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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(Heb. Chizkiyah', חַזְקַיָּה ), whom Jehovah has strengthened, 2 Kings 18:1; 2 Kings 18:10; 2 Kings 18:14-16; 1 Chronicles 3:23; Nehemiah 7:21; Proverbs 25:1; "Hizkiah," Nehemiah 10:17; Zephaniah 1:1; also in the prosthetic form Yechiskiyah', יְחַזְקַיָּה, Ezra 2:16; Hosea 1:1; Micah 1:1; elsewhere in the prolonged form Chizkiya'hu, חַזְקַיָּהו ּ [in 2 Kings 20:10; 1 Chronicles 4:41; 2 Chronicles 28:27; 2 Chronicles 29:1; 2 Chronicles 29:20; 2 Chronicles 29:30-31; 2 Chronicles 29:36; 2 Chronicles 30:1; 2 Chronicles 30:18; 2 Chronicles 30:20; 2 Chronicles 30:22; 2 Chronicles 31:2; 2 Chronicles 31:8-9; 2 Chronicles 11:13; 2 Chronicles 11:20; 2 Chronicles 32:2; 2 Chronicles 32:8-9; 2 Chronicles 32:11-12; 2 Chronicles 32:16-17; 2 Chronicles 32:20; 2 Chronicles 32:22-27; 2 Chronicles 32:30; 2 Chronicles 32:32-33; 2 Chronicles 33:3; Isaiah 1:1; Jeremiah 15:4, it is both prosthetic and prolonged, YechizlLiya'hu, יְחַזְקַיָּהוּ ]; Sept., Josephus, and N. Test. Ε᾿ζεκίας ), the name of four men. SEE JEHIZKIAH.
1. The thirteenth king (reckoning Athaliah) of the separate kingdom of Judah, son of Ahaz and Abi or Abijah (2 Kings 18:2; 2 Chronicles 29:1), born B.C. 751750 (2 Kings 18:2), and his father's successor on. the throne for twenty-nine years, B.C. 726-697. In both the above texts he is stated to have been twenty-five years old at his accession; but some, computing (from a comparison with 2 Chronicles 28:1) that Ahaz died at the age of thirty-six, make Hezekiah only twenty years old at his accession (reading כ for כה ), as otherwise he would have been born when Ahaz was a boy eleven years old. This, indeed, is not impossible (Hieron. Ep. cad Vitalern, 132, quoted by Bochart, Geogr. Sacr. p. 920; see Keil on 2 Kings 18:1; Knobel, Jes. p. 22, etc.); but others suppose that Ahaz was twenty-five and not twenty years old at his accession (Sept., Syr., Arab., 2 Chronicles 28:1), reading כה for כ in 2 Kings 16:2. Neither of these suppositions, however, is necessary, for Ahaz was fifty years old at his death, and the date there given of the accession of Ahaz is simply that of his viceroyship or association with his father. (See AHAZ).
The history of Hezekiah's reign is contained in 2 Kings 18:20; Isaiah 36-39, and 2 Chronicles 29-32, illustrated by contemporary prophecies of Isaiah and Micah. He is represented as a great and good king (2 Kings 18:5-6), who set himself, immediately on his accession, to abolish idolatry, and restore the worship of Jehovah, which had been neglected during the careless and idolatrous reign of his father. This consecration was accompanied by a revival of the theocratic spirit, so strict as not even to spare "the high places," which, though tolerated by many well-intentioned kings, had naturally been profaned by the worship of images and Asherahs (2 Kings 18:4). On the extreme importance and probable consequences of this measure, (See HIGH PLACE).
A still more decisive act was the destruction of a brazen serpent, said to have been the one used by Moses in the miraculous healing of the Israelites (Numbers 21:9), which had been removed to Jerusalem, and had become, "down to those days," an object of adoration, partly in consequence of its venerable character as a relic, and partly, perhaps, from some dim tendencies to the ophiolatry common in ancient times (Ewald, Gesch. 3, 622). To break up a figure so curious and so highly honored showed a strong mind as well as a clear-sighted zeal, and Hezekiah briefly justified his procedure by calling the image נֶחֻשְׁתָּן," a brazen thing," possibly with a contemptuous play on the word נָחָשׁ, "a serpent." How necessary this was in such times may be inferred from the fact that "the brazen serpent" is, or was, reverenced in the Church of St. Ambrose at Milan (Prideaux, Connect. 1, 19, Oxf. ed.). The history of this Reformation, of which 2 Kings 18:4 sq. gives only a concise summary, is copiously related, from the Levitical point of view, in 2 Chronicles 29 sq. It commenced with the cleansing of the Temple "in the first month" of Hezekiah's first year, i.e. in the month Nisan next after his accession, and was followed in the next month (because at the regular season neither Levites nor Temple were in a due state of preparation) by a great Passover, extended to fourteen days, to which not only all Judah was summoned, but also the "remnant" of the Ten Tribes, some of whom accepted the invitation. Some writers (as Jahn, Keil, and Caspari) contend that this passover must have been subsequent to the fall of Samaria, alleging that the mention of the "remnant" (2 Chronicles 30:6) is unsuitable to an earlier period, and that, while the kingdom of Samaria still subsisted, Hezekiah's messengers would not have been suffered to pass through the land, much less would the destruction of the high places in Ephraim and Manasseh have been permitted (2 Chronicles 31:1). But the intention of the chronicler at least is plain enough: the connection of 2 Chronicles 29:17 "the first month," with 2 Chronicles 30:2, "the second month," admits of but one construction that both are meant to belong to one and the same year, the first of the reign. Accordingly, Thenius, in the Kgf. exeg. Hdb. 2 Kings, p. 379, urges this as an argument against the historical character of the whole narrative of this passover, which, he thinks, "rendered antecedently improbable by the silence of the Book of Kings, is perhaps completely refuted by 2 Kings 23:22. The author of the story, wishing to place in the strongest light Hezekiah's zeal for religion, represents him, not Josiah, as the restorer of the Passover after long desuetude, and this in the very beginning of his reign, without, perhaps, caring to reflect that the final deportation of the Ten Tribes, implied in 2 Chronicles 30:6, had not then taken place." But 2 Kings 23:22, taken in connection, as it ought to be, with the preceding verse, is perfectly compatible with the account in the Chronicles. It says: "Surely such a Passover" — one kept in all respects "as it is written in the Book of the Covenant" "was not holden from the time of the Judges," etc. whereas Hezekiah's Passover, though kept with even greater joy and fervor than Josiah's, was held neither at the appointed season, nor in strict conformity with the law. Nor is it necessary to suppose that by "the remnant" the chronicler understood those who were left by Shalmaneser. Rather, his view is, that the people of the Ten Tribes, untaught by the judgments brought upon them by former reverses and partial deportations (under Tiglath-Pileser), with respect to which they might well be called a "remnant" (comp. the very similar terms in which even Judah is spoken of, 39:8,9), and scornfully rejecting the last call to repentance, brought upon themselves their final judgment and complete overthrow (Bertheau, Kgf. exeg. 11db. 2 Chronicles p. 395 sq.). Those, however, of the Ten Tribes who had taken part in the solemnity were thereby (such is evidently the chronicler's view of the matter, 31:1) inspired with a zeal for the true religion which enabled them, on their return home, in defiance of all opposition on the part of the scorners or of Hoshea, to effect a destruction of the high places and altars in Ephraim and Manasseh, as complete as was effected in Jerusalem before, and in Judah after the Passover.
That this prudent and pious king was not deficient in military qualities is shown by his successes against the Philistines, seemingly in the early part of his reign, before the overthrow of Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:8), and by the efficient measures taken by him for the defense of Jerusalem against the Assyrians. Hezekiah also assiduously cultivated the arts of peace, and by wise management of finance, and the attention which, after the example of David and Uzziah, he paid to agriculture and the increase of flocks and herds, he became possessed, even in troubled times, of an ample exchequer and treasures of wealth (2 Chronicles 32:27-29; 2 Kings 20:13; Isaiah 39:2). Himself a sacred poet, and probably the author of other psalms besides that in Isaiah 38; he seems to have collected the psalms of David and Asaph for the Temple worship, and certainly employed competent scribes to complete the collection of Solomon's Proverbs (Proverbs 25:1). He appears also to have taken order for the preservation of genealogical records (Browne, Review of Lepsius on Bible Chronology, in Arnold's Theological Critic, 1, 59 sq.).
By a rare and happy providence, this most pious of kings was confirmed in his faithfulness and seconded in his endeavors by the powerful assistance of the noblest and most eloquent of prophets. The influence of Isaiah was, however, not gained without a struggle with the "scornful" remnant of the former royal counselors (Isaiah 28:14), who in all probability recommended no the king such alliances and compromises as would be in unison rather with the dictates of political expediency than with that sole unhesitating trust in the arm of Jehovah which the prophets inculcated. The leading man of this cabinet was Shebna, who, from the omission of his father's name, and the expression in Isaiah 22:16 (see Blunt, Uindes. Coincidences), was probably a foreigner, perhaps a Syrian (Hitzig). At the instance of Isaiah, he seems to have been subsequently degraded from the high post of prefect of the palace (which office was given to Eliakim, Isaiah 22:21), to the inferior, though still honorable station of state secretary (סֹפֵר, 2 Kings 18:18); the further punishment of exile with which Isaiah had threatened him (2 Kings 22:18) being possibly forgiven on his amendment, of which we have some traces in Isaiah 37, sq. (Ewald, Gesch. 3:617).
At the head of a repentant and united people, Hezekiah ventured to assume the aggressive against the Philistines, ‘ and in a series of victories not only re-won the cities which his father had lost (2 Chronicles 28:18), but even dispossessed them of their own cities except Gaza (2 Kings 18:8) and Gath (Josephus, Ant. 9:13,3). It was perhaps to the purposes of this war that he applied the money which would' otherwise have been used to pay the tribute exacted by Shalmaneser, according to the agreement of Ahaz with his predecessor, Tiglath-Pileser. When the king of Assyria applied for this impost, Hezekiah refused it, and omitted to send even the usual presents (2 Kings 18:7), a line of conduct to which he does not appear to have been encouraged by any exhortations of his prophetic guide.
Instant war was averted by the heroic and long-continued resistance of the Tyrians under their king Eluloeus (Josephus, Ant. 9, 14), against a siege, which was abandoned only in the fifth year (Grote, Greece, 3, 359, 4th edit.), when it was found to be impracticable. This must have been a critical and intensely anxious period for Jerusalem, and Hezekiah used every available means to strengthen his position, and render his capital impregnable (2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:3-5; 2 Chronicles 32:30; Isaiah 22:8-11; Isaiah 33:18; and to these events Ewald also refers, Psalms 48:13). But while all Judaea trembled with anticipation of Assyrian invasion, and while Shebna and others were relying "in the shadow of Egypt," Isaiah's brave heart did not fail, and he even denounced the wrath of God against the proud and sinful merchant city (Isaiah 23), which now seemed to be the main bulwark of Judaea against immediate attack.
At what time it was that Hezekiah "rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not," we do not learn from the direct history: in the brief summary, 2 Kings 18:7-8 (for such it clearly is), of the successes with which the Lord prospered him, that particular statement only introduces what is more fully detailed in the sequel (2 Kings 18:13; 2 Kings 19:37). That it precedes the notice of the overthrow of Samaria (2 Kings 19:9 sq.), does not warrant the inference that the assertion of independence belongs to the earliest years of Hezekiah's reign (see Winer, Real Wö rterbuch 1, 497, n. 2). Ewald, however, thinks otherwise: in the absence of direct evidence, makings history, as his manner is, out of his own peremptory interpretation of certain passages of Isaiah (ch. 1 and Isaiah 22:1-14), he informs us that Hezekiah, holding his kingdom absolved by the death of Ahaz from the obligations contracted with Tiglath-Pileser, prepared himself from the first to resist the demands of Assyria, and put Jerusalem in a state of defense. (It matters not to Ewald that the measures noted in 2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:3-5; 2 Chronicles 32:30, are in the latter passage expressly assigned to the time of Sennacherib's advance upon Jerusalem.) "From Shalmaneser's hosts at that time stationed in Phoenicia and elsewhere in the neighborhood of Judah, forces were detached which laid waste the land in all directions: an army sent against them from Jerusalem, seized with panic at the sight of the unwonted enemy, took to flight, and, Jerusalem now lying helplessly exposed, a peace was concluded in all haste upon the stipulation of a yearly tribute, and the ignominious deliverance was celebrated with feastings in Jerusalem" (Gesch. des V. Israel, 2, 330 sq.): all of which rests upon the supposition that Ewald's interpretation of Isaiah 1:22 is the only possible one it cannot be said to be on record as history.
As gathered from the Scriptures only, the course of events appears to have been as follows: Ahaz had placed his kingdom as tributary under the protection of Tiglath-Pileser (2 Kings 16:7). It would seem from Isaiah 10:27; Isaiah 28:22, that in the time of Shalmaneser, to which the latter passage certainly, and the former probably, belongs, Judah was still under the yoke of this dependence. The fact that Sargon (whether or not the same with the Shalmaneser of the history), in his expedition against Egypt, left Judah untouched (Isaiah 20), implies that Judah had not yet asserted its independence. A powerful party, indeed, was scheming for revolt from Assyria and a league with Egypt; but there appears no reason to believe that Hezekiah all along favored a policy which Isaiah in the name of the Lord, to the last, strenuously condemned. It was not till after the accession of Sennacherib that Hezekiah refused the tribute, and at the instigation of his nobles made a league with Egypt by ambassadors sent to Zoan (Tanis) (Isaiah 30:31; compare Isaiah 36:6-9). (Some, indeed [as Ewald and Caspari], place Isaiah 29-32 before the fall of Samaria, to which time ch. 28 must unquestionably be assigned. Possibly ch. 29 may belong to the same time, and Isaiah 29:1 to Isaiah 32:15 may refer to plottings for a league with Egypt already carried on in secret. Knobel, Kyf: exeg. Hdb. p. 215, 223, decides too peremptorily that such must be the reference, and consequently that ch. 29 falls only a little earlier than the following chapters, where the league is openly denounced, viz. in the early part of the reign of Sennacherib.)
The subsequent history, as gathered from the Scriptures, compared with the notices on the ancient monuments, is thought to be as follows. Sargon was succeeded by his son Sennacherib, whose two invasions occupy the greater part of the Scripture records concerning the reign of Hezekiah. The first of these took place in the third year of Semnacherib, and occupies only three verses (2 Kings 18:13-16), though the route of' the advancing Assyrians maybe traced in Isaiah 10:5; Isaiah 11. The rumor of the invasion redoubled Hezekiah's exertions, and he prepared for a siege by providing offensive and defensive armor, stopping up the wells, and diverting the watercourses, conducting the water of Gihon into the city by a subterranean canal (Sirach 48:17). For a similar precaution taken by the Mohammedans, see Will. Tyr. 8:7, Keil). But the main hope of the political faction was the alliance with Egypt, and they seem to have sought it by presents and private entreaties (Isaiah 30:6), especially with a view to obtaining chariots and cavalry (Isaiah 32:1-3), which was the weakest arm of the Jewish service, as we see from the derision which it excited (2 Kings 18:23). Such overtures kindled Isaiah's indignation, and Shebna may have lost his high office for recommending them. The prophet clearly saw that Egypt was too weak and faithless to be serviceable, and the applications to Pharaoh (who is compared by Rabshakeh to one of the weak reeds of his own river) implied a want of trust in the help of God. But Isaiah did not disapprove of the spontaneously proffered assistance of the tall and warlike Ethiopians (Isaiah 18:2; Isaiah 18:7, ace. to Ewald's transl.), because he may have regarded it as a providential aid.
The account given of this first invasion in the cuneiform "Annals of Sennacherib" is that he attacked Hezekiah because the Ekronites had sent their king Padiya (or" Haddiya," ace. to Col. Rawlinson) as a prisoner to Jerusalem (comp. 2 Kings 18:8); that he took forty-six cities ("all the fenced cities" in 2 Kings 18:13 is apparently a general expression; compare 19:8) and 200,000 prisoners; that he besieged Jerusalem with mounds (comp. 2 Kings 19:32); and although Hezekiah promised to pay 800 talents of silver (of which perhaps only 300 were ever paid) and 30 of gold (2 Kings 18:14; but see Layard, Nin. and Bab. p. 148), yet, not content with this, he muleted him of a part of his dominions, and gave them to the kings of Ekron, Ashdod, and Gaza (Rawlinson, Herod. 1, 475 sq.). So important was this expedition that Demetrius, the Jewish historian, even attributes to Sennacherib the Great Captivity (Clem. Alexand. Stron. 1 p. 147, ed. Sylb.). In almost every particular this account agrees with the notice in Scripture, and we may see a reason for so great a sacrifice on the part of Hezekiah in the glimpse which Isaiah gives us of his capital city driven by desperation into licentious and impious mirth (Isaiah 22:12-14). This campaign must at least have had the one good result of proving the worthlessness of the Egyptian alliance; for at a place called Altagft (the Eltekon of Joshua 15:59?) Sennacherib inflicted an overwhelming defeat on the combined forces of Egypt and Ethiopia, which had come to the assistance of Ekron. But Isaiah regarded the purchased treaty as a cowardly defection, and the sight of his fellow-citizens gazing peacefully from the housetops on the bright array of the car-borne and quivered Assyrians filled him with indignation and despair (Isaiah 22:1-7, if the latest explanations of this chapter be correct).
Hezekiah's bribe (or fine) brought a temporary release, for the Assyrians marched into Egypt, where, if Herodotus (2, 141) and Josephus (Ant. 10, 1-3) are to be trusted, they advanced without resistance to Pelusium, owing to the hatred of the warrior-caste against Sethos, the king-priest of Pthah, who had, in his priestly predilections, interfered with their prerogatives. In spite of this advantage, Sennacherib was forced to raise the siege of Pelusium, by the advance of Tirhakah or Tarakos, the ally of Sethos and Hezekiah, who afterwards united the crowns of Egypt and Ethiopia. This magnificent Ethiopian hero, who had extended his conquests to the Pillars of Hercules (Strabo, 15, 472), was indeed a formidable antagonist. His deeds are recorded in a temple at Medinet-Abu, but the jealousy of the Memphites (Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt. 1, 141) concealed his assistance, and attributed the deliverance of Sethos to the ‘ miraculous interposition of an army of mice (Herod. 2, 141). This story may have had its source, however, not in jealousy, but in the use of a mouse as the emblem of destruction (Horapoll. Hierogl. 1, 50; Rawlinson, Herod. ad loc.), and of some sort of disease or plague (? 1 Samuel 6:18; Jahn, Archi. Bibl. § 185). The legend doubtless gained ground from the extraordinary circumstance which ruined the army of Sennacherib.
Returning from his futile expedition (ἄπρακτος ἀνεχώρησε , Josephus, Ant. 10, 1, 4), Sennacherib "dealt treacherously" with Hezekiah (Isaiah 33:1) by attacking the stronghold of Lachish. This was the commencement of that second invasion, respecting which we have such full details in 2 Kings 18:17 sq.; 2 Chronicles 32:9 sq.; Isaiah 36. That there were two invasions (contrary to the opinion of Layard, Bosanquet, Vance Smith, etc.) is clearly proved by the details of the first given in the Assyrian annals (see Rawlinson, Herod. 1, 477). Although the annals of Sennacherib on the great cylinder in the British Museum reach to the end of his eighth year, and this second invasion belongs to his fifth year, yet no allusion to it has been found. So shameful a disaster was naturally concealed by national vanity. From Lachish he sent against Jerusalem an army under two officers and his cup-bearer, the orator Rabshakeh, with a blasphemous and insulting summons to surrender, deriding Hezekiah's hopes of Egyptian succor, and apparently endeavoring to inspire the people with distrust of his religious innovations (2 Kings 18:22; 2 Kings 18:25; 2 Kings 18:30). The reiteration and peculiarity of the latter argument, together with Rabshakeh's fluent mastery of Hebrew (which he used to tempt the people from their allegiance by a glowing promise, 2 Kings 18:31-32), give countenance to the supposition that he was an apostate Jew. Hezekiah's ministers were thrown into anguish, and dismay; but the undaunted Isaiah hurled back threatening for threatening with unrivalled eloquence and force. He even prophesied that the fires of Tophet were already burning in expectancy of the Assyrian corpses which were destined to feed their flame. Meanwhile Sennacherib, having taken Lachish (an event possibly depicted on a series of slabs at Mosul, Layard, Nin. and Bab. p. 148-152), was besieging Libnah, when, alarmed by a "rumor" of Tirhakah's advance (to avenge the defeat at Altaglf?), he was forced to relinquish once more his immediate designs, and content himself with a defiant letter to Hezekiah. Whether on the occasion he encountered and defeated the Ethiopians (as Prideaux precariously infers from Isaiah 20, Connect. 1, 26), or not, we cannot tell. The next event of the campaign about which we are informed is that the Jewish king, with simple piety, prayed to God with Sennacherib's letter outspread before him (comp. 1 Maccabees 3:48), and received a promise of immediate deliverance. Accordingly "that night the angel of the Lord went out and smote in the camp of the Assyrians 185.000 men."
There is no doubt that some secondary cause was employed in the accomplishment of this event. We are certainly "not to suppose," as Dr. Johnson observed, "that the angel went about with a sword in his hand stabbing them one by one, but that some powerful natural agent was employed." The Babylonish Talmud and some of the Targums attribute it to storms of lightning (Vitringa, Vogel, etc.); Prideaux, Heine (De causa Strag. Assyr. Berl. 1761), Harmer, and Faber to the simoom; R. Jose (in Seder Olam Rabba), Marsham, Usher, Preiss (De causa clad. Assyr. Gö ttingen, 1776), to a nocturnal attack by Tirhakah; Paulus to a poisoning of the waters; and, finally, Josephus (Ant. 10, 1, 4 and 5), followed by an immense majority of ancient and modern commentators (including Michaelis, Ddderlein, Dathe, Heusler, Bauer, Ditmar, Gesenius, Maurer, Knobel, etc., and even Keil), to the pestilence (compare 2 Samuel 24:15-16). This would be a cause not only adequate (Justin, 19:11; Diodor. 19:434; see the other instances quoted by Rosenmü ller, Keil, Jahn, etc.), but most probable in itself, from the crowded and terrified state of the camp. There is, therefore, no necessity to adopt the ingenious conjectures by which Doderlein, Koppe, and Wessler endeavor to get rid of the large number 185,000. It is not said where the event occurred: the prophecies concerning it, Isaiah 10-37, seem to denote the neighborhood of Jerusalem, as would Psalms 76, if it was written at that time. On the other hand, the narrative would probably have been fuller had the overthrow, with its attendant-opportunities of beholding the bodies of their dreaded enemies and of gathering great spoil, befallen near Jerusalem, or even within the immediate limits of Judah. That version of the story which reached Herodotus (2, 140) — for few after Josephus will hold with Ewald (Gesch. 3:336) that the story is not substantially the same-indicates the frontier of Egypt, near Pelusium, as the scene of the disaster. The Assyrian army would probably break up from Libnah on the tidings of Tirhakah's approach, and advance to meet him. In ascribing it to a vast swarm of field- mice, which, devouring the quivers and bow-strings of the Egyptians, compelled them to flee in the morning, Herodotus may have misinterpreted the symbolical language of the Egyptians, in which the mouse denotes annihilation (ἀφανισμός, Horapoll. 1, 50): though, as Knobel (u. s. p. 280) has shown by apposite instance, an army of mice is capable of committing such ravages, and also of leaving pestilence behind it. That the destruction was effected in the course of one night is clearly expressed in 2 Kings 19:35, where "that night" is plainly that which followed after the delivery of Isaiah's prophecy, and is evidently implied alike in Isaiah 37:36 ("when men arose early in the morning"), and ice the story of Herodotus.
After this reverse Sennacherib fled precipitately to Nineveh, where he revenged himself on as many Jews as were in his power (Tobit 1:18), and, after many years (not fifty-five days, as Tobit says, 1:21), was murdered by two of his sons as he drank himself drunk in the house of Nisroch (Assarac?) his god. He certainly lived till B.C. 695, for his 22nd year is mentioned on a clay tablet (Rawlinson, 1. c.); he must therefore have survived Hezekiah by at least one year. It is probable that several of the Psalms (e.g. 46-48, 76) allude to his discomfiture.
"In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death." So begins, in all the accounts, and immediately after the discomfiture of Sennacherib, the narrative of Hezekiah's sickness and miraculous recovery (2 Kings 20:1; 2 Chronicles 32:24; Isaiah 38:1). The time is defined, by the promise of fifteen years to be added to the life of Hezekiah, to the fourteenth year complete, or fifteenth current, of his reign of twenty-nine years. But it is stated to have been in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah that Sennacherib took the fenced cities of Judah, and thereafter threatened Jerusalem and came to his overthrow. The two notes of time, the express and the implied, fully accord, and place beyond question, at least, the view of the writer or last redactor in 2 Kings 18, 19; Isaiah 36, 37, that the Assyrian invasion began before Hezekiah's illness, and lies in the middle of his reign. In the received chronology, as the first year of Hezekiah precedes the fourth of Jehoiakim=-first of Nebuchadnezzar (i.e. B.C. 604 in the Canon, B.C. 606 in the Hebrew reckoning) by 29, 55, 2, 31, 3-120 years, the epoch of the reign is B.C. 724 or 726, and its 14th year B.C. 711 or 713.
But it is contended that so early a year is irreconcilable with definite and unquestionable data of contemporary history, Egyptian, Assyrrian, and Babylonian. From these it has been inferred that during the siege of Samaria Shalmaneser died, and was succeeded by Sargon, who, jealous of Egyptian influence in Judaea, sent an army under a Tartan or general (Isaiah 20:1), which penetrated Egypt (Nahum 3:8-10) and destroyed No-Amon; although it is clear from Hezekiah's rebellion (2 Kings 18:7) that it can have produced but little permanent impression. Sargon, in the tenth year of his reign (which is regarded as parallel with the fourteenth year of the reign of Hezekiah), made an expedition to Palestine; but his annals make no mention of any conquests from Hezekiah on this occasion, and he seems to have occupied himself in the siege of Ashdod (Isaiah 20:1), and in the inspection of mines (Rosenmü ller, Bibl. Geogr. 9). This is therefore thought to be the expedition referred to in 2 Kings 18:13; Isaiah 36:1; an expedition which is merely alluded to, as it led to no result. But if the Scripture narrative is to be reconciled with the records of Assyrian history, it has been thought necessary to make a transposition in the text of Isaiah (and therefore of the book of Kings). That some such expedient must be resorted to, if the Assyrian history is trustworthy, is maintained by Dr. Hincks in a paper On the rectification of chronology, which the newly-discovered Apostles render necessary (in Jour. of Sac. Lit. Oct. 1858). "The text," he says, "as it originally stood, was probably to this effect (2 Kings 18:13): Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah the king of Assyria came up [alluding to the attack mentioned in Sargon's "Annals"], 20:1-19. In those days was king Hezekiah sick unto death, etc., 18:13. And Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them, etc., 18:13; 19:37." It has been conjectured that some later transcriber, unaware of the earlier and unimportant invasion, confused the allusion to Sargon in 2 Kings 18:13 with the detailed story of Sennacherib's attack (2 Kings 18:14 to 2 Kings 19:37), and, considering that the account of Hezekiah's illness broke the continuity of the narrative, removed it to the end. According to this scheme, Hezekiah's dangerous illness (2 Kings 20; Isaiah 38; 2 Chronicles 32:24) nearly synchronized with Sargon's futile invasion, in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah's reign, eleven years before Sennacherib's invasion. That it must have preceded the attack of Sennacherib has also been inferred from the promise in 2 Kings 20:6, as well as from modern discoveries (Layard, Nin. and Bab. 1, 145); and such is the view adopted by the Rabbis (Seder Olam, cap. 23), Usher, and by most commentators, except Vitringa and Gesenius (Keil, ad loc.; Prideaux, 1, 22). It should be observed, however, that the difficulties experienced in reconciling the scriptural date with that of the Assyrian monuments rests on the synchronism of the fall of Samaria with the 1st or 2nd year of Sargon (q.v.). Col. Rawlinson has lately given reasons himself (Lond. Athenceum, No. 1869, Aug. 22, 1863, p. 246) for doubting this date; and it is probable that further researches and computations may fully vindicate the accuracy of the Biblical numbers.
Tirhakah is mentioned (2 Kings 19:9) as an opponent of Sennacherib shortly before the miraculous destruction of his army in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah, corresponding to B.C. 713. It has lately been proved from the Apis tablets that the first year of Tirhakah's reign over Egypt was the vague year current in B.C. 689 (Dr. Hincks, in the our. Sac. Lit. October, 1858, p. 130). There is, therefore, a prima' facie discrepancy of several years. Bunsen (Bibelwerk, 1, p. 306) unhesitatingly reduces the reign of Manasseh from fifty-five to forty-five years. Lepsius (Konigsbuch, p. 104) more critically takes the thirty-five years of the Sept. as the true duration. Were an alteration demanded, it would seem best to make Manasseh's computation of his reign commence with his father's illness in preference to taking the conjectural number forty-five, or the very short one thirty-five. The evidence of the chronology of the Assyrian and Babylonian-kings is, however, we think, conclusive in favor of the sum of fifty-five. In the Bible we are told that Shalmaneser laid siege to Samaria in the fourth year of Hezekiah, and that it was taken in the sixth year of that king (2 Kings 18:9-10). The Assyrian inscriptions indicate the taking of the city by Sargon in his first or second year, whence we must suppose either that he completed the enterprise of Shalmaneser, to whom the capture is not expressly ascribed in the Scriptures, or that he took the credit of an event which happened just before his accession. The first year of Sargon is shown by the inscriptions to have been exactly or nearly equal to the first of Merodach-Baladan, i.e. Mardocempadus: therefore it was current B.C. 721 or 720, and the second year, 720 or 719. This would place Hezekiah's accession B.C. 726, 725, or 724, the first of them being the very date the Hebrew numbers give. Again, Merodach-Baladan sent messengers to Hezekiah immediately after his sickness, and therefore in about his fifteenth year, B.C. 712. According to Ptolemy's Canon, Mardocempadus reigned 721-710, and, according to Berosus, seized the regal power for six months before Elibus, the Belibus of the Canon, and therefore in about 703, this being, no doubt, a second reign. (See MERODACH-BALADAN).
Here the preponderance of evidence is in favor of the earlier dates of Hezekiah. Thus far the chronological data of Egypt and Assyria appear to clash in a manner that seems at first sight to present a hopeless knot, but not on this account to be rashly cut. An examination of the facts of the history has afforded Dr. Hincks (Jour. of Sac. Literature, Oct. 1858) what he believes to be the true explanation. Tirhakah, he observes, is not explicitly termed Pharaoh or king of Egypt in the Bible, but king of Cush or Ethiopia, from which it might be inferred that at the time of Sennacherib's disastrous invasion he had not assumed the crown of Egypt. The Assyrian inscriptions of Sennacherib mention kings of Egypt, and a contemporary king of Ethiopia in alliance with them. The history of Egypt at the time, obtained by a comparison of the evidence of Herodotus send others with that of Manetho's lists, would lead to the same or a similar conclusion, which appears to be remarkably confirmed by the prophecies of Isaiah. He holds, therefore, as most probable, that, at the time of Sennacherib's disastrous expedition, Tirhakah was king of Ethiopia in alliance with the king or kings of Egypt. In fact, in order to reconcile the discrepancy between the date of the fourteenth year of Hezekiah in B.C. 713, and its contemporaneousness with the reign of Tirhakah, who did not ascend the Egyptian throne till B.C. 689, we have only to suppose that the latter king was the ruler of Ethiopia some years before his accession over Egypt itself. (See TIRHAKAH).
In this way, however, we again fall into the other difficulty as to the coincidence of this date with that of Sennacherib's invasion. It is true, as above seen, that the warlike operations of Sennacherib recorded in the Bible have been conjectured (Rawlinson, Herodotus, 1, 383) to be those of two expeditions. (See SENNACHERIB).
The fine paid by Hezekiah is recorded in the inscriptions as a result of an expedition of Sennacherib's third year, which, by a comparison of Ptolemy's Canon with Berosus, must be dated B.C. 700, and this would fall so near the close of the reign of the king of Judah (B.C. 697) that the supposed second expedition, of which there would naturally be no record in the Assyrian annals on account of its calamitous end, could not be placed much later. The Biblical account would, however, be most reasonably explained by the supposition that the two expeditions were but two campaigns of the same war, a war but temporarily interrupted by Hezekiah's submission. Now as even the former (if there were two) of these expeditions of Selnacherib fell in B.C. 700, it would be thirteen years later than the synchronism of Tirhakah and Hezekiah as above arrived at. It is probable, therefore, that there is some miscalculation in these dates from the Egyptian and Assyrian monuments, as indeed seems to be betrayed by the discrepancy between Sennacherib's invasion (B.C. 700) and Tirhakah's reign (not earlier than B.C. 689), as thereby determined, whereas the above Biblical passage makes them contemporaneous. Dr. Hincks (ut sup.), however, proposes to solve this difficulty also by the uncritical supposition that the name of Sennacherib has been inserted in the Biblical account of the first Assyrian invasion of Judah (2 Kings 18:13; Isaiah 26:1; 2 Chronicles 32) by some copyist, who confounded this with the later invasion by that monarch, whereas the Assyrian king referred to was Sargon (Isaiah 20:1), his predecessor. A less violent hypothesis for the same purpose of reconcilement, and one in accordance with the custom of these Oriental kings, e.g. in the case of Nebuchadnezzar, is that Sargon sent Sennacherib as viceroy to execute this campaign in Palestine, and that the annals of the reign of the latter refer to different and later expeditions when actually king. (See CHRONOLOGY).
Some writers have thought to find a note of time in 2 Kings 19:29; Isaiah 37:30, "Ye shall eat this year such as groweth of itself," etc., assuming that the passage is only to be explained as implying the intervention of a sabbath-year, or even of a sabbath-year followed by a year of jubilee. All that can be said is that the passage may be interpreted in that sense; and it does happen that according to that view of the order of sabbatic and jubilaean years which is the best attested, a sabbath-year would begin in the autumn of B.C. 713 (Browne, Ordo Saeclorum, sec. 272-280), i.e. on the perhaps precarious assumption that the cycle persisted without interruption. At most, however, this no more fixes the fourteenth of Hezekiah to the year B.C. 713, than it does to 706, or 699, or any other year of the series. But, in fact, it is not necessary to assume any reference to a sabbath-year. Suppose the words to have been spoken in the autumn, then, the produce of the previous harvest (April, May) having been destroyed or carried off by the invaders, there remained only that which sprang naturally from the dropped or trodden-out seed (סָפַיח ), and as the enemy's presence in the land hindered the autumnal tillage, there could be no regular harvest in the following spring (only the סָחַישׁ, αὐτόματα). Hence there is no need to infer with Thenius, ad loc. that the enemy must have been in the land at least eighteen months. or, with Ewald, that Isaiah, speaking in the autumn, anticipated that the invasion would last through the following year (Die Propheten des A. B. 1, 301, and similarly Knobel, u. s. p. 278).
There seems to be no ground whatever for the vague conjecture so confidently advanced (Jahn, Hebr. Common. § 41), that the king's illness was the same plague which had destroyed the Assyrian army. The word שְׁחַין is not elsewhere applied to the plague, but to carbuncles and inflammatory ulcers (Exodus 9:9; Job 2:1, etc.). Hezekiah, whose kingdom was still in a dangerous state from the fear lest the Assyrians might return, who had at that time no heir (for Manasseh was not born till long afterwards, 2 Kings 21:1), and who regarded death as the end of existence (Isaiah 38), "turned his face to the wall and wept sore" at the threatened approach of dissolution. God had compassion on his anguish, and heard his prayer. Isaiah had hardly left the palace when he was ordered to promise the king immediate recovery, and a fresh lease of life, ratifying the promise by a sign, and curing the boil by a plaster of figs, which were often used medicinally in similar cases (Gesenius, Thes. 1, 311; Celsius, Hierobot. 2, 377; Bartholinus, De Morbis Biblicis, 10:47). What was the exact nature of the disease we cannot say; according to Meade, it was fever terminating in abscess. On this remarkable passage we must here be content to refer the reader to Carpzov, App. Crit. p. 351 sq.; Rawlinson, Herod. 2, 332 sq.; the elaborate notes of Keil on 2 Kings 20; Rosenmü ller and Gesenius on Isaiah 38, and especially Ewald, Geschichte 3, 638.
The sign given to Hezekiah in the going back of the shadow on the "sun- dial of Ahaz" can only be interpreted as a miracle. The explanation proposed by J. von Gumpach (Alt. Test. Studien, p. 181 sq.) is as incompatible with the terms of the narrative (Isaiah 38:8, especially the fuller one, 2 Kings 20:8-11) as it is insulting to the character of the prophet, who is represented to have managed the seeming return of the shadow by the trick of secretly turning the movable dial from its proper position to its opposite! Thenius (u. s. p. 403 sq.) would naturalize the miracle so as to obtain from it a note of time. The phenomenon was due, he thinks, to a solar eclipse, very small, viz. the one of 26th September, B.C. 713. Here, also, the prophet is taxed with a deception, to be justified by his wish to inspire the despairing king with the confidence essential to his recovery. The prophet employed for this purpose his astronomical knowledge of the fact that the eclipse was about to take place, and of the further fact that "at the beginning of an eclipse the shadow (e.g. of a gnomon) goes back, and at its ending goes forward:" an effect, however, so minute that the difference amounts at most to sixty seconds of time; but then the "degrees" would mark extremely small portions of time, possibly even 1080 to the hour (like the later Hebrew Chakim), and the so-called "dial" was enormously large! Not more successfully, Mr. Bosanquet (Trans. of R. Asiat. Soc. 15, 277) has recourse to the same expedient of an eclipse on Jan. 11, 689 B.C., which, in this writer's scheme, lies in the fourteenth of Hezekiah. "Whoever truly believes in the Old Testament, as Mr. Bosanquet evidently does, must also be prepared to believe in a miracle," is the just comment made by M. Niebuhr, Gesch. Assurs und Babels, p. 49. Mr. Greswell's elaborate attempt to prove from ancient astronomical records that the day of this miracle was preternaturally lengthened out to thirty-six hours will scarcely convince any one but himself (Fasti Temporis Catholici, etc., and Browne's "Remarks" on the same, 1852, p. 23 sq.). (See DIAL).
Various ambassadors came with letters and gifts to congratulate Hezekiah on his recovery (2 Chronicles 32:23), and among them an embassy from Merodach-Baladan (or Berodach, 2 Kings 20:12; ὁ Βάλαδας , Josephus, 1. c.), the viceroy of Babylon, the Mardokempados of Ptolemy's canon. The ostensible object of this mission was to compliment Hezekiah on his convalescence (2 Kings 20:12; Isaiah 39:1), and "to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land" (2 Chronicles 32:31), a rumor of which could not fail to interest a people devoted to astrology. But its real purpose was to discover how far an alliance between the two powers was possible or desirable, for Mardokempados, no less than Hezekiah, was in apprehension of the Assyrians. In fact, Sargon expelled him from the throne of Babylon in the following year (the 16th of Hezekiah), although after a time he seems-to have returned and re-established himself for six months, at the end of which he was murdered by Belibos (Dr. Hincks, 1. c.; Rosenmü ller, uibl. Geograph. ch. 8; Layard, Nin. and Bab. 1, 141).
Community of interest made Hezekiah receive the overtures of Babylon with unconcealed gratification; and, perhaps, to enhance the opinion of his own importance as an ally he displayed to the messengers the princely treasures which he and his predecessors had accumulated. These stores remained even after the largesses mentioned in 2 Kings 18:14; 2 Kings 18:16. If ostentation were his motive it received a terrible rebuke, and he was informed by Isaiah that from the then tottering and subordinate province of Babylon, and not from the mighty Assyria, would come the ruin and captivity of Judah (Isaiah 39:5). This prophecy and the one of Micah (Micah 4:10) are the earliest definition of the locality of that hostile power, where the clouds of exile so long threatened (Leviticus 26:33; Deuteronomy 4:27; Deuteronomy 30:3) were beginning to gather. It is an impressive and fearful circumstance that the moment of exultation was chosen as the opportunity for warning, and that the prophecies of the Assyrian deliverance are set side by side with those of the Babylonian captivity (Davidson, On Prophecy, p. 256). The weak friend was to accomplish that which was impossible to the powerful foe. But, although pride was the sin thus vehemently checked by the prophet, Isaiah was certainly not blind to the political motives (Joseph. Ant. 10:2, 2) which made Hezekiah so complaisant to the Babylonian ambassadors. Into those motives he had inquired in vain, for the king met that portion of his question ("What said these men?") by emphatic silence. Hezekiah's meek answer to the stern denunciation of future woe has been most unjustly censured as "a false resignation which combines selfishness with silliness" (Newman, Hebr. Mon. p. 274). On the contrary, it merely implies a conviction that God's decree could not be otherwise than just and right, and a natural thankfulness for even a temporary suspension of its inevitable fulfillment.
After this embassy we have only a general account of the peace and prosperity in which Hezekiah closed his days. No man before or since ever lived under the certain knowledge of the precise length of the span of life before him. "He was buried in the going up (מָעִלֶה ) to the sepulchers of the sons of David," 2 Chronicles 32:33 : from this, and the fact that the succeeding kings were laid in sepulchers of their own, it may be inferred that after Ahaz, thirteenth from David, there was no more room left in the ancestral sepulcher (Thenius, u. s. p. 410). In later times, he was held in honor as the king who had "after him none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him" (2 Kings 18:5); in Jeremiah 26:17 the elders of the land cite him as an example of pious submission to the word of the Lord spoken by Micah; and the son of Sirach closes his recital of the kings with this judgment-that of all the kings of Judah, "David, Hezekiah, and Josiah alone transgressed not, nor forsook the law of the Most High" (Sirach 49:4).
Besides the many authors and commentators who have written on this period of Jewish history (on which much light has been recently thrown by Mr. Layard, Sir G. Wilkinson, Sir H. Rawlinson, Dr. Hincks, and other scholars who have studied the Nineveh remains), see for continuous lives of Hezekiah, Josephus (Ant. 9:13-10, 2), Prideaux (Connect. 1, 16-30), Jahn (Hebr. Corn. 41), Ewald (Gesch. 3, 614-644, 2nd ed.), Stanley (Jewish Church, 2,305-540), Nicholson (Lectures on Hezekiah, Lond. 1839), Rochah Meditations on Hez. tr. by Hare, Lond. 1839), Michaelis (De Ezechia, Hal. 1717), Scheid (Canticum Ezechiae, Leyd. 1769), Nicolai (De terroribus Hiskiae, Helmst. 1749), Taddel (Precatio Chiskiae Tittenb. 1704). For sermons, etc., see Darling, Cyclopedia Bibliographica, col. 330, 340, 341.
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Hezekiah'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/h/hezekiah.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26