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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
2 Kings 20

 

 

Verses 1-21


Hezekiah's Sickness and Recovery

1. In those days] The incidents related in this chapter probably took place before Sennacherib's invasion, for (a) the deliverance from the Assyrians is still future (2 Kings 20:6); (b) Hezekiah is in possession of great treasures (2 Kings 20:13), which could scarcely have been the case after the surrender described in 2 Kings 18:14-15; (c) Merodach Baladan, king of Babylon, was driven from his throne before Sennacherib attacked Judah. Chronologically, therefore, this chapter should precede 2 Kings 18:7; Thou shalt die] Prophetic predictions were generally conditional and not absolute; a threatened judgment might be averted by repentance and a promised blessing forfeited by misconduct: see Jeremiah 18:7-10; Jeremiah 26:18, Jeremiah 26:19.

3. How I have walked, etc.] In the absence of any complete belief in a future life, this world was held to be the only sphere within which God's moral governance of mankind displayed itself, length of days being regarded as the reward of righteousness, and a short life being thought to imply great guilt. Hence Hezekiah, with the prospect of an untimely death before him, appealed to God to bear witness to his uprightness. A perfect heart] i.e. a heart not divided between devotion to the Lord and devotion to other gods: cp. 1 Kings 8:61 and contrast 1 Kings 11:4.

4. The middle court] RV 'the middle part of the city.'

7. A lump of figs] A plaster of figs is known from other sources to have been used as a remedy for boils, but since Hezekiah was 'sick unto death' (v. l), his cure is doubtless regarded as miraculous.

8. What shall be the sign, etc.] 2 Kings 20:8-11 ought to precede the statement of the king's recovery in 2 Kings 20:7.

9. Shall the shadow, etc.] better, as in RM, 'the shadow is gone forward ten steps, shall it go back ten steps?'

11. The dial of Ahaz] Probably a platform surrounded by steps and surmounted by a pillar, the shadow of which fell upon a smaller or larger number of the steps according as the sun mounted or declined in the sky. It has been conjectured that a slight alteration of the length of the sun's shadow might be produced by a partial eclipse; if so, the sign consisted in the event taking place in agreement with the prophet's prediction.

12. Berodach-baladan] Isaiah 39:1 has the more correct form 'Merodach-baladan.' This prince was a Chaldean who twice made himself master of Babylon and was twice expelled from it by the Assyrians. In 2 Chronicles 32:31 the motive of his embassy is said to have been a wish to enquire into the unusual occurrence described in 2 Chronicles 32:11 but it is probable that he likewise sought to obtain Hezekiah's aid against the Assyrians.

13. The house of his armour] Probably the house of the forest of Lebanon; cp. 1 Kings 10:17; Isaiah 22:3.

14. Then came Isaiah] Isaiah opposed all political entanglements as involving reliance upon material resources instead of confidence in the Lord. Hezekiah had still to learn how powerless was his own strength or that of foreign allies to save him in the hour of his need.

17. Into Babylon] The prophet probably regarded Babylon as a province of Assyria, not as an independent power; and it was to Babylon that an Assyrian king carried Manasseh the son of Hezekiah (according to 2 Chronicles 33:11).

19. Good is the word] Hezekiah showed the same submissiveness as Eli had manifested on a similar occasion (1 Samuel 3:18).

20. The rest of the acts] Among other acts related in 2 Chronicles 29-31 are the purification of the Temple (desecrated by Ahaz), the celebration of a solemn passover, and the arrangement of the priestly courses. A pool, and a conduit] The 'pool' is probably the pool of Siloam, which was fed by a conduit from the spring of Gihon: cp. 2 Chronicles 32:30. The 'conduit' was perhaps at first a surface aqueduct, which Hezekiah replaced by a tunnel to secure the supply of water from being interrupted. Such a tunnel has been found, and an inscription describing its construction.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 20:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/2-kings-20.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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