ISAIAH CHAPTER 39.
The Babylonian Embassy and Its Consequences.
Encouraged by the reverses which the Assyrian forces suffered in Syria, one of the viceroys of Babylon, the Chaldean Merodach-baladan, made himself, for a number of years, independent of the Assyrian power and attained to a position of some influence in the Eastern Empire. He was naturally most desirous of establishing himself more firmly and therefore sought also the friendship of Judah with its mighty king. V. 1. At that time Merodach-baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, and formerly one of the Assyrian viceroys, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he had heard that he had been sick and was recovered. He was by no means prompted by friendliness in sending this embassy, but was guided by political motives, by the desire to form as strong an alliance as possible against the Assyrian power. V. 2. And Hezekiah, flattered by the attention shown him by this mighty power, was glad of them, pleased by their visit, and showed them the house of his precious things, where he stored all the highest valuables which he had acquired in the course of his reign, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, various aromatic fruits, and the precious ointment, probably the fine variety used for the anointing of priests and kings, and all the house of his armor, his arsenal, and all that was found in his treasuries; there was nothing in his house nor in all his dominion, for all this had been brought to Jerusalem at the approach of the enemies, that Hezekiah showed them not. But this friendliness toward representatives of a heathen nation was not in conformity with the will of the Lord. V. 3. Then came Isaiah, the prophet, acting in his usual capacity as Godís messenger, unto King Hezekiah and said unto him, What said these men, and from whence came they unto thee? The very presence of these ambassadors and the reception they received at the hands of Hezekiah proved that the king of Judah was once more preparing to become affiliated with a heathen nation. And Hezekiah said, with a certain amount of evasion, They are come from a far country unto me, even from Babylon, the argument implied in his answer being that it certainly devolved upon him to show hospitality to men who came from such a great distance. V. 4. Then said he, Isaiah, again speaking by the command of the Lord, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All that is in mine house have they seen; there is nothing among my treasures that I have not showed them. The king here made an open confession of his folly, submitting to the scrutiny of the prophet without flinching. It is the attitude which should always be found in men when the Lord searches the hearts and minds. V. 5. Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord of hosts, the almighty Commander and Ruler of all men and all things: v. 6. Behold, the days come that all that Is in thine house, all the material riches which he had amassed, of which he had shown himself so proud and vain, at least in a measure, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, everything that had escaped being paid as tribute, especially the precious metals inside the Temple, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. This was the first direct prophecy foretelling the Babylonian captivity. V. 7. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, his direct descendants, shall they take away, this being true even of his son Manasseh, but particularly of the last kings of his line; and they shall be eunuchs, court officers, chamberlains, in the palace of the king of Babylon. Cp. Dan. 1, 2. 3. 7. V. 8. Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken. He readily bowed to the decree of the Lord, as pronounced upon him. He said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days, that is, for the rest of his reign, at least, Judah would not be harassed by the enemies, and all the allies would keep their word and not precipitate a crisis, for all of which the king was duly thankful to the Giver of all good gifts. That is a sign of true repentance, if a sinner bows to the will of the Lord, finding cause for thanksgiving in every show of mercy which may be revealed to him.