Isaiah 36:1
Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, that Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defended cities of Judah, and took them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XXXVI.

(1) It came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah . . .—In the judgment of nearly all Assyriologists (Sir Henry Rawlinson, Sayce, Hinckes, Lenormant, Schrader, Cheyne), we have to rectify the chronology. The inscriptions of Sennacherib fix the date of his campaign against Hezekiah in the third year of his reign (B.C. 700), and that coincides not with the fourteenth, but with the twenty-seventh year of the king of Judah. The error, on this assumption, arose from the editor of Isaiah’s prophecies taking for granted that the illness of Hezekiah followed on the destruction of Sennacherib’s army, or, at least, on his attack, and then reckoning back the fifteen years for which his life was prolonged from the date of his death. Most of the scholars named above have come to the conclusion that the illness preceded Sennacherib’s campaign by ten or eleven years, and this, of course, involves throwing back the embassy from Babylon (Isaiah 39) to about the same period. Lenormant (Manual of Ancient History, 1:181) keeping to the Biblical sequence, real or apparent, of the events, meets the difficulty by assuming that Hezekiah reigned for forty-one instead of twenty-nine years, and that Manasseh was associated with him in titular sovereignty even from his birth, and the fifty years of his reign reckoned from that epoch.

Sennacherib king of Assyria.—According to the Assyrian inscriptions, the king succeeded Sargon, who was assassinated in his palace, B.C. 704, and after subduing the province of Babylon which had rebelled under Merôdach-baladan, turned his course southward against Hezekiah with four or five distinct complaints—(1) that the king had refused tribute (2Kings 18:14); (2) that he had opened negotiations with Babylon and Egypt (2Kings 18:24) with a view to an alliance against Assyria; (3) that he had helped the Philistines of Ekron to rise against their king who supported Assyria. and had kept that king as a prisoner in Jerusalem (Records of the Past, i. 36-39).

A.M. 3292. — B.C. 712.

In this and the three following chapters is contained the historical part of the book of Isaiah, relating a memorable transaction, strongly confirmative of the divine mission of our prophet, and illustrative of some of the foregoing predictions. In this chapter we have the invasion of Judah by Sennacherib, Isaiah 36:1. He sends Rabshakeh, who, by his blasphemous persuasion, tempts Hezekiah to despair, and the people to revolt, Isaiah 36:2-22.

Isaiah 36:1. Now it came to pass, &c. — The history related in this and the three following chapters is contained, almost wholly in the same words, 2 Kings 18., 19., 20.; where see the notes. It was probably first written by this prophet, and from him taken into the second book of Kings to complete that history: and we may conjecture that it is that part of the account of Hezekiah’s reign which is said to have been written by Isaiah, 2 Chronicles 32:32. It is inserted here, because it casts great light on several particulars of the foregoing prophecies; and chapter 39. contains a prophecy of the captivity, and is an introduction to the remainder of Isaiah’s prophecies, a great part of which relate to the restoration of the Jews, and their return from Babylon to their own land. For the same reason, the history of the taking of Jerusalem by the Babylonians is annexed to Jeremiah’s prophecies, because it helps to explain and confirm several passages in them. 36:1-22:See 2Ki 18:17-37, and the commentary thereon.In the fourteenth year of Hezekiah - Of his reign, 709 b.c.

That Sennacherib - Sennacherib was son and successor of Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, and began to reign A.M. 3290, or 714 b.c., and reigned, according to Calmet, but four years, according to Prideaux eight years, and according to Gesenius eighteen years. The immediate occasion of this war against Judah was the fact that Hezekiah had shaken off the yoke of Assyria, by which his father Ahaz and the nation had suffered so much under Tiglath-pileser, or Shalmaneser 2 Kings 18:7. To reduce Judea again to subjection, as well as to carry his conquests into Egypt, appears to have been the design of this celebrated expedition. He ravaged the country, took the strong towns and fortresses, and prepared then to lay siege to Jerusalem itself. Hezekiah, however, as soon as the army of Sennacherib had entered Judea, prepared to put Jerusalem into a state of complete defense. At the advice of his counselors he stopped the waters that flowed in the neighborhood of the city, and that might furnish refreshment to a besieging army, built up the broken walls, enclosed one of the fountains within a wall, and prepared shields and darts in abundance to repel the invader 2 Chronicles 32:2-5.

Sennacherib, seeing that all hope of easily taking Jerusalem was taken away, apparently became inclined to hearken to terms of accommodation. Hezekiah sent to him to propose peace, and to ask the conditions on which he would withdraw his forces. He confessed his error in not paying the tribute stipulated by his father, and his willingness to pay now what should be demanded by Sennacherib. Sennacherib demanded three hundred talents of silver, and thirty talents of gold. This was paid by Hezekiah, by exhausting the treasury, and by stripping even the temple of its gold 2 Kings 18:13-16. It was evidently understood in this treaty that Sennacherib was to withdraw his forces, and return to his own land. But this treaty he ultimately disregarded (see the note at Isaiah 33:8). He seems, however, to have granted Hezekiah some respite, and to have delayed his attack on Jerusalem until his return from Egypt. This war with Egypt he prosecuted at first with great success, and with a fair prospect of the conquest of that country.

But having laid siege to Pelusium, and having spent much time before it without success, he was compelled at length to raise the siege, and to retreat. Tirhakah king of Ethiopia having come to the aid of Sevechus, the reigning monarch of Egypt, and advancing to the relief of Pelusium, Sennacherib was compelled to raise the siege, and retreated to Judea. Here, having taken Lachish, and disregarding his compact with Hezekiah, he sent an army to Jerusalem under Rabshakeh to lay siege to the city. This is the point in the history of Sennacherib to which the passage before us refers (see Prideaux's "Connection," vol. i. pp. 138-141; Jos. "Ant." x. 1; Gesenius "in loc;" and Robinson's Calmet).

All the defended cities - All the towns on the way to Egypt, and in the vicinity of Jerusalem (see the notes at Isaiah 10:28-32).

CHAPTER 36

Isa 36:1-22. Sennacherib's Invasion; Blasphemous Solicitations; Hezekiah Is Told of Them.

This and the thirty-seventh through thirty-ninth chapters form the historical appendix closing the first division of Isaiah's prophecies, and were added to make the parts of these referring to Assyria more intelligible. So Jer 52:1-34; compare 2Ki 25:1-30. The section occurs almost word for word (2Ki 18:13, 17-20; 19:1-37); 2Ki 18:14-16, however, is additional matter. Hezekiah's "writing" also is in Isaiah, not in Kings (Isa 38:9-20). We know from 2Ch 32:32 that Isaiah wrote the acts of Hezekiah. It is, therefore, probable, that his record here (Isa 36:1-39:8) was incorporated into the Book of Kings by its compiler. Sennacherib lived, according to Assyrian inscriptions, more than twenty years after his invasion; but as Isaiah survived Hezekiah (2Ch 32:32), who lived upwards of fifteen years after the invasion (Isa 38:5), the record of Sennacherib's death (Isa 37:38) is no objection to this section having come from Isaiah; 2Ch 32:1-33 is probably an abstract drawn from Isaiah's account, as the chronicler himself implies (2Ch 32:32). Pul was probably the last of the old dynasty, and Sargon, a powerful satrap, who contrived to possess himself of supreme power and found a new dynasty (see on [761]Isa 20:1). No attempt was made by Judah to throw off the Assyrian yoke during his vigorous reign. The accession of his son Sennacherib was thought by Hezekiah the opportune time to refuse the long-paid tribute; Egypt and Ethiopia, to secure an ally against Assyria on their Asiatic frontier, promised help; Isaiah, while opposed to submission to Assyria, advised reliance on Jehovah, and not on Egypt, but his advice was disregarded, and so Sennacherib invaded Judea, 712 B.C. He was the builder of the largest of the excavated palaces, that of Koyunjik. Hincks has deciphered his name in the inscriptions. In the third year of his reign, these state that he overran Syria, took Sidon and other Phœnician cities, and then passed to southwest Palestine, where he defeated the Egyptians and Ethiopians (compare 2Ki 18:21; 19:9). His subsequent retreat, after his host was destroyed by God, is of course suppressed in the inscriptions. But other particulars inscribed agree strikingly with the Bible; the capture of the "defensed cities of Judah," the devastation of the country and deportation of its inhabitants; the increased tribute imposed on Hezekiah—thirty talents of gold—this exact number being given in both; the silver is set down in the inscriptions at eight hundred talents, in the Bible three hundred; the latter may have been the actual amount carried off, the larger sum may include the silver from the temple doors, pillars, &c. (2Ki 18:16).

1. fourteenth—the third of Sennacherib's reign. His ultimate object was Egypt, Hezekiah's ally. Hence he, with the great body of his army (2Ch 32:9), advanced towards the Egyptian frontier, in southwest Palestine, and did not approach Jerusalem.Sennacherib invadeth Judah, Isaiah 36:1. He sendeth Rabshakeh, who by his blasphemous persuasions tempteth Hezekiah to despair, and the people to revolt, Isaiah 36:2-22.

No text from Poole on this verse.

Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah,.... The following piece of history is inserted from the books of Kings and Chronicles, as an illustration of some preceding prophecies, and as a confirmation of them; see 2 Kings 18:13.

that Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defenced cities of Judah; who in the Apocrypha:

"And if the king Sennacherib had slain any, when he was come, and fled from Judea, I buried them privily; for in his wrath he killed many; but the bodies were not found, when they were sought for of the king.'' (Tobit 1:18)

is said to be the son of Shalmaneser, as he certainly was his successor, who in the sixth year of Hezekiah, eight years before this, took Samaria, and carried the ten tribes captive, 2 Kings 18:10 he is called Sennacherib by Herodotus (c), who says he was king of the Arabians, and the Assyrians; who yet is blamed by Josephus (d), for not calling him the king of the Assyrians only of the Arabians, whereas he styles him both; and the same Josephus observes, that Berosus, a Chaldean writer, makes mention of this Sennacherib as king of Assyria; the same came up in a military way against the fortified cities of Judah, which were the frontier towns, and barriers of their country:

and took them; that is, some of them, not all of them; see Isaiah 37:8, he thought indeed to have took them to himself, this was his intent, 2 Chronicles 32:1, but was prevailed upon to desist, by a payment of three hundred talents of silver, and thirty talents of gold to him, by the king of Judah, 2 Kings 18:14.

(c) In Euterpe c. 141. (d) Antiqu. Jud. l. 10. c. 1. sect. 4.

Now it came to pass {a} in the {b} fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, that Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah, and took them.

(a) This history is rehearsed because it is as a seal and confirmation of the doctrine before, both for the threatenings and promises: that is, that God would permit his Church to be afflicted, but at length would send deliverance.

(b) When he had abolished superstition, and idolatry, and restored religion, yet God would exercise his Church to try their faith and patience.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. (Cf. 2 Kings 18:13) in the fourteenth year] The year of Sennacherib’s expedition was beyond question 701 b.c. If this was really the fourteenth year of Hezekiah his accession must have taken place in 715. On the objections to this date, see Chronological Note, pp. lxxvi f. Assuming that the arguments there given are valid, the error in this verse might be accounted for in either of two ways. (1) It has been suggested that ch. 38 f. stood originally before ch. 36 f., and that in the process of transposition the precise specification of time, which really belonged to ch. 38, was retained as the introduction to the whole group of narratives. The 14th year of Hezekiah would thus be the true date, not necessarily of Sennacherib’s invasion, but of Hezekiah’s sickness and the embassy of Merodach-Baladan. (2) A second supposition is that the date was inserted here by an editor, who arrived at it by a calculation based on ch. Isaiah 38:5. Deducting the 15 years’ lease of life assured to Hezekiah by the prophet from the 29 years of his reign, he rightly concluded that his sickness must have occurred in the 14th year of his reign, and supposing further that all these events were nearly contemporaneous, he substituted this exact date for some vaguer statement which he may have found in his original. A third hypothesis,—that the date is correct, but that the name Sennacherib has been wrongly written for Sargon,—falls to the ground with the whole theory of an invasion of Judah by the latter monarch.

all the defenced cities of Judah] Sennacherib himself boasts that he captured forty-six of them in this campaign.Verse 1. - It came to pass in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah. There is an irreconcilable difference between this note of time, in the passage as it stands, and the Assyrian inscriptions. The fourteenth year of Hezekiah was B.C. 714 or 713. Sargon was then King of Assyria, and continued king till B.C. 705. Sennacherib did not ascend the throne till that year, and he did not lead an expedition into Palestine till B.C. 701. Thus the date, as it stands, is cloven or twelve years too early. It is now the common opinion of critics that the chronology of the Books of Kings, speaking generally, is "a later addition to the Hebrew narrative" (Cheyne, 'Isaiah,' vol. 1. p. 199, note 1). It is uncertain when the dates were added; but it would not be long from the time when the addition was made before "Isaiah" would be brought into accord with "Kings." Another view is that the date belongs to the original writings, but that it has suffered corruption, "fourteenth" having been substituted for "twenty-sixth," from an overstrict rendering of the expression, "in those days," which introduces the narrative of ch. 38. That narrative undoubtedly belongs to Hezekiah's fourteenth year. A third view is that of Dr. Hincks, who suggests a derangement of the text, which has attached to an expedition of Sennacherib a date originally belonging to an attack by Sargon. He supposes the original text to have run thus: "And it came to pass in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah that the King of Assyria came up (against him). In those days was King Hezekiah sick unto death, etc. (ch. 38, 39.). And Sennacherib, King of Assyria, came up against all the defenced cities of Judah, and took them," etc. (ch. 36, 37.). The subject has been treated at considerable length by Mr. Cheyne ('Prophecies of Isaiah,' vol. 1. pp. 196-204), who has accidentally ascribed to Sir H. Rawlinson the second of the above theories, which really originated with the present writer. Sennacherib, King of Assyria. The Hebrew rendering of the name is Sankherib, the Greek Sanacharibus or Senacheribus. In the Assyrian the literation is Sin-akhi-irib - and the meaning" Sin (the moon-god) multiplies brothers." Sin-akhi-irib was the son and successor of Sargon. His father was murdered, and he ascended the throne in B.C. 705 (G. Smith, 'Epunym Canon,' p. 67). Came up against all the defenced cities; rather, all the fenced cities, as in 2 Kings 18:13,or "all the fortified cities" (Cheyne). And took them. Sennacberib tells us that, in the campaign of his fourth year ( B.C. 701), he "captured forty-six of the strong cities" belonging to Hezekiah, King of Judah, while of the "fortresses and small cities" he took "a countless number" ('Eponym Canon,' p. 134). (On the causes of the war and its general course, see the Introduction to the book.) "Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame man leap as the stag, and the tongue of the dumb man shout; for waters break out in the desert, and brooks in the steppe. And the mirage becomes a fish-pond, and the thirsty ground gushing water-springs; in the place of jackals, where it lies, there springs up grass with reeds and rushes." The bodily defects mentioned here there is no reason for regarding as figurative representations of spiritual defects. The healing of bodily defects, however, is merely the outer side of what is actually effected by the coming of Jehovah (for the other side, comp. Isaiah 32:3-4). And so, also, the change of the desert into a field abounding with water is not a mere poetical ornament; for in the last times, he era of redemption, nature itself will really share in the doxa which proceeds from the manifested God to His redeemed. Shârâb (Arab. sarâb) is essentially the same thing as that which we call in the western languages the mirage, or Fata morgana; not indeed every variety of this phenomenon of the refraction of light, through strata of air of varying density lying one above another, but more especially that appearance of water, which is produced as if by magic in the dry, sandy desert

(Note: See. G. Rawlinson, Monarchies, i. p. 38.)

(literally perhaps the "desert shine," just as we speak of the "Alpine glow;" see Isaiah 49:10). The antithesis to this is 'ăgam (Chald. 'agmâ', Syr. egmo, Ar. agam), a fish-pond (as in Isaiah 41:18, different from 'âgâm in Isaiah 19:10). In the arid sandy desert, where the jackal once had her lair and suckled her young (this is, according to Lamentations 4:3, the true explanation of the permutative ribhtsâh, for which ribhtsâm would be in some respects more suitable), grass springs up even into reeds and rushes; so that, as Isaiah 43:20 affirms, the wild beasts of the desert praise Jehovah.

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