Isaiah 37

1 AND it came to pass, that when the king Hezekiah heard it, he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of Jehovah.
2 And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah, the son of Amoz, the prophet.

VERSES 1, 2. This was done because by the “king of Assyria” is here signified the rational principle perverted, or the rational principle which perverts the Truths and Goods of the church, and destroys them by falses; all “the words of Tartan [Rabshakeh], the captain of the king of Assyria, involving such things: and because the church was seen to be in imminent danger of desolation and devastation, therefore, to testify mourning and grief on account thereof, “they rent their clothes, and covered themselves with sackcloth.” From this and from other passages, (see.2 Sam. iii. 31; Dan. ix, 3; Jonah iii. 5, 6, 8.) it is evident that grief was represented in the Jewish and Israelitish church by “the putting on of sackcloth;” and this because grief of mind and sorrow of heart, which are interior things, were at that time represented by external things, which, on account of their correspondence with spiritual things, were thus significative. That a representative of grief by “the putting on of sackcloth,” signified specifically grief on account of the desolation of Truth and of the devastation of Good in the church, and, in particular, repentance and then grief of heart on account of evils might be proved from many passages. A.E. 637. See above, Chap. iii. 18-25; xv. 3; xxii. 12, Exposition.

3 And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of distress, and of rebuke, and of contumely: for the sons are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth.
4 Perhaps Jehovah thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom his lord the king of Assyria hath sent to blaspheme the living God, and will reprove the words which Jehovah thy God hath heard: and do thou offer up prayer for the remnant which is found.
5 And the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah.

Verse 3. That Truths from the Word may be heard and known, and yet reformation not be effected thereby, is signified by the “sons are come to tht birth, and there is not strength to bring forth,” to “bring forth” signifies to make Truths fruitful by doing them, whence comes reformation. That this was a grief of heart and of mind, and disgraceful to the church, is signified by “a day of distress, and of rebuke, and of contumely.” A. E. 721.

6 And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say to your lord, Thus saith Jehovah, Be not afraid because of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me.

Verses 6, 7, ,37, 38. Because the rational mind is that which both acknowledges and denies the Divine [Being], and when it denies, it seizes upon everything false in the place of Truth, and thus perishes; wherefore this representative existed, namely, that “the king of Assyria, because he blasphemed Jehovah, was slain with the sword by his own sons, in the house of Nisroch his god,” as we read in Isaiah xxxvii. 37,38. A.E.131.
Verses 6, 17, 23, 24. Thus saith Jehovah, Be not afraid because of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me, &c.-From these words it is evident that “blasphemy” is predicated of false speaking against God, for by the “king of Assyria,” who then was Schnacherib, is signified the rational principle, but perverted, which speaks against Divine Truth, and treats it opprobriously, and perverts it by falses, which also is to falsify it, The falses which he spake against Divine Truth are signified by the things mentioned in verses 10, 11, 12, 13, 24, 25; all of which were not only blasphemies against God, but also falsifications of Divine Truth. A.E.778.
The “blasphemies” which they spake were against God, and against the king and Jerusalem, thus against Divine Truth, as is more clearly evident from the internal sense; hence, from grief, they “tore their garments.” A. C. 4763.
To “blaspheme” and “blasphemy” signifies to deny the Divinity of the Lord, as the Socinians do, and to deny the Word; for they who deny the Divinity of the Lord cannot enter into heaven, for the Divine of the Lord is the all in all of heaven; and he who denies the Word, denies all things of religion. A. R. 571.

7 Behold, I will infuse a spirit into him; and he shall hear a report, and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.
8 And Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria fighting against Libnah: for he heard that he had departed from Lachish.

Verse 7. The term “spirit” has various signiflcations in the Word. Since the life of man varies according to his state, therefore by the term “spirit” is also signified the peculiar affection of his life. As 1, a life of wisdom; as “Bezaleel was filled with the spirit of wisdom;” &c. (Exod. xxxi. 3; see also Deut. xxxiv. 9; Dan. v. 12.) It signifies 2, the excitement of life; as “Jehovah hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes.” (Jer. li. 11.) “Behold, I will infuse [or give] a spirit into the king of Assyria, and he shall hear a report,” &c. (Isa. xxxvii. 7.) The term “spirit” also signifies 3, liberty of life. (Ezek. 1. 20.) 4. Life in fear, pain, and. anger. (Ezek. xxi. 7; Psalm cxliii. 4, 7; Dan. vii. 15; Gen. xli. 8.) The term “spirit” signifies also 5, a life of various evil affections; as “the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err.” (Hosea iv. 12; v. 4.) “The spirit of jealousy,” &c. (Numb. iv. 14.) The term” spirit” also signifies 6, infernal life; as “I will cause the unclean spririt to pass out of the land.” (Zech. xiii. 2.) 7. The term “spirit” further signifies the infernal spirits themselves, by whom mankind are troubled, as in Matt. viii. 16, and in many other passages. Doct. of the Lord,. 48.

9 And he heard concerning Tirhakah, king of Cush, saying, He is come forth to make war with thee. And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying,
10 Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah, king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God, in whom thou confidest, deceive thee, saying, That Jerusalem shall not: be given up into the hand of the king of Assyria.
11 Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly; and shalt thou be delivered?

Verse 9. King of Ethiopia, or Cush.-See above, Chap. xviii. 1, 2, Exposition.
To make war with thee.-As to the “wars” mentioned in the Word, see Chap. vii. 1, Exposition.

12 Have the gods of the nations delivered those which my fathers have destroyed? Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph; and the sons of Eden which were in Telassar?
13 Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, of Henah, and of Ivah?

Verses 12, 13. See Chap. xxxvi. 19, Exposition.

14 And Hezekiah received the letters from the hand of the messengers, and read them; and he went up to the house of Jehovah: and Hezekiah spread them before the face of Jehovah.
15 And Hezekiah prayed to Jehovah, saying,

Verses 14, 15 And Hezekiah spread the letters before the face of Jehovah, and prayed, &c.-[To “spread the letters full of blasphemy before Jehovah in the temple,” was an act which, by correspondence, signifies the acknowledgment and confession, before the Lord, of the evils to which the church is exposed; and it also shews, on the part of the church, full confidence in Him as the only Protector and Saviour against the evils which would destroy it. It may here be observed that this act of “shewing the blasphemous letters to Jehovah is the direct opposite to that of “shewing to the messengers from Babylon all the precious things, silver, gold, spices, &c. in his dominion ;” (see Chap. xxxix. 2.) which act signified the exposure of all the Truths, Goods, and Sanctities of the Word and of the church to the influence of Babylon, which is that of adulteration and profanation. (See Chap, xiii: and xiv, Exposition.) For which act of Hezekiah the prophet Isaiah was sent to declare that “everything of the church would be taken captive to Babylon,” that is, would be adulterated and profaned.]
And Hezekiah. prayed, &c.-As to the true nature of “prayer” see Chap. i. 11-19; xviii. 7, Exposition.

16 O Jehovah of Hosts, Thou God of Israel, who art seated on the Cherubim! Thou art the God, Thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth! Thou hast made the heavens and the earth!
17 Incline, O Jehovah, Thine ear, and hear; open, O Jehovah, Thine eyes, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he hath sent to blaspheme the living God.
18 In truth, O Jehovah, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their lands;

Verse 16. The Lord is “seated or dwelleth on the Cherubim ” as to the state of Provldence, lest any one should be let in to the holy things of love and of faith except he is prepared by the Lord. That the Cherubim were upon the curtains of the Tabernacle, upon the Veil, upon the walls, of the temple, and upon the doors there, was to signify the Lord’s guardian care, lest the Holy Divine should be approached but by the good of love. There were also Cherubim on the Ark, to signify that the Lord Himself cannot be approached but by that good. On this account also It was that the Cherubim were made of solid gold, and in the Temple at. Jerusalem of olive-wood, or wood of oil; for by “gold” and by “oil” is signified the good of love. A. C. 3384. See also 9509.

19 And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were not gods, but the work of the hands of man, wood and stone; therefore they have destroyed them.
20 And now, O Jehovah, our God, save us from his hand; that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that Thou alone art Jehovah!
21 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent unto Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith Jehovah the God of Israel, Whereas thou hast prayed to Me against Sennacherib, king of Assyria:

Verse 19. By “the gods of the kings of Assyria” are here signfied reasonings from falses and evils, which agree with the proprium of man, wherefore they are also called “the work of the hands of man, wood and stone,” or idols of wood and of stone, which signify the evils and falses of religion and of doctrine originating in the proprium, A. E. 686.

22 This is the word which Jehovah hath spoken concerning him: The virgin, daughter of Zion, despiseth thee, she laugheth at thee; the daughter of Jerusalem shaketh her head at thee.
23 Whom hast thou blasphemed and reviled; and against whom, hast thou exalted thy voice? and hast lifted up thine eyes on high? Even against the Holy One of Israel.

Verse 22. There are two affections which constitute the church,-one, or the affection of Good, constitutes the celestial church, and is called in the Word “the virgin, the daughter of Zion, and the other, or the affection of Truth, constitutes the spiritual church, and is called in the Word “the daughter of Jerusalem.” A. C. 2362. See Chap. xvi. 2, Exposition.

24 By the hand of thy servants hast thou blasphemed, the Lord, and hast said, By the multitude of my chariots will I ascend the height of the mountains, the sides of Lebanon; and I will cut down the tall cedars thereof, and the choice fir-trees thereof: and I will enter into the height of his border, and the forest of his fruitful field.

Verse 24: By these words, in the internal sense, is described the haughtiness of those who, by ratiocinations from falses, are desirous to destroy the Goods and Truths of the church. The “king of Assyria” is the rational Principle perverted; “the multitude of his chariots” signifies ratiocinations from falses of doctrine. To ascend the height of the mountains, the sides of Lebanon,” and to “cut down the tall cedars and the choice fir-trees thereof,” signifies the endeavour to destroy the Goods and Truths of the church, as well internal as external; the mountains denote the Goods of the church, the “sides of Lebanon” where the Goods are conjoined with Truths; “Lebanon” denoting the spiritual church, the “cedars” the Internal Truths thereof, which are from Good, and the “fir-trees” the external Truths thereof, also from Good. Such is the signification of these words in the spiritual sense in which they are understeod in heaven. A. E. 405. See also 654.

25 I have digged, and I have drunk waters; and I have dried up with the sole of my steps all the streams of Egypt.

Verse 25. The “king of Assyria,” or the rational principle perverted, destroying all the knowledges and apperceptions of Truth, is signified by “drying up with the sole of his steps all the streams of Egypt.” The reason why the “streams of Egypt” signify the knowledges and apperceptions of Truth is, because “Egypt” is the natural man as to scientifics, knowledges, and apperceptions which belong to the natural man, as intelligence does to the spiritual man. A.E. 518. See, Chap. xix., Exposition.

26 Hast thou not heard, from of old, that I have done it? and, from the days of antiquity, that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldst be to lay waste fortified cities into ruinous heaps.

Verse 26. These words refer to the antediluvian time denoted by “of old” and “the days of antiquity.” A. C. 274.
To “lay waste fortified cities into ruinous heaps,” as said of the king of Assyria, is to destroy, by false reasonings, the truths and doctrinals of the church and of the Word. See Chap. xxiii, 13, Exposition.

27 Therefore were their inhabitants of small strength; they were dismayed and confounded: they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb; the grass of the house-top; and as the corn blasted before it is grown up.
28 But thy sitting down, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against Me I have known:

Verse 27. “Inhabitants of small strength [or, literally, short in hand],” signifies of no power. A. C. 878.
As the grass of the field,-as the corn blasted, &c- See Chap. xv, 6,Exposition.

Verse 28. It was a common form of speech among the ancients to say that they knew the “entering in” and the “going. out” of a person, to indicate that they knew all, the state of his life; and as this form of speech derived its origin from correspondences in the other life, wherefore, in the Word, similar things are said and. signified thereby, as in Samuel:-“Achish called David, and said unto him, Thou hast been upright, and thy going out and thy coming in with me in the camp has been good in my eyes; for I have not found evil in thee.” (1 Sam. xxix, 6.) “His going out and his entering in being good in his eyes,” signifies that all the state of his life had been well pleasing to him. Again-“Thou knowest Abner, that he came to persuade thee, and to know thy going out and thy coming in, and to know all that thou doest. (2 Sam. iii. 25.) To know his “going out,” and his “coming in,” is to know all the thoughts and acts of his life; wherefore it is said, “that he might know all that thou doest.” Again-” Thy sitting down, thy going out, thy coming in, and thy rage against Me I have known;” (Isa. xxxvii. 28.) speaking of Sennacherib the king of Assyria. To know his “going out” and his ” coming in,” is to know all things of his counsel. A.C. 9927.

29 Because thy rage against Me, and thy insolence, is come up into Mine ears, therefore will I put My hook into thy nose, and My bridle into thy lips; and I will turn thee back by the way in which thou earnest.

Verse 29. These things are said concerning the “king of Assyria,” by whom is signified ratiocination from falses; for, in the good sense, by “Assyria.” is signified the rational principle. Because, that king then besieged Jerusalem, and blasphemed God, it was said to him that “a hook should be put into his nose,” whereby is signified that stupidity and foolishness should possess him; for the “nose” signifies perception, and the “hook” the extracting thereof, properly, immersion into the corporeal sensual principle, which, when separated from the rational, is stupid. It is likewise said that “a bridle should be put into his lips,” whereby is signified “insanity as to the understanding of Truth; for the “lips” signify thought from the understanding, and the “bridle” the retraction thereof. To “turn him back by the way in which he came,” signifies into the falses by which he was about to perish; wherefore his “army,” by which those falses were signified, perished by a great slaughter. A.E. 923.

30 And this shall be a sign unto thee: Eat this year that which springeth up of itself; and the second year, that which groweth up of its own accord: and in the third year, sow ye, and reap; and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof.

Verse 30. This was said to Hezekiah the king, when Sennacherib, king of Assyria, made war against him, and spake proudly of himself, and contumeliously of God and of Israel, wherefore also one hundred and eighty-five thousand were smitten in the camp, and himself was slain by his sons. The reason why this was done, was, because by “Assyria” is signified the rational [principle], and the same by the “king of Assyria,” and by “Judea” the celestial [principle] of the church, and the spiritual [principle] by the “king” thereof; but, in this case, by the “king of Assyria” is signified the rational [principle] perverted, which, by false reasonings, destroys all the celestial and spiritual things of the church, which are the Goods and Truths thereof; and inasmuch as by “Judea” and by the ” king” thereof is signified the celestial and spiritual principle of the church, which should be from the Lord when He came into the world, therefore such things are said, by which is described the regeneration of those who should be of that church. Wherefore by “the sign, that they should eat in the first year that which springeth up of itself [or spontaneously],” is signified celestial Good which shall be implanted in them from the Lord; by “that which groweth up of its own accord in the second year,” is signified the Truth of that Good which shall thence be derived; by “sowing, reaping, planting vineyards, and eating the fruit thereof,” are signified all the Goods and Truths which thence flow forth; by “sowing and reaping” is signified the implantation of Good and the reception thereof; by “planting vineyards,” the implantation of Truth and the reception thereof; and by “eating the fruits of them,” the fruition of Goods, and satisfaction thence derived, appertaining to the regenerate man, These things are called a “sign,” because they are testifications concerning the celestial church with those who are understood in the spiritual sense by “Judah,” whose regeneration is effected from the Lord by the implantation of celestial Good, afterwards by the implantation of spiritual Good, which, in its essence, is the Truth of celestial Good; and lastly, by multiplication and fructification in the natural man. A. E. 700.

31 And again shall the escaped, the remnant of the house of Judah, strike root downwards, and bear fruit upwards.

32 For from Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant; and the escaped from Mount Zion: the zeal of Jehovah of Hosts shall do this.
33 Therefore thus saith Jehovah concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not enter into this city; nor shall he shoot an arrow into it; nor shall he come before it with a shield; nor shall he cast up a mound against it.
34 By the way in which he came, by the same shall he return; and into this city shall he not come, saith Jehovah.

Verses 31, 32. Again shall the escaped, the remnant of the house of Judah, strike root downwards, and bear fruit upwards, &c.-As to the meaning of the “remnant” and the “escaped,” see Chap. i. 9; iv. 2, 3, Exposition. [The “remnant of the house of Judah” is said to “strike root downwards,” to denote that truths from a celestial origin will then be implanted in the natural man; and to “bear fruits upwards,” that goods of life will be of a celestial and spiritual origin, or from the “internal man.]

35 And I will defend this city to save it, for Mine own sake, and for the sake of David My servant.

Verse 35. These words are said of the Assyrians, in whose camp one hundred and eighty-five thousand were slain. “David” stands for the Lord, who was to come, and who, as to His Humanity, is called a “Servant.” That ” David,” in the Word, signifies the Lord, may be seen, n. 1880. Whilst the Lord was in a state of humiliation, when He had with Him the infirm Human, He worshipped Jehovah as another separate from Himself, and indeed as a Servant, for the Human is respectively nothing else; wherefore, in the Word, a “servant” is predicated of that Human, as in Isa. xxxvii. 35; xlii. 1, 19. A. C. 2159.

36 And the angel of Jehovah went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.

Verse 36. A “camp” and an “encampment” signify, in a good sense, heaven. The reason is, because an ” army” signifies Truths and Goods, which are arranged by the Lord according to heavenly order. Hence arrangement according to order is the encampinq of an army, and the heavenly order itself, which is heaven, is the “camp.” This “camp,” or this order, is such that it cannot possibly be broken into by hell, although hell is in a continual endeavour to break into it. Hence it is that “the camp of God,” in Gen. xxxii. 2, signifies heaven, This essential order is what was represented by the “encampments” of the sons of Israel in the wilderness, thus heaven itself was represented. The dwelling together therein, according to the tribes, was called a “camp;” the “tabernacle” which was in the midst, and about which they encamped, represented the Lord Himself. As many expressions in the Word have an opposite sense, so also has a “camp,” and according to such sense it signifies evils and falses, consequently hell, as in David:-” Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear.” [Psalm xxvii. 3.) Neither is anything else but hell meant by “the camp of Assyria, in which the angel of Jehovah smote a hundred and eghty and five thousand; (Isaiah xxxvii. 36.) In like manner also by “the camp of the Egyptians.” (Exod. xiv. 20, 28.) A. C. 4236.
[The destruction of the Assyrian army was effected by the opening of a hell, and by a powerful influx thence proceeding, which corresponded to the evil and the false signified by the opposition of “the Assyrian army,” and its determination to destroy “Jerusalem,” which represented heaven and the church. A similar thing is described in the Revelation, xx. 9:-“Gog and Magog went up on the breadth of the earth and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city; and, fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.” ‘But this happened in the world of spirits, whereas the destruction of the Assyrian army took place in the natural world, on account of the representatives which then prevailed In the representative or typical church of the Jews. In the one case it is said that “an angel from Jehovah effected the destruction of the Assyrian army,” and in the other that a fire from God out of heaven devoured the enemies of the camp of the saints and the beloved city.” But thut the destruction was effected either by “the angel of Jehovah” or by ” fire from God out of heaven” is an appearance; the real truth is, that they were destroyed by their own evils and falses, (A. R. 863) which, at the period of Judgment, are brought out, and which then overwhelm the wicked with perdition. The Lord never comes to destroy, but to save, and when the good are separated from the wicked, the latter are left to their own evil states and sink down into their respective hells.]

37 Then Sennacherib, king of Assyria, decamped, and departed, and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.
38 And it came to pass, that as he was bowing himself down in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, smote him with the sword; and they escaped, into the land of Ararat: and Esar-haddon his son reigned in his stead.

Verses 37, 38. That “Nineveh” signifies what is false, or false doctrines arising from the fallacies of the senses, and from the obscurity of the understanding not illustrated, and from ignorance, is evident from Jonah, who was sent to Nineveh, which city was pardoned because they were of such a quality. In Isaiah things both historical and prophetical are mentioned, which involve and represent such arcana in like manner as all other historical things mentioned in the Word. In Isaiah we read respecting the king of Assyria, that “he dwelt at Nineveh, and that when he was bowing himself down in the house of Nisroch his god, he was slain by his sons with the sword.” (xxxvii. 37, 38.) Although these things are historical, they are nevertheless prophetical, involving and representing similar arcana. By “Nineveh” here is signified external worship in which are falses, and as this worship was idolatrous, “he was slain by his sons with the sword.” His “sons” are falses, and the “sword” is the punishment of the false. A. C. 1188.

Author: Emanuel Swedenborg [Compiled by J. H. Smithson 1860]