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II Kings 18

Chapter Eighteen:

v. 16: The fact that Hezekiah resorts to stripping the gold from the doors of the temple suggests that he was financially desperate and had no gold currency as such.

v. 17:  This is possibly a separate invasion from the one just described.  (See my chronology of Hezekiah’s reign below.)

v. 21:  Hezekiah’s confederacy with Egypt is a surprise to me, given how highly he is praised at the beginning of the chapter.  A confederacy with Egypt (or Philistia) seems just as damnable as the one Ahaz made with Assyria.[1]

Timeline of the Events Leading to Hezekiah’s Rebellion

Ahaz, king of Judah, accepted an alliance with Tiglath Pileser III  (745 B.C.-727 B.C.) for protection against Aram and Israel (2nd Kings 16:7).  Tiglath Pileser made the 1st Assyrian depredations against Israel, and Ahaz made his Assyrian style alter around this time.

Shalmaneser V reigned over Assyria (727 B.C. – 722 B.C.).  He besieged Samaria.

Sargon II reigned over Assyria (721 B.C. – 705 B.C.).  He finished the siege.

Sennacherib began to reign over Assyria in 705 B.C.

Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, rebelled against Sennacherib, waffled once (2nd Kings 18:14), and then rebelled again.

Chronological Summary of the Events in Hezekiah’s Reign

Hezekiah becomes king at 25 (2nd Kings 18:1-2).

Hezekiah institutes his religious reforms during the first 14 years of his reign (2nd kings 18:3-8, 13[2]).

Hezekiah revolts against Assyria after the death of Sargon.[3]

At age 39, in the 14th year of his reign[4], Hezekiah suffers from his sickness.[5]

Hezekiah submits to Assyria again, sending tribute to Sennacherib (2nd Kings 18:13-16).[6]

Isaiah tells Hezekiah that the sickness will lead to death.[7]

Hezekiah experiences the miracle of the sun’s shadow going backward 10 degrees on the sundial of Ahaz as a sign that he would recover and have 15 more years of life.

Hezekiah rebels a second time and is in league with Egypt against Assyria.

Sennacherib besieges Lachish on his way to fight the Ethiopian Pharaoh of Egypt, Tirhakah.  According to Barnes, Assyria hopes that it could easily secure the submission of Judah as a result of first dominating the more powerful nation of Egypt.[8]

While besieging Lachish, Sennacherib sends his ambassadors to Jerusalem to frighten its inhabitants into submission, but Hezekiah orders his people to make no answer to their threats, and Isaiah promises Hezekiah that Sennacherib will be defeated.

The ambassadors return to the king to inform him of Hezekiah’s continued defiance, but have to go to Libnah to meet him, perhaps because the siege of Lachish was not going as well as Sennacherib had hoped.

Barnes believes that the news that Tirhakah is coming out to fight against Sennacherib makes him hesitant to go besiege Jerusalem, so he sends the ambassadors back to Jerusalem with the letter to try psychological warfare once more.

Hezekiah spreads the letter before the LORD and God answers his prayers that night, slaying 185,000 men in the Assyrian army, presumably still encamped at Libnah.[9] The Assyrians leave after this, never even approaching the walls of Jerusalem to besiege it (2nd Kings 19:32-34).

The Babylonian embassy comes to Jerusalem, curious about the miracle of the sun’s shadow.  Rather than give God credit, Hezekiah brags about himself and angers God.  Afterwards Hezekiah repents and God promises Judah will not fall in his lifetime.[10]


[1] In fact, the alliance with Egypt is condemned in Isaiah 30.

[2] I assume the material from 18:1-13 is presented chronologically:  “In the third year of Hoshea…Hezekiah…began to reign” (v.1).  “In the fourth year of King Hezekiah…” (v. 9).  “In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah…” (v. 13).

[3] I assume that he revolts before the sickness because Isaiah 38:5-6 seems to treat the Assyrian invasion as a current threat (perhaps even a current event) while Hezekiah is still sick.  I think the invasion itself was provoked by Hezekiah’s rebellion, and I do not think he had the spirit to rebel after he developed the disease.

[4] 2nd Kings 18:2 says that Hezekiah reigned 29 years.  At the time of his sickness, he was granted 15 more years of life, which means that he must have gotten the sickness in the 14th year of his reign.

[5] Assyria invades Judah the same year that Isaiah suffers from his deadly illness (2nd Kings 18:13), and they are defeated after he recovered from the illness (Isaiah 38:5-6[5]).  Perhaps they even invaded before he actually got sick.

[6] Perhaps the sickness weakened his resolve.

[7] See notes on Isaiah 38:17.

[8] Barnes believes that Sennacherib returned to Assyria, satisfied with Hezekiah’s tribute after the first rebellion, but that he returned on the occasion of this second rebellion; however, he does not supply any reason for believing that Sennacherib went home.  Another view, offered by The Oxford commentary, understands 2nd Kings 18:17 to say that Hezekiah’s tribute was not enough, and that Sennacherib did not go home, but rather continued to press the campaign against Hezekiah.  In favor of the Oxford commentary’s idea is the fact that it makes the narrative flow much better.

[9] Herodotus’ Histories gives an account which may parallel this (The Histories, Book 2:141).

[10] I am not sure whether to place this event here or before Assyria’s invasion.  Since Hezekiah’s sickness and the invasion all happen in the same year, it seems less likely that the Babylonian embassy would show up so casually in the same year after the sickness and  before the invasion.  Besides, Hezekiah seems more relaxed and cocky than he should have if the invasion was still pending (or actually going on).  The chronology of the event was obviously confusing to Barnes as well.  In his notes for Isaiah 38:1 he writes, “It [the sickness] occurred after the invasion…,” but in his notes for 2nd Kings 20:1 he writes, “the true chronological place of this narrative [the one describing Hezekiah’s sickness] is therefore prior to all the other facts related of Hezekiah except his religious reforms.”    See notes on 2nd Chronicles 32:24.  See also notes on Isaiah 39:2.

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5 Responses to “II Kings 18”

  1. […] of Jerusalem.  Indeed, they never even properly laid siege to the city. (See 2nd Kings notes for mychronological summary of Hezekiah’s reign.  See also 2nd Kings 19:32-34 where God announces that Assyria will not be permitted to attack […]

  2. […] of Jerusalem.  Indeed, they never even properly laid siege to the city. (See 2nd Kings notes for mychronological summary of Hezekiah’s reign.  See also 2nd Kings 19:32-34 where God announces that Assyria will not be permitted to attack […]

  3. […] [1] See my Chronological Summary of Hezekiah’s Reign in 2nd Kings 18 notes. […]

  4. […] [1] See notes on 2nd Kings 18. […]

  5. […] [1] See my Chronological Summary of Hezekiah’s Reign in 2nd Kings 18 notes. […]

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