Isaiah 38


Account of Hezekiah's dangerous sickness and miraculous

recovery, 1-9.

Tender and beautiful song of thanksgiving, in which this pious

king breathed out the sentiments of a grateful heart, when his

life was, as it were, restored. This ode may be adapted to

other cases; and will always afford profit and pleasure to

those who are not void of feeling and piety, 10-22.


Verse 1. In those days] The reader is requested to consult the

notes on 2Ki 20:1-21. in reference to the principal parts of this


Verse 2. Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall] The

furniture of an eastern divan or chamber, either for the reception

of company or for private use, consists chiefly of carpets spread

on the floor in the middle; and of sofas, or couches ranged on one

or more sides of the room, on a part raised somewhat above the

floor. On these they repose themselves in the day, and sleep at

night. It is to be observed that the corner of the room is the

place of honour. Dr. Pococke, when he was introduced to the Sheikh

of Furshout, found him sitting in the corner of his room. He

describes another Arab Sheikh "as sitting in the corner of a large

green tent, pitched in the middle of an encampment of Arabs; and

the Bey of Girge as placed on a sofa in a corner to the right as

one entered the room."-Harmer's Observ. ii. p. 60. Lady Mary

Montague, giving an account of a visit which she made to the

Kahya's lady at Adrianople, says, "She ordered cushions to be

given me; and took care to place me in the corner, which is the

place of honour."-Letter xxxiii. The reason of this seems to be,

that the person so placed is distinguished, and in a manner

separated, from the rest of the company, and as it were guarded by

the wall on each side. We are to suppose Hezekiah's couch placed

in the same situation; in which turning on either side, he must

turn his face to the wall; by which he would withdraw himself from

those who were attending upon him in his apartment, in order to

address his private prayer to God.

Ver. 3. And he said, I beseech thee, O JEHOVAH, remember now how

I have endeavoured to walk before thee in truth, and with a

perfect heart; and have done that which is good in thine eyes. And

Hezekiah wept, and lamented grievously.-L.

Ver. 4. Now [before Isaiah was gone out into the middle court]

the word of JEHOVAH came unto him, saying, Go [back,] and say unto

Hezekiah, Thus saith JEHOVAH the God of David thy father, I have

heard thy supplication; I have seen thy tears. Behold [I will heal

thee; and on the third day thou shalt go up into the house of


Ver. 5. And] I will add unto thy days fifteen years. And I will

deliver thee, and this city, from the hand of the king of Assyria;

and I will protect this city. And [Hezekiah said, By what sign

shall I know that I shall go up into the house of JEHOVAH?

Ver. 7. And Isaiah said,] This shall be the sign unto thee from

JEHOVAH, that JEHOVAH still bring to effect this word which he

hath spoken.

The words in the translation included within crotchets are

supplied from the parallel place, 2Ki 20:4, 5, to make the

narration more perfect. I have also taken the liberty, with

Houbigant, of bringing forward the two last verses of this

chapter, and inserting them in their proper places of the

narration with the same mark. Kimchi's note on these two verses is

as follows: "This and the following verse belong not to the

writing of Hezekiah; and I see no reason why they are written here

after the writing; for their right place is above, after And I

will protect this city, Isa 38:6. And so they stand in the book

of Kings," 2Ki 20:7, 8. The narration of this chapter seems to be

in some parts an abridgment of that of 2Ki 20:1-6. The abridger,

having finished his extract here with the eleventh verse, seems to

have observed, that the seventh and eighth verses of 2Ki 20:7, 8

were wanted to complete the narration: he therefore added them at

the end of the chapter, after he had inserted the song of

Hezekiah, probably with marks for their insertion in their proper

places; which marks were afterwards neglected by transcribers. Or

a transcriber might omit them by mistake, and add them at the end

of the chapter with such marks. Many transpositions are, with

great probability, to be accounted for in the same way.

Verse 6. I will defend this city.] The other copy, 2Ki 20:6,

adds: "for mine own sake, and for the sake of David my servant;"

and the sentence seems somewhat abrupt without it.

Verse 8. Which is gone down-"By which the sun is gone down"] For

bashshemesh, the Septuagint, Syriac, and Chaldee read

, hashshemesh.-Houbigant. In the history of this miracle in

the book of Kings, (2Ki 20:9-11,) there is no mention at all made

of the sun, but only of the going backward of the shadow: which

might be effected by a supernatural refraction. The first οηλιος,

the sun, in this verse is omitted in the Septuagint, MS. Pachom.

Verse 9. The writing of Hezekiah] Here the book of Kings deserts

us, the song of Hezekiah not being inserted in it. Another copy of

this very obscure passage (obscure not only from the concise

poetical style, but because it is probably very incorrect) would

have been of great service. The MSS. and ancient Versions,

especially the latter, will help us to get through some of the

many difficulties which we meet with in it.

Verse 11. The Lord-"JEHOVAH"] Yah, Yah, seems to

be Yehovah, in MS. Bodl., and it was so at first written in

another. So the Syriac. See Houbigant. I believe Yehovah

was the original reading. See Clarke on Isa 12:2.

Verse 12. Mine age-is removed from me as a shepherd's tent]

roi is put for roeh, say the rabbis (Sal. ben Melec on

the place;) but much more probably is written imperfectly for

roim, shepherds. See Clarke on Isa 5:1.

I shall be removed from this state to another, as a shepherd

removes his tent from one place to another for the sake of his

flock. Is not this a strong intimation of his belief in a future


I have cut off like a weaver my life-"My life is cut off as by

the weaver"] kippadti. This verb is rendered passively, and

in the third person, by the Syriac, Chaldee, and Vulgate.

Verse 13. The last line of the foregoing verse

migom ad layelah tashlimeni, "In the course

of the day thou wilt finish my web;" or, as the common version has

it, "From day even to night wilt thou make an end of me," is not

repeated at the end of this verse in the Syriac version; and a MS.

omits it. It seems to have been inserted a second time in the

Hebrew text by mistake.

I reckoned till morning, &c.-"I roared until the morning like

the lion"] For shivvithi, the Chaldee has

nihameith: he read shaagti, the proper term for the

roaring of a lion; often applied to the deep groaning of men in

sickness. See Ps 22:1; 32:3; 38:9; Job 3:24. The Masoretes

divide the sentence, as I have done; taking caari, like a

lion, into the first member; and so likewise the Septuagint.

Verse 14. Like-a swallow-"Like the swallow"] kesis; so

read two MSS., Theodot., and Hieron.

Mine eyes fail] For dallu the Septuagint read

calu, εξελιπον. Compare Ps 69:4; 119:82, 123; La 2:11; 4:17,

in the Hebrew and in the Septuagint.

O LORD-"O Lord"] For Jehovah, thirty MSS. and eight

editions read Adonai.

Undertake for me-"Contend for me"] ashekah, with

shin, Jarchi: this sense of the word is established by

Ge 26:20: "He called the name of the well

esek, because they strove with him:" hithasseku,

equivalent to yaribu, at the beginning of the verse.

Verse 15. I shall go softly all my years in the bitterness of my

soul-"Through the rest of my years will I reflect on this

bitterness of my soul"] eddaddeh; recogitabo, Vulg.,

reputabo, Hieron. in loc.

Verse 16. By these things men live-"For this cause shall it be

declared"] περιαυτηςγαρανηγγελησοικαιεξηγειραςμουτην

πνοην, Sept. They read in their copies not

very different from the present text, from which all the ancient

Versions vary. They entirely omit two words, ulecol

bahen; as to which there is some variation in the MSS. One MS.

has ubechol, and in all; two others vechol, and all,

and ten MSS. have bahem, in them, in the masculine gender.

Taking this as in the common Version, we may observe, it is not

an unfrequent case, that afflictions, and especially such as tend

to a speedy death, become the means, not only of saving the soul,

but also of lengthening the life.

Make me to live-"Hast prolonged my life."] A MSS. and the

Babylonish Talmud read vetachayeni, and so the ancient

Versions. It must necessarily be in the second person.

Verse 17. For peace I had great bitterness-"My anguish is

changed into ease"] mar li mar, "mutata mthi est

amaritudo." Paronomasia; a figure which the prophet frequently

admits. I do not always note it, because it cannot ever be

preserved in the translation, and the sense seldom depends upon

it. But here it perfectly clears up the great obscurity of the

passage. See Lowth on the place.

Thou hast rescued] chashachta, with caph,

instead of koph; so the Septuagint and Vulgate; Houbigant.

See Chappelow on Job 33:18.

From perdition] mishshachath beli, ιναμηαποληται,

Sept. ut non periret, "that it may not perish." Vulg. Perhaps

inverting the order of the words. See Houbigant.

Thou hast in love to my soul] chashakta, "thou hast

lovingly embraced" or kissed "my soul out of the pit of


Verse 19. Thy truth] el amittecha. A MS. omits

el; and instead of el, an ancient MS. and one edition read

eth. The same mistake as in Ps 2:7.

Verse 21. Let them take a lump of figs, &c.] God, in effecting

this miraculous cure, was pleased to order the use of means not

improper for that end. "Folia, et, quae non maturuere, fici,

strumis illinuntur omnibusque quae emollienda sunt

discutiendave."-PLIN. Nat. Hist. xxiii. 7. "Ad discutienda ea,

quae in corporis parte aliqua coierunt, maxime possunt-ficus

arida," &c.-CELSUS, v. 11. See the note on 2Ki 20:7.

Philemon Holland translates the passage as a medical man:-"The

milke or white juice that the figge tree yieldeth is of the same

nature that vinegre: and therefore it will curddle milke as well

as rennet, or rendles. The right season of gathering this milkie

substance is before that the figs be ripe upon the tree; and then

it must be dried in the shadow: thus prepared, it is good to break

impostumes, and keepe ulcer open."

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