The Antiquities of the Jews

The Antiquities of the Jews


Containing The Interval Of One Hundred And Eighty-Two Years And AHalf.

From The Captivity Of The Ten Tribes To The First Year Of Cyrus.


How Sennacherib Made An Expedition Against Hezekiah; What Threatenings Rabshakeh Made To Hezekiah When Sennacherib Was Gone Against The Egyptians; How Isaiah The Prophet Encouraged Him; How Sennacherib Having Failed Of Success In Egypt, Returned Thence To Jerusalem; And How Upon His Finding His Army Destroyed, He Returned Home; And What Befell Him A Little Afterward.

1.It was now the fourteenth year of the government of Hezekiah, king of the two tribes, when the king of Assyria, whose name was Sennacherib, made an expedition against him with a great army, and took all the cities of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin by force; and when he was ready to bring his army against Jerusalem, Hezekiah sent ambassadors to him beforehand, and promised to submit, and pay what tribute he should appoint.Hereupon Sennacherib, when he heard of what offers the ambassadors made, resolved not to proceed in the war, but to accept of the proposals that were made him; and if he might receive three hundred talents of silver, and thirty talents of gold, he promised that he would depart in a friendly manner; and he gave security upon oath to the ambassadors that he would then do him no harm, but go away as he came.So Hezekiah submitted, and emptied his treasures, and sent the money, as supposing he should be freed from his enemy, and from any further distress about his kingdom.Accordingly, the Assyrian king took it, and yet had no regard to what he had promised; but while he himself went to the war against the Egyptians and Ethiopians, he left his general Rabshakeh, and two other of his principal commanders, with great forces, to destroy Jerusalem.The names of the two other commanders were Tartan and Rabsaris.

2.Now as soon as they were come before the walls, they pitched their camp, and sent messengers to Hezekiah, and desired that they might speak with him; but he did not himself come out to them for fear, but he sent three of his most intimate friends;the name of one was Eliakim, who was over the kingdom, and Shebna, and Joah the recorder.So these men came out, and stood over against the commanders of the Assyrian army; and when Rabshakeh saw them, he bid them go and speak to Hezekiah in the manner following: That Sennacherib, the great king, (1) desires to know of him, on whom it is that he relies and depends, in flying from his lord, and will not hear him, nor admit his army into the city? Is it on account of the Egyptians, and in hopes that his army would be beaten by them? Whereupon he lets him know, that if this be what he expects, he is a foolish man, and like one who leans on a broken reed; while such a one will not only fall down, but will have his hand pierced and hurt by it.

That he ought to know he makes this expedition against him by the will of God, who hath granted this favor to him, that he shall overthrow the kingdom of Israel, and that in the very same manner he shall destroy those that are his subjects also.When Rabshakeh had made this speech in the Hebrew tongue, for he was skillful in that language, Eliakim was afraid lest the multitude that heard him should be disturbed; so he desired him to speak in the Syrian tongue.But the general, understanding what he meant, and perceiving the fear that he was in, he made his answer with a greater and a louder voice, but in the Hebrew tongue; and said, that "since they all heard what were the king's commands, they would consult their own advantage in delivering up themselves to us; for it is plain the both you and your king dissuade the people from submitting by vain hopes, and so induce them to resist; but if you be courageous, and think to drive our forces away, I am ready to deliver to you two thousand of these horses that are with me for your use, if you can set as many horsemen on their backs, and show your strength; but what you have not you cannot produce.Why therefore do you delay to deliver up yourselves to a superior force, who can take you without your consent? although it will be safer for you to deliver yourselves up voluntarily, while a forcible capture, when you are beaten, must appear more dangerous, and will bring further calamities upon you."3.When the people, as well as the ambassadors, heard what the Assyrian commander said, they related it to Hezekiah, who thereupon put off his royal apparel, and clothed himself with sackcloth, and took the habit of a mourner, and, after the manner of his country, he fell upon his face, and besought God, and entreated him to assist them, now they had no other hope of relief.He also sent some of his friends, and some of the priests, to the prophet Isaiah, and desired that he would pray to God, and offer sacrifices for their common deliverance, and so put up supplications to him, that he would have indignation at the expectations of their enemies, and have mercy upon his people.And when the prophet had done accordingly, an oracle came from God to him, and encouraged the king and his friends that were about him; and foretold that their enemies should be beaten without fighting, and should go away in an ignominious manner, and not with that insolence which they now show, for that God would take care that they should be destroyed.He also foretold that Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, should fail of his purpose against Egypt, and that when he came home he should perish by the sword.

Flavius Josephus