Table of Contents
Introduction to Isaiah 37:1-6
We note something about sin, God’s word defines it as rebellion against God, and sin remains as sin regardless of whether a particular sin is accepted by society. The confession of sin is a biblical practice where individuals seek forgiveness for their sins. The Scriptures state that sin must be confessed in order to receive forgiveness, to be valid, and for God to forgive the sin! We note what the Torah states concerning sin according to Vayikra / Leviticus 5:5.
ספר ויקרא פרק ה
ה וְהָיָה כִי-יֶאְשַׁם לְאַחַת מֵאֵלֶּה וְהִתְוַדָּה אֲשֶׁר חָטָא עָלֶיהָ:
Vayikra / Leviticus 5:5
5:5 And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing: (KJV)
There are quite a few verses that speak concerning confession of sin. (Tehillim / Psalms 32:5, Mishley / Proverbs 28:13, James 5:16, 1 John 1:9) Here in the Torah we are told that when one sins he must confess that he has sinned. Note that in Vayikra / Leviticus 5:17 the Torah states that even if one does not know he has sinned, he remains guilty before God, stating that ignorance is no excuse! Here in Vayikra / Leviticus 5:5 the text states וְהָיָ֥ה כִֽי־יֶאְשַׁ֖ם לְאַחַ֣ת מֵאֵ֑לֶּה וְהִ֨תְוַדָּ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר חָטָ֖א עָלֶֽיהָ׃ and says specifically וְהִ֨תְוַדָּ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר חָטָ֖א עָלֶֽיהָ that one is to confess that his sin is עָלֶֽיהָ “in front of, before, above” meaning that the sin stands in front of him and he needs forgiveness. We note how Hezekiah begins in this chapter, he rents his clothes, he goes up to the Temple, and he seeks for Isaiah the prophet, and confesses with an admission of failure that he has no hope besides the God of Israel. All of his attempts to rely upon men (i.e. Egypt) and to strengthen themselves have failed. Because of his seeking the things of this world, he provides an opportunity for the name of God to be ridiculed because of the foolishness of relying upon men. We notice how this speaks a certain truth to us concerning the way in which we live. If a believer lives a slipshod life, a life that schmoozes up alongside the world, behaving like the world, refusing to trust the Lord God in a truly authentic way, this will bring reproach upon God in the eyes of those who are watching. Those in the world will associate the ungodliness, unfaithfulness, unrighteousness, unholiness with the kind of God we serve, and conclude that there is really no need to seek the God of Israel and His Messiah Yeshua if this is the way that one lives who has faith in God. They will associate their defeats with God saying that He is unable to do a good work in a person’s life. The point is that God’s word states that if we are willfully disobedient, the Lord God will cause things to come into our lives, defeat and hardships, for the purpose of drawing us back to faithfulness. We note what Ezekiel states in his book concerning the Babylonians.
ספר יחזקאל פרק לו
טז וַיְהִי דְבַר-יְהֹוָה אֵלַי לֵאמֹר: יז בֶּן-אָדָם בֵּית יִשְֹרָאֵל יֹשְׁבִים עַל-אַדְמָתָם וַיְטַמְּאוּ אוֹתָהּ בְּדַרְכָּם וּבַעֲלִילוֹתָם כְּטֻמְאַת הַנִּדָּה הָיְתָה דַרְכָּם לְפָנָי: יח וָאֶשְׁפֹּךְ חֲמָתִי עֲלֵיהֶם עַל-הַדָּם אֲשֶׁר-שָׁפְכוּ עַל-הָאָרֶץ וּבְגִלּוּלֵיהֶם טִמְּאוּהָ: יט וָאָפִיץ אֹתָם בַּגּוֹיִם וַיִּזָּרוּ בָּאֲרָצוֹת כְּדַרְכָּם וְכַעֲלִילוֹתָם שְׁפַטְתִּים: כ וַיָּבוֹא אֶל-הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר-בָּאוּ שָׁם וַיְחַלְּלוּ אֶת-שֵׁם קָדְשִׁי בֶּאֱמֹר לָהֶם עַם-יְהֹוָה אֵלֶּה וּמֵאַרְצוֹ יָצָאוּ:
36:16 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 36:17 Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings: their way was before me as the uncleanness of a removed woman. 36:18 Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it: 36:19 And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them. 36:20 And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These are the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of his land. (KJV)
Notice what the Lord God does to the people וְכַעֲלִילוֹתָ֖ם שְׁפַטְתִּֽים “according to their deeds passed judgment” meaning that what has happened as the result of their sins. Then the heathen, the nations profaned the name of God saying בֶּאֱמֹר לָהֶם עַם-יְהֹוָה אֵלֶּה וּמֵאַרְצוֹ יָצָאוּ “said to them, These are the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of his land.” What we note here specifically is that the Land of Israel is associated with the God of Israel, the promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to receive the land and the people receiving the land as an inheritance from their fathers. The nations knew about these truths according to the Word of God and so the Babylonians state what they do about the people being taking out of the land saying that God was not able to save them, and so God’s name and character was profaned due to their disobedience and ungodly, unrighteous, and unholy lifestyles. So many years after the events even the name of God continues to be profaned because of the lack of faith and faithfulness! These very same things apply to us today in our lives, and provide reasons why it is so important to remain faithful, to seek the God of Israel and His Messiah Yeshua to help us to remain faithful to the Word of God. This is a principle of life for us today, demonstrating how we are to be continually repentant for our sinful deeds, and NOT turn away from the Lord to join ourselves with the world and its ways.
Isaiah goes on saying the following according to Isaiah 37:1-2.
ספר ישעיה פרק לז
א וַיְהִי כִּשְׁמֹעַ הַמֶּלֶךְ חִזְקִיָּהוּ וַיִּקְרַע אֶת-בְּגָדָיו וַיִּתְכַּס בַּשָּׂק וַיָּבֹא בֵּית יְהֹוָה: ב וַיִּשְׁלַח אֶת-אֶלְיָקִים אֲשֶׁר-עַל-הַבַּיִת וְאֵת | שֶׁבְנָא הַסּוֹפֵר וְאֵת זִקְנֵי הַכֹּהֲנִים מִתְכַּסִּים בַּשַּׂקִּים אֶל-יְשַׁעְיָהוּ בֶן-אָמוֹץ הַנָּבִיא:
Isaiah 37:1 states, “And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD. (וַיְהִי כִּשְׁמֹעַ הַמֶּלֶךְ חִזְקִיָּהוּ וַיִּקְרַע אֶת-בְּגָדָיו וַיִּתְכַּס בַּשָּׂק וַיָּבֹא בֵּית יְהֹוָה)” Isaiah 37:2 “And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests covered with sackcloth, unto Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz. ( וַיִּשְׁלַח אֶת-אֶלְיָקִים אֲשֶׁר-עַל-הַבַּיִת וְאֵת | שֶׁבְנָא הַסּוֹפֵר וְאֵת זִקְנֵי הַכֹּהֲנִים מִתְכַּסִּים בַּשַּׂקִּים אֶל-יְשַׁעְיָהוּ בֶן-אָמוֹץ הַנָּבִיא)” What we note here about Isaiah 37:1 is that Hezekiah tears his clothes and puts on sackcloth. These are biblical signs of mourning and repentance through the outward display of humility in this way. Because of Hezekiah’s actions here in verse one, he is implicated as the one who depended upon Egypt, even though he was not specifically named in Isaiah’s various denunciations according to Isaiah 28:14, 30:1, 31:1, and 33:10-11. As the king of Judah he had the responsibility to lead the people in faithfulness to the God of Israel. As the king he was to lead the people in the ways of God and lead the people into Teshuvah (Repentance). Here Hezekiah breaks down and tells Shebna and Eliakim to go get the prophet Isaiah. So he sought Isaiah’s help to seek God for deliverance from the Assyrian army. Note the connection to earlier what Isaiah had said according to Isaiah 22:15-19 and 22:23-25.
22:15 Thus saith the Lord GOD of hosts, Go, get thee unto this treasurer, even unto Shebna, which is over the house, and say, 22:16 What hast thou here? and whom hast thou here, That thou hast hewed thee out a sepulcher here, As he that heweth him out a sepulcher on high, And that graveth an habitation for himself in a rock? 22:17 Behold, the LORD will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, And will surely cover thee. 22:18 He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball Into a large country: There shalt thou die, And there the chariots of thy glory Shall be the shame of thy lord’s house. 22:19 And I will drive thee from thy station, And from thy state shall he pull thee down. (KJV כֹּ֥ה אָמַ֛ר אֲדֹנָ֥י יְהוִ֖ה צְבָא֑וֹת לֶךְ־בֹּא֙ אֶל־הַסֹּכֵ֣ן הַזֶּ֔ה עַל־שֶׁבְנָ֖א אֲשֶׁ֥ר עַל־הַבָּֽיִת׃ מַה־לְּךָ֥ פֹה֙ וּמִ֣י לְךָ֣ פֹ֔ה כִּֽי־חָצַ֧בְתָּ לְּךָ֛ פֹּ֖ה קָ֑בֶר חֹצְבִ֤י מָרוֹם֙ קִבְר֔וֹ חֹקְקִ֥י בַסֶּ֖לַע מִשְׁכָּ֥ן לֽוֹ׃ הִנֵּ֤ה יְהוָה֙ מְטַלְטֶלְךָ֔ טַלְטֵלָ֖ה גָּ֑בֶר וְעֹטְךָ֖ עָטֹֽה׃ צָנ֤וֹף יִצְנָפְךָ֙ צְנֵפָ֔ה כַּדּ֕וּר אֶל־אֶ֖רֶץ רַחֲבַ֣ת יָדָ֑יִם שָׁ֣מָּה תָמ֗וּת וְשָׁ֙מָּה֙ מַרְכְּב֣וֹת כְּבוֹדֶ֔ךָ קְל֖וֹן בֵּ֥ית אֲדֹנֶֽיךָ׃ וַהֲדַפְתִּ֖יךָ מִמַּצָּבֶ֑ךָ וּמִמַּעֲמָֽדְךָ֖ יֶהֶרְסֶֽךָ׃)
22:23 And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; And he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house. 22:24 And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house, The offspring and the issue, All vessels of small quantity, From the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons. 22:25 In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, Shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, And be cut down, and fall; And the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: For the LORD hath spoken it. (KJV וּתְקַעְתִּ֥יו יָתֵ֖ד בְּמָק֣וֹם נֶאֱמָ֑ן וְהָיָ֛ה לְכִסֵּ֥א כָב֖וֹד לְבֵ֥ית אָבִֽיו׃ וְתָל֨וּ עָלָ֜יו כֹּ֣ל׀ כְּב֣וֹד בֵּית־אָבִ֗יו הַצֶּֽאֱצָאִים֙ וְהַצְּפִע֔וֹת כֹּ֖ל כְּלֵ֣י הַקָּטָ֑ן מִכְּלֵי֙ הָֽאַגָּנ֔וֹת וְעַ֖ד כָּל־כְּלֵ֥י הַנְּבָלִֽים׃ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֗וּא נְאֻם֙ יְהוָ֣ה צְבָא֔וֹת תָּמוּשׁ֙ הַיָּתֵ֔ד הַתְּקוּעָ֖ה בְּמָק֣וֹם נֶאֱמָ֑ן וְנִגְדְּעָ֣ה וְנָפְלָ֗ה וְנִכְרַת֙ הַמַּשָּׂ֣א אֲשֶׁר־עָלֶ֔יהָ כִּ֥י יְהוָ֖ה דִּבֵּֽר׃)
Here one has to wonder if Shebna remembered what Isaiah had said previously according to Isaiah 22:15-19. Isaiah spoke of the Lord God carrying Shebna away to shame and disgrace, and the sepulcher (grave) that he had built appears to be a status symbol rooted in pride. Isaiah also stated that the peg that was fastened will be removed, indicating that these men are under the judgment of God. Hezekiah, Shebna, Eliakim, and the people, all realize that their only hope is in the Lord!
Isaiah goes on saying the following according to Isaiah 37:3-4.
ספר ישעיה פרק לז
ג וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֵלָיו כֹּה אָמַר חִזְקִיָּהוּ יוֹם-צָרָה וְתוֹכֵחָה וּנְאָצָה הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה כִּי בָאוּ בָנִים עַד-מַשְׁבֵּר וְכֹחַ אַיִן לְלֵדָה: ד אוּלַי יִשְׁמַע יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֵת | דִּבְרֵי רַבשָׁקֵה אֲשֶׁר שְׁלָחוֹ מֶלֶךְ-אַשּׁוּר | אֲדֹנָיו לְחָרֵף אֱלֹהִים חַי וְהוֹכִיחַ בַּדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר שָׁמַע יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ וְנָשָֹאתָ תְפִלָּה בְּעַד הַשְּׁאֵרִית הַנִּמְצָאָה:
Isaiah 37:3 states, “And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth. (וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֵלָיו כֹּה אָמַר חִזְקִיָּהוּ יוֹם-צָרָה וְתוֹכֵחָה וּנְאָצָה הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה כִּי בָאוּ בָנִים עַד-מַשְׁבֵּר וְכֹחַ אַיִן לְלֵדָה)” Isaiah 37:4 “It may be the LORD thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God, and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left. (אוּלַי יִשְׁמַע יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֵת | דִּבְרֵי רַבשָׁקֵה אֲשֶׁר שְׁלָחוֹ מֶלֶךְ-אַשּׁוּר | אֲדֹנָיו לְחָרֵף אֱלֹהִים חַי וְהוֹכִיחַ בַּדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר שָׁמַע יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ וְנָשָֹאתָ תְפִלָּה בְּעַד הַשְּׁאֵרִית הַנִּמְצָאָה)” We note that Isaiah is using the metaphor of child birth to illustrate Judah and Jerusalem strength against the Assyrian army. At this stage of history, when a mother gave birth, there was no option of performing a C-section to remove the baby, if the mother could not give birth, both the mother and the baby would die. This is the situation here with Judah and Jerusalem, they have no more strength, and must utterly rely upon the Lord for help. So the words of Hezekiah here illustrate how he sees himself as utterly helpless and about to die. He needs divine help, and so he admits his own helplessness. Kind of like what we need to do in regards to sin, we are utterly helpless and need the Lord to help lift us up and out of our sins!
1 John 1:7–10
1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (KJV ἐὰν ἐν τῷ φωτὶ περιπατῶμεν, ὡς αὐτός ἐστιν ἐν τῷ φωτί, κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετʼ ἀλλήλων, καὶ τὸ αἷμα Ἰησοῦ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ καθαρίζει ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἁμαρτίας. ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ ἔχομεν, ἑαυτοὺς πλανῶμεν καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν. ἐὰν ὁμολογῶμεν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, πιστός ἐστιν καὶ δίκαιος, ἵνα ἀφῇ ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ καθαρίσῃ ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἀδικίας. ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι οὐχ ἡμαρτήκαμεν, ψεύστην ποιοῦμεν αὐτόν, καὶ ὁ λόγος αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν.)
Notice the importance of confessing our sins. This is recognizing the sovereignty of God just as Hezekiah is doing according to the text. The idea here is that we recognize the need to completely rely upon the Lord, just as Hezekiah is doing finally at this point in the narrative. If we believe that we only need “some” or “a little” assistance then we are continuing to treat ourselves as king over our situation, when we should be giving everything over to the Lord. Once we come to this point, then we are read to receive from the Lord what He has for us. This appears to be what the people and Hezekiah are doing at this point based upon hearing the words from Rabshakeh. The point is that due to sin we are in no position to demand anything from God, we are at His mercy. So ultimately we wait upon the Lord for His response to our plea for help, just as we see going on here with Hezekiah. John Oswalt’s commentary draws out an interesting point saying the following:
“This is surely a testimony to the essential greatness of Hezekiah’s heart. He is not first concerned with his or his nation’s survival. He is chiefly concerned that their actions have provided the vehicle whereby God’s name has been brought into contempt. Furthermore, he knows that if God’s glory is made paramount, then the nation will survive. It was the putting of survival first which had brought them to this perilous state. the living God (see also Isaiah 37:17)” (John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1–39, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1986, 646)
Here John Oswalt points out how Hezekiah was concerned with the name of God being held with contempt by the Assyrians and that his chief concern was to the honor of God. A search of the YHWH in Isaiah 36 reveals the number of times the name is written.
Here the YHWH was mentioned 7 times during Rabshakeh’s speech. We note that the name of God that has been passed down to us has been hidden. So, Rabshakeh was using a circumlocution for the name while speaking. The circumlocution for YHWH would logically and philosophically speaking be the same as saying the name from the sense that we are to protect the name of God, whether as the YHWH or using the circumlocution. We do not blaspheme or take the name of the “Lord” “God” in vain. The actions and words of Hezekiah speak to the king knowing that God had heard the blasphemous words of Assyria. The question is whether the God of Israel will take action against these blasphemous words. Today, God shows mercy to those who blaspheme His name. This does not mean that one is getting away with such things but that mercy is granted for the purpose of Teshuvah. The gods of Assyria are lifeless and helpless (Isaiah 46:5-7) and Assyria was assumed more powerful than the God of Israel. We note the example that David gave to us according to 1 Samuel 17:26 when hearing the words of the Philistine.
ספר שמואל א פרק יז
כו וַיֹּאמֶר דָּוִד אֶל-הָאֲנָשִׁים הָעֹמְדִים עִמּוֹ לֵאמֹר מַה-יֵּעָשֶֹה לָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יַכֶּה אֶת-הַפְּלִשְׁתִּי הַלָּז וְהֵסִיר חֶרְפָּה מֵעַל יִשְֹרָאֵל כִּי מִי הַפְּלִשְׁתִּי הֶעָרֵל הַזֶּה כִּי חֵרֵף מַעַרְכוֹת אֱלֹהִים חַיִּים:
1 Samuel 17:26
17:26 And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? (KJV)
David gave glory to God and was confident in trusting in God over the army of God and Israel. This is the kind of faith we should have concerning trusting in God and in the Messiah Yeshua!
Isaiah goes on saying the following according to Isaiah 37:5-6.
ספר ישעיה פרק לז
ה וַיָּבֹאוּ עַבְדֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ חִזְקִיָּהוּ אֶל-יְשַׁעְיָהוּ: ו וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם יְשַׁעְיָהוּ כֹּה תֹאמְרוּן אֶל-אֲדֹנֵיכֶם כֹּה | אָמַר יְהֹוָה אַל-תִּירָא מִפְּנֵי הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר שָׁמַעְתָּ אֲשֶׁר גִּדְּפוּ נַעֲרֵי מֶלֶךְ-אַשּׁוּר אוֹתִי:
Isaiah 37:5 states, “So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah. (וַיָּבֹאוּ עַבְדֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ חִזְקִיָּהוּ אֶל-יְשַׁעְיָהוּ)” Isaiah 37:6 “And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say unto your master, Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. (וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם יְשַׁעְיָהוּ כֹּה תֹאמְרוּן אֶל-אֲדֹנֵיכֶם כֹּה | אָמַר יְהֹוָה אַל-תִּירָא מִפְּנֵי הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר שָׁמַעְתָּ אֲשֶׁר גִּדְּפוּ נַעֲרֵי מֶלֶךְ-אַשּׁוּר אוֹתִי)” Here Isaiah comes to Hezkiah and reassures him of the power and might of God to defeat the enemy! Isaiah does not appear to make any comments regarding the king and people seeking him out now for a word from the Lord. He simply provides the answer they are wanting, that they are not to fear and God will take care of them. We note that Isaiah saying אַל-תִּירָא “do not be afraid” are the same words spoken of to Ahaz, that we are not to live in fear. Isaiah’s point is that the magnitude of the human thread is not really the issue here. The major issue is whether we have faith, live our lives for the Lord in faithfulness, and trust in the Lord to take care of us! These were the issues back thousands of years ago, and these are the issues that remain for us today! We must believe and we must maintain the faith and be faithful (obedient) to our calling!
Rabbinic Commentary on Isaiah 37:1-6
The Targum Jonathan is an Aramaic and Rabbinic translation of the book of Isaiah and therefore is a valuable resource for continuing to study the book of Isaiah!
תרגום יונתן בן עוזיאל אל ישעיה פרק לז:יא-ו
א וַהְוָה כַד שְמַע מַלכָא חִזקִיָה וּבַזַע יָת לְבוּשֹוהִי וְאִתכַסִי סַקָא וְעָל לְבֵית מַקדְשָא דַיוי׃ ב וּשלַח יָת אַליָקִים דִממֻנַא עַל בֵיתָא וְיָת שַבנָא סָפְרָא וְיָת סָבֵי כָהְנַיָא כִד מְכֻסַן סַקַיָא לְוָת יְשַעיָה בַר אָמֹוץ נְבִיָא׃ ג וַאְמַרוּ לֵיה כִדנָן אְמַר חִזקִיָה יֹום עָקָא וְחִיסוּדִין וְנֵיאוּצִין יֹומָא הָדֵין אְרֵי אַקֵיפַתנָא עָקָא כְאִתָא דְיָתְבָא עַל מַתבְרָא וְחֵיל לֵית לַה לְמֵילַד׃ ד מָא אִם שְמִיַע ק׳ יוי אְלָהָך יָת פִתגָמֵי רַב שָקֵי דְשַלחֵיה מַלכָא דְאַתוּר רִבֹונֵיה לְחַסָדָא עַמָא דַיוי קַייָמָא דְיַעְבֵיד פֹורעָנוּתָא עַל כָל פִתגָמַיָא דִשמִיעִין קדם יוי אְלָהָך וְתִתחַנַן בִצלֹו עַל שְאָרָא הָדֵין דְאִשתְאַר׃ ה וַאְתֹו עַבדֵי מַלכָא חִזקִיָה לְוָת יְשַעיָה׃ ו וַאְמַר לְהֹון יְשַעיָה כְדֵין תֵימְרוּן לְרִבֹונְכֹון כִדנָן אְמַר יוי לָא תִדחַל מִן קֳדָם פִתגָמַיָא דִשמַעתָא דְחַסִידוּ עוּלֵימֵי מַלכָא דְאַתוּר קֳדָמָי׃
Targum Jonathan son of Uziel Isaiah 37:1-6
37:1 And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the sanctuary of the Lord. 37:2 And he sent Eliakim, who was appointed over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, thus covered with sackcloth, unto Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz. 37:3 And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah: This day is a day of distress, of reproach, and of contumely: for distress hath laid hold on us, as a woman that sitteth upon the stool of a woman in labour, and hath no strength to bring forth. 37:4 Perhaps the words of Rabshakeh may be heard by the Lord thy God, whom the king of Assyria, his master, hath sent to reproach the people of the living God, and he may take vengeance for the words which were heard before thy God, wherefore thou shalt supplicate in prayer for the remnant that is left. 37:5 So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah. 37:6 And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say unto your master, Thus saith the Lord, Be not afraid on account of the words that thou hast heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed before me. (TgJ)
Here we read the response of the king and the people to the Assyrian claims, they rip their clothes and put on sackcloth. Sackcloth (Hebrew: שַׂק) is a coarsely woven fabric, usually made of goat’s hair. Hessian sackcloth or burlap is not the intended biblical meaning, according to a number of scholarly sources. The Sackcloth was usually made of black goat hair and was used by the Israelites and their neighbors in times of mourning. We note that the word “ḥagar” חָגַר (to gird, see Joshua 1:8, Isaiah 3:24, 15:8, 22:12, Jeremiah 6:26, 49:3) is used many times in conjunction to putt on sackcloth, but here in Isaiah 37:1 it states that Hezekiah “covered” his body with sackcloth. Other places in the Scriptures describe fastening sackcloths around the hips (see Bereshit / Genesis 37:34 and Amos 8:10). According to 1 Kings 21:27 and 2 Kings 6:30, it was worn next to the skin. We note sackcloth is scratchy and itchy when worn next to the skin which would remind the one who wears the sackcloth to pray and the reason he is wearing it. In later times it came to be worn for religious purposes only, on extraordinary occasions, or at mourning ceremonies. Isaiah wore nothing else, and was commanded by God to put on sackcloth (Isaiah 20:2). The Jewish Encyclopedia suggests that “old traditions about to die out easily assume a holy character” and so sackcloth would be worn. The Isaiah text according to the TgJ writes the following, Isaiah writes saying, א וַהְוָה כַד שְמַע מַלכָא חִזקִיָה וּבַזַע יָת לְבוּשֹוהִי וְאִתכַסִי סַקָא וְעָל לְבֵית מַקדְשָא דַיוי׃ 37:1 And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the sanctuary of the Lord. ב וּשלַח יָת אַליָקִים דִממֻנַא עַל בֵיתָא וְיָת שַבנָא סָפְרָא וְיָת סָבֵי כָהְנַיָא כִד מְכֻסַן סַקַיָא לְוָת יְשַעיָה בַר אָמֹוץ נְבִיָא׃ 37:2 And he sent Eliakim, who was appointed over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, thus covered with sackcloth, unto Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz. ג וַאְמַרוּ לֵיה כִדנָן אְמַר חִזקִיָה יֹום עָקָא וְחִיסוּדִין וְנֵיאוּצִין יֹומָא הָדֵין אְרֵי אַקֵיפַתנָא עָקָא כְאִתָא דְיָתְבָא עַל מַתבְרָא וְחֵיל לֵית לַה לְמֵילַד׃ 37:3 And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah: This day is a day of distress, of reproach, and of contumely: for distress hath laid hold on us, as a woman that sitteth upon the stool of a woman in labour, and hath no strength to bring forth. (TgJ) Here we are being told the response of the king and the officials near to the king demonstrating their grief and mourning over what Rabshakeh had said to them. They were also concerned with the blaspheme of the name of God by this Jewish man (Rabshakeh) who is betraying his own people. The TgJ text agrees with the MSS concerning the distress of this time, comparing it with the labor pains of a mother who is giving birth and who comes to the point of not being able to continue on. Various commentaries comment on this aspect of the Isaiah text. Likutei Moharan states the following concerning these things.
Likutei Moharan 21:7:2
For concealment/pregnancy corresponds to (Deuteronomy 32:18), “The Mighty One Who bore you, you exhausted,” as in (Isaiah 37:3), “There is no strength to give birth”—like a woman who is too exhausted to give birth. When she crouches to deliver she screams seventy screams, equal to the number of words in Psalm , “May God answer,” and then gives birth (Zohar III, 249b). These seventy screams correspond to the seven calls which David uttered over the water (Psalm 29), with each one comprised of ten <as is known>.
The pain of childbirth, we note the Torah text speaks of “the Rock who birthed you” (צ֥וּר יְלָדְךָ֖) which is a reference to the Lord God delivering us and bearing us up. We note that one might be able to derive a concept of rebirth that parallels Yeshua’s words in John 3:3. The idea here is to exhaust the one who bore us. Here in the Torah, the people’s sins were exhausting to God who did not require anything from the people to deliver them from Egypt. The exhausting aspect was that they continued to sin the entire time they were wandering in the wilderness. This is the kind of distress that the people find themselves in here in Jerusalem surrounded by the Assyrian army. Rashi goes on saying the following according to his commentary.
Rashi on Isaiah 37:3 Parts 1-3
ותוכחה. אשפרובמנ”ט בלע”ז האויבים מוכיחים בהצלחתם לאמר ידינו רמה ואין אלהים כאלהינו:
proof (Aprobement in O.F.) The enemies show evidence to praise themselves with their success, saying, “Our hand has overpowered (lit., has become high), and there is no God (like our God).”
כי באו בנים. בני ישראל בניו של הקב”ה:
for the children have come The children of Israel, children of the Holy One, blessed be He.
עד משבר וכח אין ללידה. עת צרה הדומה לאשה היושבת על המשבר ואין כח לולד לצאת:
as far as the birthstool and there is no strength to give birth It is a time of distress analogous to a woman sitting on the birthstool, and the fetus has no strength to come out.
Here Rashi points out the issues with the situation in relation to pride, one praises himself with their own success and praises their gods over the God of Israel! When one reaches this point in his or her life, the burden is so great it is as a woman who is sitting on the birthstool to give birth in great distress. We note the solution to this problem is by what Paul wrote according to Romans 8:13.
8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (KJV 13 εἰ γὰρ κατὰ σάρκα ζῆτε, μέλλετε ἀποθνῄσκειν·* εἰ δὲ πνεύματι τὰς πράξεις ⸂τοῦ σώματος⸃ θανατοῦτε, ζήσεσθε*.)
We must put to death the desires of the body as Paul describes to motif the deeds of the body, which means that one must put these to death. The HNT states אַךְ אִם עַל–יְדֵי הָרוּחַ תָּמִיתוּ אֶת מַעַלְלֵי הַגּוּף, תִּחְיוּ. If by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live or have life. This is important since it speaks to living our lives for the Lord. We cannot live our lives for sin and then expect to be acceptable in the sight of God. This speaks to our need to strive for righteousness because of what the Lord God Almighty has done on our behalf making us righteous in heaven. We note the spiritual counterparts here, how what is in heaven should be lived here on earth, this is consistent with Yeshua’s prayer when he instructed us to pray “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This is a significant request and hope is the request of every one of us every day!
Isaiah goes on saying,ד מָא אִם שְמִיַע ק׳ יוי אְלָהָך יָת פִתגָמֵי רַב שָקֵי דְשַלחֵיה מַלכָא דְאַתוּר רִבֹונֵיה לְחַסָדָא עַמָא דַיוי קַייָמָא דְיַעְבֵיד פֹורעָנוּתָא עַל כָל פִתגָמַיָא דִשמִיעִין קדם יוי אְלָהָך וְתִתחַנַן בִצלֹו עַל שְאָרָא הָדֵין דְאִשתְאַר׃ 37:4 Perhaps the words of Rabshakeh may be heard by the Lord thy God, whom the king of Assyria, his master, hath sent to reproach the people of the living God, and he may take vengeance for the words which were heard before thy God, wherefore thou shalt supplicate in prayer for the remnant that is left. ה וַאְתֹו עַבדֵי מַלכָא חִזקִיָה לְוָת יְשַעיָה׃ 37:5 So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah. ו וַאְמַר לְהֹון יְשַעיָה כְדֵין תֵימְרוּן לְרִבֹונְכֹון כִדנָן אְמַר יוי לָא תִדחַל מִן קֳדָם פִתגָמַיָא דִשמַעתָא דְחַסִידוּ עוּלֵימֵי מַלכָא דְאַתוּר קֳדָמָי׃37:6 And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say unto your master, Thus saith the Lord, Be not afraid on account of the words that thou hast heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed before me. (TgJ) Here the Lord God through the prophet Isaiah tells the people not to be afraid of the blasphemous words of the nations. The commentary Malbim on Isaiah 37:6 states the following concerning these things.
Malbim on Isaiah 37:6 Part
ל תירא, הודיע לו בל ירא מפני הדברים אשר שמע, כי בזה גדפו נערי מלך אשור אותי, לא את ישראל, ואני אעשה למען שמי, גם הודיע לו כי הדברים האלה לא היו בשליחות מלך אשור, כי בפעם הראשון גדפו הנערים מעצמם, ובכל זה בל ייראו כי יושיעם ה’ למענם:
Don’t be afraid, Bel informed him, not afraid of the things he heard, because with this the young men of the king of Assyria blasphemed me, not Israel, and I will do it for my name’s sake, he also informed him that these words were not sent by the king of Assyria, because for the first time the young men blasphemed of themselves, and in this Let them not see that God will save them for their sake:
Here Malbim speaks of the young men blaspheming God and Israel. The phrase “the ignorance of youth” can refer to different things depending on the context. It can be a phrase that expresses the happiness, innocence, or optimism that comes with being young and unaware of the troubles of the world. It can also be a criticism of the current generation of young people who are seen as lazy, dumb, and lacking basic skills and knowledge of history and literature. This is where the progressive movement comes from in youth. The Bible has several verses that mention ignorance, Tehillim / Psalm 25:7 which states, “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my sins of ignorance: remember me according to thy mercy, for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord.” Another verse found in 1 Peter 1:14.
1 Peter 1:13–15
1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 1:14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; (KJV *13 Διὸ ἀναζωσάμενοι τὰς ὀσφύας τῆς διανοίας ὑμῶν* νήφοντες τελείως* ἐλπίσατε ἐπὶ τὴν φερομένην ὑμῖν χάριν ἐν ἀποκαλύψει* Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.* 14 ὡς τέκνα ὑπακοῆς μὴ συσχηματιζόμενοι ταῖς πρότερον* ⸂ἐν τῇ ἀγνοίᾳ⸃ ὑμῶν ἐπιθυμίαις,* 15 ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὸν καλέσαντα ὑμᾶς ἅγιον καὶ αὐτοὶ ἅγιοι ἐν πάσῃ ἀναστροφῇ γενήθητε)
We note the language here “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance” this is a reference to this very thing, the ignorance of youth. Youth can lead to pride, believing that one knows it all, etc. The older we get and the more we learn the more we realize how little we actually know! The point is that as we continue in our faith, we grow and mature in our faith so that we can be conformed to the likeness of the Messiah. This means that as we grow older we should have greater desire to live in God’s holy ways! Living in God’s holy ways means living according to His commandments and doing things that please Him. It is a decision of our will that involves our conduct. To be holy means to be set apart or separate from the world, from sin and from evil. God calls us to be holy, just as He is holy. (1 Peter 1:16) We live a holy life by being obedient to God in all areas of life and knowing and obeying His Word. The purpose of living a holy life is to glorify God and display His nature to those around us. Ultimately these are the things that Isaiah is speaking about concerning the people of his time, and things that are of great concern for us today especially in the day and age that we live in!