In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah's1 reign, Sennacherib2 king of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them.3
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Then the king of Assyria sent his field commander with a large army from Lachish4 to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. When the commander stopped at the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman's Field,5
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Eliakim6 son of Hilkiah the palace administrator,7 Shebna8 the secretary,9 and Joah10 son of Asaph the recorder11 went out to him.
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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 rebel12 against me?
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Look now, you are depending13 on Egypt,1415 that splintered reed16 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.
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And if you say to me, "We are depending17 on the LORD our God"--isn't he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah removed,18 saying to Judah and Jerusalem, "You must worship before this altar"?19
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" 'Come now, make a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses20--if you can put riders on them!
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How then can you repulse one officer of the least of my master's officials, even though you are depending on Egypt21 for chariots22 and horsemen?23
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Furthermore, have I come to attack and destroy this land without the LORD? The LORD himself told24 me to march against this country and destroy it.' "
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Then Eliakim, Shebna and Joah25 said to the field commander, "Please speak to your servants in Aramaic,26 since we understand it. Don't speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people on the wall."
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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?27"
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Then the commander stood and called out in Hebrew,28 "Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria!29
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This is what the king says: Do not let Hezekiah deceive30 you. He cannot deliver you!
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Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the LORD when he says, 'The LORD will surely deliver31 us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.'32
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"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,34
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until I come and take you to a land like your own35--a land of grain and new wine,36 a land of bread and vineyards.
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"Do not let Hezekiah mislead 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?37 Where are the gods of Sepharvaim?38 Have they rescued Samaria39 from my hand?
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Who of all the gods40 of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the LORD deliver Jerusalem from my hand?"41
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But the people remained silent and said nothing in reply, because the king had commanded, "Do not answer him."42
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Then Eliakim43 son of Hilkiah the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and Joah son of Asaph the recorder44 went to Hezekiah, with their clothes torn,45 and told him what the field commander had said.
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