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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 39

 

 

Verse 1

BABYLONISH CAPTIVITY THREATENED.

1. At that time — Soon after the recovery of Hezekiah; for Merodach-baladan, governor or king of Babylon, had heard that Hezekiah had been sick and was now recovered. Much difficulty exists as to the time of this message. The most natural meaning of the biblical account of the time, is, that it was a short time after the complete rout of Sennacherib’s army. The invasion of Sennacherib was in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign. Isaiah 36:1. The expression, “at that time,” therefore, as the Scriptural account runs, means probably but a few years after the destruction of the Assyrian army, and but a few years before the end of Hezekiah’s reign, which was about 698 B.C., a sufficient time at least for the replenishment of his treasures, (2 Chronicles 32:23,) with which he had before purchased peace of Sennacherib in his first invasion. 2 Kings 18:15-16. This view of chronology is, according to Josephus and Jerome, and the fragments of Berosus in Eusebius’s Chronicle, so far as that chronicle relates to the case of Merodach-baladan. The name of Merodach-baladan is located by both the Assyrian Inscriptions and the Canon of Ptolemy between 721 and 709 B.C.; and Polyhistor gives him a short reign as king of Babylon, in 702 B.C. (See Dictionary of the Bible.) These authorities all concur with the biblical indefinite date at that time, and make the period of Hezekiah’s sickness to come easily after the Assyrian army had departed. Rawlinson’s dates (Monarchies, vol. ii) are against this by many years, but the conclusion results from insufficient determinations in respect to the history as yet furnished in the Inscriptions.


Verse 2

2. Showed them the house of his precious things — Hezekiah was flattered by an embassy from so great a distance as Babylon: he showed them all he had of treasure, armour, spicery, beaten oil, and all the wealth he had collected at Jerusalem. He had prospered greatly since his sickness, perhaps he had greatly enriched himself from the valuable plunder left in the sudden retreat of the Assyrian army. From numerous resources, at any rate, he was again rich and powerful, and possibly he looked to an alliance with Babylon against the great power which had so annoyed him.


Verse 3-4

THREATENING OF THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY OCCASIONED BY HEZEKIAH, Isaiah 39:3-8.

3, 4. Then came Isaiah — Who was an ethical terror to ill-doing monarchs and their false flatterers.

What said these men — The answer elicited did not satisfy the faithful prophet, who saw through the guise of the king’s flattered, perhaps wily, heart. Good as Hezekiah was, prosperity had elated and beguiled him. On the questions being pressed, however, he candidly told all, and submitted meekly to whatever should follow.


Verse 5-6

5, 6. Hear the word of the Lord — The prophet’s soul was surcharged now with a coming of explicit, definite affliction upon his own people. The king’s imprudence was, for the first time, the occasion of such an utterance. Babylon now rises to his view as the next great engulfing power against the nation.

Behold, the days come — Days of captivity. In one hundred and twenty years they did come.

All that is in thine house — Which Hezekiah had himself gathered since he was plundered by Sennacherib.

And that which thy fathers have laid up in store — Possibly of this Sennacherib got nothing. Was it not in keeping with the prudence of this people to preserve in most secret store, large wealth never to be touched but in extreme emergencies?

Shall be carried to Babylon — But preserved, as a fact of history, (Ezra 1:7,) to be used again in the restored temple at restored Jerusalem. The divine principle, a remnant shall be saved, extended to all that pertained to the symbols of the spiritual life of that people.

Nothing shall be left — The old national life was to expire utterly, to be resurrected in the spiritual remnant.


Verse 7

7. Of thy sons — Descendants. The king was childless till three years after his recovery, when Manasseh was born. “He wept sore,” (chapter Isaiah 38:7,) most probably because he was childless. God gave him a son, but what a son he proved!

Shall be eunuchs — Household vassals of oriental royalty: a retribution for the sins, not of Hezekiah, most probably, but of Manasseh and later descendants.


Verse 8

8. Good is the word of the Lord — Noble submission! Hezekiah was the purest and best royal character since King David, and he had his reward, for his own days were ended in peace.

This chapter is an appropriate historic close, preparatory to the dying song of the great, but now old, prophet of the glorious Messianic times in the far future.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Isaiah 39:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/isaiah-39.html. 1874-1909.

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