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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 20

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-11

6. Hezekiah’s illness and recovery 20:1-11

"In those days" (2 Kings 20:1) refers to the year Sennacherib threatened Jerusalem (701 B.C.) since Hezekiah died 15 years later in 686 B.C. His response to his illness was proper. He sought help from Yahweh primarily (2 Kings 20:2). God had promised long life to the godly under the Mosaic Covenant, and that promise was the basis of Hezekiah’s appeal and God’s answer. Fig poultices were a common treatment in the ancient world as a remedy for boils. [Note: Cf. Keil, pp. 462-63; Wiseman, p. 287.] Hezekiah’s physicians apparently did not prescribe this treatment.

"Despite his recovery, Hezekiah asks for a sign that he will in fact go back to the temple in three days. Rather than an indication of unbelief, his request should be viewed against the background of Ahaz’s refusal of a sign in Isaiah 7:12. Isaiah gladly offers Hezekiah a choice of signs . . ." [Note: House, p. 373.]

God’s sign guaranteed what He had promised. This was evidently a local miracle as were some others involving sunlight (cf. Exodus 10:21-23; Joshua 10:12-13). [Note: See John Davis and John Whitcomb, A History of Israel, p. 464.]

Verses 12-19

7. The prophecy of Babylonian captivity 20:12-19

Merodach-baladan ruled as king of Babylon for two terms, 721-710 and 703-702 B.C. The event recorded in these verses evidently took place in 702 B.C. [Note: John Martin, "Isaiah," in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, p. 1090.] Hezekiah appears to have let his visitors know the extent of Judah’s financial strength because he favored Merodach-baladan and Chaldean affiliation. In pride, as a result of his healing, he evidently wished to impress them with his wealth and power (cf. 2 Chronicles 32:25; 2 Chronicles 32:31). Isaiah prophesied that Babylon would take Judah into captivity one day (2 Kings 20:17-18). While Hezekiah would have been sorry to hear this prophecy, he evidently accepted it as the Lord’s will for Judah and was glad it would not happen in his lifetime (2 Kings 20:19). Other interpretations are that he made a smug, self-serving comment, or that he took the message as a prayer that the disaster would be delayed as long as possible. [Note: Peter R. Ackroyd, "An Interpretation of the Babylonian Exile: A Study of 2 Kings 20, Isaiah 38-39," Scottish Journal of Theology 27:3 (August 1974):338-39.] The first interpretation seems most consistent with Hezekiah’s character. Babylon’s future invasion came primarily as a result of Judah’s sins. Hezekiah’s unwise exposure of Judah’s wealth on this occasion was not the major cause.

Verses 20-21

8. Hezekiah’s death 20:20-21

Hezekiah’s 1,777-foot long tunnel was a noteworthy accomplishment. It brought water from the Gihon spring outside the city wall, under the wall of Jerusalem, and into the city, specifically to the pool of Siloam. This made Jerusalem much more self-sufficient in times of invasion than it would have been otherwise. [Note: See Kathleen Kenyon, Jerusalem, pp. 69-71.]

Hezekiah’s reign was one of the best in Judah’s history because of the king’s humility and dependence on God, evidences of which the writer of Kings provided in abundance. Judah declined from then on, however, because most of the subsequent kings were wicked. Judah fell to the Babylonians exactly 100 years after Hezekiah died. The prophet Isaiah ministered during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (Isaiah 1:1). Micah ministered during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (Micah 1:1). Both eighth-century prophets ministered in the Southern Kingdom.

"Perhaps Hezekiah’s only serious flaw is his inability to prepare Manasseh, his successor, to be like himself. On the other hand, how can anyone guarantee the quality of their children’s life choices?" [Note: House, p. 376.]

"Between the death of Hezekiah and the final fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians there lay precisely a century (687-587). Seldom has a nation experienced so many dramatically sudden reversals of fortune in so relatively short a time. Through the first half of the period a vassal of Assyria, Judah then knew in rapid succession periods of independence and of subjection, first to Egypt then to Babylon, before finally destroying herself in futile rebellion against the latter. So quickly did these phases follow one another that it was possible for one man, as Jeremiah did, to have witnessed them all." [Note: Bright, p. 288.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Kings 20". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/2-kings-20.html. 2012.
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