The wager of Rabshakeh

“Come now!

Make a wager

With my master

The king of Assyria.

I will give you

Two thousand horses,

If you are able,

On your part,

To set riders on them.

How then can you repulse a single captain

Among the least of my master’s servants?

You rely on Egypt for chariots.

You rely on Egypt for horsemen.


Is it without Yahweh

That I have come up

Against this land to destroy it?

Yahweh said to me.

‘Go up against this land!

Destroy it!’”

In words that are word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 18, Rabshakeh presents a wager. He said that Judah would not have enough horsemen even if he gave them 2,000 horses. How could they fight against his army? He wanted to know where the chariots and horsemen that came from Egypt were. He mocked them for saying he had not relied on Yahweh. In fact, he said that Yahweh had come to him to tell him to destroy this land of Jerusalem.

The response of Yahweh (2 Kings 19:25-19:28)

“Have you not heard,

That I determined it long ago?

I planned from days of old,

What now I bring to pass,

That you should make fortified cities

Crash into heaps of ruins,

While their inhabitants,

Shorn of strength,

Are dismayed and confounded,

They have become like plants of the field.

They have become like tender grass,

Like grass on the housetops,

Blighted before it is grown,

But I know your rising and sitting,

Your going out and coming in,

I know your raging against me.

Because you have raged against me

Your arrogance has come into my ears,

I will put my hook in your nose.

I will put my bit in your mouth.

I will turn you back on the way,

By which you came.”

Yahweh reminds King Sennacherib that it is he who allowed him to capture fortified cities, create ruins, to confuse people like plants in the field or blighted grass. Yahweh knew about his coming and going, his rising and falling. He also heard about his rage against him. He was going to put a hook on his nose and a bit in his mouth like a horse. He was going to go back the way that he came.