Table of Contents
Introduction to Isaiah 39:1-8
We note that the commentaries all pretty much unanimously declare that Isaiah 38-39 are misplaced in the Isaianic narrative. When we read through these chapters, we realize that these chapters do not necessarily have to be placed before Isaiah 36-37, and how they provide an emphasis on Isaiah 36-37. We note the significance of the pride of man, which is illustrated in how Hezekiah showed the Babylonian envoy everything he had, including all of the wealth of Judah. The point is that Isaiah chapters 7-35 demonstrate for us how important it is to trust in the Lord. Did Hezekiah forget about all of this history, or did he just enjoy showing off what he has to anyone who would come to visit his kingdom? We note that trusting in the Lord must become a way of life for God’s people, and not just something that happens periodically when something bad takes place. As we move onward into Isaiah 40-66, we see the prophetic future of Judah and Jerusalem, where the Lord God is revealing to His people what will take place at a future time. These things again illustrate that trusting in the Lord God of Israel is essential in the lives of His people. Solomon wrote about these truths in the following way according to Mishley / Proverbs 3:5-8.
ספר משלי פרק ג
אה בְּטַח אֶל-יְהֹוָה בְּכָל-לִבֶּךָ וְאֶל-בִּינָתְךָ אַל-תִּשָּׁעֵן: ו בְּכָל-דְּרָכֶיךָ דָעֵהוּ וְהוּא יְיַשֵּׁר אֹרְחֹתֶיךָ: ז אַל-תְּהִי חָכָם בְּעֵינֶיךָ יְרָא אֶת-יְהֹוָה וְסוּר מֵרָע: ח רִפְאוּת תְּהִי לְשָׁרֶךָ וְשִׁקּוּי לְעַצְמוֹתֶיךָ:
Mishley / Proverbs 3:5–8
3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; And lean not unto thine own understanding. 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, And he shall direct thy paths. 3:7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: Fear the LORD, and depart from evil. 3:8 It shall be health to thy navel, And marrow to thy bones. (KJV)
These passages encourage us to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and not to rely on our own understanding. It promises that if we acknowledge God in all our ways, He will make our paths straight. This means that the Lord God Almighty will work in our lives to help us to walk the straight and narrow path of righteousness, holiness, and truth. We note how Solomon stated אַל-תִּשָּׁעֵן “do not be comfortable with yourself” which may be tied to the pride of life. The context suggests this as Solomon writes אַל-תְּהִי חָכָם בְּעֵינֶיךָ יְרָא אֶת-יְהֹוָה וְסוּר מֵרָע “Be not wise in thine own eyes: Fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” Trusting in the Lord requires that we do not rely on our own wisdom, but seek the wisdom of God in all matters. In the NT text, the book of Hebrews chapter 11 provides us with a first century list of those who were faithful to God and trusted in him through difficult circumstances. Some of those who are listed are Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham for example.
Men Who Trusted in the Lord God Almighty and His Promises
- Abraham: God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations (Bereshit / Genesis 17:5), even though he and his wife Sarah were old and childless. God fulfilled this promise by allowing Sarah to conceive and give birth to a son, Isaac, when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 (Bereshit / Genesis 18:10).
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego: These three friends of Daniel faced death by being thrown into a fiery furnace for refusing to worship a golden statue erected by King Nebuchadnezzar. (Daniel 3:15-18) However, they trusted in God and were miraculously saved from the flames
In the book of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego demonstrated their trust in the Almighty God (Daniel 3:15-18). When King Nebuchadnezzar threatened to throw them into a furnace of blazing fire if they did not worship the golden image he had set up, they replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” We note how significant of a faith statement that is made by these three men. The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is significant because it demonstrates the power of faith, courage, and standing up for one’s convictions. These three men did not shy away from what they believed but stood boldly in their faith and offered up their lives for their faith in the God of Israel refusing to bow down to false gods. These three young men played an essential role in biblical history by defying Babylon’s king, Nebuchadnezzar. They were devout Jews brought into captivity in Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar and were dedicated to the trust and worship of their God coupled with obedience to the Torah. The lesson of the story is that God’s people must be ready and willing to serve the Lord whether in life or in death. This story reveals to us that sometimes martyrdom fulfills God’s plan and at other times divine intervention better accomplishes his purposes. The story serves as inspiration for those who question their faith and who face hardship for one’s beliefs. The question is are we willing to lay our lives down for the Lord when the time requires it? We read in the NT account what Paul said about why bad things happen.
8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (KJV 28 Οἴδαμεν δὲ ὅτι τοῖς ἀγαπῶσιν τὸν θεὸν ⸀πάντα συνεργεῖ ⸆ εἰς ⸇ ἀγαθόν, τοῖς κατὰ πρόθεσιν κλητοῖς οὖσιν*. 29 ὅτι οὓς προέγνω, καὶ προώρισεν συμμόρφους τῆς εἰκόνος τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ*, εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν πρωτότοκον ἐν πολλοῖς ἀδελφοῖς·* 30 οὓς δὲ ⸀προώρισεν, τούτους καὶ ἐκάλεσεν·* καὶ οὓς ἐκάλεσεν, τούτους καὶ ἐδικαίωσεν·* οὓς δὲ ἐδικαίωσεν, τούτους καὶ ἐδόξασεν*.)
The point is that the difficulties we encounter are a means through which God works to accomplish His will in our lives. The Lord God uses difficulties to shape us so that we reflect the character of the Messiah. This is what Paul was trying to express according to Romans 8:28–30. On the basis of this purpose, all adversity “works together” for our good and God’s glory. The reason this is so because adversity gets our attention, it gets us to wake up to the truth and reevaluate our actions and our faith. We also note something according to Acts 14:21–22 the Scriptures say, 14:21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. (KJV) Here Paul and Barnabas went back to where they had taught and encouraged the believers that they are to prepare themselves for hardship (tribulation) and not to merely look for the good and easy life. In fact, he says that it is through tribulation that we enter the kingdom of God. This is indeed a significant statement, and illustrates why we are to trust in the Lord and seek His help and guidance for our lives. This trusting in the Lord and continuing in the faith is the major point that Isaiah has been trying to reveal to us according to Isaiah chapters 1-38. These things demonstrate for us the importance of having faith and remaining faithful to God trusting in our Father in heaven and in His Son Yeshua the Messiah!
MSS (Hebrew Bible) on Isaiah 39:1-8
Isaiah goes on saying the following according to Isaiah 39:1-2.
ספר ישעיה פרק לט
א בָּעֵת הַהִוא שָׁלַח מְרֹדַךְ בַּלְאֲדָן בֶּן-בַּלְאֲדָן מֶלֶךְ-בָּבֶל סְפָרִים וּמִנְחָה אֶל-חִזְקִיָּהוּ וַיִּשְׁמַע כִּי חָלָה וַיֶּחֱזָק: ב וַיִּשְֹמַח עֲלֵיהֶם חִזְקִיָּהוּ וַיַּרְאֵם אֶת-בֵּית נְכֹתֹה [נְכֹתוֹ] אֶת-הַכֶּסֶף וְאֶת-הַזָּהָב וְאֶת-הַבְּשָֹמִים וְאֵת | הַשֶּׁמֶן הַטּוֹב וְאֵת כָּל-בֵּית כֵּלָיו וְאֵת כָּל-אֲשֶׁר נִמְצָא בְּאוֹצְרֹתָיו לֹא-הָיָה דָבָר אֲשֶׁר לֹא-הֶרְאָם חִזְקִיָּהוּ בְּבֵיתוֹ וּבְכָל-מֶמְשַׁלְתּוֹ:
Isaiah 39:1 states, “At that time Merodachbaladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah: for he had heard that he had been sick, and was recovered. (בָּעֵת הַהִוא שָׁלַח מְרֹדַךְ בַּלְאֲדָן בֶּן-בַּלְאֲדָן מֶלֶךְ-בָּבֶל סְפָרִים וּמִנְחָה אֶל-חִזְקִיָּהוּ וַיִּשְׁמַע כִּי חָלָה וַיֶּחֱזָק)” Isaiah 39:2 “And Hezekiah was glad of them, and shewed them the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not. (וַיִּשְֹמַח עֲלֵיהֶם חִזְקִיָּהוּ וַיַּרְאֵם אֶת-בֵּית נְכֹתֹה [נְכֹתוֹ] אֶת-הַכֶּסֶף וְאֶת-הַזָּהָב וְאֶת-הַבְּשָֹמִים וְאֵת | הַשֶּׁמֶן הַטּוֹב וְאֵת כָּל-בֵּית כֵּלָיו וְאֵת כָּל-אֲשֶׁר נִמְצָא בְּאוֹצְרֹתָיו לֹא-הָיָה דָבָר אֲשֶׁר לֹא-הֶרְאָם חִזְקִיָּהוּ בְּבֵיתוֹ וּבְכָל-מֶמְשַׁלְתּוֹ)” The text states בָּעֵת “at that time” which does not provide us with a very good historical reference for the timeframe of this event. The commentaries state that the Assyrians were meticulous in their record keeping and provide some information on the general time frame when Merodach-baladan came to visit Hezekiah. The commentaries note that the Assyrian’s were also involved in conquering Babylon, in the time frame of the history of Isaiah and so Merodach-baladan may have been visiting to strengthen ties and make an agreement with Judah to fight against Assyria. So the Scriptures state that Hezekiah died in 697-696 BC timeframe, and he lived 29 years after he ascended to the throne of David in Judah, and so it would have been within this time that Merodach-baladan would have visited. The time frame narrows down when we read in Isaiah 37-38 that God had given Hezekiah 15 more years to live, and so the visit would have been within this time 697 – 712 BC because the text states here that the King of Babylon had heard that Hezekiah had recovered from his illness. What we note about these events is that according to 2 Chronicles 32:31 the miracle of the sundial turning backwards may have been reason enough to visit Hezekiah, but the more likely reason for the visit was to solidify ties with the king of Judah as a political adversary to Assyria. So the king of Babylon was trying to encourage rebellion against the Assyrian empire wherever he could. We see this same thing happening today, with the liberal left who have multi-billion dollar hedge funds which send money all around the world to encourage rebellion for the purpose of supporting their liberal agenda. We see this happening in the USA, we also see this happening in Israel. The same things that happened thousands of years ago are happening today, which again illustrates the importance of God’s word and its application for our lives today! This is not an out of date book. So the idea of Babylon coming to support Judah in their fight against Assyria would have brought joy to Hezekiah and the people of Judah. The issue is that this joy that Hezekiah demonstrated via the showing of all that he had (Isaiah 39:2) is the exact thing that Isaiah 7-35 had been speaking against all this time. Trust in the Lord and not in human help. Our delight is in the Lord, and we are warned not to be seduced by man and sinful ways and lifestyles. The way of mankind (האופן בן אדם) leads to the desert, a dry and waste space that is always found wanting. So Isaiah warns us to not be seduced by the things of the world the lead only to destruction, depression, and darkness. We are called to walk in the light, to seek the ways of God. We note that this does not mean that Hezekiah had to turn the Babylonian envoy away, but that he did not have to show them all that he had, all he had to do was trust in the abundance of God. We note here that Isaiah says, וְאֵת כָּל-בֵּית כֵּלָיו “and all his armory” so he was trying to demonstrate to the envoy his military strength too, this again leads to this interpretation that Hezekiah did not entirely trust in the Lord like Isaiah had said he should. We note that Hezekiah could have glorified God to the Babylonians, but we do not read that he did any such thing. Hezekiah could have stated how much grace and mercy God had had on him and his people to lead them back to the Truth of the Torah through the destruction of the idolatry that was throughout the land. The greatness of God’s mercy was so important for Hezekiah, and is so important for us today! The major thrust here is that trusting in the God of Israel and in His richness towards us will accomplish much more than the foolishness of the things of this world. This is something Hezekiah had not grasped yet in his life, the understanding that human glory fails and falls short of the glory of God!
Isaiah goes on saying the following according to Isaiah 39:3-4.
ספר ישעיה פרק לט
ג וַיָּבֹא יְשַׁעְיָהוּ הַנָּבִיא אֶל-הַמֶּלֶךְ חִזְקִיָּהוּ וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו מָה אָמְרוּ | הָאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה וּמֵאַיִן יָבֹאוּ אֵלֶיךָ וַיֹּאמֶר חִזְקִיָּהוּ מֵאֶרֶץ רְחוֹקָה בָּאוּ אֵלַי מִבָּבֶל: ד וַיֹּאמֶר מָה רָאוּ בְּבֵיתֶךָ וַיֹּאמֶר חִזְקִיָּהוּ אֵת כָּל-אֲשֶׁר בְּבֵיתִי רָאוּ לֹא-הָיָה דָבָר אֲשֶׁר לֹא-הִרְאִיתִים בְּאוֹצְרֹתָי:
Isaiah 39:3 states, “Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country unto me, even from Babylon. (וַיָּבֹא יְשַׁעְיָהוּ הַנָּבִיא אֶל-הַמֶּלֶךְ חִזְקִיָּהוּ וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו מָה אָמְרוּ | הָאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה וּמֵאַיִן יָבֹאוּ אֵלֶיךָ וַיֹּאמֶר חִזְקִיָּהוּ מֵאֶרֶץ רְחוֹקָה בָּאוּ אֵלַי מִבָּבֶל)” Isaiah 39:4 “Then said he, 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 shewed them. (וַיֹּאמֶר מָה רָאוּ בְּבֵיתֶךָ וַיֹּאמֶר חִזְקִיָּהוּ אֵת כָּל-אֲשֶׁר בְּבֵיתִי רָאוּ לֹא-הָיָה דָבָר אֲשֶׁר לֹא-הִרְאִיתִים בְּאוֹצְרֹתָי)” Here is where Hezekiah is corrected for his major mistake of not glorifying God but glorifying his own possessions and wealth. Here in verse three we read וַיָּבֹא יְשַׁעְיָהוּ הַנָּבִיא אֶל-הַמֶּלֶךְ חִזְקִיָּהוּ “Then came Isaiah the prophet unto King Hezekiah.” Isaiah just appears and begins to question Hezekiah about who these people were and what they wanted. Isaiah is functioning here as someone who was sent by God to keep the king accountable. Notice how the prophets generally are sent to stand up against those who sin and are disobedient and do not think anything about the consequences of their sins. This is an act of mercy from God where the Lord God is seeking to turn the sinner from his or her sin to repent and return to the Lord God almighty and seek to be faithful to the Lord again. It is interesting how Isaiah approaches the king, he asks him questions so that the king by his own words declares what he had done, that these people come from a far off land, that he had shown them all or everything that he had, all of his treasures, etc. The point is so that Hezekiah could realize the error of his ways. This is the act of confession of sin before God. The Scriptures explain to us the importance of confessing our sins before God in several passages. According to the NT text, In 1 John 1:9, it is written that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In James 5:16, it is written that we should “confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” These passages highlight the importance of confessing our sins not only to God but also to one another. The reason being there is a certain level of accountability that is required of us one to another just as we are seeing here taking place between Isaiah and Hezekiah. Confessing our sins to others can help us receive healing and support from our community. The confession of sins before God is an important part of repentance and receiving forgiveness. This means that when we confess our sins to God, He forgives us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness by our faith in Him and in His Messiah Yeshua. Confession is an important part of repentance and receiving forgiveness from God. What Isaiah is doing to Hezekiah, is something of importance for us today too. The confession of sin forces us to train our conscience to recognize sin and examine our conscience, which is necessary if we are to advance in holiness and become more faithful to the Lord. We note how Isaiah’s questions are quite simplistic and not complicated. When asking ourselves to be accountable, we do not have to be complicated in the manner in which we question ourselves. We note that Hezekiah answered these questions and stated that these men saw everything and he did not hold anything back. Though Hezekiah was a godly king, his pride demonstrates that he is not the Messiah that ultimately God would send to save His people. Hezekiah even at this point in time needed to realize that trusting in the God of Israel is a way of life and not something that is just used during a crisis. This is one of the most important concepts that we need to realize in our faith and walk with God, even today.
Isaiah goes on saying the following according to Isaiah 39:5-6.
ספר ישעיה פרק לט
ה וַיֹּאמֶר יְשַׁעְיָהוּ אֶל-חִזְקִיָּהוּ שְׁמַע דְּבַר-יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת: ו הִנֵּה יָמִים בָּאִים וְנִשָּׂא | כָּל-אֲשֶׁר בְּבֵיתֶךָ וַאֲשֶׁר אָצְרוּ אֲבֹתֶיךָ עַד-הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה בָּבֶל לֹא-יִוָּתֵר דָּבָר אָמַר יְהֹוָה:
Isaiah 39:5 states, “Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD of hosts: (וַיֹּאמֶר יְשַׁעְיָהוּ אֶל-חִזְקִיָּהוּ שְׁמַע דְּבַר-יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת)” Isaiah 39:6 “Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD. (הִנֵּה יָמִים בָּאִים וְנִשָּׂא | כָּל-אֲשֶׁר בְּבֵיתֶךָ וַאֲשֶׁר אָצְרוּ אֲבֹתֶיךָ עַד-הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה בָּבֶל לֹא-יִוָּתֵר דָּבָר אָמַר יְהֹוָה)” Next Isaiah says those fearsome words שְׁמַע דְּבַר-יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת “hear the word of the Lord of Hosts.” When we read through the Scriptures, these are some of the most fearsome words, since we are about to hear the word of God that is going to be declared due to our sin. Here Isaiah states that because of his pride, the Lord God will send this nation to remove all of Hezekiah’s treasures to illustrate that money is money, it is fleeting, it comes and goes. Wealth is not supposed to be the outcome of our lives. Faith, faithfulness, and trust in the Lord are supposed to be the outcome. We note how this is the same situation that happened before, when Hezekiah surrendered his wealth and the wealth of God (gold from the Temple) to Assyria as tribute to persuade the Assyrian king to not attack Judah and Jerusalem. This effort did not work, years later God sent the attack because of the sin of the people. In addition to this, we note that we should choose our friends carefully, because those who were pretending to be the friend of Judah, Jerusalem, and Hezekiah eventually turned and became their enemy and conquerors. This is why we should always seek the counsel of God, His Word, and be patient in prayer to know who we should be involved with and whom we are friends with. The irony of these things here according to Isaiah is that the Babylonian envoy was sent and later they became an open enemy. I have had this happen many times in my own life, and these things do happen just as we are reading here in the Scriptures! The point is that which we trust in place of the God of Israel and His Messiah Yeshua will one day turn to seek to destroy us!
Isaiah goes on to say the following according to Isaiah 39:7-8.
ספר ישעיה פרק לט
ז וּמִבָּנֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר יֵצְאוּ מִמְּךָ אֲשֶׁר תּוֹלִיד יִקָּחוּ וְהָיוּ סָרִיסִים בְּהֵיכַל מֶלֶךְ בָּבֶל: ח וַיֹּאמֶר חִזְקִיָּהוּ אֶל-יְשַׁעְיָהוּ טוֹב דְּבַר-יְהֹוָה אֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתָּ וַיֹּאמֶר כִּי יִהְיֶה שָׁלוֹם וֶאֱמֶת בְּיָמָי:
Isaiah 39:7 states, “And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. (וּמִבָּנֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר יֵצְאוּ מִמְּךָ אֲשֶׁר תּוֹלִיד יִקָּחוּ וְהָיוּ סָרִיסִים בְּהֵיכַל מֶלֶךְ בָּבֶל)” Isaiah 39:8 “Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. He said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days. (וַיֹּאמֶר חִזְקִיָּהוּ אֶל-יְשַׁעְיָהוּ טוֹב דְּבַר-יְהֹוָה אֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתָּ וַיֹּאמֶר כִּי יִהְיֶה שָׁלוֹם וֶאֱמֶת בְּיָמָי)” The final declaration of God here is in regards to the descendents of Hezekiah. Notice the significance here when Isaiah says that your sons will be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. This is essentially saying that your family line will be terminated because a eunuch cannot have children. In addition to this, we note how this (Isaiah 39:7) is a way to describe how Hezekiah’s children, the men will be emasculated so that they no longer have thoughts of their own, nor will they have any sense of power or authority but are contented to do their master’s bidding. Notice how significant of a point this is in relation to what we see going on today in our society and cultures throughout the world. Men are intentionally emasculating themselves through woke ideologies and LGBTQ ideologies. If you have watched any of these disgusting things on television, it is obvious how these men have emasculated themselves in their godless woke ideology, pretending to be women, the weakness of their psycho-emotional behavior, and how they have been swayed and swooned to take hold of mental illness and become weak in every area of their lives! Those who make these things a part of their lives are content with doing the bidding of others, because they are so concerned with thinking the right way or being trans- or gender fluid- or abc alphabet confusion and trying to conform to this world. The point is that those who do these things refuse to trust in God because they are being blinded by human glory. We note how Hezekiah responds in Isaiah 39:8, he basically says that he does not care because in his days there will be peace. His concern is not for his children or future generations. Note how this is also exactly what is going on today in this world, adults are not concerned with their children knowing the truth! The idea is that Hezekiah seems unconcerned with his descendants being consumed by the nations because this does not affect him. We note rabbinic concept here of how righteousness protects the current generation. Hezekiah was a righteous king, and so his life ended in peace. For certain Hezekiah is the example for us that God can be trusted! But he is also an example to us that our trust is to be completely in the Lord and not in people, nations, or wealth. Our trust is in God and in His Messiah alone!
The ultimate conclusion of Isaiah 39 is that King Hezekiah’s pride and foolishness in showing off his treasures to the envoys from Babylon would result in the eventual loss of those treasures. This emphasizes how he trusted in his treasures since he was so prideful of what he had. This chapter serves as a warning against pride and misplaced trust in worldly possessions. However, the message of Isaiah does not reach its conclusion at the end of chapter 39. While it is made clear that God alone is trustworthy, the larger questions posed at the beginning of the book remain unanswered. How can a sinful, distrustful people become the servants of God? How can human beings be motivated to trust in God? How can God’s holy character and human sinfulness be reconciled? These questions are brought into sharp focus in chapter 39, and chapters 40-66 exist to provide the answer to these questions. Trusting in God is the basis for servanthood, but how can sinful, rebellious Israel become holy, submissive Israel? The answer to these questions is simple, take hold of God’s holy word, the Bible, and begin reading each day. Take the approach that what we read we apply to our lives! And to seek the God of Israel and seek to walk in the footsteps of His Messiah, Yeshua!
Rabbinic Commentary on Isaiah 39:1-8
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 לט:א-ח
א בְעִדָנָא הַהוּא שְלַח מְרֹדָך בַלאְדָן בַר בַלאְדָן מַלכָא דְבָבַל אִיגְרָן וְקוּרבָנִין לְוָת חִזקִיָה כַד שְמַע אְרֵי מְרַע וְאִיתַסִי׃ ב וַחדִי עְלֵיהֹון חִזקִיָה וְאַחזִינוּן יָת בֵית גִנזֹוהִי יָת כַספָא וְיָת דַהְבָא וְיָת בֻסמַיָא וְיָת מִשחָא טָבָא וְיָת כָל בֵית מָנֹוהִי וְיָת כָל דְאִשתְכַח בְגִנזֹוהִי לָא הְוָה מִדָעַם לָא אַחזִינוּן חִזקִיָה בְבֵיתֵיה וּבכָל אְרַע שֻלטָנוּתֵיה׃ ג וַאְתָא יְשַעיָה נְבִיָא לְוָת מַלכָא חִזקִיָה וַאְמַר לֵיה מָא אְמַרוּ גֻברַיָא הָאִלֵין וּמנָן אְתֹו לְוָתָך וַאְמַר חִזקִיָה מֵאְרַע רַחִיקָא אְתֹו לְוָתִי מִבָבַל׃ ד וַאְמַר מָא חְזֹו בְבֵיתָך וַאְמַר חִזקִיָה יָת כָל דִבבֵתִי חְזֹו לָא הְוָה מִידָעַם דְלָא אַחזִיתַנוּן בְגַנזָי׃ ה וַאְמַר יְשַעיָה לְחִזקִיָה קַבֵיל פִתגָמָא דַיוי ”צְבָאֹות“׃ ו הָא יֹומַיָא אָתַן וְיִתנְטֵיל כָל דִבבֵיתָך וְדִגנַזוּ אְבָהָתָך עַד יֹומָא הָדֵין וְיִתֹובַל לְבָבַל לָא יִשתְאַר מִדָעַם אְמַר יוי׃ ז וּמִבְנָך דְיִפְקוּן מִנָך דְתֹולֵיד יִדבְרוּן וִיהֹון רַברְבִין בְהֵיכְלָא דְמַלכָא דְבָבַל׃ ח וַאְמַר חִזקִיָה לִישַעיָה תָקֵין פִתגָמָא דַיוי דְמַלֵילתָא וַאְמַר אְרֵי יְהֵי שְלָם וּקשֹוט בְיֹומָי׃
Targum Jonathan son of Uziel Isaiah 39:1-8
39:1 At that time Merodach-Baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and presents to Hezekiah, when he had heard that he had been sick, and was recovered. 39:2 And Hezekiah was glad of them, and showed them the house of his treasures, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his vessels, and everything that was found in his treasury: and there was not anything in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah showed them not. 39:3 Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country unto me, even from Babylon. 39:4 Then said he, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All that is in mine house have they seen: there is not anything in my treasures that I have not showed them. 39:5 Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: 39:6 Behold the days come, that all that is in thy house shall be taken away, and that which thy fathers have treasured up unto this day, yea, it shall be carried to Babylon, nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. 39:7 And thy sons which shall come forth from thee shall be in the palace of the king of Babylon. 39:8 Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Right is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken: and he said, for there shall be peace and truth in my days. (TgJ)
In the opening verses (Isaiah 39:1-2) we read what Hezekiah did when the Babylonian Envoys came to congratulate him for his recovery from illness. א בְעִדָנָא הַהוּא שְלַח מְרֹדָך בַלאְדָן בַר בַלאְדָן מַלכָא דְבָבַל אִיגְרָן וְקוּרבָנִין לְוָת חִזקִיָה כַד שְמַע אְרֵי מְרַע וְאִיתַסִי׃ 39:1 At that time Merodach-Baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and presents to Hezekiah, when he had heard that he had been sick, and was recovered. ב וַחדִי עְלֵיהֹון חִזקִיָה וְאַחזִינוּן יָת בֵית גִנזֹוהִי יָת כַספָא וְיָת דַהְבָא וְיָת בֻסמַיָא וְיָת מִשחָא טָבָא וְיָת כָל בֵית מָנֹוהִי וְיָת כָל דְאִשתְכַח בְגִנזֹוהִי לָא הְוָה מִדָעַם לָא אַחזִינוּן חִזקִיָה בְבֵיתֵיה וּבכָל אְרַע שֻלטָנוּתֵיה׃ 39:2 And Hezekiah was glad of them, and showed them the house of his treasures, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his vessels, and everything that was found in his treasury: and there was not anything in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah showed them not. (TgJ) We noted earlier that it was highly likely that the Babylonian Envoy had come to solidify ties with Judah and Jerusalem as a partnering country to fight against Assyria. The rabbinic literature provides the reason for the Babylonian Envoy visiting stating that the King of Babylon would rise early to eat then go back to bed to rise later to start his day. On the night that the sun turned back, the time was off and so he called for the execution of his servants due to their allowing him to oversleep. The servants then claimed that the sun went backwards, and it was the God of Hezekiah that caused this. The Envoy came and Hezekiah showed them everything he had. The Midrashim provides a lot of discussion on this topic, for example, Ein Yaakov writes and discusses the problems with what Hezekiah had done saying the following:
Ein Yaakov (Glick Edition), Sanhedrin 11:85
תניא א״ר שמעון בן אלעזר בשביל (מ״ב כ ג) הטוב בעיניך עשיתי מה אות בשביל מה אות נכרים אכלו על שלחנו בשביל נכרים שאכלו על שלחנו ומשמש עליהם גרם גלות לבניו מסייע ליה לחזקיה דאמר חזקיה כל המזמין עכו״ם לתוך ביתו ומשמש עליו גורם גלות לבניו שנאמר (ישעיה לט ב) ומבניך אשר יצאו ממך אשר תוליד יקחו והיו סריסים בהיכל מלך בבל. (שם) וישמח עליהם חזקיהו ויראם את בית נכתה את הכסף ואת הזהב ואת הבשמים וגו׳ אמר רב מאי בית נכתה אשתו חשקתה עליהם ושמואל אמר בית גנזיו הראה להם ורבי יוחנן אמר זין אוכל זין הראה להם:
We are taught in a Baraitha that R. Simon b. Elazar said: “Because [Hezekiah said] (II Kings, 20, 3) And I have done what is good in Thy eyes, this brought him to say (Ib. ib. 8) What sign, etc.; and this brought about that idolaters were invited to his table. (Ib. ib. 13) And because he invited idolaters at his table and served upon them, he brought exile upon his descendants, (Ib. ib. 17). This is a support to Hezekiah who said that he who invites an idolater to his house and serves him, causes his children to be exiled, as it is said (Is. 39, 18) And of thy sons… . they shall be court servants in the palace, etc. (Is. 39, 2) And Hezekiah was rejoiced on their account and showed them his Nechotha, etc., Rab said: “The house of Nechotha, refers to his wife [who was in attendance], and Samuel said: “It means that he showed them all his treasures.” R. Jochanan said: “He showed them a type of iron that breaks iron (steel).”
Here the midrash speaks on the reason why God brought the exile of Judah and Jerusalem, this was due to Hezekiah’s impropriety in his showing them everything he had. This was synonymous to bringing idolaters to his table and serving them. Because of this, he brought exile to his children and his people. According to the Bible and the rabbinic literature, there are different opinions and perspectives on the issue of inviting idolaters to your table and serving them. The rabbinic literature reflects a diversity of views on the topic of eating with non-Jews. Some rabbis were more lenient and allowed eating with non-Jews under certain conditions, such as using kosher utensils, avoiding wine and meat, and ensuring that the food was prepared in a kosher manner. Other rabbis were more strict and prohibited eating with non-Jews altogether, citing various reasons such as ritual impurity, social separation, or fear of intermarriage. Some rabbis also distinguished between different types of non-Jews, such as idolaters, monotheists, or righteous gentiles. One of the most famous rabbinic discussions on this topic is found in the Talmud Bavli Avodah Zarah 8a-b, where Rabbi Yehoshua ben Hananiah debates with a group of Roman nobles about whether Jews can eat with them. The Romans argue that Jews should eat with them because they are civilized and respectful of Jewish laws. Rabbi Yehoshua responds by telling a parable about a king who invited his servants to a banquet but did not tell them what time it would start. Some of the servants prepared themselves and waited at the palace gate, while others went about their business and did not care. When the king arrived unexpectedly, he rewarded those who were ready and punished those who were not. (Note the parallel parable Yeshua told in Matthew 25:1-13) Rabbi Yehoshua then applies this parable to the Jews and the Romans, saying that Jews are like the servants who are ready for God’s arrival at any moment, while Romans are like those who are indifferent and unprepared. Therefore, Jews cannot eat with Romans because they have different expectations and destinies in this world and in the world to come.
Looking specifically at the Tanakh and the NT text we read how the Scriptures prohibit the Israelites from eating with idolaters or participating in their sacrificial meals, as this would imply a recognition of their gods and a violation of the first commandment. Notice how the NT also commands us according to Paul giving us the same prohibition. According to Paul in the NT he writes that we are not to be partakers with demons in 1 Corinthians 10:20-21. He says, “No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.” (NIV) Paul is warning the believers in Corinth not to be involved in idolatry or eat food sacrificed to idols, because that would imply joining themselves to the destiny and influence of demons. The Torah commands us according to Shemot / Exodus 34:15, when the Lord God warns the Israelites not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, “lest they play the harlot after their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and one invite you and you eat of his sacrifice.” We note that the NT text does not allow us to eat with an idolater for the very same reasons the Torah explains. This is an important observation since the Torah has not passed away, and how these things remain very important for us today as they were back in the day they were written. We also not that the Torah also shows some examples of positive interactions between Israelites and non-Israelites, such as Abraham’s hospitality to the three visitors in Bereshit / Genesis 18, Joseph’s invitation to his brothers in Bereshit / Genesis 43:32, and we also read about Boaz’s generosity to Ruth in Ruth 2. These cases suggest that eating with non-Israelites is not necessarily forbidden, as long as it does not involve idolatry or compromise one’s faith. We note that in these cases, the men who were invited believed in the God of Israel, and in Ruth’s case she turned from the gods of her people and embraced the God of Israel. So, the point remains that even in these other examples the fundamental purpose of not interacting with the nations was still in place. In addition to this, the point in the NT case is how gentiles have left their idolatry and sought the God of Israel believing in the Messiah Yeshua for salvation and forgiveness of sins. So the gentiles in the NT sense believe in the God of Israel. The behaviors, worship, and former gods they served were left behind, and now serving and seeking the God of Israel, the gentiles are not bringing their gods to the dinner table. In addition, notice how prayer is also a part of the dinner table, and so prayers are offered to the God of Israel to bless the food by those who are at the table, and not to some other god. Notice how all of these things were not true for the men who come to visit Hezekiah. The Midrash Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer goes on to say the following concerning these things.
Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer 52:10
And Hezekiah saw the messengers, and his heart was puffed with pride, and he showed them all the treasures of the kings of Judah, and all the treasures of the Holy of Holies in the Temple, and further, he opened the Ark of the Covenant, and he showed them the tables of the Law, and he said to them: With this do we wage war and conquer, as it is said, “And Hezekiah was glad of them, and shewed them the house of his precious things” (Isa. 39:2). The Holy One, blessed be He, was angry with him, and He said to him: Was it not enough for thee to have shown them all the treasures of the kings of Judah and all the treasures of the Holy of Holies? Moreover, thou hast opened for them the Ark, and hast shown them the tables, the work of My hand. By thy life! They shall come up and take away all the treasures of the kings of Judah, and all the treasures of the Holy of || Holies, as it is said, “Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon” (Isa. 39:6). Instead of the tables of the Law, they shall take of thy sons to be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon, as it is said, “And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon” (Isa. 39:7). These were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, who were made eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon, and they did not beget children. Concerning them the Scripture says, “For thus saith the Lord to the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths,… Unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a memorial and a name better than of sons and of daughters; I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off” (Isa. 56:4, 5).
This midrash expands upon the reasons behind why Hezekiah had condemned his descendants to exile through his actions. Hezekiah’s pride led him to show the treasures of the Temple to the Babylonian messengers, even the Ark of the Covenant and the tablets of the Law. This was a violation of the divine command to keep the Ark and the tablets hidden, and it was seen as a sign of Hezekiah’s arrogance. As a result, God punished Hezekiah by condemning his descendants to exile. The midrash also mentions that instead of the tablets of the Law, the Babylonians would take Hezekiah’s sons to be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. This was a further punishment for Hezekiah’s pride, as eunuchs were seen as being less than men. However, the midrash also says that these eunuchs would be honored by God, and that they would have a “memorial and a name better than of sons and of daughters.” This suggests that even though Hezekiah’s descendants were exiled, they would still be remembered and honored by God. The midrash’s interpretation of Hezekiah’s story is a reminder that pride is a dangerous sin. When we are proud, we forget our own limitations and we put ourselves above God. This can lead to punishment and exile. However, the midrash also teaches us that even though we may be punished for our sins, God still loves us and will honor those who keep his commandments. In addition to these things, there are other interpretations of why Hezekiah’s descendants were exiled. Some scholars believe that it was because of Hezekiah’s decision to ally himself with Egypt against Assyria. Others believe that it was because of the people’s sins, such as idolatry and unrighteousness. Ultimately, the reasons for the exile are complex and it is highly likely there are a combination of these reasons why God brought the exile, the biggest reason is that the Lord provides mercy for a period of time, and then when one remains unrepentant, the thing which the Word of God proclaims comes to pass as a testimony to God and His Word.
Isaiah goes on saying the following according to the TgJ, ג וַאְתָא יְשַעיָה נְבִיָא לְוָת מַלכָא חִזקִיָה וַאְמַר לֵיה מָא אְמַרוּ גֻברַיָא הָאִלֵין וּמנָן אְתֹו לְוָתָך וַאְמַר חִזקִיָה מֵאְרַע רַחִיקָא אְתֹו לְוָתִי מִבָבַל׃ 39:3 Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country unto me, even from Babylon. ד וַאְמַר מָא חְזֹו בְבֵיתָך וַאְמַר חִזקִיָה יָת כָל דִבבֵתִי חְזֹו לָא הְוָה מִידָעַם דְלָא אַחזִיתַנוּן בְגַנזָי׃ 39:4 Then said he, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All that is in mine house have they seen: there is not anything in my treasures that I have not showed them. ה וַאְמַר יְשַעיָה לְחִזקִיָה קַבֵיל פִתגָמָא דַיוי ”צְבָאֹות“׃ 39:5 Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: ו הָא יֹומַיָא אָתַן וְיִתנְטֵיל כָל דִבבֵיתָך וְדִגנַזוּ אְבָהָתָך עַד יֹומָא הָדֵין וְיִתֹובַל לְבָבַל לָא יִשתְאַר מִדָעַם אְמַר יוי׃ 39:6 Behold the days come, that all that is in thy house shall be taken away, and that which thy fathers have treasured up unto this day, yea, it shall be carried to Babylon, nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. ז וּמִבְנָך דְיִפְקוּן מִנָך דְתֹולֵיד יִדבְרוּן וִיהֹון רַברְבִין בְהֵיכְלָא דְמַלכָא דְבָבַל׃ 39:7 And thy sons which shall come forth from thee shall be in the palace of the king of Babylon. ח וַאְמַר חִזקִיָה לִישַעיָה תָקֵין פִתגָמָא דַיוי דְמַלֵילתָא וַאְמַר אְרֵי יְהֵי שְלָם וּקשֹוט בְיֹומָי׃39:8 Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Right is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken: and he said, for there shall be peace and truth in my days. (TgJ) Hezekiah’s response that the men saw all that was in his house and all of his treasures. The significance of these thing is that of inviting pagan people into the sanctuary of one’s home. It is important to note how significant this is from a biblical perspective. There are various places that state and imply the home is a sacred space that should be kept holy. For example, Tehillim / Psalm 127:1 the text states, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” This verse demonstrates how the home is a place where God’s blessing and protection are needed and desired. It also implies that the home is a place where God’s work and will are done, as He is the one who builds it and watches over it. According to Mishley / Proverbs 24:3-4 Solomon said, “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” This verse demonstrates that the home is a place where wisdom, understanding, and knowledge are valued and applied. It also suggests that the home is a place where God’s gifts and grace are enjoyed, as He is the source of all precious and pleasant riches. We read according to Joshua 24:15, “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” This verse demonstrates how the home is a place where God’s service and worship are chosen and declared. It also indicates that the home is a place where God’s lordship and authority are acknowledged and honored, as He is the only true God.
We read in the NT text according to John 14:23, “Jesus answered him, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.’” This verse demonstrates how the home is a place where God’s love and presence are experienced and welcomed. It also reveals that the home is a place where God’s word and commandments are obeyed and kept, as He is the one who loves us and makes His home with us. (see also Devarim / Deuteronomy 6:6-7) In addition to these things, there are various verses that imply these truths where we can derive from the text how the home is a sanctuary, a holy place unto the Lord.
The Home is Described as a Sanctuary in the Tanakh
- In Bereshit / Genesis 18:1-8, we see how Abraham welcomed three heavenly visitors to his home and offered them hospitality. He prepared a meal for them and served them under the shade of a tree. He did not know that one of them was the Lord Himself, who came to bless him and announce the birth of his son Isaac. Abraham’s home was a sanctuary of grace and generosity, where he entertained angels unaware (Hebrews 13:2).
- In Shemot / Exodus 12:1-13, we see how the Israelites prepared their homes for the Passover night, when the Lord would strike down the firstborn of Egypt but spare His people. They had to apply the blood of a lamb on the doorposts and lintels of their houses, and eat the roasted lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. They had to stay inside their homes until morning, trusting in God’s protection and deliverance. Their homes were sanctuaries of faith and obedience, where they experienced God’s salvation.
- In 2 Samuel 6:1-15, we see how David brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem with great joy and celebration. However, when Uzzah touched the ark to steady it and died, David was afraid and decided to leave the ark at the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. The ark stayed there for three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and his household. Obed-edom’s home was a sanctuary of reverence and honor, where he enjoyed God’s presence and favor.
The home is Described as a Sanctuary in the NT
- The home is a place where God’s presence dwells. In the Tanakh, the Lord God chose to dwell among His people in the tabernacle and the temple, which were sacred places of worship. In the NT text, God dwells in the hearts of believers through the Holy Spirit, who is the seal of our salvation and the guarantee of our inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14). Therefore, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and we are called to honor God with our lives (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The conclusion of these things is that as a result of who we are as God’s people, our homes should also reflect God’s holiness and glory, and be places where we can worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24).
- The home is a place where God’s peace reigns. Yeshua said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). As followers of the Messiah, we are called to be peacemakers, who seek to live in harmony with God and others (Matthew 5:9, Romans 12:18). We can make our homes sanctuaries of peace by letting the peace of the Messiah rule in our hearts, by being thankful for God’s blessings, by praying for His will, and by forgiving one another as He has forgiven us (Colossians 3:15-17).
- The home is a place where God’s love abides. The apostle John wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). God demonstrated His love for us by sending His Son to die for our sins and to give us eternal life (John 3:16). As recipients of His grace, we are commanded to love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34-35). We can make our homes sanctuaries of love by showing kindness, compassion, patience, gentleness, and faithfulness to our family members and guests (Galatians 5:22-23).
Here are a number of examples how the Scriptures describe or imply how the home is a sanctuary and to be considered holy unto the Lord. So when Hezekiah said that he had shown them all that was in his house, this implies something about Hezekiah and how he understood what God had given him could be bragged or boasted about. He did not keep the proper sanctification of his home and things that God had given him and so Isaiah prophesied that because of this these things would be taken away! Rashi writes the following concerning these things.
Rashi on Isaiah 39:2 Parts 1-3
בית נכתה. בית גנזיו של בשמים כמו (בראשית ל״ז:כ״ה) נכאת וצרי ולוט:
his entire treasure house (נְכֹתֹה) the storehouse of his spices, like (Gen. 37:25) “spices (נְכֹאת), balm, and lotus.”
ואת השמן הטוב. יש פותרים שמן המשחה, וי”א הוא שמן אפרסמון שהיה מצוי בא”י והוא פנג האמור (ביחזקאל כ״ז:י״ז) יהוד’ וישראל המה רוכליך בחטי מנית ופנג וראיתי בספר יוסיפון שהוא אפרסמון וגדל ביריחו לכך נקרא יריחו על שם הריח:
and the good oil Some interpret this as the anointing oil (Ex. 30:22 33), and others say that it is balsam oil, which is found in Eretz Israel, and that is Pannag mentioned in Ezekiel (27:17): “Judah and the land of Israel, they were your merchants, with wheat of Minnith and Pannag.” I saw in the book of Josephon (book 4, ch. 22), Pannag is balsam, and it grows in Jericho. Therefore, it is called Jericho because of the aroma (רֵיחַ).
Here Rashi draws out the anointing oil as an example, and we note how the Torah states that the anointing oil was only for the service in the Tabernacle and was not to be manufactured or used for any other use! So essentially Hezekiah was desecrating these things making them common, and so providing more reasons why God brought the exile as Isaiah had prophesied. We also note what Hezekiah had said following the prophecy of Isaiah according to Isaiah 39:8 “Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. He said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days. (וַיֹּאמֶר חִזְקִיָּהוּ אֶל-יְשַׁעְיָהוּ טוֹב דְּבַר-יְהֹוָה אֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתָּ וַיֹּאמֶר כִּי יִהְיֶה שָׁלוֹם וֶאֱמֶת בְּיָמָי)” Here He seemed to not care about his future generations, and was providing a justification for his actions and not repenting of what he had done. The Jewish commentaries also interpret these things in the following way.
Man and God, Chapter 6 Emeth, the Concept of Truth 121
Occasionally emeth has the same meaning as emunah. Translating the words of Hezekiah, upon receiving God’s message through Isaiah, as: “If but there shall be peace and truth in my days,” leaves one wondering as to the meaning of the juxtaposition of peace and truth. What could the king have meant by looking forward to truth in his days? We, however, recall another passage of Isaiah which we have discussed earlier in this chapter, in which emunah in reference to the lifetime of a man meant stability, security. Surely, it is exactly what Hezekiah must have meant with shalom and emeth in his days. He was hoping for peace and stability, at least, in his own lifetime. It is exactly in the same sense that Jeremiah, too, relates shalom and emeth. He did not say: “And I will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.” Emeth, understood as truth in this context, would be without any meaning. We shall quote the entire passage with our translation of the concept of emeth:
We all look for stability in our lives, financially, mentally, physically, each of these provides us with a sense of security. Emet (truth) and Emunah (faith) are two important concepts in rabbinic literature, and they are often related to each other just as we see here in the commentary. One of the stories that illustrates this relationship is the story of Hezekiah and the Babylonian envoy, which is found in several sources, such as 2 Kings 20:12-19, Isaiah 39:1-8, and Talmud Bavli Berakhot 10a-b. The Narrative here in Isaiah 39 describes the following: Hezekiah, the king of Judah, was sick and near death, but he prayed to God and God granted him 15 more years of life. He also gave him a sign by making the sun go back 10 degrees. The king of Babylon, Merodach-baladan, heard about this miracle and sent an envoy to Hezekiah with letters and gifts. Hezekiah welcomed them and showed them all his treasures, his palace, and his armory. Isaiah the prophet came to Hezekiah and rebuked him for his pride and foolishness. He prophesied that all his wealth and his descendants would be taken away to Babylon. Hezekiah accepted the prophecy and said that it was good, as long as there would be peace and security in his days. In the rabbinic literature, the rabbis have different opinions on how to interpret this story and what it teaches us about Emet and Emunah. Some of the major conclusions that they make are that Hezekiah was wrong to show the Babylonian envoy everything he had, because he trusted in his own riches and power instead of God’s. He should have shown them the Torah scrolls and the Temple, which were the true sources of his strength and glory. By doing so, he would have fulfilled the commandment of “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). This is the view of Rabbi Yohanan in Berakhot 10a. Another interpretation states that Hezekiah was right to show the Babylonian envoy everything he had, because he wanted to impress them with God’s goodness and kindness to him. He hoped that they would be influenced by his example and convert to Judaism. By doing so, he would have fulfilled the commandment of “You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:7). This is the view of Rabbi Shmuel bar Nahmani in Berakhot 10a. Another interpretation states, Hezekiah was neither right nor wrong to show the Babylonian envoy everything he had, because it was part of God’s plan to bring about the exile of Judah to Babylon. God wanted to test Hezekiah’s faith and humility by giving him a choice between revealing or concealing his treasures. Hezekiah chose to reveal them, which was not a sin but a mistake. This again implies something about Hezekiah and how he understood what God had given him, that he could use these things to make a show and boast, or to be prideful. Hezekiah also showed his faith by accepting Isaiah’s prophecy without complaining or resisting. By doing so, he would have fulfilled the commandment of “You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him” (Deuteronomy 6:13). This is the view of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi in Berakhot 10b. The point is that the Lord God had a plan, and Hezekiah was a part of that plan, the Lord God was going to bring exile due to unrepentant sin, and this is what is described both prophetically and later on historically, substantiating the power and authority if God over all the earth. These things reveal the truth and glory of God, and how His people are called to trust in him and not in themselves!