Melachim II Twenty: Hezekiah’s Illness

Hezekiah gets very sick, and Isaiah comes to visit him. The prophecy that Isaiah comes to deliver isn’t a happy one, but it is practical. Hezekiah is going to die, so he is instructed to get his household in order to prepare for his death. This sad news isn’t immediately accepted. Instead, Hezekiah prays for a change in his fate. “Please, O Lord, remember now, how I walked before You truly and wholeheartedly, and I did what is good in Your eyes.’ And Hezekiah wept profusely (Kings II 20:3).” It appears that his plea is sincere, because God instructs Isaiah to let him know that his prayer has been heard and he will be cured. This is a nice story that portrays God as merciful, and open to the petitions of the people. Hezekiah gets off pretty well: he has 15 years added to his life, in addition to a guarantee of victory over Assyria and the protection of Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, news has spread about Hezekiah’s illness, and the king of Babylonia sends get well gifts. Hezekiah receives the Babylonian messengers gracefully, and shows them all the riches of his palace. But Isaiah predicts negative fallout from this gesture. “Behold a time will come when everything in your palace and what your forefathers have stored up, will be carried off to Babylonia; nothing shall remain,’ said the Lord (Kings II 20:17).” This is the first that we hear about the Babylonian exile, which will be a time of great upheaval for the people. But for now, Hezekiah dies, and his son takes over the throne.

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