Isaiah 36:8
Now therefore give pledges, I pray thee, to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them.
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(8) Now, therefore, give pledges.—Better, make a wager. This would seem to be a taunt interpolated by the Rabshakeh in the midst of his official message. There was something absurd in the idea of Judah coming out as strong in its cavalry. Had they two thousand men who could manage their horses if they had them?

36:1-22:See 2Ki 18:17-37, and the commentary thereon.Now, therefore, give pledges - Margin, 'Hostages.' The Hebrew verb (ערב ‛ârab) means properly to mix or mingle; then, to exchange commodities by barter or traffic; then, to become surety for anyone, to exchange with him, to stand in his place; then, to pledge, to pledge one's life, or to give security of any kind. Here it is used in a spirit of taunting or derision, and is equivalent to what would be said among us, 'I will bet you, or I will lay a wager, that if we should give you only two thousand horses, you could not find men enough to ride them, or men that had knowledge of horsemanship enough to guide them.' There was much severity in this taunt. The Jews hoped to defend themselves. Yet here was an immense army coming up to lay siege against them. What hope had they of defense? So weak and feeble were they, that Rabshakeh said they could not furnish even two thousand horsemen to resist all the host of the Assyrians. There was also, doubtless, much truth in this taunt. It was not permitted by the law of Moses for the Jews to keep cavalry, nor for their kings to multiply horses. The reason of this may be seen in the notes at Isaiah 2:7. Though some of the kings, and especially Solomon, had disregarded this law of Moses, yet Hezekiah had endeavored to restore the observance of the law, and it is probable that he find no cavalry, and that the art of horsemanship was little known in Jerusalem. As the Assyrians prided themselves on their cavalry, they consequently looked with contempt on a people who were destitute of this means of defense. 8. give pledges—a taunting challenge. Only give the guarantee that you can supply as many as two thousand riders, and I will give thee two thousand horses. But seeing that you have not even this small number (see on [763]Isa 2:7), how can you stand against the hosts of Assyrian cavalry? The Jews tried to supply their weakness in this "arm" from Egypt (Isa 31:1). No text from Poole on this verse.

Now therefore give pledges to my master the king of Assyria,.... Or; "hostages" (h); that thou wilt not rebel against him, but be faithful to him, and he will withdraw his army; or give security for the horses after promised: "or mingle thyself with him"; agree the matter with him, give pledges for future fidelity; or join in battle with him, come out and fight him, if able:

and I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders on them; thus scoffing at him, as if he had not so many soldiers to bring out against him; or so many men in his kingdom as had skill enough to ride a horse; in his bravado he signifies, that if he would come out and fight him, he would lend him so many horses, if he could put men upon them, to assist him; this he said as boasting of his master's strength and power, and in scorn and derision at Hezekiah's weakness.

(h) "da obsides", Vatablus; "paciscere cum domino meo, Gataker; "misceto, quaeso, bellum cum domino meo", Junius & Tremellius.

Now therefore give pledges, I pray thee, to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them.
8. give pledges … to] Better (as R.V. marg.): make a wager with. The taunt must have been peculiarly galling to the war-party in Judah, who were painfully conscious of their weakness in cavalry; ch. Isaiah 30:16, Isaiah 31:1; Isaiah 31:3, and Isaiah 36:9 of this chapter.

Verse 8. - Now therefore give pledges; i.e. "bind yourselves under s-me penalty." Rabshakeh here interrupts his message' to introduce an offer of his own. Intent on ridiculing the absurdity of Hezekiah's resistance of Assyria, he promises to make him a present of two thousand horses, if he (Hezekiah) can find two thousand trained riders to mount them. It is quite likely that he was safe in making this promise, and that, notwithstanding the abundant use of chariots and horses by the Jews of the time for purposes of luxury (Isaiah 2:7), they were destitute of a cavalry force and unaccustomed to the management of war-horses. Isaiah 36:8Hezekiah'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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