New American Bible (Revised Edition)
Sickness and Recovery of Hezekiah. 1 [a]In those days,[b] when Hezekiah was mortally ill, the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, came and said to him: “Thus says the Lord: Put your house in order, for you are about to die; you shall not recover.”(A) 2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord:
3 “Ah, Lord, remember how faithfully and wholeheartedly I conducted myself in your presence, doing what was good in your sight!” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.(B)
4 Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: 5 Go, tell Hezekiah:[c] Thus says the Lord, the God of your father David: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Now I will add fifteen years to your life. 6 I will rescue you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; I will be a shield to this city.(C)
7 This will be the sign for you from the Lord that the Lord will carry out the word he has spoken: 8 See, I will make the shadow cast by the sun on the stairway to the terrace of Ahaz[d] go back the ten steps it has advanced. So the sun came back the ten steps it had advanced.(D)
Hezekiah’s Hymn of Thanksgiving. 9 The song of Hezekiah, king of Judah, after he had been sick and had recovered from his illness:
10 In the noontime of life[e] I said,
I must depart!
To the gates of Sheol I have been consigned
for the rest of my years.(E)
11 I said, I shall see the Lord[f] no more
in the land of the living.
Nor look on any mortals
among those who dwell in the world.
12 My dwelling, like a shepherd’s tent,
is struck down and borne away from me;
You have folded up my life, like a weaver
who severs me from the last thread.[g](F)
From morning to night you make an end of me;
13 I cry out even until the dawn.
Like a lion he breaks all my bones;
from morning to night you make an end of me.(G)
14 Like a swallow I chirp;
I moan like a dove.
My eyes grow weary looking heavenward:
Lord, I am overwhelmed; go security for me!
15 [h]What am I to say or tell him?
He is the one who has done it!
All my sleep has fled,
because of the bitterness of my soul.
16 Those live whom the Lord protects;
yours is the life of my spirit.
You have given me health and restored my life!
17 Peace in place of bitterness!
You have preserved my life
from the pit of destruction;
Behind your back
you cast all my sins.[i]
18 [j]For it is not Sheol that gives you thanks,
nor death that praises you;
Neither do those who go down into the pit
await your kindness.(H)
19 The living, the living give you thanks,
as I do today.
Parents declare to their children,
O God, your faithfulness.
20 The Lord is there to save us.
We shall play our music
In the house of the Lord
all the days of our life.
21 [k]Then Isaiah said, “Bring a poultice of figs and apply it to the boil for his recovery.” 22 Hezekiah asked, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the Lord?”
- 38:1–39:8 The events of this section—sickness and recovery of Hezekiah, embassy of Merodach-baladan—anticipate the rise of Babylon (chaps. 40–66). They occurred prior to the events of 36:1–37:38, which point back to Assyria (1:1–35:10).
- 38:1 In those days: before the siege of Jerusalem in 701 B.C.
- 38:5 Since Hezekiah died in 687 B.C., his sickness may have occurred in 702 B.C., that is, fifteen years before.
- 38:8 Stairway to the terrace of Ahaz: this interpretation is based on a reading of the Hebrew text revised according to the Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah; cf. 2 Kgs 23:12. Many translate the phrase as “steps of Ahaz” and understand this as referring to a sundial.
- 38:10 In the noontime of life: long before the end of a full span of life; cf. Ps 55:24; 102:25.
- 38:11 See the Lord: go to the Temple and take part in its service.
- 38:12 These two metaphors emphasize the suddenness and finality of death.
- 38:15–16 The Hebrew text is very problematic and its meaning uncertain.
- 38:17 Behind your back you cast all my sins: figurative language to express the divine forgiveness of sins, as if God no longer saw or cared about them.
- 38:18–19 See note on Ps 6:6.
- 38:21–22 These verses are clearly out of place. Logically they should come after v. 6, as they do in the parallel account in 2 Kgs 20, but the two accounts are not identical, and it appears that the version in Isaiah is abbreviated from that in Kings. If that is so, Is 38:21–22 would be a secondary addition from Kings, inserted by a later reader who thought the account incomplete.
King James Version
38 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live.
2 Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the Lord,
3 And said, Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.
4 Then came the word of the Lord to Isaiah, saying,
5 Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the Lord, 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.
6 And I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria: and I will defend this city.
7 And this shall be a sign unto thee from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing that he hath spoken;
8 Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down.
9 The writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick, and was recovered of his sickness:
10 I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave: I am deprived of the residue of my years.
11 I said, I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord, in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world.
12 Mine age is departed, and is removed from me as a shepherd's tent: I have cut off like a weaver my life: he will cut me off with pining sickness: from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me.
13 I reckoned till morning, that, as a lion, so will he break all my bones: from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me.
14 Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove: mine eyes fail with looking upward: O Lord, I am oppressed; undertake for me.
15 What shall I say? he hath both spoken unto me, and himself hath done it: I shall go softly all my years in the bitterness of my soul.
16 O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: so wilt thou recover me, and make me to live.
17 Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.
18 For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.
19 The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth.
20 The Lord was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the Lord.
21 For Isaiah had said, Let them take a lump of figs, and lay it for a plaister upon the boil, and he shall recover.
22 Hezekiah also had said, What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the Lord?