Sennacherib Warns Jerusalem
1Sennacherib 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. 2 He sent his field commander from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. He sent him along with a large army. The commander stopped at the channel that brings water from the Upper Pool. It was on the road to the Washerman’s Field. 3 Eliakim, Shebna and Joah went out to him. Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, was in charge of the palace. Shebna was the secretary. Joah, the son of Asaph, kept the records.
4 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? 5 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? 6 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. 7 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’?
8 “ ‘ “Come on. 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! 9 You are depending on Egypt for chariots and horsemen. You can’t drive away even the least important officer among my master’s officials. 10 Besides, do you think I’ve come without being sent by the Lord? Have I come to attack and destroy this land without receiving a message from him? The Lord himself told me to march out against your country. He told me to destroy it.” ’ ”
11 Then Eliakim, Shebna and Joah 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 on the wall will be able to understand you.”
12 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.”
13 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. 14 He says, ‘Don’t let Hezekiah trick you. He can’t save you! 15 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.” ’
16 “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. 17 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.
18 “ ‘Don’t let Hezekiah fool you. He’s telling you a lie when he says, “The Lord will save us.” Have the gods of any nations ever saved their lands from the power of the king of Assyria? 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they saved Samaria from my power? 20 Which one of all the gods of those countries has been able to save their lands from me? So how can the Lord save Jerusalem from my power?’ ”
21 But the people remained silent. They didn’t say anything. That’s because King Hezekiah had commanded, “Don’t answer him.”
22 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.