In those days was Hezekiah sick to death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, Thus said the LORD, Set your house in order; for you shall die, and not live.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)In those days—i.e., in the time of the Assyrian invasion. The illness may have been caused, or at least aggravated, by the intense anxiety which this grave peril created. Hezekiah reigned 29 years (2Kings 18:2), and the invasion began in his 14th year (2Kings 18:13). In 2Kings 20:6 he is promised 15 years of life, and deliverance from the king of Assyria. That Hezekiah recovered before the catastrophe recorded at the end of the last chapter, is evident from the fact that no allusion to the destruction of his enemies is contained in his hymn of thanksgiving (Isaiah 38:10-20).
Set thine house in order.—The margin is right (Comp. 2Samuel 17:23.)2 Kings 20:1. In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death — That is, in the same year in which the king of Assyria invaded Judea; for Hezekiah reigned in all twenty-nine years, and surviving this sickness fifteen years, it must have happened in his fourteenth year, which was the year in which Sennacherib invaded him. It appears, however, from 2 Kings 20:6, in which God promises to deliver him and Jerusalem out of the hand of the king of Assyria, that it took place before that deliverance; but the sacred historian thought proper to place it after that event, that he might not interrupt the story of Sennacherib. Thus saith the Lord, Set thy house in order, &c. — Make thy will, and settle the affairs of thy family and kingdom. This he the rather presses upon him, because the state of his kingdom peculiarly required it, for it is plain Hezekiah had not, as yet, any son; Manasseh, his heir and successor, not being born till three years after this time; compare 2 Kings 20:6 with 2 Kings 21:1. Thou shalt die, and not live — Thy disease is mortal in its kind, and will be so in effect, if God do not by a miracle prevent it. Such threatenings, though expressed absolutely, have often secret conditions.2 Kings 20:6), a date which falls early in the reign of Sargon. The true chronological place of this narrative is therefore prior to all the other facts related of Hezekiah except his religious reforms.
The prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz - This full description of Isaiah (compare 2 Kings 19:2), by the addition of his father's name and of his office, marks the original independence of this narrative. The writer of Kings may have found it altogether separate from the other records of Hezekiah, and added it in the state in which he found it.
This history (compare Jonah 3:4-10) shows that the prophetic denunciations were often not absolute predictions of what was certainly about to happen, but designed primarily to prove, or to lead to repentance, those against whom they were uttered, and only obtaining accomplishment if this primary design failed.
2Ki 20:1-7. Hezekiah's Life Lengthened.
1. In those days was Hezekiah sick—As his reign lasted twenty-nine years (2Ki 18:2), and his kingdom was invaded in the fourteenth (2Ki 18:13), it is evident that this sudden and severe illness must have occurred in the very year of the Syrian invasion. Between the threatened attack and the actual appearance of the enemy, this incident in Hezekiah's history must have taken place. But according to the usage of the sacred historian, the story of Sennacherib is completed before entering on what was personal to the king of Judah (see also Isa 37:36-38:1).
Set thine house in order—Isaiah, being of the blood royal, might have access to the king's private house. But since the prophet was commissioned to make this announcement, the message must be considered as referring to matters of higher importance than the settlement of the king's domestic and private affairs. It must have related chiefly to the state of his kingdom, he having not as yet any son (compare 2Ki 20:6 with 2Ki 21:1).
for thou shall die, and not live—The disease was of a malignant character and would be mortal in its effects, unless the healing power of God should miraculously interpose.Hezekiah receiving a message of death, by prayer hath his life lengthened; for a sign the sun goeth backward, 2 Kings 20:1-11. The king of Babylon’s ambassadors come to Hezekiah with letters and a present; he showeth them all his treasures, 2 Kings 20:12-15; whereupon Isaiah foretelleth him the Babylonish captivity: he dieth; and Manasseh is king, 2 Kings 20:16-21.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2 Kings 20:1-11. Sickness of king Hezekiah. His life is prolonged in answer to his prayer. The sign given by God that this should be so (2 Chronicles 32:24; Isaiah 38:1-22)
1. In those days was Hezekiah sick] Scripture writers are not precise in specifying times, and ‘in those days’ may mean no more than ‘about that time’ either before or after the defeat of the Assyrians. But there are one or two marks which may help us to come to a conclusion. In verse 6 the promise is made ‘I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria’. But these words seem to relate rather to a further continued preservation than to the overthrow which drove Sennacherib away. Though the Assyrians were gone, it was not unlikely that they would return. It is to deliverance from all such future attacks that God’s promise is best referred. For the visit of the ambassadors of the king of Babylon was ‘at that time’ (verse 12), clearly when Hezekiah had recovered, and when time enough had elapsed for the news about the sickness and the recovery to have reached Babylon. But the embassy was not merely for the purposes of congratulation, but to secure Hezekiah’s alliance with Babylon against Assyria. The time would seem to the Babylonians most opportune for shaking off the Assyrian yoke, and the help of that power in attacking which the Assyrians had suffered so much loss, would appear the very best help that could be sought. Hence Berodach-baladan availed himself of the excuse of congratulating Hezekiah on his recovery to send an embassy to sound the king of Judah on the subject of an alliance. Hezekiah’s answer was given by the exhibition of his supplies and stores of armour. Connecting the events together thus, we come to the conclusion that Hezekiah’s sickness occurred soon after the Assyrian overthrow, and that thus the notes of time which fix (2 Kings 18:13) Sennacherib’s invasion in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah’s reign, and promise the king fifteen years more of life are substantially exact, and fill up together the twenty-nine years assigned to Hezekiah’s reign in 2 Kings 18:2.
And the prophet Isaiah [R.V. Isaiah the prophet] the son of Amoz] The change of order conforms to Isaiah 38:1.
Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live] One can hardly read these words without the conviction that the conduct of Hezekiah, after his deliverance from the Assyrian siege, had not been such as to find favour with God. A message of this kind would not be sent from God without good cause. Either there had been a lack of thankfulness, or the king was too much elated with the glory of so miraculous a deliverance. That Hezekiah could think of his own greatness and forget to point to God as its author is seen as we read of the display he made before the Babylonian embassy, which is recorded in this chapter.Verse 1. - In those days. This is a very vague note of time, and cannot be regarded as determining the position of the events here related with respect to the preceding narrative. Ver. 6, however, shows that a time anterior to Sennacherib's discomfiture is intended; and the same verse also fixes the date to Hezekiah's fourteenth year, which was B.C. 713. If the date in 2 Kings 18:13 be regarded as genuine, we must consider that the illness happened in the year of Sennacherib's first expedition against Palestine; but if we regard that date as interpolated, and accept the Assyrian inscriptions as our chronological authorities, we must place the events of the present chapter twelve years earlier than that expedition, in the reign of Sargon over Assyria, and in the first reign of Merodach-Baladan over Babylon. It belongs, at any rate, to the middle part of Hezekiah's reign, while his treasures were intact (vers. 13-17), and had not been carried off to Nineveh. Was Hezekiah sick unto death; stricken, i.e., by a malady which, in the ordinary course of nature, would have been fatal. And the Prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him. The designation of Isaiah as "the prophet," and" the son of Amoz," as if previously unknown to the reader, indicates the original independency of the narrative, which the writer of Kings probably obtained from a separate source. And said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. The statement was a warning, not a prophecy. It is parallel to that of Jonah to the Ninevites, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." 2 Kings 19:30, 2 Kings 19:31 by the distinct promise of the deliverance of Judah and Jerusalem, for which Isaiah uses the sign itself as a type. "And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah will again strike roots downwards and bear fruit upwards; for from Jerusalem will go forth a remnant, and that which is escaped from Mount Zion; the zeal of Jehovah will do this." שׁרשׁ יסף, to add roots, i.e., to strike fresh roots. The meaning is, that Judah will not succumb to this judgment. The remnant of the nation that has escaped from destruction by the Assyrians will once more grow and flourish vigorously; for from Jerusalem will a rescued remnant go forth. פּליטה denotes those who have escaped destruction by the judgment (cf. Isaiah 4:2; Isaiah 10:20, etc.). The deliverance was attached to Jerusalem or to Mount Zion, not so much because the power of the Assyrians was to be destroyed before the gates of Jerusalem, as because of the greater importance which Jerusalem and Mount Zion, as the centre of the kingdom of God, the seat of the God-King, possessed in relation to the covenant-nation, so that, according to Isaiah 2:3, it was thence that the Messianic salvation was also to proceed. This deliverance is traced to the zeal of the Lord on behalf of His people and against His foes (see at Exodus 20:5), like the coming of the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6 to establish an everlasting kingdom of peace and righteousness. The deliverance of Judah out of the power of Asshur was a prelude and type of the deliverance of the people of God by the Messiah out of the power of all that was ungodly. The צבאות of Isaiah is omitted after יהוה, just as in 2 Kings 19:15; though here it is supplied by the Masora as Keri. - In 2 Kings 19:32-34 Isaiah concludes by announcing that Sennacherib will not come to Jerusalem, nor even shoot at the city and besiege it, but will return disappointed, because the Lord will defend and save the city for the sake of His promise. The result of the whole prophecy is introduced with לכן: therefore, because this is how the matter stands, viz., as explained in what precedes. אל־מלך, with regard to the king, as in 2 Kings 19:20. מגן יקדּמנּה לא, "he will not attack it with a shield," i.e., will not advance with shields to make an attack upon it. קדּם with a double accusative, as in Psalm 21:4. It only occurs here in a hostile sense: to come against, as in Psalm 18:19, i.e., to advance against a city, to storm it. The four clauses of the verse stand in a graduated relation to one another: not to take, not even to shoot at and attack, yea, not even to besiege the city, will he come. In 2 Kings 19:33 we have 2 Kings 19:28 taken up again, and 2 Kings 19:32 is repeated in 2 Kings 19:33 for the purpose of strengthening the promise. Instead of בּהּ יבוא we have in Isaiah בּהּ בּא: "by which he has come." The perfect is actually more exact, and the imperfect may be explained from the fact that Sennacherib was at that very time advancing against Jerusalem. In 2 Kings 19:34 we have אל גּנּותי instead of the על גּנּותי of Isaiah: על is more correct than אל. "For my sake," as Hezekiah had prayed in v. 19; and "for my servant David's sake," because Jehovah, as the unchangeably true One, must fulfil the promise which He gave to David (sees at 1 Kings 11:13).
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