Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Kings 20:1

In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, "Thus says the Lord , ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.'"
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Amoz;   Blessing;   Death;   Disease;   Faith;   Hezekiah;   Isaiah;   Prayer;   Rulers;   Thompson Chain Reference - Death;   Deaths Foretold;   Disease;   Health-Disease;   Hezekiah;   Isaiah;   Life-Death;   Man;   Readiness;   Readiness-Unreadiness;   Sickness;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Death, Natural;   Diseases;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Healing;   Hezekiah;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Heal, Health;   Miracle;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Amoz;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Gehazi;   Wills;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Prophecy, Prophets;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Death;   Isaiah, Book of;   Israel;   Text, Versions, and Languages of Ot;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Possession;   Tears;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Hezekiah;   Manasseh;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Hezekiah;   Smith Bible Dictionary - A'moz;   Hezeki'ah;   Wills;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Testament;   Urim and Thummim;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Kingdom of Judah;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Amoz;   Boil (1);   Order;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Set thine house in order - It appears from the text that he was smitten with such a disorder as must terminate in death, without the miraculous interposition of God: and he is now commanded to set his house in order, or to give charge concerning his house; to dispose of his affairs, or in other words, to make his will; because his death was at hand. "This sickness," says Jarchi, "took place three days before the defeat of Sennacherib." That it must have been before this defeat, is evident. Hezekiah reigned only twenty-nine years, 2 Kings 18:2. He had reigned fourteen years when the war with Sennacherib began, 2 Kings 18:13, and he reigned fifteen years after this sickness, 2 Kings 20:6; therefore 14+15=29, the term of his reign. Nothing can be clearer than this, that Hezekiah had reigned fourteen years before this time; and that he did live the fifteen years here promised. That Hezekiah's sickness happened before the destruction of Sennacherib's army, is asserted by the text itself: see 2 Kings 20:6.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Kings 20:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-kings-20.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

In those days - Hezekiah seems to have died 697 B.C.; and his illness must belong to 713 or 714 B.C. (compare 2 Kings 20:6), a date which falls early in the reign of Sargon. The true chronological place of this narrative is therefore prior to all the other facts related of Hezekiah except his religious reforms.

The prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz - This full description of Isaiah (compare 2 Kings 19:2), by the addition of his father‘s name and of his office, marks the original independence of this narrative. The writer of Kings may have found it altogether separate from the other records of Hezekiah, and added it in the state in which he found it.

This history (compare Jonah 3:4-10) shows that the prophetic denunciations were often not absolute predictions of what was certainly about to happen, but designed primarily to prove, or to lead to repentance, those against whom they were uttered, and only obtaining accomplishment if this primary design failed.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Kings 20:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-kings-20.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

THE RECOVERY OF HEZEKIAH FROM A FATAL ILLNESS

This chapter, along with its parallel in Isaiah 38 and Isaiah 39, is one of the most difficult in the O.T. "Due to the variations in the duplicate texts, and even more to the complex historical problems, no other section of Kings has produced more critical debate."[1] We cannot allow in a work of this kind sufficient space for a thorough discussion of all the questions. We shall note here a few of the problems that concern scholars.

Regarding the date of Hezekiah's fatal sickness, capable scholars have dated it at several points between 713,701 B.C.. Some say it connected with the invasion of Sargon, and some with that of Sennacherib, some with his alleged first invasion, and others with his so-called second invasion!

And then, there is the business of the shadow going backwards upon the sun-dial. What we get on that from many of the commentators is an anthology of why men do NOT believe it! We don't allow any explanations of unbelief, since our Lord has already explained "unbelief' as the result, not of education, nor of intelligence, but as appearing, "because their deeds are evil" (John 3:19).

This wonder is very similar to the great miracle at Beth-horon in the time of Joshua. We pray that some unbelievers will be shocked to know that there is a genuine, undeniable, and very reasonable scientific explanation of both wonders.

Another great fact in the chapter is that, although God Himself had diagnosed Hezekiah's illness as fatal, terminal, and "unto death," Hezekiah did NOT hesitate to pray God for his own recovery. What an admonition there is in this for Christians whose physicians have "given up on them," and who are confronted with what is called "a terminal illness." This writer knows of at least one person who fully recovered from such an illness.

(Now, for the further explanation of this writer's conviction regarding this chapter, the reader is referred to Vol. 1 of my series on the major prophets (Isaiah), pp. 347-354, also pp. 355-361, and Vol. 1 (Joshua) of my series on the historical books, pp. 110-113, where a recovery from inoperable cancer of the trachea is reported, and where the scientific explanation of the shadow's moving backwards on the sun-dial is included.)

One other thought which we wish to register here is that death is, by no means, the worst thing that can happen to a person! Hezekiah would have been much better to have meekly accepted the Divine verdict on his illness, because three years later, during the extension of his life, Manasseh was born to him, and that ruler was the very worst of all the kings of Judah!

The report in this chapter of the letter and present from Berodach-baladan (2 Kings 20:12) to Hezekiah is more fully reported in Isaiah 39, where the name of the same Babylonian ruler is spelled Merodach-balladan. (See my comment there, Vol. 1 (Isaiah), pp. 355-361.)

The mention of this Babylonian king gives no help in determining the date of Hezekiah's sickness, because, "He was twice king, in 722-710 B.C. and again in 703-702 B.C."[2]

Still another portion of this chapter is of very great importance, namely, the great prophecy of Isaiah that Babylon (not Assyria) would destroy Jerusalem, deport its people, and rob the treasures which Hezekiah had foolishly displayed for that embassy from Babylon. Of course, the radical critics who foolishly reject all prophecy, a priori, promptly refer to this prophecy as having been "added to the text not long after 597 B.C."[3] Any evidence of such a thing? Certainly not!

As a matter of fact, there are a number of other prophecies that Israel would be "plucked off their land" and removed from Palestine, such as Deuteronomy 28:63-64; 1 Kings 14:15; Amos 5:27; and in every one of these, although not specifically stated, it is clear enough that only Babylon could have been intended in all of them as the place where God would punish Israel. From such facts as these, it is evident that getting rid of predictive prophecy cannot be achieved by canceling a single text here and there. The only way would be to remove the whole Bible. But of course, that is exactly the evil intention of those who would deny predictive prophecy.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Kings 20:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/2-kings-20.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

2 Kings 20:1-7. Hezekiah‘s life lengthened.

In those days was Hezekiah sick — As his reign lasted twenty-nine years (2 Kings 18:2), and his kingdom was invaded in the fourteenth (2 Kings 18:13), it is evident that this sudden and severe illness must have occurred in the very year of the Syrian invasion. Between the threatened attack and the actual appearance of the enemy, this incident in Hezekiah‘s history must have taken place. But according to the usage of the sacred historian, the story of Sennacherib is completed before entering on what was personal to the king of Judah (see also Isaiah 37:36-38:1).

Set thine house in order — Isaiah, being of the blood royal, might have access to the king‘s private house. But since the prophet was commissioned to make this announcement, the message must be considered as referring to matters of higher importance than the settlement of the king‘s domestic and private affairs. It must have related chiefly to the state of his kingdom, he having not as yet any son (compare 2 Kings 20:6 with 2 Kings 21:1).

for thou shall die, and not live — The disease was of a malignant character and would be mortal in its effects, unless the healing power of God should miraculously interpose.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Kings 20:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/2-kings-20.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

Those days — In the year of the Assyrian invasion.

Set, … — Make thy will, and settle the affairs of thy family and kingdom.

Not live — Such threatenings, though absolutely expressed, have often secret conditions.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 20:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/2-kings-20.html. 1765.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

This chapter prosecutes the history of Hezekiah. He is visited by sickness; he seeks to God in his affliction: receives a gracious answer in the lengthening of his life. His prayer: the Lord's answer. His death; and successor in the kingdom.

2 Kings 20:1

It appears by the calculation of Hezekiah's life, that this sickness followed soon after his deliverance from Sennacherib. So quick is the transition from joy to sorrow in this world. The chambers of both are very near each other. Observe how gracious the Lord is in sending him notice of his approaching end. It was an earnest prayer of David that he might be taught to number his days, and to know their length. Psalms 39:4.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Kings 20:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/2-kings-20.html. 1828.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Kings 20:1 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.

Ver. 1. 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, Jonah 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," &c.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 20:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-kings-20.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

2 KINGS CHAPTER 20

Hezekiah receiving a message of death, by prayer hath his life lengthened; for a sign the sun goeth backward, 2 Kings 20:1-11. The king of Babylon’s ambassadors come to Hezekiah with letters and a present; he showeth them all his treasures, 2 Kings 20:12-15; whereupon Isaiah foretelleth him the Babylonish captivity: he dieth; and Manasseh is king, 2 Kings 20:16-21.

In those days, i.e. in that year of the Assyrian invasion, as is manifest from hence, that that was in Hezekiah’s fourteenth year, 2 Kings 18:13, and God now added fifteen years more to him, 2 Kings 20:6; and yet Hezekiah reigned only twenty-nine years in all, 2 Kings 18:2. And this happened either, first, After the destruction of Sennacherib’s army. Or, secondly, Before it, as may be thought from 2 Kings 20:6, where he speaks of his deliverance from the king of Assyria as a future thing. It is true, that when Hezekiah received that insolent message from the Assyrian, he was in health, and went into the temple to pray, 2 Kings 19:14; but there might be time more than enough for this sickness and recovery between that threatening and this destruction of the Assyrian. Set thine house in order; take care to make thy will, and to settle the affair of thy family and kingdom; which he the rather presseth upon him, because the state of his kingdom required it; for it is plain that Hezekiah had not as yet any son, Manasseh his heir and successor not being born till three years after this time, by comparing this 2 Kings 20:6, with 2 Kings 21:1. For thou shalt die, and not live; according to the course of nature, and of thy disease, which is mortal in its kind, and will be so in effect, if God doth not miraculously prevent it. Such threatenings, though absolutely expressed, have ofttimes secret conditions, which God reserves in his own breast: see Jonah 3:4.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Kings 20:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-kings-20.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

HEZEKIAH’S SICKNESS AND RECOVERY, 2 Kings 20:1-7.

1.In’ days — About the time of the first Assyrian invasion, for Hezekiah reigned twenty-nine years in all, and lived fifteen after this sickness, so that, according to biblical data, his sickness must have occurred in the fourteenth year of his reign. Compare 2 Kings 20:6 with 2 Kings 18:2; 2 Kings 18:13, and note on 2 Kings 20:12.

Sick unto death — Sick with a disease intrinsically fatal, unless miracle intervened.

Set thine house in order — Settle up all thy worldly affairs, make the final arrangement and disposition of thy household matters. Compare 2 Samuel 17:23. Some explain it, Make thy last will, and give orders respecting thy successor. This, however, would only be a part of the household affairs of a dying king. In homiletics these words are often explained as a charge to prepare spiritually for death and the judgment beyond.

Thou shalt die, and not live — Literally, Dying art thou, and thou wilt not live. These words are not an irreversible decree that he should die from that sickness, but an announcement, which, like Jonah’s proclamation to the Ninevites, (Jonah 3:4; Jonah 3:10,) was revoked and changed by reason of the humiliation and prayers of the king. It was God’s decree, through ordinary natural law, reversible only by special interposition.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Kings 20:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-kings-20.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Kings 20:1. In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death — That is, in the same year in which the king of Assyria invaded Judea; for Hezekiah reigned in all twenty-nine years, and surviving this sickness fifteen years, it must have happened in his fourteenth year, which was the year in which Sennacherib invaded him. It appears, however, from 2 Kings 20:6, in which God promises to deliver him and Jerusalem out of the hand of the king of Assyria, that it took place before that deliverance; but the sacred historian thought proper to place it after that event, that he might not interrupt the story of Sennacherib. Thus saith the Lord, Set thy house in order, &c. — Make thy will, and settle the affairs of thy family and kingdom. This he the rather presses upon him, because the state of his kingdom peculiarly required it, for it is plain Hezekiah had not, as yet, any son; Manasseh, his heir and successor, not being born till three years after this time; compare 2 Kings 20:6 with 2 Kings 21:1. Thou shalt die, and not live — Thy disease is mortal in its kind, and will be so in effect, if God do not by a miracle prevent it. Such threatenings, though expressed absolutely, have often secret conditions.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Kings 20:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-kings-20.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Days, before the destruction of Sennacherib's army; (ver. 6.; Menochius) though some suppose that Ezechias was afflicted with sickness, because he had not shewn sufficient gratitude for his deliverance, 2 Paralipomenon xxxii. 24. (Eusebius and St. Jerome, in Isaias xxxix. (Calmet) --- But it might be sent only to purify him the more, &c. (Menochius) --- He fell ill the same year that the Assyrian invaded his dominions, ver. 6., and chap. xviii. 13. The nature of his disorder in not fully known. (It was probably an abscess, (Calmet) brought on by a fever; or an ulcer, for which the things which promote suppuration, are always proper. Thus God teaches us to make use of natural remedies, yet so as to place our whole confidence in him. (Haydock) --- Others think it was a pleurisy, (John xxi. Thesaur. 26.) or a quinsey, (Barthol.) or the pestilence, &c. (Calmet) --- Unto death, of an illness, which would naturally have proved mortal; as that of Benadad was the reverse, chap. viii. 10. --- Not live, very shortly; though he does not express the time. We should always bear in mind this awful warning. (Haydock) --- The prediction was conditional, like that of Jonas; (iii. 4.; Calmet) otherwise it would have been sinful to strive to render it ineffectual. (Estius)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Kings 20:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-kings-20.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

those days. About the time of the second invasion (2 Kings 18:13), but before the deliverance of 2 Kings 19:35.

the LORD. Hebrew. Jehovah. App-4.

Set thine house in order = Give charge concerning thine house. See the Structure of Isaiah 36:39.

die, and not live. Figure of speech Pleonasm (App-6), a double emphasis.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Kings 20:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-kings-20.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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 was Hezekiah sick. As his reign lasted twenty-nine years (2 Kings 18:2), and his kingdom was invaded in the fourteenth (2 Kings 18:13), it is evident that this sudden and severe illness must have occurred in the very year of the Syrian invasion. Between the threatened attack and the actual appearance of the enemy, this incident in Hezekiah's history must have taken place. But according to the usage of the sacred historian, the story of Sennacherib is completed before entering on what was personal to the king of Judah (see also Isa. 38:39 ). Dean Stanley is of opinion that the king's illness occurred either during Sennacherib's invasion or immediately after his retreat, and was produced by mental excitement as well as bodily exhaustion connected with that crisis.

Set thine house in order. Isaiah, being of the blood-royal, might have access to the king's private house. But since the prophet was commissioned to make this announcement, the message must be considered as referring to matters of higher importance then the settlement of the king's domestic and private affairs. It must have related chiefly to the state of his kingdom, he having not as yet any son (cf. 2 Kings 20:6 with 2 Kings 21:1). For thou shalt die, and not live. The disease was of a malignant character, and would be mortal in its effects, unless the healing power of God should miraculously interpose.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Kings 20:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/2-kings-20.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(1) In those days—i.e., in the time of the Assyrian invasion. The illness may have been caused, or at least aggravated, by the intense anxiety which this grave peril created. Hezekiah reigned 29 years (2 Kings 18:2), and the invasion began in his 14th year (2 Kings 18:13). In 2 Kings 20:6 he is promised 15 years of life, and deliverance from the king of Assyria. That Hezekiah recovered before the catastrophe recorded at the end of the last chapter, is evident from the fact that no allusion to the destruction of his enemies is contained in his hymn of thanksgiving (Isaiah 38:10-20).

Set thine house in order.—The margin is right (Comp. 2 Samuel 17:23.)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Kings 20:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-kings-20.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
A. M. 3291. B.C. 713. was Hezekiah
2 Chronicles 32:24-26; Isaiah 38:1-20; John 11:1-5; Philippians 2:27,30
the prophet
19:2,20
Set thine house in order
Heb. Give charge concerning thine house.
2 Samuel 17:23; Isaiah 38:1; *margins
thou shalt die
Jeremiah 18:7-10; Jonah 3:4-10
Reciprocal: Deuteronomy 18:22 - if the thing;  2 Kings 13:14 - fallen sick;  1 Chronicles 17:3 - word

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Kings 20:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-kings-20.html.