Isaiah 36

Threats of Sennacherib

  This chapter begins a new section of Isaiah, turning from poetry to mostly historical record. The section more or less duplicates 2 Kings 18:13 - 20:19. See that account for more comments.
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.1 ¶ Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, that Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defenced cities of Judah, and took them.
 2  And the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field.
  1 - Assyria Noted for torturing their captives.
  1 - Defenced Or "fortified."
  2 - Rabshaketh "In 2Ki 18:17, Tartan and Rab-saris are joined with him. Rab-shakeh was probably the chief leader; Rab is a title of authority, 'chief-cup-bearer.'" (JFB Commentary)
  2 - Lachish "a frontier town southwest of Jerusalem, in Judah; represented as a great fortified city in a hilly and fruitful country in the Koyunjik bas-reliefs, now in the British Museum; also, its name is found on a slab over a figure of Sennacherib on his throne." (JFB). See near west edge of map.
.3  Then came forth unto him Eliakim, Hilkiah's son, which was over the house, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, Asaph's son, the recorder.   3 - Eliakim "successor to Shebna, who had been "over the household," that is, chief minister of the king; in Isa 22:15-20, this was foretold.
  3 - Scribe "secretary, recorder—literally, "one who reminds"; a remembrancer to keep the king informed on important facts, and to act as historiographer. In 2Ki 18:18, the additional fact is given that the Assyrian envoys "called to the king," in consequence of which Eliakim, &c., 'came out to them.'" (JFB)
.4  And Rabshakeh said unto them, Say ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest?
 5  I say, sayest thou, (but they are but vain words) I have counsel and strength for war: now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me?
.6  Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him.
 7  But if thou say to me, We trust in the LORD our God: is it not he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and said to Judah and to Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar?
  4 - Great king There were subordinate princes or "kings."
  4 - What confidence An opportunity to claim help from the true God.
  6 - So "It was a similar alliance with So (that is, Sabacho, or else Sevechus), the Ethiopian king of Egypt, which provoked the Assyrian to invade and destroy Israel, the northern kingdom, under Hoshea." (JFB).
  7 - He whose high places ... Hezekiah "The Assyrian mistakes Hezekiah's religious reforms whereby he took away the high places (2Ki 18:4) as directed against Jehovah. Some of the high places may have been dedicated to Jehovah, but worshipped under the form of an image in violation of the second commandment: the 'brazen serpent,' also (broken in pieces by Hezekiah, and called Nehushtan, 'a piece of brass,' because it was worshipped by Israel) was originally set up by God's command. Hence the Assyrian's allegation has a specious color: you cannot look for help from Jehovah, for your king has 'taken away His altars.'" (JFB). 
.8  Now therefore give pledges, I pray thee, to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them.
 9  How then wilt thou turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master's servants, and put thy trust on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen?
.10  And am I now come up without the LORD against this land to destroy it? the LORD said unto me, Go up against this land, and destroy it.
  10 - Without the Lord An unsafe arrogance.
.11 ¶ Then said Eliakim and Shebna and Joah unto Rabshakeh, Speak, I pray thee, unto thy servants in the Syrian language; for we understand it: and speak not to us in the Jews' language, in the ears of the people that are on the wall.
 12  But Rabshakeh said, Hath my master sent me to thy master and to thee to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men that sit upon the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?
  See re0911na
 13  Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Jews' language, and said, Hear ye the words of the great king, the king of Assyria.
 14  Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you.
 15  Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, The LORD will surely deliver us: this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.
  15 - Trust ... not be delivered This could have been true if Hezekiah and Isaiah had not trusted in the Lord.
 16  Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me: and eat ye every one of his vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his own cistern;
 17  Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards.
  16 - Make an agreement A deception. See on 2ki1831.
  17 - Land like your own This was partly true. The Assyrians moved people away from their land. However, if they had been interested in the peace of Jerusalem they would have left them alone.  See on the next verse, 2ki1832.
.18  Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, The LORD will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?
 19  Where are the gods of Hamath and Arphad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim? and have they delivered Samaria out of my hand?
 20  Who are they among all the gods of these lands, that have delivered their land out of my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?
  18 - Hath any of the gods? Implying that the God of Jerusalem would likewise be unable. See on 2ki1833.
 21  But they held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king's commandment was, saying, Answer him not.
.22  Then came Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, that was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and told him the words of Rabshakeh.
  21 - Held their peace That is, they kept quiet. It was not a matter of human logic. Compare ps04610.
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