Bible Commentary: 2 Kings 20:12-19 and Related

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Bible Commentary

2 Kings 20:12-19 and Related

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Hezekiah Receives the Babylonian Envoys

Merodach-Baladan of Babylon was, as we’ve seen, involved in his own ongoing struggle to gain independence from Assyria. He ruled as king twice in Babylon—first from 721-710 B.C. and later for a short time in 703. “Amazingly, Marduk-apla-iddina [Merodach-Baladan] rebounded…and instigated yet another rebellion in 700. Again, and for the last time, he was put down; and Assur-nadin-sumi, a son of Sennacherib, was installed as regent in Babylon” (Eugene Merrill, Kingdom of Priests: A History of Old Testament Israel, 1987, p. 414). What this tells us is that, though he wasn’t then on the throne, Merodach-Baladan was still a factor in 701—when Hezekiah was sick and Sennacherib invaded.

We can therefore see why he would be sending a delegation to Jerusalem at this time. Ostensibly it was to congratulate Hezekiah on his recovery from illness, but there was surely more political motivation behind it. Indeed, this was likely part of an attempt to forge an alliance with Hezekiah against their common foe, Assyria. Hezekiah was more than willing to show off his wealth—possibly to prove that he had enough to help finance a joint rebellion—and did so with a certain amount of pride (2 Chronicles 32:25).

Isaiah, however, warns that all of that wealth would eventually be taken by the Babylonians when they were no longer friends—perhaps even prompted by the reports taken back by these visitors. Sadly, Hezekiah’s response is not one of humility or repentance—only selfish satisfaction at the fact that this won’t transpire in his days.

God was greatly displeased at Hezekiah’s attitude in the whole affair. Though the king had been miraculously healed and been promised deliverance from the Assyrians by God, here he was again looking to his wealth and the help of foreign powers to overcome Assyria. And he was not sorry at Isaiah’s rebuke. “Therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 32:25). Indeed, God withdrew from him as a test (2 Chronicles 32:31). This all seems to refer to God allowing the catastrophic invasion of Sennacherib.