"No other king of Judah was like Hezekiah, either before or after him. He was completely faithful to Adonai". (2 Kgs 18:5-6)
Hezekiah earned this praise by abolishing the high places throughout Judah with their Asherah poles and he removed the bronze serpent Nehushtan (believed to be the one Moses had made, cf. Num 21:4ff.) from the Jerusalem temple (2 Kgs 18:4).
During Hezekiah's reign Assyria was active in Palestine, capturing Samaria and Philistine cities. At first Hezekiah continued (like his father Ahaz) to act as a loyal vassal of Assyria. However (in 713) he held meetings with a Babylonian delegation (2 Kgs 18:13; 20:12-13) and following Sargon's death was active in a military coalition opposing Sargon's successor, Sennacherib (2 Kgs 18:8). To prepare for the Assyrian reprisals he built the Siloam tunnel preparing Jerusalem for siege. Sennacherib in a lightening strike west (in 701) defeated the Phoenician city-states and regained control of Philistia despite Egyptian aid to the rebels.
After taking Lachish, Sennakerib laid siege to Jerusalem. That he never captured Hezekiah's capital is considered a miraculous divine intervention by the Bible, the Assyrian king remained silent. His account reads:
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© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2001, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.