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talents of gold. This sum he raised with much difficulty, and sent it to him. There was reason to hope, that such a step would have disarmed the rage of Sennacherib; but he grew more haughty upon it, and adding perfidy to injustice, he sent immediately a large body of troops against Jerusalem, with orders to Rabshakeh, who commanded that detachment, to summon Hezekiah and the inhabitants to surrender, in the name of the great king, the king of Assyria. This officer discharged his commission in terms full of contempt for the king of Judah, and insults against the God of Israel. When Hezekiah heard it, he rent his clothes, put sackcloth upon his loins, and went into the house of the Lord; from whence he dispatched his principal officers to Isaiah, to tell him the insolent words of Rabshakeh. The prophet replied, You shall say thus to your master, Thus saith the Lord, Be not affraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and shall return to his own land, and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.

[r] In the mean time Tirhakah, king of Ethiopia, had sent messengers to Jerusalem, to assure the inhabitants that he was coming up to their relief. And soon after he arrived with his whole army, joined to that of the Egyptians. [s] Upon the first news that Sennacherib received of it, he resolved to march against him. But first he sent his ambassadors to Hezekiah with a letter full of blasphemies against the God of Israel. The holy king, in great affliction, went strait to the temple, spread forth this impious letter before the Lord, and represented to him in a lively and pathetic prayer, that it was against him they fought, that the glory of his name was affected, and that for this reason he presumed to ask a miracle of him, that all the kingdoms of the earth might know, that he alone was the Lord and the true God. In that [r] Isa. xviii. 1, 3. [5] 2 Kings xix. 9, 34.


moment Isaiah sent to tell Hezekiah, that the Lord had heard his prayer, and the city should not even be besieged. Whom, says God, addressing himself to Sennacherib, hast thou reproached and blasphemed? Against whom hast thou exulted thy voice, and lift up thy hands on high? Even against the Holy One of Israel. Because thy rage against me, and the tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest.

[t] The king of Ethiopia, full of confidence in the number of his troops, thought that the sight of them would suffice to put the Assyrians to flight, and set Jerusalem free. He knew not the curse which God had denounced against him, for presuming to declare himself the protector and deliverer of Jerusalem and the people of God, as though both had been without hope or refuge, unless he had hastened to take upon him their defence. His army was cut to pieces. The slaughter was so great, and the flight so swift, that there was no person left to bury the dead. After this victory, the king of Assyria carried the warinto Egypt itself. All there was in disorder and confusion. God had taken away counsel and prudence from the wise counsellors of Egypt, and mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof. He deprived their leaders of all strength and courage; so that they made no resistance, and the whole country lay exposed to the discretion of an avaricious and cruel prince, who carried away an infinite number of captives, as [u] Isaiah had foretold.

[x] When Sennacherib had returned with his victorious troops before Jerusalem, it is easy to imagine how great the consternation of the city must have been. They saw an immense army encamped at their gates, and all the neighbouring country covered with chariots of war. The enemy was preparing to lay siege to the city, and lift up their voice against mount Sion. The time of their destruction seemed to draw nigh; but it was that of divine mercy, and their deliverance. [] Isa. xviii. xix. [z] Ibid. xx. [x] Ibid. xxii. 1, 5, 7. That

That very night (which doubtless preceded the day appointed for a general attack) the angel of the Lord came into the camp of the Assyrians, and slew an hundred and fourscore and five thousand men. Sennacherib rising at the break of day, beheld the dead bodies, and immediately returned to Nineveh, where he was soon after slain by his own sons in the temple, and in the presence of his gods.




[y] Isaiah, foretelling the departure of Sennacherib and his army, speaks of God in a manner suitable to the grandeur and majesty of the Almighty. He has only to give the signal, and set up the standard, and, all the princes of the earth repair to it. All the kings of the world are but as flies in comparison of him. All their power is weakness in his sight. [] He hisses for them, and they march. It was a great consolation to the faithful of those days, to know for certain that all the evils which befel them were ordained by divine providence; that God sent them as remedies, and not barely as punishments: that men were only the ministers of his justice; and that they were guided by his wisdom at the time they were thinking to gratify their own passions.

[a] It is God himself, that reveals to us the extravagant imaginations of Sennacherib, who being not more than a servant thinks himself the master, and not seing the hand which employs him, ascribes all to his own, and fears not to set himself in the place of God. Can the instrument, says God, boast itself against the artist who makes use of it? Does the work properly belong to the instrument or the workman? Is it not the height of folly, that the instrument should of Assyria. Isa. vii. 18. [a] Ibid. x. 7,—15.

[y] Isa. vii. 18. x. 5.

[x] The Lord shall biss for the fly and for the bee that is in the land

rise up against the hand and understanding that employ it? Yet thus did the king of Assyria think and



We see here how dangerous it is to prefer the views of human prudence to those of faith. God had promised to deliver Jerusalem, provided the inhabitants would keep themselves quiet, and place their sole confidence in him. Here they were to fix. But the assistance of God was invisible, and seemed at a distance. The danger was present and augmenting daily. The succours of Egypt were nigh at hand, and seemed certain. According to all the rules of human policy, nothing ought to have been omitted towards obtaining the protection of two such powerful kings, as those of Egypt and Ethiopia. Besides, would it not be tempting God, to expect a miracle? And in the extreme danger they were, would it not be folly to continue unactive? The event will shew, whether these politicians or Hezekiah reasoned most justly.



[b] The Speeches and Letter of Sennacherib with reason appear impious, senseless, and detestable in the mouth of a worin against the majesty of heaven. This prince, blinded by his success, and not knowing whence it arose, entertained the same notions of the God of Judah, as of all the other gods, whose power, in his opinion, was confined to certain regions, and some particular effects, and were capable of being entirely overthrown, notwithstanding their divinity. He saw nothing in the God of Israel to distinguish him from the multitude of gods he had conquered. His empire was inclosed within the narrow limits of a small country, and confined to the mountains. His name

[b] 2 Kings xix,


was scarce known among the neighbouring nations. This God had already suffered the ten tribes to be carried away by the kings of Nineveh. He had just lost all the fortified places of the tribe of Judah, which alone was left hin; and all his dominions, all his people, all his worshippers, and his whole religion were reduced to a single city, in all outward appearance without any power to secure itself from the destruction, which Sennacherib looked upon as inevitable.

It is admirable to see in what manner God is pleased to confound the insolent pride of this prince, who caused himself to be called the great king, the king by way of excellence; who considered himself as an invincible conqueror, as the lord of the earth, and the subduer of men and gods. This prince, so proud and haughty, the God of Israel will treat as a wild beast; he will put a hook in his nose, and a bridle in his mouth, and turn him back with disgrace and infamy by the same way that he came triumphant and glorious. Such is the fate of human pride.


It is easy to discern in the punishment of the king of Ethiopia the jealousy of the Lord of hosts against whomever pretends to be his rival, or to share with him in glory, by presuming to assist him in the preservation of his inheritance, or in freeing it from difficulties wherein his promises had too far engaged it; and in the sad fate of the Israelites, who had recourse to Egypt, we may plainly see the condemnation of all such, as either doubt of the promises made to the church, whereof Jerusalem is certainly the figure, or who think that, under certain difficult and dangerous circumstances, they stand in need of human strength and wisdom.



The short and plain manner, in which this wonderful event is related in the historical books, is truly sių VOL. II.

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