Now, therefore, give pledges - Margin, ‹Hostages.‘ The Hebrew verb (ערב ‛ârab ) means properly to mix or mingle; then, to exchange commodities by barter or traffic; then, to become surety for anyone, to exchange with him, to stand in his place; then, to pledge, to pledge one‘s life, or to give security of any kind. Here it is used in a spirit of taunting or derision, and is equivalent to what would be said among us, ‹I will bet you, or I will lay a wager, that if we should give you only two thousand horses, you could not find men enough to ride them, or men that had knowledge of horsemanship enough to guide them.‘ There was much severity in this taunt. The Jews hoped to defend themselves. Yet here was an immense army coming up to lay siege against them. What hope had they of defense? So weak and feeble were they, that Rabshakeh said they could not furnish even two thousand horsemen to resist all the host of the Assyrians. There was also, doubtless, much truth in this taunt. It was not permitted by the law of Moses for the Jews to keep cavalry, nor for their kings to multiply horses. The reason of this may be seen in the notes at Isaiah 2:7. Though some of the kings, and especially Solomon, had disregarded this law of Moses, yet Hezekiah had endeavored to restore the observance of the law, and it is probable that he find no cavalry, and that the art of horsemanship was little known in Jerusalem. As the Assyrians prided themselves on their cavalry, they consequently looked with contempt on a people who were destitute of this means of defense.
The long-expected crisis finally came. The forces of Assyria, advancing from triumph to triumph, appeared in Judea. Confident of victory, the leaders divided their forces into two armies, one of which was to meet the Egyptian army to the southward, while the other was to besiege Jerusalem. PK 352.1
Judah's only hope was now in God. All possible help from Egypt had been cut off, and no other nations were near to lend a friendly hand. PK 352.2
The Assyrian officers, sure of the strength of their disciplined forces, arranged for a conference with the chief men of Judah, during which they insolently demanded the surrender of the city. This demand was accompanied by blasphemous revilings against the God of the Hebrews. Because of the weakness and apostasy of Israel and Judah, the name of God was no longer feared among the nations, but had become a subject for continual reproach. See Isaiah 52:5. PK 352.3Read in context »