How often we miss out on the comfort that might be afforded us in simply calling on the various attributes and character traits of God. We rush into our petitions with desperate cries for help when much of that help begins in the knowledge of Who we’re petitioning.
Isa 37:1 And it came to pass, when king Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy) heard, he tore his clothes, vayitkas and covered, concealed, hid himself with sackcloth, vayavo and went to the beit house of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD).
Hezekiah tore his cloths in union with his court and the people of Judah. He tore them in mourning at their predicament and in sorrow over both his personal sin and disbelief, and over that of his people. This is the first step in his symbolic repentance. Second, he put on or “covered” himself with sackcloth. The Hebrew root “kasah” translated “covered” also means to conceal, hide and in a figurative sense to overwhelm. Thus, Hezekiah is overwhelmed by the consequences of both his own sin and that of Judah. While tearing garments is an instantaneous response to the revelation of sin and turmoil, it is none the less over in moments. Putting on sackcloth adds an intentional and ongoing component to repentance by constantly reminding the wearer of the discomfort and distress that sin and its consequences have brought upon him.
These acts of repentance do nothing to convince God of a man’s true state of heart, He knows all that is in a man’s heart. Rather, these symbolic actions are a means by which a man might remind himself of his true state before God and his need for the redemption that only God can provide him. Prayerful supplication and practiced repentance are for our benefit, yet another affirmation of God’s grace and mercy toward us. He is all knowing and yet in love He has selflessly engaged us in eternal conversation.
Hezekiah went “to” not “into” the house of HaShem. Only priests were allowed to enter the Temple (Court of priests, holy place) and only the High priest, the Holy of holies. The Hebrew reads “vayavo beit YHVH” literally “and he went house YHVH”. If the text were meant to be understood as “and he went into the house of HaShem” it would need to read “vayavo babeit YHVH”.
Were we to read the text as most English translations render it “he went into the house of the Lord”, we would also need to presume sin upon Hezekiah for breaking the Temple cult protocol (a sin committed by king Uzziah, who was struck with leprosy as a result [2 Chron. 26:16-22]): this is clearly not what the context conveys. Hezekiah is in no way punished for his genuine pleas to HaShem and is therefore not guilty of breaching Temple protocol or presuming upon himself the role of priest. To the contrary, Hezekiah is shown here as a respecter of protocol and one who honours the God given roles of others. This is one of his noblest traits as king.
Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord (v.14) and certainly entered the court of Israel (men’s courtyard) approaching the court of priests (For priests only) but went no further than the opening to the court of priests.
There is much for us to learn from Hezekiah’s actions. At this point in his story he did not presume to take things into his own hands as he had done. Instead he chose to rely on God and the systems set in place for orderly worship and petition. Hezekiah honoured the roles of the priest Eliyakiym, the Torah scribe Shevna and the priests who were fulfilling their allocated period of service in the Temple proper at the time of these events. His patient attention to detail in these matters shows both humility and trust on his part. A trusting man may act promptly but he need not act presumptuously as a result of panic and apprehension.
Isa 37:2 And he sent Eleyakiym (God raises, arises), who was over ha-beit the house (Temple), and Shevna (vigour, tender youth) ha-sofeir the scribe, and the ziknei elders (older ones) of ha-cohanim the priests, mitkasiym covered, concealed (overwhelmed) with sackcloth, to Yeshayahu (YHVH, he is salvation: Isaiah) the prophet the son of Amotz (Strong, alert, courageous).
We note that Yoach the recorder/historian is missing from the religious retinue sent to Isaiah. The petitioning of God through the prophet is pursued devoid of concern for contemporary secular record. This group of the king’s representatives are those responsible for the spiritual care of Judah and Israel. Thus, it is the elders among the priesthood who go in addition to Eliyakiym and Shevna, as representatives of the entire priesthood and of Judah’s Temple cult practitioners.
Isa 37:3 And they said to him, “Thus says Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy), ‘This day is a day of tzarah distress, and of tochechah correction, and of ne’atzah blasphemy (contempt): for the baniym children are come to the birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth.
Hezekiah calls this day a day of “tzarah” distress, and of “tochechah” correction, and of “ne’atzah” blasphemy (contempt)”:
By using these three specific terms Hezekiah is soberly acknowledging the truth of Judah’s situation. She is being oppressed as God’s people, she is guilty of sinning against God and is deserving of His rebuke and correction, and she is appalled at the blasphemy being levelled against the God of Israel as a result of both Israel’s sin and the arrogance of her enemies, who are ultimately the enemies of God.
The idiom “for the children are come to the birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth” (ref. Isa. 66:9) conveys a great deal. In its colloquial form it was probably used in the singular, however, here it is plural “children”. Thus, as Yarchi rightly interprets it refers to Israel (God’s chosen children) and the matriarchs of Israel, her human mothers. In the process of birthing there is sometimes a point at which neither the mother’s contractions nor the child’s movements are able to bring about the final coming forth from the womb. In such cases both mother and child are helpless to deliver themselves, they’re utterly reliant on help received from another, such as a midwife or physician. Thus Hezekiah is making an admission on Judah’s (Israel’s) behalf, confessing her helplessness and complete reliance on deliverance at God’s hand.
Isa 37:4 It may be that HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD) Eloheiycha your God (Judge) will yishma hear, listen to the words of Rav-shakeih (The great cupbearer), whom the king of Ashur (a step: Assyria) his adonav master has sent to taunt the Elohiym Chai living God, and will decide against the words which HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD) Eloheiycha your God (Judge) has heard: wherefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.”
Hezekiah is not necessarily showing his lack of relational understanding of God with the phrase “Your God”. This phrase is often used by Hebrew speakers to challenge the hearer to take ownership of their common bond. Yeshua (Jesus) uses it in this way when he says “Your Torah” (John 8:17; 10:34; 18:31): He does not mean to say that it is not His Torah, rather He means to stir in them a sense of right identity and ownership with regard to the Spirit of the Torah and the bond shared in it by every Jew. Therefore, we may understand the phrase “Your God” in one of two ways: either Hezekiah is yet to enter into personal relationship with God or, he is reminding himself that his God is also the God of Isaiah, and reminding Isaiah that the prophet shares his God with his people Israel.
By saying “Maybe Hashem will hear” means, maybe the sin of Assyria will make a louder din in the ears of God than that of our own sin. Hezekiah knows that God has witnessed the blasphemy of Assyria, his question is one of action: Will God act for His own Name’s sake and subsequently for the sake of His people Judah?
The phrase “lechareif Elohiym chai” to taunt the living God, seems to be an allusion to the mocking display of Goliath (1 Sam. 17:26; 17:36). Thus, the mocking display of Rav-Shakeih is seen as being an affront to God of similar nature.
With regard to the phrase “Your prayer” as it applies to Isaiah. It is true to say that “The prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective”, not because of a man’s righteousness but because the Righteous One lives in him. Thus, with regard to salvation God has no favourites but with regard to right action God favours the obedient.
Isa 37:5 So the servants of king Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy) came to Yeshayahu (YHVH, he is salvation: Isaiah). Isa 37:6 And Yeshayahu (YHVH, he is salvation: Isaiah) said to them, “Thus will you say to adoneichem your master, Thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD), ‘Al-tiyra Be not afraid mipenei of the face (appearance) of ha-devariym the words that you have heard, with which the na’arei young boys of the king of Ashur (a step: Assyria) have blasphemed Me.
Isaiah turns Hezekiah’s phrasing toward the servants of the king for much the same reason for which Hezekiah had addressed Isaiah. “Thus will you say to your master/lord…” As priests and keeper of Torah responsible for the mechanisms of worship practice they are being tasked by the prophet to honour the Lord’s chosen king over Judah and to act in a messianic role as communicators to the king. They are both receiving and giving the Word of the Lord.
To Hezekiah the message of HaShem begins as it often does with the comforting words “Al-tiyra” no fear! Specifically “Don’t be afraid of the appearance of the words that you’ve heard”. So often we are afraid of how things appear to be because we have lost sight of the unseen and the present work of God in our midst. God calls Hezekiah to return to Him and receive insight so that he might be delivered from appearances and understand the reality of God’s work.
There is a beautiful irony in the name Ashur (a step). It’s as if the step had hurled curses at those who will step on it as they ascend to the mountain of the Lord.
The prophet uses the Hebrew “na’arei” boys, young men, as a subtle insult toward the messengers of Sennacherib. They are not even wise enough in years to qualify as seasoned servants and are instead called novice children by the prophet Isaiah.
Isa 37:7 Hinni Behold, pay attention, I will send a ruach spirit (wind) upon him, and he will hear a rumour, and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.’”
It is a spirit from HaShem that is to come upon Sennacherib. This can be understood as both an angelic messenger that will disquiet him and or a spirit of dread, fear etc. An ill wind as it were.
“He will hear a rumour” most likely refers to the rumour of verse 9 concerning the king of Ethiopia. It may also be alluding to the news of the destruction of the Assyrian army which will soon (Within a year’s time) reach Sennacherib, though this is less likely given the seeming immediacy of the qualifying events pursuant to this verse.
Isa 37:8 So Rav-shakeih (The great cupbearer) returned, and found the king of Ashur (Assyria: a step) warring against Livnah (white): for he had heard that he was departed from Lachiysh (invincible: south of Jerusalem in the territory of Judah).
Rav-Shakeih had heard of Sennacherib’s movements and had journeyed from Lachiysh to Livnah (possibly the Egyptian city but more likely the city of the same name in the territory of Judah [Joshua 10:29]).
Isa 37:9 And he heard it said concerning Tirhakah (searched out the pious) king of Ethiopia, “He is come forth to make war with you.” And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy), saying,
The nearest precedent subject is Sennacherib, thus, it is Sennacherib who receives the news concerning Tirhakah and in desperation sends messengers back to Hezekiah to repeat and expand on the threats and intimidations of the previous chapter.
Tirhakah was king of both Ethiopia and Egypt at this time.
Isa 37:10 “Thus will you speak to Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy) king of Yehudah (Judah: praise), saying, ‘Don’t let Eloheicha your God, in Whom you trust, deceive you, saying, “Yerushalayim (Flood of peace: Jerusalem) will not be given into the hand of the king of Ashur (Assyria: a step).”
These are the words Sennacherib instructed his messengers to say to Hezekiah. The prophet Isaiah juxtaposes the arrogant actions of the king of Assyria and his messengers against the righteous actions of God and His prophet, messenger to the children of Israel.
Sennacherib’s accusation exceeds the blasphemous words previously spoken by Rav-Shakeih. To claim that HaShem (Who cannot lie) has deceived Hezekiah and Israel amounts to likening HaShem’s character to that of the father of lies the Satan.
Isa 37:11 Hinei Behold, pay attention, you have heard what the kings of Ashur (Assyria: a step) have done to all lands by destroying them utterly; and will you be delivered? Isa 37:12 Have the elohoheiy gods of the nations delivered those who my fathers have destroyed, Gozan (cutting off), and Charan (Mountaineer), and Rezeph (Hot stone), and the children of Eden (Pleasure, delight) which were in Tel-assar (Hill of Ashur)? Isa 37:13 Where is the king of Chamat (fortress), and the king of Arphad (I will be spread out), and the king of the city of Sepharvaim (two sipparas), Hena (troubling), and Ivah (ruin)?’”
It is interesting to note that here Sennacherib attributes to his fathers’ (Sargon and the previous kings of the Derketade dynasty which he had overthrown) that which Rav-shakeih had given Sennacherib himself credit for. This serves to strengthen the indictment against Sennacherib’s generational pride and the pride seeded in the very soil of Assyria and her precedent empires.
While many of the cities mentioned are identifiable a number of them can’t be placed geographically with certainty do to insufficient historical and archaeological information. The Targum understands the last two nouns as a description of Sennacherib’s actions:
"has he not removed them, and carried them captive?'' -Targum Yonatan
The Jewish commentator Yarchi agrees with this interpretation:
"the king of Assyria has moved and overthrown them, and destroyed them, and removed them out of their place;''
What is certain is that Sennacherib was boasting of his prowess and wilfully impugning the character of the God of Israel.
Isa 37:14 And Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH) received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy) went up to ha-beit the house of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD), and spread it before HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD).
Like the tearing of his cloths and the wearing of sackcloth, the spreading out of the letter before the Lord was a symbolic act done before the people to show that the king was petitioning the God of Israel alone for deliverance. This act is in itself a prayer practice.
Hezekiah went up to the Temple and as far as the court of Israel in order to lay out the letter at the opening to the entry to the court of the priests.
Isa 37:15 And Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy) prayed to the HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD), saying, Isa 37:16 “HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD) Tzevaot (Who goes warring, of hosts), Eloheiy God of Yisrael (Israel: overcomes in God), that sits between the ha-kerubim (Angelic beings), You are ha-Elohiym the God, You alone, to all the kingdoms of the earth: You have made ha-shamayim the heavens and ve’et ha-aretz the earth.
Having presented his unspoken prayer to God in the form of the letter, Hezekiah now calls on God using a very specific and significant title “YHVH Tzevaot, Eloheiy Yisrael” Mercy Who goes Warring, God/Judge of Israel (Overcome in God). There are many other names for God that Hezekiah could have used, however, the situation called for the God Who arises to battle, the King over all Who rules the host of the heavens. One does not call on the Prince of Peace when war is needed. Of course, it is one of the mysterious ironies of God’s character, that it is Mercy (YHVH) Who goes warring.
Hezekiah adds to the first title by acknowledging God’s intrinsic link to His people Israel “Eloheiy Yisrael” those who overcome in God’s judgement. Ethnic, religious, spiritual: HaShem has placed His Name on the people of Israel.
Hezekiah is not done with his identifying of the attributes and person of his God: “Who sits between the Cherubim” is a reference to the Mercy Seat atop the Ark of the Covenant which resides between the fierce Cherubim (Anthropomorphic Angelic beings) and dwells in the Holy of holies (Psa. 18:10; 80:1). This is a description of both the attribute of God’s mercy and the literal manifest (feminine) presence of God known to the rabbis of the Talmud as the Shekhinah.
Still Hezekiah continues, the entire prayer thus far being a calling out of some of the many titles and attributes of God. He concludes with two fundamentally important descriptors: Elohiym (Intense God) over all the kingdoms of the earth (A direct affront to the foolish claims of Sennacherib), and Creator of both the heavens (All that exists above and beyond) and the earth (the location of the present crisis).
How often we miss out on the comfort that might be afforded us in simply calling on the various attributes and character traits of God. We rush into our petitions with desperate cries for help when much of that help begins in the knowledge of Who we’re petitioning. Hezekiah reminds himself and his people that all prayer is a response to the Greatest of Persons. He calls out to:
It is in the comfort of reminding himself of Who God is that Hezekiah gains the spiritual strength to continue his petition in hope.
Isa 37:17 Incline Your ear, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD), and hear; open Your eyes, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD), and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib (Sin [moon deity] sends many brothers), which he has sent to taunt the Elohiym Chaiy living God.
God is invisible, immutable, unseen, He has no ears. The poetic language is used to bridge the gap between the seen and the unseen. God has heard, He is all knowing, thus, Hezekiah is asking God to listen and act. God has seen, He is all seeing, thus, Hezekiah is asking God to look with mercy and act.
Hezekiah identifies the blasphemous words of Sennacherib not for God’s sake, God has heard them and decided Sennacherib’s fate from before the foundation of the world. Hezekiah is reminding himself of the insult to God and acknowledging to himself and all Israel, that unlike the gods that Sennacherib has alluded to in their defeat, the God of Israel is living, in fact He is the very reason that life exists “Elohiym Chaiy”.
Isa 37:18 Amenam Surely, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD), the kings of Ashur (Assyria) have laid waste all the nations, and their countries, Isa 37:19 And have naton given their elohiym gods (judges) ba-eish into the fire: for they were not gods, but the work of human hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.
Hezekiah acknowledges before God the truth of what Sennacherib has said while at the same time discerning the key difference between the defeated non-gods and the God of Creation.
Isa 37:20 Now therefore, HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD) Eloheiynu our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD), You only.”
Hezekiah ends his prayer by acknowledging the ultimate reason for God’s acting in these circumstances. It is God’s Name and reputation that must be honoured and maintained before all the kingdoms. Why? Because the salvation of humanity is reliant on Him. God is not a narcissist, He lifts Himself up before humanity in order to raise us up from eternal death. His exaltation is our redemption.
Hezekiah ends his prayer by acknowledging that Gods Mercy YHVH is firmly established (He uses the Holy Name twice), that YHVH is Eloheiynu is “Our God” (Israel’s God), and that God alone holds the title of Merciful Judge over all things.
Isa 37:21 Then Yeshayahu (YHVH, Mercy, He is salvation: Isaiah) the son of Amotz (Strength) sent to Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah: my strength is YHVH, Mercy), saying, “Thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD) Eloheiy God of Yisrael (Israel: overcomes in God), ‘Whereas You have prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Ashur (Assyria):
It is “Mercy He is Salvation” the son of “Strength” who is tasked with sending God’s answer to “My strength is Mercy”. What beauty there is in the names of God’s servants, what majesty there is in the narrative of God’s Word, and what unparalleled mystery is held in the fact that it is the sum of history and eternity woven together.
Notice that Isaiah identifies (his God) as YHVH Eloheiy Yisrael. He does this in truth and in solidarity with his Israeli brother Hezekiah. As if to say, “We have called on Him together my brother, and it is He Whom we have called on, the very person Who imparts our identity, Who responds to us”.
Isa 37:22 This is ha-d’var the word which HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD) has spoken concerning him; The virgin, the daughter of Tziyon (Parched land), has despised you, and laughed you to scorn; the daughter of Yerushalayim (Flood of peace) has shaken her head at you.
“This is ha-d’var the word” is both literal and literary. It is also transcendent in that this word (essence) is not simply true in the moment or even according to the circumstance but rather it is perpetually true because the Devar Word is Yeshua Himself.
We could read “This is the Yeshua Whom Mercy has sent out in response to the taunts of His enemies.”
Note that what follows is a future prophetic statement at the time that Hezekiah receives it. After all, Judah the virgin daughter had not yet laughed Sennacherib to scorn, nor had the residents of Jerusalem mocked him with shaking heads. To the contrary, Judah was terrified of him. Thus, HaShem speaks into time and space that which is already complete, though yet future.
Isa 37:23 Whom have you taunted and blasphemed? and against Whom have you raised your voice, and lifted up your eyes on high (gazed at with haughty eyes)? Against the kedosh Holy One (holiness) of Yisrael (Israel).
The true nature of the subject of Sennacherib’s taunt is revealed “Kedosh Yisrael” Holy One of Israel. “The tribal God of Israel is God over all, tremble you piss-ant!”
Isa 37:24 Via your servants you have taunted adonaiy a lord (Hezekiah), and have said, ‘By the multitude of my chariots I have come up to the highest mountains, to the sides of Levanon (witnesses); and I will cut down the tall cedars there, and the choice fir trees there: and I will enter into the height of his border, and the forest of his Carmel (orchard, plantation). Isa 37:25 I have dug, and drunk water; and with the sole of my feet I have dried up all the rivers of the besieged places.’
The English reader should be careful not to read “adonaiy” master/lord in this context as referring to God, it does not. It is used here to refer to the king of Judah adonaiy melekh Yehudah, the earthly king Hezekiah.
The message from God to Sennacherib is a fundamental challenge to the world view of the heathen king. The indictment cites Sennacherib’s taunting of Hezekiah (God’s chosen king over Judah at this point in history). The boasts of Sennacherib are acknowledged and the truth of at least some of them is affirmed. God does not deny that Sennacherib has had power to do these things, what He does is challenge him by revealing the true source of that power.
Isa 37:26 Haven’t you heard long ago, I have asah fashioned it; and of ancient times, that I have yatzar framed it? Now I have brought it to pass, that you should be allowed to lay waste defenced cities turning them into ruinous heaps.
God being outside of time and space, knowing the end from the beginning, has seen these events complete and has been in control of the outcome from before the birth of Sennacherib.
“Haven’t you heard?” Sennacherib had all the resources of the known world available to him regarding ancient histories and the words of the prophets of many nations. He had heard of the God of Israel and what had been done for the ancient Israelites. The Targum Yonatan adds,
"what I did to Pharaoh king of Egypt;''
Thus king Sennacherib is without excuse. He cannot say “I didn’t realise that the God of Israel was not to be trifled with…”
Isa 37:27 Therefore their inhabitants were of short yad hand (strength), they were shattered and put to shame: they were as the plants of the field, and as the green herb, as the leeks on the housetops, and as crop blasted before it was grown up.
God allowed the inhabitants of the cities defeated by Sennacherib to be caught by surprise and made weak in military terms so that the greater purpose of God, the redemption of His people and subsequently of the nations, might come to fruition.
Isa 37:28 But I know your abode, your going out, and your coming in, and your rage against Me.
This is an interesting turn of phrase. To the Hebrew reader it is a phrase all too familiar, prayed over the mezuzah as we leave and enter our homes “Blessed are you HaShem our God Who guards our going out and our coming in… Who guards our coming in and our going out.” It is a phrase connected to Shaddai (The Shin on the mezuzah) the All Sufficient Protector of Israel. It is a phrase that comforts Israel while at the same time terrifying her enemies.
“You say you are King of kings Sennacherib, and that your god is above all others. Wake from your delusion you fool, I know the intimate details of every aspect of your existence and hold your fate in My hands.”
Isa 37:29 Because you rage against Me, and your storming, has come up into My ears, therefore I will put my hook in your nose, and my bridle in your lips, and I will turn you back by the way in which you came.
The idea that Sennacherib’s rage and boasting has come up into God’s ears is a slight against Sennacherib and his gods. Their taunts and boasts concern a small dominion, one allowed them by God, Who is high above them.
The Assyrians were known to lead their captives away with hooks in their noses and pull them along from piercings in their lips. Thus, they are punished according to their own actions.
Isa 37:30 And this will be a sign to you, You will eat this year that which grows of itself; and the second year that which springs up on its own: and in the third year you will sow, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.
Verse 30 begins an inserted word of hope spoken to Judah (Israel). Here the children of Judah are addressed, the sign being one that reveals Judah’s coming deliverance. Notice that the sign will unfold over the course of Judah’s deliverance from Assyria. It will not happen all at once but it will happen.
Isa 37:31 And the remnant that has escaped of the house of Yehudah (Praise: Judah) shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward:
“as a tree which sends forth its roots below, and lifts up its branches above.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
This remnant is not a “type” as some foolishly suggest, so as to deny ethnic Israel’s identity. To the contrary, the remnant is literal ethnic Judah (Israel): it is literally qualified as such by the words “of the house of Judah”, an ethnic distinction. These are those in Jerusalem joined with those that had escaped out of the cities of Judah, during Sennacherib's invasion of the land, and besieging and taking of the fortified cities. By God’s grace they will again thrive like a tree that takes root downward feeding on the deep mayim chayim living waters of God and bears fruit upward providing healing for the nations.
Isa 37:32 For out of Yerushalayim (Flood of peace: Jerusalem) will go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Tziyon (Parched land): the kinat zeal, jealousy of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD) Tzevaot (Who goes warring, of hosts) will do this.’
“For the remnant of the righteous shall go forth from Jerusalem, and the escaped of them that establish the law from mount Zion: by the Word of the Lord of hosts shall this be done.” -Targum Yonatan
It is the “kinat” fervour, zeal, jealousy of the Lord of Mercy Who goes warring, that will do this. It is God in action, arisen, fierce, Who comes to deliver His loved ones.
They will go out from Jerusalem to return to their allotted towns and villages within the territory of Judah. They will escape captivity in the mount and be free to go out and come in.
The added clause of the Targum rightly concludes that this remnant will (for a time at least historically speaking) be devote in their faith practice and love for HaShem.
Nothing either Hezekiah or Judah has done will bring these things about. This will happened based entirely on the “Zeal of The Lord Who goes Warring”!
Isa 37:33 Therefore thus says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD) concerning the king of Ashur (Assyria), “He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a siege ramp against it.
“Therefore” means, “because I am zealous for My people and My own great Name, and have already established Judah’s deliverance”.
God has determined that Sennacherib will not even get the opportunity to approach the city of Jerusalem or plan even the minutest detail of a campaign to proceed against her.
Isa 37:34 By the way that he came, by the same he will return, and will not come into this city,’ says HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD). Isa 37:35 ‘For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake, and for my servant David's sake.’”
Nothing is so soul destroying to the man of great conquest as a defeat that forces him to return in the way that he came. All ground gained is lost with each step back, every boast is swallowed, and like the poison of pride it sits festering in the belly. To die in battle is the glory of a warrior, and to return in defeat is his greatest shame. This would be god Sennacherib will suffer the greatest humiliation because he failed to humble himself.
“Will not come in to this city” says YHVH. There is a day coming when Hashem will speak these same words to the enemies of Israel and to the great adversary of humanity the Satan “You will not come into this city!”
Why does God defend and save the city of Jerusalem (Flood of Peace)? Is it for Judah’s sake? Is it for Israel’s sake? Is it because He wants to build a castle on the hill? Hashem defends and saves Jerusalem “for My own sake, and for my servant David's sake.” “For My Own sake” because without the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord no one can be saved, and “For My servant David’s sake” because the greater son of David the King Messiah brings redemption to Israel and to all humanity.
Isa 37:36 Then malakh an angel of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy, the LORD) went forth, and struck in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and eighty five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all pegariym corpses meitiym dead on mass.
These events are also recorded in 2 Chronicles 32:21-23 and 2 Kings 19:35-37.
“Then” seems to infer that these events happened on the same night that Hezekiah had received the correspondence from Isaiah (2 Kings 19:35). However, this is probably not the case, given that the prophecy of 37:30 requires at least a year gap between it and the events of Assyria’s defeat. What took place during that year? Sennacherib was engaged in a conflict with Ethiopia/Egypt. We know this because Isaiah 37:8-9 explains that when he made his second attempt to bring Jerusalem under his power, he had received intelligence of the advance of Tirhakah, and therefore had withdrawn the centre of his army from Lakhiysh, and encamped before Livnah.
The seemingly redundant language “they were all corpses dead” is a Hebrew poetic formula that denotes utter defeat.
This work of an angel (messenger) of Hashem draws a correlation with Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. It is miraculous, instantaneous, performed at night and beyond the mechanisms of humanity.
“And the Lord sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valour, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he was come into the house of his god, they that came forth of his own bowels slew him there with the sword. Thus the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all other, and guided them on every side. And many brought gifts unto the Lord to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah: so that he was magnified in the sight of all nations from thenceforth.” -2 Chronicles 32:21-23
The first of Isaiah’s histories concerning Assyria closes here with a short account of the result of the Assyrian drama, in which Isaiah's prophecies were fulfilled: not only the prophecies immediately preceding, but all the prophecies of the Assyrian era since the time of Ahaz, which pointed to the destruction of the Assyrian forces (e.g. Isa. 10:33-34), and to the flight and death of the king of Assyria (Isa. 31:9; 30:33).
If we look further forward to chapters 38-39, we see from Isa. 38:6 that it is only by anticipation that the account of these closing events is finished here.
Isa 37:37 So Sennacherib king of Ashur (Assyria) departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh (Abode of Ninus [possibly Nimrod]).
Nineveh was built by the ancient man Ashur of Genesis 10:11. It became synonymous with those who served the sensual gods of created things in opposition to the One true God of Israel. The same spirit is in that land and its people till this very day.
Isa 37:38 And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch (the great eagle) his god, that Adrammelekh (Majestic king) and Sharetzer (Prince of treasure) his sons struck him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat (Armenia: curse reversed): and Eisar-chaddon (Ashur has given a brother) his son reigned in his stead.
A period of approximately 20 years passed between Sennacherib’s return to Nineveh from Judea and his death (701 – 681 BCE).
“Nisroch” is a deity whose exact identity is debated. The Jewish sage Yarchi says, that the name Nisroch is related to "netser", a Hebrew noun referring to a branch or shoot and in Talmudic terms a plank, which may have been from the ark of Noah. This however, is pure conjecture.
“Adrammelekh” was also the name of an idol (2 Kings 17:31) to whom children were sacrificed in fire.
It is not known for certain what moved Sennacherib’s sons to commit this patricide. Yarchi says that Sennacherib prayed to his god, and vowed, if he would deliver him, that he might not be slain, he would offer up his two sons to him. Apparently his sons had been within hearing of him, therefore they killed him to prevent their own deaths. Again, this is conjecture.
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.