Page images

speech of God, and instead of continuing it in the form in wbich he had begun, and in the person of God, “ this I declare unto you by my prophet;" he changes the form of address, and adds, in his own person, “ this I declare unto you from God.”

11, 12. The oracle concerning Dumah.] " Pro Tort Codex R. Meiri habet 017X; et sic LXX. Vid. Kimcbi ad h. l." Biblia Michaelis, Halæ 1720. not. ad l.

This prophecy, from the uncertainty of the occasion on which it was uttered, and from the brevity of the expression, is extremely obscure. The Edomites as well as Jews were subdued by the Babylonians. They inquire of the prophet, how long their subjection is to last: he intimates, that the Jews should be delivered from their captivity; not so the Edomites. Thus far the interpretation seems to carry with it some degree of probability. What the meaning of the last line may be, I cannot pretend to divine. In this difficulty the Hebrew MSS. give no assistance. The MSS. of the LXX, and the fragments of the other Greek versions, give some variations, but no light. This being the case, I thought it best to give an exact literal translation of the whole two verses; which may serve to enable the English reader, to judge in some measure of the foundation of the various interpretations that have been given of them.

13. The oracle concerning Arabia.) This title is of doubtful authority. In the first place, because it is not in many of the MSS. of the LXX: it is in MSS. Pachom. and 1. D. 11. only, as far as I can find with certainty: secondly, from the singularity of the phraseology; for nuo is generally prefixed to its object without a preposition, as 523 xon; and never but in this place with the preposition ). Besides, as the word nya occurs at the very beginning of the prophecy itself, the first word but one, it is much to be suspected that some one, taking it for a proper name and the object of the prophecy, might note it as such by the words xur 37) written in the margin, from whence they might easily get into the text. The LXX did not take it for a proper name, but render it donepas, and so Chald. whom I follow: for, otherwise, the forest in Arabia is so indeterminate and vague a description, that in effect it means nothing at all. This observation might bave been of good use in clearing up the foregoing very obscure prophecy, if any light had arisen from joining the two together by removing the separating title : but I see no connexion between them.

This prophecy was to have been fulfilled within a year of the time of its delivery, see ver. 16; and it was probably delivered about the same time with the rest in this part of the book, that is, soon before or after the 14th of Hezekiah, the year of Senacherib's invasion. In bis first march into Judea, or in bis return from the Egyptian expedition, he might perhaps overrun these several elans of Arabians: their distress on some such occasion is the subject of this prophecy.

14. --the southern country-] Dapar, LXX; Austri, Vulg. they read pa'n, which seems to be right. For probably the inhabitants of Tema might be involved in the same calamity with their brethren and neighbours of Kedar, and not in a condition to give them assistance, and to relieve them, in their fight before the enemy, with bread and water. To

bring forth bread and water is an instance of common humanity in such cases of distress; especially in these desert countries, in which the common necessaries of life, more particularly water, are not easily to be met with or procured. Moses forbids the Ammonite and Moabite to be admitted into the congregation of the Lord to the tenth generation : one reason which he gives for this reprobation is their omission of the common offices of humanity towards the Israelites; “because they met them not with bread and water in the way, when they came forth out of Egypt." Deut. xxiii. 4. · 17. -the mighty bowmen] Sagittariorum fortium, Vulg. transposing the two words, and reading, nwp '12); which seems to be right

Ibid. For Jehovah hath spoken it.) The prophetic Carmina of Marcius, foretelling the battle of Cannæ, Liv. xxv. 12. conclude with the same kind of solemn form; “ Nam mibi ita Jupiter fatus est.” Observe, that the word ON) (to pronounce, to declare), is the solemn word appropriated to the delivering of prophecies: “ Behold, I am agajnst the prophets, saith (OX)) Jehovah, who use their tongues, ORJ 1983), and solemnly pronounce, He hath pronounced it.” Jer. xxiii. 31.

CHAP. XXII. This prophecy, ending with the 14th verse of this chapter, is entitled, “ The oracle concerning the Valley of Vision," by which is meant Jerasalem, because, says Sal. b. Melech, it was the place of prophecy. Jerusalem, according to Josephus, was built upon two opposite hills, Sion and Acra, separated by a valley in the midst: he speaks of another broad valley between Acra and Moriab, Bell. Jud. v. 13. vi. 6. It was the seat of divine revelation, the place where chiefly prophetic vision was given, and where God manifested himself visibly in the holy place. The prophecy foretels the invasion of Jerusalem by the Assyrians under Senacherib; or by the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar. Vitringa is of opinion, that the prophet has both in view; that of the Chaldeans in the first part, ver. 1-5. (which he thinks relates to the flight of Zedekiab, 2 Kings xxv. 4, 5.) and that of the Assyrians in the latter part; which agrees with the circumstances of that time, and particularly describes the preparations made by Hezekiah for the defence of the city, ver. 8–11. Compare 2 Chron. xxxii. 2-5.

1. -are gone up to the house-tops.] The houses in the east were in ancient times, as they are still generally, built in one and the same uniform manner. The roof or top of the house is always flat, covered with broad stones, or a strong plaster of terrace, and guarded on every side with a low parapet wall: see Deut. xxij. 8. The terrace is frequented as much as any part of the house. On this, as the season favours, they walk, they cat, they sleep, they transact business (1 Sam. ix. 25. see also the LXX in that place), they perform their devotions; (Acts x. 9.) The house is built with a court within, into which chiefly the windows open; those that open to the street are so obstructed with lattice work, that no one either without or within can see through them. Whenever therefore any thing is to be seen or heard in the streets, any public spectacle, any alarm of a public pature; every one immediately goes up to the house-top to

אדם instead of ארס ,that I readily adopt the correction of Houbigant

satisfy his curiosity. In the same manner, when any one bad occasion to make any thing public, the readiest and most effectual way of doing it was to proclaim it from the house-tops to the people in the streets. “What ye hear in the ear, that publish ye on the house-top," saith our Saviour, Matt. x. 27. The people's running all to the tops of their houses gives a lively image of a sudden general alarm. Sir John Chardin's MS. note on this place is as follows: “Dans les Festes pour voir passer quelque chose, et dans les maladies pour les annoncer aux voisins en allumant des lumieres, le peuple monte sur les terrasses.”

3. --are gone off together.] There seems to be somewhat of an inconsistency in the sense, according to the present reading. If the leaders were bound, 1708, how could they flee away? for their being bound, according to the obvious construction and course of the sentence, is a circumstance prior to their flight. I therefore follow Houbigant, who reads 17077, remoti sunt, they are gone off. 152, transmigraverunt, Chald. which seems to confirm this emendation.

6. —the Syrian-] It is not easy to say what OX 227, a chariot of men, can mean. It seems by the form of the sentence, which consists of three members, the first and the third mentioning a particular people, that the second should do so likewise; thus OV 078 07, “ with chariots the Syrian, and with horsemen:” the similitude of the letters 7 and 7 is so great, and the mistakes arising from it so frequent,

I which seems to me extremely probable. The conjunction 1 prefixed to Dw seems necessary, in whatever way the sentence is taken; and it is confirmed by fire MSS. (one ancient), and three editions. Kir was a city belonging to the Medes. The Medes were subject to the Assyrians in Hezekiah's time: see 2 Kings xvi. 9. and xvii. 6. and so perbaps might Elam (the Persians) likewise be, or auxiliaries to them.

8. —the arsenal—] Built by Solomon within the city, and called the house of the forest of Lebanon; probably from the great quantity of cedar from Lebanon which was employed in the building: see 1 Kings vii. 2, 3.

9. And ye shall collect the waters-] There were two pools in or near Jerusalem, supplied by springs: the upper pool, or the old pool, supplied by the spring called Gibon, 2 Chron. xxxii. 30. towards the higher part of the city, near Sion or the city of David; and the lower pool, probably supplied by Siloam, towards the lower part. When Hezekiah was tbreatened with a siege by Senacherib, he stopped up all the waters of the fountains without the city, and brought them into the city by a conduit, or subterraneous passage cut through the rock; those of the old pool, to the place where he made a double wall, so that the pool was between the two walls. This he did in order to distress the enemy, and to supply the city during the siege. This was so great a work, that not only the historians have made particular mention of it, 2 Kings xx. 20. 2 Chron. xxxii. 2, 3. 5. 30. but the son of Sirach also has celebrated it in his encomium on Hezekiab: “Hezekiah fortified his city, and brought in water into the midst thereof: he digged the hard rock with iron, and made wclls for water." Eccl’us xlviii. 17.

11. —to him that hath disposed this] That is, to God, the author and disposer of this visitation, the invasion with wbich he now threatens you.

The very same expressions are applied to God, and upon the same occasion, chap. xxxvii. 26.

“ Hast thou not heard, of old, that I have disposed it;

And, of ancient times, that I have formed it?" 14. the voice of JehovaH-] The Vulg. has vox Domini; as if in bis copy he had read , 77 sup: and, in truth, without the word by it is not easy to make out the sense of the passage; as it appears from the strange versions which the rest of the ancients, (except Chald.) and many of the moderns, have given of it; as if the matter were revealed in, or to the ears of JEHOVAH, ev roig wor Kvplov, LXX. Vitringa translates it, revelatus est in agribus meis Jehovah;" and refers to 1 Sam. ii. 27. ii. 21. but the construction in those places is different, and there is no speech of God added; which here seems to want something more than the verb has to introduce it. Compare chap. v. 9. where the text is still more imperfect.

15. Go unto Shebna-] The following prophecy concerning Shebna seems to have very little relation to the foregoing; except that it might have been delivered about the same time, and Shebna might be a principal person among those wbose luxury and profapeness is severely reprehended by the prophet in the conclusion of that prophecy, ver. 11-14.

Shebna the scribe, mentioned in the history of Hezekiah, chap. xxxvi. seems to have been a different person from this Shebna, the treasurer, or steward of the household, to whom the prophecy relates. The Eliakim here mentioned was probably the person who, at the time of Senacherib's invasion, was actually treasurer, the son of Hilkiah. If so, this prophecy was delivered, as the preceding (which makes the former part of the chapter) plainly was, some time before the invasion of Senacherib. As to the rest, history affords us no information.

Ibid. -and say unto him] Here are two words lost out of the text; which are supplied by two MSS. (one ancient), which read 1938 1989; by LXX, KAI ELTOV avry; and in the same manner by all the ancient versions. It is to be observed, that this passage is merely bistorical, and does not admit of that sort of ellipsis, by which in the poetical parts a person is frequently introduced speaking, without the usual notice that what follows was delivered by him.

16. thy sepulchre on high-in the rock] It has been observed before on chap. xiv. that persons of high rank in Judea, and in most parts of the east, were generally buried in large sepulchral vaults hewn out irr the rock for the use of themselves and their families. The vanity of Shebna is set forth by his being so studious and careful to have bis sepulchre on high; in a lofty vault, and that probably in a high situation, that it might be more conspicuous. Hezekiah was buried , hyph, ev avaßace, LXX; in the chiefest, says our translation; rather, in the highest part of the sepulcbres of the sons of David, to do him the more honour. 2 Chron. xxxii. 33. There are some monuments still remaining in Persia of great antiquity, called Naksi Rustam, which give one a clear idea of Shebna's pompous design for his sepulchre. They consist of several sepulcbres, each of them hewn in a high rock near the top: the front of the rock to the valley below is adorned with carved work in relievo, being the out

side of the sepulchre. Some of these sepulchres are about thirty feet in the perpendicular from the valley; which is itself raised perhaps above half as much by the accumulation of the earth since they were made. See the description of them in Chardin, Pietro della Valle, Thevenot, and Kempfer. Diodorus Siculus, lib. xvii. mentions these ancient monuments, and calls them the sepulchres of the kings of Persia.

17. —cover thee] That is, thy face. This was the condition of mourners in general, and particularly of condemned persons: see Esther vi. 12. vii. 8.

19. I will drive thee-] 70778, in the first person, Syr. Vulg.

21. —to the inhabitants-] 2015, in the plural number, four MSS. (two ancient), LXX, Syr. Vulg.

22. —the key upon his shoulder,] As the robe and the baldric, mentioned in the preceding verse, were the ensigns of power and authority, so likewise was the key the mark of office, either sacred or civil. The priestess of Juno is said to be the key-bearer of the goddess, klaidovxos Hpag. Æschyl. Suppl. 299. A female high in office under a great queen bas the same title:

Καλλιθοη κλειδ:υχος Ολυμπιαδος Βασιλειος. Auctor Phoronidis ap. Clem. Alex. p. 418. edit. Potter. This mark of office was likewise among the Greeks, as here in Isaiah, borne on the shoulder: the priestess of Ceres katwpadlav exe klaida. Callim. Ceres, ver. 45. To comprehend how the key could be borne on the shoulder, it will be necessary to say somewhat of the form of it: but without entering into a long disquisition, and a great deal of obscure learning, concerning the locks and keys of the ancients, it will be sufficient to observe, that one sort of keys, and that probably the most ancient, was of considerable magnitude; and as to the shape, very much bent and crooked. Aratus, to give his reader an idea of the form of the constellation Cassiopeia, compares it to a key. It must be owned, that the passage is very obscure; but the learned Huetius bas bestowed a great deal of pains in explaining it, Animadvers. in Manilii, lib. i. 355. and I think has succeeded very well in it. Homer (Odyss. xxi. 6.) describes the key of Ulysses's storehouse, as EukapTINS, of a large curvature ; which Eustathius explains by saying it was operavosions, in shape like a reap-hook. Huetius says, the constellation Cassiopeia answers to this description; the stars to the north making the curve part, that is, the principal part of the key; the southern stars, the handle. The curve part was introduced into the key-bole; and, being properly directed by the handle, took hold of the bolts within, and moved them from their places. We may easily collect from this account, that such a key would lie very well upon the shoulder; that it must be of some considerable size and weight, and could hardly be commodiously carried otherwise. Ulysses's key was of brass, and the handle of ivory: but this was a royal key; the more common ones were probably of wood. In Egypt they bave no other than wooden locks and keys to this day; even the gates of Cairo have no better. Baumgarten, Peregr. i. 18. Thevenot, par. ii. ch. 10.

In allusion to the image of the key as the ensign of power, the unlimited extent of that power is expressed, with great clearness as well as force, by the sole and exclusive authority to open and shut. Our Saviour therefore has upon a similar occasion made use of a like manner of expres

« PreviousContinue »