Isaiah 22:1

ESV The oracle concerning the valley of vision. What do you mean that you have gone up, all of you, to the housetops,
NIV A prophecy against the Valley of Vision: What troubles you now, that you have all gone up on the roofs,
NASB The pronouncement concerning the valley of vision: What is the matter with you now, that you have all gone up to the housetops?
CSB A pronouncement concerning the Valley of Vision: What's the matter with you? Why have all of you gone up to the rooftops?
NLT This message came to me concerning Jerusalem — the Valley of Vision : What is happening? Why is everyone running to the rooftops?
KJV The burden of the valley of vision. What aileth thee now, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops?

What does Isaiah 22:1 mean?

The prophet Isaiah delivered a series of oracles against various nations in the region of Judah. The point of these prophecies was to show Judah that they must not put their hope in other nations. Nor should the turn to those nations' false gods to save them from their enemies. Judah must rely on God alone to save them.

Here, the recent pattern breaks. Isaiah presents an oracle against the city of Jerusalem, the capital of Judah. The details in the oracle are vague. Commentators are divided about how much of it is Isaiah's reaction to an event that has already happened and how much is prophecy about a future event. Scholars suggest it may refer to the failed Assyrian siege of Jerusalem in 701 BC. Or it might reference the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BC, or perhaps even the Assyrian attack on Ashdod in 711 BC.

The subject of this oracle is identified as "valley of vision." Jerusalem is most often referred to as Mount Zion. But here Isaiah calls it a "valley." He is perhaps referring to the Hinnom, Tyropoean, or Kidron valleys that come together at Jerusalem's feet. Isaiah could be using this term because this is where he received his visions from the Lord. Another possibility is given his discouragement with the shallowness and faithlessness of his people, Isaiah is demoting Jerusalem from mountain to valley to indicate the low place they now occupy before the Lord.

He begins by asking the people of Jerusalem what they mean by going up on the housetops. It's almost as if he is saying, what do you think you are doing up there? There is nothing wrong with spending time on rooftops. It was a common way to escape the heat of ground level or to socialize. The rooftop is also a useful place to be to look for things at a distance. Yet this instance is criticized.

Commentators suggest two options for Isaiah's concern. The people may have been gathering on the rooftops to celebrate something that had recently taken place. Isaiah will insist this is not the time for parties. Another possibility is that they were engaging in false religious practices by making offerings from their rooftops, something that is strictly forbidden by the Lord. These false religious practices could have been part of a celebration.
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