Hezekiah King of Judah
1Hezekiah began to rule as king over Judah. It was in the third year that Hoshea was king of Israel. He was the son of Elah. Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz. 2 Hezekiah was 25 years old when he became king. He ruled in Jerusalem for 29 years. His mother’s name was Abijah. She was the daughter of Zechariah. 3 Hezekiah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as King David had done. 4 Hezekiah removed the high places. He smashed the sacred stones. He cut down the poles used to worship the female god named Asherah. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made. Up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. They called it Nehushtan.
5 Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like Hezekiah among all the kings of Judah. There was no king like him either before him or after him. 6 Hezekiah remained faithful to the Lord. He didn’t stop serving him. He obeyed the commands the Lord had given Moses. 7 The Lord was with Hezekiah. Because of that, Hezekiah was successful in everything he did. He refused to remain under the control of the king of Assyria. He didn’t serve him. 8 He won the war against the Philistines. He won battles at their lookout towers. He won battles at their cities that had high walls around them. He won battles against the Philistines all the way to Gaza and its territory.
9 Shalmaneser marched to Samaria and surrounded it. It was in the fourth year of King Hezekiah. That was the seventh year of Hoshea, the king of Israel. Hoshea was the son of Elah. Shalmaneser was king of Assyria. 10 At the end of three years the army of Assyria captured Samaria. That happened in the sixth year of Hezekiah’s rule. It was the ninth year of the rule of Hoshea, the king of Israel. 11 The king of Assyria took the people of Israel away from their own land. He sent them off to Assyria. He made some of them live in Halah. He made others live in Gozan on the Habor River. And he made others live in the towns of the Medes. 12 These things happened because the Israelites hadn’t obeyed the Lord their God. They had broken the covenant he had made with them. They had refused to do everything Moses, the servant of the Lord, had commanded. They hadn’t paid any attention to those commands. They hadn’t obeyed them.
13 Sennacherib attacked and captured all the cities of Judah that had high walls around them. It was in the 14th year of the rule of Hezekiah. Sennacherib was king of Assyria. 14 Hezekiah, the king of Judah, sent a message to the king of Assyria at Lachish. Hezekiah said, “I have done what is wrong. Pull your troops back from me. Then I’ll pay you anything you ask me to.” The king of Assyria forced Hezekiah, the king of Judah, to give him 11 tons of silver. Hezekiah also had to give him one ton of gold. 15 So Hezekiah gave him all the silver in the Lord’s temple. He also gave him all the silver among the treasures in the royal palace.
16 Hezekiah, the king of Judah, had covered the doors and doorposts of the Lord’s temple with gold. But now he had to strip it off. He had to give it to the king of Assyria.
Sennacherib Warns Jerusalem
17 The king of Assyria sent his highest commander from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. He also sent his chief officer and his field commander along with a large army. All of them came up to Jerusalem. They stopped at the channel that brings water from the Upper Pool. The channel was on the road to the Washerman’s Field. 18 The Assyrians called for King Hezekiah. Eliakim, Shebna and Joah went out to them. Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, was in charge of the palace. Shebna was the secretary. Joah, the son of Asaph, kept the records.
19 The field commander said to them, “Give Hezekiah this message. Tell him,
“ ‘Sennacherib is the great king of Assyria. He says, “Why are you putting your faith in what your king says? 20 You say you have a military plan. You say you have a strong army. But your words don’t mean anything. Who are you depending on? Why don’t you want to stay under my control? 21 Look, I know you are depending on Egypt. Why are you doing that? Egypt is nothing but a broken papyrus stem. Try leaning on it. It will only cut your hand. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, is just like that to everyone who depends on him. 22 But suppose you say to me, ‘We are depending on the Lord our God.’ Didn’t Hezekiah remove your god’s high places and altars? Didn’t Hezekiah say to the people of Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You must worship at the altar in Jerusalem’?
23 “ ‘ “Go ahead and make a deal with my master, the king of Assyria. I’ll give you 2,000 horses. But only if you can put riders on them! 24 You are depending on Egypt for chariots and horsemen. You can’t drive away even the least important officer among my master’s officials. 25 Besides, do you think I’ve come without receiving a message from the Lord? Have I come to attack and destroy this place without a message from him? The Lord himself told me to march out against your country. He told me to destroy it.” ’ ”
26 Then Shebna, Joah and Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, spoke to the field commander. They said, “Please speak to us in the Aramaic language. We understand it. Don’t speak to us in Hebrew. If you do, the people sitting on the city wall will be able to understand you.”
27 But the commander replied, “My master sent me to say these things. Are these words only for your master and you to hear? Aren’t they also for the people sitting on the wall? They are going to suffer just like you. They’ll have to eat their own waste. They’ll have to drink their own urine.”
28 Then the commander stood up and spoke in the Hebrew language. He called out, “Pay attention to what the great king of Assyria is telling you. 29 He says, ‘Don’t let Hezekiah trick you. He can’t save you from my power. 30 Don’t let Hezekiah talk you into trusting in the Lord. Don’t believe him when he says, “You can be sure that the Lord will save us. This city will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.” ’
31 “Don’t listen to Hezekiah. The king of Assyria says, ‘Make a peace treaty with me. Come over to my side. Then each one of you will eat fruit from your own vine and fig tree. Each one of you will drink water from your own well. 32 You will do that until I come back. Then I’ll take you to a land just like yours. It’s a land that has a lot of grain and fresh wine. It has plenty of bread and vineyards. It has olive trees and honey. So choose life! Don’t choose death!’
“Don’t pay any attention to Hezekiah. He’s telling you a lie when he says, ‘The Lord will save us.’ 33 Has the god of any nation ever saved his land from the power of the king of Assyria? 34 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they saved Samaria from my power? 35 Which one of all the gods of those countries has been able to save his land from me? So how can the Lord save Jerusalem from my power?”
36 But the people remained silent. They didn’t say anything. That’s because King Hezekiah had commanded, “Don’t answer him.”
37 Then Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, went to Hezekiah. Eliakim was in charge of the palace. Shebna the secretary went with him. So did Joah, the son of Asaph. Joah kept the records. All of them went to Hezekiah with their clothes torn. They told him what the field commander had said.