The second message to King Hezekiah (Isa 37:9-37:13)

“When King Sennacherib heard it,

He sent messengers

To King Hezekiah.

‘Thus shall you speak

To King Hezekiah of Judah.

Do not let your God,

On whom you rely,

Deceive you

By promising

That Jerusalem will not be given

Into the hand of the king of Assyria.

See!

You have heard

What the kings of Assyria

Have done to all lands,

Destroying them utterly.

Shall you be delivered?

Have the gods of the other nations delivered them?

My predecessors destroyed these nations,

Gozan,

Haran,

Rezeph,

Also the people of Eden

Who were in Telassar.

Where is the king of Hamath?

Where is the king of Arpad?

Where is the king of the city of Sepharvaim?

Where is the king of Hena?

Where is the king of Ivvah?’”

Once again, this is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 19, almost repeating the speech of Rabshakeh in the preceding chapter. These messengers of King Sennacherib of Assyria were to present almost the same message. Do not rely on your God. See what has happened to those places that relied on their gods, since the various kings of Assyria have destroyed them. How have their gods defended them? He repeated what had happened to the kings of Hamath, Arpad, Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah. Most of these towns were in Babylon or Syria. He also added the cities of Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and Eden.   Gozan was where the northern Israelites were sent in their captivity. Haran was in Mesopotamia, a town where Abraham had stopped. Rezeph was near Hamath. Eden in Telassar probably refers to some place in Mesopotamia, thus giving further credence to Mesopotamia as the original place of the Garden of Eden. At least at this time, nearly 2700 years ago, this place was called Eden, which might have also influenced the biblical writers.

The speech of Rabshakeh (Isa 36:4-36:7)

“Rabshakeh said to them.

‘Say to King Hezekiah.

Thus says the great king of Assyria.

On what do you base this confidence of yours?

Do you think that mere words are strategy?

Do you think that power is for war?

On whom do you now rely?

You have rebelled against me.

See!

You are relying on Egypt,

That broken reed of a staff,

That will pierce the hand

Of any man who leans on it.

Such is the Pharaoh King of Egypt

To all who rely on him.

But you say to me.

‘We rely on Yahweh our God.’

Is it not he whose high places

That King Hezekiah has removed?

Is it not he whose altars

King Hezekiah has removed?”

In words that are word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 18, Isaiah presents this speech from Rabshakeh meant for King Hezekiah of Judah (716-687 BCE). His diatribe, in the name of King Sennacherib of Assyria (706-681 BCE), implies that King Hezekiah had rebelled against the King of Assyria, since he now had a treaty with the Egyptian Pharaoh. Rabshakeh maintained that Judah had to be with either Assyria or Egypt. Rabshakeh told them not to be tricked by Egypt since they were a broken reed that would pierce their hands. He mocked the Israelites for saying that they relied on Yahweh, since King Hezekiah had torn down all the idol shrines during his religious reforms. However, there was no mention of the altar at Jerusalem here.