Isaiah 36 – Easy-to-Read Version

During Hezekiah’s 14th year as king, Sennacherib king of Assyria went to fight against all the strong cities of Judah. Sennacherib defeated those cities. He sent his commander with a large army to King Hezekiah in Jerusalem. The commander and his army left Lachish and went to Jerusalem. They stopped near the aqueduct by the Upper Pool, on the street that leads up to Laundryman’s Field.

Three men from Jerusalem went out to talk with the commander. These men were Eliakim son of Hilkiah, Joah son of Asaph, and Shebna. Eliakim was the palace manager, Joah was the record keeper, and Shebna was the royal secretary.

The commander told them, “Tell Hezekiah this is what the great king, the king of Assyria says:

“‘What are you trusting in to help you? I tell you, if you are trusting in power and great battle plans, that is useless. Those are nothing but empty words. Now I ask you, who do you trust so much that you are willing to rebel against me? Are you depending on Egypt to help you? Egypt is like a broken walking stick. If you lean on it for support, it will only stab you and hurt you. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, cannot be trusted by anyone who depends on him for help.

“‘So maybe you will say, “We trust the Lord our God to help us.” But Hezekiah destroyed the altars and high places where people worshiped your God, right? Hezekiah told the people of Judah and Jerusalem, “You must worship only at this one altar here in Jerusalem.”

“‘If you still want to fight, my master, the king of Assyria, will make this agreement with you. I promise that I will give you 2000 horses if you can find enough men to ride them into battle. But even then, you couldn’t beat even one of my master’s lowest ranking officers. So why do you still depend on Egypt’s chariots and horse soldiers?

“‘Now, do you think I came to this country to destroy it without the Lord’s help. No, it was the Lord who said to me, “Go up against this country and destroy it!”’”

Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said to the commander, “Please, speak to us in Hebrew. We understand that language. Don’t speak to us in the language of Judah. If you use our language, the people on the city walls will understand you.”

But the commander said, “My master sent me to speak to everyone, not just to you and your master. I must also speak to those people sitting there on the wall. When we surround your city, they will suffer too. Like you, they will become so hungry they will eat their own waste and drink their own urine!”

Then the commander, shouting loudly in Hebrew, gave this warning to them all:

Hear this message from the great king, the king of Assyria! This is what the king says: Don’t let Hezekiah fool you! He cannot save you from my power. Don’t listen to him when he tells you to trust in the Lord. Don’t believe him when he says, “The Lord will save us. He will not let the king of Assyria defeat the city.”

Don’t listen to Hezekiah! This is what the king of Assyria says: Come out here and show me that you want peace. Then you will all be free to have grapes from your own vines, figs from your own trees, and water from your own well. After some time, I will come and take you to a land like your own. In that new land, you will have plenty of grain for making bread and vineyards for producing wine.

Don’t believe Hezekiah when he tells you, “The Lord will save us.” He is wrong. Did any of the gods of other nations save their land from the king of Assyria? When I destroyed the cities of Hamath and Arpad, where were their gods? What about the gods of Sepharvaim? Were any gods able to save Samaria from my power? None of the gods of these other places were able to save their land from me! So why do you think the Lord can save Jerusalem from me?

But the people were silent. They did not say a word to the commander, because King Hezekiah had commanded them, “Don’t say anything to him.”

Then the palace manager (Eliakim son of Hilkiah), the royal secretary (Shebna), and the record keeper (Joah son of Asaph) went to Hezekiah. Their clothes were torn to show they were upset. They told Hezekiah everything the Assyrian commander had said.

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