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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
2 Kings 19

 

 

Verses 2-7

King Hezekiah Sends His Representatives To Isaiah The Prophet And Receives A Comforting Reply (2 Kings 19:2-7).

In his anguish King Hezekiah sent a message to Isaiah via his representatives, asking what possibility there might be that YHWH would have heard what was said and might react against it. Isaiah’s reply was that YHWH had heard the king of Assyria’s blasphemy, and was about to react accordingly. Just as the king of Assyria has personally confronted YHWH and had claimed to have Him on his side, so would YHWH respond personally by putting a spirit within him and causing him to hear tidings which would persuade him to return to his own land. It was person to person stuff. The king of Assyria had claimed personal contact with YHWH, so he would be suitably personally affected by it. Isaiah was emphasising that it was not the king of Assyria who controlled YHWH, but YHWH who controlled the movements of the king of Assyria. (To have introduced the avenging angel here would have been to spoil the personal and intimate picture of YHWH’s total personal control over the king of Assyria, and indeed it should be noted that Isaiah is never portrayed as knowing what the angel of YHWH would do. All he knew was that somehow YHWH would deliver). Meanwhile the Rabshakeh reported back the failure of his mission to his master the king of Assyria.

Analysis.

a And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz (2 Kings 19:2).

b And they said to him, “Thus says Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of disgrace, for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth” (2 Kings 19:3).

c “It may be that YHWH your God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master has sent to defy the living God, and will rebuke the words which YHWH your God has heard. Wherefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left” (2 Kings 19:4).

d So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah (2 Kings 19:5).

c And Isaiah said to them, “Thus shall you say to your master, Thus says YHWH. Do not be afraid of the words that you have heard, by which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me” (2 Kings 19:6).

b “Behold, I will put a spirit in him, and he will hear tidings, and will return to his own land, and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land” (2 Kings 19:7).

a So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah, for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish (2 Kings 19:8).

Note that in ‘a’ the representatives of Hezekiah go to the prophet of YHWH, and in the parallel the representative of the king of Assyria goes to the king of Assyria. In ‘b’ Hezekiah is troubled in spirit, and in the parallel the king of Assyria will be troubled in spirit. In ‘c’ Hezekiah hopes that YHWH will have heard the words of the Rabshakeh, and in the parallel Isaiah assures him that He has. Centrally in ‘d’ the servants of king Hezekiah come to Isaiah.

2 Kings 19:2

‘And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz.’

It is a sign of the genuineness of the narrative that Joah the recorder does not go with the others to see Isaiah. He has to faithfully record the exchanges that have taken place. Meanwhile Eliakim and Shebna, Judah’s two leading politicians, together with the elders of the priests who were no doubt enlisted to add religious authority to the deputation, covered themselves with sackcloth as the king had done, and went to consult Isaiah, the son of Amoz, the prophet of YHWH.

2 Kings 19:3

‘And they said to him, “Thus says Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of disgrace, for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth.” ’

Note the dropping of ‘king’ again after 2 Kings 19:1. His address to Isaiah is not in ostentation but in humility. The true prophets in Judah were approached differently from those in other nations where they were at the king’s command. In Judah they were at YHWH’s command, as Hezekiah was recognising. In his message to Isaiah Hezekiah likens the situation of the anguished nation to that of a woman having great difficulties in bringing forth a child that was overdue, something that all would understand. She was continuing to suffer the anguish of her labour, but she was so weak after what she had already suffered that the child just would not be born. Many would see such a situation as an indication that YHWH was rebuking her, and that in some way she was in disgrace. She herself would certainly feel the disgrace of it.

His point was that in the same way Judah was undergoing its own ‘labour pains’. It was in anguish, it was in great trouble, it was aware that it was under the judgment of YHWH, it was aware of its own disgrace. But it was too weak to produce anything. (It is when God’s judgments are in the earth that the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness - Isaiah 26:9).

2 Kings 19:4

“It may be that YHWH your God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master has sent to defy the living God, and will rebuke the words which YHWH your God has heard. Wherefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.”

And his plea was that YHWH would look with compassion on their situation, and would hear what the Rabshakeh, the powerful representative of the king of Assyria his master, had said in defiance of the living God. There is an echo here of David’s words concerning Goliath. See 1 Samuel 17:26; 1 Samuel 17:36; 1 Samuel 17:45. But here it was Assyria which was confronting YHWH. Thus he was basically calling for YHWH to hear what had been said, to defend His own honour, and to rebuke the king of Assyria in his turn. And he called on Isaiah to raise up his prayer of behalf of the remnant of the people left in Judah. There is a sad reminder here of the devastation that Judah had already suffered. But if there was anyone whose prayer YHWH would hear, it was Isaiah. Note the emphasis on ‘YOUR God’. They recognised the special relationship that Isaiah had with God. It contrasts with Isaiah’s reply to ‘YOUR master’. His own master was YHWH.

‘The remnant that is left.’ He knew that Isaiah had named his firstborn Shear Yashub (‘the remnant will return’ - Isaiah 7:3). To Hezekiah this probably indicated ‘the remnant will return to YHWH’ and his idea was presumably that that was what had now happened, thus indicating that YHWH should now respond. For all had now recognised that their only hope was in YHWH, the Lord of Hosts.

2 Kings 19:5

‘So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah.’

This simple statement stands at the centre of the chiasmus, and it speaks volumes. The servants were the servants of ‘king’ Hezekiah. Here was represented all the might and authority of the kingdom, and its appeal was to Isaiah the prophet of YHWH. The kingdom could now do nothing. It had fought until it was on its knees. He was their last hope. But they did not come in despair. They came because they did believe that Isaiah, as the voice of YHWH, would tell them what to do.

2 Kings 19:6-7

‘And Isaiah said to them, “Thus shall you say to your master, Thus says YHWH. Do not be afraid of the words that you have heard, by which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Behold, I will put a spirit in him, and he will hear tidings, and will return to his own land, and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.’

Isaiah’s reply was straightforward and unequivocal. They were to tell their master that YHWH had spoken, and he then pronounced the reply in prophetic mode. ‘Thus says YHWH.’ YHWH has spoken and thus what He has said will be. And what YHWH had said was that they were not to be afraid of the words with which the king of Assyria had blasphemed YHWH, for He was about to respond by His own word and Spirit. And He would do it by exercising His own personal control on the mighty king of Assyria. He would be helpless in the hands of YHWH. For YHWH would put a spirit within him that would cause him to do YHWH’s will. Thus he would hear news that would cause him to return to his own land, leaving Jerusalem and YHWH’s people unsubdued and unharmed. And finally (at some stage) YHWH would cause him to fall by the sword in his own land. Thus his whole destiny was to be seen as in YHWH’s hands.

So this ‘great king’ with his gods would be seen to be at the beck and call of YHWH (compare 2 Kings 19:28). Whether he liked it or not he would do all YHWH’s will. He had claimed to be under the instruction of YHWH and so it would be. Just as YHWH had brought him in his pride, so would YHWH send him home with his tail between his legs. There was nothing more to fear. Both his departure and his end were inevitable, and both were in the hands of YHWH.

As with most prophecy no time scale was laid down. That was not the point of prophecy. The point was its inevitability. The departure of Sennacherib would certainly happen shortly, as indeed is evidenced by the silences in the Assyrian inscriptions themselves, but his falling by the sword in his own land would happen at YHWH’s discretion. The point was that his death, whenever it came, was totally in the hands of YHWH Who had even decided how and where it would take place. It would not necessarily happen immediately, but it would necessarily happen as YHWH had said. And as we know from the inscriptions, when the time came, that was precisely how it happened. Thus YHWH’s power over Sennacherib was seen as total.

We do not know what the news was that Sennacherib received which was partly the cause of his departure for Assyria. It may have been news of internal disturbances caused by those who were taking advantage of his long absence and hoped that the Egyptian army would crush him. It may have been news of enemies like Babylon threatening the borders of Assyria. But combined with the plague that would decimate his army after his inconclusive battle with the approaching Egyptian forces, it was enough to make him return home.

Note the contrast between ‘thus says Hezekiah’ (2 Kings 19:3) and ‘thus says YHWH’. Hezekiah was almost in despair. He could do nothing. YHWH was about to turn the whole situation about. Whatever He wanted He would do.

2 Kings 19:8

‘So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah, for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish.’

Meanwhile as the representatives of King Hezekiah were approaching Isaiah, the Rabshakeh was making his way to his master to report temporary failure. Jerusalem had refused to surrender. But the king was no longer warring at Lachish. ‘He was departed from Lachish’. Those were ominous words. For it meant that Lachish, the second in importance of all the cities of Judah, had fallen, and the rape of Lachish had taken place. As archaeology would later discover the bodies of many would have been tossed into a huge grave with Assyria’s refuse piled on top of them. And many of those who remained alive were to experience the ‘blessings’ that the king of Assyria had promised to Jerusalem. They were to be cruelly transported to lands far away. Even more Jews were to go into exile.

And now the focus had turned on Libnah, possibly to the north of Lachish, although its site is uncertain. That was the next city on which they would concentrate. And it was thus there that the Rabshakeh found his master. It would also be near there that the battle with the approaching Egyptian forces would take place at Eltekeh.


Verses 9-14

News of The Approach Of A Large Egyptian Army Under Tirhakah, King Of Cush (the Sudan), Causes A Change Of Attitude And A Further Attempt To Obtain King Hezekiah’s Submission (2 Kings 19:9-14).

The news that a large Egyptian army was approaching led by the son of the Egyptian Pharaoh, who bore the title ‘king of Cush’, caused a hurried change of mind in the Assyrian camp. Now it was more urgent than ever to obtain the surrender and submission of King Hezekiah. So messengers were sent with a letter addressed to ‘Hezekiah King Of Judah’

Its contents were brief and to the point. As they were addressed to Hezekiah himself they clearly did not tell him not to listen to Hezekiah. Nor did he mention Egypt. He did not want Hezekiah to think of Egypt. It might give him the wrong idea. He too might have heard of the approaching Egyptian army. (It was in fact quite remarkable how besieged cities did appear to be able to get messengers in and out). What they concentrated on was the obvious fact of the might of the kings of Assyria past and present, and it should be noted that now it was not ‘King Hezekiah’ who was deceiving the people, it was YHWH! There is a total change of emphasis. Once again it would drive Hezekiah into the presence of YHWH.

Analysis.

a And when he heard say of Tirhakah king of Cush, “Behold, he is come out to fight against you,” he sent messengers again to Hezekiah, saying (2 Kings 19:9).

b “Thus shall you speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you, saying, ‘Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria’ ” (2 Kings 19:10).

c “Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly, and will you be delivered?” (2 Kings 19:11).

b “Have the gods of the nations delivered them, which my fathers have destroyed, Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden who were in Telassar? Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivvah?” (2 Kings 19:12-13).

a And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it, and Hezekiah went up to the house of YHWH, and spread it before YHWH (2 Kings 9:14).

Note that in ‘a’ messengers were sent to Hezekiah, and in the parallel he received the king of Assyria’s letter from their hands. In ‘b’ he is called on, under his royal title, not to let God deceive him into thinking that He could deliver Jerusalem, and in the parallel the contrast is made with the gods of other nations who had failed to deliver their nations and cities. Central in ‘c’ was the reminder of what the kings of Assyria past and present had achieved in destroying ‘all lands’ utterly (a hint of what would happen if they did not immediately surrender).

2 Kings 19:9

‘And when he heard say of Tirhakah king of Cush, “Behold, he is come out to fight against you,” he sent messengers again to Hezekiah, saying,’

While conducting the siege at Libnah news came to the king of Assyria through his spies that a large Egyptian army was approaching under Tirhakah, ‘king of Cush’. We know that in 701 BC Tirhakah (Egyptian Taharqa; Assyrian Tarqu) was certainly old enough to lead an Egyptian army (errors of the past having been corrected). It has been argued that he was not king of Cush (the Sudan) at that time. But as his father was not only king of Cush but also Pharaoh of Egypt it is quite possible that in fact his father had given him the title of ‘king of Cush’ (a title also used of him in Assyrian records). And even if not so he certainly became king of Cush later. Thus it might just be an identifying description made by the author. Either way there is nothing in it to throw doubt on the narrative.

This threat of an Egyptian army, of an as yet unknown size, naturally alarmed the king of Assyria and made him recognise that he would be advised to obtain the surrender of Jerusalem (and of course Libnah and the other cities of Judah still remaining to be taken) prior to facing up to the Egyptians. The last thing he wanted was to have Judaean forces combining with the Egyptians. Thus he altered his tactics. Instead of appealing directly to the people of Jerusalem and degrading ‘Hezekiah’ in order to undermine his authority, he now sought to approach king Hezekiah directly, treating him with honour, and using as his argument the unfailing ability of kings of Assyria to defeat whom they would.

2 Kings 19:10

“Thus shall you speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you, saying, ‘Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’ ”

This time his message was addressed in all honour to ‘Hezekiah, King of Judah’. And he called on him not to let ‘his God’ deceive him into thinking that He could deliver Jerusalem out of the king of Assyria’s hand. It would appear that he was aware that YHWH had so spoken through His prophet(s). But he wanted him to recognise that it was a vain hope for the reasons now to be given.

2 Kings 19:11

“Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly, and will you be delivered?”

He would undoubtedly have heard what the kings of Assyria had done to ‘all lands’ in the past. None of them had been able to resist him and such of them as had not submitted had been utterly destroyed because of their failure to submit. That being so how could king Hezekiah hope to be an exception? How could he expect that he alone would be delivered?

‘Destroying them utterly.’ The word initially indicated being put under the sacred Ban and thus being completely destroyed as ‘belonging to a deity’ (compare Jericho - Joshua 6:24). But by this time it could simply indicate being utterly destroyed.

2 Kings 19:12

“Have the gods of the nations delivered them, which my fathers have destroyed, Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden who were in Telassar?”

Then he listed nations which his fathers had destroyed, and pointed out that their gods had been unable to deliver them from the kings of Assyria. Gozan was Tel Halaf, taken by the Assyrian in 809 BC. Rezeph may be Rezaphe, north east of Damascus, taken in 841 BC. Eden was the Assyrian province of Bit Adini south of Harran with Telassar (Tel Assur) being one of its towns (compare Isaiah 37:12). All these victories would have been well known to politically aware Judaeans. And that being so how could they hope that YHWH would be able to do anything different?

2 Kings 19:13

“Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivvah?”

Indeed let King Hezekiah himself consider what had happened to their kings and learn a lesson from it. Where now was the king of Hamath (to the north of Damascus, on the east bank of the Orontes; taken in 840 BC and retaken in 820 BC), the King of Arpad (a city in north Syria, Tel Rif‘at, 30 kilometres (twenty miles) north west of Aleppo, also taken in 840 BC and retaken in 820 BC), the king of Sepharvaim (site unknown although some identify with Sibraim near Damascus), the king of Hena (possibly Ana on the Euphrates), the king of Ivvah (compare 2 Kings 17:24. Site unknown)? Sennacherib’s hope was to break Hezekiah’s spirit.

2 Kings 19:14

‘And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it, and Hezekiah went up to the house of YHWH, and spread it before YHWH.’

Hezekiah’s response was to receive the letter from the hand of the messengers, read it and then go to the Temple of YHWH and spread it out before YHWH. ‘Before YHWH’ often only indicates simply the inner court, but Hezekiah may well have entered the porch of the Holy Place. He could not, of course, enter the Holy Place itself. That was only for the priests. Compare here Ezekiel 46:2. The ‘spreading out’ indicates a document on either papyrus or leather.

There is a reminder for us all here that when we receive a difficult communication, the next thing to do after reading it is to spread it out before God.

In Mesopotamia it was normal practise for political communications, once read, to be lodged in a temple where the gods could be made aware of them. Hezekiah’s behaviour stressed his belief in the personal interest of YHWH in what had been written.


Verses 15-19

The Prayer Of King Hezekiah (2 Kings 19:15-19).

It is almost impossible for us to appreciate the tension which Hezekiah must have been experiencing at this time. Outside the city walls were the enemy. Inside were what remained of his people. It was to be his decision as to what to do next. And he did not know what to do. His prayer was simple and to the point.

· Firstly he considered just Whom it was to Whom he was speaking. It was the God of Israel, the One Who sits between the cherubim, the one Who is the only God and God alone, the Creator of Heaven and earth.

· Then he called on God to hear and look and consider the situation, and especially these words that he had received from the king of Assyria, which He should note were in defiance of Him as the living God.

· Then he humbly acknowledged the truth of what Sennacherib had written. It was true that the kings of Assyria had laid waste the lands and cities mentioned, and had cast their gods into the fire. But that had been because they were no-gods, and simply the works of man’s hands (he had been well taught by Isaiah - see Isaiah 40:18-20; Isaiah 44:9-20). It was that that explained how they could be burned.

· And finally he called on YHWH to demonstrate to all the kingdoms of the earth that He was different from all others, so that they might know that He alone was God.

Thus having reached the end of his resources Hezekiah had recognised that his only hope lay in God, and his approach was not on the basis of his own need, nor of the need of his people, but on the basis that Sennacherib had insulted YHWH and that YHWH should vindicate His Name for His own glory. His concern was for the honour and Name of YHWH. That should be at the root of all prayer.

Analysis.

a And Hezekiah prayed before YHWH, and said, “O YHWH, the God of Israel, who sits between the cherubim, you are the God, even you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth” (2 Kings 19:15).

b “Incline your ear, O YHWH, and hear; open your eyes, O YHWH, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, by which he has sent him to defy the living God” (2 Kings 19:16).

c “Of a truth, YHWH, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, therefore they have destroyed them” (2 Kings 19:17-18).

b “Now therefore, O YHWH our God, save you us, I beseech you, out of his hand (2 Kings 19:19 a)

a “So that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you YHWH are God alone” (2 Kings 19:19 b).

Note that in ‘a’ he calls on God as the One Who alone is God of all the kingdoms of the earth, and in the parallel it is that all the kingdoms of the earth might know that he is God alone. In ‘b’ he points to the threatening words of Sennacherib as defiance of the living God, and in the parallel he asks to be delivered out of his hand. Central in ‘c’ is the admission that the kings of Assyria have destroyed all other gods, but that that was simply because they were no-gods.

2 Kings 19:15

‘And Hezekiah prayed before YHWH, and said, “O YHWH, the God of Israel, who sits between the cherubim, you are the God, even you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.” ’

Performing his responsibility as an intercessory priest of YHWH Hezekiah first contemplates Who YHWH is. (It is always wise to consider exactly Who God is before we pray). And he considered Him as the One Who sits between the Cherubim, of which the Ark with its Cherubim was the symbol. But this was not to limit Him to the Temple, for both the Psalms and Isaiah (2 Kings 6:1-7) make clear that YHWH was seen as sitting between and borne by the real Cherubim (see 2 Samuel 22:11; Psalms 80:1; Psalms 99:1; compare also for the idea Numbers 7:89). Thus He was the God of Heaven. But He was also the only God of all the kingdoms of the earth. For He was the sole Creator of heaven and earth. And it was as the only God that he now approached Him.

2 Kings 19:16

‘Incline your ear, O YHWH, and hear; open your eyes, O YHWH, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, by which he has sent him to defy the living God.”

Then he called on YHWH to specifically hear and see what Sennacherib had written, words which were in clear defiance of the living God, in the same way as Goliath’s had been in the time of David. Indeed it was clear that Sennacherib had deliberately gone out of his way to defy YHWH the living God (although not of course believing that He was the living God). So Hezekiah’s dependence was on the fact that YHWH was the only God, and that He was the living God, active and aware in man’s affairs, and able to intervene at will.

2 Kings 19:17-18

“Of a truth, YHWH, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, therefore they have destroyed them.”

Then he basically admitted that Sennacherib’s words were right. It was true that all these other nations had been laid waste, and that their gods had been burned. But that was because they were no-gods. They were simply the work of men’s hands, and made of wood and stone. That was why they could be destroyed. And that was why they had been destroyed.

2 Kings 19:19

“Now therefore, O YHWH our God, save you us, I beseech you, out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you YHWH are God alone.”

Having laid the foundation of his prayer Hezekiah now entered his plea, And that was that YHWH, the God of Judah (‘our God’), would save Judah out of Sennacherib’s hand so that all the kingdoms of the world might recognise His uniqueness as the only God.


Verses 20-28

Isaiah Communicates To King Hezekiah ‘The Word Of YHWH’ Now Active Against The King Of Assyria (2 Kings 19:20-28).

As a result of King Hezekiah’s prayer Isaiah was given a prophetic message, an ‘oracle’ from YHWH (‘thus says YHWH’) to pass on to him. Such an oracle was seen as not only spoken but active, as YHWH acted in accordance with His word. The semi-personalised Word of YHWH was going forth to accomplish His will (compare Isaiah 55:10-13. This would lead on to the idea of the fully personal Word in John 1:1-14; 1 John 1:1-4; Revelation 19:13). This oracle was, as so often, in rhythmic form, and was in the form of a message of rebuke to Sennacherib, although issued at a distance. It was not intended to be delivered to Sennacherib, but to be seen as an assurance to Hezekiah that ‘the word of YHWH’ was at work. The oracle divides up into four main sections:

1) Judah’s Scorn At Sennacherib For Setting Himself Up Against YHWH (2 Kings 19:21-22).

2) A Description Of The Boasting And Defiance Of Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:23-24).

3) YHWH’s Response That Sennacherib In Fact Owes All His Success To Him (2 Kings 19:25-26).

4) An Assurance That Because Of Sennacherib’s Taunts YHWH Intends To Act Against Him And Transport Him Back Like A Captive Wild Beast To Nineveh (2 Kings 19:27-28).

In order to be fully appreciated the oracle must be presented as a whole.

2 Kings 19:21-22

Judah’s Scorn At Sennacherib For Setting Himself Up Against YHWH (2 Kings 19:21-22).

“The virgin daughter of Zion has despised you and laughed you to scorn,

The daughter of Jerusalem has shaken her head after you.

Whom have you defied and blasphemed?

And against whom have you exalted your voice,

And lifted up your eyes on high?

Even against the Holy One of Israel.”

2 Kings 19:23-24

A Description Of The Boasting And Defiance Of Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:23-24).

“By your messengers you have defied the Lord,

And have said, With the multitude of my chariots,

Am I come up to the height of the mountains,

To the innermost parts of Lebanon,

And I will cut down its tall cedars,

And its choice fir-trees,

And I will enter into his farthest lodging-place,

The forest of his fruitful countryside.

I have dug,

And drunk strange waters,

And with the sole of my feet will I dry up

All the rivers of Egypt.”

2 Kings 19:25-26

YHWH Responds That Sennacherib In Fact Owes All His Success To Him (2 Kings 19:25-26).

“Have you not heard,

How I have done it long ago,

And formed it of ancient times?

Now have I brought it about,

That it should be yours to lay waste fortified cities,

Into ruinous heaps.

Therefore their inhabitants were of small power,

They were dismayed and confounded,

They were as the grass of the field,

And as the green herb,

As the grass on the housetops,

And as grain blasted before it is grown up.”

2 Kings 19:27-28

Now Because Of Sennacherib’s Taunts And Attitude YHWH Intends To Act Against Him And Transport Him Back Like A Humiliated Captive To Nineveh (2 Kings 19:27-28).

“But I know your sitting down, and your going out,

And your coming in, and your raging against me.

Because of your raging against me,

And because your arrogant attitude has come up into my ears,

Therefore will I put my hook in your nose,

And my bridle in your lips,

And I will turn you back,

By the way by which you came.”

2 Kings 19:20

‘Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says YHWH, the God of Israel, Whereas you have prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard you.”

As a result of Hezekiah’s plea Isaiah sent to him an assurance of YHWH’s response. Because he has humbled himself and prayed wholeheartedly to God, God has heard him. Note the description of YHWH as ‘the God of Israel’. Judah now represented the whole of Israel (and indeed contained many from the other tribes within its population).

2 Kings 19:21

“This is the word (Hebrew ha dabar; LXX ho logos) that YHWH has spoken (diber) concerning him,”

He assured Hezekiah that YHWH’s ‘word’ had now gone forth and would accomplish His will. When YHWH spoke His word it was the guarantee that action would result (see Isaiah 55:11). In these contexts the ‘word’ of God can almost be paralleled with the idea of the ‘Spirit’ of God as indicating God in action. This would later be personified in Jesus Christ Who was God’s Logos supreme (John 1:1-4).

2 Kings 19:21-22

1). Judah’s Scorn At Sennacherib For Setting Himself Up Against YHWH (2 Kings 19:21-22).

2 Kings 19:21

“The virgin daughter of Zion has despised you and laughed you to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem has shaken her head after you.”

The picture is a vivid one. Sennacherib, through the Rabshakeh, had been ranting at Jerusalem, and seeing her as like a virgin daughter waiting to be raped, but this was now a picture of what the ‘virgin daughter’s’ response would be, mockery at his folly in thinking that he could set himself up against the God of Israel. The ‘virgin daughter of Zion’ (pure and unspoiled and reserved for YHWH) despised him and ‘laughed him to scorn’ (compare Psalms 2:4 where it is YHWH Himself who laughs at the folly of the enemies of His Anointed). She shook her head ‘after him’, in other words once he was running away. This was probably in incredulity at his folly, and derisive wonderment at the fact that he had dared to defy the living God.

2 Kings 19:22

“Whom have you defied and blasphemed? And against whom have you exalted your voice and lifted up your eyes on high? Even against the Holy One of Israel.”

YHWH now drew Sennacherib’s attention to what he had done. He had defied and blasphemed and lifted up his haughty eyes against none other than ‘the Holy One of Israel’. Nothing could be more foolish than that. The title ‘the Holy One of Israel’ appears here, three times in the Psalms, twice in Jeremiah and twenty five times spread throughout the Book of Isaiah. It is thus typical of an Isaianic prophecy. It indicates His uniqueness and ‘otherness’, as ‘the High and Exalted One Who inhabits eternity Whose Name is Holy’ (Isaiah 57:15).

2 Kings 19:23-24

2). A Description Of The Boasting And Defiance Of Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:23-24).

YHWH points out that what Sennacherib has done in his folly is to defy the Sovereign Lord of the Universe, as a result of his confidence in his massive (but vulnerable) human resources, and He goes on to describe the exalted claims that he has made.

2 Kings 19:23-24

“By your messengers you have defied the Lord,

And have said, With the multitude of my chariots,

Am I come up to the height of the mountains,

To the innermost parts of Lebanon,

And I will cut down its tall cedars,

And its choice fir-trees,

And I will enter into his farthest lodging-place,

The forest of his fruitful countryside.

I have dug,

And drunk strange waters,

And with the sole of my feet will I dry up

All the rivers of Matsor.”

Note the emphasis on the fact that he has ‘defied the Sovereign Lord (adonai)’. He needed to recognise that YHWH was not to be seen as like all the other ‘gods’ that he had had dealings with, not even his own Ashur (whom he called ‘lord’). Rather it is YHWH Who is Lord of all, Lord of time (2 Kings 19:25), Lord of history (2 Kings 19:25). But Sennacherib had overlooked this fact and had defied Him with his puny chariots (compare Isaiah 31:1; Isaiah 31:3; Psalms 20:7). He thought that because he had so many chariots he could do what he wanted. He would prove to be mistaken.

The words that follow must not be taken too literally. They are building up a picture of extreme arrogance. No one in his right senses seeks to take chariots to the top of the highest mountains. The point is rather that with his chariot forces he had so taken possession of the land that even the highest mountains, where people thought their gods to be, were under his control. The Assyrian annals, however, do contain similar boasts that the king of Assyria in his chariot will reach even the most inaccessible of regions where none have been before, and he boasted openly of his achievements in taking his chariots into the mountains of Aram and Palestine.

He had taken over the very heart of Lebanon (its innermost parts). He is using ‘Lebanon’ (which is a flexible description, like Gilead) in its widest sense as taking in a large part of the land that he has conquered in the south. And the pride of Lebanon was its tall cedars and splendid fir trees. But these will be cut down, leaving it bereft. Practically speaking they would be used to make siege engines and siege towers, or exported for profit, but the idea is as much a picture of the loss that Lebanon would suffer for defying him. The cutting down of trees unnecessarily was usually frowned on (Deuteronomy 20:19-20). To do so despoiled the land, for they took many years to grow. But Assyria did it quite callously.

Nowhere would escape Sennacherib’s attention. He would enter their most distant and remote lodging places, and pierce the centre of their most expansive forests, for which they were so famous. He would extract water from their unyielding ground, digging wells, and drinking from those wells in foreign lands, wells which were far from home, and which had previously belonged to others. In other words he would make himself completely at home there, taking possession of everything both above and below ground.

And in contrast he would dry up whatever waters he wished, even ‘the rivers of Matsor’. This could be the Missor mentioned in the Amarna letters. On the other hand if we take Matsor as signifying Egypt expressed poetically, as some do (Egypt = mitsraim), this may indicate that his final aim was to bring Egypt under Assyrian control.

· The expression may indicate his previous victory over Egypt, which he saw as ‘drying up the rivers of Egypt’ (defeating the army which made safe its border).

· It may be proverbial, in that the rivers of Egypt never dried up. Egypt was famous as the land which had no need of rain because it was permanently watered by the Nile (see Zechariah 14:18). Thus it may be intended to indicate his determination to do the impossible. He would dry up what everyone knew could not be dried up (it would be a typical Assyrian boast).

· He may simply have had in mind the ‘wadi of Egypt’ and the border rivers which were at the southernmost end of Philistia (Genesis 15:18; Numbers 34:5; Joshua 15:4; Joshua 15:47) with the idea that he would quickly remove Egypt’s defensive barriers, or even leave them without water (it is a boast).

· Or it may be that Sennacherib is depicted as saying that what YHWH had done when Israel had escaped from Egypt (dry up a mere sea; compare Psalms 106:9), he could do better when he invaded, for he would dry up all their rivers.

2 Kings 19:25-26

3). YHWH’s Response Is That Sennacherib In Fact Owes All His Success To Him (2 Kings 19:25-26).

The point is now made that Sennacherib may think that he has achieved what he has on his own, but the truth is that he has only achieved it because it was YHWH’s purpose. He needed to recognise that it was YHWH Who had taken him up and used him as His instrument (compare Isaiah 10:5-6; Isaiah 10:15), and that that was the only secret of his success.

2 Kings 19:25

“Have you not heard,

How I have done it long ago,

And formed it of ancient times?

Now have I brought it about,

That it should be yours to lay waste fortified cities,

Into ruinous heaps.”

YHWH asks Sennacherib whether he has in fact not heard that what is unveiling in history had been formed in the mind of YHWH from ancient times? What he needed to realise was that what he was thus doing was thus working out what YHWH had already planned, for now YHWH’s ancient will was being carried out. It was He, (and no one else), Who had purposed that Sennacherib should turn all the cities he has referred to (2 Kings 19:12-13) into ruinous heaps. Thus in doing so Sennacherib had simply been carrying out YHWH’s instructions.

2 Kings 19:26

“Therefore their inhabitants were of small power,

They were dismayed and confounded,

They were as the grass of the field,

And as the green herb,

As the grass on the housetops,

And as grain blasted before it is grown up.”

Indeed it was because YHWH was at work, and not because of Assyria’s might, that the inhabitant of those cities had been deficient in strength (literally ‘were short of hand’). That was why they were dismayed and confounded, and so easily and quickly withered like the grass and vegetation in the countryside in the hot summer sun once there was no rain. The grass that some grew on the flat roofs of their houses soon withered and died in the glaring sun if it was not constantly watered (compare Psalms 129:6), and it was the newest grain that was most vulnerable to the sun. Thus they were an apt picture of weakness and vulnerability.

‘Before it has grown up.’ Literally ‘before (it has become) standing corn’.

2 Kings 19:27-28

Now Because Of Sennacherib’s Taunts And Attitude YHWH Intends To Act Against Him And Transport Him Back Like A Humiliated Captive To Nineveh (2 Kings 19:27-28).

So YHWH warns him that because he is aware of all his doings, and especially of his arrogance towards Him. In consequence He Himself will lead him like a humiliated captive back to where he came from.

2 Kings 19:27-28

“But I know your sitting down, and your going out,

And your coming in, and your raging against me.

Because of your raging against me,

And because your arrogant attitude has come up into my ears,

Therefore will I put my hook in your nose,

And my bridle in your lips,

And I will turn you back,

By the way by which you came.”

What Sennacherib should realise is that YHWH was aware of everything he did, whether he sat down, or whether he went out or in, and especially of his expressed arrogance towards YHWH (literally ‘his careless ease’), and his raging against Him.

The putting of the hook through the nose was a deliberately humiliating way of treating captive foreign princes and nobles used by the Assyrians, and there is a relief in Zenjirli depicting such treatment given to Tirhakah of Egypt and Ba’alu of Tyre, who were being led in that way (some years later) by Esarhaddon. The bridle in the lips might indicate the same, or have in mind the treatment of wild animals or horses in order to keep them obedient and submissive. Compare here 2 Chronicles 33:11 where Manasseh was taken ‘with hooks’ to Babylon.

Note the gradual build up of his behaviour. First his sitting on his throne, then his activity in going out and in, and then finally his rising up in rage against YHWH.


Verses 29-31

Through Isaiah YHWH Gives A Sign That Jerusalem’s Deliverance Is At Hand (2 Kings 19:29-31).

As in the case of Moses in Exodus 3:12 and Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 the sign now given was to be found in the guarantee of a future event, not in the event itself. It was saying, ‘this is what I, YHWH, intend to do, and you may take me at My word. Because it is My promise it is the guarantee of its fulfilment, and it is that certain guarantee that is the sign that I have given.’ In this case the promise that by the third year from when it was spoken they would be carrying out their normal agricultural activity from start to finish was a promise that the siege was about to end (otherwise it could not happen).

There is a deliberate change here from poetic metre to prose indicating emphatically that this is a new prophecy and not a part of the prophecy in 2 Kings 19:21-28. It is a promise of immediate deliverance.

Analysis.

· “And this will be the sign to you” (2 Kings 19:29 a).

· “You will eat this year what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs of the same, and in the third year sow you, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat its fruit” (2 Kings 19:29 b).

· “And the remnant which is escaped of the house of Judah will again take root downward, and bear fruit upward” (2 Kings 19:30).

· “For out of Jerusalem will go forth a remnant, and out of mount Zion they who will escape” (2 Kings 19:31 a).

· “The zeal of YHWH will perform this” (2 Kings 19:31 b).

Note that in ‘a’ the guarantee is given as a sign, and in the parallel it is the zeal of YHWH which will perform it. In ‘b’ they will leave the city almost immediately, so that normal agricultural activity, which will take time to establish, will begin, surviving in the meantime on what grows of itself, and in the parallel the remnant that remains who have escaped the anger of Sennacherib will go triumphantly out of Jerusalem. Centrally in ‘c’ they will not only have physical blessing but will have spiritual blessing as they take root in the Law of YHWH and look up to Him in worship and prayer.

2 Kings 19:29

“And this will be the sign to you, You will eat this year what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs of the same, and in the third year sow you, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat its fruit.”

The sign that was being given was His guaranteed promise. And that promise was that within three years their agricultural round would be back to normal. It was presumably too late for the first sowing which would have to await the following year, thus in the first part year (from then until the New Year) they would have to eat what naturally grew out of the ground, in the second year (in the latter part of which they would be able to begin their sowing) they would survive on what resulted naturally from what grew in the first year, but by the third year what they had themselves sowed in the middle of the second year would be growing and be able to be reaped and eaten.

2 Kings 19:30

“And the remnant which is escaped of the house of Judah will again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.”

But their crops were not the only things that would become established. Those who remained of the house of Judah, those who had escaped the wrath of Sennacherib, would also themselves ‘take root downwards’. They would become firmly established, and that would include being established in His Law. And they would ‘bear fruit upwards’, offering to God what was pleasing to Him, not only in offerings and sacrifices, but also in the fruit of their lives (see Isaiah 1:11-18).

2 Kings 19:31

“For out of Jerusalem will go forth a remnant, and out of mount Zion they who will escape. The zeal of YHWH will perform this.”

For it was YHWH’ guarantee that a remnant would go forth out of Jerusalem, the remnant that now remained of all that Judah had been before the invasion. Out of Mount Zion would go those who had escaped the fearsome hand of Sennacherib. And this would be because YHWH had delivered them. They would be free and still living in their own land. And all this would be because YHWH was acting in His zealousness.

“The zeal of YHWH will perform this.” Compare Isaiah 9:7. In both cases the zeal of YHWH would bring about His will in establishing His Kingly Rule. The saying is typically Isaianic.


Verses 32-34

The Final Oracle Of Deliverance Which Will Result In Its Own Fulfilment (2 Kings 19:32-34).

The final oracle was put in plain and straightforward terms that could leave no doubt. It was the policy of great kings to be personally present when, at the end of a long siege, the city was about to fall. Thereby they could claim the victory for themselves and it became attached to their name. See for a clear example of this 2 Samuel 12:26-31. And it was even customary for them to pick up a bow and shoot an arrow, or to take up a shield or supervise the building of a mound, so that it could be portrayed on the reliefs made of the event (very much like our modern artificial photo-calls), making quite clear who was responsible for the victory. It was all staged.

Thus the promise was that deliverance would come so soon that the king of Assyria would not even come to the city, or shoot his arrow there, or pick up a shield, or order the building of a mound. Rather he would soon be scurrying back to Assyria by the way in which he had come, and this would be because YHWH was defending Jerusalem, for the sake of His own glory, and for the sake of His servant David who had chosen it, to whom He had made such great promises.

This ties in quite adequately with the promise in 2 Kings 19:7, and yet also contains within it the seed of the glorious coming event that no one expected, the actual destruction of a large part of the mighty Assyrian army. The fact that what will now happen was never prophesied indicates the genuineness both of the prophecies and of the event itself.

Analysis.

· “Therefore thus says YHWH concerning the king of Assyria, He will not come to this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor will he come before it with shield, nor cast up a mound against it” (2 Kings 19:32).

· “By the way that he came, by the same will he return, and he will not come to this city, says YHWH” (2 Kings 19:33).

· “For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake, and for my servant David’s sake” (2 Kings 19:34).

Note that in ‘a’ Sennacherib would not come to the city and in the parallel that would be because YHWH was defending it. Centrally in ‘b’ he would return home having failed in his purpose.

2 Kings 19:32

“Therefore thus says YHWH concerning the king of Assyria, He will not come to this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor will he come before it with shield, nor cast up a mound against it.”

Like modern politicians ancient kings could not resist a ‘photo-call’. They wanted to go down in history. Thus at any great victory, especially towards the end of a siege, they would arrive and make some military gesture towards the enemy that could later be recorded on stone. This might take the form of shooting an arrow, brandishing a shield and sword, or ostentatiously supervising the building of siegeworks. But in this case YHWH promised that this would not happen, simply because the victory would not be achieved. There would be no crowning moment.

2 Kings 19:33

“By the way that he came, by the same will he return, and he will not come to this city, says YHWH.”

Indeed far from gaining victory he would shortly be returning home (with YHWH’s hook through his nose, and YHWH’s bridle in his mouth) from Libnah. He would never even approach Jerusalem. Thus it would not only be the end of his operations against Jerusalem and Judah, it would also be the end of all his current operations outside Assyria. This could only indicate real trouble at home which necessitated his presence. It would also turn out to be because he would need to re-establish his army. “By the way that he came, by the same will he return.’ Compare 2 Kings 19:28.

2 Kings 19:34

“For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.”

And the reason for it would be because YHWH was defending Jerusalem for His own sake (so that He might be seen to be faithful to His promises to David) and for His servant David’s sake, who had chosen Jerusalem and dedicated it to YHWH, Who accepted it and had also thereby chosen it (compare 1 Kings 11:12-13). God had not forgotten His promises to David, and would stand by them at all costs.


Verses 35-37

YHWH Totally Unexpectedly Devastates The Assyrian Army Causing Sennacherib To Return Home Where Subsequently He Arranges For His Assassination (2 Kings 19:35-37).

What happened now was totally unexpected, and deliberately so. YHWH wanted to make an instant and great impression on His people of what He could do on their behalf. The fact that there was no forewarning indicates both the genuineness of the previous prophecies (which if invented would hardly have failed to mention this stupendous event) and of the event itself. Certainly something happened of such a devastating nature that it shook the very heart of Israel, and bred in their unbelieving and foolish hearts the certainty that YHWH would never in the future allow Jerusalem to be destroyed.

Of course that was not what YHWH had intended. What He had wanted to do was awaken in them praise and gratitude which would result in future responsive hearts, and a desire from then on to do His will (then Jerusalem would indeed have been invulnerable). But it was human nature to think mechanically that if YHWH would do this once when they did not deserve it, He would always do it. It was a mistake that would be brought home to them by the destruction of Jerusalem. They were to learn by it that it was not Jerusalem that was invulnerable, but His true people, who happened at this time to be in Jerusalem.

For that very night something happened that struck at the heart of the Assyrian army. Speaking in heavenly terms ‘the Angel of YHWH went forth and smote a large part of the Assyrian army’. This may well have been because a plague of rats mentioned by Herodotus had infested the Assyrian camp bringing with them a disease that rapidly decimated the army. Or it may have been in some other way, such as a night attack by the Egyptian army (Sennacherib claimed victory, but then so no doubt did Tirhakah And certainly what happened was that Sennacherib withdrew, which would have been a strange way of celebrating a resounding victory). But what was certain was that when morning came and the Assyrians arose, there were corpses everywhere.

Coming on top of the news that he had received from Nineveh (2 Kings 19:7) this was the final decider, and he upped camp and returned to Nineveh. But even there he could not escape the long arm of YHWH, for some considerable time later YHWH indirectly arranged for his assassination. He had received back his boasts to the full.

2 Kings 19:35

“And it came about that night, that the angel of YHWH went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and eighty and five thousand, and when men arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.’

There is, of course, no external evidence of this, which is in fact what we would expect. Great kings never suffered disasters (compare how Egypt failed to record what happened at the Red Sea). Stalemates were victories, and genuine victories were lauded to the skies, but defeats, were discreetly forgotten. But what was written firmly in history (by interpreting what was written) was that Sennacherib did return to Nineveh, that Jerusalem was never taken, and that Hezekiah was never forced to submit in person. So something certainly happened. And it kept Sennacherib away for a long time.

There is a familiar ring to the story, for it was only Israel who boasted in their histories of victories gained totally by YHWH without their having any part in it. And that was partly because it was only to them that it happened. It brought no glory on them (which was the usual reason for recording history) but it did bring glory on YHWH (which was the prophets’ reason for recording history).

In this case what happened was that by morning a large part of the Assyrian army were dead. To Israel that could only have one explanation, it was due to the activity of the Angel of YHWH, the same Angel Who had once almost smitten Jerusalem (2 Samuel 24:15-17). Humanly speaking it might have been due to a rapidly infectious fatal disease (such as bacillary dysentery) or even a night attack by the Egyptian army. Or there may have been some other reason. But certainly 2 Samuel 24:15-17 does indicate that this was how plague was described, and interestingly Herodotus does record an occasion when the Assyrian army had to withdraw because of the effects of a plague of vermin, which could well have brought a deadly plague with them (compare the vermin connected with the plagues in Philistia in 1 Samuel 5:6; 1 Samuel 5:9; 1 Samuel 5:12; 1 Samuel 6:4-5), although Herodotus ascribed the withdrawal of which he spoke to the fact that the vermin gnawed most of their equipment (strictly, however, he indicates that the event he was speaking of happened in Egypt). He does, also, speak of an Egyptian tradition that the Egyptian army was saved from a momentous defeat in 701 BC by divine intervention.

The one hundred and eighty five eleph may indicate 185 military units (the inhabitants of Libnah may well have counted the number of military units revealed by their different standards), 185 captains (by repointing), or simply a very large number. (Only the Assyrians would theoretically have known how many dead bodies there were, and in their haste to dispose of them in the hot climate it is doubtful, in view of their large numbers, if anyone was counting).

2 Kings 19:36

‘So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.’

The consequence of this was that Sennacherib immediately ‘departed and went and returned’ (the repetition emphasising his departure) to Nineveh (recorded in his annals) where he took up his dwelling for some time, no doubt while he sorted out affairs at home. Note the emphasis on his ‘returning’ to Nineveh. See for this 2 Kings 19:7; 2 Kings 19:33. In the view of Isaiah YHWH had dragged him there by his nose.

2 Kings 19:37

‘And it came about, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer smote him with the sword, and they escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esar-haddon his son reigned instead of him.’

While this assassination undoubtedly occurred twenty years later (in 681 BC) it was an evidence not only of the long arm of YHWH but also of His control of history. ‘The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceeding small’. The point is that YHWH had not fully finished with Sennacherib at Libnah. Having drawn him by his nose to Nineveh he finally (indirectly) arranged for his assassination. It was poetic justice. What Sennacherib had sought to do to Jerusalem was done to him.

Some of the detail is corroborated in Babylonian records where the assassination of Sennacherib, and the revenge gained by Esarhaddon his appointed heir is described. It is clear that this was an attempted coup in order to prevent Esarhaddon (if we believe Esarhaddon) succeeding to the throne. It was led by Arda-mulissi (Adrammelech). But the coup failed and the perpetrators had to flee to Urartu where they were overtaken by Esarhaddon’s vengeance.

Nisroch may well be a Hebrew representation of the Assyrian god Assur (sometimes Asarak), although others associate it with Nusku (nswk). If that be the case then the house of Nisroch would be the Temple of Nusku at Nineveh. This assumes a waw changed to a resh - with Nswk becoming Nsrk - whether deliberate or accidental. Although waw and resh are very similar in Hebrew, it is quite possible that the change were deliberate. Such changes were frequently made, sometimes in order to indicate contempt, and at others in order to bring out a specific idea. The names Adrammelech and Sharezer probably signify Arad-Melek and Nergal-shar-usur. (Arad and Nergal were two Assyrian deities). Note how Arad is also changed to Adra, and Nergal is dropped altogether. These changes are in order to demonstrate that these deities are unimportant and that their names do not matter. On the other hand a western Semitic name is a possibility for one of his sons and would not be unlikely, for Sennacherib was married to, among others, Naqi’a-Zakutu, a woman of western Semitic origin. But Shar-usur means ‘he has protected the king’ and we would expect it to be preceded by the name of a god. The late Greek writer Abydenus refers to them as Adramelus and Nergilus.

‘Ararat.’ That is Urartu as found in Assyrian inscriptions. It was in the neighbourhood of Lake Van in Armenia and was at this time enjoying a brief revival of strength after its battering by the Cimmerians. The sons clearly saw it as a safe refuge from the wrath of Esarhaddon, Sennacherib’s heir.

The non-mention of the assassination in Assyrian records is a typical indication of how bad news was ignored when it was just not palatable. Especially when he was apparently assassinated between the statues of his own ‘protective’ gods. But the inference is undoubtedly there when Esarhaddon says of his brothers ‘even drawing the sword within Nineveh against divine authority’, and as we have seen it was described in the Babylonian Chronicle (‘on the twentieth of the month of Tebet his son killed Sennacherib king of Assyria during a rebellion’) while Ashurbanipal does speak of ‘the very figures of the protective deities between which they had smashed Sennacherib, my own grandfather’).

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 2 Kings 19:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/2-kings-19.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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