20:1 Thou shalt die, and not live
King Hezekiah is told that he is going to be punished by losing his life in this world and, the commentator Rashi explains, the next world as well. The reason for the punishment is that until now he has refrained from getting married and having children. His intentions are pure since he knows through prophecy that his son will be evil and he wishes to avoid bringing such a child into the world. However, Hezekiah is told that his responsibility is to follow God’s commandment and to have children, regardless of the consequences. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner notes that Hezekiah’s decision whether or not to have children is particularly important because his descendants represent the continuation of the Davidic dynasty, and are thus critical for the future of the Children of Israel. Hezekiah understands that he has erred. He prays to God for forgiveness and corrects his mistake. Though his son Manasseh is indeed evil, his great-grandson is the righteous King Josiah. Josiah is responsible for starting a religious renaissance in the kingdom. He gets rid of all forms of idolatry, including the altar erected by Jeroboam (thus fulfilling God’s prophecy in I Kings 13:2), and renews the people’s covenant with God.
2 Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto Hashem, saying:
ב וַיַּסֵּב אֶת פָּנָיו אֶל הַקִּיר וַיִּתְפַּלֵּל אֶל יְהוָה לֵאמֹר.
3 ‘Remember now, O Hashem, I beseech Thee, how I have walked before Thee in truth and with a whole heart, and have done that which is good in Thy sight.’ And Chizkiyahu wept sore.
ג אָנָּה יְהוָה זְכָר נָא אֵת אֲשֶׁר הִתְהַלַּכְתִּי לְפָנֶיךָ בֶּאֱמֶת וּבְלֵבָב שָׁלֵם וְהַטּוֹב בְּעֵינֶיךָ עָשִׂיתִי וַיֵּבְךְּ חִזְקִיָּהוּ בְּכִי גָדוֹל.
4 And it came to pass, before Yeshayahu was gone out of the inner court of the city, that the word of Hashem came to him, saying:
ד וַיְהִי יְשַׁעְיָהוּ לֹא יָצָא העיר (חָצֵר) הַתִּיכֹנָה וּדְבַר יְהוָה הָיָה אֵלָיו לֵאמֹר.
5 ‘Return, and say to Chizkiyahu the prince of My people: Thus saith Hashem, the God of David thy father: I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears; behold, I will heal thee; on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of Hashem.
6 And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Ashur; and I will defend this city for Mine own sake, and for My servant David’s sake.’
7 And Yeshayahu said: ‘Take a cake of figs.’ And they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered.
ז וַיֹּאמֶר יְשַׁעְיָהוּ קְחוּ דְּבֶלֶת תְּאֵנִים וַיִּקְחוּ וַיָּשִׂימוּ עַל הַשְּׁחִין וַיֶּחִי.
9 And Yeshayahu said: ‘This shall be the sign unto thee from Hashem, that Hashem will do the thing that He hath spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees?
ט וַיֹּאמֶר יְשַׁעְיָהוּ זֶה לְּךָ הָאוֹת מֵאֵת יְהוָה כִּי יַעֲשֶׂה יְהוָה אֶת הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר דִּבֵּר הָלַךְ הַצֵּל עֶשֶׂר מַעֲלוֹת אִם יָשׁוּב עֶשֶׂר מַעֲלוֹת.
10 And Chizkiyahu answered: ‘It is a light thing for the shadow to decline ten degrees; nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees.’
י וַיֹּאמֶר יְחִזְקִיָּהוּ נָקֵל לַצֵּל לִנְטוֹת עֶשֶׂר מַעֲלוֹת לֹא כִי יָשׁוּב הַצֵּל אֲחֹרַנִּית עֶשֶׂר מַעֲלוֹת.
13 And Chizkiyahu hearkened unto them, and showed them all his treasure-house, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious oil, and the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures; there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Chizkiyahu showed them not.
14 Then came Yeshayahu the Navi unto king Chizkiyahu, and said unto him: ‘What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee?’ And Chizkiyahu said: ‘They are come from a far country, even from Bavel.’
15 And he said: ‘What have they seen in thy house?’ And Chizkiyahu answered: ‘All that is in my house have they seen; there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shown them.’
טו וַיֹּאמֶר מָה רָאוּ בְּבֵיתֶךָ וַיֹּאמֶר חִזְקִיָּהוּ אֵת כָּל אֲשֶׁר בְּבֵיתִי רָאוּ לֹא הָיָה דָבָר אֲשֶׁר לֹא הִרְאִיתִם בְּאֹצְרֹתָי.
17 Behold, the days come, that all that is in thy house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried to Bavel; nothing shall be left, saith Hashem.
יז הִנֵּה יָמִים בָּאִים וְנִשָּׂא כָּל אֲשֶׁר בְּבֵיתֶךָ וַאֲשֶׁר אָצְרוּ אֲבֹתֶיךָ עַד הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה בָּבֶלָה לֹא יִוָּתֵר דָּבָר אָמַר יְהוָה.
18 And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, whom thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be officers in the palace of the king of Bavel.’
יח וּמִבָּנֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר יֵצְאוּ מִמְּךָ אֲשֶׁר תּוֹלִיד יקח (יִקָּחוּ) וְהָיוּ סָרִיסִים בְּהֵיכַל מֶלֶךְ בָּבֶל.
20 Now the rest of the acts of Chizkiyahu, and all his might, and how he made the pool, and the conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Yehuda?