20:1 – The LORD says Hezekiah will certainly die…but then Hezekiah prays and the LORD sends Isaiah back to Hezekiah to tell him that the LORD will actually heal him and he will live another 15 years (20:6; Isa.38:10-20). Has the LORD changed His mind?
20:8 – What is the significance of Hezekiah asking for a sign? (contrast with Ahaz in Isa.7:12)
20:12 – Why was Merodach-Baladan of Babylon visiting Hezekiah? (Isa.39:1)
20:13-15 – Why did Hezekiah show the Babylonians everything? According to 2 Chronicles 32:31 this moment was a test of the LORD. Did Hezekiah pass the test?
20:19 – How should we understand Hezekiah’s response to the LORD’s promise of plundering and exile by Babylon (20:17-18)? Does Hezekiah not care as long as it does not happen while he is king? Does Hezekiah simply acknowledge what will be no matter what and is thankful that the LORD has granted that it not occur sooner? (see the context for understanding this response as given in Isa.40ff)
20:20 – What is the significance of mentioning “the tunnel” that Hezekiah had dug? This tunnel is nearly 1600 feet long and allowed for water access in case of a siege.
21:1 – Manasseh – son of Hezekiah. He reigned for 55 years (697-642BC) over Judah (10 years the throne was shared with his father Hezekiah) doing what was evil in the sight of the LORD. According to Assyrian records, he supported Assyria as a vassal state with only one brief rebellion (2 Chron.33:10-13). He led Judah into idolatry that was worse than the nations driven out by Israel (21:3-5). He rebuilt the “high places” (like Jeroboam in 1 Kings 12:31; which his father Hezekiah had removed in 2 Kings 18:4), erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah (like Ahab in 1 Kings 16:31; see Deut.16:21) which he even placed in the temple of the LORD, built altars to the starry hosts (like Ahaz in 2 Kings 16:10-16; see Deut.4:19; Jer.7:18), he also practiced child sacrifice (like Ahaz 2 Kings 16:3), practiced sorcery, divination, consulted mediums and spiritists (see Lev.18:21; Deut.18:9-13). He violated the Davidic covenant (2 Sam.7:7-17), the Temple of the LORD (Deut.12:1-32; 1 Kings 9:1-9), and the Mosaic Law (Deut.28:49-63). He rejected the word of the LORD through the prophets (2 Kings 21:10-15) and reputed to have killed Isaiah (see 21:16 below). According to 2 Chronicles 33:10-17 during his brief rebellion against Assyria he was taken as an exile (by himself?) in chains with a ring through his nose to Babylon (?) until he repented to the LORD (see the apocryphal Prayer of Manasseh) and the LORD restored him to his throne in Jerusalem. He even removed many of the idols and shrines he had built, but this appears to not have lasted long and the writer of Kings never mentions this positive note about Manasseh.
21:10 – What do the “prophets” signify? They signify that the LORD has not utterly abandoned His people. They are grace and mercy, righteousness and justice calling to His people to repent. They are representative of the faithful who hear the word of the LORD and obey. They are the testimony to the covenant and to the responsibility inherent in the covenant in order to experience the blessings of the covenant.
21:12 – “the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle”? (see Jer.15:1-4) The judgment of a plumb-line like the one used against Samaria will be used against Jerusalem (Amos 7:7-9) as well as like the washing of a dish that is turned over, but what does all of this mean? It means that the judgment which is coming will be beyond repair and will be utterly devastating even to the nations who are witness to this judgment.
21:16 – What does it mean that Manasseh “filled Jerusalem from one end to the other” by shedding so much innocent blood? Tradition says that Manasseh had Isaiah sawn in two (this account is given in the Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah 5.1; several Targumim and many Early Church Fathers like Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Origen; see also Heb.11:37). Josephus wrote that Manasseh had prophets killed daily in Jerusalem as well as slaughtering any righteous persons he found (Ant.10.37-38).
21:18, 26 – What is the reference to Manasseh and Amon being “buried in the garden of Uzza”? Konkel suggests that the “garden of Uzza” may be referring to “an enclosed space constructed in honor of a Canaanite astral deity” named Attar-melek, which was the star Venus, in Arabic named “Uzza” (NIVAC 623).
21:19 – Amon – son of Manasseh. He reigned for 2 years (642-640BC) over Judah doing what was evil in the sight of the LORD just like his father Manasseh. He was assassinated (by whom?) and the assassins were put to death by those loyal to the family of David.
Thanks for this post and your comments. Although these sections of the Hebrew Bible are 'simple' narrative, there are incredibly fascinating. There is a huge amount of cross-referencing with other parts of the Tanakh and the Targumim, and other histories, making them a very rewarding study.
It is indeed a very rich history. That the LORD has preserved it in so many different places is testimony to its place of special significance.