1As soon as King Hezekiah heard their report, he tore his clothes in grief, put on sackcloth, and went to the Temple of the LORD. 2He sent Eliakim, the official in charge of the palace, Shebna, the court secretary, and the senior priests to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. They also were wearing sackcloth. 3This is the message which he told them to give to Isaiah: “Today is a day of suffering; we are being punished and are in disgrace. We are like a woman who is ready to give birth, but is too weak to do it. 4The Assyrian emperor has sent his chief official to insult the living God. May the LORD your God hear these insults and punish those who spoke them. So pray to God for those of our people who survive.”
5When Isaiah received King Hezekiah's message, 6he sent back this answer: “The LORD tells you not to let the Assyrians frighten you by their claims that he cannot save you. 7The LORD will cause the emperor to hear a rumour that will make him go back to his own country, and the LORD will have him killed there.”
8The Assyrian official learnt that the emperor had left Lachish and was fighting against the nearby city of Libnah; so he went there to consult him. 9Word reached the Assyrians that the Egyptian army, led by King Tirhakah of Ethiopia, was coming to attack them. When the emperor heard this, he sent a letter to King Hezekiah 10of Judah to say to him, “The god you are trusting in has told you that you will not fall into my hands, but don't let that deceive you. 11You have heard what an Assyrian emperor does to any country he decides to destroy. Do you think that you can escape? 12My ancestors destroyed the cities of Gozan, Haran, and Rezeph, and killed the people of Betheden who lived in Telassar, and none of their gods could save them. 13Where are the kings of the cities of Hamath, Arpad, Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?”
14King Hezekiah took the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went to the Temple, placed the letter there in the presence of the LORD, 15and prayed, 16“Almighty LORD, God of Israel, enthroned above the winged creatures, you alone are God, ruling all the kingdoms of the world. You created the earth and the sky. 17Now, LORD, hear us and look at what is happening to us. Listen to all the things that Sennacherib is saying to insult you, the living God. 18We all know, LORD, that the emperors of Assyria have destroyed many nations, made their lands desolate, 19and burnt up their gods — which were no gods at all, only images of wood and stone made by human hands. 20Now, LORD our God, rescue us from the Assyrians, so that all the nations of the world will know that you alone are God.”
21Then Isaiah sent a message telling King Hezekiah that in answer to the king's prayer 22the LORD had said, “The city of Jerusalem laughs at you, Sennacherib, and despises you. 23Whom do you think you have been insulting and ridiculing? You have been disrespectful to me, the holy God of Israel. 24You sent your servants to boast to me that with all your chariots you had conquered the highest mountains of Lebanon. You boasted that there you cut down the tallest cedars and the finest cypress trees, and that you reached the deepest parts of the forests. 25You boasted that you dug wells and drank water in foreign lands, and that the feet of your soldiers tramped the River Nile dry.
26“Have you never heard that I planned all this long ago? And now I have carried it out. I gave you the power to turn fortified cities into piles of rubble. 27The people who lived there were powerless; they were frightened and stunned. They were like grass in a field or weeds growing on a roof when the hot east wind blasts them.
28“But I know everything about you, what you do and where you go. I know how you rage against me. 29I have received the report of that rage and that pride of yours, and now I will put a hook through your nose and a bit in your mouth and will take you back by the road on which you came.”
30Then Isaiah said to King Hezekiah, “This is a sign of what will happen. This year and next you will have only wild grain to eat, but the following year you will be able to sow your corn and harvest it, and plant vines and eat grapes. 31Those in Judah who survive will flourish like plants that send roots deep into the ground and produce fruit. 32There will be people in Jerusalem and on Mount Zion who will survive, because the LORD Almighty is determined to make this happen.
33“This is what the LORD has said about the Assyrian emperor: ‘He will not enter this city or shoot a single arrow against it. No soldiers with shields will come near the city, and no siege mounds will be built round it. 34He will go back by the road on which he came, without entering this city. I, the LORD, have spoken. 35I will defend this city and protect it, for the sake of my own honour and because of the promise I made to my servant David.’ ”
36An angel of the LORD went to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 soldiers. At dawn the next day there they lay, all dead! 37Then the Assyrian emperor Sennacherib withdrew and returned to Nineveh. 38One day when he was worshipping in the temple of his god Nisroch, two of his sons, Adrammelech and Sharezer, killed him with their swords and then escaped to the land of Ararat. Another of his sons, Esarhaddon, succeeded him as emperor.