2 Kings 20:1
In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.
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(1) In those daysi.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.

20:1-11 Hezekiah was sick unto death, in the same year in which the king of Assyria besieged Jerusalem. A warning to prepare for death was brought to Hezekiah by Isaiah. Prayer is one of the best preparations for death, because by it we fetch in strength and grace from God, to enable us to finish well. He wept sorely: some gather from hence that he was unwilling to die; it is in the nature of man to dread the separation of soul and body. There was also something peculiar in Hezekiah's case; he was now in the midst of his usefulness. Let Hezekiah's prayer, see Isa 38. interpret his tears; in that is nothing which is like his having been under that fear of death, which has bondage or torment. Hezekiah's piety made his sick-bed easy. O Lord, remember now; he does not speak as if God needed to be put in mind of any thing by us; nor, as if the reward might be demanded as due; it is Christ's righteousness only that is the purchase of mercy and grace. Hezekiah does not pray, Lord, spare me; but, Lord, remember me; whether I live or die, let me be thine. God always hears the prayers of the broken in heart, and will give health, length of days, and temporal deliverances, as much and as long as is truly good for them. Means were to be used for Hezekiah's recovery; yet, considering to what a height the disease was come, and how suddenly it was checked, the cure was miraculous. It is our duty, when sick, to use such means as are proper to help nature, else we do not trust God, but tempt him. For the confirmation of his faith, the shadow of the sun was carried back, and the light was continued longer than usual, in a miraculous manner. This work of wonder shows the power of God in heaven as well as on earth, the great notice he takes of prayer, and the great favour he bears to his chosen.In those days - Hezekiah seems to have died 697 B.C.; and his illness must belong to 713 or 714 B.C. (compare 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.

In those days, i.e. in that year of the Assyrian invasion, as is manifest from hence, that that was in Hezekiah’s fourteenth year, 2 Kings 18:13, and God now added fifteen years more to him, 2 Kings 20:6; and yet Hezekiah reigned only twenty-nine years in all, 2 Kings 18:2. And this happened either, first, After the destruction of Sennacherib’s army. Or, secondly, Before it, as may be thought from 2 Kings 20:6, where he speaks of his deliverance from the king of Assyria as a future thing. It is true, that when Hezekiah received that insolent message from the Assyrian, he was in health, and went into the temple to pray, 2 Kings 19:14; but there might be time more than enough for this sickness and recovery between that threatening and this destruction of the Assyrian. Set thine house in order; take care to make thy will, and to settle the affair of thy family and kingdom; which he the rather presseth upon him, because the state of his kingdom required it; for it is plain that Hezekiah had not as yet any son, Manasseh his heir and successor not being born till three years after this time, by comparing this 2 Kings 20:6, with 2 Kings 21:1. For thou shalt die, and not live; according to the course of nature, and of thy disease, which is mortal in its kind, and will be so in effect, if God doth not miraculously prevent it. Such threatenings, though absolutely expressed, have ofttimes secret conditions, which God reserves in his own breast: see Jonah 3:4.

In these days was Hezekiah sick unto death,.... Of this sickness of Hezekiah, the message of the prophet Isaiah to him, and his prayer upon it; see Gill on Isaiah 38:1; see Gill on Isaiah 38:2; see Gill on Isaiah 38:3. In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.
Ch. 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 20:1"In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death." By the expression "in those days" the illness of Hezekiah is merely assigned in a general manner to the same time as the events previously described. That it did not occur after the departure of the Assyrians, but at the commencement of the invasion of Sennacherib, i.e., in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah's reign, is evident from 2 Kings 20:6, namely, both from the fact that in answer to his prayer fifteen years more of life were promised him, and that he nevertheless reigned only twenty-nine years (2 Kings 18:2), and also from the fact that God promised to deliver him out of the hand of the Assyrians and to defend Jerusalem. The widespread notion that his sickness was an attack of plague, and was connected with the pestilence which had broken out in the Assyrian camp, is thereby deprived of its chief support, apart from the fact that the epithet (שׁחין (2 Kings 20:7), which is applied to the sickness, does not indicate pestilence. Isaiah then called upon him to set his house in order. לביתך צו: set thy house in order, lit., command or order with regard to thy house, not declare thy (last) will to thy family (Ges., Knob.), for צוּה is construed with the accus. pers. in the sense of commanding anything, whereas here ל is synonymous with אל (2 Samuel 17:23). "For thou wilt die and not live;" i.e., thy sickness is to death, namely, without the miraculous help of God. Sickness to death in the very prime of life (Hezekiah was then in the fortieth year of his age) appeared to the godly men of the Old Testament a sign of divine displeasure. Hezekiah was therefore greatly agitated by this announcement, and sought for consolation and help in prayer. He turned his face to the wall, sc. of the room, not of the temple (Chald.), i.e., away from those who were standing round, to be able to pray more collectedly.
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