Isaiah 39


‘At that time Marduk-Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift, because he had heard of his illness and recovery. Hezekiah received the envoys gladly and showed them what was in his storehouses—the silver, the gold, the spices, the fine olive oil—his entire armoury and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.’ Isaiah 39:1-2

Envoys From Babylon

This chapter speaks of the foretelling of the Babylonian captivity and parallels with 2 Kings 20:12-19 and 2 Chronicles 32:24-31.

It begins by telling us of Hezekiah’s weakness, and it’s here that we are introduced to the ambassadors of Babylon to prepare us for what will come later.

When the king of Babylon sent a gift to him, he allowed his pride in the riches of Judah to cloud his judgment. He revealed to the messengers of Marduk-Baladan the national treasures of Judah, 2 Chronicles 32:31.

Marduk-Baladan wanted to know about Hezekiah’s recovery and the great wonder that had occurred concerning the turning back of the shadow of the sun, Isaiah 38:4-8. However, his hidden motives were possibly in reference to spying out the land.

Apparently, Marduk-Baladan sent his ambassadors for two obvious reasons.

1. To congratulate Hezekiah on his miraculous recovery.

2. To see where the ‘sign’ occurred and learn more about it.

The ambassadors appear to have at least two hidden purposes.

1. To spy out the wealth of the land with the view of one day taking it.

2. To secretly make an agreement with Hezekiah to help throw off the Assyrian yoke.

Hailey, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Hezekiah’s ancestor, David, had yielded to the lust of the flesh; and Solomon had yielded to vanity and pomp and now Hezekiah, one of Judah’s most admired kings, had yielded to flattery and pride. The flesh is terribly weak.’

‘Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked, “What did those men say, and where did they come from?” “From a distant land,” Hezekiah replied. “They came to me from Babylon.” The prophet asked, “What did they see in your palace?” “They saw everything in my palace,” Hezekiah said. “There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them.” Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD Almighty: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the LORD. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” “The word of the LORD you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my lifetime.” Isaiah 39:3-8

God now rebukes Hezekiah and this intimate disclosure to strangers indicates vanity and pride on the part of Hezekiah. Isaiah suspected that the king was considering a foreign alliance, Hezekiah had done this with Egypt, and now he was doing it with Babylon.

Hezekiah’s folly had mortgaged the future of his people, not only would Hezekiah have to pay for his pride but his descendants must also pay.

Hezekiah no doubt, was sad because of this, but he recognised that the judgements of God are always good, 2 Chronicles 32:25-26 / 2 Chronicles 32:30-31.

The real reason the Babylonians were coming was because God will be using Babylon to bring judgment upon Jerusalem for her apostasy Deuteronomy 28:63-64 / 1 Kings 14:15 / Amos 5:27. The captivity of the Jews in Babylon commenced about one hundred and twenty years after this prediction, Jeremiah 20:5.

Kidner, in his commentary, says the following.

‘To Hezekiah there was comfort in the postponement of the disaster awaiting Israel, but not to Isaiah. Evidently, he took this burden home with him, and so lived under its weight that when God spoke to him again it was to one who in spirit had already lived long years in Babylon, Isaiah 40:2, and who could speak ‘to the heart’ of a generation of exiles yet to be born.’

Go To Isaiah 40