2 Kings
Introduction 1-8 Hezekiah Becomes King of Judah 9-12 Israel Carried Away into Exile 13-16 Hezekiah Pays Sanherib Tribute 17-37 Bluster Against the LORD
Introduction

Here begins the last part of 2 Kings. It is about the history of Judah, the two tribes realm. This history is mainly determined by the kings Hezekiah and Josiah. The LORD has provided by each of them for a period of revival.

The history of Hezekiah can be found three times in Scripture: in 2 Kings 18-20, 2 Chronicles 29-32 and Isaiah 36-39. The fact that his history is told three times does not mean that we read the same story three times. It is not just a repetition. The history in Isaiah largely corresponds with what we find here, but in 2 Chronicles it is often different. In 2 Chronicles the priestly side is described, while here we have the historical events. In Isaiah history is described from a prophetic perspective.

In 2 Chronicles it is mainly about the restoration of the temple and the celebration of the Passover. Both events take place in the early days of the reign of Hezekiah. In 2 Kings and Isaiah it is more about events that take place in the second half of his reign.

In Isaiah this history gets its prophetic meaning. Isaiah 36-39 closes the first part of the book, with Assyria as the great enemy. This is also what will happen in the end time. The extermination of the king of Assyria, the king of the north, will be done by the LORD Himself, that is the Lord Jesus. Thereby He will deliver His people and thereafter the people will be in the realm of peace under the rule of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus. The direct lesson is that there can be trust in the Lord Jesus in the most difficult circumstances.


Hezekiah Becomes King of Judah

1Now it came about in the third year of Hoshea, the son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah became king. 2He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. 3He did right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done. 4He removed the high places and broke down the [sacred] pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan. 5He trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor [among those] who were before him. 6For he clung to the LORD; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the LORD had commanded Moses. 7And the LORD was with him; wherever he went he prospered. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. 8He defeated the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city.

Only a few years after Hezekiah becomes king, the ten tribes are deported from the land of Israel. What remains is the history of the two tribes. As has already been mentioned, the two tribes did not have let themselves be warned by what happened to the ten tribes. Nevertheless, it will take some time before for the two tribes also fall will the curtain and be taken away into exile. The two tribes remain the object of God’s grace for quite some time. In the remaining time that the two tribes live in the land, we get to see some special evidences of that grace.

The first proof is that God gives to an ungodly king, Ahaz, a God-fearing son, Hezekiah. In it we see the care of God for a remnant. The name of the mother of Hezekiah is mentioned. She is called Abi, which means ‘my father’. She knew in the LORD a Father who helped her to raise her son Hezekiah in the fear of the LORD, a fear that completely failed with Ahaz.

Hezekiah is a king upon whom the LORD looks down with joy, and who reminds him of David, the man after his heart. The first acts of Hezekiah’s reign to be noted are things that have to do with idolatry. He takes away and destroys what has seized the hearts of the people, and by which the LORD is forgotten and despised. This also includes the bronze serpent. The bronze serpent was once a blessing by the grace of God. It has been a God-given means to be healed for every member of the people who had been bitten by a poisonous serpent when he looked at it (Num 21:99And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.).

That is not to say that the bronze serpent gave healing. A person was healed only when he looked at the serpent in obedience to what God had said. So someone only looked if he believed in what God had said. However, the bronze serpent has become an object of worship instead of God. As if the bronze serpent, that piece of metal, had given the salvation.

It can also be the same with wearing a cross. The cross brings salvation to anyone who believes that Christ died there for him (Jn 3:14-1614As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;15so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.16“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.). But whoever wears a wooden cross and pays homage to it, shows that for him this cross is a mascot. That must be destroyed. This is also what Hezekiah does with the Nehushtan. He shatters this idolatrous image.

The strength of Hezekiah’s actions lies in his faithfulness. Verses 5-65He trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor [among those] who were before him.6For he clung to the LORD; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the LORD had commanded Moses. give an impressive testimony to this. There we read that “he trusted in the LORD” in a way that is unique “among all the kings of Judah”. He “clung to the LORD”, another beautiful expression. “He did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the LORD had commanded Moses.”

His whole performance bears witness of his faithfulness to the LORD, submitting himself to what the LORD has said to Moses. The word that the LORD has spoken many centuries before, is for Hezekiah the absolute measure for his behavior. The same applies to us. We, who also live in an end time, are reminded of “the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior [spoken] by your apostles” (2Pet 3:22that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior [spoken] by your apostles.; Jude 1:1717But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ,).

It should come as no surprise then that we read from Hezekiah that “the LORD was with him” and that “wherever he went he prospered”. Because he trusts in God, he puts an end to the connection with the king of Assyria. Every human support is a denial of trust in the LORD. The consequence of his breaking off of contacts with the king of Assyria was that he defeats the Philistines. The Philistines are allies of Assyria and are a great threat to Israel because of their claim to the land.


Israel Carried Away into Exile

9Now in the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria and besieged it. 10At the end of three years they captured it; in the sixth year of Hezekiah, which was the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was captured. 11Then the king of Assyria carried Israel away into exile to Assyria, and put them in Halah and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, 12because they did not obey the voice of the LORD their God, but transgressed His covenant, [even] all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded; they would neither listen nor do [it].

These verses repeat a part of the history of Israel and Hoshea (2Kgs 17:4-84But the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea, who had sent messengers to So king of Egypt and had offered no tribute to the king of Assyria, as [he had done] year by year; so the king of Assyria shut him up and bound him in prison.5Then the king of Assyria invaded the whole land and went up to Samaria and besieged it three years.6In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and carried Israel away into exile to Assyria, and settled them in Halah and Habor, [on] the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.7Now [this] came about because the sons of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and they had feared other gods8and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD had driven out before the sons of Israel, and [in the customs] of the kings of Israel which they had introduced.). One possible reason is that the writer wants to show the contrast between Hoshea and Hezekiah. Hoshea has not taken the LORD into account, while Hezekiah fully trusts in the LORD. Israel did not listen to “all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded”, which Hezekiah exactly does (verse 66For he clung to the LORD; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the LORD had commanded Moses.).


Hezekiah Pays Sanherib Tribute

13Now in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and seized them. 14Then Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, “I have done wrong. Withdraw from me; whatever you impose on me I will bear.” So the king of Assyria required of Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15Hezekiah gave [him] all the silver which was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasuries of the king’s house. 16At that time Hezekiah cut off [the gold from] the doors of the temple of the LORD, and [from] the doorposts which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.

The historian passes over ten years of the reign of Hezekiah and takes us to the fourteenth year of his reign. It seems that in the years that have passed, his confidence in faith has slowly declined, so we must now hear that he is bowing before the king of Assyria who is threatening him. His trust in God seems to have disappeared.

Hezekiah subjects to the king of Assyria and has forgotten the LORD. He has left the way of faith. When he says to the king of Assyria, “I have done wrong,” he is actually saying that his right way for the LORD is a wrong way. It is not the LORD Who is standing before him any more, but he sees things in the light of the king of Assyria. It is a sin of Hezekiah to say so.

To buy off the threat, Hezekiah proposes to the king of Assyria that he will pay what is imposed on him. The sum is determined. To pay it Hezekiah takes all the silver of the temple and of his own treasures. It is an action due to lack of faith. Hezekiah also cuts off the gold from the temple doors and doorposts to pay for what is imposed on him by the king of Assyria.


Bluster Against the LORD

17Then the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rab-saris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to King Hezekiah with a large army to Jerusalem. So they went up and came to Jerusalem. And when they went up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is on the highway of the fuller’s field. 18When they called to the king, Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebnah the scribe and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder, came out to them. 19Then Rabshakeh said to them, “Say now to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria, “What is this confidence that you have? 20You say (but [they are] only empty words), ‘[I have] counsel and strength for the war.’ Now on whom do you rely, that you have rebelled against me? 21Now behold, you rely on the staff of this crushed reed, [even] on 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 rely on him. 22But 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 has said to Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem’? 23Now therefore, come, 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 on them. 24How then can you repulse one official of the least of my master’s servants, and rely on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? 25Have I now come up without the LORD’s approval against this place to destroy it? The LORD said to me, ‘Go up against this land and destroy it.’”‘“ 26Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebnah and Joah, said to Rabshakeh, “Speak now to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand [it]; and do not speak with us in Judean in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.” 27But Rabshakeh said to them, “Has my master sent me only to your master and to you to speak these words, [and] not to the men who sit on the wall, [doomed] to eat their own dung and drink their own urine with you?” 28Then Rabshakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in Judean, saying, “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria. 29Thus says the king, ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you from my hand; 30nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, “The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” 31Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria, “Make your peace with me and come out to me, and eat each of his vine and each of his fig tree and drink each of the waters of his own cistern, 32until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live and not die.” But do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you, saying, “The LORD will deliver us.” 33Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? 34Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria from my hand? 35Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their land from my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’” 36But the people were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s commandment was, “Do not answer him.” 37Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn and told him the words of Rabshakeh.

The word “then”, which begins with verse 1717Then the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rab-saris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to King Hezekiah with a large army to Jerusalem. So they went up and came to Jerusalem. And when they went up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is on the highway of the fuller’s field., makes it clear that the enormous tribute given by Hezekiah to the king of Assyria has helped nothing. The king of Assyria continues to rob. He breaks the covenant Hezekiah made with him. He sends high officers with a large army to Jerusalem.

The place where the enemy comes (verse 17b17Then the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rab-saris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to King Hezekiah with a large army to Jerusalem. So they went up and came to Jerusalem. And when they went up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is on the highway of the fuller’s field.) is the place where Isaiah has previously met king Ahaz, the father of Hezekiah (Isa 7:33Then the LORD said to Isaiah, “Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway to the fuller’s field,). Isaiah has his little son with him on that occasion. There Ahaz is shown a way out, but he refuses to accept it in faith. At that place of water and a fuller’s field a promise is given. Water speaks of cleansing and the fuller’s field of cleansing of clothing. The name of the son of Isaiah, Shear-jashub, means ‘a rest will repent’. There is also talk about the birth of the Messiah. This is where the enemy comes up with a message that puts Hezekiah to the test.

Hezekiah sent a delegation to hear what the men of Assyria want (verse 1818When they called to the king, Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebnah the scribe and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder, came out to them.). It becomes a one-sided conversation. In verse 1919Then Rabshakeh said to them, “Say now to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria, “What is this confidence that you have?, the commander begins an impressive speech with much rhetoric. There is a lot of what is true in this and there is also a lot of falsehood. Everything he says is meant to frighten Hezekiah and the men of Judah.

He begins by presenting the king of Assyria as “the great king”. The question in verse 2020You say (but [they are] only empty words), ‘[I have] counsel and strength for the war.’ Now on whom do you rely, that you have rebelled against me? is a penetrating and justified question. In verse 2121Now behold, you rely on the staff of this crushed reed, [even] on 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 rely on him. Hezekiah must hear from the mouth of a heathen that his trust is not in the LORD, but in an earthly king. This is a correct and sad observation. Egypt is not to rely on. The LORD himself compares Egypt to a broken reed (Eze 29:6-76“Then all the inhabitants of Egypt will know that I am the LORD,
Because they have been [only] a staff [made] of reed to the house of Israel.
7“When they took hold of you with the hand,
You broke and tore all their hands;
And when they leaned on you,
You broke and made all their loins quake.”
).

But, the commander goes on, if Hezekiah would say that he trusts in the LORD, this also means nothing (verse 2222But 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 has said to Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem’?). Hezekiah may have taken away the high places, but what has that yielded? Has this brought any good to the people? Are they grateful for that? The commander tries to create discord between Hezekiah and the people, because the people hear everything the commander says.

Another argument for breaking the resistance is to point out the weakness of Hezekiah’s army (verses 23-2423Now therefore, come, 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 on them.24How then can you repulse one official of the least of my master’s servants, and rely on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen?). His whole army is nothing. Hezekiah would not even be able to supply the horsemen for two thousand horses if the king of Assyria gave them to him.

Another argument to impress the men of Judah is a reference to a command of the LORD which the commander would have to come up (verse 2525Have I now come up without the LORD’s approval against this place to destroy it? The LORD said to me, ‘Go up against this land and destroy it.’”‘“). He says that without any faith. At the same time there is truth in it, because the Assyrians are God’s rod of discipline for His people. This statement will therefore turn against him, because while he says what is true, he does nothing to change his relationship with God.

It seems that the commander is silent for a moment to see how his words are reacted to. Hezekiah’s delegation also reacts (verse 2626Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebnah and Joah, said to Rabshakeh, “Speak now to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand [it]; and do not speak with us in Judean in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.”), but without any resistance. They give no sign of trust in the all-powerful God, the God of His people. Their reaction is one of fear. They do not want the people to hear this, because it will only discourage them more. But that is precisely the intention of the commander.

The reaction elicits another tirade from the commander. Encouraged by what the delegation has said in their fear, he speaks to all the people who are there. They should listen carefully to his words, otherwise they will, together with the leaders of the people, feed themselves with their own excrements and quench their thirst with their own urine (verse 2727But Rabshakeh said to them, “Has my master sent me only to your master and to you to speak these words, [and] not to the men who sit on the wall, [doomed] to eat their own dung and drink their own urine with you?”). When he has painted this picture in front of them, the commander, in Judean and with a loud voice, starts again with the representation of “the great king” (verse 2828Then Rabshakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in Judean, saying, “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria.; cf. verse 1919Then Rabshakeh said to them, “Say now to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria, “What is this confidence that you have?).

The people must understand well that Hezekiah is a worthless and misleading king. Hezekiah is powerless, as is the LORD, to whom Hezekiah refers (verses 29-3029Thus says the king, ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you from my hand;30nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, “The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.”). No, it is better for them to surrender to the king of Assyria. Instead of feeding on their excrement and quenching their thirst with their own urine, they will eat the delicious fruits of their own vine and fig tree and drink water from their own well (verse 3131Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria, “Make your peace with me and come out to me, and eat each of his vine and each of his fig tree and drink each of the waters of his own cistern,).

The commander, clever and misleading as he is, makes it very attractive to surrender by presenting the country where he will lead God’s people as the same country they now live in (verse 3232until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live and not die.” But do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you, saying, “The LORD will deliver us.”). Faith will see this immediately. That land is not the land of God; for his temple is not there, where he cistern. It all seems to look beautiful, but the LORD is not there. Let us also hold on to what God has given and not exchange it for false promises.

The deeds he mentions (verses 33-3533Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria?34Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria from my hand?35Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their land from my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’”) are right, but he commits folly to lower the LORD to an idol. The LORD is for him as one of the idols of the other countries. This foolish and low view will therefore ultimately lead to his insulting downfall.

The reaction of Hezekiah’s delegation to this second speech by the commander is one of silence (verse 3636But the people were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s commandment was, “Do not answer him.”). They remain silent because Hezekiah had told them to. It is sometimes good and important not to respond to certain statements. Silence sometimes speaks more clearly and louder than speaking. Not that the mission is silent in faith. The promise has brought them into deep dismay. With torn clothes they go to Hezekiah and tell him what the commander said (verse 3737Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn and told him the words of Rabshakeh.).


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