2 Kings 16-20 Common English Bible (CEB)
Ahaz rules Judah
16 Ahaz, Jotham’s son, became king of Judah in the seventeenth year of Pekah, Remaliah’s son. 2 Ahaz was 20 years old when he became king, and he ruled for sixteen years in Jerusalem. He didn’t do what was right in the Lord’s eyes, unlike his ancestor David. 3 Instead, he walked in the ways of Israel’s kings. He even burned his own son alive, imitating the detestable practices of the nations that the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. 4 He also sacrificed and burned incense at the shrines on every hill and beneath every shady tree. 5 Then Aram’s King Rezin and Israel’s King Pekah, Remaliah’s son, came up to Jerusalem to fight. They surrounded Ahaz, but they weren’t able to defeat him. 6 At that time Aram’s King Rezin recovered Elath for the Arameans, driving the Judeans out of Elath. The Edomites[a] came to Elath and settled there, and that’s still the case now.
7 Ahaz sent messengers to Assyria’s King Tiglath-pileser, saying, “I’m your servant and your son. Come up and save me from the power of the kings of Aram and Israel. Both of them are attacking me!” 8 And Ahaz took the silver and the gold that was in the Lord’s temple and in the palace treasuries, and sent a gift to Assyria’s king. 9 The Assyrian king heard the request and marched against Damascus. He captured it and sent its citizens into exile to Kir. He also killed Rezin.
10 Then King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet up with Assyria’s King Tiglath-pileser. King Ahaz noticed the altar that was in Damascus, and he sent the altar’s plan and details for its construction to the priest Uriah. 11 Uriah built the altar, following the plans that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus; he had it finished before King Ahaz returned from Damascus.
12 When the king arrived from Damascus, he inspected the altar. He came close to it, then went up on it, 13 burning his entirely burned offering and grain offering, pouring out his drink offering, and sprinkling the blood of his well-being sacrifices on the altar. 14 As for the bronze altar that used to stand before the Lord, Ahaz moved it away from the front of the temple where it had stood between the main altar and the Lord’s temple. He put it on the north side of the new altar. 15 Then King Ahaz ordered the priest Uriah, saying, “Burn the following sacrifices on the main altar:
in the morning, the entirely burned offering;
in the evening, the grain offering;
the king’s entirely burned offering and his grain offering;
the entirely burned offering for all the people of the land, their grain offering, and their drink offerings.
“Sprinkle all the blood of the entirely burned offerings and all the blood of the sacrifices on it. I will use the bronze altar for seeking guidance.”[b] 16 Uriah the priest did everything that King Ahaz commanded. 17 King Ahaz cut off the side panels from the stands and removed the basins from them. He took the Sea down from the bronze bulls that were under it and put it on a stone pavement. 18 He also took away the sabbath canopy that had been built in the temple. He removed the royal entrance outside the Lord’s temple. This was done because of the Assyrian king.
19 The rest of Ahaz’s deeds, aren’t they written in the official records of Judah’s kings? 20 Ahaz died and was buried with his ancestors in David’s City. His son Hezekiah succeeded him as king.
Hoshea rules Israel
17 Hoshea, Elah’s son, became king in Samaria in the twelfth year of Judah’s king Ahaz. He ruled over Israel for nine years. 2 He did what was evil in the Lord’s eyes, but he wasn’t as bad as the Israelite kings who preceded him. 3 Assyria’s King Shalmaneser marched against Hoshea, and Hoshea became Shalmaneser’s servant, paying him tribute. 4 But the Assyrian king discovered that Hoshea was a traitor, because Hoshea sent messengers to Egypt’s King So. Hoshea stopped paying tribute to the Assyrian king as he had in previous years, so the Assyrian king arrested him and put him in prison. 5 Then the Assyrian king invaded the whole country. He marched against Samaria and attacked it for three years. 6 In Hoshea’s ninth year, the Assyrian king captured Samaria. He sent Israel into exile to Assyria, resettling them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River, and in the cities of the Medes.
The northern kingdom falls
7 All this happened because the Israelites sinned against the Lord their God, who brought them up from the land of Egypt, out from under the power of Pharaoh, Egypt’s king. They worshipped other gods. 8 They followed the practices of the nations that the Lord had removed before the Israelites, as well as the practices that the Israelite kings had done.[c] 9 The Israelites secretly did things against the Lord their God that weren’t right. They built shrines in all their towns, from watchtowers to fortified cities. 10 They set up sacred pillars and sacred poles[d] on every high hill and beneath every green tree. 11 At every shrine they burned incense, just as the nations did that the Lord sent into exile before them. They did evil things that made the Lord angry. 12 They worshipped images about which the Lord had said, Don’t do such things! 13 The Lord warned Israel and Judah through all the prophets and seers, telling them, Turn from your evil ways. Keep my commandments and my regulations in agreement with the entire Instruction that I commanded your ancestors and sent through my servants the prophets.
14 But they wouldn’t listen. They were stubborn like their ancestors who didn’t trust the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his regulations and the covenant he had made with their ancestors, along with the warnings he had given them. They followed worthless images so that they too became worthless. And they imitated the neighboring nations that the Lord had forbidden them to imitate. 16 They deserted all the commandments of the Lord their God. They made themselves two metal idols cast in the shape of calves and made a sacred pole.[e] They bowed down to all the heavenly bodies. They served Baal. 17 They burned their sons and daughters alive. They practiced divination and sought omens. They gave themselves over to doing what was evil in the Lord’s eyes and made him angry.
18 So the Lord was very angry at Israel. He removed them from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah was spared. 19 But Judah didn’t keep the commands of the Lord their God either. They followed the practices of Israel. 20 So the Lord rejected all of Israel’s descendants. He punished them, and he handed them over to enemies who plundered them until he finally threw them out of his sight.
21 When Israel broke away[f] from David’s dynasty, they made Nebat’s son Jeroboam the king. Jeroboam drove Israel away from the Lord. He caused them to commit great sin. 22 And the Israelites continued walking in all the sins that Jeroboam did. They didn’t deviate from them, 23 and the Lord finally removed Israel from his presence. That was exactly what he had warned through all his servants the prophets. So Israel was exiled from its land to Assyria. And that’s still how it is today.
New settlers in Samaria
24 The Assyrian king brought people from Babylon, Cuth, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, resettling them in the cities of Samaria in place of the Israelites. These people took control of Samaria and settled in its cities. 25 But when they began to live there, they didn’t worship the Lord, so the Lord sent lions against them, and the lions began to kill them. 26 Assyria’s king was told about this: “The nations you sent into exile and resettled in the cities of Samaria don’t know the religious practices of the local god. He’s sent lions against them, and the lions are killing them because none of them know the religious practices of the local god.”
27 So Assyria’s king commanded, “Return one of the priests that you exiled from there. He[g] should go back and live there. He should teach them the religious practices of the local god.” 28 So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria went back. He lived in Bethel and taught the people how to worship the Lord.
29 But each nationality still made its own gods. They set them up in the houses that the people of Samaria had made at the shrines. Each nationality did this in whichever cities they lived. 30 The Babylonian people made the god Succoth-benoth, the Cuthean people made Nergal, and the people from Hamath made Ashima. 31 The Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak. The Sepharvites burned their children alive as a sacrifice to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the Sepharvite gods. 32 They also worshipped the Lord, but they appointed priests for the shrines from their whole population. These priests worked in the houses at the shrines. 33 So they worshipped the Lord, but they also served their own gods according to the religious practices of the nations from which they had been exiled.
34 They are still following their former religious practices to this very day. They don’t really worship the Lord. Nor do they follow the regulations, the case laws, the Instruction, or the commandment that the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, whom he renamed Israel. 35 The Lord had made a covenant with them, commanding them, Don’t worship other gods. Don’t bow down to them or serve them. Don’t sacrifice to them. 36 Instead, worship only the Lord. He’s the one who brought you up from the land of Egypt with great strength and an outstretched arm. Bow down to him! Sacrifice to him! 37 You must carefully keep the regulations and case laws, the Instruction, and the commandment that he wrote for you. Don’t worship other gods. 38 Don’t forget the covenant that I made with you. Don’t worship other gods. 39 Instead, worship only the Lord your God. He will rescue you from your enemies’ power.
40 But they wouldn’t listen. Instead, they continued doing their former religious practices. 41 So these nations worship the Lord, but they also serve their idols. The children and the grandchildren are doing the very same thing their parents did. And that’s how things still are today.
Hezekiah rules Judah
18 Hezekiah, Ahaz’s son, became king of Judah in the third year of Israel’s King Hoshea, Elah’s son. 2 He was 25 years old when he became king, and he ruled twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi;[h] she was Zechariah’s daughter. 3 Hezekiah did what was right in the Lord’s eyes, just as his ancestor David had done. 4 He removed the shrines. He smashed the sacred pillars and cut down the sacred pole.[i] He crushed the bronze snake that Moses made, because up to that point the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (The snake was named Nehushtan.)
5 Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, Israel’s God. There was no one like him among all of Judah’s kings—not before him and not after him. 6 He clung to the Lord and never deviated from him. He kept the commandments that the Lord had commanded Moses. 7 The Lord was with Hezekiah; he succeeded at everything he tried. He rebelled against Assyria’s king and wouldn’t serve him. 8 He struck down the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territories, from watchtower to fortified city.
9 Assyria’s King Shalmaneser marched against Samaria and attacked it in the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Israel’s King Hoshea, Elah’s son. 10 After three years the Assyrians captured the city. Samaria was captured in Hezekiah’s sixth year, which was Hoshea’s ninth year. 11 Assyria’s king sent Israel into exile to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River, and in the cities of the Medes. 12 All this happened because they wouldn’t listen to the Lord their God. They broke his covenant—all that the Lord’s servant Moses had commanded them. They didn’t listen, and they didn’t do it.
13 Assyria’s King Sennacherib marched against all of Judah’s fortified cities and captured them in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah. 14 Judah’s King Hezekiah sent a message to the Assyrian king at Lachish, saying, “I admit wrongdoing. Please withdraw from me, and I’ll agree to whatever you demand from me.” Assyria’s king required Judah’s King Hezekiah to pay him three hundred kikkars of silver and thirty kikkars of gold. 15 So Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was in the Lord’s temple and in the palace treasuries. 16 At that time King Hezekiah had to strip down the doors and doorposts of the Lord’s temple, which he had covered with gold. He gave all of it to the Assyrian king.
17 Assryia’s king sent his general, his chief officer, and his field commander from Lachish, together with a large army, to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. They went up and arrived at Jerusalem. They stood at the water channel of the Upper Pool, which is on the road to the field where clothes are washed. 18 Then they called for the king. Hilkiah’s son Eliakim, who was the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and Asaph’s son Joah the recorder went out to them.
19 Then the field commander said to them, “Say to Hezekiah: This is what Assyria’s Great King says: Why do you feel so confident? 20 Do you think that empty words are the same as good strategy and the strength to fight? Who are you trusting in that you now rebel against me? 21 It appears that you are trusting in a staff—Egypt—that’s nothing but a broken reed! It will stab the hand of anyone who leans on it! That’s all that Pharaoh, Egypt’s king, is to anyone who trusts in him. 22 Now suppose you say to me, ‘We trust in the Lord our God.’ Isn’t he the one whose shrines and altars Hezekiah removed, telling Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You must worship before this altar in Jerusalem’?
23 “So now make a wager with my master, Assyria’s king. I’ll give you two thousand horses if you can supply the riders! 24 How will you drive back even the least important official among my master’s servants when you are relying on Egypt for chariots and riders? 25 What’s more, do you think I’ve marched against this place to destroy it without the Lord’s support? It was the Lord who told me, March against this land and destroy it!”
26 Hilkiah’s son Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said to the field commander, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic because we understand it. Don’t speak with us in Hebrew, because the people on the wall will hear it.”
27 The field commander said to them, “Did my master send me to speak these words just to you and your master and not also to the men on the wall? They are the ones who will have to eat their dung and drink their urine along with you.” 28 Then the field commander stood up and shouted in Hebrew at the top of his voice, saying, “Listen to the message of the great king, Assyria’s king. 29 This is what the king says: Don’t let Hezekiah lie to you. He won’t be able to rescue you from the power of Assyria’s king. 30 Don’t let Hezekiah persuade you to trust the Lord by saying, ‘The Lord will certainly rescue us. This city won’t be handed over to Assyria’s king.’
31 “Don’t listen to Hezekiah, because this is what Assyria’s king says: Surrender to me and come out. Then each of you will eat from your own vine and fig tree, and drink water from your own well 32 until I come to take you to a land just like your land. It will be a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive oil and honey. Then you will live and not die! Don’t listen to Hezekiah, because he will mislead you by saying, ‘The Lord will rescue us.’ 33 Were any of the gods of the other nations able to rescue their lands from the power of Assyria’s king? 34 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Have they rescued Samaria from my power? 35 Which one of any of the gods of those lands has rescued their country from my power? Why should the Lord rescue Jerusalem from my power?”
36 But the people kept quiet and didn’t answer him with a single word, because King Hezekiah’s command was, “Don’t answer him!” 37 Hilkiah’s son Eliakim, who was the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and Asaph’s son Joah the recorder, came to Hezekiah with ripped clothes. They told him what the field commander had said.
Hezekiah and Isaiah
19 When King Hezekiah heard this, he ripped his clothes, covered himself with mourning clothes, and went to the Lord’s temple. 2 He sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and the senior priests to the prophet Isaiah, Amoz’s son. They were all wearing mourning clothes. 3 They said to him, “This is what Hezekiah says: Today is a day of distress, punishment, and humiliation. It’s as if children are ready to be born, but there’s no strength to see it through. 4 Perhaps the Lord your God has heard all the words of the field commander who was sent by his master, Assyria’s king—how he insulted the living God—perhaps God will punish him for the words the Lord your God heard. Send up a prayer for those few people who still survive.”
5 When King Hezekiah’s servants got to Isaiah, 6 Isaiah said to them, “Say this to your master: ‘This is what the Lord says: Don’t be afraid at the words you heard, which the officers of Assyria’s king have used to insult me. 7 I’m about to put a spirit in him, so when he hears a rumor, he’ll go back to his own country. Then I’ll have him cut down by the sword in his own land.’”
8 The field commander heard that the Assyrian king had left Lachish. So he went back to the king and found him attacking Libnah. 9 Then the Assyrian king learned that Cush’s King Tirhakah was on his way to fight against him. So he sent messengers to Hezekiah again, saying, 10 “Say this to Judah’s King Hezekiah: Don’t let the God you trust in persuade you by saying, ‘Jerusalem won’t be handed over to the Assyrian king.’ 11 You yourself have heard what Assyrian kings do to other countries, wiping them out. Is it likely that you will be saved? 12 Did the gods of the nations destroyed by my fathers—Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, or the people of Eden in Telassar—save them? 13 Where now is Hamath’s king, Arpad’s king, or the kings of Lair, Sepharvaim, Hena, or Ivvah?”[j]
14 Hezekiah took the letters from the messengers and read them. Then he went to the temple and spread them out before the Lord. 15 Hezekiah prayed to the Lord, saying, “Lord God of Israel, you sit enthroned on the winged creatures. You alone are God over all the earth’s kingdoms. You made both heaven and earth. 16 Lord, turn your ear this way and hear! Lord, open your eyes and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words. He sent them to insult the living God! 17 It’s true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have destroyed many nations and their lands. 18 The Assyrians burned the gods of those nations with fire because they aren’t real gods. They are only man-made creations of wood and stone. That’s how the Assyrians could destroy them. 19 So now, Lord our God, please save us from Sennacherib’s power! Then all the earth’s kingdoms will know that you, Lord, are the only true God.”
20 Then Isaiah, Amoz’s son, sent a message to Hezekiah: “This is what the Lord, Israel’s God, says: I have heard your prayer about Assyria’s King Sennacherib. 21 This is the message that the Lord has spoken against him:
The young woman, Daughter Zion, despises you and mocks you;
29 “Now this will be the sign for you, Hezekiah: This year you will eat what grows by itself. Next year you will eat what grows from that. But in the third year, sow seed and harvest it; plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 30 The survivors of the house of Judah who have escaped will take root below and bear fruit above. 31 Those who remain will go out from Jerusalem, and those who survive will go out from Mount Zion. The zeal of the Lord of heavenly forces[l] will do this.
32 “Therefore, this is what the Lord says about Assyria’s king: He won’t enter this city. He won’t shoot a single arrow there. He won’t come near the city with a shield. He won’t build a ramp to besiege it. 33 He will go back by the same way he came. He won’t enter this city, declares the Lord. 34 I will defend this city and save it for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.”
35 That night the Lord’s messenger went out and struck down one hundred eighty-five thousand soldiers in the Assyrian camp. When people got up the next morning, there were dead bodies everywhere. 36 So Assyria’s King Sennacherib departed, returning to Nineveh, where he stayed. 37 Later, while he was worshipping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with a sword. They then escaped to the land of Ararat. His son Esarhaddon succeeded him as king.
20 Around that same time, Hezekiah became deathly ill. The prophet Isaiah, Amoz’s son, came to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your affairs in order because you are about to die. You won’t survive this.”
2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying, 3 “Please, Lord, remember how I have walked before you in truth and sincerity. I have done what is right in your eyes.” Then Hezekiah cried and cried.
4 Isaiah hadn’t even left the middle courtyard of the palace when the Lord’s word came to him: 5 Turn around. Say to Hezekiah, my people’s leader: This is what the Lord, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and have seen your tears. So now I’m going to heal you. Three days from now you will be able to go up to the Lord’s temple. 6 I will add fifteen years to your life. I will rescue you and this city from the power of the Assyian king. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.
7 Then Isaiah said, “Prepare a bandage made of figs.” They did so and put it on the swelling, at which point Hezekiah started getting better.
8 Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “What is the sign that the Lord will heal me and that I’ll be able to go up to the Lord’s temple in three days?”
9 Isaiah said, “This will be your sign from the Lord that he will make his promise come true: Should the shadow go forward ten steps or back ten steps?”
10 “It’s easy for the shadow to go forward ten steps,” Hezekiah said, “but not for the shadow to go back ten steps.” 11 So the prophet Isaiah called on the Lord, who made the shadow go back ten steps, down the flight of stairs built by Ahaz.[m]
12 At that time Merodach-baladan, son of Babylon’s King Baladan, sent messengers to Hezekiah with letters and a gift. This was because he had heard that Hezekiah was sick. 13 Hezekiah granted them an audience and showed them everything in his treasury—the silver, the gold, the spices, and the fine oil. He also showed them his stock of weaponry and everything in his storehouses. There wasn’t a single thing in his palace or his whole kingdom that Hezekiah didn’t show them. 14 Then the prophet Isaiah came to King Hezekiah and said to him, “What did these men say? Where have they come from?”
Hezekiah said, “They came from a distant country: Babylon.”
15 “What have they seen in your palace?” Isaiah asked.
“They have seen everything in my palace,” Hezekiah answered. “There’s not a single thing in my storehouses that I haven’t shown them.”
16 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Listen to the Lord’s word: 17 The days are nearly here when everything in your palace and all that your ancestors collected up to now will be carried off to Babylon. Not a single thing will be left, says the Lord. 18 Some of your children, your very own offspring, will be taken away. They will become eunuchs in the palace of Babylon’s king.”
19 Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The Lord’s word that you’ve spoken is good,” because he thought: There will be peace and security in my lifetime.
20 The rest of Hezekiah’s deeds and all his powerful acts—how he made the pool and the channel and brought water inside the city—aren’t they written in the official records of Judah’s kings? 21 Hezekiah lay down with his ancestors. His son Manasseh succeeded him as king.