Assyria Challenges God (2 Kings 18:13-37; 2 Chronicles 32:1-19)
Verse 1 – Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah that Sennacherib King of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them.
The Assyrians had defeated the northern kingdom of Israel and put Judah in a position of having to pay tribute to the Assyrians. They had already taken some of the smaller cities on their way to Jerusalem.
Verse 2 – Then the King of Assyria sent the Rabshakeh with a great army from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. And he stood by the aqueduct from the upper pool, on the highway to the Fuller’s field.
Verse 3 – And Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder came out to him.
Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah were high-ranking Judean officials who negotiated on behalf of King Hezekiah.
Verse 4 – Then the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say now to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great King, the King of Assyria: “What confidence is this in which you trust?
Verse 5 – “I say you speak of having counsel and strength for war; but they are vain words. Now in whom do you trust, that you rebel against me?”
Verse 6 – “Look! You are trusting in the staff of this broken reed, Egypt, on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh King of Egypt to all who trust in him.”
Verse 7 – “But if you say to me, ‘We trust in the Lord our God,’ is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and said to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar?”‘
Verse 8 – “Now therefore, I urge you, give a pledge to my master the King of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses-if you are able on your part to put riders on them!
This field commander from Assyria claimed that Hezekiah had insulted God by tearing down all the altars and making the people only worship in Jerusalem. In reality, Hezekiah had torn down the idol worshiping altars.
Verse 9 – “How then will you repel the captain of the least of my master’s servants, and put your trust in Egypt for chariots and horsemen?
Verse 10 – “Have I now come up without the Lord against this land to destroy it? The Lord said to me, ‘Go up against this land, and destroy it!”
Sennacherib continued his demoralization campaign by sending a field commander to try to convince the people of Judah that God had turned against them. The Assyrians thought they could convince the people of Judah to surrender without fighting.
Verse 11 – Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said to Rabshakeh, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic language, for we understand it; and do not speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.”
The leaders of Judah didn’t want the people to be frightened by what the Rabshakeh’s was saying, so they requested them to speak in Aramaic.
Verse 12 – But the Rabshakeh said, “Has my master sent me to your master and to you to speak these words, and not to the men who sit on the wall, who will eat and drink their own waste with you?”
Verse 13 – Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out with a loud voice in Hebrew, and said, “Hear the words of the great king, the King of Assyria!
Verse 14 – “Thus says the king: “Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you;
Verse 15 – ‘nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, “The Lord will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the King of Assyria.”‘ (2 Kings 18:29)
Verse 16 – “Do not listen to Hezekiah; for thus says the King of Assyria: ‘Make peace with me by a present and come out to me; and every one of you eat from his own vine and every one from his own fig tree, and every one of you drink the waters of his own cistern;
Verse 17 – ‘until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, and a land of grain and new wine, and land of bread and vineyards.
Sennacherib appealed to the starving people who were held up inside the walls of the city, offering to give them plenty of food if they surrendered.
Verse 18 – ‘Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, “The Lord will deliver us. Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered its land from the hand of the King of Assyria?
Verse 19 – ‘Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharuaim? Indeed, have they delivered Samaria from my hand?
Verse 20 ‘Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their countries from my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’ ”
The Assyrian army had taken Samaria, the northern kingdom and they knew the Lord God was their God, so what made the people of Judah think their same God would deliver them now. However, for the Lord’s own sake and for the sake of David, the Lord would deliver and rescue them from the Assyrian army.
Verse 21 – But they held their peace and answered him not a word; for the king’s commandment was, “Do not answer him.”
Verse 22 – Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and told him the words of the Rabshakeh.
Hezekiah had not given his authority to negotiate with Assyria.