Hezekiah (Samuel-Kings)

2 Kings 18–19 (selections)

Biblical Period

Chapter 18

1In the third year of King Hoshea son of Elah of Israel, Hezekiah son of King Ahaz of Judah became king. 2He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years; his mother’s name was Abi daughter of Zechariah. 3He did what was pleasing to the Lord, just as his father David had done. 4He abolished the shrines and smashed the pillars and cut down the sacred post. He also broke into pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until that time the Israelites had been offering sacrifices to it; it was called Nehushtan. 5He trusted only in the Lord the God of Israel; there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those before him. 6He clung to the Lord; he did not turn away from following Him, but kept the commandments that the Lord had given to Moses. 7And the Lord was always with him; he was successful wherever he turned. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and would not serve him. 8He overran Philistia as far as Gaza and its border areas, from watchtower to fortified town.

9In the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of King Hoshea son of Elah of Israel, King Shalmaneser of Assyria marched against Samaria and besieged it, 10and he captured it at the end of three years. In the sixth year of Hezekiah, which was the ninth year of King Hoshea of Israel, Samaria was captured; 11and the king of Assyria deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, along the Habor [and] the River Gozan, and in the towns of Media. 12[This happened] because they did not obey the Lord their God; they transgressed His covenant—all that Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded. They did not obey and they did not fulfill it.

13In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, King Sennacherib of Assyria marched against all the fortified towns of Judah and seized them. 14King Hezekiah sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: “I have done wrong; withdraw from me; and I shall bear whatever you impose on me.” So the king of Assyria imposed upon King Hezekiah of Judah a payment of three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15Heze-kiah gave him all the silver that was on hand in the House of the Lord and in the treasuries of the palace. 16At that time Hezekiah cut down the doors and the doorposts of the Temple of the Lord, which King Hezekiah had overlaid [with gold], and gave them to the king of Assyria.

17But the king of Assyria sent a-the Tartan, the Rabsaris, and the Rabshakeh-afrom Lachish with a large force to King Hezekiah in Jerusalem. They marched up to Jerusalem; and when they arrived, they took up a position near the conduit of the Upper Pool, by the road of the Fuller’s Field. 18They summoned the king; and Eliakim son of Hilkiah, who was in charge of the palace, Shebna the scribe, and Joah son of Asaph the recorder went out to them.

19The Rabshakeh said to them, “You tell Hezekiah: Thus said the Great King, the King of Assyria: What makes you so confident? 20You must think that mere talk is counsel and valor for war! Look, on whom are you relying, that you have rebelled against me? 21You rely, of all things, on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which enters and punctures the palm of anyone who leans on it! That’s what Pharaoh king of Egypt is like to all who rely on him. 22And if you tell me that you are relying on the Lord your God, He is the very one whose shrines and altars Hezekiah did away with, telling Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You must worship only at this altar in Jerusalem.’ 23Come now, make this wager with my master, the king of Assyria: I’ll give you two thousand horses if you can produce riders to mount them. 24So how could you refuse anything even to the deputy of one of my master’s lesser servants, relying on Egypt for chariots and horsemen? 25And do you think I have marched against this land to destroy it without the Lord? The Lord Himself told me: Go up against that land and destroy it.”

26Eliakim son of Hilkiah, Shebna, and Joah replied to the Rabshakeh, “Please, speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it; do not speak to us in Judean in the hearing of the people on the wall.” 27But the Rabshakeh answered them, “Was it to your master and to you that my master sent me to speak those words? It was precisely to the men who are sitting on the wall— who will have to eat their dung and drink their urine with you.” 28And the Rabshakeh stood and called out in a loud voice in Judean: “Hear the words of the Great King, the King of Assyria. 29Thus said the king: Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you from my hands. 30Don’t let Hezekiah make you rely on the Lord, saying: The Lord will surely save us: this city will not fall into the hands of the king of Assyria. 31Don’t listen to Hezekiah. For thus said the king of Assyria: Make your peace with me and come out to me,b so that you may all eat from your vines and your fig trees and drink water from your cisterns, 32until I come and take you away to a land like your own, a land of grain [fields] and vineyards, of bread and wine, of olive oil and honey, so that you may live and not die. Don’t listen to Hezekiah, who misleads you by saying, ‘The Lord will save us.’ 33Did any of the gods of other nations save his land from the king of Assyria? 34Where were the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where were the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? [And] did theyc save Samaria from me? 35Which among all the gods of [those] countries saved their countries from me, that the Lord should save Jerusalem from me?” 36But the people were silent and did not say a word in reply; for the king’s order was: “Do not answer him.” 37And so Eliakim son of Hilkiah, who was in charge of the palace, Shebna the scribe, and Joah son of Asaph the recorder came to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and they reported to him what the Rabshakeh had said.

Chapter 19

1When King Hezekiah heard this, he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the House of the Lord. 2He also sent Eliakim, who was in charge of the palace, Shebna the scribe, and the senior priests, covered with sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. 3They said to him, “Thus said Hezekiah: This day is a day of distress, of chastisement, and of disgrace. d-The babes have reached the birthstool, but the strength to give birth is lacking.-d 4Perhaps the Lord your God will take note of all the words of the Rab-shakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to blaspheme the living God, and will mete out judgment for the words that the Lord your God has heard—if you will offer up prayer for the surviving remnant.”

5When King Hezekiah’s ministers came to Isaiah, 6Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master as follows: Thus said the Lord: Do not be frightened by the words of blasphemy against Me that you have heard from the minions of the king of Assyria. 7I will delude him; he will hear a rumor and return to his land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his land.”

8The Rabshakeh, meanwhile, heard that [the king] had left Lachish; he turned back and found the king of Assyria attacking Libnah. 9But [the king of Assyria] learned that King Tirhakah of Nubia had come out to fight him; so he again sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, 10“Tell this to King Hezekiah of Judah: Do not let your God, on whom you are relying, mislead you into thinking that Jerusalem will not be delivered into the hands of the king of Assyria. 11You yourself have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands, how they have annihilated them; and can you escape? 12Were the nations that my predecessors destroyed— Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the Beth-edenites in Tel-assar—saved by their gods? 13Where is the king of Ha-math? And the king of Arpad? And the kings of Lair, Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?”

14Hezekiah took the letter from the messengers and read it. Hezekiah then went up to the House of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. 15And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord of Hosts, Enthroned on the Cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You made the heavens and the earth. 16O Lord, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see. Hear the words that Sennacherib has sent to blaspheme the living God! 17True, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have annihilated the nations and their lands, 18and have committed their gods to the flames and have destroyed them; for they are not gods, but man’s handiwork of wood and stone. 19But now, O Lord our God, deliver us from his hands, and let all the kingdoms of the earth know that You alone, O Lord, are God.”

20Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent this message to Hezekiah: “Thus said the Lord, the God of Israel: I have heard the prayer you have offered to Me concerning King Sennacherib of Assyria. [ . . . ]

29“And this is the sign for you:e This year you eat what grows of itself, and the next year what springs from that; and in the third year, sow and reap, and plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 30And the survivors of the House of Judah that have escaped shall regenerate its stock below and produce boughs above.

31For a remnant shall come forth from Jerusalem,
Survivors from Mount Zion.
The zeal of the Lord of Hosts
Shall bring this to pass.

32Assuredly, thus said the Lord concerning the king of Assyria:

He shall not enter this city:
He shall not shoot an arrow at it,
Or advance upon it with a shield,
Or pile up a siege mound against it.
33He shall go back
By the way he came;
He shall not enter this city
—declares the Lord.
34I will protect and save this city for My sake,
And for the sake of My servant David.”

35That night an angel of the Lord went out and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp, and the following morning they were all dead corpses.

36So King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and retreated, and stayed in Nineveh. 37While he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sarezer struck him down with the sword. They fled to the land of Ararat, and his son Es-arhaddon succeeded him as king.


Assyrian titles.

I.e., to my representative the Rabshakeh.

I.e., the gods of Samaria.

I.e., the situation is desperate and we are at a loss.

I.e., Hezekiah.


Reprinted from Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Copyright 1985 by the Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia.

Published in: The Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization, vol. 1.

Engage with this Source

You may also like