Prophecy Concerning Jerusalem and Some of Its Chief Inhabitants.

THE ORACLE OF THE VALLEY OF VISION. — V. 1. The burden of the Valley of Vision, literally, “of the Valley of Visions,” that is, Jerusalem, where God vouchsafed revelations and visions in larger number than elsewhere, for which reason Jerome called the city the nursery of prophets: What aileth thee now, the people of Jerusalem being addressed here collectively, as one person, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops? the former insolence of the inhabitants having been changed to terror and panic. V. 2. Thou that art, rather, “wert,” full of stirs, of noisy and joyful tumult and excitement, a tumultuous city, a joyous city, a fortress filled with jubilating people, thy slain men are not slain with the sword, in open and honorable warfare, nor dead in battle, rather by the famine and pestilence caused by the siege of the city which the prophet sees before the eyes of his mind. The reference is probably to the time of Sennacherib, when the Assyrians overran the country and a secret understanding with Egypt was being prepared. V. 3. All thy rulers, the officers of the Jewish army, are fled together, they are bound by the archers, taken captive with ease, because they are without weapons, they do not even draw a bow to defend themselves; all that are found in thee are bound together, which have fled from far, having come a long distance to find security in the capital, but sadly disappointed in their hopes. All this fills the prophet with deep grief. V. 4. Therefore said I, Look away from me, leaving him alone in his deep mourning; I will weep bitterly, literally, “that I may be bitter in my weeping.” Labor not to comfort me, such attempts being resented by him, because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people, since Jerusalem, the daughter of Zion, is so deeply humiliated by the enemy. V. 5. For it is a day of trouble, of noisy tumult, and of treading down, and of perplexity by the Lord God of hosts In the Valley of Vision, in the entire city of Jerusalem, breaking down the walls, and of crying to the mountains, the mournful cries re-echoing among the hills. V. 6. And Elam, the warriors of the country east of the lower Tigris, later a province of Persia, bare the quiver with chariots of men and horsemen, as a part of the Assyrian army, and Kir, another country subject to Assyria, between the Caspian and the Black Sea, uncovered the shield, by taking off its leather covering in preparation for the battle. Thus the coming of Israel’s enemies is described. V. 7. And it shall come to pass that thy choicest valleys, the most fruitful sections of Judah, shall be full of chariots, and the horsemen shall set themselves in array at the gate, ready to storm the city. Meanwhile the people of the city are aroused to the danger which is threatening them. V. 8. And He, the Lord God, discovered the covering of Judah, taking from the inhabitants of the country the veil which caused their blindness, and thou, Judah, didst look in that day to the armor of the house of the forest, examining the weapons stored in the great armory built by Solomon, I Kings 7, 2; 10, 17. 21. V. 9. Ye have seen also the breaches of the City of David, where the fortifications were in poor condition, that they are many; and ye gathered together the waters of the lower pool, getting ready to withstand a siege. Cp. 2 Kings 20, 20; 2 Chron. 32, 3-5. V. 10. And ye have numbered the houses of Jerusalem, examining them for purposes of defense, and the houses have ye broken down to fortify the wall, repairing the breaches of the walls with the stones from the houses razed with that object in mind. V. 11. Ye made also a ditch between the two walls, those of the city proper and of the fortress, for the water of the old pool, also known as the upper pool, west of the city, thus making careful provisions for all emergencies, as they thought; but ye have not looked unto the Maker thereof, neither had respect unto Him that fashioned it long ago; in their calculations and plans they disregarded the Lord altogether, although it was He at whose command the defenses were originally made and who caused the fountains to flow; it was He also who was preparing a severe punishment upon Jerusalem. V. 12. And in that day did the Lord God of hosts, the mighty Commander of the heavenly armies, call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, the artificial baldness which was a sign of grief, and to girding with sackcloth, urging the people to give evidence of the sorrow and grief of their hearts in this manner; v. 13. and, behold, instead of such repentance and mourning, joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine, in obstinate and reckless revelry: Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die, such being the invitation with which the sinful Jews urged one another to a shameful disregard of the Lord’s call through His faithful prophets. V. 14. And It was revealed In mine ears by the Lord of hosts, who, in His word to the prophet, makes Himself known, reveals His will, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, death being the sentence of God upon the willful sinner, saith the Lord God of hosts. The idea of death, eternal death, as a form of punishment, is by no means found only in the New Testament, but is plainly shown in the Old Testament as well.

THE ORACLE AGAINST SHEBNA.— V. 15. Thus saith the Lord God of hosts, beginning another oracle with the mention of His majestic title, Go, get thee unto this treasurer, the privy councilor, or minister of the interior, in the kingdom, 1 Kings 4, 6; 18, 3, even unto Shebna, which is over the house, the present incumbent of the office in the king’s palace, and say, v. 16. What hast thou here, and whom hast thou here, that thou hast hewed thee out a sepulcher here, up in the City of David, as he that heweth him out a sepulcher on high, namely, on the height of Zion, and that graveth an habitation for himself in a rock? The prophet should inquire what business Shebna had in taking an honor for himself which was highly coveted and accorded by the people only to a man like Jehoiada, 2 Chron. 14, 16, for unusual services to the nation. V. 17. Behold, the Lord will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, literally, “will whirl thee out with a whirl as a man,” that is, with the force of a strong man, and will surely cover thee, taking hold of him, wrapping him up, rolling him together tightly. V. 18. He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball, all wound together like a ball of string, into a large country, into a wide and open prairie; there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord’s house, that is, the shame which the house of his master would suffer through his fault would be the only thing which would accompany him to the grave. V. 19. And I will drive thee from thy station, depose him from his office, and from thy state, the high position which Shebna now held, shall he, the king who executes the will of the Lord, pull thee down. V. 20. And it shall come to pass in that day, when Shebna would be deposed, that I will call My servant Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, who may have been the same as Azariah, 1 Chron.6, 13; v.21. and I will clothe him with thy robe and strengthen him with thy girdle, investing him with the official dress, and I will commit thy government, all the authority of his office, into his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah, performing the duties of his office in such a way as to have the welfare of all the people in mind always. V. 22. And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder, as an emblem of his power and authority; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open, his decisions as to admission to the king’s palace ordinarily being final. V.23. And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place, like a peg in the wall where one may hang things, so that they are secure; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house, an ornament to his family, just as a fine chair is for a room. V. 24. And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house, he being the bearer of the honor for the whole family, the offspring and the issue, the offshoots of the family, high and low, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons, the humble and lowly in his relationship, as well as the honorable, receiving their share of the honor laid upon him. The prophecy here takes a contemptuous turn, as the Lord considers these hangers-on who want to share the glory of Eliakim. V. 25. In that day, when the judgment would strike also this house, saith the Lord of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place, this same Eliakim, be removed and be cut down and fall; and the burden that was upon it, the entire relationship, shall be cut off, losing rank and all its advantages; for the Lord hath spoken it, in an admonition which was intended to warn Eliakim, lest he permit such conditions to creep in and thus bring disaster upon himself as well as his relatives. The Lord at all times resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.