Posts Tagged ‘Isaiah 22’

Isaiah’s enigmatically betitled ‘Oracle concerning the valley of vision’ appears to depict Jerusalem in panic as enemy forces advance upon it. Yet it is not a mindless and ineffective panic, at least not on pragmatic terms alone. The city is much occupied with sound preparation for the city’s admittedly long-shot defenses.

Still, the prophet perceives an existential cluelessness even as busy hands are at work.

On that day you looked to the weapons of the House of the Forest, and you saw that there were many breaches in the city of David, and you collected the waters of the lower pool. You counted the houses of Jerusalem, and you broke down the houses to fortify the wall. You made a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the old pool. But you did not look to him who did it, or have regard for him who planned it long ago.

Isaiah 28:8-11 (NRSV)

The burgers of a besieged city would be fools not to undertake these preparatory moves, notwithstanding the tactical sacrifice of those whose homes were demolished for the greater good of a city’s defensive walls.

Yet, from the prophet’s perspective, the citizens of Jerusalem did all this and were still fools.

On what grounds could such diligent patriots be faulted?

But you did not look to him who did it, or have regard for him who planned it long ago.

The feminine singular objects of the Hebrew verbs that generate ‘did’ (עשׂה) and ‘planned’ (יצר, somewhat demetaphorised by the NRSV away from its more standard rending as ‘shaped’ or ‘molded’) are not entirely transparent. Probably, the feminine represents an abstract object. Most likely, the referent of the object is the entire impending calamity that is about to dash itself upon the city.

Busy with defensive strategy and tactics, it seems, Jerusalem does not contemplate the possibility that YHWH is in this; worse, that their soon destruction is YHWH’s own work.

It is a terrible and unpopular rendering of events.

Yet the book suggests that, if it is accurate, then besieged Jerusalem’s busywork is not only in vain. It is fighting against its divine Sovereign’s awful handiwork.

Jerusalem, in Isaianic perspective, shall be redeemed by justice (1.27a).


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