Isa 22:1-25

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Home > The Old Testament > Isaiah > Chapter 22
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Summary[edit]

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Discussion[edit]

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  • Isa 22:20-25: On the cultural context of verses 20-25. The final six verses of this chapter play a significant role in Rev 3:7-13, a NT passage clearly linking these verses with the temple ordinances as understood by the Apostle John. Careful attention to the this passage likewise suggest temple themes, albeit rather obscure temple themes associated with the Law of Moses.
As verse 20 notes, the passage concerns the calling and ordination of "Eliakim the son of Hilkiah." While Eliakim is described as "my servant," he becomes through the ceremony Isaiah describes, something more than just a servant. According to verse 23, he is to become "for a glorious throne to his father's house," suggesting that by way of this ceremony, Eliakim will shed his servitude and becomes a son. This is exactly what happens in a temple ordinance prescribed in the Law for just such an occasion Ex 21:2-6.
The ordinance is a way for a slave or servant to be adopted by his master after being released from bondage or servitude. If an Israelite man becomes (for whatever reason) a slave (or servant--there is no distinction between the two in Hebrew), he is to be released after six years, and he is to take with him whatever he had when he came into captivity and to leave behind whatever his master has given him during his servitude. However, a problem may arise if the man has been given a wife (and through her, children) by his master: when he leaves, the wife and children would become the property of the master. This ordinance offers a way of fixing this situation, by allowing the master to adopt the servant and make him a son and a permanent member of the family.
To perform the ordinance, the master takes the servant to "the judges," according to the KJV. The Hebrew word translated "judges," however, is Elohim, "God." The master therefore takes the servant to God in the temple. The ordinance is performed in "the door" or "the doorpost" of the temple. The way this transpires in the Apocalypse suggests that this "door" is the veil, and that the "doorpost" is the post that holds up the veil. There the master is to "bore his ear through with an aul," to pierce his ear by nailing him to the door/doorpost. By this ordinance, the servant is made a son and is sealed to his master (now father) and his wife and children.
That these verses refer to this ordinance is obvious when read side by side with the text from Exodus. Eliakim is to be properly clothed and to be brought to the veil, where "government" will be committed "into his hand," that he become eventually "a father." There the Lord Himself promises to lay "the key of the house of David... upon his shoulder." This refers to the power to "open, and none shall shut" or to "shut, and none shall open." This is the sealing power [cf. Matt 16:19]]. The reference to "a nail in a sure place" is the aul by which the servant is nailed to the post of the veil, the nail which secures him, or makes him sure, as a son/father and qualifies him to inherit the "glorious throne."
The last two verses of the passage are more difficult to interpret (they seem to have something to do with Ezek 15), but are probably best read against the background of this sealing ordinance. In short, there is reason to read all of this as a sealing ordinance, by which Eliakim is taken up and adopted into the household of God, no longer as a servant, but now as a son.

Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for life application[edit]

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Prompts for further study[edit]

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  • Isa 22:23. What is the "nail in a sure place"?

Resources[edit]

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Notes[edit]

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