October 06, 2011

2 Kings 18+

[We get lots & lots of ~not doing right by the Lord, which mostly seems to mean 'letting people ignore the monopoly on religion that the Jerusalem priesthood would like to impose'-- but also some actual bad stuff, like alleged child sacrifice. "Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying 'Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments...'" We get lots of regime change in Israel, one murderous conspirator after another.

Assyria becomes powerful and conquers Israel-- and puts foreigners in charge of Israel's cities. "At the beginning of their dwelling there, they did not fear the Lord; therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of them... Then the King of Assyria commanded, 'Send there one of the priests whom you carried away thence; and let him go and dwell there, and teach them the law of the god of the land.'" (This later becomes the rationale for the hostility between Judeans and Samaritans, although the Samaritans themselves claimed to be descended mainly from Israelites who had opposed the Judean monarchy from the beginning.) Hezekiah becomes King of Judah and starts 'doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord': closing down high places, cutting down the Asherah, breaking a serpent statue said to have come down from Moses... ]

2 Kings 18.9:
And the Lord was with him; wherever he went forth, he prospered. He rebelled against the King of Assyria, and would not serve him. He smote the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city.

In the fourth year of King Hezekiah... Shalmaneser King of Assyria came up against Samaria and besieged it; and at the end of three years he took it. In the sixth year of Hezekiah... Samaria was taken. The King of Israel carried the Israelites away to Assyria, and put them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, because they did not obey the voice of the Lord their God but transgressed His covenant, even all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded; they neither listened nor obeyed. ["We told you so!"]

In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib King of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them.

And Hezekiah King of Judah sent to the King of Assyria at Lachish, saying, "I have done wrong; withdraw from me; whatever you impose on me I will bear."

And the King of Assyria required of Hezikiah 300 talents of silver, and 30 talents of gold.

And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the House of the Lord, and in the treasuries of the King's House. At that time Hezekiah stripped the gold from the doors of the Temple, and from the doorposts which Hezekiah King of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the King of Assyria.

And the King of Assyria sent [the Rabshakeh & two other officials] with a great army to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem... And when they called for the King, there came out to them Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebnah the secretary, and Jah the son of Asaph, the recorder.

And the Rabshakeh said to them, "Say to Hezekiah, 'Thus says the Great King, the King of Assyria: On what do you rest this confidence of yours? Do you think that mere words are strategy for war? On whom do you now rely, that you have rebelled against me? Behold, you are relying on Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh King of Egypt to all who rely on him.

"'But if you say to me, "We reply on the Lord our God"-- Is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and Jerusalem: "You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem."?

"'Come now, make a wager with my master the King of Assyria: I will give you 2000 horses, if you are able on your part to set riders upon them! How, then, can you repulse a single captain among the least of my master's servants, when you rely on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen?

"'Moreover, is it without the Lord that I have come up against this place to destroy it? The Lord said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it.'"

Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebnah, and Joah, said to the Rabshakeh, "Pray, speak to your servants in the Aramaic language, for we understand it. Do not speak to us in the language of Judah within the hearing of the people who are upon the wall."

But the Rabshakeh said to them, "Has my master sent me to speak these words to your master and to you, and not to the men sitting on the wall, who are doomed with you to eat their own dung and to drink their own urine?

Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out in a loud voice in the language of Judah, "Hear the word of the Great King, the King of Assyria! Thus says the King, 'Do not let Hezekiah decieve you, for he will not be able to deliver you out of my hand. Do not let Hezekiah make you to rely on the Lord by saying, The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand King of Assyria. Do not listen to Hezekiah; for thus says the King of Assyria: 'Make your peace with me, and come out to me; then every one of you will eat of his own vine, and every one of his own fig tree; and every one of you will drink the water of his own cistern, until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey-- that you may live, and not die. And do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying, The Lord will deliver us. Has any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the King of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who among all the gods of the nations have delivered their countries out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?'"

But the people were silent, and answered him not a word, for the King's command was, "Do not answer him."

Then Eliakim the son of Hilkia, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and told him the words of the Rabshakeh.

When King Hezekiah heard it, he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and the senior priests, covered with sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz.

They said to him, "Thus says Hezekiah, This day is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace. Children have come to the birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth!

"It may be that the Lord your God heard all the words of the Rabshakeh, who his master the King of Assyria has sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke the words which the Lord your God has heard; therefore, lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left."

Isaiah said to them, "Say to your master, 'Thus says the Lord: Do not be afraid o the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the King of Assyria have reviled me. Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land."


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