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Bible Commentaries

Adam Clarke Commentary
Isaiah 37




Hezekiah is greatly distressed, and sends to Isaiah the prophet to pray for him, Isaiah 37:1-4. Isaiah returns a comfortable answer, and predicts the destruction of the king of Assyria and his army, Isaiah 37:5-7. Sennacherib, hearing that his kingdom was invaded by the Ethiopians, sends a terrible letter to Hezekiah, to induce him to surrender, Isaiah 37:9-13. Hezekiah goes to the temple, spreads the letter before the Lord, and makes a most affecting prayer, Isaiah 37:14-20. Isaiah is sent to him to assure him that his prayer is heard; that Jerusalem shall be delivered; and that the Assyrians shall be destroyed, Isaiah 37:21-35. That very night a messenger of God slays one hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrians, Isaiah 37:36. Sennacherib returns to Nineveh, and is slain by his own sons, Isaiah 37:37, Isaiah 37:38.

Verse 6

Thus shall ye say - תאמרון כה ko tomerun, "thus shall ye (explicitly, earnestly, and positively) say. "The paragogic nun deepens and increases the sense.

Verse 7

I will send a blast "I will infuse a spirit into him" - "רוח בו נותין nothen bo roach never signifies any thing but putting a spirit into a person: this was πνευμα δειλιας, the spirit of deceit." - Secker. "I will send a blast" - I do not think that Archbishop Secker has hit the true meaning of these words. I believe רוח ruach means here a pestilential wind, such as the Arabs call simoom, that instantly suffocates both man and beast; and is what is termed "the angel of the Lord," God's messenger of death to the Assyrians, Isaiah 37:36.

Verse 8

Rabshakeh returned - From Isaiah 36:2, we learn that the king of Assyria had sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem; now it is likely that Rabshakeh had besieged that place, and that the king of Assyria had taken his station before this city, and dispatched Rabshakeh against Jerusalem. But, as in the verse above it is said, "he had departed from Lachish," probably he had been obliged to raise the siege, and sat down before Libnah, which promised an easier conquest.

Verse 9

He heard say concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia - When he heard that Tirhakah king of Ethiopia had come out against him, then he sent that blasphemous manifesto which is contained in Isaiah 37:10-13, to terrify Hezekiah into submission. How much was this like, in words and spirit, to the manifesto sent to the Parisians by the late Duke of Brunswick, from the plains of Champaigne, in 1792, which was the forerunner of the mighty torrents of human blood which was shed in the French revolution! And what a blast of God fell upon him and his army - nearly like that which fell on the army of Sennacherib!

He sent messengers "He sent messengers again" - The word וישמע vaiyishma, "and he heard, "which occurs the second time in this verse, is repeated by mistake from the beginning of the verse. It is omitted in an ancient MS. It is a mere tautology, and embarrasses the sense. The true reading instead of it is, וישב veyesheb, "and he returned, "which the Septuagint read in this place, απεστρεψε, and which is preserved in the other copy, 2 Kings 19:9; : "He returned and sent, "that is, according to the Hebrew idiom, "he sent again."

Verse 12

As Gozan, and Haran - חרן Charan : but הרן Haran is the reading of four of Kennicott's MSS. and one of De Rossi's.

Verse 14

And read it "And read them" - ויקראם vayikraem . So MS. Bodl. in this place; and so the other copy; instead of ויקראהו vaiyikraehu, "and read It."

And spread it "And spread them" - ויפרשהו vaiyiphresehu . הו hu is upon a rasure in a MS., which probably was at first ם mem . The same mistake as in the foregoing note.

Verse 15

Unto the Lord "Before Jehovah" - That is, in the sanctuary. For אל el, the Syriac, Chaldee, and the other copy, 2 Kings 19:15, read לפני liphney, "before the face."

Verse 18

The nations - הארצות haratsoth, "the lands; "instead of this word, which destroys the sense, ten of Kennicott's and five of De Rossi's MSS. (one ancient) have here גוים goyim, "nations;" which is undoubtedly the true reading, being preserved also in the other copy; 2 Kings 19:17. Another MS. suggests another method of rectifying the sense in this place, by reading מלכם malcam, "their king, "instead of ארצם artsam, "their land;" but it ought to be מלכיהם malcheyhem, "all the countries and their kings."

Verse 20

Save us "Save us, we beseech thee" - The supplicating particle, נא na, is supplied here from eighteen MSS., three ancient, of Dr. Kennicott, and ten of De Rossi, and from the other copy; 2 Kings 19:19.

That thou art the Lord, even thou only "That thou Jehovah art the only God" - The word אלהים Elohim, "God, "is lost here in the Hebrew text, but preserved in the other copy; 2 Kings 19:19. The Syriac and Septuagint seem here to have had in their copies אלהים Elohim, instead of יהוה Yehovah .

Verse 21

Then Isaiah - sent unto Hezekiah - The Syriac and Septuagint understand and render the verb passively, was sent.

Whereas thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib "Thy prayer unto me concerning Sennacherib - I have heard" - שמעתי shamati ; this word, necessary to the sense, is lost in this place out of the Hebrew text. One MS. of Dr. Kennicott's and one of De Rossi's have it written above the line in a later hand. The Septuagint and Syriac found it in their copies; and it is preserved in the other copy; 2 Kings 19:20.

Verse 23

Against the Holy One of Israel - For אל el, to, the other copy has על al, against, rather more properly.

Verse 24

By thy servants "By thy messengers" - The text has עבדיך abdeycha, thy servants; but the true reading seems to be מלאכיך malacheycha, thy messengers, as in the other copy, 2 Kings 19:23; and as the Septuagint and Syriac found it in their copies in this place.

Reproached the Lord - אדני Adonai : but one of my MSS. has אדני יהוה Yehovah Adonai, Jehovah the Lord. This reading is not found, I think, in any other MS., but several have יהוה Yehovah for אדני Adonai .

I will enter into the height of his border "I will penetrate into his extreme retreats" - The text has מרום marom, the height which seems to have been taken by mistake from the line but one above. Two MSS. have here מלון malon, the lodge or retreat; which is the word in the other copy, 2 Kings 19:23, and I think is the true reading.

The forest of has Carmel - The forest and his fruitful field; that is, I will possess myself of the whole country.

Verse 25

Water "Strange waters" - The word זרים zarim, strange, lost out of the Hebrew text in this place, is supplied from the other copy. A MS. supplies the word רבים rabbim, many, instead of it.

With the sole of my feet - With my infantry.

All the rivers of the besieged places "All the canals of fenced places" - The principal cities of Egypt, the scene of his late exploits, were chiefly defended by deep moats, canals, or large lakes, made by labor and art, with which they were surrounded. See Harmer's Observ. 2 p. 304. Claudian introduces Alaric boasting of his conquests in the same extravagant manner: -

"Subsidere nostris

Sub pedibus montes; arescere vidimus amnes. -

Fregi Alpes, galeisque Padum victricibus hausi."

De Bello Getic. 526.

"The mountains have passed away under our feet; we have seen the rivers dried up. I have broken the Alps, and laden out the Po with our victorious helmets."

Verse 26

Lay waste defended cities into ruinous heaps "Lay waste warlike nations; strong fenced cities" - נצים גלים gallim nitstsim . It is not easy to give a satisfactory account of these two words, which have greatly embarrassed all the interpreters, ancient and modern. For גלים gallim I read גוים goyim, as the Septuagint do in this place, εθνη . The word נצים netsim the Vulgate renders in this place compugnantium; in the parallel place, 2 Kings 19:25, pugnantium; and the Septuagint μαχιμων, fighting, warlike. This rendering is as well authorized as any other that I know of; and, with the reading of the Septuagint, perfectly clears up the construction. See the margin on all the preceding verses.

Verse 27

Corn blasted - שדמה shedemah, parched: it does not appear that there is any good authority for this word. The true reading seems to be שדפה shedephah, blasted, as it is in six MSS. (two ancient) here, and in the other copy.

Verse 29

Will I put my hook in thy nose - Et fraenum meum: Jonathan vocem מתג metheg, interpretatus est זמם zemam, i.e., annulum, sive uncum, eumque ferreum, quem infigunt naribus camelae: eoque trahitur, quoniam illa feris motibus agitur: et hoc est, quod discimus in Talmude; et camela cum annulo narium: scilicet, egreditur die sabbathi. "And my bridle: Jonathan interprets the word metheg by zemam, a ring, or that iron hook which they put in the nostrils of a camel to lead her about, check her in her restiveness, etc. And this is what we mean in the Talmud, when we say, And the camel with the ring of her nostrils shall go out on the Sabbath day." - Jarchi in 2 Kings 19:28. Ponam circulum in naribus tuis. "I will put a ring in thy nostrils." - Jerome. Just as at this day they put a ring into the nose of the bear, the buffalo, and other wild beasts, to lead them, and to govern them when they are unruly. Bulls are often ringed thus in several parts of England. The Hindoos compare a person who is the slave of his wife to a cow led by the ring in her nose.

Verse 36

Then the angel - Before "the angel, "the other copy, 2 Kings 19:35, adds "it came to pass the same night, that " - The Prophet Hosea, Hosea 1:7, has given a plain prediction of the miraculous deliverance of the kingdom of Judah: -

"And to the house of Judah I will be tenderly merciful:

And I will save them by Jehovah their God.

And I will not save them by the bow;

Nor by sword, nor by battle;

By horses, nor by horsemen."

- L.

Verse 38

His sons smote him - What an awful punishment of his blasphemy! Who can harden his neck against God, and be successful? God does not lightly pass by blasphemy against himself, his government, his word, his Son, or his people. Let the profligate take care!


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Bibliography Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Isaiah 37:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, October 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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