20 1 Some time later Hezekiah became deathly sick. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz paid him a visit and said, "Put your affairs in order; you're about to die - you haven't long to live." 2 Hezekiah turned from Isaiah and faced God, praying: 3 Remember, O God, who I am, what I've done! I've lived an honest life before you, My heart's been true and steady, I've lived to please you; lived for your approval. And then the tears flowed. Hezekiah wept. 4 Isaiah, leaving, was not halfway across the courtyard when the word of God stopped him: 5 "Go back and tell Hezekiah, prince of my people, 'God's word, Hezekiah! From the God of your ancestor David: I've listened to your prayer and I've observed your tears. I'm going to heal you. In three days you will walk on your own legs into The Temple of God. 6 I've just added fifteen years to your life; I'm saving you from the king of Assyria, and I'm covering this city with my shield - for my sake and my servant David's sake.'" 7 Isaiah then said, "Prepare a plaster of figs." They prepared the plaster, applied it to the boil, and Hezekiah was on his way to recovery. 8 Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "How do I know whether this is of God and not just the fig plaster? What confirming sign is there that God is healing me and that in three days I'll walk into The Temple of God on my own legs?" 9 "This will be your sign from God," said Isaiah, "that God is doing what he said he'd do: Do you want the shadow to advance ten degrees on the sundial or go back ten degrees? You choose." 10 Hezekiah said, "It would be easy to make the sun's shadow advance ten degrees. Make it go back ten degrees." 11 So Isaiah called out in prayer to God, and the shadow went back ten degrees on Ahaz's sundial.
Hezekiah Receives Envoys from Babylon
12 Shortly after this, Merodach-Baladan, the son of Baladan king of Babylon, having heard that the king was sick, sent a get-well card and a gift to Hezekiah. 13 Hezekiah was pleased and showed the messengers around the place - silver, gold, spices, aromatic oils, his stockpile of weapons - a guided tour of all his prized possessions. There wasn't a thing in his palace or kingdom that Hezekiah didn't show them. 14 And then Isaiah the prophet showed up: "And just what were these men doing here? Where did they come from and why?" Hezekiah said, "They came from far away - from Babylon." 15 "And what did they see in your palace?" "Everything," said Hezekiah. "There isn't anything I didn't show them - I gave them the grand tour." 16 Then Isaiah spoke to Hezekiah, "Listen to what God has to say about this: 17 The day is coming when everything you own and everything your ancestors have passed down to you, right down to the last cup and saucer, will be cleaned out of here - plundered and packed off to Babylon. God's word! 18 Worse yet, your sons, the progeny of sons you've begotten, will end up as eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon." 19 Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "If God says it, it must be good." But he was thinking to himself, "It won't happen during my lifetime - I'll enjoy peace and security as long as I live."
The Death of Hezekiah
20 The rest of the life and times of Hezekiah, along with his projects, especially the way he engineered the Upper Pool and brought water into the city, are written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. 21 Hezekiah died and was buried with his ancestors. His son Manasseh became the next king.
The Reign of Manasseh
21 1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king. He ruled for fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Hephzibah. 2 In God's judgment 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 all the sex-and-religion shrines that his father Hezekiah had torn down, and he built altars and phallic images for the sex god Baal and sex goddess Asherah, exactly what Ahaz king of Israel had done. He worshiped the cosmic powers, taking orders from the constellations. 4 He even built these pagan altars in The Temple of God, the very Jerusalem Temple dedicated exclusively by God's decree ("in Jerusalem I place my Name") to God's Name. 5 And he built shrines to the cosmic powers and placed them in both courtyards of The Temple of God. 6 He burned his own son in a sacrificial offering. He practiced black magic and fortunetelling. He held sZances and consulted spirits from the underworld. Much evil - in God's judgment, a career in evil. And God was angry. 7 As a last straw he placed the carved image of the sex goddess Asherah in The Temple of God, a flagrant and provocative violation of God's well-known statement 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 Never again will I let my people Israel wander off from this land I gave to their ancestors. But here's the condition: They must keep everything I've commanded in the instructions my servant Moses passed on to them." 9 But the people didn't listen. Manasseh led them off the beaten path into practices of evil even exceeding the evil of the pagan nations that God had earlier destroyed.
10 God, thoroughly fed up, sent word through his servants the prophets: 11 "Because Manasseh king of Judah has committed these outrageous sins, eclipsing the sin-performance of the Amorites before him, setting new records in evil, using foul idols to debase Judah into a nation of sinners, 12 this is my judgment, God's verdict: I, the God of Israel, will visit catastrophe on Jerusalem and Judah, a doom so terrible that when people hear of it they'll shake their heads in disbelief, saying, 'I can't believe it!' 13 "I'll visit the fate of Samaria on Jerusalem, a rerun of Ahab's doom. I'll wipe out Jerusalem as you would wipe out a dish, wiping it out and turning it over to dry. 14 I'll get rid of what's left of my inheritance, dumping them on their enemies. If their enemies can salvage anything from them, they're welcome to it. 15 They've been nothing but trouble to me from the day their ancestors left Egypt until now. They pushed me to my limit; I won't put up with their evil any longer." 16 The final word on Manasseh was that he was an indiscriminate murderer. He drenched Jerusalem with the innocent blood of his victims. That's on top of all the sins in which he involved his people. As far as God was concerned, he'd turned them into a nation of sinners. 17 The rest of the life and times of Manasseh, everything he did and his sorry record of sin, is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. 18 Manasseh died and joined his ancestors. He was buried in the palace garden, the Garden of Uzza. His son Amon became the next king.
The Reign of Amon
19 Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king. He was king for two years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Meshullemeth, the daughter of Haruz. She was from Jotbah. 20 In God's opinion he lived an evil life, just like his father Manasseh. 21 He followed in the footsteps of his father, serving and worshiping the same foul gods his father had served. 22 He totally deserted the God of his ancestors; he did not live God's way. 23 Amon's servants revolted and assassinated him, killing the king right in his own palace. 24 But the people, in their turn, killed the conspirators against King Amon and then crowned Josiah, Amon's son, as king. 25 The rest of the life and times of Amon is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. 26 They buried Amon in his burial plot in the Garden of Uzza. His son Josiah became the next king.
The Reign of Josiah
22 1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king. He ruled for thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. 2 He lived the way God wanted. He kept straight on the path blazed by his ancestor David, not one step to either left or right.
The Book of the Law Discovered
3 One day in the eighteenth year of his kingship, King Josiah sent the royal secretary Shaphan son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to The Temple of God with instructions: 4 "Go to Hilkiah the high priest and have him count the money that has been brought to The Temple of God that the doormen have collected from the people. 5 Have them turn it over to the foremen who are managing the work on The Temple of God so they can pay the workers who are repairing God's Temple, 6 all the carpenters, construction workers, and masons. Also, authorize them to buy the lumber and dressed stone for The Temple repairs. 7 You don't need to get a receipt for the money you give them - they're all honest men." 8 The high priest Hilkiah reported to Shaphan the royal secretary, "I've just found the Book of God's Revelation, instructing us in God's ways. I found it in The Temple!" He gave it to Shaphan and Shaphan read it. 9 Then Shaphan the royal secretary came back to the king and gave him an account of what had gone on: "Your servants have bagged up the money that has been collected for The Temple; they have given it to the foremen to pay The Temple workers." 10 Then Shaphan the royal secretary told the king, "Hilkiah the priest gave me a book." Shaphan proceeded to read it to the king.
11 When the king heard what was written in the book, God's Revelation, he ripped his robes in dismay. 12 And then he called for Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the royal secretary, and Asaiah the king's personal aide. He ordered them all: 13 "Go and pray to God for me and for this people - for all 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, followed none of the instructions directed to us." 14 Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went straight to Huldah the prophetess. She was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, who was in charge of the palace wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter. The five men consulted with her. 15 In response to them she said, "God's word, the God of Israel: Tell the man who sent you here 16 that 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. 17 And why? Because they've deserted me and taken up with other gods, 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. 18 "And also tell the king of Judah, since he sent you to ask God for direction; tell him this, God's comment on what he read in the book: 19 '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: 20 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.'" The men took her message back to the king.