Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
Sennacherib invades Judea, Ch2 32:1. Hezekiah takes proper measures for the defense of his kingdom, Ch2 32:2-6. His exhortation, Ch2 32:7, Ch2 32:8. Sennacherib sends a blasphemous message to Hezekiah, and to the people, Ch2 32:9-15. His servants rail against God; and he and they blaspheme most grievously, Ch2 32:16-19. Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah cry to God; he answers, and the Assyrians are destroyed, and Sennacherib is slain by his own sons, Ch2 32:20, Ch2 32:21. The Lord is magnified, Ch2 32:22, Ch2 32:23. Hezekiah's sickness and recovery, Ch2 32:24. His ingratitude, Ch2 32:25. His humiliation, Ch2 32:26. His riches, Ch2 32:27-30. His error relative to the Babylonish ambassadors, Ch2 32:31. His acts and death, Ch2 32:32, Ch2 32:33.
2 Chronicles 32:1
After these things - God did not permit this pious prince to be disturbed till he had completed the reformation which he had begun.
2 Chronicles 32:2
When Hezekiah saw - This was in the fourteenth year of the reign of Hezekiah; and at first the Jewish king bought him off at the great price of three hundred talents of silver, and thirty talents of gold; and even emptied his own treasures, and spoiled the house of the Lord, to gratify the oppressive avarice of the Assyrian king. See the whole account, Kg2 18:13, etc.
2 Chronicles 32:4
Stopped all the fountains - This was prudently done, for without water how could an immense army subsist in an arid country? No doubt the Assyrian army suffered much through this, as a Christian army did eighteen hundred years after this. When the crusaders came, in a.d. 1099, to besiege Jerusalem, the people of the city stopped up the wells, so that the Christian army was reduced to the greatest necessities and distress.
2 Chronicles 32:5
Raised it up to the towers - He built the wall up to the height of the towers, or, having built the wall, he raised towers on it.
2 Chronicles 32:6
Set captains of war over the people - in the street of the gate of the city - That is, the open places at the gate of the city, whither the people came for judgment, etc.
2 Chronicles 32:7
There be more with us than with him - We have more power than they have. (These words he quotes from the prophet Elisha, Kg2 6:16). This was soon proved to be true by the slaughter made by the angel of the Lord in the Assyrian camp.
2 Chronicles 32:9
After this did Sennacherib - Having received the silver and gold mentioned above, he withdrew his army, but shortly after he sent Rab-shakeh with a blasphemous message. This is the fact mentioned here.
2 Chronicles 32:10
Thus saith Sennacherib - See all these circumstances largely explained 2 Kings 18:17-36 (note).
2 Chronicles 32:17
Wrote also letters - See Kg2 19:9, Kg2 19:14.
2 Chronicles 32:21
The Lord sent an angel - See Kg2 19:36 (note), and the note there.
House of his god - Nisroch.
They that came forth of his own bowels - His sons Adrammelech and Sharezer.
2 Chronicles 32:23
Many brought gifts unto the Lord - They plainly saw that Jehovah was the protector of the land.
And presents to Hezekiah - They saw that God was his friend, and would undertake for him; and they did not wish to have such a man for their enemy.
2 Chronicles 32:24
Hezekiah was sick - See Kg2 20:1 (note), etc., and the notes there.
2 Chronicles 32:25
Hezekiah rendered not again - He got into a vain confidence, took pleasure in his riches, and vainly showed them to the messengers of the king of Babylon. See on Kg2 20:12 (note), etc.
2 Chronicles 32:26
Humbled himself - Awoke from his sleep, was sorry for his sin, deprecated the wrath of God, and the Divine displeasure was turned away from him.
2 Chronicles 32:27
Pleasant jewels - כלי חמדה keley chemdah, desirable vessels or utensils.
2 Chronicles 32:30
The upper watercourse - He made canals to bring the waters of Gihon from the west side of Jerusalem to the west side of the city of David.
2 Chronicles 32:31
Of the ambassadors - See Kg2 20:13 (note), and the observations at the end of that chapter.
2 Chronicles 32:32
The vision of Isaiah - See this prophet, 2 Chronicles 36-39.
2 Chronicles 32:33
Chiefest of the sepulchres - This respect they paid to him who, since David, had been the best of all their kings.
I shall subjoin a few things from the Targum on this chapter.
Ch2 32:1. "After these things which Hezekiah did, and their establishment, the Lord appointed by his Word to bring Sennacherib, king of Assyria, and his army, into the land of Israel, that he might destroy the Assyrians in the land of the house of Judah, and smite their troops on the mountains of Jerusalem, and deliver all their spoils into the hands of Hezekiah and his people: wherefore Sennacherib came with immense armies, which could not be numbered; and having pitched his camps in the land of the tribe of Judah, besieged their fortified cities with his armies, hoping to overthrow them."
Ch2 32:8. Hezekiah said-"His help is the strength of the flesh; but our auxiliary is the Word of the Lord."
Ch2 32:16. "His (Sennacherib's) servants spoke blasphemy against the Word of the Lord God."
Ch2 32:18. In the Jews' speech - "In the language of the holy house."
Ch2 32:21. "And the Word of the Lord sent Michael, and the angel Gabriel, and destroyed them on the night of the passover with a destructive fire; and burnt up their breath within their bodies, and consumed every soldier, captain, and prince, in the army of the king of Assyria; and he returned with shame of face into his own land."
The destruction of God's enemies, and the support and salvation of the faithful, is in every instance in this Targum attributed to the Word of the Lord, personally understood. See the note on Ch2 34:27.
Ch2 32:24. "In those days was Hezekiah sick near to death; but he prayed before the Lord who spoke to him by his Word to preserve him and to add to his life fifteen years."
Ch2 32:31. "The king of Babylon sent, that they might inquire concerning the miracle that had been done in the land; that they might see the two tables of stone which were in the ark of the covenant of the Lord which Moses had placed there with the two tables which he had broken on account of the sin of the calf which they made in Horeb. The Word of the Lord permitted him to show them these; neither did he suffer for it; that he might try him, and see what was in his heart."
Thus God speaks after the manner of men: he either brings, or permits them to be brought, into such circumstances as shall cause them to show their prevailing propensities; and then warns them against the evils to which they are inclined, after having shown them that they are capable of those evils. To know ourselves, and our own character, is of the utmost importance to our religious growth and perfection. He who does not know where his weakness lies, is not likely to know where his strength lies. Many, by not being fully acquainted with their own character, have been unwatchful and unguarded, and so become an easy prey to their enemies. Know thyself is a lesson which no man can learn but from the Spirit of God.