|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
10:5-19 See what a change sin made. The king of Assyria, in his pride, thought to act by his own will. The tyrants of the world are tools of Providence. God designs to correct his people for their hypocrisy, and bring them nearer to him; but is that Sennacherib's design? No; he designs to gratify his own covetousness and ambition. The Assyrian boasts what great things he has done to other nations, by his own policy and power. He knows not that it is God who makes him what he is, and puts the staff into his hand. He had done all this with ease; none moved the wing, or cried as birds do when their nests are rifled. Because he conquered Samaria, he thinks Jerusalem would fall of course. It was lamentable that Jerusalem should have set up graven images, and we cannot wonder that she was excelled in them by the heathen. But is it not equally foolish for Christians to emulate the people of the world in vanities, instead of keeping to things which are their special honour? For a tool to boast, or to strive against him that formed it, would not be more out of the way, than for Sennacherib to vaunt himself against Jehovah. When God brings his people into trouble, it is to bring sin to their remembrance, and humble them, and to awaken them to a sense of their duty; this must be the fruit, even the taking away of sin. When these points are gained by the affliction, it shall be removed in mercy. This attempt upon Zion and Jerusalem should come to nothing. God will be as a fire to consume the workers of iniquity, both soul and body. The desolation should be as when a standard-bearer fainteth, and those who follow are put to confusion. Who is able to stand before this great and holy Lord God?
Verse 9. - Is not Calno as Carehemish? A further proof of superiority, and ground of confidence, lay in the further fact, that the strongest cities had, one and all, succumbed to the Assyrian arms, and been laid in ruins to punish them for offering resistance. Six such cities are mentioned - Calneh, probably Niffer, in Lower Mesopotamia; Carchemish, on the right bank of the Euphrates in Lat. 36° 30' nearly; Hamath, the "great Hamath" of Amos (Amos 6:2), in Coelesyria on the routes; Arpad, perhaps Tel-Erfad, near Aleppo; Damascus, and Samaria. Calneh was one of the cities of Nimrod (Genesis 10:10), and, according to the LXX., was "the place where the tower was built." It may have been taken by Tiglath-Pileser in one of his expeditious into Babylonia. Amos (Amos 6:2) speaks of it as desolate in his day. Carchemish (Assyrian Gargamis) was a chief city of the Hittites, and has been called "their northern capital." Long confounded by geographers with Circesium at the junction of the Khabour with the Euphrates, it has recently been proved to have occupied a far more northern position, and is now generally identified with the ruins discovered by Mr. George Smith at Jerabis or Jerabhs. It was conquered by Sargon in B.C. 717, when "its people were led captive, and scattered over the Assyrian empire, while Assyrian colonists were brought to people the city in their place; Carchemish being formally annexed to Assyria, and placed under an Assyrian governor" (G. Smith, 'Assyria,' p. 97). Hamath was originally a Canaanite city (Genesis 10:18). By the time of David it had become the scat of an independent monarchy (2 Samuel 8:9, 10), and so continued until its reduction by the Assyrians. We find it leagued with the Hittites, the Syrians of Damascus, and the Israelites against Assyria about B.C. 850 ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 2. pp. 361-363). About B.C. 720 it was taken by Sargon, who beheaded its king, and probably reduced it to ruins (ibid., p. 411; comp. Amos 6:2). The name remains in the modern Hamah, where many curious inscriptions have been recently dug up. Arpad was attacked by Tiglath-Pileser in the early part of his reign, and reduced to subjection. It revolted in conjunction with Hamath from Sargon, and was severely punished ('Ancient Monarchies,' l.s.c.). Is not Samaria as Damascus? This mention of Samaria among the subjugated and ruined cities may undoubtedly be prophetic; but the connection with Carchemish, Hamath, and Arpad all of them towns reduced by Sargon within the years B.C. 720-717 - points rather to the verse being historical, and would seem to indicate that the date of the entire prophecy - vers. 5-19 - is subsequent to the capture of the cities, and so not earlier than B.C. 716.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Is not Calno as Carchemish?.... Jarchi's note is,
"as the children of Carchemish are princes and rulers, so are the children of Calno;''
as if this was giving an instance of the grandeur of his subjects; but much better is the Targum,
"as Carchemish is subdued before me, shall not Calno be so?''
as I or my ancestors have conquered the one, it is as easy for me to conquer the other; or as sure as the one is subject to me, so sure shall the other be; for Carchemish was a city belonging to the Assyrians, situated upon the river Euphrates, 2 Chronicles 35:20 called by Ammianus (k) Circusium; the Syriac version calls it Barchemosh; and Calno is the same with Calneh in the land of Shinar, a city built by Nimrod, Genesis 10:10 in the Septuagint version it is called Chalane, and it is added,
"where the tower was built;''
from whence the country, called by Pliny (l) Chalonitis, had its name, the chief city of which was Ctesiphon, thought to be the same with Calneh.
Is not Hamath as Arphad? Hamath and Arphad were both cities conquered by the Assyrians; see 2 Kings 18:34 and are both mentioned along with Damascus, Jeremiah 49:23.
Is not Samaria as Damascus? Damascus was the metropolis of Syria, and was taken by the Assyrians; and Samaria was the metropolis of Ephraim, or the ten tribes; see Isaiah 7:8 and was as easy to be taken as Damascus was. The Targum is,
"as Arphad is delivered into my hands, shall not Hamath be so? As I have done to Damascus, so will I do to Samaria.''
(k) L. 23. c. 5. p. 360. (l) Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 26. and 27.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
9. Is not … as—Was there any one of these cities able to withstand me? Not one. So Rab-shakeh vaunts (Isa 36:19).
Calno—Calneh, built by Nimrod (Ge 10:10), once his capital, on the Tigris.
Carchemish—Circesium, on the Euphrates. Taken afterwards by Necho, king of Egypt; and retaken by Nebuchadnezzar: by the Euphrates (Jer 46:2).
Hamath—in Syria, north of Canaan (Ge 10:18). Taken by Assyria about 753 B.C. From it colonists were planted by Assyria in Samaria.
Damascus—(Isa 17:1, 3).
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