The Word Made Fresh
1Sometime after all this, even though Hezekiah had displayed such faithfulness, King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah and encamped against the fortress cities in an effort to take them for himself. 2When Hezekiah realized Sennacherib was advancing to Jerusalem, 3he summoned his officers and soldiers to help him stop the flow of the springs outside the city. 4A lot of the people gathered to help, and they stopped up all the springs and the creek that ran through the area, thinking, “Why allow the Assyrians to come and find plenty of water?” 5Hezekiah also worked to build up the city walls that had collapsed, complete with towers, and outside that wall he had another built. He shored up the defenses in the Millo in the city of David and gathered a large number of weapons and shields. 6He assigned some of the army officers to train the people as well. He summoned them to the area inside the city gate and encouraged them. 7“Be strong!” he called out to them. “Have courage! Don’t be afraid and don’t shrink before the king of Assyria and his army. There is one greater with us than with him. 8He is just flesh and blood, but the LORD our God is with us and will help us fight our battles!” The people were encouraged by his words.
9It wasn’t long before King Sennacherib, who was camped at Lachish with his army, sent his officers to confront king Hezekiah and the people with him in Jerusalem. 10“This is a message from King Sennacherib of Assyria,” they shouted. “How do you think you can resist the siege of Jerusalem? 11Don’t you know Hezekiah is misleading you? He will let you die by famine and thirst while telling you the LORD your God will save you from the king of Assyria! 12Isn’t this that same Hezekiah who dismantled the hilltop shrines and altars and ordered all of Judah and Jerusalem to worship and bring your offerings only at one altar? 13Haven’t you heard what I and my predecessors have done to the people of other countries? Were their gods able to save them from me? 14Of all those gods, which one was able to save his people from my hand? What makes you think your God can do it? 15Don’t let Hezekiah trick you and mislead you. Don’t listen to him! No god of any people has been able to resist me or my forebearers. What makes you think your God can?!!”
16They continued to rant against the LORD God and against Hezekiah, the LORD’s servant. 17He also had written letters, filled with disrespect for the LORD God of Israel, saying things like, “The gods of other nations did not save their people from my hands; neither will the God of Hezekiah be able to rescue you!” 18They read the letters to the people of Jerusalem on the wall in their own language with a loud voice in an attempt to terrorize them and take their city. 19They spoke of the God of Jerusalem as if there were no difference between the LORD and the gods worshiped by other people, which were no more than human imaginations.
20Then King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out to heaven, 21and the LORD sent an angel who attacked the soldiers and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king, and he returned in shame to his own land. When he entered the house of his god, his own sons drew their swords and killed him there.
22And that is how the LORD saved Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from king Sennacherib of Assyria and all their other enemies and sheltered them on every side. 23A lot of the people brought gifts to the LORD in Jerusalem, and expensive gifts as well for King Hezekiah of Judah, and Hezekiah’s status rose in the estimation of all the nations from then on.
24Not long after this Hezekiah took ill and was at the point of dying. He prayed to the LORD and the LORD gave him some assurance, 25but Hezekiah had become proud and did not acknowledge the benefit done to him. That is why troubles came upon Hezekiah and Judah and Jerusalem. 26Then Hezekiah humbled himself and confessed his pride and that of the people in Jerusalem, and God’s anger was held back from them as long as Hezekiah ruled.
27Hezekiah was very wealthy and highly honored. He set up repositories for silver, gold, precious stones, spices, shields, and all kinds of expensive items. 27He had warehouses built for grain, wine and oil, and stalls and folds for all his animals. 29He had cities built for himself, with very many flocks and herds because God had given him great possessions. 30This is that Hezekiah who closed off the Gihon pools and channeled them to the west side of the city of David. Everything he did was successful. 31So, when some officials from Babylon came to him to ask about all his successes, God left him to respond as he wished, so as to test him and learn what was really in his heart.
32The rest of Hezekiah’s rule and all the good things he accomplished are written in the records of the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz contained in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. Hezekiah died and joined his ancestors. They buried him on the ascent to the tombs of the descendants of David. All the people of Judah and Jerusalem honored him when he died. His son Manasseh succeeded him.
1-8: The Assyrians, having conquered the northern kingdom of Israel, see an opportunity to extend their influence further south and move their armies down the coast along the western flank of Judah. Hezekiah and his military leaders prepare for an attack on Jerusalem. In the earlier account (2 Kings 18:13-19), Hezekiah sues for peace and strips the gold from the doors of the temple to pay a bribe to Sennacherib. The chronicler sees no reason to report this attempted capitulation, perhaps to preserve Hezekiah’s reputation as the great reformer. Hezekiah takes steps to keep fresh water inside the city and hide the sources of water outside so as to hamper the Assyrian army in its approach to Jerusalem. Then he undertakes to rebuild the portions of the city wall that had been destroyed years before during the reign of his great-great grandfather Amaziah (see 25:23).
9-15: Sennacherib is in Lachish, some 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem – one of the old Philistine royal strongholds. He sends officers to Jerusalem to demand their surrender (in 2 Kings 18:17, the “servants” consist of the Tartan, the Rabsaris, the Rabshakeh – all Assyrian titles – along with an entire army). Their message to the people of Jerusalem is that the other nations’ gods couldn’t save them, so don’t think for a minute your god can do any better.
16-19: The Assyrians do a good job of weakening the morale of the people in the city, but they make the mistake of heaping ridicule on the God of Jerusalem.
20-23: Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah (yes, that Isaiah) pray for the God of Jerusalem to come to their aid (2 Kings 19:20-28 provides God’s reply). A brief summary is given of what happens next. The Assyrian army, as they camp before the walls of Jerusalem, is stricken with a plague that decimates their ranks. Sennecharib withdraws and returns home where he is assassinated by two of his sons while he is worshiping his god (see 2 Kings 19:37). Other surrounding nations hear about the miraculous delivery of Jerusalem and clamor to bring gifts and become best friends with Hezekiah.
24-26: Hezekiah is struck with an illness. He prays and recovers but is somehow not appreciative enough (2 Kings 20:8-11 records the famous story of the sun dial reflecting the sun’s backward movement as a sign that God would allow him to recover). The text is obscure at this point about some “wrath” that befalls him and Jerusalem, but again he prays, and he and the city are spared destruction.
27-31: Hezekiah prospers greatly in the latter years of his reign. He engages in building projects throughout the land. One of the most significant engineering feats of the ancient world is the tunnel that he had carved out of the rocks to divert the flow of springs outside the city walls of Jerusalem to a pool inside the walls. Officials from Babylon come to find out about the defeat of the Assyrian army (“the sign that had been done in the land”). The Babylonians, of course, will be the next great power in the region. In 2 Kings 20:16-19 Isaiah warns Hezekiah that these same Babylonians will be the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem one day.
32-33: Hezekiah’s 29 years of rule ends and he is buried with honors in the tombs of the kings of Judah.
The character of a nation’s leadership goes a long way toward assuring God’s protective guidance and deliverance.