The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Fourth Book of Kings
In the third year of Osee, son of Ela, king Achaz of Juda was succeeded by his son Ezechias.
This king was twenty-five years old when he came to the throne, and his reign at Jerusalem lasted twenty-nine years.
Here was one that obeyed the Lord’s will no less than his father David before him;
scattered the hill-shrines, overthrew the images, cut down the sacred trees; broke in pieces, too, the brazen serpent Moses had made, because the Israelites, till his day, used to offer incense to it; the name given to it was Nohestan.✻
In the Lord God of Israel he put all his trust; never was a king of Juda to rival him before or after;
in the paths the Lord had traced he followed still, holding ever close to him, keeping ever the commands he had given through Moses.
What wonder if the Lord was with him, if he was well advised in all he did? Against the king of Assyria he rose in rebellion, and denied him tribute;
and harried the Philistine townships as far as Gaza, from lonely hamlet to walled city.
It was in the fourth year of Ezechias, and the seventh year after Osee son of Ela came to the throne of Israel, that Salmanasar, king of Assyria, marched on Samaria and laid siege to it.
And at the end of three years he took it; it was in the sixth year of Ezechias and the ninth of Osee that Samaria was captured,
and all the Israelites carried off to Assyria, where they were settled in Hala and Habor by the streams of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
And this, because they paid no heed to the Lord’s bidding; false to his covenant, they left the commands he had given through his servant Moses unheard and unheeded.
Then, in the fourteenth year of Ezechias, the Assyrian king Sennacherib marched on the fortified cities of Juda and took them;
whereupon king Ezechias sent word to the king of Assyria, then at Lachis: I have been to blame; withdraw thy troops, and I will pay whatever ransom thou dost demand. So the king of Assyria imposed on Ezechias king of Juda a tribute of three hundred talents of silver, and three hundred of gold.
All the silver that was to be found in temple or treasury Ezechias gave him;
broke up, too, the temple doors, with the golden plates he himself had nailed to them, and gave these to the king of Assyria.
After this the Assyrian king, who was still at Lachis, sent Tharthan, Rabsaris and Rabsaces at the head of a strong force to Jerusalem, where king Ezechias was. They marched up to the city, and halted by the aqueduct that fed the upper pool, on the way that brings you to the Fuller’s Field.
Their demand was to see the king, but they were met by Eliacim, son of Helcias, the controller of the royal household, and Sobna, the secretary, and Joahe, son of Asaph, the recorder.
So Rabsaces bade them tell Ezechias, Here is a message to thee from the great king, the king of Assyria. What confidence is this that makes thee so bold?
Doubtless thou hast some design, in so committing thyself to the fortune of war. On whose help dost thou rely, that thou wouldst throw off my allegiance?
What, wilt thou rely on Egypt? That is to support thyself on a broken staff of cane, that will splinter and run into a man’s hand, if he presses on it, and pierce him through; such does Pharao, king of Egypt, prove himself to all those who rely on him.
Or wilt thou answer, We trust, I and my people, in the Lord our God? Tell me, who is he? Is he not the God whose hill-shrines and altars Ezechias has cleared away, bidding Juda and Jerusalem worship at one altar here?
Come now, if thou wert to make terms with my master, the king of Assyria, by which I must hand over to thee two thousand horses, wouldst thou be able to do thy part by putting riders on them?
Why, thou art no match even for a city prefect, the least of my master’s servants. Trust, if thou wilt, in Egypt, its chariots and its horsemen;
but dost thou doubt that I have the Lord’s warrant to subdue this land? It was the Lord himself who sent word to me, Make war on this land, and subdue it.
At this, Eliacim and Sobna and Joahe said to Rabsaces, My lord, pray talk to us in Syriac; we know it well. Do not talk to us in the Hebrew language, while all these folk are standing on the walls within hearing.
What, said Rabsaces, dost thou think my master hath sent me with this message for thee only, and for that master of thine? It is for the folk who man the walls, these companions of yours that have nothing left to eat or drink but the ventings of their own bodies.
Then Rabsaces stood up and cried aloud, in Hebrew, Here is a message to you from the great king, the king of Assyria!
This is the king’s warning, Do not be deluded by Ezechias, he is powerless to save you;
do not let Ezechias put you off by telling you to trust in the Lord; that the Lord is certain to bring you aid, he cannot allow the king of Assyria to become master of your city.
No, do not listen to Ezechias; here are the terms the king of Assyria offers you. Earn my good will by surrendering to me, and you shall live unmolested, to each the fruit of his own vine and fig-tree, to each the water from his own cistern.✻
Then, when I come back, I will transplant you into a land like your own, which will grudge you neither wheat nor wine, so rich is it in corn-fields and vineyards, neither olives, nor oil, nor honey, and you will be spared from the destruction that threatens you. No, do not listen to Ezechias when he tells you that the Lord will deliver you.
What of other nations? Were their countries delivered, by this god or that, when the king of Assyria threatened them?
What gods had Emath and Arphad, what gods had Sepharvaim, Ana and Ava? Did any power rescue Samaria from my attack?
Which of all the gods in the world has delivered his country when I threatened it, that you should trust in the Lord’s deliverance, when I threaten Jerusalem?
But all kept silence, and gave him no word in answer; the king had given strict orders that they were not to answer him.
So Eliacim, son of Helcias, the controller of the royal household, and Sobna, the secretary, and Joahe, son of Asaph, the recorder, went back to Ezechias, with their garments torn about them, to let him know what Rabsaces had said.
The Holy Bible