Hezekiah reigning in Judah during this siege of Samaria


As we know Isaiah is the prophet in Judah at this time.  King Hezekiah, a righteous king, is ruling the House of Judah to the south of the ten tribes of the House of Israel under Hoshea.  2nd Kings 18:1-12, “Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea the son of Elah [729BC], king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign.  [So this 729BC is when Hezekiah is beginning his co-regency with his father, Ahaz]  He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem.  His mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah.  And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done.  He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan.  He trusted in the LORD God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among the kings of Judah, nor who were before him.  For he held fast to the    LORD; he did not depart from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD had commanded Moses.  The LORD was with him; he prospered wherever he went.  And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.  He subdued the Philistines, as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city.  Now it came to pass in the fourth year of king Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria and besieged it.  And at the end of three years they took it.  [That’s a long siege.]  In the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is, the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken.  Then the king of Assyria carried Israel away captive to Assyria, and put them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, because they did not obey the voice of the LORD their God, but transgressed his covenant and all that Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded; and they would neither hear nor do them.  Do you remember how during the recent civil war between Israel and Judah, a prophet had told Israel to release the 200.000 captive women and children they had taken in that war?  The elders of Ephraim had listened to the prophet of God over and above their king, Pekah.  Now during the reign of Hoshea, Hezekiah is reigning in Judah.  Hezekiah, the son of Ahaz started ruling when he was 25 years old and he ruled 29 years, 2nd Chronicles 29:1, and it says “he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done.”  He cleanses the Temple, 2nd Chronicles 29:3-19, “Hezekiah became king when he was twenty-five years old, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem.  His mother’s name was Abijah the daughter of Zechariah.  And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done. 


Hezekiah Cleanses the Temple


In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them.  Then he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them in the East Square, and said to them:  ‘Hear me, Levites!  Now sanctify yourselves, sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry out the rubbish from the holy place.  For our fathers have transgressed and done evil in the eyes of the LORD our God; they have forsaken him, have turned their faces away from the dwelling place of the LORD, and turned their backs on him.  They have also shut up the doors of the vestibule, put out the lamps, and have not burned incense or offered burnt offerings in the holy place to the God of Israel.”  Let’s stop here for a moment, and make this personal.  We are called by Paul the Temple of the Holy Spirit, us, our bodies.  The lamps represent the Holy Spirit burning within each and every one of us.  Have we shut the door to the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and shut down its burning lamps within ourselves?  Have we stopped offering the incense of our prayers on the altar of incense?  Have we stopped sacrificing to our God in good works, perhaps works of evangelism and service to him?  All these Temple things represent spiritual things within our lives.  “Therefore the wrath of the LORD fell upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he has given them up to trouble, to desolation, and to jeering, as you see with your eyes.  For indeed, because of this our fathers have fallen by the sword; and our sons, our daughters, and our wives are in captivity.”  Remember under Ahaz his father how Israel under king Pekah had fought Judah and killed 120,000 from Judah’s army and taken 200,000 women and children captive, until they were released by the elders of Ephraim?  That’s what Hezekiah is referring to in this bold speech to the Levites.  Let’s continue his speech.  “Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the LORD God of Israel, that his fierce wrath may turn away from us.  My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that you should minister to him and burn incense.’  Then these Levites arose:  Mahath the son of Amasai and Joel the son of Azariah, of the sons of the Kohathites; of the sons of Marari, Kish the son of Abdi and Azariah the son of Jehallelel; of the Gershonites, Joah the son of Zimmah and Eden the son of Joah; of the sons of Elizaphan, Shimri and Jeiel; of the sons of Asaph, Zechariah and Mattaniah; of the sons of Heman, Jehiel and Shimei; and of the sons of Jeduthun, Shemaiah and Uzziel.  And they gathered their brethren, sanctified themselves, and went according to the commandment of the king, at the word of the LORD, to cleanse the house of the LORD.  Then the priests went into the inner part of the house of the LORD to cleanse it, and brought out all the debris that they found in the temple of the LORD to the court of the house of the LORD.  And the Levites took it out and carried it to the Brook Kidron.  Now they began to sanctify on the first day of the month, and on the eighth day of the month they came to the vestibule of the LORD.  So they sanctified the house of the LORD in eight days, and on the sixteenth day of the first month they finished.  [Comment:  So they missed the 14th of Nisan, the Passover day, by two days.  This meant that they had to observe the Passover as a nation of the 14th day of the second month, as the Law spells out.]  Then they went in to king Hezekiah and said, ‘We have cleansed all the house of the LORD, the altar of burnt offerings with all its articles, and the table of the showbread with all its articles.  Moreover all the articles which king Ahaz in his reign had cast aside in his transgression we have prepared and sanctified; and there they are, before the altar of the LORD.’


Hezekiah Restores Temple Worship


2nd Chronicles 29:20-36, “Then king Hezekiah rose early, gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of the LORD.  And they brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven male goats for a sin offering for the kingdom, for the sanctuary, and for Judah.  Then he commanded the priests, the sons of Aaron, to offer them on the altar of the LORD.  So they killed the bulls, and the priests received the blood and sprinkled it on the altar.  Likewise they killed the rams and sprinkled it on the altar.  Likewise they killed the rams and sprinkled the blood on the altar.  They also killed the lambs and sprinkled the blood on the altar.  Then they brought out the male goats for the sin offering before the king and the assembly, and they laid their hands on them.  And the priests killed them; and they presented their blood on the altar as a sin offering to make an atonement for all Israel, for the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering be made for all Israel.”  Did you catch that?  King Hezekiah commanded that these sin offerings be applied to all Israel, all 12 tribes, along with the Levites, not merely to Judah and the Levites.  “And he stationed the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with stringed instruments, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, of Gad the king’s seer, and of Nathan the prophet; for thus was the commandment of the LORD by his prophets.  The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets.  Then Hezekiah commanded them to offer the burnt offering on the altar.  And when the burnt offering began, the song of the LORD also began, with the trumpets and with the instruments of David king of Israel.  So all the assembly worshipped, the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded; all this continued until the burnt offering was finished.  And when they had finished offering, the king and all who were present with him bowed and worshipped.  Moreover king Hezekiah and the leaders commanded the Levites to sing praise to the LORD with the words of David and of Asaph the seer.  So they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped.  Then Hezekiah answered and said, ‘Now that you have consecrated yourselves to the LORD, come near, and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the LORD.’  So the assembly brought in sacrifices and thank offerings, and as many as were of a willing heart brought burnt offerings.  And the number of burnt offerings which the assembly brought was seventy bulls, one hundred rams, and two hundred lambs; all these were for a burnt offering to the LORD.  The consecrated things were six hundred bulls and three thousand sheep.  But the priests were too few, so that they could not skin all the burnt offerings; therefore their brethren the Levites helped them until the work ended and until the other priests had sanctified themselves, for the Levites were more diligent in sanctifying themselves than the priests.  Also the burnt offerings were in abundance, with the fat of the peace offerings and with the drink offerings for every burnt offering.  So the service of the house of the LORD was set in order.  Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced that God had prepared the people, since the events took place so suddenly.”  That was quite a Praise & Worship service!  I seriously doubt any modern church has ever had one like that.  Now we come to a very interesting set of Scriptures, and notice the part a good number from the ten tribes of Israel play in this.


Hezekiah’s Special Passover


2nd Chronicles 30:1-10-12-18, “And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and also wrote letters to Ephraim, and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover in the second month.  For they could not keep it at the regular time, because a sufficient number of priests had not consecrated themselves, nor had the people gathered together at Jerusalem.”  As well as the Temple hadn’t been cleaned up and consecrated, as we just read.  “And the matter pleased the king and all the assembly.  So they resolved to make a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, that they should come to keep the Passover to the LORD God of Israel at Jerusalem, since they had not done it for a long time in the prescribed manner.  Then the runners went throughout all Israel and Judah with the letters from the king and his leaders, and spoke according to the command of the king: ‘Children of Israel, return to the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel; then he will return to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria.  And do not be like your fathers and your brethren, who trespassed against the LORD God of their fathers, so that he gave them up to desolation, as you see.  Now do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the LORD; and enter his sanctuary, which he has sanctified forever, and serve the LORD God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you.  For if you return to the LORD, your brethren and your children will be treated with compassion by those who lead them captive, so that they may come back to this land; for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn his face from you if you return to him.’  So the runners passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun; but they laughed at them and mocked them.  Nevertheless some from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem.  Also the hand of God was on Judah to give them singleness of heart to obey the command of the king and the leaders, at the word of the LORD.  Now many people, a very great assembly, gathered at Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month.  They arose and took away the altars that were in Jerusalem, and they took away all the incense altars and cast them into the Brook Kidron.  Then they slaughtered the Passover lambs on the fourteenth day of the second month.  The priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought the burnt offerings to the house of the LORD.  They stood in their place according to their custom, according to the Law of Moses the man of God; the priests sprinkled the blood received from the hand of the Levites.  For there were many in the assembly who had not sanctified themselves; therefore the Levites had charge of the slaughter of the Passover lambs for everyone who was not clean, to sanctify them to the LORD.  For a multitude of the people, many from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover contrary to what was written. [so Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, Zebulun, Asher, five tribes have been listed here in this set of verse, 10 & 18.]  But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, ‘May the good LORD provide atonement for everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he is not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.  And the LORD listened to Hezekiah and healed the people.  So the children of Israel who were present at Jerusalem kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with great gladness; and the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day by day, singing to the LORD, accompanied by loud instruments.  And Hezekiah gave encouragement to all the Levites who taught the good knowledge of the LORD; and they ate throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings and making confession to the LORD God of their fathers.  Then the whole assembly agreed to keep the feast another seven days, and they kept it another seven days with gladness.  For Hezekiah king of Judah gave to the assembly a thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep, and the leaders gave to the assembly a thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep; and a great number of priests sanctified themselves.  The whole assembly of Judah rejoiced, also the priests and Levites, all the assembly that came from Israel, the sojourners who came from the land of Israel, and those who dwelt in Judah.  So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.  Then the priests, the Levites arose and blessed the people, and their voice was heard; and their prayer came up to his holy dwelling place, to heaven.” Notice Asher, Manasseh, Ephraim, Issachar, Zebulon, five tribes are mentioned so far as having attended this special Passover Hezekiah had invited them to come down and observe.  From the number of bulls, 2,000, and sheep, 17,000, to help feed everyone, especially the Israelite sojourners, there could have been several hundred thousand, maybe even 500,000 to a million  Israelites from these five tribes attending this.  That was a lot of beef and mutton being consumed.  This is very significant to our coverage of the northern ten tribes of Israel which made up the House of Israel.  Hezekiah re-instituted tithing, and it says that Israel responded as well, 2nd Chronicles 31:1, “Now when all this was finished, all Israel who were present went out to the cities of Judah and broke the sacred pillars in pieces, cut down the wooden images, and threw down the high places and the altars---from all Judah---until they had utterly destroyed them all.  Then all the children of Israel returned to their own cities, every man to his possession.”  God through Hezekiah and Isaiah has really turned up the heat in the revival started by Elijah, Elisha, and Jonah along with all the other unnamed prophets he sent to Israel.  A sizeable number from those five tribes of Israel from the northern House of Israel are really hot for God.  This Passover occurred in the first year of his reign, 729BC.  As we saw, perhaps a million Israelites from these five tribes, including 220,000 soldiers, evaded Assyrian captivity.  They never would have succeeded in doing that without God’s help and approval.  Next we see Hezekiah re-instituting tithing.  It’s hard to keep a viable ministry going without the tithes and offerings of the people, and now that Hezekiah has got the priests and Levites back on the job and into high gear, he’s guaranteeing they get paid for their work, and that their ministry is sufficiently supported. We often forget how important that is for the ministers and evangelistic works Jesus has given us to do.  [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/missionstatement.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/gifts.htm  for more on the subject of evangelism, and the principle of tithes and offerings.]  2nd Chronicles 31:4-6, “Moreover he commanded the people who dwelt in Jerusalem to contribute support for the priests and the Levites, that they may devote themselves to the Law of the LORD.  As soon as the commandment was circulated, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of grain and wine, oil and honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything.  And the children of Israel and Judah, who dwell in the cities of Judah, brought the tithe of oxen and sheep; also the tithe of holy things which were consecrated to the LORD their God they laid in heaps.”  Again, we see the Israelites from those five tribes are not just worshipping with their lips, but with their wallets, putting their money where there mouth is.  Where the rubber meets the road in our worship has got to be in the area of our tithes and offerings to our church and to the various evangelistic organizations that are tirelessly working to get the Gospel of Salvation to the world.  By the way, just what is the Gospel of Salvation?  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/misc/WhatIsTheGospel%20.htm for a short, concise definition.   So you see a good segment of Israel, five tribes mentioned for sure, of the seven that eventually migrated north to the Black Sea region north of Armenia, keeping God’s Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread for a full 14 days, and then going back through Judah and Israel smashing all the idols they came upon on their way home.  Can you see why the LORD protected these tribes who became the Black Sea Scythians? 


Start of the fall of the Assyrian Empire


After conquering Samaria in 721 BC Assyria then marched on Judah around 701BC, which was being ruled by Hezekiah with Isaiah as prophet.  Werner Keller in his book The Bible as History had this to say about the start of the invasion when they took Lachish:


“On the turrets and breastwork of…Lachish…the Judahite defenders…showered a hail of arrows on the attackers, hurled stones down upon them, threw burning torches…among the enemy…At the foot of the wall the Assyrians are attacking with the utmost violence…There engineers have built sloping ramps of earth, stones and felled trees.  Siege engines, the first tanks in history, push forward up the ramps against the walls.  They are equipped with a battering ram which sticks out like the barrel of a cannon…tunnels are being driven into the rock beneath the foundation of the walls…The first captives, men and women, are being led off.  Lifeless bodies are hanging on pointed sticks…impaled.”




2nd Kings 18:13-37, “And in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah [701BC] Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them.  Then Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, ‘I have done wrong; turn away from me; whatsoever you impose on me I will pay.’  And the king of Assyria assessed Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold.  So Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the LORD and in the treasuries of the king’s house.  At that time Hezekiah stripped the gold from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah has overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.


Sennacherib Boasts Against the LORD


Then the king of Assyria sent the Tartan, the Rabsaris, and the Rabshakeh from Lachish, with a great army against Jerusalem, to king Hezekiah.  And they went up and came to Jerusalem.  When they had come up, they went and stood by the aqueduct from the upper pool, which was on the highway to the Fuller’s Field.  And when they had called to the king, Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household of Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came out to them.  Then the Rabshakeh said to them, ‘Say now to Hezekiah, Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: ‘What confidence is this in which you trust?  You speak of having plans and power for war; but they are mere words.  And in whom do you trust, that you rebel against me?  Now look!  You are trusting in the staff of this broken reed, Egypt, on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it.  So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him.  But if you say to me, ‘We trust in the LORD our God,’ is it not he whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and said to Judah and Jerusalem, You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem’?  Now therefore, I urge you, give a pledge to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses---if you are able to on your part put riders on them!  How then will you repel one captain of the least of my master’s servants, and put your trust in Egypt for chariots and horsemen?  Have I now come up without the LORD against this place to destroy it?  The LORD said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it.’  Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, Shebna, and Joah said to the Rabshakeh, ‘Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it; and do not speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.’  But the Rabshakeh said to them, ‘Has my master sent me to your master and to you to speak these words, and not to the men who sit on the wall, who will eat and drink their own waste with you?’  Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out with a loud voice in Hebrew, and spoke, saying, ‘Hear the word of the great king:  Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he shall not be able to deliver you from his hand; nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD will surely deliver us; this city shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’  Do not listen to Hezekiah; for thus says the king of Assyria:  Make peace with me by a present and come out to me; and every one of you eat from his own vine and every one from his own fig tree, and every one of you drink waters of his own cistern; until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive groves and honey, that you may live and not die.  But do not listen to Hezekiah, lest he persuade you, saying, ‘The LORD will deliver us.’  Has any of the gods of the nations at all delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria?  Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad?  Where are the gods of Sepharvaim and Hena and Ivah?  Indeed, have they delivered Samaria from my hand?  Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their countries from my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’  But the people held their peace and answered him not a word; for the king’s commandment was, ‘Do not answer him.’  Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and told him the words of the Rabshakeh.”   Notice the insults this guy is hurling at the LORD God of Israel, Yahweh himself.  Not a good thing at all, very stupid.  In the next set of Scriptures we’ll see how God himself brings a major shrinking of the Assyrian Empire.  2nd Kings 19:1-37, “And so it was, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he tore his clothes, covered himself with sack cloth, and went into the house of the LORD.  Then he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz.  And they said to him, ‘Thus says Hezekiah:  This day is a day of trouble, and rebuke, and blasphemy; for the children have come to birth, but there is no strength to bring them forth.  It may be that the LORD your God will hear all the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the LORD your God has heard.  Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.’  So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah.  And Isaiah said to them, ‘Thus says the LORD:  Do not be afraid of the words which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me.  Surely I will send a spirit upon him, and he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.’  Then the Rabshakeh returned and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah, for he heard that he had departed from Lachish.  And the king heard concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, ‘Look, he has come out to make war with you.’  So he again sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, ‘Thus you shall speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying:  Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you [he’s calling God a liar now!], saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.  Look!  You have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands by utterly destroying them; and shall you be delivered?  Have the gods of the nations delivered those whom my fathers have destroyed, Gozan and Haran and Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Telassar?  Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivah?’  And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.  Then Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said: ‘O LORD God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, you are God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth.  You have made heaven and earth.  Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God.  Truly, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations of their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands---wood and stone.  Therefore they destroyed them.  Now therefore, O LORD our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you are the LORD God, you alone.’” 


Now Let’s See What God Has Say About Sennacherib


“Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel:  ‘Because you have prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard.’  This is the word which the LORD has spoken concerning him: ‘The virgin, the daughter of Zion, has despised you, laughed you to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem has shaken her head behind your back!  Whom have you reproached and blasphemed?  Against whom have you raised your voice, and lifted up your eyes on high? Against the Holy One of Israel, by your messengers you have reproached the LORD, and said: ‘By the multitude of my chariots I have come up to the height of the mountains, to the limits of Lebanon; I will cut down its tall cedars and its choice cypress trees; I will enter the extremity of its borders, to its fruitful forest.  I have dug and drunk strange water, and with the soles of my feet I have dried up all the brooks of defense.’  ‘Did you not hear long ago how I made it, from ancient times that I formed it?  Now I have brought it to pass, that you should be for crushing fortified cities into heaps of ruins.  Therefore their inhabitants had little power; they were dismayed and confounded; they were as the grass of the field and the green herb, as the grass on the housetops and grain blighted before it is grown.  But I know your dwelling place, your going out and your coming in, and your rage against me.  Because your rage against me and your tumult have come up to my ears.  Therefore I will put my hook in your nose and my bridle in your lips, and I will turn you back by the way which you came.’  [that, I believe was the message for Sennacherib.  What follows is for the Jews and Hezekiah from the LORD.  In light of what follows, don’t forget Sennacherib’s army has probably devastated all their crops.]  ‘This shall be a sign to you:  You shall eat this year such as grows of itself, and in the second year what springs from the same; also in the third year sow and reap.  Plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them.  And the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.  For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and those who escape from Mount Zion.  The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.’  Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria:  ‘He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor build a siege mound against it.  By the way that he came, by the same shall he return; and he shall not come into this city,’ says the LORD, ‘For I will defend this city, to save it for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake.’”


Sennacherib’s Defeat and Death


Verses 35-37, “And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses all dead.  So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh.  Now it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the temple of Nisroch his god, that his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat [King James Version has: Armenia].  Then Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.”  One point, Sennacherib’s army was divided into two equal parts.  If the part assigned to besiege and conquer Jerusalem was 185,000 strong, so was his half in Lachish and Libnah also 185,000 strong.  So Sennacherib lost half of the whole Assyrian army in one night!  He retreated in great fear (and shame).  Assyria had been seriously weakened by this “event.”  Verse 37 in the King James Version is translated Armenia.  When Sennacherib’s two sons assassinated him, verse 37 of 2nd Kings 19 says, in the King James Version, that they fled to Armenia.  That is where the Black Sea Scythian-Israelites are now living, well fortified in that mountainous region.  Those Scythian Israelites would naturally grant anyone who had killed the king of the Assyrian Empire safe haven.  That is the precise region they fled to.  They knew Israel was there, and well fortified in the mountains in the region of Armenia. (cf. 2nd Chronicles 32:1-22.) Jeremiah 3:11-12, written about 80 years later, shows where these Scythian Israelites are to be found, “Then the LORD said to me, ‘Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.  Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say: ‘Return, backsliding Israel,’ says the LORD; ‘I will not remain angry forever…’”  Jeremiah just showed where the Black Sea contingent of the ten tribes of Israel lived.  (Josephus states Israel, the ten tribes, are still in Asia in the 1st century AD, and that they were immensely multiplied…living beyond Euphrates.)  If you draw a line from Jerusalem to the eastern shore of the Black Sea above Armenia, you cross the Euphrates passing west of what was the Assyrian Empire, north into eastern Turkey and on into the Caucasus Mountains bordering the eastern shores of the Black Sea, almost due north of Jerusalem.  You bypass west of the Assyrian military city of Calah, and Nineveh just north of it by about 150 miles, just skirting the western borders of the Assyrian Empire.  It must have been a hairy journey north, going only as fast as the herds and flocks could travel, trying to evade Assyrian scouts or anybody who might betray their passage north.    History does attest to the fact that they made it, though.  The map below shows that Armenia (located at the extreme south within the previous Soviet southern border on this map) is north-northeast of Jerusalem, almost due north of Jerusalem.



They had become a commandment observing group, even before they left, as we just read about during Hezekiah’s special Passover.  This group roughly comprised two-thirds of all Israel, now safe north-northeast of Jerusalem.  Does secular history identify these Israelites?  The Encyclopedia Britannica has this to say:


“The Scythians…are those tribes that occupied this territory [the region north of the Black Sea] from about 700 BC.”


Tamara Talbot Rice in her book The Scythians says:


“The Scythians did not become a recognizable national entity…before the eighth century BC…By the seventh century BC they had established themselves firmly in southern Russia…Assyrian documents place their appearance…on the shores of Lake Urmia [just south of Armenia] in the time of King Sargon (722-705BC) a date which closely corresponds with that of the establishment of the first group of Scythians in southern Russia.”


In the October 1994 issue of The National Geographic magazine it says:


The Pazyryks thrived in these steppes…in the sixth through the second centuries BC.  They were horsemen…[and] shepherds…Dozens of such tribes rose on the steppes of Eurasia in this era, creating a deceptively uniform culture labeled Scytho-Siberian…The Greek historian Herodotus faithfully detailed much of the life of the Scythians, a powerful, semi-nomadic people who lived north of the Black Sea between 800BC and 100 BC.


So we see that the Black Sea Scythians, according to Tamara Rice, arrived in southern Russia through a route that passed through Armenia in 722-705BC. 


First Major Scythian-Assyrian War: 653BC


A group of Scythians and Cimmerians (that would equate to Samarians, those taken captive in 721 from Israel’s capital city of Samaria) joined the Medes in a war against Assyria, a mere 72 years after their captivity.  Their leader (according to Herodotus) was a Phraortes.  That would be a Greek version of a name which would translate out in Hebrew as Phares.  Phares, or Pharez was one of the lines of Jewish kings.  But at last, after 72 years, these Eastern Scythians, descendents of the Israelites taken captive in the 740s BC from east of the Jordan, combined with the “Cimmerians”, Samaritans, taken captive in 721 from Samaria, are free from Assyrian captivity, and they have a commander or king ruling over them named Phraortes, Greek equivalent of Phares.  So apparently those of the line of David are still ruling over what is now Scythian-Israelites, just as God promised the line of David would never cease to rule over Israel.  History records two Scythian powers developed in two separate locations, one by the Black Sea, and the other east of Assyria.  They lost this war with Assyria, and Phraortes died in the battle.  That’s not the end of the story though.  These were the “Eastern Scythians” who participated in this first Scythian-Assyrian War.


Eastern and Western Scythians


The Encyclopedia Britannica states that:


A Scythian power had grown up in the old kingdom of Ellip, to the east of Assyria…[by] Ecbatana.”


Tamara Rice has this to say:


“in the area roughly corresponding to present-day Azerbijan, the kingdom of Urartu had crumbled.  The Scythians, under their king Partatu…firmly established themselves…Urartu itself, where they set up their capital at Sakiz…”


The Encyclopedia Britannica calls the Scythians, and this would be both the eastern and western extractions, “newcomers” to the area in the 7th century BC.  Now going forward in time from king Hezekiah and his run-in with Sennacherib, to see what happens to these Scythian-Israelites we must advance about 60 years to his great-grandson Josiah, king of Judah, and his prophet Jeremiah.  We’ll pick up their story again at that period in time.


Sources used:

New King James Bible

“The Bible as History” by Werner Keller, “Lachish”

“Israel’s Lost Empires” by Steven Collins, P.O. Box 88735, Sioux Falls, SD  57109-8735 ($25.oo including S&H)

Encyclopedia Britannica, “Scythians”

“The Scythians” by Tamara Talbot Rice

“The National Geographic Magazine, October 1994, “Pazyryks”


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