Isaiah 22 Commentary

Jerusalem besieged (22:1-25)

In Judah, the land where the prophet had his visions of judgment on other nations, he recalls one of God’s judgments on Judah, namely, the Assyrians’ siege of Jerusalem. On that occasion the city was saved only through the faith of Hezekiah and Isaiah (2 Kings 18:13-19:37).

Ignoring the gracious intervention of God that had miraculously saved them, the people celebrate as if they had won the victory themselves. Isaiah is disgusted at the light-hearted attitude of the people, particularly when he recalls their cowardly behaviour during the siege. The city’s leading officials fled the doomed city, only to be killed or captured by the enemy (22:1-4).

The prophet describes the scene during the siege. Outside Jerusalem enemy forces spread across the countryside, while battering rams try to smash the city walls. Soldiers hired from various countries are eager to start fighting (5-8a). Inside Jerusalem soldiers rush to the army headquarters for weapons, and there is much activity to save the city’s water supply. Where the city wall is crumbling under the enemy attacks, the Jerusalemites desperately build it up, even demolishing their houses to obtain bricks for the work. But they do not turn to God for help (8b-11).

Other citizens, however, feel sure that Jerusalem will fall. They do nothing to help, but enjoy themselves as much as they can while they can. They show no repentance for the sins that have brought this disaster upon them (12-14).

Shebna, Hezekiah’s chief official, is condemned for using his position for the benefit of himself instead of for the benefit of the people. He loved the honour of a procession of chariots preceding him

 

wherever he went, but now he will be shamefully removed from office. Instead of having a magnificent funeral, he will be buried in disgrace (15-19). His position, which was the top decision-making position in the land after the king, will be taken by Eliakim (20-23). But Eliakim will be used by his relatives and friends for their own advantage, and this will eventually be the cause of his downfall (24-25). (By the time of the siege, Eliakim had already been promoted and Shebna demoted; see 2 Kings 18:18.)

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