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2 Kings 18-20 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

XI. The End of Judah[a]

Chapter 18

Reign of Hezekiah. In the third year of Hoshea, son of Elah, king of Israel, Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, king of Judah, became king. 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 did what was right in the Lord’s sight, just as David his father had done. It was he who removed the high places, shattered the pillars, cut down the asherah,[b] and smashed the bronze serpent Moses had made, because up to that time the Israelites were burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.) He put his trust in the Lord, the God of Israel; and neither before nor after him was there anyone like him among all the kings of Judah. Hezekiah held fast to the Lord and never turned away from following him, but observed the commandments the Lord had given Moses. The Lord was with him, and he succeeded in all he set out to do. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. It was he who struck the Philistines as far as Gaza, and all its territory from guard post to garrisoned town.

[c]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 and laid siege to it, 10 and after three years they captured it. In the sixth year of Hezekiah, the ninth year of Hoshea, king of Israel, Samaria was taken. 11 The king of Assyria then deported the Israelites to Assyria and led them off to Halah, and the Habor, a river of Gozan, and the cities of the Medes. 12 This happened because they did not obey the Lord, their God, but violated his covenant; they did not obey nor do all that Moses, the servant of the Lord, commanded.

Sennacherib and Hezekiah. 13 [d]In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib, king of Assyria,[e] attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. 14 Hezekiah, king of Judah, sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: “I have done wrong. Leave me, and whatever you impose on me I will bear.” The king of Assyria exacted three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold from Hezekiah, king of Judah. 15 Hezekiah gave him all the funds there were in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king’s house. 16 At the same time, Hezekiah removed the nave doors and the uprights of the house of the Lord, which the king of Judah had ordered to be overlaid with gold, and gave them to the king of Assyria.

17 The king of Assyria sent the general, the lord chamberlain, and the commander[f] from Lachish with a great army to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. They went up and came to Jerusalem, to the conduit of the upper pool on the highway of the fuller’s field, where they took their stand. 18 They called for the king, but Eliakim, son of Hilkiah, the master of the palace, came out, along with Shebnah the scribe and the chancellor Joah, son of Asaph.

19 The commander said to them, “Tell Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you base this trust of yours? 20 Do you think mere words substitute for strategy and might in war? In whom, then, do you place your trust, that you rebel against me? 21 Do you trust in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which pierces the hand of anyone who leans on it? That is what Pharaoh, king of Egypt, is to all who trust in him. 22 Or do you people say to me, “It is in the Lord our God we trust!”? Is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, commanding Judah and Jerusalem, “Worship before this altar in Jerusalem”?’

23 “Now, make a wager with my lord, the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses if you are able to put riders on them. 24 How then can you turn back even a captain, one of the least servants of my lord, trusting, as you do, in Egypt for chariots and horses? 25 Did I come up to destroy this place without the Lord? The Lord himself said to me: Go up and destroy that land!”

26 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 the language of Judah within earshot of the people who are on the wall.” 27 But the commander replied: “Was it to your lord and to you that my lord sent me to speak these words? Was it not rather to those sitting on the wall, who, with you, will have to eat their own excrement and drink their urine?”[g]

28 Then the commander stepped forward and cried out in a loud voice in the language of Judah, “Listen to the words of the great king, the king of Assyria. 29 Thus says the king: Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he cannot rescue you from my hand. 30 And do not let Hezekiah induce you to trust in the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord will surely rescue us, and this city will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.’ 31 Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria: Make peace with me, and surrender to me! Eat, each of you, from your vine, each from your own fig tree. Drink water, each from your own well, 32 until I arrive and take you to a land like your own, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of rich olives and honey. Live, and do not die! And do not listen to Hezekiah when he would incite you by saying, ‘The Lord will rescue us.’ 33 Has any of the gods of the nations ever rescued his land from the power of the king of Assyria? 34 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Did they indeed rescue Samaria from my power?[h] 35 Which of the gods for all these lands ever rescued his land from my power? Will the Lord then rescue Jerusalem from my power?” 36 But the people remained silent and did not answer at all, for the king’s command was, “Do not answer him.”

37 Then the master of the palace, Eliakim, son of Hilkiah, Shebnah the scribe, and the chancellor Joah, son of Asaph, came to Hezekiah with their garments torn, and reported to him the words of the commander.

Chapter 19

Hezekiah and Isaiah. When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his garments, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. He sent Eliakim, the master of the palace, Shebnah the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to tell the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, “Thus says Hezekiah:

A day of distress and rebuke,
    a day of disgrace is this day!
Children are due to come forth,
    but the strength to give birth is lacking.[i]

Perhaps the Lord, your God, will hear all the words of the commander, whom his lord, the king of Assyria, sent to taunt the living God, and will rebuke him for the words which the Lord, your God, has heard. So lift up a prayer for the remnant that is here.” When the servants of King Hezekiah had come to Isaiah, he said to them, “Tell this to your lord: Thus says the Lord: Do not be frightened by the words you have heard, by which the deputies of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. I am putting in him such a spirit that when he hears a report he will return to his land. I will make him fall by the sword in his land.”

When the commander, on his return, heard that the king of Assyria had withdrawn from Lachish, he found him besieging Libnah.

Sennacherib, Hezekiah, and Isaiah. The king of Assyria heard a report: “Tirhakah, king of Ethiopia, has come out to fight against you.” Again he sent messengers to Hezekiah to say: 10 “Thus shall you say to Hezekiah, king of Judah: Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by saying, ‘Jerusalem will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.’ 11 You, certainly, have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands: they put them under the ban! And are you to be rescued? 12 Did the gods of the nations whom my fathers destroyed deliver them—Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, or the Edenites in Telassar? 13 Where are the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, or the kings of the cities Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah?”

14 Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; then he went up to the house of the Lord, and spreading it out before the Lord, 15 Hezekiah prayed in the Lord’s presence: “Lord, God of Israel, enthroned on the cherubim! You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. It is you who made the heavens and the earth. 16 Incline your ear, Lord, and listen! Open your eyes, Lord, and see! Hear the words Sennacherib has sent to taunt the living God. 17 Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands. 18 They gave their gods to the fire—they were not gods at all, but the work of human hands—wood and stone, they destroyed them. 19 Therefore, Lord, our God, save us from this man’s power, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.”

20 Then Isaiah, son of Amoz, sent this message to Hezekiah: “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you have prayed concerning Sennacherib, king of Assyria: I have listened! 21 [j]This is the word the Lord has spoken concerning him:

She despises you, laughs you to scorn,
    the virgin daughter Zion!
Behind you she wags her head,
    daughter Jerusalem.
22 Whom have you insulted and blasphemed,
    at whom have you raised your voice
And lifted up your eyes on high?
    At the Holy One of Israel!
23 Through the mouths of your messengers
    you insulted the Lord when you said,
‘With my many chariots I went up
    to the tops of the peaks,
    to the recesses of Lebanon,
To cut down its lofty cedars,
    its choice cypresses;
I reached to the farthest shelter,
    the forest ranges.
24 I myself dug wells
    and drank foreign waters,
Drying up all the rivers of Egypt
    beneath the soles of my feet.’

25 “Have you not heard?
    A long time ago I prepared it,
    from days of old I planned it.
Now I have brought it about:
You are here to reduce
    fortified cities to heaps of ruins,
26 Their people powerless,
    dismayed and distraught.
They are plants of the field,
    green growth,
    thatch on the rooftops,
Grain scorched by the east wind.
27 I know when you stand or sit,
    when you come or go
    and how you rage against me.
28 Because you rage against me,
    and your smugness has reached my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose
    and my bit in your mouth,
And make you leave by the way you came.

29 “This shall be a sign for you:
This year you shall eat the aftergrowth,
    next year, what grows of itself;
But in the third year, sow and reap,
    plant vineyards and eat their fruit!
30 The remaining survivors of the house of Judah
    shall again strike root below
    and bear fruit above.
31 For out of Jerusalem shall come a remnant,
    and from Mount Zion, survivors.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this.

32 “Therefore, thus says the Lord about the king:

He shall not come as far as this city,
    nor shoot there an arrow,
    nor confront it with a shield,
Nor cast up a siege-work against it.
33 By the way he came he shall leave,
    never coming as far as this city,
    oracle of the Lord.
34 I will shield and save this city
    for my own sake and the sake of David my servant.”

35 That night the angel of the Lord went forth and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. Early the next morning, there they were, dead, all those corpses! 36 So Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, broke camp, departed, returned home, and stayed in Nineveh.

37 When he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword and fled into the land of Ararat. His son Esarhaddon reigned in his place.

Chapter 20

End of Hezekiah’s Reign. In those days, when Hezekiah was mortally ill, the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, came and said to him: “Thus says the Lord: Put your house in order, for you are about to die; you shall not recover.” He turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord: “Ah, Lord, remember how faithfully and wholeheartedly I conducted myself in your presence, doing what was good in your sight!” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Before Isaiah had left the central courtyard, the word of the Lord came to him: Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people: “Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father:

I have heard your prayer;
    I have seen your tears.
    Now I am healing you.
On the third day you shall go up
    to the house of the Lord.
I will add to your life fifteen years.
    I will rescue you and this city
    from the hand of the king of Assyria;
I will be a shield to this city
    for my own sake and the sake of David my servant.”

Then Isaiah said, “Bring a poultice of figs and apply it to the boil for his recovery.” Hezekiah asked Isaiah, “What is the sign that the Lord will heal me and that I shall go up to the house of the Lord on the third day?” Isaiah replied, “This will be the sign for you from the Lord that he will carry out the word he has spoken: Shall the shadow go forward or back ten steps?” 10 “It is easy for the shadow to advance ten steps,” Hezekiah answered. “Rather, let it go back ten steps.” 11 So Isaiah the prophet invoked the Lord. He made the shadow go back the ten steps it had descended on the staircase to the terrace of Ahaz.

12 At that time, Berodach-baladan,[k] son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and gifts to Hezekiah when he heard that he had been ill. 13 Hezekiah listened to the envoys and then showed off his whole treasury: his silver, gold, spices and perfumed oil, his armory, and everything in his storerooms; there was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them. 14 Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah and asked him: “What did these men say to you? Where did they come from?” Hezekiah replied, “They came from a distant land, from Babylon.” 15 He asked, “What did they see in your house?” Hezekiah answered, “They saw everything in my house. There is nothing in my storerooms that I did not show them.” 16 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah: “Hear the word of the Lord: 17 The time is coming when all that is in your house, everything that your ancestors have stored up until this day, shall be carried off to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the Lord. 18 Some of your own descendants, your offspring, your progeny, shall be taken and made attendants in the palace of the king of Babylon.” 19 Hezekiah replied to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “There will be peace and stability in my lifetime.”

20 The rest of the acts of Hezekiah, with all his valor, and how he constructed the pool and conduit[l] and brought water into the city, are recorded in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah. 21 Hezekiah rested with his ancestors, and his son Manasseh succeeded him as king.

Footnotes:

  1. 18:1–25:30 The Books of Kings end, as they began, with the people of the Lord in a single kingdom, Judah, centered on the capital, Jerusalem, and the Solomonic Temple. The reigns of two reformer kings, both praised, are recounted at length: Hezekiah (chaps. 18–20) and Josiah (22:1–23:30). Each is followed by shorter accounts of two kings who are condemned: Manasseh and Amon (chap. 21) and Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim (23:31–24:7). The book ends with the last days of Judah under Jehoiachin and Zedekiah and the beginning of the Babylonian exile.
  2. 18:4 Asherah: see note on Ex 34:13. Nehushtan: the name nehushtan contains several wordplays in Hebrew. It recalls the word “serpent” (nahash), the word “bronze” (nehoshet), and the word “to read omens” (nihesh). The sentence is also unclear about who named the bronze serpent “Nehushtan”—whether Moses when he made it, or the people when they venerated it, or Hezekiah when he destroyed it.
  3. 18:9 The correlations between the reigns of Hezekiah and Hoshea in vv. 9–10 conflict with other biblical data and with the date for the fall of Samaria, 722/721 B.C. (see note on 16:1–20). Since Sennacherib’s invasion in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah (v. 13) took place in 701, Hezekiah cannot have been on the throne twenty years earlier. Various solutions have been proposed: scribal errors in writing the numbers; a Hezekian co-regency with his father Ahaz beginning in 729; etc. None of the solutions has won a consensus among historians.
  4. 18:13–20:19 This material is found also in Is 36–39, with one long addition (Is 38:9–20) and only a few other changes.
  5. 18:13 Sennacherib succeeded Sargon II as king of Assyria. His Judean campaign was waged in 701 B.C. See notes on 16:1–20 and 18:9.
  6. 18:17 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.
  7. 18:27 Excrement…urine: the reference is to the famine that results from a prolonged siege (compare 6:24–25; Dt 28:53–57). For public reading, ancient tradition (e.g., the Qere reading of the Masoretic text) softened the terms to “eat their own waste and drink their own bodies’ water.”
  8. 18:34 Did they indeed…power?: some time after the fall of Samaria in 722/721 B.C., Hamath, Arpad, and other small states in the region formed an anti-Assyrian coalition. If the coalition had succeeded, it could have broken Assyrian control over the whole region, including Samaria, and allowed the kingdom of Israel to free itself. When Assyria crushed the coalition, it also crushed Israel’s hopes for liberation.
  9. 19:3 See note on Is 37:3.
  10. 19:21–31 Verses 21–28 are addressed to Sennacherib, vv. 29–31 to Judah.
  11. 20:12 Berodach-baladan: this famous king’s name is more correctly recorded in Is 39:1 as “Merodach-baladan.” The Babylonian form, Marduk-apal-idinna, means “Marduk has granted a son.” Historically, any embassy from him to Hezekiah must have been aimed at establishing an anti-Assyrian strategy of cooperation.
  12. 20:20 Pool and conduit: Hezekiah’s tunnel is described in more detail in 2 Chr 32:30.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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