The Bible – Old Testament
In the third year of Hoshea, son of Elah, king of Israel, Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign.
He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi, daughter of Zechariah.
He pleased the LORD, just as his forefather David had done.
It was he who removed the high places, shattered the pillars, and cut down the sacred poles. He smashed the bronze serpent called Nehushtan which Moses had made, because up to that time the Israelites were burning incense to it.
He put his trust in the LORD, the God of Israel; and neither before him nor after him was there anyone like him among all the kings of Judah.
Loyal to the LORD, Hezekiah never turned away from him, but observed the commandments which the LORD had given Moses.
The LORD was with him, and he prospered in all that he set out to do. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.
He also subjugated the watchtowers and walled cities of the Philistines, all the way to Gaza and its territory.
1 In the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea, son of Elah, king of Israel, Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, attacked Samaria, laid siege to it,
and after three years captured it. In the sixth year of Hezekiah, the ninth year of Hoshea, king of Israel, Samaria was taken.
The king of Assyria then deported the Israelites to Assyria and settled them in Halah, at the Habor, a river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
This came about because they had not heeded the warning of the LORD, their God, but violated his covenant, not heeding and not fulfilling the commandments of Moses, the servant of the LORD.
2 3 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, went on an expedition against all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them.
Hezekiah, king of Judah, sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: “I have done wrong. Leave me, and I will pay whatever tribute you impose on me.” The king of Assyria exacted three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold from Hezekiah, king of Judah.
Hezekiah paid him all the funds there were in the temple of the LORD and in the palace treasuries.
He broke up the door panels and the uprights of the temple of the LORD which he himself had ordered to be overlaid with gold, and gave the gold to the king of Assyria.
4 The king of Assyria sent the general, the lord chamberlain, and the commander from Lachish with a great army to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. They went up, and on their arrival in Jerusalem, stopped at the conduit of the upper pool on the highway of the fuller’s field.
They called for the king, who sent out to them Eliakim, son of Hilkiah, the master of the palace; Shebnah the scribe; and the herald Joah, son of Asaph.
The commander said to them, “Tell Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you base this confidence of yours?
Do you think mere words substitute for strategy and might in war? On whom, then, do you rely, that you rebel against me?
This Egypt, the staff on which you rely, is in fact a broken reed which pierces the hand of anyone who leans on it. That is what Pharaoh, king of Egypt, is to all who rely on him.
But if you say to me, We rely on the LORD, our God, is not he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, commanding Judah and Jerusalem to worship before this altar in Jerusalem?’
“Now, make a wager with my lord, the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses if you can put riders on them.
How then can you repulse even one of the least servants of my lord, relying as you do on Egypt for chariots and horsemen?
Was it without the LORD’S will that I have come up to destroy this place? The LORD said to me, ‘Go up and destroy that land!'”
Then Eliakim, son of Hilkiah, and Shebnah and Joah said to the commander: “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic; we understand it. Do not speak to us in Judean within earshot of the people who are on the wall.”
But the commander replied: “Was it to your master and to you that my lord sent me to speak these words? Was it not rather to the men sitting on the wall, who, with you, will have to eat their own excrement and drink their urine?”
Then the commander stepped forward and cried out in a loud voice in Judean, “Listen to the words of the great king, the king of Assyria.
Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, since he cannot deliver you out of my hand.
Let not Hezekiah induce you to rely on the LORD, saying, The LORD will surely save us; this city will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.
Do not listen to Hezekiah, for the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and surrender! Then each of you will eat of his own vine and of his own fig-tree, and drink the water of his own cistern,
until I come to take you to a land like your own, a land of grain and wine, of bread and orchards, of olives, oil and fruit syrup. Choose life, not death. Do not listen to Hezekiah when he would seduce you by saying, The LORD will rescue us.
Has any of the gods of the nations ever rescued his land from the hand of the king of Assyria?
Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Avva? Where are the gods of the land of Samaria?
Which of the gods for all these lands ever rescued his land from my hand? Will the LORD then rescue Jerusalem from my hand?'”
But the people remained silent and did not answer him one word, for the king had ordered them not to answer him.
Then the master of the palace, Eliakim, son of Hilkiah, Shebnah the scribe, and the herald Joah, son of Asaph, came to Hezekiah with their garments torn, and reported to him what the commander had
1  See note on ⇒ 2 Kings 16:9.
3  Sennacherib succeeded Sargon II as king of Assyria. His Judean campaign was waged in 701 B.C. See note on ⇒ 2 Kings 16:9.
4  General, the lord chamberlain . . . commander: the text lists three major functionaries by their Assyrian titles, of which only the first, more nearly “lord lieutenant,” is military in origin; the commander was technically the king’s chief butler.