After these things, and the establishment thereof, Sennacherib king of Assyria came, and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fenced cities, and thought to win them for himself.
Verse 1. - The establishment thereof; translate, and this (his) truth. The word is the same with the third of the trio (see above), as given in ver. 20 of the foregoing chapter. The evident meaning intended to be conveyed is, "After these things and this truth," i.e. truthfulness of conduct on the part of Hezekiah, the strict rendering being, "After the things and the truth this." Sennacherib... came ... entered into Judah... encamped against the fenced cities... thought to win. This verse and these items of it may without any inconvenient strain be made conterminous with just one verse in Kings, the thirteenth of 2 Kings 18. The king personally seems to have devoted himself especially to the siege of Lachish, an Amoritish city indeed originally, and a place of great strength of petition, but conquered by Judah (Joshua 10:26, 31-35; 2 Chronicles 11:9; 2 Chronicles 25:27; and infra here and in parallel). This invasion of Sennacherib (Herod., 2:141), son of Sargon, may be with moderate certainty affixed to the date B.C. 701. Thought to win. A weak rendering for the preferable purposed or boasted to break them (Genesis 7:11).
And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come, and that he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem,
Verse 2. - When Hezekiah saw... and that he purposed... Jerusalem. Whether the three verses of ill omen already alluded to (2 Kings 18:14-16) may be road precedent to this verse, and purport that the bribes had been paid, and yet had failed of their object, so that Hezekiah was now compelled to brace himself to the occasion, and "took counsel," etc. (next verse); or whether this verse dates (as some think)the quailing heart of Hezekiah, and an offer or part payment of treasure by Hezekiah to Sennacherib, which only increased his insolence, as immediately now related, is uncertain, perhaps. In the face of the emphatic language of the three verses of the parallel, and in consideration of the possible motives as suggested above for our compiler omitting the matter altogether, we incline to the former opinion. That would have the effect of making this verse say that when Hezekiah had his eyes opened to the failure of his bribe - a waste payment, for that Sennacherib still "purposed to fight against Jerusalem" - he finally proceeded to take the right steps. However, the witness and indications of Isaiah 22:13-19; Isaiah 29:2-4, may go some way to shield Hezekiah from the entire blame. The silence of our compiler on the whole matter is the one residuum of fact, and unfortunate in its suggestion.
He took counsel with his princes and his mighty men to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city: and they did help him.
Verse 3. - To stop the waters of the fountains... without the city. These fountains or springs were probably those represented by En Rogel, on the Ophel spur or very large mound, or fortified hill (mistranslated possibly from that circumstance "tower," in 2 Kings 5:24; Isaiah 32:14), on the southeast of the temple. The object of Hezekiah is obvious enough. The word (סָתַּם) for "stopping" occurs in all thirteen times - twice in piel in Genesis, once in niph. in Nehemiah, and ten times in kal in Kings, Chronicles, Daniel, Ezekiel, and Psalms. It is for all material purposes very uniformly rendered in all these places by the word "stop" eight times, and otherwise "shut" or "closed," or to carry a derived meaning, "hidden" or "secret." If the word "shut" or "shut off" were employed, it would fit every occasion. So we are not told here how he stopped the fountain or fountains, but that he shut the waters off from one direction and guided them into another, vie. by a conduit running westward from the springs and the Gihon (i.e. the brook) flowing naturally down the Tyropoean valley to a pool prepared for it in the city (see our ver. 30; and 2 Kings 18:17; 2 Kings 20:20; Ecclus, 48:17; and Conder's 'Handbook to the Bible,' p. 339). This pool was very probably none other than the pool of Siloam.
So there was gathered much people together, who stopped all the fountains, and the brook that ran through the midst of the land, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water?
Verse 4. - The brook that ran through the midst of the land. Compare the Septuagint, which has it, "through the midst of the city;" and compare foregoing verse and note; and see again above reference to Courier's 'Handbook' at length.
Also he strengthened himself, and built up all the wall that was broken, and raised it up to the towers, and another wall without, and repaired Millo in the city of David, and made darts and shields in abundance.
Verse 5. - He strengthened himself; i.e., as in our several previous instances of the occurrence of the phrase (1 Chronicles 11:10; 2 Chronicles 12:1; 2 Chronicles 25:11; 2 Chronicles 26:8), he took all possible means to make himself and people and city strong to withstand the invader. All the wall that was broken (see Isaiah 22:9). Although we read that the devastation wrought by Joash (2 Chronicles 25:23) was very largely repaired by Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:9) and by Jotham (2 Chronicles 27:3), it is not explicitly said that the broken four hundred cubits of wall, from the gate of Ephraim to the corner gate, were made absolutely good again, although in the matter of towers and fortifications much was evidently done. Note also the word "all" here, side by side with the "much" of 2 Chronicles 27:3. And raised (it) up to the towers. Discard this Authorized Version rendering. The meaning cannot be certainly pronounced upon, but perhaps it may be intended to say that he heightened the towers. The objection is that the same verb is wanted for the next clause, and that its rendering would need to be there slightly reduced again to a mere statement of raising from the ground (i.e. building) another wall without. Repaired Millo (see note, 1 Chronicles 11:8).
And he set captains of war over the people, and gathered them together to him in the street of the gate of the city, and spake comfortably to them, saying,
Verse 6. - The street of the gate; translate, the wide area at the gate, etc.; what gate is not specified, but presumably either "the gate of Ephraim," which would be the one opposed to the camp of the besiegers, or possibly "the comer gate" (2 Chronicles 25:23; and Courier's 'Handbook,' pp. 343-345).
Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him:
Verse 7. - Several of the descriptive dramatic touches of Isaiah 22:4-14 are forcible and apt commentary to this verse.
With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
Verse 8. - (See 2 Kings 6:16; Jeremiah 17:5.) The admirable language of Hezekiah here quickens our desire to feel sure that this was after (and after genuine repentance for) his faithlessness (2 Kings 18:14-16).
After this did Sennacherib king of Assyria send his servants to Jerusalem, (but he himself laid siege against Lachish, and all his power with him,) unto Hezekiah king of Judah, and unto all Judah that were at Jerusalem, saying,
Verse 9. - The passage beginning with this verse and ending with ver. 21 represents the much fuller parallel (2 Kings 18:17-19:37), fifty-eight verses in all This much greater fulness is owing to the greater length at which the language of defiance on the part of Sennacherib and his appointed officers is narrated, and the matter of his subsequent letter; also the prayer of Hezekiah; and his application to Isaiah, with the reply of the latter to it. On the other side, there is very little additional in our narrative, a few words heightening the effect in our vers. 18, 20, 21, constituting the whole of such additional matter. The vague mark of time, after this, with which our present verse opens, merely says that in due course of Sennacherib's invasion of Judah, and attack of the fenced cities (ver. 1), he proceeds to send his servants and his insolent defiances to the metropolis, Jerusalem itself. The three words in italics, "himself laid "siege," should evidently give place to the single word "remained" or "was;" i.e. he and all his host with him remained at, or opposite to, Lachish, while his servants went to defy Jerusalem in his name.
Thus saith Sennacherib king of Assyria, Whereon do ye trust, that ye abide in the siege in Jerusalem?
Verse 10. - In the siege. This Authorized Version rendering is manifestly incorrect, though, if we simply omit the article, and tender in siege, we shall probably have Sennacherib's exact idea. He spoke not of the literal technical thing siege, but of the distress and confinement that the apprehension of the siege did not fail to bring. This so to say moral tone to the rendering of the word (בְּמָצור) is much to be preferred to that of the margin, "in the fortress or stronghold."
Doth not Hezekiah persuade you to give over yourselves to die by famine and by thirst, saying, The LORD our God shall deliver us out of the hand of the king of Assyria?
Verse 11. - The policy of Sennacherib, in the direct attempt to undermine Hezekiah by appealing straight to his people, instead of to himself or his ministers of state, is yet more pronounced in expression, as seen in 2 Kings 18:26, 27.
Hath not the same Hezekiah taken away his high places and his altars, and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall worship before one altar, and burn incense upon it?
Verse 12. - This misrepresenting of Hezekiah's pious actions is thought by some to have been innocent ignorance on the part of Sennacherib. Yet it is scarcely credible.
Know ye not what I and my fathers have done unto all the people of other lands? were the gods of the nations of those lands any ways able to deliver their lands out of mine hand?
Verse 13. - Some of these deeds of Sennacherib and his fathers, i.e. predecessors in the kingdom of Assyria, are mentioned in detail in 2 Kings 17, passim.
Who was there among all the gods of those nations that my fathers utterly destroyed, that could deliver his people out of mine hand, that your God should be able to deliver you out of mine hand?
Now therefore let not Hezekiah deceive you, nor persuade you on this manner, neither yet believe him: for no god of any nation or kingdom was able to deliver his people out of mine hand, and out of the hand of my fathers: how much less shall your God deliver you out of mine hand?
Verse 15. - The urgency of Sennacherib's appeal to the people was of course his way of trying to save work of actual siege, fighting, etc., to himself and his army. The how much less of the message of Sennacherib probably meant that his estimate of the your God i.e. the God of Israel, was measured partly by the comparative smallness and unwarlike character of the nation of Judah, when set side by side with the great heathen nations, and partly by the spiritual and invisible character and being of God, little intelligible to such a one as Sennacherib.
And his servants spake yet more against the LORD God, and against his servant Hezekiah.
Verse 16. - And his servants spoke yet more. A glimpse of the fact that the compiler of our book very designedly excerpted only what he thought needful from very much more abundant resources.
He wrote also letters to rail on the LORD God of Israel, and to speak against him, saying, As the gods of the nations of other lands have not delivered their people out of mine hand, so shall not the God of Hezekiah deliver his people out of mine hand.
Verse 17. - Letters to rail on the Lord God of Israel (so 2 Kings 19:8-14). The rumour of the approach of "Tirhakah King of Ethiopia" (ver. 9) quickened Sennacherib's anxiety to make short work with the conflict at Jerusalem, by intimidating the people to an early collapse of their resistance,.
Then they cried with a loud voice in the Jews' speech unto the people of Jerusalem that were on the wall, to affright them, and to trouble them; that they might take the city.
Verse 18. - In the Jews' speech (see again 2 Kings 18:26, 27). The last three clauses of this verse are additional matter to that contained in the parallel.
And they spake against the God of Jerusalem, as against the gods of the people of the earth, which were the work of the hands of man.
Verse 19. - As against the gods of the people of the earth, the work of the hands of men. Our compiler, at all events, signalizes the difference, which Sennacherib worse than minimizes, between the God of Israel and the so-called gods of the surrounding heathen nations.
And for this cause Hezekiah the king, and the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz, prayed and cried to heaven.
Verse 20. - For the prayer of Hezekiah, see 2 Kings 19:14-19; and for the place of the prayer or prayers of Isaiah, and the indications of their having been offered, see alike 2 Chronicles 19:4-7, and the verses of the grand passage, 20-3 t.
And the LORD sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he was come into the house of his god, they that came forth of his own bowels slew him there with the sword.
Verse 21. - The exact matter corresponding with this one verse is embraced by vers. 35-37 in the parallel (2 Kings 19.). It gives the number of slain as a hundred and eighty-five thousand. It does not speak of the heavy proportion of leaders and captains lost. It leads us to suppose that for all survivers it was a surprise in the morning - that silent vision of the dead in such vast array. Stating, on the other hand, in mere historic dry detail, the return of Sennacherib to his own land, his dwelling at Nineveh, and assassination, in the house of Nisroch "his god," at the hands of his own two sons, mentioned by name Adrammelech and Sharezer, who had to fly for it to Armenia (Ararat), it does not show the obviously designed moral touch of our compiler, so he returned with shame of face to his own land, nor the similarly complexioned description of the time, place, and agents of his assassination. Lastly, it gives Esarhaddon as the name of his successor on the throne.
Thus the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all other, and guided them on every side.
Verse 22. - This verse, with the notification of Hezekiah's great deliverance from the hand of the King of Assyria, summarizes also his various other deliverances, with tacit reference to such suggestion of other conflicts as we have in 2 Kings 18:7, 8. Guided them on every side. The Septuagint reads, gave them rest. This suits the connection as regards meaning best, and also as regards the immediately following adverb, "on every side." It has also in our present book the correspondences of ch. 14:6; 15:15; and especially 2 Chronicles 20:30, with the Hebrew words of which, an easily supposed rectification brings it into exact agreement.
And many brought gifts unto the LORD to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah: so that he was magnified in the sight of all nations from thenceforth.
Verse 23. - Presents to Hezekiah. The "precious things" (מִגְדָּנות) of 2 Chronicles 21:3.
In those days Hezekiah was sick to the death, and prayed unto the LORD: and he spake unto him, and he gave him a sign.
Verse 24. - The extreme brevity again of our compiler, in the account of Hezekiah's illness, and his passing so lightly over whatever in it cast shades upon his character and career, cannot escape our notice. Much fuller is the narrative of 2 Kings 20:1-21. Gave him a sign (see 2 Kings 20:8-11, and our ver. 31, middle clause. See also at length of the sickness of Hezekiah, Isaiah 38.).
But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem.
Verse 25. - The parallel, 2 Kings 20:12-19 and Isaiah 39, fully explain the circumstances here referred to, and we may conclude that Hezekiah's sin consisted in the spirit in which he acted, displaying his treasures, so that it was in the fullest sense a sin of" the heart."
Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah.
Verse 26. - Hezekiah humbled himself. Possibly the language of the nineteenth verse in the parallel is the one surviving historic trace of this. The language found in Jeremiah 26:19 may be also a note of the same, though its dependence (see vers. 17, 18) on Micah 3:12 seems to make it less likely.
And Hezekiah had exceeding much riches and honour: and he made himself treasuries for silver, and for gold, and for precious stones, and for spices, and for shields, and for all manner of pleasant jewels;
Verse 27. - If Hezekiah not only began to negotiate, but actually paid the precious metals, etc., with which he offered to buy off the invasion of Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:14-16), he may have become considerably recouped by the presents and gifts subsequently, liberally it would appear, brought to him (see our ver. 23), and it is possible that this may give us some further clue to where it was that his heart strayed, while displaying his wealth and treasures to the messengers of Berodach-Baladan King of Babylon.
Storehouses also for the increase of corn, and wine, and oil; and stalls for all manner of beasts, and cotes for flocks.
Verse 28. - Cotes for flocks should be tendered, conversely, flocks to the stalls, i.e. stalls full of flocks.
Moreover he provided him cities, and possessions of flocks and herds in abundance: for God had given him substance very much.
This same Hezekiah also stopped the upper watercourse of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all his works.
Verse 30. - Stopped the upper watercourse, etc. (see our vers. 3, 4). What Hezekiah "stopped" was the spring, or more strictly access to it, and guided its prized waters down, probably by an underground channel, to Siloam, or else to the pool in the city which he had constructed and enclosed by that "another wall without" (ver. 5), west of the "city of David."
Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.
Verse 31. - Howbeit; literally, and thus. The italic type dispensed with, the verse may be rendered, And thus with or among the ambassadors of the princes... God left him to, etc. The princes. This plural may be the pluralis excellentiae, and designate the king himself, who doubtless issued the official command to the messengers to visit Hezekiah with gifts, etc., but not necessarily so. The word may betray the inquiries and curiosity of the princes of Babylon, under the king, the expression of which led to the embassy, so to call it.
Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and his goodness, behold, they are written in the vision of Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, and in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel.
Verse 32. - In the vision of Isaiah (so Isaiah 1:1).
And Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the chiefest of the sepulchres of the sons of David: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honour at his death. And Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.
Verse 33. - In the chiefest of the sepulchres; literally, in the ascent of the sepulchres; i.e. in new burial-places, either on the ascent to the old ones, probably now full, or else above, them.