20:1-19. Personal. Sickness.

T  C¹  1-11. Hezekiah's miraculous healing.
   C²  12-19. Berodach's embassy.

1-11. Hezekiah's Healing.

C¹  g  1. Isaiah's warning.
     h  2,3. Hezekiah's prayer.
    g  4-7. Isaiah's promise.
     h  8-11. Hezekiah's sign

603 B.C.

2 Kings 20)

1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death (about the time of the second invasion [18:13], but before the deliverance of 19:35). And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Give charge concerning your house; for you shall die, and not live.’ ”

2 Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the Lord (see note on v.15. See his references to this in his "Songs of the degrees" [Pss.120:1; 123:1-3; 130:1,2]. See 19:2,4,15-19), saying,
3 “I beseech You, O Lord, remember now how I have walked to and fro (i.e. habitually walked) before You in truth and with a whole (or undivided) heart, and have done [that which is] good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

4 And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him (the only occ. of this in the case of Isaiah. Cp. Gen. 15:1), saying,
5 “Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of My people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father (this tells us the nature of Hezekiah's prayer. He had no heir to the throne, but remembered Yahaveh's word to David in 2 Sam. 7:12-16. Hence his anxiety, as manifested in his "Songs of the degrees". Cp. Pss. 127:3-5; 128; and 132. While the king of Assyria was besieging the gates of Zion, and the king of Terrors was besieging Hezekiah who was on his bed in sickness, Hezekiah at that moment had no heir to his throne. Like Abraham when he had "no seed" [Gen. 15], Hezekiah must have been anxious at such a crisis. He trusted in Yahaveh for victory over his enemies; and he trusted in Yahaveh for His faithfulness as to His promise to David. In this crisis Yahaveh sent Isaiah to Hezekiah with the promise of a son [v.18]. Isa. 39:7]. Not until 3 of the 15 added years had passed was the promise fulfilled, in the birth of Manasseh [600 B.C.]. This is it which accounts for Hezekiah's anxiety. There is nothing in the return from Babylon that can have any connection whatever with Ps. 127 and 128. Rejoicing in the multiplication of children in those sad days would be quite out of place. But in the case of Hezekiah, they stand out in all their full significance, and furnish and undesigned coincidence of the greatest importance. See also Isa.39:8), ‘I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears: behold (introducing the fivefold [#5 = grace] promise and answer to his prayer in vv.5 and 6), I will heal you: on the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord (this also must have been a subject of prayer).

603 to 588 B.C.

6 And I will add to your days fifteen years; and I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will be a shield to this city for My own sake (see 19:34), and for My servant David's sake(see v.5 and Ps.132).
7 And Isaiah said, “Take a cake (or plaster) of figs.” And they took and laid [it] on the boil, and he recovered.

8 And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “What [shall be] the sign that the Lord will heal me (contrast Ahaz [Isa.7:11,12]), and that I shall go up into the house of the Lord the third day?” (see 19:14)
9 And Isaiah blue, “This sign shall you have of the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that He has spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees?” (It is to these degrees that Hezekiah's 15 Songs refer [Pss.120-134]. The word "degrees" is repeated here six times in the history, but 5 times in Isaiah's gracious words [38:8]."THE SONGS OF THE DEGREES". There is no difference of opinion as to the meaning of the word "degrees". It means "steps", but interpretations of the use of the word in this connection manifest a great difference and discordance. Some think these Psalms were so called because they were sung on the 15 steps of the Temple. But there is no evidence that there were 15 steps. In Ezekiel's Temple [Ezek.40:22,31] there are to be two flights; one of seven steps in the outer court, and another of eight steps in the inner court. But that Temple is the subject of prophecy, and is still future. Others suggest "A Song of the higher choir", "on the stairs of some high place"; others, "in a higher key". Others interpret them of "the going up of the Ark" to Zion; others, of "the going up of the tribes" to the feasts; others, "a Song of high degree". Others refer them to "a synthetic arrangement of the parallel lines"; others, that they refer to "the going up from Babylon", which makes them "post-exilic". Others regard them as referring to the yet future return of Israel from their long dispersion; while yet others spiritualize all the expressions, and interpret them of the experiences of the Church of God at all times, and in the present day. One thing is clear, i.e. that all these interpretations cannot be correct. So we will look for one which shall be worthy of the dignity of the Word of God as "written for our learning"; and one which shall produce and combine intellectual enjoyment with experimental satisfaction. Dr. Thirtle ["Old Testament Problems". London: Henry Frowde, 1907] has called attention to the use of the definite article. The Hebrew reads "A Song of THE Degrees" [Shir hamma‘aloth]. I this simple fact lies the key to the solution of this problem, which is as simple in its nature as in its grand results. Once we note the use of the definite article, "THE Degrees", we naturally ask what Degrees? The answer comes from the Word of God itself, and not from the guesses and imaginations of men. The only "degrees" of which we read in the Bible are "the degrees" on the sundial of Ahaz, by which the shadow of the sun went backward in the days of his son Hezekiah, as a sign from Yahaveh that he should recover from his sickness, while Jerusalem was surrounded by the armies of the king of Assyria, and Hezekiah was under sentence of death from the king of Terrors [2 Kings 20:8-11, and the Structure of the chapters in Isa.36-39]. Scripture knows of no other steps or "degrees" that can be connected with the shadow of the sun. On recovery from his sickness, Hezekiah said [Isa.38:20]: "Yahaveh was ready to save me: Therefore we will sing MY SONGS¹ to the stringed instruments All the days of our life In the house of Yahaveh² [¹ In the Psalms the is word shir, while in Isa.38:20 it is neginah. But the latter word, by the fig. Metonymy {of the Subject}, refers to the words, as shir does to the music; and the two words are used synonymously in the superscription and sub-scriptions of Pss.66 and 75. ² Note the fig. Epanadiplosis, by which this statement is marked off, and its completeness emphasized by beginning and ending with the same word, "Yahaveh"]. More that 300 years ago [1602-75] this interpretation was suggested in a passing remark by Dr. John Lightfoot in his work on Old Testament Chronology: but so far as Dr. Thirtle is concerned, it was his own independent discovery. The number of these Psalms [15] ads a testimony to the certainty of this interpretation. It corresponds with the number of the years [15], which were added to Hezekiah's life: while the number written by himself [10] corresponds with the number of "the degrees" by which "the shadow of the sun went backward". Hezekiah calls the "MY songs". There was no need to put his own name on them, but he put the names to the other five. The one by Solomon is in the center, with two by David on each side. In each of the seven Psalms [on either side of the central Psalm] the name "Yahaveh" occurs 24 times, and "Yah" twice [once in the third Psalm of each seven]. In the central Psalm, "Yahaveh" occurs 3 times. There are 5 groups consisting of 3 Psalms each. The first of each group has Distress for its subject; the second has Trust in Yahaveh; while the third has Blessing and peace in Zion. In the notes on these Psalms, the passages in the Kings, Chronicles, and Isaiah, to which they refer, are carefully supplied: the passages in the historical Books also are referred to in these Psalms. We have noted 15 events in the life of Hezekiah which find counterpart, and are celebrated, in these 15 Psalms. Further details will be found in the notes in the historical Books, the prophet Isaiah, and the Psalms in question)
10 And Hezekiah answered, “It is a light thing for the shadow to go forward ten degrees: no, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees.”
11 And Isaiah the prophet cried to the Lord: and He brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial (= degrees) of Ahaz (see v.8).

12-19. Berodach's Embassy.

C²  i¹  12. Messengers from Babylon.
     j¹  13. Hezekiah. Ostentation.
    i²  14. Messengers from Babylon.
     j²  15. Hezekiah. Ostentation.
    i³  16-18. Messenger from Yehovah.
     j³  19. Hezekah. Submission.

12 At that time Berodach-baladan (= worshipper of Baal. Come codices read "Merodach-baladan". Cp. Isa. 39:1), the son of Baladan, king of Babylon (first occ. of this title. Babylon and Nineva the two great cities competing henceforward for supremacy in Assyria. Finally settled by Nabopolassar and his son Nebuchadnezzar, "the head of gold" [Dan.2:37,38]), sent letters and a present to Hezekiah (these did what the king of Assyria and the king of terrors could not do. See the Structure "C" of Isa.36-39. Cp. 2 Chron. 32:22,23. These presents account for the treasures exhibited to the Babylonian ambassadors, and explain Hezekiah's wealth [2 Chron. 32:27,28], so soon after the depltion of his treasures in 18:15,16): for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick.

13 And Hezekiah listened to them (he did not pray as in v.2, or as in 19:15. See also Isa.39:2, "was glad"), and showed them all (some codices and the 1611 A.V. omitted) the house of his precious things (the depletion of 18:1,16 was not of "his" house, but of the house of Yahaveh as well as "the kings house"), the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and [all] his armory, and all that was found in his treasuries: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not.

14 Then came Isaiah the prophet to king Hezekiah (he was to Hezekiah what Nathan was to David [2 Sam.12:1), and said to him, “What said these men? and from which place came they to you?” And Hezekiah said, “They are come from a far country, [even] from Babylon.”

15 And he said, “What have they seen in your house?” And Hezekiah answered, “All [the things] that [are] in my house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasuries that I have not showed them.”

16 And Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord.
17 ‘Behold, the days come, that all that [is] in your house, and that which your fathers have laid up in store to this day, shall be carried into Babylon (cp. 2 Chron. 33:11, and see note on v.12. A remarkable prophecy, as Babylon was of little account as yet [cp. Isa. 39:6]. The return from Babylon was also foretold [Isa. 48,49]): nothing shall be left,’ says the Lord.
18 ‘And of your sons that shall issue from you, which you shall beget, shall they take away (Heb. text reads "he", but some codices read "they". Cp. Isa. 39:7); and they shall be eunuchs (i.e. courtiers, chamberlains, &c. Cp. Gen. 37:36 and Dan. 1:3,4) in the palace of the king of Babylon.’ ”

19 Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, “Good [is] the word of the Lord which you have spoken” (Hezekiah's submission was like Eli's. Cp. 1 Sam. 3:18). And he said, “[Is it] not [good], if (or, Is it not that, &c. Sept. Reads, "Let there be good") peace and truth be in my days?”

20 And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made the pool (cp. 18:17. The pool of Silam fed by the conduit mentioned below), and the conduit (a long underground channel discovered by Sir Charles Warren [in 1867] running from Gihon [now the Virgins Fount] down to Siloam. An inscription found in it describes the making of it. Cp. 2 Chron. 32:30), and brought the water into the city (this is referred to by Hezekiah in Psalm 46:4, where it is contrasted with the raging waters of v.3. Cp. this with Isa.8:6-8.), [are] they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
21 And Hezekiah slept with his fathers: and Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.

Next page