2 Kings 18:22
But if ye say unto me, We trust in the LORD our God: is not that he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and hath said to Judah and Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(22) But if ye say.—The address seems to turn abruptly from Hezekiah to his ministers, and to the garrison of Jerusalem in general. But the LXX., Syriac, Arabic, and Isaiah 36:7 have the singular, “But if thou say,” which is probably original. (Hezekiah is presently mentioned in the third person, to avoid ambiguity.)

In the Lord our God.—The emphatic words of the clause.

Whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away.—This is just the construction which a heathen would naturally put on Hezekiah’s abolition of the local sanctuaries. (2Kings 18:4; 2Chronicles 31:1.) The Assyrians would appear to have heard of Hezekiah’s reformation, As he was a vassal of the great king, no doubt his proceedings were watched with jealous interest.

Ye shall worship . . . in Jerusalem?—Literally, Before this altar shall ye worship, at Jerusalem. The great altar of burnt offering was to be the one altar, and Jerusalem the one city, where Jehovah might be worshipped.

2 Kings 18:22. But if ye say, We trust in the Lord — His weak arguing here proceeds from his ignorance of that God in whom Hezekiah trusted, and of his law. Is not that he whose high places, &c., Hezekiah hath taken away? — Thereby robbing him of that worship and service which he had in those places. Thus he speaks boldly of those things which he understood not, calling that a crime which was a great virtue, and judging of the great God by their false and petty gods, and of God’s worship according to the vain fancies of the heathen, who measured piety by the multitude of altars.

18:17-37 Rabshakeh tries to convince the Jews, that it was to no purpose for them to stand it out. What confidence is this wherein thou trustest? It were well if sinners would submit to the force of this argument, in seeking peace with God. It is, therefore, our wisdom to yield to him, because it is in vain to contend with him: what confidence is that which those trust in who stand out against him? A great deal of art there is in this speech of Rabshakeh; but a great deal of pride, malice, falsehood, and blasphemy. Hezekiah's nobles held their peace. There is a time to keep silence, as well as a time to speak; and there are those to whom to offer any thing religious or rational, is to cast pearls before swine. Their silence made Rabshakeh yet more proud and secure. It is often best to leave such persons to rail and blaspheme; a decided expression of abhorrence is the best testimony against them. The matter must be left to the Lord, who has all hearts in his hands, committing ourselves unto him in humble submission, believing hope, and fervent prayer.The destruction of numerous shrines and altars where Yahweh had been worshipped 2 Kings 18:4 seemed to the Rab-shakeh conduct calculated not to secure the favor, but to call forth the anger, of the god. At any rate, it was conduct which he knew had been distasteful to many of Hezekiah's subjects. 19. Rab-shakeh said—The insolent tone he assumed appears surprising. But this boasting [2Ki 18:19-25], both as to matter and manner, his highly colored picture of his master's powers and resources, and the impossibility of Hezekiah making any effective resistance, heightened by all the arguments and figures which an Oriental imagination could suggest, has been paralleled in all, except the blasphemy, by other messages of defiance sent on similar occasions in the history of the East. Whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away; thereby robbing him of that worship and service which he had in those places. Thus boldly he speaks of these things which he understood not, judging of the great God by their false and petty gods; and judging of God’s worship according to the vain fancies of the heathens, who measured piety by the multitude of altars.

And the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris, and Rabshakeh from Lachish to King Hezekiah with a great host against Jerusalem,.... Notwithstanding he took the above large sum of money of him, so false and deceitful was he: these were three generals of his army, whom he sent to besiege Jerusalem, while he continued the siege of Lachish; only Rabshakeh is mentioned in Isaiah 36:2 he being perhaps chief general, and the principal speaker; whose speech, to the end of this chapter, intended to intimidate Hezekiah, and dishearten his people, with some circumstances which attended it, are recorded word for word in Isaiah 36:1 throughout; See Gill on Isaiah 36:1 and notes on that chapter. But if ye say unto me, We trust in the LORD our God: is not that he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath {h} taken away, and hath said to Judah and Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem?

(h) Thus the idolaters think that God's religion is destroyed, when superstition and idolatry are reformed.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
22. We trust in the Lord our God] Probably Rab-shakeh knew something about the character of Egypt and her ability and likeliness to help. ‘Rahab that sitteth still’ (Isaiah 30:7 R.V.) was a name probably not undeserved. But now he enters on a matter which he does not understand. He had heard no doubt of the many altars and high places which Hezekiah had swept away in the beginning of his reign, and he might have been told by some, who murmured at their removal, and urged that Jehovah was really worshipped at them, that the king had put down many altars of the true God, and for a fancy of his own had ordered all his subjects to worship in Jerusalem. But he did not, probably could not, comprehend that the law of Jehovah had long before ordained that when His worship should be brought to its true form among His people, there should be only one temple for the whole land. Hence his argument is ‘How can you expect Jehovah to help you, when you have been breaking down His shrines and limiting His worship to a single spot’?

Verse 22. - But if ye say unto me, We trust in the Lord our God. Sennacherib had also heard of this second ground of trust, which Hezekiah had certainly put forward with great openness (2 Chronicles 32:8). No doubt he thought it purely fantastical and illusory. But he was not unaware that it might inspire a determined resistance. He therefore condescended to argue against reliance on it. Is not that he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away? His counselors have suggested to Sennacherib a specious argument - How can Hezekiah confidently rely on the protection of the God of the land, Jehovah, when he has been employing himself for years in the destruction of this very God's high places and altars? Surely the God will not favor one who has been pulling down his places of worship! Putting out of sight the special requirements of the Jewish Law, the argument might well seem unanswerable. At any rate, it was calculated to have a certain effect on the minds of those who were attached to the high-place worship, and desired its continuance. And hath said to Judah and Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem. A weak argument, if addressed to Jews of Jerusalem only, but likely to have weight with the country Jews, if, as is probable, they had crowded into the city when the invasion began. 2 Kings 18:22Hezekiah (and Judah) had a stronger ground of confidence in Jehovah his God. Even this Rabshakeh tried to shake, availing himself very skilfully, from his heathen point of view, of the reform which Hezekiah had made in the worship, and representing the abolition of the altars on the high places as an infringement upon the reverence that ought to be shown to God. "And if ye say, We trust in Jehovah our God, (I:say:) is it not He whose high places and altars Hezekiah has taken away and has said to Judah and Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar (in the temple) in Jerusalem?" Instead of האמרוּ כּי, according to which Rabshakeh turned to the deputies, we have in Isaiah 7:7 תאמר כּי, according to which the words are addressed to Hezekiah, as in 2 Kings 18:20. האמרוּ is preferred by Thenius, Knobel, and others, because in what follows Hezekiah is addressed in the third person. but the very circumstance that האמרוּ is apparently more suitable favours the originality of תאמר, according to which the king is still addressed in the person of his ambassadors, and Rabshakeh only speaks directly to the ambassadors when this argument is answered. The attack upon the confidence which the Judaeans placed in their God commences with הוּא הלוא. The opinion of Thenius, that the second clause of the verse is a continuation of the words supposed to be spoken by the Judaeans who trusted in God, and that the apodosis does not follow till 2 Kings 18:23, is quite a mistake. The ambassadors of Hezekiah could not regard the high places and idolatrous altars that had been abolished as altars of Jehovah; and the apodosis could not commence with ועתּה.
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