Sennacherib’s Invasion

36 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah,(A) King Sennacherib of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. Then the king of Assyria sent his royal spokesman, along with a massive army, from Lachish(B) to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. The Assyrian stood near the conduit of the upper pool, by the road to Launderer’s Field.(C) Eliakim son of Hilkiah, who was in charge of the palace, Shebna the court secretary,(D) and Joah son of Asaph, the court historian, came out to him.

The royal spokesman said to them, “Tell Hezekiah:

The great king, the king of Assyria, says this: What are you relying on? You[a] think mere words are strategy and strength for war. Who are you now relying on that you have rebelled against me?(E) Look, you are relying on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff(F) that will pierce the hand of anyone who grabs it and leans on it. This is how Pharaoh king of Egypt is to all who rely on him.(G) Suppose you say to me, ‘We rely on the Lord our God.’ Isn’t he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You are to worship at this altar’?(H)

“Now make a deal with my master, the king of Assyria. I’ll give you two thousand horses if you’re able to supply riders for them! How then can you drive back a single officer among the least of my master’s servants? How can you rely on Egypt for chariots and horsemen?(I) 10 Have I attacked this land to destroy it without the Lord’s approval? The Lord said to me, ‘Attack this land and destroy it.’”

11 Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said to the royal spokesman, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic,(J) since we understand it. Don’t speak to us in Hebrew[b] within earshot of the people who are on the wall.”

12 But the royal spokesman replied, “Has my master sent me to speak these words to your master and to you, and not to the men who are sitting on the wall, who are destined with you to eat their own excrement and drink their own urine?”

13 Then the royal spokesman stood and called out loudly in Hebrew:

Listen to the words of the great king, the king of Assyria! 14 This is what the king says: “Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you,(K) for he cannot rescue you. 15 Don’t let Hezekiah persuade you to rely on the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord will certainly rescue us! This city will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.’”

16 Don’t listen to Hezekiah, for this is what the king of Assyria says: “Make peace[c] with me and surrender to me. Then every one of you may eat from his own vine and his own fig tree(L) and drink water from his own cistern 17 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land—a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards. 18 Beware that Hezekiah does not mislead you by saying, ‘The Lord will rescue us.’(M) Has any one of the gods of the nations(N) rescued his land from the power of the king of Assyria? 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad?(O) Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they rescued Samaria from my power?(P) 20 Who among all the gods of these lands ever rescued his land from my power? So will the Lord rescue Jerusalem from my power?”

21 But they kept silent; they didn’t say anything, for the king’s command was, “Don’t answer him.”(Q) 22 Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, who was in charge of the palace, Shebna the court secretary, and Joah son of Asaph, the court historian, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn and reported to him the words of the royal spokesman.

Hezekiah Seeks Isaiah’s Counsel

37 When King Hezekiah heard their report,(R) he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth,(S) and went to the Lord’s temple. He sent Eliakim, who was in charge of the palace, Shebna the court secretary, and the leading priests, who were covered with sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. They said to him, “This is what Hezekiah says: ‘Today is a day of distress, rebuke, and disgrace.(T) It is as if children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to deliver them.(U) Perhaps the Lord your God will hear all the words of the royal spokesman, whom his master the king of Assyria sent to mock the living God,(V) and will rebuke him for the words that the Lord your God has heard. Therefore offer a prayer for the surviving remnant.’”(W)

So the servants of King Hezekiah went to Isaiah, who said to them, “Tell your master, ‘The Lord says this: Don’t be afraid(X) because of the words you have heard, with which the king of Assyria’s attendants have blasphemed me.(Y) I am about to put a spirit(Z) in him and he will hear a rumor and return to his own land, where I will cause him to fall by the sword.’”(AA)

Sennacherib’s Letter

When the royal spokesman heard that the king of Assyria had pulled out of Lachish,(AB) he left and found him fighting against Libnah.(AC) The king had heard concerning King Tirhakah of Cush,(AD) “He has set out to fight against you.” So when he heard this, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, 10 “Say this to King Hezekiah of Judah: ‘Don’t let your God, on whom you rely, deceive you(AE) by promising that Jerusalem won’t be handed over to the king of Assyria. 11 Look, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries: they completely destroyed them. Will you be rescued? 12 Did the gods of the nations(AF) that my predecessors destroyed rescue them—Gozan,(AG) Haran,(AH) Rezeph, and the Edenites in Telassar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of[d] Sepharvaim, Hena, or Ivvah?’”

Hezekiah’s Prayer

14 Hezekiah took the letter from the messengers’ hands, read it, then went up to the Lord’s temple and spread it out before the Lord.(AI) 15 Then Hezekiah prayed(AJ) to the Lord:

16 Lord of Armies, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim,(AK) you are God(AL)—you alone(AM)—of all the kingdoms of the earth.(AN) You made the heavens and the earth.(AO) 17 Listen closely, Lord, and hear;(AP) open your eyes, Lord, and see.(AQ) Hear all the words that Sennacherib has sent to mock the living God.(AR) 18 Lord, it is true that the kings of Assyria have devastated all these countries and their lands. 19 They have thrown their gods into the fire, for they were not gods(AS) but made from wood and stone(AT) by human hands.(AU) So they have destroyed them. 20 Now, Lord our God, save us from his power so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are God[e](AV)—you alone.(AW)

God’s Answer through Isaiah

21 Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent a message to Hezekiah: “The Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘Because you prayed to me about King Sennacherib of Assyria, 22 this is the word the Lord has spoken against him:

Virgin Daughter Zion(AX)
despises you and scorns you;
Daughter Jerusalem shakes her head(AY)
behind your back.
23 Who is it you have mocked(AZ) and blasphemed?
Against whom have you raised your voice
and lifted your eyes in pride?(BA)
Against the Holy One of Israel!(BB)
24 You have mocked the Lord through your servants.
You have said, “With my many chariots(BC)
I have gone up to the heights of the mountains,
to the far recesses of Lebanon.
I cut down its tallest cedars,
its choice cypress trees.
I came to its distant heights,
its densest forest.
25 I dug wells and drank water in foreign lands.[f]
I dried up all the streams of Egypt
with the soles of my feet.”(BD)

26 Have you not heard?(BE)
I designed it long ago;
I planned it in days gone by.(BF)
I have now brought it to pass,
and you have crushed fortified cities(BG)
into piles of rubble.
27 Their inhabitants have become powerless,
dismayed, and ashamed.
They are plants of the field,
tender grass,
grass on the rooftops,
blasted by the east wind.[g]

28 But I know your sitting down,
your going out and your coming in,(BH)
and your raging against me.
29 Because your raging against me
and your arrogance have reached my ears,(BI)
I will put my hook in your nose(BJ)
and my bit in your mouth;(BK)
I will make you go back
the way you came.

30 “‘This will be the sign for you:(BL) This year you will eat what grows on its own, and in the second year what grows from that. But in the third year sow and reap, plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 31 The surviving remnant of the house of Judah will again take root(BM) downward and bear fruit upward. 32 For a remnant(BN) will go out from Jerusalem, and survivors from Mount Zion. The zeal of the Lord of Armies will accomplish this.’(BO)

33 “Therefore, this is what the Lord says about the king of Assyria:

He will not enter this city,
shoot an arrow here,
come before it with a shield,
or build up a siege ramp against it.
34 He will go back
the way he came,
and he will not enter this city.

This is the Lord’s declaration.

35 I will defend this city and rescue it
for my sake(BP)
and for the sake of my servant David.”(BQ)

Defeat and Death of Sennacherib

36 Then(BR) the angel of the Lord(BS) went out and struck down one hundred eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians. When the people got up the next morning, there were all the dead bodies! 37 So King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and left. He returned home and lived in Nineveh.(BT)

38 One day, while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword and escaped to the land of Ararat.(BU) Then his son Esar-haddon(BV) became king in his place.

Hezekiah’s Illness and Recovery

38 In those days Hezekiah became terminally ill.(BW) The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came and said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Set your house in order,(BX) for you are about to die; you will not recover.’”[h]

Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord. He said, “Please, Lord, remember how I have walked before you faithfully and wholeheartedly,(BY) and have done what pleases you.”(BZ) And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the Lord God of your ancestor David says: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Look, I am going to add fifteen years to your life.[i](CA) And I will rescue you and this city from the grasp of the king of Assyria; I will defend this city.(CB) This is the sign to you(CC) from the Lord that he will do what he has promised: I am going to make the sun’s shadow that goes down on the stairway of Ahaz go back by ten steps.’”(CD) So the sun’s shadow[j] went back the ten steps it had descended.

A poem by King Hezekiah of Judah after he had been sick and had recovered from his illness:

10 I said: In the prime[k] of my life(CE)
I must go to the gates of Sheol;(CF)
I am deprived of the rest of my years.
11 I said: I will never see the Lord,
the Lord in the land of the living;(CG)
I will not look on humanity any longer
with the inhabitants of what is passing away.[l]
12 My dwelling is plucked up and removed from me
like a shepherd’s tent.(CH)
I have rolled up my life like a weaver;(CI)
he cuts me off from the loom.(CJ)
By nightfall[m] you make an end of me.(CK)
13 I thought until the morning:
He will break all my bones like a lion.
By nightfall you make an end of me.
14 I chirp like a swallow or a crane;
I moan like a dove.(CL)
My eyes grow weak looking upward.
Lord, I am oppressed; support me.(CM)

15 What can I say?
He has spoken to me,
and he himself has done it.
I walk along slowly all my years(CN)
because of the bitterness of my soul.(CO)
16 Lord, by such things people live,(CP)
and in every one of them my spirit finds life;
you have restored me to health(CQ)
and let me live.(CR)
17 Indeed, it was for my own well-being
that I had such intense bitterness;(CS)
but your love has delivered me
from the Pit of destruction,(CT)
for you have thrown all my sins behind your back.(CU)
18 For Sheol cannot thank you;
Death cannot praise you.(CV)
Those who go down to the Pit
cannot hope for your faithfulness.
19 The living, only the living can thank you,
as I do today;
a father will make your faithfulness known to children.(CW)
20 The Lord is ready to save me;
we will play stringed instruments
all the days of our lives
at the house of the Lord.(CX)

21 Now Isaiah(CY) had said, “Let them take a lump of pressed figs and apply it to his infected skin, so that he may recover.” 22 And Hezekiah had asked, “What is the sign that I will go up to the Lord’s temple?”

Hezekiah’s Folly

39 At that time(CZ) Merodach-baladan son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a gift to Hezekiah since he heard that he had been sick and had recovered. Hezekiah was pleased with the letters, and he showed the envoys his treasure house—the silver, the gold, the spices, and the precious oil—and all his armory, and everything that was found in his treasuries.(DA) There was nothing in his palace and in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them.(DB)

Then the prophet Isaiah came to King Hezekiah and asked him, “What did these men say, and where did they come to you from?”

Hezekiah replied, “They came to me from a distant country, from Babylon.”

Isaiah asked, “What have they seen in your palace?”

Hezekiah answered, “They have seen everything in my palace. There isn’t anything in my treasuries that I didn’t show them.”

Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord of Armies:(DC) ‘Look, the days are coming when everything in your palace and all that your predecessors have stored up until today will be carried off to Babylon; nothing will be left,’ says the Lord.(DD) ‘Some of your descendants—who come from you, whom you father—will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’”

Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good,” for he thought: There will be peace and security during my lifetime.(DE)


  1. 36:5 Many Hb mss, DSS, 2Kg 18:20; MT reads I
  2. 36:11 Lit Judahite, also in v. 13
  3. 36:16 Lit a blessing
  4. 37:13 Or king of Lair,
  5. 37:20 are God supplied for clarity; see v. 16
  6. 37:25 DSS, 2Kg 19:24; MT omits in foreign lands
  7. 37:27 DSS; MT reads rooftops, field before standing grain
  8. 38:1 Lit live
  9. 38:5 Lit days, also in v. 10
  10. 38:8 Lit And the sun
  11. 38:10 Lit quiet
  12. 38:11 Some Hb mss, Tg read of the world
  13. 38:12 Lit From day until night, also in v. 13

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