When King Hezekiah heard this, he ripped his clothes, covered himself with mourning clothes, and went to the LORD's temple.
He sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and the senior priests to the prophet Isaiah, Amoz's son. They were all wearing mourning clothes.
They said to him, "Hezekiah says this: Today is a day of distress, punishment, and humiliation. It's as if children are ready to be born, but there's no strength to see it through.
Perhaps the LORD your God heard all the words of the field commander who was sent by his master, Assyria's king. He insulted the living God! Perhaps he will punish him for the words that the LORD your God has heard. Offer up a prayer for those few people who still survive."
When King Hezekiah's servants got to Isaiah,
Isaiah said to them, "Say this to your master: The LORD says this: Don't be afraid at the words you heard, which the officers of Assyria's king have used to insult me.
I'm about to mislead him, so when he hears a rumor, he'll go back to his own country. Then I'll have him cut down by the sword in his own land."
The field commander heard that the Assyrian king had left Lachish. So he went back to the king and found him attacking Libnah.
Then the Assyrian king learned that Cush's King Tirhakah was on his way to fight against him. So he sent messengers to Hezekiah again:
"Say this to Judah's King Hezekiah: Don't let the God you trust deceive you by saying, ‘Jerusalem won't fall to the Assyrian king.'
You yourself have heard what Assyrian kings do to other countries, wiping them out. Is it likely that you will be saved?
Did the gods of the nations that my ancestors destroyed save them, the gods of Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, or the people of Eden in Telassar?
Where now is Hamath's king, Arpad's king, or the kings of Lair, Sepharvaim, Hena, or Ivvah?"a
Hezekiah took the letters from the messengers and read them. Then he went to the temple and spread them out before the LORD.
Hezekiah prayed to the LORD:
"LORD of heavenly forces, God of Israel: you sit enthroned on the winged creatures. You alone are God over all the earth's kingdoms. You made both heaven and earth.
LORD, turn your ear this way and hear! LORD, open your eyes and see! Listen to Sennacherib's words. He sent them to insult the living God!
It's true, LORD, that the Assyrian kings have destroyed all the nations and their lands.
The Assyrians burned the gods of those nations with fire because they aren't real gods. They are only man-made creations of wood and stone. That's how the Assyrians could destroy them.
So now, LORD our God, please save us from Sennacherib's power! Then all the earth's kingdoms will know that you alone are LORD."
Then Isaiah, Amoz's son, sent a message to Hezekiah: The LORD God of Israel says this: Since you prayed to me about Assyria's King Sennacherib,
this is the message that the LORD has spoken against him: The young woman, Daughter Zion, despises you and mocks you; Daughter Jerusalem shakes her head behind your back.
Whom did you insult and ridicule? Against whom did you raise your voice and look up with disdain? It was against the holy one of Israel!
With your servants, you've insulted the Lord; you said, "I, with my many chariots, have gone up to the highest mountains, to the farthest reaches of Lebanon. I have cut down its tallest cedars, the best of its pine trees. I have reached its most remote lodging place, its best forest.
I have dug wells, have drunk water in foreign lands.b With my own feet, I dried up all of Egypt's streams."
Haven't you heard? I set this up long ago; I planned it in the distant past! Now I have made it happen, making fortified cities collapse into piles of rubble.
Their citizens have lost their power; they are frightened and dismayed. They've become like plants in a field, tender green shoots, the grass on rooftops, blasted by the east wind.
I know where you are, how you go out and come in, and how you rage against me.
Because you rage against me and because your pride has reached my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth. I will make you go back the same way you came.
Now this will be the sign for you, Hezekiah: This year you will eat what grows by itself. Next year you will eat what grows from that. But in the third year, plant seed and harvest it; plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
The survivors of Judah's family who have escaped will put down roots and bear fruit above.
Those who remain will go out from Jerusalem, and those who survive will go out from Mount Zion. The zeal of the LORD of heavenly forces will do this.
Therefore, the LORD says this about Assyria's king: He won't enter this city. He won't shoot a single arrow here. He won't come near the city with a shield. He won't build a ramp to besiege it.
He'll go back by the same way he came. He won't enter this city, declares the LORD.
I will defend this city and save it for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.
The LORD's messenger went out and struck down one hundred eighty-five thousand soldiers in the Assyrian camp. When people got up the next morning, there were dead bodies everywhere.
So Assyria's King Sennacherib left and went back to Nineveh, where he stayed.
Later, while he was worshipping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with a sword. Then they escaped to the land of Ararat. His son Esarhaddon ruled after him.