4 Kings xix.
Notes & Commentary:
Blasphemy. The enemy insults over us (Calmet) and over God. (Haydock) --- Birth. Hebrew, "the mouth of the womb."
(Vatable) --- This comparison shews the utmost distress to which the people of Jerusalem were reduced. Any great anguish is
denoted by a woman in travail, Deuteronomy ii. 25., and Psalm xlvii. 7. Homer (Iliad A) thus describes
the uneasiness of Agamemnon. (Calmet) --- Ezechias found himself unable to contend with the Assyrian, though he wished to
do it. (Menochius) --- Without courage, all hope of escaping is lost. (Du Hamel)
It may. Literally, "if perhaps the Lord hear." (Haydock) --- Found. After such devastation has been made in
the country, particularly by carrying away the ten tribes, (Calmet) Ezechias recommends the kingdom to the prayers of the
prophet; as we are exhorted to have recourse to the intercession of the saints. (Haydock)
Upon him, so that he shall be eager enough to return, (Calmet) being filled with consternation at the approach of Tharaca,
(Menochius) and at the destruction of his men by an angel, ver. 35. (Haydock) --- Lachis and Lobna were both in the mountains
of Juda, to the south of Jerusalem, Josue x. 31. (Calmet)
When he, Sennacherib, though it would seem to refer to Rabsaces. (Haydock) --- Tharaca, called 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. (Herodotus ii. 141.) It is probable that Taphnes, near Pelusium, was the capital city
of Tharaca, Isaias xviii., and xxx. 4. He does not appear to have joined battle with Sennacherib, whose army was destroyed
on its march (Isaias x. 24.) the very night that the prophet promised Ezechias a deliverance.
Gozan, in Less Armenia; Haran and Reseph in Palmerene Syria. Thelassar, or Syria. They were nations
not very remote. See chap. xviii. 34. (Calmet)
Before the Lord, to move him to revenge his own cause, (Haydock) and to shew that he looked upon the Lord, as a father,
with the utmost confidence (Menochius) and resignation. He spreads the blasphemous letter (Haydock) before the ark, which
was the special place for prayer. (Worthington)
Earth. He attempts to make some reparation for the blasphemies which had been uttered (Calmet) and written. (Haydock)
Unto us is not in Hebrew or Septuagint. (Du Hamel) --- God, as if he were not able to deliver us. (Menochius)
Virgin. The few who adhere to the Lord despise all idols and their votaries. (Worthington) --- 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.
(Calmet) --- Even the most timid female would shortly despise the fallen tyrant. (Haydock) --- Wagged, out of contempt,
or in a threatening manner, Psalm xxi. 8., and Matthew xxvii. 39. (Menochius)
Of Israel. This title is often found in Isaias; xlv. 11., and xlvii. 4., &c.
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. (Challoner) --- He must have passed by Libanus,
and might boast of this exploit. Other proud words to the same purpose are mentioned [in] Isaias x. 9., and xxxiii. 9. He
had made himself master of Mount Carmel, as well as of Libanus. (Calmet)
Strange waters, which did not run in my original dominions, (Haydock) 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. Hebrew also, perhaps most literally, "I will dry up the rivulets of Egypt."
See Isaias xix. 6., and xxxvii. 25. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "all the rivers of besieged places." (Haydock)
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." (Challoner) --- Protestants,
"Now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste fenced cities into ruinous heaps." (Haydock)
Of hand. Hebrew, "short, (Calmet) 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. (Haydock) --- The Assyrian found but
little resistance, chap. xviii. 13.
In. All thy actions. (Menochius) --- 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.
Ring, or hook, like that with which fishes are taken. (Calmet) --- Bit. Protestants, "bridle," (Haydock) or
a sort of muzzle. (Menochius) --- I will treat thee like a furious beast. --- Camest, without having effected what
thou hadst designed. (Haydock)
O Ezechias is not in Hebrew or Septuagint; but they shew the sense. (Haydock) --- Second, which was a sabbatical
year. (Usher) (Tirinus) --- We elsewhere find signs given as a proof of past events, and that they were from God, who enabled
his prophet to foretell both, Exodus iii. 12., and Isaias 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. (Calmet) --- Such things. Isaias (xxxvii.
30.) specifies apples, as they also supplied the people with food. (Menochius)
Upward, like a fruitful tree. (Haydock)
Sion. These shall repeople the land. In a higher sense, the Christian Church was propagated by the few Jews who believed.
(Calmet) --- Zeal, or ardent love. (Menochius) --- Of hosts, is added in the Protestant version, as being deficient
in the Hebrew. (Haydock) --- It is found in several manuscripts. (Kennicott)
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, ver. 7. The camp, which is still shewn, might be
that of Rabsaces, chap. xviii. 17. (Calmet)
Return. Sennacherib's life was spared for a time, that he might be covered with ignominy the longer, and suffer a more
disgraceful death. (Haydock)
Own sake, who have chosen this city for my sanctuary. (Menochius) --- David. Here again we behold the influence
of the saints with God. (Haydock)
Night following the prediction of Isaias, (Calmet) or that memorable night which would be so terrible to the Assyrians
after three years, ver. 29. Thus we read, in that day, &c., Isaias xxvii. (Menochius) --- The exterminating
angel, (Exodus xi. 4.; Calmet) an evil spirit, (Psalm lxxvii. 49.) or the guardian of the synagogue. (Abulensis) ---
When he, Sennacherib. Hebrew, &c., "when they," his few attendants who were spared to announce this judgment; (Isaias
xxxvii. 36.; Calmet) or when the inhabitants of Jerusalem arose. (Haydock) It seems the carnage was effected without
much noise, (Calmet) by fire (Rabbins) or by pestilence. (Josephus) (Menochius)
Nesroch. Jospehus calls both the idol and the temple Araskes. Sennacherib persecuted the Israelites for 45 (Greek 55)
days. (Tobias i. 21.) --- Sons, as the Jews suppose they were destined for victims by their father, and got beforehand
with him. (St. Jerome, in Isaias x.) (Calmet) --- Armenia. So the Protestant translate Ararath, (Haydock) where
Noe's[Noah’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. (Josephus) --- This prince is called Sargon in
Isaias xx. 1., and Achirdon in Tobias i. 24.
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Ezechias is assured of God's help by Isaias, the prophet.
The king of the Assyrians still threateneth and blasphemeth. Ezechias prayeth, and God promiseth to protect Jerusalem. An
angel destroyeth the army of the Assyrians; their king returneth to Ninive, and is slain by his own sons.
1 And *when king Ezechias heard these words, he rent his garments, and
covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord.
2 *And he sent Eliacim, who was over the house, and Sobna, the scribe,
and the ancients of the priests, covered with sackcloths, to Isaias, the prophet, the son of Amos.
3 And they said to him: Thus saith Ezechias: This day is a day of tribulation,
and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: the children are come to the birth, and the woman in travail hath not strength.
4 It may be the Lord, thy God, will hear all the words of Rabsaces, whom
the king of the Assyrians, his master, hath sent to reproach the living God, and to reprove with words, which the Lord, thy
God, hath heard: and do thou offer prayer for the remnants that are found.
5 So the servants of king Ezechias came to Isaias.
6 And Isaias said to them: Thus shall you say to your master: Thus saith
the Lord: Be not afraid for the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of the Assyrians have blasphemed
7 Behold I will send a spirit upon him, and he shall hear a message,
and shall return into his own country, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own country.
8 And Rabsaces returned, and found the king of the Assyrians besieging
Lobna: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachis.
9 And when he heard say of Tharaca, king of Ethiopia: Behold, he is come
out to fight with thee: and was going against him, he sent messengers to Ezechias, saying:
10 Thus shall you say to Ezechias, king of Juda: Let not thy God deceive
thee, in whom thou trustest: and do not say: Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hands of the king of the Assyrians.
11 Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of the Assyrians have done
to all countries, how they have laid them waste: and canst thou alone be delivered?
12 Have the gods of the nations delivered any of them, whom my fathers
have destroyed, to wit, Gozan, and Haran, and Reseph, and the children of Eden, that were in Thelassar?
13 Where is the king of Emath, and the king of Arphad, and the king of
the city of Sepharvaim, and of Ana and of Ava?
14 And when Ezechias had received the letter of the hand of the messengers,
and had read it, he went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord,
15 And he prayed in his sight, saying: O Lord God of Israel, who sitteth
upon the cherubims, thou alone art the God of all the kings of the earth: thou madest heaven and earth:
16 Incline thy ear, and hear: open, O Lord, thy eyes, and see: and hear
all the words of Sennacherib, who hath sent to upbraid unto us the living God.
17 Of a truth, O Lord, the kings of the Assyrians have destroyed nations,
and the lands of them all.
18 And they have cast their gods into the fire: for they were not gods,
but the works of men's hands, of wood and stone, and they destroyed them.
19 Now therefore, O Lord, our God, save us from his hand, that all the
kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord, the only God.
20 And Isaias, the son of Amos, sent to Ezechias, saying: Thus saith
the Lord, the God of Israel: I have heard the prayer thou hast made to me concerning Sennacherib, king of the Assyrians.
21 This is the word, that the Lord hath spoken of him: The virgin, the
daughter of Sion, hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn: the daughter of Jerusalem hath wagged her head behind thy
22 Whom hast thou reproached, and whom hast thou blasphemed? against
whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thy eyes on high? against the holy one of Israel.
23 By the hand of thy servants thou hast reproached the Lord, and hast
said: With the multitude of my chariots I have gone up to the height of the mountains, to the top of Libanus, and have cut
down its tall cedars, and its choice fir-trees. And I have entered into the furthest parts thereof, and the forest of its
24 I have cut down. And I have drunk strange waters, and have dried up
with the soles of my feet all the shut-up waters.
25 Hast thou not heard what I have done from the beginning? from the
days of old I have formed it, and now I have brought it to effect: that fenced cities of fighting men should be turned to
heaps of ruins:
26 And the inhabitants of them were weak of hand, they trembled and were
confounded, they became like the grass of the field, and the green herb on the tops of houses, which withered before it came
27 Thy dwelling, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy way I
knew before, and thy rage against me.
28 Thou hast been mad against me, and thy pride hath come up to my ears:
therefore I will put a ring in thy nose, and a bit between thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest.
29 And to thee, O Ezechias, this shall be a sign: *Eat this year what
thou shalt find: and in the second year, such things as spring of themselves: but in the third year sow and reap: plant vineyards,
and eat the fruit of them.
30 And whatsoever shall be left of the house of Juda, shall take root
downward, and bear fruit upward.
31 For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and that which shall
be saved out of Mount Sion: the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this.
32 Wherefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of the Assyrians:
He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow into it, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a trench about it.
33 By the way that he came he shall return: and into this city he shall
not come, saith the Lord.
34 And I will protect this city, and will save it for my own sake, and
for David, my servant's sake.
35 *And it came to pass that night, that an angel of the Lord came, and
slew in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and eighty-five thousand. And when he arose early in the morning, he saw all the
bodies of the dead.
36 And Sennacherib, king of the Assyrians departing, went away, and he
returned and abode in Ninive.
37 *And as he was worshipping in the temple of Nesroch, his god, Adramelech
and Sarasar, his sons, slew him with the sword, and they fled into the land of the Armenians, and Asarhaddon, his son, reigned
in his stead.
1: Isaias xxxvii. 1.
2: Year of the World 3294, Year before Christ 710.
29: Isaias xxxvii. 30.
35: Tobias i. 21.; Ecclesiasticus xlviii. 24.; Isaias xxxvii. 36.; 1
Machabees vii. 41.; 2 Machabees viii. 19.
37: Tobias i. 24.