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Bible Commentaries
2 Kings 18

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-12


New policies under Hezekiah (18:1-12)

With the destruction of the kingdom of Israel in the north and the disastrous reign of Ahaz in the south, Assyrian influence in Palestine was at its peak. In spite of this, the young king Hezekiah set out on the bold task of reforming Judah’s religion and freeing Judah from Assyrian power. He destroyed all the local idolatrous shrines (something that no king since David had been able to do), and because of this the writer of Kings regarded him as Judah’s greatest king (18:1-6).

(For Hezekiah’s extensive religious reforms see notes on 2 Chronicles 29:1-21. The reforms were largely external, being concerned mainly with temple services and ceremonies. There is no evidence of any lasting change in either the rulers or the people, and no direct reference to the reforms by the prophets of the time, Isaiah and Micah.)

Hezekiah realized that once he reversed his father’s policy concerning Assyria, the Assyrian army would attack Jerusalem. To prepare against siege he strengthened the city’s defences and improved its water supply (see 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:5). Once he was assured of military support from Egypt, he revolted against Assyria by refusing to pay further tribute. Isaiah opposed this reliance on Egypt, just as during the reign of Ahaz he opposed reliance on Assyria. What Judah needed was not military help from Egypt but quiet faith in God (7-8; Isaiah 30:1-3,Isaiah 30:15). Assyria’s recent conquest of the northern kingdom should have been a warning to Hezekiah (9-12).

Verses 13-37

Freed from Assyrian power (18:13-19:37)

When news reached Hezekiah that the Assyrian army, under the new king Sennacherib, was heading for Jerusalem, he quickly prepared the defences of the city. He also cut off any water supply outside the city that might be of help to the besieging armies. Above all, he encouraged his troops to trust in God for victory (13; 2 Chronicles 32:1-8). But, on seeing the strength of the siege, Hezekiah began to repent of his rebellion and offered to pay whatever money Sennacherib demanded (14-16).

After taking a large payment from Hezekiah, the Assyrian king showed that he intended to punish him anyway. He sent three senior officers to demand that Hezekiah surrender. Unknowingly, the Assyrian officers agreed with Isaiah (though for different reasons) that reliance on Egypt was useless (17-21; cf. Isaiah 30:1-3; Isaiah 31:1-3,Isaiah 31:8). In any case, they said, God had sent the Assyrians to punish Jerusalem (22-25).

On seeing how their words troubled Jerusalem’s officials, the Assyrians spoke even more boldly. They tried to persuade the common people to surrender, promising to treat them well in the lands to which they would take them (26-32). Their big mistake, however, was to insult Yahweh by claiming he was no stronger than the gods of other nations whom the Assyrians had conquered (33-37).
When Hezekiah sent to enquire about the situation from Isaiah, the reply made it clear that God would not tolerate the Assyrians’ mockery (19:1-7). The Assyrians temporarily withdrew from Jerusalem to deal with a crisis elsewhere, but sent a letter renewing their threats and challenging God to resist them (8-14). Hezekiah then presented the whole matter to God, who, being the only true and living God, was the only one who could save Jerusalem (15-19).
Isaiah brought God’s reply. It condemned the Assyrians for mocking God and boasting of their achievements, especially when they were only God’s instrument to carry out his judgments. God would therefore punish them and save Jerusalem (20-28). Fields not sown because of the enemy’s siege would become fruitful again, and the number of genuine believers in Judah would increase (29-34).
Having announced his plans, God then acted. The Assyrian army was almost destroyed (701 BC), and although Sennacherib escaped home, he was later assassinated (35-37).

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 2 Kings 18". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/2-kings-18.html. 2005.
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