“A Shack in a Cucumber Field”

August 17, 2011

The prophet Isaiah said, “Daughter Zion is abandoned like a shelter in a vineyard, like a shack in a cucumber field, like a besieged city” (Isaiah 1:8). What is meant by that statement?

Zion, the city of Jerusalem, became David’s capital city. It was there that Solomon built the temple of the Lord Yahweh. Jerusalem, Mount Zion was central to Israel’s worship, and to their identity as a people. During much of Isaiah’s lengthy career (740-690 BC) Jerusalem was prosperous. “Their land has also been filled with silver and gold and there is no end to their treasures; their land has also been filled with horses and there is no end to their chariots” (Isa. 2:7).

But in saying “The daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard,” Isaiah speaks of their future desolation as though it has already occurred. Isaiah makes use of the prophetic perfect (perfect meaning “completed action”), a grammatical form used “to present future events as if they have already happened . . . the use of the perfect form to express completeness and factuality is so prominent that it is even used for a future event” (A Biblical Hebrew Reference Grammar.364).

Our photo below illustrates the imagery of the Isaiah text, and was taken near biblical Sardis. Some workers, perhaps family members, have constructed a shelter in the field to have a place to rest and refresh themselves before getting back to work.

Booth in Vineyard Near Sardis. Illustrates Isa. 1:8. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Because of the idols which had filled the land of Israel (Isaiah 2:8), God was going to reduce the magnificent city of Zion, Jerusalem the fortress city, to a hut.

Click on image for larger view.