Now therefore give pledges, I pray you, to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses, if you be able on your part to set riders on them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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?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.
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.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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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 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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