• Akiva Murguia

Isaiah 38 - King Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah) is Cured From His Illness

"At that time, Chizkiyahu became ill to death, Isaiah son of Amotz came to him and told him, thus says G-d: "Charge your household, for you shall die and not live." - Isaiah 38:1

The message was that Chizkiyahu will "die and not live" - he will die the ultimate death, because he is leaving no children. He will die in this world and not live in the next, because he did not marry and propagate. And why, really, did Chizkiyahu not marry? Because he "knew" with his divine inspiration that he would have a wicked son - Menashe. But G-d, in His wisdom, had other plans - to use Menashe as a lesson for others. Menashe would repent from the depths of despair and from the midst of being tortured. Nevertheless, G-d would accept him and this would atone for Menashe's past. Chizkiyahu understood Isaiah's inferences that the reason for his deathly illness was his bachelorhood. He also understood that the verdict of death was not final and could be mitigated. So Chizkiyahu ignored Isaiah's overt message, but heeded the unspoken one. Chizkiyahu went to pray.

"Chizkiyahu then turned his face to the wall and prayed to G-d." - Isaiah 38:2

Facing the wall to be alone with G-d, Chizkiyahu confronted his situation - his having no wife or children. He then poured out his heart, from the "walls" of his heart, and begged G-d for His compassion. He looked deep in his heart, within its "walls," until he was able to say, "G-d, I have served You with all my heart!"

"He said, "Please G-d! Please remember that I have walked before you, sincerely and wholeheartedly, and I have done what is right in Your eyes." Chizkiyahu then wept profusely." - Isaiah 38:3

Deeply perturbed by Isaiah's message that not propagating had cost him his life, Chizkiyahu beseeched G-d to look at his good deeds, because good deeds are a person's real "children." He also begged G-d to remember another good thing he did - he had hidden the Book of Natural Cures, so that people pray and not rely on those cures. Chizkiyahu himself now had to pray rather than seek natural cures.

"The Word of G-d came to Isaiah, saying, Go and tell Chizkiyahu, "Thus says G-d, Lord of your forefather David: I have heard your prayers, I have seen your tears - I shall add fifteen years to your life. I shall save you and this city from the hands of the king of Assyria - I shall protect this city." - Isaiah 38:4-6

G-d sent Isaiah to convey His forgiveness in the merit of the Davidic dynasty. G-d would thus heal him miraculously, just as the illness had been miraculous, to give Chizkiyahu the chance to marry. Chizkiyahu had, in fact, already asked Isaiah for his daughter in marriage, hoping that their combined merits would prevent Menashe from turning out bad. In David's merit, G-d would also deliver Jerusalem, the city that David built, from the hands of King Sancheiriv.

"A letter of King Chikiyahu of Yehudah, for his being ill and recovering from his illness:" - Isaiah 38:9

To publicize the miracle of his recovery from the doors of death, Chizkiyahu committed his experience to writing. When it was finished, he sent copies to all kings to proclaim G-d as his healer. His intention was simply to praise G-d, both for the recovery and for the illness - it was the illness which precipitated his repentance. It was his acceptance to marry which returned him to life and, in fact, gave him a new beginning.

"As the swift or the swallow did I moan, I murmured like a dove. I turned my eyes upward (and said,) G-d! Grab me, sweeten my lot!" - Isaiah 38:14

I groaned and I sighed like a chirping bird - so weak and unintelligible were my cries. And when I was so weak that I could not even sigh, I just lifted my eyes and prayed silently that G-d grab me from the clutches of death.

"What can I say? - He fulfilled what He told me. I shall shake off sleep over my bitterness." - Isaiah 38:15

What can I say in praise of G-d for His bringing me back from the brink of death, as He promised? I shall fend off sleep for the rest of my years to thank Him for removing my bitterness.

"G-d! You are upon them and they live. And foremost of them, the life of my spirit - You healed me and brought me to life." - Isaiah 38:16

When G-d grants a man life, that man will live - even beyond his decreed allotment. And when G-d grants the dead life, they too will live, as will yet happen in the Future. This is what G-d did for me - may He make them healthy and life filled years. I, on my part, will use these coming years as a life of spiritual growth.

"As for peace, I was bitter - bitter! But You desired my soul from the grave's decay and cast all my sins behind Your back." - Isaiah 38:17

And my bitterness was a double one - my own illness, which robbed me of inner peace, and the nation's lack of peace due to Sancheiriv's siege. In fact, the nation's peace concerned me more than my own illness! In merit of that, You saved my soul, casting my many sins behind You.

"Isaiah said (to Chizkiyahu): "Take a cake of figs and place it on the boil so that it will heal." Chizkiyahu then said: "What a wonder that I can go up to the House of G-d!" - Isaiah 38:21-22

As a postscript to his letter, Chizkiyahu adds another details of his healing: To reassure the Jewish people of their leader's health at this crucial time of the siege, Chizkiyahu asked Isaiah for a sign to show the people that he would heal. Isaiah took a dried fig, which is bad for a boil and placed it on Chizkiyahu's boil. It immediately healed and Chizkiyahu exclaimed, "How wondrous is this sign!" But Isaiah then said that G-d wants to give a sign which the whole world will know - the turning back of the sun.

Commentary from Meam Loez.

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