Thursday, May 29, 2008

King Hezekiah Under Military Siege

Hezekiah King of Judah

2 Kings 18

1Hezekiah son of Ahaz king of Judah became king during the third year
Hoshea son of Elah was king of Israel. 2Hezekiah was twenty-five years old
when he became king, and he ruled twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s
name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. 3Hezekiah did what the LORD said was
right, just as his ancestor David had done. 4He removed the places where gods
were worshiped. He smashed the stone pillars and cut down the Asherah idols.
Also the Israelites had been burning incense to Nehushtan, the bronze snake
Moses had made. But Hezekiah broke it into pieces.

5Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him
among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. 6Hezekiah was loyal
to the LORD and did not stop following him; he obeyed the commands the
LORD had given Moses. 7And the LORD was with Hezekiah, so he had success
in everything he did. He turned against the king of Assyria and stopped serving
him. 8Hezekiah defeated the Philistines all the way to Gaza and its borders,
including the watchtowers and the strong, walled cities.

The Assyrians Capture Samaria

9Shalmaneser king of Assyria surrounded Samaria and attacked it in the
fourth year Hezekiah was king. This was the seventh year Hoshea son of Elah
was king of Israel. 10After three years the Assyrians captured Samaria. This was
in the sixth year Hezekiah was king, which was Hoshea’s ninth year as king of
Israel. 11The king of Assyria took the Israelites away to Assyria and settled them
in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River, and in the cities of the Medes. 12This
happened because they did not obey the LORD their God. They broke his
agreement and did not obey all that Moses, the LORD’S servant, had
commanded. They would not listen to the commands or do them.

Assyria Attacks Judah

13During Hezekiah’s fourteenth year as king, Sennacherib king of Assyria
attacked all the strong, walled cities of Judah and captured them. 14Then
Hezekiah king of Judah sent a message to the king of Assyria at Lachish. He
said, “I have done wrong. Leave me alone, and I will pay anything you ask.” So
the king of Assyria made Hezekiah pay about twenty-two thousand pounds of
silver and two thousand pounds of gold. 15Hezekiah gave him all the silver that
was in the Temple of the LORD and in the palace treasuries. 16Hezekiah stripped
all the gold that covered the doors and doorposts of the Temple of the LORD.
Hezekiah had put gold on these doors himself, but he gave it all to the king of

17The king of Assyria sent out his supreme commander, his chief officer, and
his field commander. They went with a large army from Lachish to King
Hezekiah in Jerusalem. When they came near the waterway from the upper pool
on the road where people do their laundry, they stopped. 18They called for the
king, so the king sent Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah out to meet them. Eliakim son
of Hilkiah was the palace manager, Shebna was the royal secretary, and Joah son
of Asaph was the recorder.

19The field commander said to them, “Tell Hezekiah this:

“‘The great king, the king of Assyria, says: What can you trust in now? 20You
say you have battle plans and power for war, but your words mean nothing.
Whom are you trusting for help so that you turn against me? 21Look, you are
depending on Egypt to help you, but Egypt is like a splintered walking stick. If
you lean on it for help, it will stab your hand and hurt you. The king of Egypt
will hurt all those who depend on him. 22You might say, “We are depending on
the LORD our God,” but Hezekiah destroyed the LORD’S altars and the places
of worship. Hezekiah told Judah and Jerusalem, “You must worship only at this
one altar in Jerusalem.”

23“‘Now make an agreement with my master, the king of Assyria: I will give
you two thousand horses if you can find enough men to ride them. 24You cannot
defeat one of my master’s least important officers, so why do you depend on
Egypt to give you chariots and horsemen? 25I have not come to attack and destroy
this place without an order from the LORD. The LORD himself told me to come
to this country and destroy it.’”

26Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, Shebna, and Joah said to the field commander,
“Please speak to us in the Aramaic language. We understand it. Don’t speak to us
in Hebrew, because the people on the city wall can hear you.”

27“No,” the commander said, “my master did not send me to tell these things
only to you and your king. He sent me to speak also to those people sitting on the
wall who will have to eat their own dung and drink their own urine like you.”

28Then the commander stood and shouted loudly in the Hebrew language,
“Listen to what the great king, the king of Assyria, says! 29The king says you
should not let Hezekiah fool you, because he can’t save you from my power.
30Don’t let Hezekiah talk you into trusting the LORD by saying, ‘The LORD will
surely save us. This city won’t be handed over to the king of Assyria.’

31“Don’t listen to Hezekiah. The king of Assyria says, ‘Make peace with me,
and come out of the city to me. Then everyone will be free to eat the fruit from
his own grapevine and fig tree and to drink water from his own well. 32After that
I will come and take you to a land like your own—a land with grain and new
wine, bread and vineyards, olives, and honey. Choose to live and not to die!’

“Don’t listen to Hezekiah. He is fooling you when he says, ‘The LORD will
save us.’ 33Has a god of any other nation saved his people from the power of the
king of Assyria? 34Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods
of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? They did not save Samaria from my power.
35Not one of all the gods of these countries has saved his people from me. Neither
can the LORD save Jerusalem from my power.”

36The people were silent. They didn’t answer the commander at all, because
King Hezekiah had ordered, “Don’t answer him.”

37Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah tore their clothes to show how upset they
were. (Eliakim son of Hilkiah was the palace manager, Shebna was the royal
secretary, and Joah son of Asaph was the recorder.) The three men went to
Hezekiah and told him what the field commander had said.

The Holy Bible, New Century Version

Title: Adam Clarkes Commentary on the Old Testament

Author: Clarke, Adam

2 Kings 18

Hezekiah begins to reign; he removes the high places, breaks to pieces the brazen
serpent, and walks uprightly before God, vv. 1-6. He endeavors to shake off the Assyrian
yoke, and defeats the Philistines, vv. 7, 8. Shalmaneser comes up against Samaria, takes
it, and carries the people away into captivity, vv. 9-12. And then comes against Judah,
and takes all the fenced cities, v. 13. Hezekiah sends a message to him at Lachish to
desist, with the promise that he will pay him any tribute he chooses to impose; in
consequence of which Shalmaneser exacts three hundred talents of silver, and thirty
talents of gold; to pay which Hezekiah is obliged to take all his own treasures, and those
belonging to the temple, vv. 14-16. The king of Assyria sends, notwithstanding, a great
host against Jerusalem; and his general, Rab-shakeh, delivers an insulting and
blasphemous message to Hezekiah, vv. 17-35. Hezekiah and his people are greatly
afflicted at the words of Rab-shakeh, vv. 36, 37.


2 Kings 18:1

Nowin the third year of Hoshea—See 2 Kings 16:1 where this chronology is considered.

2 Kings 18:3

He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord—In chap. 29 of the
second book of Chronicles, we have an account of what this pious king did to
restore the worship of God. He caused the priests and Levites to cleanse the holy
house, which had been shut up by his father Ahaz, and had been polluted with
filth of various kinds; and this cleansing required no less than sixteen days to
accomplish it. As the Passover, according to the law, must be celebrated the
fourteenth of the first month, and the Levites could not get the temple cleansed
before the sixteenth day, he published the Passover for the fourteenth of the
second month, and sent through all Judah and Israel to collect all the men that
feared God, that the Passover might be celebrated in a proper manner. The
concourse was great, and the feast was celebrated with great magnificence. When
the people returned to their respective cities and villages, they began to throw
down the idol altars, statues, images, and groves, and even to abolish the high
places; the consequence was that a spirit of piety began to revive in the land, and
a general reformation took place.

2 Kings 18:4

Brake in pieces the brazen serpent—The history of this may be seen in
Numbers 21:8 and Numbers 21:9.

We find that this brazen serpent had become an object of idolatry, and no
doubt was supposed to possess, as a telesm or amulet, extraordinary virtues, and
that incense was burnt before it which should have been burnt before the true

And he called it Nehushtan. Not one of the versions has attempted
to translate this word. Jarchi says, “He called it Nechustan, through contempt,
which is as much as to say, a brazen serpent.” Some have supposed that the word
is compounded of  , to divine, and  , a serpent, so it
signifies the divining serpent; and the Targum states that it was the people, not
Hezekiah, that gave it this name.   signifies to view, eye
attentively, observe, to search, inquire accurately, etc.; and hence is used to
express divination, augury. As a noun it signifies brass or copper, filth, verdigris,
and some sea animal, Amos 9:3; see also Job 26:13, and Isaiah 26:1. It is also
frequently used for a serpent; and most probably for an animal of the genus
Simia, in Genesis 3:1 This has been contested by some, ridiculed by a few, and believed by many. The objectors, because it signifies a serpent sometimes, suppose it must have the same signification always! And one to express his contempt and show his sense, has said, “Did Moses hang up an ape on a pole?” I answer, No, no more than he hanged up you, who ask the contemptible question. But this is of a piece with the conduct of the
people of Milan, who show you to this day the brazen serpent which Moses hung
up in the wilderness, and which Hezekiah broke in pieces two thousand five
hundred years ago!

Of serpents there is a great variety. Allowing that   signifies a
serpent; I may ask in my turn, What kind of a serpent was it that tempted Eve? Of
what species was that which Moses hung up on the pole, and which Hezekiah
broke to pieces? Who of the wise men can answer these questions? Till this is
done I assert, that the word, Genesis 3:1, etc., does not signify a serpent of any
kind; and that with a creature of the genus Simia the whole account best agrees.

2 Kings 18:5

He trusted in the Lord—See the character of this good king:

1.He trusted in the Lord God of Israel;

2.He clave to the Lord;

3.He was steady in his religion; he departed not from following the Lord;

4.He kept God’s commandments. And what were the consequences?

1. The Lord was with him;

2. He prospered whithersoever he went.

2 Kings 18:8

From the tower of the watchmen—See the same words, 2 Kings 17:9.
It seems a proverbial mode of expression: he reduced every kind of fortification;
nothing was able to stand before him.

2 Kings 18:9

In the fourth year—This history has been already given, 2 Kings 17:3, etc.

2 Kings 18:17

The king of Assyria sent Tartan, etc.—Calmet has very justly remarked that
these are not the names of persons, but of offices. Tartan,   or
, as in the parallel place in Isaiah, in the Greek version, signifies he who
presides over the gifts or tribute; chancellor of the exchequer.

Rabsaris, the chief of the eunuchs. Rab-shakeh,  master or
chief over the wine cellar; or he who had the care of the king’s drink.

From Lachish—It seems as if the Assyrian troops had been worsted before
Lachish, and were obliged to raise the siege, from which they went and sat down
before Libnah. While Sennacherib was there with the Assyrian army, he heard
that Tirhakah, king of Ethiopia, had invaded the Assyrian territories. Being
obliged therefore to hasten, in order to succor his own dominions, he sent a
considerable force under the aforementioned officers against Jerusalem, with a
most fearful and bloody manifesto, commanding Hezekiah to pay him tribute, to
deliver up his kingdom to him, and to submit, he and his people, to be carried
away captives into Assyria! This manifesto was accompanied with the vilest
insults, and the highest blasphemies. God interposed and the evils threatened
against others fell upon himself.

Manifestoes of this kind have seldom been honorable to the senders. The
conduct of Rab-shakeh was unfortunately copied by the Duke of Brunswick,
commander-in-chief of the allied army of the center, in the French revolution,
who was then in the plains of Champagne, August 27, 1792, at the head of ninety
thousand men, Prussians, Austrians, and emigrants, on his way to Paris, which in
his manifesto he threatened to reduce to ashes! This was the cause of the dreadful
massacres which immediately took place. And shortly after this time the blast of
God fell upon him, for in Sept. 20 of the same year, (three weeks after issuing the
manifesto), almost all his army was destroyed by a fatal disease, and himself
obliged to retreat from the French territories with shame and confusion. This, and
some other injudicious steps taken by the allies, were the cause of the ruin of the
royal family of France, and of enormities and calamities the most extensive,
disgraceful, and ruinous that ever stained the page of history. From all such
revolutions God in mercy save mankind!

Conduit of the upper pool—The aqueduct that brought the water from the
upper or eastern reservoir, near to the valley of Kidron, into the city. Probably
they had seized on this in order to distress the city.

The fullers field—The place where the washermen stretched out their clothes
to dry.

2 Kings 18:18

Called to the king—They wished him to come out that they might get
possession of his person.

Eliakimover the household—What we would call lord chamberlain.

Shebna the scribe—The king’s secretary.

Joahthe recorder—The writer of the public annals.

2 Kings 18:19

What confidence is this .
The words are excessively insulting: What little, foolish, or unavailing cause of
confidence is it, to which thou trustest? I translate thus, because I consider the
word   as a diminutive, intended to express the utmost
contempt for Hezekiah’s God.

2 Kings 18:21

The staff of this bruised reed—Egypt had already been greatly bruised and
broken, through the wars carried on against it by the Assyrians.

2 Kings 18:22

Whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away—This was
artfully malicious. Many of the people sacrificed to Jehovah on the high places;
Hezekiah had removed them, (2 Kings 18:4), because they were incentives to
idolatry: Rab-shakeh insinuates that by so doing he had offended Jehovah,
deprived the people of their religious rights, and he could neither expect the
blessing of God nor the cooperation of the people.

2 Kings 18:23

I will deliver thee two thousand horses—Another insult: Were I to give thee
two thousand Assyrian horses, thou couldst not find riders for them. How then
canst thou think that thou shalt be able to stand against even the smallest division
of my troops?

2 Kings 18:25

Am I now come up without the Lord—As Rab-shakeh saw that the Jews
placed the utmost confidence in God, he wished to persuade them that by
Hezekiah’s conduct Jehovah had departed from them, and was become ally to the
king of Assyria, and therefore they could not expect any help from that quarter.

2 Kings 18:26

Talk not with us in the Jews language—The object of this blasphemous
caitiff was to stir up the people to sedition, that the city and the king might be
delivered into his hand.

2 Kings 18:27

That they may eat their own dung—That they may be duly apprised, if they
hold on Hezekiah’s side, Jerusalem shall be most straitly besieged, and they be
reduced to such a state of famine as to be obliged to eat their own excrements.

2 Kings 18:28

Hear the word of the great kingof Assyria—This was all intended to cause
the people to revolt from their allegiance to their king.

2 Kings 18:32

Until I come and take you away—This was well calculated to stir up a
seditious spirit. Ye cannot be delivered; your destruction, if ye resist, is
inevitable; Sennacherib will do with you, as he does with all the nations he
conquers, lead you captive into another land: but if you will surrender without
farther trouble, he will transport you into a land as good as your own.

2 Kings 18:34

Where are the gods of Hamath—Sennacherib is greater than any of the gods
of the nations. The Assyrians have already overthrown the gods of Hamath,
Arpad, Hena, and Ivah; therefore, Jehovah shall be like one of them, and shall not
be able to deliver Jerusalem out of the hand of my master.

The impudent blasphemy of this speech is without parallel. Hezekiah treated it
as he ought: it was not properly against him, but against the LORD; therefore he
refers the matter to Jehovah himself, who punishes this blasphemy in the most
signal manner.

2 Kings 18:36

Answer him not—The blasphemy is too barefaced; Jehovah is insulted, not
you; let him avenge his own quarrel. See the succeeding chapter, 2 Kings 19.

2 Kings 18:37

Then came Eliakimand Shebnaand Joahto Hezekiah with their
clothes rent—It was the custom of the Hebrews, when they heard any
blasphemy, to rend their clothes, because this was the greatest of crimes, as it
immediately affected the majesty of God, and it was right that a religious people
should have in the utmost abhorrence every insult offered to the object of their
religious worship. These three ambassadors lay the matter before the king as
God’s representative; he lays it before the prophet, as God’s minister; and the
prophet lays it before God, as the people’s mediator.

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