1. At that time Merodach-baldan, the son of Baldan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezzekiah: for he had heard that he had been sick and was recovered.
1. Tempore illo misit Merodach Baladan, filius Baladan, rex Babel, ad Ezechiam literas et munus, ex quo audieret eum aegrotasse, et convaluisse
2. And Hezekiah was glad of them, and shewed them the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah showed them not.
2. Laetatus est autum de iis Ezechias, et ostendit illis domum thesauri sui, argentum et aurum et aromata, unguentum pretiosum, et omne armamentarium suum, et quicquid inveniebatur in thesauris suis: non fuit res ulla, quam non ostenderit Ezechias in domo sua, totoque regno suo.
3. Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? And whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country unto me, even from Babylon.
3. Tum venit Isaias propheta ad regem Ezechiam, dixitique illi: Quid dixerunt viri isti? Et unde venerunt ad te? Respondit Ezechias, E terra longinqua venerunt ad me, e Babel
4. Then said he, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All that is in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not showed them.
4. Tunc dixit: Quid viderunt domi tuae? Et dixit Ezechias: Cuncta quae domi meae sunt viderunt; nec res ulla est, quam non illis ostenderim in thesauris meis.
5. Then Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord of hosts:
5. Tunc ait Isais Ezechiae: Audi verbum Iehovae exercituum.
6. Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saitht he Lord.
6. Ecce dies veniunt, ut tollatur in Babylonem quicquid est domituae, et quicquid recondiderunt patres tui ad hunc usque diem; nec residuum quicquam manebit, dicit Iehova.
7. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunichs in the palace of the king of Babylon
7. E filiis tuis qui egressi fuerint ex te, quos genueris, tollent; eruntque eunuchi in palatio regis Babel.
8. Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken: he said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days.
8. Dixit Ezechias Isiae: Bonus est sermo Iehovae quem pronumtiasti. Et dixit: Saltem erit pax et stabilitas in diebus meis.
The pretence was, to congratulate Hezekiah on having recovered from his disease. And yet sacred history appears to assign another reason, which was, that Merodach was induced by a miracle. (2 Chronicles 32:31.) There is certainly no doubt that the report of that prodigy, which took place when the sun went back, was yew widely spread; and it might have produced an impression on many nations. Yet it can hardly be believed that a heathen had any other object in view than to draw Hezekiah into his net; but since, by a remarkable sign, God had shewn that he cared for the safety of Hezekiah, and since wicked men commonly apply to a base purpose all the proofs of God's favor, Merodach thought that, if he could obtain the alliance of Hezekiah, he would carry on war under the protection and favor of heaven. 1
The consequence was, that he sent messengers to Hezekiah with presents, for the sake of expressing his good-will; for he wished to obtain his favor, believing that his friendship would be useful and advantageous to him; and his intention was, to make use of him afterwards against the Assyrians, to whom he knew well that the Jews entertained a deadly hatred. Such are the designs of kings and princes, to transact their affairs by fraud and craftiness, and bysome means to gain as many allies as possible, that they may employ their exertions against their enemies
Any person who shall barely read this history will con-elude that Hezekiah did nothing wrong; for it was an act of humanity to give a cheerful and hospitable reception to the messengers, and to shew them every proof of good-will; and it would have been the act of a barbarian to disdain those who had come to him on a friendly visit, and to spurn the friendship of so powerful a king. But still there lurked in his heart a desire of vain ostentation; for he wished to make a favorable display of himself, that the Babylonian might be led to understand that this alliance would not be without advantage to him, and might ascertain this from his wealth, and forces, and weapons of war. He deserved to be reproved on another ground, that he directed his mind to foreign and unlawful aid, and to that extent denied honor to God, whom he had recently known to be his deliverer on two occasions; for otherwise the Prophet would not have censured this act so severely.
This is a remarkable example; and it teaches us that nothing' is more dangerous than to be blinded by prosperity. It proves also the truth of the old proverb, that "it is more difficult to bear prosperity than adversity ;" for when everything goes on to our wish, we grow wanton and insolent, and cannot be kept in the path of duty by any advices or threatenings. When this happened to Hezekiah, on whom the Prophet had bestowed the high commendation, that "the fear of God was his treasure," (Isaiah 33:6,) we ought to be very much afraid of falling into the same dangers. He is carried away by idle boasting, and does not remember that formerly he was half-dead, and that God rescued him from death by an extraordinary miracle. Formerly he made a solemn promise that he would continually celebrate the praises of God in the assembly of the godly, (Isaiah 38:20,) and now, when he sees that his friendship is sought, and that a powerful monarch sends to salute him, he forgets God and the benefits which he had received from him. When we see that this good king' so quickly falls and is carried away by ambition, let us learn to lay upon ourselves the restraint of modesty, which will keep us constantly and diligently in the fear of God.
Now, when he says that he
Though Hezekiah may be justly blamed for having been corrupted by the flatteries of the king of Babylon so as not to ask counsel of God, yet it is a manifestation of no ordinary modesty, that he does not drive away or despise the Prophet, as if he had found fault without reason, but replies gently, and at length receives calmly and mildly a very severe reproof. It would have been better that he had, from the beginning', inquired at the mouth of God, as it is said in the psalm,
"Thy commandments are the men of my counsel,"
but, having committed a mistake, it was his next duty to receive submissively the remedy for the fault.
And yet it is evident from the reply, that Hezekiah was not yet struck by that gentle reproof; for he is still on good terms with himself, and boasts that those men
But God, from whom nothing is hidden, observes in Hezekiah's joy, first, ingratitude; because he is unmindful of the distresses which lately pressed him down, and, in some respects, substitutes the Chaldeans in the room of God himself, to whom he ought to have dedicated his own person and all that he possessed. Next, he observes pride; because Hezekiah attempts too eagerly to gain reputation by magnificence and riches He observes a sinful desire to enter into an alliance which would have been destructive to the whole nation. But the chief fault was ambition, which almost entirely banishes the fear of God from the hearts of men. Hence Augustine justly exclaims, "How great and how pernicious is the poison of pride, which cannot be cured but by poison!" For he has his eye on that passage in one of Paul's Epistles, in which he says that "a messenger of Satan had been given to buffet him, that he might not be puffed up by the greatness of revelations." (2 Corinthians 12:7.) Hezekiah was unshaken, when all was nearly ruined; but he is vanquished by these flatteries, and does not resist vain ambition. Let us, therefore, attentively and diligently consider what a destructive evil this is, and let us be so much the more careful to avoid it.
If it be objected that it is unreasonable, that the sacking of a city and the captivity of a nation should be attributed to the fault of a single man, while the Holy Spirit everywhere declares (2 Chronicles 36:14-17) that general obstinacy was the reason why God delivered up the city and the country to be pillaged by the Babylonians; I answer, that there is no absurdity in God's punishing the sin of a single man, and at the same time the crimes of a whole nation. For when the wrath of the Lord overspread the whole country, it was the duty of all to unite in confessing their guilt., and of every person to consider individually what he had deserved; that no man might throw the blame on others, but that every man might lay it on himself. Besides, since the Jews were already in many ways liable to the judgment of God, he justly permitted Hezekiah to fail in his duty to the injury of all, that he might hasten the more his own wrath, and open up a way for the execution of his judgment. In like manner we see that it happened to David; for Scripture declares that it was not an accidental occurrence that David numbered the people, but that it took place by the fault of the nation itself, whom the Lord determined to punish in this manner.
"The anger of the Lord was kindled against the nation, and he put it into the heart of David to number the people." (2 Samuel 24:1.)
Thus in this passage also punishment is threatened against Hezekiah; but his sin, by which he provoked God's anger, was also the vengeance of God against the whole nation.
Let us therefore learn by the example of the pious king' to listen with calmness to the Lord, not only when he exhorts or admonishes, but even when he condemns and terrifies by threatening just punishment. When he says that "the word of God is good," he not only gives him the praise of justice, but patiently acquiesces in that which might have been unwelcome on account of its harshness; for even the reprobate have sometimes been compelled to confess their guilt; while their rebellion was not subdued so as to refrain from murmuring against their Judge. In order, therefore, that God's threatenings may be softened to us, we must entertain some hope of mercy, otherwise our hearts will always pour forth unavailing bitterness; but he who shall be convinced that God, when he punishes, does not in any degree lay aside the feeling of a father's affection, will not only confess that God is just, but will calmly and mildly bear his temporary severity. In a word, when we shall have a powerful conviction of the grace of God, so as to believe that he is our Father, it will not be hard or disagreeable to us to stand and fall according to his pleasure; for faith will assure us that nothing is more advantageous to us than his fatherly chastisement.
Thus David, having been very severely reproved by Nathan, humbly replies, "It is the Lord, let him do whatever is right in his eyes;" 3 for undoubtedly the reason why he is dumb is, not only because it would be of no use to murmur, but because he willingly submits to the judgment of God. Such is also the character of Saul's silence, when he is informed that the kingdom shall be taken from him. (1 Samuel 28:20.) But because it is only punishment that terrifies him, and he is not moved by repentance for his sin, we need not wonder if he be full of cruelty within, though apparently he acquiesces, because he cannot resist, which otherwise he would willingly do, like malefactors who, while they are held bound by chains or fetters, are submissive to their judges, whom they would willingly drag down from the place of authority and trample under their feet. But while David and Hezekiah are "humbled under the mighty hand of God," (1 Peter 5:6,) still they do not lose the hope of pardon, and therefore choose rather to submit to the punishment which he inflicts than to withdraw from his authority.
Hence also we learn what opinion we ought to form concerning fanatics, who, while they pretend to adore God, reject the doctrine of the prophets; for if they were ready to obey God, they would listen to him when he spoke by his prophets, not less than when he thundered from heaven. I admit that we ought to distinguish between true and false prophets, between "the voice of the shepherd (John 10:3, 5) and the voice of the stranger ;" but we must not reject all without distinction, if we do not wish to reject God himself; and we ought to listen to them, not only when they exhort or reprove, but also when they condemn, and when they threaten, by the command of God, the just punishment of our sins.
But it may be thought that Hezekiah was cruel in taking no care about posterity, and not giving himself much trouble about what should happen afterwards. Such sayings as, (
Some reply that he rejoiced at the delay, because
"we ought not to be anxious about to-morrow, seeing that sufficient for the day is its own affliction." (Matthew 6:34.)
But this does not apply to the present passage; for Hezekiah does not disregard posterity, but, perceiving that God moderates the punishment by forbearance, he gives thanks to God, as we have already said; for although this punishment awaited a future age, still it was his duty to acknowledge the present favor. And indeed we ought to labor most for our own age, and to pay our chief regard to it. The future ought not to be overlooked; but what is present and immediate has stronger claims on our services; for we who live at the same time are bound by God with a stronger tie, in order that, by mutual intercourse, we may assist each other, as far as shall be in our power. It ought likewise to be observed that, while the Lord had formerly promised a lengthened life to hezekiah, when he was very near death, there was now strong reason to fear that he would again cut short his life on account of that sin. When he is informed that the promise is ratified, he gives thanks to God, and bears more patiently the calamity which was to come, though he felt it to be grievous and distressing.
1 Que la guerre qu'il entreprendoit de faire auroit heureuse issue, et seroit benite du ciel." That war which he carried on would have a successful result, and would be blest of heaven.
2 "Non pas que pour crainte d'estre mal voulu, il se descharge sur le Seigneur." "Not that, through fear of bringing ill-will on himself, he throws the blame on the Lord."
4 "For there shall be peace." -- Eng. Ver.
5 "Au moins qu'il y ait paix." "At least let there be peace."
6 Car il y aura paix.
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