Behold, the days come, that all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have laid up in store to this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, said the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Behold, the days come . . .—Comp. 2Chronicles 32:25-26; 2Chronicles 32:31. It is there said that Divine wrath fell upon Hezekiah, because his heart was lifted up; and that the Babylonian embassy was an occasion in which God made proof of his inward tendencies. Self-confidence and vanity would be awakened in Hezekiah’s heart as he displayed all his resources to the envoys, and heard their politic, and perhaps hyperbolical, expressions of wonder and delight, and himself, it may be, realised for the first time the full extent of his prosperity. But it was not only the king’s vanity which displeased a prophet who had always consistently denounced foreign alliances as betokening deviation from absolute trust in Jehovah; and a more terrible irony than that which animates the oracle before us can hardly be conceived. Thy friends, he cries, will prove robbers, thine allies will become thy conquerors. That Isaiah should have foreseen that Assyria, then in the heyday of its power, would one day be dethroned from the sovereignty of the world by that very Babylon which, at the time he spoke, was menaced with ruin by the Assyrian arms, can only be accepted as true by those who accept the reality of supernatural prediction. Thenius remarks: “An Isaiah might well perceive i what fate threatened the little kingdom of Judah, in case of a revolution of affairs brought about by the Babylonians.” But the tone of the prophecy is not hypothetical, but entirely positive. Besides, Isaiah evidently did not suppose that Merodach-baladan’s revolt would succeed. (Comp. Isaiah 14:29, seq., 21:9.)2 Kings 20:17. Behold, the days come, &c. — So small was the power of the Babylonians at this time, in respect of their mighty neighbour, the king of Assyria, whom the Jews stood in perpetual fear of, that nothing could seem more improbable than that the Babylonians should carry away the inhabitants of Jerusalem captive. But the divine providence ruleth over all, and sees from the beginning to the end; and, accordingly, in about a hundred and twenty-five years after, the event proved that the word of the Lord stands fast for ever, and that what he speaks shall surely come to pass. Thus short-sighted is human policy! Thus does our ruin often arise from that in which we most place our confidence!
Babylon now for the first time became revealed to the Jews as an actual power in the world, which might effect them politically. As yet even the prophets had spoken but little of the great southern city; up to this time she had been little more to them than Tyre, or Tarshish, or any other rich and powerful idolatrous city. Henceforth, all this was wholly changed. The prophetic utterance of Isaiah on this occasion 2 Kings 20:16-18 never was, never could be, forgotten. He followed it up with a burst of prophecy Isaiah 40-66, in which Babylon usurps altogether the place of Assyria as Israel's enemy, and the captivity being assumed as a matter of certainty, the hopes of the people are directed onward beyond it to the Return. Other prophets took up the strain and repeated it Habakkuk 1:6-11; Habakkuk 2:5-8; Micah 4:10. Babylon thus became henceforth, in lieu of Assyria, the great object of the nation's fear and hatred.2 Chronicles 32:25,26; and for his carnal confidence in that league which he had now made with the king of Babylon, by which, it is probable, he thought his mountain to be so strong, that it could not be removed. 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. Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)17. nothing shall be left] Though some few Jews remained behind among the ruins of the desolated city, nothing worth taking as booty was left behind. For a description of the overthrow and the plunder, see below 2 Kings 25:9-17.Verse 17. - Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon. These treasures of thy royal house, whereof thou art so proud, and which thou hast of thine own accord made known to the Babylonians, to obtain their alliance, will in fact excite their cupidity, and the time will come when they, or what remains of them and represents them, will be carried off as plunder to Babylon by a conquering monarch, who will strip thy palace of its valuables, and drag thy descendants into captivity, and degrade them to the condition of slaves or servants, and make them discharge menial offices about his court. The revelation was now, it would seem, for the first time made that Babylon, and not Assyria, was the true enemy which Judaea had to fear, the destined foe who would accomplish all the threats of the prophets from Moses downwards, who would destroy the holy city and the glorious temple of Solomon, and carry away the ark of the covenant, and tear the people from their homes, and bring the kingdom of David to an end, and give Jerusalem over as a prey to desolation for seventy years. Henceforth it was Babylon and not Assyria which was feared, Babylon and not Assyria whereto the prophetic gaze of Isaiah himself was directed, and which became in his later prophecies (40 - 66.) the main object of his denunciations. Considering the circumstances of the time, the prophecy is a most extraordinary one. Babylonia was at the time merely one of several kingdoms bordering on Assyria which the Assyrians threatened with destruction. From the time of Tiglath-pileser she had been continually diminishing, while Assyria had been continually increasing, in power. Tiglath-pileser had overrun the country and established himself as king there. Shalmaneser's authority had been uncontested. If just at present a native prince held the throne, it was by a very uncertain tenure, and a few years later Assyria regained complete mastery. No human foresight could possibly have anticipated such a complete reversal of the relative positions of the two countries as was involved in Isaiah's prophecy - a reversal which was only accomplished by the appearance on the scene of a new power, Media, which hitherto had been regarded as of the very slightest account. Nothing shall be left, saith the Lord (comp. 2 Kings 25:13-17 and Jeremiah 52:12-23). 2 Kings 20:8 of Isaiah that the sun went back ten degrees, whereas the going back of the shadow had been previously mentioned in agreement with our text, it is self-evident that the sun stands for the shining of the sun which was visible upon the dial-plate, and which made the shadow recede. We are not, of course, to suppose that the sun in the sky and the shadow on the sun-dial went back at the same time, as Knobel assumes. So far as the miracle is concerned, the words of the text do not require that we should assume that the sun receded, or the rotation of the earth was reversed, as Eph. Syr. and others supposed, but simply affirm that there was a miraculous movement backward of the shadow upon the dial, which might be accounted for from a miraculous refraction of the rays of the sun, effected by God at the prophet's prayer, of which slight analoga are met with in the ordinary course of nature.
(Note: As, for example, the phenomenon quoted by several commentators, which was observed at Metz in Lothringen in the year 1703 by the prior of the convent there, P. Romuald, and other persons, viz., that the shadow of a sun-dial went back an hour and a half. - The natural explanation of the miracle which is given by Thenius, who attributes it to an eclipse of the sun, needs no refutation. - For the different opinions of the earlier theologians, see Carpzov, Apparat. crit. p. 351ff.)
This miraculous sign was selected as a significant one in itself, to confirm the promise of a fresh extension of life which had been given to Hezekiah by the grace of God in opposition to the natural course of things. The retrograde movement of the shadow upon the sun-dial indicated that Hezekiah's life, which had already arrived at its close by natural means, was to be put back by a miracle of divine omnipotence, so that it might continue for another series of years.
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