2 Kings 19:26
Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded; they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the housetops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up.
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(26) Of small power.—Literally, short-handed. (Comp. Isaiah 1:2, Isa_59:1.) Keil compares the well-known title of Artaxerxes I., Longimanus, the “long-handed,” as if that epithet meant far-reaching in power. Thenius says that a frightened man draws in his arms (?)

As the grass . . .—The as may better be omitted. They were field growth and green herbage; grass of the roofs and blasting before stalk. The sense seems imperfect, unless we supply the idea of withering away, as in Psalm 37:2; Psalm 90:5-6; Psalm 129:6; Isaiah 40 (5, 7. Instead of the word blasting the parallel text (Isaiah 37:27) has field—a difference of one letter. Thenius adopts this, and corrects stalk into east wind, no great change in the Hebrew. We thus get the appropriate expression: and a field before the east wind.

2 Kings 19:26. Therefore their inhabitants were of small power — The people of Israel and Judah, and of other countries which thou hast conquered, because I had armed thee with my commission and strength, and had taken away their spirit and courage, and had withdrawn my help from them to give it to thee. They were as the grass of the field — Which is weak, and quickly fades, and is unable to resist any hand or instrument which offers violence to it. As corn blasted before it be grown up — All their designs and hopes were disappointed before they could come to any perfection or success.

19:20-34 All Sennacherib's motions were under the Divine cognizance. God himself undertakes to defend the city; and that person, that place, cannot but be safe, which he undertakes to protect. The invasion of the Assyrians probably had prevented the land from being sown that year. The next is supposed to have been the sabbatical year, but the Lord engaged that the produce of the land should be sufficient for their support during those two years. As the performance of this promise was to be after the destruction of Sennacherib's army, it was a sign to Hezekiah's faith, assuring him of that present deliverance, as an earnest of the Lord's future care of the kingdom of Judah. This the Lord would perform, not for their righteousness, but his own glory. May our hearts be as good ground, that his word may strike root therein, and bring forth fruit in our lives.The weakness of the nations exposed to the Assyrian attacks was as much owing to the divine decrees as was the strength of the Assyrians themselves.

The grass on the house tops - Compare the marginal reference. The vegetation on the flat roofs of Oriental houses is the first to spring up and the first to fade away.

20. Then Isaiah … sent—A revelation having been made to Isaiah, the prophet announced to the king that his prayer was heard. The prophetic message consisted of three different portions:—First, Sennacherib is apostrophized (2Ki 19:21-28) in a highly poetical strain, admirably descriptive of the turgid vanity, haughty pretensions, and presumptuous impiety of the Assyrian despot. Secondly, Hezekiah is addressed (2Ki 19:29-31), and a sign is given him of the promised deliverance—namely, that for two years the presence of the enemy would interrupt the peaceful pursuits of husbandry, but in the third year the people would be in circumstances to till their fields and vineyards and reap the fruits as formerly. Thirdly, the issue of Sennacherib's invasion is announced (2Ki 19:32-34). Therefore; because I had armed thee with my commission and strength, and taken away their spirit and courage, and withdrew my help from them to give it to thee.

Their inhabitants; the people of Israel, and Judah, and other places which thou hast conquered.

As the grass of the field; which is weak and quickly fading, and unable to resist any hand or instrument which offers violence to it.

As corn blasted before it be grown up, i.e. all their designs and hopes were disappointed before they could come to any perfection or success.

And it came to pass, when King Hezekiah heard it,.... The report of Rabshakeh's speech, recorded in the preceding chapter:

that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth; rent his clothes because of the blasphemy in the speech; and he put on sackcloth, in token of mourning, for the calamities he feared were coming on him and his people: and he went into the house of the Lord; the temple, to pray unto him. The message he sent to Isaiah, with his answer, and the threatening letter of the king of Assyria, Hezekiah's prayer upon it, and the encouraging answer he had from the Lord, with the account of the destruction of the Assyrian army, and the death of Sennacherib, are the same "verbatim" as in Isaiah 37:1 throughout; and therefore the reader is referred thither for the exposition of them; only would add what Rauwolff (t) observes, that still to this day (1575) there are two great holes to be seen, wherein they flung the dead bodies (of the Assyrian army), one whereof is close by the road towards Bethlehem, the other towards the right hand against old Bethel.

(t) Travels, par. 3. ch. 22. p. 317.

Therefore their {r} inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded; they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the housetops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up.

(r) Thus he describes the wicked, who flourish for a time, and later fade and decay like flowers.

26. Therefore] i.e. Not, as thou thinkest, because of thy might, but because I sent thee; for this reason it is that the people against whom thou camest were dismayed.

of small power] Literally, as in the margin ‘short of hand’. Cf. the question of Moses (Numbers 11:23) ‘Is the Lord’s hand waxen short?’ See also Isaiah 50:2; Isaiah 59:1.

They were as the grass of the field] All these figures of frailty are found in other places of Scripture. See Psalm 27:2; Psalm 90:5; Psalm 102:4; Psalm 102:11; Isaiah 40:7. The grass upon the housetops, Psalm 129:6.

Verse 26. - Therefore their inhabitants were of small power; literally, were short of hand - unable, i.e., to make an effectual resistance. When God has decreed a change in the distribution of power among the nations, his providence works doubly. It infuses confidence and strength into the aggressive people, and spreads dismay and terror among those who are attacked. Unaccountable panics seize them - they seem paralyzed; instead of making every possible preparation for resistance, they fold their hands and do nothing. They are like fascinated birds before the stealthy advance of the serpent. They were dismayed and confounded. Historically, the prophet declares, this was the cause of the general collapse of the nations whom the Assyrians attacked. God put a craven fear into their hearts. They were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the house-tops. The "grass of the field" is one of the most frequent similes for weakness. "All flesh is grass" (Isaiah 40:6); "They shall soon be cut down like the grass" (Psalm 37:2); "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth" (Isaiah 40:8); "I am withered like grass" (Psalm 102:11). In the hot sun of an Eastern sky nothing faded more quickly. But this weakness was intensified in the "grass of the house-tops." It "withered before it grew up" (Psalm 129:6). The depth of earth was so slight, the exposure so great, the heat so scorching, that it sank in death almost as soon as it had sprung to life. Such has been the weakness of the nations given over as a prey to the Assyrians. And as corn blasted before it be grown up. Corn blasted before it shoots into a stalk is as frail as grass, or frailer. It dwindles and disappears without even asserting itself. 2 Kings 19:262 Kings 19:26 is closely connected, so far as the sense is concerned, with the last clause of 2 Kings 19:25, but in form it is only loosely attached: "and their inhabitants were," instead of "that their inhabitants might be." יד קצרי, of short hand, i.e., without power to offer a successful resistance (cf. Numbers 11:23, and Isaiah 50:2; Isaiah 59:1). - They were herbage of the field, etc., just as perishable as the herbage, grass, etc., which quickly fade away (cf. Psalm 37:2; Psalm 90:5-6; Isaiah 40:6). The grass of the roofs fades still more quickly, because it cannot strike deep roots (cf. Psalm 129:6). Blighted corn before the stalk, i.e., corn which is blighted and withered up, before it shoots up into a stalk. In Isaiah we have שׁדמה instead of שׁדפה, with a change of the labials, probably for the purpose of preserving an assonance with קמה, which must not therefore be altered into שׁדמה. The thought in the two verses is this: The Assyrian does not owe his victories and conquests to his irresistible might, but purely to the fact that God had long ago resolved to deliver the nations into his hands, so that it was possible to overcome them without their being able to offer any resistance. This the Assyrian had not perceived, but in his daring pride had exalted himself above the living God. This conduct of his the Lord was well acquainted with, and He would humble him for it. Sitting and going out and coming denote all the actions of a man, like sitting down and rising up in Psalm 139:2. Instead of rising up, we generally find going out and coming in (cf. Deuteronomy 28:6 and Psalm 121:8). התרגּזך, thy raging, commotio furibunda, quae ex ira nascitur superbiae mixta (Vitr.). We must repeat רען before שׁאננך; and באזני עלה is to be taken in a relative sense: on account of thy self-security, which has come to my ears. שׁאנן is the security of the ungodly which springs from the feeling of great superiority in power. The figurative words, "I put my ring into thy nose," are taken from the custom of restraining wild animals, such as lions (Ezekiel 19:4) and other wild beasts (Ezekiel 29:4 and Isaiah 30:28), in this manner. For "the bridle in the lips" of ungovernable horses, see Psalm 32:9. To lead a person back by the way by which he had come, i.e., to lead him back disappointed, without having reached the goal that he set before him.
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