2 Kings 18
Hezekiah Becomes King of Judah1 In the third year of the reign of Israel’s King Hoshea son of Elah, Ahaz’s son Hezekiah became king over Judah. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. ▼ His mother ▼
▼ Heb “the name of his mother.”was Abi, ▼ the daughter of Zechariah. 3 He did what the Lord approved, just as his ancestor David had done. ▼
▼ Heb “he did what was proper in the eyes of the Lord, according to all which David his father had done.”4 He eliminated the high places, smashed the sacred pillars to bits, and cut down the Asherah pole. ▼
▼ The term is singular in the MT but plural in the LXX and other ancient versions. It is also possible to regard the singular as a collective singular, especially in the context of other plural items.▼
▼ Asherah was a leading deity of the Canaanite pantheon, wife/sister of El and goddess of fertility. She was commonly worshiped at shrines in or near groves of evergreen trees, or, failing that, at places marked by wooden poles. These were to be burned or cut down (Deut 12:3; 16:21; Judg 6:25, 28, 30; 2 Kgs 18:4).He also demolished the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for up to that time ▼
▼ Heb “until those days.”the Israelites had been offering incense to it; it was called Nehushtan. ▼
▼ In Hebrew the name sounds like the phrase נְחַשׁ הַנְּחֹשֶׁת (nekhash hannekhoshet), “bronze serpent.”5 He trusted in the Lord God of Israel; in this regard there was none like him among the kings of Judah either before or after. ▼
▼ Heb “and after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, and those who were before him.”6 He was loyal to ▼
▼ Heb “he hugged.”the Lord and did not abandon him. ▼
▼ Heb “and did not turn aside from after him.”He obeyed the commandments which the Lord had given to ▼
▼ Heb “had commanded.”Moses. 7 The Lord was with him; he succeeded in all his endeavors. ▼
▼ Heb “in all which he went out [to do], he was successful.”He rebelled against the king of Assyria and refused to submit to him. ▼
▼ Heb “and did not serve him.”8 He defeated the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory, from the watchtower to the city fortress. ▼
9 In the fourth year of King Hezekiah’s reign (it was the seventh year of the reign of Israel’s King Hoshea, son of Elah), King Shalmaneser of Assyria marched ▼ up against Samaria ▼ and besieged it. 10 After three years he captured it (in the sixth year of Hezekiah’s reign); in the ninth year of King Hoshea’s reign over Israel Samaria was captured. 11 The king of Assyria deported the people of Israel ▼
▼ The Hebrew text has simply “Israel” as the object of the verb.to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, along the Habor (the river of Gozan), and in the cities of the Medes. 12 This happened because they did not obey ▼
▼ Heb “listen to the voice of.”the Lord their God and broke his agreement with them. ▼
▼ Heb “his covenant.”They did not pay attention to and obey all that Moses, the Lord’s servant, had commanded. ▼
▼ Heb “all that Moses, the Lord’s servant, had commanded, and they did not listen and they did not act.”
Sennacherib Invades Judah13 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, King Sennacherib of Assyria marched up against all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. 14 King Hezekiah of Judah sent this message to the king of Assyria, who was at Lachish, “I have violated our treaty. ▼
▼ Or “I have done wrong.”If you leave, I will do whatever you demand.” ▼
▼ Heb “Return from upon me; what you place upon me, I will carry.”So the king of Assyria demanded that King Hezekiah of Judah pay three hundred talents ▼
▼ The Hebrew term כִּכָּר (kikkar, “circle”) refers generally to something that is round. When used of metals it can refer to a disk-shaped weight made of the metal or to a standard unit of weight, generally regarded as a talent. Since the accepted weight for a talent of metal is about 75 pounds, this would have amounted to about 22,500 pounds of silver and 2,250 pounds of gold.of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15 Hezekiah gave him all the silver in ▼
▼ Heb “that was found.”the Lord’s temple and in the treasuries of the royal palace. 16 At that time King Hezekiah of Judah stripped the metal overlays from the doors of the Lord’s temple and from the posts which he had plated ▼
▼ Heb “At that time Hezekiah stripped the doors of the Lord’s temple, and the posts which Hezekiah king of Judah had plated.”and gave them to the king of Assyria.
17 The king of Assyria sent his commanding general, the chief eunuch, and the chief adviser ▼
▼ For a discussion of these titles see M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 229-30.from Lachish to King Hezekiah in Jerusalem, ▼ along with a large army. They went up and arrived at Jerusalem. They went ▼
▼ Heb “and they went up and came.”and stood at the conduit of the upper pool which is located on the road to the field where they wash and dry cloth. ▼
▼ Heb “the field of the washer.”18 They summoned the king, so Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace supervisor, accompanied by Shebna the scribe and Joah son of Asaph, the secretary, went out to meet them.
19 The chief adviser said to them, “Tell Hezekiah: ‘This is what the great king, the king of Assyria, says: “What is your source of confidence? ▼
▼ Heb “What is this object of trust in which you are trusting?”20 Your claim to have a strategy and military strength is just empty talk. ▼ In whom are you trusting that you would dare to rebel against me? 21 Now look, you must be trusting in Egypt, that splintered reed staff. If a man leans for support on it, it punctures his hand and wounds him. That is what Pharaoh king of Egypt does to all who trust in him. 22 Perhaps you will tell me, ‘We are trusting in the Lord our God.’ But Hezekiah is the one who eliminated his high places and altars and then told the people of Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You must worship at this altar in Jerusalem.’ 23 Now make a deal ▼
▼ Heb “exchange pledges.”with my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses, provided you can find enough riders for them. 24 Certainly you will not refuse one of my master’s minor officials and trust in Egypt for chariots and horsemen. ▼
▼ Heb “How can you turn back the face of an official [from among] the least of my master’s servants and trust in Egypt for chariots and horsemen?” In vv. 23–24 the chief adviser develops further the argument begun in v. 21. His reasoning seems to be as follows: “In your weakened condition you obviously need military strength. Agree to the king’s terms and I will personally give you more horses than you are capable of outfitting. If I, a mere minor official, am capable of giving you such military might, just think what power the king has. There is no way the Egyptians can match our strength. It makes much better sense to deal with us.”25 Furthermore it was by the command of the Lord that I marched up against this place to destroy it. The Lord told me, ‘March ▼
▼ Heb “Go.”up against this land and destroy it.’”’” ▼
26 Eliakim son of Hilkiah, Shebna, and Joah said to the chief adviser, “Speak to your servants in Aramaic, ▼
▼ Aramaic was the diplomatic language of the empire.for we understand it. Don’t speak with us in the Judahite dialect ▼
▼ Or “Hebrew.”in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.” 27 But the chief adviser said to them, “My master did not send me to speak these words only to your master and to you. ▼
▼ Heb “To your master and to you did my master send me to speak these words?” The rhetorical question expects a negative answer.His message is also for the men who sit on the wall, for they will eat their own excrement and drink their own urine along with you.” ▼
▼ Heb “[Is it] not [also] to the men…?” The rhetorical question expects the answer, “Yes, it is.”▼
▼ The chief adviser alludes to the horrible reality of siege warfare, when the starving people in the besieged city would resort to eating and drinking anything to stay alive.
28 The chief adviser then stood there and called out loudly in the Judahite dialect, ▼
▼ The Hebrew text also has, “and he spoke and said.”“Listen to the message of the great king, the king of Assyria. 29 This is what the king says: ‘Don’t let Hezekiah mislead you, for he is not able to rescue you from my hand! ▼
▼ The MT has “his hand,” but this is due to graphic confusion of vav (ו) and yod (י). The translation reads “my hand,” along with many medieval Hebrew mss, the LXX, Syriac Peshitta, Targum, and Vulgate.30 Don’t let Hezekiah talk you into trusting in the Lord when he says, “The Lord will certainly rescue us; this city will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.” 31 Don’t listen to Hezekiah!’ For this is what the king of Assyria says, ‘Send me a token of your submission and surrender to me. ▼
▼ Heb “make with me a blessing and come out to me.”Then each of you may eat from his own vine and fig tree and drink water from his own cistern, 32 until I come and take you to a land just like your own – a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey. Then you will live and not die. Don’t listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, “The Lord will rescue us.” 33 Have any of the gods of the nations actually rescued his land from the power of the king of Assyria? ▼
▼ Heb “Have the gods of the nations really rescued, each his land, from the hand of the king of Assyria?” The infinitive absolute lends emphasis to the main verb. The rhetorical question expects the answer, “Of course not!”34 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? ▼ Indeed, did any gods rescue Samaria ▼ from my power? ▼ 35 Who among all the gods of the lands has rescued their lands from my power? So how can the Lord rescue Jerusalem from my power?’” ▼
▼ Heb “that the Lord might rescue Jerusalem from my hand?” The logic runs as follows: Since no god has ever been able to withstand the Assyrian onslaught, how can the people of Jerusalem possibly think the Lord will rescue them?36 The people were silent and did not respond, for the king had ordered, “Don’t respond to him.”
37 Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace supervisor, accompanied by Shebna the scribe and Joah son of Asaph, the secretary, went to Hezekiah with their clothes torn ▼
▼ As a sign of grief and mourning.and reported to him what the chief adviser had said.
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