Isaiah 37

Chapter 37

1 When King Hezekiah heard their report, he tore his clothes, wrapped himself in sackcloth, and went into the temple of the Lord. 2 He sent Eliakim, who was in charge of the palace, and Shebna the secretary, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz 3 and gave him this message:

“Thus says Hezekiah, ‘Today is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace. Children come to the moment of birth, but there is no strength to bring them forth. 4 It may be that the Lord, your God heard the words of the chief officer, whom his master, the king of Assyria, sent to taunt the living God, and that he will be rebuked for the words which the Lord, your God has heard. Offer your prayer for the remnant that still survive.’ ”

5 When the ministers of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah, 6 he said to them, “Say to your master, ‘Do not be alarmed because of the words that you have heard with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. 7 I will put a spirit in him so that when he hears a certain rumor he will go back to his own country, and there I will cause him to fall by the sword.’ ”

8 Meanwhile, the chief officer returned and discovered that the king of Assyria had departed from Lachish and was fighting against Libnah,[a] 9 since he had heard that King Tirhakah of Ethiopia was on his way to attack him. On learning this, he sent envoys to Hezekiah with this message:

10 “Thus shall you say to King Hezekiah of Judah: ‘Do not let your God upon whom you rely deceive you with the promise that Jerusalem will not be handed over to the king of Assyria. 11 You yourself must have learned by now what the kings of Assyria have done to all the other countries, subjecting them to complete destruction. Will you then be delivered? 12 Did the gods of the nations whom my ancestors destroyed deliver them: Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were living in Telassar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of Lair, Sepharvaim, Hena, or Ivvah?’ ”

14 Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it. 15 Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and, spreading it out before him, he prayed to the Lord: 16 “O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned upon the cherubim, you alone are God of all the kingdoms of the world. You have created the heavens and the earth. 17 Incline your ear, O Lord, and listen; open your eyes, O Lord, and see. Hear all the words of Sennacherib whose purpose is to taunt the living God. 18 Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands. 19 They have cast their gods into the fire because they were not truly gods but the work of human hands, fashioned from wood and stone—and so they were destroyed. 20 Therefore, O Lord, our God, save us from his hands so that all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O Lord, are God.”

21 Sennacherib’s Punishment. Then Isaiah, the son of Amoz, sent the following message to Hezekiah: “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: In answer to your prayer to me requesting help against King Sennacherib of Assyria, 22 this is the pronouncement that the Lord has made in regard to him:

“The virgin daughter of Zion
despises you and scorns you.
While you retreat the daughter of Jerusalem
tosses her head at you.
23 Whom have you insulted and blasphemed?
Against whom have you raised your voice,
and haughtily lifted up your eyes?
Against the Holy One of Israel!
24 Through your servants you have insulted the Lord
and boasted: ‘With my many chariots
I have ascended the mountain heights,
the farthest peaks of Lebanon.
I have felled its tallest cedars,
its finest cypresses.
I have reached its highest peak
and its most luxuriant forest.
25 I have dug wells in foreign lands
and drunk the water there,
and with the soles of my feet
I have dried up all the rivers of Egypt.’
26 “Have you not heard
that I devised this plan long ago?
I planned it from days of old,
and now I have brought this to fruition:
you have reduced your fortified cities
into heaps of rubble,
27 while their inhabitants, shorn of strength,
are dismayed and frustrated;
they have become like plants of the field,
like tender green herbs,
like grass on housetops and fields
scorched by the east wind.
28 “I know when you stand or sit,
I know when you come in or go out,
and I am aware how you rage against me.
29 Because you have raged against me
and your arrogance has reached my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose
and my bit in your mouth
and force you to return
by the way you came.
30 This will be the sign for you:
This year you will eat what grows by itself,
and in the second year what springs forth from that.
However, in the third year sow and reap,
plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
31 The surviving remnant of the house of Judah
will again take root below
and bear fruit above.
32 For out of Jerusalem will come forth a remnant,
and from Mount Zion a band of survivors.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
33 “Therefore, this is the word of the Lord
in regard to the king of Assyria:
He will not come into this city
or shoot an arrow at it;
he will not advance against it with a shield
or build a siege-ramp against it.
34 By the way that he came,
by that same way he will return;
he will not enter this city, says the Lord.
35 I will protect this city and save it
for my own sake
and for the sake of my servant David.”

36 Then the angel of the Lord went forth and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When morning dawned, the ground was covered with corpses.[b] 37 Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned home to Nineveh.

38 One day, as he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer slew him with the sword and then fled to the land of Ararat. His son Esarhaddon succeeded him.

Footnotes

  1. Isaiah 37:8 Libnah: north of Lachish. Sennacherib moved a little further south in order to attack Pharaoh Tirhakah, who belonged to a dynasty of Ethiopian origin.
  2. Isaiah 37:36 In the effort to emphasize the breadth of God’s triumph, the writer is not afraid to exaggerate numbers.

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