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See: Timeline 501 BC – 770 BC
II Kings 18
Hezekiah Reigns in Judah
II Kings 18:1 Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea (732 BC) the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign.
II Kings 18:2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king (716 BC), and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem (until he was 54 yrs old). His mother’s name was Abi (Abijah, 2 Chr. 29:1ff.I) the daughter of Zechariah.
II Kings 18:3 And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done.
II Kings 18:4 He removed the high places (Places for pagan worship) and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image (Heb. Asherah, a Canaanite goddess) and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan (Lit. Bronze Thing, also similar to Heb. nahash, serpent.)
JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli archaeologists believe they have evidence that the biblical King Hezekiah did indeed destroy the high places and idols in the land of Israel as described in the Bible, evidence officials say highlights Israel’s past connection to the land and helps draw the country’s boundaries today. Calling it “an important and unusual discovery,” the Israel Antiquities Authority said excavations in the Tel Lachish National Park in central Israel revealed a “gate-shrine” from the First Temple period, about the 8th century B.C. It’s the largest known gate from the First Temple period in the country. The Bible says King Hezekiah “removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles.” (II Kings 18:4)
“The size of the gate is consistent with the historical and archaeological knowledge we possess, whereby Lachish was a major city and the most important one after Jerusalem,” excavation director Sa’ar Ganor said. According to the biblical narrative, everything took place at the city gates where the elders, judges, governors, kings and officials sat on benches. “These benches were found in our excavation,” Ganor said.
The IAA conducted the excavation from January through March at the initiative of the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority. The excavation completely exposed the gate, which was partially uncovered in a joint Tel Aviv University, British excavation decades ago. The plan is to develop the Tel Lachish National Park.
The 80-by-80-foot Lachish city gate is preserved to a height of 16 feet. It consists of six chambers – three on each side, with the city’s main street passing between them.
Artifacts Reveal Details
Artifacts discovered in its rooms give clues as to how they were used 2,800 years ago. Benches with armrests were in the first chamber. At the foot of the benches were many finds, including jars, scoops for loading grain and jar handles bearing the name of the official or a seal impression indicating they belonged to the king.
The IAA said the jars seem to relate to the Kingdom of Judah’s military and administrative preparations for the war against Assyrian King Sennacherib in the late 8th century B.C. According to Ganor, “A staircase ascended to a large room where there was a bench upon which offerings were placed. An opening was exposed in the corner of the room that led to the holy of holies.” Ganor said they were excited to find two four-horned altars and scores of ceramic finds, including lamps, bowls and stands in the room. He said the horns on the altar had been “intentionally truncated.”
“That is probably evidence of the religious reform attributed to King Hezekiah, whereby religious worship was centralized in Jerusalem and the cultic high places that were built outside the capital were destroyed,” Ganor said. Besides cutting off the horns of the altar, apparently Hezekiah had a toilet installed in the “holy of holies” to further signify the abolition of worship and as the “ultimate desecration” of the place. The “toilet” was a chair-shaped stone with a hole in the middle found in the corner of the room. It was apparently symbolic, as tests showed it had never been used. According to the IAA, archaeological research has identified stones like this as toilets. The idea of using a toilet to defile cultic locations is even mentioned in the Bible, as in the case of Jehu when he destroyed the cult of Ba’al (see II Kings 10:27). It’s the first time the phenomenon has been confirmed archaeologically.
Israeli officials were excited about the discovery. Minister of Jerusalem and Heritage Ze’ev Elkin said the discovery is an example of how excavations “show us time and time again how biblical tales that are known to us become historical and archaeological stories.”
Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev said the discovery deepened Israel’s “connection to our ancestors who walked this land.” “The uncovering of these finds joins a long list of discoveries that enlighten us about our historic past, a past that is manifested in our country’s soil and in the writings of the Book of Books,” Regev said. “The Bible – the founding book of the Jewish people – draws the country’s boundaries and the heritage of the Jewish people that was exiled from its country and returned to its homeland. It boldly commemorates the way of our forefathers, the prophets, the kings, and the judges,” she said.
Shaul Goldstein, director general of the Nature and Parks Authority, said Tel Lachish is one of the most “quintessential places” that offers “proof of Israel’s hold on the its land.” The gate is currently undergoing a conservation process in preparation to open it to visitors.
II Kings 18:5 He (Hezekiah) trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him.
II Kings 18:6 For he held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses.
II Kings 18:7 The Lord was with him; he prospered wherever he went. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.
II Kings 18:8 He subdued (Lit. struck) the Philistines, as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city.
II Kings 18:9 Now it came to pass in the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria and besieged it.
II Kings 18:10 And at the end of three years they took it. In the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is, the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken.
II Kings 18:11 Then the king of Assyria carried Israel away captive to Assyria, (722 BC) and put them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes,
II Kings 18:12 because they did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, but transgressed His covenant and all that Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded; and they would neither hear nor do them.
II Kings 18:13 And in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them.
II Kings 18:14 Then Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, “I have done wrong; turn away from me; whatever you impose on me I will pay.” And the king of Assyria assessed Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold.
II Kings 18:15 So Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king’s house.
II Kings 18:16 At that time Hezekiah stripped the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it (Lit. them) to the king of Assyria.
Sennacherib Boasts Against the Lord