"So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish. And he heard say concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, He is come forth to make war with thee. And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God, in whom thou trustest, deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by destroying them utterly; and shalt thou be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed, as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Telassar? Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arphad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah? And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD." (Isaiah 37:8-14)
After conquering Lachish, Sennacherib moved northwest toward Libnah, another fortified city. This would seem to be where the king was when his army was faced with divine judgment. It is impossible to give minute details concerning the engagement between Egypt and Assyria. Ancient history has little to say about the conflict; however, Sennacherib's records claim that there was a confrontation and that he was victorious. Apparently, the two armies confronted each other in the plains of the Philistines. The Egyptians and Ethiopians under their Ethiopian king Tirhakah were defeated, and the surrounding Philistine towns were destroyed. Sennacherib claims to have hung the bodies of the citizens on poles around the town of Ekron. Isaiah had vividly illustrated the defeat of the Egyptians and Ethiopians (20:1-6) some ten years earlier (711).
The river of Gozan was a tributary that emptied into the Euphrates River, and the city of Gozan was located on its banks between the cities of Harran and Nineveh. Harran is probably the same Syrian city to which Abraham came on his journey out of Ur (Acts 7:2-4).
Amos identifies Eden as a city connected to Damascus in Syria (Amos 1:5). Telassar means Assyrian hill indicating its defeat by Assyria. Apparently it was in Mesopotamia. The king reiterates his defeat of the previously mentioned cities.
Hezekiah had come to the end of himself; therefore, he humbly went into the house of God. Hezekiah's grandfather did not enter into the temple of the Lord (II Chronicles 27:2), and nothing good came of it. It is good to know that God honors the son who wishes to avoid the mistakes of the father.
"And Hezekiah prayed unto the LORD, saying, O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth. Incline thine ear, O LORD, and hear; open thine eyes, O LORD, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God. Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries, and have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them. Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD, even thou only." (Isaiah 37:9-20)
Hezekiah's prayer condemned the polytheistic thinking of the heathen enemy. God was well aware of what Sennacherib had both thought and said; yet, Hezekiah entreats the Lord to see and to hear as a full expression of the weight he felt because of Sennacherib's contempt for God.
The king admits to the truth of Assyria's victories; but, unknown to Sennacherib, these victories were against godless nations. The nation which does not reside under the Creator's protection leaves itself open for destruction. A predominantly wrong view of God and deity has never changed the truth. The Lord is not intimidated by the fact that most of the world has always been against His truth. In the end, the vast majority will be proven wrong, and God will reign supreme.
Hezekiah's prayer expressed a desire for God to be glorified before all people. "Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also (Romans 3:29)." The Lord may be known of anyone who has a desire to seek Him. The deliverance for which the king prayed would directly affect the Jew and indirectly affect the Gentile.