II Kings 20

 

 

The writer proceeds to relate an illness and a recovery of Hezekiah, which

happened about the middle of his reign, probably in B.C. 713, and which was

accompanied by strange, if not miraculous, circumstances (vs. 1-11). Hezekiah’s

recovery was followed by an embassy of congratulation from Merodach-Baladan,

King of Babylon, which led Hezekiah into an act of folly, and brought upon

him the rebuke of Isaiah (vs. 12-19). The narrative terminates with a notice of

some of Hezekiah’s great works, and of his decease (vs. 20-21).

 

 

The Illness and Recovery of Hezekiah (vs. 1-11)

 

1  In those days” -  This is a very vague note of time, and cannot be

regarded as determining the position of the events here related with respect

to the preceding narrative. V. 6, however, shows that a time anterior to

Sennacherib’s discomfiture is intended; and the same verse also fixes the

date to Hezekiah’s fourteenth year, which was B.C. 713. It belongs to the

middle part of Hezekiah’s reign, while his treasures were intact (vs. 13-17),

and had not been carried off to Nineveh“was Hezekiah sick unto death.”

- stricken, i.e., by a malady which, in the ordinary course of nature, would

have been fatal. “And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him,

and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou

shalt die, and not live.” The statement was a warning, not a prophecy. It is

parallel to that of Jonah to the Ninevites, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be

overthrown  (Jonah 3:4).

 

2  Then he turned his face to the wall,” — i.e., away from those

who were standing beside his bed, and might have distracted his attention,

to pray with more concentration and earnestness — “and prayed unto the

Lord, saying,” (compare 19:15). It was natural to Hezekiah, in

every kind of affliction and distress, to take his trouble direct to God.

 

3  I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked

before thee in truth and with a perfect heart,” -  There is no Pharisaical

self-righteousness here. Hezekiah is conscious that he has honestly

endeavored to serve God, and to do His will — that, whatever may have

been his shortcomings, his heart has been right towards God. He ventures,

therefore, on something like expostulation. Why is he to be cut off in the

midst of his days, at the age of thirty-nine, when such a wicked king as

Uzziah has lived to be sixty-eight (ch. 15:2), and Rehoboam to be

fifty-eight (I Kings 14:21)? It is to be remembered that, under the old

covenant, length of days was expressly promised to the righteous

(Proverbs 3:2; 9:11; 10:27), and that a shortened life was the proclaimed

penalty of wicked-doing (Job 15:32-33; 22:16; Psalm 55:23; Proverbs 10:27).

Hezekiah’s self-assertion is thus a sort of laying hold of God’s promises – “and

have done that which is good in thy sight.”  Compare ch. 18:3-6; and note

the similar pleadings of David, “With my whole heart have I sought thee”

(Psalm 119:10); “I have remembered thy Name, O Lord, and have kept thy Law.

This I had because I kept thy precepts.” (Ibid. vs. 55-56), and the like –

and Hezekiah wept sore.”  Human nature shrinks from death instinctively,

and it requires a very vivid imagination for even the Christian in middle life to

feel with Paul, that “it is better for him to depart and to be with Christ”

(Philippians 1:23).  The Hebrew of Hezekiah’s time had far mere reason to regard

death as an evil.  His hopes of a life beyond the grave were feeble — his conceptions

of the life, if life there were, faint and unattractive. Sheol, like Hades, was a

vague, awful, terrible thing. If we consider Hezekiah’s words, “The grave

cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee: they that go down into the

pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise thee”

(Isaiah 38:18-19), we may understand how the Hebrew shrank from

the fearful change. And in Hezekiah’s case there was a yet further reason

for grief Hezekiah had as yet no male offspring (Josephus, ‘Ant. Jud.,’10:2.

§ 1). Manasseh was as yet unborn (compare v. 6 with ch. 21:1). If he died now,

his house would be cut off, he would be without posterity — a sore grief to

every Hebrew.

 

4  And it same to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court,” –

The narrative in Isaiah 38:4 does not contain this touch, which is very graphic,

and indicative of the eye-witness. “The middle court” is probably the second

or intermediate court of the royal palace. Isaiah had not gone further than this,

when he was arrested in his course by a Divine communication – “that the

word of the Lord came to him, saying.”  How the word of the Lord came

to the prophets is an inscrutable mystery. Sometimes, no doubt, it came in

vision, which to a certain extent we can understand. But how, when the

prophet was secularly engaged, as in this instance, walking across a court,

he knew that the thought which occurred to him was a Divine message,

it is almost impossible to conceive. Still, we cannot doubt that if God

determines to communicate His will to man, He must be able, with the

message, to impart an absolute certainty of its source, an assured

conviction that it is His word.  Isaiah, in the middle of his walk, finds his

steps arrested, anew injunction laid upon him, with a necessity of

immediately obeying it.

 

5  Turn again” — or, turn back — “retrace thy steps, and enter

once more into the bedchamber of the king” — “and tell Hezekiah the

captain of my people,” - An unusual title for the Jewish monarch, but one

applied in I Samuel 9:16 and 10:1 to Saul, and in (Ibid. ch.13:14) and

II Samuel 5:2 to David. The proper meaning of dygin;  is “leader” —

one who goes in front.” “Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy

father — Hezekiah obtains mercy, both as David’s son and as David’s

imitator (v. 3) — I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears:”

(compare Exodus 2:24; 3:7; Psalm 56:8). There is not a cry, not a groan,

not a tear, not a sigh of His faithful ones, to which the heart of

God is not open, which does not touch Him, move Him, draw forth His

sympathy. If he does not always grant our prayers, it is because we “ask

amiss(James 4:3)  — without faith, or without fervor, or things not good

for us.  Hezekiah’s earnest, faithful, and not unwise prayer was, as such

prayers always are, effectual -  “behold, I will heal thee: on the third day

thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord.” - i.e. thou shalt be so

completely recovered as to be able to quit thy palace and pay thy vows in

the courts of the Lord’s house. God knows that to do this will be Hezekiah’s

first wish, as soon as his sickness is past (compare Isaiah 38:20).

 

6  And I win add unto thy days fifteen years;” -  God “does

exceeding abundantly more than we either ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

Hezekiah had asked for nothing more than immediate escape from

death. God grants him fifteen additional years of life, i.e. more than

doubles the length of his reign – “and I will deliver thee and this city out

of the hand of the King of Assyria;” - If Hezekiah’s illness took place in

B.C. 713, and Jerusalem was then in danger of being attacked by the

Assyrians, the king who threatened the attack must have been Sargon.

Sargon made an expedition into Palestine in B.C. 720, another in B.C. 713,

and a third in B.C. 711. In none of them does he seem to have invaded

Judaea; but in the third he counts the Jews among his enemies (‘Eponym

Canon,’ p. 130, line 32). Hezekiah, who had revolted from him (ch. 18:7),

may well have felt alarm both in B.C. 713 and 711 – “and I will

defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.”

(compare ch. 19:34). The promise given in B.C. 713 in respect of Sargon was

repeated in B.C. 699 (?) with respect to Sennacherib in almost the same words.

 

7  And Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs.” -  Figs were the usual remedy for

boils. The remedy is said to be still in use among Easterns. It can scarcely be

supposed to have cured a malignant boil by its intrinsic force; but under the

Divine blessing it was made effectual, and the cure followed. “And they took

and laid it on the boil,” -  The royal attendants obtained a lump of figs, and

applied it to the inflamed boil or carbuncle, as Isaiah had suggested. It is

impossible to say what exactly was the nature of the “boil,” since diseases

change their characters, and every age has its own special disorders; but

modem medical science knows of more than one kind of pustular swelling,

which, as soon as it is detected, is regarded as fatal. And he recovered.

Not suddenly, but by degrees; after the manner of natural remedies. It was

three days before he was well enough to quit the palace, and offer thanks

in the temple for his miraculous cure (v. 5).

 

8  And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the Lord

will heal me” -  Having regard to the weakness of human faith,

God, under the old covenant, often gave, or offered, near “signs” of

promised blessings that were more remote, in order to sustain and

encourage the doubtful and the wavering (compare  ch. 19:29; Exodus 3:12;

Isaiah 7:11,14). Hezekiah assumes that a near “sign” will now Be granted

to him, and simply asks what the sign is to be – “and that I shall go up into

the house of the Lord the third day?” Three days would be a long and

weary time to wait. It was not unnatural that Hezekiah should crave some

more immediate assurance that his prayer was indeed heard. Neither God

nor the prophet was angry at his request.

 

9  And Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou have of the Lord, that the Lord

will do the thing that he hath spoken:” - Hezekiah is no more reproved for

asking for a sign than was Gideon (Judges 6:37, 39).  Ahaz, his father, had

been reproved for not asking (Isaiah 7:13). It would be faithless now for

Christians to demand signs; but in an age of miracles, when there were

prophets upon the earth empowered to give signs, faithful men might

request them without incurring God’s displeasure -“shall the shadow go

forward ten degrees,” - The Hebrew text will scarcely bear this translation,

which, however, seems to be required by Hezekiah’s answer. Perhaps for

Ël"j; we should read Ëlj;h}. “or go back ten degrees?” -  literally, in both

clauses, ten steps. There are abundant reasons for believing that the early dials

consisted of a gnomon set up on the top of a flight of steps, and that time

was measured by the number of steps on which the shadow of the gnomon

fell. (I would like to point out that there is a Kentucky Vietnam Veterans

Memorial, located in Frankfort,  and overlooking the state capital.  It contains

the name of 1,103 Kentuckians killed in the Vietnam War. The memorial is in the

form of a sundial with the names placed so that the tip of the gnomon’s shadow

touches each man's name on the date of his death, thus giving each fallen warrior

his own personal  memorial day.  God has the power to make the sun go

back on this dial also! – I recommend the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans

Memorial Official Web Site - CY – 2011)

 

10  And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down

ten degrees:” -  Hezekiah views it as a comparatively easy thing for the shadow,

which is already descending the steps, to accelerate its pace and rapidly descend

fifteen degrees instead of slowly traversing them; and therefore accepts Isaiah’s other

offer. -  “nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees.”  Let it change

its direction, and having descended a certain distance, suddenly return and ascend

again. This will be no “light thing,” but a great marvel, which will thoroughly

convince him. The thought was natural, though perhaps not strictly logical.

 

11 And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the Lord:” -  Though the

sign had been promised, Isaiah regarded his own intercessional prayer as

not out of place, and “cried unto the Lord,” i.e. prayed with energy, that

the king’s wish might be accomplished. So, though we have God’s promise

to care for us, and keep us from want (Matthew 6:25-30), yet we must

daily beseech him to “give us this day our daily bread.”“and he brought

the shadow ten degrees backward, “ -  How this was done, we are not told.

(I recommend  Genesis 17  - Names of God – El Shaddai by Nathan Stone  -

this web site - CY – 2011)  - “by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz.” -  

literally, on the steps of Ahaz. Sundials were invented by the Babylonians

(Herodotus, 2:109),  and were no doubt in use at Babylon long before the time of

Hezekiah. They were of various kinds, and in some of them the gnomon was made

to cast its shadow upon steps.

 

 

                        The Embassy of Merodach-Baladan (vs. 12-19)

 

Soon after his recovery, Hezekiah received an embassy from a new quarter. Hitherto

Babylon and Judaea had been isolated from one another, and had perhaps

scarcely known of each other’s existence. Assyria had stood between them,

and Babylonia had been for the most part an Assyrian dependency. But

recently Babylonia had asserted herself. In B.C. 722, on the death of

Shalmaneser, a native Chaldean named Merodach-Baladan had made

himself king of the country, and maintained his independence against all the

efforts of Sargon to reduce him. His position, however, was precarious,

and it was probably in the hope of concluding an alliance with Hezekiah

also an enemy of Sargon’s (see the comment on v. 6) — that he sent his

embassy. He had two excuses for it. A neighboring king might well congratulate

his brother monarch on his recovery; and a Chaldean prince might well inquire

into an astronomical marvel (II Chronicles 32:31).  The date of the embassy

appears to have been B.C. 712, the year following on Hezekiah’s illness.

 

12  At that time Berodach-Baladan,” -  Isaiah gives the name more

correctly as “Merodach-Baladan” (Isaiah 39:1). The native form is

Marduk-pal-iddin, i.e. Merodach son has given.” This king makes his

first appearance in an inscription of Tiglath-pileser’s, where he is one of

many chieftains among whom Babylonia is divided. Subsequently he is

mentioned as revolting from Sargon in the latter’s first year, B.C. 722

(‘Records of the Past,’ vol. 7. p. 29), and holding the throne of Babylon for

twelve years (ibid., p. 41), when Sargon conquered him, deposed him, and

took the kingdom (ibid., p. 48). This twelve-years’ reign is acknowledged

by Ptolemy in his Canon, but the name of the king is given as Mardoc-

Empadus. On the death of Sargon, in B.C. 705, Merodach-Baladan again

revolted, and reigned for six months, when he was driven out of the

country by Sennacherib, B.C. 704. He continued, however, to give trouble

even after this (‘Records of the Past,’ vol. 7. p. 63); and his sons and

grandsons were pretenders to the Babylonian throne in the reigns of Esarhaddon

and his successor, Asshur-bani-pal (see ‘Ancient Monarchias,’ vol.

2. pp. 469 and 490) – “the son of Baladan,” -  In the Assyrian inscriptions

Merodach-Baladan is always called “the son of Yakin” (‘Records of the

Past,’ vol. 7. p. 40; vol. 9. p. 13, etc.). Yakin, however, may have been his

grandfather, as Nimshi was the grandfather of Jehu, and Baladan (Beldash?)

his father -  “king of Babylon, sent letters and a present unto Hezekiah:” –

Thus opening diplomatic communication. It has been almost universally felt

that the object of the embassy must have been to conclude, or at any rate to

pave the way for, an alliance. So Josephus (‘Ant. Jud.,’10:2. § 2). Assyria

menaced both countries, and the common danger produced naturally a

mutual attraction. But it was prudent to disguise this motive – “for he had

heard that Hezekiah had been sick.”  Assyria could not take umbrage at

an embassy of congratulation, nor at one for scientific purposes (II Chronicles

23:31). So these two objects were paraded.

 

13  And Hezekiah hearkened unto them,” -  Hezekiah was dazzled

by the prospect that opened upon him. It was a grand thing that his fame

should have reached so far as Babylon, a still grander thing to be offered

such an alliance. It must be remembered that he and his counselors were

inclined from the first to meet Assyrian menace by calling in foreign aid

(ch.18:21-24; Isaiah 20:6; 30:2-7; 36:6). He had not yet accepted the view of

Isaiah, that human aid was vain, and that the only reasonable ground of hope or

confidence was, in Jehovah – “and showed them all the house of his precious

things,” -  i.e. his treasury. Hezekiah did not do this in mere ostentation, though he

may have had a certain pride in exhibiting his wealth. His main wish, no doubt, was

to make known his resources, and show that he was a valuable ally. So Oroetes

acted towards Polycrates (Herodotus, 3:123), and Hannibal towards the Gortynians

(Com. Nep., ‘Vit. Hannib.,’ § 9). It is to be borne in mind that Hezekiah’s

treasures were, in B.C. 712, still intact, and included all that ample store

which he sacrificed to save Jerusalem at the time of the first expedition of

Sennacherib (see ch. 18:14-16, and comp. ‘Eponym Canon,’ p. 135, where we

find enumerated among the treasures given up, besides gold and silver, “precious

carbuncles, couches of ivory, elevated thrones of ivory, skins of buffaloes, horns

of buffaloes, and weapons”). – the silver, and the gold, and the spices,” –

Compare the description of the wealth of Solomon (I Kings 10:25). “Spices”

 always form an important portion of the treasure of Oriental kings (compare

Herodotus, 2. 97, sub fin.)and the precious ointment,” -  rather, the

 precious oil — ˆm,c,, not jq"ro. It is thought that the valuable balsam oil, which

was obtained from the royal gardens, is intended  - “and all the house of his

armor,” -  or, of his vessels; but arms and armor are probably intended. It would

be almost as important to show that he had abundant arms in store, as that he had

abundant riches – “and all that was found in his treasures:” — a clause implying

that there was much more which had not been specified, as precious stones, ivory,

ebony, and the like — “there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion,

that Hezekiah showed them not.”  This is a manifest hyperbole; but it can

scarcely mean less than that he gave orders for them to be shown the collections of

arms and stores which existed in his other strongholds besides Jerusalem. Hezekiah,

no doubt, had many “store cities,” as Solomon (II Chronicles 8:6) and Rehoboam

(Ibid. ch.11:5-12) had.

 

 

14  Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah; and said unto him,” –

When a prophet came, unsummoned, into king’s presence, it was usually to rebuke

him (compare II Samuel 12:1; 24:11-13; I Kings 13:1-2; 18:15-18; 21:18-22;

ch. 1:15-16; II Chronicles 12:5; 16:7; 20:37; 25:7, 15) – “What said these men?

and from whence came they unto thee?” -  Isaiah does not ask because he does

not know, but to obtain a confession, on which he may base the message that

he has to deliver – “And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far

country, even from Babylon.”  Note first, that Hezekiah does not give any

answer to the prophet’s first question, “What said these men?” being

unwilling probably to make known the overtures that he had received from

them, since he knows that Isaiah is opposed to any reliance on an “arm of

flesh:” and secondly, that he answers the second question, not with shame,

but with complacency, “They are come to me from a very far country,

whither my fame has reached — even from Babylon are they come, ‘the

glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeesexcellency (Isaiah 13:19).”

Self-satisfaction shows itself in the answer. He thinks it redounds to his honor

that he has been sought out from so great a distance, and by so great a city.

 

15  And he said, What have they seen in thine house?” -  i.e.

What hast thou shewed them? Hast thou treated them like ordinary

ambassadors, or hast thou gone out of thy way to court an alliance with

their master? “And Hezekiah answered, All the things that are in mine

house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have

not showed them.”  The reply is open and straightforward. Hezekiah is not

ashamed of what he has done, or at any rate, will not, to escape blame,

take refuge in lies or concealment. He readily acknowledges that he has

shown the ambassadors everything.

 

16  And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord.”  This is

a phrase of warning very common in the mouth of the prophets, when they are

about to deliver a rebuke or solemn condemnation (compare I Kings 22:19;

II Chronicles 18:18; Isaiah 1:10; 28:14; Jeremiah 7:2; 9:20; 10:1; 19:3;

Ezekiel 15:35; 34:9; Hosea 4:1; Amos 3:1).

 

17  Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and

that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be

carried into Babylon:” -  These treasures of thy royal house, whereof thou

art so proud, and which thou hast of thine own accord made known to the

Babylonians, to obtain their alliance, will in fact excite their cupidity, and

the time will come when they, or what remains of them and represents

them, will be carried off as plunder to Babylon by a conquering monarch,

who will strip thy palace of its valuables, and drag thy descendants into

captivity, and degrade them to the condition of slaves or servants, and

make them discharge menial offices about his court. The revelation was

now, it would seem, for the first time made that Babylon, and not Assyria,

was the true enemy which Judaea had to fear, the destined foe who would

accomplish all the threats of the prophets from Moses downwards, who

would destroy the holy city and the glorious temple of Solomon, and carry

away the ark of the covenant, and tear the people from their homes, and

bring the kingdom of David to an end, and give Jerusalem over as a prey to

desolation for seventy years. Henceforth it was Babylon and not Assyria

which was feared, Babylon and not Assyria whereto the prophetic gaze of

Isaiah himself was directed, and which became in his later prophecies (chapters

40-66.) the main object of his denunciations. Considering the circumstances

of the time, the prophecy is a most extraordinary one. Babylonia was at the

time merely one of several kingdoms bordering on Assyria which the

Assyrians threatened with destruction. From the time of Tiglath-pileser she

had been continually diminishing, while Assyria had been continually

increasing, in power. Tiglath-pileser had overrun the country and

established himself as king there. Shalmaneser’s authority had been

uncontested. If just at present a native prince held the throne, it was by a

very uncertain tenure, and a few years later Assyria regained complete

mastery. No human foresight could possibly have anticipated such a

complete reversal of the relative positions of the two countries as was

involved in Isaiah’s prophecy — a reversal which was only accomplished

by the appearance on the scene of a new power, which hitherto had

been regarded as of the very slightest account“nothing shall be left, saith

the Lord.” (compare ch. 25:13-17 and Jeremiah 52:12-23).

 

18 “And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget,” –

Under “sons” are included by the Hebrew idiom all descendants, however remote.

The princes carried off from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar were Hezekiah’s

descendants, either in the fourth or the fifth generation – “shall they take away;” - 

Among the descendants of Hezekiah taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar were

Jehoiachin (ch. 24:15), Zedekiah (ch. 25:7), Daniel (Daniel 1:3), and others –

and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” - 

Some translate μysiyris;; in this place by “chamberlains”  or “footmen;” but

there is no reason why the word should not have its ordinary sense of “eunuchs”

 (see Daniel 1:3-18).

 

19  Then said Hezekiah unto Isaiah, Good is the word of the Lord which

thou hast spoken.”  Hezekiah accepts the rebuke, thereby acknowledging himself

to have been in the wrong, and submits without remonstrance to his punishment.

“Good is the word of the Lord” — who “in His wrath has thought upon mercy.”

The king feels that God might, in justice, have visited him, in his own person, with

some immediate affliction or calamity. It is a relief to hear that the blow will not fall

during his lifetime. (??????? - CY – 2011) There may be a tinge of selfishness in his

acquiescence, but it is not very pronounced, and does not call for any severe

animadversion. The Old Testament saints were not faultless, and are not set before

us as perfect patterns. There is one only “Ensample” (I Peter 2:21) given us

whose steps we are to follow in all things, Jesus Christ, the Righteous!” –

“And he said — apparently after a pause, perhaps turning to his courtiers, whose

looks may have expressed astonishment at the words which he had just spoken —

Is it not good, if peace and truth be in my days?”  (Should not Hezekiah

have thought of his children who suffered from his sin?????  - CY – 2011)

 

 

       The Great Works of Hezekiah, and His Decease (vs. 20-21)

 

Hezekiah was known, not only as a pious king, and the king in whose reign the

pride of the Assyrians was dashed to the ground, but also as one who, by works

of great importance, conferred permanent benefit on Jerusalem (II Chronicles

32:3-5, 30) - The writer feels that he cannot conclude his notice of Hezekiah’s

reign  without some mention of these works. He enters, however, into no description,

but, having referred the reader for details to the “book of the chronicles,” notes in

the briefest possible way the decease of Hezekiah, and the accession of his son and

successor.

 

20  And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might,” - Hezekiah’s

might was chiefly shown in the earlier portion of his reign, when he “smote the

 Philistines, even unto Gaza, and the borders thereof” (ch. 18:8). Against

Assyria he was unsuccessful, and must have succumbed, but for the miraculous

destruction of Sennacherib’s host – (ch. 18:35-37) – “and how he made a

pool,” -  rather, the pool, or the reservoir. The writer of Kings either knows of

one pool only in the neighborhood of Jerusalem, or regards one as so superior

that it deserves to be called “the pool.” Recent discoveries make it highly

probable that the “pool” intended is that of Siloam, or, if not the present Siloam

reservoir, a larger one, a little below it, now known as Birket el Hamra (see the

‘Quarterly Statement’ of the Palestine Exploration Fund for April, 1886, p. 88).

That there was at least one other pool in Hezekiah’s time is evident from

Isaiah 22:9, 11 – “and a conduit,” -  rather, the conduit. If “the pool” is

Siloam, “the conduit” must almost certainly be that which was excavated

under Ophel for the purpose of conveying the water from the Well of the

Virgin in the Kedron valley to the Siloam reservoir on the western side of

the spur. This conduit, which is curiously twisted, has a length of 1708

feet, with a height varying from two feet to four or five, and a width of

about two feet. The roof is flat, the sides perpendicular, and the floor

hollowed into a groove for the more rapid passage of the water. About

nineteen feet from the southern extremity, where the channel opens upon

the Siloam pool, a niche has been cut in the right-hand wall in the shape of

a square tablet, and smoothed to receive an inscription of six lines, the

greater part of which has been recovered. The letters are of the old Hebrew

or Phoenician type, and by their forms indicate a date “between the eighth

and the sixth centuries” . The inscription, so far as it is legible, appears to have

run as follows: “Behold the tunnel! Now, this is the history of the tunnel. As the

excavators were lifting up the pick, each towards the other, and while there

were yet three cubits to be broken through... the voice of the one .called to

his neighbor, for there was an excess (?) of the rock on the right. Then they rose

up... they struck on the west of the excavators; the excavators struck, each to

meet the other, pick to pick.  And the waters flowed from their outlet to the

 pool for a distance of a thousand cubits; and three-fourths (?) of a cubit was

the height of the rock over the head of the excavation here.” We learn from

it that the workmen began at either end, and tunneled through the rock until

they met in the middle — a result which their previous divergences from the

straight line force us to attribute more to good fortune than to engineering

science“and brought water into the city,” -  The Well of the Virgin was

without, the Pool of Siloam within, the city — the wall of the town being

carried across the Tyropoeon valley from the extreme point of Ophel to

the opposite hill (see Nehemiah 3:15) – “are they not written in the book of

the chronicles of the kings of Judah?”  Hezekiah’s fame rested very much

upon these works.

 

21  And Hezekiah slept with his fathers:” -  II  Chronicles 32:33 adds,

“And they buried him in the chiefest,” or rather, in the topmost, “of the

sepulchers of the sons of David”.  The catacomb of David being now full,

Hezekiah and his descendants (ch. 21:18, 26; 23:30) had to he buried

elsewhere. The tomb of Hezekiah was either over the catacomb of David, or

on the ascent which led to it – “and Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.”

 

 

                                     ADDITIONAL NOTES

 

                                    Aspects of Death (vs. 1-3)

 

We may look on death from three points of view: 

 

·        that of the natural man, unenlightened by Divine revelation;

·        that of the Israelite under the Law; and

·        that of the Christian.

 

The contemplation will be wholesome, for we are all too apt to turn our thoughts

away from any consideration of the grim enemy, who will certainly have to be

met and encountered one day.

 

  • DEATH FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF THE NATURAL MAN.

            By nature man has an absolute horror of death. Self-preservation is the first

            law of his being. He will suffer anything, he will do anything, to avoid

            death. Satan said of Job “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will

            he give for his life” (Job 2:4).  Death is in his eyes a fierce monster, cruel,

            relentless, detestable. To live may be hard, grievous, wretched, scarcely

            tolerable; but to die is wholly intolerable. It is to exchange the bright pure

            light of day for absolute darkness, or at best for a dim, dull, murky region

            in which souls wander without aim or hope. It is to be cut off from all that

            is known, customary, intelligible, and to be thrown into a world unknown,

            unfamiliar, full of terrors. It is to lose all energy, all vigor, all

            robustness, all sense of power. In the “happy hunting-fields,” the shade of

            the living man may still pursue the unsubstantial forms of elk, or deer, or

            antelope; but the sport is a poor and colorless replica of that pursued on

            earth, and is anticipated with but little satisfaction. Better, in the eyes of the

            natural man, to live on earth, even as slave or hireling, the hardest of all

            possible earthly lives, than to hold the kingship of the world below and rule

            over the entire realm of shadows (Homer., ‘Odessy,’ 489-491). In the

             vigor of his youth and early manhood the natural man forgets death,

            views it as so distant that the fear of it scarcely affects him sensibly; but let

            the shadow be suddenly cast across his path, and he starts from it with a cry

            of terror. He can, indeed, meet it without blenching in the battle-field, when

            his blood is hot, and to the last he does not know whether he will slay his foe,

            or his foe him; but if he has to die, he accepts his death as a miserable

            necessity. It is hateful to him to die; it is still more hateful to be cut off in his

            prime, while he is still strong, vigorous, lusty. It is not till old age comes on,

            and his arm grows weak, and his eye dim, that he can look on death without

            loathing. Then, perhaps, he may accept the necessity without protest, feeling

             that actual death can be little worse than the death-in-life whereto he

             has come. (It is sad that the scripture says of the wicked, “God is not

            in all his thoughts” [Psalm 10:4] and of the natural man, he receiveth

            not the things of the Spirit of God  [ICorinthians 2:14] – CY – 2011)

 

  • DEATH FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF THE ISRAELITE. The

            Israelite had not very much advantage over the natural man in respect of

            the contemplation of death. But little was revealed to him concerning the

            life beyond the grave. He knew, indeed, that his life did not end everything,

            that he would certainly go down to Sheol when he died, and there have a

            continued existence; but Sheol presented itself to him in as dismal

            colors  as Hades did to the Greek. “The living, the living shall praise

             thee; Sheol cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee,” cried

            Hezekiah from his bed of sickness (Isaiah 38:18-19). Thus the Israelite too

            shrank from death, not merely instinctively, but as a sad and poor condition

            compared with life. And untimely death was even more hateful to him than to

            the natural man, since under the Mosaic dispensation it was declared to be a

            mark of the displeasure of God. “The fear of the Lord prolongeth days;

            but the years of the wicked shall be shortened” said Solomon (Proverbs

            10:27). “Bloodthirsty and deceitful men shall not live out half their

            days,” sang David (Psalm 55:23). Long life was a gift repeatedly promised to

            the righteous (Proverbs 3:2,16; 9:10-11; Psalm 91:16); and when a man

            found himself struck down by a dangerous disease in his middle age, it

            seemed to him, and to those about him, that he must have sinned grievously,

            and so brought down upon himself God’s anger. Still more bitter was the

            feeling of one who was cut off in mid life, if he was childless. Then the man’s

            name was “clean put out;” his memorial perished with him; he had no more

            part or lot in Israel, no more inheritance among his brethren. Thus

            death remained a terror and a calamity, even to the most religious Jew, until,

            about the time of Daniel, the doctrine of the resurrection began to be

            preached (Daniel 12:1-3), and the life beyond the grave to take a more

            cheerful aspect.

 

  • DEATH FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF THE CHRISTIAN. The

            whole relation of death to life and of life to death became changed by the

            revelation made to man in Christ. Then for the first time were “life and

            immortality fully “brought to light” (I Timothy 1:10).  Then first it

            appeared that earth was a mere sojourning-place for those who were here

            as “strangers and pilgrims” (Hebrews 11:13) upon it, having “no

            continuing city” (Ibid. 13:14).  Then first were the joys of heaven

            painted in glowing hues, and men told that eye had not seen, nor ear

             heard, neither had it entered into the heart of man [to conceive],

            the things which God had prepared for those that love him”

            (I Corinthians 2:9). No sensuous Paradise of earthly joys was depicted,

            noCastle of Indolence,” no mere haven of rest, but man’s true home,

            the place and state for which he was created, where is his citizenship,

            where he will be reunited to those whom in life he loved, where his

             nature will be perfected, and where, above all, he will “be with

            Christ” (Philippians 1:23), will “see God” (I John 3:2), and “know

            even as he is known” -  (I Corinthians 13:12). The prospect of death

            thus, to the true Christian, lost all its terrors. “I am in a strait betwixt two,”

            says Paul, “having a desire to depart, and be with Christ, which is far

             better (Philippians 1:23); and again, “I am willing rather to be absent

            from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (II Corinthians 5:8).

            Natural shrinking there may be, for “the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38);

            but thousands have triumphed over it, have sought martyrdom, have gone

            gladly to their deaths, and preferred to die. (Revelation 6:9-11) - Even

            when there is no such exaltation of feeling, death is contemplated with

            calmness, as a passage to a better world — a world where there is

            no sorrow nor sighing (Isaiah 35:10), where there is no sin, “where the

            wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest” (Job 3:17).

            Untimely death from natural disease or accident is to the Christian no sign

            of God’s displeasure, but rather an indication of the contrary. God takes to

            himself those whom he recognizes as fit to die.  He takes them in love, not

            in wrath, to join the company of “the spirits of just men made perfect”

             (Hebrews 12:23), to be among his “jewels” (Malachi 3:17).

 

 

 

                        The Sunshine of Prosperity a Greater Danger

                                                     than

                             the Storms of Adversity (vs. 12-18)

 

When Sennacherib threatens, when his messengers blaspheme, when the

huge battalions of the most powerful kingdom in the world have entered

his territory and are about to march upon his capitol, the Jewish monarch

remains firm; his faith is unshaken; he casts his care upon God, looks to

Him and Him only; believes in Him, trusts in Him, regards prayer as the

 only door of safety. Similarly, when disease prostrates him, when a painful and

dangerous malady confines him to his bed, and the prophet, instead of

bringing him words of comfort, is commissioned to bid him “set his house

in order; for he shall die, and not live” (v. 1), his faith fails not, in God is

still his refuge, to God alone he betakes himself, and prays and weeps sore

(vs. 2-3). The blasts of calamity cannot tear away from him the cloak of

faith; he clutches it the tighter the more the storm rages; nothing will

induce him to let it go. But the danger past, health restored, the admiration

of foreign kings attracted, his car besieged by congratulations and

flatteries, his court visited by envoys from “a far country,” and at once his

grasp relaxes, the thought of God fades from his heart, his faith slips from

him, and he is a mere worldling, bent on winning to himself a seat alliance,

and obtaining the aid of an “arm of flesh” against his enemies. And so it is

and will ever be with most of us. We can bear the world’s frowns, the

buffets of fortune, the cruelty of oppressors, the open attacks of rivals and

enemies; we can resist them, defy them, and still maintain our integrity; but

let the world smile, let fortune favor us, let riches increase, let friends

spring up on all sides, and how few of us can stand the sunshine! How few

of us can remain as close to God as we were before! How few of us but

drop the habits of prayer, of communing with God, of constant reliance

upon Him, which were familiar to us in the darker time, and substitute a

mere occasional and perfunctory acknowledgment of His goodness! Alas,

how few! Oh! may our cry, the cry of our heart, ever be, “In all time of our

tribulation, in all time of our wealth... good Lord, deliver us!”

 

 

 

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