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FRAMEWORKS: Isaiah

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FRAMEWORKS: Isaiah 36: The Assyrian commander threatens Jerusalem

 

v.1-3 Assyria takes much of Judah & their commander is sent to Jerusalem

v.4-10 The Commander seeks to undermine the confidence of the officials

v.11,12 The officials try, to no avail, to stop their people hearing these things

v.14-20 The commander calls with fresh arguments to the listening people of the city

v.21,22 The people remain silent and the officials report to Hezekiah

 

[Introductory Comment: As this and the following three chapters are purely historical narrative, we will mostly not make a comment with every verse but simply put a summary heading over each section and then explanatory notes after each section.

The whole chapter is taken up with an excellent example of how the enemy seeks to undermine the faith of God's people with a mixture of half-truths and outright lies. As the account is quite straight forward we will make no further comment than that below each passage.]

 

 

v.1-3 Assyria takes much of Judah, & their commander is sent to Jerusalem

 

v.1  In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah's reign, Sennacherib king of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them.

v.2  Then the king of Assyria sent his field commander with a large army from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem . When the commander stopped at the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Launderer's Field,

v.3  Eliakim son of Hilkiah the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and Joah son of Asaph the recorder went out to him.

 

[Notes: Assyria had imposed their rule over the region but Hezekiah rebelled, [see 2 Kings 18:7] resulting in the king of Assyria coming to put Hezekiah down, probably in 701BC. Having taken the land in the west down as far as Lachish, the king paused to rest and sent his commander with a large army up and across the land to take Jerusalem where Hezekiah resided. When he stops outside the city, three city officials go out to parley with him.]

 

 

v.4-10 The Commander seeks to undermine the confidence of the officials

 

v.4  The field commander said to them, ‘Tell Hezekiah:

Argument 1: What is your confidence?

‘“This is what the great king, the king of Assyria, says: on what are you basing this confidence of yours?

Argument 2: On whom are you depending?

v.5  You say you have counsel and might for war – but you speak only empty words. On whom are you depending, that you rebel against me?

Argument 3: Egypt are no help so don't rely on them

v.6  Look, I know you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces the hand of anyone who leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him.

Argument 4: Didn't your king upset your God?

v.7   But if you say to me, ‘We are depending on the Lord our God'– isn't he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah removed, saying to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You must worship before this altar'?

Argument 5: You know you can't match us

v.8   ‘“Come now, make a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses – if you can put riders on them!

v.9  How then can you repulse one officer of the least of my master's officials, even though you are depending on Egypt for chariots and horsemen?

Argument 6: Anyway I'm here at your God's command

v.10  Furthermore, have I come to attack and destroy this land without the Lord ? The Lord himself told me to march against this country and destroy it.”'

 

[Notes: Propaganda comes in many different forms and here we see six ways the commander seeks to undermine the officials so that they might go back to Hezekiah and suggest surrendering to Assyria.]

 

 

v.11,12 The officials try, to no avail, to stop their people hearing these things

 

v.11  Then Eliakim, Shebna and Joah said to the field commander, ‘Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, since we understand it. Don't speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people on the wall.'

v.12  But the commander replied, ‘Was it only to your master and you that my master sent me to say these things, and not to the people sitting on the wall – who, like you, will have to eat their own excrement and drink their own urine?'

 

[Notes: The officials realise that the people on the walls will be able to hear him and try to prevent that but to no avail.]

 

 

v.14-20 The commander calls with fresh arguments to the listening people of the city

 

v.13  Then the commander stood and called out in Hebrew, ‘Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria!

Argument 1: Hezekiah is a deceiver – he cannot save you from us

v.14  This is what the king says: do not let Hezekiah deceive you . He cannot deliver you!

Argument 2: Hezekiah is wrong trying to get you to trust in his God

v.15   Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the Lord when he says, “The Lord will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.”

Argument 3: My king will reward you with prosperity

v.16  ‘Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: make peace with me and come out to me. Then each of you will eat fruit from your own vine and fig-tree and drink water from your own cistern,

v.17 [even though I'll take you into exile!] until I come and take you to a land like your own – a land of corn and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards.

Argument 4: Hezekiah misleads you, no other gods have delivered people from us

v.18  ‘Do not let Hezekiah mislead you when he says, “The Lord will deliver us.” Have the gods of any nations ever delivered their lands from the hand of the king of Assyria?

v.19  Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand?

v.20  Who of all the gods of these countries have been able to save their lands from me? How then can the Lord deliver Jerusalem from my hand?'

 

[Notes: So now the commander tries again, calling out loudly so all the people on the walls can hear, and brings further propaganda designed to undermine the whole city so they will capitulate without a fight and having to pursue a long siege.]

 

 

v.21,22 The people remain silent and the officials report to Hezekiah

 

v.21  But the people remained silent and said nothing in reply, because the king had commanded, ‘Do not answer him.'

v.22  Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary and Joah son of Asaph the recorder went to Hezekiah, with their clothes torn, and told him what the field commander had said.

 

[Notes: The people have been well prepared and make no response to the misleading diatribe from the commander. The officials go back into the city to report to Hezekiah.]

     

    

CONTINUE TO CHAPTER 37