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Bible: What Does 2 Kings 19-21 Teach Us About Hezekiah, Sennacherib, and Manasseh?

Updated on September 23, 2016

Hezekiah, King of Judah


2 Kings 19

Hezekiah's response resembles that of his staff, yet he also takes his concern before the LORD (v. 1).

Eager to receive some word from God, the king sends some of his servants to Isaiah who ask him to intercede for the remnant about Assyria's reproaches against Yahweh (vv. 2-5).

The prophet returns them to Hezekiah with encouraging news of Sennacherib's soon demise (vv. 6-7).

As events begin to unfold, Assyria's governor (Rabshakeh) learns that his king is fighting against Libnah (a Levitical city of Jerusalem) [v. 8].

Meanwhile, Tirhakah king of Ethiopia joins with Hezekiah to harass Sennacherib (v. 9).

In an angry letter, Sennacherib still seeks to convince Judah’s king to surrender, presenting the failures of so many other gods to resist Assyria as proof that Hezekiah's deity, Yahweh, will have no better success (vv. 10-13; cf. 18:33-35).

After reading the letter, Hezekiah spreads it out before the LORD in the temple, and prays fervently for the salvation of His people (vv. 14-19).

His petition contains much excellent theology, emphasizing Yahweh's uniqueness as the only God and as the personal, sovereign Creator of the universe (vv. 14-16).

Hezekiah realistically assesses the situation (v. 17), but also acknowledges the truth about the gods of the other nations (v. 18).

Interesting to note, too, is the king's "evangelistic'' vision: his concern that knowledge of Yahweh as the only true God become universal by means of the salvation of His people (v. 19).

Isaiah the Prophet


The Angel of the LORD


Isaiah proclaims God's revelation to Hezekiah in response to his prayer (vv. 20-34).

The LORD, first of all, declares Jerusalem's contempt of Sennacherib for his blasphemous ways (v. 21).

In essence, the daughter of Zion says, "You do not know Who you are dealing with, O king of Assyria!" (v. 22)

After quoting Sennacherib's messengers, who boast of the might of their invading army, Isaiah informs Assyria that Yahweh had purposed for him from ancient times to crush cities full of weak people (vv. 23-26).

Now, however, he has gone too far in challenging God; it is time for the LORD to teach him a lesson and treat him as he has treated his victims (vv. 27-28).

Yahweh promises Hezekiah that, through the jealousy of God for His city, Judah's remnant will escape destruction and begin to prosper again after three years (vv. 29-31).

In addition, Assyria will not enter Jerusalem, but will return to his own land (vv. 32-34).

Before he departs from Judah, Sennacherib learns an unforgettable lesson from the Angel of the LORD.

One morning the Assyrian army, one hundred eighty-five thousand strong, lay dead in their camp, victims of the Angel's mighty "sword" (vv. 35-36a).

Back in Nineveh, the defeated king himself falls to assassins' swords while worshiping his pagan deity (vv. 36b-37).

Reward for Righteousness?

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2 Kings 20

Deathly ill from a malignant boil (?), Hezekiah receives a disheartening report, straight from the prophet Isaiah: "You will soon die" (v. 1).

Weeping bitterly, the king pleads that God would spare his life.

Hoping that it might win him some more time, he offers his personal righteousness as a bargaining chip (vv. 2-3).

Yahweh responds quickly to Hezekiah's prayer, sending Isaiah back to him with news of his healing: "In three days you will be well enough to go to the temple."

In addition, God grants him fifteen more years of life and a Jerusalem, safe and sound, to boot (vv. 4-6).

With a lump of figs (of all things!), Isaiah cures the king's disease (v. 7).

Strangely, Hezekiah asks God for a sign that he will truly recover (v. 8).

[Why he needed a sign, and why he thought that it was easier for God to make the shadow go down ten degrees rather than to go backward ten, are enigmatic requests (vv. 9-10).

For an omnipotent Creator, both miracles would be equally easy!]

As Isaiah cries out, the LORD still honors this request (v. 11).

Merodach-baladan, King of Babylon


Envoys from the Babylonian king Berodach-Baladan arrive in Jerusalem with get-well presents (v. 12).

An overjoyed Hezekiah, perhaps eager to show them how much the LORD had blessed Judah, foolishly shows them all his treasures (v. 13).

Isaiah investigates this matter, and then informs the king that a day will come when Babylonians will carry away into their land all his accumulated wealth and many of his sons as well (vv. 14-18).

Sadly, Hezekiah seems concerned only with his own personal peace and affluence; what will happen to his sons does not seem to faze him (v. 19).

The sacred historian then completes his account of Hezekiah's reign as he has done with the other kings (vv. 20-21).

Hezekiah's Son

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2 Kings 21

Perhaps Judah's most wicked, idolatrous king (Manasseh) follows its most righteous and godly (vv. 1-2).

[Something influenced Hezekiah's son (whom, by the way, the king fathered during those fifteen extra years God gave him) to turn away from the LORD completely, but the text does not say what it was.

An interesting question: Would Hezekiah have agreed to continue living had he known that he would beget Manasseh?]

Manasseh tears down much of the good his father had accomplished, and rebuilds the religious scene according to current pagan customs, setting up altars for Baal, a wooden image for a female goddess, altars for the host of heaven [gods of the Assyrians], and a carved image for another Canaanite goddess (Asherah).

He also practices various kinds of spiritualism—all to spite the worship of Yahweh in His temple (vv. 3-9).

Manasseh's abominations (and the people's willing participation in them) reach such atrocious proportions that God sends prophets with messages of calamity and desolation for Jerusalem and Judah (vv. 10-12a).

Not only will these words cause the people's ears to tingle, but they will "turn their lives upside down."

Enemies will "take them for all they are worth" (vv. 12b-15); Manasseh especially will suffer greatly for his murderous ways (v. 16).

His reign ends with no special tribute (vv. 17-18).

Amon, Manasseh's son, is a carbon copy of his father, yet he mercifully (for Judah’s sake) lasts only two years on the throne before a conspiracy brings him down (vv. 19-23).

Executions take the conspirators' lives, and good king Josiah rules over the realm (v. 24). Amon's tale concludes, following the author's typical formula (vv. 25-26).

© 2013 glynch1


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