Sennacherib’s Threat Is. 36: 1-22 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
This study is about Sennacherib’s threat of attack in the 14th year of Hezekiah’s reign in Jerusalem. Before we study the verses in this chapter, we need to read some of the history of Judah leading up to this threat so that we can understand what’s going on in this chapter.
In 2 Kings, we see the following: in 2 Ki 15:29 the Assyrians attacked Israel, in 2 Ki 15:37 the Syrians and Israel attacked Judah, in 2 Ki 16:7-9 Ahaz [Hezekiah’s father] responded by “paying” the Assyrians to help him against the Syrians and Israel, in 2 Ki 17:3-5 the Assyrians attacked Israel after accusing them of an alliance with Egypt, in 2 Ki 17:23 Israel was defeated and taken captive and in 2 Ki 17:24 they were displaced.
The “alliance” between Judah and Assyria was weak [2 Chr 28:16-21] so when Hezekiah [Ahaz’s son] began to reign he rebelled against Assyria [2 Ki 18:7]. It was during Hezekiah’s 4th year that the siege against Samaria [the capitol of Israel] began and it was in his 6th year that Samaria capitulated [2 Ki 18:9-10]. However, it was not until Hezekiah’s 14th year that Sennacherib threatened a siege against Jerusalem, at which time Hezekiah paid him off [2 Ki 18:4-6].
In spite of the pay off, Hezekiah prepared for a possible attack from Sennacherib in 2 Chr 32:1-8. He stopped the fountains of waters, built up all the wall that was broken down, raised up the towers, made darts and shields, etc. Hezekiah also encouraged the people by reminding them that the Lord would help them and fight their battles.
Not satisfied to leave well enough alone, Sennacherib sent an army to take Jerusalem [2 Ki 18:17] after taking the fenced cities of Judah, cities that had been fortified and strengthened by Hezekiah’s great grandfather and grandfather [Uzziah and Jotham]. This is where we pick up in Is 36:1.
Is 36:2 – Rabshakeh came with Tartan and Rabsaris [2 Ki 18:7] and a great army to intimidate the inhabitants of Jerusalem into surrendering without a fight, since the main army was still at Lachish near the border of the Philistines, southwest of Jerusalem. They were just outside the wall by the conduit of the upper pool.
Is 36:3 – Hezekiah sent three men to hear what they had to offer. He sent the fellow who was over the house, probably the treasurer [Is 22:15], the scribe and the recorder.
Is 36:4-5 – Rabshakeh came to demoralize the men on the wall and to undermine their confidence in Hezekiah and the Lord. He accused them of rebellion against Sennacherib [see 2 Ki 18:14-16].
Is 36:6 – leaning on Egypt is something that Israel did [2 Ki 17:3-4].
Is 36:7 – “we trust in the Lord our God” – Rabshakeh ridiculed their trust in the Lord by blaspheming God [see 2 Chr 32:15-19].
Is 36:8-9 – condescending talk meant to belittle Judah’s military capability.
Is 36:10 – Rabshakeh both justifies the attack and attempts to shake Judah’s confidence in the Lord by telling them that the Lord is the one that sent him to attack Jerusalem. In truth, if the Lord sent him it was to get Judah to repent and turn to the Lord [as in the case of Jonah and Nineveh].
Is 36:16-17 – Rabshakeh offers, in exchange for a present, to let them go back to their farms until they can be displaced like Israel was. He says, “to a land like your own.” There is no land on this earth like the Promised Land [Deut 11:10-12].
The verses on which we didn’t comment are self-explanatory.