Melachim 2/Kings 2-Chapter 18: The reign of Chizkiyah and the siege of Jerusalem

1.      The reign of Chizkiyah:

  • His year or reign: Chizkiyah, the son of Achaz, the king of Yehuda, became king in the third year of Hoshea the son of Elah, the king of Israel.
  • His age when he reigned: Chizkiyah was twenty-five years old when he became king.
  • His years of reign: Chizkiyah reigned for twenty-nine years in Jerusalem.
  • His mother’s name: His mother’s name was Avi the daughter of Zechariah.
  • His righteous deeds: Chizkiyah did what was right in the eyes of Hashem, and went in the ways of his father David.
  • Abolishing idolatry from the land: Chizkiyah abolished the Bamos, and smashed the monuments, and cut down all the Asheirah trees, and crushed to dust the copper serpent that Moshe had made [to stop the plague that was smiting the Jewish people as discussed in Parshas Chukas], as the Jewish people were accustomed to burning incense to it [thinking that it was a deity being that it had the it had the power to cure people from illness[1]]. Chizkiyah gave the serpent a derogatory name and called it Nechushtan.
  • He trusted in God and cleaved to Him: Chizkiyah trusted in Hashem and there was none like him among all the kings of Yehuda who were after him, nor were there before him. He cleaved to Hashem and he did not swerve from following Him and he kept His commandments, which Hashem had commanded Moshe.
  • Hashem was with Chizkiyah: Hashem was with Chizkiyah, and he succeeded in everything he did.
  • Chizkiyah rebels against Ashur: Chizkiyah rebelled against the king of Ashur and did not serve him.
  • Chizkiyah slays the Philistines: Chizkiyah slew the Philistines until the city of Gaza and all its surrounding cities, from the watchtower to the fortified cities.

2.      The siege and conquering of Shomron:

  • Shalmaneser the king of Ashur laid siege against the city of Shomron in the fourth year of reign of King Chizkiyah, which was also the seventh year of reign of Hoshea the son of Elah, the king of Israel. The city of Shomron was finally captured by Shalmaneser at the end of three years of siege, in the sixth year of reign of Chizkiyah, which was the ninth year of reign of Hoshea, king of Israel.
  • Shalmaneser besieges and exiles the Jewish people: Shalmaneser, the king of Ashur, exiled the Jewish people to Ashur. He settled them in the countries of Bachlach, and in Chavur, the Gozan River, and the cities of Media. Hashem allowed this to happen because they did not obey Hashem and transgressed His laws and commands.

3.      Sancheirev conquerors the cities of Judah and Chizkiyah asks Ashur for help:

  • Sancheirev conquerors cities in the land of Yehuda: Sancheirev the king of Ashur conquered all of the fortified cities of Yehuda in the fourteenth year of reign of King Chizkiyah.
  • Chizkiyah turns to the king of Ashur for help and pays him a large sum of money: Chizkiyah, the king of Yehuda, sent a message to the king of Ashur who was in Lachish, asking forgiveness for having rebelled against him and asking him to once again protect him from enemies and place upon him whatever punishment he desires. So, the king of Ashur imposed upon Chizkiyah, king of Yehuda, a tax of three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. Chizkiyah gave to the king of Ashur all the silver that was found in the Temple and in the palace treasuries of the king.
  • Chizkiyah peels the gold off the doors of the temple to pay the king of Ashur: Chizkiyah stripped the gold off of the doors of the temple of Hashem, and he gave the gold to the king of Ashur.

4.      The king of Ashur goes to war against Chizkiyah:

  • The king of Ashur sends generals and an Army up to Jerusalem: The king of Ashur sent his generals Tartan and Ravsaris, and Ravshakeh [who was a Jewish apostate who believed in God[2]] from the city of Lachish to King Chizkiyah in Jerusalem, together with a great army. The generals and their army arrived at Jerusalem and stood by the upper pool area [where the people would launder their clothing[3]].
  • The meeting with the king’s messengers and the message that Ravshakeh gave: The generals of Ashur summoned Chizkiyah the king, and Eliakim the son of CChilkiyah who was appointed over the palace came out to greet them together with and Shevna the scribe and Yoah the son of Asaph the secretary. Ravshakeh told them to relay the following message to their king Chizkiyah, “So says the great king of Ashur: What were you thinking that you rebelled against me and decided to trust that you don’t need me to help you fight your enemies. You trusted in your God and prayed to Him and therefore rebelled against me but now you realize that in truth you need my help and military support. Why would you place your trust in Egypt who is similar to a splintered reed which will puncture one’s palm when one tries to support himself on it. Now, if you tell me that you trusted in God, this should be to you of no salvation as you have removed all of the altars on which He was served from the land and said that people may only bow to Him in Jerusalem. Now, if you wish that my master the king of Ashur give you two thousand horses and supply you with riders, then give him some collateral in exchange that will show the you are subjugated to him. Now, you should know that it is God Himself who has sent me here to destroy this place.”
  • Ravshakeh is asked to speak with them in Aramaic: Eliakim the son of Chilkiyah and Shevnah and Yoah asked Ravshakeh to speak with them in Aramaic which they understand, and not speak with them in Hebrew in order so the people by the wall do not hear the conversation between them. Ravshakeh replied to them defiantly that he will continue to speak in Hebrew, as his master had sent him to speak not just to the king of Yehuda and his messengers but to all the Jewish people in the city, including the people who [will need to] sit by the wall and eat their dung and drink their urine [after we place siege over the city and starve the inhabitants[4]].
  • Ravshakeh tries to convince to the people in Jerusalem to capitulate to the king of Ashur: So, Ravshakeh stood up and called out in a loud voice in Hebrew towards the people by the wall, “Listen to the word of the great king, the king of Ashur. So has the king said, Don’t look up to Chizkiyah to help you as he will not be able to save you from my hand. Don’t let Chizkiyah to convince you to have faith in God who will save you and the city of Jerusalem from being given over to the king of Ashur. Do not listen to Chizkiyah, for the king of Ashur is offering you to make peace with him and come out of the city. Each person will be able to eat from his vine and fig tree and drink water from his well until you will be brought by the king of Ashur to a land like your land [i.e. Africa[5]], a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of oil yielding olives and honey. You will live and not die. Do not listen to the words of Chizkiyah who will mislead you to believing that your God will save you. Have the gods of any of the other nations been successful in saving their nation from the hands of the king of Ashur? Where are the gods of Chamas and Arpad, where are the gods of Sepharvaim? They were not successful in battling against the king of Ashur and instead he exiled them and twisted them. Did these deities save the city of Shomron from my hand? There has been no God who has been successful in fighting him and saving their land from the hand of the king of Ashur and certainly the Lord will not be successful in saving Jerusalem from my hand?”

5.      The people do not reply to Ravshakeh:

  • The people remained silent and did not answer even a single word to Ravshakeh, as indeed the king Chizkiyah instructed them not to answer him one word.
  • The king’s messengers relate to him the words of Ravshakeh: Eliakim the son of Chilkiyah who was appointed over the palace and Shevna the scribe and Yoah the son of Asaph the secretary, came to Chizkiyah with torn garments, and told him the message of Ravshakeh.

[1] Metzudos Dovid 18:2

[2] Rashi 18:22

[3] Rashi 18:17

[4] Metzudos Dovid 18:27

[5] Rashi 18:32

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