2 Chronicles 29:1, 2
Hezekiah began to reign when he was five and twenty years old, and he reigned nine and twenty years in Jerusalem…
I. HIS PERSON.
1. His name. Hezekiah, "The might of Jehovah;" Hizkiyah (2 Kings 18:1); Hiskiyahu (ver. 1; Isaiah 36:1; Isaiah 37:1, 3); with which last corresponds Hazakijau, or Hazakiau, of the Assyrian inscriptions.
2. His parentage. His father Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:27), to whom while yet a lad he must have been born (see homily on 2 Chronicles 28:1-27); his mother Abijah, "Father of Jehovah" - in shortened form, Abi (2 Kings 18:2), the daughter of Zechariah, "a citizen of Jerusalem" (Josephus), perhaps the son of Jeberechiah, a contemporary of Ahaz (Isaiah 8:2)," not improbably the favourite prophet of Uzziah" (Stanley).
II. HIS REIGN.
1. Its commencement.
(1) When he was twenty-five years old; therefore when, having fully attained to manhood, he was old enough to have learnt something of the ruinous results of his father's career, and of the utter folly as well as wickedness of idolatry.
(2) "In the third year of Hoshea, the son of Elah, King of Israel" (2 Kings 18:1), six years before the carrying away of Israel captive by Shalmaneser, the King of Assyria (2 Kings 18:10).
(3) When Judah as a kingdom had been reduced to a low ebb by the Syro-Ephraimitish war, with the invasions of the Edomites and Philistines, not to speak of the impoverishment of the royal exchequer by the tributes paid to Tiglath-Pileser (2 Chronicles 28:5, 6, 8, 17, 21). "Take out of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin one hundred and twenty thousand whom Pekah, the King of Israel, slew in one day; take out two hundred thousand that were carried away captive to Samaria" (these, however, returned); "take out those that were transported into the bondage of the Edomites, and those that were subdued in the south parts by the Philistines; alas! what a handful was left to the King of Judah, scarce worth the name of a dominion!" (Bishop Hall).
2. Its close. After twenty-nine years-upwards of a quarter of a century; a long time for a thoughtful sovereign to bear the responsibilities of a crown, even had the period been peaceful, much more when it was full of trouble and anxiety, both on account of the social and religious degeneracy of his own people, and the threatenings and dangers arising from foreign foes. It was hardly wonderful that Hezekiah's health should have broken down under the intense strain to which it was subjected.
3. Its contents. These may be gathered from 2 Kings (18-20.), 2 Chronicles (29-32.), and Isaiah (36-39.). The principal events were:
(1) The reformation of religion, commenced in the first (ecclesiastical) month of the first year of his reign, by opening and purifying the temple (2 Chronicles 29:3-36), and concluded in the second month by the celebration of a Passover (2 Chronicles 30:1), and the demolition of heathen altars in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 30:13) and throughout the land (2 Chronicles 31:1). To this the king was most likely moved by the impressions made upon his mind by the fierce denunciations of Micah, who had already during the two previous reigns been testifying against the moral and spiritual corruption of the people (Micah 1-3.). "The outward reformation was doubtless the expression of an inward change also" (Stanley).
(2) The breaking of the yoke of Assyria and the assertion of the nation's independence (2 Kings 18:7), with the conducting of a successful campaign against the Philistines (2 Kings 18:8), some time before the fourth year of his reign (2 Kings 18:9), dearly before the capture of Samaria by the King of Assyria (2 Kings 18:10). As the monuments show that the king who commenced the siege of Samaria was Shalmaneser, and the king who finished it was his son Sargon (Schrader, 'Keilinschriften,' p. 271), it is more than likely that Hezekiah was moved to revolt by the death of Shalmaneser, B.C. 722.
(3) The sickness of Hezekiah in his fourteenth year, with the gracious prolongation of his life for fifteen more years (2 Chronicles 32:24-26; 2 Kings 20:1-11; Isaiah 38:1-22).
(4) The imprudent reception of Merodach-Baladan's ambassadors, who had been sent ostensibly to congratulate Hezekiah on his recovery, but really to obtain his assistance against Sargon of Assyria (2 Chronicles 32:31; 2 Kings 20:12; Isaiah 39:1).
(5) The conquest of Judah and the capture of Jerusalem by Sargon, in Hezekiah's fourteenth year, not mentioned by the Chronicler or the author of the Kings, but described by Isaiah (10, 11.), who represents an Assyrian monarch as first conquering Calno, Carehemish, Hamath, Arpbad, Damascus, and Samarla, and then advancing towards Jerusalem "by the usual high-road from the north-east, and halting at Nob, only an hour's journey distant from Jerusalem, in which also (cf. ch. 22.) the prophet presents the picture of a siege which has already lasted some time, and which can only be explained by Sargon" (Sayce, ' Fresh Light,' etc., p. 139). This conquest of Judah, the monuments show, was carried out in connection with Sargon's expedition against Ashdod, which he entrusted to his tartan, or commander (Isaiah 20:1), while he himself "overran the widespreading land of Judah, and captured its capital" (Sayce, 'Fresh Light,' etc., p. 137; cf. G. Smith's 'Assyrian Discoveries,' pp. 288-293).
(6) The fortification of Jerusalem in anticipation of the above attack upon his capital, not by Sennacherib (2 Chronicles 32:1-8), but by Sargon.
(7) The invasion of Judah by Sennacherib, not in Hezekiah's fourteenth (2 Kings 18:13-16), but in his twenty-fourth year, since, according to the monuments, Sargon was murdered in B.C. 705, while Sennacherib's campaign against Syria and the West did not begin till B.C. 701.
(8) The submission of Hezekiah to Sennacherib at Lachish (2 Kings 18:14-16).
(9) The siege of Jerusalem by Scnnacherib's captains, Tartan, Rabshakeh, and Rabsaris (ch. 32:9-22; 2 Kings 18:17-19:36; Isaiah 36:2-37:37).
(10) The reception of a blasphemous letter from Sennacherib, with the prayer to which it led (2 Chronicles 32:20; 2 Kings 19:8-34; Isaiah 37:8-35).
(11) The destruction of Sennacherib's army (2 Chronicles 32:21; 2 Kings 19:35; Isaiah 37:36).
(12) The extension of Hezekiah's fame in consequence of this deliverance (2 Chronicles 32:23).
III. HIS CHARACTER.
1. Good. "He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done" (ver. 2). With this agrees the testimony of 2 Kings (2 Kings 18:5, 6), that,his piety
(1) sprang from the right root - faith: "he trusted in the Lord God of Israel;"
(2) evinced the right quality - constancy: "he clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him;" and
(3) produced the right fruit - obedience: "he kept the commandments which the Lord commanded Moses." The causes which led to Hezekiah's conversion were doubtless manifold:
(1) Divine grace, without which no change of heart or life can be permanently good (John 3:7); 1 Corinthians 15:10);
(2) prophetic instruction, given by Isaiah (Isaiah 37:2), Micah, Jeremiah (Jeremiah 26:18, 19), and Zechariah, his maternal grandfather - no lasting transformation being effected on the mind or character except through the medium of the truth (Psalm 19:7; Psalm 119:9; Micah 2:7; John 15:3); and
(3) personal observation of the sinfulness and ruinous consequences of idolatry.
2. Energetic. Sufficiently apparent from the above-recited record of his life. Besides being a pious sovereign, he was a military commander of pronounced skill and undaunted courage (2 Chronicles 32:3-8), a wise and judicious civil administrator (2 Chronicles 32:27-30), a zealous and unwearied religious reformer (ch. 29-31.), a student and patron of letters (Proverbs 25:1), an antiquarian and a poet (2 Chronicles 32:27; 2 Kings 23:12; Isaiah 38:9-20). In short, Hezekiah was "one of the most splendid princes that ever adorned the throne of David, and whose reign of nine and twenty years exhibits an almost unclouded picture of persistent struggles against the most embarrassed and difficult circumstances, crowned with elevating victories" (Ewald, 'History of Israel,' 4:172). Learn:
1. That Divine grace is stronger than hereditary corruption.
2. That God can raise up great men when such are demanded by the times.
3. That the hidden root of all true nobility in man is faith in God, and steadfast adherence to truth and right. - W.
Parallel VersesKJV: Hezekiah began to reign when he was five and twenty years old, and he reigned nine and twenty years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah.