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2Ki 18:1 Now it happened in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign-
This was a parade example of a wicked man having a righteous son, who in turn had a wicked son [Manasseh]; and the reverse happened in Biblical history. And this is how we would expect, if indeed people must each ultimately build their own personal relationship with God rather than merely follow the religion of their fathers. Wicked Ahaz was married to Abijah (:2), apparently a Godly woman. True spirituality is about being a new creation, breaking with the ties that apparently bind.

2Ki 18:2 He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem-
Hezekiah reigned 29 years (2 Kings 18:2), and the sickness after which he was given 15 years therefore happened in the 14th year or his reign- the very same time that Assyria invaded (Is. 38:1). Trials so often come together, in such an intense and extreme way that the situation can only be of God rather than mere bad luck or coincidence. Hezekiah's healing came just before the miraculous destruction of the Assyrians (2 Kings 20:6 "I will add to your days fifteen years and I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria"). I suggest the healing of Hezekiah was to encourage faith in the possible deliverance of Jerusalem from a likewise humanly impossible situation. We have meetings and encounters with others in our lives, we hear their testimonies of deliverance, in order to encourage us in our situations.

His mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah-
Or "Abijah", as in the Chronicles record, meaning "Jehovah is my father". Zechariah may be the one of Is. 8:2.

2Ki 18:3 He did that which was right in the eyes of Yahweh, according to all that David his father had done-
It seems that in the last 15 years of his life, Hezekiah turned away from God. I have commented quite negatively upon Hezekiah in 2 Chron. 32 and Is. 39. The way he gave the gold of the temple to the Assyrians and trusted in Egypt really speaks for itself. Isaiah is very critical of Hezekiah in his prophecies. His work fortifying Jerusalem and building the water tunnel are criticized by Isaiah as faithless. Rabshakeh points out that Hezekiah both trusted in Yahweh and in Egypt. He showed faith in breaking his servitude to Assyria, then declined from that faith and paid whatever Assyria demanded of him, then turned to Egypt for help... but by turning to Egypt for help, he provoked Assyria. And so he was left really with only Yahweh to turn to. This sounds like faith born from desperation rather than a pure faith. Even when offered 15 years extra, he still asks for a sign God will actually do it. And the way Isaiah applies a poultice of figs to his boil seems the sort of thing one does to someone who is weak in faith. For the figs of themselves didn't give him the extra 15 years. And yet we are told here that he did what was right, as David did. But David was far from perfect and spiralled downwards spiritually in the last decades of his life. Perhaps this is simply a record that he did what was right, as we read about here and especially in Chronicles- before the deliverance from Assyria, after which he was lifted up in pride and fell away. I suggest this is an example of where the Biblical narrative is at times intentionally open or ambiguous, because it invites us to reflect, and try to enter into the characters and situations. Because we could also argue that just as David sinned at many points in his life, and ended his life on a spiritual low, ordering the deaths of those he had earlier forgiven... so Hezekiah too failed at specific points, and ended his life on a spiritual low, but was ultimately seen as acceptable to God. But the correct interpretation of these words is, it seems to me, left intentionally vague; to exercise our thoughts. For by doing so, we are led to examine ourselves. And to not be wrongly judgmental of others' lives.  

2Ki 18:4 He removed the high places, and broke the pillars, and cut down the Asherah-
This was a radical move, as even good kings before him had failed to remove the high places. The tendency to worship Baal as a form of Yahweh worship was so strong, and so attractive. His hatred of idolatry, brought out more strongly in 2 Chronicles, was partly a psychological reaction against his father, who had sacrificed Hezekiah's siblings to idols and perhaps tried to do the same to Hezekiah. Human motivation is never pure, and we must remember this when considering how Hezekiah at many points displays unspirituality.  

He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for in those days the children of Israel burned incense to it; and he called it Nehushtan-
The Lord Jesus interpreted it as a symbol of Himself, lifted up on the cross, identified with us as sinners. And just as the bronze serpent was abused and prayed to, so has the cross been abused. "Nehushtan" is literally "the bronze [copper] thing", "the mere piece of bronze" being the idea. Hezekiah called it for what it was, as we should call out idolatry for all it is. An expensive car is just a mass of metal, plastics and chemicals arranged in a certain way. An expensive house can be described in similar terms. And that is what Hezekiah did to the bronze serpent. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence that there were cults of snake worship in Canaan. The usage of the bronze serpent would then be a typical example of how the Jews had mixed paganism with Yahweh worship, the flesh with the spirit... just as we are tempted to do. Rabshakeh rightly points out that the high places he removed were Yahweh's high places- the Jews had mixed Yahweh worship with paganism. We too need to see to the bare naked essence of things, call them as they are for what they are, and strip religiosity down to its essence. And reject it if need be as Hezekiah did here.

2Ki 18:5 He trusted in Yahweh the God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among them that were before him-
If Hezekiah was the stellar example of trust in Yahweh at that time, then Hezekiah's proverb (see on Prov. 25:1) applies to himself: "One who is greedy stirs up strife; but one who trusts in Yahweh will prosper" (Prov. 28:25). Hezekiah has in view the Assyrians, with himself as the prospering one who trusted in Yahweh. He was using these Divine truths to justify himself. As discussed on :3, Hezekiah is commented upon very positively here. But his faith was very weak or non existent at times; he cut off the gold [representing faith] of the temple and gave it to the Assyrians, and paid the Egyptians to try to save him from the Assyrians- rather than having faith in God. Either this statement describes how things were at one point in his life; or God very graciously counts him as righteous and faithful more than he was.  

Hezekiah and faith go together. There was no king like him for his faith / trust [note a similar rubric used about Josiah in 2 Kings 23:25, in relation to Josiah’s obedience to the Law]. Josiah was the most obedient king; Hezekiah was the most faith-ful. But 2 Kings 18:6 goes on to say that this faith was “for” or because Hezekiah was obedient to God’s commandments. Here we see the upward spiral in the spiritual life, and how each aspect of spirituality reinforces others. His obedience reinforced his faith; indeed the entire Law of Moses wasn’t designed as a hopeless obstacle course, it was “holy, just and good” and was intended to lead people to faith, especially in the Messiah to come.

We observe that there is a feature in the records to describe a king as incomparibly good or bad. The language of Hezekiah being incomparibly good is also applied to Josiah in 2 Kings 23:25. And so I suggest that these characters were incomparably good in specific areas; faith, in Hezekiah's case, and reforming in Josiah's case. And yet as Paul observes, faith alone cannot save- if it has not love, or works appropriate to that faith. Faith without works cannot save. Or it may be that e.g. in Hezekiah's case, he was incomparible in how at one point he reached a peak of (:6) joining with Yahweh and obedience to Him. But that is not to say that that peak did not later subside, as it clearly did in the cases of both Hezekiah and Josiah. For both of them died far spiritually weaker than they were at various points in their earlier lives. Solomon likewise had unparalleled wisdom at one point (1 Kings 3:12), but he didn't retain it in his later life. Indeed, dying at a spiritually weaker point than a man was once at... seems to be the story of so many Biblical characters. Gideon, Moses, Jacob and others come to mind; there were flashes of brilliance at some points in their lives, but it was a fade to grey at the end. Our spiritual path is not a simple upwards trajectory. See on :19. Another option is that despite all these weaknesses, God looked finally upon Hezekiah as faithful. Just as we may look back upon a period of time- a week's holiday, 5 years spent living in a place, the childhood of our children- and overall feel it was "good", despite bad parts, experiences and aspects of that period. This is an example of how God's love imputes righteousness.

The Hebrew word for "trust" is played on repeatedly. "Confidence" is s.w. "trust" in :19, and the word is found again in :20,21,22,30. And in 2 Kings 19:10 he admits that Yahweh is the God in who Hezekiah trusts. Hezekiah is commended as having inimitable faith / trust, more than any other king of Judah ever had (see on :5). Clearly Rabshakeh recognized Hezekiah's trust / faith. And yet even that was only skin deep, because he cut off the gold from the temple and trusted in Egypt and horses (:23,24), as Isaiah often laments. Likewise he asks for a sign that he would be healed. We see here the weakness of human faith, and how amazing faith can coexist with unbelief. Even Hezekiah, who had so much confidence in Yahweh that it exuded from him and was noticed by even his enemies, still collapsed into unbelief so easily. Yet God counts his faith very highly, and like the Lord Jesus, views human faith so positively. We recall how the Lord marvelled at the faith of the centurion... when His own faith so far stronger. Is. 30:15 is specific that Judah generally did not "trust", although Hezekiah did at least on one level; and to his credit, it is always hard to have faith / trust when surrounded by others who do not: "in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. But you refused". Instead they 'trusted' in oppression and deceit (Is. 30:12 s.w.). The intention of the whole experience with the Assyrian invasion and Hezekiah's sickness was so that  "the result of righteousness will be quietness and trust forever" (Is. 32:17). The people were even envisioned as singing a hymn about their trust in Yahweh: "In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: You will keep whoever’s mind is steadfast in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. Trust in Yahweh forever; for in Yah, Yahweh, is an everlasting Rock. For He has brought down those who dwell on high" (Is. 26:1-5). And yet God's intention that the people should "trust" in Him was apparently not realized. For Hezekiah turned to trust in his wealth and house of armour (Is. 39), and his son Manasseh turned away from faith. Hezekiah's prayers at times allude to Solomon's prayer and idea that the temple of itself would save God's people. This was not God's intention. When Babylon came to destroy Jerusalem, the people wrongly trusted in the temple for its own sake: "Don’t trust in lying words by saying, Yahweh’s temple, Yahweh’s temple... thus will I do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust" (Jer. 7:4,14).


2Ki 18:6 For he joined with Yahweh; he didn’t depart from following Him, but kept His commandments which Yahweh commanded Moses-
As discussed on :3 and :5, Hezekiah did at times depart from following Yahweh. So we can conclude this either describes how things were in the earlier, more faithful part of Hezekiah's life; or it is how God very graciously counted Hezekiah to be, looking at his heart which cleaved or was joined to Him, and not the fact he did depart from Him and ended his life on a spiritual low.

2Ki 18:7 Yahweh was with him; wherever he went forth he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria, and didn’t serve him-
After the lapse of faith in paying off Sennacherib, it became harder for Hezekiah to show faith again. After that, it was going to be really hard to rebel against him and refuse the payments. I take the comment here that Hezekiah rebelled against Assyria and refused to serve / worship him as part of a summary of what Hezekiah did in his life. He refused any longer to serve Sennacherib as God, but decided to serve Yahweh alone. This rebellion against Sennacherib is singled out as the most noteworthy thing he did. He had submitted to Assyria, paid what they asked, made an agreement with them. And then he broke it, and so the Assyrians sent their army against Hezekiah. If this isn’t the correct reconstruction, then we have the scenario of Hezekiah sending money to Assyria as they requested, but then them coming and invading anyway. In every other case of gold being given to buy off Israel’s enemies, it seems the bargain was stuck to, at least in the short term.

2Ki 18:8 He struck the Philistines to Gaza and its borders, from the tower of the watchmen to the fortified city-
This may not be chronological; rather are we reading cameos from Hezekiah's life which demonstrated his faith. As Gaza was the most far south of the five Philistine cities, "to Gaza" may mean the Philistines were entirely subdued, and we never hear much more about them.

2Ki 18:9 It happened in the fourth year of king Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged it-
Judah were intended to learn from the judgments upon the ten tribes. For they were not much better, and Ez. 16,20 say that finally they were worse than the ten tribes. As Samaria was besieged, so was Jerusalem to be besieged by the same nation. But Hezekiah apparently didn't learn the lesson. As Israel tried to avoid paying tribute to Assyria and instead made a covenant with Egypt for help (2 Kings 17:4), so did Hezekiah. We likewise are intended to learn from the patterns and experiences of those whom God brings into our lives. We may see the experience of sudden wealth from an inheritance destroying a family we know- and that is to warn us when or if we have the same experience.

The King of Assyria “came up” throughout the land promised to Abraham (2 Kings 17:5). The Hebrew word used is alah, meaning to ascend up- and this is the very battle cry of the Islamic fundamentalists, Allah ahbar. The Assyrians were persuaded that the one true God, Yahweh, had sent them against Israel (2 Kings 18:25)- just as the Islamic fundamentalists are today.

2Ki 18:10 At the end of three years they took it: in the sixth year of Hezekiah, which was the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken-
This may look forward to a three and a half year tribulation of Israel at the hands of a latter day Assyrian.

2Ki 18:11 The king of Assyria carried Israel away to Assyria-
This was in the ninth year of Hoshea (2 Kings 17:6). It seems that in this very year (BC722), Sargon succeeded Shalmaneser IV in a coup. Sargon in his annals refers to his victory over Samaria as his earliest act. 2 Kings 18:9,10 record that Shalmaneser "came up against Samaria, and besieged it" but "they took it" rather than "he took it". It seems the representatives of these kings are referred to, and they were not personally present. Sargon as it were capitalized on the progress made whilst Shalmaneser was king. The annals of Sargon claim that 27,290 people were deported from Samaria. But those annals also imply many were left in the land and paid tribute to him.

And placed them in Halah-
Perhaps the Calah of Gen. 10:11, the old capital of Assyria.

And on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes-
Assyria had only recently overrun those cities, and so the captured Israelites were used to populate them and thus dilute the ethnicity of the local population.

2Ki 18:12 because they didn’t obey the voice of Yahweh their God, but transgressed His covenant, even all that Moses the servant of Yahweh commanded, and would not hear it, nor do it-
Israel did not obey / hearken to the voice of Yahweh, and He did not hearken to their voice in prayer (Dt. 1:45; 9:23; 28:15; Josh. 5:6; Jud. 2:20; 6:10 cp. Dt. 8:20 s.w.). 2 Kings 18:12 states this specifically. God hearkened to Joshua's voice in prayer (Josh. 10:14) because Joshua hearkened to His voice. It was to be the same with Saul. He didn't hearken to God's voice (1 Sam. 15:19) and God didn't hearken to Saul's voice in prayer in his final desperation at the end of his life (1 Sam. 28:18). If God's word abides in us, then our prayer is powerful, we have whatever we ask, because we are asking for things according to His will expressed in His word (Jn. 15:7). 

2Ki 18:13 Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah, and took them-
He succeeded in taking all of Judah apart from Jerusalem. Isaiah describes the invasion as a flood of waters which engulfed Judah "up to the neck", the surviving head referring to Jerusalem and Hezekiah. See on :2. This judgment upon Judah was because of their lack of faith and unspirituality as pointed out by Isaiah in Is. 1-35. The salvation of Jerusalem was by grace alone. And because of the faith of a very small remnant there.

2Ki 18:14 Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish saying, I have offended; return from me. That which you put on me, I will bear. The king of Assyria appointed to Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold-
I have sinned” (AV) suggests Hezekiah took false guilt; lack of faith in God often is related to false guilt. Faith in God’s opinion and perspective on us saves us from such false guilt. Even worse, Hezekiah treated Sennacherib as God, addressing him with the language of confession and repentance which should be directed only to God. By doing so, he believed in Sennacherib as God. And whenever we let people give us false guilt, we are effectively believing in them as God rather than in the one true God. Hezekiah then stripped the temple of its gold, representing faith, and gave it to the Assyrians. It was a sad blip on the screen in Hezekiah’s life of faith. The way he has to deal with the prophet Isaiah through messengers soon afterwards may suggest an estrangement between Hezekiah and Isaiah- exactly because of this.

The Rassam Cylinder and the Taylor Prism lists what the Assyrians claim Hezekiah gave them. It includes "thirty talents of gold" as also stated in 2 Kings 18:14, but also lists many high luxury items made of ivory, and also Hezekiah's daughters. The list would suggest Hezekiah was living a high luxury life and was a lover of wealth. The Cylinder and Prism also claim the Assyrians took not only gold and silver, but also spices, precious oil and the contents of Hezekiah's well stocked armoury, "the house of his armour". But in 2 Kings 20:13 and Is. 39:2, these are the very things which Hezekiah has in abundance after the Assyrian destruction, and shows off to the Babylonians. So we can better imagine psychologically what happened. Hezekiah had amassed great wealth before the invasion, probably from transit taxes on the trade routes he had gained control of through taking the territory around Gaza [there is archaeological evidence of this]. But he gives it all to the Assyrians and Egyptians through lack of faith. But he amazingly receives it all back, and more, after the miraculous defeat of Assyria. And this lead to his pride. How often is this proved true, that wealth brings pride and lack of faith. It is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom. Assyrian records show how much tribute was demanded and paid by various nations over their history- records of tribute from 26 countries have been preserved. The tribute demanded from Judah was one of the highest- indicating the relative wealth of Judah under Hezekiah. This wealth was what led him to lack of faith, and is criticized by Isaiah repeatedly. Archaeological evidence, especially from Lachish, likewise indicates that Hezekiah ruled over a very prosperous and wealthy society.

2Ki 18:15 Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of Yahweh, and in the treasures of the king’s house-
He repeated the failure of his father Ahaz, who emptied the treasuries likewise instead of trusting in God (2 Kings 16:8). One major dimension of sin is the example it sets to others, especially within families.

Hezekiah‘s father, King Ahaz, had stripped the Temple of all its silver and gold, as well as all the gold and silver in the palace treasury, and sent it to Tiglath-Pileser (2 Kings 16:8,9). We see how he reacted against his father's idolatry, but followed the same faithless script of his father in other ways. This again is so psychologically credible. It's how sons are with their fathers, unless they are born again and made free of all the ties that bind. But only 30 years later, Hezekiah was able to give 30 talents (or 900 kg) of gold and 800 talents (or 24,000 kg) of silver to Sennacherib. He had built up considerable wealth quite quickly- especially bearing in mind he is recorded as undertaking huge building and fortification projects, repairing the Temple, providing huge numbers of sacrifical animals for the Passover, funding a campaign against the Philistines and having enough wealth to try to buy Egyptian military support against Assyria.
This suggests Hezekiah was materialistic and on the look out for wealth. He believed his wealth could save him- he offered money to Egypt to help him, and paid a huge amount to Assyria to leave him alone. All of which was criticized by God through Isaiah. When his wealth revived after the Assyrian defeat, again it was his undoing- because he boasted of it to the Babylonians, who clearly were covetous and thence planned to come and take it by force. Which Isaiah says, God would empower them to do because of Hezekiah's pride. That pride arose from his great and sudden wealth, which was given to him by God: "Hezekiah enjoyed immense riches and honour. He built himself treasuries for gold, silver, precious stones, spices, jewels and every kind of desirable object, as well as storehouses for his returns of grain, new wine and olive oil, and stalls for all kinds of cattle and pens for the flocks. He also provided himself with donkeys in addition to his immense wealth of flocks and herds, since God had made him immensely wealthy" (2 Chron. 32:27-29). The promised blessing upon the land, producing "of itself", seems to have been responsible for the agricultural prosperity. The lands around him had been ravaged by the Assyrian scorched earth policy. They perhaps traded their wealth for food. But we note that this wealth led him to proudly show it off to the Babylonians, who came to find out about "the wonder that was done in the land" (2 Chron. 32:31, i.e. the amazing agricultural blessing). We now understand better why God is careful about giving wealth; because it typically leads to pride and loss of spirituality.

2Ki 18:16 At that time, Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of Yahweh’s temple, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria-
We each have two ‘people’ as it were within us; we act both as spiritual and as fleshly people. The record of Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18:16 reflects this: “At that time did Hezekiah cut off the gold from… the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, because of the king of Assyria”. The Hezekiah who faithfully overlaid the pillars with gold was the same man, acting a different persona, who then cut it off faithlessly when under pressure. Likewise the Jews could be described as both Abraham’s seed (Jn. 8:37) and not Abraham’s seed (Jn. 8:39); as having Abraham as their father (Jn. 8:56), and yet also having the devil as their father (Jn. 8:39-41,44).

This undoubted weakness of faith, recalling that gold represents faith, highlights God's great understanding and grace to stress that overall, Hezekiah was such a man of faith.

2Ki 18:17 The king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great army to Jerusalem. They went up and came to Jerusalem. When they had come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is in the highway of the fuller’s field-
The washer or fuller uses the same word for 'washing' as used in the context of cleansing from sin (Ps. 51:2,7; Jer. 2:2; 4:14; Mal. 3:2). The suggestion was that they could repent and be cleansed of their sin. This location was significant, because it was there that Hezekiah's father Ahaz had been met by Isaiah and his son Shearjashub [a man of sign, 'a remnant shall return / repent'], with their demand for Jerusalem to surrender to God (Is. 7:3). So Hezekiah was intended to recall how Ahaz had been faced with Isaiah at that same spot; and the call was to repent, to be washed, to become the remnant which would triumph. Circumstances repeat in our lives and between our lives and those of others; in this case, the experience of Ahaz repeated in the life of his son Hezekiah. And we are intended to join the dots and learn the lesson.

2Ki 18:18 When they had called to the king, there came out to them Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebnah the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder-
The "scribe" or historian was a senior advisor in the Hebrew court (2 Sam. 8:17; 2 Kings 18:18,37; 2 Chron. 34:8) because of the huge value attached to history in the Hebrew mind, and as reflected in the Bible being largely history. Advice on how to act was to be based upon historical, or as we would now say, "Biblical", precedent.

"Shebna" is an Egyptian name and may have been installed in office by Hezekiah as part of his deal with Egypt, upon whom he trusted rather than solely in Yahweh. He had the office of being "over the house" but by the time of the Assyrian invasion Shebna had been replaced in this office by Eliakim (Is. 22:15,20; 37:2). However, Shebna had not been completely 'hurled away' for his immorality of Is. 22:15-19 as required by Is. 22:17, because he is mentioned here as being the "scribe", a senior secretary, although Eliakim was "over the household". This seems typical of the partial response made to Isaiah's prophecies. Shebna was likely installed in power as part of a deal with Egypt for their help. But it seems Yahweh accepted that partial response and repentance of a remnant, and so the invaders were destroyed and the awful outcome threatened upon Jerusalem in this chapter was averted or at best deferred.

2Ki 18:19 Rabshakeh said to them, Say now to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this in which you trust?-
LXX "Why are you secure". GNB "the emperor wanted to know what made King Hezekiah so confident". Clearly Hezekiah did have some faith; and real faith is always evident to others. Rabshakeh's words are a tacit admission that Hezekiah did indeed trust in Yahweh. 

2Ki 18:20 You say (but they are but vain words), ‘There is counsel and strength for war’. Now on whom do you trust, that you have rebelled against me?-
"Vain words" is literally "a mere word of the lips". If the lips in view are Isaiah's, the idea is 'What good can words do? Even the words of the Bible, God's words. Hard evidenced support in visible terms is what man needs...'. And we have all given in to this so many times.

The immediate reference is to how "he took counsel with his princes and his mighty men to stop the waters of the springs which were outside of the city" (2 Chron. 32:3).

GNB "Do you think that words can take the place of military skill and might?". This is the essence of our temptations today- to think that the ideas of God's word are merely abstract and philosophical, and have no cash value in reality. But God's word is active and powerful, once spoken, it is done. The "counsel" in view is primarily the prophecies of Isaiah (s.w. Is. 5:19; 28:29), and in the last day application, the "counsel and strength" of the Messiah of Israel (Is. 11:2 s.w.). But Rabshakeh may have been mocking the "counsel" of the false prophets (see :6), which had been to trust in Egypt rather than Yahweh (s.w. Is. 19:3,11; 29:15; 30:1; Jer. 19:7). The "counsel" or prophetic word of Yahweh, however, was what could save Israel; it was that which would bring them back from captivity and reestablish Yahweh's Kingdom in the land (s.w. Is. 44:26; 46:10). Although most in Judah still refused to trust in Yahweh's "strength for the war" (s.w. Is. 30:15), yet by grace and in respect to the faith of the remnant, He still saved them from Assyria at this time.

Hezekiah had taken counsel with men in order to try to avert the fall of Jerusalem (2 Chron. 32:3). Isaiah had earlier warned against trust in human "counsel" (s.w. Is. 5:19; 19:3). Woe was pronounced upon those (like Hezekiah?) who took counsel from men rather than God (Is. 30:1 s.w.). Prov. 25:28 LXX advises doing things with "counsel". As explained on Prov. 25:1, this may be a justification of Hezekiah, who dealt with the Assyrian crisis by saying he trusted in God's counsel to overcome the Assyrians (2 Kings 18:20 AV). Like Solomon, Hezekiah's Proverbs are all Divinely inspired and true, but he seems to insert into them a subtext of self justification.

Rabshakeh observes that Hezekiah trusts in both Yahweh and in Egypt (:20,21). He wasn't wrong in his observation, and his presentation of Hezekiah as a fickle leader not worth following. He really did try to have a foot in both camps.

2Ki 18:21 Now, behold, you trust in the staff of this bruised reed, even in Egypt-
"Bruised reed" is better "broken reed", and this is the very phrase used about how the Messiah, the Lord Jesus, would not break a "bruised / broken reed" (Is. 42:3). Egypt were a broken reed, recently broken in battle and now useless to save Israel. They were too weak to uphold the weight of Judah if they were to lean upon it for strength. God turns the figure around- He as it were is in need of man, He wishes to trust upon us; and although we are broken reeds, we will not be crushed nor will He be disappointed. He so wishes to work with us.

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 on him-
Hezekiah paid all the wealth of Judah to Assyria and entered an agreement with them. And it seems he impoverished Judah yet more by then making some arrangement with Egypt to throw off the Assyrian domination (2 Kings 18:21,24). Hezekiah really did mess up. But then he breaks the agreement with Assyria, inevitably provoking an Assyrian invasion of his now impoverished country. He must’ve been almost alone in this. Because doing this made no human sense; his cabinet and people would’ve surely been against it. Following our conscience often puts us in situations like this.

"Lean" here is the same word for "steadfast" in Is. 26:3 "You will keep whoever’s mind is steadfast in perfect peace, because he trusts in You". The LXX understands this to be a description of the "righteous nation" of Is. 26:2. They are saved from their traumas by the state of their mind. And Yahweh will respond to this through the work of His Spirit on the human spirit, to keep their mind in perfect peace. This is the peace which comes from knowing sin is forgiven. "Mind" here is literally 'imagination'. We must ask what are our fantasies, our hopes, according to which we live, think and feel day by day. If they are above all for the Kingdom, then we will be 'kept' in this. In Isaiah's immediate context this was in contrast to leaning upon Egypt for salvation (s.w. "lean"). The great salvation of the restored Kingdom could have come apart at that time, but it was precluded by a lack of real faith and focus on the Kingdom in the majority of Israel.

Judah did as it were trust in Egypt, and so were left with pierced hands. But that was exactly what the Lord Jesus experienced on the cross. Here we have one of many examples of where although He did not personally sin, He on the cross experienced the sufferings for sin which were due to God's people.

2Ki 18:22 But if you tell me, ‘We trust in Yahweh 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 in Jerusalem?’-
Rabshakeh argues as if the high places and altars to the idols were actually used for Yahweh worship. And that was true. There is plenty of archaeological evidence for this: "The Asherah, one of the main targets of cult criticism, was closely connected with Yahweh and his cult, as shown by the inscriptions from Kuntillet Agrud and Khirbet-el-Qom". Judah justified their idol worship by claiming it was a form of Yahweh worship; and that is an abiding temptation for God's people of all ages. Rabshakeh mocked at the idea of a religion which had only one altar and high place; although that was indeed appropriate to the worship of the one true God who had given one specific way of approach to Him.

2Ki 18:23 Now therefore, please give pledges 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-

Although many in Judah had fled into Jerusalem, the siege conditions and battle losses meant that there were not even 2000 fighting men within the city. But the Assyrians were destroyed by just one Angel, a member of the Angel cherubim, the heavenly horses and riders who stood for Israel. They were left with no human horses nor army, so that they might trust in Yahweh of Hosts of Angelic armies and the cherubim chariot. And this is why we too at times are stripped of all human strength.

"Make a pledge" is literally to be sweet or pleasing, and it appears to be sarcastic. But it is the word used by Hezekiah when he asks Yahweh to "undertake" or be sweet to him in the oppression of his sickness, which came at the same time as the siege of Jerusalem (Is. 38:14).See on :2.

2Ki 18:24 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?-
This was clearly wrong for the king of Israel, as the law specifically stated. Hezekiah had been repeatedly criticized for this by Isaiah in several prophecies. There are various translation options here. LXX "And how can ye then turn to the face of the satraps? They that trust on the Egyptians for horse and rider, are our servants"; GNB "You are no match for even the lowest ranking Assyrian official, and yet you expect the Egyptians to send you chariots and horsemen". 2 Chron. 32:21 uses the same phrase to describe the king of Assyria turning away his face in shame from Jerusalem after the Angelic destruction of his army; all was to be dramatically reversed overnight. Just as Joseph was elevated from prison rags to royal glory in a few hours, so God can work very quickly to save us from otherwise humanly impossible situations.

2Ki 18:25 Have I now come up without Yahweh against this place to destroy it? Yahweh said to me, ‘Go up against this land, and destroy it’-
The King of Assyria “came up” throughout the land promised to Abraham (2 Kings 17:5). The Hebrew word used is alah, meaning to ascend up- and this is the very battle cry of the Islamic fundamentalists, Allah ahbar. The Assyrians were persuaded that the one true God, Yahweh, had sent them against Israel (2 Kings 18:25)- just as the Islamic fundamentalists are today.

Rabshakeh appears to have been an apostate Jew, speaking fluent Hebrew, fully aware of the situation within Judah and of the prophetic message that Yahweh would be behind their invaders; and quoting Isaiah's prophecies. We can look to some possible equivalent in the events concerning the latter day Assyrian.

2Ki 18:26 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, Shebnah and Joah said to Rabshakeh, Please speak to your servants in the Syrian language; for we understand it. Don’t speak with us in the Jews’ language, in the hearing of the people who are on the wall-
Rabshakeh knew Hebrew and was likely a renegade Jew. The fact the Jewish leadership knew the Assyrian language is a tacit reflection of the way they had made it their business to communicate with them in the past, in seeking ways around the Assyrian threat other than through trust in Yahweh.

2Ki 18:27 But Rabshakeh said to them, Has my master sent me to your master, and to you, to speak these words? Hasn’t he sent me to the men who sit on the wall, to eat their own dung, and to drink their own water with you?-
Rabshakeh was aware of the prophecies of Micah and Isaiah. He was fully aware that Isaiah had opened his prophecies by insisting that his message of judgment was against both the heavens and the earth, the leadership and the ordinary people; for they were alike guilty.

2Ki 18:28 Then Rabshakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in the Jews’ language, and spoke, saying-
This very loud voice becomes the prototype for the great voice of Babylon (Jer. 51:55), akin to the great voice of Goliath the Philistine / Palestinian, which is to be answered by the far greater voice of Yahweh in the last days commanding the Angels to unleash judgment upon the latter day Assyrian confederacy (Joel 2:11; Rev. 16:1; 18:2). But in the immediate context, this "loud voice" is that of Is. 29:6 bringing destruction and judgment upon Jerusalem; they were condemned, but were saved by grace and God's respect of the prayers and repentance of a small minority. The loud voice of the "great king" of Assyria is being set up as a parody of that of Yahweh, who is the supreme "great king" (s.w. Ps. 47:2; 95:3; Mal. 1:14).    

Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria-
“Hear [shema] the word of the great King, the King of Assyria” (2 Kings 18:28) is a conscious imitation of the shema to Israel from their King, Yahweh. “The great king” is a title of Yahweh. The king of Assyria was parodying the giving of the Law to Israel, implying his commandments were a new Torah for Israel; and some Islamic fundamentalists have spoken of producing a new Torah, making him the one mentioned in Daniel as changing laws.

2Ki 18:29 Thus says the king, ‘Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you; for he will not be able to deliver you out of his hand-
This was part of his narrative, that the gods of the nations were "not able to deliver" them from the Assyrians (s.w. 2 Chron. 32:15). He encouraged them to see the one true God as just another god, another source of secular strength as good as anything else. Yahweh the one true God is not, however, just another religious system. There is something awesomely and radically different. Surely all those who were raised as believers have at some point wondered whether Christianity is simply another one of many religious systems which are equally useless. Here we have the answer- that there is ultimate truth and relationship with God which thereby makes the others all appear for what they are. Those who convert to Christ from atheism or non Christian backgrounds have a great advantage here and need to appreciate the difficulties for those who were raised Christian. Rabshakeh's words recognize that Hezekiah alone was seeking to lead the people to totally trust in Yahweh. His influence was considered hugely significant. As we noted on Is. 1:1, the reforms of Hezekiah were largely ineffective in encouraging the general populace towards spirituality. In accordance with that, Rabshakeh perceived Hezekiah as effectively seeking alone to persuade the people to trust Yahweh.

2Ki 18:30 Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in Yahweh saying, Yahweh will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria-
Rabshakeh appears to know the very words of Hezekiah within Jerusalem, supporting the suggestion made that he was a renegade Jew. Hezekiah's faith that the city wouldn't fall was presumably based upon Isaiah's prophetic words; and yet Isaiah also speaks as if the city would fall, unless there was repentance in Judah. Perhaps Hezekiah really believed that the repentance of a minority would be counted by God as enough, and that their prayers would ensure the salvation of Zion. And this huge faith in Divine grace was rewarded.

It would seem from Rabshakeh’s words to the people of Jerusalem that Hezekiah had begun a ‘Trust in God!’ campaign: “Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD by saying, ‘The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria'... do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying, The LORD will deliver us” (2 Kings 18:30,32 AV). “The Lord will deliver us” therefore appears to have been a catch cry of Hezekiah to all the people. Jerusalem was surrounded by her strong enemies, whom Hezekiah had sorely provoked  by faithlessly siding with Egypt against them and then in faith towards God breaking off his agreement with the Assyrians. So now Hezekiah was driven to throw himself upon God for a miracle. His utter confidence is recognized by God, when He speaks of how the faithful remnant in Jerusalem- the “virgin daughter of Zion”- had despised Assyria, laughed her to scorn, and wagged her head at Assyria (2 Kings 19:21). That would’ve required an extraordinary level of faith to do that. Hezekiah wasn’t just hoping for the best, using prayer as a last resort, a kind of back up insurance policy after doing all he could. This was the prayer and faith of utter confidence, believing that things that are not are in fact, and being so sure they will come about that this faith actually affects our feelings. Hezekiah felt confident, superior to the Assyrians, all the feelings that come from knowing that one is in a far stronger position. This is a challenge in our self-assessment. To what extent does our confidence in faith affect our emotions and feelings?

2Ki 18:31 Don’t listen to Hezekiah’-
It seems Hezekiah was singlehandedly seeking to persuade the people to totally trust in Yahweh.

For thus says the king of Assyria, ‘Make your peace with me, and come out to me-
LXX "If ye wish to be blessed, come out to me". Receiving peace or 'blessing' (LXX) was what comes from Yahweh; Judah were being offered covenant relationship with a false pretender to Yahweh. All this is the stuff of the latter day antiChrist; for an anti-Christ is strictly not someone against Christ but rather posing as the Christ, a fake, imitation Christ.

And every one of you will eat of his vine, and every one of his fig tree, and everyone will drink the waters of his own cistern-
Rabshakeh promised the Jews an Assyrian Kingdom where everyone sat under their own vine and fig tree- consciously parodying Micah’s contemporary prophecies of God’s future Kingdom (Mic. 4:4). The Assyrian Kingdom was set up as a parody of Solomon’s, which was the Kingdom of God (1 Kings 4:25; 2 Chron. 9:8). A glance through the descriptions of the beasts- the Kingdoms of this world- reveals that they are all set up in terms of the Lord Jesus and His Kingdom. Rabshakeh was aware of Isaiah's prophecies as he quotes from them here; see on :10. And in essence the world today offers a fake, imitation Kingdom of God.

2Ki 18:32 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, a land of olive trees and of honey, that you may live, and not die. Don’t listen to Hezekiah when he persuades you saying, Yahweh will deliver us-
As noted on :31, Assyria was presented as an imitation kingdom of God. The language all alludes to God's descriptions of the promised land, which were familiar to Rabshakeh as a renegade Jew. The allusions are to Num. 14:7; Dt. 8:7-9; 11:11,12. "Persuade" is 'seduce', as if the Assyrians had the one true religion and Hezekiah was seducing Judah away from it. The Assyrian inscriptions describe and portray their wars as religious wars between their god Asshur and the gods of the nations they conquered. It was perhaps this very aspect to the Assyrian boasts which as it were provoked Yahweh to action. His unique victory against Asshur when all other gods and religious systems had failed was intended to help the Gentile nations see the utter supremacy of Yahweh- and to turn to Him.     

2Ki 18:33 Has any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?-

It seems that when Hezekiah said “The Lord will surely deliver us”, he said it with such confidence that the people were inclined to share his faith. Several times, Rabshakeh picks up this word “deliver” and mocks that no other nation had been ‘delivered’ from Assyria, so why should Judah be. It seems Hezekiah took this catchword from Isaiah’s earlier prophecy of Is. 31:5, where he had stated that “Like birds hovering, so the LORD of hosts will protect Jerusalem; he will protect and deliver it”. Hezekiah had heard those words of the Lord; and he believed them, even when they appeared to have no human chance of fulfilment. We too need to cling on to just one verse of Scripture and believe it. Of course we try to excuse our lack of faith by spiritualizing it away, wondering whether it can really apply to me, here, today. Hezekiah must’ve gone through the same. But it seems he ceased upon that one verse... and clung to it. This is where our faith in the Bible as God’s word isn’t merely a painless academic assent to a proposition. To believe God’s word is true demands an awful lot from us.

2Ki 18:34 Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand?-
Rabshakeh, knowing the prophecies of Isaiah as a renegade Jew, may be alluding to the common prophetic theme that Judah were in fact no better than Israel, and would face the same judgment. And he knew that Samaria, the ten tribes, had trusted in the gods of the surrounding nations. Hamath and Arpad were in Syria, and so probably Sepharvaim was likewise. Is. 8 and Is. 10:9-11 had condemned Israel for their trust in Syria against Assyria, and clearly their covenant with Syria had involved taking on the worship of their gods.

2Ki 18:35 Who are they among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of my hand, that Yahweh should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’-
The point of course was made: Who or what indeed were any of those gods compared to Yahweh.

2Ki 18:36 But the people held their peace, and answered him not a word; for the king’s commandment was, Don’t answer him-

I suggest that Prov. 26:4 alludes to this: "Don’t answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him". This verses is clearly intended to be connected with Prov. 26:5 ["answer a fool according to his folly"], the idea being that there are times when a fool should be answered according to his folly, and times when he shouldn't be. This is one of the Hezekiah Proverbs (see on Prov. 25:1), and the allusion may be to how Hezekiah commanded the people not to answer Rabshakeh, who is thereby interpreted as the archetypical "fool". But a fool must at times be answered (Prov. 26:5), and the idea may be that God will answer fools like Rabshakeh in His own way and in His own time; and we don't need to. But we then get the hint that Hezekiah, like Solomon, was using the Divine truth of the Proverbs with a subtext of his own self justification, just as we can.

2Ki 18:37 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, came with Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and told him the words of Rabshakeh
This sign of sorrow was to be turned into joy. But for now, there was sorrow. Their deep grief however suggests they didn't believe Hezekiah's assurances of Divine salvation. They were not part of the daughter of Zion whom Isaiah describes as laughing at the Assyrian threats.