4 Kings xx.
Notes & Commentary:
Days, before the destruction of Sennacherib's army; (ver. 6.; Menochius) though some suppose that Ezechias was afflicted
with sickness, because he had not shewn sufficient gratitude for his deliverance, 2 Paralipomenon xxxii. 24. (Eusebius and
St. Jerome, in Isaias xxxix. (Calmet) --- But it might be sent only to purify him the more, &c. (Menochius) --- He fell
ill the same year that the Assyrian invaded his dominions, ver. 6., and chap. xviii. 13. The nature of his disorder in not
fully known. (It was probably an abscess, (Calmet) brought on by a fever; or an ulcer, for which the things which promote
suppuration, are always proper. Thus God teaches us to make use of natural remedies, yet so as to place our whole confidence
in him. (Haydock) --- Others think it was a pleurisy, (John xxi. Thesaur. 26.) or a quinsey, (Barthol.) or the pestilence,
&c. (Calmet) --- Unto death, of an illness, which would naturally have proved mortal; as that of Benadad was the
reverse, chap. viii. 10. --- Not live, very shortly; though he does not express the time. We should always bear in
mind this awful warning. (Haydock) --- The prediction was conditional, like that of Jonas; (iii. 4.; Calmet) otherwise it
would have been sinful to strive to render it ineffectual. (Estius)
Wall, towards the temple; (Chaldean, &c.) or that he might be less distracted, and indulge his grief without restraint.
Before thee. The saints of the old law frequently mention their good works, (Psalm vii. 9., &c., and 2 Esdras xiii.
14.) which is less common in those of the new. When God rewards our good works, he only crowns his own gifts. (Calmet) ---
Ezechias had sincerely desired to please God, though he might have given way to some imperfections, ver. 1. (Haydock) ---
Weeping; because he thought that the Messias would not be one of his posterity, as he had yet no children, chap. xxi.
1. (St. Jerome) --- The saints of the Old Testament could only be received into Abraham's bosom. We may be with Christ
immediately after death; so that it is far less terrible, Philippians i. 23. (Haydock)
Court. Hebrew her, "city:" but in the margin, (Calmet) etsor. Septuagint aule, "hall,"
or court, is retained, and followed by the Chaldean. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "the middle court." (Haydock)
Day, dating from the time when Isaias spoke. (Tostat) --- This shewed that the cure was miraculous, and not effected
by natural remedies only. (Tirinus)
Assyrians. It is commonly supposed that this alludes to Sennacherib. But it might refer to his son, who was sending
an army, Isaias xx. 1. We ought not to alter the scriptural order of the transactions, without cogent reasons.
Figs; dried. They are very serviceable in various disorders of the throat, to mollify, &c. (Pliny, [Natural History?]
xxiii. 3.) (Aldrov. ii.) --- St. Jerome (in Isaias xxxviii.) acknowledges that they might help to removed the disorder. Grotius
is of a contrary opinion; (Calmet) and this would enhance the miracle. See Vales. xxxix. (Menochius) --- At any rate, the
discovery of this remedy to the prophet, and its sudden efficacy, were miraculous. (Calmet)
Sign. He is not incredulous, but gives the prophet an occasion of declaring by what authority he spoke thus. (Haydock)
Lines, according to the usual course of the sun. An instantaneous motion of this kind would, in reality, be as difficult,
as the retrogradation. But it might not strike the people so much. (Haydock) --- Some take the lines to designate hours. But
the sun is never up twenty hours in that country; and it must have been at such a height, as that it might appear visibly
to recede, or to go forward, ten lines. We may therefore suppose, that they consisted only of half hours, (Tirinus) or less.
(Calmet) --- If the retrograde motion were instantaneous, as Cajetan believes, the day would only be five hours longer than
usual; (Menochius) but if otherwise, it would be ten; as the sun would occupy five hours in going back, and as many to regain
its former station. (Tirinus) --- Usher supposes that the night was as much shortened, that so astronomical observations may
still be verified without any confusion. But that would introduce a fresh miracle. Some assert that only the shadow went back,
without any derangement in the heavenly bodies. Spinosa laughs at the ignorance of those people, who mistook the effects of
a parhelion for a miracle. This author may boast of his superior knowledge. But how came the sages of Babylon (ver. 12.) to
be unacquainted with such a natural cause? How came it so opportunely (Calmet) at the time appointed by the prophet? What
improbable explanations are not those forced to admit, who deny to the Almighty the power of changing his own works! (Haydock)
--- The silence of profane historians respecting this miracle, is of little consequence. Herodotus (ii. 142.) seems to hint
at it, as well as at that under Josue; (x.) being informed "by the Egyptians, that during 10340 years, the sun had risen four
times in an extraordinary manner. It had risen twice where it ought naturally to set, and had set as often where it should
rise." He might have said more simply, that the sun had twice gone back. See Solin, 45. (Calmet) --- St. Dion. Areop. ep.
7. ad Polycarp. --- This last author thinks that this day was twenty hours longer than usual, supposing that the lines designate
so many hours, and that the sun kept going back for ten hours. (Worthington)
Dial. Hebrew also, "steps." St. Jerome confesses that he followed Symmachus in Isaias xxxviii. 7. Whether this dial
resembled one of ours, (Grotius) or was made in the form of steps, (St. Cyril, hom. 3, in Isaias, &c.) or rather of a
half globe, (Calmet) after the Babylonian fashion, (Vitruvius ix. 9.) is not clear. Some have asserted that hours were not
known to the Hebrews, before the captivity. (Usher, the year of the world 3291.) --- But Toby[Tobias], (xii. 22.) who wrote
at Nineve, under the reign of Manasses, clearly speaks of them. The Egyptians pretend that they invented water hour-glasses.
But the invention of dials is attributed to the Chaldeans, from whom Anaximander introduced them among the Greeks, under the
reign of Cyrus. He died in the year of the world 3457. --- Achaz had much to do with Theglathphalasar; (chap. xvii.
8.) and probably obtained this curiosity from the same country. In more ancient times, people measured time by the length
of their shadow, and were invited to a feast at such a foot, in the same manner as we should invite for such an hour. (Palladius,
Rustic. xii.) (Calmet) --- Till the year of Rome 595, when Nasica dedicated the first water hour-glass, the Romans knew not
how the time passed on cloudy days. (Pliny, [Natural History?] vii. 60.) (Vitruvius ix. 9.) --- Grotius supposes that the
dial of Achaz was a concave semicircular gnomon, in which a globe was placed, the shadow of which fell on twenty-eight lines.
Berodach, or Merodac Baladan, Isaias xxxix. 1. (Calmet) --- The latter was his father; the famous Nabonassar.
(Du Hamel) --- Letters, or books, Isaias. --- Sick. They came to congratulate him on his recovery, and
also (Menochius) to inquire of the wonder that had happened upon the earth. God left him that he might be tempted, and
all things might be made known that were in his heart, 2 Paralipomenon xxxii. 31. (Haydock) --- If this embassage took
place after the fall of Sennacherib, the king of Babylon might thank Ezechias for having stopped the career of that ambitious
monarch, from whom the former had every thing to fear. (Calmet)
Rejoiced, at being honoured by so great a prince, (Menochius) who afterwards defeated Asarhaddon. (Tirinus) --- Hebrew,
"hearkened unto them." But the sense of the Vulgate is preferable, and the construction of the original seems to require it,
as it is also understood by the Septuagint and Syriac, and by Isaias xxxix. 2. --- Spices. Hebrew, "precious things,"
(Montanus) "treasures," (Chaldean; Syriac) "cabinet" of jewels, &c. (Vatable) --- Vessels, or armour, and all this
fine furniture. St. Jerome says, that Ezechias also displayed before them the treasures of the temple, which chiefly drew
upon him God's displeasure. (Calmet) --- He might be guilty only of a venial sin of vanity and of ingratitude: (Menochius)
and God took occasion, from this offence to admonish the king of the impending ruin. (Du Hamel)
Babylon, under the last kings of Juda. It cannot be explained of Sennacherib, chap. xviii. 15.
Eunuchs; servants, Daniel i. 3. We only read of Manasses, who was taken to Babylon. (Calmet) --- But he might
have many brothers, who might be reduced to a menial condition; (Salien) as the text seems to refer to the immediate sons
of Ezechias. (Haydock) --- It may, however, be explained of his descendants. (Menochius) (Chap. xxiv. 12.)
Let. Hebrew, "and he added, let," &c. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "he said, is it not good, if peace
and truth (or a solid and desirable peace) be in my days?" He is not indifferent about his family, as the Jews would insinuate
(Eusebiuis and St. Jerome, in Isaias xxxix. 7, 8.) from the prophet's adding, Be comforted....my people; (Isaias xl.
1.; Haydock) but he submits with resignation to God's decrees, (St. Ambrose) and begs that God would be pleased to suffer
him to die in peace, as the sentence did not seem to affect his person. (Haydock) --- Josephus insinuates that he was exceedingly
grieved at the distress which hung over his posterity, (Antiquities x. 3.) and we are assured the Ezechias and the people
entered into sentiments of humility and penance, which for a time averted the wrath of God, 2 Paralipomenon xxxii. 26.
City. Probably before it was besieged by Sennacherib, 2 Paralipomenon xxxii. 4. --- Juda, and in the works of
Isaias, 2 Paralipomenon xxxii. 32., and Isaias xxxvii., xxxviii., and xxxix. The prophet gives us the canticle of this pious
king, who shone with so great splendour, and did so much for the good of his people, chap. xviii. 4, 5., and Ecclesiasticus
xlviii. 19. (Calmet) --- He generously opposed the reign of vice, and though threatened with the most imminent dangers, came
off with victory. Thus Jesus Christ declared war against idolatry and all vice, and established his Church in the midst of
persecution. (Haydock) --- Ezechias was conducted to the gates of death, and brought back; Christ rose victorious from the
grave, as the holy king seems to have foreseen, Isaias xxxviii. 19. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Ezechias being sick, is told by Isaias that he shall die:
but, praying to God, he obtaineth longer life, and in confirmation thereof receiveth a sign by the sun's returning back. He
sheweth all his treasures to the ambassadors of the king of Babylon. Isaias reproving him for it, foretelleth the Babylonian
1 In *those days Ezechias was sick unto death: and Isaias, the son of
Amos, the prophet, came and said to him: Thus saith the Lord God: Give charge concerning thy house, for thou shalt die, and
2 And he turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying:
3 I beseech thee, O Lord, remember how I have walked before thee in truth,
and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is pleasing before thee. And Ezechias wept with much weeping.
4 And before Isaias was gone out of the middle of the court, the word
of the Lord came to him, saying:
5 Go back, and tell Ezechias, the captain of my people: Thus saith the
Lord, the God of David, thy father: I have heard thy prayer, and I have seen thy tears: and behold I have healed thee: on
the third day thou shalt go up to the temple of the Lord.
6 And I will add to thy days fifteen years: and I will deliver thee and
this city out of the hand of the king of the Assyrians, and I will protect this city for my own sake, and for David, my servant's
7 And Isaias said: Bring me a lump of figs. And when they had brought
it, and laid it upon his boil. he was healed.
8 And Ezechias had said to Isaias: What shall be the sign that the Lord
will heal me, and that I shall go up to the temple of the Lord the third day?
9 And Isaias said to him: This shall be the sign from the Lord, that
the Lord will do the word which he hath spoken: Wilt thou that the shadow go forward ten lines, or that it go back so many
10 And Ezechias said: It is an easy matter for the shadow to go forward
ten lines: and I do not desire that this be done, but let it return back ten degrees.
11 And Isaias, the prophet called upon the Lord, and he brought the shadow
ten degrees backwards by the lines, by which it had already gone down on the dial of Achaz.
12 *At that time Berodach Baladan, the son of Baladan, king of the Babylonians,
sent letters and presents to Ezechias: for he had heard that Ezechias had been sick.
13 And Ezechias rejoiced at their coming, and he shewed them the house
of his aromatical spices, and the gold, and the silver, and divers precious odours, and ointments, and the house of his vessels,
and all that he had in his treasures. There was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion,s that Ezechias shewed them
14 And Isaias, the prophet, came to king Ezechias, and said to him: What
said these men? or from whence came they to thee? And Ezechias said to him: From a far country, they came to me out of Babylon.
15 And he said: What did they see in thy house? Ezechias said: They saw
all the things that are in my house: There is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them.
16 And Isaias said to Ezechias: Hear the word of the Lord.
17 Behold the days shall come, that all that is in thy house, and that
thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord.
18 And of thy sons also that shall issue from thee, whom thou shalt beget,
they shall take away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.
19 Ezechias said to Isaias: The word of the Lord, which thou hast spoken,
is good: let peace and truth be in my days.
20 And the rest of the acts of Ezechias, and all his might, and how he
made a pool, and a conduit, and brought waters into the city, are they not written in the Book of the words of the days of
the kings of Juda?
21 And *Ezechias slept with his fathers, and Manasses, his son, reigned
in his stead.
1: 2 Paralipomenon xxxii. 24.; Isaias xxxviii. 1.; Year of the World 3291, Year
before Christ 713.
12: Isaias xxxix. 1.
21: Year of the World 3306, Year before Christ 698.