But if you say to me, We trust in the LORD our God: is it not he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and said to Judah and to Jerusalem, You shall worship before this altar?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Is it not he, whose high places . . .—This was this impression left on the mind of the Rabshakeh by what he heard of Hezekiah’s reformation. From the Assyrian stand-point a god was honoured in proportion as his sanctuaries were multiplied, but wherever he went, the Rabshakeh had found “high places “where Jehovah had been worshipped, which Hezekiah had desecrated. How could one who had so acted hope for the protection of his God?2 Kings 18:22, it is, 'but if ye say unto me;' that is, you ambassadors. The sense is substantially the same.
Is it not he ... - This is given as a reason why they should not put their confidence in Yahweh. The reason is, that he supposed that Hezekiah had removed all the altars of Yahweh from all parts of the land, and that they could not calculate on the protection of a God whose worship bad been abolished. It is probable that Sennacherib and Rabshakeh had beard of the reformation which had been effected by Hezekiah; of his destroying the groves and altars which had been consecrated in the reign of his father to idolatry, and perhaps of the fact that he had even destroyed the brass serpent which Moses had made, and which had become an object of idolatrous worship 2 Kings 18:4, and he may have supposed that all these altars and groves had been devoted to Yahweh, and were connected with his worship. He did not seem to understand that all that Hezekiah had done was only to establish the worship of Yahweh in the land.
High places - The worship of idols was usually performed in groves on high places; or on the tops of hills and mountains. It seems to have been supposed that worship in such places was more acceptable to the Deity. Perhaps it may have been because they thus seemed nearer the residence of the gods; or, perhaps, because there is sublimity and solemnity in such places - a stillness and elevation above the world which seem favorable to devotion (see 1 Samuel 9:12; 1 Kings 3:4; 2 Kings 12:2; 2 Chronicles 33:19). Chapels, temples, and altars, were erected on such places 1 Kings 13:22; 2 Kings 17:29, and ministers and priests attended there to officiate (1 Kings 12:32; 2 Kings 17:32). Even the kings of Judah, notwithstanding the express prohibition of Moses Deuteronomy 12, were engaged in such acts of worship 2 Kings 12:4; 2 Kings 14:4; 2 Kings 15:4, 2 Kings 15:35; 2 Chronicles 15:17; 2 Chronicles 20:33; and Solomon himself sacrificed in chapels of this kind 1 Kings 3:2. These places Hezekiah had destroyed; that is, he had cut down the consecrated groves, and had destroyed the chapels and temples which had been erected there. The fact that Ahaz, the father of Hezekiah, had been distinguished for worshipping in such places had probably led the king of Assyria to suppose that this was the proper worship of the God of the Jews; and now that Hezekiah had destroyed them all, he seems to have inferred that he was guilty of gross irreligion, and could no longer depend on the protection of Yahweh.
And said to Judah and Jerusalem - He had commanded them to worship only in Jerusalem, at the temple. This was in strict accordance with the law of Moses; but this seems to have been understood by Sennacherib as in fact almost or quite banishing the worship of Yahweh from the land. Probably this was said to alienate the minds of the people from Hezekiah, by showing them that he had taken away their rights and privileges of worshipping God where they chose.
to Jerusalem—(De 12:5, 11; Joh 4:20).
is it not he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away; the question might easily be answered in the negative; no, he has not; the high places and altars which Hezekiah took away were the high places and altars of Heathen gods, of false deities, and not of the true God of Israel, and which was to his honour and glory; but Rabshakeh would make a crime of it, and, ignorantly supposing that these were the altars and high places of the God of Israel, would insinuate that the taking of these away must be displeasing to him, and consequently Hezekiah and his people could not hope for any protection from him, whom he had so highly affronted; but all this talk was the fruit of ignorance, as well as of malice:
and said to Judah, and to Jerusalem, ye shall worship before this altar? the altar of the Lord, in the temple at Jerusalem, and before that only, confining their religious worship to one place, and their sacrifices to one altar; which was so far from being displeasing to God, as he would insinuate, that it was entirely agreeable to his will: and therefore there was no weight or strength in this kind of reasoning.But if thou say to me, We trust in the LORD our God: is it not he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and said to Judah and to Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7. Not only is Hezekiah destitute of earthly help, but he has forfeited the protection of his own deity, by what from the heathen point of view seemed an act of sacrilege, the abolition of the local sanctuaries (see 2 Kings 18:4).Verse 7. - If thou say to me, We trust in the Lord. "The Assyrians," it has been observed, "had a good intelligence department" (Cheyne). It was known to Sennacherib that Hezekiah had a confident trust, which seemed to him wholly irrational, in Jehovah - the special God of his people. It was also known to him that Hezekiah, in the earlier portion of his reign (2 Kings 18:4), had "removed the high places" and broken down the altars, where Jehovah had for centuries been worshipped throughout the length and breadth of the land. He concludes that, in so doing, he must have offended Jehovah. He is probably ignorant of the peculiar proviso of the Jewish Law, that sacrifice should be offered in one place only, and conceives that Hezekiah has been actuated by some narrow motive, and has acted in the interests of one city only, not of the whole people. Ye shall worship before this altar. The parallel passage of 2 Kings (2 Kings 18:22) has "this altar in Jerusalem." The brazen altar in the great court of the temple is, of course, meant. Hezekiah had cleansed it front the pollutions of the time of Ahaz (2 Chronicles 29:18), and had insisted on sacrifice being offered nowhere else (2 Chronicles 29:21-35; 2 Chronicles 30:15-24; 2 Chronicles 31:1, etc.). Such a concentration of worship was unknown to any of the heathen nations, and may well have been unintelligible to them. Isaiah 20:1-6; cf., Oppert, Les Inscriptions des Sargonides, pp. 22, 27), without attempting anything against Hezekiah. It was not till the time of Sargon, who overthrew the reigning house of Assyria, that the actual preparations for the revolt were commenced, by the formation of an alliance between the kingdom of Judah on the one hand, and Egypt, and probably Philistia, on the other, the object of which was the rupture of the Assyrian yoke.
(Note: The name Amgarron upon the earthenware prism of Sennacherib does not mean Migron (Oppert), but Ekron (Rawlinson).)
The campaign of Sennacherib the son of Sargon, into which we are transported in the following history, was the third of his expeditions, the one to which Sennacherib himself refers in the inscription upon the prism: "dans ma ̄e campagne je marchai vers la Syrie." The position which we find Sennacherib taking up between Philistia and Jerusalem, to the south-west of the latter, is a very characteristic one in relation to both the occasion and the ultimate object of the campaign.
(Note: We shall show the variations in the text of 2 Kings 18:13., as far as we possibly can, in our translation. K. signifies the book of Kings. But the task of pronouncing an infallible sentence upon them all we shall leave to those who know everything.)
Isaiah 32:1 "And it came to pass in the (K. and in the) fourteenth year of king Hizkyahu, Sancherb king of Asshur came up against all the fortified cities of Judah, and took them. (K. adds: Then Hizkiyah king of Judah sent to the king of Asshur to Lachish, saying, I have sinned, withdraw from me again; what thou imposest upon me I will raise. And the king of Asshur imposed upon Hizkiyah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver, and thirty talents of gold. And Hizkiyah gave up all the silver that was in the house of Jehovah, and in the treasures of the king's house. At the same time Hizkiyah mutilated the doors of the temple of Jehovah, and the pillars which Hizkiyah king of Judah had plated with gold, and gave it to the king of Asshur)." This long addition, which is distinguished at once by the introduction of חזיקה in the place of חזקיהו, is probably only an annalistic interpolation, though one of great importance in relation to Isaiah 33:7. What follows in Isaiah does not dovetail well into this addition, and therefore does not presuppose its existence. Isaiah 36:2 "Then the king of Asshur sent Rabshakeh (K.: Tartan, and Rabsaris, and Rabshakeh) from Lachish towards Jerusalem to king Hizkiyahu with a great army, and he advanced (K.: to king H. with a great army to Jerusalem; and they went up and came to Jerusalem, and went up, and came and advanced) to the conduit of the upper pool by the road of the fuller's field." Whereas in K. the repeated ויבאו ויעלו (and went up and came) forms a "dittography," the names Tartan and Rab-saris have apparently dropped out of the text of Isaiah, as Isaiah 37:6, Isaiah 37:24 presuppose a plurality of messengers. The three names are not names of persons, but official titles, viz., the commander-in-chief (Tartan, which really occurs in an Assyrian list of offices; see Rawlinson, Monarchies, ii. 412), the chief cup-bearer (רבשׁקה with tzere equals רבשׁקא)). The situation of Lachish is marked by the present ruins of Umm Lakis, to the south-west of Bet-Gibrin ((Eleutheropolis) in the Shephelah. The messengers come from the south-west with the ultima ratio of a strong detachment (חיל a connecting form, from חיל, like גדולה גּיא, Zechariah 14:4; Ewald, 287, a); they therefore halt on the western side of Jerusalem (on the locality, see at Isaiah 7:3; Isaiah 22:8-11; compare Keil on Kings).
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