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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
At the time of Hezekiah’s accession to Judah’s throne, his country was in a sad condition. The policies of Ahaz had left Judah economically weak, politically dominated by Assyria, and religiously corrupted through false religions (see).
Upon becoming king, Hezekiah set out on the bold task of strengthening the nation’s economy, overthrowing Assyrian domination, and reforming Judah’s religion. This latter achievement won him praise as being Judah’s greatest king to that time (2 Kings 18:1-8).
The prophets of Hezekiah’s time (he reigned from 716 to 687 BC) were Hosea, Isaiah and Micah. Hosea was by this time very old (cf. Hosea 1:1), Isaiah was very influential around the palace (Isaiah 1:1; Isaiah 38:1) and Micah was preaching with such authority that the king was taking good notice of him (Micah 1:1; Jeremiah 26:17-19). Yet none of the prophets records Hezekiah’s reforms. Perhaps this was because the prophets were more concerned with the spiritual attitudes of people than with the revised procedures for temple worship.
Hezekiah began his reforms by assembling the priests and Levites and telling them plainly that neglect of the temple and its services was the reason for God’s anger with Judah (2 Chronicles 29:1-11). He then sent them to cleanse and rededicate the temple. The common people responded to his reforms with such enthusiasm that the temple officials were unable to cope with all the sacrifices (2 Chronicles 29:12-36).
After this, Hezekiah arranged a great Feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread (2 Chronicles 30:1-12). He insisted, however, that before joining in the festival, people ceremonially cleanse themselves and remove all traces of false religion from Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 30:13-22).
Having cleansed Jerusalem of false religion, Hezekiah then cleansed the country areas (2 Chronicles 31:1). His desire was that the nation as a whole follow the religious order laid down by Moses and developed by David. He therefore organized the priests and Levites according to David’s plan, and arranged for their proper financial support through the orderly payment and distribution of the people’s tithes and offerings (2 Chronicles 31:2-19). Some of Hezekiah’s leading officials made a collection of Solomon’s proverbs to instruct the people further (Proverbs 25:1).
Assyrian influence in Palestine was at its peak during the time of Hezekiah. In the early part of his reign Assyria conquered the northern kingdom Israel and carried the people into captivity (722 BC; 2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 18:9-12). Meanwhile in the south, Hezekiah was busy strengthening Judah’s independence. He improved its economy, increased its agricultural production, fortified its defences and improved Jerusalem’s water supply (2 Chronicles 32:27-30). He then revolted against Assyria by refusing to pay further tribute (2 Kings 18:7).
As expected, Assyria sent its army to attack Judah, but Hezekiah had prepared Judah well and had equipped Jerusalem to withstand the siege (2 Kings 18:13; 2 Chronicles 32:1-6). He had also made a defence agreement with Egypt that he hoped would guarantee success. Isaiah opposed this dependence on Egypt. Judah’s need was for quiet faith in God, not for military help from a foreign country (Isaiah 30:1-3; Isaiah 30:15; Isaiah 31:1; Isaiah 31:3; Isaiah 31:5; Isaiah 31:8).
The Assyrian attack was far more damaging to Jerusalem than Hezekiah had expected. Even when the Assyrians had forced Hezekiah to pay them large amounts of money, they did not retreat. They were preparing to crush Jerusalem completely (2 Kings 18:14-37). On two occasions Hezekiah went in great distress to the temple to ask God’s help, and on both occasions Isaiah brought God’s reassuring answer (2 Kings 19:1-7; 2 Kings 19:14-34). The outcome was that God intervened and dramatically overthrew the Assyrians (2 Kings 19:35-37).
Hezekiah had at one time become so sick that it appeared he would die. In answer to his prayers, God extended his life by fifteen years, enabling him to lead Judah through its period of conflict with Assyria (2 Kings 20:1-11). In gratitude to God, Hezekiah wrote a song of praise for his recovery (Isaiah 38:9-22).
Throughout this period Babylon was increasing in power and was looking for allies to help it conquer Assyria. An illness of Hezekiah gave the Babylonians the opportunity to visit him, in the hope of persuading him to join them against Assyria. Hezekiah was easily persuaded. He was very anti-Assyrian and very proud that his achievements for Judah had attracted Babylon’s admiration (2 Kings 20:1-13; 2 Chronicles 32:24-25; 2 Chronicles 32:31). Once again Isaiah condemned Hezekiah’s willingness to enter into foreign alliances, for it would result in conquest by the allied nation (2 Kings 20:14-19). Hezekiah repented of his wrongdoing and completed his reign with Judah’s independence still intact (2 Chronicles 32:26).
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Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Hezekiah'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/bbd/h/hezekiah.html. 2004.