2 Kings 19 from Another POVBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
This chapter continues “parallel text” with II Kings, in this case, with chapter 19.
Chizkiyahu’s officers reported Ravshakeh’s message to the king, who likewise tore his clothes upon hearing the blasphemy. He sent for Isaiah, saying that the position of the nation is like that of a woman in hard labor. He asked Isaiah to pray to G-d for Jerusalem, as the other cities had already been captured. Isaiah replied that G-d says not to worry; He will cause Sancheriv to fall by the sword in his own land.
Sancheriv was waging war in a place called Livna, when he received word that Cush (Ethiopia) was attacking Assyria. Sancheriv left temporarily to deal with this threat, but he sent letters to Chizkiyahu saying, “Don’t think I’m done with you. The gods of other nations didn’t save them and yours won’t save you!” Chizkiyahu took the letters to the Temple and spread them out and prayed. He asked G-d to see the blasphemies that Sancheriv had written. “Yes,” Chizkiyahu said, “Assyria has invaded the other lands and burned their idols, but they’re not really ‘gods.’ Please save us so that the world may see that You alone are G-d.”
Isaiah sent word to Chizkiyahu that G-d said the following: “The people of Jerusalem laugh at Sancheriv, who thinks he will conquer them. He has blasphemed and he sent Ravshakeh to blaspheme, thinking that he could conquer the Temple.” Isaiah then addresses the prophecy to the king of Assyria. “Don’t you, Sancheriv, know what G-d does? You’re not the strong one, G-d is. You can sit in your counsel of war, but G-d knows all your plans. But because you provoke G-d, you will have a bridle placed in your mouth and a ring through your nose, to be led like an animal back the way you came.”
Isaiah then gave Chizkiyahu a sign: Even though the Assyrian army had destroyed the vegetation that Jerusalem relied upon for food, they would have enough to eat just from that which grew wild. The rest of the country may have been overrun, but those in Jerusalem, who remained true to G-d, will remain. Assyria will not enter, nor mount a siege against the city; G-d will protect it for His own sake and for the righteous King David.
While the army of Assyria slept, a plague struck them. 185,000 died – only Sancheriv, his two sons, and Nebuchadnezzar survived. Sancheriv returned to the city of Ninveh. While he was serving his idol, two of his sons assassinated him. They ran away, leaving another son to reign in his place.