Sennacherib



2 Kings 18:17-19:37
I know this is a long reading. But- don’t skip reading it! It’s a great story and it seemed a shame to break it up into smaller pieces. It will still only take you about 5 minutes to read.


The Assyrian army under the leadership of Sennacherib has marched through the entire region of Israel and Judah conquering everyone in his path. Egypt, Israel, Philistia . . . these are just a few in the list of nations destroyed by this army is long. No one has been able to stand up against Sennacherib’s march. Included in that sweep through the region have been several Judean cities. Now he stands outside of Jerusalem, expecting to continue the roll. Earlier Hezekiah had been convinced to produce a payoff to keep Sennacherib out of Jerusalem. That only causes Sennacherib to believe that Jerusalem holds even more gold and he wants it – now. After tossing about several insults and threats, Hezekiah knows that he doesn’t stand a chance against such a force. He has already turned the nation back to God and now petitions God for rescue. Sennacherib has not been stopped by the gods of other nations and he does not believe Yahweh to be a threat to his conquering goals either. Finally, he has met his match!

Isaiah, the prophet of God, (yes, the same Isaiah that we read in the Old Testament) is consulted, and he declares that God will provide a victory to Hezekiah. After receiving a letter of tremendous threat from Sennacherib, Hezekiah goes to God in prayer. It is a moving scene. The King of Judah brings this letter before the Lord and literally spreads it out on the ground before God. Much as a child brings a broken toy to a father, Hezekiah brings his huge problem before the Lord, seeking His help with something that is far too great for Hezekiah to handle. God promises that Jerusalem will not fall into the hands of Sennacherib. Not one Judean soldier marches out to war. God Himself dispatches the Assyrian army in one night, killing 185,000 men! Sennacherib wisely realizes that he is out-matched and returns home to Ninevah, never to bother Hezekiah again!  

Extra-biblical texts even discuss Sennacherib’s unsuccessful siege of Jerusalem. Here is how Sennacherib reported it.

That Sennacherib failed in his attempt to take Jerusalem is apparent from the annals of his third campaign. Although he claimed the capture and despoiling of some forty-six Judean cities, when it came to Jerusalem, he could only report: “Himself [Hezekiah] I made a prisoner in Jerusalem, his royal residence, like a bird in a cage. The only validity to Sennacherib’s face-saving words can be seen when he surrounded Jerusalem during his protracted campaigning in Judah and Philistia.1
[1] Patterson, R. D., & Austel, H. J. (1988). 1, 2 Kings. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Volume 4: 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.) (268). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Against impossible odds God is not troubled. A massive army is not an insurmountable problem for God, so we must also conclude that our huge problems are not insurmountable for God either. We can only trust that He will remain faithful to us as He did with Hezekiah!

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