Monday, July 17, 2017

Sennacherib's Rage (Part III)

"Then said Eliakim and Shebna and Joah unto Rabshakeh, Speak, I pray thee, unto thy servants in the Syrian language; for we understand it: and speak not to us in the Jews' language, in the ears of the people that are on the wall. But Rabshakeh said, Hath my master sent me to thy master and to thee to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men that sit upon the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you? Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Jews' language, and said, Hear ye the words of the great king, the king of Assyria. Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you. Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, The LORD will surely deliver us: this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria." (Isaiah 36:11-15)

Afraid of how these verbal threats might affect both commoner and soldier, the messengers entreat Rabshakeh to change his speech to Aramaic. Syrian, Syriac or Aramaic (various titles for the same language) was the common trade language of the day. This very language was that used by the prophet Daniel to reach the nations with the prophecies concerning the preeminence of Christ's kingdom (the text behind Daniel 2:4 through 7:28 is written in Aramaic, not Hebrew). As ambassadors, these men were familiar with Aramaic and sought to deliver the common people from the terror incited by Rabshakeh's words.

Rabshakeh's answer is terse and to the point. His mission was not to threaten privately the king and his counselors but rather to openly terrorize the city through psychological warfare. He proclaims that the end of the Jews' resistance would be that of starvation and thirst brought on by the Assyrian siege. He pictures every inhabitant being reduced to ingesting his own excrement due to extreme hunger.

In spite of his failures, Hezekiah had been justly admonishing his people to trust in the Lord and not to fear Assyria.

Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah (II Chronicles 32:7-8).

Through his blasphemy, the king of Assyria crossed the line and incited the wrath of God. Truly, the Jews had made many mistakes in seeking to Egypt and others for help, neither had they done wisely in turning a deaf ear to Isaiah. Yet, now the king and his people sought the Lord in their need. To discourage such an endeavor is to incite God's wrath. Sennacherib shared in the sins of those Jews who would later tell their countrymen under Ezekiel's ministry, "...Get you far from the LORD.(Ezekiel 11:15).. ."

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