Isaiah 22:1-25

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22:1. Masoretic Text: A pronouncement [regarding] the Valley of Vision. What then [is the reason] that all of you have gone up to the roofs?

Septuagint: The word [regarding] the valley of Zion. What has happened to you now that you all have gone up to the roofs for nothing?

In the Septuagint, the first word of verse 2, the plural adjective mátaia, concludes the question and is here rendered “for nothing.” The adjective means “worthless,” “useless,” “meaningless,” “nothing,” “vain,” or “empty.”


The Hebrew word massá’ is commonly understood to mean a “pronouncement,” “oracle,” “utterance,” or “burden.” Whereas the Vulgate renders the term as onus (“load” or “burden”), the Septuagint reads “word” or “saying” (rhéma), indicating that this is a divinely revealed message. Other Septuagint manuscripts say “vision” (hórama).

As apparent from the Septuagint rendering, the expression “Valley of Vision” applies to Zion or Jerusalem. The city is surrounded by higher elevations, and it may be for this reason that it is designated as the “valley.” Its being linked to the word “vision” may call attention to the fact that the prophets saw visions there and possibly also that many of these visions pertained to future developments involving Jerusalem. According to the Targum of Isaiah, the city was one against which the prophets prophesied.

The question is directed to the city and applies to the inhabitants. Just why had all the people gone up to the flat roofs of their houses? The Septuagint rendering could be understood to mean that they had done so in vain.

Just why the people went up to the roofs is not mentioned, but the context suggests that the action did not have God’s approval. In an attempt temporarily to distract themselves from the grave danger they faced, they may have engaged in reckless merriment on the roofs. (Verse 13) Possibly, in a state of panic as persons without trust in YHWH’s protection and aid, they may have hurried to the roofs to see how seriously threatening the situation was for Jerusalem. They may have done so in order to engage in idolatrous practices, seeking thereby to be delivered from calamity. (Jeremiah 19:13; Zephaniah 1:5) Another reason may have been that they did so to lament over the dire straights in which they found themselves. (Isaiah 15:3)

22:2. Masoretic Text: [You are] full of noises, tumultuous city, exultant town. Your slain [are] not [those] slain with the sword and not the dead [fallen] in battle.

Septuagint: The city was filled with those shouting. Your wounded [were] not wounded by the sword, nor [were] your dead the dead in war.

To complete the thoughts expressed in this verse, verbs have to be supplied, and the tense of the added verbs affects the meaning.


According to the Septuagint rendering, the shouting in Jerusalem had occurred in the past, and that shouting could be understood to mean the outcry coming from the inhabitants of the besieged city.

The Hebrew text identifies Jerusalem as a city of exultation or rejoicing, and the initial part of the verse could relate to past or then-existing circumstances. The city then was or had been a place of tumult, or noisy hustle and bustle, and rejoicing. The situation, however, had or would change, with the city either undergoing or coming to experience the horrors of siege.

As persons not slain with the sword nor having perished while engaged in fighting with enemy warriors, the dead apparently would have been the victims of famine and pestilence in the besieged city.

22:3. Masoretic Text: All your rulers have fled together. Without a bow they were bound. All of you having been found were bound together. They had fled to a distant place.

Septuagint: All your rulers have fled, and the captured ones have been bound hard, and the mighty ones among you have fled far away.


Rulers, leaders, or officers of the people resorted to flight. The expression “without a bow” indicates that no battle action occurred when the invaders captured them and bound them as captives of war. Although among those fleeing were those who had reached a distant location, enemy warriors caught up with them and bound them.

22:4. Masoretic Text: Therefore, I said, “Look away from me. Let me be bitter in weeping. Do not labor to comfort me for the ruin of the daughter of my people.”

Septuagint: Therefore, I said, “Let me [be]. I will weep bitterly. Do not strive to comfort me for the ruin of the daughter of my kin.

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, the conjunction “and” precedes the phrase about weeping.


In view of the great suffering to befall the people, Isaiah wanted to be left alone, unobserved as he gave way to bitter weeping. The expression “daughter of my people” designates fellow Israelites as a corporate whole or a congregation. Nothing would prevent their experiencing calamity, and so there was no basis for any comfort. For this reason, Isaiah asked that no one endeavor to console him in his state of extreme sadness about what lay ahead for his people.

22:5. Masoretic Text: For [it is] a day of panic and trampling and confusion from the Lord YHWH of hosts in the Valley of Vision — a tearing down of a wall and a cry to the mountain.

Septuagint: For [it is] a day of trouble and destruction and trampling and wandering from the Lord Sabaoth in the valley of Zion. From the least to the greatest, they are wandering. They are wandering on the mountains.

Some have understood the Hebrew words here translated “wall” (qir) and “cry” (shóha‘) as proper nouns. “Kir shouting, and Shoa at the mount.” (Margolis) “Kir raged in the Valley of Vision, and Shoa on the hill.” (Tanakh) According to these renderings, warriors from Kir (verse 6) and Shoa (Ezekiel 23:23) would be part of the attacking forces.

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah refers to the tearing down of God’s “holiness on the mountain,” suggestive of an attack on the temple in Jerusalem.

“Sabaoth” is a transliteration of the Hebrew word meaning “hosts” or “armies.”

The Septuagint rendering may be understood to mean that the calamity came upon the people because they had wandered or strayed from their God. There were no exceptions. Among those straying were all levels of society, from the insignificant ones to the prominent ones of the people. Their wandering on the mountains could refer to engaging in idolatry on elevated sites.


YHWH, the God with hosts of angels in his service, had purposed to punish his disobedient people, removing his protection from them and leaving them at the mercy of their enemies. The day, or the time when the prophetic words would begin to be fulfilled, would be a day from YHWH. The people would then be in a state of panic, anxiety, or upheaval on account of being confronted with superior enemy forces. They would be trampled upon, subjected to humiliating defeat and suffering. Confused, they would see no way out of the distressing situation. Attacking forces would be the ones demolishing the fortification or wall, and the people would be crying out. This could be a cry for help, a cry of anguish, or a war cry. Possibly because the cry would echo from the mountain, it is called a “cry to the mountain.”

22:6. Masoretic Text: And Elam carried the quiver, with a man’s chariot and horsemen, and Kir uncovered the shield.

Septuagint: But the Ailamitas [Elamites] took quivers — mounted men on horses and a gathering in battle array.


During the period of Isaiah’s prophesying, the Assyrians posed the greatest threat to the two-tribe kingdom of Judah. They are not mentioned as part of the attacking force, making it difficult to be definitive about whether warriors from Elam and Kir functioned as mercenaries in the Assyrian army.

Equipped with quivers filled with arrows, the Elamites from a region in what is today in southwest Iran were prepared to remove the arrows for shooting. The singular Hebrew term rendered “chariot” is doubtless to be regarded as a collective singular. The attacking force also appears to be represented as having riders on horses. “Elam has picked up his quiver, with manned chariots and horsemen.” (NJB) “Elam takes up the quiver, with her charioteers and horses.” (NIV)

Another possible meaning is that the horses were hitched to the chariots, with the archers being ready to shoot their arrows. A number of translations have additionally chosen to follow a proposed emendation of the Hebrew text (“Aram” [’arám] instead of “man” [’adhám]), and their renderings vary. “Elam took up the quiver, horses were harnessed to the chariots of Aram.” (REB) “Elam takes up the quivers, Aram mounts the horses.” (NAB)

The location of Kir is unknown. Warriors of Kir are portrayed as taking off the cover from their shields, apparently to ready themselves for battle.

22:7. Masoretic Text: And it will occur [that] the choicest of your valleys shall be full of chariots, and the horsemen shall take their stand to stand at the gate.

Septuagint: And your choicest valleys will be filled with chariots, but the horsemen will block your gates.

The Hebrew term for the word translated “your” is second person singular in the feminine gender. This is because the apparent antecedent is “daughter of my people.”


The best level places in the territory of the kingdom of Judah would be filled with the war chariots of the invaders. Horsemen with their mounts would position themselves before the city gates, ready to attack and prepared to block anyone from leaving the city.

22:8. Masoretic Text: And one will take away the covering of Judah. And in that day you looked to the weapons of the house of the forest.

Septuagint: And they will expose the gates of Judah, and in that day they will look at the choicest houses of the city.

In the Hebrew text, the second part of verse 8, starting with the words “and in that day,” appear to relate to the description that follows regarding the actions of the people when faced with the serious military threat (verses 9 through 14).


The covering or protective screen had been removed from the kingdom of Judah. While not specifically identified, the one who did so was YHWH on account of the unfaithfulness of the people. He allowed them to experience foreign aggression.

In the day or at the time that divine protection was removed from the realm of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem looked for means to defend the city. They relied on weaponry stored in the “house of the forest.” This was the house of the forest of Lebanon, a building that King Solomon had constructed with cedar from Lebanon. It came to be an edifice for storing shields and probably also other weaponry. (1 Kings 7:2-5; 10:16, 17; 14:25-27)

The Septuagint rendering could be understood to refer to the attacking force, which would uncover or expose the gates of Judah and make its way into the city. If the reference is to the enemy warriors, their looking at the choicest houses would be for the purpose of plundering the riches they contained.

22:9. Masoretic Text: And you saw the breaches of the city of David, for they were many, and you collected the waters of the lower pool.

Septuagint: And they will expose the hidden things of the houses of the citadel of David. And they saw that [there] were many and that they had diverted the water of the old pool into the city


The reference to seeing the “breaches of the city of David” appears to be to making an examination of the wall of fortified Zion to determine what repairs needed to be made to strengthen the defenses. The examination revealed that there were many places that required attention. To protect the city’s water supply during a time of siege, men with the needed skill built the structures for collecting or storing the waters of the lower pool.

The Septuagint rendering seems to suggest that the enemy warriors were able to uncover the concealed treasures in the houses of the citadel of David or Zion. They would also have seen that there were abundant treasures, and that the inhabitants of the city had diverted the water from the old pool into the city. This, however, would not fit the campaign of Assyrian King Sennacherib, as his warriors did not enter Jerusalem.

22:10. Masoretic Text: And you counted the houses of Jerusalem, and you tore down the houses to make the wall inaccessible.

Septuagint: and that they had torn down the houses of Jerusalem for fortifying the wall of the city.


To obtain building materials for strengthening the city walls, seemingly someone or a group of men counted the number of houses with a view to determine which ones needed to be torn down. Material from the demolished houses was then used to strengthen the city’s defenses in an effort to make it harder for the attackers to breach the wall.

Again the Septuagint rendering appears to represent matters from the standpoint of the enemy forces. They saw that houses had been torn down to fortify the wall of the city.

22:11. Masoretic Text: And a reservoir you made between the two walls for the water of the old pool, and you did not look to the one doing it, and you did not see the one forming it long ago.

Septuagint: And you made [a collection of] water for yourselves between the two walls of the inner old pool, and you did not look to the one making it from the beginning and the one creating it you did not see.


The construction project to secure the water supply of Jerusalem included diverting the water from the old pool to a new collecting pool or reservoir between two walls. While the people relied on their own resourcefulness to deal with the threat of enemy aggression, they did not look to YHWH as the unfailing source of security. As if they were blind, they did not “see,” or have any regard for God, ignoring him completely as the one who could aid and protect them. What he does and what he forms will always turn out well, without even the slightest possibility of failure. The object of the doing and the forming is not specifically identified, but it could include everything that God has done and what he has formed or purposed long ago. He is the Maker and the Former.

A number of modern translations interpretively identify Jerusalem as the place that God had made and formed. “But you did not look to the city’s Maker, nor did you consider him who built it long ago.” (NAB) “You did not look to the Maker of the city or consider him who fashioned it long ago.” (REB) As the Maker and Former of the city, he, by implication, would also be its Protector. Another view is that God was the one who determined to bring the calamity upon the disobedient people and long ago had purposed that he would do so by means of the instruments of his choosing.

22:12. And in that day my Lord, YHWH of hosts, called for weeping and for mourning and for baldness and for girding with sackcloth.

Septuagint: And in that day the Lord Sabaoth called for weeping and lamentation and shaving and girding with sackcloth.

“Sabaoth” is a transliteration of the Hebrew word that means “hosts” or “armies.” YHWH has hosts of angels in his service.


By means of his prophets, YHWH called the people to repentance, urging them to abandon their wayward course. The outward expressions of their sorrow regarding their sinful conduct included weeping, mourning, shaving off their hair and thus making themselves bald, and wearing sackcloth, a coarse cloth, next to their skin.

22:13. Masoretic Text: And look! Jubilation and joy, slaying a bovine and slaughtering a sheep, eating flesh and drinking wine. “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die.”

Septuagint: But they gave way to jubilation and joy, slaying calves and slaughtering sheep so as to eat meat and drink wine, saying, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”


Instead of repenting and changing their ways, the people engaged in revelry. They slaughtered cattle and sheep in order to indulge their appetite for riotous feasting and drinking. Their thought appears to have been that, in view of the threat, they might as well give in to a desire for pleasure and temporarily forget about the grave danger. They then chose to eat and drink, concluding that the situation was so grave that they would soon face death.

22:14. Masoretic Text: And in my ears, YHWH of hosts has revealed himself. “‘Indeed, for you, this guilt will not be atoned for until you die,’ says my Lord, YHWH of hosts.”

Septuagint: And these things are revealed in the ears of the Lord Sabaoth, that this sin will not be forgiven you until you die.

“Sabaoth” is a transliteration of the Hebrew expression for “hosts” or “armies,” identifying YHWH as the God with hosts of angels in his service.

The Septuagint rendering seems to represent God as hearing what the people were doing, whereas the Hebrew text speaks of what he revealed to the prophet Isaiah about the people’s punishment for their sin.


YHWH would not forgive the people for failing to repent and continuing in unrestrained revelry in view of the possibility of impending death. In expression of his judgment, they would die, for he would allow them to fall into the hands of enemy forces.

22:15. Masoretic Text: Thus says my Lord, YHWH of hosts, “Come, go to this administrator, to Shebna, who is over the house.

Septuagint: This [is what] the Lord Sabaoth says, “Go into the chamber to Somnas [Shebna] the steward and say to him,

“Sabaoth” is a transliteration of the Hebrew word for “hosts” or “armies,” revealing YHWH to have hosts of angels in his service.


Shebna, an administrator or a steward in the court of Judean King Hezekiah came to have an inordinately exalted view of himself. This did not escape the attention of YHWH, and he directed the prophet Isaiah to go to Shebna at the very time he was engaged in a prideful act. Being “over the house,” Shebna had a responsible position in the royal court. Based on the authority granted to his replacement, Shebna’s duties appear to have included overseeing the royal chambers and making decisions about who could be entrusted with royal service.

22:16. Masoretic Text: What [is there] to you here, and whom [have] you here, that you have hewed out a tomb for yourself here? In the height, one is hewing out a tomb for himself, carving out a tent for himself in a rock.

Septuagint: Why are you here, and what is there to you here, that you have hewed out a tomb for yourself here and made for yourself a tomb in a height and carved out a tent for yourself in a rock?

The Greek verb here translated “carved out” literally means “wrote.” For writing on rock, an implement that could engrave the letters on a hard surface needed to be used. Fashioning a “tent” or abode for the deceased in a rock required carving on a larger scale than did engraving letters on a rock.


The two-part rhetorical question served to reprove Shebna. He had no valid reason for being at the location. No one related to him had previously been entombed there. Yet, at Shebna’s direction, a tomb was being hewed out for him in a rocky hillside. This tomb was the “tent” that was then being carved out, for Shebna planned for it to become his abode at the time of his death.

22:17. Masoretic Text: Look! YHWH will hurl you [with a] hurling, O mighty one, and he will seize you to seize.

Septuagint: Look now, the Lord Sabaoth will cast out and wipe out a man, and he [the Lord] will remove your robe

“Sabaoth” is a transliteration of the Hebrew word meaning “hosts” or “armies,” identifying YHWH as the God with hosts of angels in his service.


In relation to Shebna, the Hebrew expression to “hurl with a hurling” indicated that he would be forcibly removed from his position, as if thrown far away. On account of his high position in the royal court, he is called a “mighty one.” The Hebrew expression “seizing to seize” signified that Shebna would be taken hold of firmly and then, as indicated in the next verse, thrown.

The Septuagint reference to a “man” apparently is to Shebna who is to be cast out from his position and “wiped out” or brought to ruin. Shebna’s robe would have identified him as a man with a prominent standing. YHWH would take away the stately robe, indicating that Shebna would be deprived of his high office.

22:18. Masoretic Text: Whirling, he will whirl you round and round like a ball into a land broad of hands. There you will die, and there [will be the] chariots of your glory — [you the] shame of your master’s house.

Septuagint: and your glorious crown, and hurl you into a great and immense country, and there you will die. And he [the Lord] will appoint your fine chariot for dishonor and your chieftain’s house for trampling.

The idiomatic expression “broad of hands” means “wide.”

The Targum of Isaiah indicates that YHWH would remove Shebna’s turban, surround him with enemies like an encircling wall, send him into a large country as an exile. In that country he would die, and Shebna’s splendid chariots would return there in shame. The reason for this judgment was Shebna’s failure to “keep the honor of [his] lord’s house.”


The reference to YHWH’s whirling Shebna could be to his acting toward him as if he were rolling him up tightly as one might when forming a ball of clay or some other material and then causing this ball to whirl or roll round and round. The ball’s rolling in a “land broad of hands” seemingly denotes that it would roll in a wide land without obstacles. As the ball would keep rolling in such a region, Shebna’s downfall appears to be represented as unstoppable and seems to culminate in a foreign country, where he would die. The “chariots of [his] glory” may have been the impressive chariots available for his use and which would come to be in the land where he would die. By the arrogant manner in which he handled himself (as evident from his wanting a pretentious tomb), Shebna proved to be a disgrace to his master’s house. This appears to designate the royal house, for his master or lord was Judean king Hezekiah.

According to the Septuagint, the fine chariot would cease to be an honorable object, and the chieftain’s house or the royal house would be trampled upon.

From the Septuagint rendering, it appears that the “whirling” or rolling was understood to denote the winding around of a crown or a diadem consisting of bands, and God is represented as removing Shebna’s crown. The Tanakh is one modern translation that includes the thought about winding a headdress or a turban. “Indeed, He will wind you about Him as a headdress, a turban.” For Shebna to be a turban for God, the very one who had rejected him, does not fit the portrayal of disgrace. While the Hebrew text is obscure, translations have generally rendered the text as referring to a ball. “He will roll you up tightly and throw you like a ball into a land of vast expanses.” (REB) “He will roll you up tightly like a ball and throw you into a large country.” (NIV)

22:19. Masoretic Text: I will thrust you from your office, and one will cast you down from your station.

Septuagint: And you will be removed from your stewardship and from your position.


Through his prophet, YHWH declared that Shebna would be deposed from his official position in the royal court. How and through whom the actual removal occurred is not revealed in the account. Nevertheless, because it happened in keeping with his purpose, YHWH is represented as depriving Shebna of his position.

22:20. Masoretic Text: And it will occur in that day [that] I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah,

Septuagint: And it will be in that day [that] I will call my servant Eliakim the [son] of Chelkias [Hilkiah],


YHWH had predetermined that Eliakim the son of Hilkiah would replace Shebna. Aside from his being the father of Eliakim, nothing else is known about Hilkiah.

In the day, or at the time, when Shebna would be deprived of his official position, YHWH would see to it that Eliakim, whom he acknowledged as his servant, would be the replacement. So YHWH would then be calling or summoning Eliakim for the position he would come to have.

22:21. Masoretic Text; and I will clothe him with your robe, and your sash I will bind on him. And I will give your dominion into his hand, and he will be a father to those residing in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.

Septuagint: and I will clothe him [with] your robe and give your crown to him. And the authority and your stewardship I will give into his hands, and he will be like a father to those residing in Jerusalem and to those residing in Judah.

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah reads “your robes,” not “your robe.”


The outward demonstration of YHWH’s causing Eliakim to be elevated would involve bestowing on him Shebna’s official garment and sash. The Septuagint rendering refers to the crown. A crown or diadem could consist of one band or several bands that were wound around the head. In a sense, therefore, both a sash and a crown shared binding in common. Eliakim would be entrusted with Shebna’s former dominion or authority and official position or stewardship.

22:22. Masoretic Text: And I will place the key of the house of David on his shoulder. And he will open, and no one will be shutting; and he will shut, and no one will be opening.

Septuagint: And I will give the glory of David to him, and he will rule, and no one will contradict him.

The Septuagint rendering suggests that Eliakim would come to have the kind of glory or honor that David enjoyed as king. So great would Eliakim’s power be that his word would be final, with no other official being able to change what he had authorized.


Eliakim’s receiving the “key of the house of David” indicated that he would have oversight of the king’s chambers and also be authorized to determine who might be accepted for or excluded from royal service, and who might have access or be refused access to any part of the palace complex. In matters over which he had control, no other official would be able to overrule him, shutting what he would open or opening what he would shut.

22:23. Masoretic Text: And I will fasten him [like] a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of glory to the house of his father.

Septuagint: And I will establish him as ruler in a secure place, and he will be for a throne of glory to the house of his father.

In the Septuagint, the expression for “peg” does not appear, with the reference being to Eliakim’s coming to be in a secure position as ruler.


The secure nature of Eliakim’s official position is likened to that of a firmly fixed peg. His entire family would be honored on account of his elevation. In view of his high office, Eliakim would be a splendid throne to the whole family. Their relationship to him would place them on a seat of honor.

22:24. Masoretic Text: And they will hang on him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and offshoots, all vessels of the small [kind], from cups [literally, “vessels of the bowls”] and to all jars [literally, “vessels of the jars”].

Septuagint: And all the glorious ones in his father’s house will be depending on him, from the least to the greatest, and will be adhering to him.


Eliakim would be the sole support for his dependents that are here represented as various types of vessels and jars. He would be the source of the glory, honor, or splendor that his family would come to have. From the most insignificant to the greatest one among them, they would be like small vessels and large jars suspended from a peg.

22:25. Masoretic Text: In that day, says YHWH of hosts, the peg that was fastened in a secure place will give way, and it will be cut down and fall, and the burden that was upon it will be cut off, for YHWH has spoken.

Septuagint: In that day — thus says the Lord Sabaoth — the man supported in a secure place will be shaken and will fall. And the glory that was upon him will be removed, for the Lord has spoken.

“Sabaoth” is a transliteration of the Hebrew word meaning “hosts” or “armies,” and identifies YHWH as the God with hosts of angels in his service.

The Septuagint reference to the “man supported in a secure place” evidently is to be understood as applying to Eliakim who is referred to as coming to be a “ruler in a secure place.” The Targum of Isaiah likewise does not use an expression for “peg” but mentions a “faithful” official “ministering in a sure place.”

Some have thought that this verse again refers to Shebna as one who appeared like a firmly fixed peg but was to come loose (being removed from his position), causing all those who depended on him to crash with him. Based on the context and the reading of the Septuagint and the Targum of Isaiah, this is an unlikely explanation.


In verse 23, Eliakim is described as coming to be like a firmly fastened peg. Eventually, however, this “peg” would give way, be cut down, and fall, ceasing to be the support for the entire family that had benefited from Eliakim’s elevation in the royal court. The reference to all the vessels being suspended from him as from a peg suggests that the many hangers-on would contribute to his fall and the accompanying crash of all those who had depended on him.

After his being entrusted with the great authority associated with his office, he may have placed members of his family into positions for which they were unqualified. With their being a burden to him, they would have contributed to his crash. His circumstances would have come to be like that of a peg when too many items are suspended from it. The peg will come loose, break, and fall from its fixed location. This was sure to happen, for YHWH had declared what the final outcome of Eliakim’s elevation would be.