1 When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and went to the Lord’s temple. 2 He sent Eliakim the palace supervisor, Shebna the scribe, and the leading priests,#tn Heb “elders of the priests.” clothed in sackcloth, with this message to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz: 3 “This is what Hezekiah says:#tn In the Hebrew text this verse begins with “they said to him.” ‘This is a day of distress, insults,#tn Or “rebuke,” “correction.” and humiliation,#tn Or “contempt.” as when a baby is ready to leave the birth canal, but the mother lacks the strength to push it through.#tn Heb “when sons come to the cervical opening and there is no strength to give birth.” 4 Perhaps the Lord your God will hear all these things the chief adviser has spoken on behalf of his master, the king of Assyria, who sent him to taunt the living God.#tn Heb “all the words of the chief adviser whom his master, the king of Assyria, sent to taunt the living God.” When the Lord your God hears, perhaps he will punish him for the things he has said.#tn Heb “and rebuke the words which the Lord your God hears.” So pray for this remnant that remains.’”#tn Heb “and lift up a prayer on behalf of the remnant that is found.”
5 When King Hezekiah’s servants came to Isaiah, 6 Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master this: ‘This is what the Lord says: “Don’t be afraid because of the things you have heard – these insults the king of Assyria’s servants have hurled against me.#tn Heb “by which the servants of the king of Assyria have insulted me.” 7 Look, I will take control of his mind;#tn Heb “I will put in him a spirit.” The precise sense of רוּחַ (ruakh), “spirit,” is uncertain in this context. It may refer to a spiritual being who will take control of his mind (see 1 Kgs 22:19), or it could refer to a disposition of concern and fear. In either case the Lord’s sovereignty over the king is apparent. he will receive#tn Heb “hear.” a report and return to his own land. I will cut him down#tn Heb “cause him to fall,” that is, “kill him.” with a sword in his own land.”’”
8 When the chief adviser heard the king of Assyria had departed from Lachish, he left and went to Libnah, where the king was campaigning.#tn Heb “and the chief adviser returned and he found the king of Assyria fighting against Libnah, for he heard that he had departed from Lachish.” 9 The king#tn Heb “he”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity. heard that King Tirhakah of Ethiopia was marching out to fight him.#tn Heb “heard concerning Tirhakah king of Cush, ‘Look, he has come out to fight with you.’” He again sent messengers to Hezekiah, ordering them: 10 “Tell King Hezekiah of Judah this: ‘Don’t let your God in whom you trust mislead you when he says, “Jerusalem will not be handed over#tn Heb “will not be given.” to the king of Assyria.” 11 Certainly you have heard how the kings of Assyria have annihilated all lands.#tn Heb “Look, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands, annihilating them.” Do you really think you will be rescued?#tn Heb “and will you be rescued?” The rhetorical question expects the answer, “No, of course not!” 12 Were the nations whom my ancestors destroyed – the nations of Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden in Telassar – rescued by their gods?#tn Heb “Did the gods of the nations whom my fathers destroyed rescue them – Gozan and Haran, and Rezeph and the sons of Eden who are in Telassar?” 13 Where are the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, and the king of Lair,#sn Lair is a city located in northeastern Babylon. See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 235. Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?’”
14 Hezekiah took the letter#tc The MT has the plural, “letters,” but the final mem is probably dittographic (note the initial mem on the form that immediately follows). Some Greek and Aramaic witnesses have the singular. from the messengers and read it.#tc The MT has the plural suffix, “them,” but this probably reflects a later harmonization to the preceding textual corruption (of “letter” to “letters”). The parallel passage in Isa 37:14 has the singular suffix. Then Hezekiah went up to the Lord’s temple and spread it out before the Lord. 15 Hezekiah prayed before the Lord: “Lord God of Israel, who is enthroned on the cherubs!#sn This refers to the cherub images that were above the ark of the covenant. You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You made the sky#tn Or “the heavens.” and the earth. 16 Pay attention, Lord, and hear! Open your eyes, Lord, and observe! Listen to the message Sennacherib sent and how he taunts the living God!#tn Heb “Hear the words of Sennacherib which he sent to taunt the living God.” 17 It is true, Lord, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands. 18 They have burned the gods of the nations,#tn Heb “and they put their gods in the fire.” for they are not really gods, but only the product of human hands manufactured from wood and stone. That is why the Assyrians could destroy them.#tn Heb “so they destroyed them.” 19 Now, O Lord our God, rescue us from his power, so that all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you, Lord, are the only God.”
20 Isaiah son of Amoz sent this message to Hezekiah: “This is what the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I have heard your prayer concerning King Sennacherib of Assyria.#tn Heb “That which you prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard.” The verb “I have heard” does not appear in the parallel passage in Isa 37:21, where אֲשֶׁר (’asher) probably has a causal sense, “because.” 21 This is what the Lord says about him:#tn Heb “this is the word which the Lord has spoken about him.”
“The virgin daughter Zion#sn Zion (Jerusalem) is pictured here as a young, vulnerable daughter whose purity is being threatened by the would-be Assyrian rapist. The personification hints at the reality which the young girls of the city would face if the Assyrians conquer it.
despises you, she makes fun of you;
shakes her head after you.#sn Shaking the head was a mocking gesture of derision.
22 Whom have you taunted and hurled insults at?
At whom have you shouted,#tn Heb “have you raised a voice.”
and looked so arrogantly?#tn Heb “and lifted your eyes on high?”
At the Holy One of Israel!#sn This divine title pictures the Lord as the sovereign king who rules over his covenant people and exercises moral authority over them.
23 Through your messengers you taunted the sovereign master,#tn The word is אֲדֹנָי (’adonai), “lord,” but some Hebrew mss have יְהוָה (yehvah), “Lord.”
‘With my many chariots#tc The consonantal text (Kethib) has בְּרֶכֶב (bÿrekhev), but this must be dittographic (note the following רִכְבִּי [rikhbi], “my chariots”). The marginal reading (Qere) בְּרֹב (bÿrov), “with many,” is supported by many Hebrew mss and ancient versions, as well as the parallel passage in Isa 37:24.
I climbed up the high mountains,
the slopes of Lebanon.
I cut down its tall cedars,
and its best evergreens.
I invaded its most remote regions,#tn Heb “the lodging place of its extremity.”
its thickest woods.
24 I dug wells and drank
water in foreign lands.#tn Heb “I dug and drank foreign waters.”
With the soles of my feet I dried up
all the rivers of Egypt.’
25#tn Having quoted the Assyrian king’s arrogant words in vv. 23-24, the Lord now speaks to the king.Certainly you must have heard!#tn Heb “Have you not heard?” The rhetorical question expresses the Lord’s amazement that anyone might be ignorant of what he is about to say.
Long ago I worked it out,
In ancient times I planned#tn Heb “formed.” it;
and now I am bringing it to pass.
The plan is this:
Fortified cities will crash
into heaps of ruins.#tn Heb “and it is to cause to crash into heaps of ruins fortified cities.” The subject of the third feminine singular verb תְּהִי (tÿhi) is the implied plan, referred to in the preceding lines with third feminine singular pronominal suffixes.
26 Their residents are powerless,#tn Heb “short of hand.”
they are terrified and ashamed.
They are as short-lived as plants in the field,
or green vegetation.#tn Heb “they are plants in the field and green vegetation.” The metaphor emphasizes how short-lived these seemingly powerful cities really were. See Ps 90:5-6; Isa 40:6-8, 24.
They are as short-lived as grass on the rooftops#tn Heb “[they are] grass on the rooftops.” See the preceding note.
when it is scorched by the east wind.#tc The Hebrew text has “scorched before the standing grain” (perhaps meaning “before it reaches maturity”), but it is preferable to emend קָמָה (qamah), “standing grain,” to קָדִים (qadim), “east wind” (with the support of 1Q Isaa in Isa 37:27).
27 I know where you live,
and everything you do.#tc Heb “your going out and your coming in.” The MT also has here, “and how you have raged against me.” However, this line is probably dittographic (note the beginning of the next line).
28 Because you rage against me,
and the uproar you create has reached my ears;#tc Heb “and your complacency comes up into my ears.” The parallelism is improved if שַׁאֲנַנְךְ (sha’anankh), “your complacency,” is emended to שַׁאֲוַנְךְ (sha’avankh), “your uproar.” See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 237-38.
I will put my hook in your nose,#sn The word picture has a parallel in Assyrian sculpture. See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 238.
and my bridle between your lips,
and I will lead you back the way
29#tn At this point the word concerning the king of Assyria (vv. 21-28) ends and the Lord again directly addresses Hezekiah and the people (see v. 20). This will be your confirmation that I have spoken the truth:#tn Heb “and this is your sign.” In this case the אוֹת (’ot), “sign,” is a future confirmation of God’s intervention designated before the actual intervention takes place. For similar “signs” see Exod 3:12 and Isa 7:14-25. This year you will eat what grows wild,#sn This refers to crops that grew up on their own (that is, without cultivation) from the seed planted in past years. and next year#tn Heb “and in the second year.” what grows on its own from that. But in the third year you will plant seed and harvest crops; you will plant vines and consume their produce.#tn The four plural imperatival verb forms in v. 29b are used rhetorically. The Lord commands the people to plant, harvest, etc. to emphasize the certainty of restored peace and prosperity. See IBHS 572 §34.4.c. 30 Those who remain in Judah will take root in the ground and bear fruit.#tn Heb “The remnant of the house of Judah that is left will add roots below and produce fruit above.”
31 For a remnant will leave Jerusalem;
survivors will come out of Mount Zion.
The intense devotion of the sovereign Lord#tn Traditionally “the Lord of hosts.” to his people#tn Heb “the zeal of the Lord.” In this context the Lord’s “zeal” refers to his intense devotion to and love for his people which prompts him to protect and restore them. The Qere, along with many medieval Hebrew mss and the ancient versions, has “the zeal of the Lord of hosts” rather than “the zeal of the Lord” (Kethib). The translation follows the Qere here. will accomplish this.
32 So this is what the Lord says about the king of Assyria:
“He will not enter this city,
nor will he shoot an arrow here.#tn Heb “there.”
He will not attack it with his shield-carrying warriors,#tn Heb “[with] a shield.” By metonymy the “shield” stands for the soldier who carries it.
nor will he build siege works against it.
33 He will go back the way he came.
He will not enter this city,” says the Lord.
34 I will shield this city and rescue it for the sake of my reputation and because of my promise to David my servant.’”#tn Heb “for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.”
35 That very night the Lord’s messenger went out and killed 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp. When they#tn This refers to the Israelites and/or the rest of the Assyrian army. got up early the next morning, there were all the corpses.#tn Heb “look, all of them were dead bodies.” 36 So King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and went on his way. He went home and stayed in Nineveh.#tn Heb “and Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went and returned and lived in Nineveh.” 37 One day,#sn The assassination probably took place in 681 b.c. as he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch,#sn No such Mesopotamian god is presently known. Perhaps the name is a corruption of Nusku. his sons#tc Although “his sons” is absent in the Kethib, it is supported by the Qere, along with many medieval Hebrew mss and the ancient versions. Cf. Isa 37:38. Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword.#sn Extra-biblical sources also mention the assassination of Sennacherib, though they refer to only one assassin. See M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 239-40. They escaped to the land of Ararat; his son Esarhaddon replaced him as king.