A Prophet Who Saved A Great City
Once the king of Assyria sent a high official with a great army to Jerusalem. When they arrived at Jerusalem, they called for Hezekiah the ruler of Judah, Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, Shebnah, the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, and they came out to them. And the high official said to them, “Why are you so confident? To whom do you look for help that you have rebelled against me? You count on egypt to help you. Pharaoh, king of Egypt, is as weak as a broken reed. But if you say, ‘We trust in the LORD our God,’ is not he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah has destroyed? Now therefore make a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders upon them. How then can you conquer one of the least of my master’s servants? Have I now come up against this place to destroy it without the LORD’s approval? the LORD it was who said to me, ‘Go up against this land and destroy it.'”
Then Eliakim and Shebnah and Joah said to the high official, “Speak, I pray you, to your servants in the Aramaic language, for we understand it; but do not speak with us in the Jewish language in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.” But the high official said to them, “Has my master sent me to your master and to you to speak these words? Is it not rather to the men who sit on the wall, who will suffer most from the siege?”
Then the high official stood and cried with a loud voice, in the Jewish language, saying, “Hear the message of the great king, the king of Assyria. ‘Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you; for he will not be able to save you from my hand. Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD by saying, the LORD will surely save us, and this city shall not be given into the power of the king of Assyria.'”
“Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria, ‘Make your peace with me and come over to me; then each one of you shall eat from his own vine and his own fig-tree and drink the waters of his own cistern, until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land full of grain and new wine, a land full of bread and vineyards, a land full of olive-trees and honey, that you may live and not die. But do not listen to Hezekiah, when he deceives you by saying, the LORD will save us. Has any of the gods of the nations ever saved his land from the power of the king of Assyria? Have the gods of the land of Samaria saved Samaria from my power? Who are they among all the gods of the countries, that have saved their country from my power, that the LORD should save Jerusalem from my power?'”
Then the people were silent and made no answer; for the ruler’s command was, “Do not answer him.” But Eliakim, the steward of the palace, and Shebnah, the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, came to Hezekiah with torn clothes and told him the words of the high official. And as soon as Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the temple of the LORD. And he sent Eliakim, who was in charge of the palace, and Shebnah, the scribe and the oldest of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah, the prophet. And they said to him, Hezekiah says, “This is a day of trouble, of discipline and of shame. It may be the LORD your God will hear all the words of the high official, whom his master, the king of Assyria, has sent to defy the living God, and will punish him for them; therefore lift up your prayer for the people.”
When the servants of Hezekiah came to Isaiah, Isaiah said to them, “Take back this answer to your master: the LORD says, ‘Do not be afraid of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have insulted me. I will put a spirit in him, so that he will hear bad news and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.'”
So the high official returned and found the king of Assyria making war against Libnah, for he had heard that he had gone from Lachish. But the king of Assyria had heard that Tirkakah, king of Ethiopia, had come out to fight against him. Now that very night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and eighty-five thousand. And when men arose early the next morning, these were all dead.
Then Sennacherib, king of Assyria, went away and returned to Nineveh. While he was worshipping in the temple of Nisroch his god, his sons struck him down with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon, his son, became king in his place.
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