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ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1847,
BY ALBERT BARNES,
THE PROPHET ISAIAH.
This chapter commences the historical portion of Isaiah, which continues to the close of the xxxixth chapter. The main subject is the destruction of Sennacherib and his army. It contains also an account of the sickness and recovery of Hezekiah; the song with which he celebrated his recovery; and an account of his ostentation in showing his treasures to the ambassadors of the king of Babylon. In 2 Chron. xxxii. 32, the following record occurs. "Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and his goodness, behold they are written in the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amoz;" and it is to thus portion of Isaiah to which the author of the Book of Chronicles doubtless refers.
There was an obvious propriety in Isaiah's making a record of the invasion and destruction of Sennacherib. That event has occupied a considerable portion of his prophetic announcements; and as he lived to see them fulfilled, it was proper that he should record the event. The prophecy and its fulfilment can thus be compared together; aud while there is the strongest internal testimony that the prophecy was uttered before the event, there is also the most striking and clear fulfilment of all the predictions on the subject.
A parallel history of these transactions occurs in 2 Kings xvii.-XX.; and in 2 Chron. xxxii. The history in Chronicles, though it contains an account of the same transaction, is evidently by another hand, as it bears no further resemblance to this than that it contains an account of the same transactions. But between the account here and in 2 Kings, there is a most striking resemblance, so much so as to show that they were mainly by the same hand. It has been made a matter of inquiry whether Isaiah was the original author, or whether he copied a history which he found in the book of Kings, or whether both he and the author of the book of Kings copied from some original document which is now lost, or whether the collectors of the prophetic writings after the return from the captivity at Babylon, judging that such a history would appropriately explain the prophecies of Isaiah, copied
the account from some historical record, and inserted it among his prophecies. This last is the opinion of Rosenmuller-an opinion which evidently lacks all historical evidence, and indeed all probability. The most obvious and fair supposition undoubtedly is, that this history was inserted here by Isaiah, or that he made this record according to the statement in 2 Chron, xxxii. 32.-Gesenius also accords substantially with Rosenmuller in supposing that this history is an elaboration of that in the book of Kings, and that it was reduced to its present form by some one who collected and edited the Books of Isaiah after the Babylonish captivity. Vitringa supposes that both the accounts in Kings and in Isaiah have been derived from a common historical document, and have been adopted and somewhat abridged or modified by the author of the Book of Kings and by Isaiah.
It is impossible now to determine the truth in regard to this subject; nor is it of much importance. Those who are desirous of seeing the subject discussed more at length may consult Vitringa, Rosen. muller, and Gesenius. The view of Gesenius is chiefly valuable because he has gone into a com. parison of the account in Isaiah with that in Kings, The following remarks are all that occur to mo as desirable to make, and express the conclusion which I have been able to form on the subject.
(1.) The two accounts have a common origin, or are substantially the production of the same hand. This is apparent on the face of them. The same course of the narrative is pursued, the same expressions occur, and the same style of composition is found. It is possible, indeed, that the Holy Spirit might have inspired two different authors to adopt the same style and expressions in recording the same events, but this is not the mode elsewhere observed in the Scriptures. Every sacred writer is allowed to pursue his own method of narration, and to express himself in a style and manner of his own.
(2.) There is no evidence that the two accounts were abridged from a more full narrative. Such a thing is possible; nor is there any impropriety in the supposition. But it lacks historical support. That there were histories among the Jews which are now lost; that there were public records which were the fountains whence the authors of the histories which we now have drew their information, no one can doubt who reads the Old Testament, Thus we have accounts of the writings of Gad, and Iddo the seer, and Nathan, and the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and of the Book of Jehu the prophet (2 Chron. ix. 29, XX. 34. 1 Kings xvi. 1), all of which are now lost except so far as they are incorporated in the historical and prophetical hooks of the Old Testament. It is possible, therefore, that these accounts may have been abridged from some such common record, but there is no historical testimony to the fact.
(3.) There is no evidence that these chapters in Isaiah were inserted by Ezra, or the other inspired men who collected the sacred writings, and published a recension, or an edition of them after the return from Babylon. 7'hat there was such a work performed by Ezra and his contemporaries is the testimony of a the Jewish historians. See Dr. Alexander on the
canon of Scripture. But there is no historical evidence that they thus introduced into the writings of Isaiah an entire historical narrative from the previous histories, or that they composed this history to be inserted here. It is done no where else. And had it been done on this occasion, we should have had reason to expect that they would have inserted historical
records of the fulfilment of all the other prophecies which had been fulfilled. We should have looked, therefore, for historical statements of the downfall of Damascus.
and Syria ; of the destruction of Samana, of Moab, of Babylon, and of Tyre, as proofs of the fulfilment of the predictions of Isaiah. There can be no reason why the account of the destruction of Sepnacherib should have been singled out and inserted in preference to others. And this is especially true in regard to Babylon. The prophecy of Isaiah (ch. xiii. xiv.) had been most striking, and clear ; the fulfilment had also been most remarkable ; Ezra and his contemporaries must have felt a much deeper interest in that than in the destruction of Sennacherib; and it is unaccountable, therefore, if they inserted this narrative respecting Sennacherib, that they did not give us a full account also of the overthrow of Babylon and of their deliverance, as showing the fulfilment of the prophecies on that subject.
(4.) The author of the Books of Kings is unknown. There is reason to believe that these books, as well as the Books of Chronicles, and some other of the historical books of the Old Testament were written by the prophets; or at least compiled and arranged by some inspired man from historical sketches that were made by the prophets. To such sketches or nerratives we find frequent reference in the books themselves. Thus Nathan the prophet, and Ahijah the Shilonite, and Iddo the seer, recorded the acts of Solomon (2 Chron. ix. 29); thus the same iddo the seer and Shemaiah the prophet recorded the acts of Rehoboam (2 Chron. xii. 15); thus the acts of Jehoshaphat were written in the Book of Jehu (2 Chron. xx. 34); and thus Isaiah wrote the acts of king Uzziah (2 Chron. xxvi. 22), and also of Hezekiah (2 Chron. xxxii. 32). Many of these historical sketches or fragments have not come down to us; but all that was essential to us has been doubtless incorporated into the sacred narrative and transmitted to our own times. It is not improbable that many of these histories were mere fragments or public documents; narratives or sketches of a single reign, or some important fact in a reign, which were subsequently revised and inserted in the more extended history, so that, after all, it may be that we have all, or nearly all of those fragments incorporated in the histories which we now possess.
(5.) As Isaiah is thus known to have written some portions of the history of the kings, it is probable that his history would be incorporated into the record of the kings by whomsoever that record mlght be composed. Indeed, the composition of the entire books of Kings has been ascribed by many writers to Isaiah, though Grotius and some others ascribe it to Jeremiah. The general, and the probable opinion is, however, that the books of Kings were digested into their present form by Ezra. It is probable therefore, I think, that Isaiah wrote the chapters in Kings respecting the invasion of Sennacherib: that the compiler of the Books of Kings, whoever he might be, adopted the fragment as a part of his history, and that the portion which we have here in Isaiah is the same fragment re. vised, abridged in some places, and enlarged in others, to adapt it to his purpose in introducing it into his book of prophecy. But it is admitted that this is conjecture. Every consideration, however, must lead us to suppose that this is the work of Isaiah. Comp. the Intro. $ 5.
The portion of history contained in these chapters differs from the record in the Kings in several respects. There is no difference in regard to the historical facts, but the difference has respect to the fulness of the narratives, and to the change of a few words. The most material difference is that a few sentences, and members of sentences, are omitted in Isaiah which are found in Kings. These variations will be noticed in the exposition, and it is not necessary more particularly to refer io them here.
The xxxvith chapter contains the following parts, or subjects. (i.) Şennacherib, having taken most of the strong holds of Judea, sent Rabshakeh with a great force to besiege Jerusalem, and to summon it to surrender, vs. 1, 2. (ii.) Hezekiah sent an embassy to meet with Rabshakeh, evidently to induce him to depart from the city, ver. 3. (iii.) This embassy Rabshakeh addressed in a proud, insolent and taunting speech, reproaching them with putting their trust in Egypt, and with their feebleness, and assuring them that Sennacherib had come up against the city at the command of JEHOVAH, vs. 4-10. (iv.) The Jewish embassy requested Rabshakeh to speak in the Aramean or Syrian language, that the common people on the wall might not hear, ver. 11. (v.) To this, he replied that he came that they might hear; to endeavour to draw them off from trusting to Heze kiah, and to induce them to submit to Sennacherib, promising them abundance in the land to which he would take them, vs. 12-20. (vi.) To all this, the embassy of Hezekiah said nothing, but re. turned as they had been instructed into the city, with deep expressions of sorrow and grief, vs. 21, 22.
COW came to pass
in the fourteenth
and Hezekiah, that Sennacherib king took them.
ce Kings 18. 13, &c. 2 Chron. 32. 1, &c. 1. In the fourtcenth year of Heze- Pileser, or Shalmaneser. 2 Kings xviii. kiah. Of his reign, B. C. 709. I That 7. To reduce Judea again to subjection, Sennacherib. Sennacherib was son and as well as to carry his conquests into successor of Shalmaneser, king of As- Egypt, appears to have been the design syria, and began to reign A. M. 3290, of this celebrated expedition. He ravor 714 before Christ, and reigned ac- aged the country, took the strong towns cording to Calmet but four years, ac- and fortresses, and prepared then to lay cording to Prideaux eight years, and siege to Jerusalem itself. Hezekiah, howaccording to Gesenius eighteen years. ever, as soon as the army of SennachThe immediate occasion of this war erib had entered Judea, prepared to put against Judah was the fact that Heze- Jerusalem into a state of complete dekiah had shaken off the yoke of Assyria, fence. At the advice of his counsellors by which his father Ahaz and the nation he stopped the waters that flowed in the had suffered so much under Tiglath neighbourhood of the city, and that might
2 And the king of Assyria Jerusalem, unto king Hezekiah, sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to with a great army: and he stood furnish refreshment to a besieging army; Egypt, and in the vicinity of Jerusalem. built up the broken walls; inclosed one See Notes on ch. x. 28-32. of the fountains within a wall, and pre- 2. And the king of Assyria sent pared shields and darts in abundance to Rabshakeh. In 2 Kings xviii. 17, it is repel the invader. 2 Chron. xxxii. 2-5. said that he sent Tartan, and Rabsaris, Sennacherib, seeing that all hope of and Rabshakeh. In regard to Tartan, easily taking Jerusalem was taken away, see Note ch. xx. 1. It is probable that apparently became inclined to hearken Rabshakeh only is mentioned in Isaiah to terms of accommodation. Hezekiah because the expedition may have been sent to him to propose peace, and to ask mainly under his direction, or more the conditions on which he would with- probably because he was the principal draw his forces. He confessed his error speaker on the occasion to which he in not paying the tribute stipulated by refers. 1 From Lachish. This was a his father, and his willingness to pay city in the south of the tribe of Judah, now what should be demanded by Sen- and was south-west of Jerusalem. Josh. nacherib. Sennacherib demanded three x. 23, xv. 39. It was situated in a hundred talents of_silver, and thirty plain, and was the seat of an ancient talents of gold. This was paid by Canaanitish king. It was rebuilt and Hezekiah, by exhausting the treasury, fortified by Rehoboam, 2 Chron. xi. 9. and by stripping even the temple of its It was in some respects a border town, gold. 2 Kings xviii. 13-16. It was and was a defence against the incurevidently understood in this treaty that sions of the Philistines. It was thereSennacherib was to withdraw his forces, fore situated between Jerusalem and and return to his own land. But this Egypt, and was in the direct way of treaty he ultimately disregarded. See Sennacherib in his going to Egypt, and Note ch. xxxiii. 8. He seems, however, on his return. It lay, according to to have granted Hezekiah some respite, Eusebius and Jerome, seven Roman and to have delayed his attack on Je- miles from Eleutheropolis towards the rusalem until his return from Egypt. south. No trace of the town, however, This war with Egypt he prosecuted at is now to be found. See Robinson's first with great success, and with a fair Biblical Researches, ii. pp. 388, 389. prospect of the conquest of that country. With a great army. Sennacherib But having laid siege to Pelusium, and remained himself for a time at Lachish, having spent much time before it with though he followed not long after. It out success, he was compelled at length is probable that he sent forward a conto raise the siege, and to retreat. Tir- siderable portion of his immense army, hakah king of Ethiopia having come to retaining only so many forces as he the aid of Sevechus, the reigning mon- judged would be necessary to carry on arch of Egypt, and advancing to the the siege of Lachish. In 2 Chron. xxxii. relief of Pelusium, Sennacherib was 9, it is said that Sennacherib while he compelled to raise the siege, and re- sent his servants to Jerusalem, “ laid treated to Judea. Here, having taken siege to Lachish and all his power with Lachish, and disregarding his compact him;" but this must mean that he rewith Hezekiah, he sent an army to Je- tained with him a considerable part of rusalem under Rabshakeh to lay siege his army, and doubtless all that conto the city. This is the point in the tributed to his magnificence and splenhistory of Sennacherib to which the dour. The word "power" in 2 Chron. passage before us refers. See Prideaux' xxxii. 9, means also “ dominion” (see Connection, vol. i. p. 138-141, Josephus the margin), and denotes all the insigAnt. B. x. ch. i. Gesenius in loco, and nia of royalty; and this might have been Robinson's Calmet. | All the defenced retained while a considerable part of his cities. All the towns on the way to forces had been sent forward to Jerusaby the conduit of the upper pool, dence is this wherein thou trust. in the highway of the fuller's est ? field.
5 I say, sayest thou (but they 3 Then came forth unto him are but vain 'words,) 5/ have Eliakim, Hilkiah's son, which counsel and strength for war: was over the house, and Shebna now, on whom dost thou trust, the 'scribe, and Joah, Asaph's that thou rebellest against me? son, the recorder.
6 Lo, thou trustest in the staff 4 And Rabshakeh said unto of this broken reed, on Egypt ; them, Say ye now to Hezekiah, whereon if a man lean, it will go Thus saith the great king, the into his hand, and pierce it : so king of Assyria, What confi. is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all
that trust in him.
1 or, secretary. 4 a word of lips. 5 or, but counsel and strength are for the war.
lem. 1 And he stood. He halted; he thus, many MSS. read it here, and encamped there ; he intended to make Lowth and Noyes have adopted that that the point of attack. By the con- reading. So the Syriac reads it. But duit, &c. See Notes on ch. vii. 3. the sense is not affected whichever readhas here omitted what is recorded in 2 his own resources or on Egypt, was vain. 3. Then came forth unto him. Isaiah ing is adopted. It is designed to show
to Hezekiah that his reliance, either on Kings xviii. 18, that Rabshakeh and his
1 But they are but vain words. Marg. companions “ called to the king,” and
as in the Hebrew, “a word of lips;" as the result of that probably Hezekiah
that is, mere words; vain and empty sent out Eliakim. [ Eliakim, Hil
1 On whom dost thou trust,
boasting. which was over the house. that thou rebellest against me? HezeRespecting Eliakim, and his character, kiah had revolted from the Assyrian see Notes on ch. xxii. 20–25. And
power, and had refused to pay the tribute Shebna the scribe. This may have
which had been imposed on the Jews in been some other man than the one
the time of Ahaz. 2 Kings xviii. 7. mentioned in ch. xxii. 15. He is there said to have been “ over the house,” and that Sennacherib might have been ap
6. Lo, thou trustest. It is possible it is stated that he should be degraded prised of the attempt which had been from that office and succeeded by Elia
made by the Jews to secure the cokim. It is possible however that Heze-operation of Egypt (see Notes on ch. kiah retained him as scribe, or as secre
xxx. 1-7, xxxi. 1, seq.), though he tary. See the analysis of ch. xxii. 15–25.
might not have been aware that the 1 And Joah, Asaph's son, the recorder. negotiation was unsuccessful. In the The chronicler; the officer to whom was intrusted the keeping of the records staff of this broken reed. The same
comparison of Egypt with a broken of state.
The Hebrew word means the reed, or a reed which broke while they remembrancer; him by whose means
were trusting to it, occurs in Ezek. xxix. former events might be recalled and 6,7. Reeds were doubtless used often remembered, perhaps an officer such as
for staves as they are now. They are would be called historiographer.
light, and hollow, with long joints. The 4. What confidence. What is the idea here is, that as a slender reed would ground of your confidence, on what do break when a man leaned on it, and you trust? The appellation“ great king” would pierce his hand, so it would be was the customary title of the kings of with Egypt. Their reliance would give the Persians and Assyrians.
way, and their trusting to Egypt would 5. I say, sayest thou. In 2 Kings be attended with injury to themselves. xviii. 20, this is “ thou sayest ;” and Comp. ch. xxx. 5, 7, xxxi, 3.