2 Kings 19 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

2 Kings 19
Pulpit Commentary
And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD.
Verse 1. - And it came to pass, when King Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes - following the example of his chief officers, who came into his presence "with their clothes rent" (see 2 Kings 18:37) - and covered himself with sackcloth. A sign of grief and self-humiliation (comp. Genesis 37:34; 2 Samuel 3:31; 2 Samuel 21:10; 1 Kings 20:31; 1 Kings 21:27; 2 Kings 6:30, etc.). It was natural that the king should be even more strongly affected than his ministers. And went into the house of the Lord; to open his griefs, ask counsel, and beg for aid.
And he sent Eliakim, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz.
Verse 2. - And he sent Eliakim, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests. "The elders of the priests" are aged men holding the priestly office, not necessarily the high priest, or the most notable or most dignified of the priests. The king felt that his best hope, so far as man was concerned, lay in the prophetical order. Isaiah, Hosed, Joel, Micah, and perhaps Obadiah, were the prophets of the time; but it is not clear that any of them were accessible except Isaiah. He had been Ahaz's counselor (Isaiah 7:4-16), and was now certainly among the regular counselors of Hezekiah. Moreover, he was in Jerusalem, and could readily be consulted. Hezekiah, therefore, sends to him in his distress, and sends a most honorable and dignified embassy. It is his intention to treat the prophet with the utmost respect and courtesy. No doubt, at this period the prophetical order stood higher than the priestly one in general estimation; and not unworthily. If any living man could give the king sound advice under the circumstances, it was the son of Amoz. Covered with sackcloth. Probably by the king's command. Hezekiah wished to emphasize his own horror and grief in the eyes of the prophet, and could only do so by making his messengers assume the garb which he had judged suitable for himself on the occasion. To Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz. Nothing morels known of Amoz beyond his being Isaiah's father. He is not to be confounded with the Prophet Amos, whose name is spelt quite differently: עָמוס, not אמוץ.
And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth.
Verse 3. - And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of Blasphemy. Of "trouble," or "distress," manifestly - a day on which the whole nation is troubled, grieved, alarmed, distressed, made miserable. It is also a day of "rebuke," or rather of "chastisement" - a day on which God's hand lies heavy upon us and chastises us for our sins. And it is a day, not of "blasphemy," but of "abhorrence" or of "contumely" - a day on which God contumeliously rejects his people, and allows them to be insulted by their enemies (see the comments of Keil and Bahr). For the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth. A proverbial expression, probably meaning that a dangerous crisis approaches, and that the nation has no strength to carry it through the peril.
It may be the LORD thy God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God; and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that are left.
Verse 4. - It may be the Lord thy God - still "thy God," at any rate, if he will not condescend to be called ours, since we have so grievously offended him by our many sins and backslidings - will hear all the words of Rabshakeh. "The words of Rabshakeh" (Isaiah 37:4); but the expression here used is more emphatic. Hezekiah hoped that God would "hear" Rabshakeh's words, would note them, and punish them. Whom the King of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God (For the "reproaches" intended, see 2 Kings 18:30-35. For the expression, "the living God," ךאלחִים חַי, see Deuteronomy 5:26; Joshua 3:10; 1 Samuel 17:26; Psalm 42:2; Psalm 84:2; Hosea 1:10, etc.) A contrast is intended between the "living" God, and the dead idols whom Rabshakeh has placed on a par with him. And will reprove the words which the Lord thy God hath heard. The "words of Rabshakeh," his contemptuous words concerning Jehovah (2 Kings 18:33-35) and his lying words (2 Kings 18:25), constituted the new feature in the situation, and, while a ground for "distress," were also a ground for hope: would not God in some signal way vindicate his own honor, and "reprove" them? Wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that are left. Sennacherib, in his former expedition, wherein he took forty-six of the Judaean cities, besides killing vast numbers, had, as he himself tells us ('Eponym Canon,' p. 134), carried off into captivity 200,150 persons. He had also curtailed Hezekiah's dominions, detaching from them various cities with their territories, and attaching them to Ashdod, Gaza, and Ekron (ibid., p. 135). Thus it was only a "remnant" of the Jewish people that was left in the land (comp. Isaiah 1:7-9).
So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah.
Verse 5. - So the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah. Superfluous, according to modern notions, but rounding off the paragraph commenced with ver. 2.
And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say to your master, Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.
Verse 6. - And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say to your master. Isaiah seems to have been ready with a reply. The news of the words spoken by Rabshakeh had probably flown through the city, and reached him, and he had already laid the matter before God, and received God's instructions concerning it. He was therefore able to return an answer at once. Thus saith the Lord, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants - rather, lackeys; the term used is not the common one for "servants," viz. עַבְדֵי, but a contemptuous one, נַעֲרֵי, "foot-boys," or "lackeys" - of the King of Assyria have blasphemed me.
Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.
Verse 7. - Behold, I will send a blast upon him. The meaning is doubtful. Most modern critics translate, with the LXX., "I will put a spirit within him," and understand "a spirit of cowardice," or "a despondent mood" (Thenius), or "an extraordinary impulse of Divine inspiration, which is to hurry him blindly on" (Drechsler). But the idea of our translators, that the blast (רוּה) is external, and sent upon him, not put in him - that, in fact, the destruction of his army is referred to, seems defensible by such passages as Exodus 15:8 and Isaiah 25:4. The prophecy was, no doubt, intentionally vague - enough for its immediate purpose, which was to comfort and strengthen Hezekiah - but not intended to gratify man's curiosity by revealing the exact mode in which God would work. And he shall hear a rumor; literally, he shall hear a hearsay; i.e. he shall be told something, which shall determine him on a hasty retreat. It is best, I think, to understand, not news of Tirhakah's advance (Knobel, Keil, Bahr), much less news of an insurrection in some other part of the empire (Cheyne), but information of the disaster to his army. It is no objection to this that Sennacherib was "with his army." No doubt he was. But he would learn the catastrophe from the mouth of some one who came into his tent and told him - he would "hear a hearsay" And shall return to his own land (see ver. 36), and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land. (On Sennacherib's murder, see the comment upon ver. 37.)
So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish.
Verse 8. - So Rabshakeh returned. Rabshakeh's embassy came to an end with the retirement of Hezekiah's officers from their conference with the three envoys of Sennacherib. No further communication was held with him. He had outraged all propriety by his appeal to the "men upon the wall" (2 Kings 18:27-35); and it seems to have been thought most dignified to give him no answer at all. He had offered no terms - he had simply delivered a summons to surrender, and the closed gates and guarded walls were a sufficient reply. So he felt, and returned to his master, re infecta. And found the King of Assyria warring against Libnah. The position of Libnah relatively to Lachish is uncertain. The site of Lachish may be regarded as fixed to Um-Lakis; but that of Libnah rests wholly on conjecture. It has been placed at Tel-es-Safieh, twelve miles northeast of Um-Lakis; at Arak-el-Menshiyeh, about five miles nearly due east of the same; and near Umm-el-Bikar, four miles south-east of Um-Lakis. A removal from Um-Lakis to Tel-el-Safieh would mean a retreat. A march from Um-Lakis to either of the other sites would he quite compatible with an intention to push on to Egypt. For he had heard that he was departed from Lachish. Whether Lachish had been taken or not cannot be determined from these words. But we can scarcely suppose that a place of such slight strength can have defied the Assyrian arms successfully. It is beat therefore to suppose, with Keil and Thenius, that Lachish had been taken.
And when he heard say of Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, Behold, he is come out to fight against thee: he sent messengers again unto Hezekiah, saying,
Verses 9-14. - Sennacherib's letter to Hezekiah. Sennacherib seems to have been induced to write to Hezekiah by the fact that he could not march against him at once. A forward movement on the part of Tirhakah was reported to him (ver. 9), and he thought it necessary to meet, or at least watch it. But he must vent his anger on the rebel Judaean monarch in some way. He sends a letter, therefore, as more weighty and impressive than a mere message. He warns Hezekiah against being himself deceived by Jehovah (ver. 10); and he expands his inductive argument in proof of the irresistible might of Assyria, by an enumeration of four more recent conquests (ver. 12). Otherwise, he does little but repeat what Rabshakeh had already urged. Verse 9. - And when he heard say of Tirhakah King of Ethiopia. Tirhakah was one of the most distinguished of the later Egyptian monarchs. An Ethiopian by birth, and originally ruling from Napata over the Upper Nile valley from the First Cataract to (perhaps) Khartoum, he extended his dominion over Egypt probably about B.C. 700, maintaining, however, Shabatok, as a sort of puppet-king, upon the throne. About B.C. 693 he succeeded Shabatok, and held the throne till B.C. 667, being engaged in many wars with the Assyrians. The native form of his name is "Tahrak" or "Tahark," the Assyrian "Tarku" or "Tarqu," the Greek "Taracos" or "Tearchon." He has left numerous memorials in Egypt and Ethiopia, and was regarded by the Greeks as a great conqueror. At the time of Sennacherib's second attack on Hezekiah (about B.C. 699) he was, as appears in the text, not yet King of Egypt, but only of Ethiopia. Still, he regarded Egypt as practically under his suzerainty, and when it was threatened by Sennacherib's approach, he marched to the rescue. Behold, he is come out to fight against thee. He may have regarded himself as bound in honor to come to the relief of Hezekiah, or he may have been simply bent on defending his own territory. He sent messengers again unto Hezekiah, saying,
Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.
Verse 10. - Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah King of Judah, saying. The messengers brought a "letter" (סְפָדִים), as we see from ver. 14; but still they were to "speak to Hezekiah" - i.e. they were first to read the contents to him, and then to hand him the copy. Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the King of Assyria. Sennacherib drops the fiction that he himself is sent by Jehovah to attack Judaea and destroy it (2 Kings 18:25), and contents himself with suggesting that any announcements which Hezekiah may have received from his God are untrustworthy. Probably he spoke his convictions. He did not think it possible that Jerusalem could resist or escape him (comp. Isaiah 10:8-11 and 13, 14).
Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly: and shalt thou be delivered?
Verse 11. - Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly (see the comment on 2 Kings 18:33). The fact was indisputable (secret. 17). The question remained - Would this triumphant career of success necessarily continue? And shalt thou be delivered? A perfect induction is impossible in practical matters. Anything short of a perfect induction is short of a proof.
Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed; as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Thelasar?
Verse 12. - Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed? The Assyrian kings always speak of all their predecessors as their ancestors. In point of fact, Sennacherib bad had only one "father" among the previous kings, viz. Sargon. As Gozan (see the comment on 2 Kings 17:6). It is uncertain at what time Gozan was finally conquered and absorbed. It was frequently overrun by the Assyrians from the reign of Tiglath-pileser I. (about B.C. 1100); but it was probably not absorbed until about B.C. 809. The Prefect of Gozan first appears in the list of Assyrian Eponyms in B.C. 794. And Haran. "Haran" is generally admitted to be the city of Terah (Genesis 11:32), and indeed there is no rival claimant of the name. Its position was in the western part of the Gauzanitis region, on the Belik, about lat. 36° 50' N. It was probably conquered by Assyria about the same time as Gozan. And Reseph. A town called "Razappa," probably "Rezeph," appears in the Assyrian inscriptions from an early date. It is thought to have been in the near vicinity of Haran, but had been conquered and absorbed as early as B.C. 818. Whether it is identical with the Resapha of Ptolemy ('Geograph.,' 5:15) is doubtful. And the children of Eden. Probably the inhabitants of a city called "Bit-Adini" in the Assyrian inscriptions, which was on the Middle Euphrates, not far from Carchemish, on the left bank ('Records of the Past,' vol. 3. pp. 69, 71, etc.). This place was conquered by Asshur-nazir-pal, about B.C. 877. Which were in Thelasar. "Thelasar" is probably the Hebrew equivalent of "Tel-Asshur," "the hill or fort of Asshur," which may have been the Assyrian name of Bit-Adini, or of a city dependent on it. Asshur-nazir-pal gave Assyrian names to several cities on the Middle Euphrates (see 'Records of the Past,' vol. 3. p. 55, line 48; p. 69, line 50).
Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivah?
Verse 13. - Where is the King of Hamath. Ilu-bid, King of Hamath, raised a rebellion against Sargon in B.C. 720, and was taken prisoner the same year and carried to Assyria (see the 'Eponym Canon,' p. 127). And the King of Arpad. Arpad revolted in conjunction with Hamath, and was reduced about the same time ('Eponym Canon,' p. 126). Its "king" is not mentioned, but he probably shared the fate of Ilu-bid. And the King of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hens, and Ivah? It is probably not meant that these three cities were all of them under the dominion of one and the same king. "King" is to be taken distributively. (On the sites of the cities, see the comment upon 2 Kings 18:34.)
And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.
Verse 14. - And Hezekiah received the letter. It had not been previously stated that Sennacherib had written a letter. But the author forgets this, and so speaks of "the letter." Kings generally communicated by letters, and not merely by messages (see 2 Kings 5:5; 2 Kings 20:12; 2 Chronicles 2:11; Nehemiah 1:9, etc.). Of the hand of the messengers, and read it. Probably Sennacherib had caused it to be written in Hebrew. And Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. Not as if God would not otherwise know the contents of the letter, but to emphasize his detestation of the letter, and to make it silently plead for him with God. Ewald rightly compares what Judas Maccabaeus did with the disfigured copies of the Law at Maspha (1 Macc. 3:48), but incorrectly calls it ('History of Israel,' vol. 4. p. 183, note 1, Eng. trans.) "a laying down of the object in the sanctuary." Maspha was "over against" the temple, at the distance of a mile or more.
And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth.
Verse 15. - And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said, O Lord God of Israel. In the parallel passage of Isaiah 37:16 we find, "O Lord of hosts, Cod of Israel." Our author probably abbreviates. Which dwellest between the cherubims; or, on the cherubim - "which hast thy seat," i.e., behind the veil in the awful holy of holies, consecrated to thee, and where thou dost manifest thyself." Hezekiah, as Keil observes, calls into prominence "the covenant relation into which Jehovah, the Almighty Creator and Ruler of the whole world, had entered towards Israel. As the covenant God, who was enthroned above the cherubim, the Lord was bound to help his people, if they turned to him with faith in the time of their distress and entreated his assistance." Thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. Thou art not, i.e., as Sennacherib supposes, a mere local god, presiding over Judaea, and protecting it; but thou art the God of all the earth and of all its kingdoms, including his own, equally. Moreover, thou alone art the God of the kingdoms. Their supposed gods are no gods, have no existence, are the mere fictions of an idle and excited imagination, are mere "breath" and "nothingness." Thou hast made heaven and earth. Whereas they have done nothing, have given no proof of their existence (see Isaiah 41:23, 24).
LORD, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, LORD, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God.
Verse 16. - Lord, bow down thine ear, and hear. "Bow down thine ear" is a Hebrew idiom for "give ear," "attend "(see Psalm 31:2; Psalm 71:2; Psalm 86:1; Proverbs 22:17, etc.). It is based upon the fact that, when men wish to catch exactly what another says to them, they bend themselves towards him, and bring one ear as near to him as they can. Open, Lord, thine eyes, and see. Take cognizance both with eye and ear; i.e. take full cognizance - let nothing escape thee. And hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God; rather, which he has sent to reproach. The suffix translated "him" in our version really means "it" - i.e. the speech or letter of Sennacherib, which Hezekiah has "spread before the Lord."
Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands,
Verse 17. - Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria - i.e. Sennacherib, and his predecessors - the long line of monarchs who have sat on the Assyrian throne for many past ages - have destroyed the nations and their lands; rather, have laid waste, as in the parallel passage of Isaiah (Isaiah 37:18). "Destroyed" is too strong a word. Hezekiah fully admits the boast of the Assyrian monarch, that he and his predecessors have had a wonderful career of success (comp. Isaiah 10:5-14); but he refuses to regard this past success as ensuring success in the future. All is in the hand of God, and will be determined as God pleases. It is not an iron necessity that rules the world, but a personal will, and this well may be affected by prayer, to which (ver. 19) he therefore has recourse.
And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.
Verse 18. - And have east their gods into the fire. The images worshipped by the various nations are regarded as "their gods," which they were, at any rate in the minds of the common people. The ordinary practice of the Assyrians was to carry off the images taken from a conquered people, and to set them up in their own country as trophies of victory (see Isaiah 46:1, 2, where a similar practice is ascribed by anticipation to the Persians). But there are places in the inscriptions where the gods are said to have been "destroyed" or "burnt." It is reasonable to suppose that the images destroyed were those of wood, stone, and bronze, which had little or no intrinsic value, while the gold and silver idols were carried off to the land of the conqueror. No doubt idols of the former far outnumbered those of the latter kind, and, at each sack of a city the "gods" which it contained were mostly burnt. For they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone (comp. Isaiah 42:17; Isaiah 44:9-20; Isaiah 46:6, 7). Wooden images (the Greek ξόανα) were probably the earliest that were made, and, on account of their antiquity, were often especially reverenced. They were "carved, but rude, with undivided feet, and eyes indicated by a line, the face colored red, or white, or gilt. It was only later that ivory and gold plates were commonly laid over the wood, vested and decked out with ornaments" (Dollinger, 'Jew and Gentile,' vol. 1. p. 240). Stone idols were at first shapeless masses, then pillars or cones, finally imitations of the human form, varying from the rudest representations to the priceless statues of Phidias. In Assyrian times, neither the wooden nor the stone idols were possessed of any artistic beauty. Therefore they have destroyed them. "Gods" of this kind could not help themselves, much less save their devotees or the cities supposed to be under their protection. It was not to be wondered at that the Assyrians had triumphed ever such gods.
Now therefore, O LORD our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD God, even thou only.
Verse 19. - New therefore, O Lord our God. Hezekiah draws the strongest possible contrast between Jehovah and the idols. Sennacherib had placed them upon a par (2 Kings 18:33-35; 2 Kings 19:10-13). Hezekiah insists that the idols are "no gods," are "nothing" - at any rate are mere blocks of wood and stone, shaped by human hands. But Jehovah is "the God of all the kingdoms of the earth" (ver. 15), the Maker of heaven and earth (ver. 15), the one and only God (ver. 19) - answering to his name, self-existing, all-sufficient, the groundwork of all other existence. And he is "our God" - the special God of Israel, bound by covenant to protect there against all enemies. I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand; i.e. "do that which this proud blasphemer thinks that thou canst not do" (2 Kings 18:35); show him that thou art far mightier than he supposes, wholly unlike those "no-gods," over whom he has hitherto triumphed - a "very present Help in trouble" - potent to save. That all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God. The glory of God is the end of creation; and God's true saints always bear the fact in mind, and desire nothing so much as that his glory should be shown forth everywhere and always. Moses, in his prayers for rebellious Israel in the wilderness, constantly urges upon God that it will not be for his glory to destroy or desert them (Exodus 32:12; Numbers 14:13-16; Deuteronomy 9:26-29). David, in his great strait, asks the destruction of his enemies, "that men may know that thou, whose name alone is Jehovah, art the Most High over all the earth" (Psalm 83:18); and again (Psalm 59:13), "Consume them in wrath, consume them, that they may not be; and let them know that God ruleth in Jacob unto the ends of the earth." Hezekiah prays for a signal vengeance on Sennacherib, not for his own sake, not even for his people's sake, so much as for the vindication of God's honor among the nations of the earth - that it may be known far and wide that Jehovah is a God who can help, the real Ruler of the world, against whom earthly kings and earthly might avail nothing. Even thou only. It would not satisfy Hezekiah that Jehovah should be acknowledged as a mighty god, one of many. He asks for such a demonstration as shall convince men that he is unique, that he stands alone, that he is the only mighty God in all the earth.
Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, That which thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard.
Verse 20. - Then Isaiah the son of Amos sent to Hezekiah, saying. As Hezekiah prays, Isaiah is by Divine revelation made cognizant of his prayer, and commissioned to answer it favorably. That he sends his answer, instead of taking it, is indicative of the high status of the prophets at this period, which made it not unseemly that, in spiritual matters, they should claim at least equality with the monarch. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, That which thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib King of Assyria I have heard. First of all, Hezekiah is assured that his prayer has been "heard." God has "bowed down his ear" to it (ver. 16) - has taken it into his consideration, and has sent a reply. Then the reply follows, in fourteen verses arranged in four strophes or stanzas. The first (vers. 21-24) and second (vers. 25-28) are addressed to Sennacherib, and breathe a tone of scorn and contempt. The third (vers. 29-31), is addressed to Hezekiah, and is encouraging and consolatory. The fourth (vers. 32-34) is an assurance to all whom it may concern, that Jerusalem is safe, that Sennacherib will not take it, that he will not even commence its siege.
This is the word that the LORD hath spoken concerning him; The virgin the daughter of Zion hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee.
Verse 21. - This is the word that the Lord hath spoken concerning him. "Him" is, of course, Sennacherib. It adds great liveliness and force to the opening portion of the oracle, that it should be addressed directly by Jehovah to Sennacherib, as an answer to his bold challenge. The only address at all similar in Scripture is that to Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:31, 32), spoken by "a voice from heaven" But the present passage is one of far greater force and beauty. The virgin the daughter of Zion; rather, the virgin daughter of Zion, or the virgin daughter, Zion. Cities were commonly personified by the sacred writers, and represented as "daughters" (see Isaiah 23:10, 12; Isaiah 47:1, 5, etc.). "Virgin daughter" here may perhaps represent "the consciousness of impregnability" (Drechsler); but the phrase seems to have been used rhetorically or poetically, to heighten the beauty or pathos of the picture (Isaiah 23:12; Isaiah 47:1; Jeremiah 46:11; Lamentations 2:13), without any reference to the question whether the particular city had or had not been previously taken. Jerusalem certainly had been taken by Shishak (1 Kings 14:26), and by Joash (2 Kings 14:13); but Zion, if it be taken as the name of the eastern city (Bishop Patrick, ad lee.), may have been still a "virgin fortress." Hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; or, despises thee and laughs thee to scorn. The Hebrew preterite has often a present sense. Whatever was the case a little while ago (see Isaiah 22:1-14), the city now laughs at thy threats. The daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee; or, wags her head at thee - in scorn and ridicule (comp. Psalm 22:7).
Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel.
Verse 22. - Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? i.e. "Against whom hast thou been mad enough to measure thyself? Whom hast thou dared to insult and defy?" Not an earthly king - not a mere angelic being - but the Omnipotent, the Lord of earth and heaven. What utter folly is this! What mere absurdity? And against whom hast thou exalted thy voice? i.e. "spoken proudly" - in the tone in which a superior speaks of an inferior - and lifted up thine eyes on high? - i.e. "looked down upon" - treated with contempt, as not worth consideration - even against the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah's favorite phrase - used by him twenty-seven times, and only five times in the rest of Scripture - marks this entire prophecy as his genuine utterance, net the composition of the writer of Kings, but a burst of sudden inspiration from the Coryphaeus of the prophetic band. The oracle bears all the marks of Isaiah's elevated, fervid, and highly poetic style.
By thy messengers thou hast reproached the Lord, and hast said, With the multitude of my chariots I am come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon, and will cut down the tall cedar trees thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof: and I will enter into the lodgings of his borders, and into the forest of his Carmel.
Verse 23. - By thy messengers - literally, by the hand of thy messengers - Rabshakeh and others (see 2 Kings 18:30, 35; 2 Kings 19:10-13) - thou hast reproached the Lord, and but said. Sennacherib had net said what is here attributed to him, any more than Sargon had said the words ascribed to him in Isaiah 10:13, 14. But he had thought it; and God accounts men's deliberate thoughts as their utterances. Isaiah's "oracle" brings out and places in a striking light the pride, self-confidence, and self-sufficiency which underlay Sennacherib's messages and letters. With the multitude of my chariots; or, with chariots upon chariots. The chariot-force was the main arm of the Assyrian military service - that on which most dependence was placed, and to which victory was commonly attributed. The number of chariots that could be brought into the field by the Assyrians is nowhere stated; but we find nearly four thousand hostile chariots collected to oppose an ordinary Assyrian invasion, and defeated (see 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 2. p. 362, note 8). The estimates of Cterias - eleven thousand for Ninas, and a hundred thousand for Semiramis (Died. Sic., 2:5. § 4) - are, of course, unhistorical. I am come up to the height of the mountains. "The height of the mountains" is here the high ground which an army would have to traverse in passing from the Coele-Syrian valley into Palestine. It is not exactly Lebanon, which runs parallel with the coast, and certainly does not "guard Palestine to the north," as Keil supposes; But it may be viewed as a "side" or "flank" of Lebanon. In point of fact, Lebanon and Hermon unite their roots to form a barrier between the Coele-Syrian plain (El Buka'a) and the valley of the Jordan, and an invader from the north must cross this barrier. It is not so difficult or rugged but that the Assyrians could bring their chariots ever it. They were accustomed to traverse far more difficult regions in Zagros and Niphatos and Taurus, and to carry their chariots with them, dismounting when necessary, and having the vehicles lifted over obstacles by human hands (see 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 2. p. 74). To the sides of Lebanon. An army which invades Palestine by the Coele-Syrian valley - quite the easiest and most usual line of invasion - necessarily passes along the entire eastern "side," or "flank," of Lebanon, which is the proper meaning of יַרְכָּה, and not "loftiest height" (Keil), or "innermost recess" (Revised Version). The plural, יַרְכְתֵי, is natural when a mountain range, like Lebanon, is spoken cf. And will cut down the tall cedar trees thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof. The felling of timber in the Syrian mountain-chains was a common practice of the Assyrian invaders, and had two quite distinct objects. Sometimes it was mere cruel devastation, done to injure and impoverish the inhabitants; but more often it was done for the sake of the timber which the conqueror carried off into his own country. "The mountains of Amanus I ascended," says Asshur-nazir-pal; "wood for bridges, pines, box, cypress, I cut down... cedar-wood from Amanus I destined for Bit-Hira and my pleasure-house called Azmaku, and for the temple of the moon and sun, the exalted gods. I proceeded to the land of Iz-mehri, and took possession of it throughout: I cut down beams for bridges, and carried them to Nineveh" ('Records of the Past,' vol. 3. p. 74). The cedar (erez) and the pine, or juniper (berosh), were in special request. And I will enter into the lodgings of his borders - rather, the lodge of its border - perhaps a palace or hunting-lodge on the outskirt of the Lebanon forest region (comp. Song of Solomon 7:4) - and into the forest of his Carmel; rather, the forest of its orchard; i.e. the choicest part of the Lebanon forest region - the part which is rather park or orchard than mere forest.
I have digged and drunk strange waters, and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of besieged places.
Verse 24. - I have digged and drunk strange waters; rather, perhaps, I dig, and drink... and dry up - the preterit having again a present sense. Sennacherib means that this is what he is wont to do. As mountains do not stop him (ver. 23), so deserts do not stop him - he digs wells in them, and drinks water "strange" to the soil - never before seen there. And with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of besieged places; rather, will 1 dry up all the rivers of Egypt (compare the Revised Version. "Mazor" is used for "Egypt" in Isaiah 19:6 and Micah 7:12). It is the old singular from which was formed the dual Mizraim. Whether it meant "land of strength" (Pusey), or "land of distress" (Ewald), may be doubted, since we have no right to assume a Hebrew derivation. There was probably a native word, from which the Hebrew Mazor, the Assyrian Muzr, and the Arabic Misr were taken. Sennacherib's beast is that, as he makes deserts traversable by digging wells, so, if rivers try to stop him, he will find a way of drying them up. Compare the boasts of Alaric in Claudian ('Bell. Get.,' pp. 525-532), who had probably this passage of Kings in his thoughts -

"To patior suadente fugam, cum cesserit omnis
Obsequiis natura meis?
Subsidere nostris Sub pedibus montes, arescere vidimus amnes
Fregi Alpes, galeisque Padum victricibus hausi."
Hast thou not heard long ago how I have done it, and of ancient times that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste fenced cities into ruinous heaps.
Verse 25. - Hast thou not heard long ago how I have done it? The strain suddenly changes - the person of the speaker is altered. It is no longer Sennacherib who reveals the thoughts of his own heart, but Jehovah who addresses the proud monarch. "Hast thou not heard, how from long ago I have acted thus? Hast thou never been taught that revolutions, conquests, the rise and fall of nations, are God's doing, decreed by him long, long age - ay, from the creation of the world? Art thou not aware that this is so, either from tradition, or by listening to the voice of reason within thine own heart?" It is implied that such knowledge ought to he in the possession of every man. And of ancient times that I have formed it? A rhetorical repetition of the previous question, needful for the balance of clauses, in which Hebrew poetry delights, but adding nothing to the sense. Now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste fenced cities into ruinous heaps. The idea was very familiar to Isaiah and his contemporaries. Years before, when Assyria first became threatening, Isaiah, speaking in the person of Jehovah, had exclaimed, "O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets" (Isaiah 10:5, 6). But the heathen kings whom God made his instruments to chasten sinful nations imagined that they conquered and destroyed and laid waste by their own strength (see Isaiah 10:7-14).
Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded; they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the housetops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up.
Verse 26. - Therefore their inhabitants were of small power; literally, were short of hand - unable, i.e., to make an effectual resistance. When God has decreed a change in the distribution of power among the nations, his providence works doubly. It infuses confidence and strength into the aggressive people, and spreads dismay and terror among those who are attacked. Unaccountable panics seize them - they seem paralyzed; instead of making every possible preparation for resistance, they fold their hands and do nothing. They are like fascinated birds before the stealthy advance of the serpent. They were dismayed and confounded. Historically, the prophet declares, this was the cause of the general collapse of the nations whom the Assyrians attacked. God put a craven fear into their hearts. They were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the house-tops. The "grass of the field" is one of the most frequent similes for weakness. "All flesh is grass" (Isaiah 40:6); "They shall soon be cut down like the grass" (Psalm 37:2); "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth" (Isaiah 40:8); "I am withered like grass" (Psalm 102:11). In the hot sun of an Eastern sky nothing faded more quickly. But this weakness was intensified in the "grass of the house-tops." It "withered before it grew up" (Psalm 129:6). The depth of earth was so slight, the exposure so great, the heat so scorching, that it sank in death almost as soon as it had sprung to life. Such has been the weakness of the nations given over as a prey to the Assyrians. And as corn blasted before it be grown up. Corn blasted before it shoots into a stalk is as frail as grass, or frailer. It dwindles and disappears without even asserting itself.
But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me.
Verse 27. - But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in. "Resting in peace, going out, and coming in, cover all the activity of a man" (Bahr), or rather, cover his whole life, active and passive. Jehovah claims an absolute knowledge of all that Sennacherib does or thinks, both when he is in action and when he is at rest. Nothing is hid from him (comp. Psalm 139:1-16). Human pride should stand abashed before such absolute knowledge. And thy rage against me. Opposition to their will fills violent men with fury and rage. Sennacherib's anger was primarily against Hezekiah, but when once he was convinced that Hezekiah really trusted in Jehovah (ver. 10), his fury would turn against God himself (see Psalm 2:1-3, where the Lord's anointed is primarily David).
Because thy rage against me and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest.
Verse 28. - Because thy rage against me, and thy tumult - rather, thy arrogancy (see the Revised Version); שׁאנן is rather the quiet security of extreme pride and self-confidence than "tumult" - is come up into mine ears - i.e. has attracted my notice - therefore I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips. The imagery is most striking. Captive kings were actually so treated by the Assyrians themselves. A hook or split-ring was thrust through the cartilage of the nose, or the fleshy part of the under lip, with a rope or thong attached to it, and in this guise they were led into the monarch's presence, to receive their final sentence at his hands. In the sculptures of Sargon at Khorsabad we see three prisoners brought before him in this fashion, one of whom he seems to be about to kill with a spear ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 1. p. 367). In another sculpture set up by a Babylonian king, his vizier brings before him two captives similarly treated, but with the ring, apparently, passed through the cartilage of their noses (ibid., vol. 3. p. 436) Manasseh seems to have received the same treatment at the hands of the "captains" (2 Chronicles 33:11) who brought him a prisoner to Esarhaddon at Babylon. Other allusions to the practice in Scripture will be found in Isaiah 30:28; Ezekiel 29:4; Ezekiel 38:4. The threat in the present passage was, of course, not intended to be understood life-rally, but only as a declaration that God would bring down the pride of Sennacherib, humiliate him, and reduce him to a state of abject weakness and abasement. And I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest (comp. ver. 33). The meaning is clear. Sennacherib would not be allowed to come near Jerusalem. He would hurry back by the low coast route (2 Kings 18:17), by which he had made his invasion.
And this shall be a sign unto thee, Ye shall eat this year such things as grow of themselves, and in the second year that which springeth of the same; and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruits thereof.
Verse 29. - And this shall be a sign unto thee. Another sudden change in the address. The prophet turns from Sennacherib to Hezekiah, and proceeds to give him a sign, and otherwise speak to him encouragingly. Signs were at the time freely offered and given by God both to the faithful and the unfaithful (see 2 Kings 20:4; Isaiah 7:11, 14). They generally consisted in the prediction of some near event, whose occurrence was to serve as a pledge, or evidence, of the probable fulfillment of another prediction of an event more distant. Such signs are not necessarily miraculous. Ye shall eat this year such things as grow of themselves. The Assyrian invasion, coming early in the spring, as was usual, had prevented the Israelites from sowing their lands. But they would soon be gone, and then the Israelites could gather in such self-sown corn as they might find in the corn-lands. The next year, probably a sabbatical year, they were authorized to do the same, notwithstanding the general prohibition (Leviticus 25:5); the third year they would return to their normal condition. The sign was not given with reference to Sennacherib's departure, which belonged to the first year, and must take place before the ingathering of the self-sown corn could begin, but with reference to the promise that Jerusalem should be free from any further attack on his part. Sennacherib reigned seventeen years longer, but led no further expedition into Palestine. And in the second year that which springeth of the same; and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruits thereof.
And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.
Verse 30. - And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah. Sennacherib, who in his first expedition had carried away out of Judaea 200,150 prisoners ('Eponym Canon' p. 134, line 12), had in his second probably done considerable damage to the towns in the south-west of Palestine - Lachish, for instance, which was a city of Judah (Joshua 15:39; 2 Kings 14:19). The open country had been wasted, great numbers killed, and many probably carried off by famine and pestilence. Thus both Hezekiah (ver. 4) and Isaiah regard the population still in the land as a mere "remnant." Shall yet again take root downward - i.e., be firmly fixed and established in the land, like a vigorous tree that strikes its roots into the soil deeply - and bear fruit upward; i.e. exhibit all the outward signs of prosperity. The reign of Josiah, when the Jewish dominion embraced the whole of Palestine (2 Kings 23:15-20), was the special fulfillment of this prophecy.
For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this.
Verse 31. - For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant. The march of Sennacherib and the raid of Rabshakeh had driven the mass of the escaped population of Judaea to take refuge within the walls of Jerusalem, from which, on the retirement of the invaders, they would gladly "go forth," to recultivate their lands (ver. 29) and restore their ruined homes. And they that escape - rather, that shall escape - out of Mount Zion - "Mount Zion" is a variant for Jerusalem, as in ver. 21, and in Isaiah and the Psalms so continually - the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this. So in Isaiah 9:7 and Isaiah 37:32. Here most manuscripts have "the zeal of the Lord," omitting "of hosts;" and this is probably the right reading. The meaning is that God's zealous love and care for his people will effect their complete restoration to prosperity and glory, difficult as it was at the time to imagine such a restoration.
Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it.
Verse 32. - Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the King of Assyria. The oracle concludes with a general announcement, addressed to all whom it may concern, not to any one individually, concerning the existing distress. First, it is laid down what shall not be the issue. He - i.e. Sennacherib - shall not come into - rather, unto - this city - i.e. Jerusalem - nor shoot an arrow there - i.e., he shall not begin the attack, as was usually done, with discharges of arrows, to clear the walls of their defenders, and make it safe for the sappers and miners and the siege artillery to draw near - nor come before it with shield - i.e. advance close, to raise the scaling-ladders, or mine the walls, or fire the gates, under the protection of huge shields - nor east a bank against it. Much less shall he proceed to the last extremity of raising mounds against the walls, and planting upon them his balistae and his battering-rams, with the object of effecting a breach. Each of the successive stages of a siege is touched, and negatived. None of these things shall be done. There shall be no siege. (For representations of the Assyrian sieges, banks, and engines, see Layard, 'Monuments of Nineveh,' second series, plates 21, 31, 39, 43, etc.; and Rawlinson, 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 1. p. 303; vol. 2. p. 81.)
By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD.
Verse 33. - By the way that he came, by the same shall he return (see ver. 28). Not merely, "he shall fail of his object" (Bahr, Keil), "he shall return disappointed;" but, literally, he shall retrace his steps, he shall quit Palestine by the same route by which he entered it - the coast route along the maritime plain, which left Jerusalem on the right at a distance of forty miles. And shall not come into - rather, unto - this city, saith the Lord. An emphatic ending (comp. Isaiah 22:14; Isaiah 45:13; Isaiah 54:17; Isaiah 55:8; Isaiah 59:20; Isaiah 65:25; Isaiah 66:21, 23).
For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.
Verse 34. - For I will defend this city, to save it - not merely with a view of saving it, but in such sort as effectually to save it - for mine own sake - i.e., because my own honor is concerned in its preservation, especially after the taunts of Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:32-35; 2 Kings 19:10-13) - and for my servant David's sake. Not so much on account of the promises made to David, as on account of the love which God bore towards him for his faithfulness and earnest devotion.
And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.
Verses 35-37. - DESTRUCTION OF SENNACHERIB'S HOST, AND HIS OWN VIOLENT DEATH AT NINEVEH. The sequel is told in a few words. That night destruction came down on the host of Sennacherib, as it lay en-camped at some distance from Jerusalem, silently and swiftly. Without noise, without disturbance, the sleeping men slept the sleep of death, and in the morning, when the survivors awoke, it was found that a hundred and eighty-five thousand were slain. Upon this, with the remnant of his army, Sennacherib hastily returned to Nineveh. There, some time after - about seventeen years according to our reckoning - a conspiracy was formed against him by two of his sons, who murdered him as he was worshipping in a temple, and fled into Armenia. Another son, Esarhaddon, succeeded. Verse 35. - And it came to pass that night. The important expression, "that night," is omitted from the narrative of Isaiah 37:36, but is undoubtedly an original portion of the present history. It can have no other meaning - as Keil and Bahr have seen - than "the night following the day on which Isaiah had foretold to Hezekiah the deliverance of Jerusalem." God's word "runneth very swiftly." No sooner was the premise given than the destroying angel received his orders, and "that night" the terrible stroke fell. That the angel of the Lord went out; or, an angel (ἄγγελος Κυρίου, LXX.). We cannot say, with Bahr, that it was "the same one who smote the firstborn in Egypt, and inflicted the pestilence after the census under David." Revelation does not tell us that there is definitely one destroying angel. "The angel of death" is a rabbinical invention. It accords rather with the analogy of God's dealings that he should use at one time the services of one minister, at another time those of another. And smote. Imagination has been over-busy in conjecturing the exact manner of the smiting. Some critics have suggested pestilence, or more definitely "the plague" (Gesenius, Dathe, Maurer, Ewald, Winer, Thenins, Keil, etc.); others a terrible storm (Vitringa, Stanley); others the simoom (Prideaux, Milman); others a nocturnal attack by Tirhakah (Ussher, Preiss, Michaelis). Some of these the text altogether precludes, as the attack of Tirhakah, which must have aroused the whole host, and not left the disaster to be discovered by those who "awoke early in the morning." Others are improbable, as the simoom, or a terrible storm with thunder and lightning, which have never been known to accomplish such a destruction. Pestilence is no doubt possible, but a pestilence of a strange and miraculous character, to which men succumbed without awaking or disturbing others. But the narrative rather points to sudden and silent death during sleep, such as often happens to men in the course of nature singly, and here on this occasion was made to happen in one night to a hundred and eighty-five thousand men by the Divine omnipotence acting abnormally. In the camp of the Assyrians. The destruction was not only at one time, but in one place. "The camp of the Assyrians" cannot mean half a dozen camps situated in half a dozen different places, as Keil supposes. Sennacherib was somewhere with his main army, encamped for the night, and there, wherever it was, the blow fell. But the exact locality is uncertain. All that the narrative makes clear is that it was not in the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem. Herodotus places the catastrophe at Pelusium (2. 141). Bahr thinks it was probably before Libnah. I should incline to place it between Libnah and the Egyptian frontier, Sennacherib, when he heard that Tirhakah was coming against him (ver. 9), having naturally marched forward to meet and engage his army. A hundred four score and five thousand. These figures do not pretend to exactness, and can scarcely have been more than a rough estimate. They are probably the Assyrians' own estimate of their loss, which the Jews would learn from such of the fugitives as fell into their hands. And when they - i.e., the survivors - arose early in the morning, they - i.e. the hundred and eighty-five thousand - were all dead corpses - absolutely dead, that is; not merely sick or dying. The fact makes against the theory of a pestilence.
So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.
Verse 36. - So Sennacherib King of Assyria departed, and went and returned. The, original is more lively, and more expressive of haste. Sennacherib, it is said, "decamped, and departed, and returned" - the heaping up of the verbs expressing the hurry of the march home (Keil); comp. 1 Kings 19:3. And dwelt at Nineveh. Nineveh was Sennacherib's favorite residence. He had built himself a palace, there, marked by the modern mound of Koyunjik. Sargon, his father, had dwelt mainly at Dur-Sargina or Khorsabad, Tiglath-pileser and Shalmaueser at Calah or Nimrod. Sennacherib's palace and his ether buildings at Nineveh are described in his annals at some length (see 'Records of the Past,' vol. 1. pp. 50-52). The expression, "dwelt at Nineveh," does not mean that he never quitted it, but merely implies that he dwelt there for some considerable time after his return, as he appears to have done by his annals. The Eponym Canon makes his last year B.C. 682.
And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped into the land of Armenia. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.
Verse 37. - And it came to pass - seventeen or eighteen years afterwards; not "fifty-five days" after, as the author of Tobit (1. 21) says - as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god. The word Nisroch offers considerable difficulty. It has been connected with nesher (נֶשֶׁר), "eagle," and explained as a reference to the eagle-headed genius sometimes seen in the Assyrian sculptures ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 2. p. 265). But there is no evidence that the genii were ever worshipped in Assyria, much less that they had temples of their own, nor is any name resembling "Nisroch" attached to any of them. The word itself is somewhat doubtful, and different manuscripts of the Septuagint, here and in Isaiah 37:38, have the variants of Nasaraeh, Esorach, Meserach, and Asarach, while Josephus has Araskas. Asarach might conceivably be a strengthened form of Asshur; but the substitution of samech for shin is against this explanation. Still, Asshur was certainly Sennacherib's favorite god, the deity whom he principally worshipped. Josephus regards the name as belonging, not to the god, but to the temple (ἐν τῷ ἰδίθι ναῷ Αράσκῃ λεγομένῳ), which is perhaps the true solution of the difficulty. Translate - "as he was worshipping his god in the house Nisroch." That Adram-melech and Sharezer his sons. Adram-melech is called "Adrammeles" by Aby-denus, "Ardamazanes" by Polyhistor. Neither form resembles any known Assyrian name, but Adrammelech has a good Semitic derivation (see the comment on 2 Kings 18:31). "Sharezer" is probably a shortened form of Nergal-shar-ozer (comp. "Shalman," Hosea 10:14), which was a name in use at the time ('Eponym Canon,' p. 68). Abydenus seems to have called him Nergilus. Smote him with the sword. So Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 10:1. § 5) and Mos. Chor. ('Hist. Armen.,' 1:22). A mutilated inscription of Esarhaddon's seems to have described his war with his brothers ('Records of the Past,' vol. 3. p. 103) at the commencement of his reign, but the earlier part is wanting. And they escaped into the land of Armenia; literally, of Ararat. The Hebrew "Ararat" is the Assyrian "Ur-arda" - the ordinary name for the country about Lakes Van and Urumiyeh. The name "Armenia" is not found earlier than the inscriptions of Darius Hystaspis. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead. Esarhaddon (the Sarchedon of Tobit 1:21, and the Asshur-akh-iddin of the Assyrian inscriptions) succeeded his father in B.C. 681, and was engaged for some time in a war with his brothers on the Upper Euphrates, after which he made himself master of Nineveh. He reigned from B.C. 681 to B.C. 669, when he was succeeded by his son, Asshur-bani-pal. Assyria reached the acme of her prosperity in his time.

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