Invasion of Sennacherib

In a Peanuts cartoon, Lucy demands that Linus change TV channels and then threatens him with her fist if he doesn’t. “What makes you think you can walk in and take over?” asks Linus. “These five fingers,” says Lucy. “Individually they are nothing, b … More

King Hezekiah comes to the throne at a time when Judah was once again threatened by an invasion from the North. He has been king of Judah for 14 years (v. 1). In the next two chapters, Isaiah portrays Hezekiah as someone who believed in God and was miraculously delivered from the Assyrian threat by a sovereign act of God. Sennacherib, King of Assyria, boasted of taking 46 walled villages in Judah (In the Chronicle of Sennacherib) and now he sends his army against Jerusalem to surround it and to demand its surrender (vv. 2-3). His Rabshakeh (field commander) asked who they were depending on for victory (vv 4-5). To depend on Egypt would be like leaning on a “broken reed” (v. 6). Amazingly this was what Isaiah had been saying about Egypt.  He then said it would be foolish to trust in God (v. 7).  

The commander said that Jerusalem’s only reasonable option was to surrender and that the Lord had ordered him to destroy Judah (vv 8-10). This, of course, was meant to terrorize the people by making them think that god had actually turned against them. They didn’t want the people listening from the city wall to understand what they said so asked the people to speak in Aramaic instead of Hebrew (v. 11). Confident of an Assyrian victory, the commander said they would be forced to eat and drink their own body waste to survive in the siege (v. 12). He exhorted the people not to be deceived by Hezekiah (vv 13-15). He urged them to surrender and said that Sennacherib promised them prosperity in another land (vv 16, 17), because the gods of other nations had not been able to deliver them (vv 18-20).  We find the people’s response in verses 21-22. Even though they were probably terrified, the people followed Hezekiah’s instructions by not answering the Assyrian spokesman.


Jerusalem’s deliverance did not depend on negotiating with the enemy, but in trusting the Lord.  God’s promises are sure, but I must claim them by faith before God can work.

Isaiah 36:1-22 (English Standard Version)

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