What does Hezekiah and his treasures refer to?

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30 August 2019

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In a 1905 diary of a tour of South Africa, which I am transcribing, the writer describes the meeting of two men (one Afrikaner and one Scottish) and records that, after lunch, “Dr. B. played Hesekiah [sic] with Sir M.B. and all his treasures.” Does anyone know what this refers to? I can find no “game” called Hesekiah/Hezekiah, nor any aspect of the eponymous biblical king of Judah’s life which might have any connection with this statement. The diary entry suggests that in 1905 the meaning of this would have been apparent to an educated reader.

Your answer: The diarist is clearly alluding to Isaiah 39, in which King Merodach-Baladan of Babylon sends envoys to King Hezekiah, and Hezekiah shows them all the treasures in his treasure-house. He must mean that Dr B. played the role of Hezekiah by showing “all his treasures” to Sir M.B.

The allusion is helped by the fact that Sir M.B. has the same initials as Merodach-Baladan. Perhaps the context of the diary entry makes clear what the “treasures” were. In Isaiah 39, the story is followed by a prophecy of Isaiah to the effect that, in the days of Hezekiah’s descendants, all his treasures, as well as some of his descendants themselves, will be carried away to Babylon. Did the diarist have this in mind, too?

(Professor) Richard Bauckham
Cambridge

 

Your question: Looking recently, with my sister, through letters written in 1931 by my grandfather, the late Canon Nigel W. Paine, we came across the remark: “Tea at Marlingford [in Norfolk] where Lombe [the local squire] showed me a Bible found in the church dated 1611 — the year of the publication of the AV . . . by the way Cranwich says Shakespeare had a hand in the translation because he was 46 years of age in 1611 and the 46th word of the 46th Psalm is ‘shake’ and the 46th word from the end is ‘spear’.” I am aware that, according to Moore and Reid in The Making of the King James Bible, “There is one reason why the myth of Shakespeare being called in as a consultant is absurd, as Ben Jonson remarked, he had ‘small Latin and less Greek’, and presumably no Aramaic or Syriac at all.” Nevertheless, it is an extraordinary coincidence, if such it is, and possibly part of early conspiracy theory. Could any readers shed any more light?

P. P.

 

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