Hezekiah in Reverse: Reevaluating the Historical and Exegetical Implications of 2 Kings 18‒20

Long-running historical and exegetical debates concerning the Hezekiah narrative in Kings have not taken adequate account of the sequence of its narrative units. While many scholars are aware that Hezekiah’s illness and recovery (2 Kgs 20) chronologically precedes Sennacherib’s siege of Jerusalem (18:13‒19:37), this has not adequately factored into the interpretive debates. Further, scholars have not adequately handled the narrative of Hezekiah’s tribute in 18:13‒16 as chronologically following Sennacherib’s siege of Jerusalem in 18:17‒19:37. The three-stage reverse-order narratives of Hezekiah is exceptional—Hezekiah’s tribute (18:13‒16); the siege and deliverance of Jerusalem (18:17‒19:37); and the illness and recovery of Hezekiah (20:1‒21)—in comparison to two-stage reverse-order narratives appearing elsewhere in the Former Prophets and in Kings (e.g., debacles of Dan and Gibeah in Judg 17‒21; David taking Jerusalem in 2 Sam 5:6‒10; Solomon’s downfall and political struggles in 1 Kgs 11; and Gehazi’s skin disease in 2 Kgs 5:27). This paper will explain the author’s three-stage reverse-order presentation of the Hezekiah narratives and evaluate its historical and exegetical implications. The historical implications include updating McFall’s helpful chronological proposal. The exegetical implications include highlighting the deep irony of the most faithful of Judah’s kings (2 Kgs 18:5) as responsible for guaranteeing Judah’s downfall and exile (20:17‒18).

5 thoughts on “Hezekiah in Reverse: Reevaluating the Historical and Exegetical Implications of 2 Kings 18‒20”

Leave a Comment