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2 Kings 18:13--19:36

Context
Sennacherib Invades Judah

18:13 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, King Sennacherib of Assyria marched up against all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. 18:14 King Hezekiah of Judah sent this message to the king of Assyria, who was at Lachish, “I have violated our treaty. 1  If you leave, I will do whatever you demand.” 2  So the king of Assyria demanded that King Hezekiah of Judah pay three hundred talents 3  of silver and thirty talents of gold. 18:15 Hezekiah gave him all the silver in 4  the Lord’s temple and in the treasuries of the royal palace. 18:16 At that time King Hezekiah of Judah stripped the metal overlays from the doors of the Lord’s temple and from the posts which he had plated 5  and gave them to the king of Assyria.

18:17 The king of Assyria sent his commanding general, the chief eunuch, and the chief adviser 6  from Lachish to King Hezekiah in Jerusalem, 7  along with a large army. They went up and arrived at Jerusalem. They went 8  and stood at the conduit of the upper pool which is located on the road to the field where they wash and dry cloth. 9  18:18 They summoned the king, so Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace supervisor, accompanied by Shebna the scribe and Joah son of Asaph, the secretary, went out to meet them.

18:19 The chief adviser said to them, “Tell Hezekiah: ‘This is what the great king, the king of Assyria, says: “What is your source of confidence? 10  18:20 Your claim to have a strategy and military strength is just empty talk. 11  In whom are you trusting that you would dare to rebel against me? 18:21 Now look, you must be trusting in Egypt, that splintered reed staff. If a man leans for support on it, it punctures his hand and wounds him. That is what Pharaoh king of Egypt does to all who trust in him. 18:22 Perhaps you will tell me, ‘We are trusting in the Lord our God.’ But Hezekiah is the one who eliminated his high places and altars and then told the people of Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You must worship at this altar in Jerusalem.’ 18:23 Now make a deal 12  with my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses, provided you can find enough riders for them. 18:24 Certainly you will not refuse one of my master’s minor officials and trust in Egypt for chariots and horsemen. 13  18:25 Furthermore it was by the command of the Lord that I marched up against this place to destroy it. The Lord told me, ‘March 14  up against this land and destroy it.’”’” 15 

18:26 Eliakim son of Hilkiah, Shebna, and Joah said to the chief adviser, “Speak to your servants in Aramaic, 16  for we understand it. Don’t speak with us in the Judahite dialect 17  in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.” 18:27 But the chief adviser said to them, “My master did not send me to speak these words only to your master and to you. 18  His message is also for the men who sit on the wall, for they will eat their own excrement and drink their own urine along with you.” 19 

18:28 The chief adviser then stood there and called out loudly in the Judahite dialect, 20  “Listen to the message of the great king, the king of Assyria. 18:29 This is what the king says: ‘Don’t let Hezekiah mislead you, for he is not able to rescue you from my hand! 21  18:30 Don’t let Hezekiah talk you into trusting in the Lord when he says, “The Lord will certainly rescue us; this city will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.” 18:31 Don’t listen to Hezekiah!’ For this is what the king of Assyria says, ‘Send me a token of your submission and surrender to me. 22  Then each of you may eat from his own vine and fig tree and drink water from his own cistern, 18:32 until I come and take you to a land just like your own – a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey. Then you will live and not die. Don’t listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, “The Lord will rescue us.” 18:33 Have any of the gods of the nations actually rescued his land from the power of the king of Assyria? 23  18:34 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? 24  Indeed, did any gods rescue Samaria 25  from my power? 26  18:35 Who among all the gods of the lands has rescued their lands from my power? So how can the Lord rescue Jerusalem from my power?’” 27  18:36 The people were silent and did not respond, for the king had ordered, “Don’t respond to him.”

18:37 Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace supervisor, accompanied by Shebna the scribe and Joah son of Asaph, the secretary, went to Hezekiah with their clothes torn 28  and reported to him what the chief adviser had said. 19:1 When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and went to the Lord’s temple. 19:2 He sent Eliakim the palace supervisor, Shebna the scribe, and the leading priests, 29  clothed in sackcloth, with this message to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz: 19:3 “This is what Hezekiah says: 30  ‘This is a day of distress, insults, 31  and humiliation, 32  as when a baby is ready to leave the birth canal, but the mother lacks the strength to push it through. 33  19:4 Perhaps the Lord your God will hear all these things the chief adviser has spoken on behalf of his master, the king of Assyria, who sent him to taunt the living God. 34  When the Lord your God hears, perhaps he will punish him for the things he has said. 35  So pray for this remnant that remains.’” 36 

19:5 When King Hezekiah’s servants came to Isaiah, 19:6 Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master this: ‘This is what the Lord says: “Don’t be afraid because of the things you have heard – these insults the king of Assyria’s servants have hurled against me. 37  19:7 Look, I will take control of his mind; 38  he will receive 39  a report and return to his own land. I will cut him down 40  with a sword in his own land.”’”

19:8 When the chief adviser heard the king of Assyria had departed from Lachish, he left and went to Libnah, where the king was campaigning. 41  19:9 The king 42  heard that King Tirhakah of Ethiopia was marching out to fight him. 43  He again sent messengers to Hezekiah, ordering them: 19:10 “Tell King Hezekiah of Judah this: ‘Don’t let your God in whom you trust mislead you when he says, “Jerusalem will not be handed over 44  to the king of Assyria.” 19:11 Certainly you have heard how the kings of Assyria have annihilated all lands. 45  Do you really think you will be rescued? 46  19:12 Were the nations whom my ancestors destroyed – the nations of Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden in Telassar – rescued by their gods? 47  19:13 Where are the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, and the king of Lair, 48  Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?’”

19:14 Hezekiah took the letter 49  from the messengers and read it. 50  Then Hezekiah went up to the Lord’s temple and spread it out before the Lord. 19:15 Hezekiah prayed before the Lord: “Lord God of Israel, who is enthroned on the cherubs! 51  You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You made the sky 52  and the earth. 19:16 Pay attention, Lord, and hear! Open your eyes, Lord, and observe! Listen to the message Sennacherib sent and how he taunts the living God! 53  19:17 It is true, Lord, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands. 19:18 They have burned the gods of the nations, 54  for they are not really gods, but only the product of human hands manufactured from wood and stone. That is why the Assyrians could destroy them. 55  19:19 Now, O Lord our God, rescue us from his power, so that all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you, Lord, are the only God.”

19:20 Isaiah son of Amoz sent this message to Hezekiah: “This is what the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I have heard your prayer concerning King Sennacherib of Assyria. 56  19:21 This is what the Lord says about him: 57 

“The virgin daughter Zion 58 

despises you, she makes fun of you;

Daughter Jerusalem

shakes her head after you. 59 

19:22 Whom have you taunted and hurled insults at?

At whom have you shouted, 60 

and looked so arrogantly? 61 

At the Holy One of Israel! 62 

19:23 Through your messengers you taunted the sovereign master, 63 

‘With my many chariots 64 

I climbed up the high mountains,

the slopes of Lebanon.

I cut down its tall cedars,

and its best evergreens.

I invaded its most remote regions, 65 

its thickest woods.

19:24 I dug wells and drank

water in foreign lands. 66 

With the soles of my feet I dried up

all the rivers of Egypt.’

19:25 67 Certainly you must have heard! 68 

Long ago I worked it out,

In ancient times I planned 69  it;

and now I am bringing it to pass.

The plan is this:

Fortified cities will crash

into heaps of ruins. 70 

19:26 Their residents are powerless, 71 

they are terrified and ashamed.

They are as short-lived as plants in the field,

or green vegetation. 72 

They are as short-lived as grass on the rooftops 73 

when it is scorched by the east wind. 74 

19:27 I know where you live,

and everything you do. 75 

19:28 Because you rage against me,

and the uproar you create has reached my ears; 76 

I will put my hook in your nose, 77 

and my bridle between your lips,

and I will lead you back the way

you came.”

19:29 78 This will be your confirmation that I have spoken the truth: 79  This year you will eat what grows wild, 80  and next year 81  what grows on its own from that. But in the third year you will plant seed and harvest crops; you will plant vines and consume their produce. 82  19:30 Those who remain in Judah will take root in the ground and bear fruit. 83 

19:31 For a remnant will leave Jerusalem;

survivors will come out of Mount Zion.

The intense devotion of the sovereign Lord 84  to his people 85  will accomplish this.

19:32 So this is what the Lord says about the king of Assyria:

“He will not enter this city,

nor will he shoot an arrow here. 86 

He will not attack it with his shield-carrying warriors, 87 

nor will he build siege works against it.

19:33 He will go back the way he came.

He will not enter this city,” says the Lord.

19:34 I will shield this city and rescue it for the sake of my reputation and because of my promise to David my servant.’” 88 

19:35 That very night the Lord’s messenger went out and killed 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp. When they 89  got up early the next morning, there were all the corpses. 90  19:36 So King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and went on his way. He went home and stayed in Nineveh. 91 

1 tn Or “I have done wrong.”

2 tn Heb “Return from upon me; what you place upon me, I will carry.”

3 tn The Hebrew term כִּכָּר (kikkar, “circle”) refers generally to something that is round. When used of metals it can refer to a disk-shaped weight made of the metal or to a standard unit of weight, generally regarded as a talent. Since the accepted weight for a talent of metal is about 75 pounds, this would have amounted to about 22,500 pounds of silver and 2,250 pounds of gold.

4 tn Heb “that was found.”

5 tn Heb “At that time Hezekiah stripped the doors of the Lord’s temple, and the posts which Hezekiah king of Judah had plated.”

6 sn For a discussion of these titles see M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 229-30.

7 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

8 tn Heb “and they went up and came.”

9 tn Heb “the field of the washer.”

10 tn Heb “What is this object of trust in which you are trusting?”

11 tn Heb “you say only a word of lips, counsel and might for battle.” Sennacherib’s message appears to be in broken Hebrew at this point. The phrase “word of lips” refers to mere or empty talk in Prov 14:23.

12 tn Heb “exchange pledges.”

13 tn Heb “How can you turn back the face of an official [from among] the least of my master’s servants and trust in Egypt for chariots and horsemen?” In vv. 23-24 the chief adviser develops further the argument begun in v. 21. His reasoning seems to be as follows: “In your weakened condition you obviously need military strength. Agree to the king’s terms and I will personally give you more horses than you are capable of outfitting. If I, a mere minor official, am capable of giving you such military might, just think what power the king has. There is no way the Egyptians can match our strength. It makes much better sense to deal with us.”

14 tn Heb “Go.”

15 sn In v. 25 the chief adviser develops further the argument begun in v. 22. He claims that Hezekiah has offended the Lord and that the Lord has commissioned Assyria as his instrument of discipline and judgment.

16 sn Aramaic was the diplomatic language of the empire.

17 tn Or “Hebrew.”

18 tn Heb “To your master and to you did my master send me to speak these words?” The rhetorical question expects a negative answer.

19 tn Heb “[Is it] not [also] to the men…?” The rhetorical question expects the answer, “Yes, it is.”

sn The chief adviser alludes to the horrible reality of siege warfare, when the starving people in the besieged city would resort to eating and drinking anything to stay alive.

20 tn The Hebrew text also has, “and he spoke and said.”

21 tc The MT has “his hand,” but this is due to graphic confusion of vav (ו) and yod (י). The translation reads “my hand,” along with many medieval Hebrew mss, the LXX, Syriac Peshitta, Targum, and Vulgate.

22 tn Heb “make with me a blessing and come out to me.”

23 tn Heb “Have the gods of the nations really rescued, each his land, from the hand of the king of Assyria?” The infinitive absolute lends emphasis to the main verb. The rhetorical question expects the answer, “Of course not!”

24 tn The parallel passage in Isa 36:19 omits “Hena and Ivvah.” The rhetorical questions in v. 34a suggest the answer, “Nowhere, they seem to have disappeared in the face of Assyria’s might.”

25 map For location see Map2 B1; Map4 D3; Map5 E2; Map6 A4; Map7 C1.

26 tn Heb “that they rescued Samaria from my hand?” But this gives the impression that the gods of Sepharvaim were responsible for protecting Samaria, which is obviously not the case. The implied subject of the plural verb “rescued” must be the generic “gods of the nations/lands” (vv. 33, 35).

27 tn Heb “that the Lord might rescue Jerusalem from my hand?” The logic runs as follows: Since no god has ever been able to withstand the Assyrian onslaught, how can the people of Jerusalem possibly think the Lord will rescue them?

28 sn As a sign of grief and mourning.

29 tn Heb “elders of the priests.”

30 tn In the Hebrew text this verse begins with “they said to him.”

31 tn Or “rebuke,” “correction.”

32 tn Or “contempt.”

33 tn Heb “when sons come to the cervical opening and there is no strength to give birth.”

34 tn Heb “all the words of the chief adviser whom his master, the king of Assyria, sent to taunt the living God.”

35 tn Heb “and rebuke the words which the Lord your God hears.”

36 tn Heb “and lift up a prayer on behalf of the remnant that is found.”

37 tn Heb “by which the servants of the king of Assyria have insulted me.”

38 tn Heb “I will put in him a spirit.” The precise sense of רוּחַ (ruakh), “spirit,” is uncertain in this context. It may refer to a spiritual being who will take control of his mind (see 1 Kgs 22:19), or it could refer to a disposition of concern and fear. In either case the Lord’s sovereignty over the king is apparent.

39 tn Heb “hear.”

40 tn Heb “cause him to fall,” that is, “kill him.”

41 tn Heb “and the chief adviser returned and he found the king of Assyria fighting against Libnah, for he heard that he had departed from Lachish.”

42 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

43 tn Heb “heard concerning Tirhakah king of Cush, ‘Look, he has come out to fight with you.’”

44 tn Heb “will not be given.”

45 tn Heb “Look, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands, annihilating them.”

46 tn Heb “and will you be rescued?” The rhetorical question expects the answer, “No, of course not!”

47 tn Heb “Did the gods of the nations whom my fathers destroyed rescue them – Gozan and Haran, and Rezeph and the sons of Eden who are in Telassar?”

48 sn Lair is a city located in northeastern Babylon. See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 235.

49 tc The MT has the plural, “letters,” but the final mem is probably dittographic (note the initial mem on the form that immediately follows). Some Greek and Aramaic witnesses have the singular.

50 tc The MT has the plural suffix, “them,” but this probably reflects a later harmonization to the preceding textual corruption (of “letter” to “letters”). The parallel passage in Isa 37:14 has the singular suffix.

51 sn This refers to the cherub images that were above the ark of the covenant.

52 tn Or “the heavens.”

53 tn Heb “Hear the words of Sennacherib which he sent to taunt the living God.”

54 tn Heb “and they put their gods in the fire.”

55 tn Heb “so they destroyed them.”

56 tn Heb “That which you prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard.” The verb “I have heard” does not appear in the parallel passage in Isa 37:21, where אֲשֶׁר (’asher) probably has a causal sense, “because.”

57 tn Heb “this is the word which the Lord has spoken about him.”

58 sn Zion (Jerusalem) is pictured here as a young, vulnerable daughter whose purity is being threatened by the would-be Assyrian rapist. The personification hints at the reality which the young girls of the city would face if the Assyrians conquer it.

59 sn Shaking the head was a mocking gesture of derision.

60 tn Heb “have you raised a voice.”

61 tn Heb “and lifted your eyes on high?”

62 sn This divine title pictures the Lord as the sovereign king who rules over his covenant people and exercises moral authority over them.

63 tn The word is אֲדֹנָי (’adonai), “lord,” but some Hebrew mss have יְהוָה (yehvah), “Lord.”

64 tc The consonantal text (Kethib) has בְּרֶכֶב (bÿrekhev), but this must be dittographic (note the following רִכְבִּי [rikhbi], “my chariots”). The marginal reading (Qere) בְּרֹב (bÿrov), “with many,” is supported by many Hebrew mss and ancient versions, as well as the parallel passage in Isa 37:24.

65 tn Heb “the lodging place of its extremity.”

66 tn Heb “I dug and drank foreign waters.”

67 tn Having quoted the Assyrian king’s arrogant words in vv. 23-24, the Lord now speaks to the king.

68 tn Heb “Have you not heard?” The rhetorical question expresses the Lord’s amazement that anyone might be ignorant of what he is about to say.

69 tn Heb “formed.”

70 tn Heb “and it is to cause to crash into heaps of ruins fortified cities.” The subject of the third feminine singular verb תְּהִי (tÿhi) is the implied plan, referred to in the preceding lines with third feminine singular pronominal suffixes.

71 tn Heb “short of hand.”

72 tn Heb “they are plants in the field and green vegetation.” The metaphor emphasizes how short-lived these seemingly powerful cities really were. See Ps 90:5-6; Isa 40:6-8, 24.

73 tn Heb “[they are] grass on the rooftops.” See the preceding note.

74 tc The Hebrew text has “scorched before the standing grain” (perhaps meaning “before it reaches maturity”), but it is preferable to emend קָמָה (qamah), “standing grain,” to קָדִים (qadim), “east wind” (with the support of 1Q Isaa in Isa 37:27).

75 tc Heb “your going out and your coming in.” The MT also has here, “and how you have raged against me.” However, this line is probably dittographic (note the beginning of the next line).

76 tc Heb “and your complacency comes up into my ears.” The parallelism is improved if שַׁאֲנַנְךְ (shaanankh), “your complacency,” is emended to שַׁאֲוַנְךְ (shaavankh), “your uproar.” See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 237-38.

77 sn The word picture has a parallel in Assyrian sculpture. See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 238.

78 tn At this point the word concerning the king of Assyria (vv. 21-28) ends and the Lord again directly addresses Hezekiah and the people (see v. 20).

79 tn Heb “and this is your sign.” In this case the אוֹת (’ot), “sign,” is a future confirmation of God’s intervention designated before the actual intervention takes place. For similar “signs” see Exod 3:12 and Isa 7:14-25.

80 sn This refers to crops that grew up on their own (that is, without cultivation) from the seed planted in past years.

81 tn Heb “and in the second year.”

82 tn The four plural imperatival verb forms in v. 29b are used rhetorically. The Lord commands the people to plant, harvest, etc. to emphasize the certainty of restored peace and prosperity. See IBHS 572 §34.4.c.

83 tn Heb “The remnant of the house of Judah that is left will add roots below and produce fruit above.”

84 tn Traditionally “the Lord of hosts.”

85 tn Heb “the zeal of the Lord.” In this context the Lord’s “zeal” refers to his intense devotion to and love for his people which prompts him to protect and restore them. The Qere, along with many medieval Hebrew mss and the ancient versions, has “the zeal of the LORD of hosts” rather than “the zeal of the LORD” (Kethib). The translation follows the Qere here.

86 tn Heb “there.”

87 tn Heb “[with] a shield.” By metonymy the “shield” stands for the soldier who carries it.

88 tn Heb “for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.”

89 tn This refers to the Israelites and/or the rest of the Assyrian army.

90 tn Heb “look, all of them were dead bodies.”

91 tn Heb “and Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went and returned and lived in Nineveh.”



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