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This chapter begins with the good reign of Hezekiah king of Judah, the reformation he made in the kingdom, and the prosperity that attended him when Israel was carried captive, ( 2 Kings 18:1-12) and gives an account of the siege of Jerusalem by the king of Assyria, and of the distress Hezekiah was in, and the hard measures he was obliged to submit unto, ( 2 Kings 18:13-18) and of the reviling and blasphemous speech of Rabshakeh, one of the generals of the king of Assyria, urging the Jews to a revolt from their king, ( 2 Kings 18:19-37).
Ver. 1 . Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel , etc.] That is, in the third year of his rebelling against the king of Assyria, when he shook off his yoke, and refused to be tributary to him any longer, (see 2 Kings 17:1), [that] Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign ; having finished the account of the kingdom of Israel, and the captivity of the people, the historian returns to the kingdom of Judah, and the things of it.
Ver. 2 . Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign , etc.] Now as Ahaz his father began to reign at twenty, and reigned sixteen, he must die at thirty six; so that this son of his must be born to him when at eleven years of age, for only so many years there be between twenty five and thirty six, which may seem wonderful; but, as Grotius observes, Hezekiah had now entered into the twenty fifth year, and he might be just turned of twenty four, and so his father might be twelve years of age at his birth: besides, as it is usual for the divine historian to take away or add the incomplete years of kings, Ahaz might be near twenty one when he began to reign, and might reign almost seventeen, which makes the age of Ahaz to be about thirty eight; and Hezekiah being but little more than twenty four, at his death there were thirteen or near fourteen years difference in their age, and which was an age that need not be thought incredible for begetting of children. Bochart and others have given many instances of children begotten by persons under that age, even at ten years of age f227 : four years after his birth, the famous city of Rome began to be founded f228 , A. M. 3256, and before Christ 748, as commonly received, though it is highly probable it was of a more early date; according to Dionysius Halicarnassensis, it was founded in the first year of the seventh Olympaid, in the times of Ahaz, A. M. 3118 f229 : and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem ; so that he reigned twenty three years or more after the captivity of the ten tribes: his mother’s name also was Abi the daughter of Zachariah ; perhaps the daughter of the same that was taken by Isaiah for a witness, ( Isaiah 8:3) who very probably was a very good woman, and took care to give her son a religious education, though he had so wicked a father.
Ver. 3 . And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did .] Some of the kings of Judah, that were better than some others, are said to do that which was right, but not like David; or they did as he did, but not according to all that he did, as is here said of Hezekiah.
Ver. 4 . He removed the high places , etc.] Which the best of the kings of Judah never attempted, and which is observed of them to their discredit: and broke the images, and cut down the groves ; the idols his father set up and served, ( 2 Kings 16:4 2 Chronicles 28:24,26), groves and idols in them, were early instances of idolatry; (see Gill on “ Judges 3:7”), and their use for temples are still continued, not only among some Indian nations f230 , but among some Christians in the northern parts of Europe f231 ; and brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made ; which he made in the wilderness, and which was brought by the children of Israel with them into the land of Canaan, and was kept as a memorial of the miracle wrought by looking to it, being laid up in some proper place where it had been preserved to this day: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it not from the time it was brought into Canaan, nor even in later times, in the days of Asa and Jehoshaphat, who would never have suffered it; very probably this piece of idolatry began in the times of Ahaz, who encouraged everything of that kind: for this serpent they had a great veneration, being made by Moses, and a means in his time of healing the Israelites; and they imagined it might be of some service to them, in a way of mediation to God; and worthy of worship, having some degree of divinity, as Kimchi and Ben Gersom; but Laniado excuses them from all show of idolatry, and supposes what they did was for the honour of God only; hence sprung the heresy of the Ophites, according to Theodoret: and he called it Nehushtan ; perceiving they were ensnared by it, and drawn into idolatry to it, by way of contempt he called it by this name, which signifies “brass”; suggesting that it was only a mere piece of brass, had no divinity in it, and could be of no service to them in divine things; and, that it might no longer be a snare to them, he broke it into pieces; and, as the Jews say, ground it to powder, and scattered it to every wind, that there might be no remains of it.
Ver. 5 . He trusted in the Lord God of Israel , etc.] To be his protector and defender, and had no dependence on idols as an arm of flesh; the Targum is, he trusted in the Word of the Lord God; not in Nehushtan, but in him the brasen serpent was a type of, even in the Word and Son of God, his alone Saviour and Redeemer: so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah : for though Josiah was like him in some things, yet not in all: nor any that were before him ; from the times of the division of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah; and Ben Gersom and Abarbinel think that David and Solomon are not to be excepted; David sinning in the case of Uriah, and Solomon falling into idolatry, crimes that Hezekiah was not guilty of.
Ver. 6 . For he clave to the Lord , etc.] To his worship and service; to the fear of the Lord, as the Targum: and departed not from following him ; from his worship, as the same paraphrase: but kept his commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses ; both moral, ceremonial, and judicial.
Ver. 7 . And the Lord was with him , etc.] The Word of the Lord was for his help, as the Targum: and he prospered whithersoever he went forth ; that is, to war: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria : which is explained in the next clause: and served him not ; he refused to be his servant, as his father Ahaz had been, ( 2 Kings 16:7), to which he was not obliged by any agreement of his; and, if it was in his power, might lawfully shake off his yoke, which is all that is meant by rebelling against him; he refused to be tributary to him.
Ver. 8 . He smote the Philistines even unto Gaza, and the borders thereof , etc.] Who in his father’s time had invaded Judah, and taken many cities and towns in it, which Hezekiah now recovered, and drove them to their own territories, of which Gaza was one; (see 2 Chronicles 28:18) from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city ; that is, places both great and small, cities, towns, and villages; of this phrase, (see 2 Kings 17:9).
Ver. 9 . And it came to pass in the fourth year of King Hezekiah , etc.] In the beginning of it: which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel : the beginning of his seventh: that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged it ; (see 2 Kings 17:5).
Ver. 10 . And at the end of three years they took it , etc.] That is, at the first end of them, at the beginning, in which sense the phrase is taken in ( Deuteronomy 15:1 Jeremiah 34:14), even in the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is, the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken: (see 2 Kings 17:6).
Ver. 11 . And the king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria , etc.] Of the places he disposed of them in, after mentioned, (see Gill on “ Kings 17:6”).
Ver. 12 . Because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord , etc.] In his law, and by his prophets: but transgressed his covenant, and all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded ; which evils are at large insisted on in the preceding chapter as the cause of their captivity: and would not hear them, nor do them ; contrary to the agreement of their fathers at Sinai, who promised to do both, ( Exodus 24:3,7).
Ver. 13 . Now in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah , etc.] Eight years after the captivity of Israel: did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them ; many of them, the frontier towns, and proceeded as far as Lachish; ambitious of enlarging his dominions, his father having subdued the kingdom of Israel, and being also provoked by Hezekiah’s refusing to pay him tribute. Mention is made of this king by name, by Herodotus and other Heathen writers, see the note on ( Isaiah 36:1) in the Apocryha: “Now when Enemessar was dead, Sennacherib his son reigned in his stead; whose estate was troubled, that I could not go into Media.” (Tobit 1:15) he is called Sennacherib, and is said to be son of Enemassat, that is, Shalmaneser; however, he succeeded him in his kingdom; though some f234 take him to be the same with Shalmaneser: he is said by Metasthenes to reign seven years, and was succeeded by Assaradon, who, according to him, reigned ten years.
Ver. 14 . And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish , etc.] A city in the tribe of Judah, about twenty miles from Jerusalem, towards the southwest f236 ; which the king of Assyria was now besieging, ( 2 Chronicles 32:9) at first Hezekiah made provision to defend himself, and encouraged his people not to be afraid of the king of Assyria, ( 2 Chronicles 32:1-8), but understanding he had taken his fortified cities, and made such progress with his arms, he was disheartened, and sent an embassy to him to sue for peace; judging it more advisable to buy it than to expose his capital to a siege; in which he betrayed much weakness and distrust of the power and providence of God: saying, I have offended ; not the Lord, but the king of Assyria by rebelling against him, or refusing to pay the yearly tribute to him; he owned he had acted imprudently, and had given him, just occasion to invade his land: return from me ; from his land, from proceeding to Jerusalem, which he seemed to have a design upon, and go back to his own country with his army, and make no further conquests: that which thou puttest on me I will bear ; what mulct or fine he should lay upon him, or tribute he should impose upon him, or whatever he should demand of him, he would submit to: and the king of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver, and thirty talents of gold ; to be paid to him directly; which, according to Brerewood f237 , amounted to 247,500 pounds.
Ver. 15 . And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king’s house .] To make up the three hundred talents of silver, for which purpose he exhausted both, which had been done more than once before by the kings of Judah; these were their resources in times of distress; (see 2 Kings 12:18 16:8).
Ver. 16 . At that time did Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord , etc.] The plates of gold with which they were covered; or scraped off the gold from them, as the Targum interprets it: and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid : or the posts, as the Targum, the lintel or side posts of the doors of the temple; which though covered in Solomon’s time, the gold was worn off, or had been taken off by Ahaz, but was renewed by Hezekiah; and who, in this time of distress, thought he might take it off again, no doubt with a full purpose to replace it, when he should be able. This is one of the three things the Talmudic writers disapprove of in Hezekiah: and gave it to the king of Assyria ; to make up the thirty talents of gold he demanded.
Ver. 17 . And the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris, and Rabshakeh from Lachish to King Hezekiah with a great host against Jerusalem , etc.] Notwithstanding he took the above large sum of money of him, so false and deceitful was he: these were three generals of his army, whom he sent to besiege Jerusalem, while he continued the siege of Lachish; only Rabshakeh is mentioned in ( Isaiah 36:2) he being perhaps chief general, and the principal speaker; whose speech, to the end of this chapter, intended to intimidate Hezekiah, and dishearten his people, with some circumstances which attended it, are recorded word for word in ( Isaiah 36:1) throughout; (see Gill on “ Isaiah 36:1”) and notes on that chapter.