The princes of Babylon.--The same vague plural which we have already noticed in 2 Chronicles 28:16; 2 Chronicles 30:6, and 2 Chronicles 32:4, supra. The king who "sent letters and a present "to Hezekiah, with congratulations on his recovery from Sickness, and overtures of alliance against the common enemy, Assyria, was Merodach-baladan (Maruduk-abla-iddina, "Merodach gave a son"). (See the account in 2 Kings 20:12, seq.; Isaiah 39)
Who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder (Hebrew, the sign, as in 2 Chronicles 32:24).--This is not mentioned in the parallel passage of Kings and Isaiah. But such an inquiry is quite in harmony with what we know of the Babylonians from their own monuments. Babylon was the home of the arts of divination and augury, from observation of all kinds of signs and portents in every department of nature. Moreover, the sign given to Hezekiah would have a special interest for the astrologers and astronomers of the Babylonian temple-towers.
God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.--"To try," the same word as "to tempt" (Isaiah 7:12; Psalm 95:9; and often).
That he might know--i.e., in order to bring out and make manifest the latent possibilities of Hezekiah's character. The Searcher of hearts knew the issue beforehand; but we can only conceive of His dealings with man by means of human analogies, such as that of the chemist, who subjects an imperfectly known substance to various combinations of circumstances, by way of ascertaining its nature and affinities. The remark is peculiar to the chronicler.
God left him to try him; by showing him all his treasures:
that he might know all that was in his heart; not that God might know, who knows all things, unless spoken of him after the manner of men; but rather that Hezekiah might know the pride lurking in his heart, and other sins which escaped his notice, Jeremiah 17:9 or that it might be known by others; that the children of men might know it, as Kimchi; and take warning by it, and observe the frailty and infirmity of the best of men.