A pious king of Judah, succeeded his father Ahaz about 726 B. C., and died about 698 B. C. His history is contained in 2Ki 18-20 2Ch 29-32. Compare Isa 36-38. His reign is memorable for his faithful efforts to restore the worship of Jehovah; for his pride and presumption towards the Assyrians; for the distractions of their invading host in answer to his prayer; for his sickness and humiliation, and the prolonging of his life fifteen years of peace. He was succeeded by the unworthy Manasseh.
whom Jehovah has strengthened. (1.) Son of Ahaz (2Ki 18:1; 2Ch 29:1), whom he succeeded on the throne of the kingdom of Judah. He reigned twenty-nine years (B.C. 726-697). The history of this king is contained in 2Ki 18:20; Isa 36-39; 2Ch 29-32. He is spoken of as a great and good king. In public life he followed the example of his great-granfather Uzziah. He set himself to abolish idolatry from his kingdom, and among other things which he did for this end, he destroyed the "brazen serpent," which had been removed to Jerusalem, and had become an object of idolatrous worship (Nu 21:9). A great reformation was wrought in the kingdom of Judah in his day (2Ki 18:4; 2Ch 29:3-36).
On the death of Sargon and the accession of his son Sennacherib to the throne of Assyria, Hezekiah refused to pay the tribute which his father had paid, and "rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not," but entered into a league with Egypt (Isa 30; 31; 36:6-9). This led to the invasion of Judah by Sennacherib (2Ki 18:13-16), who took forty cities, and besieged Jerusalem with mounds. Hezekiah yielded to the demands of the Assyrian king, and agreed to pay him three hundred talents of silver and thirty of gold (2Ki 18:14).
But Sennacherib dealt treacherously with Hezekiah (Isa 33:1), and a second time within two years invaded his kingdom (2Ki 18:17; 2Ch 32:9; Isa 36). This invasion issued in the destruction of Sennacherib's army. Hezekiah prayed to God, and "that night the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians 185,000 men." Sennacherib fled with the shattered remnant of his forces to Nineveh, where, seventeen years after, he was assassinated by his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer (2Ki 19:37). (See Sennacherib.)
The narrative of Hezekiah's sickness and miraculous recovery is found in 2Ki 20:1; 2Ch 32:24; Isa 38:1. Various ambassadors came to congratulate him on his recovery, and among them Merodach-baladan, the viceroy of Babylon (2Ch 32:23; 2Ki 20:12). He closed his days in peace and prosperity, and was succeeded by his son Manasseh. He was buried in the "chiefest of the sepulchres of the sons of David" (2Ch 32:27-33). He had "after him none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him" (2Ki 18:5). (See Isaiah.)
Illustration: Clay Cylinder of Sennacherib
("strength of Jehovah".)
1. Twelfth king of Judah; son of the unbelieving Ahaz and Abi or Abijah; ascended the throne at the age of 25 in 726 B.C. Of his faithfulness it is written (2Ki 18:5) "he trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him, for he clave to the Lord, and departed not from following Him but kept His commandments." Probably his mother, being daughter of Zechariah "who had understanding in the visions of God" (2Ch 26:5), was pious, and her influence counteracted the bad example of his father. In the very first year and first month of his reign the Lord put it "in his heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel" (2 Chronicles 29), so he opened and repaired the doors of the Lord's house which had been "shut up," and charged the Levites not to be negligent but to "sanctify" the house and "carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place," and to light the lamps, to burn incense, and to offer burnt offerings as in former times; all which, to the shame and disaster of Judah, had latterly been neglected.
They did so, and moreover sanctified all the vessels which Ahaz had "cast away in his transgression." Then an atonement was made for the kingdom, the sanctuary, and Judah, with a sin offering of seven bullocks, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven he-goats; then followed the burnt offering, while "the Levite singers sang with the words of David and Asaph the seer, and the trumpets sounded." The priests were too few to flay the burnt offerings which the congregation "of a free heart" brought in; therefore the Levites helped them "until the other priests had sanctified themselves, for the Levites were more upright in heart to sanctify themselves than the priests." So "Hezekiah rejoiced that God had prepared the people, for the thing was done suddenly." Then followed the Passover, in the second month, "because the priests had not sanctified themselves sufficiently, neither had the people gathered themselves together to Jerusalem," so as to keep it in the regular month (Nu 9:10-11; compare Ex 12:6,18).
Hezekiah by letter invited not only Judah, but also Ephraim and Manasseh, to it: "Ye children of Israel, turn again unto the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and He will return to the remnant of you, escaped out of the hand of the king of Assyria." The majority "laughed the messengers to scorn; nevertheless, divers of Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun (Ephraim and Issachar also) humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem." Also "in Judah the hand of God was to give them one heart to do the commandment of the king by the word of the Lord" (2Ch 30:2,12,18,23; Jer 32:39). Owing to the want of priests several were not duly cleansed and sanctified, yet did eat the Passover; but Hezekiah prayed for them, "the good Lord pardon every one that prepareth his heart to seek God, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary."
So "the Lord hearkened to Hezekiah and healed the people." "And Hezekiah spoke comfortably unto all the Levites that taught the good knowledge of the Lord," assuring them of God's pardon upon their "making confession to the Lord God" for the people, so that "the whole assembly took counsel and kept other seven days with gladness." "So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since Solomon's time there was not the like ... and the priests blessed the people ... and their prayer came up to the Lord's holy place, even unto heaven." Next, all Israel present went out to break the images, cut down the groves, and throw down the high places and altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had utterly destroyed them all. (See ASHTORETH; Asheerah.) "Hezekiah also broke in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses made," for previously "Israel did burn intense to it, and he called it Nehushtan" (piece of brass, nothing better: 2Ki 18:4); a practical condemnation of "relics" when superstitiously venerated.
Yet in spite of the warning the brazen serpent was reverenced by professing Christians in the church of Ambrose at Milan! (Prideaux, Connex., 1:19). The Passover must have been five or six years later than the purification of the temple, which was in Hezekiah's first year; for it was not until the sixth year of Hezekiah that the king of Assyria took Samaria (ver. 9-10); its fall prepared many in Israel to accept humbly Hezekiah's invitation (2Ch 30:6,9). Hezekiah also provided for the maintenance of the priests and Levites by commanding the payment of tithes; he ordered also their courses of service, and "in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart and prospered": a good motto for Christians (Col 3:23).
Isaiah the prophet was the great supporter of Hezekiah in his pious efforts; but not without opposition from drunken scoffers, who asked "whom shall he (Isaiah) teach knowledge? them that are weaned from the milk?" i.e., does he take us for babes just weaned, that he presumes to teach us? (Isa 28:9) "for precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little," i.e., for he is constantly repeating the same thing as if to little children, and as one teaching young beginners how to make the strokes of a letter and join line to line; the scorners imitated Isaiah's stammering like repetitions, in Hebrew tsaw latsar, qaw laqaw. The simplicity of divine teaching offends proud scorners (2Ki 5:11-12; 1Co 1:23); but children in knowledge needed to be spoken to in children's language (Mt 13:13). Isaiah replies, You will have a sterner teacher with stammering and foreign speech to convict you of unbelief (Isaiah 28).
Ahaz the former king's counselors recommended worldly alliances and compromises of principle for political expediency, instead of Isaiah's counsel to rest on Jehovah alone. Shebna was one of these half hearted, self indulgent, and ostentatious officers at court. His father's name is not given, though his office is," the scribe" (2Ki 18:18; 19:2); whereas the fathers of Eliakim and Joah, with Shebna, are named. The reason appears quite incidentally in Isa 22:15, "Say unto Shebna ... this treasurer over the house (prefect of the palace), What hast thou here? and whom hast thou here, that thou hast hewed thee out a sepulchre here?" i.e. as being a foreigner (his name is un-Hebrew like, he was probably a Syrian brought from abroad to Ahaz' court) thou hast no paternal burying place or kindred here.
He was degraded; but (probably upon his repentance) the lower yet honourable office of "scribe" or secretary of state was given him, and in that office he is mentioned as if faithful (Isa 37:2, etc.), so that the sentence of exile and humiliation, "tossed like a ball into a large country, and there the chariots of his glory becoming the shame of his lord's house," was apparently reversed, though Jewish tradition says he was tied to the horses' tails by the enemy to whom he designed to betray Jerusalem, but who thought he mocked them. (See ELIAKIM.) It is possible that, unwarned by the past, he relapsed into treachery, and then were fulfilled Isaiah's prophetic threats, which but for his relapse would have been averted, and which were temporarily suspended.
Hezekiah recovered from the Philistines all the cities which his father Ahaz had lost, namely, of "the low country and the S. of Judah, Bethshemesh, Ajalon, Gederoth, Shocho, Timnah, Gimzo" with their dependent villages, "the Lord having brought Judah low because Ahaz had made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the Lord" (2Ch 28:18-19). "Hezekiah smote them even unto Gaza (Gaza and Gath alone remained to them: Josephus, Ant. 9:13, section 3), from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city" (2Ki 18:8). This was foretold by Isaiah (Isa 14:29-30): "Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the God of him that smote thee (Uzziah, 2Ch 26:6) is broken (namely, under Ahaz), for out of the serpent's (as Uzziah was regarded by the Philistines) root shall come forth a cockatrice," an adder, to the Philistines, Hezekiah; "and the firstborn of the
1. One of the most prominent kings of Judah. He came to the throne after his father Ahaz, about b.c. 714. The assertions that Samaria was destroyed in his sixth year and that Sennacherib's invasion came in his fourteenth year are inconsistent (2Ki 18:10,13). The latter has probability on its side, and as we know that Sennacherib invaded Palestine in 701 the calculation is easily made.
Politically Hezekiah had a difficult task. His father had submitted to Assyria, but the vassalage was felt to be severe. The petty kingdoms of Palestine were restive under the yoke, and they were encouraged by the Egyptians to make an effort for independence. There was always an Egyptian party at the court of Jerusalem, though at this time Egypt was suffering from internal dissensions. In the East the kingdom of Babylon under Merodach-baladan was also making trouble for the Assyrians. Hezekiah seems to have remained faithful to the suzerain for some years after his accession, but when, about the time of Sennacherib's accession (705), a coalition was formed against the oppressor he joined it. We may venture to suppose that about this time he received the embassy from Merodach-baladan (2Ki 20:12 ff., Isa 39:1 ff.), which was intended to secure the co-operation of the Western States with Babylon in the effort then being made. Isaiah, as we know from his own discourses, was opposed to the Egyptian alliance, and apparently to the whole movement. The Philistines were for revolt; only Padi, king of Ekron, held out for his master the king of Assyria. For this reason Hezekiah invaded his territory and took him prisoner. If, as the Biblical account seems to intimate (2Ki 18:8), he incorporated the conquered land in his own kingdom, the gain was not for a long time. In 701 Sennacherib appeared on the scene, and there was no possibility of serious resistance. The inscriptions tell us that the invaders captured forty-six walled towns, and carried 200,000 Judahites into slavery. The Egyptian (some suppose it to be an Arabian) army made a show of coming to the help of its allies, but was met on the border and defeated. Hezekiah was compelled to release the captive Padi, who returned to his throne in triumph. Sennacherib was detained at Lachish by the stubborn resistance of that fortress, and could send only a detachment of his troops to Jerusalem. With it went an embassy, the account of which may be read in 2Ki 18; 19 and Is 36, 37. The laconic sentence: 'Hezekiah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying: I have offended; that which thou puttest on me will I bear' (2Ki 18:14) shows that abject submission was made. The price of peace was a heavy one
1. Son of Neariah, of the royal house of Judah. 1Ch 3:23.
(the might of Jehovah).
1. Twelfth king of Judah, son of the apostate Ahaz and Abi or Abijah, ascended the throne at the age of 25, B.C. 726. Hezekiah was one of the three most perfect kings of Judah.
Ecclus. 49:4. His first act was to purge and repair and reopen with splendid sacrifices and perfect ceremonial the temple. He also destroyed a brazen serpent, said to have been the one used by Moses in the miraculous healing of the Israelites,
which had become an object of adoration. When the kingdom of Israel had fallen, Hezekiah invited the scattered inhabitants to a peculiar passover, which was continued for the unprecedented period of fourteen days.
At the head of a repentant and united people, Hezekiah ventured to assume the aggressive against the Philistines and in a series of victories not only rewon the cities which his father had lost,
but even dispossessed them of their own cities except Gaza,
and Gath. He refused to acknowledge the supremacy of Assyria.
Instant war was imminent and Hezekiah used every available means to strengthen himself.
It was probably at this dangerous crisis in his kingdom that we find him sick and sending for Isaiah, who prophesies death as the result.
Hezekiah's prayer for longer life is heard. The prophet had hardly left the palace when he was ordered to return and promise the king immediate recovery and fifteen years more of life.
An embassy coming from Babylon ostensibly to compliment Hezekiah on his convalescence, but really to form an alliance between the two powers, is favorably received by the king, who shows them the treasures which he had accumulated. For this Isaiah foretells the punishment that shall befall his house.
The two invasions of Sennacherib occupy the greater part of the scripture records concerning the reign of Hezekiah. The first of these took place in the third year of Sennacherib, B.C. 702, and occupies only three verses.
Respecting the commencement of the second invasion we have full details in
seq.; 2Chr 32:9 seq.; Isai 36:1 ... Sennacherib sent against Jerusalem an army under two officers and his cupbearer, the orator Rabshakeh, with a blasphemous and insulting summons to surrender; but Isaiah assures the king he need not fear, promising to disperse the enemy.
Accordingly that night "the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred fourscore and five thousand." Hezekiah only lived to enjoy for about one year more his well-earned peace and glory. He slept with his fathers after a reign of twenty-nine years, in the 56th year of his age, B.C. 697.
2. Son of Neariah, one of the descendants of the royal family of Judah.
3. The same name, though rendered in the Authorized Version HIZKIAH, is found in
4. Ater of Hezekiah. [ATER]
HEZEKIAH, king of Judah, was the son of Ahaz, and born in the year of the world 3251. At the age of five-and-twenty he succeeded his father in the government of the kingdom of Judah, and reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem, namely, from the year of the world 3277 to 3306, 2Ki 18:1-2; 2Ch 29:1. The reign of his father Ahaz had been most unpropitious for his subjects. A war had raged between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, in which Pekah, king of Israel, overthrew the army of Ahaz, destroying a hundred and twenty thousand of his men; after which he carried away two hundred thousand women and children as captives into his own country; they were, however, released and sent home again, at the remonstrance of the Prophet Oded. As idolatry had been established in Jerusalem and throughout Judea, by the command of Ahaz, and the service of the temple either intermitted, or converted into an idolatrous worship, the first object of his son Hezekiah, on his accession to the throne, was to restore the regal worship of God, both in Jerusalem and throughout Judea. He cleansed and repaired the temple, and held a solemn passover. He improved the city, repaired the fortifications, erected magazines of all sorts, and built a new aqueduct. In the fourth year of his reign, Salmanezer, king of Assyria, invaded the kingdom of Israel, took Samaria, and carried away the ten tribes into captivity, replacing them by different people sent from his own country. But Hezekiah was not deterred by this alarming example from refusing to pay that tribute to the Assyrians which had been imposed on Ahaz: this brought on the invasion of Sennacherib, in the fourteenth year of the reign of Hezekiah, of which we have a very particular account in the writings of the Prophet Isaiah, who was then living, Isaiah 36.
Immediately after the termination of this war, Hezekiah "was sick unto death," owing, as the sacred historian strongly intimates, to his heart being improperly elevated on occasion of this miraculous deliverance, and not sufficiently acknowledging the hand of God in it. 2Ki 20; Isa 38. Isaiah was sent to bid him set his house in order, for he should die and not live. Hezekiah had instant recourse to God by prayer and supplications for his recovery; and the prophet had scarcely proceeded out of the threshold, when the Lord commanded him to return to Hezekiah, and to say to him, "Thus saith the Lord, I have heard thy prayer, and I have seen thy tears; I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up to the house of the Lord, and I will add unto thy days fifteen years." And to confirm to him the certainty of all these tokens of the divine regard, the shadow of the sun on the dial of Ahaz, at his request, went backward ten degrees. After his recovery, he composed an ode of thanksgiving to the God of all his mercies, which the Prophet Isaiah has recorded in his writings, Isa 38:10-11. Yet, as an instance of human fickleness and frailty, we find Hezekiah, with all his excellencies, again forgetting himself, and incurring the divine displeasure. The king of Babylon having been informed of his sickness and recovery, sent ambassadors to congratulate him on his restoration: an honour with which the heart of Hezekiah was greatly elated; and, to testify his gratitude, he made a pompous display to them of all his treasures, his spices, and his rich vessels: and concealed from them nothing that was in his palace. In all this the pride of Hezekiah was gratified; and to humble him, Isaiah was sent to declare to him that his conduct was displeasing to God, and that a time should come when all the treasures of which he had made so vain a display should be removed to Babylon, and even his sons be made eunuchs to serve in the palace of the king of Babylon. Hezekiah bowed submissively to the will of God, and acknowledged the divine goodness toward him, in ordaining peace and truth to continue during the remainder of his reign. He accordingly passed the latter years of his life in tranquillity, and contributed greatly to the prosperity of his people and kingdom. He died in the year of the world 3306, leaving behind him a son, Manasseh, who succeeded him in the throne: a son every way unworthy of such a father.