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2 Kings 18-20

Supplemental notes for the Daily Bible Study Bible Reading Plan

by Wayne Blank

2 Kings Chapter 18

Hezekiah became king of The Southern Kingdom of "Judah" at the time of the fall of The Northern Kingdom of "Israel." Hezekiah was one of the few (relatively) good kings of Israel or Judah - which meant that he did not allow the rampant idolatry that most of the other kings wallowed in. Hezekiah also destroyed "the bronze serpent that Moses had made" because by that time it too was being misused as an idol (see The Bronze Serpent and note the connection of Jesus Christ to it).

Map Of The Assyrian Empire

"In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign [see Kings of Israel and Judah and Israelite Dynasties]. He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the eyes of The Lord, according to all that David his father had done. He removed the high places, and broke the pillars, and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had burned incense to it; it was called Nehushtan." (2 Kings 18:1-4 RSV)

Hezekiah also did his best to defend Judah, by means of "trusting in The Lord," against the perennial enemy of Israel, the Philistines, as well as the empire (see Emperor) of the era, Assyria (much of the history of Israel and Judah was how much they were in conflict with, or subjection to, the successive empires of Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece or Rome).

"He trusted in The Lord the God of Israel; so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. For he held fast to The Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept the commandments which The Lord commanded Moses. And The Lord was with him; wherever he went forth, he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria, and would not serve him. He smote the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city." (2 Kings 18:5-8 RSV)

The fall of the northern kingdom of Israel (see The Galilee Captivity) occurred during Hezekiah's time; Judah was not primarily affected by the northern kingdom's fall.

"In the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria and besieged it and at the end of three years he took it. In the sixth year of Hezekiah, which was the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken. The king of Assyria carried the Israelites away to Assyria, and put them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, because they did not obey the voice of The Lord their God but transgressed his covenant, even all that Moses the servant of The Lord commanded; they neither listened nor obeyed." (2 Kings 18:9-12 RSV)

After conquering Israel, the Assyrians also sought to take Judah after Hezekiah had refused to be subjected to Assyrian imperialism. Apparently after seeing the fall of the northern kingdom, Hezekiah's courage failed - because his faith (briefly) did. Rather than continuing to count on The Lord, Hezekiah tried to bribe the Assyrians into allowing Judah to remain.

"In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, "I have done wrong; withdraw from me; whatever you impose on me I will bear." And the king of Assyria required of Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of The Lord, and in the treasuries of the king's house. At that time Hezekiah stripped the gold from the doors of the temple of The Lord, and from the doorposts which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid and gave it to the king of Assyria." (2 Kings 18:13-16 RSV)

Like any bully, the Assyrians kept making more demands - and Hezekiah kept giving in until he had nothing left to give. The Assyrian mistake was to blaspheme The Lord when Hezekiah sought The Lord's help (which Hezekiah should have done right from the first).

"And do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying, The Lord will deliver us. Has any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who among all the gods of the countries have delivered their countries out of my hand, that The Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?'" (2 Kings 18:32-35 RSV)

2 Kings Chapter 19

When Hezekiah heard the Assyrians blaspheming The Lord, comparing Him to the pagan idols of the other nations that the Assyrians had conquered, he knew that wrath was coming.

An Assyrian King

"When King Hezekiah heard it, he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of The Lord. And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and the senior priests, covered with sackcloth [see also Sackcloth and Ashes], to the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz.

It may be that The Lord your God heard all the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke the words which The Lord your God has heard; therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left." (2 Kings 19:1-4 RSV)

Isaiah the Prophet delivered The Lord's assurance to Hezekiah that the Assyrians would be turned away from Jerusalem.

"When the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah, Isaiah said to them, "Say to your master, 'Thus says The Lord: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled me. Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.'" (2 Kings 19:5-7 RSV)

The Assyrian army was then devastated (see The Day Sennacherib Challenged God for the Assyrians' own account of the siege of Jerusalem). Sennacherib then retreated back to his capital city Nineveh where he was later assassinated (see also Assassins).

"And that night the angel of The Lord went forth, and slew a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.

Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went home, and dwelt at Nineveh. And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, slew him with the sword, and escaped into the land of Ararat [see Mount Ararat]. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead." (2 Kings 19:35-37 RSV)

2 Kings Chapter 20

Hezekiah's kingdom was saved, but Hezekiah himself became seriously ill. Realizing that he was going to die, the king prayed for healing.

A Sundial

"In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, "Thus says The Lord, 'Set your house in order; for you shall die, you shall not recover.'"

Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed to The Lord, saying, "Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in thy sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly." (2 Kings 20:1-3 RSV)

People often (begin to) pray when they get into serious difficulty, but Hezekiah had been a faithful king to The Lord for long before. Faithful people also all eventually die of course, but as has been the case of some people through Bible History, Hezekiah was saved from death, for a while (see the Fact Finder question below to understand why such healings, and even temporarily raising others from the dead, was sometimes done).

"And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of The Lord came to him: "Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the prince of my people, Thus says The Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will heal you; on the third day you shall go up to the house of The Lord. And I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city for My own sake and for My servant David's sake." (2 Kings 20:4-6 RSV)

The miracle was marked by another miracle - a sundial seemingly running backwards (as bright as the sun is, The Lord is capable of producing brighter light that casts shadows in bright sunlight).

"And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "What shall be the sign that The Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of The Lord on the third day?"

And Isaiah said, "This is the sign to you from The Lord, that The Lord will do the thing that he has promised: shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or go back ten steps?"

And Hezekiah answered, "It is an easy thing for the shadow to lengthen ten steps; rather let the shadow go back ten steps."

And Isaiah the prophet cried to The Lord; and he brought the shadow back ten steps, by which the sun had declined on the dial of Ahaz." (2 Kings 20:8-11 RSV)

Hezekiah lived out the fifteen extra years of life that he was granted by The Lord; then he died a natural death (see What Happens When You Die?).

"The rest of the deeds of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made the pool and the conduit and brought water into the city, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? And Hezekiah slept with his fathers; and Manasseh his son reigned in his stead." (2 Kings 20:20-21 RSV)

Fact Finder: (a) Why were some people, such as Hezekiah, healed from a terminal illness, or others resurrected to normal physical life again? (b) Why are there going to be two kinds of future resurrections, physical for some, spiritual for others?
(a) See Why Were Their Deaths Interrupted?
(b) See When Will You Be Judged?

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