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Hezekiah Asks Isaiah the Prophet for Advice

19 As soon as Hezekiah heard the news, he tore off his clothes in sorrow and put on sackcloth. Then he went into the temple of the Lord. He told Prime Minister Eliakim, Assistant Prime Minister Shebna, and the senior priests to dress in sackcloth and tell the prophet Isaiah:

These are difficult and disgraceful times. Our nation is like a woman too weak to give birth, when it’s time for her baby to be born. Please pray for those of us who are left alive. The king of Assyria sent his army commander to insult the living God. Perhaps the Lord heard what he said and will do something, if you will pray.

When these leaders went to Isaiah, he told them that the Lord had this message for Hezekiah:

I am the Lord. Don’t worry about the insulting things that have been said about me by these messengers from the king of Assyria. I will upset him with rumors about what’s happening in his own country. He will go back, and there I will make him die a violent death.

Meanwhile, the commander of the Assyrian forces heard that his king had left the town of Lachish and was now attacking Libnah. So he went there.

About this same time the king of Assyria learned that King Tirhakah of Ethiopia[a] was on his way to attack him. Then the king of Assyria sent some messengers with this note for Hezekiah:

10 Don’t trust your God or be fooled by his promise to defend Jerusalem against me. 11 You have heard how we Assyrian kings have completely wiped out other nations. What makes you feel so safe? 12 The Assyrian kings before me destroyed the towns of Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and everyone from Eden who lived in Telassar. What good did their gods do them? 13 The kings of Hamath, Arpad, Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah have all disappeared.

Hezekiah Prays

14 After Hezekiah had read the note from the king of Assyria, he took it to the temple and spread it out for the Lord to see. 15 He prayed:

Lord God of Israel, your throne is above the winged creatures.[b] You created the heavens and the earth, and you alone rule the kingdoms of this world. 16 But just look how Sennacherib has insulted you, the living God.

17 It is true, our Lord, that Assyrian kings have turned nations into deserts. 18 They destroyed the idols of wood and stone that the people of those nations had made and worshiped. 19 But you are our Lord and our God! We ask you to keep us safe from the Assyrian king. Then everyone in every kingdom on earth will know that you are the only God.

The Lord’s Answer to Hezekiah

20 Isaiah went to Hezekiah and told him that the Lord God of Israel had said:

Hezekiah, I heard your prayer about King Sennacherib of Assyria. 21 Now this is what I say to that king:

The people of Jerusalem
    hate and make fun of you;
    they laugh
    behind your back.

22 Sennacherib, you cursed,
shouted, and sneered at me,
    the holy God of Israel.
23 You let your officials
    insult me, the Lord.
And here is what you
    have said about yourself,
“I led my chariots
    to the highest heights
    of Lebanon’s mountains.
I went deep into its forest,
cutting down the best cedar
    and cypress trees.
24 I dried up every stream
    in the land of Egypt,
and I drank water
    from wells I had dug.”

25 Sennacherib, now listen
    to me, the Lord.
I planned all this long ago.
And you don’t even realize
    that I alone am the one
who decided that you
    would do these things.
I let you make ruins
    of fortified cities.
26 Their people became weak,
    terribly confused.
They were like wild flowers
    or tender young grass
    growing on a flat roof,
scorched before it matures.[c]

27 I know all about you,
    even how fiercely angry
    you are with me.
28 I have seen your pride
    and the tremendous hatred
    you have for me.
Now I will put a hook
    in your nose,
    a bit in your mouth,[d]
then I will send you back
    to where you came from.

29 Hezekiah, I will tell you what’s going to happen. This year you will eat crops that grow on their own, and the next year you will eat whatever springs up where those crops grew. But the third year you will plant grain and vineyards, and you will eat what you harvest. 30 Those who survive in Judah will be like a vine that puts down deep roots and bears fruit. 31 I, the Lord All-Powerful, will see to it that some who live in Jerusalem will survive.

32 I promise that the king of Assyria won’t get into Jerusalem, or shoot an arrow into the city, or even surround it and prepare to attack. 33 As surely as I am the Lord, he will return by the way he came and will never enter Jerusalem. 34 I will protect it for myself and for my servant David.

The Death of King Sennacherib

35 That same night the Lord sent an angel to the camp of the Assyrians, and he killed one hundred eighty-five thousand of them. And so the next morning, the camp was full of dead bodies. 36 After this King Sennacherib went back to Assyria and lived in the city of Nineveh. 37 One day he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, when his sons, Adrammelech and Sharezer, killed him with their swords. They escaped to the land of Ararat, and his son Esarhaddon became king.[e]

Footnotes

  1. 19.9 Ethiopia: The Hebrew text has “Cush,” which was a region south of Egypt that included parts of the present countries of Ethiopia and Sudan.
  2. 19.15 winged creatures: Two winged creatures made of gold were on the top of the sacred chest and were symbols of the Lord’s throne on earth (see Exodus 25.18; 2 Samuel 6.2).
  3. 19.26 tender young grass. . . matures: Many of the houses had roofs made of packed earth. Grass would sometimes grow out of the roof, but would die quickly because of the sun and hot winds.
  4. 19.28 I will put. . . your mouth: This is how the Assyrians treated their prisoners, and now the Lord will treat Sennacherib the same way.
  5. 19.37 Esarhaddon became king: Ruled Assyria 681-669 B.C.

Jerusalem’s Deliverance Foretold(A)

19 When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore(B) his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the Lord. He sent Eliakim(C) the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary and the leading priests,(D) all wearing sackcloth,(E) to the prophet Isaiah(F) son of Amoz. They told him, “This is what Hezekiah says: This day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the moment(G) of birth and there is no strength to deliver them. It may be that the Lord your God will hear all the words of the field commander, whom his master, the king of Assyria, has sent to ridicule(H) the living God, and that he will rebuke(I) him for the words the Lord your God has heard. Therefore pray for the remnant(J) that still survives.”

When King Hezekiah’s officials came to Isaiah, Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master, ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid(K) of what you have heard—those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed(L) me. Listen! When he hears a certain report,(M) I will make him want to return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.(N)’”

When the field commander heard that the king of Assyria had left Lachish,(O) he withdrew and found the king fighting against Libnah.(P)

Now Sennacherib received a report that Tirhakah, the king of Cush,[a] was marching out to fight against him. So he again sent messengers to Hezekiah with this word: 10 “Say to Hezekiah king of Judah: Do not let the god you depend(Q) on deceive(R) you when he says, ‘Jerusalem will not be given into the hands of the king of Assyria.’ 11 Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered? 12 Did the gods of the nations that were destroyed by my predecessors deliver(S) them—the gods of Gozan,(T) Harran,(U) Rezeph and the people of Eden who were in Tel Assar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath or the king of Arpad? Where are the kings of Lair, Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah?”(V)

Hezekiah’s Prayer(W)

14 Hezekiah received the letter(X) from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: “Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim,(Y) you alone(Z) are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Give ear,(AA) Lord, and hear;(AB) open your eyes,(AC) Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.

17 “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. 18 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods(AD) but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands.(AE) 19 Now, Lord our God, deliver(AF) us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms(AG) of the earth may know(AH) that you alone, Lord, are God.”

Isaiah Prophesies Sennacherib’s Fall(AI)(AJ)

20 Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent a message to Hezekiah: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I have heard(AK) your prayer concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria. 21 This is the word that the Lord has spoken against(AL) him:

“‘Virgin Daughter(AM) Zion
    despises(AN) you and mocks(AO) you.
Daughter Jerusalem
    tosses her head(AP) as you flee.
22 Who is it you have ridiculed and blasphemed?(AQ)
    Against whom have you raised your voice
and lifted your eyes in pride?
    Against the Holy One(AR) of Israel!
23 By your messengers
    you have ridiculed the Lord.
And you have said,(AS)
    “With my many chariots(AT)
I have ascended the heights of the mountains,
    the utmost heights of Lebanon.
I have cut down(AU) its tallest cedars,
    the choicest of its junipers.
I have reached its remotest parts,
    the finest of its forests.
24 I have dug wells in foreign lands
    and drunk the water there.
With the soles of my feet
    I have dried up all the streams of Egypt.”

25 “‘Have you not heard?(AV)
    Long ago I ordained it.
In days of old I planned(AW) it;
    now I have brought it to pass,
that you have turned fortified cities
    into piles of stone.(AX)
26 Their people, drained of power,(AY)
    are dismayed(AZ) and put to shame.
They are like plants in the field,
    like tender green shoots,(BA)
like grass sprouting on the roof,
    scorched(BB) before it grows up.

27 “‘But I know(BC) where you are
    and when you come and go
    and how you rage against me.
28 Because you rage against me
    and because your insolence has reached my ears,
I will put my hook(BD) in your nose
    and my bit(BE) in your mouth,
and I will make you return(BF)
    by the way you came.’

29 “This will be the sign(BG) for you, Hezekiah:

“This year you will eat what grows by itself,(BH)
    and the second year what springs from that.
But in the third year sow and reap,
    plant vineyards(BI) and eat their fruit.
30 Once more a remnant(BJ) of the kingdom of Judah
    will take root(BK) below and bear fruit above.
31 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant,(BL)
    and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors.(BM)

“The zeal(BN) of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

32 “Therefore this is what the Lord says concerning the king of Assyria:

“‘He will not enter this city
    or shoot an arrow here.
He will not come before it with shield
    or build a siege ramp against it.
33 By the way that he came he will return;(BO)
    he will not enter this city,
declares the Lord.
34 I will defend(BP) this city and save it,
    for my sake and for the sake of David(BQ) my servant.’”

35 That night the angel of the Lord(BR) went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies!(BS) 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew.(BT) He returned to Nineveh(BU) and stayed there.

37 One day, while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisrok, his sons Adrammelek(BV) and Sharezer killed him with the sword,(BW) and they escaped to the land of Ararat.(BX) And Esarhaddon(BY) his son succeeded him as king.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Kings 19:9 That is, the upper Nile region

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