Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible
2 Kings 18
2 KINGS CHAPTER 18
Hezekiah king over Judah, his good reign: he is not afraid of the king of Assyria, and overcometh the Philistines, 2 Kings 18:1-8. Samaria is carried away captive by Shabnaser king of Assyria for their sins, 2 Kings 18:9-12. Sennacherib invadeth Judah; and Hezekiah payeth him tribute, 2 Kings 18:13-16. Rabshakeh sent by Sennacherib, revileth Hezekiah; blasphemeth God; and stirreth up the people to mutiny; which is told the king, 2 Kings 18:17-37.
In the third year; in the third of those nine years mentioned 2 Kings 17:1, of which see there. See 2 Kings 18:10.
Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign. How is this credible? For then Ahaz, who lived but six and thirty years, 2 Kings 16:2, must beget Hezekiah at the eleventh year of his age.
Answ. 1. There are some like instances mentioned by credible authors; which these very men will not deny, who are so ready to quarrel with the Holy Scriptures for such matters.
2. This being the confessed custom of sacred and other writers, in the numbering of years, sometimes to omit, and sometimes to add, those which are imperfect or unfinished; and so Ahaz might be near one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and near seventeen years older when he died. And on the other side, Hezekiah, when he began to reign, might be only four and twenty years old complete, and but entered into his five and twentieth year. And thus Ahaz might be between thirteen and fourteen years old when he got Hezekiah; which is not at all strange, especially in that nation, to which God had promised a singular degree of fruitfulness, and in that house of David, to which God had made so many and such great promises.
3. It is not certain that Ahaz lived only thirty six years; for those sixteen years which he reigned, 2 Kings 17:2, may be computed, not from the first beginning of his reign, when he reigned with his father, (of which See Poole "2 Kings 15:30",) which was at the twentieth year of his age, but from the beginning of his reign alone.
4. Some affirm that Hezekiah was not the natural, but only the legal son and successor of Ahaz; for the name of son is given in Scripture to such persons; as 1 Chronicles 3:16, compared with 2 Kings 24:17 Matthew 1:12, compared with Jeremiah 22:30; and to adopted sons, Acts 7:21 Hebrews 11:24; and to sons-in-law, 1 Samuel 24:16 26:17 Luke 3:23. Any of these solutions are far more credible to any man of common prudence, than that these sacred books, whose Divine original hath been so fully evidenced both by God and men, are but the fictions and contrivances of a base impostor. And if none of these solutions were sufficient, it is absurd to conclude that a true resolution cannot be found because it is not yet found; because it is manifest, that many difficulties, both in Scripture and in the arts, which were formerly judged insoluble, have been cleared in later times; and therefore we may justly expect the resolution of other difficulties, which may be thought not yet fully explained. Abi, or Abijah, 2 Chronicles 29:1.
He removed the high places, i.e. the most of them, or such as the people most frequented; for all were not taken away, 2 Kings 23:13,14. And this he attempted to do, notwithstanding the people’s great and constant affection to them; partly because he had more zeal and courage than his predecessors; and partly because thee dreadful judgments of God upon the kingdom of Israel for their superstition and idolatry had made the people of Judah more pliable to the commands of God, and of their good king.
The brazen serpent that Moses had made, by God’s command, to be an ordinance or mean for the conveyance of God’s blessing to the people; which therefore had been hitherto kept as a memorial of God’s mercy; but being now commonly abused to superstition, was destroyed.
The children of Israel did burn incense to it; not doubtless as to a god, but only as to an instrument and token of God’s mercy, by and through which their adoration was directed to God, and given to that only for God’s sake.
He called it Nehushtan, i.e. he said, This serpent, howsoever formerly honoured, and used by God as a sign of his grace, yet now it is nothing but a piece of brass, which can do you neither good nor hurt; and therefore is no fit object for your worship.
He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, without calling in foreign and heathenish succours to stablish or help him; which his father Ahaz did, 2 Kings 16:7 Isa 7; and before him Asa, 1 Kings 15:18,19, with reflection upon whom this seems to be noted.
Nor any that were before him to wit, of the kings of Judah only; for David and Solomon were kings of all Israel.
Object. The like is said of Josiah, 2 Kings 23:25.
Answ. Each of them excelled the other in several qualities or actions: Hezekiah in this, that he fell upon this work with great expedition, even in the beginning of his reign, which Josiah did not, 2 Kings 22:1,3; and with no less resolution, undertaking to do that which none of his predecessors durst do, even to remove the high places, wherein Josiah did only follow his example, 2Ki 23.
Departed not from following him, in the general course of his life and especially in the matters of God’s worship.
He shook off that yoke of subjection and tribute to which his father had wickedly submitted, 2 Kings 16:7, and reassumed that full and independent sovereignty which God had settled in the house of David, which Ahaz could not alienate further than for his own time. And Hezekiah’s case differs much from that of Zedekiah, who is blamed for rebellion against the king of Babylon, both because he had engaged himself to him by a solemn oath and covenant, which we do not read of Ahaz; and because he broke the covenant which he himself had made; and because God had actually given the dominion of his own land and people to the king of Babylon, and commanded both Zedekiah and his people to submit to him. And whereas Hezekiah is here said to rebel, that word implies only a defection from that subjection which had been professed and performed to another: which sometimes may be justly done, and sometimes may not; and therefore that word doth not necessarily prove this action to be a sin. And these words,
he rebelled, & c., are explained by the next following words,
and he served him not. And that it was not a sin in him seems most probable because God did own and assist him therein; and did not at all reprove him for it in that message which he sent to him by Isaiah about this matter, 2 Kings 19:20, &c., nor afterwards, though he did particularly reprove him for that which might seem a less fault, for his vain-glory and ostentation, 2 Chronicles 32:25,26. For what he saith, I have offended, See Poole "2 Kings 18:14".
He smote the Philistines, and recovered from them what his father had lost, 2 Chronicles 28:18, and more.
From the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city; of which phrase See Poole "2 Kings 17:9".
The seventh year of Hoshea; the seventh of those nine years expressed 2 Kings 17:1.
At the end of three years, to wit, of the siege, i.e. in the third year, as this phrase is used, Deuteronomy 14:28 Joshua 9:16,17 Jer 34:14, compared with Exodus 21:2.
Of which See Poole "2 Kings 17:6".
All that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded: they began with one sin, the worship of the calves; but from thence they were led by degrees into the violation of all the other commands; although indeed that one sin made them in some sort guilty of the breach of the whole law, James 2:10.
Sennacherib, the son or successor of Shalmaneser.
Come up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them, i.e. against many of them; universal particles being frequently so used, both in Scripture and other authors; for that all were not taken appears from 2 Kings 19:8. And his success God gave him, partly, to lift him up to his own greater and more shameful destruction; partly, to humble and chastise his own people for their manifold sins, and afterwards to raise them up with more comfort and glory; and partly, to gain an eminent opportunity to advance his own honour and service by that miraculous deliverance which he designed for his people.
I have offended, to wit, against thee, i.e. I have given thee occasion of warring against me, whereof I now repent. Or his ill success might make him think that he had sinned against God in this action, and might make him willing to submit to him, though God graciously prevented it. Of a talent of gold see on Exodus 25:39.
Which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid; so repairing the injury which his father had done to them, and putting them into the same condition in which Solomon left them, 1 Kings 6:32.
The king of Assyria sent; having received the money, upon which he agreed to depart from Hezekiah and his land, 2 Kings 18:16. He breaks his faith with Hezekiah, thereby justifying Hezekiah’s rebellion, and preparing the way for his own approaching destruction.
When they had called the king i.e. sent a message to him to come or send to treat with them.
Eliakim the son of Hilkiah; of whom see Isaiah 22:20, &c.
Over the household, Heb. over the house; either of God; or rather, of the king here mentioned; as appears from Isa 22.
Shebna the scribe; so called to distinguish him from an other Shebna who was over the house, Isaiah 22:15.
Thou sayest; either to thy people, to encourage them; or rather, within thyself.
But they are but vain words, or, surely, or, only words of the lips, i.e. vain, unprofitable, idle talk, without any effect; or they come not from thy heart; thou speakest this against thy own knowledge.
Counsel and strength for the war; counsel to contrive, strength or courage to execute; which two things are of greatest necessity and use for war. But the words are and may be rendered otherwise; either this, thou speakest surely words of the lips, i.e. thou encouragest thyself and thy people with talk and words; but counsel and strength are for war, are necessary for thy defence; neither of which thou hast within thyself, but must seek them from others; and where wilt thou find them?
on whom (as it follows)
dost thou trust? Or thus, Thou sayest, I have the word of my lips, (either,
1. Words wherewith to pray to God for help; or,
2. Eloquence to encourage my soldiers and people,) counsel and strength for war; i.e. I am furnished with all things necessary for my defence. On whom dost thou trust? seeing it is apparent thou hast not strength of thy own, from whom dost thou expect succours?
This bruised reed; he calls Egypt a reed, with allusion to the reeds wherewith the banks of Nilus were full; and bruised, to note their weakness and insufficiency to support him. Compare Ezekiel 29:6,7.
It will go into his hand, and pierce it, by some of the fragments into which it will be broken.
Unto all that trust on him; doing them no good, but much hurt.
Whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away; thereby robbing him of that worship and service which he had in those places. Thus boldly he speaks of these things which he understood not, judging of the great God by their false and petty gods; and judging of God’s worship according to the vain fancies of the heathens, who measured piety by the multitude of altars.
Give pledges to my lord, i.e. give him hostages to secure him from thy future rebellion, and he will depart from thee. Or rather, contend with my lord in battle; seeing thou hast counsel and strength for war, do not lie lurking in thy strong hold, but come out into the open field, and let us try for mastery; and whereas thou mayest pretend thou wantest horses to fight with me, if thou wilt accept of my challenge, I will furnish thee with two thousand horses, if thou hast riders for them; as it here follows.
How wilt thou force him to turn his back to thee, and flee away from thee?
Without the Lord; without his consent and commission.
The Lord said unto me, to wit, by secret inspiration, or by his providence. But indeed he neither owned God’s word, nor regarded his providence; but he forged this, to strike a terror into Hezekiah and the people.
Upon which these officers stood; not being willing to put themselves into the power of such a barbarous and perfidious enemy, by going out of the city.
To tell them to what extremities and miseries he will force them.
In the Jews’ language, that he might affright the people into a compliance with him, which he perceived Eliakim and his brethren endeavour to prevent.
Make an agreement with me by a present, to redeem yourselves from all the calamities of a close siege, and that death which certainly will follow on them. Or, procure, or purchase a blessing from me, i.e. a blessed peace; whereby you may be delivered out of your distressed and cursed condition, and receive from me the blessings of protection and provision, which your king cannot give you.
Then eat ye every man of his own vine; upon these terms I will give you no disturbance, but quietly suffer each of you to enjoy his own possessions.
Like your own land, i.e. a fruitful and pleasant land. Because he could not conceal from them his intentions of transplanting them into another land, which he had already discovered in his dealing with the Israelites, and other nations, he assures them they shall be no losers by it; and shall only change their place, but not their condition and comforts; which they should enjoy in that land, no less than in their own.
Hamath and Arpad; of which see Jeremiah 49:23.
Sepharvaim; of which see 2 Kings 17:21.
Hena and Ivah; the names, either,
1. Of idol gods. But why should only these two be named, and not the gods of the other places here mentioned? Or rather,
2. Of cities or countries, as is manifest from 2 Kings 19:13, where those words are repeated among other places, whose kings are there mentioned, and where they are rendered, of Hena and Ivah, as they should be here also, the words in the Hebrew being the very same.
Have they delivered Samaria? i.e.
1. Either the gods here mentioned, which, together with other idols, were worshipped in Samaria. Or,
2. Their gods; which is easily understood from the foregoing words.
The people, i.e. either these three men, this word being sometimes used of a very few men, as 1 Samuel 9:24. Or rather, the people that were with then upon the wall, 2 Kings 18:26, to whom he spake, and from whom he expected an answer.
Answer him not; which was wisely ordered, partly lest by their words they should either betray their fears, or provoke their enemies to greater injuries or blasphemies, or give them some advantage or direction for their further proceedings; and partly that by this instance of obedience and calmness he might see the resolution of the people to cleave unto their king, and the vanity of his attempts to seduce them to a defection from him.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Kings 18". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://beta.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25