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the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 37

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-38

The Prophecies of Isaiah to Hezekiah Inserted between prophecies of judgment (Isaiah 1-35) and restoration (Isaiah 40-66) is the story of two major events in the life and ministry of Hezekiah king of Judah. Isaiah 36:1 to Isaiah 39:8 tells the story of Hezekiah’s confrontation with Sennacherib, who tried to conquer Jerusalem, and God’s miraculous deliverance. This passage of Scripture is almost the same in content to 2 Kings 18:13 to 2 Kings 20:19. Thus, the same author probably penned both two passages and one served as a copy of the other.

Note the proposed outline:

Sennacherib Besieges Jerusalem Isaiah 36:1 to Isaiah 37:38

Hezekiah’s Illness Isaiah 38:1-22

The Visit of the Babylonians Isaiah 39:1-8

If we compare the narrative material of Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 17:1 - 2 Kings 9:37), there is a similarity in structure in that they both bear witness to the testimony of the prophets of the Lord. This becomes evident by the fact that both passages end with a testimony of the fulfillment of the words of the prophets Elijah and Isaiah. For example, the story of Sennacherib’s siege of Jerusalem ends with the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of Isaiah 37:7 (Isaiah 37:36-38). The story of Hezekiah’s illness ends by reflecting upon the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 38:21-22). The story of the visit of the Babylonians closes by noting the fulfillment of prophecy (Isaiah 39:8).

Isaiah 36:1 Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, that Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defenced cities of Judah, and took them.

Isaiah 36:1 Comments - Hezekiah reigned twenty-five years as king of Judah ( 726 - 701 B.C. ). His fourteenth year of rule would have been around 712 B.C. The Assyrians destroyed northern Israel in 722 B.C., so this event had already taken place ten years earlier. Thus, the Assyrians saw Jerusalem as a stronghold of the Jews and wanted to conquer it. He first overcame the remaining fortified cities of Judah before approaching the capital of Jerusalem.

Isaiah 36:2 And the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field.

Isaiah 36:2 Word Study on “Rabshakeh” Many scholars see the Hebrew word “Rabshakeh” ( רַב־שָׁקֵה ) as a title rather than a proper name. Adam Clark quotes Calmet as saying Rabshakeh means, “the chief butler or cup-bearer.” [52] Strong calls it the “chief butler.” F. F. Bruce interprets Rabshakeh as “the chief noble.” [53] The view of this word being a title is seen in a number of modern translations, although the meaning of this title differs.

[52] Edward Robinson, ed., Calmet’s Dictionary of the Holy Bible, as Published by the Late Charles Taylor, with the Fragments Incorporated (Boston: Crocker and Brewster, 1832), 774; Adam Clarke, Isaiah, in Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v. 3.1 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc., 1993-2000), notes on Isaiah 36:2.

[53] F. F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1963), 49.

AmpBible, “And the king of Assyria sent the Rabshakeh [the military official] from Lachish [the Judean fortress commanding the road from Egypt] to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem with a great army. And he stood by the canal of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field.”

BBE, “And the king of Assyria sent the Rab-shakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem to King Hezekiah with a strong force, and he took up his position by the stream of the higher pool, by the highway of the washerman's.”

NIV, “Then the king of Assyria sent his field commander with a large army from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. When the commander stopped at the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman’s Field.”

Isaiah 36:11 Then said Eliakim and Shebna and Joah unto Rabshakeh, Speak, I pray thee, unto thy servants in the Syrian language; for we understand it: and speak not to us in the Jews' language, in the ears of the people that are on the wall.

Isaiah 36:11 Comments - F. F. Bruce tells us that Aramaic became the language of diplomatic intercourse in the eight century B.C., when the Assyrian Empire adopted it as such. The Assyrians usually spoke Aramaic when they communicated by mouth or by letter to their subjects and tributaries in Western Asia. In this verse, the Jews ask this delegation to speak in their normal diplomatic language of Aramaic, to which the Assyrians refused, because they wanted to instill fear into the hearts of the common people by speaking in the Hebrew language. [54]

[54] F. F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1963), 49-50.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Isaiah 37". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/isaiah-37.html. 2013.
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