2 Kings 19:24
I have dig and drunk strange waters, and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of besieged places.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(24) I have digged and drunk strange waters.—Scarcity of water has hitherto been no bar to my advance. In foreign and hostile lands, where the fountains and cisterns have been stopped and covered in (2Chronicles 32:3), I have digged new wells.

And with the sole . . . places.—Rather, and I will dry up with the sole of my feet all the Nile arms of Māçôri.e., Lower Egypt. (Comp. Isaiah 19:5 seq.) Neither mountains nor rivers avail to stop my progress. As the style is poetical, perhaps it would be correct to take the perfects, which in 2Kings 19:23-24 alternate with imperfects, in a future sense: “I—I will ascend lofty mountains . . . I will dig and drink strange waters” the latter in the arid desert that lies between Egypt and Palestine (the Et-Tîh). Otherwise, both perfects and imperfects may mark what is habitual: “I ascend . . . I dig.”

2 Kings 19:24. I have digged and drunk strange waters — That is, says Vitringa, “I have hitherto possessed all my desires; whatever I have vehemently thirsted after, I have attained.” Others understand this and the following clause more literally, thus: “I have marched through deserts, where it was expected my army would have perished with thirst; and yet even there have I digged and found water: and I have rendered rivers fordable by turning their streams from their ancient beds, and have deprived the besieged of the benefit of those waters.” Vitringa, however, renders the last clause, with the sole of my feet will I dry up all the rivers of Egypt. The prophet is thought to allude to a custom of the Egyptians, who commonly made use of machines, which were worked by the foot, to draw water from rivers, for whatever purpose it might be wanted; and the meaning, according to Vitringa, is, that the Assyrian, by the assistance of his very numerous army, the sole of his foot, would dry up all the rivers of Egypt, so that they should not delay the success of his expedition. The expression is of the hyperbolic kind, and well suits this haughty monarch, whose mind was at this time full of his expedition into Judea and Egypt. — See Dr. Dodd.19:20-34 All Sennacherib's motions were under the Divine cognizance. God himself undertakes to defend the city; and that person, that place, cannot but be safe, which he undertakes to protect. The invasion of the Assyrians probably had prevented the land from being sown that year. The next is supposed to have been the sabbatical year, but the Lord engaged that the produce of the land should be sufficient for their support during those two years. As the performance of this promise was to be after the destruction of Sennacherib's army, it was a sign to Hezekiah's faith, assuring him of that present deliverance, as an earnest of the Lord's future care of the kingdom of Judah. This the Lord would perform, not for their righteousness, but his own glory. May our hearts be as good ground, that his word may strike root therein, and bring forth fruit in our lives.Have digged and drunk ... and dried up - The meaning seems to be - "Mountains do not stop me - I cross them even in my chariots. Deserts do not stop me - I dig wells there, and drink the water. Rivers do not stop me - I pass them as easily as if they were dry land."

The rivers of besieged places - Rather, "the rivers of Egypt." The singular form, Mazor (compare the modern Misr and the Assyrian Muzr), is here used instead of the ordinary dual form, Mizraim, perhaps because "Lower Egypt" only is intended. This was so cut up with canals and branches of the Nile, natural and artificial, that it was regarded as impassable for chariots and horses. Sennacherib, however, thought that these many streams would prove no impediments to him; he would advance as fast as if they were "dried up."

20. Then Isaiah … sent—A revelation having been made to Isaiah, the prophet announced to the king that his prayer was heard. The prophetic message consisted of three different portions:—First, Sennacherib is apostrophized (2Ki 19:21-28) in a highly poetical strain, admirably descriptive of the turgid vanity, haughty pretensions, and presumptuous impiety of the Assyrian despot. Secondly, Hezekiah is addressed (2Ki 19:29-31), and a sign is given him of the promised deliverance—namely, that for two years the presence of the enemy would interrupt the peaceful pursuits of husbandry, but in the third year the people would be in circumstances to till their fields and vineyards and reap the fruits as formerly. Thirdly, the issue of Sennacherib's invasion is announced (2Ki 19:32-34). Strange waters; such as were never discovered nor used by others. And therefore all thy endeavours to deprive me of water for my army, 2 Chronicles 32:3, are idle and fruitless.

With the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of besieged places; and as I can furnish my army with water digged out of the earth, by their labour, and my art; so I can deprive my enemies of their water, and can dry up their rivers, and that with the sole of my feet, i.e. with the march of my vast and numerous army, who will easily do this, either by marching through them, and each carrying part away with them; or by drinking every one a little of them; or by their pains making many new channels, and driving the waters of the river into them, as Cyrus dried up Euphrates, and thereby took Babylon. And it came to pass, when King Hezekiah heard it,.... The report of Rabshakeh's speech, recorded in the preceding chapter:

that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth; rent his clothes because of the blasphemy in the speech; and he put on sackcloth, in token of mourning, for the calamities he feared were coming on him and his people: and he went into the house of the Lord; the temple, to pray unto him. The message he sent to Isaiah, with his answer, and the threatening letter of the king of Assyria, Hezekiah's prayer upon it, and the encouraging answer he had from the Lord, with the account of the destruction of the Assyrian army, and the death of Sennacherib, are the same "verbatim" as in Isaiah 37:1 throughout; and therefore the reader is referred thither for the exposition of them; only would add what Rauwolff (t) observes, that still to this day (1575) there are two great holes to be seen, wherein they flung the dead bodies (of the Assyrian army), one whereof is close by the road towards Bethlehem, the other towards the right hand against old Bethel.

(t) Travels, par. 3. ch. 22. p. 317.

I have digged and drunk strange waters, and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of besieged places.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
24. I have digged and drunk strange waters] Probably there is some allusion in this boast which is put into the mouth of Sennacherib to the attempts made by Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 32:3-4) to deprive the Assyrians of a supply of water. Sennacherib means to say: ‘Do what you may I am able by digging wells wherever I go to get water for my host, even where none had been found before’. This is most likely the sense of ‘strange’, which word does not appear in the corresponding verse of Isaiah.

And with the sole of my feet have I dried] [R.V. will I dry] up all the rivers of besieged places] R.V. of Egypt. This is a boast of the opposite nature. In Judæa the trouble might be that there was too little water. In Egypt there would be too much. But as in the former case the Assyrian could surmount all difficulties, so he had but to march into Egypt, and at his approach the Nile should be dried up and make a way for his troops to pass. The change of tense in the verb is necessary from the Hebrew, and the language is the proud king’s way of saying ‘As soon as I have reduced Jerusalem, I will pass on to Egypt and win that land too’.

The word translated ‘rivers’ is the Heb. ‘Yeor’ and is a proper name of the Nile. See R.V. Genesis 41:1 margin. It is translated ‘Nile’ in R.V. of Isaiah 19:7, three times over. Also the word rendered ‘besieged places’ is the Hebrew ‘Mazor’ another form for ‘Mizraim’ the common word for ‘Egypt’, ‘Mazor’ is translated ‘Egypt’ in R.V. both here and in Isaiah 19:6, and Micah 7:12.Verse 24. - I have digged and drunk strange waters; rather, perhaps, I dig, and drink... and dry up - the preterit having again a present sense. Sennacherib means that this is what he is wont to do. As mountains do not stop him (ver. 23), so deserts do not stop him - he digs wells in them, and drinks water "strange" to the soil - never before seen there. And with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of besieged places; rather, will 1 dry up all the rivers of Egypt (compare the Revised Version. "Mazor" is used for "Egypt" in Isaiah 19:6 and Micah 7:12). It is the old singular from which was formed the dual Mizraim. Whether it meant "land of strength" (Pusey), or "land of distress" (Ewald), may be doubted, since we have no right to assume a Hebrew derivation. There was probably a native word, from which the Hebrew Mazor, the Assyrian Muzr, and the Arabic Misr were taken. Sennacherib's beast is that, as he makes deserts traversable by digging wells, so, if rivers try to stop him, he will find a way of drying them up. Compare the boasts of Alaric in Claudian ('Bell. Get.,' pp. 525-532), who had probably this passage of Kings in his thoughts -

"To patior suadente fugam, cum cesserit omnis
Obsequiis natura meis?
Subsidere nostris Sub pedibus montes, arescere vidimus amnes
Fregi Alpes, galeisque Padum victricibus hausi."
After the challenge, to observe the blasphemies of Sennacherib, Hezekiah mentions the fact that the Assyrians have really devastated all lands, and therefore that it is not without ground that they boast of their mighty power; but he finds the explanation of this in the impotence and nothingness of the gods of the heathen. אמנם, truly, indeed - the kings of Asshur have devastated the nations and their land. Instead of this we find in Isaiah: "they have devastated all lands and their (own) land" - which is evidently the more difficult and also the more original reading, and has been altered in our account, because the thought that the Assyrians had devastated their own land by making war upon other lands, that is to say, had depopulated it and thereby laid it waste, was not easy to understand. "And have cast their gods into the fire, for they are not gods, but works of human hands, wood and stone, and have thus destroyed them." Hezekiah does not mention this as a sign of the recklessness of the Assyrians (Knobel), but, because Sennacherib had boasted that the gods of no nation had been able to resist him (vv. 12, 13), to put this fact in the right light, and attach thereto the prayer that Jehovah, by granting deliverance, would make known to all the kingdoms of the earth that He alone was God. Instead of ונתנוּ we have in Isaiah ונתון, the inf. absol.; in this connection the more difficult and more genuine reading. This also applies to the omission of אלהים (2 Kings 19:19) in Isaiah 37:20, since the use of Jehovah as a predicate, "that Thou alone art Jehovah," is very rare, and has therefore been misunderstood even by Gesenius. By the introduction of Elohim, the thought "that Thou Jehovah art God alone" is simplified.
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