1 And then, after this exemplary track record, this: Sennacherib king of Assyria came and attacked Judah. He put the fortified cities under siege, determined to take them. 2 When Hezekiah realized that Sennacherib's strategy was to take Jerusalem, 3 he talked to his advisors and military leaders about eliminating all the water supplies outside the city; they thought it was a good idea. 4 There was a great turnout of people to plug the springs and tear down the aqueduct. They said, "Why should the kings of Assyria march in and be furnished with running water?" 5 Hezekiah also went to work repairing every part of the city wall that was damaged, built defensive towers on it, built another wall of defense further out, and reinforced the defensive rampart (the Millo) of the old City of David. He also built up a large store of armaments - spears and shields. 6 He then appointed military officers to be responsible for the people and got them all together at the public square in front of the city gate. 7 "Be strong! Take courage! Don't be intimidated by the king of Assyria and his troops - there are more on our side than on their side. 8 He only has a bunch of mere men; we have our God to help us and fight for us!" Morale surged. Hezekiah's words put steel in their spines. 9 Later on, Sennacherib, who had set up camp a few miles away at Lachish, sent messengers to Jerusalem, addressing Judah through Hezekiah: 10 "A proclamation of Sennacherib king of Assyria: You poor people - do you think you're safe in that so-called fortress of Jerusalem? You're sitting ducks. 11 Do you think Hezekiah will save you? Don't be stupid - Hezekiah has fed you a pack of lies. When he says, 'God will save us from the power of the king of Assyria,' he's lying - you're all going to end up dead. 12 Wasn't it Hezekiah who cleared out all the neighborhood worship shrines and told you, 'There is only one legitimate place to worship'? 13 Do you have any idea what I and my ancestors have done to all the countries around here? Has there been a single god anywhere strong enough to stand up against me? 14 Can you name one god among all the nations that either I or my ancestors have ravaged that so much as lifted a finger against me? So what makes you think you'll make out any better with your god? 15 Don't let Hezekiah fool you; don't let him get by with his barefaced lies; don't trust him. No god of any country or kingdom ever has been one bit of help against me or my ancestors - what kind of odds does that give your god?" 16 The messengers felt free to throw in their personal comments, putting down both God and God's servant Hezekiah. 17 Sennacherib continued to send letters insulting the God of Israel: "The gods of the nations were powerless to help their people; the god of Hezekiah is no better, probably worse." 18 The messengers would come up to the wall of Jerusalem and shout up to the people standing on the wall, shouting their propaganda in Hebrew, trying to scare them into demoralized submission. 19 They contemptuously lumped the God of Jerusalem in with the handmade gods of other peoples. 20 King Hezekiah, joined by the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz, responded by praying, calling up to heaven. 21 God answered by sending an angel who wiped out everyone in the Assyrian camp, both warriors and officers. Sennacherib was forced to return home in disgrace, tail between his legs. When he went into the temple of his god, his own sons killed him. 22 God saved Hezekiah and the citizens of Jerusalem from Sennacherib king of Assyria and everyone else. And he continued to take good care of them. 23 People streamed into Jerusalem bringing offerings for the worship of God and expensive presents to Hezekiah king of Judah. All the surrounding nations were impressed - Hezekiah's stock soared. 24 Some time later Hezekiah became deathly sick. He prayed to God and was given a reassuring sign. 25 But the sign, instead of making Hezekiah grateful, made him arrogant. This made God angry, and his anger spilled over on Judah and Jerusalem. 26 But then Hezekiah, and Jerusalem with him, repented of his arrogance, and God withdrew his anger while Hezekiah lived. 27 Hezekiah ended up very wealthy and much honored. He built treasuries for all his silver, gold, precious stones, spices, shields, and valuables, 28 barns for the grain, new wine, and olive oil, stalls for his various breeds of cattle, and pens for his flocks. 29 He founded royal cities for himself and built up huge stocks of sheep and cattle. God saw to it that he was extravagantly rich. 30 Hezekiah was also responsible for diverting the upper outlet of the Gihon spring and rerouting the water to the west side of the City of David. Hezekiah succeeded in everything he did. 31 But when the rulers of Babylon sent emissaries to find out about the sign from God that had taken place earlier, God left him on his own to see what he would do; he wanted to test his heart. 32 The rest of the history of Hezekiah and his life of loyal service, you can read for yourself - it's written in the vision of the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz in the Royal Annals of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 33 When Hezekiah died, they buried him in the upper part of the King David cemetery. Everyone in Judah and Jerusalem came to the funeral. He was buried in great honor. Manasseh his son was the next king.
1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king. He ruled for fifty-five years in Jerusalem. 2 In God's opinion he was a bad king - an evil king. He reintroduced all the moral rot and spiritual corruption that had been scoured from the country when God dispossessed the pagan nations in favor of the children of Israel. 3 He rebuilt the sex-and-religion shrines that his father Hezekiah had torn down, he built altars and phallic images for the sex god Baal and the sex goddess Asherah and worshiped the cosmic powers, taking orders from the constellations. 4 He built shrines to the cosmic powers and placed them in both courtyards of The Temple of God, 5 the very Jerusalem Temple dedicated exclusively by God's decree to God's Name ("in Jerusalem I place my Name"). 6 He burned his own sons in a sacrificial rite in the Valley of Ben Hinnom. He practiced witchcraft and fortunetelling. He held sŽances and consulted spirits from the underworld. Much evil - in God's view a career in evil. And God was angry. 7 As a last straw he placed a carved image of the sex goddess Asherah that he had commissioned in The Temple of God, a flagrant and provocative violation of God's well-known command to both David and Solomon, "In this Temple and in this city Jerusalem, my choice out of all the tribes of Israel, I place my Name - exclusively and forever." 8 He had promised, "Never again will I let my people Israel wander off from this land I've given to their ancestors. But on this condition, that they keep everything I've commanded in the instructions my servant Moses passed on to them." 9 But Manasseh led Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem off the beaten path into practices of evil exceeding even the evil of the pagan nations that God had earlier destroyed. 10 When God spoke to Manasseh and his people about this, they ignored him. 11 Then God directed the leaders of the troops of the king of Assyria to come after Manasseh. They put a hook in his nose, shackles on his feet, and took him off to Babylon. 12 Now that he was in trouble, he went to his knees in prayer asking for help - total repentance before the God of his ancestors. 13 As he prayed, God was touched; God listened and brought him back to Jerusalem as king. That convinced Manasseh that God was in control. 14 After that Manasseh rebuilt the outside defensive wall of the City of David to the west of the Gihon spring in the valley. It went from the Fish Gate and around the hill of Ophel. He also increased its height. He tightened up the defense system by posting army captains in all the fortress cities of Judah. 15 He also did a good spring cleaning on The Temple, carting out the pagan idols and the goddess statue. He took all the altars he had set up on The Temple hill and throughout Jerusalem and dumped them outside the city. 16 He put the Altar of God back in working order and restored worship, sacrificing Peace-Offerings and Thank-Offerings. He issued orders to the people: "You shall serve and worship God, the God of Israel." 17 But the people didn't take him seriously - they used the name "God" but kept on going to the old pagan neighborhood shrines and doing the same old things. 18 The rest of the history of Manasseh - his prayer to his God, and the sermons the prophets personally delivered by authority of God, the God of Israel - this is all written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. 19 His prayer and how God was touched by his prayer, a list of all his sins and the things he did wrong, the actual places where he built the pagan shrines, the installation of the sex-goddess Asherah sites, and the idolatrous images that he worshiped previous to his conversion - this is all described in the records of the prophets. 20 When Manasseh died, they buried him in the palace garden. His son Amon was the next king. 21 Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king. He was king for two years in Jerusalem. 22 In God's opinion he lived an evil life, just like his father Manasseh, 23 but he never did repent to God as Manasseh repented. He just kept at it, going from one thing to another. 24 In the end Amon's servants revolted and assassinated him - killed the king right in his own palace. 25 The citizens in their turn then killed the king's assassins. The citizens then crowned Josiah, Amon's son, as king.