II Kings 18

 

 

The next eight chapters of II Kings deals with the kingdom of Judah after the fall

of Samaria (Israel).

 

 

                                    THE EARLY YEARS OF HEZEKIAH (vs. 1-8)

 

From his narrative of the destruction of the kingdom of Samaria, the writer turns,

with evident relief, to the accession of the good king Hezekiah in Judah, and to a

brief account of:

 

  • his religious reformation (vs. 3-6);
  • his revolt from Assyria (v. 7); and
  • his war with the Philistines (. 8).

 

The narrative is still exceedingly brief, and has to be filled out from the account in

II Chronicles, where the religious reformation of Hezekiah is treated with great

fullness  (II Chronicles chapters 29-31).

 

1  Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of

Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz King of Judah began to reign.”

 There can scarcely be any doubt of this synchronism, which is in close accordance

with the dates in vs. 9-10 of this chapter, and agrees well with the Assyrian

inscriptions. Hezekiah’s accession may be placed almost certainly in B.C. 727.

 

2  Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign:” (on the

difficulties connected with this statement, and the best mode of meeting them,

 see the comment upon  ch.16:1) – “and he reigned twenty and nine years in

Jerusalem.” So Josephus (‘Ant. Jud.,’ 10:3. § 1), and the author of Chronicles

(II Chronicles 29:1). He reigned fourteen years before his severe illness, and fifteen

afterwards.  “His mother’s name also was Abi,” -  Abi, “my father,” is scarcely

a possible name. We must, therefore, correct Kings by Chronicles, and regard her

true name as Abijah, which means “Jehovah is my father”. The daughter of

Zachariah. Perhaps the Zechariah of Isaiah 8:2.

 

3  And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all

that David his father did.”  Such unqualified praise is only assigned to two other

kings of JudahAsa (I Kings 15:11) and Josiah (ch. 22:2). It is curious that all

three were the sons of wicked fathers. (contrast this with David’s father, Jesse,

from an different era – [1066 BC – some 450 years prior to this] -  Does this have

any import for our domestic situation today, as we try to decipher what has

happened to the family????  – CY – 2011) – Hezekiah was probably, at an early

age, brought  under the influence of Isaiah, who was on familiar terms with his

father Ahaz (Isaiah 7:3-16), and would be likely to do all that lay in his power

to turn Hezekiah  from his father’s evil ways, and to foster all the germs of good

in his character.

 

4  He removed the high places,” -  This was a comparatively late step in

Hezekiah’s religious reformation. He began, as we learn from II Chronicles 29:3, 17),

in the first year of his reign, the first month, and the first day,” by reopening

the temple, which Ahaz had shut up, removing from it all the “filthiness” which

Ahaz had allowed to accumulate (Ibid. v. 5), gathering together the priests and

Levites and exhorting them (Ibid. vs. 4-11), restoring and renewing the vessels

which Ahaz had cut in pieces (Ibid. v. 19), and then re-establishing the temple-

worship with all due solemnity (Ibid. vs. 20-35). He next resolved on holding a

grand Passover-festival, in the second month, as it had not been possible to keep

it in the first (Ibid. ch. 30:2-3), and invited thereto, not only his own subjects,

but the Israelites of the neighboring kingdom who were not yet carried off, but

were still under the rule of Hoshea (Ibid. vs.10-11, 18). It was not until this festival

was over that the removal of the high places was taken in hand. Then, in a fit of zeal,

which no doubt the king encouraged, a multitude of those who had kept the feast

went forth from Jerusalem, first into the cities of Judah and Benjamin, and then into

several of the cities of Israel, and “brake the images in pieces, and cut

down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars... and

utterly destroyed them all” (Ibid. 31:1) – “and brake the images, and cut

down the groves,” -  literally, the grove, according to the present text - That

idolatry was practiced at some of the high places seems clear from this place, as

well as from I Kings 14:23 – “and brake in pieces the brazen serpent that

Moses had made:” -  (see Numbers 21:9). Difficulties are raised with

respect to this statement. Some argue that the serpent, having served its

purpose, would have been left hanging at the place where it was set up in

the wilderness; others, that Moses would have destroyed it, lest the

Israelites should make it an idol; others, again, that it was not likely to have

lasted seven hundred years from the Exodus, even if it was brought into

Palestine and taken care of. It is supposed, therefore, that an imitation of

the original serpent had been made by the Jews in the reign of Ahaz, had

been called “the serpent of Moses,” and was now destroyed. But there is

no sufficient reason for any of these suppositions. Considering what the

serpent typified (John 3:14), it is not surprising that Moses should have

been instructed to preserve it with the furniture of the tabernacle, or that,

when once attached to that structure, it should have been preserved as a

religious relic for seven hundred years. Many Egyptian figures in bronze

now exist which are from three thousand to four thousand years old. The

statement of the writer of Kings, that Hezekiah did now destroy “the

serpent that Moses had made,” is of more weight than a thousand

speculations concerning what is likely, or not likely, to have happened -

for unto these days the children of Israel did burn incense to it:”

Not, certainly, “from Moses’ time to Hezekiah’s,” but from a date left vague

and undetermined to the time when Hezekiah took his religious

reformation in hand. Hezekiah found the practice continuing; the writer is

not concerned to say — perhaps does not know — when it began. He

implies, however, that it was of long standing. Serpent-worship was widely

spread in the East, and there was more excuse for directing religious regard

toward this serpent than toward any other – “and he called it Nehushtan.”

Nehushtan is not from vjn “serpent,” but from tvjn, “brass,” and means

the little brass thing,” ˆ being a diminutive, expression of tenderness.

 

  • WHAT HEZEKIAH DID.

 

ü      He removed the high places, which were distinctly contrary to the

      Law, since the Law allowed sacrifice in one place only — before

      the ark of the covenant, in the tabernacle, or at Jerusalem.

 

ü      He brake down the “images,” or idolatrous emblems of Baal —

      mere pillars probably, which were the objects of an actual worship.

 

ü      He cut down the groves, or idolatrous emblems of Ashtoreth —

      sacred trees,” also the objects of worship.

 

ü      He brake in pieces the brazen serpent, to which the Israelites had for

                        some time been in the habit of offering incense.

 

  • WHAT HEZEKIAH DID NOT DO. Hezekiah did not understand the

            second commandment in any other sense than Solomon. He allowed the

            ministry of art to religion. He left untouched the carved figures of

            cherubim and palm-trees and open flowers upon the walls of the temple

            (I Kings 6:29). He left untouched the brazen lavers, on the borders of which

            were lions, oxen, and cherubim (Ibid. 7:29). He probably restored to their

            place, he certainly did not destroy, the twelve oxen (Jeremiah 52:20)

            which Solomon had made to support his “brazen sea” (I Kings 7:25),

            and which Ahaz had removed from the temple (ch. 16:17). He

            himself added to the gold ornamentation of the doors and pillars (ch.18:16).

            It is evident, therefore, that Hezekiah’s iconoclasm was limited to those

            objects which were being actually abused to idolatrous uses at the time

            when he destroyed them. (I recommend II Kings 18 – Spurgeon Sermon –

            Iconoclast – this web site – CY – 2011) - He did not spy around him,

            scenting peril of idolatry in every image or other representation of natural

            forms that had come down to him from former ages, even when they were

            employed in the service of religion. He was on the side of a rich and

            gorgeous and artistic ceremonial, of a musical service (II Chronicles

            29:25-27), a highly ornamented sanctuary, a “house” as “magnifical” as art

            could make it (I Chronicles 22:5). He recognized that the preservation

            of artistic objects devoted to religion was the rule, destruction of them the

            rare exception, only justified

 

ü      where idolatrous abuse had actually crept in; and

 

ü      where such idolatrous abuse still continued. An observance of these

                        wise limitations would have saved much that is now irrevocably lost

                        in the past, and may be required to save what remains to us of religious

                        art in the future.

 

5  He trusted in the Lord God of Israel;” - Unlike Hoshea (ch.17:1-4),

unlike Ahaz (ch. 16:7-10), Hezekiah discarded trust in man, and — it may be

after some hesitation — put his trust wholly in God. This was exactly what God

required as the condition on which He would give His aid (Isaiah 30:1-7), and

what no previous king since the Assyrian troubles began could bring himself to do

- “so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor

any that were before him.”  It has been concluded from this statement that,

when the merits of the kings were summed up after the fall of the monarchy,

Hezekiah was, by a deliberate judgment, put at the very top,  but, as exactly

the same words are used of Josiah in ch. 23:25, the true conclusion

would seem to be rather that Hezekiah and Josiah were selected from the

rest, and placed upon a par, above all the others. At first sight there may

seem to be contradiction between the two passages, since absolute

preeminence over all the other kings is ascribed to Hezekiah in one of them,

to Josiah in the other; but the context shows that the pre-eminence is not

the same in the two cases. To Hezekiah is ascribed pre-eminence in trust;

to Josiah, pre-eminence in an exact observance of the Law: one excels in

faith, the other in works; Josiah’s whole life is one of activity, Hezekiah’s

great merit lies in his being content, in the crisis of his fate, to “stand still,

and see the salvation of God.”

 

6  For he clave to the Lord,” — he persevered through the whole of his life;

he did not fall into sins at the last, like Asa and Uzziah (II Chronicles 16:7-12;

26:16-21) — “and departed not from following him,” -  The writer probably

considers “the princes of Judah answerable for the embassy to Egypt mentioned

in Isaiah 30:4, and excuses Hezekiah’s ostentatious display of his treasures to the

ambassadors of Merodach-Baladan (ch. 20:13) as a weakness, not an actual

breach of obedience – “but kept His commandments, which the Lord

commanded Moses.”

 

7  And the Lord was with him;” -  Of no other King of Judah or Israel

is this said, except only of David (II Samuel 5:10). It was the promise

made to Moses (Exodus 3:12), repeated to Joshua (Joshua 1:5, 7),

and by implication given in them to all those who would rule his people

faithfully (compare II Chronicles 15:2) – “and he prospered whithersoever

he went forth:” -  rather, in all his goings —Hezekiah’s prosperity is enlarged

upon in II Chronicles 32:27-30), “And Hezekiah had exceeding much riches

 and honor: and he made himself treasuries for silver, and for gold, and for

precious stones, and for spices, add for shields, and for all manner of

 pleasant jewels; storehouses also for the increase of corn, and wine, and

oil; and stalls for all manner of beasts, and cotes for flocks. Moreover he

provided him cities, and possessions of flocks and herds in abundance: for

God had given him substance very much.... And Hezekiah prospered in all

 his works.” Many brought presents to him to Jerusalem, and he was magnified in

the sight of all the surrounding nations (Ibid. 32:23) – “and he rebelled against

the King of Assyria, and served him not.”  Hezekiah’s “rebellion” probably

took place at the very commencement of his reign, B.C. 727, in the year that

Shalmaneser ascended the throne. Most likely it consisted simply in his

withholding his tribute, and neither going in person nor sending representatives to

Nineveh, to congratulate the new monarch on his accession. This would be

understood as an assertion of independence. That it was not at once resented

must be ascribed to Shalmaneser’s difficulties with Samaria and with Tyre, which

were more pressing, as they lay nearer to Assyria. Before these were over,

Sargon usurped the crown. There is reason to believe that he made at least one

expedition against Hezekiah; but the date of it is uncertain. Rebellion met him on

all sides, and had to be crushed near home before he could venture to deal with

it on the remote outskirts of his empire. Meanwhile Hezekiah strengthened

himself and built up a considerable power.

 

                            ADDITIONAL NOTES ON vs. 5-7

 

                        God’s Service is not Really a Hard Service

 

God’s service is not the hard service that some suppose it to be. No doubt

it involves a certain amount of pain and suffering. For, first, there is no true

service of God without self-denial; and self-denial is painful. Secondly, it

involves chastening at the hand of God; for “whom the Lord loveth he

chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth (Hebrews 12:6);

and chastening is “not joyous, but grievous’ (Ibid. v.11).  But there are to be

set against these pains so many and so great compensations - “For I reckon

that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared

with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18) - as leave

a vast  preponderance of advantage, and even enjoyment, to the godly over

the ungodly.

 

ü      THE SATISFACTION OF A GOOD CONSCIENCE. Just as there is

            nothing so painful, so depressing, so burdensome, as an evil conscience,

            the continually abiding sense of guiltiness and ill desert, so there is nothing

            which is a greater comfort to a man, more calculated to sustain him and

            maintain within him a perpetual quiet cheerfulness, than “the answer of a

            good conscience towards God” (I Peter 3:21), the knowledge that one

            has striven and is striving to do God’s will, and that by God’s grace one

            has been kept from falling away from him. Notwithstanding their self-

            depreciation and self-distrust, good men have, on the whole, a self

            approving conscience (Romans 2:15), which is a source of inward

            satisfaction and enjoyment.

 

ü      THE ESTEEM AND APPROVAL OF GOOD MEN. There is

            implanted in man a love of approbation, the gratification of which is the

            source of a very positive pleasure. Godly men, good men, whatever

            amount of dislike they may arouse among those whose designs they thwart,

            or to whom their lives are a continual reproach, elicit from the better sort a

            much greater amount of very warm and cordial approval. This cannot but

            be a satisfaction to them. The praise of men is not what they seek; but

            when it comes to them unsought, as it will almost certainly come at last, it

            cannot fail to be grateful and acceptable.

 

ü      TEMPORAL PROSPERITY ARISING FROM MAN’S RESPECT

            AND ESTEEM. The approval of our fellowmen naturally leads on to

            temporal advantages. Men place those whom they esteem in situations of

            trust, which are also, generally or frequently, situations of emolument.

            They make them presents or leave them legacies. They give them their

            custom, and recommend their friends to do the same. The worldly maxim,

            “Honesty is the best policy,” witnesses to the worldly advantage which

            accrues, by mere natural causation, to the upright, honest man. “All things

            work together for good to them that love God;” (Romans 8:28) and,

            generally speaking, even this world’s goods seem to gather round them, and

            to cling to them, in spite of their slight esteem for earthly dross, and their

            proneness to scatter their riches on those around them.  “There is that

            scattereth, and yet increaseth” – (Proverbs 11:24a)

 

ü      TEMPORAL PROSPERITY ARISING FROM THE DIRECT

            ACTION OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE. Of this we have in Hezekiah a

            notable example. He “clave to the Lord, and departed not from

            following Him, but kept His commandments… and the Lord was

            with him; and He prospered whithersoever he went forth.” (vs. 6-7)

            The Divine blessing rested on all that he did; God “prospered him in all his

            works.” When he seemed at the point of death, he miraculously recovered

             from his sickness, and God added to his life fifteen years (ch. 20:6). When

            he provoked a judgment by indiscreet ostentation, the boon was granted

            him that the judgment should not fall in his days (Ibid. v.19). When an over-

            whelming calamity seemed about to fall upon him, and to crush both

            him and his nation, the catastrophe was averted by a stupendous miracle —

            the Assyrian host was destroyed, and the peril escaped (Ibid.19:35).

            “Riches and honor exceeding much” were given him (II Chronicles

            32:27), and he was “magnified in the sight of all the nations” (Ibid.

            32:23). It may be said that all this was abnormal, and belonged to “the age

            of miracles;” BUT THE PRINCIPLES OF GOD’S ACTION DO

            NOT CHANGE! -  and if we examine human life at the present day

            dispassionately, we shall find that still, as general rule, if men cleave to

            the Lord, and keep His commandments, and depart not from following

            Him, He will be with them, and will, more or less, prosper them.

 

8  He smote the Philistines,” - Hezekiah’s Philistine war seems to

have followed on an attempt which Sargon made to bring the whole

country under the Assyrian dominion. Sargon attacked Philistia in B.C.

720, made Gaza and the other towns subject, and committed the custody

of them to tributary kings, in whom he had confidence. But opposition

soon manifested itself. Sargon’s creatures were expelled — Akhimiti from

Ashdod, Padi from Ekron. Hezekiah assisted in this war of independence,

attacked Sargon’s viceroys, and helped the cities to free themselves. About

the year B.C. 711 Sargon speaks of a league against Assyria, to which the

parties were Philistia, Judaea, Edom, and Moab (‘Eponym Canon,’ p. 130).

The Philistines, whom Hezekiah “smote,” must be regarded as Assyrian

partisans, whom he chastised in the interests of the national party. He did

not seek conquests in Philistia for himself – “even unto Gaza,” Gaza seems to

have remained faithful to Assyria from its capture in B.C. 720 – “and the

borders thereof, from the tower of the watchmen unto the fenced city.”

(On this expression, see the comment on ch. 17:9.)

 

 

  THE PUNISHMENT OF SAMARIA FOR DISOBEDIENCE (vs. 9-12)

 

In contrast with Hezekiah’s piety and consequent prosperity, the author places the

disobedience (v. 12) and consequent extinction of the sister kingdom (vs. 9-11),

which belonged to Hezekiah’s earlier years, and was an event of the greatest

importance to him, since it made his dominions conterminous with those of Assyria,

and exposed his northern frontier to attack at any moment from the Assyrian

forces. According to all probable human calculation, the fall of Samaria

should have been followed at once by an attack on Judaea; and but for the

change of dynasty, and troubles on all sides which ensued thereupon, this

would naturally have taken place. As it was, Judaea was allowed a

breathing-space, during which she strengthened her power in Philistia (see

the comment on the preceding verse), and otherwise prepared herself to

resist attack (II Chronicles 32:3-6; Isaiah 22:8-11).

 

9 And it came to pass in the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the

seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah King of Israel,” -  Hezekiah began to

reign before Hoshea had completed his third year (v. 1). His first year thus ran

parallel with part of Hoshea’s third and part of his fourth; his fourth with part of

Hoshea’s sixth and part of his seventh; his sixth with part of Hoshea’s eighth and

part of his ninth – “that Shalmaneser King of Assyria came up against

Samaria, and besieged it (see the comment on ch.17:4-5).

 

10  And at the end of three years they took it:” -  The expression,

at the end of three years,” does not show that the three years were

complete. On the contrary, as the siege began in Hezekiah’s fourth year,

probably in the spring, and was over in his sixth, say, by the autumn, the

entire duration was not more than two years and a half. The plural verb,

h;duK]l]yi, “they took it,” is remarkable, since it would have seemed more

natural to write Hd;K]l]yi, “he took it” — and so the LXX., the Vulgate, and

the Syriac — but the writer seems to have known that Shalmaneser did not

take it, but died during the siege, the capture falling into the first year of

Sargon (see the ‘Eponym Canon,’ pp. 65, 66)  - “even in the sixth year of

Hezekiah, that is the ninth year of Hoshea King of Israel (see the

comment on v. 9), Samaria was taken.”  (compare ch. 17:6).

 

11 -  And the King of Assyria i.e. Sargon — did carry away

Israel unto Assyria — the empire, not the country — and put them in

Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the

Medes.”  (see the comment on ch.17:6).

 

12  Because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord their God,

but transgressed His covenant, and all that Moses the servant of the

Lord commanded, and would not hear them, nor do them.”  (compare

the expanded version of this statement in ch.17:7-23). The sin of Samaria

may be summed up under three heads:

 

  • disobedience;
  • breach of the covenant; and
  • disregard of Moses, and the other “servants of the Lord.”

 

 

FIRST EXPEDITION OF SENNACHERIB AGAINST HEZEKIAH (vs. 13-16)

 

The writer now, as is his manner, omitting as comparatively unimportant all Hezekiah’s

dealings with Sargon, which were without positive result, proceeds to give a brief

account of Sennacherib’s first expedition against him, and of its unfortunate, if not

disgraceful, issue:

 

  • the capture of all the important cities except Jerusalem;
  • the submission of Hezekiah to any terms which Sennacherib chose to

            impose; and

  • the purchase of peace by the payment of three hundred talents of silver

            and thirty talents of gold out of the treasures of the temple and of the royal

            palace. The narrative obtains copious illustration from the inscriptions of

            Sennacherib.

 

13  Now in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah did Sennacherib King of

Assyria come up” -  It is impossible to accept this note of time as genuine without

rejecting altogether the authority of the Assyrian inscriptions. Sargon took Samaria

in his first year, B.C. 722, and then had a reign of between seventeen and eighteen

years, for fifteen of which we have his annals. He certainly did not associate

Sennacherib with him on the throne, nor did the latter exercise any authority at all

until B.C. 705, when, “on the 12th of Ab (July), he the throne ascended” (‘Eponym

Canon,’ p. 67). Sennacherib places his first expedition against Hezekiah in

his fourth year, B.C. 701. Thus, according to the Assyrian records, which

are very ample, and of which we have the actual originals, twenty years

intervened between the capture of Samaria and the attack of Sennacherib

on Hezekiah; according to the present passage, compared with vs. 9-10,

eight years only intervened. No contradiction can be more absolute. It has

been proposed to alter the date from “the fourteenth year” to “the twenty-sixth

year; ‘ but it seems most probable that the original writer inserted no

date, but simply said, “And Sennacherib, King of Assyria, came up,” etc.,

just as he had said, without a date, Pul the King of Assyria came up

against the land” (ch. 15:19); and “against him (Hoshea) came up

Shalmaneser (Ibid.17:3); and, with a very vague date, if it may be

called a date, “In the days of Pekah King of Israel came Tiglath-pileser

King of Assyria (Ibid.15:29 - Compare also ch. 24:1, 11).  Later on, a

redactor — perhaps the same who inserted the whole series of synchronisms

— introduced the words, “In the fourteenth year of King

Hezekiah,” having obtained the number from ch.20:6, which he

assumed to belong to the time of Sennacherib’s attack – “against all the

fenced cities of Judah, and took them.”  Sennacherib himself says, “And of

Hezekiah of Judah, who did not submit to my yoke, forty-six strong cities,

fortresses, and smaller cities round about them without number, by the

march of my troops... by the force of battering-rams, mining, and missiles,

I besieged, I captured” (‘Eponym Canon,’ p. 134, lines 6-12. Compare also

II Chronicles 32:1 and Isaiah 36:1).  [Reader, while I believe in the Divine

inspiration of Scriptures, the above is possible without a violation of that

principle, as the original before the error would be that which was inspired –

however, it is not without reason that a secular account like that found in

the Eponym Canon {the Assyrian annuls} could be in error – CY – 2011)

 

14  And Hezekiah King of Judah sent to the King of Assyria to Lachish,

saying,” -  (On the position of Lachish, see the comment upon ch. 14:19.) A

bas-relief in the British Museum is thought to represent Sennacherib at the siege of

Lachish. He is seated on a highly ornamented throne, and is engaged in receiving

prisoners. The city is represented as strongly fortified, and as attacked with

sealing-ladders and battering-rams. The surrender is taking place, and the captives

of importance are being conducted from one of the tower-gates to the

presence of the conqueror. An accompanying inscription is to the following

effect: “Sennacherib, the great king, the King of Assyria, sitting on the

throne of judgment before the city of Lakhisha (Lachish). I give permission

for its destruction.” It would seem that while Sennacherib was personally

engaged in this siege, a portion of his army had invested Jerusalem, and

were pressing the siege (see Isaiah 22:1-7) – “I have offended; return

from me:” -  The tone of the submission is abject. In vain had Isaiah

counseled resistance, and promised deliverance if trust were placed in God

(Isaiah 8:9-15; 10:24-26; 14:24-25). When the siege commenced, all

was dismay within the walls — it was “a day of trouble, and of treading

down, and of perplexity (Isaiah 22:5). Some of the rulers fled (Isaiah 22:3);

others gave themselves up for lost, and resolved on “a short life and a merry one”

(Isaiah 22:13). Hezekiah found no encouragement to resist in any of his counselors

except Isaiah, and was therefore driven to despair — acknowledged himself in

the wrong for rebelling, and besought Sennacherib to “return from him” —retire

and withdraw his troops – “that which thou puttest on me will I bear.”

Whatever burden Sennacherib chooses to put upon him, Hezekiah says he

will bear, be it tribute, be it cession of territory, be it indignity of any sort

or kind. He makes no reservation; but of course he assumes that the terms

about to be offered him will be such as, according in the usages of war at

the time, would be regarded as reasonable. “And the King of Assyria

appointed unto Hezekiah King of Judah three hundred talents of

silver and thirty talents of gold.” Sennacherib says that the payment made

him by Hezekiah was thirty talents of gold and eight hundred talents of

silver (‘Records of the Past,’ vol. 1. p. 39, line 34). He has, perhaps,

exaggerated, or he may have counted in all the silver that he carried off

from the whole of Judaea; or, possibly, the payment to purchase peace was

eight hundred talents, the fixed tribute three hundred. We learn from

Sennacherib’s inscription that, besides making this money payment,

Hezekiah had to consent to

 

  • a cession of territory towards the south-west, which was apportioned

            between Gaza, Ekron, and Ashdod;

  • the surrender of an Assyrian vassal king, detained in Jerusalem; and
  • the contribution to the harem at Nineveh of two if not more of his

            daughters.

 

15  nd Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the

Lord, and in the treasures of the king’s house.” Ahaz had exhausted both these

stores of wealth about thirty years previously (ch. 16:8), and there could not have

been very much accumulation since. Hence the stripping of the metal-plating from

off the temple doors (see the next verse).

 

16  at that time did Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple

of the Lord, and from the pillars which Hezekiah King of Judah had overlaid,

and gave it to the King of Assyria.”  In the time of his great wealth and prosperity,

Hezekiah, while engaged in restoring the temple (II Chronicles 29:17-19), had

adorned the pillars and doors of the sanctuary with a metal covering, which was

probably gold, like Solomon’s (I Kings 6:20-22, 28, 30, 32). To make up the

thirty talents of gold” he was now obliged to undo his own work, and strip the

doors and pillars bare. Sennacherib tells us that, besides the two large sums of gold

and silver, Hezekiah sent him at this time “woven cloth, scarlet, embroidered; precious

stones of large size; couches of ivory; movable thrones of ivory; skins of buffaloes;

horns of buffaloes; and two kinds of woods” (‘Records of the Past,’ vol. 1. p. 39,

lines 34-37). It was customary to accompany the fixed tribute with the more precious

products of each country.

 

            SECOND EXPEDITION OF SENNACHERIB (vs. 17-37)

 

This section and ch.19 form one continuous narrative, which can only have been

divided on account of its great length (fifty-eight verses). The subject is one throughout,

viz. Sennacherib’s second expedition against Hezekiah. The narrative flows on without

a break. It consists of:

 

  • an account of the embassy of Rabshakeh (vs. 17-37; 19:1-8);
  • an account of an insulting letter written by Sennacherib to Hezekiah,

            and of Hezekiah’s “spreading it before the Lord” (ch.19:9-14);

  • the prayer of Hezekiah, and God’s answer to it by the mouth of Isaiah

            (Ibid. vs.15-34);

  • the destruction of Sennacherib’s host, his flight to Nineveh, and his

            murder by two of his sons. The Assyrian inscriptions are absolutely silent

            with respect to this expedition and its result — it being a fixed rule with the

            historiographers of Assyria to pass over without notice all defeats and

            disasters.

 

17  And the King of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rabshakeh from

Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great host against Jerusalem.”  Sennacherib

appears, by his great inscription, to have returned to Nineveh, with his Judaean captives

(more than two hundred thousand in number) and his rich booty, towards the close of

the year B.C. 701. In the following year he was called into Babylonia, where troubles

had broken out, and Hezekiah, left to himself, seems to have made up his mind to

revolt, and to have called in the assistance of Egypt (v. 21; Isaiah 30:4). Sabatok was

probably the nominal sovereign, but Tirhakah, who held his court at Meres, was lord

paramount. An alliance was made; and hopes held out that, if Sennacherib again

marched into Judaea, Hezekiah would receive effectual aid, especially in chariots

and horsemen (v. 24). Under these circumstances, Sennacherib made his second

expedition, probably in B.C. 699. Regarding Egypt as his main enemy, and

Judaea as of small account, he led his army by the ordinary route into the

Philistian plain, pressing southward, while he detached a moderato force to

hold Jerusalem in check, to threaten it, and, if an opportunity offered, to

seize it. At the head of this force were three commanders, who seem to

have borne, all of them, official titles; viz. the Tartan, or “commander-in-chief;”

the Rabsaris, or “chief eunuch;” and the Rabshakeh, or “chief cupbearer.” The

Tartan was the highest of all the officials of the empire, and ranked next to the

king. Sennacherib detached this force from Lachish, which seems to have revolted,

and to have been undergoing a second siege – “And they went up and came

to Jerusalem.  And when they were come up, they came and stood by the

conduit of the upper pool, “ -  It was, perhaps, this army which Isaiah saw in

vision, advancing on Jerusalem from the pass of Michmash (Isaiah 10:28-32),

andshaking its hand” at the city from the northern plateau outside the

walls — the traditional “camp of the Assyrians.” At any rate, the “upper

pooland the “fuller’s field” were in this direction  – It was probably a

subterranean duct which brought water into the city from the high ground outside

the Damascus gate. (compare Isaiah 7:3; 22:9,11;  II Chronicles 32:3-4, 30).

which is in the highway of the fuller’s field.”

 

18  And when they had called to the king,” - when they had announced that

they had a message to deliver to the king — “there came out to them” by

Hezekiah’s order, doubtless. Learning that they were three of Sennacherib’s

highest officials, he sent out to them three of the chief officers of his own court –

Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over the household” -  Recently

promoted to that high position, instead of Shebna, according to the prophecy

(Isaiah 22:19-22), and perhaps by the influence of Isaiah -  and Shebna the

scribe” -  or, secretary — the official employed to draw up documents, such

as treaties, protocols, despatches, and the like. He had been removed to this

inferior position, to make room for Eliakim, but had not yet suffered, the

banishment with which Isaiah (Ibid. v.18) had threatened him – “and Joah the

son of Asaph the recorder.” -  or, remembrancer — the person whose chief

duty it probably was to chronicle events as they occurred, and finally to draw up

the memoir of each reign at its close. (For another view, see the comment

on I Kings 4:3.)

 

19  And Rabshakeh said unto them,” -  Although the third in order

of dignity, Rabshakeh took the word, probably because he was familiar

with the Hebrew language, and could speak it fluently (see v. 26). His

being spokesman made him appear to be the chief ambassador, and made

Isaiah, in the parallel passage (Isaiah 36), pass over in silence the other two.

speak ye now to Hezekiah,” -  It was a rude, almost an insulting

commencement, to give Hezekiah no title — neither “the king,” nor “King

of Judah,” nor even “your master,” but to call him merely “Hezekiah.” The

same rudeness is persisted in throughout (vs. 22, 29, 30-32), and it is

emphasized by the employment of some title or other, generally a lofty

title, when Sennacherib is spoken of. Sennacherib himself is less rude in his

inscriptions (see the ‘Eponym Canon,’ pp. 133, line 45; 134, line 6; 136,

lines 21, 15) – “Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria,” -  The

great king”sarru rabu — was the ordinary title assumed by Assyrian

monarchs. It passed from them to the Babylonians and the Persians.

Sennacherib calls himself, on Bellino’s cylinder,” the great king, the

powerful king, the King of Assyria, the king unrivalled, the pious monarch,

the worshipper of the great gods, the protector of the just, .the lover of the

righteous, the noble warrior, the valiant hero, the first of all kings, the great

punisher of unbelievers” (see ‘Records of the Past,’ vol. 1.p.25) – “What

confidence is this wherein thou trustest?”  We may assume that Hezekiah

had, at the beginning of the year, withheld his tribute. He had certainly not

gone out to meet the “great king” as he approached his territories, to do

homage, and place the forces of Judah at his disposal. On the contrary, he

had taken up an attitude of hostility. He had fortified his capitol (II Chronicles

32:2-5); he had collected arms and soldiers, and had shut himself up in

Jerusalem, having made every preparation for a siege.  Sennacherib inquires

why he has dared to do all this — on what strength does he rely? What is the

ground of his confidence?

 

20  Thou sayest (but they are but vain words),” -  literally, words of lips; i.e.

words which the lips speak, without the heart having any conviction of their truth.

We must suppose that Sennacherib has either heard from his spies that Hezekiah

is speaking to the people as he represents him to be speaking, or conjectures what he

is likely to say. According to II Chronicles 32:7-8), what he did say was very different.

He neither boasted of “counsel” nor of material “strength;” but simply said, “There

be more with us than with him: with him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the

Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles. And the people rested

themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.” -I have counsel and

strength for the war.”  Sennacherib imagines that Hezekiah’s real trust is in the

fleshly arm” of Egypt, and in the counselors who have advised and brought about the

alliance. And perhaps he is not far wrong. Hezekiah, it would seem, “halted between

two opinions.” He hoped for aid from Egypt; but, if it failed, then he hoped for

the Divine help promised by Isaiah. “Now on whom dost thou trust, that

thou rebellest against me?”

 

21  Now, behold, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, even upon

Egypt,  - Sennacherib had good information. Hezekiah’s embassy to Egypt

(Isaiah 30:2-7) was known to him; and he rightly judged that Hezekiah was expecting

aid from this quarter. This expectation he ridicules. What is Egypt but a “bruised

 reed”? The Nile bulrush (xr) has a goodly show; it rears itself aloft, and looks

strong and stately; but use it as a staff, lean upon it, and it snaps at once. Such is

Pharaoh — nay, he is worse; he is a bruised reed, which can give no support at all,

even for a moment. The Assyrian monarch was justified in his contempt. Egypt had

never yet given any effectual support to the states attacked by Assyria. Shebek gave

no manner of aid to Hoshea, but allowed Samaria to be conquered in B.C. 722

without making the slightest effort on her behalf. In B.C. 720 he came to the aid of

Gaza (‘Eponym Canon,’ p. 126), but Gaza was captured notwithstanding. In B.C.

711 either he or Sabatok undertook the protection of Ashdod, but with the same

lack of success (ibid., pp. 130, 131). “Kings of Egypt” assisted the Ascalonites

against Sennacherib himself in B.C. 701, and were again completely defeated (ibid.,

pp. 133, 134). Sargon calls the King of Egypt, whoso aid was invited by the

Ashdedites (ibid., p. 130, line 37), “a monarch who could not save them.”

on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it:” -  i.e. trust

in Egypt will not only bring a country no advantage, but it will bring positive injury.

The sharp siliceous casing of a reed might run into the hand and give an ugly wound.

so is Pharaoh King of Egypt unto all that trust on him.”  Sargon in one place

(ibid., p. 130, line 36) speaks of a King of Egypt under the title of “Pharaoh.”

 

22  But if ye say unto me, We trust in the Lord our God:” -  Sennacherib had

also heard of this second ground of trust, which Hezekiah had certainly put forward

with great openness (II Chronicles 32:8). No doubt he thought it purely fantastical and

illusory. But he was not unaware that it might inspire a determined resistance. He

therefore condescended to argue against reliance on it – “is not that he, whose high

places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away?” His counselors have

suggested to Sennacherib a specious argument — How can Hezekiah confidently rely

on the protection of the God of the land, Jehovah, when he has been employing himself

for years in the destruction of this very God’s high places and altars? Surely the God

will not favor one who has been pulling down his places of worship! Putting out of

sight the special requirements of the Jewish Law, the argument might well seem

unanswerable. At any rate, it was calculated to have a certain effect on the

minds of those who were attached to the high-place worship, and desired

its continuance – “and hath said to Judah and Jerusalem, Ye shall worship

before this altar in Jerusalem.” A weak argument, if addressed to Jews of

Jerusalem only, but likely to have weight with the country Jews, if, as is probable,

they had crowded into the city when the invasion began.

 

23  Now therefore, I pray thee, give pledges to my lord the king of Assyria,

and I will deliver thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set

riders upon them.”  “Pledge thyself,” i.e. “to find the men, and I will pledge myself

to find the horses.” It is a strong expression of contempt for the military power of the

Jews. They have not only no trained cavalry, but, were any one to furnish them with

two thousand horses, they could not find the men to ride them. The Jewish army

does, in fact, appear to have consisted of infantry and chariots only.

 

24  How then wilt thou turn away the face of i.e. “repulse,

“cause to retreat” — one captain of the least of my master’s servants,” -

literally, one governor — the word used is that which in modern times

takes the form of “pasha,” or “pacha.” It properly applies to the rulers of

provinces; but as these were expected to collect and command, upon

occasions, the troops of their province, it has a secondary sense of

commander” or “captain.” – and put thy trust” - rather, and thou puttest

 thy trust — in this extremity of weakness, so far as thine own forces are

concerned, thou art so foolish as to put thy trust in Egypt, and to expect

that her strength will make up for thine own impotence. Vain hope! (see

v. 21) – “on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen?” or, chariots and

chariot-men.

 

25  Am I now come up without the Lord against this place to destroy it?

The Lord said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it.” The Assyrian

monarchs constantly state that Asshur, their “great god,” directs them to make war

against this or that nation (‘Records of the Past,’ vol. 1. pp. 48, 60, 70, 71, 82, etc.),

but not that the god of the country to be attacked does so. It is difficult to account

for Sennacherib’s very exceptional boast, “Jehovah said to me. Go up against this

land.” Perhaps he identifies “Jehovah” with “Asshur.” Perhaps he has heard of

prophecies, uttered in the name of Jehovah, by Jewish prophets, which threatened

the land with desolation at the hand of the Assyrians (e.g Isaiah 7:17-24; 10:5-12;

Joel 2:1-11). Or he may have made the statement in mere bravado, as one that

might frighten some, and at any rate could not be contradicted.

 

26  Then said Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebna, and Joah, unto

Rabshakeh, Speak, I pray thee, to thy servants in the Syrian language;”

-  literally, in the Aramaic language. Hebrew, Aramaic, and Assyrian were three

cognate languages, closely allied, and very similar both in their grammatical forms

and in their vocabularies, but still sufficiently different to be distinct languages,

which were only intelligible to those who had learnt them. Rabshakeh had

addressed the Jewish officials in Hebrew, probably as the language which they

would best understand, if it were not even the only one that they would

understand. The Jewish officials feared that the words uttered were

influencing them. They proposed, therefore, that the further negotiations

should be conducted in Aramaic, a tongue which they understood, and one

which they supposed that Rabshakeh, as he knew Hebrew, would also

know. Aramaic was spoken in most of the tract that lay between Assyria

and Palestine, in Syria and Damascus certainly, in Upper Mesopotamia,

along the line of the Euphrates, and perhaps as far as the Khabour river.

- “for we understand it:” -  It is not likely that the Jews of this time generally

understood Aramaic; but high officials of the court, who might have to deal

with embassies and negotiate treaties, found it necessary to understand it,

just as such persons in our own country (England two centuries ago – CY –

2011  - have to know French – “and talk not with us in the Jews’ language

in the ears of the people that are on the wall.”  Besides the sentinels and

other soldiers, there would probably be many idlers upon the wall, attracted by

the unwonted spectacle of an ambassadorial cortege, and anxious to pick up

intelligence. The loud voices of Orientals would be heard to a considerable distance.

 

27  But Rabshakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master,

and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit

on the wall?”  An intolerable speech on the part of an envoy, and one which might

have justified an order to send an arrow through his head. Ambassadors are

accredited by governments to governments, and the safe conduct granted to them is

on the understanding that they will conduct themselves according to established usage.

In no state of society can it have been allowable for envoys to intervene between

the governors and the governed, and endeavor to stir up discontent among the latter.

Yet this is what Rabshakeh did, and boasted of doing it! Well might Isaiah say of

such an arrogant and lawless aggressor, “He hath broken the covenant, he hath

despised the cities, he regardeth no man” (Isaiah 33:8) – “that they may eat

their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?”  Rabshakeh means to say

that the effect of the men “sitting on the wall,” and continuing the defense of the

town, will be to bring them to the last extremity of hunger and thirst, when they will

be forced even to consume their own excrement (compare ch. 6:25-29).

 

28  Then Rabshakeh stood and cried with aloud voice in the Jews’ language,

and spake, saying,” -  Rabshakeh had probably been sitting before. He now stood

up to attract attention, and raised his voice to be the better heard. Still speaking

Hebrew, and not Aramaic, he addressed himself directly to the people on the wall,

soldiers and others, doing the very opposite to what he had been requested to do,

and outraging all propriety.  History scarcely presents any other instance of such

coarse and barefaced effrontery.  Hear the word of the great king, the king

of Assyria.”  It is scarcely likely that Sennacherib had anticipated his envoy’s

action, much less directed it, and told him exactly what he was to say. But

Rabshakeh thinks his words will have more effect if he represents them as those

of his master.

 

29  Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you:” -  Rabshakeh and

his master, no doubt, both of them thought Hezekiah’s grounds of confidence would

prove fallacious, and that all who should trust in them would find themselves

deceived.” There were but two grounds that Hezekiah could possibly put forward:

 

  • Deliverance by human means — by his own armed strength and that of

            his allies;

 

  • Deliverance by supernatural means — by some great manifestation of

            miraculous power on the part of Jehovah. Rabshakeh thinks both

            equally impossible. The first, however, is too absurd for argument, and he

            therefore takes no further notice of it; but the second he proceeds to

            combat, in vs. 33-35 – “for He shall not be able to deliver you out of

            his hand.”  Correct grammar requires “out of my hand;” but Rabshakeh

            forgets that he is professing to report the words of Sennacherib.

 

30  Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord,” -  Rabshakeh seems

to be aware that this is the argument which Hezekiah is, in point of fact, mainly

urging. If at one time he had trusted in Egypt, that trust was now quite or well-nigh

gone. The tone of his exhortations was that recorded in II Chronicles 32:6-8), “He

set captains of war over the people, and gathered them together to him in the

 street of the gate of the city, and spake comfortably to them, saying, Be

strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the King of Assyria,

 nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than

with him” -  [see ch. 6:16]; with him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord

our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested

themselves upon the words of Hezekiah King of Judah.” – “Saying, The

Lord will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be delivered into the

hand of the King of Assyria.”  Hezekiah’s was, in part, a general conviction

that God would not forsake His people, who had recently turned to Him, if not

with absolute sincerity, yet at any rate with public confession of sin, and public

acknowledgment of His mercies, and public profession of an intention to serve Him;

in part, probably, a special reliance on some definite prophecies of Isaiah, that the

city should not be taken (see Isaiah 31:4-6; 33:20-22).

 

31  Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the King of Assyria, “ - 

Rabshakeh, before concluding, tries the effect of blandishments. The King of

Assyria is no harsh lord, as he has been represented to them. He will be a kinder

master than Hezekiah. Hezekiah condemns them to all the hardships of a siege;

and then, if they survive it, to a wasted land, ruined homes, broken cisterns.

Sennacherib, if they will but yield to him, promises them peace and prosperity,

a time of quiet enjoyment in their own land, and then removal to another

equally good, where they will “live and not die,” be happy and not miserable.

It will be observed that none but material inducements are held out to them (and

so does Satan continue this ploy unto this day but he is a “FATHER

OF LIES” [John  8:44] – CY – 2011) -  They are expected to barter

freedom, independence, religious privileges, country, home, for the sake of

creature comforts — for ease, quiet, and security. Setting aside the

question whether they could count on the performance of the promises

made them, it will be felt that they did well not to be tempted. Better vigorous

 national life, with any amount of hardship, struggle, and suffering,

than the gilded chains of the most peaceful servitude – “Make an

agreement with me by a present — rather, make peace with me, or

make terms with me” - in other words, give in your submission — and come

out to me,” -  i.e. quit the town, surrender it (see I Samuel 11:3; Jeremiah 21:9;

38:17), place yourselves at my mercy, “and then” see what great things I will do

for you.” The tone is one of wheedling and cajolement -  and then eat ye every

man of his own vine, and every one of his fig tree,” -   (proverbial expressions

for a peaceful, happy time) when there are no inroads, no ravages, no

disturbances. Rabshakeh promises, in the name of Sennacherib, that they

shall rest in their own land for a term — an indefinite term — in a blissful

state of peace and quietness before any new resolution is taken about them -

and drink ye every one the waters of his cistern:” -  rather, of his well

(rb). Every man who had a field or a vineyard was sure to have a well in

it. Cisterns for the storage of rain-water were comparatively uncommon.

 

32  Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land,” –

Rabshakeh did not dissemble the fact that they must look for a

transplantation. Probably he felt that, if he did, he would not be believed.

The transplantations had been too numerous and too recent, the examples

of Samaria, Damascus, Hamath, Ashdod, etc., were too notorious, for it to

be worth his while to pretend that Judaea would have any other fate. He

therefore set himself the task of persuading the Jews that transplantation

had nothing about it displeasing or even disagreeable — that, in fact, they

were to be envied rather than pitied for being about to experience it. The

King of Assyria, in the goodness of his paternal breast, would select for

them a land as nearly as possible “like their own land” — a land teeming

with corn and wine and oil, full of rich arable tracts, of vineyards and of

olive-grounds, which would yield them those fruits of the earth to which

they were accustomed, in abundance. What security they had that these

promises would be fulfilled, he did not attempt to show them; much less

did he explain to them why, if they were to gain rather than lose, it was

worth while transplanting them at all; how that transplanted nations lost all

spirit and patriotism, sank into apathy, and gave no trouble to their

masters -  “a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a

land of oil olive and of honey (compare Deuteronomy 8:8-9, which has,

no doubt, affected the language of the reporter, who gives the general

tenor of Rabshakeh’s speech, but could not have taken down or have

remembered his exact words) that ye may live, and not die:  as you will

if you follow Hezekiah’s advice — “and hearken not unto Hezekiah, when

he persuadeth i.e., seeketh to persuade — you, saying, The Lord will

deliver us.” (see the comment on ver. 30).

 

33  Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered at all his land out of the

hand of the king of Assyria?”  To Rabshakeh, and the Assyrians generally, this

seemed a crushing and convincing, absolutely unanswerable, argument. It had all

the force of what appeared to them a complete induction. As far back as they

could remember, they had always been contending with different tribes and nations,

each and all of whom had had gods in whom they trusted, and the result had been

uniform — the gods had been unequal to the task of protecting their votaries

against Assyria: how could it be imagined that Jehovah would prove an exception?

How was He better or stronger than the others — than Chemosh, or Moloch, or

Rimmon, or Baal, or Ashima, or Khaldi, or Bel, or Merodach? What had He

done for the Jews hitherto? Nothing remarkable, so far as the Assyrians knew; for

their memories did not reach back so far as the time of Asa and the deliverance

from Zerah, much less to the conquest of Canaan or the Exodus. He had not ‘saved

the trans Jordanic tribes from Tiglath-pileser, or Samaria from his successors. Was

it not madness to suppose that He would save Judaea from Sennacherib? A

heathen reasoner could not see, could not be expected to see, the

momentous difference; that the gods of the other countries were “no gods”

(ch.19:18), while Jehovah was “the Lord of the whole earth.”

 

34  Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arpad?” Hamath and

Arpad had been recently conquered (about B.C. 720) by Sargon (see the

Epouym Canon,’ pp. 126-128). Of the latter city but little is known, not

even its site. We find it generally connected with Damascus (Jeremiah 49:23;

‘ Eponym Canon,’ pp. 68, 126) and Hamath (ch. 19:13; Isaiah 10:9; 36:19;

37:13) -  and may conjecture that it lay between them, either in Coele-Syria

or in the Anti-Libanus. (On Hamath, see the commentary upon  ch.14:25;

and its god, Ashima, see that on ch. 17:30.)  “Where are the gods of

Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah?” (On the cities and gods of Sepharvaim and Ivah

(or Ava), we have dealt with in ch.17:24,31.) Hena,” mentioned always with

Sepharvaim and Ivah (ch. 19:13; Isaiah 38:13), is probably Allah on the Euphrates,

about seventy miles above Hit (Ivah). Nothing is known of its gods. Probably

Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah had rebelled in conjunction, and been reconquered

at no distant date. Sargon mentions in his annals that he besieged and took

Sepharvaim (Sippara) in his twelfth year (B.C. 710) – “Have they delivered

Samaria out of mine hand?”  There is probably some compression of the

original narrative here. The meaning is, “Have they delivered their several cities,

or has the god of Samaria delivered his city out of my hand?” No god had

hitherto delivered any city which the Assyrians had attacked.

 

35  Who are they among all the gods of the countries i.e., the countries

with which Assyria had been at war — that have delivered their country out

of mine hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand?”

Produce an example of deliverance,” Rabshakeh means to say, “before you speak

of deliverance as probable, or even possible. If you cannot, relinquish the hope,

and submit yourselves.” Rabshakeh cannot conceive the idea that Jehovah is

anything but a local god, on a par with all the other gods of the countries.

 

36  But the people held their peace, and answered him not a word:” –

All Rabshakeh’s efforts to produce open disaffection failed. Whatever

impression his arguments may have made, no indication was given that they

had produced any. If, then, he had hoped to bring about a mutiny, or even to

create a disturbance, he was disappointed – “for the king’s commandment

was, saying, Answer him not.” -  Hezekiah had either anticipated Rabshakeh’s

tactics, and given an order beforehand that no word should be uttered, or he had

promptly met them by sending such an order, on learning Rabshakeh’s proceedings.

 

37  Then came Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over the

household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the

recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes rent,” -  They had rent their

clothes, not so much in grief or in alarm, as in horror at Rabshakeh’s

blasphemies. They were blasphemies, no doubt, arising from “invincible

ignorance,” and not intended as insults to the one Almighty Being who

rules the earth, of whose existence Rabshakeh had probably no conception;

but they struck on Jewish ears as insults to Jehovah, and therefore as dreadful and

horrible - “and told him the words of Rabshakeh.”  - reported to him, i.e.

 as nearly as they could, all that Rabshakeh had said. The three envoys would

supplement, and perhaps correct, one another; and Hezekiah would have

conveyed to him a full and, on the whole, exact account of the message sent to

him through Rabshakeh by the Assyrian king, and of Rabshakeh’s method of

enforcing it. The crisis of Hezekiah’s life was reached. As he acted under it

would be fixed his own fate, his character in the judgment of all future

 time, and the fate of his own country.

 

 

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