He removed1 the high places,2 smashed the sacred stones3 and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake4 Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was calleda Nehushtan.b )
Hezekiah trusted5 in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.
He held fast6 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 successful7 in whatever he undertook. He rebelled8 against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.
From watchtower to fortified city,9 he defeated the Philistines, as far as Gaza and its territory.
In King Hezekiah's fourth year,10 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 king11 of Assyria deported Israel to Assyria and settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in towns of the Medes.1212
This happened because they had not obeyed the LORD their God, but had violated his covenant13--all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded.14 They neither listened to the commands15 nor carried them out.
In the fourteenth year16 of King Hezekiah's reign, Sennacherib king of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah17 and captured them.
So Hezekiah king of Judah sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish:18 "I have done wrong.19 Withdraw from me, and I will pay whatever you demand of me." The king of Assyria exacted from Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talentsc of silver and thirty talentsd of gold.
So Hezekiah gave20 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 doors21 and doorposts of the temple of the LORD, and gave it to the king of Assyria.
The king of Assyria sent his supreme commander,22 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,23 on the road to the Washerman's Field.
They called for the king; and Eliakim24 son of Hilkiah the palace administrator, Shebna25 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 confidence26 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,27 that splintered reed of a staff,28 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 officer29 of the least of my master's officials, even though you are depending on Egypt for chariots and horsemene ?
Furthermore, have I come to attack and destroy this place without word from the LORD?30 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,31 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 deceive32 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 tree33 and drink water from his own cistern,3432
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 life35 and not death! "Do not listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, 'The LORD will deliver us.'
Has the god36 of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria?
Where are the gods of Hamath37 and Arpad?38 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?"3936
But the people remained silent and said nothing in reply, because the king had commanded, "Do not answer him."
Then Eliakim40 son of Hilkiah the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary and Joah son of Asaph the recorder went to Hezekiah, with their clothes torn,41 and told him what the field commander had said.