|The burden of the valley of vision. What aileth thee now, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops?
||An oracle concerning the Arena of Spectacles:Whatever is the matter with you,causing you all at onceto climb onto the housetops?
||מַשָּׂא גֵּיא חִזָּיוֹן מַה־לָּךְ אֵפוֹא כִּי־עָלִית כֻּלָּךְ לַגַּגּוֹת ׃
|Thou that art full of stirs, a tumultuous city, a joyous city: thy slain men are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle.
||You resounded with loud cheers—a tumultuous town, a city of revelry!But your slain were not killed by the sword;they did not die in battle!
||תְּשֻׁאוֹת מְלֵאָה עִיר הוֹמִיָּה קִרְיָה עַלִּיזָה חֲלָלַיִךְ לֹא חַלְלֵי־חֶרֶב וְלֹא מֵתֵי מִלְחָמָה ׃
|All thy rulers are fled together, they are bound by the archers: all that are found in thee are bound together, which have fled from far.
||Your chiefs, altogether in flight,are captured without using the bow;all of you left behind are caught easilybefore you can get away.
||כָּל־קְצִינַיִךְ נָדְדוּ־יַחַד מִקֶּשֶׁת אֻסָּרוּ כָּל־נִמְצָאַיִךְ אֻסְּרוּ יַחְדָּו מֵרָחוֹק בָּרָחוּ ׃
|Therefore said I, Look away from me; I will weep bitterly, labour not to comfort me, because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people.
||Because of this I said,Turn your attention from me,though I weep bitterly;hasten not to comfort meat the ruin of the Daughter of my People.
||עַל־כֵּן אָמַרְתִּי שְׁעוּ מִנִּי אֲמָרֵר בַּבֶּכִי אַל־תָּאִיצוּ לְנַחֲמֵנִי עַל־שֹׁד בַּת־עַמִּי ׃
|For it is a day of trouble, and of treading down, and of perplexity by the Lord God of hosts in the valley of vision, breaking down the walls, and of crying to the mountains.
||For my Lord, Jehovah of Hosts, has in storea day of commotion and trampling and riotin the Arena of Spectacles,a day of battering down walls,and of crying in distress, To the mountains!
||כִּי יוֹם מְהוּמָה וּמְבוּסָה וּמְבוּכָה לַאדֹנָי יְהוִה צְבָאוֹת בְּגֵיא חִזָּיוֹן מְקַרְקַר קִר וְשׁוֹעַ אֶל־הָהָר ׃
|And Elam bare the quiver with chariots of men and horsemen, and Kir uncovered the shield.
||When Elam takes up the quiver,and horses are harnessed to the chariots of Aram,aand Kir uncovers the armor,
||וְעֵילָם נָשָׂא אַשְׁפָּה בְּרֶכֶב אָדָם פָּרָשִׁים וְקִיר עֵרָה מָגֵן ׃
|And it shall come to pass, that thy choicest valleys shall be full of chariots, and the horsemen shall set themselves in array at the gate.
||then shall your choice valleys fill with chariots,and cavalry take up positions at your gateways.
||וַיְהִי מִבְחַר־עֲמָקַיִךְ מָלְאוּ רָכֶב וְהַפָּרָשִׁים שֹׁת שָׁתוּ הַשָּׁעְרָה ׃
|And he discovered the covering of Judah, and thou didst look in that day to the armour of the house of the forest.
||And in the day Judea’s defensive screen is removed,you will look to the forest home as protection.
||וַיְגַל אֵת מָסַךְ יְהוּדָה וַתַּבֵּט בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא אֶל־נֶשֶׁק בֵּית הַיָּעַר ׃
|Ye have seen also the breaches of the city of David, that they are many: and ye gathered together the waters of the lower pool.
||When you saw the city of David increasingly breached,you conserved water in the Lower Reservoir.
||וְאֵת בְּקִיעֵי עִיר־דָּוִד רְאִיתֶם כִּי־רָבּוּ וַתְּקַבְּצוּ אֶת־מֵי הַבְּרֵכָה הַתַּחְתּוֹנָה ׃
|And ye have numbered the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses have ye broken down to fortify the wall.
||You took a census of the buildings in Jerusalem,tearing down buildings to fortify your wall.
||וְאֶת־בָּתֵּי יְרוּשָׁלִַם סְפַרְתֶּם וַתִּתְצוּ הַבָּתִּים לְבַצֵּר הַחוֹמָה ׃
|Ye made also a ditch between the two walls for the water of the old pool: but ye have not looked unto the maker thereof, neither had respect unto him that fashioned it long ago.
||You built cisterns between the wallsfor the water from the Old Reservoir,but you did not look to its Maker,nor have regard for the One who designed it long ago.
||וּמִקְוָה עֲשִׂיתֶם בֵּין הַחֹמֹתַיִם לְמֵי הַבְּרֵכָה הַיְשָׁנָה וְלֹא הִבַּטְתֶּם אֶל־עֹשֶׂיהָ וְיֹצְרָהּ מֵרָחוֹק לֹא רְאִיתֶם ׃
|And in that day did the Lord God of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth:
||In such a day my Lord, Jehovah of Hosts,calls for weeping and lamentation,for austerity and wearing sackcloth.
||וַיִּקְרָא אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה צְבָאוֹת בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא לִבְכִי וּלְמִסְפֵּד וּלְקָרְחָה וְלַחֲגֹר שָׂק ׃
|And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die.
||Instead, there is mirth and merrymaking,the killing of cattle and slaughter of sheep,eating meat and drinking wine:Let us dine and drink, for tomorrow we die!
||וְהִנֵּה שָׂשׂוֹן וְשִׂמְחָה הָרֹג בָּקָר וְשָׁחֹט צֹאן אָכֹל בָּשָׂר וְשָׁתוֹת יָיִן אָכוֹל וְשָׁתוֹ כִּי מָחָר נָמוּת ׃
|And it was revealed in mine ears by the Lord of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord God of hosts.
||Jehovah of Hosts revealed this to my ears: Such wickedness cannot be forgiven you till you die, says my Lord, Jehovah of Hosts.
||וְנִגְלָה בְאָזְנָי יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת אִם־יְכֻפַּר הֶעָוֹן הַזֶּה לָכֶם עַד־תְּמֻתוּן אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה צְבָאוֹת ׃
|Thus saith the Lord God of hosts, Go, get thee unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, which is over the house, and say,
||Thus said my Lord, Jehovah of Hosts:Go and see that steward, Shebna,overseer of the palace.
||כֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה צְבָאוֹת לֶךְ־בֹּא אֶל־הַסֹּכֵן הַזֶּה עַל־שֶׁבְנָא אֲשֶׁר עַל־הַבָּיִת ׃
|What hast thou here? and whom hast thou here, that thou hast hewed thee out a sepulchre here, as he that heweth him out a sepulchre on high, and that graveth an habitation for himself in a rock?
||Say to him, What are you up to?Who do you think you are,that you have hewn yourself a tomb here,like those who hew their sepulchres up high,carving out graves for themselves in the rock?
||מַה־לְּךָ פֹה וּמִי לְךָ פֹה כִּי־חָצַבְתָּ לְּךָ פֹּה קָבֶר חֹצְבִי מָרוֹם קִבְרוֹ חֹקְקִי בַסֶּלַע מִשְׁכָּן לוֹ ׃
|Behold, the Lord will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover thee.
||Jehovah will hurl you awayas an athlete hurls a missile;he will make you soar like a dart.
||הִנֵּה יְהוָה מְטַלְטֶלְךָ טַלְטֵלָה גָּבֶר וְעֹטְךָ עָטֹה ׃
|He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy Lord’s house.
||He will bind you tightly aboutand send you spinning like a topinto an open country.There shall you die,and your inglorious conveyance thereshall be a disgrace to your master’s house.
||צָנוֹף יִצְנָפְךָ צְנֵפָה כַּדּוּר אֶל־אֶרֶץ רַחֲבַת יָדָיִם שָׁמָּה תָמוּת וְשָׁמָּה מַרְכְּבוֹת כְּבוֹדֶךָ קְלוֹן בֵּית אֲדֹנֶיךָ ׃
|And I will drive thee from thy station, and from thy state shall he pull thee down.
||I will thrust you out of office;you will be expelled from your post.
||וַהֲדַפְתִּיךָ מִמַּצָּבֶךָ וּמִמַּעֲמָדְךָ יֶהֶרְסֶךָ ׃
|And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah:
||In that day I will commission my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah:
||וְהָיָה בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא וְקָרָאתִי לְעַבְדִּי לְאֶלְיָקִים בֶּן־חִלְקִיָּהוּ ׃
|And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.
||I will clothe him with your robe and bind your girdle on him; I will appoint him your jurisdiction. And he will be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.
||וְהִלְבַּשְׁתִּיו כֻּתָּנְתֶּךָ וְאַבְנֵטְךָ אֲחַזְּקֶנּוּ וּמֶמְשֶׁלְתְּךָ אֶתֵּן בְּיָדוֹ וְהָיָה לְאָב לְיוֹשֵׁב יְרוּשָׁלִַם וּלְבֵית יְהוּדָה ׃
|And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.
||I will invest him with the keys of the house of David: when he opens none shall shut, when he shuts none shall open.
||וְנָתַתִּי מַפְתֵּחַ בֵּית־דָּוִד עַל־שִׁכְמוֹ וּפָתַח וְאֵין סֹגֵר וְסָגַר וְאֵין פֹּתֵחַ ׃
|And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house.
||I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place, and he will be a throne of glory to the house of his father.
||וּתְקַעְתִּיו יָתֵד בְּמָקוֹם נֶאֱמָן וְהָיָה לְכִסֵּא כָבוֹד לְבֵית אָבִיו ׃
|And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons.
||Upon him shall be hung all the glory of his father’s house: his descendants and posterity, including all the lesser vessels, from ordinary bowls to the most common containers.
||וְתָלוּ עָלָיו כֹּל כְּבוֹד בֵּית־אָבִיו הַצֶּאֱצָאִים וְהַצְּפִעוֹת כֹּל כְּלֵי הַקָּטָן מִכְּלֵי הָאַגָּנוֹת וְעַד כָּל־כְּלֵי הַנְּבָלִים ׃
|In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the Lord hath spoken it.
||In that day, says Jehovah of Hosts, the nail that was fastened in a sure place shall be removed. It shall be dislodged and fall, and the burden hanging on it cut off. Jehovah has spoken it.
||בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא נְאֻם יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת תָּמוּשׁ הַיָּתֵד הַתְּקוּעָה בְּמָקוֹם נֶאֱמָן וְנִגְדְּעָה וְנָפְלָה וְנִכְרַת הַמַּשָּׂא אֲשֶׁר־עָלֶיהָ כִּי יְהוָה דִּבֵּר ׃
Like the ancient Roman games—which swept up the elite with the masses and led to the fall of an empire—Jehovah’s people are caught up in mass entertainments that appeal to humanity’s baser instincts and even result in deaths. The unruly “commotion and trampling and riot” (v 5) that have become the commonplace of the stadiums and arenas of his people now take a different turn as their enemies invade the land and former spectators flee in a mass stampede. The raucous screams that echoed from city stadiums change to shrieks of terror and people’s light-hearted revelry turns into mortal dread.
There remains nothing to cheer about when Jehovah’s people who are diverted from reality by their infatuating amusements grow so unaware of their imminent peril that their enemies catch them by surprise. From being blessed of God beyond all others, they now suffer utter ruin and calamity. The prophet laments, knowing that those of Jehovah’s alienated people who form a part of Greater Babylon must endure all that the world endures—whether to perish with the wicked in Jehovah’s Day of Judgment (Isaiah 13:6, 9; 48:18-19) or somehow to survive with those who repent (Isaiah 10:22; 21:12).
The “day” Jehovah has “in store” for the fans at entertainments consists of a bizarre version of the performances they used to watch. Reminiscent of devotees’ lack of restraint at events in the Arena of Spectacles, people abandon self-control in a headlong melee as they attempt to escape the enemy. With invaders breaking through their defenses, the mountains promise the only remaining refuge. Instead of evading capture by the enemy—by repenting in time and participating in the new exodus to Zion—they face fear, deprivation, and death: the full measure of covenant curses that is due the wicked.
Assyria’s alliance of nations, each with its military specialty, makes up a formidable force: “Their arrows are sharp; all their bows are strung. The tread of their warhorses resembles flint; their chariot wheels revolve like a whirlwind” (Isaiah 5:28). As in the allegory of the vineyard, the enemy penetrates and occupies Jehovah’s people’s land: “I will have its hedge removed and let it be burned; I will have its wall broken through and let it be trampled. I will make it a desolation” (Isaiah 5:5-6). Once defenses are breached, Jehovah’s unrepentant people seek places of resort in the woods (cf. Isaiah 8:22).
Employing last-ditch defensive measures against their enemies’ advance, Jehovah’s people ignore the fact that their protection comes from God in spite of whatever preparations they may make. When they keep the terms of his covenant, Jehovah defends them against all who attack them. Even as the enemy encroaches upon them, however, his unrepentant people fail to turn to him: “Have you forgotten Jehovah, your Maker, who suspends the heavens, who sets the earth in place, that you go all day in constant dread of the oppressor’s rage as he readies himself to wreak destruction?” (Isaiah 51:13).
With the lives of so many people in jeopardy—men, women, and children—the appropriate response at such a national tragedy would be to lament and show remorse by fasting and wearing sackcloth (Isaiah 15:3; 20:2; 32:11-12; 37:1-2). Instead, by blatantly pursuing hedonistic pleasures, Jehovah’s apostate people repudiate all decency and their covenantal obligation to defend themselves. Instead of appealing to Jehovah for help and preparing to engage the enemy, they throw parties. Tantamount to murder, their crime deserves the death penalty from “Jehovah of Hosts”—Israel’s God in his executive role.
Using the imagery of a negligent steward as a prophetic allegory, Isaiah predicts his replacement by Jehovah’s “servant” (vv 20-24). Jehovah rebukes Shebna—calling him “that steward”—for assuming he will receive a lavish burial when he passes away. As a part of the reversal of circumstances between Greater Babylon and Zion, this passage reiterates how that which exalts itself ends up humiliated and that which humbles itself Jehovah exalts. Jesus predicts this very scenario prior to his second coming, when “a faithful and wise servant” succeeds “an evil servant” (Matthew 24:44-51).
As an allegory that prefigures an end-time fulfillment, this dramatization of a presumptuous servant’s demise paints a painful picture of how one who rises to a position of privilege among Jehovah’s people falls and becomes a disgrace. The higher the authority Jehovah bestows on an individual—for the purpose of fulfilling an honorable stewardship in his house—the greater the paradox when that person forgets he is called for others’ sake, not his own. When he considers himself entitled and offends God, Jehovah’s justice requires him to release that person from office and to appoint another in his stead.
As prefigured by Eliakim’s succession of Shebna, Jehovah appoints his end-time servant as an integral part of the reversal of circumstances that occurs in Jehovah’s Day of Judgment. The verbs “commission” or “call” (qara’) and “appoint” (natan) form word links to Jehovah’s “calling” and “appointing” his servant (Isaiah 41:27; 42:6; 48:15; 49:1, 6, 8; 55:4). While the word “servant” denotes a vassal relationship to Jehovah under the terms of the Davidic Covenant, the word “father” signifies the servant’s role as a proxy savior. That role here involves sealing keys that pertain to Isaiah’s seraph category.
The servant’s function as nail expresses his role as a proxy savior under the terms of the Davidic Covenant. The burden that “hangs” or “depends” (talu) on him consists of the children of his “father”—his Savior—who are identified as “vessels” great and small, a term that serves as a metaphor for Jehovah’s people (Isaiah 52:11; 66:20). The imagery of a nail “in a sure place” signifies the burden of suffering a proxy savior endures in answering for his people’s disloyalties to Jehovah, as when the servant obtains Jehovah’s people’s temporal salvation or deliverance from a mortal threat (Isaiah 52:14; 53:11).
At the very time Jehovah appoints his end-time servant, Jehovah’s current, reprobate steward—of whom Shebna is a type (vv 15-19)—is “thrust out office” and “expelled from his post” (v 19). Remiss in his role as a proxy savior, he is “dislodged” or “hewn down” (nigde‘a) and “falls” (napla), word links that identify him with the wicked of Jehovah’s people and with Babylon and its king (Isaiah 8:15; 10:33-34; 14:12; 21:9). Those who hang or depend on him are “cut off,” a word link to the wicked leaders of Jehovah’s people and to Isaiah’s Greater Babylon category (Isaiah 9:14-15; 14:22; 29:20; 48:19).