2 Kings 18
When the prophet had condemned Ephraim for lies and deceit he comforted
himself with this, that Judah yet "ruled with God, and was faithful
with the Most Holy,"
It was a very melancholy view which the last chapter gave us of the
desolations of Israel; but this chapter shows us the affairs of Judah
in a good posture at the same time, that it may appear God has not
quite cast off the seed of Abraham,
Hezekiah is here upon the throne,
I. Reforming his kingdom,
2 Kings 18:1-6.
II. Prospering in all his undertakings
(2 Kings 18:7,8),
and this at the same time when the ten tribes were led captive,
2 Kings 18:9-12.
III. Yet invaded by Sennacherib, the king of Assyria,
2 Kings 18:13.
1. His country put under contribution,
2 Kings 18:14-16.
2. Jerusalem besieged,
2 Kings 18:17.
3. God blasphemed, himself reviled, and his people solicited to revolt,
in a virulent speech made by Rabshakeh,
2 Kings 18:18-37.
But how well it ended, and how much to the honour and comfort of our
great reformer, we shall find in the next chapter.
|Hezekiah's Good Reign.
||B. C. 726.|
1 Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah
king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah
began to reign.
2 Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and
he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name
also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah.
3 And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD,
according to all that David his father did.
4 He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut
down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that
Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did
burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.
5 He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was
none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were
6 For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following
him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses.
7 And the LORD was with him; and he prospered whithersoever
he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and
served him not.
8 He smote the Philistines, even unto Gaza, and the borders
thereof, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.
We have here a general account of the reign of Hezekiah. It appears, by
comparing his age with his father's, that he was born when his father
was about eleven or twelve years old, divine Providence so ordering
that he might be of full age, and fit for business, when the measure of
his father's iniquity should be full. Here is,
I. His great piety, which was the more wonderful because his father was
very wicked and vile, one of the worst of the kings, yet he was one of
the best, which may intimate to us that what good there is in any is
not of nature, but of grace, free grace, sovereign grace, which,
contrary to nature, grafts into the good olive that which was wild by
and also that grace gets over the greatest difficulties and
disadvantages: Ahaz, it is likely, gave his son a bad education as well
as a bad example; Urijah his priest perhaps had the tuition of him; his
attendants and companions, we may suppose, were such as were addicted
to idolatry; and yet Hezekiah became eminently good. When God's grace
will work what can hinder it?
1. He was a genuine son of David, who had a great many degenerate ones
(2 Kings 18:3):
He did that which was right, according to all that David his father
did, with whom the covenant was made, and therefore he was entitled
to the benefit of it. We have read of some of them who did that which
was right, but not like David,
2 Kings 14:3.
They did not love God's ordinances, nor cleave to them, as he did; but
Hezekiah was a second David, had such a love for God's word, and God's
house, as he had. Let us not be frightened with an apprehension of the
continual decay of virtue, as if, when times and men are bad, they must
needs, of course, grow worse and worse; that does not follow, for,
after many bad kings, God raised up one that was like David
2. He was a zealous reformer of his kingdom, and as we find
(2 Chronicles 29:3)
he began betimes to be so, fell to work as soon as ever he came to the
crown, and lost no time. He found his kingdom very corrupt, the people
in all things too superstitious. They had always been so, but in the
last reign worse than ever. By the influence of his wicked father, a
deluge of idolatry had overspread the land; his spirit was stirred
against this idolatry, we may suppose (as Paul's at Athens), while his
father lived, and therefore, as soon as ever he had power in his hands,
he set himself to abolish it
(2 Kings 18:4),
though, considering how the people were wedded to it, he might think it
could not be done without opposition.
(1.) The images and the groves were downright idolatrous and of
heathenish original. These he broke and destroyed. Though his own
father had set them up, and shown an affection for them, yet he would
not protect them. We must never dishonour God in honour to our earthly
(2.) The high places, though they had sometimes been used by the
prophets upon special occasions and had been hitherto connived at by
the good kings, were nevertheless an affront to the temple and a breach
of the law which required them to worship there only, and, being from
under the inspection of the priests, gave opportunity for the
introducing of idolatrous usages. Hezekiah therefore, who made God's
word his rule, not the example of his predecessors, removed them, made
a law for the removal of them, the demolishing of the chapels,
tabernacles, and altars there erected, and the suppressing of the use
of them, which law was put in execution with vigour; and, it is
probable, the terrible judgments which the kingdom of Israel was now
under for their idolatry made Hezekiah the more zealous and the people
the more willing to comply with him. It is well when our neighbours'
harms are our warnings.
(3.) The brazen serpent was originally of divine institution, and yet,
because it had been abused to idolatry, he broke it to pieces. The
children of Israel had brought that with them to Canaan; where they set
it up we are not told, but, it seems, it had been carefully preserved,
as a memorial of God's goodness to their fathers in the wilderness and
a traditional evidence of the truth of that story,
for the encouragement of the sick to apply to God for a cure and of
penitent sinners to apply to him for mercy. But in process of time,
when they began to worship the creature more than the Creator, those
that would not worship images borrowed from the heathen, as some of
their neighbours did, were drawn in by the tempter to burn incense to
the brazen serpent, because that was made by order from God himself and
had been an instrument of good to them. But Hezekiah, in his pious zeal
for God's honour, not only forbade the people to worship it, but, that
it might never be so abused any more, he showed the people that it was
Nehushtan, nothing else but a piece of brass, and that
therefore it was an idle wicked thing to burn incense to it; he then
broke it to pieces, that is, as bishop Patrick expounds it, ground it
to powder, which he scattered in the air, that no fragment of it might
remain. If any think that the just honour of the brazen serpent was
hereby diminished they will find it abundantly made up again,
where our Saviour makes it a type of himself. Good things, when
idolized, are better parted with than kept.
3. Herein he was a nonesuch,
2 Kings 18:5.
None of all the kings of Judah were like him, either before or after
him. Two things he was eminent for in his reformation:--
(1.) Courage and confidence in God. In abolishing idolatry, there was
danger of disobliging his subjects, and provoking them to rebel; but
he trusted in the Lord God of Israel to bear him out in what he
did and save him from harm. A firm belief of God's all-sufficiency to
protect and reward us will conduce much to make us sincere, bold, and
vigorous, in the way of our duty, like Hezekiah. When he came to the
crown he found his kingdom compassed with enemies, but he did not seek
for succour to foreign aids, as his father did, but trusted in the God
of Israel to be the keeper of Israel.
(2.) Constancy and perseverance in his duty. For this there was none
like him, that he clave to the Lord with a fixed resolution and never
departed from following him,
2 Kings 18:6.
Some of his predecessors that began well fell off: but he, like Caleb,
followed the Lord fully. He not only abolished all idolatrous
usages, but kept God's commandments, and in every thing made conscience
of his duty.
II. His great prosperity,
2 Kings 18:7,8.
He was with God, and then God was with him, and, having the special
presence of God with him, he prospered whithersoever he went,
had wonderful success in all his enterprises, in his wars, his
buildings, and especially his reformation, for that good work was
carried on with less difficulty than he could have expected. Those that
do God's work with an eye to his glory, and with confidence in his
strength, may expect to prosper in it. Great is the truth and will
prevail. Finding himself successful,
1. He threw off the yoke of the king of Assyria, which his father had
basely submitted to. This is called rebelling against him,
because so the king of Assyria called it; but it was really an
asserting of the just rights of his crown, which it was not in the
power of Ahaz to alienate. If it was imprudent to make this bold
struggle so soon, yet I see not that it was, as some think, unjust;
when he had thrown out the idolatry of the nations he might well throw
off the yoke of their oppression. The surest way to liberty is to serve
2. He made a vigorous attack upon the Philistines, and smote them even
unto Gaza, both the country villages and the fortified town, the
tower of the watchmen and the fenced cities, reducing those places
which they had made themselves masters of in his father's time,
2 Chronicles 28:18.
When he had purged out the corruptions his father had brought in he
might expect to recover the possessions his father had lost. Of his
victories over the Philistines Isaiah prophesied,
|Sennacherib Invades Judea.
||B. C. 726.|
9 And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Hezekiah,
which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of
Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against
Samaria, and besieged it.
10 And at the end of three years they took it: even in the
sixth year of Hezekiah, that is the ninth year of Hoshea king
of Israel, Samaria was taken.
11 And the king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria,
and put them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and
in the cities of the Medes:
12 Because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD their God, but
transgressed his covenant, and all that Moses the servant of
the LORD commanded, and would not hear them, nor do them.
13 Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib
king of Assyria come up against all the fenced cities of Judah,
and took them.
14 And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to
Lachish, saying, I have offended; return from me: that which thou
puttest on me will I bear. And the king of Assyria appointed unto
Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty
talents of gold.
15 And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the
house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king's house.
16 At that time did Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors
of the temple of the LORD, and from the pillars which Hezekiah
king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.
The kingdom of Assyria had now grown considerable, though we never read
of it till the last reign. Such changes there are in the affairs of
nations and families: those that have been despicable become
formidable, and those, on the contrary, are brought low that have made
a great noise and figure. We have here an account,
I. Of the success of Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, against Israel, his
(2 Kings 18:9),
(2 Kings 18:10),
and carrying the people into captivity
(2 Kings 18:11),
with the reason why God brought this judgment upon them
(2 Kings 18:12):
Because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord their God. This
was related more largely in the foregoing chapter, but it is here
1. As that which stirred up Hezekiah and his people to purge out
idolatry with so much zeal, because they saw the ruin which it brought
upon Israel. When their neighbour's house was on fire, and their own in
danger, it was time to cast away the accursed thing.
2. As that which Hezekiah much lamented, but had not strength to
prevent. Though the ten tribes had revolted from, and often been
vexatious to, the house of David, no longer ago than in his father's
reign, yet being of the seed of Israel he could not be glad at their
3. As that which laid Hezekiah and his kingdom open to the king of
Assyria, and made it much more easy for him to invade the land. It is
said of the ten tribes here that they would neither hear God's
commandments nor do them,
2 Kings 18:12.
Many will be content to give God the hearing that will give him no more
but these, being resolved not to do their duty, did not care to hear of
II. Of the attempt of Sennacherib, the succeeding king of Assyria,
against Judah, in which he was encouraged by his predecessor's success
against Israel, whose honours he would vie with and whose victories he
would push forward. The descent he made upon Judah was a great calamity
to that kingdom, by which God would try the faith of Hezekiah and
chastise the people, who are called a hypocritical nation
because they did not comply with Hezekiah's reformation, nor willingly
part with their idols, but kept them up in their hearts, and perhaps in
their houses, though their high places were removed. Even times of
reformation may prove troublesome times, made so by those that oppose
it, and then the blame is laid upon the reformers. This calamity will
appear great upon Hezekiah if we consider,
1. How much he lost of his country,
2 Kings 18:13.
The king of Assyria took all or most of the fenced cities of Judah, the
frontier-towns and the garrisons, and then all the rest fell into his
hands of course. The confusion which the country was put into by this
invasion is described by the prophet,
2. How dearly he paid for his peace. He saw Jerusalem itself in danger
of falling into the enemies' hand, as Samaria had done, and was willing
to purchase its safety at the expense,
(1.) Of a mean submission: "I have offended in denying the usual
tribute, and am ready to make satisfaction as shall be demanded,"
2 Kings 18:14.
Where was Hezekiah's courage? Where his confidence in God? Why did he
not advise with Isaiah before he sent this crouching message?
(2.) Of a vast sum of money-300 talents of silver and thirty of gold
(above 200,000l.), not to be paid annually, but as a present
ransom. To raise this sum, he was forced not only to empty the public
(2 Kings 18:15),
but to take the golden plates off from the doors of the temple, and
from the pillars,
2 Kings 18:16.
Though the temple sanctified the gold which he had dedicated,
yet, the necessity being urgent, he thought he might make as bold with
that as his father David (whom he took for his pattern) did with the
show-bread, and that it was neither impious nor imprudent to give a
part for the preservation of the whole. His father Ahaz had plundered
the temple in contempt of it,
2 Chronicles 28:24.
He had repaid with interest what his father took; and now, with all due
reverence, he only begged leave to borrow it again in an exigency and
for a greater good, with a resolution to restore it in full as soon as
he should be in a capacity to do so.
|Rab-Shakeh's Blasphemous Speech.
||B. C. 710.|
17 And the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and
Rab-shakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great host against
Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. And when they
were come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper
pool, which is in the highway of the fuller's field.
18 And when they had called to the king, there came out to them
Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over the household, and
Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder.
19 And Rab-shakeh said unto them, Speak ye now to Hezekiah, Thus
saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is
this wherein thou trustest?
20 Thou sayest, (but they are but vain words,) I have
counsel and strength for the war. Now on whom dost thou trust,
that thou rebellest against me?
21 Now, behold, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised
reed, even upon Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will go into
his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt unto all
that trust on him.
22 But if ye say unto me, We trust in the LORD our God: is
not that he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath
taken away, and hath said to Judah and Jerusalem, Ye shall
worship before this altar in Jerusalem?
23 Now therefore, I pray thee, give pledges to my lord the king
of Assyria, and I will deliver thee two thousand horses, if thou
be able on thy part to set riders upon them.
24 How then wilt thou turn away the face of one captain of the
least of my master's servants, and put thy trust on Egypt for
chariots and for horsemen?
25 Am I now come up without the LORD against this place to
destroy it? The LORD said to me, Go up against this land, and
26 Then said Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebna, and Joah,
unto Rab-shakeh, Speak, I pray thee, to thy servants in the Syrian
language; for we understand it: and talk not with us in the
Jews' language in the ears of the people that are on the wall.
27 But Rab-shakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy
master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent
me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own
dung, and drink their own piss with you?
28 Then Rab-shakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in the
Jews' language, and spake, saying, Hear the word of the great
king, the king of Assyria:
29 Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he
shall not be able to deliver you out of his hand:
30 Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, The
LORD will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be delivered
into the hand of the king of Assyria.
31 Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria,
Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me, and
then eat ye every man of his own vine, and every one of his fig
tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his cistern:
32 Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land,
a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of
oil olive and of honey, that ye may live, and not die: and
hearken not unto Hezekiah, when he persuadeth you, saying, The
LORD will deliver us.
33 Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered at all his
land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?
34 Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arpad? where are
the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah? have they delivered
Samaria out of mine hand?
35 Who are they among all the gods of the countries, that
have delivered their country out of mine hand, that the LORD
should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand?
36 But the people held their peace, and answered him not a
word: for the king's commandment was, saying, Answer him not.
37 Then came Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over the
household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the
recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and told him the
words of Rab-shakeh.
I. Jerusalem besieged by Sennacherib's army,
2 Kings 18:17.
He sent three of his great generals with a great host against
Jerusalem. Is this the great king, the king of Assyria? No, never call
him so; he is a base, false, perfidious man, and worthy to be made
infamous to all ages; let him never be named with honour that could do
such a dishonourable thing as this, to take Hezekiah's money, which he
gave him upon condition he should withdraw his army, and then, instead
of quitting his country according to the agreement, to advance against
his capital city, and not send him his money again either. Those are
wicked men indeed, and, let them be ever so great, we will call them
so, whose principle it is not to make their promises binding any
further than is for their interest. Now Hezekiah had too much reason to
repent his treaty with Sennacherib, which made him much the poorer and
never the safer.
II. Hezekiah, and his princes and people, railed upon by Rabshakeh, the
chief speaker of the three generals, and one that had the most
satirical genius. He was no doubt instructed what to say by
Sennacherib, who intended hereby to pick a new quarrel with Hezekiah.
He had promised, upon the receipt of Hezekiah's money, to withdraw his
army, and therefore could not for shame make a forcible attack upon
Jerusalem immediately; but he sent Rabshakeh to persuade Hezekiah to
surrender it, and, if he should refuse, the refusal would serve him for
a pretence (and a very poor one) to besiege it, and, if it hold out, to
take it by storm. Rabshakeh had the impudence to desire audience of the
king himself at the conduit of the upper pool, without the walls; but
Hezekiah had the prudence to decline a personal treaty, and sent three
commissioners (the prime ministers of state) to hear what he had to
say, but with a charge to them not to answer that fool according to
(2 Kings 18:36),
for they could not convince him, but would certainly provoke him, and
Hezekiah had learned of his father David to believe that God would hear
when he, as a deaf man, heard not,
One interruption they gave him in his discourse, which was only to
desire that he would speak to them now in the Syrian language, and they
would consider what he said and report it to the king, and, if they did
not give him a satisfactory answer, then he might appeal to the people,
by speaking in the Jews' language,
2 Kings 18:26.
This was a reasonable request, and agreeable to the custom of treaties,
which is that the plenipotentiaries should settle matters between
themselves before any thing be made public; but Hilkiah did not
consider what an unreasonable man he had to deal with, else he would
not have made this request, for it did but exasperate Rabshakeh, and
make him the more rude and boisterous,
2 Kings 18:27.
Against all the rules of decency and honour, instead of treating with
the commissioners, he menaces the soldiery, persuades them to desert or
mutiny, threatens if they hold out to reduce the to the last
extremities of famine, and then goes on with his discourse, the scope
of which is to persuade Hezekiah, and his princes and people, to
surrender the city. Observe how, in order to do this,
1. He magnifies his master the king of Assyria. Once and again he calls
him That great king, the king of Assyria,
2 Kings 18:19,28.
What an idol did he make of that prince whose creature he was! God is
the great King, but Sennacherib was in his eye a little god, and he
would possess them with the same veneration for him that he had, and
thereby frighten them into a submission to him. But to those who by
faith see the King of kings in his power and glory even the king of
Assyria looks mean and little. What are the greatest of men when
either they come to compare with God or God comes to contend with them?
2. He endeavours to make them believe that it will be much for their
advantage to surrender. If they held out, they must expect no other
than to eat their own dung, by reason of the want of provisions, which
would be entirely cut off from them by the besiegers; but if they would
capitulate, seek his favour with a present and cast themselves upon his
mercy, he would give them very good treatment,
2 Kings 18:31.
I wonder with what face Rabshakeh could speak of making an agreement
with a present when his master had so lately broken the agreement
Hezekiah made with him with that great present,
2 Kings 18:14.
Can those expect to be trusted that have been so grossly perfidious?
But, Ad populum phaleras--Gild the chain and the vulgar will
let you bind them. He thought to soothe up all with a promise that
if they would surrender upon discretion, though they must expect to be
prisoners and captives, yet it would really be happy for them to be so.
One would wonder he should ever think to prevail by such gross
suggestions as these, but that the devil does thus impose upon sinners
every day by his temptations. He will needs persuade them,
(1.) That their imprisonment would be to their advantage, for they
should eat every man of his own vine
(2 Kings 18:31);
though the property of their estates would be vested in the conquerors,
yet they should have the free use of them. But he does not explain it
now to them as he would afterwards, that it must be understood just as
much, and just as long, as the conqueror pleases.
(2.) That their captivity would be much more to their advantage: I
will take you away to a land like your own land; and what the
better would they be for that, when they must have nothing in it to
call their own?
3. That which he aims at especially is to convince them that it is to
no purpose for them to stand it out: What confidence is this wherein
thou trustest? So he insults over Hezekiah,
2 Kings 18:19.
To the people he says
(2 Kings 18:29),
"Let not Hezekiah deceive you into your own ruin, for he
shall not be able to deliver you; you must either bend or break."
It were well if sinners would submit to the force of this argument, in
making their peace with God--That it is therefore our wisdom to
yield to him, because it is in vain to contend with him: what
confidence is that which those trust in who stand it out against him?
Are we stronger than he? Or what shall we get by setting briars
and thorns before a consuming fire? But Hezekiah was not so helpless
and defenceless as Rabshakeh would here represent him. Three things he
supposes Hezekiah might trust to, and he endeavours to make out the
insufficiency of these:--
(1.) His own military preparations: Thou sayest, I have counsel and
strength for the war; and we find that so he had,
2 Chronicles 32:3.
But this Rabshakeh turns off with a slight: "They are but vain
words; thou art an unequal match for us,"
2 Kings 18:20.
With the greatest haughtiness and disdain imaginable, he challenges him
to produce 2000 men of all his people that know how to manage a horse,
and will venture to give him 2000 horses if he can. He falsely
insinuates that Hezekiah has no men, or none fit to be soldiers,
2 Kings 18:23.
Thus he thinks to run him down with confidence and banter, and will lay
him any wager that one captain of the least of his master's servants is
able to baffle him and all his forces.
(2.) His alliance with Egypt. He supposes that Hezekiah trusts to Egypt
for chariots and horsemen
(2 Kings 18:24),
because the king of Israel had done so, and of this confidence he truly
says, It is a broken reed
(2 Kings 18:21),
it will not only fail a man when he leans on it and expects it to bear
his weight, but it will run into his hand and pierce it, and
rend his shoulder, as the prophet further illustrates this similitude,
with application to Egypt,
So is the king of Egypt, says he; and truly so had the king of Assyria
been to Ahaz, who trusted in him, but he distressed him, and
strengthened him not,
2 Chronicles 28:20.
Those that trust to any arm of flesh will find it no better than a
broken reed; but God is the rock of ages.
(3.) His interest in God and relation to him. This was indeed the
confidence in which Hezekiah trusts,
2 Kings 18:22.
He supported himself by depending on the power and promise of God; with
this he encouraged himself and his people
(2 Kings 18:30):
The Lord will surely deliver us, and again
2 Kings 18:32.
This Rabshakeh was sensible was their great stay, and therefore he was
most large in his endeavours to shake this, as David's enemies, who
used all the arts they had to drive him from his confidence in God
and thus did Christ's enemies,
Three things Rabshakeh suggested to discourage their confidence in God,
and they were all false:--
[1.] That Hezekiah had forfeited God's protection, and thrown himself
out of it, by destroying the high places and the altars,
2 Kings 18:22.
Here he measures the God of Israel by the gods of the heathen, who
delighted in the multitude of altars and temples, and concludes that
Hezekiah has given a great offence to the God of Israel, in confining
his people to one altar: thus is one of the best deeds he ever did in
his life misconstrued as impious and profane, by one that did not, or
would not, know the law of the God of Israel. If that be represented
by ignorant and malicious men as evil and a provocation to God which is
really good and pleasing to him, we must not think it strange. If this
was to be sacrilegious, Hezekiah would ever be so.
[2.] That God had given orders for the destruction of Jerusalem at this
(2 Kings 18:25):
Have I now come up without the Lord? This is all banter and
rhodomontade. He did not himself think he had any commission from God
to do what he did (by whom should he have it?) but he made this
pretence to amuse and terrify the people that were on the wall.
If he had any colour at all for what he said, it might be taken from
the notice which perhaps he had had, by the writings of the prophets,
of the hand of God in the destruction of the ten tribes, and he thought
he had as good a warrant for the seizing of Jerusalem as of Samaria.
Many that have fought against God have pretended commissions from him.
[3.] That if Jehovah, the God of Israel, should undertake to protect
them from the king of Assyria, yet he was notable to do it. With this
blasphemy he concluded his speech
(2 Kings 18:33-35),
comparing the God of Israel with the gods of the nations whom he had
conquered and putting him upon the level with them, and concluding that
because they could not defend and deliver their worshippers the God of
Israel could not defend and deliver his. See here, First, His
pride. When he conquered a city he reckoned himself to have conquered
its gods, and valued himself mightily upon it. His high opinion of the
idols made him have a high opinion of himself as too hard for them.
Secondly, His profaneness. The God of Israel was not a local
deity, but the God of the whole earth, the only living and true God,
the ancient of days, and had often proved himself to be above all gods;
yet he makes no more of him than of the upstart fictitious gods of
Hamath and Arpad, unfairly arguing that the gods (as some now say the
priests) of all religions are the same, and himself above them all. The
tradition of the Jews is that Rabshakeh was an apostate Jew, which made
him so ready in the Jews' language; if so, his ignorance of the God of
Israel was the less excusable and his enmity the less strange, for
apostates are commonly the most bitter and spiteful enemies, witness
Julian. A great deal of art and management, it must be owned, there
were in this speech of Rabshakeh, but, withal, a great deal of pride,
malice, falsehood, and blasphemy. One grain of sincerity would have
been worth all this wit and rhetoric.
Lastly, We are told what the commissioners on Hezekiah's part
1. They held their peace, not for want of something to say both on
God's behalf and Hezekiah's: they might easily and justly have
upbraided him with his master's treachery and breach of faith, and have
asked him, What religion encourages you to hope that such conduct will
prosper? At least they might have given that grave hint which Ahab gave
to Benhadad's like insolent demands--Let not him that girdeth on the
harness boast as though he had put it off. But the king had
commanded them not to answer him, and they observed their instructions.
There is a time to keep silence, as well as a time to speak, and there
are those to whom to offer any thing religious or rational is to cast
pearls before swine. What can be said to a madman? It is probable that
their silence made Rabshakeh yet more proud and secure, and so his
heart was lifted up and hardened to his destruction.
2. They rent their clothes in detestation of his blasphemy and in grief
for the despised afflicted condition of Jerusalem, the reproach of
which was a burden to them.
3. They faithfully reported the matter to the king, their master, and
told him the words of Rabshakeh, that he might consider what was
to be done, what course they should take and what answer they should
return to Rabshakeh's summons.