1 After Hezekiah had faithfully carried out this work, King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified cities, giving orders for his army to break through their walls.
2 When Hezekiah realized that Sennacherib also intended to attack Jerusalem,
3 he consulted with his officials and military advisers, and they decided to stop the flow of the springs outside the city.
4 They organized a huge work crew to stop the flow of the springs, cutting off the brook that ran through the fields. For they said, "Why should the kings of Assyria come here and find plenty of water?"
5 Then Hezekiah further strengthened his defenses by repairing the wall wherever it was broken down and by adding to the fortifications and constructing a second wall outside the first. He also reinforced the Millo* in the City of David and manufactured large numbers of weapons and shields.1
6 He appointed military officers over the people and asked them to assemble before him in the square at the city gate. Then Hezekiah encouraged them with this address:
7 "Be strong and courageous! Don't be afraid of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side!
8 He may have a great army, but they are just men. We have the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!" These words greatly encouraged the people.
9 Then King Sennacherib of Assyria, while still besieging the town of Lachish, sent officials to Jerusalem with this message for Hezekiah and all the people in the city:
10 "This is what King Sennacherib of Assyria says: What are you trusting in that makes you think you can survive my siege of Jerusalem?
11 Hezekiah has said, `The LORD our God will rescue us from the king of Assyria.' Surely Hezekiah is misleading you, sentencing you to death by famine and thirst!
12 Surely you must realize that Hezekiah is the very person who destroyed all the LORD's shrines and altars. He commanded Judah and Jerusalem to worship at only the one altar at the Temple and to make sacrifices on it alone.
13 "Surely you must realize what I and the other kings of Assyria before me have done to all the people of the earth! Were any of the gods of those nations able to rescue their people from my power?
14 Name just one time when any god, anywhere, was able to rescue his people from me! What makes you think your God can do any better?
15 Don't let Hezekiah fool you! Don't let him deceive you like this! I say it again--no god of any nation has ever yet been able to rescue his people from me or my ancestors. How much less will your God rescue you from my power!"
16 And Sennacherib's officials further mocked the LORD God and his servant Hezekiah, heaping insult upon insult.
17 The king also sent letters scorning the LORD, the God of Israel. He wrote, "Just as the gods of all the other nations failed to rescue their people from my power, so the God of Hezekiah will also fail."
18 The Assyrian officials who brought the letters shouted this in the Hebrew language to the people gathered on the walls of the city, trying to terrify them so it would be easier to capture the city.
19 These officials talked about the God of Jerusalem as though he were one of the pagan gods, made by human hands.
20 Then King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to God in heaven.
21 And the LORD sent an angel who destroyed the Assyrian army with all its commanders and officers. So Sennacherib returned home in disgrace to his own land. And when he entered the temple of his god, some of his own sons killed him there with a sword.
22 That is how the LORD rescued Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from King Sennacherib of Assyria and from all the others who threatened them. So there was peace at last throughout the land.
23 From then on King Hezekiah became highly respected among the surrounding nations, and many gifts for the LORD arrived at Jerusalem, with valuable presents for King Hezekiah, too.