Thekey to the house of Davidwas carried by the steward, and it opened every door and gate in the palace. It was probably bronze and was large enough that it had to be worn around the neck (“on his shoulder,”22:22). For the steward, it was a status symbol.
Competing Pharaohs.Beginning in about 1000b.c., Egypt fell into a period of decline and royal feuding that lasted nearly 400 years. During Isaiah’s time, there were four rival pharaohs claiming the Egyptian throne.
Olive harvestingwas very similar to grain harvesting. The olive harvesters would beat the branches of the tree with long poles, knocking the olives to the ground. The uppermost branches were left untouched so that the poor could gather what remained (17:6).
Payment in lambs.The people of Moab offered to pay the Israelites to protect them from their enemies. Such tribute was often paid in goods rather than with money; since the Moabites had many sheep, that’s how they paid (16:1).
Joyful trees.For many centuries, the “cedars of Lebanon” were hauled away by powerful empires like Assyria and Babylon. When Babylon is defeated, those trees will rejoice that “no woodcutter comes up against us” (14:8).
The idea of tamefarm animalsliving in harmony withwild animalssuch as lions and bears (11:6–9) would have been a startling thought for the people of Isaiah’s day, for whom such predators were a frequent threat (see also65:17–25).