Sickness and Recovery of Hezekiah. 1* 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.”a 2Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD:
3“Ah, LORD, remember how faithfully and wholeheartedly I conducted myself in your presence, doing what was good in your sight!” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.b
4Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: 5Go, tell Hezekiah:* Thus says the LORD, the God of your father David: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Now I will add fifteen years to your life. 6I will rescue you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; I will be a shield to this city.c
7This will be the sign for you from the LORD that the LORD will carry out the word he has spoken: 8See, 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.d
Hezekiah’s Hymn of Thanksgiving. 9The song of Hezekiah, king of Judah, after he had been sick and had recovered from his illness:
10In the noontime of life* I said,
I must depart!
To the gates of Sheol I have been consigned
for the rest of my years.e
11I said, I shall see the LORD* no more
in the land of the living.
Nor look on any mortals
among those who dwell in the world.
12My 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 me from the last thread.* f
From morning to night you make an end of me;
13I cry out even until the dawn.
Like a lion he breaks all my bones;
from morning to night you make an end of me.g
14Like a swallow I chirp;
I moan like a dove.
My eyes grow weary looking heavenward:
Lord, I am overwhelmed; go security for me!
15* What am I to say or tell him?
He is the one who has done it!
All my sleep has fled,
because of the bitterness of my soul.
16Those live whom the LORD protects;
yours is the life of my spirit.
You have given me health and restored my life!
17Peace in place of bitterness!
You have preserved my life
from the pit of destruction;
Behind your back
you cast all my sins.*
18* For it is not Sheol that gives you thanks,
nor death that praises you;
Neither do those who go down into the pit
await your kindness.h
19The living, the living give you thanks,
as I do today.
Parents declare to their children,
O God, your faithfulness.
20The LORD is there to save us.
We shall play our music
In the house of the LORD
all the days of our life.
21* Then Isaiah said, “Bring a poultice of figs and apply it to the boil for his recovery.” 22Hezekiah asked, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the LORD?”
* [38:1–39:8] The events of this section—sickness and recovery of Hezekiah, embassy of Merodach-baladan—anticipate the rise of Babylon (chaps. 40–66). They occurred prior to the events of 36:1–37:38, which point back to Assyria (1:1–35:10).
* [38:1] In those days: before the siege of Jerusalem in 701 B.C.
* [38:5] Since Hezekiah died in 687 B.C., his sickness may have occurred in 702 B.C., that is, fifteen years before.
* [38:8] 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 Kgs 23:12. Many translate the phrase as “steps of Ahaz” and understand this as referring to a sundial.
* [38:10] In the noontime of life: long before the end of a full span of life; cf. Ps 55:24; 102:25.
* [38:11] See the LORD: go to the Temple and take part in its service.
* [38:12] These two metaphors emphasize the suddenness and finality of death.
* [38:15–16] The Hebrew text is very problematic and its meaning uncertain.
* [38:17] Behind your back you cast all my sins: figurative language to express the divine forgiveness of sins, as if God no longer saw or cared about them.
* [38:18–19] See note on Ps 6:6.
* [38:21–22] These verses are clearly out of place. Logically they should come after v. 6, as they do in the parallel account in 2 Kgs 20, but the two accounts are not identical, and it appears that the version in Isaiah is abbreviated from that in Kings. If that is so, Is 38:21–22 would be a secondary addition from Kings, inserted by a later reader who thought the account incomplete.
a. [38:1] 2 Kgs 20:1.
b. [38:3] 2 Kgs 18:5–6.
d. [38:8] 2 Kgs 20:9–11.
e. [38:10] Jb 17:11–13; Ps 102:25.