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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Isaiah 37

Verse 1

And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD.

Sackcloth - (note, Isaiah 20:2.) House of the Lord - the sure resort of God's people in distress (Psalms 73:16-17; Psalms 77:13).

Verse 2

And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests covered with sackcloth, unto Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz.

Unto Isaiah - implying the importance of the prophet's position at the time; the chief officers of the court are deputed to wait on him (cf. 2 Kings 22:12-14).

Verse 3

And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth.

A day ... of rebuke - i:e., the Lord's rebuke for His people's sins (Hosea 5:9).

Blasphemy - blasphemous railing of Rabshakeh.

The children ... not strength to bring forth - a proverbial expression for, We are in the most extreme danger, and have no power to avert it (cf. note, Hosea 13:13).

Verse 4

It may be the LORD thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God, and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left.

Hear - take cognizance of them (2 Samuel 16:12).

Reprove - will punish him for the words, etc. (Psalms 50:21).

Remnant that is left - the two tribes of the kingdom of Judah, Israel being already captive. Isaiah is entreated to act as intercessor with God.

Verse 5

So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 6

And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say unto your master, Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.

Servants of the king of Assyria - literally, the youths, boys, mere lads, implying disparagement, The Hebrew ( na`ªreey (H5288)) is different from that for "servants" ( `abdeey (H5650)) in Isaiah 37:5.

Have blasphemed me - (Isaiah 36:20.) The blasphemy is not merely against you; it is against ME. This is a pledge that I must vindicate my honour against them, and save you.

Verse 7

Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.

Blast - or else, 'I will put a spirit (Isaiah 28:6; 1 Kings 22:23) into him; i:e., so influence his judgment that when he hears the report (Isaiah 37:9, concerning Tirhakah), he shall return (Gesenius); the "rumour" also of the destruction of his army at Jerusalem, reaching Sennacherib, while he was in the southwest of Palestine on the borders of Egypt, led him to retreat. The English version seems to me more spirited and more in accordance with the parallelism: "a blast" answering to "a rumour" in the parallel clause. The rumour was like a deadly blast from the Lord, blighting his hopes. Compare as to the anti type, the willful king, Daniel 11:44, "tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him."

By the sword - (Isaiah 37:38: cf. Nahum 1:9-13.)

Verse 8

So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish.

So Rabshakek returned - to the camp of his master.

Libnah - meaning whiteness, the Blanchegarde of the Crusaders (Stanley) Eusebius and Jerome place it more south, in the district of Eleutheropolis, ten miles northwest of Lachish, which Sennacherib had captured (note, Isaiah 36:2). Libnah was in Judah, and given to the priests (1 Chronicles 6:54; 1 Chronicles 6:57).

Verse 9

And he heard say concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, He is come forth to make war with thee. And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying,

Tirhakah (see notes, Isaiah 17:12-14; Isaiah 18:1-6) - written in the hieroglyphics 'TEHARKA:' Taracus in Manetho. He succeeded Shebok II, and ruled over Egypt and Ethiopia, holding his court in the latter. Egypt was in part governed By three successive Ethiopian monarchs, for 40 or 50 years: Sabacho, Sevechus and Tirhakah. Sevechus retired from Lower Egypt, owing to the resistance of the priests, whereupon Sethos, a prince-priest obtained supreme power, with Tanis (Zoan, in Scripture), or Memphis, as his capital. The Ethiopians retained Upper Egypt under Tirhakah, with Thebes as the capital. Tirhakah's fame as a conqueror rivaled that of Sesostris. His deeds are recorded in a temple at Medineet Haboo, but the jealousy of the Memphites (Wilkinson, 1: 141, 'Ancient Egypt') concealed his assistance, and attributed the deliverance of Sethos to an army of mice (Herodotus, 2: 141: a mouse being the emblem of destruction, 1 Samuel 6:18). He and one at least of the Pharaoh's of Lower Egypt (Sethos, the king-priest of Pthah) were Hezekiah's allies against Assyria. The tidings of his approach made Sennacherib the more anxious to get possession of Jerusalem before his arrival. It was through fear of him that Sennacherib raised the seige of Pelusium; and was now on his way homeward when he "dealt treacherously" with Hezekiah by attacking the stronghold of Lachish (Isaiah 33:1). This was the commencement of that second invasion respecting which the full details are given here (Isaiah 36:1-22; Isaiah 37:1-38; 2 Kings 18:1-37; 2 Kings 19:1-37; 2 Chronicles 32:9-10). That there were two invasions is clear from the details of the first given in the Assyrian monuments (Farrar in Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible'). Compare Rawlinson, Herodotus, 1: 477.

Sent - 2 Kings 19:9 more fully expresses Sennacherib's eagerness by adding "again."

Verse 10

Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God, in whom thou trustest, deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.

Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah. He tries to influence Hezekiah himself, as Rabshakeh had addressed the people.

Let not thy God ... deceive thee - (cf. Numbers 23:19.)

Verse 11

Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by destroying them utterly; and shalt thou be delivered?

All lands - (Isaiah 14:17.) He does not dare to enumerate Egypt in the list.

Verse 12

Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed, as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Telassar?

Gozan - in Mesopotamia, on the Chabour (2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 18:11). Gozan is the name of the district, Chabour of the river.

Haran - more to the west. Abraham removed to it from Ur (Genesis 11:31), the Carroe of the Romans.

Rezeph - further west, in Syria.

Eden - there is an ancient village, Adna, north of Bagdad. Some think Eden to be the name of a region (of Mesopotamia or its vicinity) in which was Paradise; Paradise was not Eden itself (Genesis 2:8, 'a garden in Eden).

Telassar - now Tel-afer, west of Mosul (Layard). Tel means a hill in Arabic and Assyrian names.

Verse 13

Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arphad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah?

Hena ... Ivah - in Babylonia. From Ava colonists had been brought to Samaria (2 Kings 17:24).

Verse 14

And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.

Spread it before the Lord - unrolled the scroll of writing. God 'knows our necessities before we ask Him,' but He delights in our unfolding them to Him with filial confidence. So Jehoshapat, 2 Chronicles 20:3; 2 Chronicles 20:11-13.

Verse 15

And Hezekiah prayed unto the LORD, saying,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 16

O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth.

O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest - the Shechinah, or fiery symbol of God's presence, dwelling in the temple with His people, is from Shachan, to dwell (Exodus 25:22; Psalms 80:1; Psalms 99:1).

(Between) the cherubim - derived by transposition from either a Hebrew root, 'raakab,' to ride; or rather, `baarak (H1288),' to bless. They were formed out of the same mass of pure gold as the mercyseat itself, (Exodus 25:19, margin.) The phrase, "dwellest" between the cherubim," arose from their position at each end of the mercy-seat, while the Shechinah, and the awful name, Yahweh (H3068), in written letters, were in the intervening space. They are so inseparably associated with the manifestation of God's glory, that whether the Lord is at rest or in motion, they always are mentioned with Him (Numbers 7:89; Psalms 18:10).

(1) They are first mentioned, Genesis 3:24, 'on the edge of' (as 'on the east,' may be translated) Eden. The Hebrew for "placed" is properly to 'place in a tabernacle,' which implies that this was a local tabernacle in which the symbols of God's presence were manifested suitably to the altered circumstances in which man, after the fall, came before God. It was here that Cain and Abel, and the patriarchs down to the flood, presented their offerings and it is called "the presence of the Lord" (Genesis 4:16). When those symbols were removed, at the close of that early patriarchal dispensation, small models of them were made for domestic use, called in Chaldee, Seraphim or Teraphim.

(2) The cherubim in the Mosaic tabernacle and Solomon's temple were the same in form as those at the outskirts of Eden: compound figures, combining the distinguishing properties of several creatures: the ox, chief among the tame and useful animals; the lion, chief among the wild ones; the eagle, chief among birds; and man, the head of all (the original headship of man over the animal kingdom, about to be restored in Jesus Christ, Psalms 8:4-8, is also implied in this combination). They are throughout Scripture represented as distinct from God; they could not be likenesses of Him, which He forbade in any shape.

(3) They are introduced in the third or Gospel dispensation (Revelation 4:6), as [ zooa (G2226)] living creatures (not "beasts," as the English version), not angels, but beings closely connected with the redeemed Church. So also in Ezekiel 1:1-28 and Ezekiel 10:1-22.

Thus, throughout the three dispensations, they seem to be symbols of those who in every age should officially stay and proclaim the manifold wisdom of God. They represent also the ruling powers by which God acts in the natural and the moral world.

Thou (art) the God, (even) thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth - `thou art He who alone art God of all the kingdoms;' whereas Sennacherib had classed Yahweh with the pagan gods. Hezekiah asserts the nothingness of the latter and the sole lordship of the former.

Verse 17

Incline thine ear, O LORD, and hear; open thine eyes, O LORD, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God.

Incline thine ear . . . open thine eyes - singular, plural. When we wish to hear a thing we lend one ear; when we wish to see a thing we open both eyes.

Verse 18

Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries,

Kings of Assyria have laid waste - conceding the truth of the Assyrian's allegation (Isaiah 36:18-20), that the gods of the pagan kingdoms had not delivered them out of his hand; but adding the reason, "for they were no gods of the pagan kingdoms had not delivered them out of his hand; but adding the reason, "for they were no gods."

Verse 19

And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.

Cast their gods into the fire. The policy of the Assyrians, in order to alienate the conquered peoples from their own countries, was both to deport them elsewhere and to destroy the tutelary idols of their nation, the strongest tie which bound them to their native land. The Roman policy was just the reverse: they admitted all the gods of the conquered countries into the Roman Pantheon.

Verse 20

Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD, even thou only.

O Lord our God, save us from his hand ... The strongest argument to plead before God in prayer the honour of God, which requires to be vindicated before the world by His interposition (Exodus 32:12-14; Psalms 83:18; Daniel 9:18-19).

Verse 21

Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent unto Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Whereas thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria:

Whereas thou hast prayed to me - i:e., hast not relied on thy own strength, but on me (cf. 2 Kings 19:20, "That which thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib, etc., I have heard;" Psalms 65:2,

Verse 22

This is the word which the LORD hath spoken concerning him; The virgin, the daughter of Zion, hath This is the word which the LORD hath spoken concerning him; The virgin, the daughter of Zion, hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee.

The virgin the daughter of Zion hath despised thee ... Transition to poetry: in parallelism.

Virgin ... daughter - honourable terms. "Virgin" implies that the city is as yet, inviolate. "Daughter" is an abstract collective feminine personification of the population, the child of the place denoted (note, Isaiah 23:10; Isaiah 1:8): Zion and her inhabitants.

Shaken her head at thee-in scorn (Psalms 21:7; Psalms 109:25; Matthew 27:39). With us to shake the head is a sign of denial or displeasure; but gestures have different meanings in different countries (Isaiah 58:9; Ezekiel 25:6; Zephaniah 2:15).

Verse 23

Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel.

Whom hast thou reproached? - Not an idol.

Verse 24

By thy servants hast thou reproached the Lord, and hast said, By the multitude of my chariots am I come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon; and I will cut down the tall cedars thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof: and I will enter into the height of his border, and the forest of his Carmel.

Hast thou ... said - virtually. Hast thou said within thyself.

Height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon - imagery from the Assyrian felling of trees in Lebanon (Isaiah 14:8; Isaiah 33:9); figurative for, 'I have carried my victorious army through the regions most difficult of access, to the most remote lands.'

Fir trees - not cypresses, as some translate. Pine foliage and cedars are still found on the northwest side of Lebanon (Stanley). The Chaldaic paraphrases, 'I will ascend to the stronghold of their cities, and moreover I will take the house of their sanctuary ("Lebanon"), and I will kill the fairest among their brave men' (answering to the tall cedars).

The height of his border - in 2 Kings 19:23, "the lodgings of his borders." Perhaps on the ascent to the top there was a place of repose or caravansera, which bounded the usual attempts of persons to ascend, (Barnes). Here, simply, 'its extreme height;' 'the height of his summit' (Vulgate).

The forest of his Carmel - or else, 'its thickest forest.' Carmel expresses thick luxuriance (note, Isaiah 10:18; Isaiah 29:17). The Chaldaic paraphrases, 'the multitude of their army.'

Verse 25

I have digged, and drunk water; and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of the besieged places.

I have digged, and drunk water. In 2 Kings 19:24, it is "strange waters." I have marched into foreign lands, where I had to dig wells for the supply of my armies; even the natural destitution of water there did not impede my march.

With the sole of my feet ... rivers of the besieged places - or else, 'the streams (artificial canals from the Nile) of Egypt' ( yª'oreey (H2975) Maatsowr (H4693), another form of Mitsrayim (H4714)). Sennacherib thus alludes to his recent expedition against Egypt. But he suppresses his forced retreat from Pelusium. "With the sole of my foot" expresses that as soon as his vast armies marched into a region, the streams were drunk up by them; or rather, that the rivers proved no obstruction to the onward march of his armies. So Isaiah 19:5-6, referring to Egypt, "the river ... brooks of defense shall ... be dried up." Horsley translates the Hebrew for "besieged places," rocks. But the Septuagint, Vulgate, Chaldaic, Arabic, and Syriac, all support in the main the English version.

Verse 26

Hast thou not heard long ago, how I have done it; and of ancient times, that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste defenced cities into ruinous heaps.

Reply of God to Sennacherib.

Hast thou not heard long ago, (how) I have done it? - join, rather, with "I have done it." Thou dost boast that it is all by thy counsel and might; but it is I who, long ago, have ordered it so (Isaiah 22:11); thou wast but the instrument in my hands (Isaiah 10:5; Isaiah 10:15). This was the reason why 'the inhabitants were of small power before thee' (Isaiah 37:27) - namely, that I ordered it so; yet thou art in my hands, and I know thy ways (Isaiah 37:28), and I will check thee (Isaiah 37:29).

(And) of ancient times, that I have formed it Connect also "(And) of ancient times, that I have formed it" - `I from ancient times have arranged ("formed") it.' Compare Isaiah 33:13; Isaiah 45:6; Isaiah 45:21; Isaiah 48:5.

Verse 27

Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded: they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the housetops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up.

Therefore - Not because of thy power, but because I made them unable to withstand thee.

(As) the grass - which easily withers (Isaiah 40:6; Psalms 37:2).

On the housetops - which, having little earth to nourish it, fades soonest (Psalms 129:6-8).

Corn blasted before it be grown up.

Verse 28

But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me.

I know thy abode - rather, thy sitting down (Psalms 139:2); Hebrew, Shibhteka.

Thy going out, and thy coming in. The expressions here describe a man's whole course of life (Deuteronomy 6:7; Deuteronomy 28:6; 1 Kings 3:7; Psalms 121:8). There is also a special reference to Sennacherib's first being at home, then going forth against Judah and Egypt.

(Thy rage against me) raging against Yahweh (Isaiah 37:4).

Verse 29

Because thy rage against me, and thy tumult, is come up into mine ears, therefore will I put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest.

Thy tumult - insolence. Properly the blustering insolence which tranquility or prosperity begets [ sha'ªnankaa (H7600), from shaa'an (H7599), to be tranquil; or shaa'ah, to be tumultuous].

Therefore will I put my hook in thy nose - like a wild beast led by a ring through the nose, he shall be forced back to his own country (cf. Job 41:1-2; Ezekiel 19:4; Ezekiel 29:4). Herein Sennacherib is a type of the last Antichrist, of whom the same is said (Ezekiel 38:4). In a bas-relief of Khorsabad, captives are led before the king by a cord attached to a hook, or ring, passing through the under lip, or the upper lip and nose.

Verse 30

And this shall be a sign unto thee, Ye shall eat this year such as groweth of itself; and the second year that which springeth of the same: and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof.

Addressed to Hezekiah.

This (shall be) a sign - a token which, when fulfilled would assure him of the truth of the whole prophecy as to the enemy's overthrow.

Ye shall eat (this) year ... The two years, in which they were sustained by the spontaneous growth of the earth, were (according to Rosenmuller) the two in which Judea had been already ravaged by Sennacherib (Isaiah 32:10).

Thus translate, 'Ye did eat (the first year) such as groweth of itself, and in the second year that which springeth of the same, but in this third year sow ye,' etc., for in this year the land shall be delivered from the foe. The fact that Sennacherib moved away his camp immediately after, so that the Jews would have nothing to prevent their sowing that year, in this view shows that the first two years refer to the past, not to the future. Others, referring the first two years to the future, get over the difficulty of Sennacherib's speedy departure, by supposing that year to have been the Sabbatical year and the second year the Jubilee: no indication of this appears in the context. The English version seems best. The invaders had destroyed the harvest of that year, and it was either too late to sow for the second year, or they had not enough seed grain to spare above food for sowing, so that year they must depend on the spontaneous growth of corn, the next year also on what of itself sprang from the same, then for the third year they should sow and reap. The fulfillment of this promise would be "a sign" or pledge that the Assyrian army was entirely withdrawn, and that henceforth they should have nothing to fear from that quarter.

Verse 31

And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward:

The remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah. Judah remained after the ten tribes were carried away: also those of Judah who should survive Sennacherib's invasion are meant.

Verse 32

For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 33

Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it.

He shall not come ... before it with shields. He did come near it, but was not allowed to conduct a proper siege.

Nor cast a bank against it - a mound to defend the assailants in attacking the walk. Sennacherib did hem it in with towers at the first invasion, as we know from the inscriptions, but not at the second invasion. Sir H. Rawlinson thus reads the inscription as to the former, 'Because Hezekiah, king of Judah, would not submit to my yoke, I came up against him, and by force of arms, and by the might of my power, I took 46 of his fenced cities, and of smaller towns scattered about I took a countless number. And I carried off as spoil 200,150 people. And Hezekiah himself I shut up in Jerusalem, his capital city, like a bird in a cage, building towers round the city to hem him in. Then upon this Hezekiah there fell the fear of the power of my arms, and he sent out to me the chiefs of Jerusalem, with 30 talents of gold and 800 talents of silver.'

Verse 34

By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD.

By the way that he came ... - (see Isaiah 37:29; Isaiah 37:37; Isaiah 29:5-8.)

Verse 35

For I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.

I will defend this city. Notwithstanding Hezekiah's measures of defense (2 Chronicles 32:3-5), Yahweh was its true defender.

For mine own sake - since Yahweh's name was blasphemed by Sennacherib (Isaiah 37:23).

For my servant David's sake - on account of His promise to David (Psalms 132:17-18), and to Messiah, the heir of David's throne (Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 11:1).

Verse 36

Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.

Then the angel of the Lord went forth ... Some attribute the destruction to the agency of the plague (note, Isaiah 33:24), which may have caused Hezekiah's sickness, narrated immediately after; but Isaiah 33:1; Isaiah 33:4, proves that the Jews spoiled the corpses, which they would not have dared to do, had there been on them infection of a plague. The secondary agency seems, from Isaiah 29:6; Isaiah 30:30, to have been a storm of hail, thunder and lightning (cf. Exodus 9:22-25). The simoom belongs rather to Africa and Arabia than Palestine, and ordinarily could not produce such a destructive effect. Some few of the army, as 2 Chronicles 32:21, seems to imply, survived and accompanied Sennacherib home. Herodotus (2: 141) gives an account confirming Scripture in so far as the sudden discomfiture of the Assyrian army is concerned. The Egyptian priests told him that Sennacherib was forced to retreat from Pelusium owing to a multitude of field-mice, sent by one of their gods, having gnawed the Assyrians' bowstrings and shield-straps. Compare the language (Isaiah 37:33), 'he shall not shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields,' which the Egyptians corrupted into their version of the story. Sennacherib was at the time with a part of his army, not at Jerusalem, but on the Egyptian frontier, southwest of Palestine. The sudden destruction of the host near Jerusalem, a considerable part of his whole army, as well as the advance of the Ethiopian Tirhakah, induced him to retreat, which the Egyptians accounted for in a way honouring to their own gods.

The mouse was the Egyptian emblem of destruction. The Greek Apollo was called Smin thian, from a Cretan word for a mouse as a tutelary god of agriculture, he was represented with one foot upon a mouse, since field mice hurt grain (cf. 1 Samuel 6:18). Farrer, however, thinks the repulse of Sennacherib from Pelusium was in the first invasion, and not in this second one, and was due to the advance of Tirhakah, the ally of Sethos and Hezekiah. Egyptian fable may, nevertheless, have drawn from the miraculous destruction of Sennacherib's host at Jerusalem in the second invasion the marvelous colouring which they gave to his repulse at Pelusium in the first invasion.

The two events may have become confused together in the accounts. The Assyrian inscriptions, of course suppress their own defeat, but nowhere boast of having taken Jerusalem; and the only reason to be given for Sennacherib not having, amidst his many subsequent expeditions recorded in the monuments, returned to Judah, is the terrible calamity he had sustained there which convinced him that Hezekiah was under the divine protection. Rawlinson says, In Sennacherib's account of his wars with Hezekiah, inscribed with cuneiform characters in the hall of the palace of Kouyunjik, built by him (140 feet long by 120 broad), wherein even the Jewish physiognomy of the captives is portrayed, there occurs a remarkable passage; after his mentioning his taking 200,000 captive Jews, he adds, 'Then I prayed unto God;' the only instance of an inscription wherein the name of GOD occurs without a pagan adjunct. The 46th Psalm probably commemorates Judah's deliverance. It occurred in one "night," according to 2 Kings 19:35, with which Isaiah's words, "when they arose early in the morning," etc., are in undesigned coincidence.

When they arose early behold, they (were) all dead corpses - "they ... they," the Jews, the Assyrians. G. Rawlinson thinks the destruction was not near Jerusalem, but at Libnah, on the borders of Egypt. His reason is the words, Sennacherib 'shall not come before this city with shield, nor cast a bank against it' (Isaiah 37:33). But Rabshakeh did come near it with "a great army" (Isaiah 36:2). However, Rabshakeh returned and perhaps with him the army (Isaiah 37:8), and found Sennacherab at Libnah. Thus "they ... they" will be respectively the surviving Assyrians with Sennacherib, and the smitten Assyrians.

Verse 37

So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.

Sennacherib ... dwelt in Nineveh - for about 18 or 20 years after his disaster, according to the inscriptions. The 22nd year of his reign has been found on them, and none subsequent. The canon of Ptolemy fixes his accession to 702 BC, and the accession of Esar-haddon to 680 BC - i:e., about 18 years after the second invasion in 698 BC The word "dwelt" is consistent with any indefinite length of time. Nineveh, so called from Ninus - i:e., Nimrod, its founder; his name means exceedingly impious rebel; he subverted the existing patriarchal order of society, by setting up a system of chieftainship founded on conquest: the hunting-field was his training school for war; he was of the race of Ham, and transgressed the limits marked by God (Genesis 10:8-11; Genesis 10:25), encroaching on Shem's potion; he abandoned Babel for a time, after the miraculous confusion of tongues, and went and founded Nineveh; he was, after death, worshipped as Orion the constellation (note, Job 9:9; Job 38:31).

Verse 38

And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Armenia: and Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.

Nisroch - Nisr, in Semitic, means eagle, the termination och, means great. The eagle-headed human figure in Assyrian sculptures is no doubt Nisroch, the same as Asshur, the chief Assyrian god, the corresponding goddess was Asheera, or Astarte: this means a 'grove,' or sacred tree, often found as the symbol of the heavenly hosts ( tsaabaa' (H6635)) in the sculptures, as Asshur, the Eponymus hero of Assyria (Genesis 10:11), answered to the sun, or Baal, Belus, the title of office, Lord. This explains "image of the grove" (2 Kings 21:7). The eagle was worshipped by the ancient Persians and Arabs. Moses of Chorene confirms the Scripture statement, that the two brother Sharezer and Ardumazanes (as he names him, instead of Adrammelech) fled to Armenia after assassinating Sennacherib, and adds, that their descendants afterward populated that part of the country (G. Rawlinson). The cuneiform inscriptions represent Armenia as an independent state generally hostile to Assyria; a confirmation of Isaiah's statement.

Esar-haddon. In Ezra 4:2 he is mentioned as having brought colonists into Samaria. He is also thought to have been the king who carried Manasseh captive to Babylon (2 Chronicles 33:11). He built the palace called the southwest palace of Nimroud, He boasts of his Nineveh palace in the inscriptions, that it was 'a building, such as the kings, his fathers, who went before him, had never made,' and that his temples, no fewer than 30, were 'shining with silver and gold.' He is the only Assyrian king who reigned in Babylon-13 years there, according to the canon of Ptolemy. The Nimroud southwestern palace was destroyed by fire, but his name and wars are recorded on the great bulls taken from the building. He obtained his building materials from the northwest palaces of ancient dynasty, ending in Pul.

Remarks: "The house of the Lord" is the resort of the saint in his "day of trouble." There, in communion with God and with his fellow- saints, he gets a glimpse of the purpose of God's afflictive dealings with him and with the Church. The intercessions of the righteous and of the ministers of God are another instrumentality for averting dangers which threaten to overwhelm us: and as Hezekiah applied to Isaiah, so we do well, when the enemy has already advanced far in his course, to enlist our pastors and fellow-believers in a concert of prayer "for the remnant that is left." If our cause be identified with God's cause, His honour is at stake to deliver us from the blasphemous enemy; and we can plead this in prayer, with the confident assurance of being delivered. The Lord can in a moment "send a blast upon" the foe, which shall utterly set aside his schemes of injury to the Lord's people.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 37". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.