on Isaiah 33 :18
Where is the scribe? - The person appointed by the king of Assyria to estimate their number and property in reference to their being heavily taxed.
Where is the receiver? - Or he who was to have collected this tribute.
Where is he that counted the towers? - That is, the commander of the enemy's forces, who surveyed the fortifications of the city, and took an account of the height, strength, and situation of the walls and towers, that he might know where to make the assault with the greatest advantage; as Capaneus before Thebes is represented in a passage of the Phoenissae of Euripides, which Grotius has applied as an illustration of this place: -
Εκεινος ἑπτα προσβασεις τεκμαιρεται
Πυργων, ανω τε και κατω τειχη μετρων.
"To these seven turrets each approach he marks;
The walls from their proud summit to their base
Measuring with eager eye."
He that counted the towers "Those who were ordered to review the fortified places in Judea, that they might be manned and provisioned for the king of Assyria. So sure was he of gaining Jerusalem and subduing the whole of Judea, that he had already formed all these arrangements." - Dodd's notes.
on Isaiah 33 :18
Thine heart - The heart of the people of Jerusalem.
Shall meditate terror - This is similar to the expression in Virgil:
- forsan et haec olim meminisse jurabit.
The sense here is, 'You shall hereafter think over all this alarm and distress. When the enemy is destroyed, the city saved, and the king shall reign in magnificence over all the nation then enjoying peace and prosperity, you shall recall these days of terror and alarm, and shall then ask with gratitude and astonishment, Where are they who caused this alarm? Where are now they who so confidently calculated on taking the city? They are all gone - and gone in a manner suited to excite astonishment and adoring gratitude.' 'Sweet is the recollection,' says Rosenmuller, 'of dangers that are passed.'
Where is the scribe? - How soon, how suddenly has he vanished! The word scribe here (ספר sı̂phēr) evidently refers to some prominent class of officers in the Assyrian army. It is from ספר sâphar, to count, to number, to write; and probably refers to a secretary, perhaps a secretary of state or of war, or an inspector-general, who had the charge of reviewing an army 2 Kings 25:19; Jeremiah 37:15; Jeremiah 52:25.
Where is the receiver? - Margin, as in Hebrew, 'Weigher.' Vulgate, 'Where is he that ponders the words of the law?' The Septuagint, 'Where are the counselors (ουμβουλεύοντες sumbouleuontes)?' Probably the word refers to him who weighed the tribute, or the pay of the Soldiers; and means, doubtless, some officer in the army of the Assyrian; probably one whose office it was to have charge of the military chest, and to pay the army.
Where is he that counted the towers? - That is, who made an estimate of the strength of Jerusalem - either Sennacherib, or someone appointed by him to reconnoitre and report on the means which the city bad of defense (compare Isaiah 36:4).
on Isaiah 33 :18
33:18 Thine heart - This is a thankful acknowledgment of deliverance from their former terrors and miseries. Where - These words they spoke in the time of their distress. The scribe, whom we call muster - master, was to make and keep a list of the soldiers, and to call them together as occasion required: the receiver, received and laid out the money for the charges of the war; and he that counted the towers, surveyed all the parts of the city, and considered what towers or fortifications were to be made or repaired. And unto these several officers the people resorted, with great distraction and confusion.