and Shebna the Scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, the recorder, to Hezekiah: by which it seems that he could not be with them on the wall, but was all the while in his own palace, whither they came to him, to report the issue of their conference with Rabshakeh:
with their clothes rent; which was done perhaps not in the presence and within the sight of Rabshakeh, but as they came along; and that partly on account of the blasphemies they had heard, Matthew 26:65, and partly through the grief of heart, for the distress and calamity they might fear were coming on themselves, their king, their city, and country, Joel 2:13,
and told him the words of Rabshakeh; what he had said against him, and against the God of Israel, his menaces and his blasphemies; they made a faithful report of the whole, as messengers ought to do. What effect this had upon the king, we have an account of in the following chapter.
INTRODUCTION TO Isaiah 37
In this chapter are contained Hezekiah's message to Isaiah, desiring his prayer for him and his people, in this time of sore distress, Isaiah 37:1, the comforting and encouraging answer returned by the prophet to him, Isaiah 37:6, the king of Assyria's letter to Hezekiah, to terrify him into a surrender of the city of Jerusalem to him, Isaiah 37:8 which Hezekiah spread before the Lord, and prayed unto him for deliverance, Isaiah 37:14, upon which he received a gracious answer by the hand of the prophet, promising safety and deliverance to him, and destruction to the king of Assyria, of which a sign was given, Isaiah 37:21 and the chapter is closed with the slaughter of the Assyrian army by an angel, the flight of the king, and his death by the hands of his sons, Isaiah 37:36.
that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth; the one because of the blasphemies he heard; the other cause of the destruction he and his people were threatened with:
and went into the house of the Lord; the temple, to pray to him there: he could have prayed in his own house, but he chose rather to go to the house of God, not so much on account of the holiness of the place, but because there the Lord promised, and was used to hear the prayers of his people,
1 Kings 8:29,30 as also because it was more public, and would be known to the people, and set them an example to follow him in. Trouble should not keep persons from, but bring them to, the house of God; here the Lord is to be inquired of, here he is to be found; and from hence he sends deliverance and salvation to his people. Nothing is more proper than prayer in times of affliction; it is no ways unbecoming nor lessening the greatest king on earth to lay aside his royal robes, to humble himself before God, in a time of distress, and pray unto him. Hezekiah does not sit down to consider Rabshakeh's speech, to take it in pieces, and give an answer to it, but he applies unto God.
and the elders of the priests; as the chief of those that were concerned in civil affairs, so the chief of those that were employed in sacred things, were sent: this was a very honourable embassy; and it was showing great respect to the prophet, to send such personages to him:
covered with sackcloth; as the king himself was, following his example; and this is to be understood not of the elders of the priests only, but of Eliakim and Shebna also. These, so clad, were sent by the king
unto Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz; to give him an account of the present situation of affairs, of the distress he was in, and to desire his prayers: a very proper person to apply to, a prophet, one highly dear to God, and honoured by him, had near access unto him, and knew much of his mind.
thus saith Hezekiah; this is the message he has sent us with; this is what he would have us lay before thee, and has given us in charge to say unto thee:
this day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy; it was a "day of trouble" to Hezekiah and his people, because it was a "day of rebuke", in which God rebuked them for their sins; or of "reproach and reviling", as the Targum and Septuagint, in which the Assyrians reviled and reproached both God and them; and especially because it was a "day of blasphemy" against God:
for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth; which is to be understood not of the reformation within themselves, happily begun and carried on, but now hindered from being brought to perfection, by the Assyrian army being so near them; nor of their attempt to cast off the Assyrian yoke, which was thought to be just upon finishing, but now despaired of, unless divine assistance be given; nor of their inability to punish the blasphemy that so much affected them; but of the deplorable condition they were now in. Hezekiah compares himself and his people to a woman in travail, that has been some time in it, and the child is fallen down to the place of the breaking forth of children, as the word (p) used signifies, but unable to make its way, and she having neither strength to bear it, nor to bring it forth, nature being quite exhausted, and strength gone, through the many pains and throes endured: and just so it was even with him and his people, they were in the utmost pain and distress; they could not help themselves, nor could he help them; and therefore must perish, unless they had immediate assistance and relief. Jarchi interprets the children of the children of Israel, the children of God.
(p) a "fregit, confregit----matrix, vel os matricis, quod partu frangi videtur vel a frangentibus partus doloribus sic dictum", Gusset. Ebr. Comment. p. 324. "usque ad angustias uteri", Vatablus. So Ben Melech interprets it of "the womb".
whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God; who has life in and of himself, and is the fountain, author, and giver of life to all others; him he reproached by setting him on a level with the lifeless idols of the Gentiles:
and will reprove the words which the Lord thy God hath heard; reprove him for his words, take vengeance upon him, or punish him for the blasphemous words spoken by him against the Lord and in his hearing: to this sense is the Targum; and so the Syriac and Arabic versions:
wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left; lift up thy voice, thy hands, and thine heart, in prayer to God in heaven; pray earnestly and fervently for those that are left; the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, the other ten having been carried captive some time ago; or the inhabitants of Jerusalem particularly, the defenced cities of Judah having been already taken by the Assyrian king. The fewness of the number that remained seems to be made use of as an argument for prayer in their favour. In times of distress, men should not only pray for themselves, but get others to pray for them, and especially men of eminence in religion, who have nearness of access to God, and interest in him.
thus saith the Lord, be not afraid of the words thou hast heard; be not not terrified by them, they are but words, and no more, and will never become facts:
wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me; by representing him as no better than the gods of the Gentiles, and as unable to deliver out of the hands of the king of Assyria the city of Jerusalem, when he had said he would. The word (r) for "servants" signifies boys, lads, young men; so Rabshakeh and his two companions, Rabsaris and Tartan, are called, by way of contempt, they acting a weak and childish part as well as a wicked one.
(q) "ad dominum vestrum", Montanus. (r) "pueri recens nati, infantes, pueri judicio", Gusset.
I will put a spirit into him (s); a spirit of fear and dread, which will oblige him to desist from his purposes, and flee; though some interpret it only of an inclination, a will (t) in him, to return: it may be understood of an angel, a ministering spirit, and be rendered "I will send a spirit against him"; an angelic spirit, as he did, which cut off his army in one night:
and he shall hear a rumour; of the sudden and total destruction of his army; though some refer this to the rumour of the king of Ethiopia coming out to make war against him, Isaiah 37:9, but upon this he did not return to his own land, nor was he slain with the sword, as follows:
and return to his own land; as he did, immediately upon the slaughter of his army by the angel:
and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land: as he did, being slain by his own sons, Isaiah 37:37.
(s) "indam ei Spiritum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (t) So Ben Melech explains it by "will", "desire", "purpose".
and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah; a city in the tribe of Judah, Joshua 10:29, and lay nearer to Jerusalem than Lachish, where Rabshakeh left him; so that he seemed to be drawing his army towards that city, on which his heart was set. Josephus (u) makes him to be at this time besieging Pelusium, a city in Egypt, but wrongly; which has led some into a mistake that Libnah and Pelusium are the same:
for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish; where he was, when he sent him to Jerusalem, Isaiah 36:2, having very probably taken it.
(u) Antiqu. l. 10. c. 1. sect. 4.
he is come forth to make war with thee; not by assisting the Egyptians, as Josephus, but rather the Jews; or by making an irruption into the king of Assyria's country in his absence: this some think to be the rumour predicted, Isaiah 37:7.
and when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah; with terrifying letters, to frighten him into an immediate surrender of the city, that he might withdraw his army, and meet the king of Ethiopia with the greater force; and the rather he dispatched these messengers in all haste to Hezekiah, that his letters might reach him before he had knowledge of the king of Ethiopia, asking a diversion in his favour, which would encourage him to hold out the siege the longer: saying; as follows:
(w) Antiqu. l. 10. c. 1. sect. 4. (x) Apud Euseb. Chron. (y) Geograph. l. 15. p. 472.
let not thy God, in whom thou trustest, deceive thee; than which, nothing could be more devilish and satanical, to represent the God of truth, that cannot lie, as a liar and deceiver: in this the king of Assyria outdid Rabshakeh himself; he had represented Hezekiah as an impostor and a deceiver of the people, and warns them against him as such; and here Sennacherib represents God himself as a deceiver, and cautions Hezekiah against trusting in him: nothing is more opposite to Satan and his instruments, than faith in God, and therefore they labour with all their might and main to weaken it; however, this testimony Hezekiah had from his enemy, that he was one that trusted in the Lord; and a greater character a man cannot well have:
saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria; and so the Lord had said it; see Isaiah 38:6 and by some means or another Sennacherib had heard of it; and there was nothing he dreaded more than that Hezekiah should believe it, which would encourage him, he feared, to hold out the siege.
and shalt thou be delivered? canst thou expect it? surely thou canst not. Is it probable? yea, is it possible thou shouldest be delivered? it is not; as sure as other lands have been destroyed, so sure shall thine.
as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden, which were in Telassar. Gozan was the same, it may be, with the Gausanitis of Ptolemy (z) which he makes mention of in his description of Mesopotamia; and the rather, since Haran or Chapman was a city of Mesopotamia, Genesis 11:31 called by Ptolemy by the name of Carrae (a); and who also, in the same place, makes mention of Rezeph, under the name of Rhescipha; though he likewise speaks of another place in Palmyrene in Syria, called Rhaesapha (b), which some think to be the place here intended. Eden was also in Mesopotamia, in the eastern part of which was the garden of Eden; and this Telassar, inhabited by the children of Eden, was a city in that country, which is by Ptolemy (c) called Thelda; though Hillerus (d) is of opinion that the city Thalatha is meant, which is placed (e) near the river Tigris, a river of paradise. A very learned (f) men is of opinion, that the Eden, Isaiah here speaks of, belongs either to Syria of Damascus, and to the Lebanon and Paneas from whence Jordan arose; or to Syro-Phoenicia, and the Mediterranean sea, which the name Thalassar shows, as if it was the Syrians being used to derive not a few of their words from the Greeks: and certain it is, that there is now a village called Eden on Mount Lebanon, which Thevenot (g) mentions; and another, near Damascus, Mr. Maundrell (h) speaks of; see Amos 1:5 and Tyre in Phoenicia is called Eden, Ezekiel 28:13.
(z) Geograph, l. 5. c. 18. (a) Ibid. (b) Ibid. c. 15. (c) lbid. c. 18. (d) Onomast. Sacr. p. 945. (e) Geograph. l. 5. c. 20. (f) Nichol. Abrami Pharus Vet. Test. l. 2. c. 16. p. 57. (g) Travels, part 1. B. 2. ch. 60. p. 221. (h) Journey from Aleppo, p. 119, 120. Ed. 7th.
Henah and Ivah: which some take to be the names of the gods or kings of Sepharvaim; but rather, since Sepharvaim is of the dual number, it was a double city, the river Euphrates passing between them; and these, as Musculus conjectures, were the names of them; or it may be, these were distinct cities from that, but what or where they were is not certain. Ptolemy makes mention of a place called Ingine, near Gausanitis or Gozan, supposed to be Henah; though others rather think it to be Ange, which he places in Arabia (i), which I think is not so probable. Ivah perhaps is the same with Avah, in 2 Kings 17:24. The Targum does not take them for names or places, but translates them,
"hath he not removed them, and carried them captive?''
and so Jarchi's note is,
"the king of Assyria hath moved and overthrown them, and destroyed them, and removed them out of their place;''
referring to the other cities.
(i) Geograph. l. 6. c. 7.
"he took the letters from the hand of the messengers, and read one of them;''
that is, as Kimchi's father explains it, in which was the blasphemy against God; this he read over carefully to himself, observed the contents of it, and then did with it as follows:
and Hezekiah went up unto the house of God; the temple, the outward court of it, further than that he could not go:
and spread it before the Lord; not to read it, as he had done, or to acquaint him with the contents of it, which he fully knew; but, as it chiefly regarded him, and affected his honour and glory, he laid it before him, that he might take notice of it, and vindicate himself, and avenge his own cause; he brought it as a proof of what he had to say to him in prayer, and to support him in his allegations, and as a means to quicken himself in the discharge of that duty.
(k) "libros", V. L.
thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; this is opposed to the conceit of Sennacherib, that he was only the God of the Jews, and had no concern with other kingdoms and nations; whereas all belong to him, and him only; they are all under his jurisdiction and dominion, and at his will and control:
thou hast made heaven and earth; and so has an indisputable right to the government of the whole world, and to the disposal of all things in it.
(l) "cherubim inhabitator", Forerius.
open thine eyes, O Lord, and see; the letter he spread before him, and take notice of the blasphemies in it; and punish for them. Both these clauses are to be understood after the manner of men, and in a way becoming the being and perfections of God, to whom ears and eyes are not properly to be ascribed, and so likewise the bowing of the one, and the opening of the other; but both denote the gracious condescension of God, to take notice of things on earth, and vindicate the cause of his people, which is his own:
and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he hath sent to reproach the living God; the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions, understand it of the words which Sennacherib sent in the letter to reproach the Lord; but in 2 Kings 19:16, it is, "which hath sent him"; the messenger, Rabshakeh, or whoever was the person that brought the letter to Hezekiah. The Targum paraphrases the latter part thus,
"to reproach the people of the living God;''
both God and his people were reproached, and both carry in them arguments with the Lord to hear and avenge himself and them; and the king prays that he would "hear", take notice of and observe all the words and give a proper answer, by inflicting just punishment.
the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries: or "all the lands and their land" (m); the Targum is,
"all provinces and their lands;''
the countries and town and villages in them, or the chief cities and villages round about them.
(m) "omnes terras, et terram eorum", Pagninus, Montanus; "vel terram inquam eorum", Vatablus.
for they were no gods, but the works of men's hands, wood and stone; they were made of wood or of stone, and therefore could not be called gods; nor could they save the nations that worshipped them, nor themselves, from the fire:
therefore they have destroyed them; the Assyrian kings were able to do it, and did do it, because they were idols of wood or stone; but it did not therefore follow, that they were a match for the God of Israel, the true, and living God.
that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord, even thou only; by doing that which other gods could not do; they could not save the nations that worshipped them from the hand of the Assyrians; if therefore the God of Israel saved his people from them, this would be a proof to all the world that he is God and there is none besides him.
thus saith the Lord God of Israel; Hezekiah had been praying to him under that title and character, Isaiah 37:16,
whereas thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria: or, "what thou hast prayed", &c. (n); the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, supply, "I have heard". It is bad for any to have the prayers of good men against them.
(n) "quae preeatus es", Vatablus; "quod attinet ad id quod oravisti", Piscator.
the virgin, the daughter of Zion; hath despised thee; and laughed thee to scorn; that, is the inhabitants of Zion, particularly of the fort of Zion, called a "virgin", because it had never been forced, or taken and to show that it was a vain thing in Sennacherib to attempt it, as well as it would have been an injurious one, could he have accomplished it; since God, the Father of this virgin, would carefully keep her from such a rape; and he who was her husband to whom she was espoused as a chaste virgin, would defend and protect her; and the whole is designed to show the impotent malice of the king of Assyria; otherwise, at the time when these words were spoken, the daughter of Zion was in a fearful and trembling condition, and not in a laughing frame; but this declares what she might do now, and would do hereafter, for anything that he could do against her. The Targum paraphrases it,
"the kingdom of the congregation of Zion;''
the whole nation. Some restrain this to the inhabitants of the upper part of the city of Jerusalem, as what follows to those of the lower part:
the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee; or "after thee (o)"; by way of scorn and derision; that is when he fled; which shows, that though these things are spoken as if they were past, after the manner of the prophets, yet were to come, and would be when Sennacherib fled, upon the destruction of his army. Of this phrase, as expressive of scorn, see Psalm 22:7. The Targum is, "the people that dwell in Jerusalem", &c.
(o) "post te", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice? alluding to Rabshakeh's crying with a loud voice, Isaiah 36:13,
and lifted up thine eyes on high? as proud and haughty persons do, disdaining to look upon those they treat with contempt:
even against the Holy One of Israel; that is, Israel's God, and will protect him; "a Holy One", and of purer eyes than to behold with pleasure such a proud blaspheming creature, and cannot look upon him but with indignation; for against such he sets himself; these he resists, pulls down, and destroys.
and hast said, by the multitude of my chariots am I come up to the height of the mountains; not only with his foot soldiers, but with his chariots, and a great number of them, he had travelled over hills and mountains, as Hannibal over the Alps, and was now upon the high mountains which were round about Jerusalem, and very near the mountain of the Lord's house; of which Jarchi interprets the words:
to the sides of Lebanon; meaning either the mountain of Lebanon, which was on the borders of the land of Israel, famous for cedars and fir trees, later mentioned; or, the temple made of the wood of Lebanon, near which his army now lay; so the Targum and Jarchi understand it:
and I will cut down the tall cedars thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof; to make way for his army, and to support himself with materials for the siege; to make tents with for his soldiers to lie in, or wooden fortresses from whence to annoy the city. The cedars of Lebanon were very large and tall. Mr. Maundrell (p) says he measured one of the largest, and
"found it six and thirty feet and six inches thick; its branches spread a hundred and eleven feet; its trunk from the ground was about fifteen or sixteen feet, and then divided into five branches, each of which would make a large tree.''
Monsieur Thevenot (q) says, now there are no more nor less that, twenty three cedars on Mount Lebanon, great and small: or it may be, these metaphorically intend the princes, and nobles, and chief men of the Jewish nation, he threatens to destroy; so the Targum,
"and I will kill the most beautiful of their mighty ones, and the choicest of their princes:''
and I will enter into the height of his border; some think the tower of Lebanon, which stood on the east part of it towards Syria, is meant; but it seems rather to design Jerusalem, the metropolis of the nation, which he thought himself sure of entering into, and taking possession of; and this was what his heart was set upon; so the Targum,
and I will subdue the city of their strength; their strong city Jerusalem, in which they placed their strength:
and the forest of his Carmel: or "the forest and his fruitful field" (r); the same city, which, for the number of its houses and inhabitants, was like a forest, and was Hezekiah's fruitful field, where all his riches and treasure were. The Targum interprets it of his army,
"and I will consume the multitude of their army.''
(p) Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, p. 179. (q) Travels, part 1. B. 2. ch. 60. p. 221. (r) "sylvas, arva ejus", Junius & Tremellius; "sylvas et arva ejus", Piscator.
and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of the besieged places; or, as the Targum,
"with the soles of the feet of the people that are with me;''
the Syriac version, "with the hoofs of my horses": with which he trampled down banks of rivers, and pools, and cisterns of water; signifying the vast numbers of his soldiers, who could drink up a river, or carry it away with them, or could turn the streams of rivers that ran by the sides, or round about, cities besieged, and so hindered the carrying on of a siege, and the taking of the place; but he had ways and means very easily to drain them, and ford them; or to cut off all communication of the water from the besieged. Some render it, "I have dried up all the rivers of Egypt" (s), as Kimchi, on 2 Kings 19:24, observes, and to be understood hyperbolically; see Isaiah 19:6, so Ben Melech observes.
(s) "omnes rivos Aegypti", Vitringa.
"what I did to Pharaoh king of Egypt;''
how I have done it; and of ancient times that I have formed it? meaning either the decree in his own breast from all eternity, and which he had published by his prophets, of raising up him, this wicked prince, to be the scourge of nations; or by the "it" are meant the people of the Jews, God's Israel, whom he had made, formed into a body politic, and into a church state, and had done great things for, in bringing them out of Egypt, leading them through the Red sea, providing for them, and protecting them in the wilderness, subduing nations under them, and settling them in the land of Canaan;
now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste defenced cities into ruinous heaps (t); which some render interrogatively,
now should I bring, it to be laid waste, and fenced cities to be ruinous heaps? that is, the people of the Jews, the city of Jerusalem, and other fenced cities? no, I will not: or the meaning is, that that decree, which he had framed and formed in his own mind from all eternity, he was now bringing to pass; which was, that this king of Babylon should be a waster and destroyer of fortified cities, which he should reduce to heaps of ruin; wherefore he had no reason to vaunt as he had done, for he was only an instrument of executing the purposes and designs of God, though it was not in his heart, nor did he so mean.
(t) "in acervos et flores", "into heaps and flowers", that is, into heaps of dust, which being moved, and raised by the wind, fly away like flowers and blossoms of trees; so Gussetius, "in acervos volantes, aut ad volandum excitatos, scil. dum redacti in pulveres, magna ex parte, volant, excitati a ventis", Comment. Ebr. p. 502.
they were dismayed and confounded; not so much at the sight of Sennacherib's army, but because the Lord had dispirited them, and took away their natural courage from them, so that they became an easy prey to him:
they were as the grass of the field: which has no strength to stand before the mower:
and as the green herb; which is easily cropped with the hand of man, or eaten by the beasts of the field:
as the grass on the housetops: which has no matter of root, and is dried up with the heat of the sun:
and as corn blasted before it be grown up; before it rises up into anything of a stalk, and much less into ears; so the Targum,
"which is blasted before it comes to be ears;''
all which represent the feeble condition of the people overcome by him; so that he had not so much to glory of, as having done mighty things.
(u) breviati, "vel breves manu", Forerius; "abbreviati manu", Vatablus, Montanus.
"thy sitting in council, and thy going out abroad to make war, and thy coming into the land of Israel, are manifest before me:''
and thy rage against me; against his people, against the city that was called by his name, against the temple where he was worshipped, particularly against his servant Hezekiah, because he would not immediately deliver up the city to him. The Targum and Syriac versions render it, "before me"; and then the meaning is, "thy rage", wrath and fury, "is before me": or manifest to me; and which he could restrain at pleasure, as he promises to do in the next verse.
therefore will I put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips; comparing Sennacherib to leviathan, or the great whale, or to some very large and unruly fish, not easily caught and managed; see Job 41:1, or to a bear, or buffalo, in whose noses men put iron rings, and lead them about at pleasure; and also to a horse or mule, which are managed by the bit and bridle; signifying hereby the strength, fierceness, and fury of the Assyrian monarch, and the power of God to restrain him, which he could easily do:
and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest; from Jerusalem, the same way he came to it, to his own land again, and so he did, Isaiah 37:37.
ye shall eat this year such as groweth of itself: and the second year that which springeth of the same: and in the third year sow ye, and reap and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof: all which was very wonderful; for whereas, either through the invasion of the land, and the siege of the city, they could not till their land as they had used to do, or what was upon it was destroyed or eaten up by the Assyrian army; and yet, through the wonderful providence of God, the earth of its own accord yielded that very year a sufficiency for them; and though the second year was, as it is thought, a sabbatical year, when the land had rest, and by the law was not to be tilled, yet it also produced of itself what was sufficient for their support; and then the third year being entirely free from the enemy, and all fears of his return, they go about their business as formerly, to sowing and reaping corn, and planting vineyards, and enjoying the fruit of their labours; all which falling out according to this prediction, must greatly confirm the mind of Hezekiah, and make him easy as to any future attempt upon him he might fear. The Vulgate Latin version renders the second clause, "ye shall eat apples the second year"; and so Symmachus, but without foundation.
shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward. The Targum is,
"as a tree which sends forth its roots below, and lifts up its branches above.''
The sense is, that those people that fled from their own habitations to Jerusalem should return thither again upon the breaking up of the siege, and be firmly settled, and live peaceably and prosperously, abounding with all good things, which may be applied, mystically, to true believers taking root again in the love of God, which is a hidden root, and is the source of salvation, and all the blessings of it, and is in itself immovable; and though the saints are secured in it, and by it, and nothing can root them out of it, yet they are sometimes shaken with doubts and fears about their interest in it; when there is again a fresh taking root in it, and that is, when they have a strong and lively persuasion of it, which produces fruitfulness in the exercise of faith, hope, and love, and in Gospel obedience; and also to their taking root in Christ, who is as a root unto them, hidden, and out of sight to the world, mean and abject, yet the source of all happiness to the saints, who have a being in him, are born by him, and receive sap and nourishment from him; and though their faith of interest in him may be sometimes shaken, yet there is a fresh taking root by new acts of faith upon him, which produce fruitfulness; the fruits brought forth by such are good works, which spring from the seed of grace, are owing to divine goodness, to the dews of grace, are pleasant and acceptable to God through Christ, and profitable unto men; these are called the fruits of the Spirit, and of righteousness, and are meet for repentance, and are brought forth openly and publicly, which may be signified by being bore upwards.
"the rest of the righteous;''
the same as before; who, when the city should be free from the enemy, would go out of it, and return to their former settlements, in the several parts of Judea; a type of those who went out of Jerusalem with the Gospel of Christ, and spread it not only in Judea, but in the Gentile world:
and they that escape out of Mount Zion; the same persons, differently described; some of whom were in the city of Jerusalem, and others in the fort of Zion, but departed from hence when the siege was broke up. The Targum is,
"and the escaped of them that confirm the law out of Mount Zion;''
see Isaiah 2:3,
the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this: his concern for his own honour and glory, and his great love to his people, shall engage him to perform all that is here promised and foretold. The Targum is,
"by the word of the Lord of hosts this shall be done.''
he shall not come into this city; shall not enter into it, and take possession of it, though so sure of it; or, "shall not come unto it (w)"; for some think he never was any nearer it than Libnah, from whence he sent his letters to Hezekiah, Isaiah 37:8,
nor shoot an arrow there; neither he nor his archers, so as to annoy or kill anyone person in it:
nor come before it with shields; or, "with a shield"; that is, he himself with one; otherwise his army under Rabshakeh was before it with men armed with shields; or the sense is, he shall not prevent it, or seize upon it, with his shielded men:
nor cast a bank against it; raise a mount, in order to fix his batteries upon, and play his artillery from, and shoot his arrows in to greater advantage.
(w) "non veniet ad civitatem hanc", Oecolampadius, Musculus, Gataker; "ad urbem hanc": Vitringa.
and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord; or, unto this city, as before; which is repeated to confirm it, and to show the certainty of it.
For my own sake, and for my servant David's sake; not for the merits of the inhabitants of it, but for the sake of his own name and glory, who had been blasphemed by the Assyrian monarch, and his general; and for the sake of his servant David, in whose seed he had promised the kingdom should be established; see 2 Samuel 7:12 and chiefly for the sake of the Messiah, David's son, and the Lord's servant, who was to spring from Hezekiah's race, and therefore must not be cut off.
and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred and fourscore and five thousand men: a prodigious slaughter indeed! which shows the power and strength of an angel. Josephus (y) says they were smitten with a pestilential disease; but other Jewish writers say it was by fire from heaven, which took away their lives, but did not consume their bodies, nor burn their clothes; but, be that as it will, destroyed they were:
and when they arose early in the morning: those of the army that survived; Sennacherib, and his servants about him; or Hezekiah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that were besieged:
behold, they were all dead corpses; the whole army, excepting a few; this may well be expressed with a note of admiration, "behold!" for a very wonderful thing it was.
(x) T. Bab. Sanhedrin: fol. 95. 1.((y) Antiqu. l. 10. c. 1. sect. 5.
and dwelt at Nineveh; the metropolis of his kingdom; see Genesis 10:11.