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34 Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the LORD, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel;
35 With whom the LORD had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them:
38 And the covenant that I have made with you, ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods. 39 But the LORD your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.
36 But the LORD, who brought you up out of
the land of Egypt, with great power and a stretched- NOW it came to pg of Israel, that Hezekiah "the pass, in the third of Hoshea
out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice.
son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign.
37 And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods.
2 Twenty and five years old was he when he began_to_reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah.
3 And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did.
40 Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner.
41 So these nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images, both their children and their children's children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.
to Gen. 32. 28. Judg. 6. 10. y Ex. 20. 25. Ex. 6. 6. a Deut. 10. 20. b Deut. 5, 32. c Deut. 4. 23. d Jer. 13. 23. e ver. 32, 33.
them, to teach them how they should fear the Lord; whether he taught them out of the book of the law, or only by word of mouth, is uncertain.
5. That, being thus taught, they made a mongrel religion of it, worshipped the God of Israel for fear, and their own idols for love; (v. 33,) They feared the Lord, but they served their own gods; they all agreed to worship the God of the land, according to the manner, to observe the Jewish festivals and rites of sacrificing, but every nation made gods of their own besides, not only for their private use in their own families, but to be put in the houses of their high places, v. 29. The idols of each country are here named, v. 30, 31. The learned are at a loss for the signification of several of these names, and cannot agree by what representations these gods were worshipped. If we may credit the traditions of the Jewish doctors, they tell us, that Succoth-Benoth was worshipped in a hen and chickens, Nergal in a cock, Ashima in a smooth goat, Nibhaz in a dog, Tartak in an ass, Adrammelech in a peacock, Anammelech in a pheasant. Our own tell us, more probably, That SuccothBenoth, signifying the tents of the daughters, was Venus; Nergal, being worshipped by the Cuthites or Persians, was the fire; Adrammelech and Anammelech were only distinctions of Moloch; see how vain idolaters were in their imaginations, and wonder at their sottishness. Our very ignorance concerning these idols teaches us the accomplishment of that word which God has spoken, That these false goods should all perish, (Jer. 10. 11;) they are all buried in oblivion, while the name of the true God shall continue for ever.
This medley superstition is here said to continue until this day, (v. 41,) till the time when this book was written, and long after, above 300 years in all, till the time of Alexander the Great, when Manasse, brother to Jaddus the high priest of the Jews, having married the daughter of Sanballat, governor of the Samaritans, went over to them, got leave of Alexander to build a temple in mount Gerizzim, drew over many of the Jews to him, and prevailed with the Samaritans to cast away all their idols, and to worship the God of Israel only; yet their worship was mixed with so much superstition, that our Saviour tells them they knew not what they worshipped, John 4. 22.
II. Concerning the Israelites that were carried into the land of Assyria; the historian has occasion to speak of them, v. 33, showing that their successors in the land did as they had done, (after the manner of the nations whom they carried away,) they worshipped both the God of Israel and those other gods; but what did the captives do in the land of their affliction? Were they reformed, and brought to repentance, by their troubles? No, they do after the former manner, v. 34. When the two tribes were afterward carried into Babylon, they were cured by it of their idolatry, and therefore, after 70 years, they were brought back with joy; but the ten tribes were hardened in the furnace, and therefore were justly lost in it, and left to perish.
This obstinacy of theirs is here aggravated by the consideration, 1. Of the honour God had put upon them, as the seed of Jacob, whom he named Israel, and from him they were so named, but were a reproach to that worthy name by which they were called. 2. Of the covenant he made with them, and the charge he gave them upon that covenant, which is here very fully recited, that they should fear and serve the Lord Jehovah only, who had brought them up out of Egypt, (v. 36;) that, having received his statues and ordinances in writing, they should observe to do them for evermore, (v. 37,) and never forget that covenant which God had made with them, the promises and
When the prophet had condemned Ephraim for lies and deceit, he comforted himself with this, that Judah yet ruled with God, and was faithful with the moet hoty, Hus. 11. 12. It was a very melancholy view which the last chapter gave us of the desolations of Israel; but this chapter shows us the affairs of Judah in a good posture at the same time, that it may appear God has not quite cast off the seed of Abraham, Rom. 11. 1. Hezekiah is here upon the throne, 1. Reforming his kingdom, v. 1-6. II. Prospering in all his undertakings, (v. 7, 8,) and this, at the same time when the ten tribes were led captive, v. 9-12. III. Yet invaded by Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, v. 13. His country put under contribution, v. 14-16. Jerusalem besieged, v. 17. God blasphemed, himself reviled, and his people solicited to revolt, in a virulent speech made by Rabshakeh, v. 18-37. But how well it ended, and how much to the honour and comfort of our great reformer, we shall find in the next chapter.
4 He removed the high places, and brake the *images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it 'Nehushtan.
5 He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.
a 2 Chr. B. 27. 29. 1. He is called Ezekias, Matt. 1. 9. b 2 Chr. 29. 1, Abijah. statues. c Num. 21.9. ti.e. apiece of brass. d c. 23. 35.
conditions of that covenant, especially that great article of it which is here thrice repeated, because it had been so often inculcated, and so much insisted on, that they should not fear other gods. He had told them that if they kept close to him, he would deliver them out of the hand of all their enemies, (v. 39;) yet, when they were in the hand of their enemies, and stood in need of deliverance, they were so stupid, and had so little sense of their own interest, that they did after the former manner, (v. 40,) they served both the true God, and false gods, as if they knew no difference. Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone; so they did, and so did the nations that succeeded them: well might the apostle ask, What then? Are we better than they? No, in no wise, for both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin, Rom. 3. 9.
NOTES TO CHAPTER XVIII.
V. 1-8. We have here a general account of the reign of Hezekiah; it appears, by comparing his age with his father's, that he was born when his father was about 11 or 12 years old, Divine Providence so ordering that he might be of full age, and fit for business then, when the measure of his father's iniquity should be full. Here is,
I. His great picty, which was the more wonderful, because his father was very wicked and vile, one of the worst of the kings, yet he one of the best, which may intimate to us, 1. That what good there is in any, is not of nature, but of grace, free grace, sovereign grace, which, contrary to nature, grafts into the good olive, that which was wild by nature, Rom. 11. 24. 2. That that grace gets over the greatest difficulties and disadvantages: Ahaz, it is likely, gave his son a bad education as well as a bad example; Urijah, his priest, perhaps, had the tuition of him; his attendants and companions, we may suppose, were such as were addicted to idolatry; and yet Hezekiah became eminently good; when God's grace will work, what can hinder it?
(1.) He was a genuine son of David, who had a great many degenerate ones, v. 3. He did that which was right, according to all that David his father did, with whom the covenant was made, and therefore he was entitled to the benefit of it. We have read of some of them, who did that which was right, but not like David, (ch. 14. 3;) they did not love God's ordinances, nor cleave to them, so as he did; but Hezekiah was a second David, had such a love for God's word, and God's house, as he had. Let us not be frightened with an apprehension of the continual decay of virtue, as if, when times and men are bad, they must needs, of course, grow worse and worse; that does not follow, for, after many bad kings, God raised up one that was like David himself.
(2.) He was a zealous reformer of his kingdom, and as, we find, (2 Chr. 29. 3,) he began betimes to be so, fell to work as soon as ever he came to the crown, and lost no time; he, found his kingdom very corrupt, the people in all things too superstitious; they had always been so, but in the last reign worse than ever; by the influence of his wicked father, a deluge of idolatry had overspread the land; his spirit was stirred against it, we may suppose, as Paul at Athens, while his father lived, and therefore, as soon as ever he had power in his hands, he set himself to abolish it, (v. 4,) though, considering how the people were wedded to it, he might think it could not be done without opposition.
 The images and the groves were downright idolatrous, and of heathenish original; those he brake and destroyed;
6 For he clave to the LORD, and departed not | Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of from following him, but kept his commandments, the Medes; which the LORD commanded Moses.
7 And the LORD was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria," and served him not. 8 He smote the Philistines, even unto Gaza,' and the borders thereof, from the tower of the watch-zekiah, did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up men to the fenced city. against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them.
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, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged it.
10 And at the end of three years they took it: even in the sixth year of Hezekiah (that is, the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel) Samaria was taken.
e Deut. 10. 20. Josh. 23. 8. after him. f 2 Chr. 15. 2. 1 Sam. 18. 14. 60. 12. Rom. 8. 31. h c. 16. 7. ↑ Azzah. i c. 17, 3, &c.
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.
13 Now, in the fourteenth year of king He
11 And the king of Assyria did carry away Is-treasures of the king's house. rael unto Assyria, and put them in Halah and in
though his own father had set them up, and showed an affection
14 And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying, I have offended; return from me: that which thou puttest on me will I bear. And the king of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold.
15 And "Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the LORD, and in the
16 At that time did Hezekiah cut off the gold
k1 Chr. 5. 26. 1 Neh. 9, 26, 27. Ps. 107. 17. Dan. 9. 6, 10. m 2 Chr. 32. 1, &c. Is. 36. 1, &c. Sanherib. n c. 16. 8.
and will prevail. Finding himself successful, 1. He threw off the yoke of the king of Assyria, which his father had basely submitted to; this is called rebelling against him, because so the king of Assyria called it: but it was really an asserting of the just rights of his crown, which it was not in the power of Ahaz to alienate. If it was imprudent to make this bold struggle so soon, yet I see not that it was, as some think, unjust; when he had thrown out the idolatry of the nations, he might well throw off the yoke of their oppression. The surest way to liberty, is, to serve God. 2. He made a vigorous attack upon the Philistines, and smote them even unto Gaza, both the country villages and the fortified towns, the tower of the watchmen, and the fenced cities, reducing those places which they had made themselves masters of in his father's time, 2 Chr. 28. 18. When he had purged out the corruptions his father had brought in, he might expect to recover the possessions his father had lost; of his victories over the Philistines Isaiah prophesied, ch. 14. 28, &c.
V. 9-16. The kingdom of Assyria was now grown considerable, though we never read of it till the last reign; such changes there are in the affairs of nations and families; those that have been despicable, become formidable, and those, on the contrary, are brought low, that have made a great noise and figure. We have here an account,
[3.] The brazen serpent was originally of divine institution, and yet, because it had been abused to idolatry, he brake it to pieces. The children of Israel had brought that with them to Canaan; where they set it up, we are not told, but, it seems, it had been carefully preserved, as a memorial of God's goodness to their fathers in the wilderness, and a traditional evidence of the truth of that story, Num. 21. 9, for the encourage- I. Of the success of Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, against ment of the sick to apply themselves to God for a cure, and of Israel; his besieging Samaria, (v. 9,) taking it, (v. 10,) and penitent sinners to apply themselves to him for mercy. But, in carrying the people into captivity, (r. 11;) with the reason why process of time, when they began to worship the creature more God brought this judgment upon them, (v. 12,) Because they than the Creator, they that would not worship images borrowed obeyed not the voice of the Lord their God. This was related from the heathen, as some of their neighbours did, were drawn more largely in the chapter before, but it is here repeated, in by the tempter to burn incense to the brazen serpent, because 1. As that which stirred up Hezekiah and his people to purge out that was made by order from God himself, and had been an in- idolatry with so much zeal, because they saw the ruin which it strument of good to them. But Hezekiah, in his pious zeal for brought upon Israel: when their neighbour's house was on fire, God's honour, not only forbade the people to worship it, but, and their own in danger, it was time to cast away the accursed that it might never be so abused any more, he showed the peo- thing. 2. As that which Hezekiah much lamented, but had ple that it was Nehushtan, nothing else but a piece of brass, and not strength to prevent: though the ten tribes had revolted from that therefore it was an idle wicked thing to burn incense to it; he and often been vexatious to, the house of David, no longer ago then brake it to pieces; that is, as Bishop Patrick expounds it, than in his father's reign, yet being of the seed of Israel, he ground it to powder, which he scattered in the air, that no frag-could not be glad at their calamities. 3. As that which laid ment of it might remain. If any think that the just honour of Hezekiah and his kingdom open to the king of Assyria, and made the brazen serpent was hereby diminished, they will find it it much more easy for him to invade him; it is said of the ten abundantly made up again, John 3. 14, where our Saviour tribes here, that they would neither hear God's commandments, makes it a type of himself; good things, when idolized, are nor do them, v. 12. Many will be content to give God the hearbetter parted with than kept. ing, that will give him no more, (Ez. 33. 31,) but these, being resolved not to do their duty, did not care to hear of it.
(3.) Herein he was a nonsuch, (v. 5 ;) none of all the kings of Judah were like him, either before or after him. Two things he was eminent for, in his reformation; [1.] Courage and confidence in God: in abolishing idolatry, there was danger of disobliging his subjects, and provoking them to rebel; but he trusted in the Lord God of Israel to bear him out in what he did, and save him from harm: a firm belief of God's all-sufficiency to protect and reward us, will conduce much to make us sincere, bold, and vigorous, in the way of our duty, like Hezekiah; when he came to the crown, he found his kingdom compassed with enemies, but he did not seek for succour to foreign aids, as his father did, but trusted the God of Israel to be the keeper of Israel. [2.] Constancy and perseverance in his duty; for this, there was none like him, that he clave to the Lord with a fixed resolution, and never departed from following him, v. 6. Some of his predecessors that began well, fell off, but he, like Caleb, followed the Lord fully; he not only abolished all idolatrous usages, but kept God's commandments, and, in every thing, made conscience of his duty.
II. Of the attempt of Sennacherib, the succeeding king of Assyria, against Judah, in which he was encouraged by his predecessor's success against Israel, whose honours he would vie with, and whose victories he would push forward. The descent he made upon Judah was a great calamity to that kingdom, by which God would try the faith of Hezekiah, and chastise the people, who are called a hypocritical nation, (Is. 10. 6,) because they did not heartily comply with Hezekiah's reformation, nor willingly part with their idols, but kept them up in their hearts, and, perhaps, in their houses, though their high places were removed. Even times of reformation may prove troublous times, made so by those that oppose it, and then the blame is laid upon the reformers; this calamity will appear great upon Hezekiah, if we consider,
1. How much he lost of his country, v. 13. The king of Assyria took all, or most, of the fenced cities of Judah, the frontier towns, and the garrisons; and then all the rest fell into his hands, of course; the confusion which the country was put into by this invasion, is described by the prophet, Is. 10. 28-32.
II. His great prosperity, (v. 7, 8;) he was with God, and then God was with him, and, having the special presence of God with him, he prospered whithersoever he went, had wonderful success in all his enterprises, in his wars, his buildings, and especially his reformation, for that good work was carried on with less difficulty than he could have expected. They that do God's work, with an eye to his glory, and with confidence in his strength, may expect to prosper in it; great is the truth,
2. How dear he paid for his peace; he saw Jerusalem itself in danger of falling into the enemies' hands, as Samaria had done, and was willing to purchase its safety at the expense, (1.) Of a mean submission; "I have offended in denying the usual tribute, and am ready to make satisfaction as shall be demanded," v. 14. Where was Hezekiah's courage? Where
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.
17 And the king of Assyria sent Tartan, and Rabsaris, and Rab-shakeh, from Lachish to king Hezekiah, with a great host against Jerusalem: 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, which is in the highway of the fuller's field.
18 And when they had called to the king, there came out to them Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder.
19 And Rab-shakeh said unto them, Speak ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest?
20 Thou sayest, (but they are but "vain words,) I have counsel and strength for the war. 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, on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharoah king of Egypt unto all that trust on him. 22 But if ye say unto me, We trust in the LORD our God is not that he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away; and hath theavy. p Is. 7. 3. tor, secretary. Sor, talkeet.
or, But counsel and strength are for the war. trustest
• them. o Is. 20. 1. words of the lipe. thee.
said to Judah and Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem?
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.
24 How then wilt thou turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master's servants, and put thy trust on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen?
his confidence in God? Why did he not advise with Isaiah before he sent this crouching message? (2.) Of a vast sum of money; 300 talents of silver, and 30 of gold; not to be paid annually, but as a present ransom, above 200,000 pounds: to raise this sum, he was forced not only to empty the public treasures, (v. 15,) but to take the gold plates off from the doors of the temple, and from the pillars, v. 16. Though the temple sanctified the gold which he had dedicated, yet, the necessity being urgent, he thought that he might make as bold with that, as his father David (whom he took for his pattern) did with the show-bread, and that it was neither impious nor imprudent to give a part for a preservation of the whole; his father Ahaz had plundered the temple in contempt of it, (2 Chr. 28. 24;) he had repaid with interest what his father took, and now, with all due reverence, he only begs leave to borrow it again in an exigence, and for a greater good, with a resolution to restore it in full, as soon as he should be in a capacity to do it.
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.
26 Then said Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebna, and Joah, unto Rab-shakeh, Speak, I pray thee, to thy servants in the Syrian language; for we understand it: and talk not with us in the Jews' language, in the ears of the people that are on the wall.
27 But Rab-shakeh 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, that 'they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss, with you?
28 Then Rab-shakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Jews' language, and spake, saying, Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria:
29 Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah de
thing be made public; but Hilkiah did not consider what an unreasonable man he had to deal with, else he would not have made this request, for it did but exasperate Rab-shakeh, and make him the more rude and boisterous, v. 27. Against all the rules of decency and honour, instead of treating with the commissioners, he menaces the soldiery, persuades them to desert or mutiny, threatens if they held out to reduce them to the last extremities of famine, and then goes on with his discourse, the scope of which is, to persuade Hezekiah, and his princes and people, to surrender the city. Observe how, in order to this, 1. He magnifies his master the king of Assyria; once and again he calls him, That great king, the king of Assyria, v. 19, 28. What an idol did he make of that prince whose creature he was! God is the great King, but Sennacherib was, in his eye, a little god, and he would possess them with the same veneration for him that he had, and thereby frighten them into a submission to him; but to those who, by faith, see the King of kings in his power and glory, even the king of Assyria looks mean and little. What are the greatest of men, when either they come to compare with God, or God comes to contend with them? Ps. 82. 6, 7.
V. 17-37. Here is,
I. Jerusalem besieged by Sennacherib's army, (v. 17;) he sent three of his great generals with a great host against Jerusalem. Is this the great king, the king of Assyria? No, never call him so; he is a base, false, perfidious man, and worthy to be made infamous to all ages; let him never be named with honour, that could do such a dishonourable thing as this, to take Hezekiah's money, which he gave him upon condition he should withdraw his army, and then, instead of quitting his country, according to the agreement, to advance against his capital city, and not send him his money again neither. Those are wicked men indeed, and, let them be ever so great, we will call them so, whose principle it is, not to make their promises binding, any further than is for their interest; now Hezekiah had too much reason to repent his treaty with Sennacherib, which had made him much the poorer, and never the safer.
II. Hezekiah, and his princes and people, railed upon by Rab-shakeh, the chief speaker of the three generals, and that had the most satirical genius; he was instructed, no doubt, by Sennacherib, what to say, who intended hereby to pick a new quarrel with Hezekiah; he had promised, upon the receipt of Hezekiah's money, to withdraw his army, and therefore cannot for shame make a forcible attack upon Jerusalem immediately, but he sends Rab-shakeh to persuade Hezekiah to surrender it, and if he refuse, that shall serve him for a pretence, (and a very poor one,) to besiege it, and, if it hold out, to take it by storm. Rab-shakeh has the impudence to desire audience of the king himself at the conduit of the upper pool, without the walls; but Hezekiah has the prudence to decline a personal treaty, and sends three commissioners, (the prime ministers of state,) to hear what he had to say, but with a charge to them, not to answer that fool according to his folly, (v. 36,) for they could not convince him, but would certainly provoke him; and 3. That which he aims at, especially, is, to convince them Hezekiah had learned of his father David to believe that then that it was to no purpose for them to stand it out; What conGod would hear, when he, as a deaf man, heard not, Ps. 38. 13-fidence is there wherein thou trustest? So he insults over Heze15. One interruption they gave him in his discourse, which was kiah, v. 19. To the people he says, (v. 29,) "Let not Hezekiah only to desire him that he would speak to them now in the deceive you into your own ruin, for he shall not be able to deliver Syrian language, and they would consider of what he said, and you, you must either bend or break." It were well, if sinners report it to the king, and if they did not give him a satisfactory would submit to the force of this argument, in making their peace answer, then he might appeal to the people, by speaking in the with God-That it is therefore our wisdom to yield to him, beJews' language, v. 26. This was a reasonable request, and cause it is in vain to contend with him: what confidence is that agreeable to the custom of treaties, which is, that the plenipo- which those trust in, who stand it out against him? Are we tentiaries should settle matters between themselves, before any stronger than he? Or what shall we get by setting briers and
2. He endeavours to make them believe that it would be much for their advantage to surrender; if they held out, they must expect no other than to cat the refuse of all herbs, by reason of the want of provisions, which would be entirely cut off from them by the besiegers; but if they would capitulate, seek his favour with a present, and cast themselves upon his mercy, he would give them very good treatment, v. 31. I wonder with what face Rab-shakeh could speak of making an agreement with a present, when his master had so lately broken the agreement Hezekiah made with him, with that great present, v. 14. Can those expect to be trusted, that have been so grossly perfidious? But, Ad populum phaleras-But gild the chain, and the vulgar will let you bind them. He thinks to sooth up all with a promise, that if they would surrender upon discretion, though they must expect to be prisoners and captives, yet it would really be happy for them to be so. One would wonder he should ever think to prevail by such gross suggestions as these, but that the devil does thus impose upon sinners every day by his temptations. He will needs persuade them, (1.) That their imprisonment would be to their advantage, for they should eat every man of his own vine, v. 31. Though the property of their estates would be vested in the conquerors, yet they should have the free use of them; but he does not explain it now to them as he would afterward, that it must be understood just as much, and just as long, as the conqueror pleases. (2.) That their captivity would be much more to their advantage, I will take you away to a land like your own land; and what the better would they be for that, when they must have nothing in it to call their own?
Three things he supposes Hezekiah might trust to, and he endeavours to make out the insufficiency of each.
(1.) His own military preparations; Thou sayest, I have counsel and strength for the war; and we find that so he had, 2 Chr. 32. 3. But this Rab-shakeh turns off with a slight, "They are but vain words, thou art an unequal match for us,' v. 20. With the greatest haughtiness and disdain imaginable, he challenges him to produce 2000 men of all his people that knew how to manage a horse, and will venture to give him 2000 horses if he can; he falsely insinuates that he had no men, or none fit to be soldiers, (v. 23;) thus he thinks to run him down with confidence and banter, and will lay him any wager that one captain of the least of his master's servants is able to batlle him and all his forces.
(2.) His alliance with Egypt; he supposes that he trusted to Egypt for chariots and horsemen, (v. 24,) because the king of Israel had done so, and of this confidence he truly says, It is a broken reed, (v. 21;) it will not only fail a man when he leans on it, and expects it to bear his weight, but it will run into his hand and pierce it, and rend his shoulder, as the prophet further illustrates this similitude, with application to Egypt; (Ez. 29. 6,7,) so is the king of Egypt, says he; and truly so had the king of Assyria been to Ahaz, who trusted in him, but he distressed him, and strengthened him not, 2 Chr. 28. 20. They that trust to any arm of flesh, will find it no better than a broken reed; but God is the Rock of ages.
(3.) His interest in God, and relation to him; this was indeed the confidence in which Hezekiah trusted, (v. 22;) he supported himself by depending on the power and promise of God, with this he encouraged himself and his people; (v. 30,) The Lord will surely deliver us; (and again, v. 32,) this, he was sensible, was their great stay, and therefore he is most large in his endeavours to shake this, as David's enemies, who used all the arts they had, to drive him from his confidence in God, (Ps. 3. 2.-11. 1,) and thus did Christ's enemies, Matt. 27. 43. Three things Rab-shakeh suggests to discourage their confidence in God, and they are all false.
 That Hezekiah had forfeited God's protection, and thrown himself out of it, by destroying the high places and the altars, v. 22. Here he measures the God of Israel by the gods of the heathen, who delighted in the multitude of altars and temples, and concludes that Hezekiah had given a great offence to the God of Israel, in obliging his people to offer at one altar; this is one of the best deeds he ever did in his life, misconstrued as impious and profane, by one that did not, or would not, know the law of the God of Israel; if that be represented by ignorant and malicious men as evil and a provocation to God, which is really good and pleasing to him, we must not think it strange; if this was to be sacrilegious, Hezekiah would ever be so.
36 But the people held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king's commandment was, saying, Answer him not.
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, and told him the words of Rab-shakeh.
[2.] That God had given orders for the destruction of Jerusalem, at this time; (v. 25,) Am I now come up without the Lord? This is all an empty boast; he did not himself think he had any commission from God to do what he did, (By whom should he have it?) but he makes this pretence, to amuse and terrify the people that were on the wall. If he had any colour at all for what he said, it might be taken from the notice which, perhaps, he had had, by the writings of the prophets, of the hand of God, in the destruction of the ten tribes, and he thought he had as good a warrant for the seizing of Jerusalem as of Samaria;
Jerusalem's great distress we read of in the foregoing chapter, and left it besieged, insulted, threatened, terrified, and just ready to be swallowed up, by the Asayrian army. But in this chapter, we have an account of its glorious deliverance, not by sword or bow, but by prayer and prophecy, and by the band of an angel, 1. Hezekiah, in a great concern, sent to the prophet Isaiah, to desire his prayers, (v. 1-5,) and received from him an answer of peace, v. 6, 7. 11. Sennacherib sent a letter to Hezekiah to frighten him into a surrender, v. 8–13. III. Hezekiah, thereupon, by a very solemn prayer, recommended his case to God, the righteous Judge, and begged help from him, v. 14–19. IV. God, by Isaiah, sent him a very comfortable message, assuring him of deliverance, v. 20–34. V. The army of the Assyrians was all cut off by an angel, and Sennacherib himself slain by his own sons, v. 35-37. And so God glorified himself and saved his people.
ND came to when
A heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD.
2 And he sent Eliakim which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz.
y c. 19, 12, 13. Is. 10. 10, 11. z Jer. 49, 23. a c. 17. 24, Avah, b c. 19. 17, 18. Dan. 3. 15. < Prov, 26.4. Am. 5. 13. d Is. 33. 7. a Is. 37. 1, &c. b Luke 3. 4, called Esaias.
many that have fought against God, have pretended commissions from him.
[3.] That if Jehovah, the God of Israel, should undertake to protect them from the king of Assyria, yet he was not able to do it; with this blasphemy he concludes his speech, (v. 33-35,) comparing the God of Israel with the gods of the nations whom he had conquered, and putting him upon the level with them, and concluding that because they could not defend and deliver their worshippers, the God of Israel could not defend and deliver his. See here, First, His pride; when he conquered a city, he reckoned himself to have conquered its gods, and valued himself mightily upon it; his high opinion of the idols, made him have a high opinion of himself as too hard for them. Secondly, His profaneness; the God of Israel was not a local deity, but the God of the whole earth, the only living and true God, the Ancient of days, and had often proved himself to be above all gods; yet he makes no more of Him than of the upstart fictitious gods of Hamath and Arpad, unfairly arguing that the gods, (as some now say the priests,) of all religions are the same, and himself above them all. The tradition of the Jews is, that Rab-shakeh was an apostate Jew, which made him so ready in the Jews' language; if so, his ignorance of the God of Israel was the less excusable, and his enmity the less strange, for apostates are commonly the most bitter and spiteful enemies, witness Julian. A great deal of art and management, it must be owned, there is in this speech of Rab-shakeh, but, withal, a great deal of pride, malice, falsehood, and blasphemy; one grain of sincerity would have been worth all this wit and rhetoric.
Lastly, We are told what the commissioners on Hezekiah's part did. 1. They held their peace; not for want of something to say both on God's behalf and Hezekiah's, they might easily and justly have upbraided him with his master's treachery, and breach of faith, and have asked him, What religion encourages you to hope that that will prosper? At least, they might have given him that grave hint which Ahab gave to Ben-hadad's like insolent demands; (Let not him that girdeth on the harness, boast as though he had put it off; (but the king had commanded them not to answer him, and they observed their instructions. There is a time to keep silence, as well as a time to speak, and there are those to whom to offer any thing religious or rational, is to cast pearls before swine. What can be said to a madman? It is probable that their silence made Rab-shakeh yet more proud and secure, and so his heart was lifted up and hardened to his destruction. 2. They rent their clothes, in detestation of his blasphemy, and in grief for the despised afflicted condition of Jerusalem, the reproach of which was a burden to them. 3. They faithfully reported the matter to the king, their master, and told him the words of Rab-shakeh, that he might consider what was to be done, what course they should take, and what answer they should return to Rab-shakeh's summons.
NOTES TO CHAPTER XIX.
V. 1-7. The contents of Rab-shakeh's speech being brought to Hezekiah, one would have expected (and it is likely Rabshakeh did expect) that he should have called a council of war, and it should have been debated, whether it was best to capitulate or no. Before the siege, he had taken counsel with his princes, and his mighty men, (2 Chr. 32, 3,) but that would not do now; his greatest relief is, that he has a God to go to, and what passed between him and his God on this occasion, we have here an account of.
I. Hezekiah discovered deep concern at the dishonour done
3 And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and *blasphemy for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth.
4 It may be the LORD thy God will hear all the words of Rab-shakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God; and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that are 'left.
5 So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah.
6 And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say to your master, Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed
7 Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.
c Jer. 30. 7. g Rom. 9. 27. to God by Rab-shakeh's blasphemy. When he heard it, though at second hand, he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, v. 1. Good men were wont to do so, when they heard of any reproach cast on God's name; and great men must not think it any disparagement to them, to sympathize with the injured honour of the great God. Royal robes are not too good to be rent, nor royal flesh too good to be clothed with sackcloth, in humiliation for indignities done to God, and for the perils and terrors of his Jerusalem. This, God now called to, and was displeased with those who were not thus affected; (Is. 22. 12-14,) Behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep, though it was a day of trouble and perplexity in the valley of vision, (v. 5;) which refers to this very event. The king in sackcloth, but many of his subjects in soft clothing.
or, provocation. d c. 18. 17. e Ps. 74. 18. f Ps. 50. 21. found. h c. 18. 35.
II. He went up to the house of the Lord, according to the example of the psalmist, who, when he was grieved at the pride and prosperity of the wicked, went into the sanctuary of God, and there understood their end, Ps. 73. 17. He went to the house of God, to meditate and pray, and get his spirit into a sedate composed frame, after this agitation. He was not considering what answer to return to Rab-shakeh, but refers himself to God, Thou shalt answer, Lord, for me; Herbert. In the house of the Lord he found a place both of rest and refuge, a treasury, a magazine, a council-chamber, and all he needed, all in God. Note, When the church's enemies are very daring and threatening, it is the wisdom and duty of the church's friends to apply themselves to God, appeal to him, and leave their cause with him.
III. He sent to the prophet Isaiah, by honourable messengers, in token of the great respect he had for him, to desire his prayers, v. 2-4. Eliakim and Shebna were two of those that had heard the words of Rab-shakeh, and were the better able both to possess and to affect Isaiah with the case. The elders of the priests were themselves to pray for the people, in time of trouble, Joel 2. 17, but they must go to engage Isaiah's prayers, because he could pray better, and had a better interest in heaven. The messengers were to go in sackcloth, because they were to represent the king, who was so clothed. Their errand to Isaiah was, Lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left, that is, for Judah, which is but a remnant now that the ten tribes are gone; for Jerusalem, which is but a remnant now that the defenced cities of Judah are taken. Note, 1. It is very desirable, and what we should be desirous of when we are in trouble, to have the prayers of our friends for us. In begging it, we honour God, we honour prayer, and we honour our brethren. 2. When we desire the prayers of others for us, that must not excuse us from praying for ourselves. When Hezekiah sent to Isaiah to pray for him, he himself went into the house of the Lord, to offer up his own prayers. 3. Those who speak from God to us, we should in a particular manner desire to speak to God for us. He is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, Gen. 20. 7. The great Prophet is the great Intercessor. 4. Those are likely to prevail with God, that lift up their prayers, that is, that lift up their hearts in prayer. 5. When the interests of God's church are brought very low, so that there is but a remnant left, few friends, and those weak, and at a loss, then it is time to lift up our prayer for that remnant.
Two things are urged to Isaiah, to engage his prayers for them.
(1.) Their fears of the enemy, v. 3. "He is insolent and haughty, it is a day of rebuke and blasphemy, we are despised, God is dishonoured, upon this account it is a day of trouble, never were such a king and kingdom so trampled on and abused as we are; our soul is exceedingly filled with the contempt of the proud; and it is a sword in our bones, to hear them reproach our confidence in God, and say, Where is now your God? And, which is worst of all, we see not which way we can help our selves, and get clear of the reproach. Our cause is good, our people are faithful, but we are quite overpowered with numbers; VOL. I.-116
8 So Rab-shakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish.'
9 And when he heard say of Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, Behold, he is come out to fight against thee; he sent messengers again unto Hezekiah, saying,
10 Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God in whom thou trustest "deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.
11 Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly; and shalt thou be delivered?
12 Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed; as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Thelasar?
13 Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivah?
i ver. 35-37. k Jer. 51. 1. c. 18. 14. m 1 Sam. 23. 27. n c. 18. 5. c. 18. 33, 34. p Ez. 27. 23.
the children are brought to the birth, now is the time, the critical moment, when, if ever, we must be relieved; one successful blow given to the enemy, would accomplish our wishes. But alas, we are not able to give it; there is not strength to bring forth. Our case is as deplorable, and calls for as speedy help, as that of a woman in travail, that is quite spent with her throes, so that she has not strength to bear the child. Compare with this Hos. 13. 13, We are ready to perish; if thou canst do any thing, have compassion upon us, and help us."
(2.) Their hopes in God. To him they look, on him they depend, to appear for them; one word from him will turn the scale, and save the sinking remnant; if he but reprove the words of Rab-shakeh, that is, disprove them, (v. 4,) if he undertake to convince and confound the blasphemer, all will be well. And this they trust he will do, not for their merit's sake, but for his own honour's sake, because he has reproached the living God, by levelling him with deaf and dumb idols. They have reason to think the issue will be good, for they can interest God in the quarrel; Ps. 74. 22, Arise, O God, plead thine own cause. “He is the Lord thy God," say they to Isaiah," thine, whose glory thou art concerned for, and whose favour thou art interested in. He has heard and known the blasphemous words of Rabshakeh, and therefore, it may be, he will hear and rebuke them. We hope he will. Help us with thy prayers to bring the cause before him, and then we are content to leave it with him."
IV. God, by Isaiah, sent to Hezekiah, to assure him that he would glorify himself in the ruin of the Assyrians. Hezekiah sent to Isaiah, not to inquire concerning the event, as many did that sent to the prophets, (Shall I recover? or the like,) but to desire his assistance in his duty. It was this that he was solicitous about; and therefore God let him know what the event should be, in recompense of his care to do his duty, v. 6, 7. 1. God interests himself in the cause; They have blasphemed me. 2. He encourages Hezekiah, who was much dismayed; Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard: they are but words, (though swelling and fiery words,) and words are but wind. 3. He promised to frighten the king of Assyria worse than Rab-shakeh had frightened him; I will send a blast upon him, that pestilential breath which killed his army, upon which, terrors shall seize him, and drive him into his own country, where death shall meet him. This short threatening from the mouth of God, would do execution, when all the impotent menances that came from Rab-shakeh's mouth, would vanish into air.
V. 8-19. Rab-shakeh, having delivered his message, and received no answer, (which silence, whether he took it for a consent or a slight, does not appear,) left his army before Jerusalem, under the command of the other generals, and went himself to attend the king his master for further orders. He found him besieging Libnah, a city that had revolted from Judah, ch. 8. 22. Whether he had taken Lachish or no, is not certain; some think he departed from it, because he found the taking of it impracticable, v. 8. However, he was now alarmed with the rumour that the king of the Cushites, who bordered upon the Arabians, was coming out against him with a great army, v. 9. This made him very desirous to gain Jerusalem with all speed. To take it by force would cost him more time and men than he could well spare, and therefore he renews his attack upon Hezekiah, to persuade him tamely to surrender it. Having found him an easy man once, ch. 18. 14, when he said, That which thou puttest on me I will bear, he hoped again to frighten him into a submission, but in vain. Here,
I. Sennacherib sent a letter to Hezekiah, a railing letter, a blasphemous letter, to persuade him to surrender Jerusalem, because it would be to no purpose for him to think of standing it out. His letter is to the same purport with Rab-shakeh's speech; there is nothing new offered in it. Rab-shakeh had said to the people, Let not Hezekiah deceive you, ch. 18. 29. Sennacherib writes to Hezekiah, Let not thy God deceive ( 921 )