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Judah under Hezekiah

1IN the third year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, Hezekiah son of King Ahaz of Judah became king.

2He was twenty-five years old when he came to the throne, and he reigned in Jerusalem for twenty-nine years; his mother was Abi daughter of Zechariah.

3He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as his ancestor David had done.

4It was he who suppressed the shrines, smashed the sacred pillars, cut down every sacred pole, and broke up the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been in the habit of burning sacrifices to it; they called it Nehushtan.

5He put his trust in the LORD the God of Israel; there was nobody like him among all the kings of Judah who succeeded him or among those who had gone before him.

6He remained loyal to the LORD and did not fail in his allegiance to him, and he kept the commandments which the LORD had given to Moses.

7The LORD was with him and he prospered in all that he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and was no longer subject to him;

8he conquered the Philistine country as far as Gaza and its boundaries, from watch-tower to fortified city.

9In the fourth year of Hezekiah's reign, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, King Shalmaneser of Assyria marched up against Samaria, laid siege to it,

10and captured it at the end of three years; it was in the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is the ninth year of King Hoshea of Israel, that Samaria was captured.

11The king of Assyria deported the Israelites to Assyria and settled them in Halah and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of Media,

12because they did not obey the LORD their God but violated his covenant and every commandment that Moses the servant of the LORD had given them; they would not listen and they would not obey.

13In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah's reign, King Sennacherib of Assyria attacked and captured all the fortified towns of Judah.

14Hezekiah sent a message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: “I have done wrong; withdraw from me, and I shall pay any penalty you impose upon me.” The king of Assyria laid on Hezekiah king of Judah a penalty of three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold;

15and Hezekiah gave him all the silver found in the house of the LORD and in the treasuries of the palace.

16At that time Hezekiah stripped of their gold the doors of the temple of the LORD and the door-frames which he himself had plated, and gave it to the king of Assyria.

17From Lachish the king of Assyria sent the commander-in-chief, the chief eunuch, and the chief officer with a strong force to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. They marched up and when they reached Jerusalem they halted by the conduit of the Upper Pool on the causeway leading to the Fuller's Field.

18When they called for the king, the comptroller of the household, Eliakim son of Hilkiah, came out to them with Shebna, the adjutant-general, and Joah son of Asaph, the secretary of state.

19The chief officer said to them, “Tell Hezekiah that this is the message of the Great King, the king of Assyria: ‘What ground have you for this confidence of yours?

20Do you think words can take the place of skill and military strength? On whom then do you rely for support in your rebellion against me?

21On Egypt? Egypt is a splintered cane that will run into a man's hand and pierce it if he leans on it. That is what Pharaoh king of Egypt proves to all who rely on him.

22And if you tell me that you are relying on the LORD your God, is he not the god whose shrines and altars Hezekiah has suppressed, telling Judah and Jerusalem they must worship at this altar in Jerusalem?’

23“Now, make a deal with my master the king of Assyria: I shall give you two thousand horses if you can find riders for them.

24How then can you reject the authority of even the least of my master's servants and rely on Egypt for chariots and horsemen?

25Do you think that I have come to attack this place and destroy it without the consent of the LORD? No; the LORD himself said to me, ‘Go up and destroy this land.’”

26Eliakim son of Hilkiah, Shebna, and Joah said to the chief officer, “Please speak to us in Aramaic, for we understand it; do not speak Hebrew to us within earshot of the people on the city wall.”

27The chief officer answered, “Is it to your master and to you that my master has sent me to say this? Is it not to the people sitting on the wall who, like you, will have to eat their own dung and drink their own urine?”

28Then he stood and shouted in Hebrew, “Hear the message of the Great King, the king of Assyria!

29These are the king's words: ‘Do not be taken in by Hezekiah. He is powerless to save you from me.

30Do not let him persuade you to rely on the LORD, and tell you that the LORD will surely save you and that this city will never be surrendered to the king of Assyria.’

31Do not listen to Hezekiah, for this is what the king of Assyria says: ‘Make your peace with me, and surrender. Then every one of you will eat the fruit of his own vine and of his own fig tree, and drink the water of his own cistern,

32until I come and take you to a land like your own, a land of grain and new wine, of bread and vineyards, of olives, fine oil, and honey -- life for you all, instead of death. Do not listen to Hezekiah; he will only mislead you by telling you that the LORD will save you.

33Did any god of the nations save his land from the king of Assyria's power?

34Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Where are the gods of Samaria? Did they save Samaria from me?

35Among all the gods of the nations is there one who saved his land from me? So how is the LORD to save Jerusalem?’”

36The people remained silent and said not a word in reply, for the king had given orders that no one was to answer him.

37Eliakim son of Hilkiah, comptroller of the household, Shebna the adjutant-general, and Joah son of Asaph, secretary of state, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn and reported the words of the chief officer.

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