2 Kings 19
New English Translation
19 1 When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and went to the Lord’s temple. 2 He sent Eliakim the palace supervisor, Shebna the scribe, and the leading priests,[a] clothed in sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. 3 They told him, “This is what Hezekiah says: ‘This is a day of distress, insults,[b] and humiliation,[c] as when a baby is ready to leave the birth canal, but the mother lacks the strength to push it through.[d] 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.[e] When the Lord your God hears, perhaps he will punish him for the things he has said.[f] So pray for this remnant that remains.’”[g]
5 When King Hezekiah’s servants came to Isaiah, 6 Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master this: ‘This is what the Lord has said: “Don’t be afraid because of the things you have heard, because the Assyrian king’s officers have insulted me. 7 Look, I will take control of his mind;[h] he will receive[i] a report and return to his own land. I will cut him down[j] with a sword in his own land.”’”
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.[k] 9 The king[l] heard that King Tirhakah of Ethiopia was marching out to fight him.[m] He again sent messengers to Hezekiah, ordering them: 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[n] to the king of Assyria.” 11 Certainly you have heard how the kings of Assyria have annihilated all lands.[o] Do you really think you will be rescued?[p] 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?[q] 13 Where are the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, and the kings of Lair,[r] Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?’”
14 Hezekiah took the letter[s] from the messengers and read it.[t] Then Hezekiah went up to the Lord’s temple and spread it out before the Lord. 15 Hezekiah prayed before the Lord: “Lord God of Israel, who is enthroned above the cherubim![u] You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You made the sky[v] and the earth. 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![w] 17 It is true, Lord, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands. 18 They have burned the gods of the nations,[x] 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.[y] 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.”
20 Isaiah son of Amoz sent this message to Hezekiah: “This is what the Lord God of Israel has said: ‘I have heard your prayer[z] concerning King Sennacherib of Assyria. 21 This is what the Lord says about him:[aa]
“‘“The virgin daughter Zion[ab]
despises you, she makes fun of you;
shakes her head after you.[ac]
22 Whom have you taunted and hurled insults at?
At whom have you shouted,[ad]
and looked so arrogantly?[ae]
At the Holy One of Israel![af]
23 Through your messengers you taunted the Sovereign Master,[ag]
‘With my many chariots[ah]
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,[ai]
its thickest woods.
24 I dug wells and drank
water in foreign lands.[aj]
With the soles of my feet I dried up
all the rivers of Egypt.’
25 [ak] Certainly you must have heard![al]
Long ago I worked it out.
In ancient times I planned[am] it;
and now I am bringing it to pass.
The plan is this:
Fortified cities will crash
into heaps of ruins.[an]
26 Their residents are powerless,[ao]
they are terrified and ashamed.
They are as short-lived as plants in the field,
or green vegetation.[ap]
They are as short-lived as grass on the rooftops[aq]
when it is scorched by the east wind.[ar]
27 I know where you live
and everything you do.[as]
28 Because you rage against me,
and the uproar you create has reached my ears,[at]
I will put my hook in your nose,[au]
and my bridle between your lips,
and I will lead you back the way
29 [av] “‘This will be your confirmation that I have spoken the truth:[aw] This year you will eat what grows wild,[ax] and next year[ay] 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.[az] 30 Those who remain in Judah will take root in the ground and bear fruit.[ba]
31 “‘For a remnant will leave Jerusalem;
survivors will come out of Mount Zion.
The zeal of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies[bb] will accomplish this.
32 So this is what the Lord has said about the king of Assyria:
“He will not enter this city,
nor will he shoot an arrow here.[bc]
He will not attack it with his shield-carrying warriors,[bd]
nor will he build siege works against it.
33 He will go back the way he came.
He will not enter this city,” says the Lord.
34 “‘I will shield this city and rescue it for the sake of my reputation and because of my promise to David my servant.’”[be]
35 That very night the angel of the Lord went out and killed 185,000 in the Assyrian camp. When they[bf] got up early the next morning, there were all the corpses.[bg] 36 So King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and went on his way. He went home and stayed in Nineveh.[bh] 37 One day,[bi] as he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch,[bj] his sons[bk] Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword.[bl] They escaped to the land of Ararat; his son Esarhaddon replaced him as king.
- 2 Kings 19:2 tn Heb “elders of the priests.”
- 2 Kings 19:3 tn Or “rebuke,” “correction.”
- 2 Kings 19:3 tn Or “contempt.”
- 2 Kings 19:3 tn Heb “when sons come to the cervical opening and there is no strength to give birth.”
- 2 Kings 19:4 tn Heb “all the words of the chief adviser whom his master, the king of Assyria, sent to taunt the living God.”
- 2 Kings 19:4 tn Heb “and rebuke the words which the Lord your God hears.”
- 2 Kings 19:4 tn Heb “and lift up a prayer on behalf of the remnant that is found.”
- 2 Kings 19:7 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.
- 2 Kings 19:7 tn Heb “hear.”
- 2 Kings 19:7 tn Heb “cause him to fall,” that is, “kill him.”
- 2 Kings 19:8 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.”
- 2 Kings 19:9 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- 2 Kings 19:9 tn Heb “heard concerning Tirhakah king of Cush, ‘Look, he has come out to fight with you.’”
- 2 Kings 19:10 tn Heb “will not be given in the hand.”
- 2 Kings 19:11 tn Heb “Look, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands, annihilating them.”
- 2 Kings 19:11 tn Heb “and will you be rescued?” The rhetorical question expects the answer, “No, of course not!”
- 2 Kings 19:12 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?”
- 2 Kings 19:13 sn Lair is a city located in northeastern Babylon. See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 235.
- 2 Kings 19:14 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.
- 2 Kings 19:14 tc The MT has the plural suffix, “them,” but this probably reflects a later harmonization to the preceding textual issue concerning the plural word “letters.” The parallel passage in Isa 37:14 has the singular suffix.
- 2 Kings 19:15 sn This refers to the cherub images that were above the ark of the covenant.
- 2 Kings 19:15 tn Or “the heavens.”
- 2 Kings 19:16 tn Heb “Hear the words of Sennacherib which he sent to taunt the living God.”
- 2 Kings 19:18 tn Heb “and they put their gods in the fire.”
- 2 Kings 19:18 tn Heb “so they destroyed them.”
- 2 Kings 19:20 tn Heb “what you have prayed to me.”
- 2 Kings 19:21 tn Heb “this is the word which the Lord has spoken about him.”
- 2 Kings 19:21 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.
- 2 Kings 19:21 sn Shaking the head was a mocking gesture of derision.
- 2 Kings 19:22 tn Heb “have you raised a voice.”
- 2 Kings 19:22 tn Heb “and lifted your eyes on high?”
- 2 Kings 19:22 sn This divine title pictures the Lord as the sovereign king who rules over his covenant people and exercises moral authority over them.
- 2 Kings 19:23 tn The word is אֲדֹנָי (ʾadonay), “lord,” but some Hebrew mss have יְהוָה (yehvah), “Lord.”
- 2 Kings 19:23 tc The consonantal text (Kethib) has בְּרֶכֶב (berekhev), but this must be dittographic (note the following רִכְבִּי [rikhbi], “my chariots”). The marginal reading (Qere) בְּרֹב (berov), “with many,” is supported by many Hebrew mss and ancient versions, as well as the parallel passage in Isa 37:24.
- 2 Kings 19:23 tn Heb “the lodging place of its extremity.”
- 2 Kings 19:24 tn Heb “I dug and drank foreign waters.”
- 2 Kings 19:25 tn Having quoted the Assyrian king’s arrogant words in vv. 23-24, the Lord now speaks to the king.
- 2 Kings 19:25 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.
- 2 Kings 19:25 tn Heb “formed.”
- 2 Kings 19:25 tn Heb “and it is to cause to crash into heaps of ruins fortified cities.” The subject of the third feminine singular verb תְּהִי (tehi) is the implied plan, referred to in the preceding lines with third feminine singular pronominal suffixes.
- 2 Kings 19:26 tn Heb “short of hand.”
- 2 Kings 19:26 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.
- 2 Kings 19:26 tn Heb “[they are] grass on the rooftops.” See the preceding note.
- 2 Kings 19:26 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).
- 2 Kings 19:27 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).
- 2 Kings 19:28 tc Heb “and your complacency comes up into my ears.” The parallelism is improved if שַׁאֲנַנְךָ (shaʾananekha), “your complacency,” is emended to שַׁאֲוַנְךְ (shaʾavanekha), “your uproar.” See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 237-38.
- 2 Kings 19:28 sn The word picture has a parallel in Assyrian sculpture. See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 238.
- 2 Kings 19:29 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).
- 2 Kings 19:29 tn Heb “and this is your sign.” In this case the אוֹת (ʾot), “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.
- 2 Kings 19:29 sn This refers to crops that grew up on their own (that is, without cultivation) from the seed planted in past years.
- 2 Kings 19:29 tn Heb “and in the second year.”
- 2 Kings 19:29 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.
- 2 Kings 19:30 tn Heb “The remnant of the house of Judah that is left will add roots below and produce fruit above.”
- 2 Kings 19:31 tn Traditionally “the Lord of hosts.” 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.
- 2 Kings 19:32 tn Heb “there.”
- 2 Kings 19:32 tn Heb “[with] a shield.” By metonymy the “shield” stands for the soldier who carries it.
- 2 Kings 19:34 tn Heb “for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.”
- 2 Kings 19:35 tn This refers to the Israelites and/or the rest of the Assyrian army.
- 2 Kings 19:35 tn Heb “look, all of them were dead bodies.”
- 2 Kings 19:36 tn Heb “and Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went and returned and lived in Nineveh.”
- 2 Kings 19:37 sn The assassination probably took place in 681 b.c.
- 2 Kings 19:37 sn No such Mesopotamian god is presently known. Perhaps the name Nisroch is a textual variation of Nusku, the Mesopotamian god of light and fire. Other proposals have tried to relate the name to Ashur, the chief god of the Assyria, or to Ninurta, the Assyrian god of war.
- 2 Kings 19:37 tc Although “his sons” is absent in the Kethib, it is supported by the Qere, along with many medieval Hebrew mss and the ancient versions. Cf. Isa 37:38.
- 2 Kings 19:37 sn Extra-biblical sources also mention the assassination of Sennacherib, though they refer to only one assassin. See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 239-40.