Hezekiah Reigns over Judah
1Now it came about in the third year of Hoshea the son of Elah king of Israel, Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah became king. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. 3 Hezekiah did right in the sight of the Lord, in accordance with everything that David his father (ancestor) had done. 4 He removed the high places [of pagan worship], broke down the images (memorial stones) and cut down the Asherim. He also crushed to pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the Israelites had burned incense to it; and it was called [a]Nehushtan [a bronze sculpture]. 5 Hezekiah trusted in and relied confidently on the Lord, the God of Israel; so that after him there was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him. 6 For he clung to the Lord; he did not turn away from [faithfully] following Him, but he kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses.
7 And the Lord was with Hezekiah; he was successful wherever he went. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and refused to serve him. 8 He defeated the Philistines as far as Gaza [the most distant city] and its borders, from the [isolated] lookout tower to the [populous] fortified city.
9 Now in the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh of Hoshea the son of Elah king of Israel, Shalmaneser the king of Assyria went up against Samaria and besieged it. 10 At the end of three years they captured it; in the sixth year of Hezekiah, which was the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Israel, Samaria was taken. 11 Then the king of Assyria sent Israel into exile to Assyria, and put them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of [the city of] Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, 12 because they did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, but broke His covenant, everything that Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded; and they would not listen nor do it.
Invasion of Judah
13 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria went up against all the fortified cities of Judah [except Jerusalem] and captured them. 14 Then Hezekiah king of Judah sent word to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, “I have done wrong. Withdraw from me; whatever you impose on me I will bear.” So the king of Assyria imposed on Hezekiah king of Judah [a tribute tax of] three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15 Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house (temple) of the Lord, and in the treasuries of the king’s house (palace). 16 At that time Hezekiah cut away the gold framework from the doors of the temple of the Lord and from the doorposts which [b]he had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.
17 Then the king of Assyria sent [c]the Tartan and the Rab-saris and the Rabshakeh [his highest officials] with a large army, from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. They went up and came to Jerusalem, and when they went up and arrived, they stood by the aqueduct of the upper pool, which is on the road of the Fuller’s Field. 18 When they called for the king, Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was in charge of the [king’s] household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the secretary went out to [meet] them.
19 Then the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria, “What is [the reason for] this confidence that you have? 20 You say (but they are only empty words) ‘I have counsel and strength for the war.’ Now on whom do you rely, that you have rebelled against me? 21 Now pay attention: you are relying on Egypt, on that staff of crushed reed; if a man leans on it, it will only go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust and rely on him. 22 But if you tell me, ‘We trust in and rely on the Lord our God,’ is it not He whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, and has said to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship [only] before this altar in Jerusalem’? 23 Now then, make a bargain with my lord the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses, if on your part you can put riders on them. 24 How then can you drive back even one official of the least of my master’s servants, when you rely on Egypt for chariots and horsemen? 25 Now have I come up against this place to destroy it without the Lord’s approval? The Lord said to me, ‘Go up against this land and destroy it.’”’”
26 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebna and Joah, said to the Rabshakeh, “Please speak to your servants in the Aramaic (Syrian) language, because we understand it; and do not speak with us in the Judean (Hebrew) language in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.” 27 But the Rabshakeh said to them, “Has my master sent me only to your master and to you to say these things? Has he not sent me to the men who sit on the wall, [who are doomed by the siege] to eat their own excrement and drink their own urine along with you?”
28 Then the Rabshakeh stood and shouted out with a loud voice in Judean (Hebrew), “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria. 29 Thus says the king, ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to rescue you from my hand; 30 nor let Hezekiah make you trust in and rely on the Lord, saying, “The Lord will certainly rescue us, and this city [of Jerusalem] will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” 31 Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria: “Surrender to me and come out to [meet] me, and every man may eat from his own vine and fig tree, and every man may drink the waters of his own well, 32 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, so that you may live and not die.” Do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads and incites you, saying, “The Lord will rescue us!” 33 Has any one of the gods of the nations ever rescued his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? 34 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad [in Aram]? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah [in the valley of the Euphrates]? Have they rescued Samaria (Israel’s capital) from my hand? 35 Who among all the gods of the lands have rescued their lands from my hand, that the Lord would rescue Jerusalem from my hand?’”
36 But the people kept silent and did not answer him, for the king had commanded, “Do not answer him.” 37 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was in charge of the [royal] household, and Shebna the scribe and Joah the son of Asaph the secretary, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn [in grief and despair] and told him what the Rabshakeh had said.
- 2 Kings 18:4 The bronze serpent had served God’s purpose for it, and Hezekiah observed correctly that it was nothing more than a piece of art. Unfortunately, the Israelites had forgotten that the serpent had been nothing more than a tool of God, and they had been worshiping the sculpture itself as if it were a god.
- 2 Kings 18:16 Lit Hezekiah king of Judah.
- 2 Kings 18:17 Probably Assyrian titles instead of proper names.