Hezekiah Reigns in Judah
18 In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done. He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan). He trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. For he held fast to the LORD. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses. And the LORD was with him; wherever he went out, he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and would not serve him. He struck down the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city.
In the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria and besieged it, and at the end of three years he took it. In the sixth year of Hezekiah, which was the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken. The king of Assyria carried the Israelites away to Assyria and put them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, because they did not obey the voice of the LORD their God but transgressed his covenant, even all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded. They neither listened nor obeyed.
Sennacherib Attacks Judah
In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, “I have done wrong; withdraw from me. Whatever you impose on me I will bear.” And the king of Assyria required of Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the LORD and in the treasuries of the king’s house. At that time Hezekiah stripped the gold from the doors of the temple of the LORD and from the doorposts that Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid and gave it to the king of Assyria. And the king of Assyria sent the Tartan, the Rab-saris, and the Rabshakeh with a great army from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. When they arrived, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is on the highway to the Washer’s Field. And when they called for the king, there came out to them Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebnah the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder.
And the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you rest this trust of yours? Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me? Behold, you are trusting now in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. But if you say to me, “We trust in the LORD our God,” is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, “You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem”? Come now, make a wager with my master the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them. How then can you repulse a single captain among the least of my master’s servants, when you trust in Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? Moreover, is it without the LORD that I have come up against this place to destroy it? The LORD said to me, “Go up against this land and destroy it.”’”
Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebnah, and Joah, said to the Rabshakeh, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it. Do not speak to us in the language of Judah within the hearing of the people who are on the wall.” But the Rabshakeh said to them, “Has my master sent me to speak these words to your master and to you, and not to the men sitting on the wall, who are doomed with you to eat their own dung and to drink their own urine?”
Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out in a loud voice in the language of Judah: “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you out of my hand. Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD by saying, The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’ Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern, until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live, and not die. And do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying, “The LORD will deliver us.” Has any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’”
But the people were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s command was, “Do not answer him.” Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn and told him the words of the Rabshakeh.
2 Kings 18 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Finally, a king who was godly! With the northern kingdom overthrown, Judah was placed firmly between 2 world powers, Egypt and Assyria who both wanted to take and control this small piece of land. When Hezekiah took the throne, they were controlled by Assyria but with great courage, he rebelled against this empire. Turning to God, he believed and lived out a faith unseen in leadership for centuries.
Hezekiah was a king who ranks as one of the reformers. He was far more concerned about being obedient to God than acting on his own thought or will of the people. He boldly cleaned house as pagan altars were demolished, idols and evil temples destroyed. He actually opened the doors of the Temple, which had been nailed shut by his father, and cleaned out the temple making it accessible for God’s people. On top of this, he reintroduced the Passover Holiday and spiritual revival would take place. He was a good king.
That said, his flawed human character, of course, would show itself. Many times he operated in the present and didn’t look toward the future. Although the reforms and revival were astounding, he made little effort to sustain it. Sadly, the unreal ability he had as a king would go to his head and his flaws would set the groundwork for pride. In time he would display his wealth to the Babylonians, who in time would take Judah into captivity. It was a lack of foresight to things that could and did happen.
Really, once again the beauty of Scripture reveals the great and terrible of individuals, which speak toward many aspects of learning lessons for us. Our past does not have to control us, but if not reigned in can affect our future. It’s important to be reminded that even changes in our lives must be maintained as we look toward the future and how it affects things to come. Our past obedience to God doesn’t remove the potential of present disobedience. We must actively work at it and be completely dependent on God for His – relying on Him, following through with what He asks and working on our personal relationship with Jesus daily.
2 Kings 18 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
A major theme the past several chapters has begged the question – who will step up and wholeheartedly trust the Lord to defend them? We’ve seen some kings who have trusted for a time. However, when their faith was truly tested, they turned from God to something else. Hezekiah was no different in this regard. Yes, he did a great job of obeying the Lord and ridding the nation of their idols, but he also had some political and military blunders.
The tension builds in this chapter as the Rabshakeh brutally questions the leaders of Judah. The Rabshakeh was the field commander of the Assyrian army. By this time, the Assyrian army had already destroyed Israel, and now had moved into Judah, capturing every major city except for Jerusalem. Here, the field commander has walked up to the aqueduct from the upper pool in Jerusalem in order to mock the people of Judah. It seemed like the Assyrians were in complete control.
The entire point of this rant by the Rabshakeh is to demoralize and discourage the people and leaders of Judah. There are three main points they are trying to communicate.
- The Rabshakeh wanted to discourage Judah from leaning on Egypt for support. To do this, they mocked Egypt’s power by declaring them ‘minuscule’ compared to the Assyrians.
- They want to discourage Judah from relying on Hezekiah. The Assyrians know that Hezekiah has reformed Judah and rid the nation of idols.
- They want the people to know that even though Hezekiah is trying to follow God, it has not helped them, and it will not help them in the future.
It was pure intimidation. This was the plan of Israel’s enemies, and this is the plan of Satan, our enemy. The Rabshakeh mocked the Lord, comparing him to other false gods that failed to protect their nation. The mockery goes as far as to imply that the Lord is on the Assyrians’ side.
We’ve all been at this place. Crushed in spirit. Fatalistic. Depressed. Hopeless.
Satan uses the same tactics today. He comes with intimidation, discouragement, and deception. He comes to us in our darkest times and tries to convince us we can’t trust God. Essentially, the Assyrians were telling Judah, “You might as well give up!” But wait, there’s more!
We will have to wait until the next chapter to see how Hezekiah responds to these threats, but I have a feeling the Lord will have something to say to these arrogant Assyrians.