Good News Translation (GNB)

King Hezekiah of Judah

(2 Chr 29.1–2; 31.1)

181In the third year of the reign of Hoshea son of Elah as king of Israel, Hezekiah son of Ahaz became king of Judah 2at the age of 25, and he ruled in Jerusalem for 29 years. His mother was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. 3Following the example of his ancestor King David, he did what was pleasing to the LORD. 4

Num 21.9
He destroyed the pagan places of worship, broke the stone pillars, and cut down the images of the goddess Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze snake that Moses had made, which was called Nehushtan. Up to that time the people of Israel had burnt incense in its honour. 5Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel; Judah never had another king like him, either before or after his time. 6He was faithful to the LORD and never disobeyed him, but carefully kept all the commands that the LORD had given Moses. 7So the LORD was with him, and he was successful in everything he did. He rebelled against the emperor of Assyria and refused to submit to him. 8He defeated the Philistines, and raided their settlements, from the smallest village to the largest city, including Gaza and its surrounding territory.

9In the fourth year of Hezekiah's reign — which was the seventh year of King Hoshea's reign over Israel — Emperor Shalmaneser of Assyria invaded Israel and besieged Samaria. 10In the third year of the siege, Samaria fell; this was the sixth year of Hezekiah's reign, and the ninth year of Hoshea's reign. 11The Assyrian emperor18.11 Assyrian emperor: See 17.6. took the Israelites to Assyria as prisoners and settled some of them in the city of Halah, some near the River Habor in the district of Gozan, and some in the cities of Media.

12Samaria fell because the Israelites did not obey the LORD their God, but broke the covenant he had made with them and disobeyed all the laws given by Moses, the servant of the LORD. They would not listen and they would not obey.

The Assyrians Threaten Jerusalem

(2 Chr 32.1–19; Is 36.1–22)

13In the fourteenth year of the reign of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib, the emperor of Assyria, attacked the fortified cities of Judah and conquered them. 14Hezekiah sent a message to Sennacherib, who was in Lachish: “I have done wrong; please stop your attack, and I will pay whatever you demand.” The emperor's answer was that Hezekiah should send him ten tonnes of silver and one tonne of gold. 15Hezekiah sent him all the silver in the Temple and in the palace treasury; 16he also stripped the gold from the temple doors and the gold with which he himself had covered the doorposts, and he sent it all to Sennacherib. 17The Assyrian emperor sent a large army from Lachish to attack Hezekiah at Jerusalem; it was commanded by his three highest officials. When they arrived at Jerusalem, they occupied the road where the clothmakers work, by the ditch that brings water from the upper pond. 18Then they sent for King Hezekiah, and three of his officials went out to meet them: Eliakim son of Hilkiah, who was in charge of the palace; Shebna, the court secretary; and Joah son of Asaph, who was in charge of the records. 19One of the Assyrian officials told them that the emperor wanted to know what made King Hezekiah so confident. 20He demanded, “Do you think that words can take the place of military skill and might? Who do you think will help you rebel against Assyria? 21You are expecting Egypt to help you, but that would be like using a reed as a walking stick — it would break and jab your hand. That is what the king of Egypt is like when anyone relies on him.”

22The Assyrian official went on, “Or will you tell me that you are relying on the LORD your God? It was the LORD's shrines and altars that Hezekiah destroyed, when he told the people of Judah and Jerusalem to worship only at the altar in Jerusalem. 23I will make a bargain with you in the name of the emperor. I will give you 2,000 horses if you can find that many men to ride them! 24You are no match for even the lowest ranking Assyrian official, and yet you expect the Egyptians to send you chariots and horsemen! 25Do you think I have attacked your country and destroyed it without the LORD's help? The LORD himself told me to attack it and destroy it.”

26Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah told the official, “Speak Aramaic to us, sir. We understand it. Don't speak Hebrew; all the people on the wall are listening.”

27He replied, “Do you think you and the king are the only ones the emperor sent me to say all these things to? No, I am also talking to the people who are sitting on the wall, who will have to eat their excrement and drink their urine, just as you will.”

28Then the official stood up and shouted in Hebrew, “Listen to what the emperor of Assyria is telling you! 29He warns you not to let Hezekiah deceive you. Hezekiah can't save you. 30And don't let him persuade you to rely on the LORD. Don't think that the LORD will save you, and that he will stop our Assyrian army from capturing your city. 31Don't listen to Hezekiah. The emperor of Assyria commands you to come out of the city and surrender. You will all be allowed to eat grapes from your own vines, and figs from your own trees, and to drink water from your own wells — 32until the emperor resettles you in a country much like your own, where there are vineyards to give wine and there is corn for making bread; it is a land of olives, olive oil, and honey. If you do what he commands, you will not die, but live. Don't let Hezekiah fool you into thinking that the LORD will rescue you. 33Did the gods of any other nations save their countries from the emperor of Assyria? 34Where are they now, the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Did anyone save Samaria? 35When did any of the gods of all these countries ever save their country from our emperor? Then what makes you think the LORD can save Jerusalem?”

36The people kept quiet, just as King Hezekiah had told them to; they did not say a word. 37Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah tore their clothes in grief, and went and reported to the king what the Assyrian official had said.


The King Asks Isaiah's Advice

(Is 37.1–7)

191As soon as King Hezekiah heard their report, he tore his clothes in grief, put on sackcloth, and went to the Temple of the LORD. 2He sent Eliakim, the official in charge of the palace, Shebna, the court secretary, and the senior priests to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. They also were wearing sackcloth. 3This is the message which he told them to give Isaiah: “Today is a day of suffering; we are being punished and are in disgrace. We are like a woman who is ready to give birth, but is too weak to do it. 4The Assyrian emperor has sent his chief official to insult the living God. May the LORD your God hear these insults and punish those who spoke them. So pray to God for those of our people who survive.”

5When Isaiah received King Hezekiah's message, 6he sent back this answer: “The LORD tells you not to let the Assyrians frighten you with their claims that he cannot save you. 7The LORD will cause the emperor to hear a rumour that will make him go back to his own country, and the LORD will have him killed there.”

The Assyrians Send Another Threat

(Is 37.8–20)

8The Assyrian official learnt that the emperor had left Lachish and was fighting against the nearby city of Libnah; so he went there to consult him. 9Word reached the Assyrians that the Egyptian army, led by King Tirhakah of Ethiopia19.9 Ethiopia: See Word List., was coming to attack them. When the emperor heard this, he sent a letter to King Hezekiah of Judah 10to say to him, “The god you are trusting in has told you that you will not fall into my hands, but don't let that deceive you. 11You have heard what an Assyrian emperor does to any country he decides to destroy. Do you think that you can escape? 12My ancestors destroyed the cities of Gozan, Haran, and Rezeph, and killed the people of Betheden who lived in Telassar, and none of their gods could save them. 13Where are the kings of the cities of Hamath, Arpad, Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?”

14King Hezekiah took the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went to the Temple, placed the letter there in the presence of the LORD, 15

Ex 25.22
and prayed, “O LORD, the God of Israel, enthroned above the winged creatures, you alone are God, ruling all the kingdoms of the world. You created the earth and the sky. 16Now, LORD, look at what is happening to us. Listen to all the things that Sennacherib is saying to insult you, the living God. 17We all know, LORD, that the emperors of Assyria have destroyed many nations, made their lands desolate, 18and burnt up their gods — which were no gods at all, only images of wood and stone made by human hands. 19Now, LORD our God, rescue us from the Assyrians, so that all the nations of the world will know that only you, O LORD, are God.”

Isaiah's Message to the King

(Is 37.21–38)

20Then Isaiah sent a message telling King Hezekiah that in answer to the king's prayer 21the LORD had said, “The city of Jerusalem laughs at you, Sennacherib, and despises you. 22Whom do you think you have been insulting and ridiculing? You have been disrespectful to me, the holy God of Israel. 23You sent your messengers to boast to me that with all your chariots you had conquered the highest mountains of Lebanon. You boasted that there you cut down the tallest cedars and the finest cypress trees and that you reached the deepest parts of the forests. 24You boasted that you dug wells and drank water in foreign lands and that the feet of your soldiers tramped the River Nile dry.

25“Have you never heard that I planned all this long ago? And now I have carried it out. I gave you the power to turn fortified cities into piles of rubble. 26The people who lived there were powerless; they were frightened and stunned. They were like grass in a field or weeds growing on a roof when the hot east wind blasts them.19.26 Probable text when the hot east wind blasts them; Hebrew blasted before they are grown.

27“But I know everything about you, what you do and where you go. I know how you rage against me. 28I have received the report of that rage and that pride of yours, and now I will put a hook through your nose and a bit in your mouth, and take you back by the same road you came.”

29Then Isaiah said to King Hezekiah, “This is a sign of what will happen. This year and next you will have only wild grain to eat, but the following year you will be able to sow your corn and harvest it, and plant vines and eat grapes. 30Those in Judah who survive will flourish like plants that send roots deep into the ground and produce fruit. 31There will be people in Jerusalem and on Mount Zion who will survive, because the LORD is determined to make this happen.

32“This is what the LORD has said about the Assyrian emperor: ‘He will not enter this city or shoot a single arrow against it. No soldiers with shields will come near the city, and no siege mounds will be built round it. 33He will go back by the same road he came, without entering this city. I, the LORD, have spoken. 34I will defend this city and protect it, for the sake of my own honour and because of the promise I made to my servant David.’ ”

35That night an angel of the LORD went to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 soldiers. At dawn the next day, there they lay, all dead! 36Then the Assyrian emperor Sennacherib withdrew and returned to Nineveh. 37One day, when he was worshipping in the temple of his god Nisroch, two of his sons, Adrammelech and Sharezer, killed him with their swords, and then escaped to the land of Ararat. Another of his sons, Esarhaddon, succeeded him as emperor.


King Hezekiah's Illness and Recovery

(Is 38.1–8, 21–22; 2 Chr 32.24–26)

201About this time King Hezekiah fell ill and almost died. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to see him and said to him, “The LORD tells you that you are to put everything in order, because you will not recover. Get ready to die.”

2Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed: 3“Remember, LORD, that I have served you faithfully and loyally, and that I have always tried to do what you wanted me to.” And he began to cry bitterly.

4Isaiah left the king, but before he had passed through the central courtyard of the palace the LORD told him 5to go back to Hezekiah, ruler of the LORD's people, and say to him, “I, the LORD, the God of your ancestor David, have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you, and in three days you will go to the Temple. 6I will let you live fifteen years longer. I will rescue you and this city of Jerusalem from the emperor of Assyria. I will defend this city, for the sake of my own honour and because of the promise I made to my servant David.”

7Then Isaiah told the king's attendants to put on his boil a paste made of figs, and he would get well.20.7 One ancient translation (and see Is 38.21) figs, and he would get well; Hebrew figs. They did so, and he got well. 8King Hezekiah asked, “What is the sign to prove that the LORD will heal me and that three days later I will be able to go to the Temple?”

9Isaiah replied, “The LORD will give you a sign to prove that he will keep his promise. Now, would you prefer the shadow on the stairway to go forward ten steps or go back ten steps?”20.9 stairwaystepssteps; or sundial… divisions… divisions.

10Hezekiah answered, “It's easy to make the shadow go forward ten steps!20.10; 20.11 steps; or divisions. Make it go back ten steps.”20.10; 20.11 steps; or divisions.

11Isaiah prayed to the LORD, and the LORD made the shadow go back ten steps20.11; 20.10 steps; or divisions. on the stairway20.11 stairway; or sundial. Archaeological evidence suggests that the stairway referred to in this passage was one specially constructed to tell the time. set up by King Ahaz.

Messengers from Babylonia

(Is 39.1–8)

12About that same time the king of Babylonia, Merodach Baladan, the son of Baladan, heard that King Hezekiah had been ill, so he sent him a letter and a present. 13Hezekiah welcomed the messengers and showed them his wealth — his silver and gold, his spices and perfumes, and all his military equipment. There was nothing in his storerooms or anywhere in his kingdom that he did not show them. 14Then the prophet Isaiah went to King Hezekiah and asked, “Where did these men come from and what did they say to you?”

Hezekiah answered, “They came from a very distant country, from Babylonia.”

15“What did they see in the palace?”

“They saw everything. There is nothing in the storerooms that I didn't show them.”

16Isaiah then said to the king, “The LORD Almighty says that 17

2 Kgs 24.13
2 Chr 36.10
a time is coming when everything in your palace, everything that your ancestors have stored up to this day, will be carried off to Babylonia. Nothing will be left. 18
2 Kgs 24.14–15
Dan 1.1–7
Some of your own direct descendants will be taken away and made eunuchs to serve in the palace of the king of Babylonia.”

19King Hezekiah understood this to mean that there would be peace and security during his lifetime, so he replied, “The message you have given me from the LORD is good.”

The End of Hezekiah's Reign

(2 Chr 32.32–33)

20Everything else that King Hezekiah did, his brave deeds, and an account of how he built a reservoir and dug a tunnel to bring water into the city, are all recorded in The History of the Kings of Judah. 21Hezekiah died, and his son Manasseh succeeded him as king.