Verses 4-7 – Hezekiah had one of the longest lists of good qualities of all the good kings. He had the right attitude and persisted in doing good. Because of his obedience, God prospered him in everything.
The bronze snake had been made to cure the Israelites of the bite of venomous snakes (Numbers 21:4-9), but it had become an object of worship instead of a reminder of whom to worship, so Hezekiah destroyed it. The objects that people use to worship shouldn’t become an idol.
The statement, “There was no one like him…” refers to after the division of the kingdom and does not include David.
When Hezekiah became king, Assyria controlled Judah. Hezekiah rebelled against this mighty empire to whom his father had submitted.
Verses 9-12 – (These verses flash back to the days just before Israel’s destruction.) Hezekiah reigned with his father Ahaz for 14 years, by himself for 18 years, and with his son Manasseh for 11 years. This totaled 43 years. The 29 years listed in 18:2 indicate only those years in which Hezekiah had complete control of the kingdom. While Hezekiah was on the throne, the nation of Israel to the north was destroyed. (There is more on Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 29-32 and Isaiah 36-39)
Verse 13 – Sennacherib was the son of Sargon II, the king who had deported Israel’s people into captivity. To keep Assyria from attacking the southern kingdom they had to pay tribute annually.
When Sennacherib became king, Hezekiah stopped paying this money, hoping Assyria would ignore them. When Sennacherib and his army retaliated, Hezekiah paid the tribute money, but Sennacherib attacked anyway.
Verse 16 – Hezekiah stripped all the silver found in the Lord’s temple even taking the gold off of the doors and doorposts.
Verses 17, 18 – Whatever had happened previously, the Assyrian’s were now threatening Jerusalem, the last outpost of orthodox worship of Yahweh.
Verses 19-22 – The Assyrians claimed that Yahweh was the deity who had sent the Assyrians to punish Hezekiah.
Verse 26 – Aramaic was normal language for international dealings, but the Assyrian diplomatic corps included Hebrew speakers.
Verses 28-30 – The Rabshakeh insisted on shouting in Hebrew rather than Aramaic his discouraging message to the soldiers on the wall.
Verses 36, 37 – The torn cloths were a formal declaration of grief.