Isaiah 22:3
All your rulers are fled together, they are bound by the archers: all that are found in you are bound together, which have fled from far.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) They are bound by the archers.—Better, fettered without the bow. The taunting charge of cowardice is carried farther. The rulers had ventured on a sortie, and had been captured without a struggle, not even drawing their bows in their defence.

22:1-7 Why is Jerusalem in such terror? Her slain men are not slain with the sword, but with famine; or, slain with fear, disheartened. Their rulers fled, but were overtaken. The servants of God, who foresee and warn sinners of coming miseries, are affected by the prospect. But all the horrors of a city taken by storm, faintly shadow forth the terrors of the day of wrath.All thy rulers are fled together - The general idea in this verse is plain. It is designed to describe the consternation which would take place on the approach of the invader, and especially the timidity and flight of those on whom the city relied for protection and defense. Hence, instead of entering calmly and firmly on the work of defense, no inconsiderable part of the rulers of the city are represented as fleeing from the city, and refusing to remain to protect the capital. The word rendered 'thy rulers' (קציניך qitsiynayik) denotes either the civil rulers of the city, or military leaders. It is most usually applied to the latter Joshua 10:24; Judges 11:6, Judges 11:11; Daniel 11:18, and probably refers here to military commanders.

They are bound by the archers - Hebrew as in the margin, 'Of the bow.' There has been a great variety in the interpretation of this passage. The Septuagint reads it, Σκληρῶς δεδεμένοι εἰσί sklērōs dedemenoi eisi - 'And the captives are bound with severity.' The Chaldee, 'And the captives migrate from before the extending of the bow.' Jarchi renders it, 'Who from the fear of arrows were bound so that they shut themselves up in the city.' Houbigant and Lowth render it, 'They are fled from the bow,' reading it הסרוּ hâserû instead of the present Hebrew text אסרוּ 'usrû, but without the slightest authority. Vitringa renders it, 'They were bound from treading, that is, extending, or using the bow;' or 'They were bound by those who tread, that is, use the bow;' indicating that they were so bound that they could not use the bow in defense of the city. I think that the "connection" here requires that the word אסרוּ 'usrû should be used in the sense of being "bound" or influenced by fear - they were so intimidated, so much under the influence of terror, so entirely unmanned and disabled by alarm, that they could not use the bow; or this was caused "by" the bow, that is, by the bowmen or archers who came to attack the city. It is true that no other instance occurs in which the word is used in precisely this sense, but instances in abundance occur where strong passion is represented as having a controlling or disabling influence over the mind and body; where it takes away the energy of the soul, and makes one timid, feeble, helpless, as if bound with cords, or made captive. The word אסר 'âsar commonly means to bind with cords, or to fetter; to imprison Genesis 42:24; Judges 16:5; 2 Kings 17:4 : to yoke 1 Samuel 6:7, 1 Samuel 6:10; and then to bind with a vow Numbers 30:3. Hence, it may mean to "bind" with fear or consternation.

Which have fled from far - That is, either they have fled far away; or they had fled from far in order to reach Jerusalem as a place of safety. Probably the latter is the sense.

3. rulers—rather, "generals" (Jos 10:24; Jud 11:6, 11).

bound—rather, "are taken."

by the archers—literally, "by the bow"; so Isa 21:17. Bowmen were the light troops, whose province it was to skirmish in front and (2Ki 6:22) pursue fugitives (2Ki 25:5); this verse applies better to the attack of Nebuchadnezzar than that of Sennacherib.

all … in thee—all found in the city (Isa 13:15), not merely the "rulers" or generals.

fled from far—those who had fled from distant parts to Jerusalem as a place of safety; rather, fled afar.

Thy rulers; Zedekiah and his chief commanders, whose flight he foretells.

They are bound by the archers, Heb. from the bow, i.e. so as they were disenabled from using the bow; which is a usual Hebraism; as from a king is put for from being a king, 1 Samuel 15:23; and from seeing, Psalm 69:23, is rendered that they cannot see, Romans 11:10. But this word is by some, and may very well be, joined to the foregoing clause; for the words in the Hebrew lie thus, All thy rulers are fled together from the bow, (or, bow-men, as this word is rendered, Isaiah 21:17)

they are bound; which seems most plain and unforced, and suits best with the following words, as also with the prophet’s use of the same phrase, Isaiah 21:15, they fled from the bent bow, &c. All that are found in thee; that remained there with Zedekiah in the siege; for those who had fled to the Chaldeans saved their lives and liberties. Are bound together in fetters, Jeremiah 52:11.

Which have fled from far; which fled to Jerusalem from the remotest parts of the land. But he rather speaks of those who fled from Jerusalem, and from their enemies, whereof some had fled away, but were pursued and overtaken by their enemies, and bound, as others had been. And the words seem to be well rendered, they fled far away, as this very word is used, Isaiah 23:7; which may be understood either of the same persons who fled, but were taken in their flight, as was now said; or of others, who fled away, when others abode, there and were bound. All thy rulers are fled together,.... Either the rulers of Jerusalem, civil and ecclesiastical, that should have been at the head of the people, and have encouraged them, fled together to the housetops, or to the temple and strongholds; or the generals and officers of their militia, one and all of them fled, as if they had done it by joint consultation and consent; or the rulers of the several cities of Judea, which, when invaded by Sennacherib, stayed not to defend them, but left them and fled:

they are bound by the archers; or, "from the bow" (m); from using it; were in such a consternation, and under such a panic, that they had no strength nor heart to draw the bow, but were as if they were bound, and held from it: or for fear of the bow, or the archers in the Assyrian army, and therefore fled from them, as the Tigurine version renders it, joining it to the preceding clause, "they fled from the bow, they are bound"; or, as Ben Melech, for fear of the bow, they delivered themselves up, and were bound; so Aben Ezra:

all that are found in thee are bound together; that is, from the bow, as before; not only the princes, but the common people. These clauses have led many interpreters to conclude that this must be understood of the taking of the city by Nebuchadnezzar, when Zedekiah was bound in chains, and carried to Babylon, Jeremiah 52:11,

which have fled from far; from the furthest part of the land of Judea to Jerusalem, for shelter and safety.

(m) "ab arcu", Vatablus.

All thy rulers have fled together, they are {e} bound by the archers: all that are found in thee are bound together, who have fled from {f} far.

(e) And led into captivity.

(f) Who have fled from other places to Jerusalem for comfort.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. thy rulers] thy chieftains,—the same word as in Isaiah 1:10, there in its civil, here in its military sense.

they are bound by the archers] Better: without bow (which they had thrown away) they were taken prisoners.

all that are found in thee] all of thine that were found. which have fled from far] Rather as R.V. they fled afar off. The text of the verse is possibly in some disorder.Verse 3. - All thy rulers are fled together; rather, all thy chief men. We must make allowance for Oriental hyperbole. The meaning is that numbers of the principal men, regarding resistance as vain, had endeavored to make their escape from the doomed town, but had been captured and bound by the enemies' archers. All that are found in thee; rather, belonging to thee. The reference is to those who had made their escape and were fleeing far away. The archers seize them, and bind them all together. We often see a number of captives bound together by a single rope in the Egyptian bas-reliefs. Which have fled from far; rather, which were flying far away. The heading בּערב משּׂא (the ע written according to the best codd. with a simple sheva), when pointed as we have it, signifies, according to Zechariah 9:1 (cf., Isaiah 9:7), "oracle against Arabia." But why not massâ ‛Arâb, since massâ is followed by a simple genitive in the other three headings? Or again, is this the only heading in the tetralogy that is not symbolical? We must assume that the Beth by which this is distinguished is introduced for the express purpose of rendering it symbolical, and that the prophet pointed it first of all בּערב, but had at the same time בּערב in his mind. The earlier translators (lxx, Targum, Syr., Vulg., Ar.) read the second בּערב like the first, but without any reason. The oracle commences with an evening scene, even without our altering the second בּערב. And the massa has a symbolical title founded upon this evening scene. Just as 'Edom becomes Dumah, inasmuch as a night without a morning dawn falls upon the mountain land of Seir, so will בּערב soon be בּערב, inasmuch as the sun of Arabia is setting. Evening darkness is settling upon Arabia, and the morning-land is becoming an evening-land. "In the wilderness in Arabia ye must pass the night, caravans of the Dedanians. Bring water to meet thirsty ones! The inhabitants of the land of Tema are coming with its bread before the fugitive. For they are flying before swords, before drawn swords, and before a bent bow, and before oppressive war." There is all the less ground for making any alteration in בּערב בּיער, inasmuch as the second Beth (wilderness in Arabia for of Arabia) is favoured by Isaiah's common usage (Isaiah 28:21; Isaiah 9:2; compare 2 Samuel 1:21; Amos 3:9). ‛Arab, written with pathach, is Arabia (Ezekiel 27:21; ‛arâb in pause, Jeremiah 25:24); and ya‛ar here is the solitary barren desert, as distinguished from the cultivated land with its cities and villages. Wetzstein rejects the meaning nemus, sylva, with ya‛ar has been assumed to have, because it would be rather a promise than a threat to be told that they would have to flee from the steppe into the wood, since a shady tree is the most delicious dream of the Beduins, who not only find shade in the forest, but a constant supply of green pasture, and fuel for their hospitable hearths. He therefore renders it, "Ye will take refuge in the V‛ar of Arabia," i.e., the open steppe will no longer afford you any shelter, so that ye will be obliged to hide yourselves in the V‛ar. Arab. wa‛ur for example, is the name applied to the trachytic rayon of the Syro-Hauranitic volcanoes which is covered with a layer of stones. But as the V‛ar in this sense is also planted with trees, and furnishes firewood, this epithet must rest upon some peculiar distinction in the radical meaning of the word ya‛ar, which really does mean a forest in Hebrew, though not necessarily a forest of lofty trees, but also a wilderness overgrown with brushwood and thorn-bushes. The meaning of the passage before us we therefore take to be this: the trading caravans ('ârchōth, like hailı̄coth in Job 6:19) of the Dedanians, that mixed tribe of Cushites and Abrahamides dwelling in the neighbourhood of the Edomites (Genesis 10:7; Genesis 25:3), when on their way from east to west, possibly to Tyre (Ezekiel 27:20), would be obliged to encamp in the wilderness, being driven out of the caravan road in consequence of the war that was spreading from north to south. The prophet, whose sympathy mingles with the revelation in this instance also, asks for water for the panting fugitives (התיוּ, as in Jeremiah 12:9, an imperative equivalent to האתיוּ equals האתיוּ; compare 2 Kings 2:3 : there is no necessity to read קדמוּ, as the Targum, Dderlein, and Ewald do). They are driven back with fright towards the south-east as far as Tema, on the border of Negd and the Syrian desert. The Tema referred to is not the trans-Hauranian Tm, which is three-quarters of an hour from Dumah, although there is a good deal that seems to favour this,

(Note: See Wetzstein, ut supra, p. 202; compare Job, ii.425.)

but the Tema on the pilgrim road from Damascus to Mecca, between Tebuk and Wadi el-Kora, which is about the same distance (four days' journey) from both these places, and also from Chaibar (it is to be distinguished, however, from Tihama, the coast land of Yemen, the antithesis of which is ne'gd, the mountain district of Yemen).

(Note: See Sprenger, Post und Reise-routen des Orients, Heft i.((1864), pp. 118, 119.))

But even here in the land of Tema they do not feel themselves safe. The inhabitants of Tema are obliged to bring them water and bread ("its bread," lachmo, referring to nōdēd: the bread necessary in order to save them), into the hiding-places in which they have concealed themselves. "How humiliating," as Drechsler well observes, "to be obliged to practise their hospitality, the pride of Arabian customs, in so restricted a manner, and with such unbecoming secrecy!" But it could not possibly be done in any other way, since the weapons of the foe were driving them incessantly before them, and the war itself was rolling incessantly forward like an overwhelming colossus, as the repetition of the word "before" (mippenē) no less than four times clearly implies.

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