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Hezekiah Of Judah
Hezekiah, from the Hebrew name pronounced yekh-iz-kee-yaw-hoo, means strengthened by the LORD (the yaw-hoo is a compound form of the Name of the LORD; as it is commonly pronounced by millions of unrealizing people today, it is yet another of the many modern foulings of the Name of the LORD: "saith the LORD; and my name continually every day is blasphemed" Isaiah 52:5 KJV). Hezekiah succeeded his father Ahaz (see Ahaz Of Judah) as king of Judah.
"16:19 Now the rest of the acts of Ahaz which he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 16:20 And Ahaz slept with his fathers [see The Sleep Of Death], and was buried with his fathers in the city of David: and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead." (2 Kings 16:19-20 KJV)
Hezekiah of Judah began to reign during the reign of Hoshea of Israel (see Hoshea Of Israel). Hoshea was the last king of Israel as it fell to the Assyrians - The Northern Kingdom of "Israel" thereafter becoming known as "the lost ten tribes," while The Southern Kingdom of "Judah" continued on for another 135 years. Hezekiah is an example of why Judah was allowed to continue, for "he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD" and "departed not from following him, but kept his commandments," while Israel fell (see also The Two-Way Promise Of The Promised Land).
"18:1 Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. 18:2 Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah. 18:3 And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did. 18:4 He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.
"After him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him"
Hezekiah was truly righteous (i.e. obedient to the Word of God, not merely self-righteously doing what one pleases in the Name of the LORD; see Is Your Religion Your Religion?) and so therefore he was strong - not in and as himself, but with the LORD as the Defender of his kingdom. When the Assyrians threatened his kingdom too, Hezekiah, at first, from a distance, told them to get lost.
"18:7 And the LORD was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not. 18:8 He smote the Philistines, even unto Gaza, and the borders thereof, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city." (2 Kings 18:7-8 KJV)
With the Assyrians then occupying and ruling the northern half of the land of Israel, they then turned their great military force to Judah in the south. When they crossed the border into Judah, instead of fiercely engaging the Assyrians in battle (a war that Hezekiah could have started, but that the LORD would have finished), Hezekiah attempted to pay the invaders off, even stripping the Temple to do so. Hezekiah was righteous, but he lacked courage with a face-to-face enemy.
"18:13 Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them. 18:14 And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying, I have offended; return from me: that which thou puttest on me will I bear. And the king of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 18:15 And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king's house.
The predictable result was that the Assyrians took what Hezekiah paid them - and then came back for more.
"18:17 And the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great host against Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. And when they were come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is in the highway of the fuller's field." (2 Kings 18:17 KJV)
Hezekiah still didn't provoke the battle that he could not have lost while obedient to the LORD. It didn't matter anyway however; the Assyrians' own blasphemous arrogance toward the LORD Himself did the job for Hezekiah.
"18:28 Then Rabshakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in the Jews' language, and spake, saying, Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria: 18:29 Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you out of his hand: 18:30 Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria." (2 Kings 18:28-30 KJV)
The LORD, through the prophet Isaiah (see The Prophets: Isaiah), assured Hezekiah that the LORD would deliver Judah from the blasphemers.
"19:5 So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah. 19:6 And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say to your master, Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me." (2 Kings 19:5-6 KJV)
That night, the LORD annihilated the Assyrian army of 185,000 troops that were besieging Jerusalem. Sennacherib, the blasphemous king of Assyria survived, but returned home only to be assassinated.
"19:35 And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. 19:36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.
The LORD held Hezekiah personally in good favor. When Hezekiah became seriously ill from some sort of infection that he would have otherwise died from, he was healed and given another 15 years of life. The famous miracle of the turning a sundial shadow back was also done at that time.
"20:1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.
The northern kingdom of Israel had been conquered and taken away by the Assyrian Empire in 721 BC (see Ancient Empires - Assyria). Judah lasted for another 135 years before it was conquered and taken into exile in 586 BC, but by then the Assyrian Empire had itself fallen to the Babylonian Empire (a weakening of Assyria that was no doubt hastened by their defeat by the LORD as recorded above); it was the Babylonians that took Judah away (see Ancient Empires - Babylon). Babylon was however a rising power in the time of Hezekiah. When the king of Babylon sought diplomatic relations with Hezekiah, the LORD, through the prophet Isaiah, warned that Babylon would eventually do to Judah what Assyria had done to Israel.
"20:12 At that time Berodachbaladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present unto Hezekiah: for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick. 20:13 And Hezekiah hearkened unto them, and showed them all the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah showed them not.
At the end of his reign (that was miraculously lengthened by 15 years, as recorded above), Hezekiah died and was buried in Jerusalem. He was succeeded by his son Manasseh (see Kings of Israel and Judah and Israelite Dynasties).
"20:20 And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made a pool, and a conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 20:21 And Hezekiah slept with his fathers: and Manasseh his son reigned in his stead." (2 Kings 20:20-21 KJV)
Fact Finder: What great prophet of the LORD was among those who later fulfilled the prophecy of the LORD to Hezekiah, "20:18 And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon" 2 Kings 20:18 KJV)?