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Go to Bible: 2 Kings 19
“And when King Hezekiah.” 2 Kings 19 is almost the same as Isaiah 37.
“the house of Yahweh.” That is, the Temple.(top)
“Then he sent Eliakim.” Cp. Isaiah 37:2.
“Over the House.” “Over the House” was the title of the palace administrator (see commentary on 1 Kings 4:6). During the reign of King Hezekiah, Eliakim replaced Shebna, who had been Over the House, but who nevertheless remained an important figure in the kingdom for a while anyway (cp. Isa. 22:15-21).(top)
|2Ki 19:3||- (top)|
“his lord.” The Hebrew is a grammatical plural, literally, “his lords,” but referring to the king of Assyria.
“the remnant that is left.” Sennacherib had captured the fortified cities in Judah (2 Kings 18:13). According to the Assyrian records, Sennacherib captured 46 cities. Hezekiah rightly wanted prayer for everyone who was left.(top)
|2Ki 19:5||- (top)|
|2Ki 19:6||- (top)|
“I will put a spirit in him.” Due to the extreme flexibility of the Hebrew word ruach, the exact meaning of 2 Kings 19:7 and Isaiah 37:7 is difficult to determine. The Hebrew word translated “spirit” in the REV is ruach (#07307 רוּחַ), and it can refer to a large number of things. In this context, “spirit” may refer to the gift of holy spirit God put upon some people in the Old Testament; an evil spirit (by way of the idiom of permission), or a thought, attitude, or message given by spirit.
[For more on the usages of ruach, spirit, see Appendix 15: “Usages of ‘Spirit.’”]
“rumor.” Or, “report.”(top)
“he had departed from Lachish.” Sennacherib, the king of Assyria had left Lachish and was attacking Libnah, so Rab-shakeh found him at Libnah. Although the exact location of Libnah is not known, archaeologists think that it is a tell only five or six miles from Lachish.(top)
“Sennacherib.” The Hebrew is “he,” but since the “he” in the immediately preceding sentence in 2 Kings 19:8 was Rab-shakeh, the “he” in this verse was replaced with “Sennacherib” for clarity.(top)
“Do not let your god in whom you trust deceive you.” Sennacherib does not deny Hezekiah’s “god,” or that Yahweh can direct Hezekiah. Sennacherib would have believed that Hezekiah’s god, like any god, could speak through prophets, dreams, visions, signs, divination, etc. But Sennacherib believed his gods and his army were more powerful than any force with Hezekiah.(top)
“devoting them to destruction.” That is, destroying them.
[For more on things “devoted” to Yahweh and devoted to destruction, see commentary on Joshua 6:17.](top)
|2Ki 19:12||- (top)|
|2Ki 19:13||- (top)|
“Then he went up to the house of Yahweh.” This is geographically accurate. The Temple, the “house of Yahweh,” was north of Hezekiah’s palace and uphill from it. It is not clear where Hezekiah would have gone in the Temple to spread out the letter. Not being a priest or Levite, he would not have gone into the Holy Place or Holy of Holies, but would have gone into one of the side rooms where Temple business was carried out.
“and Hezekiah spread it out before Yahweh.” The letter would have been rolled up in scroll fashion, so Hezekiah unrolled it and held it open so Yahweh could read the entire letter. Hezekiah would have believed that Yahweh knew what was in the letter, but sometimes people need to do things that help them become more intimate and connected to their Creator, and this desperate time was one of those times.(top)
“Then Hezekiah prayed before Yahweh.” This is one of the many verses that shows that great people in the Bible believed in the power of prayer. Hezekiah knew he did not have the military might to defeat Assyria; his only hope was in getting help from God. Hezekiah was in the Temple, and thus “before Yahweh” or “in the presence of” Yahweh.
“enthroned.” The Hebrew is more literally “seated,” but it was the custom for kings to sit on thrones, not just regular chairs, so translating according to the culture of the day, “enthroned” is a good translation and adopted by many English versions (CEB, CSB, ESV, NAB, NASB, NET, NIV, NJB, NRSV).
“You have made the heavens and the earth.” Hezekiah correctly believed that Yahweh alone (the “you” is singular) made the heavens and the earth. He did not have help from other gods, nor did the universe “just evolve” somehow.(top)
“he has sent to defy the living God.” This statement is accurate. Sennacherib did not just send words “that defied Yahweh,” he sent words “to defy Yahweh.” Sennacherib knew Judah’s god was Yahweh, and knew that defying the Judeans and their king also meant defying their God, so what Sennacherib wrote, he wrote in part to defy and challenge Yahweh, Judah’s God. Sennacherib would have understood that conquering Judah meant conquering their god and showing that his gods were more powerful than Yahweh. In a similar vein, at the Exodus from Egypt, in order for Yahweh to give Moses power over Pharaoh, He had to execute judgments against the gods of Egypt (Exod. 12:12).(top)
“It is true, O Yahweh.” More literally, “Truly,” but we would commonly say, “It is true.” Hezekiah sets forth an important principle of prayer here, which is to be honest about the facts and the situation. God knows the situation, and it does not help our prayers to hide the truth from God. Sometimes Christians try too hard to “pray positive prayers,” and say positive things, and end up misrepresenting the situation. While it is important to work to keep a positive attitude, that is because it is a reflection of what we think about God and His delivering power, and the power of hope, and not because our words have any power in and of themselves. It is God who has the power, and we come to Him with honest and frank speech, asking for His help. The “positive” part of prayer in a desperate situation comes from stating our dependence upon God and our trust in Him, not from watering down the gravity of the situation with words that are overly optimistic.
Hezekiah’s prayer was honest, simple, and powerful. The Assyrians had indeed laid waste the nations and had attacked and captured many cities in Judah (2 Kings 18:13; according to the Assyrian annuls, Assyria captured 46 cities in Judah). God would have to help the Judeans at this point or Judah would be lost like Israel had been lost and carried captive to Assyria some years before. But God did hear Hezekiah’s prayer and He did rescue Judah.(top)
“and have put their gods in the fire.” This verse is repeated in Isaiah 37:19. People draw strength and hope from their gods, so destroying them was one of the tactics of demoralizing and controlling a conquered (or about to be conquered) people. Sometimes sanctuaries with gods and altars were outside the cities at holy sites, so an attacking army could destroy some of the gods before conquering the city.
“so they have destroyed them.” It was because the gods of the nations were not actually gods that the Assyrians could destroy them. In the future there will come a day of God’s vengeance against sin when on earth “and the idols will completely pass away…In that day, each person will cast away their idols of silver and their idols of gold that they made for themselves to worship, to the moles and to the bats” (Isa. 2:18, 20).(top)
“But now, Yahweh our God.” 2 Kings 19:19 is almost identical to Isaiah 37:20.
“so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know.” The acts of God give people a chance to see God’s greatness, but they do not guarantee that people will believe. Nevertheless, it can help if believers point them out to others to give them a better chance to see and believe.(top)
“Because you have prayed to me.” 2 Kings 19:20 differs from Isaiah 37:21 somewhat. We must not see 2 Kings 19:20 and Isaiah 37:21 as being a contradiction of what Isaiah said, any more than we should think that Hezekiah, in that desperate time, only prayed a prayer that was five verses long (2 Kings 19:15-19); Hezekiah would have prayed a much longer prayer that that. Almost always, what is recorded in the Bible is the core of what was said or done, and that gives us an understanding of the situation. There is no need for us to know every word that was spoken or action that was taken in these situations, in fact, that would be a distraction. In this case, 2 Kings and Isaiah give us an important picture of prayer: in 2 Kings, God lets us know that He hears what we pray (“I have heard”). In Isaiah, God lets us know that the fact that we do pray is important (“Because you have prayed to me”).(top)
“Daughter Zion.” The Hebrew is idiomatic for Zion itself, i.e., Jerusalem (see commentary on Isa. 1:8).
“Daughter Jerusalem.” The Hebrew structure and idiom is similar to that of “Daughter Zion” (see commentary on Isa. 1:8). Here in 2 Kings 19:21 (and also Isaiah 37:22), Jerusalem is referred to twice in the verse by two different names, “Daughter Jerusalem” and “Daughter Zion.” It is typical of Hebrew poetry to refer to the same thing in two different ways.
2 Kings 19:21 and Isaiah 37:22 are a good portrayal of God showing that with His help great feats can be accomplished and horrible and impossible-looking situations can be turned into great victories. Jerusalem is portrayed as a young woman, a virgin daughter, thus likely in her early teens, being approached by the “big, bad man,” Assyria, who is intent on raping and pillaging her the same way he raped and destroyed her sister, the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Yet with God’s help she defies him, ridicules him, and shakes her head at him. She trusts God, and God, her protector, steps in and takes care of the situation. Ultimately those who trust in God will always have the victory, even over death. “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57; cp. 1 Cor. 15:54-57).(top)
|2Ki 19:22||- (top)|
|2Ki 19:23||- (top)|
“I will dry up all the rivers of Egypt.” The king of Assyria had not yet ventured into Egypt (and historically never did), but he is boasting that the “rivers” of help for Israel that might flow out of Egypt would never materialize. But Assyria was wrong to assume that Israel’s only help and hope was Egypt, because the real help was Yahweh their God.(top)
“Long ago I made it and I formed it in ancient times.” What God is saying is that “long ago” He made and formed the principles that are the basis of the events that occur in life—in this case the principles and covenants that led to the trouble that Judah was in. God is not saying here that long ages before Hezekiah’s time He decided that the Assyrian army would lay waste many cities in Judah. If that was what He was saying, then why would He have sent prophets to tell the Judeans to repent and obey His commands? If He had already decided ages before that the Assyrians would destroy Judah (and Israel), then sending prophets to get the people to repent would have just been some sort of pretend game. For God to send a prophet to tell the people to repent when He already knew they would not repent would only be some kind of immature “I told you so” one-upmanship.
God was sincere when He sent the prophets to the people of Israel and Judah, and those people had a genuine chance to repent and not only avoid destruction but to live and prosper. But when God’s people rejected Him and the laws He gave them, then the principles that God had set in place long before influenced what happened on earth, and in this case, the Judeans suffered at the hands of the Assyrians.(top)
“weak.” An idiom. The literal Hebrew is “their inhabitants—small in hand.”
“like the plants of the field and like the green vegetation.” The ancient and powerful cities are here compared by the figure simile to the grass of the field and green vegetation, which is very short-lived.
“grass on the housetops.” The houses had flat roofs that were often surfaced with hardened mud, which grew weeds. But the weeds had no depth of earth and were not watered, so during the dry season, they were quickly scorched and died.(top)
“I know your sitting down.” That is, where you stay.
“your going out and your coming in.” That is, what you do, how you live. This is the figure of speech polarmerismos, where two ends or extremes are put for the whole. An English example is, “That is the long and short of it,” meaning the essence of the whole matter. A person would go out of his tent or house in the morning and go back in at night, so to know their going out and coming in was to know their life.
[See figure of speech “merismos.”](top)
|2Ki 19:28||- (top)|
“the sign to you, Hezekiah.” The “you” changes from Sennacherib to Hezekiah.
“what grows on its own.” It was too late to plant this year, and the year following there will not be enough grain harvested this year to sow like normal. Some will be sowed, but not like normal. People will still have to depend on the “volunteer” grain that grows of itself.
“and in the second year what springs up that same way.” One reason that they may not plant the second year is that second year might be a Sabbatical Year.(top)
“that has escaped.” See commentary on 2 Kings 19:4.
“take root downward and bear fruit upward.” That is, begin to get reestablished and to flourish. People will have food, water, and shelter, and families will begin to grow in number again.(top)
“Yahweh.” Some manuscripts read “Yahweh of Armies” (traditionally, “LORD of hosts”).(top)
|2Ki 19:32||- (top)|
|2Ki 19:33||- (top)|
“and for my servant David’s sake.” God rescued Jerusalem because of the promises God made to David, and the promises of the coming Messiah. Those things saved Jerusalem this time (Sennacherib's campaign into Judah started in 701 BC), but it was also saved by the godliness of Hezekiah and the people he influenced. Sadly, after Hezekiah, although there were some godly kings, by about 608 BC there was a series of ungodly kings and the people turned to ungodly behavior, and in 586 BC the Temple and Jerusalem were burned by Nebuchadnezzar, and the Judeans were deported to Babylon.(top)
“And that night.” This verse is almost identical to Isaiah 37:36.
“And when they got up early in the morning.” The ones who got up in the morning were the Israelites, the Assyrians were dead. This verse is a good example of why reading the Bible requires logic and knowing the context. God expects us to read with care and build our background knowledge of His Word.(top)
“So Sennacherib.” Cp. Isaiah 37:37.
“Nineveh.” The capital city of Assyria.(top)
“It came to pass as he was worshiping.” This is repeated in Isaiah 37:38. The Hebrew word translated “worship,” shachah (#07812 שָׁחָה), is the same Hebrew word as “bow down.”
[For more on bowing down, see commentary on 1 Chronicles 29:20.]
“Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons.” There is ancient manuscript evidence for “his sons” here, and also in Isaiah 37:38.(top)