2 Chronicles 32:1
After these things, and the establishment thereof, Sennacherib king of Assyria came, and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fenced cities, and thought to win them for himself.
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(1-23) Invasion and Divine overthrow of Sennacherib. ( Comp. 2Kings 18:13 to 2Kings 19:37. ) The Assyrian monarch’s own record of the campaign may be read on his great hexagonal prism of terra-cotta, preserved in the British Museum, containing an inscription in 487 lines of cuneiform writing, which is lithographed in the Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, III. 38, 39, and printed in G. Smith’s History of Sennacherib.

(1) After these things, and the establishment thereof.—Rather, After these matters, and this faithfulness (2Chronicles 31:20). For the date, see Note on 2Kings 18:13.

Sennacherib.—So the Vulg. The LXX. gives Σενναχηριμ or είμ; Herodotus, Σαναχάριβος; Josephus, Σενναχήριβος. The Hebrew is Sanchērib. The real name as given by the Assyrian monuments is Sin-ahi-iriba, or erba (“Sin,” i.e.,the moon-god,”multiplied brothers”).

And thought to win them for himself.—Literally, and said to himself that he would break them open (2Chronicles 21:17), or and commanded to break them open for himself. Kings states that he fulfilled his purpose; he “came up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them.” Sennacherib himself boasts as follows: “And Hazakiyahu of the country of the Jews who had not submitted to my yoke, forty-six strong cities of his, fortresses, and the small cities of their neighbourhood, which were without number . . . I approached, I took.” The chronicler’s object is to relate the mighty deliverance of Hezekiah. Hence he omits such details as would weaken the impression he desires to produce. For the same reason nothing is said here of Hezekiah’s submission and payment of tribute (2Kings 18:14-16); and perhaps for the further reason (as suggested by Keil) that “these negotiations had no influence on the after-course and issue of the war,” but not because (as Thenius alleges) the chronicler was unwilling to mention Hezekiah’s (forced) sacrilege. They are omitted also in Isaiah, where the account is in other respects abridged as compared with Kings.

2 Chronicles


2 Chronicles 32:1

The Revised Version gives a much more accurate and significant rendering of a part of these words. It reads: ‘After these things and this faithfulness, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came.’ What are ‘these things’ and ‘this faithfulness’? The former are the whole of the events connected with the religious reformation in Judah, which King Hezekiah inaugurated and carried through so brilliantly and successfully. This ‘faithfulness’ directly refers to a word in a couple of verses before the text: ‘Thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah; and he wrought that which was good and right and faithfulness before the Lord his God.’ And, after these things, the re-establishment of religion and this ‘faithfulness,’ though Hezekiah was perfect before God in all ritual observances and in practical righteousness, and though he was seeking the Lord his God with all his heart, here is what came of it:-’After this faithfulness came’ not blessings or prosperity, but ‘Sennacherib, king of Assyria’! The chronicler not only tells this as singular, but one can feel that he is staggered by it. There is a tone of perplexity and wonder in his voice as he records that this was what followed the faithful righteousness and heart-devotion of the best king that ever sat on the throne of Judah. I think that this royal martyr’s experience is really a mirror of the experience of devout men in all ages and a revelation of the great law and constant processes of the Divine Providence. And from that point of view I wish to speak now, not only on the words I have read, but on what follows them.

I. We have here the statement of the mystery.

It is the standing puzzle of the Old Testament, how good men come to be troubled, and how bad men come to be prosperous. And although we Christian men and women are a great deal too apt to suppose that we have outlived that rudimentary puzzle of the religious mind, yet I do not think by any means that we have. For we hear men, when the rod falls upon themselves, saying, ‘What have I done that I should be smitten thus?’ or when their friends suffer, saying, ‘What a marvellous thing it is that such a good man as A, B, or C should have so much trouble!’ or, when widespread calamities strike a community, standing aghast at the broad and dark shadows that fall upon a nation or a continent, and wondering what the meaning of all this heaped misery is, and why the world is thus allowed to run along its course surrounded by an atmosphere made up of the breath of sighs, and swathed in clouds which are moist with tears.

My text gives us an illustration in the sharpest form of the mystery. ‘After these things and this faithfulness, Sennacherib came’-and he always comes in one shape or another. For, to begin with, a good man’s goodness does not lift him out of the ordinary associations and contingencies and laws of life. If he has inherited a diseased constitution, his devotion will not make him a healthy man. If he has little common sense, his godliness will not make him prosper in worldly affairs. If he is tied to unfortunate connections, he will have to suffer. If he happens to be in a decaying branch of business, his prayers will not make him prosperous. If he falls in the way of poisonous gas from a sewer, his godliness will not exempt him from an attack of fever. So all round the horizon we see this: that the godly man is involved like any other man in the ordinary contingencies and possible evils of life. Then, have we to say that God has nothing to do with these?

Again, Hezekiah’s story teaches us how second causes are God’s instruments, and He is at the back of everything. There are two sources of our knowledge of the history of Judah in the time with which we are concerned. One is the Bible, the other is the Assyrian monuments; and it is a most curious contrast to read the two narratives of the same events, agreeing about the facts, but disagreeing utterly in the spirit. Why? Because the one tells the story from the world’s point of view, and the other tells it from God’s point of view. So when you take the one narrative, it is simply this: ‘There was a conspiracy down in the south against the political supremacy of Assyria, and a lot of little confederate kinglets gathered themselves; and Hezekiah, of Judah, was one, along with So-and-So of such-and-such a petty land, and they leaned upon Egypt; and I, Sennacherib, came down among them, and they tumbled to pieces, and that is all.’ Then the Bible comes in, and it says that God ordered all those political complications, and that they were all the working out of His purposes, and that ‘the axe in His hand’ as Isaiah has it so picturesquely, was this proud king of Assyria, with his boastful mouth and vainglorious words.

Now, that is the principle by which we have to estimate all the events that befall us. There are two ways of looking at them. You may look at them from the under side or from the top side. You may see them as they appear to men who cannot look beyond their noses and only have concern with the visible cranks and shafting, or you may look at them from the engine-room and take account of the invisible power that drives them all. In the one case you will regard it as a mystery that good men should have to suffer so; in the other case, you will say, ‘It is the Lord, let Him do’-even when He does it through Sennacherib and his like, ‘let Him do what seemeth Him good.’

Then there is another thing to be taken into account-that is, that the better a man is, the more faithful he is and the more closely he cleaves to God, and seeks, like this king, to do, with all his heart, all his work in the service of the House of God and to seek his God, the more sure is he to bring down upon himself certain forms of trouble and trial. The rebellion which, from the Assyrian side of the river, seemed to be a mere political revolt, from the Jordan side of the river seemed to be closely connected with the religious reformation. And it was just because Hezekiah and his people came back to God that they rebelled against the King of Assyria and served him not. If you provoke Sennacherib, Sennacherib will be down upon you very quickly. That is to say, being translated, if you will live like Christian men and women and fling down the gage of battle to the world and to the evil that lies in every one of us, and say, ‘No, I have nothing to do with you. My law is not your law, and, God helping me, my practice shall not be your practice,’ then you will find out that the power that you have defied has a very long arm and a very tight grasp, and you will have to make up your minds that, in some shape or other, the old law will be fulfilled about you. Through much tribulation we must enter the Kingdom.

II. Now, secondly, my text and its context solve the mystery which it raises.

The chronicler, as I said, wishes us to notice the sequence, strange as it is, and to wonder at it for a moment, in order that we may be prepared the better to take in the grand explanation that follows. And the explanation lies in the facts that ensue.

Did Sennacherib come to destroy? By no means! Here were the results: first, a stirring to wholesome energy and activity. If annoyances and troubles and sorrows, great or small, do nothing else for us, they would be clear and simple gain if they woke us up, for the half of men pass half of their lives half-asleep. And anybody that has ever come through a great sorrow and can remember what deep fountains were opened in his heart that he knew nothing about before, and how powers that were all unsuspected by himself suddenly came to him, and how life, instead of being a trivial succession of nothings, all at once became significant and solemn-any man who can remember that, will feel that if there were nothing else that his troubles did for him than to shake him out of torpor and rouse him to a tension of wholesome activity, so that he cried out:

‘Call forth thy powers, my soul! and dare

The conflict of unequal war,’

he would have occasion to bless God for the roughest handling. The tropics are very pleasant for lazy people, but they sap the constitution and make work impossible; and after a man has lived for a while in their perpetual summer, he begins to long for damp and mist and frost and east winds which bring bracing to the system and make him fit to work. God takes us often into very ungenial climates, and the vindication of it is that we may be set to active service. That was the first good thing that Sennacherib’s coming did.

The next was that his invasion increased dependence upon God. You will remember the story of the insolent taunts and vulgar vaunting by him and his servants, and the one answer that was given: ‘Hezekiah, the king, and Isaiah the son of Amoz the prophet, prayed and cried to God.’ Ah! dear brethren, any thing that drives us to His breast is blessing. We may call it evil when we speak from the point of view of the foolish senses and the quivering heart, but if it blows us into His arms, any wind, the roughest and the fiercest, is to be welcomed more than lazy calms or gentle zephyrs. If, realising our own weakness and impotence, we are made to hang more completely upon Him, then let us be thankful for whatever has been the means of such a blessed issue. That was the second good thing that Sennacherib did.

The third good thing that he-not exactly did-but that was done through him, was that experience of God’s delivering power was enriched. You remember the miracle of the destruction of the army. I need not dilate upon it. A man who can look back and say, ‘Thou hast been with me in six troubles,’ need never be afraid of the seventh; and he who has hung upon that strong rope when he has been swinging away down in the darkness and asphyxiating atmosphere of the pit, and has been drawn up into the sunshine again, will trust it for all coming time. If there were no other explanation, the enlarged and deepened experience of the realities of God’s Gospel and of God’s grace, which are bought only by sorrow, would be a sufficient explanation of any sorrow that any of us have ever had to carry.

‘Well roars the storm to him who hears

A deeper voice across the storm.’

There are large tracts of Scripture which have no meaning, no blessedness to us until they have been interpreted to us by losses and sorrows. We never know the worth of the lighthouse until the November darkness and the howling winds come down upon us, and then we appreciate its preciousness.

So, dear friends! the upshot of the whole is just that old teaching, that if we realised what life is for, we should wonder less at the sorrows that are in it. For life is meant to make us partakers of His holiness, not to make us happy. Our happiness is a secondary purpose, not out of view of the Divine love, but it is not the primary one. And the direct intention and mission of sorrow, like the direct intention and mission of joy, are to further that great purpose, that we ‘should be partakers of His holiness.’ ‘Every branch in Me that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.’

III. Lastly, my text suggests a warning against letting prosperity undo adversity’s work.

Hezekiah came bravely through his trials. They did exactly what God wanted them to do; they drove him to God, they forced him down upon his knees. When Sennacherib’s letter came, he took it to the Temple and spread it before God, and said, ‘O Lord! it is Thy business. It is addressed to me, but it is meant for Thee; do Thou answer it.’ And so he received the help that he wanted. But he broke down after that. He was ‘exalted’; and the allies, his neighbours, that had not lifted a finger to help him when he needed their help, sent him presents which would have been a great deal more seasonable when he was struggling for his life with Sennacherib. What ‘came after {God’s } faithfulness’? This-’his heart was lifted up, and he rendered not according to the benefit rendered to him.’ Therefore the blow had to come down again. A great many people take refuge in archways when it rains, and run out as soon as it holds up, and a great many people take religion as an umbrella, to put down when the sunshine comes. We cross the bridge and forget it, and when the leprosy is out of us we do not care to go back and give thanks. Sometimes too, we begin to think, ‘After all, it was we that killed Sennacherib’s army, and not the angel.’ And so, like dull scholars, we need the lesson repeated once, twice, thrice, ‘here a little and there a little, precept upon precept, line upon line.’ There is none of us that has so laid to heart our past difficulties and trials that it is safe for God to burn the rod as long as we are in this life.

Dear friends! do not let it be said of us, ‘In vain have I smitten thy children. They have received no correction’; but rather let us keep close to Him, and seek to learn the sweet and loving meaning of His sharpest strokes. Then the little book, ‘written within and without with lamentation and woe,’ which we all in our turn have to absorb and make our own, may be ‘bitter in the mouth,’ but will be ‘sweet as honey’ thereafter.

2 Chronicles 32:1. After these things, and the establishment thereof — An emphatical preface, signifying, that notwithstanding all his zeal for God, God saw fit to exercise him with a sore trial. And God ordered it at this time, that he might have an opportunity of showing himself strong on the behalf of his returning people. It is possible we may be in the way of our duty, and yet meet with trouble and danger. God permits this, for the trial of our confidence in him, and the manifestation of his care over us. It was well ordered, however, by the Divine Providence, that this trouble did not come upon Hezekiah and his kingdom till the reformation was finished and established; for, if it had come sooner, it might, and probably would, have put a stop to that good work. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came, and entered into Judah — He was now, as Nebuchadnezzar was afterward, the terror, and scourge, and great oppressor of that part of the world, who aimed to raise a boundless monarchy for himself, upon the ruins of all his neighbours. His predecessor, Shalmaneser, had lately made himself master of the kingdom of Israel, and carried the ten tribes captive; and Sennacherib thought, in like manner, to win Judah to himself. Thus pride and ambition put men upon grasping at universal dominion.

32:1-23 Those who trust God with their safety, must use proper means, else they tempt him. God will provide, but so must we also. Hezekiah gathered his people together, and spake comfortably to them. A believing confidence in God, will raise us above the prevailing fear of man. Let the good subjects and soldiers of Jesus Christ, rest upon his word, and boldly say, Since God is for us, who can be against us? By the favour of God, enemies are lost, and friends gained.The establishment thereof - literally, "the faithfulness thereof" or, in other words, "after these things had been faithfully accomplished."

2 Chronicles 32:1-8 form a passage supplementary to 2 Kings 18:13-16.


2Ch 32:1-20. Sennacherib Invades Judah.

1. After these things, and the establishment thereof—that is, the restoration of the temple-worship. The precise date is given, 2Ki 18:13. Determined to recover the independence of his country, Hezekiah had decided to refuse to pay the tribute which his father had bound himself to pay to Assyria.

Sennacherib … entered into Judah, and encamped against the fenced cities—The whole land was ravaged; the strong fortresses of Ashdod (Isa 20:1) and Lachish had fallen; the siege of Libnah had commenced, when the king of Judah, doubting his ability to resist, sent to acknowledge his fault, and offer terms of submission by paying the tribute. The commencement of this Assyrian war was disastrous to Hezekiah (2Ki 18:13). But the misfortunes of the early period of the war are here passed over, as the historian hastens to relate the remarkable deliverance which God wrought for His kingdom of Judah.Sennacherib invading Judah, Hezekiah fortifieth himself, 2 Chronicles 32:1-8; and sendeth letters to Isaiah concerning the blasphemies of Sennacherib, 2 Chronicles 32:9-20. An angel destroyeth the host of the Assyrians, 2 Chronicles 32:21-23. Hezekiah’s sickness and sign of recovery, 2 Chronicles 32:24; and waxing proud, is humbled by God, 2 Chronicles 32:25,26. His wealth and error, 2 Chronicles 32:27-31. His death and successor, 2 Chronicles 32:32,33.

After these things, and the establishment thereof; an emphatical preface, signifying, that notwithstanding all his pious care and zeal for God, yet God saw fit to exercise him with a sore trial and calamity; which yet he turned to his great honour and advantage. He designed and bragged that he would win them all, and did actually win many of them, 2 Kings 18:13.

After these things, and the establishment thereof,.... What are recorded in the preceding chapters, when matters were well settled, especially with respect to religion and temple service, and when Hezekiah was well established in the throne of his kingdom, had fought with and defeated the Philistines, and cast off the Assyrian yoke, and was in very prosperous circumstances; for it was in the fourteenth year of his reign that what follows was done:

Sennacherib king of Assyria came and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fenced cities, and thought to win them for himself; or to break them, or into them; or through them (y) to break down the walls to take them, and join them to himself, as the Targum, and he did take them, see 2 Kings 18:13.

(y) "ad perrumpendum eas", Montanus; "diffindere illas", Piscator; "abscindere", Schmidt.

After these things, and the establishment thereof, Sennacherib king of Assyria came, and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fenced cities, and thought to win them for himself.
1. After these things, and the establishment thereof] R.V. After these things, and this faithfulness. The phrase is a Hendiadys and stands for, “After these faithful dealings.”

Sennacherib] This king (Sanḥerib in Hebrew, Sin-aḥi-irib [-irba] in Assyrian, the Σαναχάριβος of Herod. ii. 141) reigned 705–681 b.c. He was the son of Sargon (Isaiah 20:1), father of Esar-haddon (2 Kings 19:37; Ezra 4:2), and grandfather of Asnapper [Osnappar, R.V.] (Ezra 4:10), the well-known Σαρδανάπαλλος of Herod. ii. 150, the Asshur-bani-pal of the Assyrian inscriptions. Under this dynasty Assyria reached the height of its power. The empire included Babylonia (which however was frequently in revolt), Assyria proper, Syria as far north as Cilicia (inclusive), and (under Esar-haddon and Osnappar) Egypt. After Osnappar’s death (about 626 b.c.) the Assyrian power was speedily destroyed.

to win them] Lit. to make breaches in them. According to 2 Kings 18:13 Sennacherib took these cities; according to the Assyrian account (Prism Inscr. of Sennacherib) in Schrader’s Keilinschriftliche Bibliothek) they were forty-two in number.

Ch. 2 Chronicles 32:1-8 (cp. 2 Kings 18:13-16). Sennacherib’s threatened Invasion. Hezekiah’s Precautions

The Chronicler introduces us somewhat abruptly to the Assyrian crisis. From 2 Kin. we learn first that Hezekiah renounced the suzerainty of Assyria (2 Chronicles 18:7), which his father Ahaz had acknowledged (ibid. 2 Chronicles 16:7). Thereupon Sennacherib invaded Judah, and Hezekiah was obliged to acknowledge with a heavy payment of tribute his dependence on the Assyrian king (ibid. 2 Chronicles 18:13-16), Sennacherib having discovered the weakness of Judah, next demanded an unconditional surrender, intending to transport the Jews to another country (ibid. 31, 32). This demand Hezekiah resisted, being strengthened thereto by Isaiah.

Verse 1. - The establishment thereof; translate, and this (his) truth. The word is the same with the third of the trio (see above), as given in ver. 20 of the foregoing chapter. The evident meaning intended to be conveyed is, "After these things and this truth," i.e. truthfulness of conduct on the part of Hezekiah, the strict rendering being, "After the things and the truth this." Sennacherib... came ... entered into Judah... encamped against the fenced cities... thought to win. This verse and these items of it may without any inconvenient strain be made conterminous with just one verse in Kings, the thirteenth of 2 Kings 18. The king personally seems to have devoted himself especially to the siege of Lachish, an Amoritish city indeed originally, and a place of great strength of petition, but conquered by Judah (Joshua 10:26, 31-35; 2 Chronicles 11:9; 2 Chronicles 25:27; and infra here and in parallel). This invasion of Sennacherib (Herod., 2:141), son of Sargon, may be with moderate certainty affixed to the date B.C. 701. Thought to win. A weak rendering for the preferable purposed or boasted to break them (Genesis 7:11). 2 Chronicles 32:1The didactic and rhetorical character of the narrative is manifest in the very form of the introductory statement. Instead of the chronological statement of 2 Kings 18:13, we find the loose formula of connection: after these events and this fidelity (cf. 2 Chronicles 31:20), Sennacherib came (בּא) and entered into Judah (ביהוּדה ויּבא), and besieged the fenced cities, and thought (ויּאמר) to break (conquer) them for himself. He had already taken a number of them, and had advanced as far as Lachish in the south-west of Judah, when he made the attempt to get Jerusalem into his power; cf. 2 Kings 18:13.
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