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The Assyrians Threaten Jerusalem(A)

32 After these events, in which King Hezekiah served the Lord faithfully, Sennacherib, the emperor of Assyria, invaded Judah. He besieged the fortified cities and gave orders for his army to break their way through the walls. When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib intended to attack Jerusalem also, 3-4 he and his officials decided to cut off the supply of water outside the city in order to keep the Assyrians from having any water when they got near Jerusalem. The officials led a large number of people out and stopped up all the springs, so that no more water flowed out of them. The king strengthened the city's defenses by repairing the wall, building towers on it,[a] and building an outer wall. In addition, he repaired the defenses built on the land that was filled in on the east side of the old part of Jerusalem. He also had a large number of spears and shields made. He placed all the men in the city under the command of army officers and had them assemble in the open square at the city gate. He said to them, “Be determined and confident, and don't be afraid of the Assyrian emperor or of the army he is leading. We have more power on our side than he has on his. He has human power, but we have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” The people were encouraged by these words of their king.

Some time later, while Sennacherib and his army were still at Lachish, he sent the following message to Hezekiah and the people of Judah who were with him in Jerusalem: 10 “I, Sennacherib, Emperor of Assyria, ask what gives you people the confidence to remain in Jerusalem under siege. 11 Hezekiah tells you that the Lord your God will save you from our power, but Hezekiah is deceiving you and will let you die of hunger and thirst. 12 He is the one who destroyed the Lord's shrines and altars and then told the people of Judah and Jerusalem to worship and burn incense at one altar only. 13 Don't you know what my ancestors and I have done to the people of other nations? Did the gods of any other nation save their people from the emperor of Assyria? 14 When did any of the gods of all those countries ever save their country from us? Then what makes you think that your god can save you? 15 Now don't let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you like that. Don't believe him! No god of any nation has ever been able to save his people from any Assyrian emperor. So certainly this god of yours can't save you!”

16 The Assyrian officials said even worse things about the Lord God and Hezekiah, the Lord's servant. 17 The letter that the emperor wrote defied the Lord, the God of Israel. It said, “The gods of the nations have not saved their people from my power, and neither will Hezekiah's god save his people from me.” 18 The officials shouted this in Hebrew in order to frighten and discourage the people of Jerusalem who were on the city wall, so that it would be easier to capture the city. 19 They talked about the God of Jerusalem in the same way that they talked about the gods of the other peoples, idols made by human hands.

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Footnotes

  1. 2 Chronicles 32:5 Some ancient translations building towers on it; Hebrew building on the towers.

The Assyrians Threaten Jerusalem(A)

36 In the fourteenth year that Hezekiah was king of Judah, Sennacherib, the emperor of Assyria, attacked the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. Then he ordered his chief official to go from Lachish to Jerusalem with a large military force to demand that King Hezekiah surrender. The official occupied the road where the cloth makers work, by the ditch that brings water from the upper pool. Three Judeans came out to meet him: the official in charge of the palace, Eliakim son of Hilkiah; the court secretary, Shebna; and the official in charge of the records, Joah son of Asaph. The Assyrian official told them that the emperor wanted to know what made King Hezekiah so confident. He demanded, “Do you think that words can take the place of military skill and might? Who do you think will help you rebel against Assyria? (B)You are expecting Egypt to help you, but that would be like using a reed as a walking stick—it would break and would jab your hand. That is what the king of Egypt is like when anyone relies on him.”

The Assyrian official went on, “Or will you tell me that you are relying on the Lord your God? It was the Lord's shrines and altars that Hezekiah destroyed when he told the people of Judah and Jerusalem to worship at one altar only. I will make a bargain with you in the name of the emperor. I will give you two thousand horses if you can find that many riders. You are no match for even the lowest ranking Assyrian official, and yet you expect the Egyptians to send you chariots and horsemen. 10 Do you think I have attacked your country and destroyed it without the Lord's help? The Lord himself told me to attack it and destroy it.”

11 Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah told the official, “Speak Aramaic to us. We understand it. Don't speak Hebrew; all the people on the wall are listening.”

12 He replied, “Do you think you and the king are the only ones the emperor sent me to say all these things to? No, I am also talking to the people who are sitting on the wall, who will have to eat their excrement and drink their urine, just as you will.”

13 Then the official stood up and shouted in Hebrew, “Listen to what the emperor of Assyria is telling you. 14 He warns you not to let Hezekiah deceive you. Hezekiah can't save you. 15 And don't let him persuade you to rely on the Lord. Don't think that the Lord will save you and that he will stop our Assyrian army from capturing your city. 16 Don't listen to Hezekiah! The emperor of Assyria commands you to come out of the city and surrender. You will all be allowed to eat grapes from your own vines and figs from your own trees, and to drink water from your own wells— 17 until the emperor resettles you in a country much like your own, where there are vineyards to give wine and there is grain for making bread. 18 Don't let Hezekiah fool you into thinking that the Lord will rescue you. Did the gods of any other nations save their countries from the emperor of Assyria? 19 Where are they now, the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Did anyone save Samaria? 20 When did any of the gods of all these countries ever save their country from our emperor? Then what makes you think the Lord can save Jerusalem?”

21 The people kept quiet, just as King Hezekiah had told them to; they did not say a word. 22 Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah tore their clothes in grief and went and reported to the king what the Assyrian official had said.

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