The Claim that the God of Israel is like One of the gods of the Nations, ישעיהו לו:יט-כב / Isaiah 36:19-22

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Introduction to Isaiah 36:18-22

According to Isaiah 36:13-17 Rabshakeh placed a contrast between Hezekiah and Sennacherib claiming that both Hezekiah and the God of Israel are weak and unable to deliver from the power and army of Sennacherib. Rabshakeh said that God cannot be trusted to deliver Judah from Assyria’s hand. Here in Isaiah 36:18-22 Rabshakeh provides the reasons why he believes this is true, he says that the God of Israel cannot deliver the people because He is like one of the many gods who were unable to deliver the other nations they have already conquered. So, Rabshakeh is relying upon their past victories to boast against Judah and the God of Israel. This is how sin functions in one’s life, it leads to challenging others and challenging God and even being boastful to walk in a way that is contrary to the way of God and not even realize it. Notice the parallel to what Paul states according to Philippians 3:1–7.

Philippians 3:1–7  
3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. 3:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. 3:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. 3:4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 3:5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (KJV 3 Τὸ λοιπόν, ἀδελφοί μου,* χαίρετε ἐν κυρίῳ. τὰ αὐτὰ γράφειν ὑμῖν ἐμοὶ μὲν οὐκ ὀκνηρόν, ὑμῖν δὲ ⸆ ἀσφαλές. 2 Βλέπετε τοὺς κύνας,* βλέπετε τοὺς κακοὺς ἐργάτας, βλέπετε τὴν κατατομήν. 3 ἡμεῖς γάρ ἐσμεν ἡ περιτομή,* οἱ πνεύματι ⸀θεοῦ λατρεύοντες καὶ καυχώμενοι ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ καὶ οὐκ ἐν σαρκὶ πεποιθότες,* 4 καίπερ ἐγὼ ἔχων πεποίθησιν καὶ ἐν σαρκί.* Εἴ τις δοκεῖ ἄλλος πεποιθέναι ἐν σαρκί, ἐγὼ μᾶλλον· 5 περιτομῇ ὀκταήμερος,* ἐκ γένους Ἰσραήλ,* φυλῆς Βενιαμίν, Ἑβραῖος ἐξ Ἑβραίων, κατὰ νόμον Φαρισαῖος, * 6 κατὰ ⸀ζῆλος διώκων τὴν ἐκκλησίαν⸆,* κατὰ δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐν νόμῳ γενόμενος ἄμεμπτος. 7 °[Ἀλλʼ] ἅτινα ⸉ἦν μοι⸊ κέρδη, ταῦτα ἥγημαι διὰ τὸν Χριστὸν ζημίαν.)

The parallel is found here when Paul calls the gain of human achievement as loss (ζημία). The NT context of the noun ζημία occurs 4× in reference to the loss of cargo and lives as a result of a shipwreck (see Acts 27:10, 27:21). The verb ζημιόω occurs 6× and it is used in the saying about losing one’s life as opposed to gaining (κερδαίνω) the whole world (Matthew 16:26, Mark 8:36, and Luke 9:25). Paul uses it in three contexts (i) of the builder who “suffers loss” if useless materials are employed (1 Corinthians 3:15), (ii) of being harmed spiritually or emotionally (2 Corinthians 7:9) and (iii) of losing all personal advantages for the sake of Christ (Philippians 3:8, with κέρδος). So the idea is that what is considered human gain is actually a loss where humility and being humble recognizing where our achievements come from is of the greatest gain. Notice how the Assyrian accuses Hezekiah of seducing the people (Isaiah 36:18) when the fact of the matter is that it is the Assyrian who has been seduced by his own power due to sin! Sin creates great weakness in one’s life.

Several Ways that Sin Creates Weakness

  • Sin separates us from God. When we sin, we break God’s Torah and put ourselves at odds with Him. This separation can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and loneliness.
  • Sin weakens our character. Every time we sin, we make it a little easier to sin again in the future. This is because sin damages our character and makes us more susceptible to temptation.
  • Sin makes us more vulnerable to the enemy. When we sin, we open ourselves up to the attacks of the enemy. This is because sin weakens our spiritual defenses and makes us more susceptible to his lies and deception.
  • Sin can lead to physical and emotional problems. Sin can have a negative impact on our physical and emotional health. For example, studies have shown that people who are stressed or anxious are more likely to get sick. Additionally, people who are struggling with addiction or other forms of sin are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.

According to the rabbis, sin makes one weak in a number of ways. Sin separates us from God. When we sin, we are intentionally choosing to do something that is contrary to God’s will. This separation can lead to a feeling of isolation and loneliness. In addition to this, sin can weaken our physical bodies. This damage can manifest itself in physical ailments, such as illness or disease as in the case of Tsaraat (צרעת). (see Vayikra / Leviticus 13:1-14) Sin can have the effect of weakening our minds through clouding our judgment. This can make it difficult to think clearly and make sound decisions, or constantly being in a state of lust, such as for sex, money, or praise from others, etc. Sin can weaken our relationships. When we sin, we are hurting the people we love which can then lead to conflict, resentment, and even estrangement. In addition to these things, sin can weaken our spiritual connection with the Lord God Almighty and His Messiah Yeshua. This happens because when one sins, he or she is turning his or her back on God which can lead to a feeling of emptiness and despair. All of these things are a summary of what the Bible and the Rabbis say concerning sin. 

Summary of Rabbinic Literature

  • Sin weakens one’s relationship with God and prevents one from receiving His blessings and protection. (Source: Talmud Bavli Yoma 86b, Isaiah 59:20)
  • Sin weakens one’s moral character and leads to more transgressions and corruption. (Source: Pirkei Avot 2:4, Ezekiel 33:19)
  • Sin weakens one’s social bonds and creates strife and injustice in the community. (Source: Pirkei Avot 2:3, Jeremiah 3:1)
  • “Sin is like a heavy burden that weighs down the soul.” (Rabbi Akiva)
  • “Sin is like a cancer that eats away at the body and soul.” (Rabbi Meir)
  • “Sin is like a fire that destroys everything in its path.” (Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai)
  • “Sin is like a poison that kills the soul.” (Rabbi Judah ben Ilai)

So we can see how there is a general consensus here concerning sin and the outcome or consequences of sin. What we note about Isaiah is his revealing to us how the Lord God of Israel loves us and seeks that we repent and turn from sin and seek Him and His righteous ways. Acknowledging our sinfulness is very important (1 John 1:9) The act of repentance by faith can restore our relationship with God and then strengthen us in all areas of our lives and this is the good news that is provided to us in Yeshua the Messiah. It is important to remember that sin is not the end of the story, we serve a merciful and forgiving God to those who repent and turn their lives to Him. This is the hope that we have, that God will give us the strength to overcome sin and live a life that is pleasing to Him! This is achieved through His dwelling in us via His Holy Spirit, through faith in Yeshua the Messiah. This is a Torah centric principle, of God dwelling in our midst which is fulfilled through faith in His Messiah and believing all that He did for us, and in our Father who is in heaven! 

Isaiah continues saying the following according to Isaiah 36:18-19.

ספר ישעיה פרק לו
יח   פֶּן-יַסִּית אֶתְכֶם חִזְקִיָּהוּ לֵאמֹר יְהוָֹה יַצִּילֵנוּ הַהִצִּילוּ אֱלֹהֵי הַגּוֹיִם אִישׁ אֶת-אַרְצוֹ מִיַּד מֶלֶךְ אַשּׁוּר: יט   אַיֵּה אֱלֹהֵי חֲמָת וְאַרְפָּד אַיֵּה אֱלֹהֵי סְפַרְוָיִם וְכִי-הִצִּילוּ אֶת-שֹׁמְרוֹן מִיָּדִי: 

Isaiah 36:18 states, “Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, the LORD will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? (פֶּן-יַסִּית אֶתְכֶם חִזְקִיָּהוּ לֵאמֹר יְהוָֹה יַצִּילֵנוּ הַהִצִּילוּ אֱלֹהֵי הַגּוֹיִם אִישׁ אֶת-אַרְצוֹ מִיַּד מֶלֶךְ אַשּׁוּר)” Isaiah 36:19 “Where are the gods of Hamath and Arphad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim? and have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? (אַיֵּה אֱלֹהֵי חֲמָת וְאַרְפָּד אַיֵּה אֱלֹהֵי סְפַרְוָיִם וְכִי-הִצִּילוּ אֶת-שֹׁמְרוֹן מִיָּדִי)” Here the phrase פֶּן־יַסִּ֨ית אֶתְכֶ֤ם חִזְקִיָּ֙הוּ֙ means “les Hezekiah mislead you” where the word “beware” is not stated explicitly in the text but is understood. We note how the English is written to draw out the sense of the meaning. Rabshakeh calls upon the Assyrian victories over Hamath, Arphad, Sepharvaim, and Samaria and ridicules their gods and in the same kind of ridicule also denigrates the God of Israel too. The following is some info on these cities.

Hamath (חֲמָת, chamath) – A city on the Orontes River. It was among territory left unconquered by Joshua (Joshua 13:5). The ancient city of Hamath was located on the River Orontes at the northern end of a broad valley, about 120 miles north of Damascus. (Key Passages Joshua 13:5, 2 Samuel 8:9–10, 2 Kings 14:28, 2 Kings 17:24, 2 Chronicles 8:3–4)

ARPAD (אַרְפָּד, arpad) – A city in northern Syria. It was conquered by the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III in 740 bc, and Sennacherib, a later king of Assyria, boasted of its destruction (2 Kgs 18:34; 19:13; 36:19; 37:3). In Isa 10:9, it is likewise mentioned as part of an Assyrian king’s boast. Jer 49:23 uses Arpad as an image of those destroyed by the power of Yahweh. Its ruins are north of modern Aleppo. (Key passages 2 Kings 18:34, 19:13, Isaiah 10:9, 36:19, 37:3, Jeremiah 49:23)

SEPHARVAIM (סְפַרְוַיִם, sepharwayim) – A city from which the Assyrians brought people to inhabit Samaria, following the deportation of the Israelites (2 Kings 17:24–41, 18:34, 19:13, Isaiah 36:19, 37:13). Sepharvaim has been identified as Sippar on the Euphrates, which is mentioned in Assyrian-Babylonian inscriptions. However, 2 Kings 19:13 mentions a king of Sepharvaim, and there is no record of Sippar having a king of its own. Additionally, the gods associated with Sippar are different from those of Sepharvaim. Joseph Halevy suggested that Sepharvaim should be identified with “Sibraim” (Ezekiel 47:16), located between Damascus and Hamath. (Key passages 2 Kings 17:24–41, 18:34, 19:13, Isaiah 36:19, 37:13, Ezekiel 47:16)

SAMARIA (שֹׁמְרוֹן, shomeron; Σαμάρεια, Samareia) – In the Bible, “Samaria” refers to both a city and a geographic region within the Central Highlands (compare 1 Kgs 16:24). The city sits over 400 feet above sea level, and offered easy access to major travel routes and the Jezreel Valley, particularly the Via Maris—which connects Egypt and Syria—and other major highways that cut through the middle of Israel. However, Samaria lacks a significant water source (Avigad, Samaria, 1300). (Key passages all throughout 1 Kings)

Hamath is a city on the Orontes River approximately 120 miles north of Damascus, and are mentioned several times in the Tanach, was devastated by Sargon II due to rebellion. Arphad was another Syrian city and 85 miles north of Hamath which is midway between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates River. Sepharvaim has been identified as Sippar on the Euphrates, which is mentioned in Assyrian-Babylonian inscriptions and 2 Kings 19:13 mentions a king of Sepharvaim. Samaria has many references in the Tanakh, and most are found in the book of 1 Kings. Rabshakeh mentions these places and their gods and states that their gods could not save them, and then claims the God of Israel cannot save them either. Again, this follows the modus operandi of the evil one, to turn one from faith in the God of Israel and His Mashiach. It is interesting to note that Samaria was Jewish, and yet Rabshakeh draws Samaria into this group of cities that worshiped these other gods. So Rabshakeh knew that the people of Samaria did not worship the God of Israel but mingled their faith with the gods of the nations, and thus drew them in parallel to these cities and the inability of their gods to deliver them. Here is an ancient textual context that is consistent with the historical narrative of the Tanakh. 

Isaiah goes on saying the following according to Isaiah 36:20.

ספר ישעיה פרק לו
כ   מִי בְּכָל-אֱלֹהֵי הָאֲרָצוֹת הָאֵלֶּה אֲשֶׁר-הִצִּילוּ אֶת-אַרְצָם מִיָּדִי כִּי-יַצִּיל יְהֹוָה אֶת-יְרוּשָׁלַם מִיָּדִי: 

Isaiah 36:20 states, “Who are they among all the gods of these lands, that have delivered their land out of my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand? (מִי בְּכָל-אֱלֹהֵי הָאֲרָצוֹת הָאֵלֶּה אֲשֶׁר-הִצִּילוּ אֶת-אַרְצָם מִיָּדִי כִּי-יַצִּיל יְהֹוָה אֶת-יְרוּשָׁלַם מִיָּדִי)” Here Rabshakeh states directly that the God of Israel cannot deliver the people from the hand of the king of Assyria. Rabshakeh says that the king of Assyria is stronger than God and therefore there is no hope. Something we note about Rabshakeh statement here is how this is a common thought or statement even today, that men, women, and children, are tempted to believe or think that God is unable or unwilling to help us and so we must rely upon ourselves, or at least rely upon human ability as opposed to trusting in the Lord God Almighty. The Lord God Almighty is not like the gods of this world which are simply wood, stone, metal, or wealth. The Lord God is the Creator God who created all things, who is the One True God, and is the one who is able to overcome anything. In this instance, Sennacherib is coming up against one of the greatest in power and might that he has ever faced! The deliverance of Jerusalem here in this case has nothing to do with the power of Sennacherib or his army, but completely dependent upon the power of God and whether the people are willing to humble their lives and completely trust in the God of Israel laying at His feet! 

This is the moment when it is very critical what Judah and Jerusalem do in relation to their faith in God. It is always critical what we do in relation to our faith regardless of the situation, whether in war time or peace. So, the people must take hold of their fear and take hold of God’s word and seek His face walking in His ways. We note that at this point in the history of Judah and Jerusalem, the only hope they had was in God. There was nowhere else to turn, and this is why Hezekiah then went to the Temple in Jerusalem and sought help from the Lord. Hezekiah admits his folly believing that Egypt could help them and admits that only the Lord God is in whom they can trust. Note something that Isaiah had said previously according to Isaiah 30:8-11.

Isaiah 30:8–11  
30:8 Now go, write it before them in a table, And note it in a book, That it may be for the time to come For ever and ever: 30:9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, Children that will not hear the law of the LORD: 30:10 Which say to the seers, See not; And to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, Speak unto us smooth things, Prophesy deceits: 30:11 Get you out of the way, Turn aside out of the path, Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us. (KJV עַתָּ֗ה בּ֣וֹא כָתְבָ֥הּ עַל־ל֛וּחַ אִתָּ֖ם וְעַל־סֵ֣פֶר חֻקָּ֑הּ וּתְהִי֙ לְי֣וֹם אַחֲר֔וֹן לָעַ֖ד עַד־עוֹלָֽם׃ כִּ֣י עַ֤ם מְרִי֙ ה֔וּא בָּנִ֖ים כֶּחָשִׁ֑ים בָּנִ֕ים לֹֽא־אָב֥וּ שְׁמ֖וֹעַ תּוֹרַ֥ת יְהוָֽה׃ אֲשֶׁ֨ר אָמְר֤וּ לָֽרֹאִים֙ לֹ֣א תִרְא֔וּ וְלַ֣חֹזִ֔ים לֹ֥א תֶחֱזוּ־לָ֖נוּ נְכֹח֑וֹת דַּבְּרוּ־לָ֣נוּ חֲלָק֔וֹת חֲז֖וּ מַהֲתַלּֽוֹת׃ ס֚וּרוּ מִנֵּי־דֶ֔רֶךְ הַטּ֖וּ מִנֵּי־אֹ֑רַח הַשְׁבִּ֥יתוּ מִפָּנֵ֖ינוּ אֶת־קְד֥וֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃)

Here Isaiah makes the statement לֹֽא־אָב֥וּ שְׁמ֖וֹעַ תּוֹרַ֥ת יְהוָֽה not hear the Torah of HaShem as being coupled to the people’s rebellion. Notice how Isaiah states how the people will not listen to God’s Torah. Is this not a popular doctrine today in the church, that the Torah has passed away? Is this not a parallel to what we see happening here to Israel? The consequences to turning away from God’s Torah include the following:

Consequences of turning from God’s Torah

  • Spiritual death: When one turns away from the Torah one is turning away from God. This essentially means that one is cutting one’s self off from the source of life. This can lead to a sense of emptiness, despair, and hopelessness.
  • Relational problems: When we turn from God’s Torah, we damage our relationship with others, as the Torah writes in Vayikra / Leviticus 18:19 we are to love our neighbor. We lose trust, respect, and love for others, we also make it difficult to find and build new relationships without God’s Torah. 
  • Physical problems: The Torah teaches us that sin can lead to physical problems (see Devarim / Deuteronomy 28), such as sickness and disease. This is because sin separates us from God, who is the source of all healing and health.

National consequences of turning from God’s Torah

  • National judgment: When a nation turns away from God’s Torah as the example here from Isaiah, it invites God’s judgment. This can take many forms, such as economic hardship, political instability, and natural disasters, physical illness including mental illness (LGBTQ), etc.
  • Spiritual blindness: When a nation turns away from God’s Torah, the people become spiritually blind. This means that they are unable to see the truth and make wise decisions.
  • Cultural decay: When a nation turns away from God’s Torah its culture begins to decay. This is exactly what we are seeing today in the USA and around the world, the mental illness of gender confusion, trans, and LGBTQ ideaologies that are being taught and believed in as normal. It is obvious how this leads to the decline in morality, an increase in crime, and a general sense of hopelessness in those who suffer from this mental illness.

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We note how these are the consequences of turning from God’s Torah and these are serious and far-reaching problems. In fact, according to Romans 1, Paul wrote that God will give people over to these things because they reject His Torah, they reject the Truth! If we want to avoid these consequences, we must take hold of God’s Torah believing in the Messiah Yeshua and walk in the footsteps of our Messiah according to the Torah. Note also the Lord God Almighty is merciful and forgiving according to the Scriptures, and he is always willing to welcome us back into his loving embrace if we are willing to repent and turn from sin. We note again that blindness is the result of turning from God’s holy and righteous ways! Here because the people turned to the Lord, they repented and gave themselves wholly over to the Lord, the Lord God saved them in a miraculous way from the Assyrian army.

Isaiah goes on saying the following according to Isaiah 36:21-22.

ספר ישעיה פרק לו
כא   וַיַּחֲרִישׁוּ וְלֹא-עָנוּ אֹתוֹ דָּבָר כִּי-מִצְוַת הַמֶּלֶךְ הִיא לֵאמֹר לֹא תַעֲנֻהוּ: כב   וַיָּבֹא אֶלְיָקִים בֶּן-חִלְקִיָּהוּ אֲשֶׁר-עַל-הַבַּיִת וְשֶׁבְנָא הַסּוֹפֵר וְיוֹאָח בֶּן-אָסָף הַמַּזְכִּיר אֶל-חִזְקִיָּהוּ קְרוּעֵי בְגָדִים וַיַּגִּידוּ לוֹ אֵת דִּבְרֵי רַבשָׁקֵה:       

Isaiah 36:21 states, “But they held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not. (וַיַּחֲרִישׁוּ וְלֹא-עָנוּ אֹתוֹ דָּבָר כִּי-מִצְוַת הַמֶּלֶךְ הִיא לֵאמֹר לֹא תַעֲנֻהוּ)” Isaiah 36:22 “Then came Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, that was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and told him the words of Rabshakeh. (וַיָּבֹא אֶלְיָקִים בֶּן-חִלְקִיָּהוּ אֲשֶׁר-עַל-הַבַּיִת וְשֶׁבְנָא הַסּוֹפֵר וְיוֹאָח בֶּן-אָסָף הַמַּזְכִּיר אֶל-חִזְקִיָּהוּ קְרוּעֵי בְגָדִים וַיַּגִּידוּ לוֹ אֵת דִּבְרֵי רַבשָׁקֵה)” Here it is important to note how the people responded, they did not say a word. The king Hezekiah had commanded them not to say a word. The last verse (Isaiah 36:22) speaks to the three men who went out to talk to Rabshakeh as having rented their clothes because of the manner and way in which he had spoken to them. Rabshakeh had clearly blasphemed the Lord and told them that they will either submit to Assyria or die. So these three men could only tear their clothes and return to the city in despair and horror. They tell the king and the people what Rabshakeh had said, and it is at this point that the king goes up to the Temple of God and seeks His mercy. 

Rabbinic Commentary on Isaiah 36:18-22

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 לו:יח-כב
יח   דִלמָא יַטעֵי יָתְכֹון חִזקִיָה לְמֵימַר יוי יְשֵיזְבִנַנָא הְשֵיזִיבָא דַחלָת עַמְמַיָא גְבַר יָת אַרעֵיה מִיַד מַלכָא דְאַתוּר׃ יט   אָן דַחלַת חְמָת וְאַרפָד אָן דַחלַת סְפַרוָיִם וַאְרֵי שֵיזִיבוּ יָת שֹמְרֹון מִן יְדִי׃ כ   מַן בְכָל דַחלַת מְדִינָתָא הָאִלֵין דְשֵיזִיבָא יָת אְרַעהֹון מִן יְדִי אְרֵי יְשֵיזֵיב יוי יָת יְרוּשלַם מִן יְדִי׃ כא   וּשתִיקוּ וְלָא אְתִיבוּ יָתֵיה פִתגָם אְרֵי תַפקֵידַת מַלכָא הִיא לְמֵימַר לָא תָתִיבוּנֵיה׃ כב   וַאְתָא אַליָקִים בַר חִלקִיָה דִממֻנַא עַל בֵיתָא וְשַבנָא סָפְרָא וְיֹואָח בַר אָסָף דִממֻנַא עַל דוּכרָנַיָא לְוָת חִזקִיָה כַד מְבֻזְעִין לְבוּשֵיהֹון וְחַוִיאוּ לֵיה יָת פִתגָמֵי רַב שַקֵי

Targum Jonathan son of Uziel Isaiah 36:18-22
36:18 Beware lest Hezekiah cause you to err, saying, The Lord shall deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? 36:19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arphad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim? what? have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? 36:20 Who are they among all the gods of these lands, that have delivered their land from my hand, that the Lord shall deliver Jerusalem from my hand? 36:21 But they held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not. 36:22 Then came Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, who was appointed over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, who was appointed over the records, to Hezekiah, now having their clothes rent, and told him the words of Rabshakeh. (TgJ)

King Solomon wrote according to Mishley / Proverbs 29:2 saying, “When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.” This is true, we see what is going on today in our country, the government shut down oil and gas and has performed all sorts of bad economic decisions along with uncontrolled spending leading to massive inflation, the cost of living going through the roof, and the people in general groan because of costs. Our culture groans under the government forcing public schools to teach LGBTQ liberal ideaologies, gender confusion, all under the criteria of receiving monies, funding, from the government, if the schools do not teach these things the government will pull their funding. In addition, the US government also gives out monies to the nations of the earth and the stipulation for receiving the monies is teaching these same things in their schools around the world. If this isn’t obvious enough, the USA is the great Babylon that caused the nations to drink of her adulteries! This is a wicked world that we live in! In our local schools, there are reports of children making hit lists, sex tapes, and all sorts of very inappropriate things at very young ages and parents post on social media how the schools and administrations do nothing. What happens then in these public schools, “absolutely nothing!” The question becomes at what expense do we allow students to do what they want freely and do what they want without consequences? This is what happens when we live amongst a godless culture! All of these things, the state of our country, government, and local culture are all due to what Solomon is saying, that “When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.” The outcome of wicked leaders, and the people who compromise their faith, this is the problem with this world today and we see this going on today all over the place! This draws us back to what Rabshakeh is saying here to the people. According to the Targum, Rabshakeh claims that a righteous king will cause the people to error according to the Targum. יח   דִלמָא יַטעֵי יָתְכֹון חִזקִיָה לְמֵימַר יוי יְשֵיזְבִנַנָא הְשֵיזִיבָא דַחלָת עַמְמַיָא גְבַר יָת אַרעֵיה מִיַד מַלכָא דְאַתוּר׃ 36:18 Beware lest Hezekiah cause you to err, saying, The Lord shall deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? יט   אָן דַחלַת חְמָת וְאַרפָד אָן דַחלַת סְפַרוָיִם וַאְרֵי שֵיזִיבוּ יָת שֹמְרֹון מִן יְדִי׃ 36:19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arphad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim? what? have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? כ   מַן בְכָל דַחלַת מְדִינָתָא הָאִלֵין דְשֵיזִיבָא יָת אְרַעהֹון מִן יְדִי אְרֵי יְשֵיזֵיב יוי יָת יְרוּשלַם מִן יְדִי׃ 36:20 Who are they among all the gods of these lands, that have delivered their land from my hand, that the Lord shall deliver Jerusalem from my hand? (TgJ) Rabshakeh blasphemes the God of Israel and denigrates the integrity of the king of Jerusalem, Hezekiah. The Talmud draws this point concerning Rabshakeh words to the people and the king.

Talmud Bavli Megillah 11b:3
The Gemara asks further: But there was Sennacherib, who ruled over the entire world, as it is written: “Who are they among all the gods of these countries, that have delivered their country out of my hand that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?” (Isaiah 36:20). The Gemara answers: There is Jerusalem that he did not conquer, as indicated in the verse.

Rabshakeh makes a point to ridicule the gods of the nations and then group the God of Israel along with these gods who were not able to resist Sennacherib and his army. Remember how the nations want people to forsake the God of Israel, to turn from Him and His holy and righteous ways. This is the way the enemy works, by making attempts to destroy one’s faith. We note the power of God here in Isaiah to overcome this nation, and that the God of Israel did not allow Assyria to conquer Jerusalem. We note that Sennacherib did not truely rule over the entire world, but regionally he had conquered and controlled the middle eastern region. The Midrash Rabbah Kohelet states that God will provide dreams of warning for the wicked nations, but they are unwilling to believe and understand.  

Kohelet Rabbah 5:2 Part 1
“For the dream comes with much concern; and a fool’s voice with many words” (Ecclesiastes 5:2) … Another matter: “For the dream comes with much concern” – all the pain and suffering that the Holy One blessed be He brought upon the Sodomites were due to the many evil concerns in which they engaged. “And a fool’s voice with many words” – as they said: Let the convention of passersby be forgotten from among us; that is what is written: “And it forgets that a foot may crush it or a beast of the field trample it” (Job 39:15). Another matter: “For the dream comes with much concern” – all the pain and suffering that the Holy One blessed be He brought upon the Egyptians were due to the many evil concerns in which they engaged. “And a fool’s voice with many words” – as they said: “Who is the Lord that I should heed His voice…” (Exodus 5:2) … Another matter: “For the dream comes with much concern,” all the pain and suffering that the Holy One blessed be He brought upon Sennacherib were due to the many evil concerns in which he engaged. “And a fool’s voice with many words” – because he cursed and blasphemed, as it is stated: “Who among the gods of all these lands rescued their land [from my hand, that the Lord will rescue Jerusalem from my hand?”] (Isaiah 36:20). Another matter: “For the dream comes with much concern” – all the pain and suffering that the Holy One blessed be He brought upon the tribes of Judah and Benjamin were due to the many evil concerns in which they engaged, as it is stated: “They denied the Lord” (Jeremiah 5:12). Another matter: “For the dream comes with much concern” – all the pain and suffering that the Holy One blessed be He brought upon Nebuchadnezzar were due to the many evil concerns in which he engaged, as it is stated: “Who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” (Daniel 3:15). Another matter “For the dream comes with much concern” – all the pain and suffering that the Holy One blessed be He brought upon Belshatzar were due to the many evil concerns in which he engaged, as it is written: “They drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver…” (Daniel 5:4) … Rabbi Levi and the Rabbis: Rabbi Levi said: They think evil in their heart, and I think good in My heart. They think evil in their heart, and I judge them regarding their heart, as it is stated: “Their sword will come into their heart” (Psalms 37:15).

Here the Midrash speaks of dreams. Dreams can have multiple meanings, and the biblical examples state that God can speak to us in dreams as well. We have to be discerning to know. The examples provided in the Midrash speak to the destruction that God brings to places like Sodom, and Egypt, and the people in Isaiah’s days, and Daniel, etc. The dreams were given as a warning to the pain and suffering that will come if one does not repent and turn from their sins. Isaiah goes on in the text according to the TgJ saying, כא   וּשתִיקוּ וְלָא אְתִיבוּ יָתֵיה פִתגָם אְרֵי תַפקֵידַת מַלכָא הִיא לְמֵימַר לָא תָתִיבוּנֵיה׃ 36:21 But they held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not. כב   וַאְתָא אַליָקִים בַר חִלקִיָה דִממֻנַא עַל בֵיתָא וְשַבנָא סָפְרָא וְיֹואָח בַר אָסָף דִממֻנַא עַל דוּכרָנַיָא לְוָת חִזקִיָה כַד מְבֻזְעִין לְבוּשֵיהֹון וְחַוִיאוּ לֵיה יָת פִתגָמֵי רַב שַקֵי36:22 Then came Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, who was appointed over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, who was appointed over the records, to Hezekiah, now having their clothes rent, and told him the words of Rabshakeh. (TgJ) Here the people listened to king Hezekiah and did not respond to Rabshakeh’s statements. We note that the rending of the garments was a sign of words coming from an apostate Jew according to Maimonides Mishneh Torah.

Mishneh Torah, Foreign Worship and Customs of the Nations 2:10
Whoever hears the blasphemy of God’s name is obligated to rend his garments. Even [when one hears] the blasphemy of other terms used to describe God, one is obligated to rend his garments.
The above applies when one hears [the blasphemy] from a fellow Jew. [In that instance,] both one who hears the actual blasphemy and one who hears it from the witnesses is obligated to rend his garments. In contrast, one who hears a gentile [blaspheme God’s name] is not obligated to rend his garments. Elyakim and Shevna rent their garments [as described in Isaiah 36:22] only because Ravshakeh was an apostate Jew.
[Before his execution,] all the witnesses and the judges place their hands on the head of the blasphemer and tell him: “You are responsible for your death. You brought it upon yourself.” Only a blasphemer – and none of the other offenders executed by the court – has [the judges and witnesses] place their hands upon his head, as [Leviticus 24:14] states: “And all those who hear shall place their hands on his head.”

The Mishneh Torah states that one sign of the renting of the clothing is due to having heard someone blaspheme God. When one blasphemes God and His name, this does not mean that he has actually spoken the name of God the YHWH. Blaspheme can come in many ways, but here the point was that when one hears a Jew blaspheme God, one rents his or her clothes, whereas when one hears a gentile blaspheme, one does not have to rent the clothing. Rashi writes in his commentary that the “torn garments was Because they heard blasphemies of the Name of God, and that is tantamount to cursing the Name.” (Rashi on Isaiah 36:22 Part 1) This is a form of showing respect and anguish for God. The Torah command for blaspheme was to be executed by stoning. (Vayikra / Leviticus 24:16) The witnesses for this and for the person’s death due to blaspheme is by laying one’s hand upon the head of the one who was to be executed and stating that his death is on themselves, and not due to the sin of someone else. The point is to have a reverence for the name of God and to protect the name, something of which Rabshakeh should have known better. But since he was an apostate Jew he was working for the enemy for profit. We note this happens all of the time in history (i.e. George Soros who was a nazi collaborator during the world war.) The point for us today is that we are to remain faithful regardless of the situation. We take our stand upon God’s Word and proclaim the glory of God regardless of what happens to us! The mercy of God is His greatness, and the power of God is His presence in our lives by faith in the Messiah Yeshua! These truths should never be compromised! We should also never be ashamed of who God is and of Yeshua His Son!