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Isaiah: Chapter 39

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1At that time King Merodach‐baladan son of Baladan of Babylon sent envoys with letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered. 2Hezekiah welcomed them; he showed them his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his whole armory, all that was found in his storehouses. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them. 3Then the prophet Isaiah came to King Hezekiah and said to him, “What did these men say? From where did they come to you?” Hezekiah answered, “They have come to me from a far country, from Babylon.” 4He said, “What have they seen in your house?” Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show them.”

5Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD of hosts: 6Days are coming when all that is in your house, and that which your ancestors have stored up until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the LORD. 7Some of your own sons who are born to you shall be taken away; they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” 8Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my days.”

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Commentary spanning earlier chapters

Chs 36–39 : Historical appendix.

Except for 38.9–20 , these chapters parallel 2 Kings 18.13,17–20.19 , omitting the account of Hezekiah's surrender to Sennacherib (2 Kings 18.14–16 ). These chapters seem to conflate two accounts: two boastful Assyrian speeches ( 36.4–20; 37.10–13 ), two visits of Hezekiah to the Temple ( 37.1,14–20 ), two oracular utterances of Isaiah ( 37.5–7,21–35 ).

39.1–8 : The Babylonian delegation

(cf. 2 Kings 20.12–19 ).

1 :

Merodach‐baladan, Marduk‐apal‐iddina, ruler of Babylon 721–710 BCE and again in 703 when his revolt, supported by Judah and passively by Egypt, was crushed by the Assyrians. He continued to plot against Assyria from exile.

2 :

Since the purpose of the visit was to form an anti‐Assyrian alliance, Hezekiah wished to demonstrate his potential as an ally. Note, however, that earlier he had to empty his treasury to buy off the Assyrians (2 Kings 18.14–16 ).

5–8 :

The prediction of exile in Babylon creates a link with chs 40–48 , replacing 35.8–10 after the insertion of chs 36–39 .

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