2 Kings 18:1-3 . HEZEKIAH'S GOOD REIGN.
14-16. Hezekiah . . . sent to Lachish, saying, . . . that which thou puttest on me will I bear--Disappointed in his expectations of aid from Egypt, and feeling himself unable to resist so mighty a conqueror who was menacing Jerusalem itself, Hezekiah made his submission. The payment of three hundred talents of silver, and thirty talents of gold--about $1,500,000--brought a temporary respite; but, in raising the imposed tribute, he was obliged not only to drain all the treasures of the palace and the temple, but even to strip the doors and pillars of the sacred edifice of the gold that adorned them.
2 Kings 18:17 . SENNACHERIB BESIEGES JERUSALEM.
17. king of Assyria sent Tartan--general ( Isaiah 20:1 ).
Rab-saris--chief of the eunuchs.
Rab-shakeh--chief cupbearer. These were the great officers employed in delivering Sennacherib's insulting message to Hezekiah. On the walls of the palace of Sennacherib, at Khorsabad, certain figures have been identified with the officers of that sovereign mentioned in Scripture. In particular, the figures, Rab-shakeh, Rab-saris, and Tartan, appear as full-length portraits of the persons holding those offices in the reign of Sennacherib. Probably they represent the very individuals sent on this embassy.
with a great host to Jerusalem--Engaged in a campaign of three years in Egypt, Sennacherib was forced by the king of Ethiopia to retreat, and discharging his rage against Jerusalem, he sent an immense army to summon it to surrender.
the conduit of the upper pool--the conduit which went from the reservoir of the Upper Gihon (Birket et Mamilla) to the lower pool, the Birket es Sultan.
the highway of the fuller's field--the public road which passed by that district, which had been assigned them for carrying on their business without the city, on account of the unpleasant smell [KEIL].
18. when they had called to the king--Hezekiah did not make a personal appearance, but commissioned his three principal ministers to meet the Assyrian deputies at a conference outside the city walls.
Eliakim--lately promoted to be master of the royal household ( Isaiah 22:20 ).
Shebna--removed for his pride and presumption ( Isaiah 22:15 ) from that office, though still royal secretary.
Joah . . . the recorder--that is, the keeper of the chronicles, an important office in Eastern countries.
19. Rab-shakeh said--The insolent tone he assumed appears surprising. But this boasting ( 2 Kings 18:19-25 ), both as to matter and manner, his highly colored picture of his master's powers and resources, and the impossibility of Hezekiah making any effective resistance, heightened by all the arguments and figures which an Oriental imagination could suggest, has been paralleled in all, except the blasphemy, by other messages of defiance sent on similar occasions in the history of the East.
27. that they may eat, &c.--This was designed to show the dreadful extremities to which, in the threatened siege, the people of Jerusalem would be reduced.