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Two Kings Twenty

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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2 Kings 20:1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.

In those days. This phrase probably includes the whole period of Hezekiah's involvement with the Assyrians. This is the only place in the Bible where a righteous man was told by God that he had only a short time to live, and there must be a reason for it. The most likely reason was God's expression of disapproval of Hezekiah's compromise in giving the gold and silver in the temple to Sennacherib in the unsuccessful hope that this would keep him from invading Judah. Then when Hezekiah prayed—probably including repentance and confession—God not only healed him but promised to deliver the city from the threatened invasion by the Assyrians (2 Kings 20:6). This would mean that the events of 2 Kings 20:1-11 had actually occurred before the events of 2 Kings 18:17-19:37.

2 Kings 20:2 Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, saying,

2 Kings 20:3 I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.

2 Kings 20:4 And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying,

2 Kings 20:5 Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD.

2 Kings 20:6 And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.

2 Kings 20:7 And Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs. And they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered.

the boil. Presumably this boil would have developed an infection that would have proved fatal, had God not intervened miraculously, using a poultice of figs as symbolic of His healing touch.

2 Kings 20:8 And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the LORD will heal me, and that I shall go up into the house of the LORD the third day?

2 Kings 20:9 And Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou have of the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing that he hath spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees?

Isaiah said. This more properly could be rendered “had said.” The sign most likely had been requested before the actual healing.

2 Kings 20:10 And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees: nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees.

2 Kings 20:11 And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the LORD: and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz.

ten degrees backward. The word for “degrees” actually means “stairs.” The unique “dial” of Ahaz evidently indicated the time of day by the particular step which the shadow had reached on a flight of stairs. The method of producing this remarkable miracle is enigmatic. If the reference to “the wonder that was done in the land” (2 Chronicles 32:31) was meant to apply to this miracle rather than to the destruction of Sennacherib's army, it would suggest a local, rather than worldwide, phenomenon. There is no reference to atmospheric disturbances, which would probably be severe if the earth had reversed its rotation for a time (note the storm associated with Joshua's long day, as reported in Joshua 10:11-14), nor is there any corresponding account found in the ancient astronomical records of other nations, as in the case of Joshua's long day. The dynamics of this miracle—causing the sun's shadow somehow to reverse itself in this particular location—must remain unknown, but the Creator who made the sun and its radiations and the media through which they must pass in reaching the earth is fully able to control them to accomplish the desired result.

2 Kings 20:12 At that time Berodachbaladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present unto Hezekiah: for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick.

Berodach-baladan. This name is a variant of Merodach-baladan. Merodach was a form of the name of Babylon's chief deity, probably a deification of its founder Nimrod.

2 Kings 20:13 And Hezekiah hearkened unto them, and showed them all 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 found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah showed them not.

and the gold. This event is further indication that Hezekiah's sickness and the embassage from Babylon took place before Sennacherib's invasion. Otherwise there would have been no silver and gold in the temple to show the Babylonians; it was all given to Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:15, 16).

2 Kings 20:14 Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country, even from Babylon.

2 Kings 20:15 And he said, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All the things that are in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not showed them.

2 Kings 20:16 And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD.

2 Kings 20:17 Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD.

2 Kings 20:18 And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.

take away. See 2 Kings 24:14. “All the princes, and all the mighty men of valour,” were taken captive into Babylon.

eunuchs. Among those placed “in the palace of the king of Babylon” were “Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah” (Daniel 1:6). They were “of the king's seed, and of the princes” and were placed in the king's palace under “Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs” (Daniel 1:3). Later they were placed directly under Melzar by “the prince of the eunuchs” (Daniel 1:11).

2 Kings 20:19 Then said Hezekiah unto Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. And he said, Is it not good, if peace and truth be in my days?

2 Kings 20:20 And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made a pool, and a conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

a pool, and a conduit. The conduit and pool were constructed by King Hezekiah in anticipation of the coming Assyrian siege, in order to assure a water supply for Jerusalem during the siege. The tunnel was rediscovered in the 19th century, cut in solid rock under Mt. Zion and the city walls, extending 1780 feet from Gihon Spring to the pool of Siloam. On the tunnel wall, near its exit, was found a Hebrew inscription commemorating the completion of the tunnel, and noting the surveying skill of its engineers, who constructed it simultaneously from both ends, meeting in the center. The Old Testament date of the tunnel, corresponding to Hezekiah's time, has recently been confirmed by radiocarbon dating.

2 Kings 20:21 And Hezekiah slept with his fathers: and Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.