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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

2 Kings 18

Verses 1-8

Second Kings - Chapter 18 AND Second Chronicles - Chapter 29

Hezekiah Reigns in Judah – Commentary on 2 Kings 18:1-8 AND 2 Chronicles 29:1-2

Hezekiah is a refreshing spring in a hot desert of wickedness, after a succession of dry wadis. Evil men in rapid order brought the history of the northern kingdom to its end, and Hezekiah himself was the son of the most wicked man ever to sit on Judah’s throne to that time. One might be warranted in some speculation as to why Judah wound up with a God-fearing king after the evil Ahaz. It has already been seen that God evidently removed Ahaz from the scene at a young age. This brought to the throne a young man, Hezekiah, who had received godly training from someone. His mother seems to be a likely source. She is called the daughter of Zechariah, which might mean she was a descendant of that man. This leads to the speculation that her foreparent was the godly counsellor of Hezekiah’s great grandfather, Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:5).

A most commendable thing is said of Hezekiah, that he did right in the Lord’s sight, as had his great forefather, David. He trusted in the Lord, so that there was no king of Judah like him before or after his time. David and Solomon were, of course, kings. of the united tribes and are not included. There had been godly kings of Judah, as Asa, Jehoshaphat, Uzziah, and Jotham, but Hezekiah excelled. When in later years Josiah reigns over Judah a very similar thing will be said of him, and this statement will need to be evaluated further then (2 Kings 23:25).

Hezekiah eradicted the land of its long-standing high places, broke the idol images, cleared the prostitutes’ groves. He even destroyed the old brazen serpent’ which had been kept through the centuries. He called it Nehushtan, a mere "piece of brass," for the people had enshrined it and were burning incense before it. This reminds one of the multiplicity of shrines to men and women today, and of sites where some spectacular event occurred. It is possible to allow such things to get far out of hand, when people give reverence to them.

Hezekiah clung to the Lord, did not forsake His commandments. The Lord blessed him and made Hezekiah aware of His presence and strength with him. In this divine assurance Hezekiah broke the shameful alliance which Ahaz his father had formulated with the wicked kings of Assyria and refused to pay the tribute any longer. To strengthen himself and Judah further Hezekiah fought against the Philistines and got them aligned again. All the Philistine coastland from the watchtower all the way to Gaza were subjugated.

2 Chronicles 29:3-11

Hezekiah Issues a Challenge - 2 Chronicles 29:3-11

A prime mark of the godliness of the new king Hezekiah, is the fact that he opened up the doors of the temple, which had been closed by his father, Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:24), in the very first year, the first month, of his reign. These he had repaired and convened the priests and Levites in the street east of the temple, or in front of it. The closed temple had left these people without a task to perform, and to appearances they were not greatly concerned about it. In addressing them the king called on them to sanctify themselves to return to the service, then proceed to the sanctification of the temple itself, cleansing it of the filthiness which it had accumulated under the misrule of Ahaz.

From this Hezekiah continued to a confession of the sins of the fathers. They had trespassed against the Lord and done evil in His eyes. They had forsaken him and turned from the temple and its worship. Their utter lack of concern was demonstrated in their allowing the closing of the doors of the temple. The lights on the lampstand had gone out, the incense had been discontinued on the altar of incense in the holy place, and the burnt offerings were no longer carried out in accordance with the Levitical statutes.

For these things, the wrath of God had fallen on Judah and Jerusalem. They had suffered calamities by their enemies; those who once had seen the mighty power of the Lord on Israel’s behalf were astonished at the change in their affairs. They had become a hissing, or an object of mockery and ridicule, which Israel could see with their own eyes. Still worse the people had suffered. Their men had fallen to the sword from the time of their fathers, as witness the loss of the 120,000 in the war with Syria and Israel. At the same time the women, their sons and their daughters had, many of them, been carried away into captivity. It was not hard to see that God’s hand was upon them in judgment.

The priests and the Levites had to assume a great deal of the blame, for they had been negligent in their example and teaching of the people and seemingly content to have the house of the Lord closed. That had been a negative example to the people (Isaiah 24:2). So Hezekiah proposes to renew the covenant of Israel with the Lord. He says it is in his heart, meaning that it is a sincere desire, doubtless inspired by his devotion to the Lord. He calls on these spiritual leaders to get out of their lethargy and negligence and to fulfill their responsibility as given them by the Lord Himself, to renew their ministry in the temple and burn the incense daily again, as it once was.

2 Chronicles 29:12-19

Temple Cleansed - 2 Chronicles 29:12-19

The Levites responded to the king’s challenge at once and set about to cleanse themselves. None of those named are otherwise notable in the Scriptures, but each of the major Levitical families are named, implying unanimous approval of the covenant renewal. These were the three chief families of the tribe of Levi; Kohath, Merari, and Gershon. Also represented in the effort were the families of the musicians and singers, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun. These sanctified themselves and presented themselves at the temple to assist the priests in disposal of the filth and trash from the sanctuary.

The priests went into the sacrosanct areas of the temple where they alone were permitted to go and began the clean-up there. This they brought out to the court where the Levites could take it and dump it into the brook Kidron. This cleansing of the inner sanctuary of the temple was begun by the priests on the first day of the month and was completed from the holy of holies out to the porch in a period of a week, that task being completed on the eighth day. By the sixteenth day of the month the job of cleansing the Lord’s house was done. They reported to Hezekiah the cleansing of the house, the altar and its vessels, and the shewbred table and its vessels. All the vessels which wicked King Ahaz had discarded in his pagan worship were restored and sanctified and put in their place before the altar.

The Lord cannot be worshipped acceptably when there is fifth in His house, and a cleansed house necessitates the cleansing of the heart and life. The New Testament contains many admonitions to believers to cleanse their temples (1 Corinthians 3:16). Only thus can they be acceptable in His service (see James 4:8).

2 Chronicles 29:20-36

Temple Re-consecrated - 2 Chronicles 29:20-36

That Hezekiah rose early means that he began promptly and without delay the task of calling the pepple of Judah to renewal of the covenant of the Lord. He gathered the rulers of Jerusalem to the temple. These brought seven each of all clean animals, bullocks, rams, lambs, and he-goats, for sin offering for the kingdom (king’s house), sanctuary (temple), and Judah (people). The priests were commanded to officiate in the offering of these animals, and they proceeded to kill them. They began with the bullocks which they killed, and sprinkled the blood on the altar. The same was done with the rams and the lambs. Then the goats were brought finally, and in the presence of the congregation the priests killed them, after the king and the people laid their hands on them, this signifying their offering of the animals as the substitute for their sins. Burnt offerings and sin offerings were made for all Israel.

The Levites bearing the musical instruments and singing sounded their instruments just as the ceremony had been established centuries before under the guidance of David the king, Gad his seer, and Nathan the prophet, and just as God’s prophets had preached they should be doing during their apostasy under Ahaz. As the burnt offering was being made and the music was playing the people worshipped. The singers sang the psalms of David and Asaph and the trumpeters sounded on their instruments. It was a very beautiful and joyous sound and the beginning of a great spiritual revival in Judah. The people were glad to sing and humbly bowed themselves in worship of the Lord whose temple had been neglected for so long.

Now that the people had also consecrated themselves, King Hezekiah invited them to come and bring their own sacrifices of burnt offerings and offerings of thanksgiving. Thus many of them did so, all of a free, willing, and glad heart. Seventy bullocks, a hundred rams, and two hundred lambs were brought for burnt offerings for the congregation. Also six hundred oxen and three thousand sheep were consecrated for sacrifice during the time. Some of the priests had been slow in sanctifying themselves so that there were too few of them prepared to skin all these many animals. Therefore the Levites who had been more diligent pitched in and helped with the preparation of the carcases until all the priests were sanctified. There were many burnt offerings to make and much fat of the peace offerings to burn, with the drink offerings that accompanied them. But the service of the Lord’s house was once more set in order. The king and the people rejoiced together, for God’s hand was recognized in so preparing the people. It was "done suddenly," or spontaneously, by the people, without coercion. God’s people honor Him most by offering themselves out of willing hearts (2 Corinthians 8:1-5).

Some lessons: 1) Bad men’s sons do not have to be bad, too, for they may be very good; 2) reverence for heroes and events may rob God of His rightful worship; 3) to get right with God one must begin by confessing his sins and admitting his just chastisement; 4) when re-consecration is determined on one should be diligent to accomplish it; 5) great Christian joy comes with rededication of one’s life and service to Christ.

2 Chronicles 30:1-12

Second Chronicles - Chapter 30

(Note: The things being studied now are found only in Chronicles, but they come chronologically here [in the Hardbound Commentary 1st Edition, under 2Kings comments] in the context of the Kings record. -Author)

Passover Preparations - Verses 1-12

With the renewal of the covenant came the reinstitution of the feasts which were required by the law of Moses. The very first feast of the year was the Passover (see Leviticus 23:4-8; Exodus 12:1-11; Exodus 23:14-17). But the cleansing of priests, Levites, and the temple had only begun in the first month, and the date of the Passover had passed. Hezekiah then consulted with the princes of Judah, his counselors, and with the people, and they agreed it should be kept at the same date in the second month.

They cited two reasons why it could not be observed at the usual time; 1) the sanctification had not been completed; 2) the people had not been gathered to Jerusalem for it.

There was a provision for observance of the Passover in the second month instead of the first (Numbers 9:10-11). So it was decreed, and a proclamation was published to be sent throughout all the land of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, thus including the northern tribes who had suffered so terribly from the depredations of the Assyrians. Hoshea, the last king of Israel, yet occupied the throne of the northern kingdom. .

It was about two years before the siege of Samaria by Tiglath­pileser began and some five years before the city’s fall. This call to the Passover in Jerusalem may have been the Lord’s last call to them to turn again in his worship. (Isaiah 55:6-7).

It had been a long time since the nation had observed the Passover. The king’s letters of invitation were sent out by post throughout the tribes north and south. Its message called on the people to turn back to the God of tile patriarchs that He might restore His blessings on the remnant who had escaped from the enemy’s sword and from famine.

They were to forsake the stiffnecked way of their fathers which brought down the wrath of God and yield themselves to Him. They who had long served the gods of the high places and groves were implored to come back to the Lord’s sanctuary which represented His everlasting presence.

If the people of the northern tribes would return to the Lord He might be compassionate on them and save them out of the hand of the Assyrians. Their children might be allowed to escape the captivity and even be allowed to return to their homeland. If they did not respond favorably His face would be turned away from them and they would not receive His grace and mercy, which He reserved for those who called on Him.

So the king’s posts traversed the land, from north to south through the cities, inviting the people to attend the Passover in Jerusalem in the second month. They went into the northern tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh and on into Zebulun. Most of the people ridiculed them, laughing and mocking. But some of them had second thoughts and prepared themselves to go to Jerusalem and join the celebration. They came out of the tribes of Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun. The people of Judah also responded with one heart to do what the king had commanded by the word of the Lord (cf. Matthew 21:28-31).

2 Chronicles 30:13-27

Passover kept - Verses 13-27

The Scriptures say "much people" gathered in Jerusalem for the feast of unleavened bread, which followed immediately after Passover. Though the priests and Levites had, most of them, sanctified themselves, and the sanctuary had been cleansed, there were still vestiges of idolatry throughout the city. These people went through Jerusalem and tore down the altars of incense erected in every street (2 Chronicles 28:24), and cast them into the brook Kidron.

Thus they prepared to observe the Passover, which was killed on the evening of the fourteenth day of the second month, just a month from the time it was ordinarily observed.

So diligent were the people to sanctify themselves and keep the Passover the priests and Levites were made ashamed of their own delay and indifference to prepare themselves for the feast. So they sanctified themselves and stood in their places to offer the burnt offerings and to sprinkle the blood of their lambs. The Levites took the blood and brought it to the priests, who applied it as the law stipulated in the keeping the Passover.

Some of those who attended at the last had come without sanctifying themselves, but they were allowed to eat the Passover anyway.

The Levites prepared their lambs for them. They seem to be some of the people who earlier had laughed and mocked at the king’s postmen, but in the end had changes of heart and came to the feast at Jerusalem, though not sanctified. they were out of the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun. Hezekiah, himself prayed for them, "The good Lord pardon every one that prepareth his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary." The Lord heard the king’s prayer, and healed the uncleanness of the people. This indicates the real motive of true worship, for God looks for clean hearts rather than clean bodies (Acts 10:35; 1 Samuel 16:7).

The feast proceeded for its full seven days, the people demonstrating great gladness. At the end they wanted to continue, so the king consulted with the princes and the assembly and proclaimed an additional seven days.

It continued with unabated gladness and joy. Hezekiah spoke comforting words to the hard-working Levites, and they taught the people the word of God, as they were intended to do in their office. The people feasted and made their peace offerings, and confessed their sins and the sins of their fathers. The Lord’s praises were sung and taught throughout the time.

The well-to-do contributed to the feast Hezekiah himself contributed a thousand bullocks and seven thousand sheep. The princes also contributed a thousand bullocks and ten thousand sheep. Many of the priests were sanctified, dedicated again to the Lord’s service.

People of Judah, people of Israel, and strangers out of both kingdoms joined gladly in the feast. It was the most spectacular and successful keeping of the Passover and feast since the days of David and Solomon. The priests and Levites rose up and blessed the people, and their voice and their prayers came up to god’s holy dwelling place, to heaven.

Some lessons: 1) those who have the gospel should urge others to accept it too; 2) though the lost may mock and scoff some will be convicted and accept the Lord after all; 3) zeal on the part of some will cause others to be more concerned for the Lord also; 4) real revival is not a quick flash and soon gone, but it evinces real and lasting joy and gladness in the revived.

2 Chronicles 31:1-10

Second Chronicles - Chapter 31

More Reformation-Verses 1-10

When the Passover and feast of unleavened bread were past the people proved they had been truly re-dedicated to the worship of the Lord, by their deeds which followed. They went throughout the cities of Judah and Benjamin breaking down the idol images the previous generations had erected, clearing the pagan groves, destroying the high places. So zealous were they that their efforts at continued reform spilled over into the northern kingdom, and many cities and sites in the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh were rid of their idolatrous shrines. The zealots did not return to their homes until all this was accomplished.

Hezekiah also took further steps to see that the revival continued. He reinstituted the priests and Levites in their courses to make the burnt offerings and peace offerings, and to praise and to give thanks to the Lord in His gates. The king restored the royal portion due the temple, by supplying again the animals for the morning and evening burnt sacrifices. He also contributed for sabbaths, new moons (first days of each month), and set feasts just as the law specified. He further required that the people of Jerusalem give of their substance the portion due to the priests of the Lord, that these ministers of the sanctuary might be encouraged in the work the Lord had given them to do.

The people responded in like manner. They brought the firstfruits of their grain, wine, oil, honey, and everything grown in their fields. It was very great abundance which they brought to the temple. There was not room enough in the storerooms of the house of God for it. Not only did they bring produce, but also such animals as sheep or cattle, for the tithe included them. The produce began to be piled up in the court, a process which continued from the third to the seventh month. The king and his princes were gratified by this willingness of the people. It was much like it was in the days in the wilderness when Israel was building the tabernacle (Exodus 36:5-7).

Hezekiah and the princes came to the temple, saw the heaps the people had piled up there, and offered thanks to the Lord for it. They spoke with the priests concerning the matter and found that ever since the people began to respond, from the efforts of the Passover revival, there had been enough for the sustenance of the Levitical servants of the temple. In fact, there was all this plenteousness which remained, an evidence of the Lord’s blessing on the people which enabled them to give so magnanimously. God has always abundantly blessed those who sincerely worship Him (see Malachi 3:10; Lu 6:38).

2 Chronicles 31:11

Services and Servants-Verses 11-21

To solve the problem of the heaps of grain and other produce which the people were bringing to the temple Hezekiah commanded the building of storerooms for them. The seventh month corresponded with October of the modern calendar, and was the time when the rainy season approached. To prevent spoilage it was necessary that the tithes and offerings be stored in shelters. In later times, when a surplus was lacking, these rooms furnished an apartment for Tobiah the Ammonite (Nehemiah 13:4-9).

Men of the Levites were appointed to have charge of these things which had been dedicated to the service of the priests and Levites. These were Levites themselves, and the two brothers, Cononiah and Shimei, were the chief overseers. Under them were ten others, all were under the commandment of king Hezekiah and the high priest Azariah. In addition to these, other Levites were appointed from among the porters. These were gatemen and guards whose duty it was to accept the things brought in by the people and deliver them to the men who would distribute to those who would consume them.

Since most of the Levites were not always at the temple it was necessary to have men in the various cities where they dwelled to receive and apportion each man’s lot. This was distributed according to the number of males in each household. All males from three years old upward were considered in the genealogy, but the distribution seems to have been determined to the courses of the Levites who actually served. These were determined from the age of twenty years and took into account wives, sons, and daughters. These included both priests and ordinary Levites, but all were expected to maintain their sanctification to participate in the holy things. (Cf. 1 Timothy 3:4-5; 1 Timothy 3:12-13).

Hezekiah’s faithfulness and righteous conduct in things commended him to the Lord, so that it is said, he"wrought that which was good and right before the Lord his God." In everything he did he sought to do according to the law of God with all his heart "and prospered."

Note these points of importance: 1) Real revival may have a far­ reaching effect; 2) a God fearing ruler can be one of the very best things possible in the nation; 3) it is well proven that those who give themselves for the Lord will enjoy increased blessings; 4) God expects His people to be good stewards of those things with which He has blessed them; 5)clean lives are necessary in properly serving the Lord.

Verses 9-16

Second Kings - Chapter 18 AND Second Chronicles - Chapter 32

Sennacherib Comes to Judah -2 Kings 18:9-16

The account of the Assyrian menace now shifts over to show its spread to Judah. Hezekiah’s first experience was as an observer of the fall of Samaria, during the fourth year of his reign. It was then that the Assyrian king, Shalmaneser reached Samaria and laid siege to it. By the third year the city had fallen, which would have been the seventh year of Hezekiah’s kingship at Jerusalem. The events of the temple restoration, Passover celebration, and idol eradication in the land would have been past. The account imparts the information that the inhabitants of the northern kingdom were carried away and resettled in the cities of Halah and Habor on the river Gozan. This was in upper Mesopotamia, far from their homeland. Others were settled in cities of Media, still farther away. This happened because the Israelites had disobeyed the Lord, transgressed His covenant, and had refused in every respect the many warnings Moses gave them before his death.

The Scriptures do not reveal why Shalmaneser did not proceed at once into the land of Judah in attempt to subjugate it. That he did not certainly suggests that something occurred which the Lord used to discourage him. It is well to remember that it was at this particular time the people had rededicated themselves to the Lord under their king’s leadership. It is certainly not surprising the Lord would not allow these fierce fighting men to molest a people who had turned so heartily to serve Him again

Seven years more had passed, so that Hezekiah had now reached the fourteenth year of his reign. (It will be well to retain a mental note of the year for comparison with the later event of Hezekiah’s sickness unto death.) What all occurred during those seven intervening years is mostly passed over in silence. For one thing Shalmaneser had passed from the scene, and Assyria had a new king, Sennacherib. Something had also occurred relative to the faith of. king Hezekiah. When Sennacherib came into Judah to complete his conquest of the Israelite kingdoms Hezekiah seems utterly bereft of faith in the Lord. Sennacherib assaulted all the fenced (walled) cities of Judah, and they fell into his hands, with the obvious exception of Jerusalem itself.

There is no indication here whatsoever that Hezekiah sought the help of the Lord. Instead he sent a frightened and apologetic message to Sennacherib while he was camped against the Judaean city .of Lachish several miles southwest of Jerusalem. He admitted he had offended the king of Assyria and offered to take his punishment. Therefore Sennacherib laid on him an indemnity of three hundred talents of silver (over $6 1/2 million dollars today) and thirty talents of gold (over $32,700,000 today). How shameful that Hezekiah had got so far from God he would cower before a pagan king! Yet he did even worse. To acquire the huge treasure he robbed and abused the Lord’s house by taking the tithe and votive monies the people had contributed to the Lord and stripped the gold from the doors and pillars of the temple itself. Some of this Hezekiah had himself restored after his wicked father had abused it. It is not now known what possessed Hezekiah to suffer this woeful lapse of faith. He had forgotten the proverb of Solomon, "The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe" (Proverbs 29:25).

2 Chronicles 32:1-8

Hezekiah’s Preparations, 32:1-8

Comparison of the above account with that previously studied makes it apparent that they describe two different occasions. In the Kings account Hezekiah is apologetic, fearful, and faithless when Sennacherib came into Judah. In this Chronicles account it is quite the contrast. He prepares to defend the city and strengthen it. He manifest faith in the Lord, and encourages the people to rely on Him. Although it is not recounted in the Scriptures until later Bible chronologists believe Hezekiah’s sickness "unto death" preceded this second coming of Sennacherib. Remember it is the fourteenth year of his reign over Judah and his sickness also occurred in the same fourteenth year.

The Chronicles record simply says after these things," obviously referring to the things of restoration and revival which the chronicler had just recorded about Hezekiah and Judah. The situation is much the same as when Sennacherib came the first time, and as a matter of fact, probably, is during the same campaign. The implication, therefore, is that Hezekiah had stripped off the gold of the temple and given it to Sennacherib, then reneged on raising the remainder of the tribute following his illness.

It is commendable of the princes of Judah and the people that they supported the king in his decision to make a stand against the Assyrian invaders. The first preparatory act they took was to stop up the springs and fountains and the brook (evidently Kidron) to deprive the alien army of readily available water. Next they undertook the repair of the wall in the many places where it had fallen down, even raising it to the height of the corner towers. In addition they built a secondary wall outside the main wall to help keep out the enemy. The Milo in the city of David was also repaired. This was a fortress. Captains were set over the men, and Hezekiah armed them with darts and shields.

When all this had been done the king gathered the people in the broad street of the gate and delivered a speech of encouragement. Doubtless his own change and show of faith did much to bolster their courage. He used the old and familiar challenge of the Lord issued to Joshua centuries earlier, "Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed" (Joshua 1:9). This he coupled with the words of Elisha, when the Syrians surrounded his city, and he comforted his servant, "There be more with us than with him" (2 Kings 6:16). True the army of Assyria was much larger and mightier that the few men comprising the force Hezekiah had mustered. But the heavenly host surrounding Dothan, of which Elisha spoke, was the same host which would now be with the men of Judah. The king had at last realized that God would fight their battles, and there was nothing to fear. The people believed and relied on the words of Hezekiah to them. (Cf. Isaiah 41:10.)

Verses 17-25

Sennacherib’s Message, Commentary on 2 Kings 18:17-25 AND 2 Chronicles 32:9-15

While he continued his siege of the Jewish city of Lachish Sennacherib sent his messengers to seek the surrender of Hezekiah and the city of Jerusalem. The names in the Kings account are actually Assyrian titles rather than names. The Tartan was the commander-in-­chief of the Assyrian army, while Rabsaris means ’first eunuch," a high official of the king, and Rab-shakeh means ’first officer." To parley with them Hezekiah sent out Eliakim, chief of his house, Shebna the scribe, and Joah the recorder, all high officials in the Judaean government. They met at the well-known counselling place at the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway to the fuller’s field. It was here that Isaiah had met with Ahaz and offered him the sign from the Lord (Isaiah 7:3-11).

The envoys of Sennacherib seemed to be at a loss to understand how Hezekiah could think there was any possibility of successful resistance to the Assyrian army. Their words reeked with scorn and ridicule. They doubtless knew that some of the Jewish counsellors had felt they should seek the aid of Egypt. So the messengers conjectured that might be their source of hope. They had heard Hezekiah s boast that he had counsel and strength for the war. In other words he had gained the consent of his counselors to refuse the tribute to Sennacherib.

So it must be, the Assyrians thought, they were expecting help from Egypt. Egypt they characterized as a bruised reed, a power itself almost broken already. If Hezekiah sought to lean on this Egyptian reed it would break and stick in him, severely wounding him.

Or reports had come that Hezekiah had persuaded his people to trust in their God to deliver them from Sennacherib. To them this was a very ridiculous hope, seeing that no other god had been able to resist the Assyrian might. They could review the history of the Assyrian spread of empire and would find no place where the gods of the land had been able to withstand those of Assyria. It was preposterous to think Judah’s God could deliver this small, insignificant kingdom. Had the God of Judah been minded to deliver His people, the Assyrians argued, it was unlikely that He would do so. For Hezekiah had torn down his altars, destroyed his high places, and commanded his people to worship only before the altar at the temple in Jerusalem. This argument reveals the bent of the pagan mind which could not conceive of a God who would have only one altar and place of worship. Furthermore the Assyrians probably thought to encourage the enemies of Hezekiah to resist him, forthey would be resentful of his reformatory measures.

The officials of Sennacherib warned the people not to allow Hezekiah to persuade them to bring hunger and thirst upon them by a prolonged siege of Jerusalem. The strength of the Jews was so minute and infinitesimal it was ridiculed by the Assyrian officers. They offered to lend Hezekiah two thousand horses if they could find trained riders among the Jews to mount them. Since they obviously could not find them, how could they think they could turn away one captain of the many among the Assyrians when the assault on Jerusalem began? Jerusalem was, indeed, in a pathetic situation from the physical standpoint. David must have been in a similar circumstance when he spoke the words of Psalms 42:10-11.

Verses 26-37

Assyrian Insults – Commentary on 2 Kings 18:26-37 AND 2 Chronicles 32:16-19

The short Chronicles account is a summary only of the events which are in much more detail in the Kings account. Chronicles emphasizes the Assyrian blasphemies against God and their attempt to turn the people away from their stand behind King Hezekiah.

The council site, though outside the walls of Jerusalem, was near enough that the loud voices of the Assyrian envoy carried to the ears of the Jewish defenders on the walls. The Jewish men asked the messengers of Sennacherib to converse with them in the Syrian language, which they understood, rather than the language of the Jews, which was being heard by the people. Then Rab-shakeh answered contemptuously with a question, Had he been sent to say these things to those being deceived by Hezekiah into thinking they could resist Sennacherib, who would be compelled to subsist by eating their own feces and by drinking their urine?

So saying the Rabshakeh spoke up loudly to make sure the people listening on the walls understood what he was saying. First, he wanted them to know that Hezekiah was deceiving them by making them think trusting in the Lord could deliver them. Secondly, he promised them their lives and relief from danger if they would surrender to the Assyrians. He assured them they could continue in their own land, enjoying its fruits until a time of future settlement when they would be carried to another country. It would be a country like theirs, producing grains, fruits, oil, and honey just like the land of Judah.

Thirdly, the Assyrian emphasized the improbability that their God could deliver them from so mighty an army. None of the gods of the many nations already subjugated by the Assyrians had been able to prevent their fall. Several of these he sited as examples, and ended with Samaria, who among their many idols; like Judah claimed to have the God of Israel as their God. Yet God had not delivered the northern kingdom from the hand of the Assyrians. If God were pleased and able to preserve His people, why had Samaria fallen? So why should the people of Jerusalem think themselves to be the sole exception. These things were calculated to cast gnawing doubts in the hearts of the people and turn them against Hezekiah.

To their credit the people on the walls demonstrated their faith in the assurance of Hezekiah and obeyed his orders in refusing to make any answer to the Rab-shakeh. This demonstrated a great deal of faith on the part of the people, for Assyria was certainly a formidable enemy. Perhaps they were mindful of the words of an earlier king of Judah, "Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper" (2 Chronicles 20:20). Yet Hezekiah’s officers were very distraught, and returned to him with their clothes torn in distress and frustration.

Interesting lessons to be drawn from this study: 1) when one looks at the perils of the world around he will lose faith in the Lord; 2) the devil will lay on the faithless a burden too heavy to bear; 3) when distressed the child of God can be comforted by again exercising faith in His promises; 4) men of the world can have no appreciation of God’s almightiness until it is demonstrated against them; 5) Satan will thoroughly discourage those who will listen to him; 6) the devil’s people can make his lies look credible to those of little discernment.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 2 Kings 18". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/2-kings-18.html. 1985.