Isaiah 22:8
And he discovered the covering of Judah, and thou didst look in that day to the armour of the house of the forest.
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(8) And he discovered the covering of Judahi.e., Jehovah removed the veil which till then had hidden the approaching danger from the eyes of the inhabitants, and laid bare their weakness to those of the invaders. The verbs which in the English version are in the past tense are really in a kind of prophetic present, painting the future as if actually passing before the prophet’s gaze.

The armour of the house of the forest.—More fully (as in 1Kings 7:2; 1Kings 10:17), “the house of the forest of Lebanon,” which appears to have been used as an arsenal, and to which the people now turn as their chief resource.

Isaiah 22:8-11. And he — Namely, the enemy Sennacherib, of whose invasion he seems to speak; discovered the covering of Judah — Took those fenced cities which were a covering or safeguard, both to the people of Judah and to Jerusalem. Thou didst look — Or, rather, as Dr. Waterland and Bishop Lowth render it, Thou shalt, or wilt look, &c. For the prophet is evidently predicting an invasion which was future, and the behaviour of the Jews on that occasion. He is showing beforehand some of the causes of these judgments, namely, the crimes and vices of the people; and first, in these verses, their inconsideration and want of faith. They would look, he says, to the armour of the house of the forest — But not to God. The history (2 Chronicles 32:2, &c.) best explains this passage. From thence we learn, that the prince and the people were rather solicitous to seek for human defence, by fortifying their city, than for that which was divine, by having respect unto him who was their king and protector. The house of the forest is that mentioned 1 Kings 7:2, where the armory was kept. See the note there. The prophet proceeds to foretel that they would see, that is, observe or consider, the breaches of the city of David — Namely, in order to the reparation of them, and to fortify the city; that they would gather the waters of the lower pool — In order that they might both deprive the enemy of water, and supply the city with it: of which see on 2 Chronicles 32:3-4. That they would number the houses of Jerusalem — Namely, with a view to know their own strength, and the number of their people, that so they might lay the burdens more equally upon them, and make sufficient provision for them; that they would break down the houses — Namely, which stood upon or without the walls of their city, and which therefore would have given their enemies advantage against them, and have hindered the fortifying of the city. But, adds he, ye have not looked, or will not look, into the maker thereof — That is, of Jerusalem, mentioned in the foregoing verse; him that fashioned it — Hebrew, ויצרה, the former, or framer of it. God, who made it a city, and the place of his special presence and worship; which also he had undertaken to protect, on condition that the people would observe his commands; to whom, therefore, they should have had recourse in this time of their distress. The expression מרחוק, of old, or long ago, may be added to aggravate their sin in distrusting that God who had now, for a long time, given proof of his care and kindness in defending that city.

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 he discovered - Hebrew, ויגל vayegal - 'He made naked, or bare.' The expression, 'He discovered,' means simply that it "was" uncovered, without designating the agent.

The covering of Judah - The word used here (מסך mâsak) denotes properly "a covering," and is applied to the "curtain" or veil that was before the tabernacle Exodus 26:36; Exodus 39:38; and to the curtain that was before the gate of the court Exodus 35:17; Exodus 39:40. The Septuagint understands it of the "gates" of Judah, 'They revealed the gates (τὰς πύλας tas pulas) of Judah.' Many have understood it of the defenses, ramparts, or fortifications of Judah, meaning that they were laid open to public view, that is, were demolished. But the more probable meaning, perhaps, is, that the invading army exposed Judah to every kind of reproach; stripped off everything that was designed to be ornamental in the land; and thus, by the figure of exposing one to reproach and shame by stripping off all his clothes, exposed Judah in every part to reproach. Sennacherib actually came up against all the fortified cities of Judah, and took them and dismantled them 2 Kings 18:13; Isaiah 36:1. The land was thus laid bare, and unprotected.

And thou didst look - Thou Judah; or the king of Judah. Thou didst cast thine eyes to that armory as the last resort, and as the only hope of defense.

To the armor - Or rather, perhaps, the "armory, the arsenal" (נשׁק nesheq). The Septuagint renders it, 'To the choice houses of the city' (compare Nehemiah 3:19).

Of the house of the forest - This was built within the city, and was called the house of the forest of Lebanon, probably from the great quantity of cedar from Lebanon which was employed in building it 1 Kings 7:2-8. In this house, Solomon laid up large quantities of munitions of war 1 Kings 10:16-17; and this vast storehouse was now the principal reliance of Hezekiah against the invading forces of Sennacherib.

8. he discovered the covering—rather, "the veil of Judah shall be taken off" [Horsley]: figuratively for, exposing to shame as a captive (Isa 47:3; Na 3:5). Sennacherib dismantled all "the defensed cities of Judah" (Isa 36:1).

thou didst look—rather, "thou shalt look."

house of … forest—The house of armory built of cedar from the forest of Lebanon by Solomon, on a slope of Zion called Ophel (1Ki 7:2; 10:17; Ne 3:19). Isaiah says (Isa 22:8-13) his countrymen will look to their own strength to defend themselves, while others of them will drown their sorrows as to their country in feasting, but none will look to Jehovah.

He; the enemy, Sennacherib, of whose invasion he seems to speak.

The covering of Judah: he took those fenced cities, which were a covering or safeguard both to the people of Judah, who fled to them, and to Jerusalem, which was begirt and defended by them.

Thou didst look in that day to the armour; thy hope and trust was wholly or chiefly placed in the arm of flesh. For although Hezekiah was commended for his trust in God, yet the generality of the people were guilty of distrust in God, and confidence in the creature.

The house of the forest; more fully called the house of the forest of Lebanon, 1 Kings 7:2, not because it was built in Lebanon, for it was in Jerusalem; but either because it was built of the trees of Lebanon, for which cause the temple is called Lebanon, Zechariah 11:1, or for other reasons. See Poole "1 Kings 7:2".

And he discovered the covering of Judah,.... Either God himself, who uncloaked them of their hypocrisy, as Dr. Lightfoot; or took away his power and presence from them, and his protection of them, and discovered their weakness; or rather the enemy Sennacherib: and then by the covering is meant, not Jerusalem, nor the temple, as Jarchi and Kimchi, for neither of them came into his hands; but the fenced cities of Judah, which were the strength and protection of the country; these he took and dismantled, 2 Kings 18:13 and when this was done, it was high time for the Jews at Jerusalem to look about them, and provide for their defence and safety:

and thou, didst look in that day to the armour of the house of the forest; to see what store of armour they had, in what condition it was, and to take from hence, and furnish themselves and soldiers with it, to annoy the enemy, and defend themselves. This house of the forest is the same with the house of the forest of Lebanon; so called, not because built in it, for it was in Jerusalem, but because it was built of the wood of Lebanon; or because it was surrounded with trees, and had walks and groves belonging to it, resembling that forest. This was an armoury; here Solomon put his two hundred targets, and three hundred shields of beaten gold, 1 Kings 7:2 see also Sol 4:4.

And he uncovered the {k} coverings of Judah, and thou didst look in that day to the armour of the house of the forest.

(k) The secret place where the armour was: that is, in the house of the forest, 1Ki 7:2.

8. he discovered the covering of Judah] Probably “exposed the defencelessness of the state.” The subj. may be Jehovah or the enemy, or it may be indefinite. The clause is virtually the protasis to the following “And when the defencelessness of Judah was exposed, thou didst look, &c.”

the house of the forest] of Lebanon (1 Kings 7:2; 1 Kings 10:17). It was evidently used as an arsenal.

8–11. The preparations for the siege. Cf. 2 Chronicles 32:2-5; 2 Chronicles 32:30; 2 Kings 20:20.

Verse 8. - The covering of Judah was that which hid their weakness either from themselves or from the enemy - probably the former. God drew this aside, and they suddenly saw their danger, and began to think how they could best defend themselves. Arms were the first things needed. The armor of the house of the forest. "The house of the forest" was probably that portion of the palace of Solomon which he had called "the house of the forest of Lebanon" (1 Kings 7:2-5). This was, it would seem, used as an armor (1 Kings 10:17; 1 Kings 14:27; Isaiah 39:2). Isaiah 22:8When Judah, after being for a long time intoxicated with hope, shall become aware of the extreme danger in which it is standing, it will adopt prudent measures, but without God. "Then he takes away the covering of Judah, and thou lookest in that day to the store of arms of the forest-house; and ye see the breaches of the city of David, that there are many of them; and ye collect together the waters of the lower pool. And ye number the houses of Jerusalem, and pull down the houses, to fortify the wall. And ye make a basin between the two walls for the waters of the old pool; and ye do not look to Him who made it, neither do ye have regard to Him who fashioned it long ago." Mâsâk is the curtain or covering which made Judah blind to the threatening danger. Their looks are now directed first of all to the forest-house, built by Solomon upon Zion for the storing and display of valuable arms and utensils (nēshĕk, or rather, according to the Masora on Job 20:24, and the older editions, nĕshĕk), and so called because it rested upon four rows of cedar columns that ran all round (it was in the centre of the fore-court of the royal palace; see Thenius, das vorexil. Jerusalem, p. 13). They also noticed in the city of David, the southern and highest portion of the city of Jerusalem, the bad state of the walls, and began to think of repairing them. To this end they numbered the houses of the city, to obtain building materials for strengthening the walls and repairing the breaches, by pulling down such houses as were suitable for the purpose, and could be dispensed with (vattithtzu, from nâthatz, with the removal of the recompensative reduplication). The lower pool and the old pool, probably the upper, i.e., the lower and upper Gihon, were upon the western side of the city, the lower (Birket es-Sultan) to the west of Sion, the upper (Birket el-Mamilla) farther up to the west of Akra (Robinson, i.-483-486; V. Raumer, Pal. pp. 305-6). Kibbētz either means to collect in the pool by stopping up the outflow, or to gather together in the reservoirs and wells of the city by means of artificial canals. The latter, however, would most probably be expressed by אסף; so that the meaning that most naturally suggests itself is, that they concentrate the water, so as to be able before the siege to provide the city as rapidly as possible with a large supply. The word sâtham, which is used in the account of the actual measures adopted by Hezekiah when he was threatened with siege (2 Chronicles 32:2-5), is a somewhat different one, and indicates the stopping up, not of the outflow but of the springs, and therefore of the influx. But in all essential points the measures adopted agree with those indicated here in the prophecy. The chronicler closes the account of Hezekiah's reign by still further observing that "Hezekiah also stopped the outflow of the upper Gihon, and carried the water westwards underground to the city of David" (2 Chronicles 32:30, explanatory of 2 Kings 20:20). If the upper Gihon is the same as the upper pool, there was a conduit (teeâlâh), connected with the upper Gihon as early as the time of Ahaz, Isaiah 7:3. And Hezekiah's peculiar work consisted in carrying the water of the upper pool "into the city of David." The mikvâh between the two walls, which is here prospectively described by Isaiah, is connected with this water supply, which Hezekiah really carried out. There is still a pool of Hezekiah (also called Birket el-Batrak, pool of the patriarchs, the Amygdalon of Josephus) on the western side of the city, to the east of the Joppa gate. During the rainy season this pool is supplied by the small conduit which runs from the upper pool along the surface of the ground, and then under the wall against or near the Joppa gate. It also lies between two walls, viz., the wall to the north of Zion, and the one which runs to the north-east round the Akra (Robinson, i.-487-489). How it came to pass that Isaiah's words concerning "a basin between the two walls" were so exactly carried out, as though they had furnished a hydraulic plan, we do not know. But we will offer a conjecture at the close of the exposition. It stands here as one of those prudent measures which would be resorted to in Jerusalem in the anticipation of the coming siege; but it would be thought of too late, and in self-reliant alienation from God, with no look directed to Him who had wrought and fashioned that very calamity which they were now seeking to avert by all these precautions, and by whom it had been projected long, long before the actual realization. עשׂיה might be a plural, according to Isaiah 54:5; but the parallel יצרהּ favours the singular (on the form itself, from עשׂי equals עשׂה, see Isaiah 42:5, and at Isaiah 5:12; Isaiah 1:30). We have here, and at Isaiah 37:26, i.e., within the first part of the book of Isaiah, the same doctrine of "ideas" that forms so universal a key-note of the second part, the authenticity of which has been denied. That which is realized in time has existed long before as a spiritual pattern, i.e., as an idea in God. God shows this to His prophets; and so far as prophecy foretells the future, whenever the event predicted is fulfilled, the prophecy becomes a proof that the event is the work of God, and was long ago the predetermined counsel of God. The whole of the Scripture presupposes this pre-existence of the divine idea before the historical realization, and Isaiah in Israel (like Plato in the heathen world) was the assiduous interpreter of this supposition. Thus, in the case before us, the fate of Jerusalem is said to have been fashioned "long ago" in God. But Jerusalem might have averted its realization, for it was no decretum absolutum. If Jerusalem repented, the realization would be arrested.
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