Hezekiah asks Isaiah for advice
(2 Kings 19.1–13)
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 me:
3Isaiah, these 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 came to me, 6I 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#37.9 Ethiopia: See the note at 11.11. 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
(2 Kings 19.14–19)
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. 15Then he prayed:
16 # Exod 25.22 Lord God All-Powerful of Israel, your throne is above the winged creatures.#37.16 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. 17Just look and see how Sennacherib has insulted you, the living God.
18It is true, our Lord, that Assyrian kings have turned nations into deserts. 19They destroyed the idols of wood and stone that the people of those nations had made and worshipped. 20But 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 Lord.
Isaiah gives the Lord's answer to Hezekiah
(2 Kings 19.20–34)
21-22I went to Hezekiah and told him that the Lord God of Israel had said:
Hezekiah, you prayed to me about King Sennacherib of Assyria.#37.21,22 Hezekiah, you prayed … Assyria: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text. Now this is what I say to that king:
The people of Jerusalem
hate and make fun of you;
they laugh behind your back.
23Sennacherib, you cursed,
shouted, and sneered at me,
the holy God of Israel.
24You 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.
25I dried up every stream
in the land of Egypt,
and I drank water
from wells I had dug.”
26Sennacherib, now listen
to me, the Lord.
I planned all this long ago.
And you don't even know
that I alone am the one
who decided that you
would do these things.
I let you make ruins
of fortified cities.
27Their people became weak,
terribly confused.
They were like wild flowers
or like tender young grass
growing on a flat roof
or like a field of grain
before it matures.#37.27 tender young grass … matures: The Standard Hebrew Text; the Dead Sea Scrolls and some Hebrew manuscripts “tender young grass, growing on a flat roof and scorched by the heat”. Many of the houses had roofs made of packed earth. Grass would sometimes grow on the roof, but would die quickly because of the sun and hot winds.
28I know all about you,
even how fiercely angry
you are with me.
29I 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,#37.29 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.
30Hezekiah, 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. 31Those who survive in Judah will be like a vine that puts down deep roots and bears fruit. 32I, the Lord All-Powerful, will see to it that some who live in Jerusalem will survive.
33I 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. 34As surely as I am the Lord, he will return by the way he came and will never enter Jerusalem. 35I will protect it for the sake of my own honour and because of the promise I made to my servant David.
The death of King Sennacherib
(2 Kings 19.35–37)
36The Lord sent an angel to the camp of the Assyrians, and he killed one hundred and eighty-five thousand of them all in one night. The next morning, the camp was full of dead bodies. 37After this, King Sennacherib went back to Assyria and lived in the city of Nineveh. 38One 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.#37.38 Esarhaddon became king: He ruled Assyria 681–669 bc.
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