The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Fourth Book of Kings
No sooner had king Ezechias heard it, than he tore his garments open, and put on sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord.
Meanwhile, he sent word to the prophet Isaias, son of Amos. Eliacim, the controller of the household, and Sobna, the secretary, and some of the older priests, went on this errand.
Here is a message for thee, they said, from Ezechias. Troublous times have come upon us, times to make us mend our ways, or else blaspheme God. What remedy, when children come to the birth, and the mother has no strength to bear them?
Unless indeed the Lord should take cognizance of what Rabsaces has been saying, Rabsaces, who was sent here by his master, the king of Assyria, to blaspheme the living God. Surely the Lord thy God has listened to the reproaches he uttered. Raise thy voice, then, in prayer for the poor remnant that is left.
Thus visited by the servants of Ezechias,
Isaias answered, Give your master this message. Do not be dismayed, the Lord says, at hearing the blasphemies which the courtiers of the Assyrian king have uttered against me.
See if I do not put him in such a mind, see if I do not make him hear such news, as will send him back to his own country. And when he reaches his own country, I will give the word, and the sword shall make an end of him.
And now Rabsaces went back to find the king of the Assyrians before Lobna, hearing that he had raised the siege of Lachis.
News had come that Taracha, king of the Ethopians, was on the way to do battle with him. And the king, as he went out to meet Taracha, despatched messengers to Ezechias;
Give this warning, he said, to Ezechias, king of Juda, Do not let the God in whom thou puttest such confidence deceive thee with false hopes; do not think Jerusalem will never be allowed to fall into the hands of the Assyrian king.
What, hast thou not heard what the kings of Assyria have done to the nations everywhere, destroying them utterly? And what hope hast thou of deliverance?
What saving power had the gods of those old peoples my fathers overthrew, Gozam, and Haram, and Repheth, and the race of Eden who lived in Thalassar?
Where are they, the kings of Emath, and Arphad, the kings who governed the city of Sepharvaim, and Ana, and Ava?
These despatches were handed by the messengers to Ezechias, and when he had read them, he went up into the house of the Lord, and held them out open in the Lord’s presence.
And this was the prayer which Ezechias made to him, Lord God of Israel, who hast thy throne above the cherubim, thou alone art God over all the kingdoms of the world, heaven and earth are of thy fashioning.
Give ear, and listen; open thy eyes, Lord, and see; do not let Sennacherib’s words go unheard, these blasphemies he has uttered against the living God.
It is true, Lord, that the kings of Assyria have brought ruin on whole nations, and the lands they lived in,
and thrown their gods into the fire; but these were in truth no gods; men had made them, of wood or stone, and men could break them.
Now it is for thee, O Lord our God, to rescue us from the invader, and shew all the kingdoms of the world that there is no other Lord, no other God, save thee.
Then Isaias, son of Amos, sent word to Ezechias, A message to thee from the Lord, the God of Israel, granting the prayer thou hast made to him about Sennacherib, king of the Assyrians.
This is what the Lord has to say of him: See how she mocks thee, flouts thee, Sion, the virgin city! Jerusalem, proud maiden, follows thee with her eyes and tosses her head in scorn.
So thou wouldst hurl insults, and blaspheme, and talk boastfully, and brave it out with disdainful looks, against whom? Against the Holy One of Israel.
In thy name, these servants of thine have hurled insults at the Lord. It was thy dream that thou hadst scaled, with those many chariots of thine, the slopes of Lebanon; thou hadst cut down its tall cedars, its noble fir-trees, till thou couldst reach the very summit of its ascent, the garden its woods enclosed.
Thou wouldst dig wells and drink wherever it pleased thee, thou wouldst dry up, in thy march, the banked channels of the Nile.
What, hast thou not heard how I dealt with this people in time past? This present design, too, is one I have formed long since, and am now carrying out; such a design as brings with it ruin for the mountain fastnesses, the walled cities that fight against thee.
Sure enough, they were overawed and discomfited, the puny garrisons that held them, frail as meadow grass, or the stalks that grow on the house-top, withering before they can ripen.
But I am watching thee where thou dwellest, thy comings and goings and journeyings, thy raving talk against me.
Yes, I have listened to the ravings of thy pride against me, and now a ring for thy nose, a twitch of the bridle in thy mouth, and back thou goest by the way thou didst come.
Here is a test for thee, Ezechias, of the truth of my prophecy; this year thou must be content with what crops are left thee, and next year the aftergrowth shall be thy food; in the third year you may sow and reap, plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them.
A remnant of Juda’s race will be saved, and this remnant will strike root deep in earth, bear fruit high in air;
yes, it is from Jerusalem the remnant will come, from mount Sion that we shall win salvation; so tenderly he loves us, the Lord of hosts.
This, then, is what the Lord has to tell thee about the king of the Assyrians; he shall never enter this city, or shoot an arrow into it; no shield-protected host shall storm it, no earth-works shall be cast up around it.
He will go back by the way he came, and never enter into this city, the Lord says;
I will keep guard over this city and deliver it, for my own honour and for the honour of my servant David.
It was after this that an angel of the Lord went out on his errand, and smote down a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp; when morning came, and he saw the corpses of the dead, the king broke up camp and was gone.
So Sennacherib, king of the Assyrians, made his way home, nor did he leave Nineve again.
And one day, when he was at worship in the temple of his god Nosroch, two sons of his, Adramelech and Sarasar, drew their swords on him, and so escaped into the land of Ararat; and the throne passed to his son Asarhaddon.✻
The Holy Bible