Isaiah 37:3
And they said to him, Thus said 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. After Rabshakeh had refused the request of Hezekiah's representatives in this contemptuous manner, he turned in defiance of them to the people themselves. "Then Rabshakeh went near, and cried with a loud voice in the Jewish language (K. and spake), and said, Hear the words (K. the word) of the great king, the king of Asshur. Thus saith the king, Let not Hizkiyahu practise deception upon you (יסה, K. יסהיא)); for he cannot deliver you (K. out of his hand). And let not Hizkiyahu feed you with hope in Jehovah, saying, Jehovah will deliver, yea, deliver us: (K. and) this city will not be delivered into the hand of the king of Asshur. Hearken not to Hizkiyahu: for thus saith the king (hammelekh, K. melekh) of Asshur, Enter into a connection of mutual good wishes with me, and come out to me: and enjoy every one his vine, and every one his fig-tree, and drink every one the water of his cistern; till I come and take you away into a land like your land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread-corn and vineyards (K. a land full of fine olive-trees and honey, and live and do not die, and hearken not to Hizkiyahu); that Hizkiyahu to not befool you (K. for he befools you), saying, Jehovah will deliver us! Have the gods of the nations delivered (K. really delivered) every one his land out of the hand of the king of Asshur? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? where the gods of Sepharvayim (K. adds, Hena‛ and ‛Ivah)? and how much less (וכי, K. כּי) have they delivered that Samaria out of my hand? Who were they among all the gods of these (K. of the) lands, who delivered their land out of my hand? how much less will Jehovah deliver Jerusalem out of my hand!? The chronicler also has this continuation of Rabshakeh's address in part (2 Chronicles 32:13-15), but he has fused into one the Assyrian self-praise uttered by Rabshakeh on his first and second mission. The encouragement of the people, by referring to the help of Jehovah (2 Chronicles 32:6-8), is placed by him before this first account is given by Isaiah, and forms a conclusion to the preparations for the contest with Asshur as there described. Rabshakeh now draws nearer to the wall, and harangues the people. השּׁיא is construed here with a dative (to excite treacherous hopes); whereas in 2 Chronicles 32:15 it is written with an accusative. The reading מיּדו is altered from מיּדי in Isaiah 36:20, which is inserted still more frequently by the chronicler. The reading את־העיר with תנּתן is incorrect; it would require ינּתן (Ges. 143, 1a). To make a berâkhâh with a person was equivalent to entering into a relation of blessing, i.e., into a state of mind in which each wished all prosperity to the other. This was probably a common phrase, though we only meet with it here. יצא, when applied to the besieged, is equivalent to surrendering (e.g., 1 Samuel 11:3). If they did that, they should remain in quiet possession and enjoyment, until the Assyrian fetched them away (after the Egyptian campaign was over), and transported them to a land which he describes to them in the most enticing terms, in order to soften down the inevitable transportation. It is a question whether the expansion of this picture in the book of Kings is original or not; since ועוּה הנע in Isaiah 36:19 appears to be also tacked on here from Isaiah 37:13 (see at this passage). On Hamath and Arpad (to the north of Haleb in northern Syria, and a different place from Arvad equals Arad), see Isaiah 10:9. Sepharvayim (a dual form, the house of the Sepharvı̄m, 2 Kings 17:31) is the Sipphara of Ptol. v. 18, 7, the southernmost city of Mesopotamia, on the left bank of the Euphrates; Pliny's Hipparenum on the Narraga, i.e., the canal, nehar malkâ, the key to the irrigating or inundating works of Babylon, which were completed afterwards by Nebuchadnezzar (Plin. h. n. vi. 30); probably the same place as the sun-city, Sippara, in which Xisuthros concealed the sacred books before the great flood (see K. Mller's Fragmenta Historicorum Gr. ii.-501-2). פּן in Isaiah 36:18 has a warning meaning (as if it followed לכם השּׁמרו ); and both וכי and כּי in Isaiah 36:19, Isaiah 36:20, introduce an exclamatory clause when following a negative interrogatory sentence: and that they should have saved," or "that Jehovah should save," equivalent to "how much less have they saved, or will He save" (Ewald, 354, c; comp. אף־כּי, 2 Chronicles 32:15). Rabshakeh's words in Isaiah 36:18-20 are the same as those in Isaiah 10:8-11. The manner in which he defies the gods of the heathen, of Samaria, and last of all of Jerusalem, corresponds to the prophecy there. It is the prophet himself who acts as historian here, and describes the fulfilment of the prophecy, though without therefore doing violence to his character as a prophet.
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