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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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king of Judah, was the son of Ahaz, and born in the year of the world 3251. At the age of five-and-twenty he succeeded his father in the government of the kingdom of Judah, and reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem, namely, from the year of the world 3277 to 3306, 2 Kings 18:1-2; 2 Chronicles 29:1 . The reign of his father Ahaz had been most unpropitious for his subjects. A war had raged between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, in which Pekah, king of Israel, overthrew the army of Ahaz, destroying a hundred and twenty thousand of his men; after which he carried away two hundred thousand women and children as captives into his own country; they were, however, released and sent home again, at the remonstrance of the Prophet Oded. As idolatry had been established in Jerusalem and throughout Judea, by the command of Ahaz, and the service of the temple either intermitted, or converted into an idolatrous worship, the first object of his son Hezekiah, on his accession to the throne, was to restore the regal worship of God, both in Jerusalem and throughout Judea. He cleansed and repaired the temple, and held a solemn passover. He improved the city, repaired the fortifications, erected magazines of all sorts, and built a new aqueduct. In the fourth year of his reign, Salmanezer, king of Assyria, invaded the kingdom of Israel, took Samaria, and carried away the ten tribes into captivity, replacing them by different people sent from his own country. But Hezekiah was not deterred by this alarming example from refusing to pay that tribute to the Assyrians which had been imposed on Ahaz: this brought on the invasion of Sennacherib, in the fourteenth year of the reign of Hezekiah, of which we have a very particular account in the writings of the Prophet Isaiah, who was then living, Isaiah 36.

Immediately after the termination of this war, Hezekiah "was sick unto death," owing, as the sacred historian strongly intimates, to his heart being improperly elevated on occasion of this miraculous deliverance, and not sufficiently acknowledging the hand of God in it. 2 Kings 20; Isaiah 38. Isaiah was sent to bid him set his house in order, for he should die and not live. Hezekiah had instant recourse to God by prayer and supplications for his recovery; and the prophet had scarcely proceeded out of the threshold, when the Lord commanded him to return to Hezekiah, and to say to him, "Thus saith the Lord, I have heard thy prayer, and I have seen thy tears; I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up to the house of the Lord, and I will add unto thy days fifteen years." And to confirm to him the certainty of all these tokens of the divine regard, the shadow of the sun on the dial of Ahaz, at his request, went backward ten degrees. After his recovery, he composed an ode of thanksgiving to the God of all his mercies, which the Prophet Isaiah has recorded in his writings, Isaiah 38:10-11 . Yet, as an instance of human fickleness and frailty, we find Hezekiah, with all his excellencies, again forgetting himself, and incurring the divine displeasure. The king of Babylon having been informed of his sickness and recovery, sent ambassadors to congratulate him on his restoration: an honour with which the heart of Hezekiah was greatly elated; and, to testify his gratitude, he made a pompous display to them of all his treasures, his spices, and his rich vessels: and concealed from them nothing that was in his palace. In all this the pride of Hezekiah was gratified; and to humble him, Isaiah was sent to declare to him that his conduct was displeasing to God, and that a time should come when all the treasures of which he had made so vain a display should be removed to Babylon, and even his sons be made eunuchs to serve in the palace of the king of Babylon. Hezekiah bowed submissively to the will of God, and acknowledged the divine goodness toward him, in ordaining peace and truth to continue during the remainder of his reign. He accordingly passed the latter years of his life in tranquillity, and contributed greatly to the prosperity of his people and kingdom. He died in the year of the world 3306, leaving behind him a son, Manasseh, who succeeded him in the throne: a son every way unworthy of such a father.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Hezekiah'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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