Hezekiah Rules in Judah
Hezekiah son of Ahaz began to rule over Judah in the third year of King Hoshea's reign in Israel.
He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah.[footnote]
He did what was pleasing in the LORD
's sight, just as his ancestor David had done.
He removed the pagan shrines, smashed the sacred pillars, and knocked down the Asherah poles. He broke up the bronze serpent that Moses had made, because the people of Israel had begun to worship it by burning incense to it. The bronze serpent was called Nehushtan.[footnote]
Hezekiah trusted in the LORD
, the God of Israel. There was never another king like him in the land of Judah, either before or after his time.
He remained faithful to the LORD
in everything, and he carefully obeyed all the commands the LORD
had given Moses.
So the LORD
was with him, and Hezekiah was successful in everything he did. He revolted against the king of Assyria and refused to pay him tribute.
He also conquered the Philistines as far distant as Gaza and its territory, from their smallest outpost to their largest walled city.
During the fourth year of Hezekiah's reign, which was the seventh year of King Hoshea's reign in Israel, King Shalmaneser of Assyria attacked Israel and began a siege on the city of Samaria.
Three years later, during the sixth year of King Hezekiah's reign and the ninth year of King Hoshea's reign in Israel, Samaria fell.
At that time the king of Assyria deported the Israelites to Assyria and put them in colonies in Halah, along the banks of the Habor River in Gozan, and among the cities of the Medes.
For they had refused to listen to the LORD
their God. Instead, they had violated his covenant--all the laws the LORD
had given through his servant Moses.
Assyria Invades Judah
13In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah's reign, King Sennacherib of Assyria came to attack the fortified cities of Judah and conquered them.
King Hezekiah sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: "I have done wrong. I will pay whatever tribute money you demand if you will only go away." The king of Assyria then demanded a settlement of more than eleven tons of silver and about one ton of gold.[footnote]
To gather this amount, King Hezekiah used all the silver stored in the Temple of the LORD
and in the palace treasury.
Hezekiah even stripped the gold from the doors of the LORD
's Temple and from the doorposts he had overlaid with gold, and he gave it all to the Assyrian king.
Nevertheless the king of Assyria sent his commander in chief, his field commander, and his personal representative from Lachish with a huge army to confront King Hezekiah in Jerusalem. The Assyrians stopped beside the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is bleached.
They summoned King Hezekiah, but the king sent these officials to meet with them: Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace administrator, Shebna the court secretary, and Joah son of Asaph, the royal historian.
Sennacherib Threatens Jerusalem
19Then the Assyrian king's personal representative sent this message to King Hezekiah:
"This is what the great king of Assyria says: What are you trusting in that makes you so confident?
Do you think that mere words can substitute for military skill and strength? Which of your allies will give you any military backing against Assyria?
Will Egypt? If you lean on Egypt, you will find it to be a stick that breaks beneath your weight and pierces your hand. The pharaoh of Egypt is completely unreliable!
22"But perhaps you will say, `We are trusting in the LORD our God!' But isn't he the one who was insulted by King Hezekiah? Didn't Hezekiah tear down his shrines and altars and make everyone in Judah worship only at the altar here in Jerusalem?
23"I'll tell you what! My master, the king of Assyria, will strike a bargain with you. If you can find two thousand horsemen in your entire army, he will give you two thousand horses for them to ride on!
With your tiny army, how can you think of challenging even the weakest contingent of my master's troops, even with the help of Egypt's chariots and horsemen?[footnote]
What's more, do you think we have invaded your land without the LORD
's direction? The LORD
himself told us, `Go and destroy it!'"
Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, Shebna, and Joah said to the king's representative, "Please speak to us in Aramaic, for we understand it well. Don't speak in Hebrew, for the people on the wall will hear."
But Sennacherib's representative replied, "My master wants everyone in Jerusalem to hear this, not just you. He wants them to know that if you do not surrender, this city will be put under siege. The people will become so hungry and thirsty that they will eat their own dung and drink their own urine."
Then he stood and shouted in Hebrew to the people on the wall, "Listen to this message from the great king of Assyria!
This is what the king says: Don't let King Hezekiah deceive you. He will never be able to rescue you from my power.
Don't let him fool you into trusting in the LORD
by saying, `The LORD
will rescue us! This city will never be handed over to the Assyrian king.'
"Don't listen to Hezekiah! These are the terms the king of Assyria is offering: Make peace with me--open the gates and come out. Then I will allow each of you to continue eating from your own garden and drinking from your own well.
Then I will arrange to take you to another land like this one--a country with bountiful harvests of grain and wine, bread and vineyards, olive trees and honey--a land of plenty. Choose life instead of death!"Don't listen to Hezekiah when he tries to mislead you by saying, `The LORD
will rescue us!'
Have the gods of any other nations ever saved their people from the king of Assyria?
What happened to the gods of Hamath and Arpad? And what about the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Did they rescue Samaria from my power?
What god of any nation has ever been able to save its people from my power? Name just one! So what makes you think that the LORD
can rescue Jerusalem?"
But the people were silent and did not answer because Hezekiah had told them not to speak.
37Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace administrator, Shebna the court secretary, and Joah son of Asaph, the royal historian, went back to Hezekiah. They tore their clothes in despair, and they went in to see the king and told him what the Assyrian representative had said.
From the Holy Bible, New Living Translation®, by Tyndale Charitable Trust copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.