2 Chronicles 32-34 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
King Sennacherib of Assyria Invades Judah
32 After King Hezekiah had faithfully obeyed the Lord’s instructions by doing these things, King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah. He attacked the fortified cities and thought he would capture every one of them.
2 As soon as Hezekiah learned that Sennacherib was planning to attack Jerusalem, 3-4 he and his officials worked out a plan to cut off the supply of water outside the city, so that the Assyrians would have no water when they came to attack. The officials got together a large work force that stopped up the springs and streams near Jerusalem.
5 Hezekiah also had workers repair the broken sections of the city wall. Then they built defense towers and an outer wall to help protect the one already there. The landfill on the east side of David’s City was also strengthened.
He gave orders to make a large supply of weapons and shields, 6 and he appointed army commanders over the troops. Then he gathered the troops together in the open area in front of the city gate and said to them:
7 Be brave and confident! There’s no reason to be afraid of King Sennacherib and his powerful army. We are much more powerful, 8 because the Lord our God fights on our side. The Assyrians must rely on human power alone.
These words encouraged the army of Judah.
9 When Sennacherib and his troops were camped at the town of Lachish, he sent a message to Hezekiah and the people in Jerusalem. It said:
10 I am King Sennacherib of Assyria, and I have Jerusalem surrounded. Do you think you can survive my attack? 11 Hezekiah your king is telling you that the Lord your God will save you from me. But he is lying, and you’ll die of hunger and thirst. 12 Didn’t Hezekiah tear down all except one of the Lord’s altars and places of worship?[a] And didn’t he tell you people of Jerusalem and Judah to worship at that one place?
13 You’ve heard what my ancestors and I have done to other nations. Were the gods of those nations able to defend their land against us? 14 None of those gods kept their people safe from the kings of Assyria. Do you really think your God can do any better? 15 Don’t be fooled by Hezekiah! No god of any nation has ever been able to stand up to Assyria. Believe me, your God cannot keep you safe!
16 The Assyrian officials said terrible things about the Lord God and his servant Hezekiah. 17 Sennacherib’s letter even made fun of the Lord. It said, “The gods of other nations could not save their people from Assyria’s army, and neither will the God that Hezekiah worships.” 18 The officials said all these things in Hebrew, so that everyone listening from the city wall would understand and be terrified and surrender. 19 The officials talked about the Lord God as if he were nothing but an ordinary god or an idol that someone had made.
The Death of King Sennacherib
20 Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz asked the Lord for help, 21 and he sent an angel that killed every soldier and commander in the Assyrian camp.
Sennacherib returned to Assyria, completely disgraced. Then one day he went into the temple of his god where some of his sons killed him.
22 The Lord rescued Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from Sennacherib and also protected them from other enemies. 23 People brought offerings to Jerusalem for the Lord and expensive gifts for Hezekiah, and from that day on, every nation on earth respected Hezekiah.
Hezekiah Gets Sick and Almost Dies
24 About this same time, Hezekiah got sick and was almost dead. He prayed, and the Lord gave him a sign that he would recover. 25 But Hezekiah was so proud that he refused to thank the Lord for everything he had done for him. This made the Lord angry, and he punished Hezekiah and the people of Judah and Jerusalem. 26 Hezekiah and the people later felt sorry and asked the Lord to forgive them. So the Lord did not punish them as long as Hezekiah was king.
27 Hezekiah was very rich, and everyone respected him. He built special rooms to store the silver, the gold, the precious stones and spices, the shields, and the other valuable possessions. 28 Storehouses were also built for his supply of grain, wine, and olive oil; barns were built for his cattle, and pens were put up for his sheep. 29 God made Hezekiah extremely rich, so he bought even more sheep, goats, and cattle. And he built towns where he could keep all these animals.
30 It was Hezekiah who built a tunnel that carried the water from Gihon Spring into the city of Jerusalem. In fact, everything he did was successful! 31 Even when the leaders of Babylonia sent messengers to ask Hezekiah about the sign God had given him, God let Hezekiah give his own answer to test him and to see if he would remain faithful.
32 Everything else Hezekiah did while he was king, including how faithful he was to the Lord, is included in the records kept by Isaiah the prophet. These are written in The History of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 33 When Hezekiah died, he was buried in the section of the royal tombs that was reserved for the most respected kings,[b] and everyone in Judah and Jerusalem honored him. His son Manasseh then became king.
King Manasseh of Judah
33 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled fifty-five years from Jerusalem. 2 Manasseh disobeyed the Lord by following the disgusting customs of the nations that the Lord had forced out of Israel. 3 He rebuilt the local shrines[c] that his father Hezekiah had torn down. He built altars for the god Baal and set up sacred poles[d] for worshiping the goddess Asherah. And he faithfully worshiped the stars in the sky.
4 In the temple, where only the Lord was supposed to be worshiped, Manasseh built altars for pagan gods 5 and for the stars. He placed these altars in both courtyards of the temple 6-7 and even set up a stone image of a foreign god. Manasseh practiced magic and witchcraft; he asked fortunetellers for advice and sacrificed his own sons in Hinnom Valley. He did many other sinful things and made the Lord very angry.
Years ago, God had told David and Solomon:
Jerusalem is the place I prefer above all others in Israel. It belongs to me, and there in the temple I will be worshiped forever. 8 If my people will faithfully obey all the laws and teaching I gave to my servant Moses, I will never again force them to leave the land I gave to their ancestors.
9 But the people of Judah and Jerusalem listened to Manasseh and did even more sinful things than the nations the Lord had wiped out.
10 The Lord tried to warn Manasseh and the people about their sins, but they ignored the warning. 11 So he let Assyrian army commanders invade Judah and capture Manasseh. They put a hook in his nose and tied him up in chains, and they took him to Babylon. 12 While Manasseh was held captive there, he asked the Lord God to forgive him and to help him. 13 The Lord listened to Manasseh’s prayer and saw how sorry he was, and so he let him go back to Jerusalem and rule as king. Manasseh knew from then on that the Lord was God.
14 Later, Manasseh rebuilt the eastern section of Jerusalem’s outer wall and made it taller. This section went from Gihon Valley north to Fish Gate and around the part of the city called Mount Ophel. He also assigned army officers to each of the fortified cities in Judah.[e]
15 Manasseh also removed the idols and the stone image of the foreign god from the temple, and he gathered the altars he had built near the temple and in other parts of Jerusalem. He threw all these things outside the city. 16 Then he repaired the Lord’s altar and offered sacrifices to thank him and sacrifices to ask his blessing.[f] He gave orders that everyone in Judah must worship the Lord God of Israel. 17 The people obeyed Manasseh, but they worshiped the Lord at their own shrines.
18 Everything else Manasseh did while he was king, including his prayer to the Lord God and the warnings from his prophets, is written in The History of the Kings of Israel. 19 Hozai[g] wrote a lot about Manasseh, including his prayer and God’s answer. But Hozai also recorded the evil things Manasseh did before turning back to God, as well as a list of places where Manasseh set up idols, and where he built local shrines and places to worship Asherah. 20 Manasseh died and was buried near the palace, and his son Amon became king.
King Amon of Judah
21 Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled from Jerusalem for two years. 22 Amon disobeyed the Lord, just as his father Manasseh had done, and he worshiped and offered sacrifices to the idols his father had made. 23 Manasseh had turned back to the Lord, but Amon refused to do that. Instead, he sinned even more than his father.
24 Some of Amon’s officials plotted against him and killed him in his palace. 25 But the people of Judah killed the murderers of Amon and made his son Josiah king.
King Josiah of Judah
34 Josiah was eight years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled thirty-one years from Jerusalem. 2 He followed the example of his ancestor David and always obeyed the Lord.
Josiah Stops the Worship of Foreign Gods
3 When Josiah was only sixteen years old he began worshiping God, just as his ancestor David had done. Then, four years later, he decided to destroy the local shrines[h] in Judah and Jerusalem, as well as the sacred poles[i] for worshiping the goddess Asherah and the idols of foreign gods. 4 He watched as the altars for the worship of the god Baal were torn down, and as the nearby incense altars were smashed. The Asherah poles, the idols, and the stone images were also smashed, and the pieces were scattered over the graves of their worshipers. 5 Josiah then had the bones of the pagan priests burned on the altars.[j]
And so Josiah got rid of the worship of foreign gods in Judah and Jerusalem. 6 He did the same things in the towns and ruined villages[k] in the territories of West Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, as far as the border of Naphtali. 7 Everywhere in the northern kingdom of Israel, Josiah tore down pagan altars and Asherah poles; he crushed idols to dust and smashed incense altars.
Then Josiah went back to Jerusalem.
Hilkiah Finds The Book of God’s Law
8 In the eighteenth year of Josiah’s rule in Judah, after he had gotten rid of all the sinful things from the land and from the Lord’s temple, he sent three of his officials to repair the temple. They were Shaphan son of Azaliah, Governor Maaseiah of Jerusalem, and Joah son of Joahaz, who kept the government records.
9 These three men went to Hilkiah the high priest. They gave him the money that the Levite guards had collected from the people of West Manasseh, Ephraim, and the rest of Israel, as well as those living in Judah, Benjamin, and Jerusalem. 10 Then the money was turned over to the men who supervised the repairs to the temple. They used some of it to pay the workers, 11 and they gave the rest of it to the carpenters and builders, who used it to buy the stone and wood they needed to repair the other buildings that Judah’s kings had not taken care of.
12 The workers were honest, and their supervisors were Jahath and Obadiah from the Levite clan of Merari, and Zechariah and Meshullam from the Levite clan of Kohath. Other Levites, who were all skilled musicians, 13 were in charge of carrying supplies and supervising the workers. Other Levites were appointed to stand guard around the temple.
14 While the money was being given to these supervisors, Hilkiah found the book that contained the laws that the Lord had given to Moses. 15 Hilkiah handed the book to Shaphan the official and said, “Look what I found here in the temple—The Book of God’s Law.”
16 Shaphan took the book to Josiah and reported, “Your officials are doing everything you wanted. 17 They have collected the money from the temple and have given it to the men supervising the repairs. 18 But there’s something else, Your Majesty. The priest Hilkiah gave me this book.” Then Shaphan read it aloud.
19 When Josiah heard what was in The Book of God’s Law, he tore his clothes in sorrow. 20 At once he called together Hilkiah, Shaphan, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Abdon son of Micah,[l] and his own servant Asaiah. He said, 21 “The Lord must be furious with me and everyone else in Israel and Judah, because our ancestors did not obey the laws written in this book. Go find out what the Lord wants us to do.”
22 Hilkiah and the four other men left right away and went to talk with Huldah the prophet. Her husband was Shallum,[m] who was in charge of the king’s clothes. Huldah lived in the northern part of Jerusalem, and when they met in her home, 23 she said:
You were sent here by King Josiah, and this is what the Lord God of Israel says to him: 24 “Josiah, I am the Lord! And I intend to punish this country and everyone in it, just as this book says. 25 The people of Judah and Israel have rejected me. They have offered sacrifices to foreign gods and have worshiped their own idols. I can’t stand it any longer. I am furious.
26-27 “Josiah, listen to what I am going to do. I noticed how sad you were when you heard that this country and its people would be completely wiped out. You even tore your clothes in sorrow, and I heard you cry. 28 So before I destroy this place, I will let you die in peace.”
The men left and reported to Josiah what Huldah had said.
Josiah Reads The Book of God’s Law
29 King Josiah called together the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem. 30 Then he went to the Lord’s temple, together with all the people of Judah and Jerusalem, the priests, and the Levites.
Finally, when everybody was there, he read aloud The Book of God’s Law[n] that had been found in the temple.
31 After Josiah had finished reading, he stood in the place reserved for the king. He promised in the Lord’s name to faithfully obey the Lord and to follow his laws and teachings that were written in the book. 32 Then he asked the people of Jerusalem and Benjamin to make that same promise and to obey the God their ancestors had worshiped.
33 Josiah destroyed all the idols in the territories of Israel, and he commanded everyone in Israel to worship only the Lord God. The people did not turn away from the Lord God of their ancestors for the rest of Josiah’s rule as king.
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