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drank and made merry. As though impatient of
the arrival of the enemy, they ascended the roofs of
the houses in order to espy them. Isaiah could not
allow such folly and daring to pass unreproved. In
an exhortation, every word of which was of crush-
ing force, he portrayed to the nation, or rather to
the nobles, their thoughtless confidence (Isaiah xxii.
1-14). Turning towards Shebna, he exclaimed,
" What hast thou here ? and whom hast thou here
that thou hast hewn out for thyself a sepulchre?
. . . Behold, the Lord will thrust thee about with a
mighty throw, O man ! . . . thou, disgrace of the
house of thy lord! " (Ib. 16-25).


This speech of Isaiah's, directed as it was against
the most powerful man in Jerusalem, could not but
have created a great sensation. It surely roused King
Hezekiah from his contemplative and passive atti-
tude, for soon after this we find Eliakim, son of Hil-
kiah, occupying the post which Shebna had so long
maintained. This new superintendent of the palace
acted according to the advice of Isaiah, and Heze-
kiah, through his means, appears to have been
drawn into an active interest in public affairs. Sheb-
na's fall initiated a change for the better. What had
been done could not, however, be undone. The As-
syrian monarch Sennacherib, filled with anger at
Hezekiah's rebellion, was already on his way to
Judah in order to devastate it. A part of his army,
having crossed the Jordan, proceeded to the in-
terior of the country. All fortified towns that lay
on the way were taken by storm and destroyed, and
the inhabitants fled weeping to the capital. The
roads were laid desolate, no traveller could cross the
country, for the enemy respected no man. The
bravest lost courage whilst the enemy came ever
nearer to the capital ; their daring was changed to
despair. Every thought of resistance was aban-
doned. But when all despaired, the prophet Isaiah re-
mained steadfast, and inspired the faint-hearted with
courage. In one of the open places of Jerusalem he
delivered another of those orations, sublime in
thought and perfect in form, such as have never
flowed from other lips than his (Isaiah x.-5 xi. 10).
He predicted to Assyria the frustration of her plans,
and unrolled before Israel a glorious future which
was to follow their deliverance from the threatening
enemy. The scattered would return from the lands
of their dispersion ; the exiles of the Ten Tribes
would be re-united with Judah ; jealousy and enmity
would appear no more ; the miracles of the time of
the Exodus from Egypt would be repeated, and the
nation once more raise its voice in inspired hymns,


What marvellous strength of mind, what all-con-
quering faith in God, in the ultimate victory of
justice and the realisation of the ideal of everlasting
peace, amidst the terror, devastation, and despair,
and the deathlike gloom of the present!

Sennacherib had marched his troops (then pro-
ceeding to the attack on Egypt) through the Philis-
tine lowland southward without turning towards Jeru-
salem, while he himself put up his headquarters at
Lachish, which was one of the most important of the
provincial cities of Judah. He had no reason to be-
siege the town of Jerusalem, fortified as it was by
nature and human art. When the country was com-
pletely conquered, the capital would be forced to
surrender of itself. If this plan had succeeded, Jeru-
salem would have suffered a fate similar to that of
Samaria, and the few remaining tribes would have
been carried off into captivity and scattered abroad,
to be irretrievably lost amongst the various national-
ities. In spite of this hopeless prospect, Isaiah held
firm to the prediction that Judah would not fall. It
would suffer under the dominion of Sennacherib, but
these very sufferings would tend to the reformation
of a part of the nation, if not of the whole of it.

Isaiah was not the only prophet who, at this day
of oppression and imminent destruction, held aloft
the banner of hope, and predicted a glorious future
for Israel, in which all the nations of the earth
would take part. Micah spoke in a similar strain,
though his speeches were not so artistic or striking.
But amidst the din of battle he spoke yet more
decidedly than Isaiah of the everlasting peace of the
world, and thus endeavoured to raise the fallen
hopes of Jerusalem (Micah iv.-v.).

The actual present, however, formed a striking
contrast to Isaiah's and Micah's high-soaring predic-
tions of a most brilliant and noble future. King
Hezekiah, seeing the distress of Jerusalem resulting
from the subjection and devastation of the country,


sent messengers to Sennacherib in Lachish, to ask
pardon for his rebellion and give assurances of his
submission. The Assyrian king demanded in the
first place the immense sum of 300 khikars (talents)
of silver, and 30 khikars of gold. Hezekiah suc-
ceeded in collecting this sum, but he did it with a
heavy heart, for he found himself obliged to remove
the golden ornaments which adorned the temple.
When Sennacherib had received this sum, he de-
manded more unconditional surrender. In order
to add weight to his demand, he sent a division
of his army to Jerusalem. This detachment was
stationed to the north-east of the city on the way
to the upper lake, and made preparations for a
siege. Before beginning it, however, the Assyrians
summoned King Hezekiah to an interview. Rab-
shakeh, one of the Assyrian officials, representing
Sennacherib, spoke with as much disdain as if the
conquest of Jerusalem were as easy as robbing a
bird's nest. The Juclsean warriors stationed on the
outer wall waited with great anxiety for the result of
the interview. In order to daunt their courage,
Rab-shakeh uttered his bold and daring speech in
the Hebrew or Judsean tongue, in order that the
listeners might understand him. When Hezekiah's
officers requested Rab-shakeh to address them rather
in the Aramaean language, he replied that he desired to
speak in their own language, so that the warriors on
the outer wall might understand him, and be disabused
of Hezekiah's delusion. In order to win them to his
side, Rab-shakeh called aloud to them that they should
not be persuaded by Hezekiah into the belief that
God would save them. Were the gods of those
countries subdued by the Assyrians able to save their
people ? Nor had the God of Israel been able even
to rescue Samaria from the king of Assyria. Rab-
shakeh openly demanded of the Judaean warriors
that they should desert their king and acknowledge
Sennacherib, and he would then lead them into a


land as fruitful as that of Judah. The people and the
warriors silently listened to those words. But when
they became known in Jerusalem, they spread fear
and consternation amongst all classes of the inhab-
itants. Hezekiah, therefore, appointed a fast and a
penitent procession to the Temple, to which he him-
self repaired in mourning garments. Isaiah made use
of this opportunity in order to appeal to the blinded
princes of Judah, whose danger could not wean
them from sin, and to impress on them that mere
outward piety, such as sacrifices and fasts, was of
no avail (Isaiah i.). The address he gave could
not but have a crushing effect. Safety and rescue,
said the prophet, could only be brought about by
a thorough moral regeneration ; but how could
this be effected in a moment? Rab-shakeh insisted
on a decision, and the troops as well as the na-
tion were disheartened. What if, in order to save
their lives they opened the gates and admitted the
enemy? All eyes were, therefore, turned on the
prophet Isaiah. The king sent the highest digni-
taries and the elders of the priests to him, that he
might pray in behalf of the unworthy nation, and
speak a word of comfort to the remnant of the people
that was crowded together in Jerusalem. Isaiah's
message was brief but reassuring. He exhorted the
king to throw off his terror of the scornful victor, and
predicted that Sennacherib, scared by some report,
would raise the siege and return to his own country.
This announcement appears to have pacified not
only the king, but also the terror-stricken nation.
Hezekiah then sent to Rab-shakeh a reply for which
the latter was unprepared. He refused to surrender.
How exasperated the great sovereign must have
been when Rab-shakeh reported to him the decision
of Hezekiah ! A petty prince, who had nothing left
to him but his capital, had dared defy him! He
immediately sent a messenger with a letter to Heze-
kiah, in which he gave utterance to his contempt for


the little state and for the God in whom Hezekiah
trusted. He enumerated therein the fortresses which
had been subdued by the Assyrians: " Have their
gods been able to save them, and dost thou hope that
confidence in thy God will save thee ? "

The reply to this blasphemous epistle was dictated
by Isaiah. In it he predicted that Sennacherib would
return to his country in abject defeat, for God was
not willing to give up the city. Before Rab-shakeh
could bring the answer to Sennacherib, a change
had already taken place. Tirhakah, the Ethiopian
king of Egypt, who desired to prevent the advance
of the Assyrians, went to meet them with a large
army. Hearing of the advance of the Egyptian and
Ethiopian troops, Sennacherib left his encampment
in Lachish, collected his scattered forces, and pro-
ceeded southward as far as the Egyptian frontier
town, Pelusium, which he besieged.

Hezekiah's despair at Sennacherib's blasphemous
letter was calmed by Isaiah's prediction that the
land would indeed suffer want in this and in the
coming year, but after this it would once more regain
its fertility; 'yea, the remnant of Judah would again t
strike its root downward, and bear fruit upward, and
this revival would proceed from Jerusalem ; but
Sennacherib would not be permitted to direct even
an arrow against Jerusalem.' Whilst the king and
the nobles who believed in Isaiah's prophecy, gave
themselves up to hope, looking upon the departure
of the besieging troops from before Jerusalem as the
beginning of the realisation of the prophetic predic-
tion, an event occurred which roused fresh terror in
Jerusalem. Hezekiah was afflicted with a virulent
tumour, and was in such imminent danger that even
Isaiah advised him to put his house in order and
arrange for the succession, as he would not recover
from his sickness. The death of the king, without
heirs, in this stormy time, would have been a signal
for disunion among the princes of Judah, and would


have occasioned a civil war in the distressed capital.
The nation was strongly attached to its gentle and
noble king He was the very breath of its life ; and
the prospect of losing him made him doubly dear to
the inhabitants of Jerusalem. At this sorrowful pre-
diction, Hezekiah, lying on his sick bed, turned his
face to the wall, and tearfully prayed to God. Then
Isaiah announced to him that his prayers had been
heard, that God would send him health, and that on
the third day he would repair to the Temple. By
the application of soft figs the ulcer disappeared, and
he became well again. On his recovery the king
composed a heartfelt psalm of praise, which was
probably sung in the Temple. (Isaiah xxxviii. 1 0-20.)
The recovery of the king caused great rejoicing in
Jerusalem; but it was not unmixed. Doubt and
anxiety were still felt in the capital so long as Sen-
nacherib's contest with Egypt remained unended.
If he were victorious, the thrones of Judah and David
would be lost. How long this war and the siege of
Pelusium lasted is not certain. Suddenly the joyful
news reached Jerusalem that Sennacherib with the
remainder of his army was returning in hot haste to
his country (711). What had happened to the
numerous host? Nothing definite was known, and
the scene of action lay far away. In Jerusalem it
was related that a devouring pestilence or the Angel
of Death had destroyed the entire Assyrian host,
1 85,000 men. In Egypt, the priests related that a
numberless swarm of field-mice had gnawed to pieces
the quivers, bows, and trappings of the army till they
were useless, and that the soldiers, deprived of their
weapons, were obliged to take to flight. Whatever
may have caused the destruction of the mighty host
of Sennacherib, his contemporaries appear to have
considered it as a miracle, and as a punishment sent
to the Assyrian king for his pride and blasphemy.
In Jerusalem the joy following on anxiety was in-
creased by the fact that the prophet had repeatedly


and, from the very commencement of the attack,
predicted that the Assyrians would not cast one
arrow against Jerusalem, and that Sennacherib would
return on the way by which he had come without
having effected his intentions.

The exultation over their deliverance found vent
in the hymns beautiful in form and thought
which were composed by the Korahite Levites, and
sung in the Temple. (Psalms xlvi. and Ixxvi.)

Thus Jerusalem was delivered from the Assyrians.
Isaiah's prediction thaf'Assur's yoke shall be removed
from the shoulder of Judah" was fulfilled to the letter.
The inhabitants of the country, part of whom had been
shut up in the capital, and part of whom had fled for
refuge to the neighbouring hollows and caves, now
returned to their homes, and tilled the land in safety.
All fear of the frowning eye of the Assyrian king
having passed away, the Judaeans, whose territory was
but small, could now seek out other dwelling places
where they could settle down and spread. Heze-
kiah's thoughts were not directed towards war; his
was the mission of a prince of peace. It appears that
the neighbouring people, indeed, called on him as an
arbiter in their disputes, and that fugitives and per-
secuted men sought protection with him. Although
Judah could not be said to boast of victories under
Hezekiah, it yet attained to an important position
amongst the nations.

After the defeat of Sennacherib, a king from dis-
tant parts endeavoured to form an alliance with
Judah. The king of Babylon, Merodach-baladan
(Mardo-kempad), son of Baladan (721-710), sent
an embassy with letters and presents to Hezekiah,
ostensibly under the pretext of congratulating him
on his recovery, but doubtless in order to form
an alliance with him against their common foe.
Hezekiah being naturally gratified at this sign of
respect from a distant land, received the Baby-
lonian embassy with the customary honours, and


showed them his treasures. This manifestation of
joy and pride displeased Isaiah, who prophesied injury
to Judah from the land with which it was forming a
treaty. The king received the reproof of the prophet
with humility.

The fifteen years of Hezekiah's reign after the
downfall of the Assyrian kingdom was a golden age
for the inner development of the remnant of Israel.
They could dwell without disturbance under their
vines and fig-trees. As in the days of David and
Solomon, strangers immigrated into the happy region
of Judah, where they were kindly received, and where
they attached themselves to the people of Israel.
The poor and the sorrow-stricken, the mourner and
the outcast were the objects of the king's special care.
He could now put into execution his heartfelt desire
'to have the faithful of the land, the God-fearing and the
true, to dwell with him in his palace.' The disciples of
Isaiah, imbued as they were with their master's spirit,
were the friends and advisers of Hezekiah, and were
called " Hezekiah's people."

The second part of Hezekiah's reign was altogether
a time of happy inspiration for the poet The fairest
blossoms of psalmody flourished at this period. Be-
sides songs of thanksgiving and holy hymns which
flowed from the lips of the Levites, probably written
for use in the Temple, half-secular songs were dedi-
cated in love and praise to King Hezekiah. On the
occasion of his marriage with a beautiful maiden,
whose charms had touched the king's heart, one
of the Korahites composed a love-song. The two
kinds of poetry, the peculiar property of the Hebrew
people, which the literature of no other nation has
paralleled, the poetical and rhythmical expression of
prophetic eloquence and the psalm, reached their
culmination under Hezekiah. The Proverbs, that
third branch of Hebrew poetry, were not only
collected, but also amplified by the poets of Hezekiah's


Hezekiah ruled in quiet and peace until the end of
his days. The defeat of Sennacherib had been so
complete that he could not think of undertaking
another expedition against Judah. Great joy was
felt when Sennacherib, who had hurled such proud
and blasphemous utterances at Israel's God and
nation, was murdered by his own sons, Adrammelech
and (Nergal-) Sharezer, in the temple of one of the
Assyrian gods. Nothing is known of the last days
of Hezekiah (696). He was the last king whose
remains were interred in the royal mausoleum. The
people, who were strongly attached to him, gave him
a magnificent burial. It appears that he left an only
son named Manasseh, whom his wife, Hephzi-bah,
had borne to him after the close of the Assyrian war.



Manasseh Fanatical Hatred of Hezekiah's Policy. Assyrian Wor-
ship Introduced The Anavim Persecution of the Prophets
Esarhaddon The Colonisation of Samaria Amon Josiah
Huldah and Zephaniah Affairs in Assyria Regeneration of
Judah under Josiah Repairing of the Temple Jeremiah The
Book ot Deuteronomy Josiah's Passover Battle at Megiddo.

695 608 B. C. E.

IT was not destined that the Judsean nation should
enjoy uninterrupted happiness for even a few
generations. Its strength was tried by rapid changes
from prosperity to misfortune. Close upon the
power and unity of the second half of Hezekiah's
reign came weakness and disintegration ; quiet and
peace were followed by wild disturbances, and the
spring-time of mental culture by a destructive drought.
It is true that no disasters of a political nature dis-
turbed the country under the rule of Hezekiah's suc-
cessor, and what perils threatened the land from
abroad, soon passed over. But at home, unfortunate
circumstances arose which brought about a schism,
and thus led to lasting weakness. What can be worse
for a commonwealth than jealousy and hatred among
its members, and the antipathy of the rural popula-
tion to the capital? Such feelings arose under the
government of Hezekiah's son, who, to the injury of
the land, reigned for more than half a century (695-
641). Manasseh's youth was in part the cause of
this disaffection.

Under the sway of a boy of twelve, whose gov-
ernment lies in the hands of his servants, ambition,
avarice, and even worse passions are apt to rule, un-
less those in power are men of great moral worth,


whose patriotism surpasses their self-love. The
princes of the house of Judah had not, however, at-
tained to this moral height. They were, in fact, filled
with resentment at the neglect which they had suf-
fered during Hezekiah's reign, and only anxious to
regain their former position, by removing the in-
truders and satisfying their vengeance. Courtiers
and officers now came into power who seemed to
find their chief occupation in reversing everything
which had been introduced under Hezekiah. The
order of things established by this king, whether it
be defined as a restoration or an innovation, rested
on the ancient Israelitish doctrines of the unity of
God, of His incorporeality, of a rejection of all
idolatry, and on a centralised worship.

It was the aim of the fanatics who stood at the
head of the government to overturn this system.
An idolatrous faction was formed, which was not
only influenced by force of habit, love of imitation,
or misdirected religious feeling, but also by passion-
ate hatred of all that appertained to the ancient Is-
raelitish customs, and love for all that was foreign.
At the head of this party were the princes, under
whose influence and care the young king was placed.
Not long after Manasseh's accession to the throne,
the nobles, who acted in the king's name, proceeded
with the innovations which they had planned. Their
first step was to proclaim lawful the use of high
altars, which Hezekiah had so strongly reprobated.
They then introduced the wild orgies of idolatry
into Jerusalem and the Temple. Not only the
ancient Canaanitish, but also the Assyrian and Baby-
lonian modes of worship became customary at the
Temple, as if in scorn of the God of Israel. In the
courts of the Temple, altars were erected to Baal and
Astarte, and smaller altars on the roofs of houses
in honour of the five planets. In the court of the
Temple, a large image (Ssemel), probably of the
Assyrian goddess Mylitta, was erected, as if to give
offence to the God of Israel.


More pernicious even than this wild medley of
idolatry in itself, were its influences on morality.
The profligate temple-servants and priestesses
(Kedeshoth) of Astarte were provided with cells,
where they led a wild and dissolute life. The pyre
(Topheth) was once more raised in the beautiful vale
of Ben-Hinnom, where tender children were cast into
the fire as offerings to Moloch to avert calamity.
Everything was done to cause the memory of the
God of Israel to fall into oblivion. The faction of
idolaters persuaded themselves and others that God
had become powerless, and that He could neither
bring them good nor bad fortune. The desire of
imitation had no mean share in this religious and
moral perversion. Habit and compulsion exercised
on the disaffected soon spread the evil, which pro-
ceeded from the court and the prince till it extended
over the whole land. The priests of the family of
Aaron were probably at first unwilling to participate
in this secession from the God of Israel. Idolatrous
priests (Khemarim) were therefore brought into the
country, who, as in the days of Jezebel and Athaliah,
were permitted to take part in the service of the
Temple. Nor were false prophets wanting to lend
their voices to these abominations. What cause,
however bad, if enjoying the favour of the great, has
not found eloquent tongues to shield, justify, or even
recommend it as the only true and good one ? This
state of things, if unopposed, would have led to the
utter oblivion of all the past, and to the destruction
of the nation which was to bring blessings to the
entire human race.

Happily there existed in Jerusalem a strong party
who respected the law so despised and scoffed at by
the court faction. These formed a striking contrast
to the representatives of idolatry, and were deter-
mined to seal their convictions even with their blood.
These " disciples of the Lord," whom Isaiah had
taught and educated as his own children, were the


long-suffering Anavim, small in numbers and low in
rank, whose determination, however, rendered them
a strong power. They may be called the Anavites
or prophetic party ; they called themselves " the com-
munity of the upright " (Sod Jescharim w* Edah\
This community was subjected to many hard trials
through the change under Manasseh. The least of
their troubles was that the men whom Hezekiah had
placed as judges and officers of state were turned
out of their positions by the court party, and that
Aaronides, of the family of Zadok the high-priest,
who refused to take part in the idolatrous worship,
were dismissed from the Temple, and deprived of
their incomes from sacrifices and gifts. Prophets
raised their voices in denunciation of these crimes,
and other members of this community manifested
their horror at the daring of the court party; but
Manasseh and the princes of Judah did not stop shorl
of any crime, and, like the abhorred Jezebel, drowned
the voices of the prophets in blood. The prophetic
utterances of this period have not been preserved ;
the zealous men of God had no time to write them
down. A violent death overtook them before they
could seize the pencil, or they were obliged to hide
their thoughts in veiled language. As though these
sad times were doomed to be forgotten, the his-
torians have noted down but little of public interest.
An event of great import to Judaea occurred during

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