Isaiah 22:13
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) And behold joy and gladness . . .—As things were, however, the danger, imminent as it was, led, as in the plague at Athens in the time of Pericles, and that of Florence in the time of Boccaccio, not to repentance, but to recklessness and sensuality. The cry of the baser form of epicureanism in all ages (1Corinthians 15:32) was uttered, or acted on, and the prophet echoes the spoken words, or gives utterance to the unspoken thought, in tones of burning indignation.

22:8-14 The weakness of Judah now appeared more than ever. Now also they discovered their carnal confidence and their carnal security. They looked to the fortifications. They made sure of water for the city. But they were regardless of God in all these preparations. They did not care for his glory in what they did. They did not depend upon him for a blessing on their endeavours. For every creature is to us what God makes it to be; and we must bless him for it, and use it for him. There was great contempt of God's wrath and justice, in contending with them. God's design was to humble them, and bring them to repentance. They walked contrary to this. Actual disbelief of another life after this, is at the bottom of the carnal security and brutish sensuality, which are the sin, the shame, and ruin of so great a part of mankind. God was displeased at this. It is a sin against the remedy, and it is not likely they should ever repent of it. Whether this unbelief works by presumption or despair, it produces the same contempt of God, and is a token that a man will perish wilfully.And behold ... - When they ought to give themselves to fasting and prayer, they gave themselves up to revelry and riot.

Let us eat and drink - Saying, Let us eat and drink. That is, it is inevitable that we must soon die. The army of the Assyrian is approaching, and the city cannot stand against him. It is in vain to make a defense, and in vain to call upon God. Since we "must" soon die, we may as well enjoy life while it lasts. This is always the language of the epicure; and it seems to be the language of no small part of the world. Probably if the "real" feelings of the great mass of worldly people were expressed, they could not be better expressed than in this passage of Isaiah: 'We must soon die at all events. We cannot avoid that, for it is the common lot of all. And since we have been sent into a dying world; since we had no agency in being placed here; since it is impossible to prevent this doom, we may as well "enjoy" life while it lasts, and give ourselves to pleasure, dissipation, and revelry.

While we can, we will take our comfort, and when death comes we will submit to it, simply because we cannot avoid it.' Thus, while God calls people to repentance and seriousness; and while he would urge them, by the consideration that, this life is short, to prepare for a better life; and while he designs that the nearness of death should lead them to think solemnly of it, they abuse all His mercies, endeavor to thwart all His arrangements, and live and die like the brutes. This passage is quoted by Paul in his argument on the subject of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:32. Sentiments remarkably similar to this occur in the writings of the Greek and Roman poets. Among the Egyptians, the fact that life is short was urged as one argument for promoting soberness and temperance, and in order to produce this effect, it was customary at their feasts to have introduced, at some part of the entertainment, a wooden image of Osiris in the form of a human mummy standing erect, or lying on a bier, and to show it to each of the guests, warning him of his mortality, and of the transitory nature of human pleasures.

He was reminded that one day he would be like that; and was told that people 'ought to love one another, and to avoid those evils which tend to make them consider life too long, when in reality it is too short, and while enjoying the blessings of this life, to bear in mind that life was precarious, and that death would soon close all their comforts.' (See Wilkinson's "Ancient Egyptians," vol. ii. pp. 409-411.) With the Greeks and Romans, however, as well as the Jews in the time of Isaiah, the fact of the shortness of life was used to produce just the contrary effect - to prompt them to dissipation and licentiousness. The fact of the temporary pilgrimage of man served as an inducement to enjoy the pleasures of life while they lasted, since death was supposed to close the scene, and no prospect was held out of happiness in a future state. This sentiment was expressed in their songs at their entertainments to urge themselves on to greater indulgence in wine and in pleasure. Thus, in Anacreon, Ode 4:

Εις εαυτον

Ο δ ̓ Ερως χιτωνα δησας

Υπερ αυχενος παπυρῳ

Μεθυ μοι διηκονειτὀ

Τροχος αρματος γαροια

Βιοτος τρεχει κυλισθεις

Ολιγη δε κεισομεσθα

Κονις, οστεων λυθεντων

Τι σε δει λιθον μυριζειν;

Τι δε γῃ χεειν ματαια;

continued...

13. Notwithstanding Jehovah's "call to mourning" (Isa 22:12), many shall make the desperate state of affairs a reason for reckless revelry (Isa 5:11, 12, 14; Jer 18:12; 1Co 15:32). Eating flesh; not only for necessity, but to excess and luxury, as eating and drinking are taken, Matthew 24:38.

Let us eat and drink; for to-morrow we shall die: the prophets tell us that we shall certainly and suddenly be destroyed; it concerns us therefore to make our best of the present time, and to be merry whilst we have the opportunity. A most perverse and desperate conclusion, proceeding from obstinate profaneness, and contempt of God’s judgments. And behold joy and gladness,.... As if it was a time of rejoicing, rather than of weeping and mourning; and as if they were at a festival, and in the greatest prosperity and liberty, and not besieged by a powerful army:

slaying oxen, and killing sheep: not for sacrifice, to make atonement for sin, as typical of the great sacrifice; but to eat, and that not as at ordinary meals, or merely for the support of life, but as at feasts, where, as there was great plenty, so luxury and intemperance were indulged; just as Belshazzar did, at the same time that Babylon was beset by the army of the Medes and Persians, Daniel 5:1 so the Jews here, having taken the armour out of the treasury, and furnished the soldiers with them, and took care of provisions of bread and water, and having repaired and fortified the walls of the city, thought themselves secure, and gave up themselves to feasting, mirth, and pleasure: saying,

let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die; which they said, not as believing their case to be desperate; that the next day, or in a few days, their city would be taken by the Assyrians, and they should be put to the sword, and therefore, since they had but a short life to live, they would live a merry one; but rather as not believing it, but scoffing at the prophet, and at the word of the Lord by him; as if they should say, the prophet says we shall die tomorrow, or we are in great danger of being suddenly destroyed; but let us not be dismayed at such words, and to show that we do not believe them, or if this is our case, let us take our fill of pleasure, while we may have it. This is the language of epicures, and of such that disbelieve the resurrection of the dead, and a future state, to whom the apostle applies the words in 1 Corinthians 15:32.

And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us {p} eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die.

(p) Instead of repentance you were joyful and made great cheer, contemning the admonitions of the prophets saying Let us eat and drink for our prophets say that we will die tomorrow.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
13. Instead of this the people rush to drown reflection in riotous festivities. The immediate occasion of the revelry was no doubt a great sacrifice of thanksgiving to Jehovah for their unexpected deliverance, but this only rendered their irreligious spirit more detestable to Jehovah (cf. Isaiah 1:10-17).

for to morrow we shall die] Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:32. Probably a current proverb. But the revellers may very well have been conscious that their escape had only procured for them a precarious respite. And in the next verse Isaiah assures them that they shall die.Verse 13. - And behold joy and gladness (comp. ver. 2). "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die," is a common sentiment, if not a common expression. It has been supposed to have given rise to the Egyptian practice of carrying round the model of a mummy to the guests at feasts. According to the Greeks, Sardanapalus had a phrase very like it engraved upon his tomb ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 2. p. 500). Sailors have often acted upon it, when they found it impossible to save their ship. On seeing their city invested, a portion of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, despairing of safety, did as sailors have done so frequently. The advance of the besiegers, which leads to the destruction of the walls, is first described in Isaiah 22:6, Isaiah 22:7. "And Elam has taken the quiver, together with chariots with men, horsemen; and Kir has drawn out the shield. And then it comes to pass, that thy choicest valleys are filled with chariots, and the horsemen plant a firm foot towards the gate." Of the nations composing the Assyrian army, the two mentioned are Elam, the Semitic nation of Susiana (Chuzistan), whose original settlements were the row of valleys between the Zagros chain and the chain of advanced mountains bounding the Assyrian plains on the east, and who were greatly dreaded as bowmen (Ezekiel 32:24; Jeremiah 49:35), and Kir, the inhabitants of the country of the Cyrus river, which was an Assyrian province, according to 2 Kings 16:9 and Amos 1:5, and still retained its dependent position even in the time of the Achaemenides, when Armenia, at any rate, is expressly described in the arrowheaded writings as a Persian province, though a rebellious one. The readiness for battle of this people of Kur, who represent, in combination with Elam, the whole extent of the Assyrian empire from south to north,

(Note: The name Gurgistan ( equals Georgia) has nothing to do with the river Kur; and it is a suspicious fact that Kir has k at the commencement, and i in the middle, whereas the name of the river which joins the Araxes, and flows into the Caspian sea, is pronounced Kur, and is written in Persian with k (answering to the Armenian and old Persian, in which Kuru is equivalent to Κῦρος). Wetzstein considers Kir a portion of Mesopotamia.)

is attested by their "drawing out the shield" (‛ērâh mâgēn), which Caesar calls scutis tegimenta detrahere (bell. gall. ii. 21); for the Talmudic meaning applicare cannot be thought of for a moment (Buxtorf, lex. col. 1664). These nations that fought on foot were accompanied (Beth, as in 1 Kings 10:2) by chariots filled with men (receb 'âdâm), i.e., war-chariots (as distinguished from ‛agâloth), and, as is added ἀσυνδέτως, by pârâshim, riders (i.e., horsemen trained to arms). The historical tense is introduced with ויהי in Isaiah 22:7, but in a purely future sense. It is only for the sake of the favourite arrangement of the words that the passage does not proceed with Vav relat. וּמלאוּ. "Thy valleys" (‛amâkaik) are the valleys by which Jerusalem was encircled on the east, the west, and the south, viz., the valley of Kidron on the east; the valley of Gihon on the west; the valley of Rephaim, stretching away from the road to Bethlehem, on the south-west (Isaiah 17:5); the valley of Hinnom, which joins the Tyropaeum, and then runs on into a south-eastern angle; and possibly also the valley of Jehoshaphat, which ran on the north-east of the city above the valley of Kidron. These valleys, more especially the finest of them towards the south, are now cut up by the wheels and hoofs of the enemies' chariots and horses; and the enemies' horsemen have already taken a firm position gatewards, ready to ride full speed against the gates at a given signal, and force their way into the city (shı̄th with a shoth to strengthen it, as in Psalm 3:7; also sı̄m in 1 Kings 20:12, compare 1 Samuel 15:2).

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