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Bible Commentaries
2 Chronicles 32

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary

Verse 4

2 Chronicles 32:4. The brook that ran through the midst of the land As a plentiful fountain was very necessary, in that country, at the places, where they were wont to rendezvous; so the want of water must have been very terrible in any after-encampments, while they pursued the war, and especially when they had to stay any time in such a place. The thought, therefore, of Hezekiah, here proposed to his princes, of stopping all the fountains, and the brook which ran through the midst of the land, was at this critical juncture very natural. But it may be thought to be a proof of the great simplicity of antiquity to entertain such a design, and the more so if he was able to effect it. How could fountains and a brook be so stopped, as totally to be concealed? How easy was it for so mighty an army as the Assyrian to sink a multitude of wells? But, odd as this contrivance may seem, it was actually made use of at the same place many centuries after the time of Hezekiah, and greatly perplexed an European army, and that too assembled from various warlike countries. Previous to the siege of Jerusalem by the Croises in 1099, its inhabitants, having had advice of their coming, stopped up the mouths of their fountains and cisterns for five or six miles round the city, that, oppressed with thirst, they might be obliged to desist from their design of besieging it. This management, we are told, occasioned infinite trouble afterwards to the Christian army, the inhabitants in the meantime not only having plenty of rain water, but enjoying the benefit also of the springs without the town, their waters being conveyed by aqueducts into two very large basons within it. These precautions, indeed, did not hinder the Croises from succeeding at last; but then their army was distressed with thirst in the most terrible manner; though it had the assistance of some of the Christian inhabitants of Beth-lehem and Tekoa, who, being in the army, conducted the people to fountains four or five miles distant; for the nearer neighbourhood of Jerusalem was a very dry and unwatered soil, having scarcely any brooks, fountains, or pits of fresh water; and all those they filled up with dust, and by other means, as much as they could, and either broke down the cisterns of rain water, or hid them. All this shews the impracticability of an army's supplying itself with water by sinking of wells, springs being rare there, and the soil, on the contrary, extremely dry. It shews also, how easily such wells as have a supply of water may be concealed, which are what the term here מעינות mangianoth rendered fountains frequently means, and what Hezekiah must mean, since there was no fountain to form any brook in the near neighbourhood of Jerusalem, except that of Siloam, which, I presume, is the brook that Jeremiah speaks of, and which, in the time of the Croisades, was not, it should seem, attempted to be stopped up. What the cause of that was, we are not told; but it seems that the waters of some springs without the city were conveyed into Jerusalem at that time; and that Solomon, in his reign, had attempted to do the like, as to part of the water of the springs of Beth-lehem, and effected it. See Maundrell's Travels, p. 89. It was no wonder, then, that Hezekiah should think of introducing the waters of Siloam in like manner into the city, in order at once to deprive the besiegers of its waters, and to benefit the inhabitants of Jerusalem by them. Probably it was done in the same manner that Solomon brought the waters of Beth-lehem thither; namely, by collecting the water of the spring or springs into a subterraneous reservoir, and from thence, by a concealed aqueduct, conveying them into Jerusalem; with this difference, that Solomon took only part of the Beth-lehem water, leaving the rest to flow into those celebrated pools which remain to this day; whereas Hezekiah turned all the water of Siloam into the city, absolutely stopping up the outlet into the pool, and filling it up with earth, that no trace of it might be seen by the Assyrians: which seems, indeed, to be the meaning of the sacred writer in the 30th verse, where the original may as well be rendered, Hezekiah stopped the upper going-out of the waters of Gihon, and directed them underneath to the west of the city of David; and so Pagninus and Arius Montanus understand the passage. He stopped up the outlet of the waters of Gihon into the open air, by which they were wont to pass into the pool of Siloam, and became a brook; and by some subterraneous contrivance directed the waters to the west side of Jerusalem. See Observations, p. 337.

Verse 5

2 Chronicles 32:5. Raised it up to the towers And he also added towers to it. Houbigant.

Verse 24

2 Chronicles 32:24. And he spake unto him And he was entreated of him. See the 13th verse of the next chapter.

Verse 27

2 Chronicles 32:27. And for shields Houbigant here reads precious things, instead of shields.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, We might have expected that all would be peace and safety after these good things that Hezekiah had done; but behold a dreadful storm arises. We may be in the way of duty, and yet exposed to severe sufferings. It was happy that Hezekiah was not interrupted before he had well proceeded in his work; and now, having God's blessing, he is better prepared to meet his violent foe.

1. Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, invades his country with an army which threatened to swallow him up. His father had lately subdued Israel, and he hoped to find Judah as easy a prey.
2. Hezekiah, who perceived his design against Jerusalem, not having forces to meet him in the field, prepares wisely for the siege that he expected, by endeavouring to cut off all supplies of water from the besiegers, strengthening the city with new fortifications, and providing abundance of military weapons. Note; When danger threatens, it is prudent to prepare for it. We must trust God above all means, but never tempt him in the neglect of them.

3. The good thing assembles the people, and, while he marshals them under proper officers, encourages their hearts, and comforts them, that they may not think of surrender, but bravely stand in the evil day. The danger was great, and required boldness and courage; yet they need not be dismayed at this mighty and numerous host. Angelic legions, if needful, more numerous, should protect them; and, above all, God was with them, in power almighty, in faithfulness unchangeable; and therefore they might confidently expect the victory over their enemies. Note; (1.) Strong faith silences fear. (2.) No foes can stand before him who is the captain of our salvation; who, having already vanquished for us sin, death, and hell, will make us more than conquerors over them.

2nd, The account of this siege we had before, more at large, 2 Kings 18:0; 2 Kings 19:0; 2 Kings 19:0. The substance is here shortly summed up, of Sennacherib's blasphemy, Hezekiah's prayer, and God's gracious interposition to save him. It may teach us, (1.) The enmity of the natural heart against God and his people. (2.) The great enemy of souls especially labours to discourage us; knowing, that till our faith is shaken we cannot be moved. (3.) Railing and abuse are poor arguments; and sinners will find, that shortly their own tongues shall fall upon themselves. (4.) Prayer, in every distress, is the way to the door of hope. (5.) God covers the proud with confusion, and turns against themselves the sword which they draw upon others.

3rdly, Such a wonderful deliverance alarmed the neigh-hour-nations, and they with presents courted his favour who had God so evidently for his friend. God thus protected them from every enemy, and guided and guarded them as a shepherd does his flock. How happy, how honourable, how safe the soul, which dwells thus under the shadow of the Almighty!

4thly, Hezekiah's reign concludes gloriously, notwithstanding the fall which is here recorded.
1. Hezekiah's sickness and recovery, more largely treated of before, are here scarcely mentioned. But,

2. His sin and recovery have several particulars more than in 2 Kings 20:0. [l.] The embassy of the king of Babylon was intended not so much to congratulate him on his recovery or his victory, as to inquire into the wonder of the sun's going back at the prophet's word. [2.] He did not suitably improve his mercies; but, instead of being humbled before God, grew proud on the instances of his favour, and the honour and respect paid him by the neighbouring nations. Note; (1.) Though we can never repay the obligations that we owe to God, he expects at least the tribute of a grateful heart. (2.) Pride is the busy sin: even God's gifts and graces may afford a handle for self-complacence. We had need ever pray that God would clothe us with humility. [3.] His sin provoked the divine displeasure. Pride in God's people is especially offensive to him. [4.] His humiliation, in which the people joined him, prevented the immediate execution of the threatened judgments. Note; (1.) Heart-sins must be repented of, or they will destroy us. (2.) When God gives a spirit of humility, it is a proof of his reconciliation.

3. Hezekiah's days ended prosperously. His riches and treasures were greatly increased. The supply of the city with water from the stream of Gihon, is remarked among his noble works, many other of which, as well as a farther account of his goodness, are written in the books of Isaiah and Kings. Death at last removed him to a better crown; and the people, afflicted with the loss of so great and good a king, shewed him every distinguished honour, by laying him in the noblest sepulchre of his fathers, burning spices, and lamenting him with no feigned grief. Note; They who have lived reverenced and respected will in death be justly lamented.

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 32". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/2-chronicles-32.html. 1801-1803.
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