Isaiah 37:9
And he heard say concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, He is come forth to make war with you. And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying,
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(9) Tirhakah.—The third of the twenty-fifth, or Ethiopian dynasty of kings, So, or Sabaco, with whom Hoshea, the last king of Israel, allied himself, being the first (2Kings 17:4). He is described in Assurbanipal’s inscriptions (Records of the Past, i. 60) as king of Mizr and Cush—i.e., Egypt and Ethiopia. The policy of Hezekiah’s counsellors had led them to court his alliance, as in Isaiah 30, 31. Now, however, the Egyptian army was at least mobilised. “Rahab” was no longer “sitting still” (Isaiah 30:7).

When he heard it.—The message is in substance a repetition of its predecessors, more defiant, perhaps, as if in answer to the threatened attack of Tirhakah’s armies, which Sennacherib could scarcely fail to connect with Hezekiah’s confident hope of deliverance.

37:1-38 This chapter is the same as 2Ki 19And he heard say - The report or rumour referred to in Isaiah 37:7. In what way he heard this is not intimated. It is probable that the preparations which Tirhakah had made, were well known to the surrounding regions, and that he was already on his march against Sennacherib.

Tirhakah - This king, who, by Eusebius and by most ancient writers, is called Ταρακὸς Tarakos, was a celebrated conqueror, and had subdued Egypt to himself. He reigned over Egypt eighteen years. When Sennacherib marched into Egypt, Sevechus or Sethon was on the throne. Sennacherib having laid siege to Pelusium, Tirhakah came to the aid of the city, and, in consequence of his aid, Sennacherib was compelled to raise the siege and returned to Palestine, and laid siege to Lachish. Tirhakah succeeded Sevechus in Egypt, and was the third and last of the Ethiopian kings that reigned over that country. He probably took advantage of the distracted state that succeeded the death of Sevechus, and secured the crown for himself. This was, however, after the death of Sennacherib. The capital which he occupied was Thebes (see Prideaux's "Connection," vol. i. pp. 141, 145, 149. Ed. 1815). As he was celebrated as a conqueror, and as he had driven Sennacherib from Pelusium and from Egypt, we may see the cause of the alarm of Sennacherib when it was rumoured that he was about to follow him into Palestine, and to make war on him there.

He is come forth - He has made preparations, and is on his way.

He sent messengers ... - With letters or despatches Isaiah 37:14. Hezekiah was probably ignorant of the approach of Tirhakah, or at all events Sennacherib would suppose that he was ignorant of it; and as Sennacherib knew that there would be no hope that Hezekiah would yield if he knew that Tirhakah was approaching to make war on him, he seems to have resolved to anticipate the intelligence, and to see if it were possible to induce him to surrender. He, therefore, sent substantially the same message as before, and summoned him to capitulate.

9. Tirhakah—(See on [767]Isa 17:12; [768]Isa 18:6). Egypt was in part governed by three successive Ethiopian monarchs, for forty or fifty years: Sabacho, Sevechus, and Tirhakah. Sevechus retired from Lower Egypt owing to the resistance of the priests, whereupon Sethos, a prince-priest, obtained supreme power with Tanis (Zoan in Scripture), or Memphis, as his capital. The Ethiopians retained Upper Egypt under Tirhakah, with Thebes as the capital. Tirhakah's fame as a conqueror rivalled that of Sesostris; he, and one at least, of the Pharaohs of Lower Egypt, were Hezekiah's allies against Assyria. The tidings of his approach made Sennacherib the more anxious to get possession of Jerusalem before his arrival.

sent—2Ki 19:9 more fully expresses Sennacherib's eagerness by adding "again."

No text from Poole on this verse. And he heard say concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia,.... Not Rabshakeh, but the king of Assyria heard a rumour of this Ethiopian king coming out to war against him: his name, in Josephus (w), is Tharsices; in the Septuagint version it is Tharaca; and by Africanus (x) he is called Taracus; and is the same, who, by Strabo (y), out of Megasthenes, is named Tearcon the Ethiopian: the Ethiopia of which he was king was either the upper Ethiopia or that beyond Egypt; to which agrees the Arabic version, which calls him Tharatha king of the Abyssines; but others take it for Cush, or rather Ethiopia in the land of Midian, or Arabia, as Bochart; which lay nearer to Judea than the other Ethiopia. Now the report that was brought to the king of Assyria of him was,

he is come forth to make war with thee; not by assisting the Egyptians, as Josephus, but rather the Jews; or by making an irruption into the king of Assyria's country in his absence: this some think to be the rumour predicted, Isaiah 37:7.

and when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah; with terrifying letters, to frighten him into an immediate surrender of the city, that he might withdraw his army, and meet the king of Ethiopia with the greater force; and the rather he dispatched these messengers in all haste to Hezekiah, that his letters might reach him before he had knowledge of the king of Ethiopia, asking a diversion in his favour, which would encourage him to hold out the siege the longer: saying; as follows:

(w) Antiqu. l. 10. c. 1. sect. 4. (x) Apud Euseb. Chron. (y) Geograph. l. 15. p. 472.

And he heard say concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, He is come forth to make war with thee. And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying,
9. Tirhakah king of Ethiopia is named only here in the O.T. See General Introduction, p. xvi.Verse 9. - Tirhakah, King of Ethopia. Tirhakah is among the most famous of the monarchs belonging to this period. The Greeks called him "Tearchon," the Assyrians "Tarku" or "Tarqu." His name, as represented on his own monuments, is "Tahark" or "Tahrak." According to the Egyptian remains, he had a reign of at least twenty-six years in Egypt - from B.C. 693 to B.C. 667. He would seem, however, to have been King of Ethiopia, and lord paramount of the lower valley of the Nile, from about B.C. 700, Shabatok for some years ruling Egypt, or a portion of it, as his deputy (Rawlinson, 'Hist. of Ancient Egypt,' vol. 2. p. 450). Hezekiah's negotiations had, it is probable, been with Tirhakah (ch. 19:13; 20:5; 30:1-6). This monarch, having engaged to help him, now put his forces in motion, and began to descend the Nile valley to his relief. His movement rather provoked than alarmed Sennacherib, who, having defeated one Egyptian army in B.C. 701 ('Eponym Canon,' pp. 133, 134), was confident of success against another. He sent messengers. It is not very clear what advantage Sennacherib expected from this second embassy. He had no fresh argument to bring forward, unless it were a suggestion that Hezekiah's God was endeavouring to deceive him. In the main, vers. 10-13 are a mere expansion of Isaiah 36:18-20. The 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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