Isaiah 37:3
And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth.
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(3) The children are come to the birth.—The bold language of the text stands where we should use an adjective of which we half forget the meaning. Things had come to such a pass that all plans and counsels were literally abortive. (Comp. Isaiah 26:17-18, and Hosea 13:13 for a like simile.)

37:1-38 This chapter is the same as 2Ki 19This is a day of rebuke - This may refer either to the reproaches of Rabsbakeh, or more probably to the fact that Hezekiah regarded the Lord as rebuking his people for their sins. The word which is used here (תוכחח tôkēchâh), means more properly chastisement or punishment Psalm 149:7; Hosea 5:9.

And of blasphemy - Margin, 'Provocation.' The word used here (נאצה ne'âtsâh), means properly reproach or contumely; and the sense is, that God and his cause had been vilified by Rabshakeh, and it was proper to appeal to him to vindicate the honor of his own name Isaiah 37:4.

For the children are come ... - The meaning of this figure is plain. There was the highest danger, and need of aid. It was as in childbirth in which the pains had been protracted, the strength exhausted, and where there was most imminent danger in regard to the mother and the child. So Hezekiah said there was the most imminent danger in the city of Jerusalem. They had made all possible preparations for defense. And now, in the most critical time, they felt their energies exhausted, their strength insufficient for their defense, and they needed the interposition of God.

3. rebuke—that is, the Lord's rebuke for His people's sins (Ps 149:7; Ho 5:9).

blasphemy—blasphemous railing of Rab-shakeh.

the children, &c.—a proverbial expression for, We are in the most extreme danger and have no power to avert it (compare Ho 13:13).

No text from Poole on this verse.

And they said unto him,.... The messengers to the prophet:

thus saith Hezekiah; this is the message he has sent us with; this is what he would have us lay before thee, and has given us in charge to say unto thee:

this day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy; it was a "day of trouble" to Hezekiah and his people, because it was a "day of rebuke", in which God rebuked them for their sins; or of "reproach and reviling", as the Targum and Septuagint, in which the Assyrians reviled and reproached both God and them; and especially because it was a "day of blasphemy" against God:

for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth; which is to be understood not of the reformation within themselves, happily begun and carried on, but now hindered from being brought to perfection, by the Assyrian army being so near them; nor of their attempt to cast off the Assyrian yoke, which was thought to be just upon finishing, but now despaired of, unless divine assistance be given; nor of their inability to punish the blasphemy that so much affected them; but of the deplorable condition they were now in. Hezekiah compares himself and his people to a woman in travail, that has been some time in it, and the child is fallen down to the place of the breaking forth of children, as the word (p) used signifies, but unable to make its way, and she having neither strength to bear it, nor to bring it forth, nature being quite exhausted, and strength gone, through the many pains and throes endured: and just so it was even with him and his people, they were in the utmost pain and distress; they could not help themselves, nor could he help them; and therefore must perish, unless they had immediate assistance and relief. Jarchi interprets the children of the children of Israel, the children of God.

(p) a "fregit, confregit----matrix, vel os matricis, quod partu frangi videtur vel a frangentibus partus doloribus sic dictum", Gusset. Ebr. Comment. p. 324. "usque ad angustias uteri", Vatablus. So Ben Melech interprets it of "the womb".

And they said to him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: for the children are come to the {c} birth, and there is not strength to bring forth.

(c) We are in as great sorrow as a woman in labour who cannot be delivered.

3. a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy] Rather, of distress and chastisement and rejection. The word for “blasphemy” (Nehemiah 9:18; Nehemiah 9:26; Ezekiel 35:12) is differently pointed from that here used, which occurs only here and in 2 Kings 19:3. The sense “rejection” suits the context better; the king speaks of the “distress” as a Divine dispensation.

the children are come to the birth …] Obviously a proverbial expression for a crisis which becomes dangerous through lack of strength to meet it (cf. ch. Isaiah 66:9; Hosea 13:13).

Verse 3. - A day... of rebuke; rather, of reproof, or punishment (comp. Psalm 149:7 and Hosea 5:9). That God should have allowed such an insulting embassy to come and go in safety was a mode of reproving his people, and to some extent punishing them for their sins. Even Hezekiah himself deserved reproof for having so long placed his reliance upon Egypt (Isaiah 20:5, 6; Isaiah 30:1-4; Isaiah 36:6, 9), though now apparently he had turned to Jehovah, and relied on him only (Isaiah 36:7, 15). Blasphemy. So Delitzsch. Mr. Cheyne suggests "contumely," and Dr. Kay "contempt." But the meaning "blasphemy," which Mr. Cheyne confesses to "suit the context," is required in all the other passages where (substantially) the same word occurs (Nehemiah 9:18, 26; Ezekiel 35:12). Hezekiah calls the day one "of blasphemy," on account of Rabshakeh's impious utterances (Isaiah 36:15, 18, 20). The children are come to the birth, etc. This was a proverbial phrase for a time of extreme difficulty (see Hosea 13:13), and is not to be pressed as embodying at all a close analogy. Judah was in sore trouble, and was expecting deliverance. It seemed now as if she would not have strength to go through the crisis, but would perish through weakness. Isaiah 37:3The king and the deputation apply to Isaiah. "And it came to pass, when king Hizkiyahu had heard, he rent his clothes, and wrapped himself in mourning linen, and went into the house of Jehovah. And sent Eliakim the house-minister, and Shebna (K. omits את) the chancellor, and the eldest of the priests, wrapped in mourning linen, to Isaiah son of Amoz, the prophet (K. has what is inadmissible: the prophet son of Amoz). And they said to him, Thus saith Hizkiyahu, A day of affliction, and punishment, and blasphemy is this day; for children are come to the matrix, and there is no strength to bring them forth. Perhaps Jehovah thy God will hear the words (K. all the words) of Rabshakeh, with which the king of Asshur his lord has sent him to revile the living God; and Jehovah thy God will punish for the words which He hath heard, and thou wilt make intercession for the remnant that still exists." The distinguished embassy is a proof of the distinction of the prophet himself (Knobel). The character of the deputation accorded with its object, which was to obtain a consolatory word for the king and people. In the form of the instructions we recognise again the flowing style of Isaiah. תּוכחה, as a synonym of מוּסר, נקם, is used as in Hosea 5:9; נאצה (from the kal נאץ) according to Isaiah 1:4; Isaiah 5:24; Isaiah 52:5, like נאצה (from the piel נאץ), Nehemiah 9:18, Nehemiah 9:26 (reviling, i.e., reviling of God, or blasphemy). The figure of there not being sufficient strength to bring forth the child, is the same as in Isaiah 66:9. משׁבּר (from שׁבר, syn. פּרץ, Genesis 38:29) does not signify the actual birth (Luzzatto, punto di dover nascere), nor the delivering-stool (Targum), like mashbēr shel-chayyâh, the delivering-stool of the midwife (Kelim xxiii. 4); but as the subject is the children, and not the mother, the matrix or mouth of the womb, as in Hosea 13:13, "He (Ephraim) is an unwise child; when it is time does he not stop in the children's passage" (mashbēr bânı̄m), i.e., the point which a child must pass, not only with its head, but also with its shoulders and its whole body, for which the force of the pains is often not sufficient? The existing condition of the state resembled such unpromising birth-pains, which threatened both the mother and the fruit of the womb with death, because the matrix would not open to give birth to the child. לדה like דּעה in Isaiah 11:9. The timid inquiry, which hardly dared to hope, commences with 'ūlai. The following future is continued in perfects, the force of which is determined by it: "and He (namely Jehovah, the Targum and Syriac) will punish for the words," or, as we point it, "there will punish for the words which He hath heard, Jehovah thy God (hōkhı̄ach, referring to a judicial decision, as in a general sense in Isaiah 2:4 and Isaiah 11:4); and thou wilt lift up prayer" (i.e., begin to offer it, Isaiah 14:4). "He will hear," namely as judge and deliverer; "He hath heard," namely as the omnipresent One. The expression, "to revile the living God" (lechârēph 'Elōhı̄m chai), sounds like a comparison of Rabshakeh to Goliath (1 Samuel 17:26, 1 Samuel 17:36). The "existing remnant" was Jerusalem, which was not yet in the enemy's hand (compare Isaiah 1:8-9). The deliverance of the remnant is a key-note of Isaiah's prophecies. But the prophecy would not be fulfilled, until the grace which fulfilled it had been met by repentance and faith. Hence Hezekiah's weak faith sues for the intercession of the prophet, whose personal relation to God is here set forth as a closer one than that of the king and priests.
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