Hezekiah asks Isaiah the prophet for advice
(Isaiah 37.1–13)
1As soon as Hezekiah heard the news, he tore off his clothes in sorrow and put on sackcloth. Then he went into the temple of the Lord. 2He told Prime Minister Eliakim, Assistant Prime Minister Shebna, and the senior priests to dress in sackcloth and tell the prophet Isaiah:
3These are difficult and disgraceful times. Our nation is like a woman too weak to give birth, when it's time for her baby to be born. 4Please pray for those of us who are left alive. The king of Assyria sent his army commander to insult the living God. Perhaps the Lord heard what he said and will do something, if you will pray.
5When these leaders went to Isaiah, 6he told them that the Lord had this message for Hezekiah:
I am the Lord. Don't worry about the insulting things that have been said about me by these messengers from the king of Assyria. 7I will upset him with rumours about what's happening in his own country. He will go back, and there I will make him die a violent death.
8Meanwhile, the commander of the Assyrian forces heard that his king had left the town of Lachish and was now attacking Libnah. So he went there.
9About this same time the king of Assyria learnt that King Tirhakah of Ethiopia#19.9 Ethiopia: The Hebrew text has “Cush”, which was a region south of Egypt that included parts of the present countries of Ethiopia and Sudan. was on his way to attack him. Then the king of Assyria sent some messengers with this note for Hezekiah:
10Don't trust your God or be fooled by his promise to defend Jerusalem against me. 11You have heard how we Assyrian kings have completely wiped out other nations. What makes you feel so safe? 12The Assyrian kings before me destroyed the towns of Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and everyone from Eden who lived in Telassar. What good did their gods do them? 13The kings of Hamath, Arpad, Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah have all disappeared.
Hezekiah prays
(Isaiah 37.14–20)
14After Hezekiah had read the note from the king of Assyria, he took it to the temple and spread it out for the Lord to see. 15#Exod 25.22He prayed:
Lord God of Israel, your throne is above the winged creatures.#19.15 winged creatures: Two winged creatures made of gold were on the top of the sacred chest and were symbols of the Lord's throne on earth (see Exodus 25.18; 2 Samuel 6.2). You created the heavens and the earth, and you alone rule the kingdoms of this world. 16But just look how Sennacherib has insulted you, the living God.
17It is true, our Lord, that Assyrian kings have turned nations into deserts. 18They destroyed the idols of wood and stone that the people of those nations had made and worshipped. 19But you are our Lord and our God! We ask you to keep us safe from the Assyrian king. Then everyone in every kingdom on earth will know that you are the only God.
The Lord's answer to Hezekiah
(Isaiah 37.21–35)
20Isaiah went to Hezekiah and told him that the Lord God of Israel had said:
Hezekiah, I heard your prayer about King Sennacherib of Assyria. 21Now this is what I say to that king:
The people of Jerusalem
hate and make fun of you;
they laugh
behind your back.
22Sennacherib, you cursed,
shouted, and sneered at me,
the holy God of Israel.
23You let your officials
insult me, the Lord.
And here is what you
have said about yourself,
“I led my chariots
to the highest heights
of Lebanon's mountains.
I went deep into its forest,
cutting down the best cedar
and cypress trees.
24I dried up every stream
in the land of Egypt,
and I drank water
from wells I had dug.”
25Sennacherib, now listen
to me, the Lord.
I planned all this long ago.
And you don't even realize
that I alone am the one
who decided that you
would do these things.
I let you make ruins
of fortified cities.
26Their people became weak,
terribly confused.
They were like wild flowers
or tender young grass
growing on a flat roof,
scorched before it matures.#19.26 tender young grass … matures: Many of the houses had roofs made of packed earth. Grass would sometimes grow out of the roof, but would die quickly because of the sun and hot winds.
27I know all about you,
even how fiercely angry
you are with me.
28I have seen your pride
and the tremendous hatred
you have for me.
Now I will put a hook
in your nose,
a bit in your mouth,#19.28 I will put … your mouth: This is how the Assyrians treated their prisoners, and now the Lord will treat Sennacherib the same way.
then I will send you back
to where you came from.
29Hezekiah, I will tell you what's going to happen. This year you will eat crops that grow on their own, and the next year you will eat whatever springs up where those crops grew. But the third year you will plant grain and vineyards, and you will eat what you harvest. 30Those who survive in Judah will be like a vine that puts down deep roots and bears fruit. 31I, the Lord All-Powerful, will see to it that some who live in Jerusalem will survive.
32I promise that the king of Assyria won't get into Jerusalem, or shoot an arrow into the city, or even surround it and prepare to attack. 33As surely as I am the Lord, he will return by the way he came and will never enter Jerusalem. 34I will protect it for myself and for my servant David.
The death of King Sennacherib
(Isaiah 37.36–38)
35That same night the Lord sent an angel to the camp of the Assyrians, and he killed one hundred and eighty-five thousand of them. And so the next morning, the camp was full of dead bodies. 36After this King Sennacherib went back to Assyria and lived in the city of Nineveh. 37One day he was worshipping in the temple of his god Nisroch, when his sons, Adrammelech and Sharezer, killed him with their swords. They escaped to the land of Ararat, and his son Esarhaddon became king.#19.37 Esarhaddon became king: Ruled Assyria 681–669 bc.
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