“On the day after
The murder of Governor Gedaliah,
Before anyone knew of it,
Eighty men arrived
Their beards were shaved.
Their clothes were torn.
Their bodies were gashed.
They were bringing
At the temple of Yahweh.”
The day after the death of Judean governor, 80 pilgrims from the northern areas of Shechem, Shiloh, and Samaria came by. As Mizpah was near Jerusalem, they would want to stop there. Obviously, they knew nothing about the death of Governor Gedaliah the day before, but they might have heard about the good times at Mizpah. These pilgrims had shaved beards, torn clothes, and gashes on their bodies, typical signs of mourning. They may have been on their way to mourn the passing of the Temple in Jerusalem with their grain offerings and incense. However, they might also be on the way to celebrate the feast of Tents.
“When King Hezekiah heard this,
He also tore his clothes.
He covered himself with sackcloth.
He went into the house of Yahweh.”
Once again, this is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 19. The 3 envoys of the king reported to him what they had heard. King Hezekiah also tore his clothes. Apparently it was common to tear your clothes whenever you heard bad news. If you were a pessimist, you would need a large wardrobe or you would often wear torn clothes. Here the king also put on sack cloth, the cloth that carried the various vegetables or foods. Being a good king, King Hezekiah (716-687 BCE) went into the house of Yahweh, the temple.
“But they were silent.
They answered him not a word.
The king’s command was.
‘Do not answer him.’
Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah,
Who was in charge of the palace,
Shebnah the secretary,
With Joah son of Asaph,
Came to King Hezekiah
With their clothes torn.
They told him the words of Rabshakeh.”
Once again in the same words as 2 Kings, chapter 18, there was no response to Rabshakeh, after his Hebrew presentation on why they should surrender rather than rely on their own God, Yahweh. King Hezekiah had told his messengers not to respond. These 3 officials from Judah, Eliakim, Shebnah, and Joah went with torn clothes to King Hezekiah. They told him what Rabshakeh had said.