2 Kings 18:36
But the people held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king's commandment was, saying, Answer him not.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
2 Kings 18:36. But the people held their peace — That is, both these three men, and the people that were with them upon the wall, especially the people to whom he had chiefly spoken, and from whom he expected an answer. For the king’s command was, Answer him not — This was wisely ordered, lest by their words they should betray their fears, or provoke their enemies to greater injuries or blasphemies, or give them some advantage or direction for their further proceedings; as also that by this instance of obedience and calmness, the king of Assyria might see the resolution of the people to cleave unto their king, and the vanity of his attempts to seduce them to a defection from him. 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.Arpad was situated somewhere in southern Syria; but it is impossible to fix its exact position. Sargon mentions it in an inscription as joining with Hamath in an act of rebellion, which he chastised. It was probably the capture and destruction of these two cities on this occasion which caused them to be mentioned together here (and in 2 Kings 19:13, and again in Isaiah 10:9). Sennacherib adduces late examples of the inability of the nations' gods to protect their cities. On the other cities mentioned in this verse, see 2 Kings 17:24 notes. 27. that they may eat, &c.—This was designed to show the dreadful extremities to which, in the threatened siege, the people of Jerusalem would be reduced. The people, i.e. either these three men, this word being sometimes used of a very few men, as 1 Samuel 9:24. Or rather, the people that were with then upon the wall, 2 Kings 18:26, to whom he spake, and from whom he expected an answer.

Answer him not; which was wisely ordered, partly lest by their words they should either betray their fears, or provoke their enemies to greater injuries or blasphemies, or give them some advantage or direction for their further proceedings; and partly that by this instance of obedience and calmness he might see the resolution of the people to cleave unto their king, and the vanity of his attempts to seduce them to a defection from him. 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 the people held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king's commandment was, saying, Answer him not.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
36. the people held their peace] Rab-shakeh had hoped to excite the people, at all events, to some expression of discontent, and perhaps had any movement of that kind been displayed, the ‘great host’ of verse 17 would at once have begun the attack, for treason within the city might have opened the gates. But the expectation is utterly disappointed, even the fear of starvation provokes no treachery.

Bp Hall observes here, ‘I do not more wonder at Hezekiah’s wisdom in commanding silence, than at the subjects’ obedience in keeping it. This railer could not be more spited, than with no answer; and if he might be exasperated he could not be reformed. Besides, the rebounding of those multiplied blasphemies might leave some ill impressions in the multitude. This sulphurous flask, therefore, dies in his own smoke; only leaving a hateful stench behind it’.

The Chronicler, though his account is briefer, yet describes in more terrible terms the blasphemies of the Assyrian envoy. Not only does he mention his language to those who came to hear him, but he adds ‘he wrote also letters to rail on the Lord, the God of Israel, and to speak against Him … and they spake against the God of Jerusalem, as against the gods of the people of the earth which were the work of the hands of man’. (2 Chronicles 32:17; 2 Chronicles 32:19.) Perhaps he is alluding to the letter mentioned below (2 Kings 19:14).Verse 36. - But the people held their peace, and answered him not a word. All Rabshakeh's efforts to produce open disaffection failed. Whatever impression his arguments may have made, no indication was given that they had produced any. If, then, he had hoped to bring about a mutiny, or even to create a disturbance, he was disappointed. For the king's commandment was, saying, Answer him not. Hezekiah had either anticipated Rabshakeh's tactics, and given an order beforehand that no word should be uttered, or he had promptly met them by sending such an order, on learning Rabshakeh's proceedings, The latter is more probable, since such an outrageous course as that which Rabshakeh had pursued can scarcely have been expected. ויּעמוד: not, he stood up, raised himself (Ges.), or came forward (Then.), but he stationed himself, assumed an attitude calculated for effect, and spoke to the people with a loud voice in the Jewish language, telling them to listen to the king of Assyria and not to be led astray by Hezekiah, i.e., to be persuaded to defend the city any longer, since neither Hezekiah nor Jehovah could defend them from the might of Sennacherib. אל־ישּׁיא: let not Hezekiah deceive you, sc. by pretending to be able to defend or save Jerusalem. In מיּדו, "out of his (the Assyrian's) hand," the speaker ceases to speak in the name of his king. On the construction of the passive תּנּתן with את־העיר, see Ewald, 277, d., although in the instance before us he proposes to expunge the את after Isaiah 36:15.
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