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Chapter 37

[a]When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his garments, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. He sent Eliakim, the master of the palace, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to tell the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz,

“Thus says Hezekiah:
A day of distress and rebuke,
    a day of disgrace is this day!
Children are due to come forth,
    but the strength to give birth is lacking.[b](A)

Perhaps the Lord, your God, will hear the words of the commander, whom his lord, the king of Assyria, sent to taunt the living God, and will rebuke him for the words which the Lord, your God, has heard. So lift up a prayer for the remnant that is here.”

When the servants of King Hezekiah had come to Isaiah, he said to them: “Tell this to your lord: Thus says the Lord: Do not be frightened by the words you have heard, by which the deputies of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.(B)

I am putting in him such a spirit
    that when he hears a report
    he will return to his land.
    I will make him fall by the sword in his land.”

When the commander, on his return, heard that the king of Assyria had withdrawn from Lachish, he found him besieging Libnah. The king of Assyria heard a report: “Tirhakah,[c] king of Ethiopia, has come out to fight against you.” Again he sent messengers to Hezekiah to say: 10 “Thus shall you say to Hezekiah, king of Judah: Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by saying, ‘Jerusalem will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.’(C) 11 You, certainly, have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands: they put them under the ban! And are you to be delivered? 12 Did the gods of the nations whom my fathers destroyed deliver them—Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the Edenites in Telassar? 13 Where are the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, or a king of the cities Sepharvaim, Hena or Ivvah?”

14 Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; then he went up to the house of the Lord, and spreading it out before the Lord, 15 Hezekiah prayed to the Lord:

16 Lord of hosts, God of Israel,
    enthroned on the cherubim!
You alone are God
    over all the kingdoms of the earth.
It is you who made
    the heavens and the earth.[d]
17 Incline your ear, Lord, and listen!
    open your eyes, Lord, and see!
Hear all the words Sennacherib has sent
    to taunt the living God.
18 Truly, O Lord,
    the kings of Assyria have laid waste
    the nations and their lands.
19 They gave their gods to the fire
    —they were not gods at all,
    but the work of human hands—
Wood and stone, they destroyed them.(D)
20 Therefore, Lord, our God,
    save us from this man’s power,
That all the kingdoms of the earth may know
    that you alone, Lord, are God.”

21 [e]Then Isaiah, son of Amoz, sent this message to Hezekiah: “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you have prayed concerning Sennacherib, king of Assyria: I have listened! 22 This is the word the Lord has spoken concerning him:(E)

She despises you, laughs you to scorn,
    the virgin daughter Zion;
Behind you she wags her head,
    daughter Jerusalem.
23 Whom have you insulted and blasphemed,
    at whom have you raised your voice
And lifted up your eyes on high?
    At the Holy One of Israel!(F)
24 Through the mouths of your messengers
    you have insulted the Lord when you said:
‘With my many chariots I went up
    to the tops of the peaks,
    to the recesses of Lebanon,
To cut down its lofty cedars,
    its choice cypresses;
I reached the farthest shelter,
    the forest ranges.
25 I myself dug wells
    and drank foreign water;
Drying up all the rivers of Egypt
    beneath the soles of my feet.’
26 Have you not heard?
    A long time ago I prepared it,
    from days of old I planned it,
Now I have brought it about:
    You are here to reduce
    fortified cities to heaps of ruins,(G)
27 Their people powerless,
    dismayed and distraught,
They are plants of the field,
    green growth,
    thatch on the rooftops,
Grain scorched by the east wind.
28 I know when you stand or sit,
    when you come or go,
    and how you rage against me.
29 Because you rage against me
    and your smugness has reached my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose
    and my bit in your mouth,
And make you leave by the way you came.(H)
30 This shall be a sign[f] for you:
This year you shall eat the aftergrowth,
    next year, what grows of itself;
But in the third year, sow and reap,
    plant vineyards and eat their fruit!
31 The remaining survivors of the house of Judah
    shall again strike root below
    and bear fruit above.(I)
32 For out of Jerusalem shall come a remnant,
    and from Mount Zion, survivors.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this.(J)

33 Therefore, thus says the Lord about the king of Assyria:

He shall not come as far as this city,
    nor shoot there an arrow,
    nor confront it with a shield,
Nor cast up a siege-work against it.
34 By the way he came he shall leave,
    never coming as far as this city,
    oracle of the Lord.
35 I will shield and save this city
    for my own sake and the sake of David my servant.”(K)

36 Then the angel of the Lord went forth and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. Early the next morning, there they were, all those corpses, dead![g](L) 37 So Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, broke camp, departed, returned home, and stayed in Nineveh.

38 When he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword and fled into the land of Ararat.[h] His son Esarhaddon reigned in his place.

Footnotes

  1. 37:1–35 There appear to be parallel accounts of Hezekiah’s appeal and the response received (vv. 1–7 and vv. 14–35): in each, Hezekiah goes to the Temple, refers to the Assyrian boasts (found in 36:15–20; 37:10–14), and receives a favorable response from Isaiah.
  2. 37:3 A proverbial expression. In the Bible the pangs of childbirth often typify extreme anguish; cf. 13:8; Jer 6:24; Mi 4:9–10. In this instance there is reference to the desperate situation of Hezekiah from which he would scarcely be able to free himself.
  3. 37:9 Tirhakah: may have been general of the Egyptian army in 701 B.C.; later he became pharaoh, one of the Ethiopian dynasty of Egyptian kings (ca. 690–664 B.C.). Many consider that this account in Isaiah combines features of two originally distinct sieges of Jerusalem by Sennacherib.
  4. 37:16 In contrast to the empty boasting of the Assyrians, Hezekiah proclaims the Lord as “God over all the kingdoms of the earth.”
  5. 37:21–37 The reversal of Isaiah’s attitude toward Hezekiah’s revolt (see note on 36:1) and a wonderful deliverance after Hezekiah had already submitted and paid tribute raise questions difficult to answer. See note on 22:1–14. Some have postulated that chaps. 36–37 combine accounts of two different Assyrian invasions.
  6. 37:30 A sign: sets a time limit. After two years the normal conditions of life will be resumed. See the similar use of time limits as signs in 7:15–16; 8:4; 16:14; and 21:16. You: Hezekiah.
  7. 37:36 The destruction of Sennacherib’s army is also recorded by Herodotus, a Greek historian of the fifth century B.C. It was possibly owing to a plague, which the author interprets as God’s activity.
  8. 37:38 The violent death of Sennacherib (681 B.C.) is also mentioned in non-biblical sources. It occurred twenty years after his invasion of Judah. Ararat: the land of Urartu in the mountains north of Assyria.

Jerusalem’s Deliverance Foretold(A)

37 When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes(B) and put on sackcloth(C) and went into the temple(D) of the Lord. He sent Eliakim(E) the palace administrator, Shebna(F) the secretary, and the leading priests, all wearing sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz.(G) They told him, “This is what Hezekiah says: This day is a day of distress(H) and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the moment of birth(I) and there is no strength to deliver them. It may be that the Lord your God will hear the words of the field commander, whom his master, the king of Assyria, has sent to ridicule(J) the living God,(K) and that he will rebuke him for the words the Lord your God has heard.(L) Therefore pray(M) for the remnant(N) 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(O) of what you have heard—those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed(P) me. Listen! When he hears a certain report,(Q) I will make him want(R) to return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down(S) with the sword.’”

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

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

Hezekiah’s Prayer(AH)

14 Hezekiah received the letter(AI) from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple(AJ) of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed(AK) to the Lord: 16 Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, enthroned(AL) between the cherubim,(AM) you alone are God(AN) over all the kingdoms(AO) of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.(AP) 17 Give ear, Lord, and hear;(AQ) open your eyes, Lord, and see;(AR) listen to all the words Sennacherib(AS) has sent to ridicule(AT) the living God.(AU)

18 “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands.(AV) 19 They have thrown their gods into the fire(AW) and destroyed them,(AX) for they were not gods(AY) but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands.(AZ) 20 Now, Lord our God, deliver(BA) us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth(BB) may know that you, Lord, are the only God.[b](BC)

Sennacherib’s Fall(BD)

21 Then Isaiah son of Amoz(BE) sent a message to Hezekiah: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria, 22 this is the word the Lord has spoken against him:

“Virgin Daughter(BF) Zion(BG)
    despises and mocks you.
Daughter Jerusalem
    tosses her head(BH) as you flee.
23 Who is it you have ridiculed and blasphemed?(BI)
    Against whom have you raised your voice(BJ)
and lifted your eyes in pride?(BK)
    Against the Holy One(BL) of Israel!
24 By your messengers
    you have ridiculed the Lord.
And you have said,
    ‘With my many chariots(BM)
I have ascended the heights of the mountains,
    the utmost heights(BN) of Lebanon.(BO)
I have cut down its tallest cedars,
    the choicest of its junipers.(BP)
I have reached its remotest heights,
    the finest of its forests.
25 I have dug wells in foreign lands[c]
    and drunk the water there.
With the soles of my feet
    I have dried up(BQ) all the streams of Egypt.(BR)

26 “Have you not heard?
    Long ago I ordained(BS) it.
In days of old I planned(BT) it;
    now I have brought it to pass,
that you have turned fortified cities
    into piles of stone.(BU)
27 Their people, drained of power,
    are dismayed and put to shame.
They are like plants in the field,
    like tender green shoots,
like grass(BV) sprouting on the roof,(BW)
    scorched[d] before it grows up.

28 “But I know where you are
    and when you come and go(BX)
    and how you rage(BY) against me.
29 Because you rage against me
    and because your insolence(BZ) has reached my ears,
I will put my hook(CA) in your nose(CB)
    and my bit in your mouth,
and I will make you return
    by the way you came.(CC)

30 “This will be the sign(CD) for you, Hezekiah:

“This year(CE) you will eat what grows by itself,
    and the second year what springs from that.
But in the third year(CF) sow and reap,
    plant vineyards(CG) and eat their fruit.(CH)
31 Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah
    will take root(CI) below and bear fruit(CJ) above.
32 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant,(CK)
    and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors.(CL)
The zeal(CM) of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

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

“He will not enter this city(CN)
    or shoot an arrow here.
He will not come before it with shield
    or build a siege ramp(CO) against it.
34 By the way that he came he will return;(CP)
    he will not enter this city,”
declares the Lord.
35 “I will defend(CQ) this city and save it,
    for my sake(CR) and for the sake of David(CS) my servant!”

36 Then the angel(CT) of the Lord went out and put to death(CU) a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian(CV) camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! 37 So Sennacherib(CW) king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh(CX) and stayed there.

38 One day, while he was worshiping in the temple(CY) of his god Nisrok, his sons Adrammelek and Sharezer killed him with the sword, and they escaped to the land of Ararat.(CZ) And Esarhaddon(DA) his son succeeded him as king.(DB)

Footnotes

  1. Isaiah 37:9 That is, the upper Nile region
  2. Isaiah 37:20 Dead Sea Scrolls (see also 2 Kings 19:19); Masoretic Text you alone are the Lord
  3. Isaiah 37:25 Dead Sea Scrolls (see also 2 Kings 19:24); Masoretic Text does not have in foreign lands.
  4. Isaiah 37:27 Some manuscripts of the Masoretic Text, Dead Sea Scrolls and some Septuagint manuscripts (see also 2 Kings 19:26); most manuscripts of the Masoretic Text roof / and terraced fields

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