Hezekiah to God: Come to the rescue
Hezekiah asks Isaiah to pray for Judah1When King Hezekiah heard what the Assyrian officer said, he ripped his robes in grief. He changed into mourning clothes made from scratchy feed sack material. Then he went to the Temple.
2He sent messengers to the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz. He sent Eliakim, palace chief of staff. He sent Shebna, palace secretary and scribe. And he sent leading priests. Like the king, they all wore clothes made from rough cloth. 3They delivered the king’s message to Isaiah:
“Hezekiah says this is a critical moment in our revolt against Assyria. Today should become our Independence Day, our birthday. But we don’t have the strength to deliver—to bring this child to life. This is a terrifying moment for us. We’re facing stern condemnation and disgrace. 4Perhaps the LORD heard what the Assyrian officer said when he delivered his king’s message and insulted the living God. Maybe if you pray, your God will punish them for it.”
5So, that’s the message the king’s men delivered to Isaiah. 6Isaiah said, “Give this message to your boss. It’s from the LORD. ‘Don’t let these people frighten you by insulting me, as though I can’t do anything about it. 7I’ll take care of them. Their king is going to hear a rumor from home. He’ll drop everything here and rush home. That’s where he’ll be killed.”
Assyria to Hezekiah: Don’t trust God8The Assyrian officer got a report that the king had left Lachish. So, he went back and found him attacking the city of Libnah.
9During that battle, the king got an alert about Egypt’s pharaoh, King Tirhakah from Nubia. Egypt’s army was on its way to attack him and rescue Jerusalem. Sennacherib sent messengers to Hezekiah.
10“Tell this to King Hezekiah of Judah: Don’t let your God fool you into believing that you’re safe and you won’t fall to Assyria. 11You’ve heard what we kings of Assyria did to the lands we attacked. We destroyed everything. You think you’re the exception?
12Did any of the local gods protect their people when Assyrian kings before me attacked them? Weren’t Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, Eden, and Telessar all destroyed. Weren’t all their people killed? 13Where’s the king of Hamath. Or the king of Arpad? Or the kings of Laar, Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?”
Hezekiah’s SOS prayer14Hezekiah got that message in a letter from the Assyrian king. He took the letter to the Temple and set it down in front of the LORD.
16“God of Israel and LORD of everyone, your throne is here above the cherubim. But you are God of all the earth. You’re the only God—the God who made heaven and earth. 17Look at what’s going on here. Listen to Sennacherib insult the living God. 18It’s a fact that the Assyrian kings have destroyed the lands they’ve invaded. 19And they destroyed the gods of those nations, too, throwing them in a fire. But they weren’t gods at all. They were just objects people made from wood and stone. 20LORD, save us. Protect us from this king so the world will know that you are the only LORD.”
21Isaiah son of Amoz sent this message to Hezekiah. “This is what the LORD and God of Israel says: You came to me in prayer about King Sennacherib of Assyria. 22Here’s my answer about that man:
Lady Jerusalem despises you.
She insults you and laughs about it,
Tossing her head and flipping her hair.
Who do you think you badmouthed,
Rolling your arrogant eyes?
Israel’s Holy One. That’s who.
24Through your messengers you’ve insulted the Lord.
You say to yourself:
“Look at what I’ve done.
I’ve led chariots to mountaintops
In the distant land of Lebanon.
I cut their tallest cedar trees,
And their premium grade of cypress.
I reached their most distant mountain
I traveled through their densest forest.
25I dug my wells into their dirt
I drank their foreign water.
And with the tap of my toe
I dried up the streams of Egypt.
26Haven’t you heard the old news?
I planned this a long time ago.
Now it’s done.
I planned it and I did it.
I turned their walled cities
Into worthless piles of rock.
27Their citizens were helpless,
Shocked, and ashamed.
But they were merely shoots of grass,
New-grown tender sprouts,
Plucked and planted on dirt rooftops,
Burned and brown from the desert wind.
28I know when you rise in the morning.
I know when you rest at night.
I know when you come and when you go.
And I know when you trash my name.
29I’ve heard your insults, seen your arrogance.
This is what I’ll do.
I’ll put my ring in your nose, my bit in your mouth,
And send you where you came from.” 30The LORD told Hezekiah, “Here’s what going to happen. This year you’ll have to eat crops that grow wild. Same for next year. But by the third year, you’ll be planting and harvesting your fields again. You’ll plant your vineyards and eat your grapes.
31Survivors of Judah will escape. Like plants they’ll take root in the land and grow. They’ll have a lot of strong and healthy children. 32I’ll make sure there are survivors from Jerusalem.”
God sends Assyria home33Here’s what the LORD says about the Assyrian king.
He’s not stepping foot into Jerusalem, shooting an arrow at it, raising a shield to it, or building a siege ramp against it. 34The way he came is the way he’ll go. The LORD says he’s not coming into this town. 35I’m going to defend this city to protect my reputation and the name of my devoted servant, David.
Killer angel in Assyria’s camp36The LORD sent an angel into the Assyrian camp one night, outside Jerusalem. The angel killed 180,000 Assyrians. By dawn, they were dead. 37King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and headed back to his home in Nineveh.
38One day while he was worshiping at the shrine of his god Nisroch, two of his sons killed him with their swords: Adrammelech and Sharezer. Then they escaped to the land of Ararat. Sennacherib’s remaining son, Esarhaddon, became the next king.
Many people in ancient times expressed grief and mourning by cutting their beards and head hair, dressing in what many Bible translations call “sackcloth,” and throwing ashes on themselves. Today, we’ll dress in black or wear armbands.
Two of Assyrian King Sennacherib’s sons murdered him in 681 BC.
Also known as Cush, Nubia was in what is now Sudan, a nation south of Egypt. Nubian kings ruled Egypt for almost a century. Tirhakah ruled from 690-664 BC. Since this attack reportedly took place a decade earlier, in 701 BC, some say the Bible writer got the facts messed up. But others say Sennacherib didn’t move on Jerusalem until about 689 BC. One of his records says “I fought every day very bloody battles against Tarqu, king of Egypt and Ethiopia, the person cursed by all the great gods.”
Jews taught that God’s footrest was the lid on the Ark of the Covenant, the gold-covered chest that held the Ten Commandments (1 Chronicles 28:2). Two winged beings called cherubim rested at each end of the lid. “Cherubim” is Kerubim in Hebrew. These are celestial beings mentioned throughout the Bible. Ancient Middle Eastern creatures with similar names, such as kirubu, reportedly served gods. The creatures were portrayed in statues of beings such as human-headed lions with wings. These statues guarded entrances to cities and palaces.
Jerusalem escaped this Assyrian invasion. But much of Judah was decimated by Assyrians, who destroyed many of the cities and executed or enslaved the citizens. Sennacherib’s report claims they destroyed 46 of Judah’s cities. He said the “terrifying splendor” of his army sent the enemy soldiers running for their lives and deserting their posts.
Second Kings 19:35 says the same thing. Sennacherib’s own records confirm that he didn’t get inside Jerusalem this time. He reports, instead, that he trapped King Hezekiah behind Jerusalem’s walls “like a bird in a cage.” A Greek writer 250 years later, Herodotus, wrote that the army got stopped by a rat infestation that killed some of the soldiers. Some scholars speculate that the rats carried diseases—plagues such as bubonic, septicemic, pneumonic. Those three diseases—all from the same bacterium (yersinia pestis)—affect the immune system, blood, and lungs.
The Ararat Mountains was a territory roughly 200 miles (320 km) northeast of Assyria’s capital at Nineveh, today known as Mosul.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.