When King Hezekiah heard what the field commander had said, he tore his clothes. He put on black clothes. Then he went into the LORD's temple.
Hezekiah sent Eliakim, who was in charge of the palace, to me. He also sent the leading priests and the secretary Shebna to me. All of them were wearing black clothes.
They told me, "Hezekiah says, 'Today we're in great trouble. The LORD is warning us. He's bringing shame on us. Sometimes babies come to the moment when they should be born. But their mothers aren't strong enough to allow them to be born. Today we are like those mothers. We aren't strong enough to save ourselves.
" 'Perhaps the LORD your God will hear everything the field commander has said. His master, the king of Assyria, has sent him to make fun of the living God. Maybe the LORD your God will punish him for what he has heard him say. So pray for the remaining people who are still alive here.' "
King Hezekiah's officials came to me.
Then I said to them, "Tell your master, 'The LORD says, "Do not be afraid of what you have heard. The officers who are under the king of Assyria have spoken evil things against me.
Listen! I will send him news from his own country. It will upset him so much that he will return home. There I will have him cut down with a sword." ' "
The field commander heard that the king of Assyria had left Lachish. So the commander pulled his troops back from Jerusalem. He went to join the king. He found out that the king was fighting against Libnah.
During that time Sennacherib received a report. He was told that Tirhakah was marching out to fight against him. Tirhakah was king of Egypt. He was from the land of Cush. When Sennacherib heard the report, he sent messengers again to Hezekiah with a letter. It said,
"Tell Hezekiah, the king of Judah, 'Don't let the god you depend on trick you. He says, "Jerusalem will not be handed over to the king of Assyria." But don't believe him.
I'm sure you have heard about what the kings of Assyria have done to all of the other countries. They have destroyed them completely. So do you think you will be saved?
" 'The kings who ruled before me destroyed many nations. Did the gods of those nations save them? Did the gods of Gozan, Haran or Rezeph save them? What about the gods of the people of Eden who were in Tel Assar?
Where is the king of Hamath? Where is the king of Arpad? Where is the king of the city of Sepharvaim? Where are the kings of Hena or Ivvah?' "
When Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers, he read it. Then he went up to the LORD's temple. There he spread the letter out in front of the Lord.
Hezekiah prayed to the Lord. He said,
"LORD who rules over all, you are the God of Israel. You sit on your throne between the cherubim. You alone are God over all of the kingdoms on earth. You have made heaven and earth.
Listen, Lord. Hear us. Open your eyes, Lord. Look at the trouble we're in. Listen to what Sennacherib is saying. You are the living God. And he dares to make fun of you!
"Lord, it's true that the kings of Assyria have completely destroyed many nations and their lands.
They have thrown the statues of the gods of those nations into the fire. And they have destroyed them. That's because they weren't really gods at all. They were nothing but statues that were made out of wood and stone. They were made by human hands.
"LORD our God, save us from the powerful hand of Sennacherib. Then all of the kingdoms on earth will know that you alone are God."
I sent a message to Hezekiah. I said, "The LORD is the God of Israel. He says, 'You have prayed to me about Sennacherib, the king of Assyria.
So here is the message I have spoken against him. I am telling him, " ' "You will not win the battle over Zion. Its people hate you and make fun of you. The people of Jerusalem lift up their heads proudly as you run away.
Who have you laughed at? Who have you spoken evil things against? Who have you raised your voice against? Who have you looked at so proudly? You have done it against me. I am the Holy One of Israel!
Through your messengers you have laughed at me again and again. And you have said, 'I have many chariots. With them I have climbed to the tops of the mountains. I've climbed the highest mountains in Lebanon. I've cut down its tallest cedar trees. I've cut down the best of its pine trees. I've reached its farthest mountains. I've reached its finest forests.
I've dug wells in strange lands. I've drunk the water from them. I've walked through all of Egypt's streams. I've dried up every one of them.'
" ' "But I, the Lord, say, 'Haven't you heard what I have done? Long ago I arranged for you to do all of that. In days of old I planned it. Now I have made it happen. You have turned cities with high walls into piles of stone.
Their people do not have any power left. They are troubled and put to shame. They are like plants in the field. They are like new green plants. They are like grass that grows on a roof. It dries up before it is completely grown.
" ' " 'But I know where you live. I know when you come and go. I know how very angry you are with me.
You roar against me and brag. And I have heard your bragging. So I will put my hook in your nose. I will put my bit in your mouth. And I will make you go home by the same way you came.' " ' "
The LORD said, "Hezekiah, here is a miraculous sign for you. "This year you will eat what grows by itself. Next year you will eat what grows from that. But in the third year you will plant your crops and gather them in. You will plant your grapevines and eat their fruit.
The people of Judah who are still alive will be like plants. Once more they will put down roots and produce fruit.
Out of Jerusalem will come those who remain. Out of Mount Zion will come those who are still left alive. My great love will make sure that happens. I rule over all.
"Here is a message from me about the king of Assyria. It says, " 'He will not enter this city. He will not even shoot an arrow at it. He will not come near it with a shield. He will not build a ramp in order to climb over its walls.
By the way that he came he will go home. He will not enter this city,' announces the Lord.
"I will guard this city and save it. I will do it for myself. And I will do it for my servant David."
Then the angel of the LORD went into the camp of the Assyrians. He put to death 185,000 soldiers there. The people of Jerusalem got up the next morning. They looked out and saw all of the dead bodies.
So Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, took the army tents down. Then he left. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.
One day Sennacherib was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch. His sons Adrammelech and Sharezer cut him down with their swords. Then they escaped to the land of Ararat. Esarhaddon became the next king after his father Sennacherib.
Holy Bible, New International Reader's Version® Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998 by Biblica. All rights reserved worldwide.