2 Chronicles 32

2 CHRONICLES CHAPTER 32

Sennacherib Invades Judah

        • ESV Study Bible writes, “The Chronicler’s account of Sennacherib’s invasion (701 BC) greatly condenses and simplifies the record given in 2 Kings 18-19…That earlier account depicts a rather more ambivalent (but still fundamentally positive) portrait of Hezekiah…The Chronicler omits these details to present Hezekiah at his faithful best, but his principle concern is to highlight the uniqueness and supremacy of Israel’s God, and his ability to deliver his people from their enemies (note Sennacherib’s constant taunting use of this verb in 2 Chron 32:11, 13, 14, 15, 17).”

      • After all that Hezekiah had faithfully done, King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified cities, intending to seize them for himself. When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had invaded and that he intended to attack Jerusalem, he planned with his officials and his warriors to block off the water from the springs outside the city, and they helped him. A large number of people gathered together and blocked off all the springs, and the stream that flowed through the area. They reasoned, “Why should the Assyrian kings find plenty of water when they come?” Then Hezekiah set to work resolutely and rebuilt every broken wall. He erected towers and an outer wall, and fortified the terraces of the City of David. He also made many weapons and shields.

        • Guzik writes, “Our tendency is to think that when we are genuinely faithful to God we will be immune from attack. The experience of Hezekiah and countless other men and women of God tell us otherwise.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible reminds us, “Sennacherib’s attack did not come as a surprise; Hezekiah provoked it by breaking a treaty (2 Kgs 18:7, 20). Because water was critical to both attacker and defender in siege warfare, Hezekiah made sure that Sennacherib’s army would not have access to the city’s water supply. In one of the most famous engineering feats of ancient times, Hezekiah’s tunnel connected the fresh waters of the Gihon Spring to the pool of Siloam, making water accessible from within the city walls. The famous tunnel is almost one-third of a mile long…and about six feet high. The famous Hezekiah inscription, discovered in the tunnel in 1880, describes how the excavators met to join the two ends. Although much of the tunnel consisted of natural underground aqueducts, it was a tremendous strategy for protecting the citizens of the city.”

        • ESV Study Bible adds, “In the 1970 excavation of Jerusalem in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, archaeologist Nahman Avigad discovered a wall 21 feet thick from the eighth to seventh centuries BC. It was probably erected by Hezekiah to protect the city against the invading Assyrians. The city wall was also extended to accommodate the growth in population caused by the influx of refugees from the north.”

      • Hezekiah appointed military officers over the people and assembled them in the square at the city gate. He spoke to them encouragingly saying, “Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid and don’t be discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the huge horde that his with him. There is a greater power with us than with him. He has only human strength, but we have Yahweh our God to help us and fight our battles.” The people were encouraged by the words of Judah’s King Hezekiah.

        • ESV Study Bible notes, “Hezekiah’s response includes taking practical measures for the defense of Jerusalem…and encouraging people not to fear the strength of men…(see Jer 17:5) but to have confidence in God’s help (see 2 Chron 14:11). Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid echoes David’s charge to Solomon (1 Chron 22:13), based in turn on Moses’ words to Joshua (Deut 31:6; Josh 1:9).”

Sennacherib’s Servant’s Speech

      • Afterward, while besieging Lachish with all his armed forces, Assyria’s King Sennacherib sent messengers to Jerusalem to deliver this message to Judah’s King Hezekiah and all the people of Judah who were there:

        • This is what King Sennacherib of Assyria says: ‘What are you trusting in, you who are staying in Jerusalem while it is under siege? When Hezekiah says, “Yahweh our God will deliver us from the hand of the king of Assyria,” he is misleading you, and is sentencing you to death by famine and thirst. Didn’t Hezekiah himself remove this god’s high places and altars, telling Judah and Jerusalem, “You must worship before one altar and burn sacrifices on it”? Are you not aware of what I and my predecessors have done to all the peoples of other lands? Were the gods of the nations of those lands able to deliver their lands from my hand? Who among all the gods of these nations my predecessors devoted to destruction was able to rescue his people from my power? How then can your god deliver you from my hand? Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you and mislead you like this. Don’t believe him, because no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or the hand of my predecessors. How much less are your gods able to deliver you from my hand?’”

          • Guzik says, “While the bulk of his army was busy at Lachish, Sennacherib sent some men to Jerusalem to prepare for the siege, especially with psychological combat. The mention of Lachish is important historically. Lachish was thirty miles south-west of Jerusalem. Archaeologists have discovered a pit there with the remains of about 1,500 casualties of Sennachaerib’s attack. In the British Museum, you can see the Assyrian carving depicting their siege of the city of Lachish, which was an important fortress city of Judah.”

        • Guzik continues, “These servants of Sennacherib (known as the Tartan, the Rabsaris, and the Rabshakeh in 2 Kings 18:17) tried to shake the trust Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem had in the LORD. We might wish that Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, and that this is what the Assyrians mocked. Instead, Hezekiah put his hope in an alliance with Egypt, and the Assyrians wanted him to lose confidence in that alliance. It was a great temptation for Hezekiah during this time to make a defensive alliance with Egypt, which seemed to be the only nation strong enough to protect Judah against the mighty Assyrians. As a prophet, Isaiah did everything he could to discourage Hezekiah and the leaders of Judah from putting their trust in Egypt (Isaiah 19:11-17, 20:1-6, 30:1-7). The LORD wanted Judah to trust Him instead of Egypt. The Assyrian accuser knew that King Hezekiah had implemented broad reforms in Judah, including the removal of the high places (2 Kings 18:3-4). Yet in the Assyrian’s thinking, Hezekiah’s reforms had really displeased God, so he should not expect help from the LORD God of Israel. The Assyrian would say, ‘Look at all the places there used to be where people would worship the LORD God of Israel. Now, since Hezekiah came in, there is only one place. More is always better, so the LORD God of Israel must be pretty sore at Hezekiah!’…The Assyrian’s speech was intended to destroy their trust in God. His message was simple, and brilliant in its Satanic logic: ‘The gods of other nations have not been able to protect them against us. Your God is just like one of them, and can’t protect you either.’”

          • Regarding the use of the plural “gods” in verse 15, NET Bible notes, “The verb is plural, suggesting that the preceding…(ʾelohekhem) be translated ‘your gods,’ rather than ‘your God.’”

      • Sennacherib’s servants said even more against Yahweh God and His servant Hezekiah. He also wrote letters mocking Yahweh, the God of Israel, saying these things against Him: “The gods of the nations of the other lands couldn’t deliver their people from my hand. Hezekiah’s god can’t deliver his people from my hand either.” They yelled loudly in the Judahite dialect to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall trying to scare and terrify them so they could capture the city. They spoke about the God of Jerusalem as if He were one of the gods of the other nations of the earth- made by human hands.

        • ESV Archaeological Study Bible notes, “Aramaic was the language of the Assyrian Empire west of the Euphrates and would have been understood by the educated Judean royal officials, though not by the ordinary people on the city wall. The Assyrians desired to the people over the heads of their rulers and thus addressed them in Hebrew (the language of Judah).”

        • For a response to the common assertion that verse 19 indicates that Israelites believed that there were no literally existing spiritual beings that were worshiped as gods by other nations, the interested reader may refer to the notes for 2 Kings 19.

Yahweh Delivers Jerusalem

      • King Hezekiah and Isaiah the prophet, who was Amoz’s son, prayed about this and cried out to heaven. And Yahweh sent an angel who annihilated every brave warrior, leader, and officer in the camp of the king of Assyria. So Sennacherib returned to his own land in shame. When he entered the house of his god, some of his very own sons killed him with a sword. Yahweh delivered Hezekiah and the residents of Jerusalem from the hand of Assyria’s King Sennacherib, and from the hands of all of their enemies. He gave them rest on all sides. Many brought offerings to Jerusalem for Yahweh, and precious gifts to Judah’s King Hezekiah. From then on he was regarded highly by all the nations.

        • ESV Study Bible remarks, “The Chronicler omits the details of Hezekiah’s prayer and Isaiah’s prophecy of salvation (see 2 Kings 19:15-34) to focus on his familiar point that God has promised to hear his people’s prayer in times of distress (cf 2 Chron 6:24-25). The Chronicler’s addition, highlighting the element of confrontation between the arrogant Assyrian king and God himself (see Ps 34:4-7; 35:4-5). Although Sennacherib’s army withdrew shortly afterward, his murder did not occur until 20 years later, in 681 BC…”

        • Guzik writes, “Simply and powerfully, God destroyed this mighty army in one night. 185,000 died at the hand of the angel of the LORD (2 Kings 19:35). Against all odds, and against every expectation except the expectation of faith, the Assyrian army was turned back without having even shot an arrow into Jerusalem. The unstoppable was stopped, the undefeated was defeated…The shame seems to have left his face rather quickly. After this retreat from Judah, Sennacherib commissioned a record, which is preserved in the spectacular Annals of Sennacherib (the Taylor Prism), which can be seen in the British Museum. It shows how full of pride Sennacherib’s heart still was, even if he could not even claim he conquered Jerusalem.”

Hezekiah’s Pride and Achievements

      • In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to Yahweh, and He answered him, giving him a sign confirming that he would be healed. But Hezekiah was ungrateful and his heart was proud. Therefore wrath was on him, Judah, and Jerusalem. But then Hezekiah and the residents of Jerusalem humbled themselves for the pride in their hearts, so that Yahweh’s wrath didn’t come on them during Hezekiah’s lifetime.

        • ESV Study Bible says, “See 2 Kings 20:1-19. These events preceded Sennacherib’s invasion by a few years. The sign was the miraculous backward movement of the shadow, signifying the extension of Hezekiah’s life in answer to prayer. Related to this incident was the king’s proud display of his wealth before the Babylonian envoys. This incurred God’s wrath, but Hezekiah’s and the people’s humble repentance (see 2 Chron 7:14) is said to have spared Jerusalem in the days of Hezekiah (see 2 Kings 20:16-18). Even a good king such as Hezekiah could contribute to Judah’s fate; like Josiah (2 Chron 34:28), however, he was spared from seeing it in his days.”

      • Hezekiah was very wealthy and greatly honored. He made storehouses for his silver, gold, precious stones, spices, shields, and all kinds of valuables. He made storerooms for the harvest of grain, wine, and oil, as well as stalls for various kinds of livestock and his flocks. He built cities for himself, and acquired large numbers of flocks and herds, because God gave him a huge amount of possessions.

      • It was Hezekiah who dammed up the upper outlet of the Gihon Spring and directed the water down to the west side of the City of David. He was successful in everything that he did. When the envoys were sent by the Babylonian rulers to ask him about the sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to himself in order to test him to know everything that was in his heart.

        • Guzik remarks, “This unfortunate chapter in the life of Hezekiah is recorded in 2 Kings 20:12-21. He was flattered by the visit of the ambassadors from this up-and-coming world power, and showed them the riches of the kingdom – riches which they later took by siege and war…In this case Hezekiah faced – and failed under – a temptation common to many, especially those in ministry – the temptation of success. Many men who stand strong against the temptations of failure and weakness fail under the temptations of success and strength.”

Summary of Hezekiah’s Reign

      • The rest of the events of Hezekiah’s reign, including his faithful deeds, are recorded in the “Vision of the Prophet Isaiah Son of Amoz,” which is included in the “Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel.” Hezekiah rested with his ancestors and was buried on the ascent of the tombs of David’s descendants. All the people of Judah and the residents of Jerusalem honored him when he died. His son Manasseh succeeded him as king.

        • HCSB notes, “Other possible meanings for the Hebrew word for ‘ascent’ are ‘upper storey, platform.’ The actual architectural reference is unclear. It could have been the upper level of a multilayered tomb, or even an expression of a finer quality of tomb.”

        • Guzik cites Wiseman, who offers this explanation, “Hezekiah was buried on the sloping hill where the tombs of David’s descendants were cut (2 Chronicles 32:33). This was because the royal Iron Age burial caves north of the city were full by this time and hereafter no Judean king was buried in the rock-hewn caves there.”

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