Monday, September 20, 2010

2 Kings, Chapter 18

Hezekiah finally gets around to melting the brass serpent god made all the way back in Numbers to remind the people about how he drove off the snakes. Unfortunately, they had been worshipping it. Idiots. He also cuts down the groves to Baal and destroys his images. He does pretty well for awhile, rebelling against Assyria and all that, but when the Assyrians carry away the other Israelite tribes, he sues for peace and has to pay 350 talents of gold and silver as a tribute. He even has to cut the gold out of the temple doors to pay him.

But eventually, of course, he can't pay, so the Assyrian king sends some delegates to intimidate him in a field. They ask him where he got the cojones to rebel against them (hint: Sarah Palin!) and warn him not to trust the Pharaoh of Egypt. They say if he's relying on god, well, he also removed all the temples and told people to worship in Jerusalem. He promises him 2000 more horses if he'll pay up. He also says he's acting on god's orders.

One of Hezekiah's generals speaks up at this point and we learn the whole conversation has been in Hebrew, and that there's a whole peanut gallery sitting on a wall observing the proceedings. The general asks them to please speak in Aramaic, since they understand and the observers don't. The Assyrian general then gets off a zinger, asking the Israelites: Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you? (v. 27). I'm sure it's funnier in Hebrew. Or Aramaic. He then turns to the assembled men and tells them loudly that they have no hope of winning against them and promises that if they surrender, they'll get to keep their land and crops, but that eventually he'll take them to Assyria like the other 10 tribes.

The Israelite negotiators go back to Hezekiah in tears to explain the situation.

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