2 Kings 18
Contemporary English Version
King Hezekiah of Judah
18 Hezekiah son of Ahaz became king of Judah in the third year of Hoshea’s rule in Israel. 2 Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he ruled twenty-nine years from Jerusalem. His mother Abi was the daughter of Zechariah.
3 Hezekiah obeyed the Lord, just as his ancestor David had done. 4 He destroyed the local shrines, then tore down the images of foreign gods and cut down the sacred pole for worshiping the goddess Asherah. He also smashed the bronze snake Moses had made. The people had named it Nehushtan[a] and had been offering sacrifices to it.
5 Hezekiah trusted the Lord God of Israel. No other king of Judah was like Hezekiah, either before or after him. 6 He was completely faithful to the Lord and obeyed the laws the Lord had given to Moses for the people. 7 The Lord helped Hezekiah, so he was successful in everything he did. He even rebelled against the king of Assyria, refusing to be his servant. 8 Hezekiah defeated the Philistine towns as far away as Gaza—from the smallest towns to the large, walled cities.
9 During the fourth year of Hezekiah’s rule, which was the seventh year of Hoshea’s rule in Israel, King Shalmaneser of Assyria led his troops to Samaria, the capital city of Israel. They attacked 10 and captured it three years later,[b] in the sixth year of Hezekiah’s rule and the ninth year of Hoshea’s rule. 11 The king of Assyria[c] took the Israelites away as prisoners; he forced some of them to live in the town of Halah, others to live near the Habor River in the territory of Gozan, and still others to live in towns where the Median people lived. 12 All of that happened because the people of Israel had not obeyed the Lord their God. They rejected the solemn agreement he had made with them, and they ignored everything that the Lord’s servant Moses had told them.
King Sennacherib of Assyria Invades Judah
13 In the fourteenth year of Hezekiah’s rule in Judah, King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded the country and captured every walled city,[d] except Jerusalem. 14 Hezekiah sent this message to Sennacherib, who was in the town of Lachish: “I know I am guilty of rebellion. But I will pay you whatever you want, if you stop your attack.”
Sennacherib told Hezekiah to pay about eleven tons of silver and almost a ton of gold. 15 So Hezekiah collected all the silver from the Lord’s temple and the royal treasury. 16 He even stripped the gold that he had used to cover the doors and doorposts[e] in the temple. He gave it all to Sennacherib.
17 The king of Assyria ordered his three highest military officers to leave Lachish and take a large army to Jerusalem. When they arrived, the officers stood on the road near the cloth makers' shops along the canal from the upper pool. 18 They called out to Hezekiah, and three of his highest officials came out to meet them. One of them was Hilkiah’s son Eliakim, who was the prime minister. The other two were Shebna, assistant to the prime minister, and Joah son of Asaph, keeper of the government records.
19 One of the Assyrian commanders told them:
I have a message for Hezekiah from the great king of Assyria. Ask Hezekiah why he feels so sure of himself. 20 Does he think he can plan and win a war with nothing but words? Who is going to help him, now that he has turned against the king of Assyria? 21 Is he depending on Egypt and its king? That’s the same as leaning on a broken stick, and it will go right through his hand.
22 Is Hezekiah now depending on the Lord your God? Didn’t Hezekiah tear down all except one of the Lord’s altars and places of worship?[f] Didn’t he tell the people of Jerusalem and Judah to worship at that one place?
23 The king of Assyria wants to make a bet with you people. He will give you two thousand horses, if you have enough troops to ride them. 24 How could you even defeat our lowest ranking officer, when you have to depend on Egypt for chariots and cavalry? 25 Don’t forget that it was the Lord who sent me here with orders to destroy your nation!
26 Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said, “Sir, we don’t want the people listening from the city wall to understand what you are saying. So please speak to us in Aramaic instead of Hebrew.”
27 The Assyrian army commander answered, “My king sent me to speak to everyone, not just to you leaders. These people will soon have to eat their own body waste and drink their own urine! And so will the three of you.”
28 Then, in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, he shouted in Hebrew:
Listen to what the great king of Assyria says! 29 Don’t be fooled by Hezekiah. He can’t save you. 30 Don’t trust him when he tells you that the Lord will protect you from the king of Assyria. 31 Stop listening to Hezekiah! Pay attention to my king. Surrender to him. He will let you keep your own vineyards, fig trees, and cisterns 32 for a while. Then he will come and take you away to a country just like yours, where you can plant vineyards, raise your own grain, and have plenty of olive oil and honey. Believe me, you won’t starve there.
Hezekiah claims the Lord will save you. But don’t be fooled by him. 33 Were any other gods able to defend their land against the king of Assyria? 34 What happened to the gods of Hamath and Arpad? What about the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Were the gods of Samaria able to protect their land against the Assyrian forces? 35 None of these gods kept their people safe from the king of Assyria. Do you think the Lord your God can do any better?
36-37 Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah had been warned by King Hezekiah not to answer the Assyrian commander. So they tore their clothes in sorrow and reported to Hezekiah everything the commander had said.
- 18.4 the bronze snake. . . Nehushtan: See Numbers 21.8,9. “Nehushtan” is a nickname that sounds like the Hebrew words for “snake” and “bronze.”
- 18.10 three years later: When the Israelites measured time, part of a year could be counted as a whole year.
- 18.11 The king of Assyria: Probably Sargon, Shalmaneser’s successor (see the note at 17.6).
- 18.13 King Sennacherib. . . walled city: Sennacherib ruled Assyria 705-681 B.C., and this event probably took place in 701 B.C.
- 18.16 doorposts: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 18.22 worship: Hezekiah actually had torn down the places where idols were worshiped, and he had told the people to worship the Lord at the one place of worship in Jerusalem. But the Assyrian leader was confused and thought these were also places where the Lord was supposed to be worshiped.