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G. Historical Appendix[a]

Chapter 36

Invasion of Sennacherib. In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, went up against all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them.[b](A) From Lachish the king of Assyria sent his commander with a great army to King Hezekiah in Jerusalem. When he stopped at the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway of the fuller’s field, there came out to him the master of the palace, Eliakim, son of Hilkiah, and Shebna the scribe, and the chancellor, Joah, son of Asaph. The commander said to them, “Tell Hezekiah: Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you base this trust of yours? Do you think mere words substitute for strategy and might in war? In whom, then, do you place your trust, that you rebel against me? Do you trust in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff which pierces the hand of anyone who leans on it? That is what Pharaoh, king of Egypt, is to all who trust in him.(B) Or do you say to me: It is in the Lord, our God, we trust? Is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed,[c] commanding Judah and Jerusalem, ‘Worship before this altar’?(C)

“Now, make a wager with my lord, the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able to put riders on them. How then can you turn back even a captain, one of the least servants of my lord, trusting, as you do, in Egypt for chariots and horses? 10 Did I come up to destroy this land without the Lord? The Lord himself said to me, Go up and destroy that land!”(D)

11 Then Eliakim and Shebna and Joah said to the commander, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic; we understand it. Do not speak to us in the language of Judah within earshot of the people who are on the wall.”[d]

12 But the commander replied, “Was it to your lord and to you that my lord sent me to speak these words? Was it not rather to those sitting on the wall, who, with you, will have to eat their own excrement and drink their own urine?” 13 Then the commander stepped forward and cried out in a loud voice in the language of Judah, “Listen to the words of the great king, the king of Assyria. 14 Thus says the king: Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he cannot rescue you. 15 And do not let Hezekiah induce you to trust in the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord will surely rescue us, and this city will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.’ 16 Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria:

Make peace with me
    and surrender to me!
Eat, each of you, from your vine,
    each from your own fig tree.
Drink water, each from your own well,(E)
17     until I arrive and take you
    to a land like your own,
A land of grain and wine,
    a land of bread and vineyards.

18 Do not let Hezekiah seduce you by saying, ‘The Lord will rescue us.’ Has any of the gods of the nations rescued his land from the power of the king of Assyria?(F) 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Where are the gods of Samaria? Have they saved Samaria from my power?(G) 20 Who among all the gods of these lands ever rescued their land from my power, that the Lord should save Jerusalem from my power?” 21 But they remained silent and did not answer at all, for the king’s command was, “Do not answer him.”

22 Then the master of the palace, Eliakim, son of Hilkiah, Shebna the scribe, and the chancellor Joah, son of Asaph, came to Hezekiah with their garments torn, and reported to him the words of the commander.

Footnotes

  1. 36:1–39:8 Except for 38:9–20 (Hezekiah’s prayer of thanksgiving), this historical appendix describing the siege, etc., is paralleled in 2 Kgs 18:13–20:19, which, however, has certain details proper to itself. The events are also reflected in the cuneiform inscriptions of Sennacherib.
  2. 36:1 The occasion for this Assyrian attack was Hezekiah’s attempt to reject Judah’s status as vassal to Assyria, relying on help from Egypt, a course of action condemned by Isaiah (see notes on 28:15, 18; 28:16; 29:7–8; 30:1–17; etc.). 2 Kgs 19:14–16 reports that Hezekiah surrendered to the Assyrians and paid the tribute imposed on him—a report omitted in the Isaiah text.
  3. 36:7 The Assyrians assert that Hezekiah’s removal of the high places and altars (unofficial sanctuaries) was taken by the Lord as an insult. They declare to Jerusalem’s emissaries that the city therefore no longer has a right to the Lord’s protection and that they are the ones who truly carry out his will (cf. v. 10).
  4. 36:11 The emissaries of King Hezekiah ask that the conversation be carried on in Aramaic, not in Hebrew, for they fear the effect of the Assyrian claims upon the morale of the people.

Sennacherib Threatens Jerusalem(A)

36 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s(B) reign, Sennacherib(C) king of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them.(D) Then the king of Assyria sent his field commander with a large army from Lachish(E) to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. When the commander stopped at the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Launderer’s Field,(F) Eliakim(G) son of Hilkiah the palace administrator,(H) Shebna(I) the secretary,(J) and Joah(K) son of Asaph the recorder(L) went out to him.

The field commander said to them, “Tell Hezekiah:

“‘This is what the great king, the king of Assyria, says: On what are you basing this confidence of yours? You say you have counsel and might for war—but you speak only empty words. On whom are you depending, that you rebel(M) against me? Look, I know you are depending(N) on Egypt,(O) that splintered reed(P) of a staff, which pierces the hand of anyone who leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him. But if you say to me, “We are depending(Q) on the Lord our God”—isn’t he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah removed,(R) saying to Judah and Jerusalem, “You must worship before this altar”?(S)

“‘Come now, make a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses(T)—if you can put riders on them! How then can you repulse one officer of the least of my master’s officials, even though you are depending on Egypt(U) for chariots(V) and horsemen[a]?(W) 10 Furthermore, have I come to attack and destroy this land without the Lord? The Lord himself told(X) me to march against this country and destroy it.’”

11 Then Eliakim, Shebna and Joah(Y) said to the field commander, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic,(Z) since we understand it. Don’t speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people on the wall.”

12 But the commander replied, “Was it only to your master and you that my master sent me to say these things, and not to the people sitting on the wall—who, like you, will have to eat their own excrement and drink their own urine?(AA)

13 Then the commander stood and called out in Hebrew,(AB) “Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria!(AC) 14 This is what the king says: Do not let Hezekiah deceive(AD) you. He cannot deliver you! 15 Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the Lord when he says, ‘The Lord will surely deliver(AE) us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’(AF)

16 “Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then each of you will eat fruit from your own vine and fig tree(AG) and drink water from your own cistern,(AH) 17 until I come and take you to a land like your own(AI)—a land of grain and new wine,(AJ) a land of bread and vineyards.

18 “Do not let Hezekiah mislead you when he says, ‘The Lord will deliver us.’ Have the gods of any nations ever delivered their lands from the hand of the king of Assyria? 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad?(AK) Where are the gods of Sepharvaim?(AL) Have they rescued Samaria(AM) from my hand? 20 Who of all the gods(AN) of these countries have been able to save their lands from me? How then can the Lord deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”(AO)

21 But the people remained silent and said nothing in reply, because the king had commanded, “Do not answer him.”(AP)

22 Then Eliakim(AQ) son of Hilkiah the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary and Joah son of Asaph the recorder(AR) went to Hezekiah, with their clothes torn,(AS) and told him what the field commander had said.

Footnotes

  1. Isaiah 36:9 Or charioteers

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