Isaiah 36:7
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?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) 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?

36:1-22:See 2Ki 18:17-37, and the commentary thereon.But if thou say to me - If you shall make this plea, that you believe Yahweh will protect you in your revolt. The word 'thou' here refers to Hezekiah, or to the ambassadors speaking in his name. In 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.

7. The Assyrian mistakes Hezekiah's religious reforms whereby he took away the high places (2Ki 18:4) as directed against Jehovah. Some of the high places may have been dedicated to Jehovah, but worshipped under the form of an image in violation of the second commandment: the "brazen serpent," also (broken in pieces by Hezekiah, and called Nehushtan, "a piece of brass," because it was worshipped by Israel) was originally set up by God's command. Hence the Assyrian's allegation has a specious color: you cannot look for help from Jehovah, for your king has "taken away His altars."

to Jerusalem—(De 12:5, 11; Joh 4:20).

No text from Poole on this verse.

But if thou say to me, we trust in the Lord our God,.... In his promises, providence, power, and protection, and not in human counsels and strength; not in allies and auxiliaries, as Pharaoh king of Egypt; should this be replied, Rabshakeh has something to say to that; having shown the vanity of trusting in the above things, he now proceeds to beat them off of all trust in the Lord their God:

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 36:7Hezekiah's confidential ministers go there also. Isaiah 36:3 (K. "And they called to the king), and there went out to him (K. to them) Eliakim son of Hilkiyahu, the house-minister, and Shebna the chancellor, and Joah son of Asaph, the recorder." On the office of the house-minister, or major-domo, which was now filled by Eliakim instead of Shebna (שׁבנא, K. twice שׁבנה), see Isaiah 22:15.; and on that of sōphēr and mazkı̄r. Rabshakeh's message follows in Isaiah 36:4-10 : "And Rabshakeh said to them, Say now to Hizkiyahu, Thus saith the great king, the king of Asshur, What sort of confidence is this that thou hast got? I say (K. thou sayest, i.e., thou talkest), vain talk is counsel and strength for war: now, then, in whom dost thou trust, that thou hast rebelled against me? (K. Now) Behold, thou trustest (K. לּך) in this broken reed-staff there, in Egypt, on which one leans, and it runs into his hand and pierces it; so does Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. But if thou sayest to me (K. ye say), We trust in Jehovah our God; is it not He whose high places and altars Hizkiyahu has removed, and has said to Judah and Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before the altar (K. ads, in Jerusalem)? And now take a wager with my lord (K. with) the king of Asshur; I will deliver thee two thousand horses, if thou art able for thy part to give horsemen upon them. And how couldst thou repel the advance of a single satrap among the least of the servants of my lord?! Thou puttest thy trust then in Egypt for chariots and riders! And (omitted in K.) now have I come up without Jehovah against this land to destroy it (K. against this place, to destroy it)? Jehovah said to me, Go up to (K. against) this land, and destroy it." The chronicler has a portion of this address of Rabshakeh in 2 Chronicles 32:10-12. And just as the prophetic words in the book of Kings have a Deuteronomic sound, and those in the Chronicles the ring of a chronicle, so do Rabshakeh's words, and those which follow, sound like the words of Isaiah himself. "The great king" is the standing royal title appended to the names of Sargon and Sennacherib upon the Assyrian monuments (compare Isaiah 10:8). Hezekiah is not thought worthy of the title of king, ether here or afterwards. The reading אמרתּ in Isaiah 36:5 (thou speakest vain talk) is not the preferable one, because in that case we should expect דּבּרתּ, or rather (according to the usual style) אך דּבּרתּ. The meaning is, that he must look upon Hezekiah's resolution, and his strength (וּגבוּרה עצה connected as in Isaiah 11:2) for going to war, as mere boasting ("lip-words," as in Proverbs 14:23), and must therefore assume that there was something in the background of which he was well aware. And this must be Egypt, which would not only be of no real help to its ally, but would rather do him harm by leaving him in the lurch. The figure of a reed-staff has been borrowed by Ezekiel in Isaiah 29:6-7. It was a very appropriate one for Egypt, with its abundance of reeds and rushes (Isaiah 19:6), and it has Isaiah's peculiar ring (for the expression itself, compare Isaiah 42:3; and for the fact itself, Isaiah 30:5, and other passages). רצוּץ does not mean fragile (Luzz. quella fragil canna), but broken, namely, in consequence of the loss of the throne by the native royal family, from whom it had been wrested by the Ethiopians (Isaiah 18:1-7), and the defeats sustained at the hands of Sargon (Isaiah 20:1-6). The construction cui quis innitur et intrat is paratactic for cui si quis. In Isaiah 36:7 the reading תאמרוּן commends itself, from the fact that the sentence is not continued with הסירת; but as Hezekiah is addressed throughout, and it is to him that the reply is to be made, the original reading was probably תאמר. The fact that Hezekiah had restricted the worship of Jehovah to Jerusalem, by removing the other places of worship (2 Kings 18:4), is brought against him in a thoroughly heathen, and yet at the same time (considering the inclination to worship other gods which still existed in the nation) a very crafty manner. In Isaiah 36:8, Isaiah 36:9, he throws in his teeth, with most imposing scorn, his own weakness as compared with Asshur, which was chiefly dreaded on account of its strength in cavalry and war-chariots. נא התערב does not refer to the performance and counter-performance which follow, in the sense of "connect thyself" (Luzz. associati), but is used in a similar sense to the Omeric μιγῆναι, though with the idea of vying with one another, not of engaging in war (the synonym in the Talmud is himrâh, to bet, e.g., b. Sabbath 31a): a bet and a pledge are kindred notions (Heb. ערבון, cf., Lat. vadari). On pechâh (for pachâh), which also occurs as an Assyrian title in Ezekiel 23:6, Ezekiel 23:23. אחד פּחת, two constructives, the first of which is to be explained according to Ewald, 286, a (compare above, Isaiah 36:2, כבד חיל), form the logical regens of the following servorum dominin mei minimorum; and hēshı̄bh penē does not mean here to refuse a petitioner, but to repel an antagonist (Isaiah 28:6). The fut. consec. ותּבטח deduces a consequence: Hezekiah could not do anything by himself, and therefore he trusted in Egypt, from which he expected chariots and horsemen. In Isaiah 36:10, the prophetic idea, that Asshur was the instrument employed by Jehovah (Isaiah 10:5, etc.), is put into the mouth of the Assyrian himself. This is very conceivable, but the colouring of Isaiah is undeniable.
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