Truth, Understanding, Insight

Jesus (Yeshua):The Carpenter

11th January 2009, hej


2) The nail: Isaiah and the nail fastened in a sure place

In Hebrew the word for a nail, or a construction connector for timber, is 'yathed' יתר . It is the word used for the metal connection between a timber roof beam and web that Deliliah hooks Sampson up to (Judges 16:14). This word is also used by a number of the prophets, and in all of these cases the idea of a carpenter nailing is, in the contexts, enigmatic.

Isaiah speaks of the priest Eliakim being fastened “as a nail”.

And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house. And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house... (Isa 22:22-23 KJV)

In the context, Isaiah is revealing the 'Burden of the Valley of Vision' and speaks of a time where Jerusalem is to go into captivity. He mentions they are fortifying the city, but that they will fail for they have not considered Yahweh its maker. Isaiah next, specifically, condemns Shebna who is “over the house”, or is the priest in charge of the temple. Isaiah then makes a prophecy of 'that day' which is to be after the end of Israel's captivity.

And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. (Isaiah 22:20-22)

It turns out that Eliakim does take on the role of Shebna, for, later at the time of Rabshakeh's siege of Jerusalem, which is recounted in Isaiah 36, Eliakim is “over the house” and Shebna is demoted to a mere scribe.

However, Isaiah in speaking of Eliakim, is using the event where Eliakim, as a faithful priest, replaces the unfaithful Shebna, as an illustration or demonstration. It is a picture of the coming time, “in that day”, of the appointing of the faithful priest that Yahweh promised when condemning Eli's sons.

And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever. (1Samuel 2:35)

We know that Isaiah is speaking of 'Eliakim' as an illustration, as there is no way that Eliakim, who was of the priestly tribe of Levi, could be be 'father' to the house of Judah or hold the “key of the house of David”. At that time Hezekiah as king, was 'father' and, being of the house of David, was the ruler of the house of David. Eliakim shows this was the case, as he reports to Hezekiah, as the ruler of Jerusalem, Rabshakeh's comments (2kings18:37) and obeys Hezekiah's commands (2 kings19:2).

However, the scripture does speak of a King-priest. Melchizedek was a king-priest who had ruled Jerusalem in the past. Also, all Israel must have been familiar with David's prophecy of his 'Lord' who would be a “priest after the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4). This Lord would be king-priest long after David was dead.

Therefore, it is this future faithful priest that Isaiah says Yahweh will fasten “as a nail in a sure place”. The language of the “nail” is figurative, as Yahweh will not hammer a person into a building, or literally hang things from them.

And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house. And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons. In that day, said the LORD of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the LORD has spoken it. (Isaiah 22:22-25)

There are two events here. The first speaks of the firm appointment of of the priest/king as 'a nail being driven in' to allow the 'hanging' of the 'vessels' as the display of the people who are the glory of Yahweh. The second event speaks of the day of the removal of the nail. It is not a careful removal, but a cutting down. In other words the nail shall be violently removed. When it is removed the burden on it is also cut off.

The 'burden' that is 'cut off' does not refer to the vessels previously spoken of in the passage, as the word for 'burden' is 'massa' and means a 'tribute', as a payment brought to the victor after defeat. We could think of it as payment of reparations after defeat in war. When the “nail” or the faithful priest is “cut off” or killed, the “tribute”, or payment for defeat, is removed. Daniel says that Messiah is to be “cut off” (Dan 9:26). Therefore the 'burden' that is removed is 'the payment' of death that is made for human sin. Messiah's role was to “make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity”(Daniel 9:24). We are told that removal of the death sentence is the result of Yeshua's death. Peter says that Yeshua, “bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (1Peter 2:24). The cutting off of the 'nail' is clearly speaking of Yeshua's death.

The 'cutting off' of the 'nail' is mentioned by Isaiah as the second event, but, as it refers to the death of Yeshua, it is the first to occur. In the logic of the situation, Isaiah is responding to the appointment of a priest, therefore, Isaiah speaks of Yeshua's future glory as the faithful priest first. He then fills us in with the event that happens in a previous 'day', that of the removal of the 'nail', or of the faithful priest's death.

It is remarkable how appropriate the image, or metaphor, of Yeshua's work as a 'nail' is, when we know he was a carpenter. If this was the only passage that referred to Yeshua's work or role as a 'nail', with Yahweh as the carpenter, it could be merely an extraordinary co-incidence.