December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his garments, wrapped himself in sackcloth, and went into the temple of the LORD.
- He sent Eliakim, the master of the palace, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, wrapped in sackcloth, to tell the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz:
- 1 "Thus says Hezekiah: 'This is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace. Children are at the point of birth, but there is no strength to bring them forth.
- Perhaps the LORD, your God, will hear the words of the commander, whom his master, the king of Assyria, sent to taunt the living God, and will rebuke him for the words which the LORD, your God, has heard. Send up a prayer for the remnant that is here.'"
- When the servants of King Hezekiah had come to Isaiah,
- he said to them: "Tell this to your master: 'Thus says the LORD: Do not be frightened by the words you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.
- I am about to put in him such a spirit that, when he hears a certain report, he will return to his own land, and there I will cause him to fall by the sword.'"
- When the commander returned to Lachish and heard that the king of Assyria had left there, he found him besieging Libnah.
- 2 The king of Assyria heard a report that Tirhakah, king of Ethiopia, had come out to fight against him. Again he sent envoys to Hezekiah with this message: "Thus shall you say to Hezekiah, king of Judah:
- 'Do not let your God on whom you rely deceive you by saying that Jerusalem will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.
- You yourself have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries: They doomed them! Will you, then, be saved?
- Did the gods of the nations whom my fathers destroyed save them? Gozen, Haran, Rezeph, and the Edenites in Telassar?
- Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, or a king of the cities of Sepharvaim, Hena or Ivvah?'"
- Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; then he went up to the temple of the LORD, and spreading it out before him,
- he prayed to the LORD:
- 3 "O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned upon the cherubim! You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made the heavens and the earth.
- Incline your ear, O LORD, and listen! Open your eyes, O LORD and see! Hear all the words of the letter that Sennacherib sent to taunt the living God.
- Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands,
- and cast their gods into the fire; they destroyed them because they were not gods but the work of human hands, wood and stone.
- Therefore, O LORD, our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, alone are God."
- Then Isaiah, son of Amoz, sent this message to Hezekiah: Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: In answer to your prayer for help against Sennacherib, king of Assyria,
- this is the word the LORD has spoken concerning him: She despises you, laughs you to scorn, the virgin daughter Zion; Behind you she wags her head, daughter Jerusalem.
- Whom have you insulted and blasphemed, against whom have you raised your voice And lifted up your eyes on high? Against the Holy One of Israel!
- Through your servants you have insulted the Lord: You said, "With my many chariots I climbed the mountain heights, the recesses of Lebanon; I cut down its lofty cedars, its choice cypresses; I reached the remotest heights, its forest park.
- I dug wells and drank water in foreign lands; I dried up with the soles of my feet all the rivers of Egypt.
- Have you not heard? Long ago I prepared it, From days of old I planned it, now I have brought it to pass: That you should reduce fortified cities into heaps of ruins,
- While their inhabitants, shorn of power, are dismayed and ashamed, Becoming like the plants of the field, like the green growth, like the scorched grass on the housetops.
- I am aware whether you stand or sit; I know whether you come or go, and also your rage against me.
- Because of your rage against me and your fury which has reached my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and make you return the way you came.
- 4 This shall be a sign for you: this year you shall eat the aftergrowth, next year, what grows of itself; But in the third year, sow and reap, plant vineyards and eat their fruit!
- The remaining survivors of the house of Judah shall again strike root below and bear fruit above.
- For out of Jerusalem shall come a remnant, and from Mount Zion, survivors. The zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this.
- Therefore, thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not reach this city, nor shoot an arrow at it, nor come before it with a shield, nor cast up siegeworks against it.
- He shall return by the same way he came, without entering the city, says the LORD.
- I will shield and save this city for my own sake, and for the sake of my servant David.
- 5 The angel of the LORD went forth and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. Early the next morning, there they were, all the corpses of the dead.
- So Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, broke camp and went back home to Nineveh.
- 6 When he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer slew him with the sword and fled into the land of Ararat. His son Esarhaddon reigned in his stead.
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1  A proverbial expression. In the Bible the pangs of childbirth often typify extreme anguish; cf Isaiah 13:8; Jeremiah 6:24; Micah 4:9, 10. In this instance there is reference to the desperate situation of Hezekiah from which he was scarcely able to free himself.
2  Tirhakah: may have been general of the Egyptian army in 701 B.C.; later he became king, one of the Ethiopian dynasty of Egyptian kings (c. 690-664 B.C.). Many consider that this account in Isaiah combines features of two originally distinct sieges of Jerusalem by Sennacherib.
3  In contrast to the empty boasting of the Assyrians, Hezekiah proclaims the Lord as God over all the kingdoms of the earth.
4  You: Hezekiah. A sign: it is difficult to know the nature of this sign. Either it is merely a proverbial expression to signify that prosperity follows adversity, or it indicates that after two years the normal conditions of life will be resumed.
5  The destruction of Sennacherib's army is also recorded by Herodotus, a Greek historian of the fifth century B.C. It was probably due to the bubonic plague, but the sacred author attributes it to its ultimate cause, God through his angel.
6  The violent death of Sennacherib (681 B.C.) is also mentioned in non-biblical sources. It occurred twenty years after his invasion of Judea.
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