2 Kings 20:4
And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying,
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(4) Into the middle court.—This is the reading of some Heb. MSS., and of all the versions. The Hebrew text (city; see margin) is wrong. Before Isaiah had left the precincts of the palace, he was bidden to return. (Keil says that here, as in 2Kings 10:25, the word rendered “city” denotes “castle,” i.e., the royal residence.)

2 Kings 20:4-5. Afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court — Namely, of the king’s palace. This is mentioned to show God’s great readiness to hear the prayers of his children. Thus saith the God of thy father David —

I am mindful of my promise made to David and his house, and will make it good in thy person. I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears — Prayer addressed to God with fervency and affection, is in a special manner pleasing to him; and when offered in faith, and for things which he, in his word, hath encouraged or authorized us to ask, shall be heard and answered. I will heal thee — Diseases are God’s servants; as they go where he sends them, so they come when he remands them, Matthew 8:8-9. On the third day thou shalt go up to the house of the Lord — To give him solemn praise for his mercy. That he was able to go up so soon as the third day, showed the cure to be miraculous.

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.The middle court - i. e., of the royal palace. This is preferable to the marginal reading. 4. afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court—of the royal castle. Into the middle court, to wit, of the king’s palace; of which See Poole "1 Kings 7:8". Or, into the middle city, as it is in the Hebrew. For some observe that there were three cities, or three parts of this city; one called the city of David in Zion; another called Jebus, or Salem; and a third, which was betwixt these two parts, and united them all into one city, called Jerusalem. This is noted to show God’s great readiness to hear the sincere and fervent prayers of his children.

And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court,.... Of the king's palace, which is called the other court within the porch, 1 Kings 7:8 so it is according to the marginal reading, which we follow; but the textual reading is, "the middle city"; Jerusalem was divided into three parts, and this was the middle part Isaiah was entering into: but before he did, so it was:

that the word of the Lord came to him, saying; as follows.

And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying,
4. into the middle court] R.V. middle part of the city. The variation is due to a difference of reading, the R.V. translating, as is nearly always the case, the Kethib. The LXX. and most of the versions render the Keri, which the A.V. follows. The Kethib has הציר, the Keri substitutes חצר, which latter is the word for the ‘court’ of the palace in the description of Solomon’s buildings (1 Kings 7:8). But the city of Jerusalem was built on two hills, the western of which was more than a hundred feet higher than the eastern. The expression in the text would apply exactly to the portion lying between these two, and there seems to be no reason for accepting the Keri. It probably has sprung from a desire to represent God as hearing prayer so readily that a favourable answer was given before the prophet was beyond the precincts of the palace.

A description of the city will be found in Josephus, B. J. v. 4, 1, seqq. where the three parts of Jerusalem are noticed, the upper city (ἡ ἄνω πόλις) being Zion, the lower (ἡ κάτω πόλις) Akra. Isaiah had, according to the Kethib, gone into the portion between these two.

Verse 4. - And it same to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court. The narrative in Isaiah 38:4 does not contain this touch, which is very graphic, and indicative of the eye-witness. "The middle court" is probably the second or intermediate court of the royal palace. Isaiah had not gone further than this, when he was arrested in his course by a Divine communication. That the word of the Lord came to him, saying. How the word of the Lord came to the prophets is an inscrutable mystery. Sometimes, no doubt, it came in vision, which to a certain extent we can understand. But how, when the prophet was secularly engaged, as in this instance, walking across a court, he knew that the thought which occurred to him was a Divine message, it is almost impossible to conceive. Still, we cannot doubt that if God determines to communicate his will to man, he must be able, with the message, to impart an absolute certainty of its source, an assured conviction that it is his word, which precludes all question, hesitation, or dubiety. Isaiah, in the middle of his walk, finds his steps arrested, anew injunction laid upon him, with a necessity of immediately obeying it. 2 Kings 20:4This prayer of the godly king was answered immediately. Isaiah had not gone out of the midst of the city, when the word of the Lord came to him to return to the king, and tell him that the Lord would cure him in three days and add fifteen years to his life, and that He would also deliver him from the power of the Assyrians and defend Jerusalem. התּיּכנה העיר, the middle city, i.e., the central portion of the city, namely, the Zion city, in which the royal citadel stood. The Keri הת חצר, the central court, not of the temple, but of the royal citadel, which is adopted in all the ancient versions, is nothing more than an interpretation of the עיר as denoting the royal castle, after the analogy of 2 Kings 10:25. The distinct assurance added to the promise "I will heal thee," viz., "on the third day thou wilt go into the house of the Lord," was intended as a pledge to the king of the promised cure. The announcement that God would add fifteen years to his life is not put into the prophet's mouth ex eventu (Knobel and others); for the opinion that distinct statements as to time are at variance with the nature of prophecy is merely based upon an a priori denial of the supernatural character of prophecy. The words, "and I will deliver thee out of the hand of the Assyrians," imply most distinctly that the Assyrian had only occupied the land and threatened Jerusalem, and had not yet withdrawn. The explanation given by Vitringa and others, that the words contain simply a promise of deliverance out of the hand of the oppressor for the next fifteen years, puts a meaning into them which they do not contain, as is clearly shown by Isaiah 37:20, where this thought is expressed in a totally different manner. וגו על־העיר וגנּותי ע: as in 2 Kings 19:34, where the prophet repeated this divine promise in consequence of the attempt of Sennacherib to get Jerusalem into his power.
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