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A Warning of Destruction of Jerusalem


The oracle concerning the valley of vision.


What do you mean that you have gone up,

all of you, to the housetops,


you that are full of shoutings,

tumultuous city, exultant town?

Your slain are not slain by the sword,

nor are they dead in battle.


Your rulers have all fled together;

they were captured without the use of a bow.

All of you who were found were captured,

though they had fled far away.


Therefore I said:

Look away from me,

let me weep bitter tears;

do not try to comfort me

for the destruction of my beloved people.



For the Lord G od of hosts has a day

of tumult and trampling and confusion

in the valley of vision,

a battering down of walls

and a cry for help to the mountains.


Elam bore the quiver

with chariots and cavalry,

and Kir uncovered the shield.


Your choicest valleys were full of chariots,

and the cavalry took their stand at the gates.


He has taken away the covering of Judah.


On that day you looked to the weapons of the House of the Forest, 9and you saw that there were many breaches in the city of David, and you collected the waters of the lower pool. 10You counted the houses of Jerusalem, and you broke down the houses to fortify the wall. 11You made a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the old pool. But you did not look to him who did it, or have regard for him who planned it long ago.



In that day the Lord G od of hosts

called to weeping and mourning,

to baldness and putting on sackcloth;


but instead there was joy and festivity,

killing oxen and slaughtering sheep,

eating meat and drinking wine.

“Let us eat and drink,

for tomorrow we die.”


The L ord of hosts has revealed himself in my ears:

Surely this iniquity will not be forgiven you until you die,

says the Lord G od of hosts.

Denunciation of Self-Seeking Officials

15 Thus says the Lord G od of hosts: Come, go to this steward, to Shebna, who is master of the household, and say to him: 16What right do you have here? Who are your relatives here, that you have cut out a tomb here for yourself, cutting a tomb on the height, and carving a habitation for yourself in the rock? 17The L ord is about to hurl you away violently, my fellow. He will seize firm hold on you, 18whirl you round and round, and throw you like a ball into a wide land; there you shall die, and there your splendid chariots shall lie, O you disgrace to your master’s house! 19I will thrust you from your office, and you will be pulled down from your post.

20 On that day I will call my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah, 21and will clothe him with your robe and bind your sash on him. I will commit your authority to his hand, and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. 22I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open. 23I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his ancestral house. 24And they will hang on him the whole weight of his ancestral house, the offspring and issue, every small vessel, from the cups to all the flagons. 25On that day, says the L ord of hosts, the peg that was fastened in a secure place will give way; it will be cut down and fall, and the load that was on it will perish, for the L ord has spoken.


21. And I will clothe him. He now explains more fully what he had briefly noticed in the former verse, that it was only by the purpose of God that Shebna was deposed, in order that Eliakim might succeed him. It is true, indeed, that all the changes that happen in the world are directed by the providence of God; for he “girds kings with a girdle,” as we are told in the book of Job, “and ungirds them, according to his pleasure.” (Job 12:18.) A witty saying was at one time current about the Roman emperors, “that they were theatrical kings;” because, as players, who perform their parts in the theater, no sooner have laid aside the rank of a king, than they presently become poor mechanics; so the emperors, after having been thrown down from their lofty station, were speedily hurried to a disgraceful punishment. And yet it is certain that those insurrections did not take place by chance, or merely through the designs of men, or by military forces, but by the purpose of God, which directed the whole. But the Prophet declares, that there is this peculiarity in the case of Shebna, that his deposition will be a clear proof of the vengeance of God, and that the restoration of Eliakim will be regarded as a lawful form of government.

With thy robes and with thy girdle. By the robes and girdle are meant the badges of the magistrates’ office. The girdle was an emblem of royalty, and the chief magistrates undoubtedly wore it as an honorable distinction. At Rome, also, the prætors wore this badge. Job says, that God ungirds kings when he deprives them of their royal rank. (Job 12:18.) These things were foretold by the Prophet, that all might not only see clearly in this instance the providence of God, and acknowledge his purpose, but might perceive that this wicked man, who had raised himself improperly and by unlawful methods, was justly deposed.

He shall be Father. Wicked magistrates are indeed appointed by God, but it is in his anger, and because we do not deserve to be placed under his government. He gives a loose rein to tyrants and wicked men, in order to punish our ingratitude, as if he had forsaken or ceased to govern us. But when good magistrates rule, we see God, as it were, near us, and governing us by means of those whom he hath appointed. The Prophet means that Eliakim will perform the part of a father, because he has been endued with the Spirit of God. At the same time he reminds all godly persons that they will have good reasons for wishing the government of Eliakim, because it tends to the general advantage of the Church.

By the appellation father, he shews what is the duty of a good magistrate. The same thing has been taught by heathen writers, that “a good king holds the place of a father;” and when they wished to flatter those who crushed the commonwealth by the exercise of tyranny, nature suggested to them to call the tyrants by the honorable title of “fathers of their country.” In like manner, philosophers, when they say that a family is the picture of a kingdom, shew that a king ought to hold the place of a father. This is also proved by the ancient titles given to kings, such as “Abimelech,” (Genesis 20:2, 8,) that is, “my father the king,” and others of the same kind, which shew that royal authority cannot be separated from the feelings of a father. Those who wish to be regarded as lawful princes, and to prove that they are God’s servants, must therefore shew that they are fathers to their people.

22. And the key of the house of David. 9292    {Bogus footnote} This expression is metaphorical, and we need not spend much time, as some do, in drawing from it an allegorical meaning; for it is taken from an ordinary custom of men. The keys of the house are delivered to those who are appointed to be stewards, that they may have the full power of opening and shutting according to their own pleasure. By “the house of David” is meant “the royal house.” This mode of expression was customary among the people, because it had been promised to David that his kingdom would be for ever. (2 Samuel 7:13; Psalm 132:11, 12.) That is the reason why the kingdom was commonly called “the house of David.”

The key is put in the singular number for keys. Though “keys” are usually carried in the hands, yet he says that they are laid on the shoulders, 9393    {Bogus footnote} because he is describing an important charge. Yet nothing more is meant than that the charge and the whole government of the house are committed to him, that he may regulate everything according to his pleasure; and we know that the delivering of keys is commonly regarded as a token of possession.

Some commentators have viewed this passage as referring to Christ, but improperly; for the Prophet draws a comparison between two men, Shebna and Eliakim. Shebna shall be deprived of his office, and Eliakim shall succeed him. What has this to do with Christ? For Eliakim was not a type of Christ, and the Prophet does not here describe any hidden mystery, but borrows a comparison from the ordinary practice of men, as if the keys were delivered to one who has been appointed to be steward, as has been already said. For the same reason Christ calls the office of teaching the word, (Matthew 16:19,) “the keys of the kingdom of heaven;” so that it is idle and foolish to spend much time in endeavoring to find a hidden reason, when the matter is plain, and needs no ingenuity. The reason is, that ministers, by the preaching of the word, open the entrance into heaven, and lead to Christ, who alone is “the way.” (John 14:6.) By the keys, therefore, he means here the government of the king’s house, because the principal charge of it would be delivered to Eliakim at the proper time.

23. And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place. The particle of comparison must here be supplied, and therefore I have inserted in the text the word as. By נאמן, (nĕĕmān,) faithful, he means what is “firm and sure.” The original idea of the word is “truth;” for where “truth” is, there firmness and certainty are found; 9494    {Bogus footnote} and therefore Hebrew writers employ the word “truth” to denote what is firm and certain. Isaiah employs an elegant metaphor, from which godly magistrates, who are few in number, ought to draw large consolation. They may conclude that not only has God raised them to that honorable rank, but they are confirmed and established, as if they had been fixed by his hand. And indeed, where the fear of the Lord dwells, there the stability, and power, and authority of kings, as Solomon says, are established by justice and judgment. (Proverbs 16:12; 25:5; 29:14.)

This consolation ought to be of advantage to princes, not only that they may meet all danger courageously, but likewise that they may firmly and resolutely proceed in their office, and not turn aside on any account, or shrink from any danger. But there are very few who can actually relish this doctrine. Almost all are like Jeroboam, (1 Kings 12:28,) and think that religion should yield to them, and, so far as they imagine, that it will be of service to them, follow it, or rather bend and change it for their own convenience. Their last thought is about God and religion; and we need not wonder if they are always in doubt about their own affairs, and are scarcely ever at rest; for they do not direct their thoughts to him from whom all authority proceeds. (Romans 13:1.) Hence springs treachery, hence springs cruelty, covetousness, violence, and frauds and wrongs of every kind, in which the princes of the present day indulge with less restraint and with greater impudence than all others. Yet there are some in whom we see what is here said of Eliakim. The Lord guards and upholds them, and blesses that regard to equity and justice which he had bestowed upon them. If the Lord permits even tyrants for a time, because they have some appearance of regular government, what shall happen when a prince shall endeavor, to the utmost of his power, to defend justice and judgment, and the true worship of God? Will he not be still more confirmed and established by him who is the continual guardian of righteousness?

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