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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT



4 KINGS 20

 

CHAPTER XX.

 

Ver. 1.  Days, before the destruction of Sennacherib's army; (v. 6.  M.) though some suppose that Ezechias was afflicted with sickness, because he had not shewn sufficient gratitude for his deliverance.  2 Par. xxxii. 24.  Euseb. and S. Jerom in Isai. xxxix.  C. --- But it might be sent only to purify him the more, &c.  M. --- He fell ill the same year that the Assyrian invaded his dominions, v. 6, and C. xviii. 13.  The nature of his disorder in not fully known.  It was probably an abscess, (C.) brought on by a fever; or an ulcer, for which the things which promote suppuration, are always proper.  Thus God teaches us to make use of natural remedies, yet so as to place our whole confidence in him.  H. --- Others think it was a pleurisy, (John xxi.  Thesaur. 26.) or a quinsey, (Barthol.) or the pestilence, &c.  C. --- Unto death, of an illness, which would naturally have proved mortal; as that of Benadad was the reverse.  C. viii. 10. --- Not live, very shortly; though he does not express the time.  We should always bear in mind this awful warning.  H. --- The prediction was conditional, like that of Jonas; (iii. 4.  C.) otherwise it would have been sinful to strive to render it ineffectual.  E.

 

Ver. 2.  Wall, towards the temple; (Chal. &c.) or that he might be less distracted, and indulge his grief without restraint.

 

Ver. 3.  Before thee.  The saints of the old law frequently mention their good works, (Ps. vii. 9. &c.   2 Esd. xiii. 14.) which is less common in those of the new.  When God rewards our good works, he only crowns his own gifts.  C. --- Ezechias had sincerely desired to please God, though he might have given way to some imperfections, v. 1.  H. --- Weeping; because he thought that the Messias would not be one of his posterity, as he had yet no children.  C. xxi. 1.  S. Jerom. --- The saints of the Old Testament could only be received into Abraham's bosom.  We may be with Christ immediately after death; so that it is far less terrible.  Phil. i. 23.  H.

 

Ver. 4.  Court.  Heb. her, "city:" but in the margin, (C.) etsor.  Sept. aulh, "hall," or court, is retained, and followed by the Chal.  C. --- Prot. "the middle court."  H.

 

Ver. 5.  Day, dating from the time when Isaias spoke.  Tostat. --- This shewed that the cure was miraculous, and not effected by natural remedies only.  T.

 

Ver. 6.  Assyrians.  It is commonly supposed that this alludes to Sennacherib.  But it might refer to his son, who was sending an army.  Isai. xx. 1.  We ought not to alter the scriptural order of the transactions, without cogent reasons.

 

Ver. 7.  Figs; dried.  They are very serviceable in various disorders of the throat, to mullify, &c.  Pliny xxiii. 3.  Aldrov. ii. --- S. Jerom (in Isai. xxxviii.) acknowledges that they might help to removed the disorder.  Grotius is of a contrary opinion; (C.) and this would enhance the miracle.  See Vales. xxxix.  M. --- At any rate, the discovery of this remedy to the prophet, and its sudden efficacy, were miraculous.  C.

 

Ver. 8.  Signs.  He is not incredulous, but gives the prophet an occasion of declaring by what authority he spoke thus.  H.

 

Ver. 10.  Lines, according to the usual course of the sun.  An instantaneous motion of this kind would, in reality, be as difficult, as the retrogradation.  But it might not strike the people so much.  H. --- Some take the lines to designate hours.  But the sun is never up twenty hours in that country; and it must have been at such a height, as that it might appear visibly to recede, or to go forward, ten lines.  We may therefore suppose, that they consisted only of half hours, (T.) or less.  C. --- If the retrograde motion were instantaneous, as Cajetan believes, the day would only be five hours longer than usual; (M.) but if otherwise, it would be ten; as the sun would occupy five hours in going back, and as many to regain its former station.  T. --- Usher supposes that the night was as much shortened, that so astronomical observations may still be verified without any confusion.  But that would introduce a fresh miracle.  Some assert that only the shadow went back, without any derangement in the heavenly bodies.  Spinosa  laughs at the ignorance of those people, who mistook the effects of a parhelion for a miracle.  This author may boast of his superior knowledge.  But how came the sages of Babylon (v. 12.) to be unacquainted with such a natural cause?  How came it so opportunely (C.) at the time appointed by the prophet?  What improbable explanations are not those forced to admit, who deny to the Almighty the power of changing his own works!  H. --- The silence of profane historians respecting this miracle, is of little consequence.  Herodotus (ii. 142.) seems to hint at it, as well as at that under Josue; (x.) being informed "by the Egyptians, that during 10340 years, the sun had risen four times in an extraordinary manner.  It had risen twice where it ought naturally to set, and had set as often where it should rise."  He might have said more simply, that the sun had twice gone back.  See Solin, 45.  C. --- S. Dion. Areop. ep. 7. ad Polycarp. --- This last author thinks that this day was twenty hours longer than usual, supposing that the lines designate so many hours, and that the sun kept going back for ten hours.  W.

 

Ver. 11.  Dial.  Heb. also, "steps."  S. Jerom confesses that he followed Sym. in Isai. xxxviii. 7.  Whether this dial resembled one of ours, (Grotius) or was made in the form of steps, (S. Cyr. hom. 3, in Isaias, &c.) or rather of a half globe, (C.) after the Babylonian fashion, (Vitruv. ix. 9.) is not clear.  Some have asserted that hours were not known to the Hebrews, before the captivity.  Usher, A. 3291. --- But Toby, (xii. 22.) who wrote at Nineve, under the reign of Manasses, clearly speaks of them.  The Egyptians pretend that they invented water hour-glasses.  But the invention of dials is attributed to the Chaldees, from whom Anaximander introduced them among the Greeks, under the reign of Cyrus.  He died A. 3457. --- Achaz had much to do with Theglathphalasar; (C. xvii. 8.) and probably obtained this curiosity from the same country.  In more ancient times, people measured time by the length of their shadow, and were invited to a feast at such a foot, in the same manner as we should invite for such an hour.  Palladius, Rustic. xii.  C. --- Till the year of Rome 595, when Nasica dedicated the first water hour-glass, the Romans knew not how the time passed on cloudy days.  Pliny vii. 60.  Vitruvius ix. 9. --- Grotius supposes that the dial of Achaz was a concave semicircular gnomon, in which a globe was placed, the shadow of which fell on twenty-eight lines.  D.

 

Ver. 12.  Berodach, or Merodac Baladan.  Isai. xxxix. 1.  C. --- The latter was his father; the famous Nabonassar.  D. --- Letters, or books.  Isai. --- Sick.  They came to congratulate him on his recovery, and also (M.) to inquire of the wonder that had happened upon the earth.  God left him that he might be tempted, and all things might be made known that were in his heart.  2 Par. xxxii. 31.  H. --- If this embassage took place after the fall of Sennacherib, the king of Babylon might thank Ezechias for having stopped the career of that ambitious monarch, from whom the former had every thing to fear.  C.

 

Ver. 13.  Rejoiced, at being honoured by so great a prince, (M.) who afterwards defeated Asarhaddon.  T. --- Heb. "hearkened unto them."  But the sense of the Vulg. is preferable, and the construction of the original seems to require it, as it is also understood by the Sept. and Syriac, and by Isaias, xxxix. 2. --- Spices.  Heb. "precious things," (Mont.) "treasures," (Chal. Syr.) "cabinet" of jewels, &c.  Vatable. --- Vessels, or armour, and all this fine furniture.  S. Jerom says, that Ezechias also displayed before them the treasures of the temple, which chiefly drew upon him God's displeasure.  C. --- He might be guilty only of a venial sin of vanity and of ingratitude: (M.) and God took occasion, from this offence to admonish the king of the impending ruin.  D.

 

Ver. 17.  Babylon, under the last kings of Juda.  It cannot be explained of Sennacherib.  C. xviii. 15.

 

Ver. 18.  Eunuchs; servants.  Dan. i. 3.  We only read of Manasses, who was taken to Babylon.  C. --- But he might have many brothers, who might be reduced to a menial condition; (Salien) as the text seems to refer to the immediate sons of Ezechias.  H. --- It may, however, be explained of his descendants. M.  C. xxiv. 12.

 

Ver. 19.  Let.  Heb. "and he added, let," &c.  C. --- Prot. "he said, is it not good, if peace and truth (or a solid and desirable peace) be in my days?"  He is not indifferent about his family, as the Jews would insinuate (Eus. and S. Jer. in Isai. xxxix. 7. 8.) from the prophet's adding, Be comforted...my people; (C. xl. 1.  H.) but he submits with resignation to God's decrees, (S. Ambrose) and begs that God would be pleased to suffer him to die in peace, as the sentence did not seem to affect his person.  H. --- Josephus insinuates that he was exceedingly grieved at the distress which hung over his posterity, (Ant. x. 3.) and we are assured the Ezechias and the people entered into sentiments of humility and penance, which for a time averted the wrath of God.  2 Par. xxxii. 26.

 

Ver. 20.  City.  Probably before it was besieged by Sennacherib.  2 Par. xxxii. 4. --- Juda, and in the works of Isaias.  Ibid. xxxii. 32. Isaias xxxvii. and xxxviii. and xxxix.  The prophet gives us the canticle of this pious king, who shone with so great splendour, and did so much for the good of his people.  C. xviii. 4. 5.  Eccli. xlviii. 19.  C. --- He generously opposed the reign of vice, and though threatened with the most imminent dangers, came off with victory.  Thus Jesus Christ declared war against idolatry and all vice, and established his Church in the midst of persecution.  H. --- Ezechias was conducted to the gates of death, and brought back; Christ rose victorious from the grave, as the holy king seems to have foreseen.  Isai. xxxviii. 19.  C.

 

 








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