King Hezekiah was at the point of death, but the LORD heard his prayer and extended his life by 15 years. There are several visual illustrations in this chapter. I have selected the one in verse 21.
Now Isaiah had said, “Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the boil, that he may recover.” Hezekiah also had said, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the LORD?” (Isaiah 38:21-22 ESV)
The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament offers this comment on the use of fig cakes at 2 Kings 20:7:
Fig cakes may have been used as condiments and for medicinal purposes at Ugarit. Both later rabbinical Jewish and classical sources (e.g., Pliny the Elder) shared the belief that dried figs had medicinal value. Poultices were sometimes used for diagnosis rather than for medication. A day or two after the poultice was applied, it would be checked for either the skin’s reaction to the poultice or the poultice’s reaction to the skin. One medical text from Emar prescribes the use of figs and raisins for such a process. They helped determine how the patient should be treated and whether or not he would recover.
The photo below shows a freshly cut fig from Shechem.
The next photo shows dried figs from Jericho.
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