Isaiah 36-41 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
The Assyrians Surround Jerusalem
36 Hezekiah had been king of Judah for fourteen years when King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded the country and captured every walled city 2 except Jerusalem. The Assyrian king ordered his army commander to leave the city of Lachish and to take a large army to Jerusalem.
The commander went there and stood on the road near the cloth makers' shops along the canal from the upper pool. 3 Three of the king’s highest officials came out of Jerusalem to meet him. One of them was Hilkiah’s son Eliakim, who was the prime minister. The other two were Shebna, assistant to the prime minister, and Joah son of Asaph, keeper of the government records.
4 The Assyrian commander told them:
I have a message for Hezekiah from the great king of Assyria. Ask Hezekiah why he feels so sure of himself. 5 Does he think he can plan and win a war with nothing but words? Who is going to help him, now that he has turned against the king of Assyria? 6 Is he depending on Egypt and its king? That’s the same as leaning on a broken stick, and it will go right through his hand.
7 Is Hezekiah now depending on the Lord, your God? Didn’t Hezekiah tear down all except one of the Lord’s altars and places of worship?[a] Didn’t he tell the people of Jerusalem and Judah to worship at that one place?
8 The king of Assyria wants to make a bet with you people! He will give you two thousand horses, if you have enough troops to ride them. 9 How could you even defeat our lowest ranking officer, when you have to depend on Egypt for chariots and cavalry? 10 Don’t forget that it was the Lord who sent me here with orders to destroy your nation!
11 Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said, “Sir, we don’t want the people listening from the city wall to understand what you are saying. So please speak to us in Aramaic instead of Hebrew.”
12 The Assyrian army commander answered, “My king sent me to speak to everyone, not just to you leaders. These people will soon have to eat their own body waste and drink their own urine! And so will the three of you!”
13 Then, in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, he shouted out in Hebrew:
Listen to what the great king of Assyria says! 14 Don’t be fooled by Hezekiah. He can’t save you. 15 Don’t trust him when he tells you that the Lord will protect you from the king of Assyria. 16 Stop listening to Hezekiah. Pay attention to my king. Surrender to him. He will let you keep your own vineyards, fig trees, and cisterns 17 for a while. Then he will come and take you away to a country just like yours, where you can plant vineyards and raise your own grain.
18 Hezekiah claims the Lord will save you. But don’t be fooled by him. Were any other gods able to defend their land against the king of Assyria? 19 What happened to the gods of Hamath, Arpad, and Sepharvaim? Were the gods of Samaria able to protect their land against the Assyrian forces? 20 None of these gods kept their people safe from the king of Assyria. Do you think the Lord, your God, can do any better?
21-22 Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah had been warned by King Hezekiah not to answer the Assyrian commander. So they tore their clothes in sorrow and reported to Hezekiah everything the commander had said.
Hezekiah Asks Isaiah for Advice
37 As soon as Hezekiah heard the news, he tore off his clothes in sorrow and put on sackcloth. Then he went into the temple of the Lord. 2 He told Prime Minister Eliakim, Assistant Prime Minister Shebna, and the senior priests to dress in sackcloth and tell me:
3 Isaiah, these are difficult and disgraceful times. Our nation is like a woman too weak to give birth, when it’s time for her baby to be born. 4 Please pray for those of us who are left alive. The king of Assyria sent his army commander to insult the living God. Perhaps the Lord heard what he said and will do something, if you will pray.
5 When these leaders came to me, 6 I told them that the Lord had this message for Hezekiah:
I am the Lord. Don’t worry about the insulting things that have been said about me by these messengers from the king of Assyria. 7 I will upset him with rumors about what’s happening in his own country. He will go back, and there I will make him die a violent death.
8 Meanwhile the commander of the Assyrian forces heard that his king had left the town of Lachish and was now attacking Libnah. So he went there.
9 About this same time, the king of Assyria learned that King Tirhakah of Ethiopia[b] was on his way to attack him. Then the king of Assyria sent some messengers with this note for Hezekiah:
10 Don’t trust your God or be fooled by his promise to defend Jerusalem against me. 11 You have heard how we Assyrian kings have completely wiped out other nations. What makes you feel so safe? 12 The Assyrian kings before me destroyed the towns of Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and everyone from Eden who lived in Telassar. What good did their gods do them? 13 The kings of Hamath, Arpad, Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah have all disappeared.
14 After Hezekiah had read the note from the king of Assyria, he took it to the temple and spread it out for the Lord to see. 15 Then he prayed:
16 Lord God All-Powerful of Israel, your throne is above the winged creatures.[c] You created the heavens and the earth, and you alone rule the kingdoms of this world. 17 Just look and see how Sennacherib has insulted you, the living God.
18 It is true, our Lord, that Assyrian kings have turned nations into deserts. 19 They destroyed the idols of wood and stone that the people of those nations had made and worshiped. 20 But you are our Lord and our God! We ask you to keep us safe from the Assyrian king. Then everyone in every kingdom on earth will know that you are the only Lord.
Isaiah Gives the Lord’s Answer to Hezekiah
21-22 I went to Hezekiah and told him that the Lord God of Israel had said:
Hezekiah, you prayed to me about King Sennacherib of Assyria.[d] Now this is what I say to that king:
The people of Jerusalem
23 Sennacherib, you cursed,
26 Sennacherib, now listen
28 I know all about you,
30 Hezekiah, I will tell you what’s going to happen. This year you will eat crops that grow on their own, and the next year you will eat whatever springs up where those crops grew. But the third year, you will plant grain and vineyards, and you will eat what you harvest. 31 Those who survive in Judah will be like a vine that puts down deep roots and bears fruit. 32 I, the Lord All-Powerful, will see to it that some who live in Jerusalem will survive.
33 I promise that the king of Assyria won’t get into Jerusalem, or shoot an arrow into the city, or even surround it and prepare to attack. 34 As surely as I am the Lord, he will return by the way he came and will never enter Jerusalem. 35 I will protect it for the sake of my own honor and because of the promise I made to my servant David.
The Death of King Sennacherib
36 The Lord sent an angel to the camp of the Assyrians, and he killed one hundred eighty-five thousand of them all in one night. The next morning, the camp was full of dead bodies. 37 After this, King Sennacherib went back to Assyria and lived in the city of Nineveh. 38 One day he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, when his sons, Adrammelech and Sharezer, killed him with their swords. They escaped to the land of Ararat, and his son Esarhaddon became king.[g]
Hezekiah Gets Sick and Almost Dies
38 About this time, Hezekiah got sick and was almost dead. So I went in and told him, “The Lord says you won’t ever get well. You are going to die, and so you had better start doing what needs to be done.”
2 Hezekiah turned toward the wall and prayed, 3 “Don’t forget that I have been faithful to you, Lord. I have obeyed you with all my heart, and I do whatever you say is right.” After this, he cried hard.
4 Then the Lord sent me 5 with this message for Hezekiah:
I am the Lord God, who was worshiped by your ancestor David. I heard you pray, and I saw you cry. I will let you live fifteen years more, 6 while I protect you and your city from the king of Assyria.
7 Now I will prove to you that I will keep my promise. 8 Do you see the shadow made by the setting sun on the stairway built for King Ahaz? I will make the shadow go back ten steps.
Then the shadow went back ten steps.[h]
King Hezekiah’s Song of Praise
9 This is what Hezekiah wrote after he got well:
10 I thought I would die
13 Until morning came, I thought
16 Your words and your deeds
18 No one in the world of the dead
20 You, Lord, will save me,
Isaiah’s Advice to Hezekiah
21 I had told King Hezekiah’s servants to put some mashed figs on the king’s open sore, and he would get well. 22 Then Hezekiah asked for proof that he would again worship in the Lord’s temple.
Isaiah Speaks the Lord’s Message to Hezekiah
39 Merodach Baladan, the son of Baladan, was now king of Babylonia. And when he learned that Hezekiah was well, he sent messengers with letters and a gift for him. 2 Hezekiah welcomed the messengers and showed them all the silver, the gold, the spices, and the fine oils that were in his storehouse. He even showed them where he kept his weapons. Nothing in his palace or in his entire kingdom was kept hidden from them.
3 I asked Hezekiah, “Where did these men come from? What did they want?”
“They came all the way from Babylonia,” Hezekiah answered.
4 “What did you show them?” I asked.
Hezekiah answered, “I showed them everything in my kingdom.”
5 Then I told Hezekiah:
I have a message for you from the Lord All-Powerful. 6 One day everything you and your ancestors have stored up will be taken to Babylonia. The Lord has promised that nothing will be left. 7 Some of your own sons will be taken to Babylonia, where they will be disgraced and made to serve in the king’s palace.
8 Hezekiah thought, “At least our nation will be at peace for a while.” So he told me, “The message you brought from the Lord is good.”
Encourage God’s People
40 Our God has said:
“Encourage my people!
3 Someone is shouting:
6 Someone told me to shout,
Your God Is Here!
9 There is good news
Who Compares with God?
12 Did any of you measure
13 Has anyone told the Lord[p]
18 Who compares with God?
God Rules the Whole Earth
21 Don’t you know?
23 God brings down rulers
25 The holy God asks,
26 Look at the evening sky!
The Lord Gives Strength
27 You people of Israel, say,
But how can you say that?
29 The Lord gives strength
The Lord Controls Human Events
41 Be silent and listen,
4 Who makes these things happen?
What Can Idols Do?
6 Worshipers of idols
The Lord’s Chosen Servant
8 Israel, you are my servant.
10 Don’t be afraid. I am with you.
13 I am the Lord your God.
14 People of Israel, don’t worry,
The Lord Helps the Poor
17 When the poor and needy
Idols Are Useless
21 I am the Lord,
25 I, the Lord, appointed a ruler
28 None of these idols
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