[b-hebrew] Re: Rabshakeh vs. Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:19-22)

Joe Baker joebaker at cygnus.uwa.edu.au
Sun Aug 29 02:24:57 EDT 2004

Hi Walter

Yes the author does have the rab-shaqeh say to the Yudaheans that 
Hezeqiah has removed all the high places and altars and has made in 
compulsory to worship Yahweh in Jerusalem. But no the author does not 
have the rab-shaqeh saying that Hezeqiah has affronted Yahweh. Indeed 
the whole thrust of the story is in the opposite direction.

This passage is pure deuteronomic. This whole section (2 Kings 18:19 - 
19:8 + wy$m` in verse 9 + 19:36-37) is a deuteronomic story written by 
the author of Kings in about 625 BC. (Note that the intervening story 2 
Kings 19:9-35 + 20:1-19 is a post-exilic addition to the book of 
Kings). This deuteronomic composition is based heavily on the concept 
given in 2 Kings 18:5-6,  "He TRUSTED in Yahweh the god of Israel and 
among all the kings of Yudah there was no one like him either after him 
or before him. And he held fast to Yahweh, and he did not turn away 
from him, and he kept the commands that Yahweh had given to Mosheh". 
The whole concept of this story is to show that Hezeqiah TRUSTED in 
Yahweh and as a result Jerusalem was spared.

The speech of the rab-shaqeh is not that of an Assyrian official. It 
was fully composed by a deuteronomist for it is full of deuteronomic 
phrases and concepts, ideas that were utterly alien to any Assyrian 
official. What the deuteronomist puts into the rab-shaqeh's mouth is 
sarcastic, a tilt at foreigners, who can not see or understand the 
relationship between Yahweh and his people. Firstly when the author 
makes the rab-shaqeh say how misplaced is the Yudahean's TRUST in 
Egypt, a nation who can not save them - it is sarcasm for the author 
knows this and is illustrating to his readers the ignorance of the 
Assyrians.  And he follows this up by having the rab-shaqeh say how 
misplaced is the Yuhdahean's TRUST in Yahweh, a god who allows Hezeqiah 
to close his places of worship. Again sarcasm for the author's whole 
philosophy is that Hezeqiah TRUSTS in Yahweh and has instituted the 
correct way to worship Yahweh, as Yahweh had commanded to Mosheh.

There is no concept of Hezeqiah having "AFFRONTED Yahweh-Elohim". The 
rab-shaqeh is made to say several things which are wrong - and the 
account of the narrative serves to illustrate this. When the rab-shaqeh 
says that Yahweh has told the Assyrians to march against Yudah and 
destroy it - he is wrong. The deuteronmist knows that Yahweh is on the 
side of Hezeqiah, Hezeqiah serves Yahweh not Assyria. When the 
rab-shaqeh is made to imply that Hezeqiah's cultic reforms are against 
Yahweh - he is wrong. The deuteronomist knows that Hezeqiah is 
following the instructions of Yahweh as given to Mosheh (ie. the Book 
of Deuteronomy). Hezeqiah TRUST in Yahweh and so is saved - unlike 
Israel who had failed to listen to, or carry out, all the commands that 
Yahweh had given to Mosheh (2 Kings 18:12).

Joe Baker ===========\
Perth                |
Western Australia ===/

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