Class Notes: 1/30/2013
The Assyrians attempt to restore control over the nations in western Asia brinigs them up against Hezekiah king of Judah
In our study of the enmity between the serpent and his seed and the woman and her seed Gen 3:15; last time we moved from our study of Joash to Hezekiah. We saw that in the course of a little more than the 100 years between the reign of Joash and Hezekiah the Assyrian Empire came into to power.
In this segment of our study we will see how the Lord permitted Assyria to become a threat to Judah and a source of discipline for Hezekiah and we will also see how the Assyrian threat is also designed by Satan and his ambassador demons to target the "seed of the woman", the line of Christ.
A brief synopsis of the historical events that lead up to this confrontation is found in Background of the Assyrian Empire & Its Rulers by Charles Pfeiffer. "The Assyrian Threat." Chap. 50 in Old Testament History. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1973), pages 333-336:
Adad-nirari III (805-783 b.c. attacked Damascus in 804 b.c. The attack on Damascus indirectly helped Judah which had been suffering as a result of attacks by the Aramean rulers of Damascus including (Hazael in 2 Kings 12:17;).
Jehoash of Judah recovered towns on his northern border that had been lost to Hazael of Damascus by defeating Ben-hadad in 2Kings 13:25; before the Assyrian advance.
Following the death of Adad-nirari III, Assyrian power was on the wane. His successor, Shalmaneser IV (783-773 b.c.), continued to exert pressure on Damascus but Assyria, was feeling pressure on its northern border from Armenia, or Urartu , and its internal politics were in a state of flux.
Adad-nirari had died young and childless, with the result that the succession was uncertain. No advances were made during the rules of Asher-dan III (773-755 b.c.) or Asher-nirari V (755-745 b.c.).
An eclipse of the sun in 763 b.c. was considered a sign of ill omen as it marked a defeat of Assyrian arms in the north. The states in western Asia seemed free to regroup and to challenge Assyrian claims on their territory.
After a generation of uncertainty an Assyrian warrior and statesman who took the name Tiglath-pileser III ( 745-727 b.c.) usurped the throne in 745 b.c. He sought to restore the lost glories of Assyria. Under the name Pul (noted in 2Kings 15:19;) as a result he was proclaimed king of Babylon.
He achieved victory on his northern borders over the Armenians (Urartu) and turned his attention to the west where the local princes had thrown off the Assyrian yoke.
A few years later Pekah (king of Israel from 740-732 b.c.) joined Rezin king of Damascus in an alliance against Assyria. They moved against Ahaz (king) of Judah (732-716 b.c.) in an attempt to force Judah into an anti-Assyrian alliance (2 Kings 16:5-9;).
Damascus fared even worse than Israel. In 732 b.c. Tiglath-pileser entered Damascus, executed Rezin its king, ravaged the city, and deported a large portion of its population. Ahaz was among who hurried to Damascus to pay tribute to Tiglath-pileser.
The results of the policy of Hezekiah's father king Ahaz, the southern kingdom of Judah became a vassal of Assyria but the northern kingdom of Israel still hoped to be able to resist Assyrian power. When Tiglath-pileser III died in 727 b.c. he was succeeded by his son Shalmaneser V (727-722 b.c.).
Hoshea (king) of Israel (732-721 b.c.) listened to his pro-Egyptian counselors and refused to pay tribute to Shalmaneser. Egypt promised help (2 Kings 17:4), but help never arrived.
Shalmaneser besieged the Israelite capital at Samaria, and after three years the city fell, bringing the northern kingdom to an end (721 b.c. exactly 120 years after the beginning of Jehu's reign in Israel 841-814b.c.).
Sargon II (722-705 b.c.) actually claims credit for the destruction of Samaria. In his Annals, Sargon states, "The town I rebuilt better than it was before, and settled herein people from countries which I myself had conquered."
The Assryian policy of relocation caused the Israelites to be scattered throughout the Assyrian Empire, and brought into their former territory the ancestors of the people who came to be known as Samaritans (2Kings 17:24-41;).
Hezekiah's father Ahaz turned to Tiglath-pileser for help, with disastrous results for the whole of western Asia. Tiglath-pileser marched westward and then down the coast of Palestine.
The king of Gaza fled across the River of Egypt to find sanctuary in Egypt. Ammon, Moab, Edom, Ashkelon, and Judah paid their tribute to the Assyrians. Rebellious Israel was attacked.
Other campaigns in Syria and Palestine took Sargon to Raphia where he defeated an Egyptian army. This was the first clash between the Egyptians and Assyrians, the two nations that would vie for control of western Asia.
In 717 b.c. Sargon conquered Carchemish and campaigned farther north in Cilicia. In 715 he sacked the Philistine cities of Ashdod and Gath, and claimed to have subjugated Judah.
Sargon made his capital successively at Ashur, Calah, and Nineveh. East of Nineveh he built a new capital, Dur-Sharruken. The large palace built during the last years of Sargon's rule was discovered in 1843 and was among the first structures carefully studied by archaeologists. Sargon, himself, died in battle before he could move into his new palace.
Sennacherib (705-681 b.c.) spent the early years of his reign putting down the revolts which broke out following the death of his father. Merodach-baladan seized the throne of Babylon and attempted to set up a state free of Assyrian control.
It was at this time that he sent an emissary to Jerusalem to show friendship to Hezekiah and enlist his support (2Kings 20:12-19). Late in 702 b.c. Sennacherib defeated Merodach-baladan and his Elamite and Arab allies.
Assyria's northern frontier was quickly pacified, which freed Sennacherib to turn his attention to the west, where Egypt was stirring up trouble among the smaller states. King Hezekiah of Judah was a leader in the opposition to Sennacherib and had strengthened his fortifications in Jerusalem.
We see from this that the Assyrians were Semitics who migrated out of Babylonia to ultimately rule the Fertile Crescent from the 9th to the 7th century b.c. Sennacherib's reign commenced after the death of his father, Sargon II and he ruled from 704 to 681 b.c.
Sennacherib's name gives us another indication of the long history of idolatry throughout Arabia: The word "Sennacherib" means "Sin multiplied brothers." The word "Sin" is the word for Sumerian moon god whose title was "al-ilah" that in pre-Islamic times was shortened to "Allah".
Thus Sennacherib's name contains a reference to "Allah" the Sumerian mood god, "Sin", who is credited with multiplying the Assyrian royal line.
In 701 b.c., Sennacherib began a pan Arabic campaign to broaden his power base. He defeated the Phoenicians, Philistines, and Egyptians in a sweep down the Mediterranean coast. He then turned his attention to Judah where he came up against Hezekiah. 2Kings 18:13;
The prophet Isaiah was assigned by the Lord to advise and counsel Hezekiah but unfortunately the king went into reversionism. It almost cost him his life and Judah its freedom.
It is God's desire that client nations depend upon Him for security, provision, and protection and historical circumstances should not change this approach.
In times of prosperity, believers find it easy to credit God for their many blessings. But when under threat they often accuse God of being negligent or on non-attentive.
National leadership often finds such threats a reason to rely on other nations for help, a notion that caused the prophet Jeremiah to comment in Jer 17:5; Thus says the Lord, "Cursed be the man that trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from the Lord."
Hezekiah allowed the imminent threat of Assyrian military power to cause his spiritual failure because rather than trusting in the Lord for freedom through military victory he made alliances with the Egyptians for the security and safety of Judah. Isaiah vociferously implored Hezekiah against such foreign policy:
Isa 30:1; "Woe to the rebellious children," declares the Lord, "Who execute a plan, but not Mine, and make an alliance but not of My Spirit, in order to add sin to sin;
v2 who proceed down to Egypt, without consulting Me, to take refuge in the safety of Pharaoh, and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!
Isa 30:3; "Therefore the safety of Pharaoh will be your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt, your humiliation."
In Hezekiah's fourteenth year, 701 b.c., Sennacharib invaded Judah:
2Kings 18:13; In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah's reign, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them.
The word "all" is not to be taken literally but rather as a means of expressing the overwhelming success of Sennacherib's campaign. All of the fortified cities in Judah that Sennacherib had attacked up to that point were captured but there are still a few that he hadn't attacked yet and his undefeated streak will ultimately be broken when he faces Hezekiah at Jerusalem.
Sennacherib's campaign took him through a number of locations in Philistia and then into the low lands of Western Judah called The Shephelah where a number of strategic fortified cities were sacked.
Details of this operation are provided in the NIV Atlas of the Bible by Carl Rasmussen, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1989), pages 135-136:
With the death of pro-Assyrian Egyptian king Shabako in 702 b.c. and the ascension of Shebitku (702-690 b.c.), there was probably a shift in Egyptian foreign policy to an anti-Assyrian stance. With much of the southwestern portion of the Fertile Crescent in revolt, it was mandatory for Sennacherib to reassert his sovereignty there.
Sennacherib's response in 701 b.c. is one of the best-documented events in the ancient world. Scripture describes his invasion from the Judean standpoint (2Kings 18-20; 2Chron 32:1-23; Isaiah 36-39; Micah 1:8-16; and Isaiah 10:28-32.
The "Prism of Sennacherib" describes this invasion from the Assyrian point of view in great detail. In addition, stone reliefs that lined the throne room of his palace in Nineveh depict various facets of his Judean campaign.
After marching westward from Assyria to the Mediterranean Sea, Sennacherib proceeded south along the Phoenician coast and captured Joppa, Bene Berak, and Beth Dagon. The Egyptians and Ethiopians, who had responded to Hezekiah's call for help, were defeated in the Plain of Eltekeh.
Sennacherib then moved eastward and captured the city of Timnah thereby cutting off the supply line between Ekron and her Judean ally, Hezekiah. This accomplished, the city of Ekron was conquered. Moving south to the Elah Valley, Sennacherib captured first Azekah and then Gath.
Sennacherib proceeded further south and assaulted the Judean stronghold of Lachish The siege and conquest of Lachish must have been one of the high points of Sennacherib's reign, for the throne room of his palace at Nineveh was decorated with reliefs depicting this conquest.
Recent archaeological excavations at Lachish have proven conclusively that the city was destroyed by Sennacherib. In some areas 6 to 10 feet of ash and debris from the destruction have been found.
From his camp at Lachish, and later from Libnah Sennacherib sent his supreme commander, chief officer, and field commander with an army to demand the submission of Jerusalem.
At the same time as the Assyrian's campaign, Hezekiah became ill and in Isaiah 38 is informed by Isaiah that he has committed the sin unto death:
Isa 38:1; In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, "Thus says the Lord, 'Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.'"
v2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the Lord,
v3 and said, "Remember now, O Lord, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in Your sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
Isa 38:4; Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah, saying,
v5 "Go and say to Hezekiah, 'Thus says the Lord, the God of your father David, "I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.
v6 "And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city."'
While he is at Lachish, Sennacherib decides to take advantage of what he perceives as the weakness of Hezekiah and that of his cabinet. Sennacherib sends three military and political members of his staff to Jerusalem to meet with the government of Hezekiah and to seek a nonviolent solution to what he is confident would otherwise be a bloody conclusion to his campaign.
These three individuals are identified in 2Kings 18:17; Then the king of Assyria sent the Tartan (general), the Rabsaris (chief of staff), and the Rabshakeh, (secretary of state), from Lachish to King Hezekiah in Jerusalem.
The spokesman among the three officials is identified as the Rabshakeh in Isa 36:2; And the king of Assyria sent the Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem to King Hezekiah with a large army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool on the highway of the fuller's field (laundry).
This passage contains a number of propaganda techniques utilized by Rabshakeh the Assyrian Secretary of State. These same tactics were discovered by the Russian communists when they analyzed the work of Dr. Ivan Pavlov and they used them against the Russian citizens.
In a more refined state they are now being used by the progressives against the citizens of the USA to advance their agenda on sexuality, marriage, climate change, healthcare, gun control, internationalism, immigration, etc.
We have seen that propaganda is designed to create insecurity in the minds of the target audience. It seeks to exploit real or imagined weaknesses in one's character so that brainwashing can occur.
The goal is to cause self-doubt, embarrassment, or guilt so that the traditional "old thinking" can be dismissed as being "mean-spirited," "intolerant," or "judgmental" and replaced it with progressive "new thinking" that is touted as "compassionate," "tolerant," and "nonjudgmental."
In the case of Judah, propaganda will be used to cast doubt in the people's minds regarding the ability of Lord God to deliver them from the Assyrian army.
In preparation for the expected military siege, Hezekiah fortified his defenses:
2Chron 32:2; Now when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come, and that he intended to make war on Jerusalem,
v3 he decided with his officers and his warriors to cut off the supply of water from the springs which were outside the city, and they helped him.
v4 So many people assembled and stopped up all the springs and the stream which flowed through the region, saying, "Why should the kings of Assyria come and find abundant water?"
2Chron 32:5; And he took courage and rebuilt all the wall that had been broken down, and erected towers on it, and built another outside wall, and strengthened the Millo (rampart) in the city of David, and made weapons and shields in great number.
v6 And he appointed military officers over the people, and gathered them to him in the square at the city gate, and spoke encouragingly to them, saying,
v7 "Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Assyria, nor because of all the multitude which is with him; for the One with us is greater than the one with him.
2Chron 32:8; "With him is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles." And the people relied on the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
During the fourteen years that Hezekiah had been king of Judah what he had done was in accordance with the directive will of God. He had rid the country of the high places and the idols of Baal and restored proper worship of the Lord God in Judah. These were his first and primary responsibilities.
However, we can see that during these fourteen years he had not sufficiently addressed the defenses of the city. Previous battles like the attack by Hazael during the reign of Josah had damaged the ramparts and walls that protected Jerusalem.
With news that the Assyrian army led by Sennacherib is headed toward Jerusalem, Hezekiah calls a cabinet meeting and orders several things be done immediately to defend the city from the expected siege.
He diverts water from the upper pool through an aqueduct so that the assaulting army will not have access to a water supply. He then rebuilt the fortifications around and within the city. He also got the defense industry up and running to produce weapons and shields and then distributed them to the men.
This military buildup is summarized in "The History of Israel and Judah." by Alfred Edersheim, Vol. 7 (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.) pages 141-142:
In 2Chron 32:1-8; various preparations are noticed which Hezekiah had made when he felt certain of the danger threatening Jerusalem. First among them was the cutting off of the water-supply for a besieging army.
To the west of Jerusalem the valley of Gihon runs from north to south . The rain-water coming from the hills around the valley was stored in two pools, the upper (Isa. 22:11) and the lower (Isa. 22:9), that were connected by an open conduit.
As the upper pool lay outside the city walls and would supply the needs of a besieging army, Hezekiah covered it over, and with an aqueduct brought its waters into a large reservoir or "lake" between the two walls" of the upper and lower city (Isa. 22:11; 2Kings 20:20; 2Chron. 32:30;).
In addition, he repaired all the walls that were broken down, "and raised upon it towers," and repaired "the other wall without"-probably that which enclosed the lower city-as well as the "Millo, in the city of David," probably a strong tower with fortified buildings at the western side of the Tyropťon valley.
Best of all, he gathered his men and captains, and encouraged them with the chief of all comforts, the assurance that Another, greater and stronger than all the might of Assyria, was with them, not "an arm of flesh," but Jehovah their God, to help them and to fight their battles.
Hezekiah is prepared to engage in armed conflict. However, a much more insidious assault has been devised by Sennacherib. On the way to Jerusalem from Sennacherib's field headquarters at Lachish is the Assyrian Secretary of State, the Rabshakeh.
He is about to launch a series of verbal missiles into the souls of Hezekiah's cabinet and the people of Jerusalem. They will be challenged to either dismiss the propaganda with divine viewpoint or be victimized by its cosmic rationales.
Sennacherib is another heathen leader who God has permitted to assault client nation Judah because its leaders and its people have gone into reversionism by appealing to yet another heathen nation for protection.
The unbelievers on Sennacherib's political and military staff represent one the most brutal and evil regimes in all of ancient history. But they don't realize that they are also spokesmen for Satan, the father of lies, himself, and as these officials approach the people of Jerusalem they will convey a message that has been devised by ambassador demons.
They envision the imminent fall of Jerusalem either by capitulation or military conquest. Judah's treaty with Egypt is now non-existent since the Egyptian army had already been defeated at the Battle of Eltekeh.
This was prophesied by Isaiah to Hezekiah's father Ahaz, in Isa 7:3; Then the Lord said to Isaiah, "Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway to the fuller's field.
Isa 7:17; "The Lord will bring on you, on your people, and on your father's house such days as have never come since the day that Ephraim separated from Judah, the king of Assyria."
When the Rabshakeh arrived at Jerusalem it became apparent immediately that he was well prepared. He made his way to the conduit of the upper pool and stood in the very place that Isaiah had prophesied the invasion of the Assyrian army.
Here the Rabshakeh will remind the people of Jerusalem of Isaiah's prophecy which he will reiterate in no uncertain terms.
Rabshakeh understood what Sun-tzu states in his military treatise "The Art of War" some four hundred years later. "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles."
As the Rabshakeh took his position at the conduit of the upper pool, three members of Hezekiah's cabinet came out to meet him:
Isa 36:3; Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household ( the national security adviser ), and Shebna the scribe ( secretary of defense ), and Joah the son of Asaph , the recorder (or royal historian), came out to him.
The spokesman for Hezekiah is his national security advisor, Eliakim,. His secretary of defense is there to observe the discussion so that he might contribute to future deliberations. The historian is there to record the exchange in order to chronicle the event.
These are the men who had previously counseled Hezekiah to enter into the mutual defense treaty with Egypt an indication their failure to function under the faith-rest drill. It is God's directive will for client nations to depend on His protection and provision. Alliances with other governments and nations is highly discouraged.
Failure to utilize the faith-rest drill plus the human-viewpoint conclusion that a coalition with heathen nations is preferred rather than dependence exclusively upon God indicates that Hezekiah's cabinet's decisions are motivated by fear.
We see from this the principle that weak, frightened, doctrineless people who choose security over freedom are easy targets for psychological warfare.
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