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Go to Bible: 2 Kings 18
|2Ki 18:1||- (top)|
“He was 25 years old when he began to reign.” God blessed Hezekiah in many ways, and one of them certainly was that although his father Ahaz had sacrificed some of his children in the fire, Hezekiah was not sacrificed when he was a baby (2 Kings 16:3; 2 Chron. 28:3).
“and his mother’s name was Abi.” In Chronicles, the mother’s name is “Abijah.”(top)
|2Ki 18:3||- (top)|
“the local shrines.” The Hebrew word “shrines” is bamot, which referred to a place that was leveled and built up and on which were placed various idols and objects of worship. Many of the towns had such shrines (see commentary on Num. 33:52).
“standing-stones.” Standing-stones were set up for various reasons, some of them being godly memorials, but here the context is pagan worship. Standing-stones would often be set up as part of the worship of pagan gods, and God has no tolerance for idols. They are harmful in many different ways and are to be destroyed. [For more on standing-stones, see commentary on Gen. 28:18. For more on idols being harmful, see commentary on Deuteronomy 7:5].
“the bronze serpent that Moses had made.” The bronze snake that Moses made would now be about 700 years old (cp. Num. 21:4-9). The serpent may have been made of bronze or copper, the Hebrew is unclear.
“for in those days the children of Israel burned incense to it.” When the worship of Moses’ serpent began is not known. The idolatrous Judeans turned a priceless artifact of history into an idol, and that being the case, Hezekiah did the right thing and destroyed it. Too often believers are tricked into keeping things that have become idols, “protective amulets,” etc., just because those things have historical or family significance. But demons are attracted to the love, devotion and even forms of worship that some objects receive, and so believers must be on guard to keep historical pieces and heirlooms as just that, and not begin to ascribe protective power, “luck” or any kind invisible power to them and thus turn them into idols, which only invites spiritual problems.(top)
“there was none like him.” Because of David and Josiah, this is likely hyperbolic.(top)
|2Ki 18:6||- (top)|
“he succeeded.” The Hebrew word translated “succeeded” has the idea that what Hezekiah did, he did wisely. The Douay-Rheims version has, “ in all things, to which he went forth, he behaved himself wisely.”(top)
“from watchtower to fortified city.” That is, all the towns from the least of them to the greatest (cp. 2 Kings 17:9).(top)
|2Ki 18:9||- (top)|
|2Ki 18:10||- (top)|
“and put them in Halah.” This is also stated in 2 Kings 17:6.(top)
“They would not listen nor do it.” In Exodus 24:7 the Israelites said they would listen and obey what God said, and they made a covenant to that effect.(top)
“Sennacherib king of Assyria.” Sennacherib’s attack is recorded in 2 Kings 18; 2 Chronicles 32; and Isaiah 36.(top)
|2Ki 18:14||- (top)|
|2Ki 18:15||- (top)|
|2Ki 18:16||- (top)|
“Then the king of Assyria sent.” Sennacherib, the king of Assyria had accepted the gold and silver from Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:14-16), but did not withdraw as he had apparently promised, but instead attacked Jerusalem. Sennacherib was ruthless and a liar. Hezekiah knew that surrender to him meant the deportation of the people to foreign lands, as Assyria had already done to Israel, and Hezekiah was desperate that that did not happen.
“the highway of the Launderer’s Field.” That is, the highway by the field where cloth is washed and dried. Although many versions say “fuller’s field,” is it not well known today that a person who washed clothing used to be called a “fuller.” This was the place where Isaiah had met Ahaz some years before and told Ahaz to ask for a sign from God that Judah would be delivered (Isa. 7:3), but Ahaz would not ask for a sign because he had already hired the Assyrians to attack Syria and Israel. Now that evil tactic bore evil fruit and the Assyrians were back.(top)
“when they had called for the king.” When the Assyrian leaders Tartan and Rab-saris and Rab-shakeh called out for Hezekiah, he sent his people to meet them and did not come himself.
“Eliakim the son of Hilkiah who was Over the House.” “Over the House” was the title of the palace administrator (see commentary on 1 Kings 4:6). Eliakim replaced Shebna, who nevertheless remained an important figure in the kingdom for a while anyway (cp. Isa. 22:15-21).(top)
“this trust in which you are trusting.” The first “trust” is a noun, an object of trust, while “trusting” is a verb. “What is the object of trust on which you are trusting?” Rab-shakeh asks the question and then gives what seem to be the two most obvious answers: Egypt or Yahweh. Although Rab-shakeh denigrates both answers (2 Kings 18:21-22), Hezekiah did trust in Yahweh and that trust was not in vain.(top)
|2Ki 18:20||- (top)|
|2Ki 18:21||- (top)|
“But if you say.” 2 Kings 18:22; 2 Chronicles 32:12, and Isaiah 36:7 are very similar.
“isn’t he the one whose shrines and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away.” Sennacherib was very well informed about what was going on in Judah, and it is almost certain that he had spies there and/or had other sources of information, after all, he had already conquered a large number of the cities of Judah and would have learned a lot from the people he captured (2 Kings 18:13). So what he said was not a guess. Hezekiah had taken away the high places and pagan altars (2 Kings 18:3-4), and told the people to worship in Jerusalem. Hezekiah had also told his people and his army that they were to trust in Yahweh (2 Chron. 32:8). Hezekiah’s reform was so extensive, and his life and actions so important, that 2 Chronicles has four chapters on Hezekiah (2 Chron. 29-32).
The ungodly and pagan acts of king Ahaz, Hezekiah’s father, would have penetrated the culture quite deeply in the 16 years of Ahaz’s reign. So when Hezekiah abruptly put an end to those pagan practices he would have upset quite a few people. That meant that the reforms of Hezekiah, although welcomed by the godly people of Judah, would have been hated and opposed by the ungodly people. This was one of those situations where the leader cannot please everyone. Hezekiah did what he knew was right, and did it in spite of the fact that it would have upset and angered many people, and so Hezekiah would have been pressured and perhaps even threatened because of his reforms.
Also, this verse reveals both that Sennacherib the king of Assyria misunderstood Hezekiah’s reform, and that there was syncretism and perversion of the worship of Yahweh going on in the cities of Judah. God had commanded that He was to be worshiped “in the place that Yahweh your God will choose” (Deut. 12:1-14), and He chose Jerusalem. But the people ignored that command and worshiped God in many different places—and “worshiped” meant that they sacrificed, performed rituals, etc., in many different places. Furthermore, much of that service and “worship” would have involved people who were not Levitical priests and also involved practices borrowed from the worship of pagan gods. The people may have thought they were worshiping Yahweh, but in reality they were being disobedient and ungodly. Nevertheless, when Hezekiah put a stop to the ungodly worship, Sennacherib naturally concluded that Hezekiah was being tyrannical by insisting that everyone come to worship in the city where he lived, Jerusalem, and to the temple where he worshiped. It is quite possible that Sennacherib thought that if he communicated directly with the people of Jerusalem that he could start a popular uprising against Hezekiah and take the city without a fight, and he tried that tactic (cp. 2 Kings 18:25-35). Thankfully, that tactic did not work.
“shrines.” The Hebrew word “shrines” is bamot, which referred to a place that was leveled and built up and on which were placed various idols and objects of worship. The context indicates these shrines were pagan in nature (cp. NLT, “pagan shrines”). Many of the towns had such shrines (see commentary on Num. 33:52).
“worship.” The Hebrew word translated “worship,” shachah (#07812 שָׁחָה), is the same Hebrew word as “bow down.” [For more on bowing down, see commentary on 1 Chron. 29:20].(top)
“make a wager with my lord.” Rabshakeh is taunting the Judeans.(top)
“my lord’s servants.” Here “servants” refers to commanding officers in the army. Basically, Rabshakeh is saying, “So how will you Judeans be able to defeat even one captain—even an unimportant one—of the king of Assyria’s army officers?” The Assyrian army was indeed mighty from a five-senses point of view, and from that fleshly point of view Rabshakeh was probably correct. But Yahweh is mighty to save, and He did save Judah.(top)
“Have I now come up without Yahweh against this place to destroy it?” The Bible does not tell us why Sennacherib king of Assyria would say this. It is extremely unlikely that a prophet of Yahweh said that to him. The most likely explanation is that Sennacherib’s spies and contacts in Judah reported to him the words of Yahweh’s prophets to the Judeans that the Assyrians were going to come and attack Judah (cp. Isa. 8:7-8; 10:5-6).(top)
“Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it.” The difference between the imperial Aramaic spoken in Assyria and the Judean, the Hebrew language spoken in Judea, was great enough that the average Judean could not understand the Aramaic spoken by the Assyrians.
“within earshot.” Literally, “in the ears.”(top)
“to your lord.” The Hebrew is a grammatical plural, literally, “to your lords,” but it refers to Hezekiah the king of Judah.
“urine.” Here in 2 Kings 18:27 and in Isaiah 36:12, the Hebrew text uses an idiom: “the water of the feet.” The word “feet” was sometimes used for the genital organs (see commentary on Judges 5:27).(top)
|2Ki 18:28||- (top)|
“his hand.” That is, the hand of the king of Assyria.(top)
“rescue, yes, rescue us.” The Hebrew text repeats the verb for emphasis, using the figure of speech polyptoton. [For more on polyptoton and its translation, see commentary on Gen. 2:16].(top)
|2Ki 18:31||- (top)|
“a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and of honey.” This is not a total deception, but some of the places people were taken were not as abundant as promised.(top)
|2Ki 18:33||- (top)|
“Have they rescued Samaria from my hand?” Rabshakeh is using abbreviated language. The people of Judah understood what he was saying. The NET expands the translation for clarity: “Indeed, did any gods rescue Samaria from my power?”(top)
|2Ki 18:35||- (top)|
|2Ki 18:36||- (top)|
“Eliakim the son of Hilkiah who was Over the House.” “Over the House” was the title of the palace administrator (see commentary on 1 Kings 4:6). During the reign of King Hezekiah, Eliakim replaced Shebna, who had been Over the House, but who nevertheless remained an important figure in the kingdom for a while anyway (cp. Isa. 22:15-21).(top)