Isaiah 38

The Lord Hears Hezekiah’s Prayer

1In those days Hezekiah was stricken with a terminal illness.
Heb “was sick to the point of dying”; NRSV “became sick and was at the point of death.”
The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz visited him and told him, “This is what the Lord says, ‘Give instructions to your household, for you are about to die; you will not get well.’”
2Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 3“Please, Lord. Remember how I have served you
Heb “walked before you.” For a helpful discussion of the background and meaning of this Hebrew idiom, see M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 254.
faithfully and with wholehearted devotion,
Heb “and with a complete heart”; KJV, ASV “with a perfect heart.”
and how I have carried out your will.”
Heb “and that which is good in your eyes I have done.”
Then Hezekiah wept bitterly.
Heb “wept with great weeping”; NCV “cried loudly”; TEV “began to cry bitterly.”

4 The Lord told Isaiah,
Heb “and the word of the Lord came to Isaiah, saying.”
5“Go and tell Hezekiah: ‘This is what the Lord God of your ancestor
Heb “father” (so KJV, NAB, NIV).
David says: “I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Look, I will add fifteen years to your life,
6and rescue you and this city from the king of Assyria. I will shield this city.”’” 7Isaiah replied,
The words “Isaiah replied” are supplied in the translation for clarification. In the present form of the Hebrew text v. 7 is joined directly to v. 6, but vv. 21–22, if original to Isaiah 38, must be inserted here. See 2 Kgs 20:7–8.
“This is your sign from the Lord confirming that the Lord will do what he has said:
8Look, I will make the shadow go back ten steps on the stairs of Ahaz.”
Heb “the shadow on the steps which [the sun] had gone down, on the steps of Ahaz, with the sun, back ten steps.”
These steps probably functioned as a type of sundial. See HALOT 614 s.v. מַעֲלָה and M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 256.
And then the shadow went back ten steps.
Heb “and the sun returned ten steps on the steps which it had gone down.”

Hezekiah’s Song of Thanks

9 This is the prayer of King Hezekiah of Judah when he was sick and then recovered from his illness:

10 “I thought,
Or “I said” (KJV, NIV, NRSV, NLT).

‘In the middle of my life
The precise meaning of the phrase בִּדְמִי יָמַי (bidmi yamay, “in the [?] of my days”) is uncertain. According to HALOT 226 s.v. דְּמִי this word is a hapax legomenon meaning “half.” Others derive the form from דַּמִי (dami, “quiet, rest, peacefulness”).
I must walk through the gates of Sheol,
I am deprived
The precise meaning of the verb is uncertain. The Pual of of פָּקַד (paqad) occurs only here and in Exod 38:21, where it appears to mean “passed in review” or “mustered.” Perhaps the idea is, “I have been called away for the remainder of my years.” To bring out the sense more clearly, one can translate, “I am deprived of the rest of my years.”
of the rest of my years.’
11 “I thought,
‘I will no longer see the Lord
The Hebrew text has יָהּ יָהּ (yah yah, the abbreviated form of יְהוָה [yehvah] repeated), but this is probably a corruption of יְהוָה.
in the land of the living,
I will no longer look on humankind with the inhabitants of the world.
The Hebrew text has חָדֶל (khadel), which appears to be derived from a verbal root meaning “to cease, refrain.” But the form has probably suffered an error of transmission; the original form (attested in a few medieval Hebrew mss) was likely חֶלֶד (kheled, “world”).

12 My dwelling place
According to HALOT 217 s.v. דּוֹר this noun is a hapax legomenon meaning “dwelling place,” derived from a verbal root meaning “live” (see Ps 84:10). For an interpretation that understands the form as the well-attested noun meaning “generation,” see J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:679, n. 4.
is removed and taken away
The verb form appears to be a Niphal from גָּלָה (galah), which normally means “uncovered, revealed” in the Niphal. Because of the following reference to a shepherd’s tent, some prefer to emend the form to וְנָגַל, a Niphal from גָלָל (galal, “roll”) and translate “is rolled [or “folded”] up.”
from me
like a shepherd’s tent.
I rolled up my life like a weaver rolls cloth;
Heb “I rolled up, like a weaver, my life” (so ASV).

from the loom he cuts me off.
For a discussion of the imagery employed here, see J. N. Oswalt, Isaiah (NICOT), 1:684.

You turn day into night and end my life.
Heb “from day to night you bring me to an end.”

13 I cry out
The verb form in the Hebrew text is a Piel from שָׁוַה (shavah). There are two homonyms שָׁוַה, one meaning in the Piel “level, smooth out,” the other “set, place.” Neither fits in v. 13. It is likely that the original reading was שִׁוַּעְתִּי (shivvati, “I cry out”) from the verbal root שָׁוַע (shava’), which occurs exclusively in the Piel.
until morning;
like a lion he shatters all my bones;
you turn day into night and end my life.
Heb “from day to night you bring me to an end.”

14 Like a swallow or a thrush I chirp,
I coo
Or “moan” (ASV, NAB, NASB, NRSV); KJV, CEV “mourn.”
like a dove;
my eyes grow tired from looking up to the sky.
Heb “my eyes become weak, toward the height.”

O sovereign master,
The Hebrew term translated “sovereign master” here and in v. 16 is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay).
I am oppressed;
help me!
Heb “stand surety for me.” Hezekiah seems to be picturing himself as a debtor who is being exploited; he asks that the Lord might relieve his debt and deliver him from the oppressive creditor.

15 What can I say?
He has decreed and acted.
Heb “and he has spoken and he has acted.”

I will walk slowly all my years because I am overcome with grief.
Heb “because of the bitterness of my soul.”

16 O sovereign master, your decrees can give men life;
may years of life be restored to me.
The translation offered here is purely speculative. The text as it stands is meaningless and probably corrupt. It reads literally, “O lord, on account of them [the suffix is masculine plural], they live, and to all in them [the suffix is feminine plural], life of my spirit.”

Restore my health
The prefixed verbal form could be taken as indicative, “you restore my health,” but the following imperatival form suggests it be understood as an imperfect of request.
and preserve my life.’
17 “Look, the grief I experienced was for my benefit.
Heb “Look, for peace bitterness was to me bitter”; NAB “thus is my bitterness transformed into peace.”

You delivered me
The Hebrew text reads, “you loved my soul,” but this does not fit syntactically with the following prepositional phrase. חָשַׁקְתָּ (khashaqta, “you loved”), may reflect an aural error; most emend the form to חָשַׂכְת, (khasakht, “you held back”).
from the pit of oblivion.
בְּלִי (beli) most often appears as a negation, meaning “without,” suggesting the meaning “nothingness, oblivion,” here. Some translate “decay” or “destruction.”

For you removed all my sins from your sight.
Heb “for you threw behind your back all my sins.”

18 Indeed
Sheol does not give you thanks;
death does not
The negative particle is understood by ellipsis in this line. See GKC 483 #152.z.
praise you.
Those who descend into the pit do not anticipate your faithfulness.
19 The living person, the living person, he gives you thanks,
as I do today.
A father tells his sons about your faithfulness.
20 The Lord is about to deliver me,
The infinitive construct is used here to indicate that an action is imminent. See GKC 348-49 #114.i, and IBHS 610 #36.2.3g.

and we will celebrate with music
Heb “and music [or perhaps, “stringed instruments”] we will play.”

for the rest of our lives in the Lord’s temple.”
Heb “all the days of our lives in the house of the Lord.”
Note that vv. 21–22 have been placed between vv. 6–7, where they logically belong. See 2 Kgs 20:7–8.

If original to Isaiah 38, vv. 21–22 have obviously been misplaced in the course of the text’s transmission, and would most naturally be placed here, between Isa 38:6 and 38:7. See 2 Kgs 20:7–8, where these verses are placed at this point in the narrative, not at the end. Another possibility is that these verses were not in the original account, and a scribe, familiar with the 2 Kgs version of the story, appended vv. 21–22 to the end of the account in Isaiah 38.
Isaiah ordered, “Let them take a fig cake and apply it to the ulcerated sore and he will get well.”
22Hezekiah said, “What is the confirming sign that I will go up to the Lord’s temple?”
Copyright information for NETfull