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ישעיה Isaiah: 38

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1In those days Hezekiah fell dangerously ill. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came and said to him, “Thus said the LORD: Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die; you will not get well.” 2Thereupon Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD. 3“Please, O LORD,” he said, “remember how I have walked before You sincerely and wholeheartedly, and have done what is pleasing to You.” And Hezekiah wept profusely.

4Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: 5“Go and tell Hezekiah: Thus said the LORD, the God of your father David: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears. I hereby add fifteen years to your life. 6I will also rescue you and this city from the hands of the king of Assyria. I will protect this city. 7And this is the sign for you from the LORD that the LORD will do the thing that He has promised: 8I am going to make the shadow on the steps, which has descended on the dialb Heb. “steps.” A model of a dial with steps has been discovered in Egypt. of Ahaz because of the sun, recede ten steps.” And the sun[’s shadow] receded ten steps, the same steps as it had descended.

9A poem by King Hezekiah of Judah when he recovered from the illness he had suffered:

10c Meaning of verse uncertain in part.I had thought:I must depart in the middle of my days;I have been consigned to the gates of SheolFor the rest of my years.11I thought, I shall never see Yah,d I.e., visit His Temple. For “Yah” see 12.2; 26.4.Yah in the land of the living,Or ever behold men againAmong those who inhabit the earth.12My dwelling is pulled up and removed from meLike a tent of shepherds;My life is rolled up like a webAnd cut from the thrum.

a- Meaning of Heb. uncertain.Only from daybreak to nightfallWas I kept whole,13Then it was as though a lionWere breaking all my bones;I cried out until morning.(Only from daybreak to nightfallWas I kept whole.)-a14I piped like a swift or a swallow,I moaned like a dove,As my eyes, all worn, looked to heaven:“My Lord, I am in straits;Be my surety!”

15What can I say? a-He promised me,-aAnd He it is who has wrought it.a-All my sleep had fledBecause of the bitterness of my soul.16My Lord, for all that and despite itMy life-breath is revived;-aYou have restored me to health and revived me.17Truly, it was for my own goodThat I had such great bitterness:You saved my lifeFrom the pit of destruction,For You have cast behind Your backAll my offenses.18For it is not Sheol that praises You,Not [the Land of] Death that extols You;Nor do they who descend into the PitHope for Your grace.19The living, only the livingCan give thanks to YouAs I do this day;Fathersb Heb. singular. relate to childrenYour acts of grace:20“[It has pleased] the LORD to deliver us,bThat is why we offer up musicc Neginothai is a poetic form of neginoth.All the days of our livesAt the House of the LORD.”

21When Isaiah said, “Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the rash, and he will recover,” 22Hezekiah asked, “What will be the sign that I shall go up to the House of the LORD?”

Notes:

b Heb. “steps.” A model of a dial with steps has been discovered in Egypt.

c Meaning of verse uncertain in part.

d I.e., visit His Temple. For “Yah” see 12.2; 26.4.

a-a Meaning of Heb. uncertain.

b Heb. singular.

c Neginothai is a poetic form of neginoth.

Text Commentary view alone

38.1–22 : Hezekiah's sickness and recovery

(cf. 2 Kings 20.1–11 ).

1 :

In those days, the event precedes the arrival of the Babylonian delegation ( 39.1 ) and the siege of Jerusalem ( 38.6 ).

3 :

For the form of this petition, see Ps 26 . The narrative reflects the structure of psalms of thanksgiving, but without a confession of having sins (but see 2 Chr 32.24–26 ).

5 :

Fifteen years, calculated on the basis of 2 Kings 18.2,13 .

6 :

See 37.25n.

8 :

Dial (lit. “stairs” or “steps”) is uncertain; the reference may be to the reversal of the natural direction of the shadow on a staircase as the sun was setting. Isaiah is here presented as holy man and miracle‐worker, similar to Elijah and Elisha.

9–20 :

A thanksgiving psalm attributed to Hezekiah,cf. Ps 30; 107 .

10–16 :

Lament and petition.

10 :

Sheol, the underworld.

17–20 :

Announcement of deliverance and promise of liturgical thanksgiving.

18 :

See 26.14n. The Pit, the underworld.

21–22 :

These verses would fit better between vv. 6 and 7 .

21 :

Figs were believed to have a curative as well as aphrodisiac capacity.

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