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protection, the prophet adds, “ It shall come to pass at that day, that the remnant of Israel shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.”

Notwithstanding this prophetic dissuasive from fear, the people were filled with dismay as Sennacherib continued his victorious progress; and Hezekiah himself, yielding to the general terror, thought only of propitiating his formidable enemy. He confessed to Sennacherib that he had “ offended," and tamely offered to submit to whatever terms of reconciliation the haughty monarch might exact. “ And the king of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah king of Judah, three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold." This has been reckoned at about $1,750,000. The exhaustion of his treasury would be of small account to Hezekiah; but to be driven by his own waning faith or that of his people to make inroads on the treasures of the temple, and disfigure the sacred edifice which it had been his first care on ascending the throne to beautify, must have agonized his pious heart. Perhaps he had been too much elated by prosperity, and needed such a chastisement to humble him, and prepare him to ascribe the great deliverance in reserve for the nation, to the mercy and faithfulness of their covenant God.

This dearly purchased truce was, however, of short duration ; for Sennacherib, thinking it unsafe to leave the kingdom of Judah unsubdued in his

rear or, as others suppose, on his return from an unsuccessful invasion of Egypt-resumed his attempt to conquer the dominions of Hezekiah. From the humble submission of that prince, and from what he had seen of the weakness of the country, Sennacherib probably regarded this as an easy task. He soon reduced all the cities to his power, except Libnah, Lachish, and Jerusalem. He sent Rabshakeh to the latter city with an imperious summons to surrender, while he himself continued the siege of Lachish with the body of his forces.

When Hezekiah became convinced that his attempt to propitiate Sennacherib was in vain, and that the perfidious enemy was aiming to crush him, notwithstanding his humiliating concessions, he began in earnest to make preparations for the defence of his capital. He repaired its fortifications, built a new wall without the city, "and made darts and shields in abundance." He took counsel with his princes and mighty men to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city," that they might not afford refreshment to the besieging army. The people assembled in great numbers, and the work was pushed on vigorously. They "stopped all the fountains, and the brook which ran through the midst of the land, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come and find much water?"


In another part of the history, it is related that Hezekiah "stopped the upper water-course of Gihon,

and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David." From this account, Professor Robinson, in his Researches in Palestine, concludes that there existed anciently a fountain Gihon on the west of the city, which was "stopped," or covered over by Hezekiah, and its waters brought down by subterranean channels into the city. "In this way the waters of Gihon would be withdrawn from the enemy, and preserved to the city, through which they would seem to have been distributed in various reservoirs and fountains." As Jerusalem lies in the midst of a rocky limestone region, where fountains and wells are comparatively rare, its inhabitants have from ancient times relied much on cisterns and reservoirs dug in the rocks. The water is conducted into them from the roofs of the houses, during the rainy season, and with proper care remains sweet the whole summer and autumn. Hence, while a besieging army might suffer severely, the inhabitants of the city would have a plentiful supply. The example of Hezekiah has been several times imitated in later sieges of Jerusalem.

But Hezekiah did not stop with these external preparations for defence. Cut off from all human succor, he turned in his distress to the Lord for help. His faith is once more invigorated, and now he can say without doubting, "The Lord is on my side; I will not fear what man can do unto me." With buoyant feelings in his own bosom, he rekindles

hope in the hearts of the people. He sets captains of war over them, and gathering them together into the street of the gate of the city, speaks “comfortably to them, saying, Be strong and courageous ; be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that are 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.” Some who had lately seen Hezekiah crouching before Sennacherib, through “the fear of man,” might be disposed to mock at his present confidence in Jehovah as unreal, or assumed for the occasion ; but the mass of the people “rested themselves” upon his words. They felt that his speech was not feigned for effect, but that in truth he trusted in the guardian care of the God of their fathers. This gave him a power over their hearts which he could gain by no eloquent appeals to their passions or to their patriotism. Such scenes develop the respect which even the ungodly are constrained to entertain for genuine piety. How often do those who in the time of fancied security ridicule religion, in the hour of alarm gather for comfort around good men whom they before vilified as bigots, or affeeted to despise for their strictness. “ Their rock is not as our Rock, our enemies themselves being judges.”

Rabshakeh presented himself before the city with a large force, and coming near to the wall on

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the north-west corner, “ by the conduit of the upper pool,” he called for Hezekiah. The latter declined meeting him in person, but sent three of the principal officers of his court to receive the message of the king of Assyria. Rabshakeh does not deign to give Hezekiah his official title, while in oriental style he terms Sennacherib “ the great king, the king of Assyria.” He scornfully inquires in whom Hezekiah trusts for defence against the overwhelming force with which he is assailed; intimating that the confidence exhibited in his address to the people was mere talk, false pretension. He charges him with relying upon a “ broken reed,” the king of Egypt, whose promised aid was sure to ruin those to whom it was prossered. Whatever ground there was for this accusation, Rabshakeh probably believed that the king of Judah would never have ventured to cast off the Assyrian yoke without the hope of assistance from the Egyptians. It seemed to a worshipper of idols only madness to expect relief from heaven against so mighty an array of strength. To weaken the confidence of the people still more, Rabshakeh, mistaking the reformation in religious worship for a change in the national religion, declares that Hezekiah had alienated Jehovah from them, by taking away his high places and altars from the land, and confining his worship to the temple at Jerusalem. He taunts Hezekiah with the insignificance of his army, which was not

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