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Saturday, June 15th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 20

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary


2 Kings 18-20. The Reign of Hezekiah.— These three chapters give an account of the reign of the best king of Judah, and a parallel but somewhat less full account is found in Isaiah 36-39. There is another account in 2 Chronicles 29 f. The annalistic tablets, etc., of the Assyrian kings give us more information about Hezekiah than about any other king. They confirm the good impression given in the Bible; but the chronology, if we follow them, has to be completely modified. To understand the history contained in 2 Kings 18-20 the following facts and dates should be borne in mind: ( a) Samaria fell in the reign of Sargon, in 722 B.C. ( b) Merodachbaladan ( 2 Kings 20:12) established himself as king in Babylon (721), and held his own against Sargon till 710. ( c) Sargon’ s army overran Judah about 711 ( Isaiah 20:1). ( d) Sargon died 706 and his son Sennacherib invaded Judah 701. ( e) Sennacherib died 681. Consequently (i.) the illness of Hezekiah and the mission of Merodach-baladan took place before 711, so that 2 Kings 20 really comes earlier than 2 Kings 18:13; (ii.) Sennacherib’ s invasion was near the end of the reign of Hezekiah; and (iii.), despite 2 Kings 19:37, Sennacherib lived nearly twenty years after the loss of his army. See further, p. 59.

Verses 1-11

2 Kings 20:1-11 . Sickness of Hezekiah.— This is related in the parallel passage, Isaiah 38, in a much abbreviated form, save that it adds the prayer of Hezekiah after his recovery. Isaiah 38 omits 2 Kings 20:4 (Isaiah being recalled “ afore he was gone out of the middle court” ( mg.) of the palace, 2 Kings 20:5 b (promising that Hezekiah shall go up to the Temple on the third day), 2 Kings 20:8 (Hezekiah’ s request for a sign), 2 Kings 20:9-11 a (the alternative sign, Hezekiah’ s choice, and Isaiah’ s crying to Yahweh).

11. the dial of Ahaz: Heb. “ the steps” ( mg.) . Probably the shadow on certain steps indicated the hours of the day. Sundials were used in Babylonia, and Ahaz seems ( 2 Kings 16:10-16) to have been interested in what he saw when away from Jerusalem, and anxious to introduce curious and artistic novelties (see also 2 Kings 23:12). [Hezekiah regards the going forward of the shadow as a trifle since it simply accelerated the motion in the direction in which it was already travelling; for it to go backward was hard, because it reversed the natural, inevitable direction.— A. S. P.]

Verses 12-21

2 Kings 20:12-21 . The Embassy of Merodach-baladan.— The correct name of this king ( mg.) is preserved in the parallel passage, Isaiah 39. The sickness of Hezekiah and the embassy for which his recovery was an excuse must have taken place before the events in chs. 18f. (see above).

2 Kings 20:13 . Hezekiah’ s display of his treasures and armour was evidently intended to impress the king of Babylon with his readiness to enter upon a concerted rebellion against Assyria. This must have been before the spoliation of the Temple to pay the tribute to Assyria ( 2 Kings 18:16).

2 Kings 20:17 . Isaiah, as we see from his prophecies, was consistently opposed to any intrigues with foreign nations to throw off the yoke of Assyria. The inscriptions show that Hezekiah was exceedingly active in concerting rebellions to free himself and his nation from the oppressor. The prophet here fore-tells the Babylonian Captivity, which took place after the fall of Nineveh. Babylon at this time was not the head of a mighty empire, but had been seized by Merodach-baladan, who was afterwards expelled by the Assyrian conqueror.

2 Kings 20:20 . the pool: perhaps the remarkable canal connecting the Temple Hill with Siloam, a great engineering feat celebrated in the Siloam inscription ( 2 Chronicles 32:30, Sir_48:17 ).

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 2 Kings 20". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/2-kings-20.html. 1919.
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