Isaiah 36

 

 

·         Chapters 36-39 is a Historical Sketch of Events in the Reign of Hezekiah

·         Chapters 36-37 – Sennacherib’s Attempts to Reduce Judea, and His

            Overthrow

 

These passages seem to be a blended account of two invasions.  Sennacherib, as

leader of his father Sargon’s armies, invaded Judah (713 B. C.) and took many

cities.  Hezekiah bought him off (II Kings 18:14-16).  He came again (701 B.C.),

at which time the Angel smote him.

 

Hoshea, 730-721 B.C., was the last king of Israel.  He reigned nine years –

he paid tribute to the king of Assyria, but made a secret  alliance with the

king of Egypt – then the Assyrians came and administered the death blow

to the Northern Kingdom.  Samaria fell, and its people followed the rest

of Israel into Captivity. 

 

The prophets at that time were Hosea, Isaiah and Micah – the Northern

Kingdom had lasted about 200 years.  Every one of its 19 kings had

walked in the sins of Jeroboam, its found “who made Israel to sin”

God had sent prophet after prophet, and judgment after judgment, in

an effort to turn the nation back from its sins, but it was in vain –

Israel was joined to its idols – (Hosea 4:17) – There was no remedy,

and the wrath of God arose and removed Israel out of the land.

(excerpted from Halley’s Bible Handbook )

 

II Kings 18:1 tells us that Hezekiah became king in the third year

of the above named Hoshea.

 

The present chapters (ch. 36-39.) seem to have been originally an

“Appendix,” attached, as furnishing illustration to the preceding

prophecies, and at one time terminating the book. They will thus stand to

the preceding chapters in much the same relation as that in which the last

chapter of Jeremiah stands to the rest of that prophet’s work, differing only

in the fact that they are almost entirely the prophet’s own composition.

Isaiah wrote the history of the reign of Hezekiah for the general “Book of

the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah” (2 Chronicles 32:32). From this

book” the account of the reign which we have in 2 Kings (18-20.) is

almost certainly taken (2 Kings 20:20). The close verbal resemblance

between the present chapters and those in Kings, and the differences,

which are chiefly omissions, are best accounted for by supposing that both

are abbreviations of a more extensive narrative, such as that composed for

the original “Book of the Chronicles” probably was. The abbreviation here

inserted may have been made either by the prophet himself, or by a “coeditor.”

The point is one which is not very important, and which it is quite

impossible to determine, unless arbitrarily.

 

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vs. 1-2 - Sennacherib's foray against Judah - sent Rabshakeh and

            he asks:

 

“What confidence is this wherein thou trusteth?” – v. 4

 

on whom dost thou trust?” – a good question – v. 5

 

Is it Egypt? – v. 6

 

Is it Jehovah – your God? – v. 7

 

v. 7 – “if thou say to me, we trust in the Lord” - “The Assyrians,” it

has been observed, “had a good intelligence department” (Cheyne). It was

known to Sennacherib that Hezekiah had a confident trust, which seemed

to him wholly irrational, in Jehovah — the special God of his people. It

was also known to him that Hezekiah, in the earlier portion of his reign

(2 Kings 18:4), had “removed the high places” and broken down the

altars, where Jehovah had for centuries been worshipped throughout the

length and breadth of the land. He concludes that, in so doing, he must

have offended Jehovah. He is probably ignorant of the peculiar proviso of

the Jewish Law, that sacrifice should be offered in one place only, and

conceives that Hezekiah has been actuated by some narrow motive, and

has acted in the interests of one city only, not of the whole people – “ye

shall worship before this altar” - The parallel passage of 2 Kings (18:22)

has “this altar in Jerusalem.” The brazen altar in the great court of the

temple is, of course, meant. Hezekiah had cleansed it front the pollutions of

the time of Ahaz (2 Chronicles 29:18), and had insisted on sacrifice

being offered nowhere else (2 Chronicles 29:21-35; 30:15-24; 31:1,

etc.). Such a concentration of worship was unknown to any of the heathen

nations, and may well have been unintelligible to them.

 

v. 15 – “Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in Jehovah-  There is

nothing improbable in Rabshakeh’s having thus spoken. Isaiah had long

been encouraging Hezekiah to resist Sennacherib by promises of Divine aid

(Isaiah 30:31; 31:4-9). Hezekiah would naturally repeat these premises

to the people, and could not give their effect in simpler words than by

saying, “Jehovah will surely deliver us: this city shall not be delivered into

the hand of the King of Assyria.” – (God did deliver His people – see ch.

37:33-37)   Spies and deserters would naturally tell the Assyrian envoys

what Hezekiah had said.

 

This chapter is full of the harangue of Rabshakeh, his arrogance and

railings.

 

 

 

                                                Additional Notes

 

 

I. IT IS A FOOLISH TRUST TO PUT CONFIDENCE IN WISE

COUNSELLORS. Princes, no doubt, do well to seek advice from the

wisest among their subjects, and, speaking generally, cannot do better than

follow such advice when it has been deliberately given. But to place

absolute confidence in the wisest of human counsellors is sheer folly. “The

wisdom of the wise is foolishness with God” (1 Corinthians 3:19);

God casteth out the counsel of princes.” The wisest of men are liable to

err, to misinterpret the past, to misconceive the future. The best of

counsellors are “blind guides,” and are liable to “fall into the pit” with

those who are guided by them. It is the truest wisdom to mistrust all human

advisers, and to look elsewhere for an infallible guidance.

 

II. IT IS A FOOLISH TRUST TO PUT CONFIDENCE IN AN ARMED

FORCE, however strong it may seem to be. “It is nothing to the Lord to

help, whether with ninny, or with them that have no power” (2

Chronicles 14:11).It is no hard matter” with Him “for many to be shut up

in the hands of a few; and with Heaven it is all one, to deliver with a great

multitude, or a small company: for the victory of battle standeth not in the

multitude of an host; but strength cometh from heaven” (1 Macc. 3:18,

19). Even a heathen could remark that “ofttimes a mighty host is

discomfited by a few men, when God in His anger sends fear or storm from

heaven, and they perish in a way unworthy of them” (Herod., 7:10, § 6).

The children of this world put their trust in “big battalions;” but the entire

course of history testifies to the frequent triumph of the weak over the

strong, of small over large armiesPlataea, Cunaxa, Issus, Arbela,

Magnesia, in the ancient; Soissons, Mortgarten, Cressy, Poitiers, Waterloo,

understand that the voice of God had ordered the expedition, which,

therefore, was certain to be successful. In all probability this boast was a

purely gratuitous one, not grounded upon any even supposed oracle or

announcement. It was hoped that it might alarm some of the Jews, and

induce them to go over to the enemy, or at least stand aloof from the

contest. A few weeks — perhaps a few days — showed the baselessness of

the assertion. Had God ordered the expedition, he would have prospered

it; had he “given the Assyrians a charge,” He would have caused them “to

take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread Judah down like the mire

of the streets” (Isaiah 10:6). But the boast was wholly false. God had,

in fact, declared Himself against the expedition (Isaiah 31:8), and had

promised His protection to Jerusalem (Isaiah 31:5). The event was in

the fullest accord with these announcements, and put to shame the

Assyrian, with his vain boasts (Isaiah 37:36). In all ages, boasters have

declared that they would destroy the Church. Epiphanes, Galerius, Julian,

Mohammed, designed and attempted the extirpation of true religion. They

boasted beforehand that they would succeed. In the event they egregiously

failed. So, in our own day, pseudo-science declares that it is just about to

sweep away Christianity front the earth. The wretched effete religion is, the

scientists maintain, on its last legs, dwindling, dying, just about to

disappear. But year by year, month by month, day by day, facts give their

predictions the lie. The Church remains firm upon its Rock, against which

the gates of hell will never prevail.

.

v. 21 - Silence the Best Answer to Many an Argument.

 

“Speech is silvern,” it has been said; “but silence is golden.” “Answer not a

fool according to his folly,” says the wise king (Proverbs 26:4) — an

injunction no doubt balanced to some extent by the counter-phrase,

Answer a fool according to his folly” — which immediately follows

(Proverbs 26:5). into universal rule can be given. “There is a time to

speak, and a time to keep silence” (Ecclesiastes 3:7); and the wisdom

of the wise is shown in few things more strikingly than in their faculty of

discerning the right time for each. But the tendency to err is on the side of

speech, and the practical want with most men is to know when they should

refrain from uttering the words which rush so readily to their lips; and keep

silence, “though it be pain and grief to them” (Psalm 39:2, Prayer-book

version).