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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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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).