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Book of Isaiah
The prophet Isaiah in this and the three following chapters (36-39), is a historian. He gives Scriptural history, as well as Scripture prophecy, all of which is given by inspiration of God (2 Tim.3:16-17), and was then given out to the people. Many of the prophecies of the previous chapters had their accomplishment in Sennacherib's invading Judah and besieging Jerusalem, and the miraculous defeat he met with there (2 Ki.19:35; Isa.37:36); and therefore the story of this is here inserted, both to clarify and confirm the prophecy. The key of any prophecy is that it is to be found in history . . . was it fulfilled?
Whether this story was taken from the book of the Kings and added here, or whether it was first written by Isaiah here and then taken into the Book of Kings, is really not important, for the story is the same almost word for word! It was also such a memorable event that it is well worth repeating! So . . . it is twice recorded (2 Ki.18 & 19), and here, and there is also a brief version (2 Chron.32).
In this chapter we have, #1. The descent which the king of Assyria made upon Judah, and his success against all the defensed cities (vs.1). #2. The meeting he desired to have with Hezekiah, and the managers on both sides (vs.2-3). #3. Rabshakeh's criticizing blasphemous speech, with which he planned to frighten Hezekiah into a submission, and persuade him to surrender (vs.4-10). #4. His appeal to the people, and his attempt to persuade them to be disloyal to Hezekiah, thus forcing him to surrender (vs.11-20). #5. The report made to Hezekiah by his agents (vs.21-22).
Chapter 36 shows the full penalties of King Hezekiah and the elders’ foolish decision to persist in disobedience by trusting in Egypt. God exposed them. Their rebellion from Assyria’s power of course was good, but they still trusted in Egypt. Although some of Assyria’s accusations would not happen, most of them made God’s people to really consider more seriously, their relationship with God.
This chapter begins the historical interlude between the two main sections of prophecies of Isaiah . . . Isaiah Chapter 1 through 35, and Isaiah Chapters 40 through 66.
Isaiah Chapters 3—30 records the history of the invasion of Judah by Sennacherib, king of Assyria (Isa.36:1-37:35); his defeat (Isah.37:36-38), the sickness and recovery of Hezekiah (Isa.38), and his foolishness (Isa.39).
The history related here, and in the three following chapters, is for the substance of it, and almost entirely in the same words, contained in 2 Ki.18:1 through 2 Ki. 20:21. It is fitly inserted here, to explain and confirm some of the previous predictions. Some think it was first written by the prophet Isaiah, and from him to have been taken into the Book of Kings, to complete that history.
Theme: Hezekiah and Assyria.
Sennacherib, king of Assyria, had come down like a flood from the north, wiping out anything that blocked his way. He had captured every nation and city that stood in his path, or they had given in and submitted to him. Glowing with victory, he appears with the Assyrian army before the walls of Jerusalem. He is surprised and puzzled that Hezekiah would try to resist him. He seeks for an explanation . . . for Hezekiah must have some secret weapon. Rabshakeh, his representative, ridicules all known possibilities of aid. Arrogantly he demands unconditional surrender. The chapter closes with the terms and threats reported to Hezekiah.
Assyria Threatens To Invade Jerusalem (36:1-3)
Isaiah 36:1 Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, that Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defenced cities of Judah, and took them. (KJV)
Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year . . . this was eight years after Samaria had been destroyed and the ten tribes taken into Assyrian captivity (2Ki.Ch.17; 18:10).
Of king Hezekiah . . . (2 Ki.18:1 through 20:21; and 2 Chron.29:1 through 2 Chron.32:33).
That Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defenced cities of Judah, and took them . . . all cities except Jerusalem, which God delivered supernaturally (Isa.37:33-38).
*****Isaiah began his prophetic ministry when King Uzziah died, and he continued it through the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and now Hezekiah. Hezekiah was one of the five great kings of Judah. During the reigns of these five kings (Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Hezekiah and Josiah) revival came to the land of Judah. Hezekiah was actually a great king. 2 Chron. 29:1-2 Hezekiah began to reign when he was five and twenty years old, and he reigned nine and twenty years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. 2 And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done. (KJV)
Although Hezekiah was a good king, he showed weakness when he tried to ward off the invasion of Jerusalem by bribing Sennacherib (2 Ki.18:13-16). He stripped the gold and silver from the Temple to meet the outrageous demands of the king of Assyria, but it was to no avail, for the army of Assyria was outside the gates of Jerusalem. Payment did no good at all! This policy was not something new then, and worse, it is still with us today! The almighty dollar CANNOT buy friends in the world! You CANNOT get friends by buying them. The world’s problem is that people have NOT learned who our REAL Friend is. He is the One to whom Hezekiah finally had to turn, the Lord God.
Isaiah 36:2 And the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field. (KJV)
And the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah with a great army . . . Rabshakeh was the head of the cup bearers. He was sent to lead the Assyrian expedition against Jerusalem ((Isa.36:2-4, 11-22; 37:4-8; 2 Ki. 18:17-37; 19:4-8).
And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field . . . the same place Isaiah stood with Ahaz about 28 years before (Isa.7:3).
*****Sennacherib did not humiliate himself to come personally, but instead he sent an army under Rabshakeh. They are parked now outside the gates of Jerusalem, and General Rabshakeh is trying to put fear into the hearts of Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem so that they will surrender. Hezekiah sent out a delegation to meet with him.
For more on Rabshakeh, see Special Comments at the end of this chapter.
Isaiah 36:3 Then came forth unto him Eliakim, Hilkiah's son, which was over the house, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, Asaph's son, the recorder. (KJV)
Hezekiah sent forth this embassy of three to receive the terms offered by Sennacherib.
Assyria Demands Surrender of Jerusalem (36:4-20)
Isaiah 36:4 And Rabshakeh said unto them, Say ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest? (KJV)
And Rabshakeh said unto them . . . the three men mentioned above.
Say ye now to Hezekiah . . . tell him what follows; he does not call him king, as he does his own master. Rabshakeh arrogantly expresses surprise that Hezekiah would even dare resist, and he wants to know what the secret weapon is in which Hezekiah trusts.
Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria . . . this he said boastingly of his master, king Sennacherib and in order to terrify Hezekiah and his subjects; whom he would represent as little possible in comparison to him, who had subdued many kingdoms. The great king best suits God Himself (Ps.47:2; 48:2; 95:3; Jer.10:10; 46:18; 48:15).
What confidence is this wherein thou trustest? . . . whom do you trust, that you rebel against me? What is the ground and foundation of your confidence? What kept Hezekiah in high spirits, is that he did not immediately submit to the king of Assyria, and surrender the city of Jerusalem to him?
Isaiah 36:5 I say, sayest thou, (but they are but vain words) I have counsel and strength for war: now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me? (KJV)
I say, sayest thou . . . the first part seem to be of the words are Hezekiah.
(But they are but vain words) . . . some think this is Rabshakeh's note on them; although others say it they may be understood as Hezekiah's, as the ground of his confidence.
I have counsel and strength for war . . . do you think that plain, ordinary words can substitute for military skill and strength?
Now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me? . . . just who is so great that you are counting on, that you have rebelled against me? Hezekiah had rebelled against the king of Assyria by refusing to pay the tribute imposed upon Judah in the days of Ahaz (2 Ki,18:7). He had also trusted in Egypt for help against the Assyrians, but that country could not help him (Isa.36L6; 30:1-5; 31:1-3).
*****Hezekiah put great trust in Pharaoh's promise to help Israel against the Assyrians, but promises are only as good as the person making them. It was Pharaoh's word against God's. How sad that we quickly seek human advice when dealing with our problems while neglecting God's eternal Promises. When choosing between God's Word and someone else's, WHO will you believe? Be very careful that you do NOT pick the wrong one!
Isaiah 36:6 Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him. (KJV)
Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt . . . his ally and auxiliary; and which is correctly called the staff of this broken reed, because if trusted and leaned upon, being weak, frail and insufficient to depend upon, will fail you . . . the reference seems to be to the cane or reed which grew upon the banks of the river Nile, in Egypt:
Whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it . . . the splinters of the broken reed being leaned on, will jab into a man's hand, and do harm, instead of helping him to walk.
So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him . . . malicious and harmful, instead of being useful and helpful.
*****The Assyrian army was then on the way to Egypt to capture that kingdom and was furious that Jerusalem blocked the way. The fact was that Hezekiah had hoped for help from Egypt, just as Ahaz his father had done before him. But Hezekiah would NOT get any help from Egypt. Rabshakeh was right about that.
Chapter 19 describes Isaiah's prophecy of judgment upon Egypt, while Chapters 30- 31 pronounce woe on those from Judah who would unite themselves with Egypt in the face of Assyria's imminent attack. Sennacherib of Assyria was mocking Judah for trusting in Egypt. Even the Assyrians knew that Egypt could not help Judah (vs.4-6).
Isaiah 36:7 But if thou say to me, We trust in the LORD our God: is it not he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and said to Judah and to Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar? (KJV)
But if thou say to me, we trust in the Lord our God . . . in the Lord’s Promises, providence, power and protection, and not in human counsels and strength; not in allies and auxiliaries, as Pharaoh king of Egypt. Rabshakeh has something to say about that; having shown the vanity of trusting in the above things, he now proceeds to change their minds about trusting in the Lord their God.
Is it not he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away . . . the question can very easily be answered NO, He has not! The high places and altars which Hezekiah took away were the high places and altars of Heathen gods, of false deities (2 Ki.18:4), and NOT of the altars of the TRUE God of Israel, and which was to His honor and glory; but Rabshakeh would make it look like a crime, and unknowingly supposed that these were the altars and high places of the God of Israel, would imply that the taking of these away must be displeasing to Him, and therefore Hezekiah and his people could not hope for any protection from Him, whom he had so highly affronted. All Rabshakeh’s talk was total lack of knowledge, as well as of malice of forethought.
Aand said to Judah, and to Jerusalem, ye shall worship before this altar? . . . the altar of the Lord, in the Temple at Jerusalem, and before that only, confining their religious worship to one place, and their sacrifices to one altar; which was FAR from displeasing to God, as he would suggest, but that it was completely agreeable to God’s will.
***** Rabshakeh, the Assyrian king's chief of staff, claimed that Hezekiah had insulted God by tearing down his altars and making the people worship only in Jerusalem. But Hezekiah's reform wanted to eliminate idol worship (which occurred mainly on high hills) so that the people worshiped only the true God. Either the Assyrians didn't know about the religion of the true God, or they wanted to deceive the people into thinking they had angered the powerful God. It is in this same way that Satan tries to confuse and/or deceive us. People do NOT need to be sinful to be ineffective for God; they need only be confused about what God wants from them. To avoid Satan's terrible deception, study the Word of God carefully and on a regular basis. When you know what God says, you will NOT fall for Satan's lies.
Rabshakeh arrogantly expresses surprise that Hezekiah would even dare resist, and he wants to know about the secret weapon in which Hezekiah trusts. He suggests first of all that it might be Egypt.
Isaiah 36:8 Now therefore give pledges, I pray thee, to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them. (KJV)
Now therefore give pledges to my master the king of Assyria . . . give pledges . . .give the guarantee that you submit. The Jews tried to bolster their weakness in the arm from Egypt (Isa.31:1).
And I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders on them . . . a spiteful challenge. I will give you 2000 horses, IF you can supply that many riders.
Isaiah 36:9 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? (KJV)
How then wilt thou turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master's . . . even if
Hezekiah could produce 2000 men, to sit upon as many horses offered, he would not be a match for, or hope to conquer, the least officer in the army, who had the fewest men under him, and much less conquer or cause to flee, the whole Assyrian army.
And put thy trust on Egypt for chariots, and for horsemen? . . . for what purpose would Hezekiah seek and send to Egypt for chariots and horses, since he did not have enough men to put upon them.
Book of Isaiah . . Isaiah's Mini-Bible
Isaiah Ch.1 . . Isaiah Ch.2 . . Isaiah Ch.3 . . Isaiah Ch.4 . . Isaiah Ch.5 . . Isaiah Ch.6 . . Isaiah Ch.7 . . Isaiah Ch.8 . . Isaiah Ch.9 . . Isa.Ch.10 . . Isa.Ch.11 . . Isa.Ch12 . . Home Page
JUDGMENT ON THE NATIONS . . . . . Isaiah Ch.13 . . Isaiah Ch.14 . . Isaiah Ch.15 . . Isaiah Ch.16 . . Isaiah Ch.17 . . Isaiah Ch.18 . . Isaiah Ch.19 . . Isaiah Ch.20 . . Isaiah Ch.21 . . Isaiah Ch.22 . . Isaiah Ch.23 . . Home Page
ISAIAH’S APOCALYPSE . . . . . Isaiah Ch.24 . . Isaiah Ch.25 . . Isaiah Ch.26 . . Isaiah Ch.27 . . Home Page
ISAIAH'S SIX WOES . . . Isaiah Ch.28 . . Isaiah Ch.29 . . Isaiah Ch.30 . . Isaiah Ch.31 . . Isaiah Ch.32 . . Isaiah Ch.33 . . Isaiah Ch.34 . . Isaiah Ch.35 . . Home Page
Isaiah's Historic Part . . Isaiah Ch.36 . . Isaiah Ch.37 . . Isaiah Ch.38 . . Isaiah Ch.39 . . Home Page
Isaiah Speaks of Messiah's Incarnation. . Isaiah Ch.40 . . Isaiah Ch.41 . . Isaiah Ch.42 . . Isaiah Ch.43 . . Isaiah Ch.44 . . Isaiah Ch.45 . . Isaiah Ch.46 . . Isaiah Ch.47 . . Isaiah Ch.48 . . Home Page
Isaiah's Introduction to the Suffering Servant
Isaiah's Suffering Servant Prophecy. . . Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Isaiah's Redemption Through the Suffering Servant . . . Isaiah Ch.49 . . Isaiah Ch.50 . . Isaiah Ch.51 . . Isaiah Ch.52 . . Isaiah Ch.53 . . Isaiah Ch.54 . . Isaiah Ch.55 . . Isaiah Ch.56 . . Isaiah Ch.57 . . Home Page
Isaiah's Vision of the Dispersion . . . Isaiah Ch.58 . . Isaiah Ch59 . . Isaiah Ch.60 . . Isaiah Ch.61 . . Isaiah Ch.62 . . Isaiah Ch.63 . . Isaiah Ch.64 . . Isaiah Ch.65 . . Isaiah Ch.66 . . Home Page