Okay, so we’re done with the Kingdom of Israel. They’re deported to the land of the Medes and now the text shifts to Judah, even though there is a bit of overlap historically because these books aren’t strictly chronological.
Hezekiah becomes king of Judah. He follows Yahweh and he takes down the high places and makes the people worship God through the priestly hierarchy. No more local elders sacrificing to Yahweh, only the approved priest now.
He also purges the land of other gods and cuts up the bronze serpent that Moses made back when God sent snakes to kill Jews for some reason or another. They had since taken to venerating it and that didn’t sit well with Hezekiah.
Hezekiah campaigns against the Philistines and wins, and he breaks faith with the king of Assyria. The sack of Samaria happens in Hezekiah’s fourth year as king.
Ten years later, the Assyrians come and start invading Judah and Hezekiah begs for terms. They ask for money, Hezekiah empties his bank accounts and the bank accounts of the Temple and even starts to strip away the gold in the Temple to meet their terms, but even after he sends them the money, they besiege Jerusalem.
Assyrians: Hey, dudes. Where’s your confidence now? You gonna try and turn to Egypt for help? They’re a broken reed, a kingdom in decline. Or are you going to trust in the Lord? Didn’t Hezekiah tear down all the shrines of the Lord and force everyone to worship at the altar in Jerusalem? Besides, I’m pretty sure your Yahweh told me to destroy this place.
Three Israelites on the wall named Eliakim, Shebnah, and Joah respond, “Speak to us in Aramaic and not in Judean in the hearing of the guards on the wall.”
Rabshakeh the Assyrian commander replies in Judean, “I’ve come to speak to everyone that you’re dooming in their siege to become so desperate for food and water that they’ll end up eating their own shit and drinking their own piss.
“Hezekiah is lying to you. He cannot deliver you from us. Nor can your god. Come out and make peace with us. We’ll take you to another land where you can farm and live and have peace serving us. Do not trust in the Lord. For no god has been able to deliver their people from our hand.”
Sp the three representatives of Judah tear their clothes in mourning and take the message to Hezekiah.
Hezekiah tears his clothes and goes to pray in the Temple. He sends his representatives to Isaiah the prophet.
“This is a dark day. Maybe God has heard the words of Rabshakeh mocking Him and will rebuke him? Please pray for us.”
So Isaiah tells him that God will cause Rabshakeh to hear a rumor requiring him to return to Assyria where he will die.
So Rabshakeh hears that the King of Assyria is out fighting another people, and the king of Cush has come out with his army to fight the Assyrians, so Rabshakeh is forced to end the siege of Jerusalem and go out to meet him. But he sends Hezekiah one more message saying, “Well, I’ll be back and then we’ll kill you and destroy your land and then you’re god can’t save you. Neener neener neener.”
So Hezekiah takes the letter and goes to the temple and he unrolls the scroll and says, “Will you look at this shit, Lord? You’re a real God, unlike those other gods the Assyrians destroyed. Please act for your people’s sake so that everyone will know you’re real.”
So the Lord tells Isaiah to let Hezekiah know that He’s heard him and will deliver Judah from the Assyrians.
So God dispatches an angel that night who kills 185,000 Assyrians and the survivors head home to Ninevah and the Assyrian king is assassinated.
I think the important takeaway here is that OT God will not put up with your trash talk, people.
So Hezekiah gets sick and Isaiah drops by for a visit.
Isaiah: Hey, King, set your affairs in order, you’re going to die.
Hezekiah: I’d like a second opinion.
Isaiah: Okay, you’re ugly too. (Rimshot) Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all night. Tip your waiters.
Hezekiah: Hey, uh, Lord, it would be really cool of you if you, you know… didn’t kill me? Pretty please?
Isaiah: God says, okay, he will add fifteen more years to your life. You, doctor.
Doctor: Hi, everybody.
Everybody: Hi, Dr. Nick.
Isaiah: Doctor, take a cake of figs and put it on that infected boil.
Doctor: Were you trained at Jerusalem Upstairs Medical College, because that sounds like it will work!
Seriously… aren’t you all glad you live when we have science and medicine and stuff? Great… could you maybe vote that way next time? Love you.
Isaiah: Okay, to assure you that you’re going to get better, would you rather have God move the shadow on the staircase down ten steps or up ten steps.
Hezekiah: Well, the sunset will move the shadow down ten steps, so up, I guess.
Isaiah: Man… I was really hoping you would choose down. Could you excuse me while I get some mirrors which are totally unrelated to what we were just talking about.
So the shadow goes up ten steps and like the story of Joshua’s missing day, evangelical preachers got an urban legend talking about how NASA found missing time that just happened to correspond with God suddenly supposedly reversing or stopping the spin of the planet.
So Hezekiah gets better and he gets a nice get well soon scroll from the king of Babylon, so he invites the Babylonians to come on out and visit Judah. So some envoys come and Hezekiah treats them well and shows them his land and his palace and the treasure rooms and they’re sufficiently impressed and they leave.
Isaiah: Hey, who were those guys?
Hezekiah: Babylonians. Good people.
Isaiah: What exactly did you show them?
Hezekiah: Oh, man, I was a good host. I gave them the grand tour of everything.
Isaiah: God says that was stupid. They’re going to come back and attack you and take all your stuff and your kids and grandkids away.
Hezekiah: Well, that’s just great. Maybe you could have told me that before they arrived? But hey, it’s not going to happen in my days, so that’s future Judean King’s problem, not mine. I don’t envy that guy.
So Hezekiah dies and Manasseh reigns in his place.