see 1 Kings 7:2, 10:17-21, also 2 Chronicles 9:16, 20).
9-11: When Jerusalem is besieged, he says, they will tear down the houses to fortify the walls and will try to collect enough water to outlast the siege. But they will have no regard for “the one who did it” — God.
12-14: Perhaps the opening words should be rendered, “because of that day.” Because of that day the people should be repentant, but instead they’re in party mode. God will never forgive them for not heeding the prophets (says the prophet).
15-19: Shebna was the royal secretary during Hezekiah’s reign (see 2 Kings 18:26-37) when the Assyrians besieged Jerusalem unsuccessfully. Isaiah accuses him of misusing his office to enrich himself and of carving out an elaborate tomb for himself in a prominent place where he doesn’t belong. We are not told Shebna’s fate, but here Isaiah says he will be banished and disgraced.
20-25: Eliakim was the son of Jerusalem’s most prominent high priest, Hilkiah, and was Hezekiah’s chief administrator alongside Shebna (see again 2 Kings 18, 19). Isaiah says that he will be elevated when Shebna is deposed. However, he will fail and ultimately bring his whole heritage into disgrace.
God has a plan for humanity. Because of human sinfulness God’s plan will sometimes bring suffering to the innocent in order to deal with the mistakes of the guilty. But the innocent (hopefully, that is the group we belong to!) will be rewarded in time.