2 Kings 18-19

Chapter 18

The chapter opens with a glaring inconsistency. Hezekiah son of Ahaz takes the throne of Judah at the age of 25. However, ch 16:2 states that Ahaz was 20 when he became king and that he reigned for 16 years. That would make him only 36 when his 25 year old son took over. Sound reasonable?

2 kings 18

King Hezekiah orders the idols destroyed

Hezekiah pleases Yahweh by taking down pagan shrines – even the bronze serpent that Moses made in Numbers 21:9 – because the people had turned it into an idol and were now worshipping it. I guess this would be why Judah continues to stand for several years after Israel had fallen to Assyria. But eventually Assyria invades Judah. Hezekiah tries to placate the Assyrian king, paying him off with all the precious metals he can come up with, even stripping gold from the doors of the temple. But Assyria isn’t appeased, and tries to intimidate Judah with power politics. The Assyrian officials make a point of speaking to Judah’s diplomats in Hebrew, instead of Aramaic, because they want everyone within earshot to understand their words. As they put it so politely “Do you think my master sent this message only to you and your master? He wants all the people to hear it, for when we put this city under siege, they will suffer along with you. They will be so hungry and thirsty that they will eat their own dung and drink their own urine.” (v 27 NLT) 2 kings 18 king-hezekiah-orders-the-idols-destroyed

Chapter 19

King Hezekiah’s staff seek out the prophet Isaiah and beg for divine intervention. Isaiah promises to arrange a convenient death for King Sennacherib of Assyria. Sennacherib leaves Judah with one final taunt about not counting on Yahweh for any help (v 10). But Hezekiah prays anyway. And then in an astounding revelation, Isaiah reports that Yahweh told him that this whole scenario – the downfall of Israel, and death and destruction – was part of his Divine Plan (v 25). Isaiah further predicts that Yahweh will smite the king of Assyria because of his arrogance (v 28), and that the remnant of people left in Judah after the siege will put down roots and flourish there (v 30).

So that night Yahweh kills 185,000 soldiers in the Assyrian camp. But get this: the KJV of that verse (35) reads “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.” Makes it sound like people woke up and realized they were dead – haha. Modern translations have reworded it, eg “When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere.” (NLT) King Sennacherib headed home, where his own sons kill him in his own temple. No reason is given, so I guess Yahweh put them up to it, as Isaiah predicted.

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