The Invasion of Sennacherib
32 1 And then, after this exemplary track record, this: Sennacherib king of Assyria came and attacked Judah. He put the fortified cities under siege, determined to take them. 2 When Hezekiah realized that Sennacherib's strategy was to take Jerusalem, 3 he talked to his advisors and military leaders about eliminating all the water supplies outside the city; they thought it was a good idea. 4 There was a great turnout of people to plug the springs and tear down the aqueduct. They said, "Why should the kings of Assyria march in and be furnished with running water?" 5 Hezekiah also went to work repairing every part of the city wall that was damaged, built defensive towers on it, built another wall of defense further out, and reinforced the defensive rampart (the Millo) of the old City of David. He also built up a large store of armaments - spears and shields. 6 He then appointed military officers to be responsible for the people and got them all together at the public square in front of the city gate. 7 "Be strong! Take courage! Don't be intimidated by the king of Assyria and his troops - there are more on our side than on their side. 8 He only has a bunch of mere men; we have our God to help us and fight for us!" Morale surged. Hezekiah's words put steel in their spines.
9 Later on, Sennacherib, who had set up camp a few miles away at Lachish, sent messengers to Jerusalem, addressing Judah through Hezekiah: 10 "A proclamation of Sennacherib king of Assyria: You poor people - do you think you're safe in that so-called fortress of Jerusalem? You're sitting ducks. 11 Do you think Hezekiah will save you? Don't be stupid - Hezekiah has fed you a pack of lies. When he says, 'God will save us from the power of the king of Assyria,' he's lying - you're all going to end up dead. 12 Wasn't it Hezekiah who cleared out all the neighborhood worship shrines and told you, 'There is only one legitimate place to worship'? 13 Do you have any idea what I and my ancestors have done to all the countries around here? Has there been a single god anywhere strong enough to stand up against me? 14 Can you name one god among all the nations that either I or my ancestors have ravaged that so much as lifted a finger against me? So what makes you think you'll make out any better with your god? 15 Don't let Hezekiah fool you; don't let him get by with his barefaced lies; don't trust him. No god of any country or kingdom ever has been one bit of help against me or my ancestors - what kind of odds does that give your god?" 16 The messengers felt free to throw in their personal comments, putting down both God and God's servant Hezekiah. 17 Sennacherib continued to send letters insulting the God of Israel: "The gods of the nations were powerless to help their people; the god of Hezekiah is no better, probably worse." 18 The messengers would come up to the wall of Jerusalem and shout up to the people standing on the wall, shouting their propaganda in Hebrew, trying to scare them into demoralized submission. 19 They contemptuously lumped the God of Jerusalem in with the handmade gods of other peoples.
The LORD Delivers Hezekiah
20 King Hezekiah, joined by the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz, responded by praying, calling up to heaven. 21 God answered by sending an angel who wiped out everyone in the Assyrian camp, both warriors and officers. Sennacherib was forced to return home in disgrace, tail between his legs. When he went into the temple of his god, his own sons killed him. 22 God saved Hezekiah and the citizens of Jerusalem from Sennacherib king of Assyria and everyone else. And he continued to take good care of them. 23 People streamed into Jerusalem bringing offerings for the worship of God and expensive presents to Hezekiah king of Judah. All the surrounding nations were impressed - Hezekiah's stock soared.
24 Some time later Hezekiah became deathly sick. He prayed to God and was given a reassuring sign. 25 But the sign, instead of making Hezekiah grateful, made him arrogant. This made God angry, and his anger spilled over on Judah and Jerusalem. 26 But then Hezekiah, and Jerusalem with him, repented of his arrogance, and God withdrew his anger while Hezekiah lived.
Hezekiah Receives Envoys from Babylon
27 Hezekiah ended up very wealthy and much honored. He built treasuries for all his silver, gold, precious stones, spices, shields, and valuables, 28 barns for the grain, new wine, and olive oil, stalls for his various breeds of cattle, and pens for his flocks. 29 He founded royal cities for himself and built up huge stocks of sheep and cattle. God saw to it that he was extravagantly rich. 30 Hezekiah was also responsible for diverting the upper outlet of the Gihon spring and rerouting the water to the west side of the City of David. Hezekiah succeeded in everything he did. 31 But when the rulers of Babylon sent emissaries to find out about the sign from God that had taken place earlier, God left him on his own to see what he would do; he wanted to test his heart.
The Death of Hezekiah
32 The rest of the history of Hezekiah and his life of loyal service, you can read for yourself - it's written in the vision of the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz in the Royal Annals of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 33 When Hezekiah died, they buried him in the upper part of the King David cemetery. Everyone in Judah and Jerusalem came to the funeral. He was buried in great honor. Manasseh his son was the next king.
The Reign of Manasseh
33 1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king. He ruled for fifty-five years in Jerusalem. 2 In God's opinion he was a bad king - an evil king. He reintroduced all the moral rot and spiritual corruption that had been scoured from the country when God dispossessed the pagan nations in favor of the children of Israel. 3 He rebuilt the sex-and-religion shrines that his father Hezekiah had torn down, he built altars and phallic images for the sex god Baal and the sex goddess Asherah and worshiped the cosmic powers, taking orders from the constellations. 4 He built shrines to the cosmic powers and placed them in both courtyards of The Temple of God, 5 the very Jerusalem Temple dedicated exclusively by God's decree to God's Name ("in Jerusalem I place my Name"). 6 He burned his own sons in a sacrificial rite in the Valley of Ben Hinnom. He practiced witchcraft and fortunetelling. He held sZances and consulted spirits from the underworld. Much evil - in God's view a career in evil. And God was angry. 7 As a last straw he placed a carved image of the sex goddess Asherah that he had commissioned in The Temple of God, a flagrant and provocative violation of God's well-known command to both David and Solomon, "In this Temple and in this city Jerusalem, my choice out of all the tribes of Israel, I place my Name - exclusively and forever." 8 He had promised, "Never again will I let my people Israel wander off from this land I've given to their ancestors. But on this condition, that they keep everything I've commanded in the instructions my servant Moses passed on to them." 9 But Manasseh led Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem off the beaten path into practices of evil exceeding even the evil of the pagan nations that God had earlier destroyed. 10 When God spoke to Manasseh and his people about this, they ignored him.
11 Then God directed the leaders of the troops of the king of Assyria to come after Manasseh. They put a hook in his nose, shackles on his feet, and took him off to Babylon. 12 Now that he was in trouble, he went to his knees in prayer asking for help - total repentance before the God of his ancestors. 13 As he prayed, God was touched; God listened and brought him back to Jerusalem as king. That convinced Manasseh that God was in control. 14 After that Manasseh rebuilt the outside defensive wall of the City of David to the west of the Gihon spring in the valley. It went from the Fish Gate and around the hill of Ophel. He also increased its height. He tightened up the defense system by posting army captains in all the fortress cities of Judah. 15 He also did a good spring cleaning on The Temple, carting out the pagan idols and the goddess statue. He took all the altars he had set up on The Temple hill and throughout Jerusalem and dumped them outside the city. 16 He put the Altar of God back in working order and restored worship, sacrificing Peace-Offerings and Thank-Offerings. He issued orders to the people: "You shall serve and worship God, the God of Israel." 17 But the people didn't take him seriously - they used the name "God" but kept on going to the old pagan neighborhood shrines and doing the same old things. 18 The rest of the history of Manasseh - his prayer to his God, and the sermons the prophets personally delivered by authority of God, the God of Israel - this is all written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. 19 His prayer and how God was touched by his prayer, a list of all his sins and the things he did wrong, the actual places where he built the pagan shrines, the installation of the sex-goddess Asherah sites, and the idolatrous images that he worshiped previous to his conversion - this is all described in the records of the prophets. 20 When Manasseh died, they buried him in the palace garden. His son Amon was the next king.
The Reign of Amon
21 Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king. He was king for two years in Jerusalem. 22 In God's opinion he lived an evil life, just like his father Manasseh, 23 but he never did repent to God as Manasseh repented. He just kept at it, going from one thing to another. 24 In the end Amon's servants revolted and assassinated him - killed the king right in his own palace. 25 The citizens in their turn then killed the king's assassins. The citizens then crowned Josiah, Amon's son, as king.
The Reign of Josiah
34 1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king. He ruled for thirty-one years in Jerusalem. 2 He behaved well before God. He kept straight on the path blazed by his ancestor David, not one step to the left or right.
3 When he had been king for eight years - he was still only a teenager - he began to seek the God of David his ancestor. Four years later, the twelfth year of his reign, he set out to cleanse the neighborhood of sex-and-religion shrines, and get rid of the sacred Asherah groves and the god and goddess figurines, whether carved or cast, from Judah. 4 He wrecked the Baal shrines, tore down the altars connected with them, and scattered the debris and ashes over the graves of those who had worshiped at them. 5 He burned the bones of the priests on the same altars they had used when alive. He scrubbed the place clean, Judah and Jerusalem, clean inside and out. 6 The clean-up campaign ranged outward to the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, Simeon, and the surrounding neighborhoods - as far north as Naphtali. 7 Throughout Israel he demolished the altars and Asherah groves, pulverized the god and goddess figures, chopped up the neighborhood shrines into firewood. With Israel once more intact, he returned to Jerusalem.
The Book of the Law Discovered
8 One day in the eighteenth year of his kingship, with the cleanup of country and Temple complete, King Josiah sent Shaphan son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the mayor of the city, and Joah son of Joahaz the historian to renovate The Temple of God. 9 First they turned over to Hilkiah the high priest all the money collected by the Levitical security guards from Manasseh and Ephraim and the rest of Israel, and from Judah and Benjamin and the citizens of Jerusalem. 10 It was then put into the hands of the foremen managing the work on The Temple of God 11 who then passed it on to the workers repairing God's Temple - the carpenters, construction workers, and masons - so they could buy the lumber and dressed stone for rebuilding the foundations the kings of Judah had allowed to fall to pieces. 12 The workmen were honest and diligent. Their foremen were Jahath and Obadiah, the Merarite Levites, and Zechariah and Meshullam from the Kohathites - these managed the project. The Levites - they were all skilled musicians - 13 were in charge of the common laborers and supervised the workers as they went from job to job. The Levites also served as accountants, managers, and security guards.
14 While the money that had been given for The Temple of God was being received and dispersed, Hilkiah the high priest found a copy of The Revelation of Moses. 15 He reported to Shaphan the royal secretary, "I've just found the Book of God's Revelation, instructing us in God's way - found it in The Temple!" He gave it to Shaphan, 16 who then gave it to the king. And along with the book, he gave this report: "The job is complete - everything you ordered done is done. 17 They took all the money that was collected in The Temple of God and handed it over to the managers and workers." 18 And then Shaphan told the king, "Hilkiah the priest gave me a book." Shaphan proceeded to read it out to the king. 19 When the king heard what was written in the book, God's Revelation, he ripped his robes in dismay. 20 And then he called for Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Abdon son of Micah, Shaphan the royal secretary, and Asaiah the king's personal aide. 21 He ordered them all: "Go and pray to God for me and what's left of Israel and Judah. Find out what we must do in response to what is written in this book that has just been found! God's anger must be burning furiously against us - our ancestors haven't obeyed a thing written in this book of God, followed none of the instructions directed to us." 22 Hilkiah and those picked by the king went straight to Huldah the prophetess. She was the wife of Shallum son of Tokhath, the son of Hasrah, who was in charge of the palace wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter. The men consulted with her. 23 In response to them she said, "God's word, the God of Israel: Tell the man who sent you here, 24 'God has spoken, I'm on my way to bring the doom of judgment on this place and this people. Every word written in the book read by the king of Judah will happen. 25 And why? Because they've deserted me and taken up with other gods; they've made me thoroughly angry by setting up their god-making businesses. My anger is raging white-hot against this place and nobody is going to put it out.' 26 "And also tell the king of Judah, since he sent you to ask God for direction, God's comment on what he read in the book: 27 'Because you took seriously the doom of judgment I spoke against this place and people, and because you responded in humble repentance, tearing your robe in dismay and weeping before me, I'm taking you seriously. God's word. 28 I'll take care of you; you'll have a quiet death and be buried in peace. You won't be around to see the doom that I'm going to bring upon this place and people.'" The men took her message back to the king.
29 The king acted immediately, assembling all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem, 30 and then proceeding to The Temple of God bringing everyone in his train - priests and prophets and people ranging from the least to the greatest. Then he read out publicly everything written in the Book of the Covenant that was found in The Temple of God. 31 The king stood by his pillar and before God solemnly committed himself to the covenant: to follow God believingly and obediently; to follow his instructions, heart and soul, on what to believe and do; to confirm with his life the entire covenant, all that was written in the book. 32 Then he made everyone in Jerusalem and Benjamin commit themselves. And they did it. They committed themselves to the covenant of God, the God of their ancestors. 33 Josiah did a thorough job of cleaning up the pollution that had spread throughout Israelite territory and got everyone started fresh again, serving and worshiping their God. All through Josiah's life the people kept to the straight and narrow, obediently following God, the God of their ancestors.