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Embassy of Merodach-baladan (2 Kings xx. 12-19). At that time Merodach-baladan, the son of Baladan king of Babylon, sent letters and a present unto Hezekiah: for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick. And Hezekiah was glad of them, and shewed them all the house of his precious things,

the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armor, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not.

Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him: "What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee?" And Hezekiah said: "They are come from a far country, even from Babylon." And he said: "What have they seen in thine house?" And Hezekiah answered: "All the things that are in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them." And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah: "Hear the word of the Lord. Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon." Then said Hezekiah unto Isaiah: "Good is the word of the Lord which thou hast spoken." And he said: "Is it not so, if peace and truth be in my days?"


Merodach-baladan. From a sculptured boundary-stone marking a flef conferred by the king.

1 Merodach-baladan was a Chaldean prince who had made himself master of Babylon in 721 B. C. In 710 he was expelled by Sargon. The real purpose of his embassy to Hezekiah was probably to form an alliance against the Assyrians. He recovered his throne again for a few months in 702 B. C., but was finally overthrown by Sennacherib, just before the latter's great western campaign.

Sennacherib's Invasion of Judah (2 Kings xviii. 13-37; xix. 1-9, 35-37; xx. 20, 21). Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them. And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying: "I have offended; return from me: that which thou puttest on me will I bear." And the king of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah


Sennacherib receiving the Spoil of Lachish. From a relief, now in the British Museum.

king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king's house. At that time did Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.

1 Sennacherib's record of this invasion is inscribed on one of the colossal bulls which stood in the grand entrance to the palace at Kouyunjik. We here learn that Hezekiah's revolt was part of a concerted movement in which many Philistine and Phoenician cities also took part, with the support of Egypt. Sennacherib records that he first invaded Phoenicia, subduing Sidon and other towns, upon which Ashdod, Ammon, Moab, and Edom submitted; that he then invaded the Philistine country, reduced the rebellious cities, and defeated the Egyptian army which had come to their relief. He then turned upon Judah, and took forty-six of its towns, which he apportioned among the Philistine kings that had remained loyal. Hezekiah, he says, "like a bird in a cage, I shut up in Jerusalem, his royal city," until he submitted to pay 30 talents of gold and 800 of silver, and to send his daughters and concubines as hostages to Nineveh.

And the king of Assyria sent the Tartan and the Rabsaris and the Rab-shakeh from Lachish' to king Hezekiah with a great host against Jerusalem. And they went up, and when they were come to Jerusalem, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is in the highway of the fuller's field. And when they had called to the king, there came out to them Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder.

And the Rab-shakeh said unto them: "Speak ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest? Thou sayest (but they are but vain words), I have counsel and strength for the war. Now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me? Lo, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it so is Pharaoh king of Egypt unto all that trust on him. But if ye say unto me, We trust in the Lord our God: is not that he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and hath said to Judah and Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem? Now therefore, I pray thee, make a wager with my lord the king of Assyria, and I will deliver thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them. How then wilt thou turn away the face of one of the least of my master's servants, and put thy trust on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen ? Am I now come up without the Lord against this place to destroy it? The Lord said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it.” Then said Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebna, and Joah, unto the Rab-shakeh: "Speak, I pray thee, to thy servants in the Syrian language; for we understand it: and talk not with us in the Jews' language in the ears of the people that are on the wall." But the Rab-shakeh said unto them: "Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own water with you?"

Then the Rab-shakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in the Jews' language, and spake, saying: "Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria: Thus saith the king, Let not

1 Sennacherib was then besieging Lachish (2 Chron. xxxii. 9). The Tartan was the commander-in-chief; the Rabsaris, perhaps the chief eunuch; and the Rab-shakeh, the chief of the captains.

2 Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you out of my hand: neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, The Lord will surely deliver us, and this eity shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me, and then eat ye every man of his own vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his cistern: until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards. Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, The Lord will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered at all his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the

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Assyrian Chariot of the time of Sennacherib.

have delivered their country out of mine hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand?" But the people held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king's commandment was, saying, "Answer him not."

Then came Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and told him the words of the Rab-shakeh.

And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went

into the house of the Lord. And he sent Eliakim, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz. And they said unto him: "Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and contumely: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth. It may be the Lord thy God will hear all the words of the Rab-shakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God; and will reprove the words which the Lord thy God hath heard: wherefore lift, up thy prayer for the remnant that are left."

So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah. And Isaiah said unto them: "Thus shall ye say to your master, Thus saith the Lord, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumor, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.”

So the Rab-shakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish.


And he heard say of Tirhakah1 king of Ethiopia: “Behold, he is come out to fight against thee." And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sherezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.3

1 Tirhakah. Taharka, nephew of the Egyptian king Shabaka. He became king of Ethiopia some years after this event.

2 Sennacherib's own record is silent regarding this calamity. Herodotus, however, mentions that while the Assyrian army lay at Pelusium on the borders of Egypt, "there came in the night a multitude of field mice, which devoured all the quivers and bow-strings of the enemy, and ate the thongs by which they managed their shields. Next morning they began their flight, and multitudes fell, since they had no arms with which to defend themselves." Since mice were anciently associated with pestilence (see p. 219), the Egyptian and the Hebrew traditions may have a common origin.

3 No Assyrian god Nisroch is known. Sennacherib's death took place in

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