Hezekiah Begins His Rule Over Judah
Hezekiah son of Ahaz was king of Judah. Hezekiah began to rule during the third year that Hoshea son of Elah was king of Israel. 2
Hezekiah was 25 years old when he began to rule. He ruled 29 years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi,*
the daughter of Zechariah.
3 Hezekiah did what the LORD said was right, just as David his ancestor had done.
Hezekiah destroyed the high places. He broke the memorial stones and cut down the Asherah poles. At that time the Israelites burned incense to the bronze snake made by Moses. This bronze snake was called “Nehushtan.”†
Hezekiah broke this bronze snake into pieces.
5 Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like Hezekiah among all the kings of Judah before him or after him. 6 He was very faithful to the LORD and did not stop following him. He obeyed the commands that the LORD had given to Moses. 7 The LORD was with Hezekiah, so he was successful in everything he did.
Hezekiah broke away from the king of Assyria and stopped serving him. 8 Hezekiah defeated the Philistines all the way to Gaza and the area around it. He defeated all the Philistine cities—from the smallest town to the largest city.
The Assyrians Capture Samaria
9 King Shalmaneser of Assyria went to fight against Samaria. His army surrounded the city. This happened during the fourth year that Hezekiah was king of Judah. (This was also the seventh year that Hoshea son of Elah was king of Israel.) 10 At the end of the third year, Shalmaneser captured Samaria. He took Samaria during the sixth year that Hezekiah was king of Judah. (This was also the ninth year that Hoshea was king of Israel.) 11 The king of Assyria took the Israelites as prisoners to Assyria. He made them live in Halah, on the Habor (the river of Gozan), and in the cities of the Medes. 12 This happened because the Israelites did not obey the LORD their God. They broke his agreement and did not obey everything that Moses, the LORD’S servant, had commanded. The Israelites would not listen to the Lord’s agreement, or do what it taught them to do.
Assyria Gets Ready to Take Judah
13 During Hezekiah’s 14th year as king, King Sennacherib of Assyria went to fight against all the strong cities of Judah. Sennacherib defeated them all. 14 Then King Hezekiah of Judah sent a message to the king of Assyria at Lachish. Hezekiah said, “I have done wrong. Leave me alone, and I will pay whatever you want.”
Then the king of Assyria told King Hezekiah of Judah to pay over 11 tons‡
of silver and over 1 ton§
of gold. 15
Hezekiah gave all the silver that was in the LORD’S Temple and in the king’s treasuries. 16
That is when Hezekiah cut off the gold that he had put on the doors and doorposts of the LORD’S Temple and gave it to the king of Assyria.
King of Assyria Sends Men to Jerusalem
The king of Assyria sent his three most important officers with a large army to King Hezekiah in Jerusalem. They left Lachish and went to Jerusalem. They stood near the aqueduct by the Upper Pool,*
on the street that leads up to Laundryman’s Field. 18
These men called for the king, but Eliakim son of Hilkiah, Shebna, and Joah son of Asaph went out to meet them. Eliakim was the palace manager, Joah was the record keeper, and Shebna was the royal secretary.
19 The commander said to them, “Tell Hezekiah this is what the great king, the king of Assyria says:
‘What are you trusting in to help you? 20 If you say, “I trust in power and great battle plans,” then that is useless. Now I ask you, who do you trust so much that you are willing to rebel against me? 21 Are you depending on Egypt to help you? Egypt is like a broken walking stick. If you lean on it for support, it will only hurt you and make a hole in your hand. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, cannot be trusted by anyone who depends on him for help. 22 Maybe you will say, “We trust the LORD our God to help us.” But I know that Hezekiah destroyed the altars and high places where people worshiped the Lord. Hezekiah told the people of Judah and Jerusalem, “You must worship only at this one altar here in Jerusalem.”
23 ‘If you still want to fight my master, the king of Assyria, I will make this agreement with you. I promise that I will give you 2000 horses if you can find enough men to ride them into battle. 24 But even then you couldn’t beat one of my master’s lowest ranking officers. So why do you still depend on Egypt’s chariots and horse soldiers?
25 ‘Now, do you think I came to this country to destroy it without the LORD’S help? No, the LORD said to me, “Go up against this country and destroy it!” ’ ”
26 Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, Shebna, and Joah said to the commander, “Please speak to us in Aramaic. We understand that language. Don’t speak to us in the language of Judah because the people on the wall will understand you.”
27 But the commander said, “My master sent me to speak to everyone, not just to you and your master. I must also speak to those people sitting there on the wall. When we surround your city, they will suffer too. Like you, they will become so hungry they will eat their own waste and drink their own urine!”
Then the commander, shouting loudly in Hebrew,†
gave this warning to them all:
Hear this message from the great king, the king of Assyria! 29 This is what the king says: Don’t let Hezekiah fool you! He cannot save you from my power. 30 Don’t listen to him when he tells you to trust in the LORD. Don’t believe him when he says, “The LORD will save us. He will not let the king of Assyria defeat the city.”
31 Don’t listen to Hezekiah! This is what the king of Assyria says: Come out here and show me that you want peace. Then you will all be free to have grapes from your own vines, figs from your own trees, and water from your own well. 32 After some time, I will come and take you to a land like your own. In that new land, you will have plenty of grain for making bread and vineyards for producing wine. I am offering you a choice to live instead of dying.
Don’t believe Hezekiah when he tells you, “The LORD will save us.” He is wrong. 33 Did any of the gods of other nations save their land from the king of Assyria? 34 When I destroyed the cities of Hamath and Arpad, where were their gods? What about the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Were any gods able to save Samaria from my power? 35 None of the gods of these other places were able to save their land from me! So why do you think the LORD can save Jerusalem from me?
36 But the people were silent. They did not say a word to the commander, because King Hezekiah had commanded them, “Don’t say anything to him.”
37 Then the palace manager (Eliakim son of Hilkiah), the royal secretary (Shebna), and the record keeper (Joah son of Asaph) went to Hezekiah. Their clothes were torn to show they were upset. They told Hezekiah everything the Assyrian commander had said.