The word "oracle" or "burden" (Isa 13:1; 15:1; 17:1; 19:1;
21:1; 22:1; 23:1) is from the Heb "to lift up", in foreboding or expectation; it
implies something that God has planned for another. More often than not, it
speaks of a coming punishment; but at times it simply means an important event
involving a particular people. The distinction must be determined by the
context. Often, the "burden" begins with warnings of judgments to come, and then
proceeds with prophecies of something beneficial arising out of the dark times.
Zec 12 illustrates this: it begins with a "burden... for Israel... in the
siege", but then quickly speaks of a time of blessing succeeding the time of
affliction: Jerusalem inhabited again in her own place (Zec 12:6,7). The burdens
of Isaiah generally follow this same pattern, with special ref to the LD of
Gentile times and the establishment of "Israel in their own land" (Isa 14:1) and
Christ as the "ruler of the land... upon the mount of the daughter of Zion" (Isa
16:1). Also the roles of various Gentile powers, esp in relation to Israel and
God's plans for the LD, are outlined. What might first appear to be a dry and
unrewarding study becomes in reality a promise of God's deliverance for His
people (in typical prophecies) and a glorious assurance (in initial
fulfillments) that God's purpose stands firm (Isa 14:26,27).
Suggested chronological order of this ch: (1) vv 8-11:
preparations for defense; (2) vv 1-3: "peace" celebrations; (3) vv 12-14:
Isaiah's condemnation of the celebrations; and (4) vv 4-7: the coming siege
Vv 1-3: "Peace" celebrations: "Here is an amazing picture of
holy Jerusalem gone delirious with delight. And why? Because the invading
Assyrians have been bought off (2Ki 18:14-16). But all the gaiety is
VALLEY OF VISION: The part of Jerusalem where the
prophet lived? Moriah, the Temple site, means "the vision of Yahweh". Perhaps
the Kidron Valley on the eastern side of the city (cp incident, Isa
YOUR SLAIN WERE NOT KILLED BY THE SWORD...: They were
so "drunk" that they looked dead!
"Suggestion: some of the more far-sighted and better informed,
realising that trouble was bound to come, were hoping to find safety in flight.
But the Arabian archers, deserting to the enemy (Isa 21:15?), sought to please
their new masters by handing these fugitives over, bound as prisoners, to the
Assyrians" (WIsa 246).
Vv 4-7: The coming siege of Jerusalem: a series of vivid
"snapshots" of what the reality would turn out to be, and that right
ELAM: Overrun earlier by Sennacherib, Elamites had now
been recruited into the Assyrian forces.
THE QUIVER: Elam was known for its archers: Jer
KIR: Another mercenary element in Sennacherib's army. A
distant region in the area of Mesopotamia, its people had been forcibly
resettled elsewhere (Amo 1:5,9:7).
Vv 8-11: Defensive preparations, for the invasion by
THE DEFENSES OF JUDAH ARE STRIPPED AWAY: The
fortresses, maintained in fine condition in the time of Uzziah (2Ch 26:8,13-15),
have deteriorated in the days of Ahaz (Isa 32:14; Hos 8:14; Mic 1:8-16), and
become easy pickings for Sennacherib: "Forty-six of his strong walled towns and
innumerable smaller villages... I besieged and conquered" (Taylor Prism; cp Isa
THE PALACE OF THE FOREST: Perhaps this refers to a
royal armory, or to Solomon's 'House of the Forest of Lebanon,' where weapons
may have been kept (1Ki 10:16-17).
MANY BREACHES: Cp 2Ch 32:5.
YOU STORED UP WATER IN THE LOWER POOL: Hezekiah's
conduit (2Ki 18:17; 2Ch 32:4).
BUT YOU DID NOT LOOK TO THE ONE WHO MADE IT...: Was
this the exact time that Hezekiah fell ill, and could not continue the work of
Now here comes the key point, the "punch line", so to speak...
-- "...but you did not look to the One who made it, or have regard for the One
who planned it long ago."
At the threatened attack of the enemy, Judah -- and Jerusalem
-- began to strengthen every conceivable defense, and take every conceivable
precaution. They looked to their weapons, and their walls, and their water. They
looked to everything they possible could... EXCEPT the God of Israel!
At other times, the Israelites trusted in altars (Isa 17:7),
in defensed cities (Isa 37:26), in Egypt (Isa 31:1), or in Syria (2Ch
But they did not, or could not, or refused to, trust in the
God of Israel (Isa 8:17; Jer 33:2,3; Mic 7:7).
"Men cry out under a load of oppression; they plead for relief
from the arm of the powerful. But no one says, 'Where is God my Maker, who gives
songs in the night, who teaches more to us than to the beasts of the earth and
makes us wiser than the birds of the air?' " (Job 35:9-11).
In the midst of all the preparations for the defense of the
ultimately defenseless city of Jerusalem; in the midst of the crying and
hand-wringing and desperate, foolish planning; in the midst of the silly,
midnight-hour frenzy to "eat and drink... for tomorrow we die!" (v 13), it
remained for two men -- the king and the prophet -- to ask the nation the only
question it had not asked itself: "Where is our God?"
Vv 12-14: Isaiah's condemnation of optimistic celebrations:
the city should have been repentant and contrite, as well as thankful. But
instead they gave them over to debauchery and license and foolish
LET US EAT AND DRINK... FOR TOMORROW WE DIE!: These
words seem to imply a lurking uncertainty as to whether the Assyrians had been
stopped permanently, or only temporarily. These words are cited by Paul in 1Co
15:32, to express a hopeless resignation to "enjoying" the life that now is, no
matter how short or uncertain: the ultimate sensual denial of God.
SHEBNA: Poss this fellow was a foreigner, brought in by
Ahaz from Syria (no refs to family). Guesses: (1) was he made the "High Priest"
of the Assyrian "religion"?; (2) did he become regent when Hezekiah became so
ill; (3) was he leader of the pro-Assyrian diplomatic corps? Typically, "Shebna"
= the Mosaic priesthood, corrupt and proud.
A GRAVE: His own sepulchre, thus guaranteeing a
ON THE HEIGHT: Built in the very area reserved for the
kings of Judah (1Ki 2:10; 2Ch 32:33). Does the writer of Psa 49 have Shebna in
mind... whose sepulchre will be his long home, who understands not, and will be
like the beasts that perish?
Suggestion: The "sepulchre" was perhaps only a place of hiding
from the Assyrians. A ref to the superstition that death can be escaped by
pretending to be dead (cp "covenant with death": Isa 28:15) (BS
ROLL YOU UP TIGHTLY LIKE A BALL AND THROW YOU INTO A LARGE
COUNTRY: Instead of a stately burial in a special sepulchre, Shebna's body
will be rolled up in whatever fabric is available, and then hastily stowed away!
Or, poss, his body would be tied to the tail of a horse and dragged along behind
YOUR SPLENDID CHARIOTS: Apparently the ref to chariots
alludes to Shebna's excessive pride, which in turn brings disgrace to the royal
Vv 20-24: // Rev 3:7: key of David, open, shut, etc.
IN THAT DAY I WILL SUMMON MY SERVANT, ELIAKIM SON OF
HILKIAH: Could be read: "In that day I will call my servant (ie, Hezekiah)
TO Eliakim"... the leper coming to the priest for cleansing (Lev 14:2) (WRev 31;
WIsa 249,250). (The same Heb form occurs in 1Ki 1:32: "Call me Zadok the
priest".) The language in this section (ie, shoulder, throne, government,
father, house of David) all suggests Hezekiah and the Messiah. [In this,
Hezekiah typ Christ, raised up and healed of the "leprosy" of sin and
MY SERVANT: When singular in Isaiah, refs to Hezekiah
-- as the prototype of the Messiah (Isa 42:1; 44:1,2,21; 45:4; 49:3,6;
HE WILL BE A FATHER TO THOSE: "Father" = "leader" (Isa
4:20,21; 45:8; 2Ki 5:13; Isa 22:21). Used metaphorically of one who protects and
supports those under his care and authority, like a father does his family (cp
THE KEY TO THE HOUSE OF DAVID: Cp Isa 9:6,7 -- re
Hezekiah. Temple restoration by Hezekiah (2Ch 29:3). Cp Kingdom prophecy: Isa
A PEG: The words of the wise (Ecc 12:11), made flesh in
Christ, the "nail" of Zec 10:4.
A PEG INTO A FIRM PLACE: "The figure... is almost
unique in Scripture. It is essentially a priestly metaphor, for 'place' is Heb
'maqom', the normal meaning of which is a 'holy place'. Ezra 9:7,8 gives it this
meaning, but concerning both kings and priests! And 'sure' ['firm'] is really
the wd 'true', with ref to the utter dependability of the promises of God. On
this nail there is to be sufficient support for large and small, for cups of
gold (Exo 24:6) and flagons of earthen ware (so Paul interprets: 'vessels of
gold and of silver, also of wood and of earth': 2Ti 2:20, yet all purged and
'sanctified, and meet for the Master's use' " (WIsa 250).
'Everything else will depend on him!'
'But before the nail, or peg, can be made absolutely sure and
steadfast, it will have to be cut off and fall': ie, re Hezekiah: the illness
and nearness to death, before the healing; and re Christ: the sufferings and
death, before the resurrection and glorification.