King Hezekiah of Judah-He broke the bronze snake of Moses
Hebrew Bible [Old Testament]
[Apx 715 to – 686 BC]
2 Kings 18
1-In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, Hezekiah son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign.
2-He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah.
3-He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD(Yahweh), just as his father David had done.
4-He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles(the sacred pillars). He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (1)
Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God(Elohe) of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.
He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses.
And the LORD was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.
From watchtower to fortified city, he defeated the Philistines, as far as Gaza and its territory.
In King Hezekiah’s fourth year, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, Shalmaneser king of Assyria marched against Samaria and laid siege to it.
At the end of three years the Assyrians took it. So Samaria was captured in Hezekiah’s sixth year, which was the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel.
The king of Assyria deported Israel to Assyria and settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in towns of the Medes.
This happened because they had not obeyed the LORD their God, but had violated his covenant–all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded. They neither listened to the commands nor carried them out.
In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, Sennacherib king of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them.
So Hezekiah king of Judah sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: “I have done wrong. Withdraw from me, and I will pay whatever you demand of me.” The king of Assyria exacted from Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold.
So Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the temple of the LORD and in the treasuries of the royal palace.
At this time Hezekiah king of Judah stripped off the gold with which he had covered the doors and doorposts of the temple of the LORD, and gave it to the king of Assyria.
The king of Assyria sent his supreme commander, his chief officer and his field commander with a large army, from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. They came up to Jerusalem and stopped at the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman’s Field.
They called for the king; and Eliakim son of Hilkiah the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and Joah son of Asaph the recorder went out to them.
The field commander said to them, “Tell Hezekiah: “`This is what the great king, the king of Assyria, says: On what are you basing this confidence of yours?
You say you have strategy and military strength–but you speak only empty words. On whom are you depending, that you rebel against me?
Look now, you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces a man’s hand and wounds him if he leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him.
And if you say to me, “We are depending on the LORD our God”–isn’t he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah removed, saying to Judah and Jerusalem, “You must worship before this altar in Jerusalem”?
“`Come now, make a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses–if you can put riders on them!
How can you repulse one officer of the least of my master’s officials, even though you are depending on Egypt for chariots and horsemen ?
Furthermore, have I come to attack and destroy this place without word from the LORD? The LORD himself told me to march against this country and destroy it.'”
Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, and Shebna and Joah said to the field commander, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, since we understand it. Don’t speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people on the wall.”
But the commander replied, “Was it only to your master and you that my master sent me to say these things, and not to the men sitting on the wall–who, like you, will have to eat their own filth and drink their own urine?”
Then the commander stood and called out in Hebrew: “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria!
This is what the king says: Do not let Hezekiah deceive you. He cannot deliver you from my hand.
Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the LORD when he says, `The LORD will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’
“Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then every one of you will eat from his own vine and fig tree and drink water from his own cistern,
until I come and take you to a land like your own, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey. Choose life and not death! “Do not listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, `The LORD will deliver us.’
Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from 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 rescued Samaria from my hand?
Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the LORD deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”
But the people remained silent and said nothing in reply, because the king had commanded, “Do not answer him.”
Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary and Joah son of Asaph the recorder went to Hezekiah, with their clothes torn, and told him what the field commander had said.
2 Kings 19
When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the LORD.
He sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary and the leading priests, all wearing sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz.
They told him, “This is what Hezekiah says: This day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the point of birth and there is no strength to deliver them.
It may be that the LORD your God will hear all the words of the field commander, whom his master, the king of Assyria, has sent to ridicule the living God, and that he will rebuke him for the words the LORD your God has heard. Therefore pray for the remnant that still survives.”
When King Hezekiah’s officials came to Isaiah,
Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master, `This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard–those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.
Listen! I am going to put such a spirit in him that when he hears a certain report, he will return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.'”
When the field commander heard that the king of Assyria had left Lachish, he withdrew and found the king fighting against Libnah.
Now Sennacherib received a report that Tirhakah, the Cushite king of Egypt, was marching out to fight against him. So he again sent messengers to Hezekiah with this word:
“Say to Hezekiah king of Judah: Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, `Jerusalem will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.’
Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered?
Did the gods of the nations that were destroyed by my forefathers deliver them: the gods of Gozan, Haran, Rezeph and the people of Eden who were in Tel Assar?
Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, or of Hena or Ivvah?”
Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD.
15-And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD: “O LORD, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.
16-Give ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God.
17-“It is true, O LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands.
18-They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by men’s hands.
19-Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God.”
Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent a message to Hezekiah: “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I have heard your prayer concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria.
This is the word that the LORD has spoken against him: “`The Virgin Daughter of Zion despises you and mocks you. The Daughter of Jerusalem tosses her head as you flee.
Who is it you have insulted and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes in pride? Against the Holy One of Israel!
By your messengers you have heaped insults on the Lord. And you have said, “With my many chariots I have ascended the heights of the mountains, the utmost heights of Lebanon. I have cut down its tallest cedars, the choicest of its pines. I have reached its remotest parts, the finest of its forests.
I have dug wells in foreign lands and drunk the water there. With the soles of my feet I have dried up all the streams of Egypt.”
“`Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass, that you have turned fortified cities into piles of stone.
Their people, drained of power, are dismayed and put to shame. They are like plants in the field, like tender green shoots, like grass sprouting on the roof, scorched before it grows up.
“`But I know where you stay and when you come and go and how you rage against me.
Because you rage against me and your insolence has reached my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will make you return by the way you came.’
“This will be the sign for you, O Hezekiah: “This year you will eat what grows by itself, and the second year what springs from that. But in the third year sow and reap, plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
Once more a remnant of the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above.
For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
“Therefore this is what the LORD says concerning the king of Assyria: “He will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here. He will not come before it with shield or build a siege ramp against it.
By the way that he came he will return; he will not enter this city, declares the LORD.
I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.”
That night the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning–there were all the dead bodies!
So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.
One day, while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer cut him down with the sword, and they escaped to the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son succeeded him as king.
2 Kings 20
In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”
2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD,
3 “Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him:
“Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people, `This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the LORD.
I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.'”
Then Isaiah said, “Prepare a poultice of figs.” They did so and applied it to the boil, and he recovered.
Hezekiah had asked Isaiah, “What will be the sign that the LORD will heal me and that I will go up to the temple of the LORD on the third day from now?”
Isaiah answered, “This is the LORD’s sign to you that the LORD will do what he has promised: Shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or shall it go back ten steps?”
“It is a simple matter for the shadow to go forward ten steps,” said Hezekiah. “Rather, have it go back ten steps.”
Then the prophet Isaiah called upon the LORD, and the LORD made the shadow go back the ten steps it had gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.
At that time Merodach-Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift, because he had heard of Hezekiah’s illness.
Hezekiah received the messengers and showed them all that was in his storehouses–the silver, the gold, the spices and the fine oil–his armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.
Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked, “What did those men say, and where did they come from?” “From a distant land,” Hezekiah replied. “They came from Babylon.”
The prophet asked, “What did they see in your palace?” “They saw everything in my palace,” Hezekiah said. “There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them.”
16-Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD:
17-The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the LORD.
18-And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood, that will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
19-“The word of the LORD you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?”
20-As for the other events of Hezekiah’s reign, all his achievements and how he made the pool and the tunnel by which he brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?
21-Hezekiah rested with his fathers. And Manasseh his son succeeded him as king.
(1) He abolished the high places, and smashed the monuments, and cut down the asherah, and crushed the copper serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the children of Israel were burning incense to it; and he called it Nehushtan.[RASHI’S COMMENTARY]