God Repeats Stuff
2 Kings 20:1-11, 2 Chronicles 33:24-26, and Isaiah 38:1-22
In those days Hezekiah was stricken with a terminal illness. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz visited him and told him, “This is what the Lord says, ‘Give instructions to your household, for you are about to die; you will not get well.’” (Isaiah 38:1, NET)
In those days Hezekiah was stricken with a terminal illness. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz visited him and told him, “This is what the Lord has said, ‘Give your household instructions, for you are about to die; you will not get well.’ (2 Kings 20:1, NET)
24 In those days Hezekiah was stricken with a terminal illness. He prayed to the Lord, who answered him and gave him a sign confirming that he would be healed. 25 But Hezekiah was ungrateful; he had a proud attitude, provoking God to be angry at him, as well as Judah and Jerusalem. 26 But then Hezekiah and the residents of Jerusalem humbled themselves and abandoned their pride, and the Lord was not angry with them for the rest of Hezekiah’s reign. (2 Chronicles 32:24-26, NET)
God repeats material at various places in the Bible.
The most well-known repetitions occur in the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each gospel writer — especially the first three — gives his own version of many of the same events and take-away doctrinal messages.
Repetition also occurs in the Old Testament. The six books of First and Second Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles hold a great deal of repeated material, with subtle differences in fact and perspective based on the motivations of the authors.
These six “history” books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles are largely structured by time progression under one after another reign of kings in Israel and Judah, with occasional mention of this or that prophet along the way. But in another large section of the Old Testament, the writings of seventeen prophets, these prophets give their own rendition of events — usually while they were personally involved in annoying this or that king — described earlier in the long historic section.
And so, not only is narrative material duplicated within the six lengthy regal history books, on occasion material is duplicated in the writing of one of the prophets.
Finally, the writers of the histories occasionally record the prayers of a king, and on rare occasion this is duplicated at length in a Psalm.
We present here one example of a history + history + prophet duplication.
As king Hezekiah of Judah’s good life and Godly (mostly) reign was coming to an end, God first tells Hezekiah that he will soon take his life, but then relents and provides the promise of an extra fifteen years of life to the obedient (mostly) king.
These accounts fall in 2 Kings 20:1-11, 2 Chronicles 33:24-26, and Isaiah 38:1-22.
As it happens, the Isaiah account includes a prayer by Hezekiah, but this prayer does not also appear in full form as a Psalm. Bits and pieces of it however, at vv 10, 16, 18, 19, and 20 can be found reflected in various Psalms. (But these are not straight-up copies of material, but different writers having the same thoughts, and recording them as verse.)
In any event, here are the 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and Isaiah depiction of the Hezekiah-gets-15-extra-years event (all from the World English Bible):
2 Kings 20:1-11
World English Bible
1 In those days Hezekiah was sick and dying. Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Yahweh says, ‘Set your house in order; for you will die, and not live.’”
2 Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed to Yahweh, saying, 3 “Remember now, Yahweh, I beg you, how I have walked before you in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
4 Before Isaiah had gone out into the middle part of the city, Yahweh’s word came to him, saying, 5 “Turn back, and tell Hezekiah the prince of my people, ‘Yahweh, the God of David your father, says, “I have heard your prayer. I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day, you will go up to Yahweh’s house. 6 I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.”’”
7 Isaiah said, “Take a cake of figs.”
They took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered.
8 Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “What will be the sign that Yahweh will heal me, and that I will go up to Yahweh’s house the third day?”
9 Isaiah said, “This will be the sign to you from Yahweh, that Yahweh will do the thing that he has spoken: should the shadow go forward ten steps, or go back ten steps?”
10 Hezekiah answered, “It is a light thing for the shadow to go forward ten steps. No, but let the shadow return backward ten steps.”
11 Isaiah the prophet cried to Yahweh; and he brought the shadow ten steps backward, by which it had gone down on the sundial of Ahaz.
2 Chronicles 32:24-26
World English Bible
24 In those days Hezekiah was terminally ill, and he prayed to Yahweh; and he spoke to him, and gave him a sign.
25 But Hezekiah didn’t reciprocate appropriate to the benefit done for him, because his heart was lifted up. Therefore there was wrath on him, and on Judah and Jerusalem.
26 Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that Yahweh’s wrath didn’t come on them in the days of Hezekiah.
Isaiah 38:1-8 plus 21-22
World English Bible
1 In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, came to him, and said to him, “Yahweh says, ‘Set your house in order, for you will die, and not live.’”
2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to Yahweh, 3 and said, “Remember now, Yahweh, I beg you, how I have walked before you in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in your sight.” Then Hezekiah wept bitterly.
4 Then Yahweh’s word came to Isaiah, saying, 5 “Go, and tell Hezekiah, ‘Yahweh, the God of David your father, says, “I have heard your prayer. I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life. 6 I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city.
[skipping to 21 & 22]
21 Now Isaiah had said, “Let them take a cake of figs, and lay it for a poultice on the boil, and he shall recover.”
22 Hezekiah also had said, “What is the sign that I will go up to Yahweh’s house?”
[and now back to 7]
7 This shall be the sign to you from Yahweh, that Yahweh will do this thing that he has spoken. 8 Behold, I will cause the shadow on the sundial, which has gone down on the sundial of Ahaz with the sun, to return backward ten steps.”’” So the sun returned ten steps on the sundial on which it had gone down.
[we left out Hezekiah’s prayer, at 9 thru 20, but note how verse 11 in Kings mentions this “crying out”]
While we are at it, we’ll include a side-by-side of lines from Hezekiah’s prayer which find parallel thoughts in lines from the Psalms. But first, here is the full Hezekiah prayer, from Isaiah 38:9-20 (from the World English Bible), which we skipped above:
9 The writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick, and had recovered of his sickness.
10 I said, “In the middle of my life I go into the gates of Sheol.
I am deprived of the residue of my years.”
I said, “I won’t see Yah,
Yah in the land of the living.
I will see man no more with the inhabitants of the world.
My dwelling is removed,
and is carried away from me like a shepherd’s tent.
I have rolled up my life like a weaver.
He will cut me off from the loom.
From day even to night you will make an end of me.
I waited patiently until morning.
He breaks all my bones like a lion.
From day even to night you will make an end of me.
I chattered like a swallow or a crane.
I moaned like a dove.
My eyes weaken looking upward.
Lord, I am oppressed.
Be my security.”
What will I say?
He has both spoken to me, and himself has done it.
I will walk carefully all my years because of the anguish of my soul.
Lord, men live by these things;
and my spirit finds life in all of them:
you restore me, and cause me to live.
Behold, for peace I had great anguish,
but you have in love for my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption;
for you have cast all my sins behind your back.
For Sheol can’t praise you.
Death can’t celebrate you.
Those who go down into the pit can’t hope for your truth.
The living, the living, he shall praise you, as I do today.
The father shall make known your truth to the children.
Yahweh will save me.
Therefore we will sing my songs with stringed instruments all the days of our life in Yahweh’s house.
(Isaiah 38:9-20, WEB)
And now, the (kinda sorta) parallel lines and thoughts from Hezekiah’s prayer and the the Psalms (all from the King James Version):
Isaiah 38:10 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. (KJV)
Isaiah 38:16 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. (KJV)
Isaiah 38:18 For the grave cannot praise thee, death can [not] celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. (KJV)
Isaiah 38:19 The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I [do] this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth. (KJV)
Isaiah 38:20 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. (KJV)
Psalm 102:24 I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years [are] throughout all generations. (KJV)
Psalm 119:75 I know, O LORD, that thy judgments [are] right, and [that] thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me. (KJV)
Psalm 115:17 The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence. (KJV)
Psalm 118:17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. (KJV)
Psalm 104:33 I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. (KJV)
And so, there is one example of repeated content in our Bible.
By the way, if you ever find yourself in need of good material for a personal prayer, search the Bible for the occasional prayer or song that has found its way, as poetic verse, into the flow of history narrative in the Old Testament. These often contain dense encapsulations of heavy Christian devotion, in nice, usable personal packages. 🙂
We pray that you read the actual Bible for yourself, and actively look for duplicated material in the gospels, in the Samuel-Kings-Chronicles narratives, and in the Psalms.
Using a Bible with good cross-references can help with this. There are also specialty Bible packagings, often with the word “chronological” in title (or some similar labeling), which in the course of chronological gathering pull together common TOPICAL material.
Regarding the gospels, look for a packaging of these with the word “harmony” or perhaps “parallel” in the title.
You’ll find out-of-print and current volumes of both full-Bible and gospels-only types.
God’s blessings to you!