T. K. (Thomas Kelly) Cheyne.

The prophecies of Isaiah; online

. (page 20 of 50)
Online LibraryT. K. (Thomas Kelly) CheyneThe prophecies of Isaiah; → online text (page 20 of 50)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

rusalem is addressed in Jer. xxi. 13
as 'inhabitress of thevalley' l^^mek),
but this is immediately supple-
mented by the words '(even) of the

rock of the level country.' Kir

underminetb . . . ] There were
iron tools specially designed for
the work of undermining (comp.
Josephus, (/ij^Sf//. y«(/., v. 4. 2). Kir
and Shoa are the names of parts
of the Assyrian empire (on Kir, see

below). The latter is mentioned in
Ezek. xxiii. 23 in company with Pe-
kod (Puqudu, an Aramsan tribe
bordering on Elam in the Assyrian
inscriptions) and Koa. It has been
identified by Prof Friedr. Delitszch'
with the Sutu or Su, a tribe dwel-
ling between the Tigris and the
southern slopes of the mountains of
Elam (similarly Koa = the Qutu or
Qu). The objection I formerly took
to the above rendering was that the
harmony of the picture was de-
stroyed by so abrupt a cominence-
ment of the catalogue of names of
peoples. This, however, is not so
serious a one as it might be, if tho
context were certainly preserved in
its integrity. But, as I remarked
before, this is not the case ; how
then can we be sure that the two
halves of v. 5 originally stood to-
gether ? (See further in crit. note).
' The mountains ' in alt. rend., on
the analogy of ' mount Ephraim '
for the hill-country of Ephraim,
taking har collectively.

* It would be a plausible conjec-
ture that a passage has been omitted
before v. 6, in which other contin-
gents of the Assyrian army were
mentioned ; see, however, xxi. 2,

(if Isaiah's). Elam] See Introd.

and note on xi. 11. xir] The

region to which Tiglath-Pileser
transported the Damascenes (2
Kings xvi. 9), and from which, ac-
cording to Am. ix. 7, the Arameans
came. This has been generally
identified with the district by the
river Cyrus (the modern Georgia).
But, besides the linguistic objection
pointed out by Del. (Kir cannot =
Kur), it appears that the Assyrian
empire never extended to the Cy-
rus. We must therefore seek for
Kir among the Assyrian conquests
mentioned in the Inscriptions ; it

' Long after writing the above, I see that Naeg. has compared the same passage,
bnt with a very different result.

2 Wo lag das Paradies f (Leipzig, 1881), pp. 235-6.




Elam carried the quiver with troops of men, of horsemen,
and Kir made bare the shield ; ' and when thy choice valleys
were full of troops, and the horsemen had set themselves in
line towards the gate, * then did he draw aside the covering
of Judah, and thou didst look in that day to the armour of
the forest-house, ^ and ye saw that the breaches of David's
city were many, and ye collected the water of the lower
pool, '" and the houses of Jerusalem ye counted and ye broke

may possibly be a shortened form
of Kirkhi or Kirruri, the former of
which lay to the east of the sources
of the Tigris, near Diarbekr, the lat-
ter near the lalce of Urmia. Both
countries were conquered by Assur-
nazirpal (885-860). The suggestion
is Mr. Heilprin's, Historical Poetry

of the Hebrews, ii. 180. Made

bare tbe sbleld] i.e., took away
its leathern covering, comp. Cses.,
de Bell. Gall.,\\. 21 (Hitz.) See on
xxxvii. 33.

' Thy choice valleys] Jerusa-
lem was almost surrounded by val-
leys, e.g., Kidron, Gihon, Rephaim,
Hinnom. Comp Josephus, de Bell.
Jud., V. 4. I. Had set them-
selves in line] i.e., ready to enter
as soon as ' the gate ' was broken
through by the rams, comp. Ezek.
xxi. 22 (27). It is the 'great gai-e'
referred to by Sennacherib (Tay-
lor's cylinder), who boasts of having
' caused them to break through ' it.
The remains are still to be seen,
says Lieut. Conder.

° Then did he draw aside ... J
The subject is Jehovah (comp. v. 5).
' Drawing aside the curtain ' means
either exposing the utter weakness
of the state to the enemy (Ew.,
Meier), or, opening the eyes of the
Judeans to their danger (comp.
xxix. 10, 18 Hitz., Knob., Del.). The
former view seems the more suit-
able. Here begins the account

of the measures of defence taken
by the citizens. Very similar is the
Chronicler's account of Hezekiah's
preparations for the siege of Sen-
nacherib, 2 Chr. xxxii. 2-5, 30 (see
Q. P. B.\ and as the memory of
Sargon's siege had faded away by

the time of the Chronicler, it is
possible that there is a confusion
between the precaut ons taken on
these two occasions. The com-
piler of Kings alludes briefly to
some of the same measures as the
Chronicler, but does not assign a
date (2 Kings xx. 20). It was of
course a matter of primary im-
portance to prevent the enemy from
using the water of the fountains
(see on vii. 3). Sargon gives a simi-
ar account of the preparations for
the siege of Ashdod (Smith, Assy-
rian Discoveries, p. 291 top), 'And
they brought the waters of the
springs in front of the city.' The
first step of the citizens, however,
is to look after the supply of arms.

Theforest-house] — 'thehouse

of the forest of Lebanon' (l Kings
vii. 2, A. 17, Jer. xxii. 23), a part of
Solomon's palace, which was used
as an arsenal (xxxix. 2.)

° And ye saw . . .] ' Ye,' i.e., the
princes, who practically monopo-
lised <"he government (comp. on vii. 2, .

xxxii. l). The city of David] i.e.

the fortress Zion, 2 Sam. v. 7, 9.

The lower pool] Certainly not the
mediaeval tank called Birket-es-
Sultan, but possibly the pool made
by Hezekiah, according to 2 Kings
XX. 20.

'° The houses . . . ye counted]
Partly to see how many could be
spared, partly for the inhabitants

to identify their property. To

fortify the wall] To withstand the
shocks of the battering-rams. So
2 Chr. xxxii. 5, 'and he built up
all the wall that was broken, and
raised thereupon towers,' and Jer.
xxxiii. 4 ' the houses . . . which are



[chap. XXII.

down the houses to fortify the wall, " and ye made a lake
between the two walls for the water of the old pool ; but ye
looked not unto him who made it, and him who formed
it from afar ye did not regard. '^And the Lord, Jehovah
Sabaoth, called in that day to weeping, and to lamentation,
and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth ; ^^ but behold,
joy and gladness, killing oxen and slaughtering sheep, eating
flesh and drinking wine, ' Eat and drink, for to- morrow we
shall die.' '^ But (this) hath been made known = in the ears

■= So Sept. , Cornill ; most render the text, •■ But Jehovah Sabioth hath revealed
himself in mine ears, [saying.]

thrown dovi'n because of (i.e., to re-
sist) the mounds and because of the
engines of war.' ^

1^ A lake] i.e., a large pool, or

reservoir. Between the two

walls] i.e., between that of Ophel
on the east, and that of the High
Tower on the west, where the Ty-
ropseon valley is particularly narrow.

The old pool] i.e. probably the

' Pool of Siloam' (called ' The Pool'
par excellence in the Hebrew in-
scription in the rock-tunnel leading

to Siloam). But ye looked not]

A contrast to ' thou didst look ' {v.

8). 'Who made It . . . formed

it] i.e., in the counsels of eternity,
as appears from xxxvii. 26 (same
words). Comp. on v. 12.

'^ And the Iiord . . . called]
i.e., the prophet, God's messenger,
or perhaps the silent march of
events, called upon you to repent ;
penitence might have turned the

Divine purpose, Joel ii. 14. To

baldness] So Am. viii. 10, ' I will
bring. . . baldness upon every head.'
The prophets accept things as they
are, and do not trouble themselves
with premature innovations. ' Bald-
ness,' however, is forbidden in Lev.
xxi. 5, Deut. xiv. I.

'^ But no moral effect has been
produced by calamity. They rush
to the banquet-table with despair
in their hearts, and waste the pro-

visions which ought to be husband-
ed for the siege. Por to-mor-
row we shall die] It is doubted
whether these words are quoted in
mockery from the prophet (Ges.),
or whether they express the sen-
sualism of despair (Hitz.). The
latter view is simpler and more

^^ But it is made known . . . ]
The Rabbis understand ' this thing'
for a subject, and 'saith' before
'Jehovah Sabdoth' (comp. v. 9),
or else explain as if they read ' I
am Jehovah Sabdoth.' The ordi-
nary explanation is still more forced.
A single vowel-point is wrong ; the
Massoretes shrank from the anthro-
pomorphism ' the ears of Jehovah.'

Shall not be cancelled . . ■ ]

Death shall indeed overtake you by
the hand of the enemy (as A.E.
rightly explains), as the punishment
of your guilt. ' Some of the Jewish
writers understand the words to
mean "at death, but not before," and
draw the inference that death does
or may atone for sin ' (Alexander).
But it is not a Biblical idea that a
sinner who has borne his punish-
ment is thereby released from guilt.
Punishment has only the effect of
expiation when borne by the inno-
cent on behalf of the guilty. See
Riehm, Der Begriff der Suhne
u.s.w., Theol. Studien u. Kritiken,

1 Khirehh is probably from a root meaning to pierce (comp. khor, a hole), and can
therefore just as well be applied to a battering-ram (or to some similar engine) bs to
a sword. Here, as in Jer. v. 17, Ezek. xxvi. 9, the rendering ' engines of war ' seems
to be required. For pictures of battering-rams, see Bonomi's Nineveh and its Palaces,
p. 163; notice their lance-headed extremities.




of Jehovah " Sabaoth ; surely this iniquity shall not be can-
celled unto you till ye die, saith the Lord, Jehovah Sabdoth.

vv. 15-25. Denunciation of .Shebna and promises to Eliakim. Pro-
bably this prophecy was written a short time before the invasion of
Sennacherib, for in the narrative of this event Shebna is represented as
holding a lower ofSce (see on vv. 20-24). Isaiah's only invective against
an individual.

'■'' Thus saith the Lord, Jehovah Sabaoth, Go, get ^hee unto
this high officer, even unto Shebna, who is over the house.
"• What (right) hast thou here, and whom hast thou here, that
thou hewest thee out here a sepulchre .' hewing him out his
sepulchre on high, carving him out in the rock a habitation !
" Behold, Jehovah will ^ hurl, will hurl thee, O man,'^ and
clutch thee tightly ; ^* he will roll thee up (and toss thee) as
a ball into a broad country ; thither shalt thou go to die, and

" Cast thee with a man's (i.e., a manly) cast, Del. (but see crit. note.).

1877, Heft I. Isaiah's threat is
therefore precisely parallel to i
Sam. iii. 14.

'* Tbis ijlgli officer] (On ren-
dering, see crit. notes.) ' This,'
with a touch of disparagement (as
vi. 9). Shebna's present function was
that of ' house-steward ' (mentioned
I Kings iv. 6). Its importance is
shown by the fact that it was once
held by a ' king's son,' 2 Chr. xxvi.
21, and by the order of the court-
officers in xxxvi. 3, xxxvii. 2. It has
been well compared to the Frank-
ish officer of Mayor of the Palace.

Sbebna] From his fathei-'s

name not being mentioned, it is
probable that Shebna was not a
native Israelite; his name (which
is in the Aramaic ' emphatic state ')
points to a Syrian origin. If he
was a refugee from Damascus, he
would naturally be an advocate of
an Egyptianizing policy, and would
thus be one of the ' crooked ' poli-
ticians, whom the prophet inveighs
against in xxx. 12. The brother
of the famous Rabbi Hillel was also
called Shebna.

'* Shebna, like eastern grandees
generally (comp. Joseph of Arima-
thea, Eshmunazar king of Sidon,


the Pharaohs and Caliphs
Egypt, &c.), builds himself a se-
pulchre in his lifetime. Comp.

xiv. 1 8, ' tky grave.' Wbat

(rlg-bt) bast tbou ber e ?] Shebna's
offence is aggravated by his being
a foreigner. Even at a much later
time a 'potter's field' was good
enough ' to bury strangers in '
(Matt, xxvii. 7). ' Here,' i.e., in
Jerusalem ; note the indignant re-
petition. On bigrh] Not neces-
sarily on mount Zion (Knob.), or
on its eastern slope (Del.). Tombs
have been found on the slopes of

all the hills about Jerusalem. a

babitation] Heb. inishkan, else-
where used only of God, and imply-
ing a great personage and a long
sojourn (comp. Eccles. xii. 5, Ps.

xlix. 12, Sept., Targ.). o man]

I formerly rendered ' O mighty
man ! ' supposing a touch of irony
in the phrase. This is certainly
suggested by the etymology, but is
not favoured by the use of the word
elsewhere, especially in Job, where
it several times occurs (but without
irony), in strong contrast with God

(see job iv. 17, x. 5, xxii. 2). A

broad country] i.e., the plains of



[chap. XXII,

thither shall go thy glorious chariots, thou disgrace of the
house of thy lord ! '^ And I will thrust thee from thy post,
and from thy station shall he pull thee down. ^"And it shall
come to pass in that day that I will call my servant Eliakim,
son of Hilkiah, ^' and I will clothe him with thy robe, and
with thy girdle will I bind him, and thy authority will I give
into his hand, arid he shall be a father to the inhabitants of
Jerusalem and to the house of Judah ; ^^ and I will lay the key
of the house of David upon his back, so that he shall open
and none shall shut, and he shall shut and none shall open.
^^ And I will strike him as a peg into a sure place, and he
shall be for a seat of honour to his father's house ; ^* and they
shall hang upon him all the honour of his father's house, the
scions and the offshoots, all the vessels of small size, from the

'" Note the change of person ;
Jehovah is the subject, however, in
both clauses.

™-" Nomination of EHakim. We
have only evidence of a partial
fulfilment of Isaiah's authoritative
word. Eliakim was house-steward,
and Shebna merely secretary, when
the Rab-shakeh came to Jerusalem
(xxxvi. 3). Perhaps this was all
that Hezekiah was able to effect
against the opposition of the
' princes.' Isaiah evidently pre-
dicts a complete change of system,
which would consist in the total
abstinence from a policy of ex-
pediency and worldly alliances.
Hence the strong language, almost
Messianic in its tone, with which
Isaiah hails in spirit the elevation
of his disciple Eliakim.

*' Robe . . . girdle] The offi-
cial dress of a high officer of state.
The ' robe ' is the long, sleeved
tunic worn by people of rank, e.g.,
Joseph and Tamar (Vitr.). The
girdle (abhnef) is a costly one, such
as priests wore (see Jos. Ant. iii. 7.

2). Into Ws band] Comp. Jer.

xxxiv. I (Hebr.). A fatber] The

term is used of a prime minister in
Gen. xlv. 8, i Mace. xi. 32 ; of the
chief men of a town (i Chr. ii. 24,
iv. 5, &c., Ew.). Comp. ix. 6, Job
xxix. 16, Judg. V. 7.

I will lay the key


The 'key' here symbolizes the au-
thority of the ' Deputy ' or royal
representative. (See on ix. 6, and
comp. Matt. xvi. 19, Rev. iii. 7.)
An Eastern key is as much as a
man can carry (see figures in
Bonomi's Nineveh and its Palaces,
p. ISO).

^3-^* Description of Eliakim's

tenure of office. As a peg into

a sure place] i.e., into a good
solid wall — not mere plaster, as
in an ordinary house — so as to be
able to support a large number of
vessels. (Comp. Zech. x. 4, where
'peg' = pnnce.)

''■'^ All tbebonour of bis fatber's
bouse] This is a strange expres-
sion, as it has to cover the undis-
tinguished members of Eliakim's
family as well as the distinguished.
' Honour ' must be almost equiva-
lent to 'multitude' (so Hitz., Del.),
and no doubt the importance of a
family ('father's house' = family)
depended chiefly on its numbers.
The entire passage, too, is strange,
seeming, as it does, to give the
Divine sanction to family-partiality.
I say ' seeming,' because I suspect
that the fall with which Eliakim in
his turn is threatened is the punish-
ment of an evil tendency which

Isaiah noticed in Eliakim. off-

sboots] A contemptuous expres-
sion (cognate word Ezek, iv 1 5).

CHAP, xxm.] ISAIAH. 1 39

bowl-shaped vessels to all pitcher-like vessels. ^■'' In that day
— an oracle of Jehovah Sabdoth — the peg that is struck into
a sure place shall give way ; it shall be cut down and shall fall
and the burden upon it shall perish, for Jehovah hath spoken.

''^ The peg-] It is doubted whether seem to co-ordinate, by way of

this refers to Shebna or Eliakim ; contrast, the event here spoken of

but surely ' the peg' must be iden- with that in v. 19. But we need

tical with that mentioned in the not interpret the phrase so strictly,

preceding verses. There is nothing It may, in v. 25, merely imply that

strange in the anticipation that a at the very time when Eliakim's

high Eastern official should not connections are basking in the

be in favour for ever, and that his sunshine of prosperity, a sudden

fall should involve the ruin of his change shall come. Thus Jehovah

adherents. The difficulty lies in will ' profane the pride of all glory '

the words ' in that day,' which (xxiii. 9).


An elegy, in three stanzas or strophes {vv. 1-5, 6-9, 10-14), on the fall of
Tyre, followed by a kind of appendix on the future revival of the merchant-
city. For an analysis, see /. C. A., p. 55.

There have been great differences of opinion as to the date of this
prophecy, several eminent critics supposing that the siege referred to is
that of Nebuchadnezzar (comp. Ezek. xxvi. 4-21). The main argument
in favour of this view is derived from v. 13. Taking this verse together
with the next, it was not unnatural to suppose that the Chaldeans were
thus prominently mentioned as the future destroyers of Tyre. But there
is another view of the verse, and one, moreover, which is exegetically
easier, viz. that the fate of the Chaldeans is pointed to as a warning for
Tyre : — Babylonia had fallen a prey to Assyria, how should Tyre escape ?
This view, natural as it is, could not, however, have been entertained
until it was possible to show that Babylonia had really been thus severely
chastised by her powerful neighbour. Now that this has been done — now
that we know that Babylonia was conquered three times over in the reigns
of Sargon and Sennacherib (see Introd. to xxi. i-io), there seems nothing
to prevent us from adopting it.' The selfishness and injustice on which
the Tyrian empire was based were to the prophet a sure guarantee of its
overthrow, and a special revelation appears to have warned him to expect
the event about this time.

But which of the three Assyrian invasions of Babylonia is in-
tended inv. 13? There can hardly be a doubt; the description well
applies to the third, and to this alone. ' His (Merodach-Baladan's) cities
I laid waste,' says Sennacherib,, ' and burned with fire.' True, there is
no capture of Tyre mentioned as following upon this devastation ; it was
in the preceding year's expedition that Luli (the Elulceus of Menander,

' Dr. Tiele was the first to see the bearing of Assyrian discovery on this chapter
Comp his Vergelijkende geschiedenis, p. 707.


Jos., Aniiq., ix. 14, 2) king of Zidon, and suzerain (as appears from IVtenan-
der) of PhcEnicia, fled at the approach of Sennacherib to the island of
Cyprus {R. P., vii. 61). But it is no part of an interpreter's duty to prove
the complete, literal fulfilment of a prophecy;^ all that he has to do, in
order to promote the enjoyment of the reader, is to collect and illustrate
the data of the prophecy. It is certain that, from a moral point of view
Phoenicia deserved chastisement, certain that the fate of Babylonia was
an evil omen to other vassal states.

The minor key in which the prophecy is pitched reminds us of xxi.
i-io. Tyre, Babylon, and Judah were fellow-sufferers from Assyria.
' The poetical art of the piece is in a very high degree finished,' remarks
Ewald, who, however, finds the ' elevation, magnificence, and energetic
brevity' of Isaiah wholly wanting, and suspects (as in the case of chap,
xxxiii.) that a younger contemporary and disciple of the prophet is the
author. This is possible, as many phenomena converge to show that
Isaiah's works were not always edited by himself ; but I am particularly
loth to deny so artistic a work to this great and, as Ewald admits, many-
sided prophet.

' [Utterance of Tyre.J Howl, ye ships of Tarshish, for it
is laid waste, so that there is no house, no entering in ! From
the land of Chittim it has been disclosed unto them. ^ Be
dumb, ye inhabitants of the coast, which Zidon's merchants
who pass over the sea replenished. ^ And on great waters
was the seed of Shihor ; the harvest of the River was its
ingathering, and it became " the gain " of the nations. * Be

" The mart, Ges., Ew.

• Wo bouse . . . ] The fleets are of Phoenicia and Egypt, see Ezek.

homeward-bound fi;om the western xxvii. 7, Movers, Die Phbnizier,

colonies. At the very last place ii. 3, pp. 314-336, Ebers, Egypten

of call — Cyprus, they hear the sad und die Biicher Mosis, i. 147, &c.

tidings that their harbour and their The Egyptians had no timber to

homes are desolate. build seaworthy ships ; hence their

^ Xhe coast] i.e., the Phoenician foreign trade was carried on for

coast (so V. 6). True, this involves them by the Phoenicians. Tbe

a tautology with the next line, since ^aln] Not ' mart,' for the Phoeni-

Zidon also = Phoenicia (as I Kings cians themselves distributed their

xi. I, Gen. x. 15). wares, and these in their turn

^ On great waters] i.e., on the became a source of gain to other

ocean-highway (comp. Ps. cvii. 23, nations (Del. after Luzzatto).

Ezek. xxvii. 26). Sbihor] i.e., * Be ashamed, O Zldon] i.e., O

the Nile, as Jer. ii. 18. Perhaps Phoenicia ! Tyrian coins bear the

'the dark grey' (see on xiv. 12), legend- 'Of Tyre, mother ( = chief

from the colour of the water ; if so, city) of the Zidonians.' The

a Semitic name for the Nile, but strong-hold of the sea] i.e., the

Friedr. Del. questions this {Para- insulated ledge of rocks on which

dies, p. 311). — On the connection new Tyre was built, Ezek. xxvi. 5,

' As has been already pointed out, the oracle upon Tyre was not completely ful-
filled till the time of Alexander the Great. Zech. ix. 4 may perhaps refer to this




ashamed, O Zidon, for the sea, the stronghold of the sea,
speaketh, saying, I have not been in travail, nor brought forth,
nor reared young men, nor brought up virgins. * When the
tidings come to Egypt they shall be sore pained at the tidings
of Tyre. — ^ Pass ye over to Tarshish ; howl, ye inhabitants of
the coast ! "" Is this, to your sorrow, the joyous one,*" whose
origin is of ancient days, whose feet " were wont to carry "= her
afar off to sojourn ? * Who hath devised this against Tyre,
the giver of crowns, whose merchants were princes, whose
traders were the honourable of the earth ? ' Jehovah Sabaoth
hath devised it, to desecrate the pride of all glory, to disgrace
all the honourable of the earth. — '° Overflow thy land as the

' Fareth it thus with you, O joyous one ! Del.
° Carry, Gas., Ew.

14. In the following words, Tyre
is aptly described as daughter of
the sea, but (a figure to express the
completeness of the ruin) denied
by her own mother.

^ Tbey sball be sore pained]
Tyre being, as it were, an outpost
of Egypt against the Assyrians.

6 To Tarsbisb] The prophet
counsels the Phoenicians to emi-
grate to their Spanish colonies, as
their fate has been determined by
the fall of the capital. So at the
siege of Tyre by Alexander, the
Tyrians sent their old men, women,
and children to Carthage(Diod.xvii.
41, Knob.), which Sept. even makes
them do here (els KapxijSova). Comp.
Layard's plate, 71, ' Enemies of the
Assyrians taking refuge in ships.'

' A question of perplexity and
surprise (comp. xiv. 16). Is this
heap of ruins all that remains of
the joyous, the ancient, the rest-
lessly energetic Tyre ? (see crit. note).

Joyous] as Zeph. ii. 15.

Of ancient days] see Herod, ii.

44, Josephus, Ani. viii. 3, i.

'Wbose feet were wont . . . ] Allud-
ing to the distant commercial jour-
neys of the Tyrians. Alt. rend,
may be explained in two ways, —
of captivity (Ges.), or of flight
(Ew). Either way is plausible. The
first is supported by the strik-
ing verbal parallel in 2 Kings
xxi. 8 (overlooked by Ges.) ; the

second gives a special force to
the words 'to sojourn,' which will
mean that the Phoenician fugitives
are to be only tolerated neVoucoi ( =
gerim) in their own colonies. But
I think the context decides that the
clause must contain, a feature, not
of the present Tyre, but of the past.
In this case, too, 'to sojourn' is a
perfectly accurate phrase.

8 Tbe giver of crowns], viz., to

Online LibraryT. K. (Thomas Kelly) CheyneThe prophecies of Isaiah; → online text (page 20 of 50)