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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
2 Chronicles 32

 

 

Introduction

XXXII.

THE INVASION OF SENNACHERIB—HEZEKIAH’S RECOVERY FROM DEADLY SICKNESS—His PRIDE AND WEALTH—His RECEPTION OF THE EMBASSY FROM BABYLON—END OF THE REIGN.

The narrative is once more parallel to that of Kings (2 Kings 18:13 to 2 Kings 20:21), which is repeated in the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 36-39.).


Verse 1

(1) After these things, and the establishment thereof.—Rather, After these matters, and this faithfulness (2 Chronicles 31:20). For the date, see Note on 2 Kings 18:13.

Sennacherib.—So the Vulg. The LXX. gives σενναχηριμ or είμ; Herodotus, σαναχάριβος; Josephus, σενναχήριβος. The Hebrew is Sanchçrib. The real name as given by the Assyrian monuments is Sin-ahi-iriba, or erba (“Sin,” i.e.,the moon-god,”multiplied brothers”).

And thought to win them for himself.—Literally, and said to himself that he would break them open (2 Chronicles 21:17), or and commanded to break them open for himself. Kings states that he fulfilled his purpose; he “came up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them.” Sennacherib himself boasts as follows: “And Hazakiyahu of the country of the Jews who had not submitted to my yoke, forty-six strong cities of his, fortresses, and the small cities of their neighbourhood, which were without number . . . I approached, I took.” The chronicler’s object is to relate the mighty deliverance of Hezekiah. Hence he omits such details as would weaken the impression he desires to produce. For the same reason nothing is said here of Hezekiah’s submission and payment of tribute (2 Kings 18:14-16); and perhaps for the further reason (as suggested by Keil) that “these negotiations had no influence on the after-course and issue of the war,” but not because (as Thenius alleges) the chronicler was unwilling to mention Hezekiah’s (forced) sacrilege. They are omitted also in Isaiah, where the account is in other respects abridged as compared with Kings.


Verses 1-23

(1-23) Invasion and Divine overthrow of Sennacherib. ( Comp. 2 Kings 18:13 to 2 Kings 19:37. ) The Assyrian monarch’s own record of the campaign may be read on his great hexagonal prism of terra-cotta, preserved in the British Museum, containing an inscription in 487 lines of cuneiform writing, which is lithographed in the Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, III. 38, 39, and printed in G. Smith’s History of Sennacherib.


Verse 2

(2) And that he was purposed to fight.—Literally, and his face was for the war. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 20:3; Luke 9:53.)

To stop.—To close in with masonry, so as to conceal. (But comp. 2 Kings 3:19; 2 Kings 3:25.) LXX., ἐμφράξαι τά ὕδατα.

They did help him.—By “gathering much people together” (2 Chronicles 32:4).


Verses 2-8

PREPARATIONS FOR THE DEFENCE (2 Chronicles 32:2-8).

This section is peculiar to the Chronicles. Its contents are “perfectly credible” (Thenius), and are borne out by Isaiah 22:8-11, and 2 Kings 20:20, and by the inscription of Sennacherib.


Verse 4

(4) The fountains.—Ma‘yânôth. 2 Chronicles 32:3 has “springs” (‘ayânôth).

The brook.—Nàchal. “The wâdy.” The Gihon is meant, a watercourse in the Valley of Hinnom, supplied with water by the springs which Hezekiah closed in and diverted. See Note on 2 Chronicles 32:30, and 2 Kings 20:20; comp. Sirach 48:17, “Hezekiah fortified his city, and brought into their midst the Gog” (LXX., Vat.), or, “into its midst water” (LXX., Alex.).

That ran.—That was flowing over (Isaiah 30:28; Isaiah 8:8). The overflow of the springs formed the stream.

The kings of Assyria.—A vague rhetorical plural, as in 2 Chronicles 28:16.


Verse 5

(5) Also he strengthened himself.—And he took courage. (2 Chronicles 15:8; 2 Chronicles 18:1.)

Built up all the wall that was broken.—Isaiah 22:9-10, where “many breaches” are spoken of, and it is said that “houses were pulled down to fortify the wall.”

Raised it up to the towers.—Heb., and went up on the towers, or, and caused to go up on the towers. A different division of the Hebrew letters will give the sense “and raised upon it towers,” which is probably correct. Thenius prefers to keep the ordinary reading, which he understands to mean, and heightened the towers; alleging that 2 Chronicles 26:9 shows that the wall was already furnished with towers. The LXX. has simply καί πύργους, “and towers;” the Vulgate, “et exstruxit turres desuper.” The Syriac renders, “Let them show themselves strong, and make another wall opposite the wall, and let them stop up the ditch which David made.”

Another wall without.—Literally, and on the outside of the wall (he built) another—viz., the wall enclosing the lower city or Aera, which he “built,” that is, repaired and strengthened. (See Isaiah 22:11, “the two walls.”)

Repaired.—2 Chronicles 11:11.

Millo.—The rampart. See Note on 1 Chronicles 11:8.

In the city of David.—To wit, the city of David.

Darts.—Shelah. See Note on 2 Chronicles 23:10, and comp. 2 Chronicles 26:14. The Hebrew is “missiles in abundance, and shields.”


Verse 6

(6) Captains of war.—Literally, captains of battles: a phrase found here only.

In the street.—Into the open space. In like manner, “the open space that was before the water gate” is mentioned in Nehemiah 8:1; Nehemiah 8:16.

The gate.—Which gate we are not told; but the

LXX. reads, τὴν πλατεῖαν τῆς πύλης τῆς φάραγγος, “the broad place of the gate of the ravine.”

Spake comfortably to them.—Encouraged them. 2 Chronicles 30:22. (See margin.)


Verse 7

(7) Be not afraid . . . the multitude.—Comp. 2 Chronicles 20:15, “Be not afraid nor dismayed for this great multitude.” “Be strong and courageous, be not afraid” occurs in Deuteronomy 31:6 (Heb.).

For there be more with us than with him.—A reminiscence of 2 Kings 6:16, “Be not thou afraid; for more are they that are with us than they that are with them.” It is not necessary to suppose that the chronicler professes to give the exact words of Hezekiah’s exhortation, but only the substance and spirit of it.


Verse 8

(8) With him is an arm of flesh.—A reminiscence of Jeremiah 17:5, “the man that maketh flesh his arm.” (Comp. Isaiah 31:3 : “Their horses are flesh and not spirit.”) His power is human, ours superhuman.

To fight our battles.—1 Samuel 8:20, “a king . . . to fight our battles.”

Rested themselves upon.—Leaned on—e.g., a staff, Isaiah 36:6; and so trusted in, Isaiah 48:2.


Verse 9

(9) After this did Sennacherib . . . send.—See 2 Kings 18:17.

But he himself . . . Lachish.—The verb nilkham, “fought,” has perhaps fallen out. The great inscription of Sennacherib says nothing about the siege of Lachish; but a bas-relief, now in the British Museum, represents him seated on his throne receiving a file of captives who issue from the gate of a city. Over the king’s head is written “Sennacherib, the king of multitudes, the king of the land of Asshur, on a raised throne sate, and caused the spoils of the city of Lachish (Lakisu) to pass before him.”

His power.—Literally, his dominion or realm. Comp. Jeremiah 34:1, “all the kingdoms of the lands of the dominion of his hand.” The word hêl, “army,” may have fallen out.


Verses 9-21

(9-21) A brief summary of what is related in 2 Kings 18:17 to 2Ki_19:37.


Verse 10

(10) Whereon . . . the siege.—Rather, Whereon are ye trusting, and why are ye sitting in distress in Jerusalem? The phrase sitting or abiding in distress occurs in Jeremiah 10:17. (Comp. also Deuteronomy 28:53.)

2 Chronicles 32:10-15 reproduce in brief the leading ideas of 2 Kings 18:19-25; 2 Kings 18:28-35.


Verse 11

(11) Doth not Hezekiah persuade you.—Is not Hezekiah inciting you (2 Kings 18:32; 1 Chronicles 21:1). The, verb recurs in 2 Chronicles 32:15.

To give over yourselves . . . by thirst.—In order to deliver you to dying . . . by thirst. A softening down of the coarse expression recorded in 2 Kings 18:27. Esarhaddon in the record of his Egyptian campaign uses similar language: “siege-works against him I constructed, and food and water, the life of their souls, I cut off.”


Verse 12

(12) The same Hezekiah.—Hezekiah himself.

Ye shall worship . . . upon it.—Literally, before one altar shall ye worship, and thereon shall ye burn incense. Comp. 2 Kings 18:22 : “Is it not He whose high places and altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, Before this altar shall ye worship in Jerusalem?” The chronicler is even more emphatic than Kings in asserting the sole validity of the Brazen Altar in the Temple Court.


Verse 13

(13) What I and my fathers have done.—The Assyrian kings are fond of such references to their predecessors.

The people of other lands.—Rather, the peoples of the countries.

Those lands.—The countries.

Their lands.—Their country. The chronicler omits the names of the vanquished states given in 2 Kings 18:34, some of which had probably become obscure by lapse of time.

Assurbanipal relates that in his eighth campaign he carried off the gods of Elam with the other spoils: “His gods, his goddesses, his furniture, his goods, people small and great, I carried off to Assyria;” and he adds the names of nineteen of these deities.


Verse 14

(14) Who was there among all the gods.—Comp. 2 Kings 18:35.

Utterly destroyed.—Put under the ban, devoted to destruction.


Verse 15

(15) Neither yet believe him.—And believe him not.

How much less . . . deliver you.—Rather, much less will your gods deliver you; or, much more will your gods not deliver you. (Comp. Isaiah 37:10-11.) According to ancient conceptions the gods of strong nations were strong gods. Now the Assyrians had vanquished stronger nations than Judah, and therefore, as they ignorantly supposed, stronger deities than the God of Judah. (Some Hebrew MSS. and all the versions have the verb in the singular, which gives the sense, “much less will your god deliver you.”)


Verse 16

(16) Spake yet more.—See the parallel passages in Kings and Isaiah. The verse shows that the chronicler does not profess to give a full report.

Against the Lord God.—Literally, against Jehovah the (true) God. “Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? . . . the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 37:23).


Verse 17

(17) He wrote also letters to rail on.—And letters wrote he to reproach (Isaiah 37:23). Sennacherib wrote to Hezekiah demanding submission, after the failure of the mission of the Tartan and his companions (2 Kings 19:8-14). If, therefore, the chronicler had been careful about the strictly chronological sequence of events, this verse would have followed rather than preceded 18, 19. As it is, the remark is thrown in here as a parenthesis, in the middle of the account of the behaviour of the Assyrian envoys. Something must be allowed for the necessities of abbreviation, which the author has studied in the entire narrative.

As the gods . . . have not delivered.—Literally, Like the gods of the nations of the countries, which have not delivered. (Comp. 2 Kings 19:10; 2 Kings 19:12 : “Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee,” &c.) “Have the gods of the nations delivered them,” &c.


Verse 18

(18) They cried . . . on the wall.—LXX. and Vulg., “he cried” (i.e., the Rab-sak). (See 2 Kings 18:26-28.)

To affright them, and to trouble (terrify, scare) them; that they might take the city.—This is the chronicler’s own statement of the purpose of the words of the Rab-sak reported in 2 Kings 18:28-35.

To affright.—The pi‘el of yârç, “to fear,” occurs besides, thrice in Nehemiah 6:9; Nehemiah 6:14; Nehemiah 6:19; and once in 2 Samuel 14:15.


Verse 19

(19) They spake against.—Or, spake of Literally, unto. (Comp. Psalms 2:7; Psalms 3:2.)

People.—Peoples.

The work.—The versions have “works.” Instead of repeating the offers which the Assyrian envoys made to the people of Jerusalem, to induce them to submit, the chronicler dwells on that blasphemy against the God of Israel which was the cause of the Assyrian overthrow.

The work of the hands of man.—A reminiscence of 2 Kings 19:18 : “And they put their gods into the fire; for they were no gods, but the work of human hands, wood and stone” (part of Hezekiah’s prayer).


Verse 20

(20) For this cause.—Upon this (‘al zôth). The reference is to the Assyrian blasphemies against Jehovah, which Hezekiah urged in his prayer for deliverance (2 Kings 19:16), and to which Isaiah referred in his prophetic answer (Isaiah 37:23). The prayer of Hezekiah is given in 2 Kings 19:15-19; Isaiah 37:15-20. The parallel passages do not say that Isaiah also prayed; but 2 Kings 19:2-4, and Isaiah 37:2-4, report that the king sent a deputation of nobles to the prophet, requesting his prayers “for the remnant that were left.”

Cried to heaven.—Comp. 2 Chronicles 30:27; 1 Samuel 5:12.


Verse 21

(21) And the Lord sent an angel.—See 2 Kings 19:35, seq.; Isaiah 37:36, seq. Hitzig thinks that Psalms 46-48. were composed by Isaiah to commemorate this great natural miracle, an hypothesis which is borne out by the similarity observable between the language and ideas of these psalms and those of Isaiah’s prophecies.

Which cut off . . . valour.—Literally, and he hid (i.e., caused to disappear, destroyed; the Greek άφανίζειν;, Exodus 23:23) every valiant warrior, and leader and captain. (Comp. Psalms 76:5, a psalm which in the LXX. bears the title ᾠδὴ πρὸς τὸν ἀσσύριον.) Kings gives the number of those who perished as 185,000.

With shame of face.—Psalms 44:15, “The shame of my face hath covered me.” (Ezra 9:7.)

And when he was come . . . with the sword.—And he went into the house of his god, and certain of his own offspring there felled him with the sword. 2 Kings 19:37 gives the names of the parricides—viz., Adrammelech and Sharezer; and the name of the god—viz., Nisroch—which is probably corrupt. It is added that the assassins “escaped into the land of Ararat.” The chronicler as usual suppresses unfamiliar foreign’names.

They that came forth.—Some of the issue (yâçî, a verbal noun only found here). (For the whole phrase, comp. Genesis 15:4; 2 Samuel 7:12.)


Verse 22

(22) Thus.—And. The whole verse is the chronicler’s own comment on the preceding narrative. (Comp. 2 Kings 18:7.)

The hand of all.—Some MSS. appropriately add his enemies, an expression which may have fallen out of the text.

And guided them on every side (round about).—A somewhat unusual phrase. The conjecture, “and gave them rest round about (wayyânah Iâhem for wayyĕnahâlçm), appears correct. (See 2 Chronicles 14:6; 2 Chronicles 15:15; 2 Chronicles 20:30; 1 Chronicles 22:18.) So the LXX. and Vulg.


Verse 23

(23) Brought.—Were bringing =used to bring.

Gifts.—An offering (minchah), or tribute.

Presents to Hezekiah.—Among those who brought such were the envoys of Meroaach Baladan, king of Babylon (2 Kings 20:12). Probably also the neighbouring peoples—e.g., the Philistines—relieved from the pressure of the Assyrian invaders, would thus evince their gratitude to the God of Israel. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 18:11.)

So that he was magnified . . . nations.—Literally, and he was lifted up, to the eyes of all the nations.


Verse 24

HEZEKIAH’S SICKNESS—HIS PRIDE AND WEALTH—THE BABYLONIAN EMBASSY—CONCLUSION (2 Chronicles 32:24-33).

(24) In those days Hezekiah was sick.—This single verse epitomises 2 Kings 20:1-11; Isaiah 38

To the death.—Unto dying.

He spake unto him.—By the mouth of Isaiah.

And he gave him a sign.—The recession of the shadow on the dial of Ahaz. Literally, and a sign He gave him; the emphatic word first.


Verse 25

(25) But Hezekiah.—For Hezekiah’s pride, see the account of his reception of the Babylonian embassy (2 Kings 20:12-19; Isaiah 39).

According to the benefit done unto him.—In his illness he promised to walk humbly all his days (Isaiah 38:15); but when he had recovered, “his heart was lifted up.”

Therefore there was wrath upon him.—And wrath fell upon him. The token of this was seen in Isaiah’s prophetic rebuke, foretelling that the royal treasures would be carried away to Babylon, and that some of Hezekiah’s sons would be eunuchs in the palace there (2 Kings 20:16-18; Isaiah 39:5-7).

And upon Judah and Jerusalem.—Which shared in the king’s guilty pride and confidence in the arm of flesh. (Comp. 1 Chronicles 27:24; 2 Chronicles 19:10.)


Verse 26

(26) Notwithstanding.—And.

The wrath of the Lord . . . days of Hezekiah.—(Comp. Isaiah 39:8.) On hearing Isaiah’s prophecy of coming evil, Hezekiah humbly acquiesced in the will of Jehovah. “Then said Hezekiah unto Isaiah. Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken. And he said, There shall be peace and permanence in my own days” (2 Kings 20:19).


Verse 27

(27) Had.—Or, got.

Riches and honour (or, wealth; kâbôd).—Comp. 1 Chronicles 29:28 (David); 2 Chronicles 1:12 (Solomon), 2 Chronicles 17:5; 2 Chronicles 18:1 (Jehoshaphat).

He made himself treasuries.—Comp. 2 Kings 20:13; Isaiah 39:2, where silver and gold and spices are mentioned among the treasures of Hezekiah.

Shields.—Comp. Solomon’s golden, and Rehoboam’s brazen, shields. No doubt the term is here used to suggest arms in general. Kings and Isaiah mention “his armoury.”

All manner of pleasant jewels.—Literally, all vessels of desire. (Comp. Nahum 2:10, “wealth of every vessel of desire.”) Costly implements and utensils of all sorts are included.


Verse 28

(28) storehouses also.—And magazines (2 Chronicles 8:4; Exodus 1:11).

Stalls.—‘Urâwôth (Syriac, ‘ûrâwôthô). (Comp. ûryôth, 2 Chronicles 9:25; and ‘ăwçrôth, “cotes,” a word only found here.)

All manner of beasts.—Every kind of cattle.

Cotes for flocks.—Heb., and flocks for folds. The words appear to have been transposed by some copyist. (Comp. LXX., καὶ μάνδρας εἰς τὰ ποίμνια, “and folds for the flocks.” So Vulg., “et caulas pecorum.” Syriac omits.)


Verse 29

(29) Moreover he provided him cities.—And he made him watch-towers. The word rendered “cities” (ârîm) appears in this connection to mean watch-towers j or forts for the protection of the flocks and herds. Isaiah 1:8 (“a besieged city “); 2 Kings 17:9; 2 Chronicles 26:10.

Had given.—Grave.

Substance.—Wealth in kind, especially cattle (2 Chronicles 31:3).


Verse 30

(30) This same Hezekiah also stopped.—And he, Hezekiah, had closed in the upper outlet of the waters of Gihon. (See 2 Chronicles 32:3.)

And brought . . . city of David.—And conducted them underground to the west of the city of David. (Comp. 2 Kings 20:20, where also this great work of Hezekiah is referred to in concluding his history: “He made the pool, and the aqueduct, and brought the waters into the city.”) The chronicler gives further details.

Brought it straight.—Directed or conducted them (wayyashshĕrçm; the form in the Hebrew margin is a peculiar contraction of the ordinary piel form which appears in the text).

And Hezekiah prospered.—2 Chronicles 31:21; 1 Chronicles 29:23.


Verse 31

(31) Howbeit.—Literally, And thus; that is, and when things were thus prosperous with him. In the midst of Hezekiah’s prosperity, God left him for a moment to himself, by way of putting him to the proof.

The princes of Babylon.—The same vague plural which we have already noticed in 2 Chronicles 28:16; 2 Chronicles 30:6, and 2 Chronicles 32:4, supra. The king who “sent letters and a present “to Hezekiah, with congratulations on his recovery from Sickness, and overtures of alliance against the common enemy, Assyria, was Merodach-baladan (Maruduk-abla-iddina, “Merodach gave a son”). (See the account in 2 Kings 20:12, seq.; Isaiah 39)

Who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder (Hebrew, the sign, as in 2 Chronicles 32:24).—This is not mentioned in the parallel passage of Kings and Isaiah. But such an inquiry is quite in harmony with what we know of the Babylonians from their own monuments. Babylon was the home of the arts of divination and augury, from observation of all kinds of signs and portents in every department of nature. Moreover, the sign given to Hezekiah would have a special interest for the astrologers and astronomers of the Babylonian temple-towers.

God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.—“To try,” the same word as “to tempt” (Isaiah 7:12; Psalms 95:9; and often).

That he might know—i.e., in order to bring out and make manifest the latent possibilities of Hezekiah’s character. The Searcher of hearts knew the issue beforehand; but we can only conceive of His dealings with man by means of human analogies, such as that of the chemist, who subjects an imperfectly known substance to various combinations of circumstances, by way of ascertaining its nature and affinities. The remark is peculiar to the chronicler.


Verse 32

(32) Now the rest of the acts.—See 2 Kings 20:20-21.

And his goodness.—His good deeds. So 2 Chronicles 35:26 (Josiah); Nehemiah 13:14.

And in the book of the kings.—Omit and. The “vision of Isaiah” is referred to as a section of the “book of the kings of Judah and Israel.” (See Introduction.) Kings l.c. says, “are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the Kings of Judah?”


Verse 33

(33) And they buried him . . . honour at his death.—Statements peculiar to the chronicler. They go to prove an authority besides the canonical books of Kings.

The chiefest.—Rather, the ascent—i.e., the way up to the royal tombs. (Comp. 2 Chronicles 20:16.) “The sons of David” are the kings of the house of David. Hezekiah may have chosen a favourite spot for his burial-place; but, as his successors Manasseh, Amon, and Josiah likewise, were not laid in the tombs of the kings, it would appear that the old royal sepulchres were full.

Did him honour at his death.—The phrase, “did him honour” (‘asû kâbôd lô) occurs here only. (Comp. “give honour to,” 1 Samuel 6:5; Psalms 29:1.) Probably a great burning of spices was made in honour of Hezekiah as of Asa. (See 2 Chronicles 16:14; 2 Chronicles 21:19.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 32:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-chronicles-32.html. 1905.

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