2 Kings 20:13
And Hezekiah hearkened unto them, and shewed them all the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not.
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(13) Hearkened unto.—A scribe’s error for “was glad of them” (Isaiah, and many MSS. and the versions here).

The silver, and the gold.—This, as well as the phrase in 2Kings 20:17, “that which thy fathers have laid up,” appears to contradict 2Kings 18:15-16. Schrader regards this as an indication that Hezekiah’s illness and the embassy of Merodach-baladan belong to the time preceding Sennacherib’s invasion. Thenius, however, supposes that Hezekiah simply gave all the money in his treasury to Sennacherib’s envoys, and stripped off the gold plating of the Temple before them that they might suppose his resources exhausted, when, in fact, he had not touched his real treasures, which were concealed in subterranean chambers. Thenius also refers to the “credible” statement of the chronicler, that presents were made to Hezekiah from all quarters after the retreat of Sennacherib (2Chronicles 32:23). Professor Robertson Smith agrees with Schrader in referring the embassy of Merodach-baladan to the years 704-703 B.C.

The precious ointment.The fine oil (Cheyne). Perfumed oil used for anointing.

All that was found in his treasures.—See 2Chronicles 32:27-28. Storehouses beyond the precincts of the palace, and beyond Jerusalem. (Comp. the phrase “in all his dominion,” which alludes to the resources of Hezekiah in the country, statistics of which he might show to the envoys.)

2 Kings 20:13. Hezekiah hearkened unto them, &c. — He was so pleased, or rather, transported with joy, at the honour the king of Babylon had done him, that he not only gave his ambassadors a gracious audience, and granted them a league and amity, but ordered his officers to show them all the rarities and precious things which he had in his treasures, with his spices, costly ointments, and the house of his armour — For though his country had been lamentably harassed and plundered by the king of Assyria, and he had endeavoured to appease him with large sums of money and other gifts; yet he had reserved much gold and silver, and many curiosities and valuable things, which he and his fathers had gathered in Jerusalem. Besides, no doubt, he had got considerable spoils out of the Assyrian camp. Also many presents had been sent him since the stroke from heaven on Sennacherib’s army, and his own miraculous recovery from sickness, and the astonishing sign which God had previously given him of it. There was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, which Hezekiah showed them not — In this he was influenced by pride of heart and vain ostentation, (2 Chronicles 32:25-26,) being lifted up, it seems, by the great honour God had done him, in working such glorious miracles for his sake, and by the great respect rendered to him by divers princes, and now by this great Babylonian monarch. So hard a matter it is even for a good man to be high and humble. Although no particular mention is made of Hezekiah’s showing these strangers the temple, yet, as it was by far the most sumptuous and splendid building in Jerusalem, and the greatest curiosity in his dominions, there can be no doubt but it was shown them, as far as it was permitted to heathen, who were not proselytes to the Jewish religion, to see it; but whether he took any pains to make them acquainted with the great Being who was worshipped there, and who, by his almighty power, had wrought the miracles which had excited their attention, or with his laws, and the ordinances of his service, may well be doubted. Although, certainly, he had a very fair opportunity of doing this, and of demonstrating to them the unreasonableness and folly of idolatry in all its branches, and especially of their worship of the sun, which the late miracle had shown to be no more than the creature and servant of the God of Israel.

20:12-21 The king of Babylon was at this time independent of the king of Assyria, though shortly after subdued by him. Hezekiah showed his treasures and armour, and other proofs of his wealth and power. This was the effect of pride and ostentation, and departing from simple reliance on God. He also seems to have missed the opportunity of speaking to the Chaldeans, about Him who had wrought the miracles which excited their attention, and of pointing out to them the absurdity and evil of idolatry. What is more common than to show our friends our houses and possessions? But if we do this in the pride of ours hearts, to gain applause from men, not giving praise to God, it becomes sin in us, as it did in Hezekiah. We may expect vexation from every object with which we are unduly pleased. Isaiah, who had often been Hezekiah's comforter, is now is reprover. The blessed Spirit is both, Joh 16:7,8. Ministers must be both, as there is occasion. Hezekiah allowed the justice of the sentence, and God's goodness in the respite. Yet the prospect respecting his family and nation must have given him many painful feelings. Hezekiah was indeed humbled for the pride of his heart. And blessed are the dead who die in the Lord; for they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.Hezekiah hearkened unto them, and shewed them - The Jewish king lent a favorable ear to the proposals of the ambassadors, and exhibited to them the resources which he possessed, in order to induce them to report well of him to their master.

All the house of his precious things - literally, the "spice-house;" the phrase had acquired the more generic sense of "treasure-house" from the fact that the gold, the silver, and the spices were all stored together.

13, 14. the silver, and the gold—He paid so much tribute to Sennacherib as exhausted his treasury (compare 2Ki 18:16). But, after the destruction of Sennacherib, presents were brought him from various quarters, out of respect to a king who, by his faith and prayer, saved his country; and besides, it is by no means improbable that from the corpses in the Assyrian camp, all the gold and silver he had paid might be recovered. The vain display, however, was offensive to his divine liege lord, who sent Isaiah to reprove him. The answer he gave the prophet (2Ki 22:14) shows how he was elated by the compliment of their visit; but it was wrong, as presenting a bait for the cupidity of these rapacious foreigners, who, at no distant period, would return and pillage his country, and transfer all the possessions he ostentatiously displayed to Babylon, as well as his posterity to be court attendants in that country—(see on [349]2Ch 32:31). Hearkened unto them, i.e. granted their desires of a league and amity with them.

The silver and the gold, & c.; for though his country had lately been harassed by the Assyrians, yet he had reserved all his treasures and precious things which he and his fathers had gathered in Jerusalem. Besides, he had considerable spoils out of the Assyrian camp. Also he had many presents sent to him, 2 Chronicles 32:23, which doubtless were things of considerable worth.

Nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah showed them not; which he did through vain ostentation and pride of heart, 2 Chronicles 32:25,26, being lifted up by the great honour which God had done him, in working such glorious miracles for his sake, and by the great respects and presents rendered to him from divers princes and people, and now by this great Babylonian monarch. So hard a matter is it even for a good man to be high and humble.

At that time Berodachbaladan,.... He is called Merodachbaladan, Isaiah 39:1, so here in the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions; See Gill on Isaiah 39:1; and by Metasthenes (z) his father is called Merodach, and he Ben Merodach, who reigned twenty one years, and his father fifty two; from hence to the end of 2 Kings 20:12 the same account is given in the same words as in Isaiah 39:1 throughout, except in 2 Kings 20:13, where it is, "hearkened unto them", and there, "glad of them"; heard the letter the ambassadors brought with pleasure; see the notes there. See Gill on Isaiah 39:1 and following.

(z) Ut supra. (De Judicio Temp. fol. 221. 2.)

And Hezekiah hearkened unto them, and shewed them all the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his {k} dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not.

(k) Being moved by ambition and vain glory, and also because he seemed to rejoice in the friendship of him who was God's enemy and an infidel.

13. And Hezekiah hearkened unto them] In Isaiah we read he ‘was glad of them’, and there is no doubt that is the correct reading. The LXX. gives ἐχάρη, he rejoiced, in this passage. The difference in the Hebrew words is very slight. Here we have ישמצ, in Isaiah ישמח.

and shewed them all the house of his precious things] On the margin both A.V. and R.V. give ‘spicery’ instead of ‘precious things’; and the word (with a very slight difference of form) is used in that sense in Genesis 37:25; Genesis 43:11. But here as the house seems to have contained the various things which follow after, silver and gold as well as spices, perhaps the more general rendering is to be preferred. The storehouse which at first had its name from the aromatic treasures bestowed there, came in time to be used, without change of name, for the keeping of other things that were valuable.

precious ointment] R.V. oil. This is the more usual rendering. The stores would be of pure oil more likely than of manufactured ointment.

and all the house of his armour] R.V. omits ‘all’, which is not in the Hebrew text here, though it is in Isaiah. Hence the Massoretes have put it as a various reading on the margin of this verse.

The house of armour was no doubt ‘the house of the forest of Lebanon’, which Solomon built as an armoury, see notes on 1 Kings 7:2; 1 Kings 10:17.

nothing … that Hezekiah shewed them not] He was clearly desirous to produce an impression of his wealth and consequent power. This proud spirit the Chronicler (2 Chronicles 32:25) describes thus, ‘Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him: for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him and upon Judah and Jerusalem’.

Verse 13. - And Hezekiah hearkened unto them. Hezekiah was dazzled by the prospect that opened upon him. It was a grand thing that his fame should have reached so far as Babylon, a still grander thing to be offered such an alliance. It must be remembered that he and his counselors were inclined from the first to meet Assyrian menace by calling in foreign aid (2 Kings 18:21-24; Isaiah 20:6; Isaiah 30:2-7; Isaiah 36:6). He had not yet accepted the view of Isaiah, that human aid was vain, and that the only reasonable ground of hope or confidence was, in Jehovah. And showed them all the house of his precious things; i.e. his treasury. Hezekiah did not do this in mere ostentation, though he may have had a certain pride in exhibiting his wealth. His main wish, no doubt, was to make known his resources, and show that he was a valuable ally. So Oroetes acted towards Polycrates (Herod., 3:123), and Hannibal towards the Gortynians (Com. Nep., 'Vit. Hannib.,' § 9). It is to be borne in mind that Hezekiah's treasures were, in B.C. 712, still intact, and included all that ample store which he sacrificed to save Jerusalem at the time of the first expedition of Sennacherib (see 2 Kings 18:14-16, and comp. 'Eponym Canon,' p. 135, where we find enumerated among the treasures given up, besides gold and silver, "precious carbuncles, couches of ivory, elevated thrones of ivory, skins of buffaloes, horns of buffaloes, and weapons"). The silver, and the gold, and the spices. Compare the description of the wealth of Solomon (1 Kings 10:25). "Spices" always form an important portion of the treasure of Oriental kings (comp. Herod., 2. 97, sub fin.). And the precious ointment; rather, the precious oil - שֶׂמֶן, not רֹקַח (compare the Septuagint, τὸ ἔλαιον τὸ ἀγαθόν). It is thought (Keil, Bahr) that the valuable balsam oil, which was obtained from the royal gardens, is intended. And all the house of his armor; or, of his vessels; but arms and armor are probably intended. It would be almost as important to show that he had abundant arms in store, as that he had abundant riches. And all that was found in his treasures - a clause implying that there was much more which had not been specified, as precious stones, ivory, ebony, and the like - there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah showed them not. This is a manifest hyperbole; but it can scarcely mean less than that he gave orders for them to be shown the collections of arms and stores which existed in his other strongholds besides Jerusalem. Hezekiah, no doubt, had many "store cities," as Solomon (2 Chronicles 8:6) and Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:5-12) had. 2 Kings 20:13In 2 Kings 20:13 ויּשׁמע is apparently a copyist's error for ויּשׂמח of Isaiah, which many of the codd. and ancient versions have even in our text. At the same time, the construction of שׁמע with על is also found in 2 Kings 22:13. - עליהם, concerning them, i.e., the ambassadors who had brought the letter and the present. In his delight at the honour paid to him by this embassy, Hezekiah showed the ambassadors all his treasure-house, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the costly oil, and all his arsenal, etc. The literal meaning of נכת בּית is probably spice-house (Aquila, Symm., Vulg.), נכת being a contraction of נכאת in Genesis 37:25, whereas the derivation suggested from the Arabic kayyata, farsit, implevit locum, is much more wide of the mark. The house received its name from the spices for the storing of which it was really intended, although it was also used for the storing of silver and gold. הטּוב שׁמן is not fine olive oil, but, according to the Rabbins and Movers (Phniz. iii. p. 227), the valuable balsam oil which was obtained in the royal gardens; for olive oil, which was obtained in all Judaea, was not stored in the treasure-chambers along with gold, silver, and perfumes, but in special storehouses (1 Chronicles 27:28). בּכל־ממשׁלתּו, in all his dominion, i.e., in all the district which he was able to govern or control. - The existence of such treasures, of which, according to 2 Kings 20:17, the ancestors of Hezekiah had collected a very large store, at so short a period after the departure of the Assyrians, is not at variance with 2 Kings 18:15-16, according to which Hezekiah had sent to Sennacherib all the silver in his treasuries, and even the gold plate upon the temple doors. For, in the first place, it is not stated that there was much silver and gold in the treasure-house, but the silver and gold are simply mentioned along with the spices; and, secondly, Hezekiah may have kept back from Sennacherib many a valuable piece of silver or gold, and have taken off the gold plate from the temple doors, to show the ambassadors of Sennacherib, who came to receive the money demanded as compensation, that he was not in a condition to give anything more. Moreover a great deal may have flowed into the treasuries since the payment of that tribute, partly from the presents which Hezekiah received from many quarters after the overthrow of Sennacherib (2 Chronicles 32:23), and partly from the booty that had been collected in the camp of the Assyrians after their hurried departure. And again, the treasures which the ancestors of Hezekiah had collected (2 Kings 20:17) may not have consisted of gold and silver exactly, but of different jewels and objects of art, which could not be applied to the payment of the tribute demanded by Sennacherib. And, lastly, "we must not overlook the fact, that it answered the purpose of the reporter to crowd together as much as possible, in order to show how anxious Hezekiah was to bring out and exhibit everything whatever that could contribute to the folly" (Drechsler). Hezekiah evidently wanted to show all his glory, because the arrival of the Babylonian ambassadors had flattered his vanity.
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