Isaiah 38

1 IN those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, carne unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, Give charge concerning thy house; for thou art dying, and shalt not live.

VERSE 1. As to “sickness” and “disease,” see Chap. i. 6, 7, Exposition. .
Unto death.-By “death” and by the “dead” are signified those who are in evils and thence in falses. A. E. 899.
They who either pervert, or extinguish, or reject in themselves the Good which is of Love and the Truth which is of Faith, have not life in themselves; for life, which is from the Divine, consists in willing what is Good and in believing what is True. But they who do not will what is Good, but what is evil, or believe not what is True, but what is false, have a principle contrary to life; this principle. contrary to life is hell, and is called “death,” and persons of this description are called “dead.” That the life of Love and of Faith is called ” life,” and – likewise “eternal life,” and that they who have it in themselves are called “living men;” and that what is contrary to life is called “death,”-and likewise” death eternal,” and that persons of this description are called “dead men,” is manifest from many passages in the Word, and amongst others from John viii. 21, 24, 51. A. C. 7494.
Thou art dying.-[To denote that the church of the Jews was approaching to its end, or to its consummation.]

2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed to Jehovah.

Verse 2. [It does not appear that Swedenborg has quoted this verse, but the spiritual signification, we submit, is the following: In the literal sense, by “turning the face to the wall in prayer,” is implied retirement to “pray in secret,” and undisturbed by those in the same apartment. But in the spiritual sense, according to correspondences, we apprehend that the idea involved in “turning the face to the wall.” is to pray from the letter of the Word, and with “the face turned to it” signifies with the interiors of the mind imbued with its spirit and its life; for the “wall,” both of the king’s house, of the temple, and of Jerusalem, signifies the literal sense of the Word. (A. E. 811, 1307, 1311.) All prayer, to be effective, should be full of “the life and spirit” of the Word, and expressed, as much as possible, in the language or literal sense of the Word; for the literal sense, being divine, has power to open heaven even unto the Lord Himself which is signified by Jehovah’s saying-” I have heard thy prayer,” &c. Ver. 5.]

3 And he said, I beseech Thee, O Jehovah, remember how I have walked before Thee in truth, and with a perfect heart; and have done that which is good in Thine eyes. And Hezekiah wept exceedingly.

Verses 3, 5. Hezekiah wept exceedingly,-I have seen thy tears.–As to “weeping” and “tears,” see Chap. xxv. 8, Exposition.

4 Wherefore the word of Jehovah came unto Isaiah, saying,

Verse 4. That the prophets were in one state when in vision, and in another state when they revealed the Word of Jehovah, see Chap. i. 1, Exposition.

5 Go, and say unto Hezekiah, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer; I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.

Verse 5. I have heard thy prayer.-As to “prayers” and “worship,” see Chap. xviii. 7, also Chap. i. 11-19, Exposition.

6 And I will deliver thee and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city.

Verse 6. That to “deliver out of the hand of the king of Assyria,” is to deliver the members of the church from the influence and bondage of negative and false reasonings respecting the Truths of the Word, see Chap. x. 5, 7, 8, 24, 26; xxx. 31, 32; xxxvi. 1, Exposition.

7 And this shall be the sign unto thee from Jehovah, that Jehovah will do this word which He hath spoken:
8 Behold, I will bring back the shadow of the degrees, by which the sun is gone down on the sun-dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. And the sun returned ten degrees, on the degrees [or sun-dial] by which it had gone down,
9 The writing of Hezekiah, the king of Judah, when he had been sick, and had recovered from his sickness:

Verses 7, 8. This sign was given to king Hezekiah for a testification that the Lord would “defend him and Jerusalem from the king of Assyria,” as it is said in verse 6 of this chapter, by which “king” was signified the rational principle perverted, destroying all things of the church; wherefore by this “sign,” in like manner, was represented the New Church, which was to be established by the Lord; but, in this case, that the time which was told to Ahaz, just above, should be further protracted. By “the retraction of the shadow which was gone down on the degrees of Ahaz,” is signified the protraction of the time before it should take place. “The degrees [of the sun-dial] of Ahaz ” signify the time until the advent of the Lord, and the shadow” denotes the progression of time from the rising to the setting: by its being “drawn backward ten degrees,” is signified the prolongation of the time as yet by several years, for “ten” signify several or more; and by the “sun” which should go back, is signified the advent of the Lord. But this is to be further illustrated. The advent of the Lord took place when the Jewish church was at an end, that is, when there was not any Good and Truth therein remaining; this is understood by “when iniquity was consummated,” and also by “the fulness of time” in which the Lord was to come. The entire time of the duration of the Jewish church was represented by “the degrees [on the sun-dial] of Ahaz ;” the beginning thereof by the “first degree,” which is when the sun is in its rising, and the end thereof by the “last degree” in the setting. Hence it is evident that by the “retraction” of the shade, from the setting towards the rising, is understood the prolongation of that time. The reason why this came to pass on “the degrees [of the sun-dial] of Ahaz,” was, because Ahaz was a wicked king, and had profaned the holy things of the church, wherefore, if his successors had done in like manner, the end of the church would have been brought on shortly; but as Hezekiah was an upright king, the time was prolonged, for thereby the iniquity of that nation did not so soon arrive at its consummation, that is, at its end. A. E. 706.

10 I said, when my days were about to be cut off, I am going to the gates of hell; I am numbered as to the residue of my years!

Verse 10. These are the words of Hezekiah the king, when he was sick; and by “numbered.” is signified explored and concluded. That to “number” and be “numbered” have a different signification, in the spiritual sense of the Word, to that which appears in the letter, or the natural sense, may also appear from this circumstance, that with the angels of heaven numbers and measures have no place in their spiritual ideas, that is, they cannot think from numeration or mensuration, but from the quality of a thing, which thought of theirs falls into numbers and measures when it descends thence into a natural sphere; and yet the Word is written for angels as well as for man. Wherefore the angels, by “numbers” and by “numbering” in the Word, perceive the quality of the thing treated of, whilst men understand numbers and numbering. This may still further appear from this consideration, that every “number” in the Word signifies somewhat of thing or state. A. E. 453. See also A.R. 364, and as to “numbering,” Chap. xxii. 9, 10, Exposition.

11 I said, I shall not see Jah,-Jah in the land of the living! I shall no longer behold man with the inhabitants of the world!
12 My age is departed, and is removed from me like a shepherd’s tent: I have cut off, like a weaver, my life: He will cut me off from the loom: from day even unto night wilt Thou consume me.

Verse 11. Inasmuch as the “land” signifies the church, and where the “earth” or “land” is, there is heaven, it is therefore called “the earth or land of the living,” and “the earth or land of life,” as in the above words, and also in Ezekiel:-“Who caused terror in the land of the living,” &c, (xxxii. 23-27.) It is also called “the land of life” in David:-“Unless I had believed to see good in the land of life.” (Psalm xxvii. 13.) A. E. 304.
As to the meaning of “Jah,” in relation to Jehovah or the Lord, see Chap. xii. 2, Exposition.

13 I quieted myself until morning; as a lion did He break all my bones: from day even unto night wilt Thou consume me.

Verse 13. To “break the bones” is to destroy Truths from the Divine, which are the ultimates in order, upon which interior goods and truths rest, and by which they are supported; which ultimates, if destroyed, all things built upon them fall to the ground. Ultimate truths in order are the truths of the literal sense of the Word, in which are the truths of the internal sense, upon which they are supported as columns upon their bases. A. C. 9163.

14 Like the crane, or the swallow, did I twitter; I moaned like the dove: mine eyes failed [with looking] upward. O Jehovah, I am oppressed; be Thou surety for me.

Verse 14. [These words, which depict a state of distress and alarm, signify temptations, and especially as to the intellectual life signified by the “crane,” the “swallow,” and the “dove” distress. The “swallow” corresponds to natural Truth, (A. E. 391.) or to Truth from the Word in the natural mind; the “crane” corresponds, we apprehend, to Truth in the spiritual, and the “dove” to Truth in the celestial degree. Thus the entire mind, as to its intellectual life, is described as to temptations, when Good from the Lord is being united to Truth in the life, which is regeneration. Whilst in these states of oppression and temptation, the Lord is our only “surety,” safety, and comfort.]

15 What shall I say? he hath both spoken unto me, and He Himself hath done it: I will go humbly all my years on account of the bitterness of my soul.
16 O Lord, by these [Thy words] men live, and in all these is the life of my spirit: so wilt Thou recover me, and make me to live.

Verse 15. The “soul” here signifies the life of man’s spirit, which is called his spiritual life. A. E. 750. [See also in the same number the seven different significations which the term “soul” (anima) has in the Word.]

17 Behold, instead of peace there was bitterness to me, [yea] bitterness: Thou hast, in love, delivered my soul from the pit of, destruction; for Thou hast cast behind Thy back all my sins.

Verse 17. Thou hast cast behind Thy back all my sins.-[When sins are removed by repentance, they are, as it were, “cast behind the Lord’s back,” that is, not seen by Him: but when not repented of, and thereby removed, they are said to be “before Him, and in the light of His countenance.” (Pslam xc. 8.) See. T.C.R. 510, 611-614.]

18 For hell cannot praise Thee; death cannot celebrate Thee; they that go down into the pit shall not hope in Thy truth:

Verses 18, 19. From this passage it may appear what is signified by the “dead,” namely, they who have not in themselves the the life of heaven, consequently, who are in evils, and thence in falses. That in this passage “death” denotes damnation, and “life” salvation, is manifest. Forasmuch as “death” is damnation, it is also hell; wherefore hell, in the Word, is commonly called “death,” as in the above words. A.E. 186.

19 The living, the living, he shall praise Thee, as I do this day: the father to the sons shall make known Thy truth.

Verse 19. Jehovah, in the Word of the Old Testament, calls Himself “THE ALIVE” and “THE LIVING” because He alone lives; for He is Love itself and Wisdom itself, and these are Life. That there is but one only Life, which is God, and that angels and men are recipients of life from Him, has been shewn by many things in the work entitled “Angelic Wisdom concerning the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom.” Jehovah calls Himself “THE ALIVE” and “THE LIVING” in Isa. xxxviii. 18, 19; Jer. v. 2; xii. 16; xvi. 14, 15. The Lord also, as to His Divine Humanity, is Life, because the Father and He are one; wherefore He says-“As the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself.” (John v. 26.) “Jesus said, I am the Resurrection and the Life.” (John xi. 25.) “Jesus said, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” (John xiv. 6.) “In the beginning was the Word, and God was the Word; in Him was Life; and the Word became flesh.” (John i. 1-4, 14.) Because the Lord alone is Life, it follows that from Him alone is Life, wherefore He says-“Because I live, ye shall live also.” (John xiv. 19.) A. R. 58.

20 Jehovah was for my salvation: therefore will we sing my songs to the stringed instruments, all the days of our life, in the house of Jehovah.

Verse 20. “Stringed instruments” are attributed to the spiritual things, and “wind instruments” to the celestial things of faith. A. C. 418-420.

21 For Isaiah had said, Let them take a lump of figs, and lay it bruised upon the boil, that he may live.

Verse 21. [“Figs” from correspondence, signify the natural good of man conjoined with the spiritual good, or the good of the natural or external man derived from the good of the spiritual or internal man, and thus from the Lord. It is this good which heals a man of his spiritual diseases and restores him to spiritual health. Hence it was from this spiritual signification of a “lump of figs” that Isaiah said-“Let them lay it bruised upon the boil of Hezekiah, that he may live;” whereas the good of the natural man, separate from the good of the spiritual man, is in itself evil, because it is only good in appearance, assumed by the natural man for the sake of self and of the world. At the period of Judgment this good is dispersed as “the fig falling off from the tree:” (Isa. xxxiv, 4.) See also Jer. viii. 13 and xxix. 17, where it is said-“I will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil; “for there
is nothing so vile as good assumed for the purpose of concealing evil and of carrying out its designs. See also Matt. xi. 18-21, where “the barren fig-tree” is described, which, at the Lord’s rebuke, “withered away,” to shew that the good of the natural man, separate from the spiritual man, “withers away” at the time of Judgment, and leaves him to his own condemnation. A. R. 334; A. E. 403.]

22 Hezekiah also had said, What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of Jehovah ?

Verse 22. As to the meaning of a “sign,” and the difference between a “sign” and a “miracle” or wonder, see Chap. viii. 18. Exposition. In respect to the “house” or “temple of Jehovah,” and its important signification, see Chap. vi. 1, Exposition.

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