Jerusalem One Year Before the Siege
1. Woe to you who spoil, and you were not spoiled; and dealt treacherously, and they did not deal treacherously with you! when you shall cease to spoil, you shall be spoiled; and when you shall make an end of dealing treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with you.
Verse 1: the one spoiling...the one dealing treacherously: Isaiah's use of present participles for both these words is the use of a Hebrew idiom that means he was addressing a current condition of "spoiling" in progress. The one spoiling is Assyria who had completed dissolving the northern kingdom of Israel and at the time of the writing of this was in the process and had just finished capturing and spoiling all the fenced cities of Judah and now sought to capture and spoil Jerusalem and deport her citizens.
2 O LORD, be gracious to us; we have waited for you: be their arm every morning, and also our salvation in the time of trouble.
Verse 2: we have waited: The advice of Isaiah and Hezekiah was to be calm and wait for YHWH's deliverance even though it looked hopeless. These words must have been uttered often during the year long siege when it looked like the enemy would prevail if YHWH did not intervene.
3 At the noise of the tumult the people fled; at the lifting up of yourself the nations were scattered. 4 And your spoil shall be gathered like the gathering of the caterpillar: he shall run upon them like the running to and fro of locusts.
Verse 3: Assyrian success: Sennacherib has been completely successful in all his conquering ventures. That condition is about to change,
5 The LORD is exalted; for he dwells on high: he has filled Zion with judgment and righteousness. 6 The riches of salvation, wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of your times, This treasure is in the fear of the LORD.
Verses 5-6: YHWH...exalted: Verse 10 shows that the exalting of YHWH is imminent but not current. It is therefore future in this verse. This and the rest of the conditions described in verse 5 were not being enjoyed at the time of the writing but were still promised and anticipated. Context governs the time of Hebrew verbs more than any other mechanism. Time in Hebrew verbs is not determined by grammar. Verse 6 is contextually future and therefore verse 5 must be also. These verses are as others from chapters 30 onward are promises of what conditions will be enjoyed by the faithful who will endure this, the most difficult period and test thus far faced by the Davidic line in Jerusalem. So the promise is that: "YHWH, who inhabits eternity, will be exalted and He will fill Zion with justice and righteousness at which time you shall be strengthened through the coming salvation and be filled with wisdom and knowledge, by means of your fear of YHWH which is your treasure."
7 Behold, their lions shall cry without: the messengers of peace shall weep bitterly. 8 The highways lie waste, the wayfaring man ceases: he has broken the covenant, he has despised the cities, he regards no man. 9 The earth mourns and languishes: Lebanon is ashamed and hewn down: Sharon is like a wilderness; and Bashan and Carmel shake off their fruits.
Verses 7-9: Lebanon, Sharon, Bashan, Carmel: These areas include all of the "Holy Land" except for the region around Jerusalem. It is further description of the Assyrians having totally overrun all of Palestine including the coastal plain west and south of Jerusalem.
10 Now will I rise, says the LORD; now will I be exalted; now will I lift up myself. 11 You shall conceive chaff, you shall bring forth stubble: your spirit, as fire, shall devour you.
Verse 10 - 11: Now will I rise: The announcement to the Assyrians that God will intervene is repeated again with the result that the Assyrian forces will be turned to powder.
12 And the people shall be as the burnings of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire. 13. Hear, you that are far off, what I have done; and, you that are near, acknowledge my might. 14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness has surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?
Verses 10-14: Now will I...fire...everlasting burnings: This is a repetition of the coming culmination of the siege which has already been described at the end of chapter 30 as being associated with a visible tempest of pulsating lights with hail and lighting and fire in the sky with eerie sounds that "passed over" the city of Jerusalem but descended on the Assyrian forces which were scattered over a large area visible from Jerusalem. The fire of God is the "ensign" which the Assyrians would remember and escape from in humiliated fear. This phenomena of miraculous intervention and natural disaster was one of the greatest interventions in the history of this nation in all of their history. It is given space in the book of Isaiah more than any other event. Seven whole chapters are devoted to predicting it and describing it and portions of others mention the event. It is not lost in the history of the nation as the historical books also record the event, 2 Kings 18-19 and 2 Chron. 32 record many details of the siege. 2 Kings 19:35 and 2 Chron 32:21 both call the "visitation" an angel. Sennacherib did not record the defeat at Jerusalem nor for that matter the debacle at Pelusium.
15 He that walks righteously, and speaks uprightly; he that despises the gain of oppressions, that shakes his hands from holding bribes, that stops his ears from hearing of blood, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil; 16 He shall dwell on high: his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.
Verses 15 - 16: He that walks etc.: The result of waiting for God to act in bringing the enemy to full defeat will have full justification. He will be assured that his position and purposes are correct and profitable while the enemy and the doubters will be ashamed.
17 Your eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off. 18 Your heart shall meditate terror. Where is the scribe? where is the receiver? where is he that counted the towers? 19 You shall not see a fierce people, a people of a deeper speech than you can perceive; of a stammering tongue, that you can not understand.
Verse 17 and 18: Your eyes shall See and Meditate: The word "see" here is the word for vision, (chazon not the normal word for see or Ro'ay). This probably refers to the vision of the Shekinah Cloud that overshadowed Jerusalem and brought about the death of 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. Isaiah predicts that they would later "meditate" on the terror that was taken away by the lifting of the siege by the "vision."
Verses 17 - 19: Your eyes shall see: Those waiting for God's completion will see his wonderful work complete in the end of the siege and they will live to look back on the terror and remember the confidence of the Assyrians as they reckoned the results of the defeat of Jerusalem which however was not realized. Rather the fierce people whose language was not understood will not be a part of the future. It has already been pointed out that that generation who endured the siege had a period of prosperity and renewed power of religious life without the presence of the threat of Assyrian invasion..
20 Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: your eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of its stakes shall ever be removed, neither shall any of its cords be broken.
Verse 20: Zion: This verse speaks of the peaceful period that will be enjoyed after the departure of Sennacherib and also looks forward to the future when Zion's purpose is completed in Messianic Zion which is made clear in the next verses.
21 But there, the glorious LORD will be to us a place of broad rivers and streams; where no galley with oars shall go, neither shall gallant ship pass there. 22 For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us. 23 Your tacklings are loosed; they could not well strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail: then is the prey of a great spoil divided; the lame take the prey. 24 And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell there shall be forgiven their iniquity.
Verses 21 - 24: Galley, gallant ship: It is unusual for Isaiah to mix in a strange metaphor with the pictures he has consistently drawn of the siege and its aftermath. Here he pictures the enemy as Ships and Zion as a river. The enemies of Zion will flounder in the river and their strength will become spoil for Zion. Sickness and sin will disappear in the completed Zion. Isaiah has already said that there is a predetermined full end. The perfected condition of Zion is that full end.
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