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Adam Clarke Commentary

Isaiah 36

Introduction

Sennacherib, king of Assyria, comes against Judah, and takes all the fenced cities, Isaiah 36:1 . He afterwards sends a great host against Jerusalem; and his general Rabshakeh delivers an insulting and blasphemous message to Hezekiah, vv. 2-20. Hezekiah and his people are greatly afflicted at the words of Rabshakeh, Isaiah 36:21 , Isaiah 36:22 .The history of the invasion of Sennacherib, and of the miraculous destruction of his army Which makes the subject of so many of Isaiah's prophecies, is very properly inserted here as affording the best light to many parts of those prophecies, and as almost necessary to introduce the prophecy in the thirty-seventh chapter, being the answer of God to Hezekiah's prayer, which could not be properly understood without it. We find the same narrative in the Second Book of Kings, chaps. 18, 19, 20.; and these chapters of Isaiah, 36, 37, 38, Isaiah 39:1 -8, for much the greater part, (the account of the sickness of Hezekiah only excepted), are but a different copy of that narration. The difference of the two copies is little more than what has manifestly arisen from the mistakes of transcribers; they mutually correct each other, and most of the mistakes may be perfectly rectified by a collation of the two copies with the assistance of the ancient versions. Some few sentences, or members of sentences, are omitted in this copy of Isaiah, which are found in the other copy in the Book of Kings. Whether these omissions were made by design or mistake may be doubted. - L.

Verse 3

Then came forth unto him - Before these words the other copy, 2 Kings 18:18 , adds, ויקראו אל המלך vaiyikreu el hammelech, "And they demanded audience of the king."

Verse 5

I say "Thou hast said" - Fourteen MSS. (three ancient) of Kennicott's and De Rossi's have it in the second person, אמרת amarta; and so the other copy, 2 Kings 18:20 .But they are but vain words - דבר שפתים debar sephathayim, a word of the lips. Thou dost talk about counsels, but thou hast none; about strength, but there is none with thee.

Verse 6

The staff of this broken reed - A weakened, faithless ally.On Egypt - The Bodl. MS. adds מלך melech, the king of Egypt; and so perhaps the Chaldee might read.It will go into his hand, and pierce it - Will take subsidy after subsidy, and do nothing for it.

Verse 7

But if thou say "But if ye say" - Two ancient MSS. have תאמרו tomeru in the plural number; so likewise the Septuagint, Chaldee, and the other copy, 2 Kings 18:22 .Ye shall worship before this altar "To worship only before this altar" - See 2 Chronicles 32:12 .

Verse 10

Am I now come up without the Lord - Probably some apostate Israelitish priest might have encouraged the king of Assyria by telling him that Jehovah had given him a commission against Jerusalem.

Verse 12

That they may eat their own dung "Destined to eat their own dung" - לאכל leechol, that they may eat, as our translation literally renders it. But the Syriac reads מאכל meechol, that they may not eat, perhaps rightly, and afterward ומשתות umishshethoth, or ושתות ushethoth, to the same purpose. Seventeen of Dr. Kennicott's MSS., ten of De Rossi's and two of my own, read מימי meymey, the water; mine have מימי שניהם meymey sheneyhem, and write in the margin מימי רגליהם meymey regaleyhem, the water of their feet, a modest way of expressing urine.

Verse 15

This city shall not be delivered - ולא velo, And this city. Ten of Kennicott's MSS., and nine of De Rossi's, with one (ancient) of my own, add the conjunction.

Verse 16

Make an agreement - ברכה berachah, make a blessing with me; i.e., Give me a ransom for the city, and I will not destroy it; give me the yearly tribute thou hast promised.

Verse 17

And vineyards - The other copy, 2 Kings 18:32 , adds here: "A land of oil-olive, and of honey; that ye may live, and not die: and hearken not unto Hezekiah when he seduceth you."

Verse 19

Where are the gods - Many MSS. add the conjunction here also: And, or But, where are the gods, etc.For other matters relative to this chapter, see the notes on 2 Kings 18:13 (note), etc.Of Sepharvaim - The other copy, 2 Kings 18:34 , adds, of "Henah and Ivah."Have they delivered - וכי vechi. The copulative is not expressed here by the Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate, and three MSS.; nor is it in any other copy. Ib. Houbigant reads הכי hachi, with the interrogative particle; a probable conjecture, which the ancient Versions above quoted seem to favor.

Verse 21

But they held their peace "But the people held their peace" - The word העם haam, the people, is supplied from the other copy, and is authorized by a MS. which inserts it after אתו otho.

Isaiah 36


  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.
  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.
  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?
  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.
  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?
  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.
  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.
  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?
  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.

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