Hezekiah and Sennacherib – 2 Chronicles 31-32

The Taylor Prism from the Neo-Assyrian empire ...

The Taylor Prism from the Neo-Assyrian empire tells the story of king Sennacherib’s third campaign and includes descriptions of his conquests in Judah, some of which are described from another point of view in the old testament of the Bible. This picture has been assembled from File:Taylor Prism-1.jpg and File:Taylor Prism-2.jpg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the temple was restored, the people of Israel went out into the cities of Judah and tore down the Asherim and the high places throughout Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim , and Manasseh. Then they returned to their own cities. Hezekiah then had the priests and Levites divided up according to their service. He made his own contribution for the offerings; and then he had the people resume the practice of tithing and bringing their firstfruits for the priests and the Levites. Because God had blessed the people richly, the contributions were so plentiful, that there was a great abundance over what was needed. Because of Hezekiah’s leadership,  the people prospered greatly.

In chapter 32, Sennacherib of Assyria came and invaded Judah. And Hezekiah had the people go to all of the springs and the brook that ran through the area and stopped the water from flowing — thereby depriving Sennacherib‘s army the benefit of the water. He then had the walls rebuilt and towers erected upon them; and he had them make weapons and shields. He spoke encouragingly to the people and told them the same thing that Moses and Joshua had told the people so long ago — “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him.” He assured them that God was with them, and the people were comforted.

Sennacherib sent servants and wrote letters to mock God, trying to discourage and dismay the people. Then God sent an angel, who struck down his forces. Sennacherib returned to his land defeated, and was killed by his own sons. Hezekiah became very sick, and he prayed to God and was delivered from death. But his heart grew proud and he brought wrath upon the people until he humbled himself. Hezekiah and the people prospered greatly until his death. And then his son Manasseh reigned.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

/Bob’s boy
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

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All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 


 

 

 

 

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Reversal of Fortunes – Nahum and Nineveh

If the Book of Jonah (see previous blog post) were a photograph, Nahum would be the negative. In what was likely the first half of the eighth century B.C., Jonah reluctantly ventured to Nineveh to warn them of the coming judgment of God for their wickedness. To Jonah’s complete dismay, Nineveh repented and God spared them.

As Sennacherib beautified his capital city, Nineveh, Hezekiah withheld tribute and prepared for battle. The Assyrians advanced toward their rebellious western border, attacking swiftly down the Mediterranean coast. From Lachish, Sennacherib threatened to take Jerusalem, but Isaiah knew his threats would die with him on his return to Nineveh. This map shows the route of Assyrian conquest which started in Nineveh. God promised his people that Nineveh would not escape judgment.

As Sennacherib beautified his capital city, Nineveh, Hezekiah withheld tribute and prepared for battle. The Assyrians advanced toward their rebellious western border, attacking swiftly down the Mediterranean coast. From Lachish, Sennacherib threatened to take Jerusalem, but Isaiah knew his threats would die with him on his return to Nineveh. This map shows the route of Assyrian conquest which started in Nineveh. God promised his people that Nineveh would not escape judgment.

But that repentance did not last long. By 745 B.C. Tiglath-pileser III had made Assyria the most powerful in force in that part of the world., establishing their dominance with torture, massacres, and exiles on a horrific scale. The real estate of the Assyrians was greatly expanded by making vassal kingdoms of other countries (such as the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah) until Assyria “terminated” the Northern Kingdom in 722 B.C. Under Sennacherib’s reign (704 – 681 B.C.) Nineveh became the capital of Assyria.

More than a hundred years after Jonah, God sent Nahum to again announce judgment on Nineveh and the fall of Assyria itself. This time, there would be no repentance, and Nahum does not appear to have been reluctant in the least. Nahum 3:8-10 speaks of the destruction of Thebes (an ancient Egyptian city also called No-Amon in this book) in the past tense. We know that it fell to Assyria about 663 B.C. Assyria was conquered by the Medes and Babylonians in 612 B.C., making this book written between 663 and 612 B.C.

During this 50 year period, Assyria’s holdings and power were already in decline. Nahum’s first chapter reads like a prelude to battle, while the second and third chapters move into the real thing, with imagery that strongly suggests that the author saw much with his own eyes. True to the prophecy, Nineveh was destroyed, never to be rebuilt. The ruins lay close to the modern Iraqi city of Mosul.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

Micah of Moresheth-Gath

Often, when the Bible talks about or introduces a prophet or someone else of importance, it does so by referring to their lineage – usually their father (Isaiah “the son of Amoz,” Jonah “son of Amittai,” James and John  “sons of Zebedee”). But Micah is introduced as Micah “of Moresheth” (verse 1), otherwise known as Moresheth-gath (verse 14). Moresheth-Gath was a town in Judah’s Shephela – a lowland region in south-central Israel. It was captured by Sennacherib in 701 B.C.

A mound, or tell, of Maresha, one suggested site of Micah's hometown Moresheth.

A mound, or tell, of Maresha, one suggested site of Micah’s hometown Moresheth.

Verse one lists the kings of Judah during Micah’s time (Jotham 750 – 735 B.C., Ahaz 735 – 715 B.C., and Hezekiah 715 – 687 B.C.). This means that he was around roughly at the same time as Isaiah and Hosea. But since Uzziah (767 – 739 B.C.) is not listed, we can be fairly certain that he prophesied during the latter half of that century. He was from the southern kingdom, but prophesied to both the northern kingdom (Samaria here) and the southern kingdom. The message was of the same problems some of the other prophets spoke about – idolatry, of course, and social injustice (the rich oppressing the poor usually).

Assyria’s power was ever-increasing, but Israel was not economically affected during the first half of the eighth century. In fact, a wealthy upper class became increasingly prevalent. And along with them came more idolatry and more oppression of the poor. Then comes Ahaz, who was nothing more than a puppet for Assyria, followed by heavy taxes by the state of Assyria, which led to even more oppression of the poor. Micah’s message was that doom was coming. But he did offer hope in that there would ultimately be a restoration. He would have been there for the saving of Jerusalem from the Assyrians under Hezekiah (2 Kings 18-19), as well as for the ultimate defeat by the empire

In chapter 5, Micah brings the prophecy of a ruler to be born in Bethlehem – a town nobody would have considered important. Micah 5:2 is cited in Matthew 2:6 and John 7:42. The abiding theme of the book is of judgment and of salvation (compare chapter 2 with chapter 5). It is about a God who keeps His promises – even those that say He will bring destruction on the wicked if they do not repent. And it is about a God who is both a king and a shepherd, and will forgive and restore a remnant. But that king will exercise vengeance on the nations that do not obey (Micah 5:1-15).

/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

 

2 Kings 18 – Hezekiah Reigns in Judah

Hezekiah removed the high places, tore down the pillars, and even destroyed the Bronze serpent that Moses had made in the wilderness (Numbers 21:4-9).  It had become an object of worship – an idol, probably because of the association of serpents with the “goddess” Asherah.  Verses 6-7 tells us that Hezekiah “held fast to the Lord” and that the Lord was with him.  He rebelled against the Assyrian king, and would not serve him.  Verse 8 declares his many victories in battle over the Philistines.  But verse 13 tells us that in the fourteenth year of his reign, Sennacherib took the fortified cities of Judah.

The Taylor Prism from the Neo-Assyrian empire ...

The Taylor Prism from the Neo-Assyrian empire tells the story of king Sennacherib’s third campaign and includes descriptions of his conquests in Judah, some of which are described from another point of view in the old testament of the Bible. This picture has been assembled from File:Taylor Prism-1.jpg and File:Taylor Prism-2.jpg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hezekiah’s initial response was to bargain with the Assyrian king (verses 14-15), which at first seems effective.  But Sennacherib tires of his further rebellion; and sends his Rabshakeh, or (chief cupbearer) to deliver his message.  Eliakim tries to get him to speak to them in Aramaic, so that the people will not understand.  But that is exactly what the Assyrian wants – they want the people to hear and be dismayed  and frightened for their plight, in order to quash rebellion.

In verses 31-35, the cup-bearer, speaking for Sennacherib, tells them not to listen to Hezekiah, and even tells them that their God has sent the Assyrians Himself.  Then he makes the mistake of comparing the Lord to the impotent “gods” of other lands, saying that he will not deliver Jerusalem out of Sennacherib’s hand.

Side notes:

Now residing in the private collection of Shlomo Moussaieff of London, a bulla (clay seal) was found bearing Hezekiah’s name. It reads, “Belonging to Hezekiah [son of Ahaz], king of Judah.”

Archaeologists at the site of Beersheba unearthed a horned altar from the late 8th century  B.C. made of hewn stones, with a serpent carved into one of the stones.  More information on the site can be found in this article at BiblePlaces.com.

This link to the British Museum about the Sennacherib Relief details the siege and capture of Lachish by the Assyrian king.  At the southwestern corner of Lachish, Sennacherib built a siege ramp and used archers, infantry, and siege machines. The Judeans constructed a counter-siege ramp. But it failed – Sennacherib conquered Lachish. Both of the actual ramps have been uncovered.  The victory was important enough to Sennacherib to devote an entire wall at his palace to it.  Had he been able to capture Jerusalem, that victory would undoubtedly have over-shadowed the one at Lachish.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

2 Kings 17 – Fall of the Northern Kingdom

English: The capture of the city of Astartu by...

English: The capture of the city of Astartu by the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III about 730–727 B.C., as depicted on a palace relief now kept on display at the British Museum – detail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1 Kings 15:29-30, the Bible tells us that Pekah was king over Israel when Hoshea killed him, and took his place.  This was during the reign of the Assyrian king, Tiglath-pileser III, who captured much of Israel’s northern and eastern territory.  The Assyrian king’s son, Shalmaneser, succeeded him; and Hoshea became his vassal, paying him tribute.  But he reneged on this tribute and sought help from the king of Egypt; and Shalmaneser had Hoshea thrown in prison – and besieged and captured Samaria (verses 4-6) around 722 BC.  Verses 7-23 summarize in detail the many reasons why God brought this downfall upon them.  After God had delivered them from Egyptian bondage, he had brought them to the promised land to expel the wicked Canaanites that occupied it.  Now, the Israelites were just as bad, practicing idolatry of all kinds, and even performing the same types of child sacrifice (verse 17, 31) as the Canaanites had!

So after refusing to heed the warnings of one prophet after another, God’s judgment fell on them, and the northern kingdom of Israel was no more.  The people were taken captive into Assyria, and in verse 24, the king brought people in from Babylon and other places to take their place.  The intermarriage with these people would result in the Samaritan people, which we will see that the Jews in the New Testament scripture will despise (Jesus shocked both sides of this equation by venturing into Samaria, and even having fellowship with them – for such was simply not done – see John 4:1-9).  But God did not make life easy for these interlopers either (verse 25); and the Assyrian king had a Jewish priest brought in to teach them the law of “the god of the land” (verse 27).  So the worship to God himself was still further perverted and polluted by the pagan idol worship, as verse 41 summarizes.

Tiglath-Pileser III. Stone panel, Assyrian art...

Tiglath-Pileser III. Stone panel, Assyrian artwork, ca. 728 BC. From the Central Palace in Nimrud. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Side notes:

A seal was found, dating to the 8th century, with the inscription “Belonging to Abdi servant of Hoshea” – pictured in this link from Biblical Archaeology Review.  More information can be found in this article from Truth Magazine.

Some of the tablets found from Tiglath-pileser III are housed in the British Museum .  An inscription on one tablet has that king boasting credit for Hoshea becoming king.  The translation of the inscription reads:

“Pekah their king they had overthrown, I placed Hoshea over them. From him I received 10 talents of gold and 1000 talents of silver.”

This blog usually is hesitant to link to Wikipedia articles, but at the time of this writing, this one appears to be pretty true to the facts about this subject.

 Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.