Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign.IV. THE REIGN OF HEZEKIAH, MANASSEH AND AMON
1. Hezekiah and Sennacherib’s Invasion
1. Hezekiah, King of Judah (2Kings 18:1-3; 2 Chron. 29-32)
2. The Revival (2Kings 18:4-7)
3. Victory over the Philistines (2Kings 18:8)
4. Israel’s captivity (2Kings 18:9-12)
5. Sennacherib’s invasion (2Kings 18:13-16)
7. The request of Hilkiah, Shebna and Joah (2Kings 18:26)
8. Rabshakeh’s insulting answer (2Kings 18:27-37)
Hezekiah (strength of Jehovah) was the pious son of a very wicked father. It is refreshing to read now after the long list of kings who did evil in God’s sight that Hezekiah “did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David did.” According to the book of Chronicles, the first thing he did was to open the doors of the house of the LORD (which Ahaz his father had closed) and repair them (2Chronicles 29:3). This was a true beginning. We shall find in Chronicles the details of the great revival and the restoration of the temple-worship, the keeping of the Passover, as well as the other reforms which took place under his reign. All these will be considered in the annotations on Second Chronicles. He destroyed also all forms of idolatry. Especially mentioned is the brazen serpent which Moses had made. This interesting object had been preserved since the days when Moses had lifted it up in the wilderness, the wonderful type of Him who knew no sin and who was made sin for us on the cross. The children of Israel in their apostasy had made the brazen serpent an object of worship. He broke it in pieces and called it Nehushtan, which means “brazen.” Thus negatively and positively a great reformation was accomplished. The secret of it all we find tersely stated in one sentence. “He trusted in the LORD God of Israel.” Because he trusted Jehovah, Jehovah was with him. “And the LORD was with him, and he prospered whithersoever he went forth.” This is the way of A true recovery and the way to blessing.
The evil alliance with the king of Assyria, which his father had made, the God-fearing king refused to own. “He rebelled against the king of Assyria and served him not.” Immediately after he smote the ancient enemy of God’s people, the Philistine. (The fate of Samaria, the Kingdom of Israel, is once more mentioned in verses 9-12 obviously because chronologically it followed Hezekiah’s victory over the Philistines.) In annotations of Judges we learned the typical significance of the Philistines. They represent ritualistic Christendom. After Hezekiah’s restoration of the true worship of Jehovah and after the breaking down of all false altars and idol worship, a complete victory over the Philistines has a special meaning, Ritualism, the deadly foe of true worship, can only be overcome by a return to that true worship and trust in the Lord. Protestantism attempted this, but it has failed.
The rebellion of Hezekiah against Assyria may have been under the reign of Shalmaneser. Then followed Sargon, who was succeeded by his son Sennacherib. In all probability Sennacherib was co-regent with his father Sargon. The Assyrian inscriptions concerning Sennacherib covering this period are very interesting though not always correct and often mixed and confusing. In the fourteenth year of Hezekiah, Sennacherib came against the fenced cities of Judah and they fell before him. Isaiah 10 gives us additional information on this invasion. True, Hezekiah’s faith was severely tested. Sennacherib had not yet come near to Jerusalem and Hezekiah sent to him at Lachish, saying “I have offended; return from me; that which thou puttest on me will I bear.” It was not according to faith, but the godly king had acted in fear and unbelief. No mention is made by Isaiah of this occurrence, nor do we find a record of it in the Chronicles. The tribute was very heavy, amounting to over one million and a half dollars. Hezekiah had to use the silver and the gold of the Temple and the palace to meet this obligation.
Then Sennacherib decided to attack Jerusalem. Here we have three accounts of what took place: 2 Kings 18-19; 2 Chron. 32 and Isaiah 36-37. These Scriptures should be carefully read and compared. From 2Chronicles 32:1-8 we learn the wise preparations Hezekiah made in anticipation of the coming attack. The water supply for the invading army was cut off; he made strong fortifications; he reorganized the army. But the best of all are the words he addressed to the people. “Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor discouraged for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him; for there be more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles.” These were noble words. No wonder the people leaned upon them in that hour of trial. We hear in them an echo of Isaiah’s faithful ministry. The head of the expedition and negotiations for the surrender of Jerusalem were entrusted to the “Tartan,” the commander-in-chief of the army: “Rabsaris,” which has been explained to mean “chief of the eunuchs” and Rabshakeh, the Assyrian title of “chief captain.” The message which Rabshakeh brought was delivered from the same spot where Isaiah stood when he gave his message to Ahaz (Isaiah 7:3). The words of the emissary of Sennacherib were coarse; they reveal the blindness of a heathen, who thought of Jehovah having been offended by Hezekiah’s great reformation (verse 22). Politically and religiously it was misrepresentation. He ended up with a lie, “The LORD said to me, Go up against this land and destroy it.”
When the representatives of Hezekiah requested for the sake of the populace not to speak in Hebrew, but in Aramean, which the common people did not understand, Rabshakeh became very abusive and shouted a vulgar appeal to the people. It needs no further commentations. The people were obedient to the king. They answered not a word. And the king’s representatives return to the king with clothes rent.