(1) The burden of the valley of vision.—The “valley of vision” is Jerusalem, lying as it did (Jeremiah 21:13) in a valley, as compared with the hills round about it (Psalm 125:2). If we think of the prophet’s dwelling as being in the lower city, in the valley of Tyropœon, the epithet becomes still more appropriate. That valley would be to him in very deed a “valley of vision,” where he saw things present and to come. Possibly the name became more characteristic from the impulse given to the prophetic dreams of all who claimed to be seers. The prophet looks out, and sees the people in a state of excitement, caused probably by the near approach of the Assyrian armies. They are “on the house-tops,” the flat roofs of which were a customary place of concourse (Judges 16:27; Nehemiah 8:16), keeping their revels, as those do who meet the approach of danger with a reckless despair (Isaiah 22:13). By some commentators (Birks, Kay,) the “valley of vision” has been identified with Samaria.
Thy slain men are not slain with the sword . . .—The words imply something like a reproach of cowardice. Those who had perished had not died fighting bravely in battle, but by the pestilence which then, as at all times, was prevalent in the crowded streets of a besieged city.
The armour of the house of the forest.
The waters of the lower pool.—This was the Lower Gihon, now the Birket-es-Sultan. The operation is described more fully in 2 Chronicles 32:3-4. Its object was to stop the outflow of the streams, and gather them into a reservoir, partly, of course, for the supply of the inhabitants during the siege, but still more that the Assyrian armies might find little or no water in the immediate neighbourhood of the city. Sargon, in his inscriptions, describes like preparations at Ashdod (Smith, Assyr. Discov., p. 291).
Ye have not looked unto the maker thereof.—These material defences, the prophet affirms, will avail but little if they forget Him who was the true “builder and maker” of the city, and who alone can secure its safety.
Will surely cover thee.
There the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord’s house.—Better, Thither shall go the chariots of thy glory, the shame of thy lord’s house. The words point to another form of Shebna’s ostentatious pride. Not content with riding on an ass or mule, as even judges and counsellors rode (Judges 5:10; Judges 10:4; Judges 12:14; 2 Samuel 17:23), he had appeared in public in stately chariots, such as were used by kings (Song Song of Solomon 1:9; Song of Solomon 3:9). These were to accompany him in his exile, but it would be as the spoil of the conqueror. There are no records of the fulfilment of the prediction, and the judgment may have been averted by repentance; but when we next meet with Shebna (Isaiah 36:22) he is in the inferior position of a scribe, and Eliakim occupies his place as being “over the household.”
He shall be a father . . .—The words were, perhaps, an official title given to the king’s vizier or chamberlain. (Comp. 2 Kings 5:13.) Here, however, the words indicate that the idea of the title should be fulfilled, and that the government of Eliakim should be, in the truest sense, paternal.
So he shall open, and none shall shut . . .—The words paint vividly the supremacy of the office to which Eliakim was to be called. He alone was to decide who was to be admitted into the king’s chamber, and for whom the king’s treasury was to be opened. In Revelation 3:7, the symbolism is reproduced in its higher application to the King of kings.
He shall be for a glorious throne . . .—Another symbol of sovereignty follows. The form, throne of glory, is found in its highest application in 1 Samuel 2:8, and Jeremiah 14:21; Jeremiah 17:12. Such a throne, kingly in its state, is to be the pride of the hitherto obscure house of Eliakim.