Isaiah 39:1-8

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39:1. Masoretic Text: At that time Merodach-baladan, son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a gift to Hezekiah, for he had heard that he had been sick and had recovered.

Septuagint: At that time Marodach, son of Laadan, the king of Babylon, sent letters and elders and gifts to Hezekiah, for he had heard that he had been sick unto death and had recovered.

The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah concludes with “and he lived.”


Hezekiah’s recovery from illness is associated with his being granted an additional 15 years of life and the assurance that the Assyrian monarch would not succeed in capturing Jerusalem. (2 Kings 20:6) The Assyrian king Sennacherib engaged in an extensive military campaign against the kingdom of Judah in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah’s 29-year reign. (2 Kings 18:2, 13) It is most unlikely that a delegation from Babylon would have come to Jerusalem while the Assyrian forces were in the territory of the kingdom of Judah. To allow for the addition of fifteen years of life to Hezekiah and more favorable circumstances in his realm, the delegation from Babylon may be regarded as having arrived after Sennacherib had returned to Nineveh.

Merodach-baladan is considered to be the Marduk-apla-iddina II who ruled in Babylon without Assyrian interference for ten years during the reign of Assyrian monarch Sargon II. When thereafter Sargon II defeated the Elamites and Merodach-baladan’s other allies and then headed for Babylon, Merodach-baladan fled. Without having to conduct a military campaign against the city, Sargon II became king of Babylon. After the death of Sargon II, Merodach-baladan succeeded in reestablishing his rule in the city. Sennacherib, Sargon’s son and successor, reestablished Assyrian dominance over Babylon before he began his military campaign in the territory of Judah. Merodach-baladan, however, had escaped. Therefore, after the withdrawal of Sennacherib from the territory of Judah, Merodach-baladan (though not then ruling from the city of Babylon) may have felt that he could regain the throne and looked for opportunities to form alliances that could directly or indirectly serve his objective. In his Antiquities (X, ii, 2), Josephus specifically mentions that the ambassadors were sent because the monarch desired that Hezekiah “would be his ally and friend.”

According to the Septuagint, “elders,” envoys, or ambassadors brought the letters and gifts. The singular “gift” in the Hebrew text may be understood as designating numerous individual items.

Just what the letters contained is not revealed in the account, but it is most unlikely that Merodach-baladan had been motivated merely to send well wishes to a king whom he did not even know. What he and Hezekiah had in common was the desire to be free from Assyrian control, and this logically would have been the more compelling reason for Merodach-baladan’s interest in Hezekiah.

39:2. And Hezekiah rejoiced over them, and he showed them the house of his treasure, the silver and the gold and the spices and the good oil and all the house of his vessels, and all that was found in his treasuries. [There] was not a thing that Hezekiah did not show them in his house and in all his realm.

Septuagint: And Hezekiah rejoiced over them with great joy, and he showed them the house of the nechotha and of the oil of myrrh and of the incense and of the myrrh and of the silver and of the gold and all the houses of the vessels of the treasure and everything, whatever was in his treasuries. And [there] was nothing in his house that Hezekiah did not show them.

Instead of “house of his treasure,” the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah says “all the house of his treasure.”

In the Greek text, the designation nechotha is a transliteration of the Hebrew word meaning “treasure.”


The arrival of the Babylonian delegation delighted Hezekiah. The Septuagint rendering intensifies his feeling of elation, with the words “Hezekiah rejoiced over them with great joy.” He appears to have wanted to impress the Babylonians with the wealth of his kingdom, letting them see everything of value. Some have questioned whether the delegation could have come after Sennacherib and his remaining force had departed, believing that there would not have been much silver and gold left after he received the large tribute that he had demanded. The account, however, does not say that the payment of the tribute had depleted the stored-up treasure to the point that it would have seemed insignificant to others. According to the account in 2 Chronicles, an abundance of precious items came to the kingdom of Judah from other peoples, suggesting that much would still have been left after the Assyrians departed. (2 Chronicles 32:23, 27, 28)

Besides the gold and silver, the precious items included spices and “good oil,” probably meaning costly perfumed oil. The Septuagint rendering refers to precious aromatic substances (oil of myrrh, incense, and myrrh). The “house of vessels” could designate the building for storing the weaponry.

The Chronicles account indicates that Hezekiah came to be prideful, failing to consider the mercy that YHWH had shown him. Instead of continuing to look to YHWH as the dependable source for everything needful, Hezekiah appears to have thought that a favorable response to everything in the letters Merodach-baladan had sent would be in his interests and that of his subjects. (2 Chronicles 32:24-26, 31)

39:3. Masoretic Text: And Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah and said to him, “What did these men say, and from where did they come to you?” And Hezekiah said, “From a distant land they have come to me, from Babylon.”

Septuagint: And Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah and said to him, “What do these men say, and from where did they come to you?” And Hezekiah said, “From a distant land they came to me, from Babylon.”


It was doubtless because YHWH’s spirit became operative upon him that Isaiah went to the palace of Hezekiah to question him about the Babylonian delegation. The fact that Hezekiah mentioned that the men had come from a distant land may indicate that he was highly impressed that news about him had reached distant Babylon and that he had been honored with an official visit from there.

39:4. Masoretic Text: And he said, “What did they see in your house?” And Hezekiah said, “They saw everything in my house. [There] is not a thing that I did not show them in my treasuries.”

Septuagint: And Isaiah said, “What did they see in your house?” And Hezekiah said, “They saw everything in my house, and [there] is nothing in my house that they did not see, but also [they saw] all things in my treasuries.”


In his reply to Isaiah, Hezekiah did not conceal anything but acknowledged that he had shown the Babylonians everything contained in his treasuries or storehouses.

39:5. And Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of YHWH of hosts:”

Septuagint: And Isaiah said to him, “Hear the word of the Lord Sabaoth:”

“Sabaoth” is a transliteration of the Hebrew word meaning “hosts” or “armies.”


In view of what Hezekiah had done, Isaiah had a message from YHWH regarding it and called upon the king to “hear” or pay attention. The reference to YHWH of hosts should have reminded Hezekiah that, with hosts of angels in his service, YHWH was the only dependable defender and protector of his people. Any alignment with a foreign power to gain military advantage, therefore, constituted a lack of trust in him and was deserving of censure.

39:6. Masoretic Text: “Look! Days are coming and all that is in your house and that which your fathers have stored up until this day will be taken to Babylon. Not a thing will be left,” says YHWH.

Septuagint: “Look! Days are coming,” says the Lord, “and they will take all the things in your house and whatever your fathers have collected until this day will go to Babylon, and by no means will they leave anything.” But God has said

In the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah, “they will come in and” are the words that precede the point about nothing being left.

The rendering “by no means” serves to preserve the emphatic sense of the two Greek words for “not.”


The word of YHWH through Isaiah indicated that Babylon would gain the ascendency, with Babylon replacing Assyria as the threat to the security of the kingdom of Judah. The conquest of Jerusalem is implied, with the Babylonians coming to be in position to carry off all the treasures in the palace of Hezekiah and whatever else then remained of what his royal ancestors had accumulated. The Babylonians would leave nothing of value behind.

39:7. Masoretic Text: “And some of your sons who will come out from you and will be born to you will be taken away, and they will be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”

Septuagint: that also from your children, whom you generated, they will take and make eunuchs [spádon] in the house of the king of the Babylonians.

Instead of “come out from you,” the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah says “come out from your loins.”


In this case, the expression “sons” is not to be understood as meaning sons whom Hezekiah would personally father. They would be “sons” by reason of their descent from him. Members of the royal family would be taken to Babylon and there come to be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. Josephus understood their becoming eunuchs to mean becoming castrated men, losing “their manhood.” (Antiquities, X, ii, 2) The Greek word spádon can refer to a castrated man.

39:8. Masoretic Text: And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “Good [is] the word of YHWH, which you have spoken.” And he said, “For [there] will be peace and truth in my days.”

Septuagint: And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “Good is the word of the Lord, which he has spoken. May there now be peace and righteousness in my days.”


Hezekiah humbly accepted the word of YHWH conveyed to him through the prophet Isaiah, acknowledging it as “good” or as a just expression of divine judgment. In his Antiquities (X, ii, 2), Josephus represented Hezekiah as being troubled about the calamities that were destined to befall the nation. “Yet, since it is not possible to alter what God had determined, he prayed that there might be peace while he lived.” The Septuagint rendering supports the thought that Hezekiah made a prayerful expression for “peace and righteousness” to continue for the remainder of his life. He desired the concluding years of his reign to be free from military aggression and accompanying unjust treatment.

According to the account in 2 Chronicles 32:26, YHWH’s wrath was not expressed against Jerusalem because Hezekiah and the inhabitants of the city humbled themselves. The Hebrew text of Isaiah indicates that Hezekiah was grateful that “peace and truth” would exist during his days. “Peace” would mean freedom from enemy invasions. For “truth” to continue in the realm may be understood to indicate that the people would enjoy a time of security or stability.