We have now reached 701 BC, the year of Sennacherib’s siege of Jerusalem, so long predicted. Chapters 36-39 repeat, with a few omissions and additions, the history recorded in 2 Kgs. 18:13-20:11. The course of events seems to have been as follows: (1) After receiving the tribute demanded (2 Kgs. 18:14-16), Sennacherib sent three envoys with an army to demand further the surrender of Jerusalem (36:1-37:7). (2) This was refused and the Assyrian troops withdrew, but Sennacherib sent a letter to Hezekiah renewing his demands (37:8-35). This also was rejected, and the chapter concludes with a brief account of how God fulfilled his word (37:36-38).
- 36:4-10, 13-20. How did the field commander try to shake the confidence of the defenders of Jerusalem in the power of God to save them? What fact did he ignore that invalidated the basic assumption of his argument? Cf. 37:18-20, 23-29.
- Both Hezekiah and Isaiah recognized in Sennacherib’s challenge a blasphemous insult to the living God (37:6, 7, 17, 23). How did this give them confidence? Cf. 1 Sam. 17:26, 36, 45-47.
- 36:1. The chronological note is wrong, for 701 BC was Hezekiah’s twenty-sixth year. Possibly the note belongs properly to 38:1, and has become misplaced. See Note under Study 21 below.
- 36:2, 3. The field commander (‘Rabshakeh’) was the title of the Assyrian chief-captain, second to the Tartan or commander-in- chief. As there were three envoys (2 Kgs. 18:17), so three Jewish high officials were sent to meet them.
- 36:7. Whether in ignorance or in subtlety, the field commander spoke of Hezekiah’s religious reformation (2 Kgs. 18:4), as if it had been an act of disrespect towards God. Possibly to a heathen mind it appeared in that light.