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2 Kings 18:2. Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign— In chap. 2Ki 16:2 it is recorded, that Ahaz was but twenty years old when he began to reign, and that he reigned sixteen years before he died, so that he lived in the whole six and thirty years. Now his son Hezekiah is said to be five and twenty years old when he began to reign, and consequently he must have been born when his father exceeded not twelve years of age. Houbigant observes, that in the parallel place, 2Ch 28:1 the Syriac, Arabic, and LXX read, Ahaz was twenty-five years old when he began to reign.
2 Kings 18:4. He removed the high places, &c.— It was a great demonstration of Hezekiah's sincere piety and zeal towards God, that he began so soon to reform the corruption of religion, and did not stay till he had established himself in his throne. He might, however, think that the surest way so to establish himself, was, to establish the true worship of God; though he could not but foresee that he ran a great hazard in attempting the abolition of idolatry, which had been confirmed by so many years prescription. See 2 Chronicles 29 : &c. The reason why Hezekiah destroyed the brazen serpent, we are told, was because the children of Israel burned incense to it: not that we are to suppose, that all along, from the days of Moses, this brazen serpent was made an object of religious worship. This is what neither David, nor Solomon in the beginning of his reign, would have allowed of; nor can we think but that Asa or Jehoshaphat, when they rooted out idolatry, would have made an end of this, had they perceived that the people at that time either paid worship or burned incense to it. The commencement of this superstition, therefore, must be of later date; probably from the time that Ahab's family, by being allied to the crown of Judah by marriage, introduced all kinds of idolatry. One false inducement to the worship of this image, might be a mistake of the words of Moses, Numbers 21:8. Whosoever looketh upon it shall live, whence they might think, by its mediation to obtain a blessing. However, we may imagine, that their burning incense, or any other perfumes before it, was designed only in honour of the true God, by whose direction Moses made it: but then, in process of their superstition, they either worshipped the God of Israel under that image, or, what is worse, substituted a heathen god in his room, and worshipped the brazen serpent as his image; which they might the more easily be induced to do, because the practice of some neighbouring nations was, to worship their gods under the form of a serpent. Upon this account Hezekiah wisely chose, rather to lose this memorial of God's wonderful mercy, than to suffer it any longer to be abused to idolatry; and therefore he brake it in pieces, that is, as the Talmudists express it, "He ground it to powder, and then scattered it in the air, that there might not be the least remains of it." And yet, notwithstanding all the care which he took to destroy it, Sigonius, in his history of Italy, tells us, that in the church of St. Ambrose in Milan, they shew a brazen serpent intire, which they pretend to be the very same with that erected by Moses in the wilderness; though it must be owned, that among their learned men there are some who acknowledge the cheat, and disclaim it. See Le Clerc, and Prid. Connect. A. 726. Parkhurst observes, that the name Nehushtan, נהשׁתן, seems a compound of נחשׁ nichesh, to divine, and תן ten, a serpent, and so denotes the divining spirit; and therefore, he thinks the passage should be rendered: Hezekiah brake the serpent of brass which Moses made, because even to those days the children of Israel were burning incense to it, and called it Nehushtan. So the Targum renders the latter part of the verse, and they were calling it Nehushtan. This implies, that the children of Israel had so far perverted the use of this eminent type of Christ, as to apply to it for magical purposes, as the heathens did to their sacred serpents, or serpentine images; and that therefore Hezekiah brake it. Houbigant translates in the same manner.
2 Kings 18:5. After him was none like him, &c.— This same commendation is given to Josiah, chap. 2Ki 23:25 so that it must relate to some particular virtue wherein Hezekiah stood distinguished from the rest of the kings of Judah; and that this was his trusting in the Lord God of Israel, as it is in the beginning of the verse, and not in the help of any foreign forces, as all the other kings, even the most renowned for their piety, are known to have done in some measure. See Calmet.
REFLECTIONS.—Though Israel was gone into captivity, Judah yet remained, and in a state of great prosperity, under the pious Hezekiah.
1. He copied after the best of his progenitors, though the son of the worst; and was, like David in heart and temper, devoted to God's worship and service: nor did he, as some before him, begin well and end ill, but persevered to the last in constant dependance upon God, and unshaken fidelity to him under all his trials: so that in this, neither before nor after him was any like him of the kings of Judah. Note; (1.) God, in the darkest times, can raise up in his church the most burning and shining lights; let not his people therefore despair. (2.) The more obstacles are in the way, the more does the grace of God appear great and glorious in overcoming them. (3.) Perseverance in the truth, is the crown of fidelity.
2. His zeal for God's glory immediately appeared on his accession to the throne. He applied no palliatives to the deep and prevailing idolatry, but laid the axe to the root of the tree. Undismayed through fear of oppo-sition; he not only destroyed the groves and images, but also removed the high places, which had so long been abused, and which the most pious of his predecessors connived at. Note; (1.) They need not fear, who boldly trust on God in the path of duty. (2.) No length of custom can consecrate an evil practice. (3.) If our parents have dishonoured God, it is our honour to be unlike them.
3. God blessed him in all his undertakings. Having delivered the nation from the yoke of idolatry, he bravely threw off the yoke of the king of Assyria's usurped dominion, and recovered from the hand of the Philistines the cities that his father had lost, 2 Chronicles 28:18. Note; Fidelity in God's service, will be ever accompanied with his blessing.
2 Kings 18:13. Now in the fourteenth year, &c.— As what remains of this chapter, together with the contents of the 19th and 20th, are found in the book of the prophet Isaiah, and with some additional circumstances, we shall defer our comment upon them till we come to that place.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Kings 18". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany