2Ch 32:1-20. Sennacherib
1. After these things, and the establishment
thereof—that is, the restoration of the temple-worship. The
precise date is given, 2Ki 18:13.
Determined to recover the independence of his country, Hezekiah had
decided to refuse to pay the tribute which his father had bound himself
to pay to Assyria.
Sennacherib … entered into Judah, and
encamped against the fenced cities—The whole land was
ravaged; the strong fortresses of Ashdod (Isa 20:1) and Lachish had fallen; the siege of
Libnah had commenced, when the king of Judah, doubting his ability to
resist, sent to acknowledge his fault, and offer terms of submission by
paying the tribute. The commencement of this Assyrian war was
disastrous to Hezekiah (2Ki 18:13).
But the misfortunes of the early period of the war are here passed
over, as the historian hastens to relate the remarkable deliverance
which God wrought for His kingdom of Judah.
2-8. when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib …
was purposed to fight against Jerusalem—An account of the
means taken to fortify Jerusalem against the threatened siege is given
only in this passage. The polluting or filling up of wells, and the
altering of the course of rivers, is an old practice that still obtains
in the wars of the East. Hezekiah's plan was to cover the fountain
heads, so that they might not be discovered by the enemy, and to carry
the water by subterranean channels or pipes into the city—a plan
which, while it would secure a constant supply to the inhabitants,
would distress the besiegers, as the country all around Jerusalem was
very destitute of water.
4. So there was gathered much people … who
stopped all the fountains, and the brook that ran through the midst of
the land—"Where these various fountains were, we have now no
positive means of ascertaining; though En-rogel, and the spring now
called the Virgin's Fount, may well be numbered among them. Josephus mentions the existence of various
fountains without the city, but does not mention any of them in this
connection but Siloam. 'The brook,' however, is located with sufficient
precision to enable us to trace it very definitely. We are told that it
'ran through the midst of the land.' Now a stream running through
either the Kedron or Hinnom Valley, could, in no proper sense, be said
to run through the midst of the land, but one flowing through
the true Gihon valley, and separating Akra and Zion from Bezetha,
Moriah, and Ophel, as a stream once, doubtless, did, could, with
peculiar propriety, be said to run through the midst of the land on
which the [Holy] City was built. And that this is the correct meaning
of the phrase is not only apparent from the force of circumstances, but
is positively so declared in the Septuagint, where, moreover, it is
called a 'river,' which, at least, implies a much larger stream than
the Kedron, and comports well with the marginal reading, where it is
said to overflow through the midst of the land. Previous to the
interference of man, there was, no doubt, a very copious stream that
gushed forth in the upper portion of that shallow, basin-like concavity
north of Damascus Gate, which is unquestionably the upper extremity of
the Gihon valley, and pursuing its meandering course through this
valley, entered the Tyropœon at its great southern curve, down
which it flowed into the valley of the Kedron" [Barclay, City of the Great King].
5, 6. he strengthened himself—He made a
careful inspection of the city defenses for the purpose of repairing
breaches in the wall here, renewing the masonry there, raising
projecting machines to the towers, and especially fortifying the lower
portion of Zion, that is, Millo, "(in) the original city of David."
"In" is a supplement of our translators, and the text reads better
without it, for it was not the whole city that was repaired, but only
the lower portion of Zion, or the original "city of David."
6. he … gathered them together … in
the street—that is, the large open space at the gate of
Eastern cities. Having equipped his soldiers with a full suit of
military accoutrements, he addressed them in an animated strain,
dwelling on the motives they had to inspire courage and confidence of
success, especially on their consciousness of the favor and helping
power of God.
9-20. (See on 2Ki
18:17-35; also 2Ki 19:8-34).
18. they cried with a loud voice … unto the
people of Jerusalem … on the wall—It appears that the
wall on the west side of the city reached as far to the side of the
uppermost pool of Gihon at that time as it does now, if not farther;
and the wall was so close to that pool that those sent to negotiate
with the Assyrian general answered him in their own tongue (see on 2Ki 18:27).
2Ch 32:21-23. An Angel
Destroys the Assyrians.
21. an angel … cut off all the mighty
men—(See on 2Ki 19:35-37).
2Ch 32:24-26. Hezekiah's
Sickness and Recovery.
24. In those days Hezekiah was sick to the
death—(See on 2Ki 20:1-11).
2Ch 32:27-33. His Riches and
27-29. he had exceeding much riches and
honour—(compare 2Ki 20:13; Isa 39:2). A great portion of his personal
wealth, like that of David and Uzziah, consisted in immense possessions
of agricultural and pastoral produce. Besides, he had accumulated large
treasures in gold, silver, and precious things, which he had taken as
spoils from the Philistines, and which he had received as presents from
neighboring states, among which he was held in great honor as a king
under the special protection of Heaven. Much of his great wealth he
expended in improving his capital, erecting forts, and promoting the
internal benefit of his kingdom.
30. stopped the … watercourse of Gihon, and
brought it … to the west side of the city,
&c.—(Compare 2Ki 20:20).
Particular notice is here taken of the aqueduct, as among the greatest
of Hezekiah's works. "In exploring the subterranean channel conveying
the water from Virgin's Fount to Siloam, I discovered a similar channel
entering from the north, a few yards from its commencement; and on
tracing it up near the Mugrabin gate, where it became so choked with
rubbish that it could be traversed no farther, I there found it turn to
the west in the direction of the south end of the cleft, or
saddle, of Zion, and if this channel was not constructed for the
purpose of conveying the waters of Hezekiah's aqueduct, I am unable to
suggest any purpose to which it could have been applied. Perhaps the
reason why it was not brought down on the Zion side, was that Zion was
already well-watered in its lower portion by the Great Pool, 'the lower
pool of Gihon.' And accordingly Williams
[Holy City] renders this passage, 'He stopped the upper outflow
of the waters of Gihon, and led them down westward to the city'" [Barclay, City of the Great King]. The
construction of this aqueduct required not only masonic but engineering
skill; for the passage was bored through a continuous mass of rock.
Hezekiah's pool or reservoir made to receive the water within the
northwest part of the city still remains. It is an oblong quadrangular
tank, two hundred forty feet in length, from one hundred forty-four to
one hundred fifty in breadth, but, from recent excavations, appears to
have extended somewhat farther towards the north.
31. in the business of the ambassadors who sent
… to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land,
&c.—They brought a present (2Ch 32:23; see on 2Ki 20:12,
13), and a letter of congratulation on his recovery, in which
particular enquiries were made about the miracle of the sun's
retrocession—a natural phenomenon that could not fail to excite
great interest and curiosity at Babylon, where astronomy was so much
studied. At the same time, there is reason to believe that they
proposed a defensive league against the Assyrians.
God left him, to try him,
&c.—Hezekiah's offense was not so much in the display of his
military stores and treasures, as in not giving to God the glory both
of the miracle and of his recovery, and thus leading those heathen
ambassadors to know Him.