Isaiah – Chapter 38

The Bible – Old Testament



Chapter 38


1 2 In those days, when Hezekiah was mortally ill, the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, came and said to him: «Thus says the LORD: Put your house in order, for you are about to die; you shall not recover.»


Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD:


«O LORD, remember how faithfully and wholeheartedly I conducted myself in your presence, doing what was pleasing to you!» And Hezekiah wept bitterly.


Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah:


3 «Go, tell Hezekiah: Thus says the LORD, the God of your father David: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you: in three days you shall go up to the LORD’S temple; I will add fifteen years to your life.


I will rescue you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; I will be a shield to this city.»


Isaiah then ordered a poultice of figs to be taken and applied to the boil, that he might recover.


Then Hezekiah asked, «What is the sign that I shall go up to the temple of the LORD?»


(Isaiah answered:) «This will be the sign for you from the LORD that he will do what he has promised:


4 See, I will make the shadow cast by the sun on the stairway to the terrace of Ahaz go back the ten steps it has advanced.» So the sun came back the ten steps it had advanced.


The song of Hezekiah, king of Judah, after he had been sick and had recovered from his illness:


5 Once I said, «In the noontime of life I must depart! To the gates of the nether world I shall be consigned for the rest of my years.»


6 I said, «I shall see the LORD no more in the land of the living. No longer shall I behold my fellow men among those who dwell in the world.»


7 My dwelling, like a shepherd’s tent, is struck down and borne away from me; You have folded up my life, like a weaver who severs the last thread. Day and night you give me over to torment;


I cry out until the dawn. Like a lion he breaks all my bones; (day and night you give me over to torment).


Like a swallow I utter shrill cries; I moan like a dove. My eyes grow weak, gazing heavenward: O Lord, I am in straits; be my surety!


8 What am I to say or tell him? He has done it! I shall go on through all my years despite the bitterness of my soul.


9 Those live whom the LORD protects; yours. . . the life of my spirit. You have given me health and life;


10 thus is my bitterness transformed into peace. You have preserved my life from the pit of destruction, When you cast behind your back all my sins.


11 For it is not the nether world that gives you thanks, nor death that praises you; Neither do those who go down into the pit await your kindness.


The living, the living give you thanks, as I do today. Fathers declare to their sons, O God, your faithfulness.


The LORD is our savior; we shall sing to stringed instruments In the house of the LORD all the days of our life.


1 [⇒ 38:1-⇒ 39:8] The events of this section-sickness and recovery of Hezekiah, embassy of Merodach-baladan-point forward to Babylon (cc 40-66). They occurred prior to the events of ⇒ Isaiah 36:1-⇒ 37:38 which point back to Assyria (⇒ Isaiah 1:1-⇒ 35:10).

2 [1] In those days: a time prior to the siege of Jerusalem in 701 B.C.

3 [5] Since Hezekiah died in 687 B.C., this sickness of his seems to have been in 702 B.C., that is, fifteen years before.

4 [8] Stairway to the terrace of Ahaz: this interpretation is based on a reading of the Hebrew text revised according to the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah; cf ⇒ 2 Kings 23:12. Many translatethe phrase as «steps of Ahaz» and understand this as referring to a sundial.

5 [10] In the noontime of life: long before the end of a full span of life; cf ⇒ Psalm 55:23; ⇒ 102:24.

6 [11] See the LORD: go to the Temple and take part in its service.

7 [12] These two metaphors emphasize the suddenness and finality of death.

8 [15] What am I to say or tell him?: a rhetorical question, as if the poet were at a loss in giving fitting expression to his gratitude; cf ⇒ Psalm 116:12. He has done it: accomplished the cure. Despite the bitterness: even though the one praying was previously so dejected.

9 [16] Yours . . . the life of my spirit: the current Hebrew text is corrupt. The revised Latin psalter renders it: «you have revived my soul.»

10 [17] You cast behind your back all my sins: figurative language to express the divine forgiveness of sins, as if God no longer saw or cared about them. This expression is ordinarily used of men forgetting God; cf ⇒ 1 Kings 14:9; ⇒ Ezekiel 23:35; ⇒ Psalm 50:17.

11 [18-19] See note on ⇒ Psalm 6:5.