Isa 36:1-22. Sennacherib's
Invasion; Blasphemous Solicitations; Hezekiah Is Told of
This and the thirty-seventh through thirty-ninth
chapters form the historical appendix closing the first division of
Isaiah's prophecies, and were added to make the parts of these
referring to Assyria more intelligible. So Jer 52:1-34; compare 2Ki 25:1-30. The section occurs almost word
for word (2Ki 18:13, 17-20; 19:1-37); 2Ki 18:14-16, however, is additional matter.
Hezekiah's "writing" also is in Isaiah, not in Kings (Isa 38:9-20). We know from 2Ch 32:32 that Isaiah wrote the acts of Hezekiah.
It is, therefore, probable, that his record here (Isa 36:1-39:8) was incorporated into the Book of
Kings by its compiler. Sennacherib lived, according to Assyrian
inscriptions, more than twenty years after his invasion; but as Isaiah
survived Hezekiah (2Ch 32:32),
who lived upwards of fifteen years after the invasion (Isa 38:5), the record of Sennacherib's death
37:38) is no objection to
this section having come from Isaiah; 2Ch 32:1-33 is probably an abstract drawn from
Isaiah's account, as the chronicler himself implies (2Ch 32:32). Pul was probably the last of the old
dynasty, and Sargon, a powerful satrap, who contrived to possess
himself of supreme power and found a new dynasty (see on Isa 20:1). No attempt was made by Judah to throw off the
Assyrian yoke during his vigorous reign. The accession of his son
Sennacherib was thought by Hezekiah the opportune time to refuse the
long-paid tribute; Egypt and Ethiopia, to secure an ally against
Assyria on their Asiatic frontier, promised help; Isaiah, while opposed
to submission to Assyria, advised reliance on Jehovah, and not on
Egypt, but his advice was disregarded, and so Sennacherib invaded
Judea, 712 B.C. He was the builder of
the largest of the excavated palaces, that of Koyunjik. Hincks has deciphered his name in the inscriptions.
In the third year of his reign, these state that he overran Syria, took
Sidon and other Phœnician cities, and then passed to southwest
Palestine, where he defeated the Egyptians and Ethiopians (compare
18:21; 19:9). His subsequent
retreat, after his host was destroyed by God, is of course suppressed
in the inscriptions. But other particulars inscribed agree strikingly
with the Bible; the capture of the "defensed cities of Judah," the
devastation of the country and deportation of its inhabitants; the
increased tribute imposed on Hezekiah—thirty talents of
gold—this exact number being given in both; the silver is
set down in the inscriptions at eight hundred talents, in the Bible
three hundred; the latter may have been the actual amount carried off,
the larger sum may include the silver from the temple doors, pillars,
&c. (2Ki 18:16).
1. fourteenth—the third of Sennacherib's
reign. His ultimate object was Egypt, Hezekiah's ally. Hence he, with
the great body of his army (2Ch 32:9),
advanced towards the Egyptian frontier, in southwest Palestine, and did
not approach Jerusalem.
2. Rab-shakeh—In 2Ki 18:17, Tartan and Rab-saris are joined with
him. Rab-shakeh was probably the chief leader; Rab is a title of
Lachish—a frontier town southwest of
Jerusalem, in Judah; represented as a great fortified city in a hilly
and fruitful country in the Koyunjik bas-reliefs, now in the British
Museum; also, its name is found on a slab over a figure of Sennacherib
on his throne.
upper pool—the side on which the
Assyrians would approach Jerusalem coming from the southwest (see on Isa 7:3).
3. Eliakim—successor to Shebna, who had
been "over the household," that is, chief minister of the king; in
22:15-20, this was
recorder—literally, "one who reminds"; a remembrancer to keep the
king informed on important facts, and to act as historiographer. In
18:18, the additional fact is
given that the Assyrian envoys "called to the king," in consequence of
which Eliakim, &c., "came out to them."
4. great king—the usual title of the
Persian and Assyrian kings, as they had many subordinate princes or
kings under them over provinces (Isa 10:8).
5. counsel—Egypt was famed for its
6. It was a similar alliance with So (that is,
Sabacho, or else Sevechus), the Ethiopian king of Egypt, which provoked
the Assyrian to invade and destroy Israel, the northern kingdom, under
7. The Assyrian mistakes Hezekiah's religious
reforms whereby he took away the high places (2Ki 18:4) as directed against Jehovah.
Some of the high places may have been dedicated to Jehovah, but
worshipped under the form of an image in violation of the second
commandment: the "brazen serpent," also (broken in pieces by Hezekiah,
and called Nehushtan, "a piece of brass," because it was
worshipped by Israel) was originally set up by God's command.
Hence the Assyrian's allegation has a specious color: you cannot look
for help from Jehovah, for your king has "taken away His altars."
to Jerusalem—(De 12:5, 11;
8. give pledges—a taunting challenge.
Only give the guarantee that you can supply as many as two
thousand riders, and I will give thee two thousand horses. But seeing
that you have not even this small number (see on Isa
2:7), how can you stand against the hosts of Assyrian cavalry? The
Jews tried to supply their weakness in this "arm" from Egypt (Isa 31:1).
9. captain—a governor under a satrap;
even he commands more horsemen than this.
10. A boastful inference from the past
successes of Assyria, designed to influence the Jews to surrender;
their own principles bound them to yield to Jehovah's will. He
may have heard from partisans in Judah what Isaiah had foretold (Isa 10:5,
11. Syrian—rather, "Aramean": the
language spoken north and east of Palestine, and understood by the
Assyrians as belonging to the same family of languages as their own:
nearly akin to Hebrew also, though not intelligible to the
multitude (compare 2Ki 5:5-7).
"Aram" means a "high land," and includes parts of Assyria as well as
Jews' language—The men of Judah since
the disruption of Israel, claimed the Hebrew as their own
peculiarly, as if they were now the only true representatives of the
whole Hebrew twelve tribes.
ears of … people on …
wall—The interview is within hearing distance of the city.
The people crowd on the wall, curious to hear the Assyrian message. The
Jewish rulers fear that it will terrify the people and therefore beg
Rab-shakeh to speak Aramean.
12. Is it to thy master and thee
that I am sent? Nay, it is to the men on the wall, to let them
know (so far am I from wishing them not to hear, as you
would wish), that unless they surrender, they shall be reduced to the
direst extremities of famine in the siege (2Ch 32:11, explains the word here), namely, to eat
their own excrements: or, connecting, "that they may eat," &c.,
with "sit upon the wall"; who, as they hold the wall, are knowingly
exposing themselves to the direst extremities [Maurer]. Isaiah, as a faithful historian, records
the filthy and blasphemous language of the Assyrians to mark aright the
true character of the attack on Jerusalem.
13. Rab-shakeh speaks louder and plainer than
ever to the men on the wall.
15. The foes of God's people cannot succeed
against them, unless they can shake their trust in Him (compare Isa 36:10).
16. agreement … by …
present—rather, "make peace with me"; literally,
"blessing" so called from the mutual congratulations attending
the ratification of peace. So Chaldee. Or else, "Do
homage to me" [Horsley].
come out—surrender to me; then you may
remain in quiet possession of your lands till my return from Egypt,
when I will lead you away to a land fruitful as your own. Rab-shakeh
tries to soften, in the eyes of the Jews, the well-known Assyrian
policy of weakening the vanquished by deporting them to other lands
(Ge 47:21; 2Ki 17:6).
19. Hamath … Arphad—(See on Isa 10:9).
Sepharvaim—literally, "the two
scribes"; now Sipphara, on the east of Euphrates, above Babylon. It was
a just retribution (Pr 1:31; Jer 2:19). Israel worshipped the gods of
Sepharvaim, and so colonists of Sepharvaim were planted in the land of
Israel (thenceforth called Samaria) by the Assyrian conqueror (2Ki 17:24; compare 2Ki 18:34).
Samaria—Shalmaneser began the siege
against Hoshea, because of his conspiring with So of Egypt (2Ki 17:4). Sargon finished it; and, in his
palace at Khorsabad, he has mentioned the number of Israelites carried
captive—27,280 [G. V. Smith].
20. (Compare Isa 10:11; 2Ch 32:19). Here he contradicts his own
assertion (Isa 36:10),
that he had "come up against the land with the Lord." Liars need
good memories. He classes Jehovah with the idols of the other lands;
nay, thinks Him inferior in proportion as Judah, under His tutelage,
was less than the lands under the tutelage of the idols.
21. not a word—so as not to enter into a
war of words with the blasphemer (Ex 14:14; Jude 9).
22. clothes rent—in grief and horror at
the blasphemy (Mt 26:65).