|<< Isaiah 37 >>|
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
Hezekiah is greatly distressed, and sends to Isaiah the prophet to pray for him, Isaiah 37:1-4. Isaiah returns a comfortable answer, and predicts the destruction of the king of Assyria and his army, Isaiah 37:5-7. Sennacherib, hearing that his kingdom was invaded by the Ethiopians, sends a terrible letter to Hezekiah, to induce him to surrender, Isaiah 37:9-13. Hezekiah goes to the temple, spreads the letter before the Lord, and makes a most affecting prayer, Isaiah 37:14-20. Isaiah is sent to him to assure him that his prayer is heard; that Jerusalem shall be delivered; and that the Assyrians shall be destroyed, Isaiah 37:21-35. That very night a messenger of God slays one hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrians, Isaiah 37:36. Sennacherib returns to Nineveh, and is slain by his own sons, Isaiah 37:37, Isaiah 37:38.
1And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD.
2And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests covered with sackcloth, unto Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz.
3And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth.
4It may be the LORD thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, 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 is left.
5So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah.
6And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say unto your master, Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.
Thus shall ye say - כה תאמרון ko tomerun, "thus shall ye (explicitly, earnestly, and positively) say. "The paragogic nun deepens and increases the sense.
7Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.
I will send a blast "I will infuse a spirit into him" - "נותין בו רוח nothen bo roach never signifies any thing but putting a spirit into a person: this was πνευμα δειλιας, the spirit of deceit." - Secker. "I will send a blast" - I do not think that Archbishop Secker has hit the true meaning of these words. I believe רוח ruach means here a pestilential wind, such as the Arabs call simoom, that instantly suffocates both man and beast; and is what is termed "the angel of the Lord," God's messenger of death to the Assyrians, Isaiah 37:36.
8So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish.
Rabshakeh returned - From Isaiah 36:2, we learn that the king of Assyria had sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem; now it is likely that Rabshakeh had besieged that place, and that the king of Assyria had taken his station before this city, and dispatched Rabshakeh against Jerusalem. But, as in the verse above it is said, "he had departed from Lachish," probably he had been obliged to raise the siege, and sat down before Libnah, which promised an easier conquest.
9And he heard say concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, He is come forth to make war with thee. And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying,
He heard say concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia - When he heard that Tirhakah king of Ethiopia had come out against him, then he sent that blasphemous manifesto which is contained in Isaiah 37:10-13, to terrify Hezekiah into submission. How much was this like, in words and spirit, to the manifesto sent to the Parisians by the late Duke of Brunswick, from the plains of Champaigne, in 1792, which was the forerunner of the mighty torrents of human blood which was shed in the French revolution! And what a blast of God fell upon him and his army - nearly like that which fell on the army of Sennacherib!
He sent messengers "He sent messengers again" - The word וישמע vaiyishma, "and he heard, "which occurs the second time in this verse, is repeated by mistake from the beginning of the verse. It is omitted in an ancient MS. It is a mere tautology, and embarrasses the sense. The true reading instead of it is, וישב veyesheb, "and he returned, "which the Septuagint read in this place, απεστρεψε, and which is preserved in the other copy, 2 Kings 19:9 : "He returned and sent, "that is, according to the Hebrew idiom, "he sent again."
10Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God, in whom thou trustest, deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.
11Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by destroying them utterly; and shalt thou be delivered?
12Have 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 Telassar?
As Gozan, and Haran - חרן Charan: but הרן Haran is the reading of four of Kennicott's MSS. and one of De Rossi's.
13Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arphad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah?
14And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.
And read it "And read them" - ויקראם vayikraem. So MS. Bodl. in this place; and so the other copy; instead of ויקראהו vaiyikraehu, "and read It."
And spread it "And spread them" - ויפרשהו vaiyiphresehu. הו hu is upon a rasure in a MS., which probably was at first ם mem. The same mistake as in the foregoing note.
15And Hezekiah prayed unto the LORD, saying,
Unto the Lord "Before Jehovah" - That is, in the sanctuary. For אל el, the Syriac, Chaldee, and the other copy, 2 Kings 19:15, read לפני liphney, "before the face."
16O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth.
17Incline thine ear, O LORD, and hear; open thine eyes, O LORD, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God.
18Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries,
The nations - הארצות haratsoth, "the lands; "instead of this word, which destroys the sense, ten of Kennicott's and five of De Rossi's MSS. (one ancient) have here גוים goyim, "nations;" which is undoubtedly the true reading, being preserved also in the other copy; 2 Kings 19:17. Another MS. suggests another method of rectifying the sense in this place, by reading מלכם malcam, "their king, "instead of ארצם artsam, "their land;" but it ought to be מלכיהם malcheyhem, "all the countries and their kings."
19And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.
20Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD, even thou only.
Save us "Save us, we beseech thee" - The supplicating particle, נא na, is supplied here from eighteen MSS., three ancient, of Dr. Kennicott, and ten of De Rossi, and from the other copy; 2 Kings 19:19.
That thou art the Lord, even thou only "That thou Jehovah art the only God" - The word אלהים Elohim, "God, "is lost here in the Hebrew text, but preserved in the other copy; 2 Kings 19:19. The Syriac and Septuagint seem here to have had in their copies אלהים Elohim, instead of יהוה Yehovah.
21Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent unto Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Whereas thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria:
Then Isaiah - sent unto Hezekiah - The Syriac and Septuagint understand and render the verb passively, was sent.
Whereas thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib "Thy prayer unto me concerning Sennacherib - I have heard" - שמעתי shamati; this word, necessary to the sense, is lost in this place out of the Hebrew text. One MS. of Dr. Kennicott's and one of De Rossi's have it written above the line in a later hand. The Septuagint and Syriac found it in their copies; and it is preserved in the other copy; 2 Kings 19:20.
22This is the word which the LORD hath spoken concerning him; The virgin, the daughter of Zion, hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee.
23Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel.
Against the Holy One of Israel - For אל el, to, the other copy has על al, against, rather more properly.
24By thy servants hast thou reproached the Lord, and hast said, By the multitude of my chariots am I come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon; and I will cut down the tall cedars thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof: and I will enter into the height of his border, and the forest of his Carmel.
By thy servants "By thy messengers" - The text has עבדיך abdeycha, thy servants; but the true reading seems to be מלאכיך malacheycha, thy messengers, as in the other copy, 2 Kings 19:23; and as the Septuagint and Syriac found it in their copies in this place.
Reproached the Lord - אדני Adonai: but one of my MSS. has יהוה אדני Yehovah Adonai, Jehovah the Lord. This reading is not found, I think, in any other MS., but several have יהוה Yehovah for אדני Adonai.
I will enter into the height of his border "I will penetrate into his extreme retreats" - The text has מרום marom, the height which seems to have been taken by mistake from the line but one above. Two MSS. have here מלון malon, the lodge or retreat; which is the word in the other copy, 2 Kings 19:23, and I think is the true reading.
The forest of has Carmel - The forest and his fruitful field; that is, I will possess myself of the whole country.
25I have digged, and drunk water; and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of the besieged places.
Water "Strange waters" - The word זרים zarim, strange, lost out of the Hebrew text in this place, is supplied from the other copy. A MS. supplies the word רבים rabbim, many, instead of it.
With the sole of my feet - With my infantry.
All the rivers of the besieged places "All the canals of fenced places" - The principal cities of Egypt, the scene of his late exploits, were chiefly defended by deep moats, canals, or large lakes, made by labor and art, with which they were surrounded. See Harmer's Observ. 2 p. Claudian introduces Alaric boasting of his conquests in the same extravagant manner: -
Sub pedibus montes; arescere vidimus amnes. -
Fregi Alpes, galeisque Padum victricibus hausi."
De Bello Getic. 526.
"The mountains have passed away under our feet; we have seen the rivers dried up. I have broken the Alps, and laden out the Po with our victorious helmets."
26Hast thou not heard long ago, how I have done it; and of ancient times, that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste defenced cities into ruinous heaps.
Lay waste defended cities into ruinous heaps "Lay waste warlike nations; strong fenced cities" - גלים נצים gallim nitstsim. It is not easy to give a satisfactory account of these two words, which have greatly embarrassed all the interpreters, ancient and modern. For גלים gallim I read גוים goyim, as the Septuagint do in this place, εθνη. The word נצים netsim the Vulgate renders in this place compugnantium; in the parallel place, 2 Kings 19:25, pugnantium; and the Septuagint μαχιμων, fighting, warlike. This rendering is as well authorized as any other that I know of; and, with the reading of the Septuagint, perfectly clears up the construction. See the margin on all the preceding verses.
27Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded: they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the housetops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up.
Corn blasted - שדמה shedemah, parched: it does not appear that there is any good authority for this word. The true reading seems to be שדפה shedephah, blasted, as it is in six MSS. (two ancient) here, and in the other copy.
28But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me.
29Because thy rage against me, and thy tumult, is come up into mine ears, therefore will I put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest.
Will I put my hook in thy nose - Et fraenum meum: Jonathan vocem מתג metheg, interpretatus est זמם zemam, i.e., annulum, sive uncum, eumque ferreum, quem infigunt naribus camelae: eoque trahitur, quoniam illa feris motibus agitur: et hoc est, quod discimus in Talmude; et camela cum annulo narium: scilicet, egreditur die sabbathi. "And my bridle: Jonathan interprets the word metheg by zemam, a ring, or that iron hook which they put in the nostrils of a camel to lead her about, check her in her restiveness, etc. And this is what we mean in the Talmud, when we say, And the camel with the ring of her nostrils shall go out on the Sabbath day." - Jarchi in 2 Kings 19:28. Ponam circulum in naribus tuis. "I will put a ring in thy nostrils." - Jerome. Just as at this day they put a ring into the nose of the bear, the buffalo, and other wild beasts, to lead them, and to govern them when they are unruly. Bulls are often ringed thus in several parts of England. The Hindoos compare a person who is the slave of his wife to a cow led by the ring in her nose.
30And this shall be a sign unto thee, Ye shall eat this year such as groweth of itself; and the second year that which springeth of the same: and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof.
31And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward:
32For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this.
33Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it.
34By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD.
35For I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.
36Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.
Then the angel - Before "the angel, "the other copy, 2 Kings 19:35, adds "it came to pass the same night, that " - The Prophet Hosea, Hosea 1:7, has given a plain prediction of the miraculous deliverance of the kingdom of Judah: -
"And to the house of Judah I will be tenderly merciful:
And I will save them by Jehovah their God.
And I will not save them by the bow;
Nor by sword, nor by battle;
By horses, nor by horsemen."
37So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.
38And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Armenia: and Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.
His sons smote him - What an awful punishment of his blasphemy! Who can harden his neck against God, and be successful? God does not lightly pass by blasphemy against himself, his government, his word, his Son, or his people. Let the profligate take care!