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Hezekiah Gets Sick and Almost Dies

20 About this time, Hezekiah got sick and was almost dead. Isaiah the prophet went in and told him, “The Lord says you won’t ever get well. You are going to die, so you had better start doing what needs to be done.”

Hezekiah turned toward the wall and prayed, “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.

Before Isaiah got to the middle court of the palace, the Lord sent him back to Hezekiah with this message:

Hezekiah, you are the ruler of my people, and I am the Lord God, who was worshiped by your ancestor David. I heard you pray, and I saw you cry. I will heal you, so that three days from now you will be able to worship in my temple. I will let you live fifteen years more, while I protect you and your city from the king of Assyria. I will defend this city as an honor to me and to my servant David.

Then Isaiah said to the king’s servants, “Bring some mashed figs and place them on the king’s open sore. He will then get well.”

Hezekiah asked Isaiah, “Can you prove that the Lord will heal me, so that I can worship in his temple in three days?”

Isaiah replied, “The Lord will prove to you that he will keep his promise. Will the shadow made by the setting sun on the stairway go forward ten steps or back ten steps?”[a]

10 “It’s normal for the sun to go forward,” Hezekiah answered. “But how can it go back?”

11 Isaiah prayed, and the Lord made the shadow go back ten steps on the stairway built for King Ahaz.[b]

The Lord Is Still with Hezekiah

12 Merodach[c] Baladan, the son of Baladan, was now king of Babylonia.[d] And when he learned that Hezekiah had been sick, he sent messengers with letters and a gift for him. 13 Hezekiah welcomed[e] 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.

14 Isaiah asked Hezekiah, “Where did these men come from? What did they want?”

“They came all the way from Babylonia,” Hezekiah answered.

15 “What did you show them?” Isaiah asked.

Hezekiah answered, “I showed them everything in my kingdom.”

16 Then Isaiah told Hezekiah:

I have a message for you from the Lord. 17 One day everything you and your ancestors have stored up will be taken to Babylonia. The Lord has promised that nothing will be left. 18 Some of your own sons will be taken to Babylonia, where they will be disgraced and made to serve in the king’s palace.

19 Hezekiah thought, “At least our nation will be at peace for a while.” So he told Isaiah, “The message you brought me from the Lord is good.”

Hezekiah Dies

20 Everything else Hezekiah did while he was king, including how he made the upper pool and tunnel to bring water into Jerusalem, is written in The History of the Kings of Judah. 21 Hezekiah died, and his son Manasseh became king.

King Manasseh of Judah

21 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled fifty-five years from Jerusalem. His mother was Hephzibah. Manasseh disobeyed the Lord by following the disgusting customs of the nations that the Lord had forced out of Israel. He rebuilt the local shrines that his father Hezekiah had torn down. He built altars for the god Baal and set up a sacred pole for worshiping the goddess Asherah, just as King Ahab of Israel had done. And he faithfully worshiped the stars in heaven.

In the temple, where only the Lord was supposed to be worshiped, Manasseh built altars for pagan gods and for the stars. He placed these altars in both courts of the temple, 6-7 and even set up the pole for Asherah there. Manasseh practiced magic and witchcraft; he asked fortunetellers for advice and sacrificed his own son. He did many sinful things and made the Lord very angry.

Years ago the Lord had told David and his son Solomon:

Jerusalem is the place I prefer above all others in Israel. It belongs to me, and there I will be worshiped forever. If my people will faithfully obey all the commands in the Law of my servant Moses, I will never make them leave the land I gave to their ancestors.

But the people of Judah disobeyed the Lord. They listened to Manasseh and did even more sinful things than the nations the Lord had wiped out.

10 One day the Lord said to some of his prophets:

11 King Manasseh has done more disgusting things than the Amorites,[f] and he has led my people to sin by forcing them to worship his idols. 12 Now I, the Lord God of Israel, will destroy both Jerusalem and Judah! People will hear about it but won’t believe it. 13 Jerusalem is as sinful as Ahab and the people of Samaria were. So I will wipe out Jerusalem and be done with it, just as someone wipes water off a plate and turns it over to dry.

14 I will even get rid of my people who survive. They will be defeated and robbed by their enemies. 15 My people have done what I hate and have not stopped making me angry since their ancestors left Egypt.

16 Manasseh was guilty of causing the people of Judah to sin and disobey the Lord. He also refused to protect innocent people—he even let so many of them be killed[g] that their blood filled the streets of Jerusalem.

17 Everything else Manasseh did while he was king, including his terrible sins, is written in The History of the Kings of Judah. 18 He died and was buried in Uzza Garden near his palace, and his son Amon became king.

King Amon of Judah

19 Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled from Jerusalem for two years. His mother Meshullemeth was the daughter of Haruz from Jotbah. 20 Amon disobeyed the Lord, just as his father Manasseh had done. 21 Amon worshiped the idols Manasseh had made and 22 refused to be faithful to the Lord, the God his ancestors had worshiped.

23 Some of Amon’s officials plotted against him and killed him in his palace. 24-26 He was buried in Uzza Garden. Soon after that, the people of Judah killed the murderers of Amon, then they made his son Josiah king.

Everything else Amon did while he was king is written in The History of the Kings of Judah.

King Josiah of Judah

22 Josiah was eight years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled thirty-one years from Jerusalem. His mother Jedidah was the daughter of Adaiah from Bozkath. Josiah always obeyed the Lord, just as his ancestor David had done.

Hilkiah Finds The Book of God’s Law

After Josiah had been king for eighteen years, he told Shaphan,[h] one of his highest officials:

Go to the Lord’s temple and ask Hilkiah the high priest to collect from the guards all the money that the people have donated. Have Hilkiah give it to the men supervising the repairs to the temple. They can use some of the money to pay the workers, and with the rest of it they can buy wood and stone for the repair work. They are honest, so we won’t ask them to keep track of the money.

While Shaphan was at the temple, Hilkiah handed him a book and said, “Look what I found here in the temple—The Book of God’s Law.”

Shaphan read it, then went back to Josiah and reported, “Your officials collected the money in the temple and gave it to the men supervising the repairs. 10 But there’s something else, Your Majesty. The priest Hilkiah gave me this book.” Then Shaphan read it out loud.

11 When Josiah heard what was in The Book of God’s Law, he tore his clothes in sorrow. 12 At once he called together Hilkiah, Shaphan, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Achbor son of Micaiah, and his own servant Asaiah. He said, 13 “The Lord must be furious with me and everyone else in Judah, because our ancestors did not obey the laws written in this book. Go find out what the Lord wants us to do.”

14 The five men left right away and went to talk with Huldah the prophet. Her husband was Shallum,[i] who was in charge of the king’s clothes. Huldah lived in the northern part of Jerusalem, and when they met in her home, 15 she said:

You were sent here by King Josiah, and this is what the Lord God of Israel says to him: 16 “Josiah, I am the Lord! And I will see to it that this country and everyone living in it will be destroyed. It will happen just as this book says. 17 The people of Judah have rejected me. They have offered sacrifices to foreign gods and have worshiped their own idols. I cannot stand it any longer. I am furious.

18 “Josiah, listen to what I am going to do. 19 I noticed how sad you were when you read that this country and its people would be completely wiped out. You even tore your clothes in sorrow, and I heard you cry. 20 So I will let you die in peace, before I destroy this place.”

The men left and took Huldah’s answer back to Josiah.

Footnotes

  1. 20.9 Will. . . steps: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  2. 20.11 the shadow. . . Ahaz: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  3. 20.12 Merodach: The Hebrew text has “Berodach,” another spelling of the name.
  4. 20.12 Merodach Baladan. . . Babylonia: Ruled Babylonia 722-710 and 704-703 B.C.
  5. 20.13 welcomed: Or “listened to.”
  6. 21.11 Amorites: Here used in the general sense of nations that lived in Canaan before the Israelites.
  7. 21.16 He also refused. . . killed: Or “He killed so many innocent people.”
  8. 22.3 Shaphan: Hebrew “Shaphan son of Azaliah son of Meshullam.”
  9. 22.14 Shallum: Hebrew “Shallum son of Tikvah son of Harhas.”