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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 20

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.

In those days. — In the fourteenth year of Hezekiah’s reign, as appeareth by comparing 2 Kings 20:6 , and 2 Kings 18:13 ; then, when Hannibal ad portas, the Assyrian was in the land. Crosses commonly come thick and many together, James 1:2 and all for the best. Romans 8:28

Was Hezekiah sick unto death. — Sick of the plague, as it is thought, and may be probably gathered from 2 Kings 20:7 , and had the tokens likely; so that in human apprehension he was a dead man, neither could he recover but by a miracle. A good man may have the plague, and die of it too - as did Oecolampadius, Franeiscus Junius, Chimedontius, Mr Stafford, Mr Greenham, Mr John Blackwell (my most loving friend), and Mr Jeremy Burroughs, if I mistake not - notwithstanding that patent for preservation, Psalms 91:1 . All such promises being conditional, as was also this following sentence; and so Hezekiah understood it; else he would not have prayed, as he did, that it might not be accomplished.

For thou shalt die, and not live. — That is, In the order of second causes to their effects, thy disease is deadly, for it hath seized upon the vitals: dispositio corporis tui ad mortem ordinatur. When the prophets foretold things ut futura in seipsis, then they always happened: but when they foretold them only as in their causes, they might happen or not, as 1 Kings 21:20 John 3:4 , and here. That is an uncharitable gloss that some Rabbis set upon these words, Thou shalt die here, and not live in the world to come. But they have an edge against him, yet without all cause, as intent only to his own preservation for his time in peace, 2 Kings 20:19 and therefore say they, the prophet Isaiah out of a dislike of that his answer, turneth to the people, Isaiah 40:1 ; Isaiah 39:8 saying, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people," …

Verse 2

Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, saying,

Then he turned his face to the wall. — Not so much out of fear of death, - though nature at death will have a bout with the best; and to die actively is not every man’s happiness; quis enim vult mori? prorsus nemo, saith one; death in itself is nature’s slaughter-man, hell’s harbinger, …, - φοβερωτατον ο θανατος, περας γαρ . - Arist., Ethic., lib. iii. cap. 6. nor at all because he was uncertain whither he should go when he died, as Jerome would have it: but Isaiah’s message of death was so harsh and heavy to him, because he had then died without issue, as appeareth in that Manasseh was but twelve years old at his father’s death.

Verse 3

I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done [that which is] good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.

I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now.Obsecro Domine, memento quaeso. Words full of incitation. The first word Ana - affectum significat et impetum - is very affectionate and forcible.

How I have walked before thee.Indesinenter ambulavi, I have constantly walked before thee, and not by fits, or for a few turns. One interpreter noteth that the word here used signifieth, I have made myself to walk; implying his own dulness, sluggishness, averseness to that duty.

In truth, and with a perfect heart,i.e., In sincerity and integrity. Uprightness hath boldness; Subeo bona (per gratiam Dei) conscientia tribunal Christi, said dying Oeeolampadius, I go before Christ’s tribunal with a good conscience. This is my comfort, said Mr Deering, that I have faithfully served my Lord God, and with an upright conscience. I am neither ashamed to live, nor afraid to die, said another saint. Let him fear death who is passing from this death to the second death. Mori timeat qui ad secundam mortem de hac morte transibit. - Cyprian.

And have done that which is good. — For matter, manner, and motive. I have known, said a worthy doctor, Church’s Carriage, by Dr Preston. now with God, some godly men, whose comfort upon their deathbeds hath been, not from the inward acts of their mind - which apart considered, might be subject to misapprehensions, - but from the course of obedience in their lives issuing from there.

And Hezekiah wept sore. — Heb., With a great weeping. See on 2 Kings 20:2 . Now if the message of death made this good man weep sore, and the approach of it was mar mar, bitter bitterness, Isaiah 38:17 what marvel if such a one as Saul swoon quite away at it, and fall to the earth in his full length, as in 1 Samuel 28:20 ? Death is dreadful in his best looks, as is the lion, though his teeth and claws be beaten out; or as the hawk to the partridge; or as a serpent’s skin, though but stuffed with straw. To the wicked, death is a trap door to hell: they may say of it, as once Elisha did, 2 Kings 6:32 Behold, the murderer is at hand; and is not the sound of his master’s feet - the devil - behind him? hence their loath to depart, … But why should a saint be fond of life, or afraid of death, since to him it is but as his father’s horse, to carry him to his father’s house, or as Joseph’s chariot rattling with its wheels, to carry old Jacob to his son Joseph, so him to Christ?

Verse 4

And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying,

Before Isaiah was gone out into the middle court. — So the Chetib. Or, Into the middle of the city; so the Cheri, or margin, hath it. It is probable that the king’s court was like a city. The Turk’s seraglio or palace is in circuit more than two miles. Before Isaiah was gone out into the court within the porch, 1 Kings 7:8 he was sent again with this countermand. Oh, the power of prayer!

Flectitur iratus voce rogante Deus.

Verse 5

Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD.

The captain of my people,Antecessor. See on 1 Samuel 9:16 .

The God of David. — To whom I promised a continued succession on the throne of Judah; and will therefore lengthen thy life, and give thee a son.

To the house of the Lord. — Hezekiah’s both duty and disposition, as a right son of David, whose song was, "I shall yet praise him in his holy temple, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."

Verse 6

And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.

And I will add unto thy days fifteen years. — Thus God’s grant to Hezekiah’s prayer was not more speedy than bountiful. We are wont to reckon seven years for the life of a man, and now, behold, more than two lives hath God added to the age of Hezekiah. This also he did for him, notwithstanding those flaws in his prayer, those distrustful I said’s, Isaiah 38:10-11 , … and albeit he foresaw that Hezekiah would "not render again according to the benefit done unto him." 2 Chronicles 32:25

And I will deliver thee and this city. — Thus God is better to his people than their prayers; he doth for them "exceeding abundantly above all that they ask or think." Ephesians 3:20 Piscator here hence concludeth that Hezekiah began to be sick presently after the promise made of sending away the Assyrian out of the land. 2 Kings 19:32

And for my servant David’s sake,i.e., For my promise’s sake made to David. See on 2 Kings 20:5 .

Verse 7

And Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs. And they took and laid [it] on the boil, and he recovered.

Take a lump of figs. — This poultice was fit enough for the carbuncle, but yet could never have cured him so soon without a miracle. See on 2 Kings 20:1 .

And he recovered.Non ex facultate ficuum, sed ex Dei verbo, saith Junius: By a supernatural virtue added to the figs, which else could not have wrought the cure.

Verse 8

And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What [shall be] the sign that the LORD will heal me, and that I shall go up into the house of the LORD the third day?

And Hezekiah said.Dixerat autem, He had said; sc., before the plaster was laid upon the boil.

What shall be the sign? … — That he should have a sign, he doubted, as his father Ahaz had, though unworthy. Isaiah 7:10-14 See on Judges 6:17 ; Judges 6:37 .

And that I shall go up into the house of the Lord the third day. — He maketh the utmost of the promise, as had done before him Jacob, Genesis 32:1-32 Noah, Genesis 9:11 and David. 1 Chronicles 17:23-26 This is to suck and be satisfied. Isaiah 66:11

Verse 9

And Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou have of the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing that he hath spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees?

Shall the shadow go forward ten degrees? — This was in God Almighty stupenda dignatio, a wonderful condescension, thus to gratify a mortal man - stooping so low to his meanness. If Hezekiah were - as the Rabbis say he was - studious of the mathematics, how suitable was this sign! These degrees were half-hours, or quarters, or haply less. The shadow was that of the style of a sundial. Neither did the shadow only go backward, but the sun itself ran retrograde, Isaiah 38:8 whereof the Rabbis give this foolish reason, that when wicked Ahaz was buried, the sun hastened faster than ordinary to his setting, that there might be no time for funeral rites, to recompense which loss of time then, the day was thus prolonged now. Those ancients do better, who, allegorising the text, tell us that sick Hezekiah signifieth all mankind as sick of sin; but this is an infallible sign of the saint’s recovery, that the sun hath gone ten degrees back in the dial. The Sun of righteousness Jesus Christ, hath for our sakes made himself lower by many degrees in the earth. "My Father is greater than I": there he is gone back ten degrees below his Father. "Thou hast made him lower than the angels": there he is gone back ten degrees below the angels. "I am a worm, and no man": there he has gone back ten degrees below men. "A live dog is better than a dead lion": there he has gone back ten degrees below worms: for he was not counted so good as a live worm, but was buried in the earth, as a dead lion, to be meat for the worms, if it had been possible for "his holy One to see corruption."

Verse 10

And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees: nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees.

It is a light thing, — viz., In comparison of the sun’s retrogradation, wherein both the substance of the thing and the manner were wholly miraculous, whether it were done in an instant, or in the set course of time, or its ordinary continual motion. See on 2 Kings 20:9 .

Verse 11

And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the LORD: and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz.

And he brought the shadow. — Together with the body of the sun. This was the prodigy that the Babylonish ambassadors had observed and came to inquire of. 2 Chronicles 32:31 The sun - which was their god - had honoured Hezekiah; therefore they were sent to honour him too with a visit and a present. And should not we therefore honour the saints whom Christ hath so honoured? Abulens. See on 2 Kings 20:9 .

Ten degrees backward. — Ten degrees, that is, five hours, as the most hold; so that that day was seventeen hours long, not twenty-two, as Junius will have it.

In the dial of Ahaz. — A famous dial, haply mural, and visible to Hezekiah out of his bedchamber.

Verse 12

At that time Berodachbaladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present unto Hezekiah: for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick.

At that time Berodach-baladan. — Baladan, sine domino. Baladan signifieth a lordless or masterless man, saith Pagnine. This Berodach - or Merodach Isaiah 39:1 - Baladan is thought to be the first Babylonian monarch, after that he had first rebelled against Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, and then afterwards slain him. Hence we read no more in Scripture of the kings of Assyria, but of Babylon.

Sent letters with a present. — A rich and royal one, no doubt, according to the state of him who sent it, but whether comparable to that of King Ferdinand, sent to Solyman the Turk, I cannot tell - viz., a wonderful globe of silver of most rare and curious device, daily expressing the hourly passing of the time and the motions of the planets, the change and full of the moon, …, ever moving by certain wheels and weights curiously conveyed within the same, and exactly keeping due time and motion. Turk. Hist., 713. Such a present would have been most welcome to good Hezekiah, especially if he were a mathematician, as the Rabbis make him, telling us that he restored the year by the intercalation of a day every third year, in the month Adar, which answereth to our February.

Verse 13

And Hezekiah hearkened unto them, and shewed them all the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and [all] the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not.

And Hezekiah hearkened unto them.Ad quos intentus, Ezechiah? He was taken and tickled with their company and courtship, gratifying them in that they came about, and proud of the honour they had done him. 2 Chronicles 32:25 ; 2 Chronicles 32:31 As there be white teeth in the blackest blackamoor, so there is a black bill in the whitest swan - a rotten kernel or two in the fairest pomegranate, …

And showed them the house of his precious things.Superbe simul et stulte. This was proudly and foolishly done; for now gold thirsty Babylon knew where to have her draught, where to fetch a fat and fit booty. By the imperial law Leg. l. of the Romans, the exporting of wine, oil, and other delicious liquors was flatly forbidden, and this reason given, Ne Barbare gustu illecti promptius invaderent fines Romanorum, Lest the barbarians tasting thereof, should be the rather drawn thereby to invade the Roman empire, as the Gauls did when once they had tasted of the grapes that grew in Italy. Plutarch, in Camillo. Of the Chinese it is reported that they suffer not any foreigner to come into the heart of their kingdom, but only to trade with them on the seacoasts. It was doubtless impoliticly done at best by Hezekiah, to show these strangers his wealth and treasure: yea, it was sinfully done of him - had his storehouse been as rich as the earth - to be lifted up with those heavy metals. Boter., in Catalog. Imper.

The silver and the gold. — Which he had partly by the spoil of Sennacherib’s camp, and partly by the many gifts brought by all nations unto him, as the world’s wonder for the sun’s going backward for his sake.

And the spices. — Galen Lib. i. Antidot. writeth that in his time cinnamon was very rare and hard to be found, except in the storehouses of great princes.

Verse 14

Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country, [even] from Babylon.

What said these men? … — Very wisely doth the prophet fetch about the business, that he may prick the bladder, and let out the pride, that now lay festering in Hezekiah’s heart.

Even from Babylon. — Which is said to be six hundred and eighty miles from Jerusalem.

Verse 15

And he said, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All [the things] that [are] in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them.

All the things, … — See on 2 Kings 20:13 .

Verse 16

And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD.

Hear the word of the Lord. — Divine truths must be spoken, however they be taken.

Verse 17

Behold, the days come, that all that [is] in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD.

That all that is in thine house. — So that thou hast made a fair hand of all, forfeited all by thine ostentation, ambition, and creature confidence.

Verse 18

And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.

And of thy sons that shall issue from thee. — A heavy judgment on so good a man, on so light an offence, as some would think. But these spiritual lusts, as pride, carnal confidence, self-flattery, presumption, …, in the saints, are great provocations, as lying more up in the heart of the country. Let us be wise by others’ woes; setting a memorandum on God’s punishments, and marking his spits with our stars.

Verse 19

Then said Hezekiah unto Isaiah, Good [is] the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. And he said, [Is it] not [good], if peace and truth be in my days?

Good is the word of the Lord, …,i.e., It is just and equal; and blessed be God that it is no worse. Quintilian saith of Vespasian, that he was patientissimus veri, one that could endure to be freely and faithfully dealt with. Theodosius honoured Ambrose, and our Henry VIII father Latimer, the more for their plain dealing. So did David the prophet Nathan, and Hezekiah the prophet Isaiah, not raging at his so sharp a message, but patiently receiving it; judging himself, and justifying God. Good men are neither waspish nor sullen, when they are either chid or beaten by "the father of their spirits"; but patiently hold their backs to the stripes of a displeased mercy.

And he said, Is it not good? … — Is it not a mercy that I may escape that which my posterity shall suffer? He thankfully acknowledgeth a mixture, and that the judgment now denounced was not "an evil, an only evil," as Ezekiel 7:5 .

Verse 20

And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made a pool, and a conduit, and brought water into the city, [are] they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

How he made a pool and a conduit. — Of these, see 2 Kings 18:17 Nehemiah 3:15 2 Chronicles 32:4 ; 2 Chronicles 32:30 .

Verse 21

And Hezekiah slept with his fathers: and Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.

And Hezekiah slept, … — He was most honourably buried, 2 Chronicles 32:33 placed above all the house of David, as he exceeded them all in virtue.

And Manasseh his son reigned in his stead. — A degenerate plant of so noble a vine. Heroum filii noxae. Sic Caligula fuit optimi viri Germanici filius; sic Antonini, Commodus ille bipedum nequissimus.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 20". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/2-kings-20.html. 1865-1868.
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