2 Chronicles 32


‘After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified cities, thinking to conquer them for himself. When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and that he intended to wage war against Jerusalem, he consulted with his officials and military staff about blocking off the water from the springs outside the city, and they helped him. They gathered a large group of people who blocked all the springs and the stream that flowed through the land. “Why should the kings of Assyria come and find plenty of water?” they said. Then he worked hard repairing all the broken sections of the wall and building towers on it. He built another wall outside that one and reinforced the terraces of the City of David. He also made large numbers of weapons and shields. He appointed military officers over the people and assembled them before him in the square at the city gate and encouraged them with these words: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said.’ 2 Chronicles 32:1-8

Sennacherib Threatens Jerusalem

The pulpit commentary, says the following, concerning this chapter.

‘This chapter of thirty-three verses is paralleled by the sixty-one verses that begin with 2 Kings 18:13 and end with 2 Kings 19:37, and by Isaiah 36:1-22 / Isaiah 37:1-38. Our chapter gives, as might be anticipated, but a very partial and somewhat broken account, therefore, of this stretch of Hezekiah’s career, and no adequate impression whatever of the great power of some portions of the parallel. A close comparison of the two places leaves us tolerably clear as to the order and consecutiveness of the history, although perhaps not entirely so. The style of our present chapter betrays the usual marks of disjointedness, in the case of extracts from fuller history, in the indefiniteness of its connecting phrases, found, e.g. in Isaiah 37:1 / Isaiah 37:9 / Isaiah 37:24 / Isaiah 37:31. Our compiler, by omission, seems to shield Hezekiah, probably designedly, from the disrepute that must be felt to attach to his want of faith, courage, and fidelity in his trusteeship of the sacred property of the temple as indicated by what is written in 2 Kings 18:14-16.’

Sennacherib came and entered Judah, 2 Kings 18:13-16, tells us that Hezekiah unwisely tried to bribe Sennacherib with gold and treasures from the temple. This didn’t work and so, and after conquering almost all the fortified cities of Judah, Sennacherib prepared to set a siege against Jerusalem, 2 Kings 18-20.

When Hezekiah found out that Sennacherib had come to wage war against Jerusalem, he consulted with his officials and military staff about blocking off the water from the springs outside the city.

Because Jerusalem’s water supply was open to any attack, and since it was dependent on two springs, Hezekiah’s plan was twofold, to hide the springs outside the city in order to distress the Assyrians, and to convey their water underground into the city, in order to increase his own supply during the siege.

Hezekiah rebuilds the broken parts of the wall, which had obviously been neglected over time, 2 Chronicles 28:1-10, and he pulls down houses to use the material to help towards repairing the wall, Isaiah 22:10. Hezekiah encourages everyone to be strong and courageous and not to be afraid or dismayed, Isaiah 22:5-13 / Isaiah 29:3.

Notice he says, what Elisha the prophet said,  ‘there is a greater power with us than with him’, 2 Kings 6:16.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This was soon proved to be true by the slaughter made by the angel of the Lord in the Assyrian camp, 2 Kings 19:35.’

Hezekiah’s faith is seen when he says concerning Sennacherib, ‘with him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles’. 2 Kings 18:14-16.

‘Later, when Sennacherib king of Assyria and all his forces were laying siege to Lachish, he sent his officers to Jerusalem with this message for Hezekiah king of Judah and for all the people of Judah who were there: “This is what Sennacherib king of Assyria says: On what are you basing your confidence, that you remain in Jerusalem under siege? When Hezekiah says, ‘The LORD our God will save us from the hand of the king of Assyria,’ he is misleading you, to let you die of hunger and thirst. Did not Hezekiah himself remove this god’s high places and altars, saying to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You must worship before one altar and burn sacrifices on it’? “Do you not know what I and my predecessors have done to all the peoples of the other lands? Were the gods of those nations ever able to deliver their land from my hand? Who of all the gods of these nations that my predecessors destroyed has been able to save his people from me? How then can your god deliver you from my hand? Now do not let Hezekiah deceive you and mislead you like this. Do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or the hand of my predecessors. How much less will your god deliver you from my hand!” Sennacherib’s officers spoke further against the LORD God and against his servant Hezekiah. The king also wrote letters ridiculing the LORD, the God of Israel, and saying this against him: “Just as the gods of the peoples of the other lands did not rescue their people from my hand, so the god of Hezekiah will not rescue his people from my hand.” Then they called out in Hebrew to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to terrify them and make them afraid in order to capture the city. They spoke about the God of Jerusalem as they did about the gods of the other peoples of the world—the work of human hands. King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to heaven about this. And the LORD sent an angel, who annihilated all the fighting men and the commanders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king. So he withdrew to his own land in disgrace. And when he went into the temple of his god, some of his sons, his own flesh and blood, cut him down with the sword. So the LORD saved Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all others. He took care of them on every side. Many brought offerings to Jerusalem for the LORD and valuable gifts for Hezekiah king of Judah. From then on he was highly regarded by all the nations.’ 2 Chronicles 32:9-23

While most of Sennacherib’s army was busy laying siege at Lachish, he sent some men to Jerusalem to prepare for the siege, 2 Kings 18:17-19.

Gill, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This was after Hezekiah had given him a large quantity of silver and gold to depart, and he did depart from him, 2 Kings 18:14, but he himself laid siege against Lachish, and all his power with him, one of the cities of Judah, Isaiah 36:2, from hence he dispatched them unto Hezekiah king of Judah, and unto all Judah that were at Jerusalem, who had retired thither for safety, upon the invasion of their country by the king of Assyria.’

Notice Sennacherib’s officers, 2 Kings 18:17, are trying to use phycological warfare, they try and get the people to stop trusting Hezekiah and stop strutting in God.

It appears that Sennacherib knew all the reforms Hezekiah was doing, which included the removal of the high places, 2 Kings 18:3-4.

Notice how arrogant Sennacherib’s officers were, they basically boast about everything they have done in other lands, they say that their god is greater than any other god, and they say Israel’s god won’t be able to save them.

However, they continue to speak against God and Hezekiah, 2 Kings 18:1 / Isaiah 36:1. Notice also that arrogant Sennacherib also wrote a letter, ridiculing God, saying that the god of Hezekiah won’t be able to save Israel, 2 Kings 19:9.

The phycological ridicule continues as the officers cry out to those on the wall, speaking in Hebrew, Isaiah 36:11. They did this to frighten Israel and cause confusion among the Israelites in an effort to take the city.

The ridicule continued as they spoke against God, in other words, they couldn’t see any difference between Israel’s God and any other god, Isaiah 36:19.

Hezekiah and Isaiah now cry out to God in prayer, 2 Kings 19:1-5 / Isaiah 37:15-20. We don’t read here the actual prayer of Isaiah but there’s little doubt he prayed too.

Isaiah received a message from God, which he sent to Hezekiah, 2 Kings 19:6-7 / Isaiah 37:4. The Lord send an angel, Isaiah 36:1 and 185,000 died at the hand of the angel of God in one night, 2 Kings 19:35.

After this retreat from Judah, Sennacherib commissioned a record, which is preserved in the spectacular Annals of Sennacherib. One of the most significant discoveries that have been made was the discovery of the Sennacherib Prism. This six-sided hexagonal clay prism, commonly known as the Taylor Prism, was discovered among the ruins of Nineveh, the ancient capital of the Assyrian Empire.

It contains the Annals of Sennacherib himself, the Assyrian king who had besieged Jerusalem in 701 BC during the reign of King Hezekiah. On the prism, Sennacherib boasts that he shut up ‘Hezekiah the Judahite’ within Jerusalem his own royal city ‘like a caged bird’.

However, he never claims to have conquered Jerusalem. This prism is among the three accounts discovered so far which have been left by the Assyrian monarch of his campaign against Israel and Judah.

Notice that sometime after he returned home, his own sons killed him. God had taken care of Israel, He protected them and gave them the victory. Offerings were made to the lord and gifts were brought for Hezekiah because the people knew that God was with him.

Hezekiah’s Pride, Success And Death

‘In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to the LORD, who answered him and gave him a miraculous sign. But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the LORD’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the LORD’s wrath did not come on them during the days of Hezekiah. Hezekiah had very great wealth and honour, and he made treasuries for his silver and gold and for his precious stones, spices, shields and all kinds of valuables. He also made buildings to store the harvest of grain, new wine and olive oil; and he made stalls for various kinds of cattle, and pens for the flocks. He built villages and acquired great numbers of flocks and herds, for God had given him very great riches. It was Hezekiah who blocked the upper outlet of the Gihon spring and channelled the water down to the west side of the City of David. He succeeded in everything he undertook. But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart. The other events of Hezekiah’s reign and his acts of devotion are written in the vision of the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. Hezekiah rested with his ancestors and was buried on the hill where the tombs of David’s descendants are. All Judah and the people of Jerusalem honoured him when he died. And Manasseh his son succeeded him as king.’ 2 Chronicles 32:24-33

Hezekiah became ill at the time of the Assyrian invasion of Judah, 2 Kings 20:1-21, it was during this time he received a sign from God. The sign wasn’t a miraculous cure but the going back of the shadow on the dial of Ahaz, 2 Chronicles 32:31 / Isaiah 38:1-39:8.

Hezekiah became proud, and his pride is seen in his unnecessarily showing off his treasures to the ambassadors from Babylon, 2 Kings 20:13.

Sometimes he used his riches for good purposes, 2 Chronicles 31:3, but other times he used his wealth foolishly, 2 Kings 20:12-21. In this case, the very same people he showed them to, would remove them from him, 2 Kings 20:12-21.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following, concerning Hezekiah’s wealth.

‘There can be no wonder that Hezekiah’s wealth was so great, because the death of that immense army, 185,000 men of Sennacherib made all of their personal possessions the spoil for Hezekiah, as well as all of the vast treasures they had looted from Lachish and the other destroyed cities of Judah. History hardly affords another example of so great a windfall. No wonder he had to make a treasury for shields, etc.’

As a result, God’s wrath came upon him, 2 Kings 20:17-18.

Wiseman, in his commentary, says the following, concerning the tunnel, 2 Kings 20:21-22.

‘This tunnel, found in 1880, was cut for 643 metres to cover a direct distance of 332 metres to enable the defenders to fetch water within the protective walls even during a siege.’

Notice that Hezekiah appears to have humbled himself, but the judgment for his pride, didn’t come when he was alive, it would come later during the days of his sons, 2 Kings 20:19 / Isaiah 39:5-7.

Everything Hezekiah did was written in the vision of Isiah the prophet, Isaiah 1:1 / Isaiah 36:1, they are also written in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel, 2 Kings 18:1.

He was buried on the hill where the tombs of David’s descendants are, 2 Chronicles 33:20 / 2 Kings 21:18 / 2 Kings 21:26 / 2 Kings 23:30.

All Judah and the people of Jerusalem honoured him and Manasseh, his son, takes over and reigns as king of Judah.

Go To 2 Chronicles 33