2 Kings 18

Hezekiah becomes the king of Judah

1 Ahaz's son Hezekiah became the king of Judah when Elah's son Hoshea had been king of Israel for three years. 2 Hezekiah was 25 years old when he became king. He ruled Judah as king in Jerusalem for 29 years. His mother's name was Abijah. She was the daughter of Zechariah. 3 Hezekiah did things that the Lord said were good, as his ancestor King David had done. 4 He removed the altars on the hills. He knocked down the stone pillars that people worshipped and he cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake that Moses had made. Until then, the Israelites had burned incense as an offering to it. It was called Nehushtan.

18:4See Numbers 21:8-9. The word ‘Nehushtan’ sounds like ‘bronze snake’ in Hebrew.

5 Hezekiah trusted the Lord, Israel's God. None of the other kings of Judah was like him, either before him or after him. 6 He served the Lord faithfully. He obeyed the laws that the Lord had given to Moses. 7 The Lord was with Hezekiah so that he was successful in everything that he decided to do. He turned against the king of Assyria. He refused to serve him. 8 He won battles against the Philistines as far as Gaza. He took all their towns, large and small.

9 When Hezekiah had been king for four years, Shalmaneser, the king of Assyria, took his army to attack Samaria. That was when Hoshea had been king of Israel for seven years. The Assyrian army made their camp around the city of Samaria. 10 After three years, the Assyrian army took the city. So that happened in the sixth year that Hezekiah ruled Judah. It was the ninth year that King Hoshea ruled over Israel.

11 The king of Assyria took the Israelites as prisoners to Assyria. He caused them to live in Halah, at Gozan beside the River Habor and in the towns in Media. 12 This happened because they had not obeyed the Lord their God. They had not obeyed the covenant that he had made with them. They did not accept the teaching that Moses, the Lord's servant, had commanded them to obey.

Sennacherib attacks Judah

13 When Hezekiah had ruled Judah for 14 years, King Sennacherib of Assyria attacked Judah with his army. He took all the strong cities in Judah for himself. 14 So King Hezekiah of Judah sent a message to the king of Assyria, who was in Lachish. Hezekiah said, ‘What I did was wrong. Please take your army out of Judah. Then I will pay you everything that you ask me to pay.’ The king of Assyria told King Hezekiah that he must pay ten tons of silver and one ton of gold. 15 So Hezekiah gave Sennacherib all the silver that was stored in the Lord's temple and in the palace. 16 At the same time, Hezekiah removed the gold that he had used to cover the doors of the Lord's temple. He also took the gold off the wood at the sides of the doors. He gave all that gold to the king of Assyria.

Sennacherib warns the people of Jerusalem

17 King Sennacherib of Assyria sent his three most important officers from Lachish to Jerusalem, to speak to King Hezekiah. The three officers took a large army with them.

They arrived in Jerusalem. They went and stood at the stream of water that came from the higher pool. It was on the road to the field where people washed clothes.

18 They told King Hezekiah to come to them. These three people went out to meet them:

  • Hilkiah's son Eliakim, who was the most important officer in the king's palace.
  • Shebna, a government officer.
  • Asaph's son Joah, the king's secretary.
  • 19 One of Sennacherib's officers said to them,

    ‘Tell Hezekiah that the king of Assyria, the great king, says this to him: “Why are you so sure that someone will rescue you from our power? 20 You say that you have good plans. You say that your army is strong. But those are only useless words! You have turned against me, so who are you trusting to save you? 21 Listen to me! You think that Egypt is strong enough to help you, do you? But you should not trust Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. He is like a weak stick. If you use it to walk with, it will break! A broken piece of stick will make a hole through your hand and give you much pain! That is the trouble that the king of Egypt brings to everyone who trusts him to help them. 22 But maybe you will say to me, ‘We are trusting the Lord our God to help us.’ But it was your king, Hezekiah, who removed the altars and the special places where you worship your God. He told the people of Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You must worship God only at the altar here in Jerusalem.’ ” 23 So you should make an agreement with my master, the king of Assyria. I will give you 2,000 horses if you have enough riders to put on them. 24 You cannot refuse what I offer to you! And I am only an unimportant officer who serves my master. You are hoping that Egypt will give you chariots and men to ride on horses. But you will never be strong enough to win a battle against us. 25 You should also understand this: It was the Lord himself who commanded me to bring my army here and attack Jerusalem. He said to me, “Attack this country and destroy it!” ’

    26 Then Hilkiah's son Eliakim, Shebna and Joah said to the leader of the Assyrian army, ‘Please sir, speak to us in the Aramaic language. We can understand it. Do not speak to us in the Hebrew language because all the people who are on the wall of the city will understand it.’ 27 But the Assyrian army leader replied, ‘My master did not send me here to give this message only to your king and to you. The men who are sitting on the city wall also need to hear my master's message. Like you, they will soon have to eat their own dung and to drink their own urine.’

    28 Then the Assyrian army leader stood there and he shouted in the Hebrew language, ‘Listen to this message from the king of Assyria, the great king! 29 This is what the king says: “Do not let Hezekiah deceive you. He cannot save you from my power. 30 Do not believe Hezekiah when he tells you that you can trust the Lord to help you. He says, ‘The Lord will surely rescue us. He will not let the king of Assyria take this city for himself.’ 31 Do not believe what Hezekiah says.” This is what the king of Assyria says: “Show me that you accept my offer of peace and come out of your city. Then you will all live safely in your homes. You will eat the fruit from your own vines and fig trees. You will drink the water from your own wells. 32 Later, I will come to Jerusalem. I will take you away to a country that is like your own land here. There will be plenty of grain and new wine for you in that country. There will be bread and there will be vineyards. There will be olive trees and there will be honey. Choose life instead of death! Do not listen to Hezekiah. He is deceiving you when he says, ‘The Lord will rescue us.’ 33 No god of any nation has ever saved his country from the king of Assyria's power. 34 The gods of Hamath and Arpad could not help their people. The gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah could not help their people either. No god was able to rescue Samaria from my power. 35 No god among all the gods of those countries could save their people from my power. So do not think that the Lord can save Jerusalem from my power.” ’

    36 When the people who were sitting on the wall heard this, they were quiet. They did not reply, because King Hezekiah had said, ‘Do not answer him.’

    37 Then King Hezekiah's three officers, Eliakim, Shebna and Joah, went back to Hezekiah. They had torn their clothes because they were very upset. They told the king what the Assyrian officer had said.