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2 Chronicles 32:31 New International Version

But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him [Hezekiah] about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart.

What did Hezekiah tell the envoys?

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The record of Hezekiah's illness, recovery and visit from the envoys of Babylon, is recorded three times in the Bible: here is 2 Chron 31:24-31; 2 Kings 20:1–19; and Isaiah 38:1 - 39:8.

The record we have in 2 Chron 31:24-31 is only a summary of those events. That is 2 Kings and Isa provide much more detail. However, none are complete and each of the three records provides some detail that the others do not. Let me summarize the sequence of events as recorded in all, three accounts:

  • Hezekiah become mortally ill
  • The prophet Isaiah predicts Hezekiah's immanent death
  • Hezekiah prays for recovery
  • Isaiah told to tell Hezekiah that he will recover and that as a sign of this, the shadow on the sun-dial will reverse 10 steps
  • The sun's shadow does indeed reverse 10 steps and Hezekiah recovers
  • Hezekiah composes a hymn of praise to YHWH for his recovery and miraculous sign
  • Envoys are dispatched from Babylon because they had heard of Hezekiah's miraculous recovery and seen the reversing of sun-dials - of special interest to the astronomers there; Isa 39:1, 2 Kings 20:12; 2 Chron 32:31
  • Instead of explaining the greatness of YHWH, how he had recovered and the associated sign, Hezekiah proudly showed off his riches; 2 Chron 32:31.
  • Because he did not give glory to God, Hezekiah is given a dire prophecy of the demise of the royal dynasty; 2 kings 20:14-19.

Thus, the miraculous "sign" was the sun reversing on the great sun-dial of Ahaz (Isa 38:7) which signaled Hezekiah's miraculous recovery.

In commenting on 2 Chron 32:31 Ellicott reaches the same conclusion:

Who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder (Hebrew, the sign, as in 2Chronicles 32:24).—This is not mentioned in the parallel passage of Kings and Isaiah. But such an inquiry is quite in harmony with what we know of the Babylonians from their own monuments. Babylon was the home of the arts of divination and augury, from observation of all kinds of signs and portents in every department of nature. Moreover, the sign given to Hezekiah would have a special interest for the astrologers and astronomers of the Babylonian temple-towers.

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Which miraculous sign did the Babylonians ask Hezekiah about in 2 Chronicles 32:31?

The sign.

2 Kings 20:8-11 NASB

8 Now Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “What will be the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I will go up to the house of the Lord on the third day?” 9 Isaiah said, “This shall be the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will perform the word that He has spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten steps or go back ten steps?” 10 So Hezekiah said, “It is easy for the shadow to decline ten steps; no, but have the shadow turn backward ten steps.” 11 Then Isaiah the prophet called out to the Lord, and He brought the shadow on the [a]stairway back ten steps by which it had gone down on the [b]stairway of Ahaz.

Isaiah 38:8 NASB

8 Behold, I will make the shadow on the stairway, which has gone down with the sun on the stairway of Ahaz, go back ten steps.” So the sun’s shadow went back ten steps on the stairway on which it had gone down.

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