King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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2 Kings 19

Hezekiah receives an answer of peace. (1-7) Sennacherib’s letter. (8-19) His fall is prophesied. (20-34) The Assyrian army destroyed, Sennacherib slain. (35-37)

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Hezekiah receives an answer of peace

1 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.

2 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.

3 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.

4 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.

5 So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah.

6 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.

7 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.

Sennacherib’s letter

8 So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish.

9 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,

10 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.

11 Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly: and shalt thou be delivered?

12 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?

13 Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivah?

14 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.

15 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.

16 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.

17 Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands,

18 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.

19 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.

His fall is prophesied

20 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.

21 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.

22 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.

23 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.

24 I have digged and drunk strange waters, and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of besieged places.

25 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.

26 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 house tops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up.

27 But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me.

28 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.

29 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.

30 And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.

31 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.

32 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.

33 By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD.

34 For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.

The Assyrian army destroyed, Sennacherib slain

35 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.

36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.

37 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.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 3. Blasphemy. The enemy insults over us (C.) and over God. H. — Birth. Heb. “the mouth of the womb.” Vatab. — This comparison shews the utmost distress to which the people of Jerusalem were reduced. Any great anguish is denoted by a woman in travail. Deut. ii. 25. Ps. xlvii. 7. Homer (Iliad A) thus describes the uneasiness of Agamemnon. C. — Ezechias found himself unable to contend with the Assyrian, though he wished to do it. M. — Without courage, all hope of escaping is lost. D.

Ver. 4. It may. Lit. “if perhaps the Lord hear.” H. — Found. After such devastation has been made in the country, particularly by carrying away the ten tribes, (C.) Ezechias recommends the kingdom to the prayers of the prophet; as we are exhorted to have recourse to the intercession of the saints. H.

Ver. 7. Upon him, so that he shall be eager enough to return, (C.) being filled with consternation at the approach of Tharaca, (M.) and at the destruction of his men by an angel, v. 35. H. — Lachis and Lobna were both in the mountains of Juda, to the south of Jerusalem. Jos. x. 31. C.

Ver. 9. When he, Sennacherib, though it would seem to refer to Rabsaces. H. — Tharaca, called by Thearchon by Strabo, (i. and xv. p. 653.) extended his conquests as far as the pillars of Hercules. Megasthenes. — The Egyptians seem to have called him Sethon, and assert that the god (Vulcan) appeared to him on the approach of Sennacherib, assuring him of his protection. He encamped near Pelusium, where the enemy’s army on its arrival was infested with rats, which destroyed their armour, and made them an easy prey. Herodot. ii. 141. It is probable that Taphnes, near Pelusium, was the capital city of Tharaca. Isai. xviii. and xxx. 4. He does not appear to have joined battle with Sennacherib, whose army was destroyed on its march (ib. x. 24.) the very night that the prophet promised Ezechias a deliverance.

Ver. 12. Gozan, in Less Armenia; Haran and Reseph in Palmerene Syria. Thelassar, or Syria. They were nations not very remote. See C. xviii. 34. C.

Ver. 14. Before the Lord, to move him to revenge his own cause, (H.) and to shew that he looked upon the Lord, as a father, with the utmost confidence (M.) and resignation. He spreads the blasphemous letter (H.) before the ark, which was the special place for prayer. W.

Ver. 15. Earth. He attempts to make some reparation for the blasphemies which had been uttered (C.) and written. H.

Ver. 16. Unto us is not in Heb. or Sept. D. — God, as if he were not able to deliver us. M.

Ver. 21. Virgin. The few who adhere to the Lord despise all idols and their votaries. W. — Of Sion and of Jerusalem may denote those places. Towns and provinces are often represented as women: the daughter of Babylon, the daughter of the sea, mean Babylon and a maritime town. Perhaps this comparison is used through tenderness and affection for a place. C. — Even the most timid female would shortly despise the fallen tyrant. H. — Wagged, out of contempt, or in a threatening manner. Ps. xxi. 8. Mat. xxvii. 39. M.

Ver. 22. Of Israel. This title is often found in Isaias; xlv. 11. and xlvii. 4. &c.

Ver. 23. Carmel. A pleasant fruitful hill in the forest. These expressions are figurative, signifying, under the names of mountains and forests, the kings and provinces whom the Assyrians had triumphed over. Ch. — He must have passed by Libanus, and might boast of this exploit. Other proud words to the same purpose are mentioned Isai. x. 9. and xxxiii. 9. He had made himself master of Mount Carmel, as well as of Libanus. C.

Ver. 24. Strange waters, which did not run in my original dominions, (H.) or which were found by opening springs before unknown. — Shut-up, with mounds of earth, or in the banks of rivers. The army of Xerxes is said to have drunk whole rivers dry. We might also translate, “I have dried up the waters, which served as ramparts for cities.” Thus Cyrus diverted the streams of the Gnidus, and of the Euphrates. Heb. also, perhaps most literally, “I will dry up the rivulets of Egypt.” See Isai. xix. 6. and xxxvii. 25. C. — Prot. “all the rivers of besieged places.” H.

Ver. 25. I have formed it, &c. All thy exploits, in which thou takest pride, are no more than what I have decreed; and are not to be ascribed to thy wisdom or strength, but to my will and ordinance: who have give to thee to take and destroy so many fenced cities, and to carry terror wherever thou comest. — Ruins. Literally, “ruin of hills.” Ch. — Prot. “Now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste fenced cities into ruinous heaps.” H.

Ver. 26. Of hand. Heb. “short, (C.) or contracted in hand,” or power. This does not add to the glory of Sennacherib; and if the enemy had been less valiant, the victory was still to be attributed to God. H. — The Assyrian found but little resistance. C. xviii. 13.

Ver. 27. In. All thy actions. M. — I knew, or disposed of, for wise purposes. Nothing shews more forcibly the dominion of God, even over the most impious. They cannot frustrate the divine decrees.

Ver. 28. Ring, or hook, like that with which fishes are taken. C. — Bit. Prot. “bridle,” (H.) or a sort of muzzle. M. — I will treat thee like a furious beast. — Camest, without having effected what thou hadst designed. H.

Ver. 29. O Ezechias is not in Heb. or Sept.; but they shew the sense. H. — Second, which was a sabbatical year. Usher. T. — We elsewhere find signs given as a proof of past events, and that they were from God, who enabled his prophet to foretell both. Ex. iii. 12. Isai. viii. 4. Thus three things are proved. 1. That the prophet is truly animated with the divine spirit. 2. That God is the author of the miracle. 3. As also of the sign which follows it, particularly if the sign be likewise miraculous. It was of the utmost importance that the people should be convinced that all proceeded from the hand of Providence, in the overthrow of Sennacherib. C. — Such things. Isaias (xxxvii. 30.) specifies apples, as they also supplied the people with food. M.

Ver. 30. Upward, like a fruitful tree. H.

Ver. 31. Sion. These shall repeople the land. In a higher sense, the Christian Church was propagated by the few Jews who believed. C. — Zeal, or ardent love. M. — Of hosts, is added in the Prot. version, as being deficient in the Heb. H. — It is found in several MSS. Kennicott.

Ver. 32. About it, as was then the custom in besieging cities. Josephus and others suppose that Sennacherib’s army was destroyed before Jerusalem. But it seems more probable it fell on the road to Egypt, v. 7. The camp, which is still shewn, might be that of Rabsaces. C. xviii. 17. C.

Ver. 33. Return. Sennacherib’s life was spared for a time, that he might be covered with ignominy the longer, and suffer a more disgraceful death. H.

Ver. 34. Own sake, who have chosen this city for my sanctuary. M. — David. Here again we behold the influence of the saints with God. H.

Ver. 35. Night following the prediction of Isaias, (C.) or that memorable night which would be so terrible to the Assyrians after three years, v. 29. Thus we read, in that day, &c. Isai. xxvii. M. — The exterminating angel, (Ex. xi. 4. C.) an evil spirit, (Ps. lxxvii. 49.) or the guardian of the synagogue. Abulensis. — When he, Sennacherib. Heb. &c. “when they,” his few attendants who were spared to announce this judgment; (Isai. xxxvii. 36. C.) or when the inhabitants of Jerusalem arose. H. It seems the carnage was effected without much noise, (C.) by fire (Rabbins) or by pestilence. Josephus. M.

Ver. 37. Nesroch. Jospehus calls both the idol and the temple Araskes. Sennacherib persecuted the Israelites for 45 (Greek 55) days. Toby. i. 21. — Sons, as the Jews suppose they were destined for victims by their father, and got beforehand with him. S. Jer. in Isai. x. C. — Armenia. So the Prot. translate Ararath, (H.) where Noe’s ark rested. This nation has been esteemed very warlike, and has always asserted its liberty. — Asarhaddon. His two elder brothers were excluded, on account of their parricide. Joseph. — This prince is called Sargon in Isai. xx. 1. and Achirdon in Toby i. 24.