Isaiah chapter 36

The Assyrian Empire invades Judah and conquers 46 cities. Then Assyrian field commander Rabshakeh arrogantly threatens the people of Jerusalem.

 


 

NOTE. See also 2 Kings 18:13-37 and Isaiah 37

 


 

ASSYRIA INVADES JUDAH

NOTE: This narrative has a parallel in 2 Kings 18:13 to 20:19. It is also recorded in substantially the same way in the cuneiform records of king Sennacherib.

 

VERSE 1 .Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria attacked all of the fortified cities of Judah and captured them.

the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah. That is, 701 BC.

attacked all of the fortified cities of Judah. Sennacherib boasted of conquering 46 walled villages in Judah.

 

VERSE 2. The king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem to king Hezekiah with a large army. He stood by the aqueduct from the upper pool in the fuller’s field highway.

Rabshakeh. This man is the field commander of the Assyrian Empire.

from Lachish to Jerusalem. After conquering the secondary cities, the enemy now assaults Jerusalem. It is the key, the prize, the heart of the matter.

by the aqueduct from the upper pool in the fuller’s field highway. Previously the LORD God had told Isaiah to go meet king Ahaz in this exact location:

Isaiah 7:3. Then the LORD said to Isaiah, “Go out now to meet Ahaz, you, and Shear-jashub your son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway of the fuller’s field.

Back then, Isaiah had told king Ahaz that the the LORD God would deliver them from the enemy. Sadly, Ahaz had refused to believe Isaiah.

Now in the same location, Isaiah tells king Hezekiah a similar message of deliverance. Will Hezekiah believe?

 

VERSE 3. Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, the recorder came out to him.

Eliakim … Shebna … Joah. King Sennacherib and King Hezekiah are the actual leaders. But they do not meet. Rather, they send their staff members.

King Sennacherib sends his field commander. King Hezekiah sends his three closest staff members.

This is a Machiavellian move by the kings. They are protecting themselves by putting others at risk instead.

Jesus, on the other hand, is not a Machiavellian leader. He protects us instead of himself. He saves us by stepping into harms’ way. He risks his own life, and loses it, in order to protect us.

 

VERSE 4. Rabshakeh said to them, “Now tell Hezekiah, ‘The great king, the king of Assyria, says, “What confidence is this in which you trust?

 

VERSE 5. I say that your counsel and strength for the war are only vain words. Now in whom do you trust, that you have rebelled against me?

only vain words. No doubt Assyria had far more military skill and strength than Jerusalem.

 

VERSE 6. Behold, you trust in the staff of this bruised reed, even in Egypt, which if a man leans on it, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him.

even in Egypt. Sennacherib asserts that Egypt cannot help them.

Sennacherib goes on to attack every resource that Jerusalem could possibly ask for help:

 

VERSE 7. But if you tell me, ‘We trust in the LORD our God,’ isn’t that he whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and has said to Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar?’ ”

We trust in the LORD our God. The enemy asserts that the LORD their God cannot protect them.

 

VERSE 8. Now therefore, please make a pledge to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them.

two thousand horses. The enemy asserts that their own military will not be able to protect them.

 

VERSE 9. How then can you turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master’s servants, and put your trust on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen?

 

VERSE 10. Have I come up now without the LORD against this land to destroy it? the LORD said to me, “Go up against this land, and destroy it.” ’ ”

 

VERSE 11. Then Eliakim, Shebna and Joah said to Rabshakeh, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it. Don’t speak to us in the Jews’ language in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.”

speak to your servants in Aramaic. Aramaic was a major diplomatic language in those days. It is similar to Hebrew. But it is different enough that the common people would have had difficulty understanding negotiations spoken in it.

Don’t speak to us in the Jews’ language. They did not want the negotiations to be conducted in Hebrew. Otherwise everyone would be able to understand. And panic would quickly spread throughout Jerusalem.

 

VERSE 12. But Rabshakeh said, “Has my master sent me only to your master and to you, to speak these words, and not to the men who sit on the wall, who will eat their own dung and drink their own urine with you?”

only to your master and to you. The enemy bypasses the normal way of diplomacy, which is to deal directly with the king and his staff. Instead, the enemy goes directly to the people. This is is a huge insult to a king.

eat their own dung and drink their own urine. Yuck!

 

VERSE 13. Then Rabshakeh stood, and called out with a loud voice in the Jews’ language, and said, “Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria!

in the Jews’ language. Assyrian field commander Rabshakeh speaks to the Jewish populace in their own Hebrew language.

 

VERSE 14. The king says, ‘Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you; for he will not be able to deliver you.

Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you. The enemy attacks the integrity of King Hezekiah himself.

 

VERSE 15. Don’t let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, “The LORD will surely deliver us. This city won’t be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” ’

Don’t let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD. The enemy urges them to not trust their spiritual leaders.

 

VERSE 16. Don’t listen to Hezekiah, for the king of Assyria says, ‘Make your peace with me, and come out to me; and each of you eat from his vine, and each one from his fig tree, and each one of you drink the waters of his own cistern;

BBE translation. Do not give ear to Hezekiah, for this is what the king of Assyria says, Make peace with me, and come out to me; and everyone will be free to take the fruit of his vine and of his fig-tree, and the water of his spring;

everyone will be free. The enemy is the master of lying. Sennacherib makes false promises to the people of God. In truth, it is not at all possible for them to make peace with Assyria.

take the fruit of his vine. This is a hint that they can stay in their own land.

 

VERSE 17. until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards.

until I come and take you away. The enemy has just contradicted himself. In the previous verse, he had hinted that they could stay. Now he says they will be taken away.

a land like yours. Assyria is not actually like Jerusalem.

 

VERSE 18. Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, “The LORD will deliver us.” Have any of the gods of the nations delivered their lands from the hand of the king of Assyria?

Beware lest Hezekiah. The enemy attacks the biblical message of the goodness of God. It is remarkable that Hezekiah is a godly leader. Now that godliness is under attack.

 

VERSE 19. Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they delivered Samaria from my hand?

 

VERSE 20. Who are they among all the gods of these countries that have delivered their country out of my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’ ”

NLT translation. What god of any nation has ever been able to save its people from my power? So what makes you think that the LORD can rescue Jerusalem from me?

what makes you think that the LORD can rescue Jerusalem from me. The enemy sees himself as more powerful than God. This is the pinnacle of human arrogance.

 

VERSE 21. But they remained silent, and said nothing in reply, for the king’s commandment was, “Don’t answer him.”

they remained silent. This is an heroic level of self-control.

 

VERSE 22. Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and told him the words of Rabshakeh.

with their clothes torn. They had torn their clothes in despair.

 


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