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Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
Sennacherib invades Judea, 2 Chronicles 32:1. Hezekiah takes proper measures for the defense of his kingdom, 2 Chronicles 32:2-6. His exhortation, 2 Chronicles 32:7, 2 Chronicles 32:8. Sennacherib sends a blasphemous message to Hezekiah, and to the people, 2 Chronicles 32:9-15. His servants rail against God; and he and they blaspheme most grievously, 2 Chronicles 32:16-19. Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah cry to God; he answers, and the Assyrians are destroyed, and Sennacherib is slain by his own sons, 2 Chronicles 32:20, 2 Chronicles 32:21. The Lord is magnified, 2 Chronicles 32:22, 2 Chronicles 32:23. Hezekiah's sickness and recovery, 2 Chronicles 32:24. His ingratitude, 2 Chronicles 32:25. His humiliation, 2 Chronicles 32:26. His riches, 2 Chronicles 32:27-30. His error relative to the Babylonish ambassadors, 2 Chronicles 32:31. His acts and death, 2 Chronicles 32:32, 2 Chronicles 32:33.
1After 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.
After these things - God did not permit this pious prince to be disturbed till he had completed the reformation which he had begun.
2And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come, and that he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem,
When Hezekiah saw - This was in the fourteenth year of the reign of Hezekiah; and at first the Jewish king bought him off at the great price of three hundred talents of silver, and thirty talents of gold; and even emptied his own treasures, and spoiled the house of the Lord, to gratify the oppressive avarice of the Assyrian king. See the whole account, 2 Kings 18:13, etc.
3He 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.
4So 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?
Stopped all the fountains - This was prudently done, for without water how could an immense army subsist in an arid country? No doubt the Assyrian army suffered much through this, as a Christian army did eighteen hundred years after this. When the crusaders came, in a.d. 1099, to besiege Jerusalem, the people of the city stopped up the wells, so that the Christian army was reduced to the greatest necessities and distress.
5Also 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.
Raised it up to the towers - He built the wall up to the height of the towers, or, having built the wall, he raised towers on it.
6And 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,
Set captains of war over the people - in the street of the gate of the city - That is, the open places at the gate of the city, whither the people came for judgment, etc.
7Be 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:
There be more with us than with him - We have more power than they have. (These words he quotes from the prophet Elisha, 2 Kings 6:16). This was soon proved to be true by the slaughter made by the angel of the Lord in the Assyrian camp.
8With 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.
9After 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,
After this did Sennacherib - Having received the silver and gold mentioned above, he withdrew his army, but shortly after he sent Rab-shakeh with a blasphemous message. This is the fact mentioned here.
10Thus saith Sennacherib king of Assyria, Whereon do ye trust, that ye abide in the siege in Jerusalem?
Thus saith Sennacherib - See all these circumstances largely explained 2 Kings 18:17-36 (note).
11Doth 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?
12Hath 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?
13Know 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?
14Who 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?
15Now 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?
16And his servants spake yet more against the LORD God, and against his servant Hezekiah.
17He 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.
Wrote also letters - See 2 Kings 19:9, 2 Kings 19:14.
18Then 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.
19And 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.
20And for this cause Hezekiah the king, and the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz, prayed and cried to heaven.
21And 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.
The Lord sent an angel - See 2 Kings 19:36 (note), and the note there.
House of his god - Nisroch.
They that came forth of his own bowels - His sons Adrammelech and Sharezer.
22Thus 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.
23And 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.
Many brought gifts unto the Lord - They plainly saw that Jehovah was the protector of the land.
And presents to Hezekiah - They saw that God was his friend, and would undertake for him; and they did not wish to have such a man for their enemy.
24In those days Hezekiah was sick to the death, and prayed unto the LORD: and he spake unto him, and he gave him a sign.
Hezekiah was sick - See 2 Kings 20:1 (note), etc., and the notes there.
25But 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.
Hezekiah rendered not again - He got into a vain confidence, took pleasure in his riches, and vainly showed them to the messengers of the king of Babylon. See on 2 Kings 20:12 (note), etc.
26Notwithstanding 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.
Humbled himself - Awoke from his sleep, was sorry for his sin, deprecated the wrath of God, and the Divine displeasure was turned away from him.
27And 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;
Pleasant jewels - כלי חמדה keley chemdah, desirable vessels or utensils.
28Storehouses also for the increase of corn, and wine, and oil; and stalls for all manner of beasts, and cotes for flocks.
29Moreover he provided him cities, and possessions of flocks and herds in abundance: for God had given him substance very much.
30This 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.
The upper watercourse - He made canals to bring the waters of Gihon from the west side of Jerusalem to the west side of the city of David.
31Howbeit 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.
Of the ambassadors - See 2 Kings 20:13 (note), and the observations at the end of that chapter.
32Now 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.
The vision of Isaiah - See this prophet, 2 Chronicles 36-39.
33And 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.
Chiefest of the sepulchres - This respect they paid to him who, since David, had been the best of all their kings.
I shall subjoin a few things from the Targum on this chapter.
2 Chronicles 32:1. "After these things which Hezekiah did, and their establishment, the Lord appointed by his Word to bring Sennacherib, king of Assyria, and his army, into the land of Israel, that he might destroy the Assyrians in the land of the house of Judah, and smite their troops on the mountains of Jerusalem, and deliver all their spoils into the hands of Hezekiah and his people: wherefore Sennacherib came with immense armies, which could not be numbered; and having pitched his camps in the land of the tribe of Judah, besieged their fortified cities with his armies, hoping to overthrow them."
2 Chronicles 32:8. Hezekiah said-"His help is the strength of the flesh; but our auxiliary is the Word of the Lord."
2 Chronicles 32:16. "His (Sennacherib's) servants spoke blasphemy against the Word of the Lord God."
2 Chronicles 32:18. In the Jews' speech - "In the language of the holy house."
2 Chronicles 32:21. "And the Word of the Lord sent Michael, and the angel Gabriel, and destroyed them on the night of the passover with a destructive fire; and burnt up their breath within their bodies, and consumed every soldier, captain, and prince, in the army of the king of Assyria; and he returned with shame of face into his own land."
The destruction of God's enemies, and the support and salvation of the faithful, is in every instance in this Targum attributed to the Word of the Lord, personally understood. See the note on 2 Chronicles 34:27.
2 Chronicles 32:24. "In those days was Hezekiah sick near to death; but he prayed before the Lord who spoke to him by his Word to preserve him and to add to his life fifteen years."
2 Chronicles 32:31. "The king of Babylon sent, that they might inquire concerning the miracle that had been done in the land; that they might see the two tables of stone which were in the ark of the covenant of the Lord which Moses had placed there with the two tables which he had broken on account of the sin of the calf which they made in Horeb. The Word of the Lord permitted him to show them these; neither did he suffer for it; that he might try him, and see what was in his heart."
Thus God speaks after the manner of men: he either brings, or permits them to be brought, into such circumstances as shall cause them to show their prevailing propensities; and then warns them against the evils to which they are inclined, after having shown them that they are capable of those evils. To know ourselves, and our own character, is of the utmost importance to our religious growth and perfection. He who does not know where his weakness lies, is not likely to know where his strength lies. Many, by not being fully acquainted with their own character, have been unwatchful and unguarded, and so become an easy prey to their enemies. Know thyself is a lesson which no man can learn but from the Spirit of God.