1 July 2017 Bible Reading
In today’s reading from Second Kings, we read of Sennacherib, king of Assyria. Assyria began as a city-state or small kingdom along the Tigris River. Under Tiglath-pileser III and his sons, Shalmaneser V and Sargon II, it ruled over Mesopotamia, Anatolia and Syria-Palestine, with its capital at Nineveh. Assyria’s power terrified Babylon, Egypt and Elam. Sennacherib’s grandfather Tiglath-pileser III had made himself king of Babylon, but this was never accepted by powerful local leaders, particularly an important tribal chief named Merodach-baladan. When Tiglath-pileser’s successor, Shalmaneser V, was overthrown by Sargon II (Sennacherib’s father), Merodach-baladan seized the opportunity to crown himself king of Babylon. The next thirty years saw a repeating pattern of Assyrian reconquest and renewed rebellion.
Sennacherib took a different approach to ruling. He did not concern himself with placating his subjects, but resorted to military might. This culminated in his complete destruction of Babylon in 689 b.C. In 701 b.C., Sennacherib turned his attention to King Hezekiah. Encouraged by Egypt and Merodach-baladan, Hezekiah broke his allegiance to Assyria. Sennacherib laid siege to Jerusalem and gave its surrounding towns to Assyrian vassal rulers in Ekron, Gaza and Ashdod. The siege ended when, following Hezekiah’s repentance, a single angel killed 185,000 men in the Assyrian army. The Assyrians withdrew to Nineveh.
2 Kings 18:13-19:37
13 Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah, and took them. 14 Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying, “I have offended you. Return from me. That which you put on me, I will bear.” The king of Assyria appointed to Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15 Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in Yahweh’s house, and in the treasures of the king’s house. 16 At that time, Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of Yahweh’s temple, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.
17 The king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great army to Jerusalem. They went up and came to Jerusalem. When they had come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is in the highway of the fuller’s field. 18 When they had called to the king, Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebnah the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder came out to them. 19 Rabshakeh said to them, “Say now to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria, “What confidence is this in which you trust? 20 You say (but they are but vain words), ‘There is counsel and strength for war.’ Now on whom do you trust, that you have rebelled against me? 21 Now, behold, you trust in the staff of this bruised reed, even in Egypt. If a man leans on it, it will go into his hand, and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust on him. 22 But if you tell me, ‘We trust in Yahweh our God;’ isn’t that he whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and has said to Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem?’ 23 Now therefore, please give pledges to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them. 24 How then can you turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master’s servants, and put your trust on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? 25 Have I now come up without Yahweh against this place to destroy it? Yahweh said to me, ‘Go up against this land, and destroy it.’”’”
26 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, Shebnah, and Joah, said to Rabshakeh, “Please speak to your servants in the Syrian language, for we understand it. Don’t speak with us in the Jews’ language, in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.”
27 But Rabshakeh said to them, “Has my master sent me to your master and to you, to speak these words? Hasn’t he sent me to the men who sit on the wall, to eat their own dung, and to drink their own urine with you?” 28 Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Jews’ language, and spoke, saying, “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria. 29 Thus says the king, ‘Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you; for he will not be able to deliver you out of his hand. 30 Don’t let Hezekiah make you trust in Yahweh, saying, “Yahweh will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” 31 Don’t listen to Hezekiah.’ For thus says the king of Assyria, ‘Make your peace with me, and come out to me; and everyone of you eat from his own vine, and everyone from his own fig tree, and everyone drink water from his own cistern; 32 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and of honey, that you may live, and not die. Don’t listen to Hezekiah, when he persuades you, saying, “Yahweh will deliver us.” 33 Has any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? 34 Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? 35 Who are they among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of my hand, that Yahweh should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’”
36 But the people stayed quiet, and answered him not a word; for the king’s commandment was, “Don’t answer him.” 37 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, came with Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and told him Rabshakeh’s words.
19 When king Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into Yahweh’s house. 2 He sent Eliakim, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz. 3 They said to him, “Thus says Hezekiah, ‘Today is a day of trouble, of rebuke, and of rejection; for the children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to deliver them. 4 It may be Yahweh your God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master has sent to defy the living God, and will rebuke the words which Yahweh your God has heard. Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.’”
5 So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah. 6 Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master this: ‘Yahweh says, “Don’t be afraid of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. 7 Behold, I will put a spirit in him, and he will hear news, and will return to his own land. I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.”’”
8 So Rabshakeh returned and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah; for he had heard that he had departed from Lachish. 9 When he heard it said of Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, “Behold, he has come out to fight against you, he sent messengers again to Hezekiah, saying, 10 ‘Tell Hezekiah king of Judah this: “Don’t let your God in whom you trust deceive you, saying, Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. 11 Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly. Will you be delivered? 12 Have the gods of the nations delivered them, which my fathers have destroyed, Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the children of Eden who were in Telassar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivvah?”’”
14 Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it. Then Hezekiah went up to Yahweh’s house, and spread it before Yahweh. 15 Hezekiah prayed before Yahweh, and said, “Yahweh, the God of Israel, who sit above the cherubim, you are the God, even you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Incline your ear, Yahweh, and hear. Open your eyes, Yahweh, and see. Hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to defy the living God. 17 Truly, Yahweh, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, 18 and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they have destroyed them. 19 Now therefore, Yahweh our God, save us, I beg you, out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Yahweh, are God alone.”
20 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Yahweh, the God of Israel, says ‘You have prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, and I have heard you. 21 This is the word that Yahweh has spoken concerning him: ‘The virgin daughter of Zion has despised you and ridiculed you. The daughter of Jerusalem has shaken her head at you. 22 Whom have you defied and blasphemed? Against whom have you exalted your voice and lifted up your eyes on high? Against the Holy One of Israel! 23 By your messengers, you have defied the Lord, and have said, “With the multitude of my chariots, I have come up to the height of the mountains, to the innermost parts of Lebanon, and I will cut down its tall cedars and its choice cypress trees; and I will enter into his farthest lodging place, the forest of his fruitful field. 24 I have dug and drunk strange waters, and with the sole of my feet will I dry up all the rivers of Egypt.” 25 Haven’t you heard how I have done it long ago, and formed it of ancient times? Now have I brought it to pass, that it should be yours to lay waste fortified cities into ruinous heaps. 26 Therefore their inhabitants had little power. They were dismayed and confounded. They were like the grass of the field, and like the green herb, like the grass on the housetops, and like grain blasted before it has grown up. 27 But I know your sitting down, your going out, your coming in, and your raging against me. 28 Because of your raging against me, and because your arrogance has come up into my ears, therefore I will put my hook in your nose, and my bridle in your lips, and I will turn you back by the way by which you came.’
29 “This will be the sign to you: This year, you will eat that which grows of itself, and in the second year that which springs of the same; and in the third year sow, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat its fruit. 30 The remnant that has escaped of the house of Judah will again take root downward, and bear fruit upward. 31 For out of Jerusalem a remnant will go out, and out of Mount Zion those who shall escape. Yahweh’s zeal will perform this.
32 “Therefore Yahweh says concerning the king of Assyria, ‘He will not come to this city, nor shoot an arrow there. He will not come before it with shield, nor cast up a mound against it. 33 By the way that he came, by the same he will return, and he will not come to this city,’ says Yahweh. 34 ‘For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.’”
35 That night, Yahweh’s angel went out, and struck one hundred eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians. When men arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and lived at Nineveh. 37 As he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. Esar Haddon his son reigned in his place.
21 When we had departed from them and had set sail, we came with a straight course to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. 2 Having found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard, and set sail. 3 When we had come in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left hand, we sailed to Syria, and landed at Tyre, for there the ship was to unload her cargo. 4 Having found disciples, we stayed there seven days. These said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem. 5 When those days were over, we departed and went on our journey. They all, with wives and children, brought us on our way until we were out of the city. Kneeling down on the beach, we prayed. 6 After saying goodbye to each other, we went on board the ship, and they returned home again.
7 When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais. We greeted the brothers, and stayed with them one day. 8 On the next day, we, who were Paul’s companions, departed, and came to Caesarea.
We entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied. 10 As we stayed there some days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 Coming to us, and taking Paul’s belt, he bound his own feet and hands, and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit: ‘So will the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and will deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’”
12 When we heard these things, both we and they of that place begged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
14 When he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, “The Lord’s will be done.”
15 After these days we took up our baggage and went up to Jerusalem. 16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea also went with us, bringing one Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we would stay.
149 Praise Yahweh!
Sing to Yahweh a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the saints.
2 Let Israel rejoice in him who made them.
Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
3 Let them praise his name in the dance!
Let them sing praises to him with tambourine and harp!
4 For Yahweh takes pleasure in his people.
He crowns the humble with salvation.
5 Let the saints rejoice in honor.
Let them sing for joy on their beds.
6 May the high praises of God be in their mouths,
and a two-edged sword in their hand;
7 To execute vengeance on the nations,
and punishments on the peoples;
8 To bind their kings with chains,
and their nobles with fetters of iron;
9 to execute on them the written judgment.
All his saints have this honor.
8 The words of a gossip are like dainty morsels:
they go down into a person’s innermost parts.