2 Kings 18

Hezekiah becomes the king of Judah

1 When Hoshea had been the king of Israel for nearly three years, Hezekiah began to rule Judah. Hoshea was the son of Elah and Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz. 2 Hezekiah was 25 years old when he became king. And he ruled in Jerusalem for 29 years. His mother's name was Abijah. She was the daughter of Zechariah. 3 The LORD saw that Hezekiah did what was right. He did what his ancestor David had done. 4 He removed the high places. He broke completely the stones where people worshipped. He cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake that Moses had made. Until then, the people in Israel had burned incense to it. It was called Nehushtan. 5 Hezekiah believed in the LORD, the God of Israel. None of the other kings of Judah was like him, either before him or after him. 6 He really loved the LORD and he always obeyed him. He obeyed the laws that the LORD had given to Moses. 7 And the LORD helped him in everything that he decided to do. So everything that happened was very good! He did not obey the king of Assyria. He did not become his servant. 8 He beat the people in Philistia as far as Gaza and the country that was near it. He did this from places where people watched to strong cities.

9 Shalmaneser was the king of Assyria. When Hezekiah had been king for nearly 4 years, Shalmaneser marched his army to Samaria. The army stayed round Samaria for nearly three years. That was when Hoshea had been the king of Israel for nearly 7 years. Hoshea was the son of Elah. 10 After three years, the soldiers from Assyria beat the people in Samaria. So they beat them when Hezekiah had been king of Judah for nearly 6 years. Hoshea had been the king of Judah for nearly 9 years.

11 The king of Assyria took all the people out of Israel to Assyria. He caused them to live in these places:

Halah,

Gozan by the River Habor and

towns in Media.

12 This happened because they had not obeyed the LORD their God. They had not obeyed his covenant. The covenant contained all the rules that Moses had told them about. Moses was a servant of the LORD. They did not listen to Moses' words and they did not obey them.

13 When Hezekiah had ruled Judah for nearly 14 years, Sennacherib attacked all the strong cities in Judah. He made them his cities. Sennacherib was the king of Assyria. 14 So King Hezekiah of Judah sent this message to the king of Assyria. Sennacherib was at Lachish. ‘What I did was wrong. March away from me. Then I will pay everything that you ask me to pay.’ The king of Assyria asked King Hezekiah of Judah to send to him 300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold. 15 So Hezekiah gave to Sennacherib all the silver from the house of the LORD. And he gave him all the silver that they found in the king's palace. 16 Hezekiah was the king of Judah. He had covered all the doors in the house of the LORD with gold. And he covered the wood on which the doors hung with gold. At this time, he took it all off and he gave it to the king of Assyria.

Sennacherib says that he will attack Jerusalem

17 The king of Assyria sent three people from Lachish to King Hezekiah. Hezekiah was at Jerusalem. They came with a large army. These were the three people:

the most important leader of his army

the leader of his officers

the leader of his army where they fought.

They came to Jerusalem and they stopped at the aqueduct by the Higher Pool. It was on the road to the field by the water where people washed things. It was called the Washerman's Field.

18 They asked for the king to come to them. These three people went out to meet them:

Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah. He decided what would happen in the palace.

Shebna. He helped the king.

Joah, the son of Asaph. He wrote down the things that happened.

19 The leader of Sennacherib's army where they fought said this to them:

Say to Hezekiah, ‘This is what the great king, the king of Assyria, says. “You should not be so happy that you have decided well. 20 You say that you have ideas. And you say that your army is strong. But what you say is very silly! Think about the man that you are believing in. Think about why you are fighting against me. 21 Think about it! You are hoping that Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, will help you. But Pharaoh is like a sharp bit of wood. It makes a hole in a man's hand. Then it hurts him when he puts his weight on it! Pharaoh is like that to everybody who wants him to help them. 22 But maybe you will say to me, ‘We are hoping that the LORD will help us. He is our God.’ But I say to you, Hezekiah removed all his high places and his altars. Hezekiah said to the people in Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You must worship God in front of this altar in Jerusalem.’ ” 23 So, come to my master, the king of Assyria, and agree with him. I will give you 2,000 horses if you can put riders on them. 24 You are hoping that Egypt will give you chariots and men on horses. But you cannot beat one soldier that the least powerful of my master's officers sends to you. 25 Also, I would not come to attack and to destroy this place without a word from the LORD. The LORD himself said to me, “March against this country and destroy it.” ’

26 Then Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, and Shebna and Joah said to the leader of the army where they fought, ‘Speak to us your servants in the language called Aramaic. We do understand it. Do not speak to us in the Hebrew language. All the people who are on the wall of the city will hear it.’ 27 But the leader of the army replied, ‘My master did not send me to say these things only to your king and to you. He sent me also to the men who are sitting on the wall. Like you, they will have to eat their own dirt and to drink their own piss.’

28 Then the leader of the army stood and he shouted in the Hebrew language, ‘Listen to the words of the great king, the king of Assyria! 29 This is what the king says. “Do not let Hezekiah make you into fools. He cannot save you from my power. 30 Do not let Hezekiah cause you to believe that the LORD will help you. Hezekiah says, ‘The LORD will surely help us. He will not give this city into the power of the king of Assyria.’ 31 Do not listen to Hezekiah.” This is what the king of Assyria says. “Let me be good to you! Come out of your city to me! Then you will all eat fruit from your own vines and fig trees. You will drink water from your own wells. 32 Then I will come to Jerusalem. And I will take you away to a country that is like your own country. It is a country where there is corn and new wine. There will be bread in that country and there will be vineyards. There will be olive trees in that country and there will be honey. Choose to live! Do not choose to die! Do not listen to Hezekiah. What he says is not true. He says, ‘The LORD will save us.’ 33 No god of any country has ever saved his country from the power of the king of Assyria. 34 The gods of Hamath and Arpad have gone. The gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah have gone. These gods have not saved Samaria from my power. 35 None of the gods of those countries has been able to save his country from me. So tell me how the LORD can save Jerusalem from my power.” ’

36 But the people who were sitting on the wall were quiet. They did not reply, because the king had said, ‘Do not answer him.’

37 Then these people went to Hezekiah:

Eliakim the son of Hilkiah. He decided what would happen in the palace.

Shebna. He helped the king.

Joah the son of Asaph. He wrote down the things that happened.

They had torn their clothes. They told Hezekiah what the leader of Sennacherib's army had said.

18:37Verse 4 The word ‘Nehushtan’ means ‘a piece of bronze’. But in Hebrew, it is very like the word for snake.
18:37Verse 5 David and Solomon were not only kings of Judah. They were kings of all Israel, which included Judah.
18:37Verse 8 ‘from places where people watched to strong cities’ maybe means this. ‘From lonely places to places where there were many people’.
18:37Verse 31-32 Sennacherib offers good food and drink, not the bad food as in verse 27. Bible students do not think that Sennacherib spoke truly here! Many Bibles translate ‘let me be good to you’ like this. ‘Do not fight me.’ But the Hebrew word means ‘be good to’.