Isaiah 22:4
Therefore said I, Look away from me; I will weep bitterly, labor not to comfort me, because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people.
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(4) Therefore said I, Look away from me.—The tone is that of one who wishes to be alone in his sorrow. It is too deep for visits of consolation. He “refuses to be comforted.” Isaiah bewails the destruction of “the daughter of his people” in much the same strain as that of Jeremiah over a later catastrophe (Lamentations 3:48).

Isaiah 22:4-5. Therefore said I, &c. — “Behold the prophet here anticipating those lamentations which he was afterward to pour forth, and which Jeremiah so pathetically poured forth, an eye-witness of this calamity. For the expressions here are too strong to be applied to any other calamity than the great and final one, when the Jews were carried captives to Babylon;”

of which the prophet had a clear foresight. Look away from me — Take off your eyes and thoughts from me, and leave me alone, that I may take my fill of sorrow. Labour not to comfort me — For all your labour will be lost. I neither can nor will receive any consolation. Because of the spoiling, &c. — Of that city and nation, whereof I am a member. The title of daughter is often given both to cities and nations, as hath been observed before. For it is a day of treadling down — In which my people are trodden under foot by their insolent enemies; and of perplexity by the Lord of hosts — This is added, partly to show, that this did not happen without God’s providence; and partly to aggravate their calamity, because, not only men, but God himself fought against them; breaking down the walls — Of the strong cities of Judah; which was done both by Sennacherib and by Nebuchadnezzar; and of crying to the mountains — With such loud and dismal outcries as should reach to the neighbouring mountains. “Who does not see,” says Vitringa, “in Isaiah, thus weeping over Jerusalem, a type of Jesus weeping over this same city in its last extremity?”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.Look away from me - Do not look upon me - an indication of deep grief, for sorrow seeks to be alone, and grief avoids publicity and exposure.

I will weep bitterly - Hebrew, 'I will be bitter in weeping.' Thus we speak of "bitter" sorrow, indicating excessive grief (see the note at Isaiah 15:5; compare Jeremiah 13:17; Jeremiah 14:17; Lamentations 1:16; Lamentations 2:11; Micah 1:8-9).

Labour not - The sense is, 'My grief is so great that I cannot be comforted. There are no topics of consolation that can be presented. I must be alone, and allowed to indulge in deep and overwhelming sorrow at the calamities that are coming upon my nation and people.'

Because of the spoiling - The desolation; the ruin that is coming upon them.

The daughter of my people - Jerusalem (see the note at Isaiah 1:8; compare Jeremiah 4:11; Jeremiah 6:14; Jeremiah 8:19, Jeremiah 8:21-22; Lamentations 2:11; Lamentations 4:3, Lamentations 4:6, Lamentations 4:10).

4. Look … from me—Deep grief seeks to be alone; while others feast joyously, Isaiah mourns in prospect of the disaster coming on Jerusalem (Mic 1:8, 9).

daughter, &c.—(see on [720]Isa 1:8; [721]La 2:11).

Look away from me; take off your eyes and thoughts from me, and leave me alone, that I may take my fill of sorrows.

Labour not to comfort me; for all your labour will be lost, I neither can nor will receive any consolation.

Of the daughter of my people; of that city and nation whereof I am a member. The title of daughter is oft given both to cities and nations, as hath been noted before. Therefore said I,.... Not God to the ministering angels, as Jarchi; but the prophet to those that were about him, his relations, friends, and acquaintance:

look away from me; turn away from me, look another way; cease from me, let me alone; leave me to myself, that I may weep in secret, take my fill of sorrow, and give full vent to it:

I will weep bitterly; or, "I will be bitter", or, "bitter myself in weeping" (n); it denotes the vehemence of his grief, the greatness of his sorrow, and the strength of his passion:

labour not to comfort me; make use of no arguments to persuade me to lay aside my mourning; do not be urgent and importunate with me to receive consolation, for my soul refuses to be comforted:

because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people; his countrymen, which were as dear to him as a daughter to a tender parent, now spoiled, plundered, and made desolate by the ravages of the enemy, in many cities of Judea.

(n) "amarificabo me in fletu", Montanus; "amaritudine afficiam me in isto fletu", Junius & Tremellius.

Therefore said I, Look away from me; I will weep {g} bitterly, labour not to comfort me, because of the plundering of the daughter of my people.

(g) He shows what is the duty of the godly, when God's plagues hang over the Church, and especially of the ministers, Jer 9:1.

4. Look away from me] i.e. “leave me alone,” as Job 7:19.

labour not is strictly press not upon me, and spoiling should be destruction. The prophet’s gaze is already on the future.

daughter of my people] The phrase, common in Jeremiah and Lamentations, occurs only here in Isaiah.Verse 4. - Therefore said I. The prophet turns from the description of the scene before him to an account of his own feelings. Look away from me, he says; "leave me free to vent my sorrow without restraint; I wish for no consolation - only leave me to myself." Because of the spoiling. The word used sometimes means" destruction;" but" spoiling" is a better rendering here. Sennacherib describes his "spoiling" of Jerusalem on this occasion as follows: "Thirty talents of gold, eight hundred talents of silver, precious carbuncles, great... stones, couches of ivory, lofty thrones of ivory, skins of buffaloes, horns of buffaloes, weapons, everything, a great treasure, and his daughters, the eunuchs of his palace, male musicians, and female musicians, to Nineveh, the city of my dominion, did Hezekiah send after me" (G. Smith, 'Eponym Canon,' p. 135, II. 29-37). To what straits Hezekiah was reduced in order to collect a sufficient amount of the precious metals we learn from 2 Kings 18:15, 16. 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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