How then will you turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master's servants, and put your trust on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)How then.—Literally, And how. The connection of thought is: (But thou canst not); and how . . .
Turn away the face of . . .—i.e., repulse, reject the demand of . . . (1Kings 2:16.)
One captain of the least of my master’s servants.—Rather, a pasha who is one of the smallest of my lord’s servants. He means himself. The word we render “pasha” is, in the Hebrew, pa’hath, a word which used to be derived from the Persian, but which is now known to be Semitic, from the corresponding Assyrian words pahat, “prefect,” “provincial governor,” and pihat, “prefecture.”
And put thy trust.—Rather, but thou hast put thy trust; assigning a ground for Hezekiah’s folly. There should be a stop at “servants.” (Comp. Isaiah 31:1 : “Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots.”)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. How then wilt thou turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master's servants, and put thy trust on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)24. How then wilt thou, &c.] Rab-shakeh impudently takes for granted that Hezekiah’s only answer would be ‘I have not the men’. So he proceeds with his insults, and points out what he deems the folly of resistance. ‘We, three of the principal officers of our master, are come to treat with you. As your power is so feeble, you ought not to think of opposition, but to listen to the Assyrian proposals if they were brought even by some inferior person.’ The word which in this verse is rendered ‘captains’ is that which is constantly used in Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther of the ‘governors’ of provinces belonging to the great king. Any one of these, Rab-shakeh intimates, would be a power by himself which Hezekiah ought not to despise, as he possesses no men, even if the horses were made a present to him, out of which to form a body of cavalry. When Assyria can be so liberal in offers of horses, and when even her smallest governors are so well equipped with troops, is it not folly to go to Egypt for chariots and horses? He knows, and intimates that the same kind of vassalage would be required by the king of Egypt, as the king of Assyria demands.
Some have taken the verb ‘wilt thou turn away’ as equivalent to ‘wilt thou defeat and put to flight’. But this seems to suit very badly with the concluding clause of the sentence. ‘To put trust in Egypt’ is a good antithesis to the rejection of a proposal from the side of Assyria, but not to the defeat of the Assyrian troops.Verse 24. - How then wilt thou turn away the face of - i.e. "repulse, "cause to retreat" - one captain of the least of my master's servants; literally, one governor - the word used is that which in modern times takes the form of "pasha," or "pacha." It properly applies to the rulers of provinces; but as these were expected to collect and command, upon occasions, the troops of their province, it has a secondary sense of "commander" or "captain." And put thy trust; rather, and thou puttest thy trust - in this extremity of weakness, so far as thine own forces are concerned, thou art so foolish as to put thy trust in Egypt, and to expect that her strength will make up for thine own impotence. Vain hope! (see ver. 21). On Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? or, chariots and chariot-men. Isaiah 22:20-21); Shebna, who was still secretary of state (ספר: see at 2 Samuel 8:17); and Joach the son of Asaph, the chancellor (מזכּיר: see at 2 Samuel 8:16).
Rabshakeh made a speech to these three (2 Kings 18:19-25), in which he tried to show that Hezekiah's confidence that he would be able to resist the might of the king of Assyria was perfectly vain, since neither Egypt (2 Kings 18:21), nor his God (2 Kings 18:22), nor his forces (2 Kings 18:23), would be able to defend him.
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