38:1 For you are going to die; you will not get well
The Talmud (Berachot 10a) relates an ancient tradition regarding this exchange between Yeshayahu the prophet and King Chizkiyahu. When Chizkiyahu became sick, Yeshayahu came and said “You shall die and not live,” meaning you shall die in this world and not live in the world to come either, because you did not try to have children. Chizkiyahu responded that he acted this way because he saw through prophecy that his children would be evil (referring to his son and successor, Menashe). Yeshayahu said: “Why did you meddle with God’s secrets? You should have done as you were commanded!” Chizkiyahu repented, and was granted additional years of life. The Talmud concludes with an important lesson: Even if a sharp sword rests upon a man’s neck, he should not desist from prayer. It is never too late to return to Hashem and call out to Him in sincere prayer.2 comments
2 Thereupon Chizkiyahu turned his face to the wall and prayed to Hashem.
ב וַיַּסֵּב חִזְקִיָּהוּ פָּנָיו אֶל־הַקִּיר וַיִּתְפַּלֵּל אֶל־יְהֹוָה׃
3 “Please, Hashem,” he said, “remember how I have walked before You sincerely and wholeheartedly, and have done what is pleasing to You.” And Chizkiyahu wept profusely.
ג וַיֹּאמַר אָנָּה יְהֹוָה זְכָר־נָא אֵת אֲשֶׁר הִתְהַלַּכְתִּי לְפָנֶיךָ בֶּאֱמֶת וּבְלֵב שָׁלֵם וְהַטּוֹב בְּעֵינֶיךָ עָשִׂיתִי וַיֵּבְךְּ חִזְקִיָּהוּ בְּכִי גָדוֹל׃
6 I will also rescue you and this city from the hands of the king of Assyria. I will protect this city.
ו וּמִכַּף מֶלֶךְ־אַשּׁוּר אַצִּילְךָ וְאֵת הָעִיר הַזֹּאת וְגַנּוֹתִי עַל־הָעִיר הַזֹּאת׃
7 And this is the sign for you from Hashem that Hashem will do the thing that He has promised:
ז וְזֶה־לְּךָ הָאוֹת מֵאֵת יְהֹוָה אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה יְהֹוָה אֶת־הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר דִּבֵּר׃
8 I am going to make the shadow on the steps, which has descended on the dial of Achaz because of the sun, recede ten steps.” And the sun[‘s shadow] receded ten steps, the same steps as it had descended.
ח הִנְנִי מֵשִׁיב אֶת־צֵל הַמַּעֲלוֹת אֲשֶׁר יָרְדָה בְמַעֲלוֹת אָחָז בַּשֶּׁמֶשׁ אֲחֹרַנִּית עֶשֶׂר מַעֲלוֹת וַתָּשָׁב הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ עֶשֶׂר מַעֲלוֹת בַּמַּעֲלוֹת אֲשֶׁר יָרָדָה׃
10 I had thought: I must depart in the middle of my days; I have been consigned to the gates of Sheol For the rest of my years.
י אֲנִי אָמַרְתִּי בִּדְמִי יָמַי אֵלֵכָה בְּשַׁעֲרֵי שְׁאוֹל פֻּקַּדְתִּי יֶתֶר שְׁנוֹתָי׃
11 I thought, I shall never see Yah, Yah in the land of the living, Or ever behold men again Among those who inhabit the earth.
יא אָמַרְתִּי לֹא־אֶרְאֶה יָהּ יָהּ בְּאֶרֶץ הַחַיִּים לֹא־אַבִּיט אָדָם עוֹד עִם־יוֹשְׁבֵי חָדֶל׃
12 My dwelling is pulled up and removed from me Like a tent of shepherds; My life is rolled up like a web And cut from the thrum. Only from daybreak to nightfall Was I kept whole,
יב דּוֹרִי נִסַּע וְנִגְלָה מִנִּי כְּאֹהֶל רֹעִי קִפַּדְתִּי כָאֹרֵג חַיַּי מִדַּלָּה יְבַצְּעֵנִי מִיּוֹם עַד־לַיְלָה תַּשְׁלִימֵנִי׃
13 Then it was as though a lion Were breaking all my bones; I cried out until morning. (Only from daybreak to nightfall Was I kept whole.)
יג שִׁוִּיתִי עַד־בֹּקֶר כָּאֲרִי כֵּן יְשַׁבֵּר כָּל־עַצְמוֹתָי מִיּוֹם עַד־לַיְלָה תַּשְׁלִימֵנִי׃
14 I piped like a swift or a swallow, I moaned like a dove, As my eyes, all worn, looked to heaven: “My Lord, I am in straits; Be my surety!”
15 What can I say? He promised me, And He it is who has wrought it. All my sleep had fled Because of the bitterness of my soul.
טו מָה־אֲדַבֵּר וְאָמַר־לִי וְהוּא עָשָׂה אֶדַּדֶּה כָל־שְׁנוֹתַי עַל־מַר נַפְשִׁי׃
16 My Lord, for all that and despite it My life-breath is revived; You have restored me to health and revived me.
טז אֲדֹנָי עֲלֵיהֶם יִחְיוּ וּלְכָל־בָּהֶן חַיֵּי רוּחִי וְתַחֲלִימֵנִי וְהַחֲיֵנִי׃
17 Truly, it was for my own good That I had such great bitterness: You saved my life From the pit of destruction, For You have cast behind Your back All my offenses.
יז הִנֵּה לְשָׁלוֹם מַר־לִי מָר וְאַתָּה חָשַׁקְתָּ נַפְשִׁי מִשַּׁחַת בְּלִי כִּי הִשְׁלַכְתָּ אַחֲרֵי גֵוְךָ כָּל־חֲטָאָי׃
18 For it is not Sheol that praises You, Not [the Land of] Death that extols You; Nor do they who descend into the Pit Hope for Your grace.
יח כִּי לֹא שְׁאוֹל תּוֹדֶךָּ מָוֶת יְהַלְלֶךָּ לֹא־יְשַׂבְּרוּ יוֹרְדֵי־בוֹר אֶל־אֲמִתֶּךָ׃
19 The living, only the living Can give thanks to You As I do this day; Fathers relate to children Your acts of grace:
יט חַי חַי הוּא יוֹדֶךָ כָּמוֹנִי הַיּוֹם אָב לְבָנִים יוֹדִיעַ אֶל־אֲמִתֶּךָ׃
20 “[It has pleased] Hashem to deliver us, That is why we offer up music All the days of our lives At the House of Hashem.”
כ יְהֹוָה לְהוֹשִׁיעֵנִי וּנְגִנוֹתַי נְנַגֵּן כָּל־יְמֵי חַיֵּינוּ עַל־בֵּית יְהֹוָה׃
21 When Yeshayahu said, “Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the rash, and he will recover,”
כא וַיֹּאמֶר יְשַׁעְיָהוּ יִשְׂאוּ דְּבֶלֶת תְּאֵנִים וְיִמְרְחוּ עַל־הַשְּׁחִין וְיֶחִי׃